Aman: The Gnarlwood hype train continues and as part of our review bonanza and in this article we’ll be exploring the Daring Delvers rivals deck. This is a fully functional deck designed from the ground up to pick up and play. It comes with 12 objectives, 10 gambits, and 10 upgrades as well as a plot card (more on that later).
For those of you unfamiliar, Rivals decks are designed to be played in the Rivals and Nemesis (a slightly more advanced) format. Both formats allow new and returning players to get into Warhammer Underworlds as fast as possible while perhaps avoiding some of the challenges of deck building.
Unlike the Rivals Decks of old where some people mentioned a lack of consistent theme, the decks included in this box are more streamlined and thematic. They’ve got a clear game plan to where it is simple for a novice player to learn and play while still offering the depth and decision making opportunities veteran will enjoy.
If you’d like to check out all the cards in the deck for an unfiltered, initial experience then you view the entire deck here. Once you’re done with your first read through, be sure to join us back here to get some additional insight.
Thank you to Games Workshop for us sending us this free, preview copy.
Zach: Daring Delvers is in a lot of ways a Flex/Hold Feature deck with a bit of situational Aggro mixed in. It’s designed around the idea of exploring, seeking treasure, and defending your finds from enemies. Honestly, it’s a genuinely a lot of fun! Let’s take a look at the mechanics.
Plot cards are a new addition to the game, basically it’s an additional card that you get one of per player, which adds additional elements to the game.
The one for Daring Delvers introduces the Exploration mechanic, which is effectively a counter that you tick up and down while fulfilling various conditions. To go up, you need to place tokens, be in enemy territory on Feature Tokens, or have Explorers in enemy territory, which is a keyword granted by some Upgrades. However, your opponent can reduce your count by having fighters on Feature Tokens in your territory, which you need to protect.
This mechanic is used to score a few Objectives in the deck, though some of them can be scored in other manners as well. Overall it’s not a terribly complex mechanic, though you can get some fairly easy scored cards if your Exploration count gets high up enough. It plays well into the play style of the deck, but don’t worry if you stall a bit in increasing the count. It’ll make more sense as we get through the deck.
If this is your first time, we follow a pretty basic review system.
- A: the card is very powerful and should almost always be included in your deck builds.
- B: means that the card is strong and will usually be included, but not always.
- C: the card can be good in certain situations but will usually require extra support.
- D: means the card is on the weaker side of things. It doesn’t mean that it is inherently bad but perhaps can be considered hard to use or counter intuitive to prevalent strategies.
- S: insane. Clear candidate for the FaR list.
Bold Venturer: Moving into enemy territory and positioning correctly is what this deck is all about, and your leader is generally your toughest and best fighter. Though of course this works better on factions with better Leaders, it’s fine all around.
Brave the Rootmaze: Every time a card like this is printed, it’s good. Surges for standing in particular spots are amazing, especially for factions with multi-moves or otherwise good mobility. Less so for more elite teams, but overall doable by most. This should also encourage you to place some boards with printed Cover Hexes, which will help score it by quite a bit while also giving you a nice defensive boost.
Cautious Venture: This can be pretty hard in Turn 1, but as the game goes on an Exploration Count of 3 is pretty reasonable, and you want to be in enemy territory anyways. Good card, though you’ll see if there are 2 Glory Cards that can be more reliable early.
Claim Guardians: Pretty similar to Cautious Venture, and good and bad for similar reasons. 5 is much harder to get to, but you can also score with Holding 2 in your own backfield, which is the tradeoff. I think this is a great lategame card, but much like Cautious Venture, may brick your hand early on.
Fearless Explorer: Extremely hard early, and really only worthwhile if you’re building around Domains, which are cool but pretty niche. Just getting to Exploration 5 is a feat, so it’s a fairly harsh score sometimes. Would be better at 2 Glory, though like I said, gains value if you’re doing a lot of Domains in your deck like Gorechosen.
Pathfinders: Somewhat difficult to evaluate, as the Explorer upgrades range from mediocre to solid. I don’t think the first part of the condition is reliable enough at all, but if you run enough Explorer Upgrades, the second is pretty reasonable. There’s some good Explorer Upgrades in the deck, but as always, relying on specific Power cards to line up at the same time can be a bit iffy. Good overall, though.
Sleepless Sentries: This requires you to be quite aggressive, but I think this sort of positioning is what you want to go for with a lot of warbands anyways. More aggressive teams will absolutely score this quite often, especially if they can move 5+.
Stealthy Advance: Generally you want to move onto special tokens and hit things in enemy territory, so while this can sometimes brick, it’s quite in line with your game plan. I will say it can be fairly difficult if your Attacks are all Range 1, and gains a lot of value if you have Range 2 or more, but the fact that it doesn’t require a success or kill makes it great.
Sudden Demise: 2 Glory? On a kill card that specifically doesn’t care about Attack Actions? It’s very possible this card is too good, though it does require a bit more setup than most. If you have enemy pushes (though it does require you to place boards with Lethals), ping damage, and reliable setup, I think this card is insane, though many factions will struggle with it.
Survivalist: Pretty easy to go for when playing a small team, so I think it’s a heavy consideration if you are only 3 or 4 fighters. Far from guaranteed, however, and for 1 Glory End Phase, I like something a bit more reliable. Still, it’s great in Nemesis and not awful for some factions in Championship.
Terra Incognita: Pretty easy to score. No dice needed, no kills needed, just a Domain to be in play and some positioning. I think it’s very reliable and solid… if you care about Domains and running forward, that is. Which is the whole point of the deck, so the factions that like the Domain cards will really love this.
Uncovered Secrets: 3 Glory Surge! Unfortunately I think the condition is so difficult as to be not even worthy of consideration, so unfortunately it’s a pass for me. I already talked about getting to 5 Exploration being difficult, and 10 is twice that. If you have 10 Exploration, you likely have already won and it’s Turn 3 anyways.
Conquered Spirit: Aggro support for Exploration counts, though against some teams this is straight up difficult to get value from. Choose the right Leader and this could be a giant swing play in your favor, but against Elite enemies or ones with easy Resurrection like Exiled Dead or Grymwatch, you can struggle to get more than a couple Exploration ticks.
Flame Wisps: Good in non-Wizard factions, potentially devastating with Wizards involved. Reliable ping from a good distance is excellent to see, even if there is a dice roll involved. But like I said, for Wizard factions, you have to roll anything except specifically Crit + Focus + Channel, which is pretty good odds in your favor. This seems to be their attempt to print a Gambit Spell without making it a Spell so non-Wizards can still use it, and I really like it.
Grasping Rootgrave: This can be huge if you hit multiple enemies with it, potentially can be set up in conjunction with Temporary Haven. I think it has serious potential for factions that need ping and care about positioning, and it’s a Domain so you get some synergy with Objectives and other cards. Solid all around, though your opponent can absolutely react to it.
Quickroots: Insane. Just deal damage for enemy moving? That’s one of the better ping cards in the game. I don’t know much more to say, it’s going to play massive mindgames with your opponents and will likely be ubiquitous in both Championship and Nemesis.
Significant Find: Some Token Placement support, but it really depends on how much you value placing tokens for driving up your Exploration count. I think it’s fairly good, and can afford you some more Cover in places you might not expect. The fact that it has to be far away is a bit difficult, but you’re likely going to throw this down before a move and then move onto it with a good Range 2 or Range 3 Fighter, or just move on for some scoring. Good card.
Solid Position: 2 Power Steps and 1 whole Activation is a long time for “cannot be pushed”, especially if you want to hold Feature tokens. I think there’s a niche for this, but it’s not terribly overtly powerful, as you still take damage and your opponent gets time to play around it.
Spiritsnare Cavern: This type of Domain with a wacky but interesting effect don’t seem that great in practice. There’s some incidental damage for just showing up… but it can also hit you as well if you need to Charge. Overall this deck is more Flex than Aggro, so I think your opponent generally won’t end up with too many dead fighters, so the chances this does something significant is pretty low in my opinion.
Tangled Roots: Excellent way to dissuade your opponent’s aggression while still making yourself more accurate for the counterattack, and with the new rules, means they can’t Charge and then Delve. Not much to say, feels like a solid effect, even if it wasn’t a Domain, and the Domain keyword just makes it work with the rest of the deck. Only marking it down because I think there’s better Domain options both in here and in certain Factions.
Temporary Haven: Much like Significant Find, this gains value if you’re really trying to push your Exploration count up. However, it also is nice in general since you can just drop a Cover at your feet for a defensive boost when you need it, or at the end of the round when you need one more Feature token to score an Objective. Good stuff.
Zone of Control: An actually very solid defensive Domain. I also like this a lot in the first turn, where your un-activated fighters get to be on Guard for free until they leave their Hexes, which can slow down early game aggression. Guard on Feature Tokens means any Covers you place with Temporary Haven or Significant Find make you extremely defensive and hard to shift, which is excellent.
All-Terrain Gear: It’s nice to become an Explorer, but ultimately this is just Great Speed, with the occasional Domain boost, which is nothing worth writing home over. If you’re playing Nemesis, you likely play this for the Explorer keyword, but in Championship there will just be stronger effects.
Rating: B in Nemesis, C in Championship
Claim Jumper: Also gives out Explorer with a slight upside. Removing Guard is a neat idea, but I think it’s too niche to include into the deck unless Guard tokens or free Guard becomes very prevalent. I think it’s one of the weaker Explorer cards in the set.
Conqueror’s Circlet: Great Speed for your entire board? Also sometimes updating your team’s speed across the board? Sign me up! Your leaders generally have the same or better speed than the rest of your faction, so this generally just boosts everyone at least one Hex if not more, meaning it’s super value for one Glory. The only reason I don’t put it S tier is that it’s restricted to your Leader, which can be very risky for some factions that use their Leader aggressively.
Dowsing Limb: Imagine Duellist’s Speed, but slightly more unreliable and powerful. You would be in the right ballpark, and I think it’s really strong because of it. And Explorer on top of it! I think mobility and the Keyword you want is super solid. And remember, you push *up to* 2 hexes along the chain, so even if you react and the scatter is bad, you can just chill and not move. It’s solid.
Enshrouded Shot: I always like long range Shooting and good Attack Action Upgrades, so I think this one is fine, even with the positional requirement. You can play around it with your two Feature Token placement cards, which is good. In Nemesis, especially for factions with limited range or mediocre attacks early, this is an amazing take, but in Championship there are likely better weapons
Rating: A in Nemesis, B in Championship
Final Say: Finally, a very solid counter-spell card, which we haven’t had much of in Underworlds! It’s very telegraphed, though you can use that information to your advantage for mind game purposes. Being able to tell your opponent “no” to something they’re going to do to you is exceedingly powerful, and it will really mess up their game plan if they rely on things like pushes or ping damage.
Gifted Sight: It’s… fine? More Explorer keyword, and on a few boards the vision bonus is nice, but on most boards it’ll do nothing. Gains value for long range teams like Hexbane or Profiteers, though for short range warbands it’s not really worthwhile outside a couple Ploys.
Nine Lives: I generally prefer my defensive bonuses to not be terribly dicey, but 50/50 to not take ping damage or Lethal? I think that’s solid even without the Explorer keyword. It feels like a great card to throw onto a single fighter that you’ve stacked defensive bonuses onto, just to ensure they don’t get chipped down by too much incidental damage.
Plundered Knowledge: This seems to be mostly designed for elite aggro teams using this deck as an alternative for doing “standard” Exploration stuff like standing on Features. Even “Draw 2 after killing” would be playable in general, and in terms of Nemesis where you want to play into the Exploration mechanic, it’s flexible and strong.
Rating: A for Aggro, B for Flex
Prospector: Could be solid as a way to toss Feature Tokens down, though I think the downside is pretty brutal for unless you’re going very aggro, or can ignore Charge tokens (Like Exiled Dead can). Then again, charging in, dropping a Cover under your feet, and then taking the counterpunch, especially in conjunction with Zone of Control or other defensive bonuses, could be pretty powerful. It’s a lot of combo to set up, but I think it plays better in Nemesis than Championship.
Rating: A- in Nemesis, C- in Championship
This is a cool deck that encourages you to run into enemy territory and set up powerful counter punches and chip damage. This flexible playstyle is a bit more nuanced than some of the other, more aggressive Rivals decks we’ve seen, but I think a good player can leverage the more tactical nature of these cards to make something really special happen. The amount of ping damage in particular is pretty exciting for teams with reliable attacks but overall low damage, like Profiteers or Creepers, and could be great for factions that want little damage like the Wurmspat!
If I have any complaints, I think the Exploration and Explorer mechanic is possibly a bit underdeveloped in general, really only having impact on a few Objectives, but I think it’s just icing on the cake for an otherwise solid Objective and Power decks. I do like that it’s not too complex, and more of a nice extra that doesn’t over complicate the game when you take it, but I just feel maybe Explorer could have been utilized more.
Still, I think I prefer this deck over Tooth and Claw, personally! I really like a flexible play style that can fight, but doesn’t rely overly much on aggressive killing to win. I’m interested to see which factions use these cards in Nemesis and whether people take the Exploration mechanic into Championship!
Check out our Gnarlwood main article to check out our other reviews.
Best of luck on your [Path to Glory]!
If you think this warband would make an excellent addition to your collection, be sure to head on down to your local Warhammer Store or FLGS to order yourself a copy of the Gnarlwood box set. If you prefer to shop online, check them out here this Saturday (later today at time of posting).
Thank you again to Games Workshop for this free, preview copy.