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Warband Review: Storm of Celestus

Hello, Gloryseekers! Jonathan here with my review of the new The Storm of Celestus warband! Today I will be talking about the fighters, rating the faction cards, and talking about how I think this warband plays on the tabletop.

The Storm of Celestus are one of the two warbands contained in the new Two-Player Starter Set for Warhammer underworlds, along with the Storm of Celestus warband.

The fighters are a band of Stormcast Eternal Castigators belonging to Order Grand Alliance, and are the 5th Stormcast warband in the game along with Steelheart’s Champions, The Farstriders, Stormsire’s Cursebreakers, and Ironsoul’s Condemners.

For more information on this product:

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.

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The Inspire Condition:

As usual, we will cover the warband’s inspire condition first. The Storm of Celestus has a very straightforward inspire condition, requiring them to make a successful attack with their Thunderhead Greatbow attack action for the three Stormcast, and the Beak and Claws attack action for Sleek.

This is reminiscent to the inspire condition of Magore’s Fiends from the Shadespire season, and results in the warband being fairly easy to inspire by the end of the game, but the luck of who inspires when can be a bit random. Because the inspire only works on the Stormcast’s Thunderhead Greatbow attacks, they are encouraged to use this attack action in the first round in hopes of inspiring, giving them a natural bend towards an aggressive play style if your goal is to inspire early.

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The Fighters:

Drakan Celestus:

Drakan Celestus is the fearless leader of the warband, and a powerful fighter from the get go with his Range 3, 2 Smash, 2 Damage attack action, which is one of the best starting ranged attacks in the game (comparable only to one shot weapons like Jagathra or Skaeth’s Javelins), at the cost of only being able to use it once per round. His other stats are fairly standard for a Stormcast leader, with Move 3, 1 Block, 4 Wounds, and a Range 1, 2 Smash, 2 Damage Heavy Stock attack action.

Once inspired, Drakan gains +1 Block, +1 Dice on his heavy Stock attack, and a special ability that makes him immune to drive back as long as he is holding an objective.

This makes Drakan your most powerful fighter, and once inspired is very difficult to shift off of objectives. I think there will be some cases where charging early onto an objective with Drakan is a solid move, as if he inspires he becomes a very durably and immobile figure, and can help you score some of this warbands objective holding focused objective cards. In other cases you may want  to play more defensively and wait for a target to present itself, try to inspire without charging, and then charge with the Heavy Stock attack.

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Mellisan Star-Sighted:

Mellisan is the warband’s sharpshooter, and has a similar but slightly worse starting profile compared to Drakan, which only 1 damage on her Range 1 2 Smash Crushing Kick attack, but an otherwise identical uninspired profile and Thunderhead Greatbow attack as the leader.

Once inspired, she sadly stays at one block unlike Drakan, but does gain +1 Damage and Knockback 1 on her Crushing Kick attack, and a very powerful ability to roll +1 dice on her attack actions if she is holding an objective. This makes her slightly less durable than Drakan, but possibly even more deadly with her Thunderhead Greatbow once inspired as long as she is controlling objectives.

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Aphus the Brave:

Aphus the Brave has a similar profile to Mellisan except that instead of kicking his enemies, he smashes into them with his Range 1, 3 Fury, 1 Damage, Knockback 1 Shoulder Barge attack action.

Once inspired, he gains +1 Damage to his Shoulder Barge attack, and gains a special ability to re-roll one defense dice as long as he is holding an objective. I think Aphus is a solid fighter once inspired due to his Thunderhead Greatbow attack, but do not think his ability bonus is quite as good as Drakan and Mellisan’s abilities. He will still want to inspire as soon as possible for the extra damage on his Range 1 attack, though if you were able to choose, I think you would prefer the other two get inspired first.

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Sleek:

Sleek is the fourth fighter in the warband, and is a pretty solid fighter with a very cool defensive reaction. Uninspired, Sleek is Move 4, 1 Dodge, 3 Wounds, with a Range 1, 3 Fury, 1 Damage Beak and Claws attack action. Like most animal fighters, Sleek cannot use attack actin upgrades, but importantly is able to hold objectives. Sleek’s reaction allows him to protect friendly fighters (or himself) by giving them guard tokens if he is within 1 hex of them when they are attacked by an enemy within 2 hexes of him. This makes you want to keep Sleek near your other fighters if possible, and is particularly strong against range one enemies.

Once inspired, Sleek gains +1 Move, +1 Defense dice, and Ensnare on his attack action. Sleek is great for holding objectives as needed, and protecting his friends. What a good boy!

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Faction Objectives:

Advancing Storm: A solid surge for almost any other warband, but hard for this one to score in the first round due to their desire to use their ranged weapons and very low uninspired Range 1 damage.

Rating: C

Balanced Strategy: A very interesting hold objective card that might be worth trying out. The main weakness of this card is the need to have both objective 2 and objective 4 in range, which you won’t always be able to rely on. I do think the “after an opponent’s activation” requirement is more balanced better than previous surge hold objective cards, but still quite playable.

Rating: C

Here We Stand: A better version of the previous card, I like this one quite a bit more, as you only need 2 of the 3 objectives listed, instead of 2/2. I think it makes it much easier to score, and worth trying if you want to play with warband with a Hold Objective strategy.

Rating: B

Bulwark Against the Dark: A fairly weak 1 glory end phase card. You can probably score this by round 2 or 3, but it probably won’t make it into competitive decks.

Rating: D

Crucial Objective: This should be fairly easy to score it most games, though it is not as powerful as other cards we’ve seen before like Got it, Boss. I think it is quite playable, but may not end up being how you want to play this warband.

Rating: B

Great Purification: I think both conditions for this card are too difficult to score very often, despite the 3 glory reward.

Rating: D

Here We Stand: Scorable, but not enough glory to make the cut most of the time.

Rating: D

Lightning Strike: Too situational, and not enough glory to take in competitive decks.

Rating: D

Point Blank: I love the design of this card, and think it is reasonably scorable for this warband. You may sometimes have to decide between shooting and then charging or just charging to score this card, but I think it’s likely still worth doing a lot of the time.

Rating: B

Righteous Banishment: This is fairly reliable in most matchups, but doesn’t reward very much for doing it.

Rating: C

Shining Heroes: Too hard to score in the first round, and low reward.

Rating: D

Zone of Banishment: A very powerful card since you can score it from the first round, but not great in the current aggressive meta.

Rating: C

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Faction Gambits:

Aetheric Channeling: An okay accuracy card that is a bit of a false choice due to +1 Dice almost always being as good or better than Cleave or Ensnare.

Rating: C

Channelled Step: A situationally powerful teleport card, limited by the 2 hex limitation. I think this is playable in the right deck, but you may also find yourself unable to use it in many match-ups.

Rating: C

Concerted Consolidation: Pushes are great in Underworlds, and a double push is even better! You do have to move towards the nearest objective, but I think this will frequently be a good thing anyway.

Rating: A

Distracting Shot: An okay effect, but probably not worth a gambit slot due to other better options like Buried Instinct and Greatbow Block.

Rating: D

Greatbow Block: A very powerful way to stall out the opponent’s activation by making them either do very little to one of your Stormcast fighters, or target Sleek. It does paint a target on Sleek in some ways, but i think this can be used to your advantage if Sleek is next to a friendly fighter to give them guard, and if Sleek is already out of action, it works great.

Rating: A

Healing Tempest: A faction version of Healing Potion, I think this is a solid card for this warband.

Rating: B

Lightning Flare: A cool card flavor-wise, but too situational for championship decks.

Rating: D

Raise the Alarm: Another decent accuracy card, but slightly worse than other universal options like Determined Effort.

Rating: D

Stalwart Defence: A bit too situational for my liking, but not a terrible card for a hold objective play style.

Rating: C

Swift Step: A solid push card that is great when used on Sleek.

Rating: A

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Faction Upgrades:

Cautious Advance: A decent Duellist’s Speed type effect, but sadly limited to Aphus. I think you skip it unless you want to double up.

Rating: D

Concussive Cloud: A very interesting weapon upgrade that can be used to control enemy fighters, and importantly can be used more than once per round. I don’t think you take this in every deck, but it may find a place in some, and can be very strong in some match-ups.

Rating: B

Cool Head: A solid upgrade, but restricted to Mellisan. I would probably consider this card, but only after I already took universal options like Eagle-Eye first.

Rating: C

I’ll Cover You!: A neat card from a fluff perspective, but not enough of a defensive buff to make the cut.

Rating: D

Long Shot: Cool, but probably not needed most of the time, and hard to justify the upgrade slot.

Rating: D

Loyal Companion: A very neat upgrade for Sleek, and worth considering given his very powerful reaction. I think the main problem with this card is just how many other great upgrades are in the game right now, and it’s somewhat situational nature.

Rating: C

Reconquerer: An interesting Move bonus card that effectively allows you to move +1 if you end on an objective. Because of the timing on the reaction, it would allow you to score Gathered Momentum and Winged Death (if you can get to 6 move), but not Cover Ground. I think it’s good, but competes with the many ways to just get a flat +2 Move.

Rating: C

Reconsecrate: A neat tech card that is probably best used on a Sleek hiding in the back of the board to help score this warband’s special Hold objective cards. I’m not sure it’s worth a slot in general, but could find a place in a very specific strategy.

Rating: D

Stoic Fortitude: A great upgrade, but limited to Drakan only, so a bit more situational. You might consider this one, but only after taking the less restrictive universal options.

Rating: C

Strength of Sigmar: A solid damage upgrade, but perhaps not as good for this warband due to their preference for Range 3 attacks compared to cards like Gloryseeker and Fighter’s Ferocity.

Rating: B

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Closing Thoughts:

I think the Storm of Celestus is a very interesting warband for a few reasons. Firstly, their inspire condition and overall stats make me want to play them very aggressively with lots of Thunderhead Greatbow shots, but their cards make me also want to try focusing on some Hold Objective play, which is a very interesting combination for a smaller warband like this.

Their objective cards are very interesting. The most powerful of the selection seem to oriented around holding objectives, which means you will either need to do this direction in your decks, or take mostly universals. The gambit cards have a few very powerful options, particularly the Greatbow Block and the push cards. The rest of the cards are playable and likely great for new players learning the game, but are likely to be replaced by universals, or used in very specific decks.

The upgrades for them contain a number of fairly usable cards, including a few nice staples like  +1 damage, +1 wound, and re-rolls, but they suffer a by being limited to specific fighters, and they don’t really have any unique cards of very high power. This means the warband will likely take a few of their best cards, and then dip heavily into the universals, which is somewhat disappointing but also fairly common for many warbands. Seems to be a theme for the starter warbands, anyways which may not be a bad thing.

The strength of this warbands seems to come from it’s very strong ranged attacks, which will be devastating in the first round, and help it make up for lower mobility stats, as well as allow you to make multiple attacks with a single fighter in later rounds in targets are in range, which is great once you start losing fighters.

I expect I will try out both full aggro and aggro/objective flex play styles, and overall they seem like a fun warband to play both competitively and in a “learn the game” capacity.

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Thanks for Reading!

I am very grateful to Games Workshop for allowing me to review this product. If you would like to pre-order this product, head on down to your local Warhammer Store or gaming store. If you prefer to shop online, check them out here.

As always, best of luck on YOUR Path to Glory.

Jonathan

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Aman

Blogger, Podcast Host

Competitive player who loves to attend events and theory craft. Always chasing the next piece of shade glass. 

Favorite Warband: The Farstriders

Jonathan

Blogger, Podcast Host

Loves to discuss all aspects of the game, especially events. Enjoys the data behind the game and is also competitively focused.

Favorite Warband: Spiteclaw's Swarm

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