Hello you Slaves to Darkness! Today I will be discussing the first warband to enter the Direchasm via an expansion: Khagra’s Ravagers. In this review I will detail the fighter cards, the Desecration mechanic, and review 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 out this article.
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.
There are a total of 32 cards and 4 fighters to breakdown. Also, a huge thank you to Games Workshop for providing me with a review copy so that I am able to share my thoughts with you all.
Time to walk the Dark Road!
First things first, let’s breakdown this unique mechanic that comes with this chaotic warband. Understanding how this mechanic functions, and how it can be utilized, is key when understanding how this warband functions.
Now that we know exactly how the mechanic functions, let’s break it down. While not as powerful as the first Warhammer Community article toted it would be, it’s not too bad. The main thing to understand is that this mechanic does not stop end phase objective based scoring, like Supremacy. Instead what it does is that it can slow down surge based objective scoring. That’s not something to be underestimated.
For example, if someone is trying to score Hidden Purpose, they’ll have to wait until the next activation to score it as the token does not go away until the power step. So if you plan things right, you are still able to slow down your opponent’s objective based glory generation. It’s not great, but it is something to think about. If played correctly, it can be quite annoying for your opponent.
This mechanic is also tied to the warband’s inspire condition. You need to get 3 or more friendly Desecration tokens on the board at after an activation. That’s kind of tricky, even with the help of some of the gambits that can place those tokens in the power step. Dour Cragan and Razek are probably your best bet, if you want to inspire quickly, as they can automatically place Desecration tokens at the end of an action phase. All members of the warband can possibly speed things up via the Sacrifice special rule – it allows here to place a Desecration token when they eliminates an enemy fighter, as long as one of the fighters involved was holding an objective.
The good news is, these fighter’s stats are front-loaded. You could ignore the inspiration condition entirely and still find a success often. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom though. I have seen a lot of people being hyper-critical on the mechanic. Sure, it doesn’t hard counter objectives too much but it is interesting. Good players will make use of it. In fact, I think it is easier to inspire than one might think, especially since your opponent may not care about objective tokens.
Let’s take a look at those warriors (and wizard) now.
Khagra the Usurper:
Now this is a leader worthy of being an aspiring champion. Khagra’s got 4 wounds with a range 1, 2 smash attack that hits for a whopping 3 damage. The Knockback is icing on the cake, and can lead to some sneaky takedowns via lethals should you plan the angle right. She’s got a solid defense of 1 block and while that does make her susceptible to Cleave, she should tank an attack or two before going down. The movement of 3 means she is slow. The current state of the game is fast paced and many warbands are rocking an average move of 4. Losing boards is going to hurt with this warband but if you pick the right board, and pack some speed tech, you should be alright.
If you do manage to inspire the warband, Khagra gains an extra movement, which bumps her up to 4, and she gains a second dice on defense. That latter improvement is excellent. We all know how hard it is to get through 2 block, especially with the increased propensity to crit.
Regardless of whether she is inspired or not, Khagra is a beast. She is going to be your main bruiser/assassin – at least early on. A quick strength upgrade gives her the potential to ones-shot most fighters in the game. That makes this warband an excellent candidate for Primacy related shenanigans. Don’t be too reckless with her though. As your main source of damage in the early game, be smart with her. Your opponents will prioritize her so ensure you commit her when you know you can optimize her ability to take down fighters while staying alive herself.
We haven’t had many un-inspired level 2 wizards as of late and then Direchasm brings up 2 in the first 3 warbands! Magic lovers are happy indeed. Zarshia is the only fighter in the warband with 3 wounds but that makes sense as she looks a bit more fragile than her compatriots. Unlike most wizards, she does have a block for her defense role – I guess the ability to wear plate comes in handy. Her first attack is a range 2, 2 smash attack that deals a single damage. It’s on the weaker side of things but don’t worry, her second attack is what we’re here for. Like most wizards, she’s got a range 3 attack that deals a single damage on her un-inspired side. Unlike the rest of the other wizards in this game, she hits on channels. This makes her the most accurate spell caster in the game, period. However great power (or rather accuracy) generally comes with a cost when dealing with the Dark Gods. In Zarshia’s case, if her magical attack ever fails, she is forced to take backlash (1) damage. Ouch, no wonder she’s bitter. Still, I’ve found it to be worth it more often than not. Just try to not to use if she’s got only one wound left. That would suck. Rounding out her stats, she too has a movement of 3.
Out of all the fighters in this warband, I think Zarshia benefits the most from inspiring as her ranged attack goes to two damage. She’s probably the prime candidate for Ritual Desecration if you decide to bring some magical tech. Otherwise, I’m afraid she’ll be camping objectives or perish rather quite quickly. It is worth mentioning that Bittersoul has the ability to turn Super Saiyan via Power Reclaimed. Whether the card is worth it or not depends as you can only use it when Khagra is down. Something to think about though as a 4 wound, level 3 wizard that hits on channels, and has access to leader specific cards is no slouch indeed.
Dour Cragan looks like a boss. I like to think he hunted down a Carnosaur a took it’s pelt as his prize. Regardless of whatever poor creature’s skin he has draped around him, he is rocking it. Going to his stats, they are quite similar to Khagra: 3 move, 1 block, and 4 wounds. His melee attack is a bit different though as he is technically more accurate with 3 fury. It’s only doing 2 damage but that seems pretty standard and fair.
Once inspired, Cragan gains Cleave. This probably explains why his name is literally dour. It’s not much but it can be quite useful given the circumstances. He also gets the bump in movement which is always great. The Despoil mechanic is neat in that if you can ensure he’s on an objective at the end of the action phase, you get a guaranteed Desecration token on the board. Whether this mechanic is worth you having a slow start to nab the inspire remains to be seen. Still, un-inspired he’s great.
Razek Godblessed is almost a mirror image to his fierce leader. He’s got the 3 move, 1 block, and 4 wounds and an attack with 2 smash. The only difference is that his attack his attack hits for 2 damage instead of her 3.
Once he’s inspired, Mr. Godblessed becomes the most accurate melee fighter out of the bunch with a attack profile of 3 smash. He also gains an additional block which is solid for the reasons mentioned above. It’s always wise to actually use a shield rather than have it strapped to your back. Aside from that, he’s pretty much a copy of Dour Cragan so the Despoil mechanic applies in the exact same way here. Both he and Cragan can handle their own in a fight. They’re solid threats and once they get some damage upgrades on, they’re just as scary as Khagra.
Absolute Desecration: Given how challenging the inspire can be to get down consistently, which involves placing 3 friendly desecration tokens on the battlefield, going to 4 seems dubious at best. I think you can definitely plan for it but there are so many variables to consider. Furthermore, it is a third end phase card which can potentially clog up your hand should you draw it early. 4 glory is nice but it’s not worth it here. Interesting thing to note is that the card doesn’t specifically mention whether the Desecration tokens have to be friendly or not. So if you are ever in the mirror match, this could work out in spades. Otherwise, pass.
Brutal Desecration: While desecrating 3 objectives seems challenging, desecrating 1 is trivial especially with some gambits to help you along the way. This is probably going to be an auto-include in Ravager decks. It is a Surge and a passive one to boot. Take it!
Dark Approval: This is a faction copy of Victorious Duel. While the idea of getting both this and that card at the same time seems awesome (it’s 5 glory!), the chances are slim. Having to have even one in your end can be hard given the 6/6 rule. Having to wait for this card before you go for the takedown can be sub-optimal. When an opportunity presents itself to eliminate the enemy leader, you don’t wait in this game.
Desolate Domain: This card is interesting because ideally you’re going to want to place your objectives aggressively. The ideal scenario is that you have 1 in your territory so you can Desecrate this quickly and move on. It’s a solid option if you want to focus on scoring your Surges passively. Just be careful as objective placement will make this card as hard as you want to it be in terms of scoring. Also, counter play is there as opponents can wise up to your preferences.
Fierce Conquerors: The first condition on this Dual objective isn’t hard. You’re playing an aggressive melee warband, you’re going to be in enemy territory. The challenge is the second condition. Dropping 2 Desecration tokens and hoping they stick till the end phase is easier said than done. If you are 100% set on the inspire condition, and the Desecration mechanic itself, this could be a good route for you to take. I fear it may be too hard to score consistently. But, maybe dropping 2 isn’t too tall of an order.
Glorious Slaughter: Now this is what I am talking about. It’s a 2 glory end phase cards that rewards kicking behinds and taking names. Unless you are facing a 3 fighter warband, this should be scorable by the end of the second round. If you are facing a 3 fighter squad your game plan doesn’t change anyways. Go slay your foes!
Hurricane of Violence: This is solid man, another great end phase card. As long as your fighters are doing the dirty work in enemy territory, which they should be at least half the time, you’ll get a nice payout. If you count the eliminations then this is worth 4 glory. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and score this in the first round if your charges workout!
Malevolent Exploits: We’ve kind of seen this before in Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers via Unexpected Cunning. There is a reason why that card is Restricted. This is a little different as it has to be in the same power step. Still, being able to play 3 POWER cards in a single power phase is super easy as they can be both upgrades and gambits. While it can force you to burn a card early in order to score it, like Frantic Exchange, I think the con is worth it. Auto-include any day of the week!
On the Dark Road: We’ve seen this card around a lot via Universal and faction card pools. It is reliable and pairs well with Show of Force. While the glory payout is low, if you are looking for reliable glory, this could be an option.
Razed Realm: Seems tough to do but could pair well with the Surge above. I think the debate is still out on whether Desecration tokens can be countered often by your opponents, especially if your opponent knows you’re trying to drop them. I think it might be inefficient when you consider the other option is to just go face.
Power of Chaos: If you want to make Zarshia an offensive tool, then I think this is a great card for you to take advantage of. I think if you compare it to universal Surge options like Predatory Spell or Arcane Arrest, then this is your best option as it is the least complicated. Whether it is her attack action or a damaging spell like Hunting Bolt, it’s a good option – if you go the magic route.
Ravagers All: This is way to much work for so little payout, especially when your warband doesn’t benefit much from the inspire (the movement 4 is nice though).
Eye of the Gods: This is a very fluffy card, I am glad it is in the set just for that reason alone. If an enemy leader is out of action, it doesn’t matter how they were eliminated, then, if Khagra is alive (or Zarshia through Power Reclaimed), then they can gain a pretty neat benefit. Whether you go for the accuracy, via dice or keyword, or go for the damage – it can be a situational boon. It is leader dependent though and even with the backup plan via Zarshia, should you take it, I think taking tech in your gambits and damage/accuracy in your upgrades is probably more efficient. Still, very cool!
Flames of Spite: Cool idea for a Reaction and I like how you can play it after you see the rolls. Relying on crits is tricky though and sometimes it feels like they never come up when you need them too. If you are looking for damage, go upgrades.
Mask of Darkness: This is kind of like a pseudo Faneway Crystal in that you can teleport a friendly fighter in enemy territory. There are a couple caveats. First Zarshia has to be alive, second she has to have someone in range, and third she needs to actually cast it. 2 dice makes it fairly reliable but there’s always a chance to fail. Cool movement tech though that help overcome an unfavorable board placement.
Power Reclaimed: As we mentioned earlier in the article, this could be a solid option for Zarshia since Khagra is always going be played aggressively. The thing is, you need to keep Zarshia alive for this to go off. That seems hard given her single defense, 3 wound profile. If you do take this card, play cagey with Zarshia and only risk her when you think the payout is well worth it. Going to level 3 makes her attack insane though. It also makes her probability to double crit and take Backlash damage (something that can happen from time to time) also higher.
Ravaging Advance: Awesome card for the early game as it can help you close the murder gap pretty nicely. It also gets you on top of cheeky objective tokens for Desecration as well. If you draw this late it may be dead but I think that this card is worth it regardless.
Ritual Desecration: Not only does this help you get a Desecrate token down pretty easy, it also inspires the fighter. Essentially, it is Regal Vision plus Desecration stuff. I really like it and think it is worth it for this warband (Khagra) for the inspire alone.
Spurred On: If Khagra makes a move, someone can piggy back off her even if they have a move or charge token. It can make for some pretty sneaky plays whether you are trying to hold objectives, get into enemy territory, or drop Desecrate tokens. The gambits in your deck are pretty tight so I don’t know if this makes the cut but I always consider it when building decks with these guys. Just make sure Khagra stays alive!
Whispers of Chaos: Very cool and powerful spell. As long as Zarshia is within 3 hexes of the enemy target, she can can not only push them (perhaps to their doom via a lethal or off an objective) she can also deal a point of damage to them, or give them a move token. Either way it’s a pretty powerful spell – probably the most powerful one we’ve seen in Direchasm to date. The challenge, as always, is keeping Zarshia alive long enough to benefit from this. Very cool tech though.
Wrack the Land: If your fighter is adjacent to an objective token, and that token is empty, then you can drop a Desecrate token on it. Not bad and can combo well with getting these warriors inspired or even score some end phase stuff.
Eternal Vendetta: A weaker Fuelled by Fury in faction form. It is solid and can make sure you hit when you really need to. I don’t know if it is a better option than Victimize or Sitting Target. Personally I think re-rolls work better for me – it is definitely a mental thing.
Blasphemous Cuirass: Getting some Wurmspat vibes here – it is actually quite literally their faction mechanic in upgrade form, at least when they are on 1 block. Interestingly, I don’t think this is worth it because of hard how it is to get to 2 block. In fact, only 2 fighters can get to 2 block. For the Wurmspat, it is free and hence why it is better there. It’s not worth the deck slot or glory cost in my opinion.
Blazing Runeshield: Being immune to spells would have been great in Nightvault. As it stands, the Beastgrave/Direchasm meta isn’t influenced much by spells and not every opponent will have a spell attack action. Maybe this is cool tech in the future, but for now I’d pass.
Bolstered by Hate: Awesome card. No need to explain why gaining +1 wounds for any warband/fighter is amazing. Take it.
Conqueror’s Cloak: I like the idea of having this in the deck as generally you’ll be charging with your fighters. More often than not your fighter’s movement in that case will be 5/6. Do I think it is better than Spectral Wings and/or Savage Speed? Probably not better than the former. I think it competes with the latter though – again because most of the time you are hopefully charging with the equipped fighter. Great option if you want additional move tech.
Desecrator Gauntlets: This can help bump an enemy fighter a single hex after a move action. It is interesting in terms of applications – maybe you push them off an objective hex or finish a fighter off via lethal. In practice, you could charge next to 2 enemy fighters, hit one, and then after push the other one away. I think it’s okay. Upgrades are stacked right now so it may be hard to justify the inclusion honestly.
Gifted Sorcerer: Now this makes Zarshia’s attack significantly more reliable as you have a higher chance to hit fighters, and re-roll that second crit in case you miscast. Again, if you want to throw some eggs in Bittersoul’s basket via magic stuff then I’d slot this in. If you manage to power her up via Power Reclaimed, 3 dice plus a re-roll is nasty.
Grudging Defense: Neat card as well all know how powerful Guard can be when it is always in effect. You probably stick this on Khagra as she benefits the most, especially when inspired. Razek is a good choice too. Both can become literal tanks if you inspire them the traditional way or via Ritual Desecration.
Hellfire Sword: This is a sword that shoot fire bolts … awesome! When you are playing slower warbands, you generally stack the movement tech and a couple range 2 weapon upgrades, think spears of all varieties, to help close the engagement gap. Getting this in the mix can help with reaching some enemies who may be out of melee range. A threat range of 6, un-inspired is sweet. It is fairly accurate too for 2 damage, too. I may be biased because visually this is so cool to me so I may rate this higher but I’ll definitely be using it. Forewarning, I may be using “whoosh” sound effects every time I make an attack, haha.
Ruinous Might: Another copy of Great Strength. You only get so many attacks in a game so making sure they hurt when they hit is generally the optimal thing to do. Take it and never look back!
Unearthly Charisma: Last card on the list and one that isn’t too bad. If you plan to invest the resources to keep Khagra alive, which you most certainly should, then this could be an efficient way to improve your warband’s accuracy in combat. Keep in mind Zarshia won’t benefit from this because she doesn’t have a range 1 attack action, unless you give her a weapon. If you are trying to score Unafraid then there is actually pretty decent synergy here. Ultimately, is it better than Strength of Terror or Hunter’s Talisman? I don’t think so. If can’t fit Hunter tech for the latter nor can you pay the Restricted tax for the former card, then you might give this a go. A possibility!
I find Khagra’s Ravagers to be a fun warband to play and build decks for. Summarizing their strengths: they are tanky, have the potential to hit hard, are decently accurate, and have some solid objectives (most importantly end phase objectives) to rely on. On the flip side I think their biggest weakness is the fact that they are slow. Losing a board roll can hurt. Luckily, they’ve got some tech and access to the universal pool to overcome this.
Of course I think the biggest point of contention for this warband is the Desecration mechanic, and as a result their Inspire condition. Having played with them a fair amount I can confidently say that it is not as bad as people are making it out to be. Is Desecrate a game breaking mechanic? No. Is it situational useful and flavorful? Absolutely. Dave Sanders, the creator of this game, also mentioned that it was challenging to get it right and this ended up being the most balanced.
The thing is, you can reliably get 2 Desecration tokens on the battlefield more often than not. Even if you just rely on gambits, Ritual Desecration and Wrack the Land can do it for you. When you consider the Sacrifice and Despoil rules, it isn’t too bad. I do think getting that third one is going to be trickiest. Opponents will probably try to stop you from inspiring even if the Ravagers don’t gain much from the inspire, except for probably Zarshia who goes to 2 damage a range. It is something that you and your opponent will always want to consider as inspired fighters are just objectively better. I have to reinforce that this warband probably doesn’t need to inspire to win the day. Some warbands rely on their inspired sides heavily, for this lot – it is a more a nice to have. Plus you do have an auto-inspire for 1 of your fighters via Ritual Desecration.
This warband also has a lot of access to wound and damage tech. If you take Ruinous Might, Great Strength, Sting of the Ur-Grub, and Savage Strength – you’ve just ensured that your fighters will be hitting in the 3-5 damage range quite often. Same thing goes for survivability. Great Fortitude, Bolstered by Hate, and Deserved Confidence can mean your fighters, especially Khagra, can take an extra hit during the course of the game. On top of that, you can add Mortis Relics to your deck to gain another way to access a +1 wound and damage. Are you probably going to take all of those? No – but the options are nice.
Now a lot of people are comparing this warband to Magore’s Fiends. Is that a fair comparison? I would say so. Thematically and functionally, they tend to operate the same. As servants of Khorne, I do think the Fiends have an edge when it comes to eliminating enemy fighters. Magore and Riptooth are a nasty pair. They also are better at holding objectives since Razek and Cragan simply cannot. I do think the Ravagers have better cards – my current deck has 11 faction cards. This coupled with ability to tap into magic means they’ll end up playing different and generally have more reliable glory. I also think they’ve got better engagement tools which might be the tie-breaker here.
Overall, I think this is going to be a fun warband. We’ll probably see them a lot in the coming months as they look great and have the ability to tango with the upper echelons of the competitive meta. While there seems to be a lot of criticism surrounding this warband, don’t judge a book by its cover. Do yourself a favor and actually play with them. I think you’ll like them more than you think.
If you would like to pre-order, head on down to your local Warhammer Store or gaming store. If you prefer to shop online, you pre-order on Games Workshop’s website here. I hope you enjoy experimenting with these cards over the coming weeks. I know I will.
Best of luck on YOUR Path to Glory!