Deck: Flexy Thorns
Hey everyone, I hope you've been staying safe and making the best of your time at home. To my fellow Americans, Happy Memorial Day and to my British friends, I hope you are enjoying your Spring Bank Holiday.
Today I'll be sharing a Thorns of the Briar Queen deck that showcases a different way to play them but one you will find surprises you with its level of consistency and power. I was going to take it to a certain online event this past weekend but due to familial commitments, I just couldn't make the time. I figured I might as well share it here anyways.
In this article you can expect a deck list, card breakdown, and play strategy.
The idea behind this deck is that I disliked the fact that board roll of mattered so much for objective style warbands, particularly this warband. After the insightful data that was gathered from the first community online event, my opinion was reinforced. With that in mind, I created the following list:
As you can see, there is no Supremacy, no Swift Capture, and, perhaps most interesting, the fact that there is also no Temporary Victory. I know, bold (conquest 😉) move.
Again, the idea here is I didn't want the board setup to dictate how I played my game. So, while some of my objectives have to do with holding objective tokens, it really doesn't matter which ones I do hold or what side of the board they are on. This frees up my activations to focus on taking out enemy threats, allowing me to be a bit reactive when needed, and, most importantly, take the fight to my opponent.
This particular build relies heavily on three key fighters: the Briar Queen, Varclav, and the Everhanged. As we all know, the Briar Queen is one of the most powerful fighters in the game and has unparalleled mobility and threat range via innate faction cards as well as her range 2 attack. Tooling a deck around her doing an incredible amount of damage and consistency appealed to me, especially since it worked really well at the Las Vegas Open.
Interestingly, Varclav is also pretty powerful namely because he goes to 3 damage when Inspired. I don't know why he does but it's very strong. The Everhanged is decently accurate and somewhat tanky as he start with 3 wounds. He's the ultimate bruiser and perfect for initiating combat. Both the Everhanged and Varclav are also great backup fighters to tool up should the Queen get neutralized early as well. Furthermore, they're an excellent clean up crew.
Treacherous Foe: Probably the best Surge available to this warband and it's been a staple ever since they've been introduced. While it does affect the way you build decks, as you need to throw 3-4 Reaction gambits in there, it's still a great card.
Branching Fate: You're going to be slinging a lot three dice attacks at your opponent so this is bound to show up eventually. Though you do chalk it up to chance, it's been pretty reliable. If the Queen goes down, you have the Amberbone Dagger as well as using Potion of Rage on a Chainrasp with a single attack dice as back up. The latter example as saved my behind more often than I care to admit, ha.
Tempting Target: The idea here is to eliminate as many opposing fighters as you can and as such, most of your high priority targets generally have 2+ upgrades on them. Some of my practice partners have tried to work around this and while it can slow you down, the benefit of upgrade on their fighter usually outweighs you scoring this card. If you think about it, its really a 2 glory card as you get one for the elimination too.
Shortcut: As much I dislike the passive Surge meta, that's how the game works at this time and as such, you might as well take advantage of this. Your two triggers for this card are Shadowed Step and Sudden Appearance.
Scrum: Obviously, Varclav makes scoring this card a joke due to his fighter ability. Even if you don't get it early, you can often maneuver enemy fighters around with Distraction and Nightmare in the Shadows to help you score this card in your following activations.
Bold Conquest: Probably the weakest Surge but still decently reliable. Your Queen is a monster and using Sudden Appearance as well as Restless Prize can create some amazing avenues for you.
Frugal: I've become a recent convert of this card and I'll shoutout Max Bernstein (Battle for Salvation) for convincing me to take it. I like it more than Combination Strikes too and during the late game, it's extremely easy to score as you should have a decent glory pool.
Keep Chopping: One of my favorite End Phase objectives, this card gives you a nice glory boost and isn't difficult to score, even in the first round. Sure, it does force a specific line of play but that's what this deck is designed to - chop down your foes.
Opening Gambit: Probably one of the most popular cards in the game, this gives you a reliable score during any point of the game. If you do happen to draw all of your Surges early (the dream!), make sure to save one for this card. I suppose if you don't, you should be ahead enough in the game anyways, right?
Solid Gains: Another reliable glory multiplier. It's a bit unfortunate that this is what the game has come to but again, it's solid. Take it.
Path to Victory: I love this card as it gives you an End Phase you actually have to think about and plan for. Varclav's ability and Restless Prize are you friends here. Also, you can score this with the help of your Queen who probably has Survival Instincts on her and is holding an objective due to Bold Conquest.
Uncontested: Jonathan Davis (Well of Power, Path to Glory) put me on this card and I have to say, it's been pretty clutch. A 3 glory End Phase card is a very welcome sight and this one has synergy with Path to Victory. Against other objectives warbands, you probably don't score it but try if you think you can. It is a lot easier into the popular big guy: Hrothgorn - he loves destroying those tokens, might as well punish him for it.
Endless Malice: An excellent card and a Reaction to boot. Getting more reliability when trying to make sure that big hit goes through is so good. Getting a glory for it at the same time via Treacherous Foe is icing on the cake.
Maddening Cackle: This card is a must have right now. It utterly wrecks Mollog, Hrothgorn, Stormsire, The Briar Queen, Duke Crakmarrow, etc. Again, it's a Reaction too. This card kind of creates an arms race against Mollog and Hrothgorn as well as they rely heavily on Blazing Soul. Often, in my games with Michael Carlin's Mollog, whoever drew this first generally had the advantage and went on to win the game.
Sudden Appearance: Probably the best card the Thorns of the Briar Queen have access to. The fact that you can get a key fighter, usually the Queen, anywhere you want is ludicrous. Not only does it make your fighter of choice have insane threat range, it's also a great escape tool as well. Again, you cans core glory off of it too via Shortcut.
Shadowed Step: Another trigger for Shortcut and allows you some nice mobility as well with the Queen. Often, your opponent will place an objective token in No One's Territory to try to make your Swift Capture harder. But, since we aren't running that card, the jokes on them as it just helps you score Bold Conquest and Path to Victory.
Blindside: Shoutout to Nick Ramone from Italy for suggesting this card to me - it's been ace when trying to improve the likelihood of a friendly fighter surviving an attack action. It's also great for scoring Treacherous Foe and Scrum.
Buried Instinct: Speaking of helping friendly fighters tank incoming attacks and scoring Treacherous Foe, this card is another awesome Reaction. The Guard token it provides also really helps when trying to score Uncontested and Path to Victory.
Frenzied Search: Another objective based warband staple, this card helps with cycling through your power cards. That's great as, like in any game with card elements, having a card advantage (more cards than your opponent) gives you more options and more consistency when trying to score your objectives.
Nightmare in the Shadows: This card will help you move enemy fighters in to charge range, push them off objectives, and perhaps even send them to their doom via lethals. Great versatility and probably one of the best universals, ever.
Restless Prize: This is your anti-objective tech as well as additional insurance when trying to score Uncontested, Path to Victory, and Bold Conquest. Use it wisely and you should be able to stall out opposing strategies and/or secure your own. My favorite is playing it right after your opponent plays their copy.
Howling Vortex: So I opted for this card instead of taking Distraction as this is essentially a beefed up version of that card. If you don't like the fact that you could fail to cast this (happens a lot more than you would think), then you could easily swap it for Distraction despite it not being as strong (which is funny to think about considering how strong Distraction is). Either way, the enemy push tech is great.
Potion of Rage: We need to be bale to maximize key charges/attacks in order to score Tempting Target as well as just provide consistency in general. This helps you do that - it's why it's in almost every deck ever.
Sudden Growth: helps you keep a key fighter in the game longer than they should. That's important since again you are trying to keep the Queen up long enough to dish out maximum carnage.
Tome of Offerings: A very strong card that allows you to capitalize on taking down fighters, especially against warbands with a high model count. Because the deck caps out at 16 glory, this card is integral to giving you the edge in certain matches especially in matches against smaller warbands.
Prized Vendetta: Similar in concept to Potion of Rage but allows you as many re-rolls you need to get the job done. Great against warbands that revolve around big fighters and can also allow you to score Branching Fate should you need to by re-rolling for another symbol.
Spectral Armor: In a warband full of dodging fighters, this card is a no brainer. Ideally you put it on the Briar Queen alongside Survival Instincts. It makes your fighters really hard to take down and super tanky.
Amberbone Dagger: I like Amberbone weapons as the extra glory is great and help you edge out tight games. I chose this one in particular as it aligns well with Branching Fate.
Cryptic Companion: Often, you'll use Varclav's push at the beginning of the game and after that, your Chainrasp at the back of your board doesn't really move. Slap this on someone and ideally get an extra 3 glory for not doing anything you wouldn't already do. If your equipped fighter does end up getting pushed off, Restless Prize helps with getting them back on.
Great Strength: While the warband's attack profiles are nothing to slouch at, you need ensure that when you hit, it's enough to get the job done. This card helps you do that - it's also great versus Hrothgorn and other 4+ wound fighters.
Sting of the Ur-Grub: See above. Keep in mind it doesn't work on the Briar Queen.
Survival Instincts: This card really helps out dodging fighters as it's mathematically so much better for them. Since your whole warband is on Dodge and can get to 2 Dodge often, if not already, it's pretty solid. As the name suggests, it bring you much needed survivability especially when "VOLTRON-ing" the Queen.
Thorns of the Briar Queen are a powerful warband that can tap into a plethora of strategies in order to find success. I'm a fan of more interactive and aggressive play styles so I've tailored the deck as such.
I think I could have got top 10 with it, at the least, at the last event as I had put a lot of damage cards to take down Hrothgorn (10% of the field) and Mollog (2 top 10 finishes). Again, Maddening Cackle is so good against them. Furthermore, the movement/teleport cards are great for blowing up their backline too.
I look forward to people trying out this deck and perhaps making their own improvements upon it.
If you have any feedback, comments, and/or questions please do let me know.