Well would you look at that! Games Workshop has finally blessed us with a Forsaken and Restricted list and I am sure the community could not be happier. I personally am ecstatic. In this article, I will briefly cover the additions to the Championship and Alliance format. More importantly, I will take a look at how these changes will impact the future meta.
FaR List Overview:
Looking at the list, your first immediate thought was that it was a pretty big one, right? But then you remember that we’ve had an entire season drop, including a starter set. That is 10 warbands and 560 cards to be exact. Given the unique circumstances of the Direchasm release schedule, I’m happy that the list is large. Personally, I’d have wanted the universal section to be even larger. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the individual cards include on the list.
For holistic purposes, I am just going to quickly list out the cards restricted here:
- Gambits: Ferocious Resistance
- Objectives: Cover Ground, Show of Force, Surge of Aggression
- Gambits: Mischievous Spirits, Slickrock
- Upgrades: Amberbone Sword, Crown of the Dead, Deserved Confidence, Gauntlet of Command, Geomancer’s Gauntlet, Haughty Resistance, Hunter’s Talisman, Proud Runner, Savage Visage, Sting of the Ur-Grub, Substance Siphon
On the warband specific side we’ve got:
- Mollog’s Mob: Foul Temper
- Lady Harrow’s Mournflight: Fleeting Memories
- Rippa’s Snarlfangs: Cruel Hunters
- Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers: Arm of the Everwinter
- Morgok’s Krushas: Got it Boss!, Berserk Fortitude
We’ll cover everything on the list but for now, I want to focus on the universal cards. In total, we’ve got 16 additions.
As we can see, the biggest target for balance updates were upgrades – they make up a staggering 69% of this list. This isn’t surprising though. Since Nightvault, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in their power level. Beastgrave especially gave us some extremely powerful upgrades and many of them are rightfully already on the list. While Direchasm did continued the trend, due to the myriad number of mechanics, we’ve seen the power level vary across the board. Still, there are some great ones in the season.
First Things, First:
Ferocious Resistance has been removed from game! Praise be to Sigmar (or the Dark Gods, if that is your fancy)!
This card will perhaps go down as one of the most divisive cards in the history of this game, and for good reason. Now, players can now long hide behind the wound characteristics of bigger fighters. Sure there are some other heals in the game, but none of them have the ability to heal as many wounds as this card. I’ve seen a 10 wound Mollog go from 2 wounds left back up to 8. And the worst part is, that isn’t a rare occurrence. Another issue this card was causing was the superiority of Mollog. With him taking a major hit from this card, his ability to gate keep aggressive strategies diminishes greatly. If you are looking for alternative heals, albeit more balances ones, check out Healing Potion and Spiritcomb.
Starting with upgrades, that is a first right? Well I think you know exactly why. Since they they consume the bulk of the list, it makes sense to start here.
Since the inception of Arena Mortis, we’ve some busted upgrades. The Mortis Relics in particular have been notoriously powerful as they provide myriad benefits. Gauntlet of Dominance was thankfully hit last fall but it didn’t reduce the card’s playability much because these 2 were un-restricted. That probably changes now. Out of all 3 of them, The Crown of the Dead was probably the one that could be taken alone the most as it pairs well with the ‘draw package.’ If you did manage to pair it one another relic, the re-roll was pretty nice too.
The Gauntlet of Command was more popular because it gave you the +1 wound and larger warbands could improve their ability to score their end phase objectives. Really, pushes are just very good in this game. Getting to push a fighter every activation is insane, especially in the latter stages of the game where positioning is even more nuanced. I am glad we will see these cards less. And if you really enjoy playing with them, it only takes 2 restricted slots – seems fair.
Jumping on to the restricted cards, Amberbone Sword is the only attack action upgrade on the list but its inclusion is warranted given its accuracy and propensity to reward 2 glory per elimination. If you don’t care about the extra potential glory, then you can always sub in Swordbreaker and/or Silent Sword.
Geomancer’s Gauntlet is an interesting choice but one that makes sense given how many community members have complained about how it feels to play against Feed the Beastgrave strategies. While it isn’t the most popular card, it is one of the stronger ones as it can flip more than one feature token at the same time. While this isn’t a strategy that is dominating right now, I like that Games Workshop is preemptively tackling this play style so it doesn’t become a problem in the future.
Damage mitigation has been a challenge over the course of the season due to tougher fighters being able to stack multiple sources of it. Haughty Resistance is one of those cards that has excelled in that area, even on lesser wound fighters. This is primarily because it can force awkward situations with the Primacy token. Most fighters who want Primacy tend to be aggressive but this card kind of dissuades an opponent from going for it. Again, reducing damage taken is also very powerful in this game. If you are looking for a replacement, the universal pool doesn’t any other identical options. Instead opt for +1 wound cards and/or heals.
Proud Runner is another one of those cards that circumvents the usual methods of gaining the Primacy token. It just gave the lower wound count warbands a way to cheat the system by having them run across the board, preferably in the 4th activation of a round. Often it taken over Savage Speed when incorporating the ‘speed package’ – which is an ever-popular choice. While there are plenty of substitutions that can be made for gaining the movement perks, the card is so unique in the way in which it reacts with Primacy, that finding an alternative is pretty difficult. Dominant Defender is the only card that comes to mind really.
I’ve always wondered why Hunter’s Talisman why GW never pulled the trigger on this card earlier, especially during the Beastgrave season. It’s just so good, especially when paired with Hrothgorn due to his monopoly on the Hunter/Quarry interaction. Not only this does knock him down a peg, it reinforces the precedent that upgrades that provide additional dice and/or re-rolls should be restricted.
That same logic applies to Savage Visage. Not only does it count for it-self, so you get at least 1 re-roll when equipped, it can stack pretty aggressively in certain builds. I will say, the range 1 limitation did ensure the card didn’t see as much abuse as it potentially could have. Still, getting 2+ re-rolls on every attack action proved to be too powerful. If you are looking for replacements, I’m not sure if you’ll find any that are on this power level. Historically cards like these always get restricted and for good reason.
I don’t think I have ever seen a deck that doesn’t incorporate Deserved Confidence. I’m sure they exist, I just can’t recall. And honestly, why wouldn’t you? Equip this, add 2 other upgrades, and you’ve gained +1 wound and the ability to not be driven back. That’s super powerful and really annoying given the fact is makes it much harder to push the equipped fighter into lethal hexes. I can see most people, including myself, replacing this card with Great Fortitude – welcome back old friend.
Defense characteristics on fighter cards are designed with balance in mind. Let’s look at Gorath from the Crimson Court. He’s pretty easy to hit since he only has 1 block. Because of this, even if he ever gains additional wounds – whether due to Hunger or upgrades – he can still technically be taken down under weight of dice. This makes strategies like Lost Pages and Avatar seem fair. However, turn that concept on its head and we start to see things get imbalanced pretty quickly. Any fighter with 3 dodge, and most likely on Guard, becomes a nightmare to deck down. Even with Cleave and Ensnare, 3 dice give you a great chance to roll a critical success. Now while this still can be done, players will have to give up something else instead. Formidable Defense is a potential replacement but it doesn’t guarantee the 3 dodge and it does come with a downside.
Last but certainly not least, we see Sting of the Ur-Grub get hit with the restricted tag. I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I’ve used this card a lot and it’s helped aggressive strategies with their viability. On the other hand, it is one of the 3 cards required in order to score The Avatar Risen. Hitting this card means control strategies, and perhaps even VOLTRON strategies, will have to think twice about relying on it and we’ll see passive strategies make more meaningful choices between powerful cards. Ultimately, I can get on board with that and I completely agree. Furthermore, there are now a lot of +1 damage upgrades in the game – to the point where it is excessive so we’re not hurting for options in that regard.
For objectives, while the count is also small, the card selected are perhaps 3 of the most popular surge objectives in the game right now. Essentially all 3 of these cards can be scored passively which means players will have to be a bit more deliberate when trying to score their surges.
I’m pretty happy about seeing Cover Ground getting hit despite it directly effecting some of my favorite warbands. The ‘speed package’ was getting kind of silly – you could score 3 cards for just moving/charging. By slowing the brakes down a bit with this strategy, we should see tougher choices made when building decks. For the warbands who really wanted it, it is probably worth the restricted slot anyways. If you are looking for an alternative and weren’t already running it, take a look at Winged Death. Same concept but requires a charge. Bold Conquest isn’t a bad option either if you don’t have a particularly squishy leader.
Show of Force was another very popular card and one that aided both control and aggressive play. The nerf here works on two fronts which is quite clever. First, it reduces the efficiency of objective stacking and passive, non-interactive strategies. Second, it ever so slightly reduces the efficiency of scoring while diving your warband into enemy territory. Both strategies have plenty of support but this card was integral to both.
Surge of Aggression is one of those cards that is seeing a lot of inclusion because of the Primacy mechanic. I actually don’t think I have played a single game in Direchasm without Primacy. In terms of its score-ability, it was starting to become trivial due to the myriad ways of being able to obtain the token. Furthermore, theres so much damage and accuracy in the game right now that hitting for a 4+ damage attack wasn’t the hardest thing to do in the world either. While I think many warbands will probably still take this card, it is no longer the auto-include it once was. Either way, good call.
On the gambit front, we see only 2 inclusions but both of these cards signal one thing: objective strategies will now be back on the rise as both of these cards hampered the efficiency of a warband when attempting to control feature tokens. With some of the biggest obstacles out of the way, we might even see Supremacy come back…
Mischievous Spirits is pretty much included in every deck so in terms of popularity, the restricted tag is well deserved. Game play wise, it perhaps was the sole purpose we didn’t see objective based warbands score as much glory as they intended to. Some could even argue it was gatekeeping hold 3 objective play. Canny players did try to take advantage of it though and it eventually became used for scoring objective focused end phase and surge scoring. As we all know, positioning is key right now and this card rewarded and punished players for it. I know I said in my last article that I wouldn’t mind seeing this one get hit. I do wonder on how powerful objective based strategies will become though, moving forward.
Slickrock was another one of those cards that hurt objective play, specifically surge objective play more so. Ultimately, I think this card was hit more because of the negative player experience (NPE) associated with this card. It almost functions like Daylight Robbery and Rebound. Its just unfortunate when it happens to someone and sometimes it doesn’t even work for the player using it. That being said, you can still take it if you like it.
If you are looking for replacements, check out Symbiote’s Call and Hypnotic Buzz. While these cards don’t function exactly the same as the two recently restricted cards, they do slow down objective play.
Lady Harrow’s Mournflight get a pretty solid nerf with the restriction of Fleeting Memories. The best part about the warband was their ability to fly through their surge deck by scoring via moving and holding objectives. With Fleeting Memories and Cover Ground both getting restricted, we’ll see this warband ability to score reduce dramatically.
Rippa’s Snarlfangs finally join the list with Cruel Hunters getting tagged. Personally, I believe this should have happened quite some time ago. Not only is this card pretty easy to score for 2 glory, it also makes it harder for the warband to score Set the Tempo. Slowing their passive glory generation is a good thing considering they have the propensity to high-roll opponents off the table. I like this change despite it not effecting their power level much.
Honestly, we knew Morgok’s Krushas were going to get hit harder – Inured to Pain was simply not enough. As such, they’ve got the Thorns of the Briar Queen treatment with the second warband to have 3 faction restricted cards. Got It Boss and Now Wot were two cards that were quite powerful with the warband. Many expected both to be hit but I’m actually quite happy with Got It, Boss being the victim here. Now, Krushas players will have to decide between playing all out aggro or continuing their slow advance into enemy territory, while capturing feature tokens. Of course you can still play them how they’ve been played but losing another powerful card will hurt.
Berserk Fortitude is another card I am happy to see get hit. Being able to reduce as many damage as your fighter had Waaagh! counters was pretty strong. It made it to where upgrade caddies and VOLTRON’d fighter were nigh impossible to take down. In theory, it should be easier to take down the orruks now that their access to damage mitigation as been limited. However, there are still plenty of heals in the meta to help them stay kicking.
Mollog’s always been an interesting fighter, one who gets significantly better when there is more accuracy in the game. The problem is that if he hits too often, he can wipe warbands out quite quickly. Over the years, many cards have been solely restricted due to Mollog’s tendency to abuse them. As such, I am happy to see Foul Temper get hit as it curbs his own ability to abuse accuracy cards. If other universals are going to get hit, I am glad his personal card is too. This should hopefully make Mollog less consistent when fighting his opponents. Sure, he’ll always see dice spikes. Moving forward, I hope it is less often though and perhaps even easier to defend.
Arm of the Everwinter wasn’t seeing much play outside of Hrothgorn decks that focused on Feed the Beastgrave (FTB). Still, it was a pretty passive way for the ogre to score some glory. The Mantrappers are another divisive warband in Underworlds (though there has been a persistent theme now – most problematic warbands have bigger fighters) and as such are the third warband to see 3 faction cards get restricted. I like how GW is ensuring FTB doesn’t get out of control as Hrothgorn has demonstrated he’s the best at it. It’s a precautionary move but one that I think will go a long way.
We see two big changes to how warbands function as both Mollog’s Mob and Khagra’s Ravagers were both amended in terms of their mechanics.
Mollog got hit pretty hard. Now when is inspired and has a charge token, he can no longer make superactions. That means no second charge and no Scything attack either. I know there are a solid group of players out there who like playing Mollog and enjoy him. To see him get nerfed like that probably feels bad. That being said, as someone who found him extremely divisive, I am glad to see him get nerfed. Sure, he still has the ability to wipe half your warband out in the early game should he roll average or above. The nice thing now though is that you can out-position him. It makes Mollog much harder to play. This change coupled with the restrictions means we should see him less.
This is the first time we’ve got a beta rule with Warhammer Underworlds, as far as I can recall, and its pretty exciting. Khagra’s Ravagers are one of those warbands where they have a lot of potential but they fall victim to their unique faction mechanics. In particular, the Desecration tokens that their fighters can generate inhibit them from scoring off holding objectives in the end phase. I suppose this change makes the most sense given that they still want to place those tokens down. Their previous inspire mentioned 3 tokens but that felt like it was too hard. With it being reduce to 2, I think we’ll see them inspire more often and take advantage of their higher defense characteristics – 2 block. I look forward to giving them another go as I always felt like they deserved more than how they’ve been treated so far.
Updated Tier List:
So I know I just posted a tier list this past Monday but I couldn’t help myself with updating it given the massive changes we have seen today. Unlike my previous article, I won’t be going into a super detailed dive. Instead, I will just cover the highlights and warbands who shifted around a bit. I will be using it as a reference however so I recommend having it open in another tab/window.
To clarify, I don’t view the S tier as a tier full of broken warbands or mechanics. My personal take is that they are the best warbands in the game, and a such players should understand how they function. Whether you choose to play them or tech for them, it is important to note how they operate. With that being said, we’ve see a couple shifts in the meta. First off, Drepur’s Wraithcreepers jump to the number 1 spot as they were virtually untouched by the FaR list while the rest of the top tier warbands got hit to some varying degree. Expect to see these ghastly revenants everywhere. Thorns of the Briar Queen and Grymwatch jump up to the top tier for a bunch of reasons despite both having their fair share of faction restrictions. The biggest reason is that a lot of the cards that were keeping hold objective based scoring in check have no been restricted. Since we will naturally see less of them, especially Mischievous Spirits, surge and end phase objective scoring is going to bounce through the roof. At this point, I don’t see Thorns dropping a tier unless Varclav gets errata’d. His push is still too damn good.
Kainan’s Reapers, Rippa’s Snarlfangs, Starblood Stalkers, Crimson Court, and Myari’s Purifiers retain their status in the group. Despite the changes, they have enough game to compensate in other places. Even Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers have retained their spot despite losing Ferocious Resistance. The Arm of the Everwinter nerf didn’t do much if you aren’t playing Feed the Beastgrave. His aggro builds are still pretty powerful, especially his turret build. Harrow’s drop to this tier given their potential to cycle through their surges, and deck, drops dramatically. Even if a player was to still take them, they lose out on essential gambits and survivability via upgrades. Another new addition in this tier is Morgok’s Krushas. As mentioned above, they lost some of their damage reduction tools as well as access to Avatar, heals, and disruption. Players will now have to pick either control or aggro rather than both. And even then, both have got some clear weaknesses. I wouldn’t be surprised if they dropped to the B+ tier but I felt that was too drastic of a move, for now.
With the improvements to objective scoring, I think Zarbag’s Gitz have a lot of game. Their aggro build has become pretty powerful with the return of Pure Carnage and they still rely pretty heavily on objective based scoring. They’re going to be one to look out for. I’ve also bumped up the Sepulchral Guard as well since they’re likely to see less disruption in the meta. Furthermore, Eternal Chase is a great card for them and Augmented Limbs on the Harvester or Champion can be terrifying. Lastly, I’ve bumped up my beloved Godsworn Hunt as well. I’ve been trying to make them work since the beginning of Direchasm since I feel like it was the perfect season to play a warband that excels at taking down 4 wound fighters. With the release of the full card pool, we’ve started to see some builds that take advantage of their ability to go hit hard and fast. I think we’ll start seeing them a lot more, especially since the bigger fighters have all taken a big hit.
Mollog being dropped to B tier may seem drastic but I think it is warranted given the fact that he lost Ferocious Resistance, Deserved Confidence, the Mortis Relics, Substance Siphon, and Haughty Resistance. While he still can do Mollog things, we will see it less consistently. He is now easier to kite and take down. Aggro warbands have a chance now and should be able to force more even games. He also has historically had trouble against hold objective strategies and since they’ve all gotten better, he should be kept at bay. Khagra’s Ravagers are another warband who join this tier. The changes to their inspire mean they you should be able to reliably inspire them every game. This means they’ll have more survivability on the board, hopefully, which means they can tango with the majority of the meta. Magore’s Fiends still do aggro better than them but I think the Ravagers got a bit more game now.
The only change here is that Farstriders have moved to top of the list. With the Essential pack and a bunch of ping damage, they might be able to jump to the B tier, if they can stay consistent with their damage output.
I am beyond grateful for an updated FaR list and warband specific errata. While we are still missing a proper FAQ, the changes shared today should shake up the meta and give us some sorely needed balance. While the previous meta had a lot of viability, it was hard to for weaker warbands to keep up with the more powerful options. Now that most warbands have been kicked down a peg, or two we should see more engaging and interactive games.
The biggest winners in my opinion are objective based strategies. With a lot of the hurdles now removed, or at least tempered, we are going to see objective warbands strike back with a vengeance. Thorns of the Briar Queen and Grymwatch are 2 warbands in particular you should watch out for. Drepur’s are also in a really good spot – they’re the best warband in the game right now.
The biggest losers are obviously big boys. To be fair, they deserved it. Additionally, anyone who was trying to VOLTRON their fighter will have a tougher time doing so since all of the good upgrades from Arena Mortis have been restricted – honestly they were too good. Warbands who relied on the speed package will also take a small hit but there a plenty of substitutes out there to where I don’t think it’ll too much of a difference.
For Primacy related matters, I do think the tags to Surge of Aggression, Proud Runner, and Haughty Resilience were warranted. It was becoming a bit too easy to counter warbands who were relying on the Primacy token and so now, we should hopefully see aggressive warbands have enough tools to keep it. They’re going to need it against the rise of objective play. There is a small possibility, if and when GW clarify the Primacy windows, that Hedkrakka’s Madmob might see some more play as well since they should be the best at Primacy, in theory.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with how Games Workshop has updated the FaR list. They’ve hit some of the biggest offenders in the meta while showing a keen eye for the future. While I do think other cards should have also been selected, here’s to hoping we get another list towards the end of the summer. Interestingly, the top warbands in the meta right now are from Grand Alliance: Death. Dave Sanders and team are having a tough time hiding their favoritism, eh? I suppose it is as good as time as ever to welcome our undead overlords. They are going to be here for a minute.
As always, I would love any and all feedback on this article. While it expressed my personal opinions on the game, I am always up for discussion and proper debate. Let me know if you like it and what I can do additionally in order to give you the content you want to consume.
Until next time. Best of luck on YOUR Path to Glory!