Hey everyone, welcome to the Crimson Court faction review! I’ll cover the fighter cards and rate all the faction specific objectives, gambits, and upgrades. If you are interested in hearing our take on the Universal cards that come in this expansion, check this out. Thank you to Games Workshop for providing me a preview copy to review. While I can’t get into the physical contents just yet, I can go over all the cards previewed over at Warhammer Community.
Note: As per my previous articles, I’ll be using the following rating system.
- A score of “A” means that 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.
- A score of “C” means that card can be good in certain situations but will usually require extra support.
- Lastly, a score of “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 your game plan.
Let’s go ahead and sink our teeth into the warband – they’ve got some pretty batty stuff.
Bloodthirst and Inspire Mechanic:
Excuse the potato photos but this is the best I can do given the resources – hopefully it is still legible. So the Crimson Court are the first warband in this game to essentially have 3 different fighter profiles. Each fighter gains a Hunger counter at the beginning of each round and these Hunger counters are essential to the way this warband operates.
Bloodthirst happens when a fighter has 3 or more Hunger counters on an individual fighter. In addition to gaining 1 a round automatically, you can tap into a plethora of faction and universal cards that gain help you stack and spend Hunger. Fighters who succumb to Bloodthirst gain characteristic adjustments to their un-inspired profile. For example, a fighter can gain extra movement or different keywords. In two instances, you lose out on one trait but get buffed in another. Interestingly, Bloodthirst’ed fighters cannot be on Guard but since all the fighters have 1 defense on their un-inspired side, it shouldn’t be too much of a drawback.
If you manage to spend your Hunger Counters, your fighter can inspire at the end of the action phase. All the fighters have a built in way to do this by eliminating an enemy fighter adjacent to them. You can also use gambits and upgrades to assist with this as well. As we’ve seen in the past, the fighter profiles do change here as well.
The interesting about this warband is understanding when you want to Bloodthirst your fighters and when you rather have them inspired instead. After some time, you’ll figure out which fighters you prefer in whichever state. For example, I think Gorath is amazing when ‘suffering’ from Bloodthirst but I’ve seen other people think he’s better off inspired. The cool part is, you can pick and choose to your heart’s content.
The most interesting part about these mechanics is that you can end up un-inspiring your fighters as well due to Lurking Hunger. If an inspired fighter ends an activation with 3 or more Hunger counters, they will revert back to their un-inspired side and automatically Bloodthirst. This also allows you to swap back and forth quickly depending on the situation. The options for counter-play exist here as well as opponents can force you to un-inspire if they take Hunger tech. Keep in mind it is easier to Bloodthirst than it is to stay inspired.
Each fighter has the same 4 rules on their fighters cards. We went over them above but for holistic purposes, I will restate them here:
- Bloodthirst: If this fighter three or more Hunger counters he has Bloodthirst and cannot be on Guard.
- The Curse: At the start of the round, give this fighter 1 Hunger counter.
- The Hunger (Reaction): After this fighter’s attack action which takes an adjacent enemy fighter out of action, remove one or more Hunger counters from this fighter.
- Lurking Hunger: (Only applies to inspired side) After an activation, if this fighter has 3 or more Hunger Counter, this fighter is un-inspired.
Prince Duvalle is the noble leader of this deathly quarter and apparently being a vampire has its perks because not only is he a Hunter, he also happens to be a level 1 Wizard. His weapon profile is pretty deadly off the bat with a melee attack that hits on 3 smash and deals 2 damage. He’s also got a movement of 4 (which is the standard now in this game), 1 block, and 4 wounds. Those are not bad stats at all.
If you decide to Bloodthirst him, his attack gets a little less accurate, 2 smash, but jumps up in damage to 3. At this point, he is fairly identical to Khagra. That’s not a bad thing as I’ve seen her take down big fighters often and early. If you decide to inspire him, Duvalle instead gains cleave, an additional block, and a spell reaction. Fiendish Lure is cool and has a 60% chance to go off. Being able to essentially pull enemy fighters towards you can be pretty powerful as it can disrupt enemy positioning and end phase scoring. Because it is a reaction, it is worth going for every time you can unless of course it gets blocked by an opposing reaction.
Out of the two options, I think you want to Bloodthirst early if you are facing an enemy with tougher fighters or want to take down the enemy leader quickly. If you are looking to mess around with control or upgrade stacking strategies, then you’ll want to inspire him sooner rather than later. I think I initially did prefer Bloodthirst but ultimately I think Duvalle is better of inspired if you’re packing plenty of damage inducing upgrades.
Gorath the Enforcer:
Duvalle’s main bro is a fairly interesting character as he is also a Wizard, as well as a Hunter. This marks the second warband to come with more than 1 spell slinger – that’s pretty neat. Gorath’s stats are identical to Duvalle aside from his weapon profile. This vamp is rocking a range 2, 2 smash, 2 damage attack which is awesome. We’ve seen how well other fighter’s with similar weapons have dominated battlefields in the past so I find this to be great.
If you Bloodthirst him, Gorath drops down to 3 move but gains a wound which bumps him up to 5. That’s good, like really good. We all know how Krushas can tank hit after hit, even without their damage reduction. Like Bahannar, the range 2 offsets the loss in movement so he should still have the same threat range as other 4 movement fighters without add-ons.
If you inspire him instead, he gains Knockback 1 and his attack hits for 3 damage. That is also a great option as it can be great against more elite, tankier warbands. He also gains a spell action which is pretty neat in theory. If you roll a channel, you can swap a wound or Hunger counter between a friendly fighter and enemy fighter who both happen to be within 4 hexes of Gorath. Ultimately, because it costs an action, I don’t see you using this unless you are trying to finish a fighter off. Even then, it could fail. It is a nice to have but not sure if you’ll get much mileage out of it.
Both Bloodthirst and inspire options for this fighter look solid. Depending on the matchup, you’ll select the one that you prefer. I think I prefer the 5 wounds via Bloodthirst but the 3 damage could be nice in a pinch. Decisions, decisions…
Vellas von Faine:
Vellas is the femme fatale of the group and has the exact bottom stat-line as her compatriots when un-inspired. Her attack action is fairly respectable with 1 range, 2 smash, 2 damage. If you let her Bloodthirst, she’s gain the Scything keyword – wow. A 2 smash attack that can hit all enemies adjacent to her is very powerful. She’s definitely going to be the brawler of the group.
When inspired, she gain’s Cleave and Ensnare which is also another great option. Essentially if she is landing her attacks, only enemy critical success will save them from taking damage.
Again, the choice to Bloodthirst or inspire will depend heavily on your matchups. If you roll into larger warbands, Bloodthirst and make those scything attacks to your heart’s content. If you are facing a threat that needs to go down, an inspired Vellas which damage upgrades can be the exact tool you need to win you the day.
Our last vampire has the Hunter keyword as well and has a bottom stat-line of 4 move, 1 dodge, and 4 wounds. He’s the only dodging fighter of the group but that makes sense since his model looks quite agile. He’s rocking a melee attack that hits on 3 fury and 2 damage which makes him, statistically, the second most accurate fighter of the group.
When under the influence of Bloodthirst, Ennias jumps up to a massive movement of 6. This makes him a great candidate score elements of the ‘speed package’ which has become a staple in most decks since the start of Beastgrave. When inspired, he starts swinging on 3 smash which is always welcome in this game. He also gains a second die on defense as well which is nice because 2 dodge has been proven to be a solid defense profile. He also gains the ability to ignore damage by lethal hexes and move through other fighters.
Ultimately, I think I do prefer the Bloodthirst benefits over the inspired side. That 6 move is sweet off from the jump and may allow you to replace some speed gambits/upgrades for other cards as well – as long as you can keep him alive (technically he is undead but you know what I mean).
Blood Curse: Anytime you see a 3 objective card, it definitely makes you pause and consider how it can function in your game plan. Naturally, this slots in well with players who are looking to capitalize on the Bloodthirst mechanic. This will dictate you power deck construction as you’ll only be at 12 Hunger counters at the end of a game if all of your fighters are alive. The other condition those offer a decent backup as the Bloodthirst strategy does potentially encourage aggressive play. I wouldn’t take it just for that condition though. Keep in mind that this is also a third end phase card so this could clog up your objective hand as well if you draw it early.
Courtly Hunt: This is essentially a faction version of Strong Start. Your fighters are 4 wounds a piece so for most matchups, this will probably be reliable enough to score. It doesn’t scream amazing to me though given the universal pool right now. There are a lot of good Surges out there and this would probably take a backseat for me.
Crimson Hounds: This isn’t hard to set up considering how push cards are available in the current universal pool. I find this to be more of a reactive score rather than a pro-active one as you’ll generally score this when an enemy charges one of your fighters and then you countercharge with another friendly. You do have a higher chance for the attack to go through as well so that is something to consider if you are trying to play aggressively.
Death’s Domain: These kind of cards of always fun. Just like Ylthari’s Guardians and Skaeth’s Wildhunt, this will always be at the back your opponent’s mind when you sit across the table from them. I am not sure if you take this given the aggressive nature of this warband. Still, it could be a cheeky way to get some passive glory if you place your tokens right. This also doubles down with Dominant Position and Swift Capture if you want to go that route. It does require a lot of setup though and you might not be able to score once your opponent confirms you have this.
Gravelords: Because each fighter has the option to inspire or Bloodthirst, this could be a reliable score as long as you are getting those eliminations or using Hunger spenders. The second option for upgrades is actually quite hard unless you lose fighters throughout the course of the game. Either way, you most likely won’t score this in the first round.
On the Chase: Like the card art implies, if you have an Ennias is under the influence of Bloodthirst, this becomes trivial. There are also a ton of power cards that can help you score this as well in case he is not using his Bloodthirst rules. The other condition is trivial as you automatically score this in the first end phase with all of your fighters gaining a Hunger counter at the start of a round. This is probably an auto-include.
Preternatural Speed: If you are playing aggressively, then this is a great card for you. It also combos well with Show of Force, Bold Deeds, and The Hunt Advances. Solid in later stages of the game as well since you are bound to lose fighters. Great card for aggressive play.
Recovered Poise: Easy enough as you just have to make sure at least 1 of your fighters was either able to get an elimination or spent their Hunger in some way. Essentially it is a Fired Up for the warband.
Red Ruin: This can be hard or easy to score depending on matchups – think Grymwatch or Krushas. I think there are better 2 glory end phase cards in the pool right now but if you are playing hyper-aggro this could work for you.
Spirited Attempt: Another reactive Surge card that rewards you for having a fighter tank at least one hit. I find this to happen quite often unless you are playing into Krushas, Mollog’s Mob, and Mantrappers. Again, you rely on the enemy’s initiative to score this so keep that in mind as a wise enemy could stall this score for a bit. It does help that combat is an integral part of this game though, for the most part. I do think there are a boat load of ways for opponents to get to 4 damage so this could be terrible in some circumstances – especially in a primacy meta.
Superlative Skill: So like Steady Aim, this could either be very easy to score or brick your entire objective hand. There is a lot of variance and you’re essentially relying on luck. The other condition is easier if you’ve got a healthy and inspired fighter. I think this works because there should be a point in which you can score this. You are tempting fate, though.
Worthy Opponents: An in-faction Catching Up. I only ever took that card when I found it hard to find end phase cards that I can rely on to score. Unless you’ve got a pretty slow game plan, I wouldn’t take this. You can’t score this if you are in the lead, though one could argue you don’t need to score it at that point. I’d still pass.
Bestial Transformation: If you are looking for additional accuracy, outside of the universal pool, then this could be an option but only really for the early game. Discarding your upgrades or not placing on on the fighter is a big drawback.
Blood Vial: If you are looking to inspire a fighter, this could be a great way to do so in latter power steps in a round. Additionally, a heal is nice but 1 heal isn’t good to take this card – it is a more of a nice to have.
Dark Glamour: This card’s effect, if you can cast it, is bonkers. Slapping a move token on a fighter can insane and ‘win’ you a round. There are so many use cases, it can give you a huge tempo swing. Since Duvalle and Gorath both have great bruiser profiles, I think you can find this quite reliable. It is a 60% of a single die but is a way to make this more of a guarantee via a certain faction upgrade: Blood Chalice.
Dark Hunger: This does provide synergy for the Bloodthirst route and if that is something you are embracing then this provides benefit when trying to Bloodthirst another fighter. Pretty much guarantees it actually if you haven’t spent any of the targeted friendly. This is a 50% chance to cast though for a level 1 wizard so that concerns me.
Deathly Apotheosis: This is an excellent card, it is pretty much a free upgrade. Whether using Bloodthirst or seeking the inspire, the fact that you either heal or re-roll an attack is pretty powerful. I think you use this more if you plan on inspiring at least one fighter during the course of a game. This could be removed by cards that remove persisting gambits but no one really runs that, at least for now.
Driven to Hunt: This only works if Duvalle is alive on the board so that is an important factor to keep into consideration as it cannot be used if he is out of action. Giving Hunger counters to friendly fighters within a 2 range radius doesn’t feel powerful as that’s not really as far as you think, especially because aggressive plays tend to spread out fighters. Pushing a single, other friendly fighter 1 hex could be nice but if that is your goal – take Hungry Advance or Sidestep.
Mighty Strike: We’ve seen many cards like this in the past and they always have the same issues – it doesn’t help with accuracy. Imagine playing this and missing. Not only is that a wasted activation, it’s wasted a card as well. Seek proactive damage in your upgrades.
Quicksilver Advance: This is essentially an in-faction Second Wind in terms of application. Removing the charge token is great as you can get double the investment out of a fighter if you can attack, especially if you have tooled them up. The move action option is nice as well if you are trying to dive into enemy territory or to claim an objective. Great card all around.
Startling Competence: While you do have 4 wounds, there are a lot of way for opponents to get up to 4 damage. Even if you do manage to survive the hit, are the options good enough to be take this card? I don’t think so. I guess the push is okay but since most attacks happen via charge, it isn’t doing much. The card draw option is weak, too.
Tenebrous Form: The only way I see this card being played is near the end of the game and on a fighter who needs to live in order for you to win the game. I can see this in a list that takes Lost Pages but even with 3 dodge, we aren’t really guaranteeing their safety – crits will always get you.
Blood Chalice: This is essentially a Blazing Soul for a wizard as this essentially guarantees an inspire, albeit at the end of a round. If you are looking to invest heavily in spells or play Lost Pages, this is also another excellent choice. Since I think you’ll want at least 1 fighter inspired, especially if you are running Gravelords, I think this will find value in plenty of decks.
Deathly Majesty: Great for Duvalle because he can be a heavy damage dealer for you. Again, if you are relying on him for big end of game scores, like Lost Pages, this is also great. The card could go a long way in improving his survivability.
Enforcer’s Cloak: This is a great initiator for Gorath, especially if your opponent has a lot of range 3 attacks. It is heavily telegraphed so I doubt canny opponents will let you take much advantage of this. Cool idea but not good enough I think; this is also a dead card if Gorath goes down early.
Glutton for Gore: If you want to Bloodthirst someone early in the game, this could be a great way to do so. Equip this in round 1 and you’ve guaranteed the Bloodthirst at the start of the second round. Aside from that, it is not doing much and I think you better off investing in other upgrades.
Mirror Duelist: Great card for Vellas regardless of Bloodthirst or inspire. Remember this works on defense too so this makes her harder to take down. If she is your favorite fighter or VOLTRON candidate, take it. Keep in mind she can go down early, especially if your opponent knows you are running this after the first game.
Ripping Claws: This is just like Lightning Whip which saw a lot of play in Stormsire’s Cursebreakers. The challenge here is that this is restricted to just one of your fighters and Ennias happens to be the most vulnerable early on.
Undying Evil: This is essentially a 33% chance to extend the life of a key fighter. Again, I think this could be potentially worth it in a Lost Pages strategy but you are already fighting for upgrade slots there. I’m not a big fan but could be game defining if it goes off in your favor.
Vampiric Might: Amazing card. This is a Great Strength for inspired fighters and Concealed Weapon for fighters who have succumbed to the Bloodthirst. I like the options this provides, especially when both options are fantastic.
Vampiric Speed: The movement gain is cool but there are other cards that are part of the ‘speed package’ that I believe are objectively better. Unless you are playing focusing on Bloodthirst. Then I thing this has legs but is it better than Savage Speed? Maybe up for debate.
Von Marusi Armour: Damage reduction is always nice in this game and for an inspired fighter, this will extend their life for at least another opposing attack action on average. I don’t think the Bloodthirst benefit is worth it but effectively being immune to lethal hexes, and ping damage, could be situationally amazing. Like the warband, this card provides options and I like it. Again, I prefer the inspired benefit.
Holistically, I am a big fan of this warband. One thing I always say is that I like options and this warband epitomizes that. The Bloodthirst mechanic, among the others, are awesome and really add an additional depth to this game that we haven’t seen Warhammer Underworlds before. Having two Wizards, and 4 Hunters, is also a boon in that it opens up many avenues of play and deck design. These guys can pretty much do anything if you want them to, even objective play (hold more) – though I think that is the weakest option thus far.
In terms of their faction kit, they’ve got access to some great cards. In regards to their of objectives, I think Death’s Curse, Gravelords, On the Chase, and Preternatural Speed are standouts. From a gambit standpoint, I think Dark Glamour, Deathly Apotheosis, and Quicksilver Advance are going to be very popular. Man I love Dark Glamour. Lastly with upgrades they’ve got some powerful choices there as well. I personally find Von Marusi Armour and Vampiric Might to be my favorites.
While this warband does lean heavily to aggressive play, I think creative deck builders will be happy with some of the control options these sinister fighters can tap into. I think Lost Pages also has some serious play here if you like that style of play. Again the dichotomy between inspiring and using Bloodthirst is key to your success with this warband. Knowing when to tap into each will be extremely advantageous. Overall, I think they are fairly easy to pick up but they will take time to master completely – just like Warhammer Underworlds.
I expect this warband to make a fairly large impact on the meta, as not only do their miniatures look amazing, they’re just tons of fun to play. They might struggle into higher wound fighters but overall, I think they’re going to perform well.
If you think this warband would make an excellent addition to your collection (they will), be sure to head on down to your local Warhammer Store or FLGS to order yourself a set. If you prefer to shop online, check this out here on Saturday. I hope you enjoy your getting some games in with this warband.
As always, best of luck on YOUR Path to Glory.