Event Review: Despoiling a Good Time
Hi everyone, back here with an overdue event review detailing my recent win with Grashrak's Despoilers, one of the starter warbands from the Beastgrave core set.
In this article you can expect a deck breakdown, summary of games, tips on how to play the Despoilers, and my thoughts on the event.
Note: If you are looking for my thoughts on the warband as a whole and a deeper dive into their fighter cards, check out one of my previous articles here.
After completing my review of the warband, I thought the warband exhibited something similar to a jack-of-all-trades style. They have solid fighters, great faction cards, and tend towards an aggressive and hold objective play style. Conversely, I also felt like those were some of their weaknesses, specifically their lack of a core identity as well as poor fighter stats on the Ungors. 6 fighters can also bleed a bit of glory so that was also a concern.
Furthermore, I saw a lot of criticism towards the warband online. I am sure the negative thoughts stemmed from some of the aspects I mentioned above as well other things.
The deck above was my attempt at leaning into the strengths of the warband while also mitigating the negatives. The deck is played in a mid-range style. You have enough cards to score glory passively which allows you to power up so that when its time to get violent, you can do it in a manner that benefits your overall game plan.
Note: Some of you may notice that one card is different from the list I posted in the Facebook groups. I uploaded the wrong photo as I made changes to the list just before the event and didn't update my deck builder. Initially I did have What Armour? in the deck but I made a last minute swap to Killing Blow prior to the event starting. I also swapped Opening Gambit for Supremacy because I wanted my glory count to be higher. Due to the change in objectives (mostly the former), I swapped out Mutating Maul to Nullstone Sword for a more reliable melee attack.
With the advent of lethal hex placement as a core mechanic in Beastgrave, it makes taking Calculated Risk a no-brainer. This is especially so considering you take boards without built-in lethal hexes. You can set your movements in quite the calculated manner. 😉 Keep Them Guessing is a great card in general, even more so with warbands with a lot of fighters. Korsh's innate ability makes this even easier. Supremacy acts a card that provides you a big payout, especially when you are already going for Despoilers and Path to Victory. You'll probably have at least two fighters on objectives anyways, just secure that third one and you are good to go.
Solid Gain is another great card that fills in an awkward space at this time. The 6/6 objective rule makes it tough to find end phase cards that can be consistently scored. It also acts as a small glory multiplier. Whether by eliminating enemy fighters or scoring other cards, this card felt reliable enough. Shortcut is another auto-include due to Korsh's innate ability. Just be sure to keep him safe until this has been scored! Blood Ritual is fairly easy to score as well, especially in latter stages of the game when you start removing enemy fighters from the board. Often, I would charge with Draknar or Murgoth at the end of a turn, with the help of an accuracy gambit, to ensure an elimination. Since your leader starts with a ritual counter, getting that second one allows you to score this quite reliably.
Despoilers is a very strong card. I would daresay, it is borderline busted. An in-faction surge version of Our Only Way Out is awesome and is super easy to score. I would often score this and Shortcut by teleporting Korsh to an objective on an edge hex I placed earlier in the turn. There's nothing your opponent can do about it! Killing Blow was a game time decision swap and boy am I glad I did it. Grashrak, Murgoth, and Draknar can score this for you - especially when facing fighters with lower health ranges. If you do face four wound fighters, Draknar can still get the job done with strength inducing upgrades. Proven Superiority was a card that I found bricked sometimes due to opponent's protecting their leader, especially after the first game (they knew I had it). Still, when it worked it was awesome netting that 2 glory.
Path to Victory is one of the standouts in the recent Grymwatch expansion. It's a great card overall and I'm sure you'll see it on almost every deck. Plus, you have a bunch of fighter and nabbing two objectives is pretty easy, especially when going for Despoilers. Scrum is a bit of a hidden gem in that it's actually quite easy to score. You can pick certain boards to help you score this with minimal effort while still allowing you to not veer to greatly from your game plan. Furthermore, your opponent can score it for you! Swift Capture works well with the Despoilers because of your high movement. Furthermore, Korsh can teleport across the board to score it for you as well.
Haymaker is probably the best neutral accuracy card in the game. Sure there is a downside, but you can play around it. Also, the Beastmen need the help. Pit Trap helps you finish off enemy fighters especially since most of your fighters don't have high damage output. Two Steps Forward is an awesome card, especially for larger warbands. Pushes are king and getting your fighters to where they need to go is paramount, especially when reaching for those objectives. There is a downside in that your opponent gets a free push too but generally I didn't find it detrimental as the pushes taken were largely inconsequential.
Blood Taunt is another accuracy inducing card, especially for your lower wound fighters. There's not much a difference between one wound and two wounds so it never really felt bad. It did feel great when those much needed attacks landed, however. Bull Charge, another accuracy card, was amazing. Getting a guaranteed success on your Ungors and Draknar, once inspired, was very helpful. Doubly so if you managed to roll a critical success as well. Vile Invaders allows you some awesome movement economy. Again, pushes are paramount in this iteration of Underworlds and nabbing objectives via this card was godsend.
Confusion helped a ton when trying to score my objective token based score cards. Interestingly enough, most people didn't see it coming. Restless Prize allows you to be real cheeky with your either allowing your warband to get onto objectives or, conversely, deny your opponent their ability to hold them. Either way, it's a must-have now. Sidestep, another push card, is super helpful and allows you to bolster your threat range or, again, get onto objectives. Snare just double downs on Pit Trap. Sure, only four of your fighters can use it but you'd be surprised how often it comes through for you. I had Gnarl take down a three wound fighter with Gloryseeker, Bull Charge, and Snare. Furthermore, this helps with inspiring as you need to take two enemy fighters off the board.
Crown of Avarice is a staple now. The ability to deny your opponent glory and potentially protect a fighter cannot be understated. Faneway Crystal was a bit of a wash for me. The problem is that people are always on objectives now and you usually need to use a card like Restless Prize to make it work. I will say, it did win me one game during the tournament so I was glad I had it. Still, you could probably drop it. Gloryseeker just helps with your damage output - after all, you do need to eliminate enemy fighters. It working on range is nice too.
Nullstone Sword was another last minute swap I decided to opt for because I wanted my attacks to hit pretty reliably. Three smash is probably the most accurate stat in the game and can allow your weaker fighters to brawl with the opponent. Snare and Pit Trap help with allowing them to take down foes. Potion of Rage is another accuracy buff that helps tremendously. You can significantly increase the likehood of getting your big attacks to go through. Just be careful not to telegraph it - I recommend playing it in the later stages of a power step so your opponent's likelihood of countering it decreases. Sudden Growth is another strong card that provides some much needed survivability. Usually this went on Grashrak to help me score Proven Superiority.
Amberbone Axe allows your fighters to hit more reliably while also scoring you some extra glory. Sure it's a spent token but who cares - the more the merrier. Great Strength and Great Fortitude are classics that clearly give you massive benefits. Sometimes, all you need is that extra damage of wound to ensure you can do what you need to do. Larval Lance, in my opinion, is one of the best weapon upgrades in the game. Early on, I agree, it's a bit lackluster but during the second phase it's a carbon copy of Nullstone Spear. However, if you manage to get this on in the third phase, it becomes monstrous. Three smash, three damage is Ammis-like levels of threat. Throw this on an Ungor and watch your opponent fear them more than Draknar. Crown of Avarice going on that aforementioned fighter is just hilarious (for you) too.
Games Workshop Village Center:
The event was held at the Warhammer store located in the heart of Katy, Texas. As always, the event was run by an awesome TO, Tyler, and the store manager, Zach, is a standup guy.
There were 6 players (average for most Texas locals) at the event and it was three rounds of best two out of three. In attendance, we had: Eyes of the Nine, Zarbag's Gitz, Spiteclaw's Swarm, Magore's Fiends, Lady Harrow's Mournflight, and my Grashrak's Despoilers.
I highly recommend you check this place out if you ever are in the area. It's an awesome store full of a great community.
Note: I won't be able to get into as much detail as I'd like about these games due to fact that this event didn't allow any audio recording. Furthermore, my request to take notes was denied as well as we had a tight schedule and we needed the event to end by closing time. Totally understandable.
Round 1: David W. - Spiteclaw's Swarm
I won the roll of and opted for objectives. Surprisingly I got long-boarded. I wasn't really sure what my opponent's game plan was but I was definitely wary. Still, being able to nab those three objectives and have a tighter path to protect felt favorable.
My objective placement felt good with only token 2 being the one we'd be contesting. Keen-eyed viewers will notice that token 5 was on an edge hex which allowed me to teleport Korsh without risking him. I also placed my lethal on my board edge which allowed me to score Calculated Risk without having to commit my fighters too much.
Now THAT is an opening hand. Needless to say, I kept it!
David played very aggressively during this game and used card likes Expendable and Crown of Avarice to keep bringing his fighters back while dissuading me to take them down. Skaven move very fast and when they are tooled up with a bunch of attack upgrades, it is scary. Still, I managed to cycle through my deck very quickly as after scoring Calculated Risk, I drew into Shortcut. Later in the first phase, I scored both Shortcut and Despoilers with Korsh as he teleported only a single hex away.
Interestingly, my opponent rolled a crit in every single attack roll that game. It was wild and made quick short of my frontline fighters. Still, the glory train allowed me to secure a narrow victory, 15-12.
The key that game was the draws as my first turn was nuts. I scored Calculated Risk, Shortcut, Despoilers, Supremacy, and Path to Victory by the end of the first phase (10 glory with an elimination).
I won the roll off for the second time and opted for the objective tokens again. I managed to whether the storm the first game despite my opponent rolling very hot - I figured I could do it again. My objectives were placed in a similar manner to the first game. I placed my lethal hex on the right side of the board which allowed me to zone out my opponent while still allowing me a cheeky charge and score Calculated Risk. Again, token 2 felt like the one we'd be fighting over however this time, it felt more protected.
My opponent still rolled well but it was no where near the ludicrous levels of the first game. Due to the nature of my opponent's deck, he was very aggressive out the gate and this worked to my advantage as I could pile up on his fighters early. I played very aggressively and managed to take an un-inspired Skritch out in the second phase with Draknar plus Great Strength. After that, my opponent and I both knew I had the game. I cleaned up all of his fighter except Krrk and spent the rest of the game walking onto objective tokens.
I won 15-8.
The biggest takeaway from this game was the endless supply of ritual tokens you can potentially recycle. Often I would charge, use a token, get the elimination, and then get another token back. Recycling the tokens felt almost silly at one point especially when using them with attack action upgrades.
Round 2: Unknown - Lady Harrow's Mournflight
First off, I'd like to take a moment and apologize to my opponent for forgetting his name. He's a very kind gent and plays very fairly.
My opponent won the roll off and elected to go with the objectives. This was to be expected as Despoilers generally like objectives near them. It also kind of concerned me a bit as I thought he could be playing a very defensive styled deck, especially when he put Lady Harrow so far in the back. It was either that, or he had some teleports to play around with.
I kept my setup petty simple and chose to place my lethal hex in a manner in which I could benefit from it but not necessarily suffer from it either. Ghosts ignoring lethals is so good.
So this game was a bit of a doozy. We both spent the first couple activations moving onto objectives. My opponent scored some glory fairly quickly and started piling on some upgrades. I took a risky attack action with Ushkor and thanks to Haymaker and Snare, I managed to take Widow Caitha out of the fight fairly quickly, which scored me Path to Victory. This was also pretty big later as it denied his Shortcut. Well, until I played Confusion later in the game. 😭 The second phase consisted of the banshees, fully kitted out with their lovely upgrades, charging in and making short work of my Ungors. Murgoth rolled a clutch critical roll on defense which helped my fighters pile onto the Anguished One. In the end, with 2 banshees alive and only 3 beastmen, I was able to use my push cards to score Scrum. That allowed me to score Solid Gains in the end phase, too.
I managed to edge the game out, 14-12.
This time, I won the roll off and I happily picked the objective tokens. I was kind of surprised to see my opponent deploy in the middle of his board. I would have thought he wanted to be more aggressive. I do think he was relying on his high movement to mitigate that while still following his plan of powering up turn 1 before coming in for the kill later.
I chose not to place a lethal hex in this game as I had some on the board I’d selected, and because it really only is a detriment to me when playing against a warband composed entirely of ethereal fighters.
As my opponent had done in the previous game, he moved half of his fighters onto objectives in order to score some cards. After piling on some upgrades, he came charging in. I, on the other hand, had a pretty decent hand, including Despoilers. I just shifted about and scored passively for a bit. Unfortunately, most of my upgrades were aggressive in nature so I didn't really do too much in that regard. In the second phase, I was able to counter charge and avenge my fallen Ungors. Draknar plus Bull Charge and Pit Trap meant a banshee went poof. I also made a crazy charge with Korsh. I played Restless Prize, charged with Korsh via the Faneway Crystal, and hit Caitha for two due to Great Strength which scored me Killing Blow. The third phase was a bit more cagey, I just tried to score as many cards as I could while my opponent did the same. Lady Harrow did make a charge but she whiffed which made Grashrak pretty happy. By the end of the game, I managed to score every card in my deck except for Proven Superiority which gave me a healthy lead.
I won, 18-6.
The biggest takeaway from these set of games is that even if you are facing an aggro warband, or fighters with just better stats, don't be afraid to turn the heat on and go toe-to-toe with them. With the right cards, your fighters can hit reliably well and put the hurt on your opponent. Also, don't be afraid to bait a fighter - I usually pick an archer.
Round 3: Steven - Skaeth's Wild Hunt
Ah Steven, my local training buddy and friend. It's been really good to see Steven do so well in our local events. As I have mentioned in the past, we've been working on his game a lot and he's managed to put up some impressive results. He's won three Shadeglass Trophies in as many months!
With that being said, I knew I was in for a good time. Either way, we were going to have fun and play a great game. Furthermore, it was nice to see both core box warbands meet in the final. This was especially so because they'd been getting a bit of criticism online (for the record, I think they both can win consistently).
So, I won the board roll and opted for the objectives. I wasn't really sure if this was the best idea as the Wild Hunt do have better stats on their fighters. Still, more objectives equals higher chance to win...right?
Again, I placed my lethal hex on my board edge and used it as a way to zone out the right side of my board. My opponent placed his right in front of token 2 in order to deter me from going for it while also getting the ability to push me back into it should I decided to claim it.
Somewhat surprisingly, Steven ran a deck similar to mine. Well, as similar as it could be while still taking his faction cards. Since we were both running mid-range style decks, we knew whoever could power up first would likely take the win. Unfortunately for me, that was Steven. He scored Purifying Rites and some other cards that gave him the glory jump early. I did manage to take down Althaen with a lucky crit via Murgoth's spear plus Pit Trap. I also happened to score Path to Victory at the end of the first phase which was needed. The second phase was slightly more aggressive, at least from Steven's end. I focused on getting my fighters onto objectives to score Despoilers. At this point, the battle became a mindless brawl where we were both just slamming fighters into each other. Draknar charged via Faneway Crystal to take down Karthaen (scored Killing Blow) and then he was subsequently cut down by Sheoch. Lighaen came in and ripped through an Ungor and then the feline's body was broken by Grashrak's staff. Unfortunately, I forgot Crown of Avarice was on Lighaen so that pretty much tied us up on glory. Potion of Rage and Trophy Belt went onto Skaeth in the power phase before the last activation in the game. We were at 14-14. Keep in mind Skaeth already had Tome of Offering and Eye of Kurnoth equipped. He went for the charge, blew the potion, and...missed. Wow. 5 dice and a re-roll and he didn't roll a single critical success or fury. You gotta love Underworlds. I scored Solid Gains in the end phase and my opponent scored something as well which put us 15-15. However, I was on more objectives so I took game 1 by the skin of my teeth.
The biggest takeaway here was that sometimes, it might behoove you to pick the board set up when you know your opponent is going to be gunning for you from the get-go. Furthermore, sometimes when things get messy, it really just comes down to dice rolls. Sometimes it works insanely well in your favor and sometimes it doesn't despite your best efforts. Take those moments in stride and don't let them get you - it'll keep you sane.
Winning the board role, I went for boards this time to try to control the engagement a little bit more. Interestingly, Steven put token 4 in my zone, however it wasn't a bad move. That objective is surrounded by waaaay too many lethals. I tried to create a funnel by placing my lethal token in no-man's land so that I could, again, force my opponent through certain hexes. Steven placed his behind token 2, in my territory - a solid spot. I will say that Steven did make an error when placing token 5. By putting it on an edge hex, it would allow Korsh some sneaky shenanigans.
This match was perhaps the most cagey of the day in that we both kind of didn't do anything for the first couple turns. Steven scored whatever passive glory he could while I generally did the same. This time however, the advantage was mine and I scored Scrum, Calculated Risk, and Despoilers fairly early on. Steven ended up sacrificing his Lighaen as well to score both Calculated Risk and Martyred as well. The second phase is when things got a bit more interesting. Skaeth came charging in with Sheoch hot on his heels. I ended up losing one of my archers to the former, but I was very happy the latter stepped off token 5. Draknar pounded on Skaeth and with the help of Murgoth, took down the enemy leader. Korsh also teleported to token 5 which scored me Shortcut and contributed towards Supremacy. After that turn, things were not looking good for my opponent. Still, he valiantly fought on and managed to take down two more of my fighters. However, the beastman glory train was in full force and I was able to score what I needed to give me the required glory boost to seal the deal.
I won, 19-14.
Grashrak's Despoilers performed in a manner that I found fun, refreshing, and competitive. Being a hybrid/flex warband, they do tend to suffer a slight identity crisis but quite frankly, I think that is their strength. They can brawl when they need to but are just as happy twiddling their thumbs on some objective tokens as well.
One thing to keep in mind, as I am sure you've noticed, is that most of your fighters are generally on the weaker side of things. However, this isn't too much of a hindrance. You've got bodies and the key to winning with this warband is knowing when to move which body where, while also setting up some counter charges. I played this warband very defensively. Not in the sense that I camped and waited for my opponent to come to me, but more in the sense that I used my fighters to protect my backline so that they could do what they needed to do. They've got some great offensive tools which are ideal for counter punches.
One thing I've noticed about Beastgrave is that everyone has their eye out on the objective tokens. Whether you are trying to hold them or deny them to your opponent, utilizing your movement and pushes to capture them is paramount. I think the beastmen do that pretty well. In fact, I think they are a fairly competitive warband that stands solidly in the upper-mid tier of things.
Overall, I am happy to have won some glass with these dastardly worshippers of Chaos. They've been a joy to pilot and unlike some of the other warbands I've won with, these will not be consigned to sitting in my case just yet. I just genuinely like playing them a lot and look forward to seeing how they will evolve with the advent of more universal cards.
I hope you found this article useful and it gives you some ideas on how you want to play with Grashrak's Despoilers. Let me know if you have any feedback - it is always appreciated.