Review: Morgwaeth's Blade Coven - Faction Cards
And then there was one. Ladies and gentlemen we have the final warband of the Beastgrave season! Morgwaeth's Blade Coven is a troupe of deadly femme fatales seeking to lose control in the wanton frenzy of battle to better honor their violent patron, Khaine.
In this article, I will be deviating from my normal review format. The Warhammer Community Facebook page dropped all of the faction cards as well as the universal cards that come with it. As such, I will be discussing the information they have released already. Due to an embargo date I cannot disclose anything that comes in the box aside from what has already been revealed by Games Workshop. That means I will be reviewing the models, dice, and sleeves this weekend.
In order to get out my reviews out to you in a timely manner, in this article I will be covering the warband's fighters and their faction specific cards. I will cover the universals in a later article.
I would like to thank Games Workshop for sending me a copy to review early so that I could share this awesome information with you all.
Glory to Khaine!
So before we get into the individual aelves that make up this warband, I think it is best if we cover their inspiration mechanic as it helps understand how to pilot them.
On paper, their inspire is pretty simple - they all automatically inspire in the third round of the game. It's quite an interesting inspire but one that comes with it's fair share of nuances.
The challenge, as you will come to see in a moment, lies in the fact that it may be pretty difficult to consistently survive that late into the game. 3 of your 5 fighters have a wound characteristic of 2 and 1 dodge for defense prior to inspiring. So, in order to get the most out of your fighters, you are going to want a majority of them to make it to the end of the game.
With that in mind, you'll have to play this seemingly "aggro" warband quite reserved initially. There's a term that's been coined out there called "surgical aggro" which refers to a midrange style of play. It essentially boils down to scoring quickly and some passively in order to tool up your fighters so that they can either taken down enemy fighters, or weather the storm until the latter stages of the game. This is the philosophy you will have to follow in order to win your games.
However, there are two ways to get around waiting till the third round to power up your warrior maidens. The first way revolves around your leader's reaction ability: Blood Sacrement. Essentially, whenever an enemy fighter is taken out of action and Morgwaeth is on the battlefield she can pick any fighter, including herself, and inspire them. This gives you the ability to get aggressive when the moment presents itself.
The second option is a gambit card Catechism of Murder. Essentially, if your leader is on the field, you can inspire any fighter. It's another great tool that help you cheat the inspire in a pinch.
Now that we've set their inspire in context, let's jump into the fighters!
Morgwaeth the Bloodied is the leader of this warband and she definitely brings the stats to rep the title. Her only attack is pretty solid with range 2, hits on 2 smash, and deals 2 damage. She's also got cleave to boot! That attack profile is strong and reminiscent of Skritch's (Spiteclaw's Swam) and Duke Crakmarrow's (The Grymwatch).
She also comes with 4 movement, 2 dodge, and 4 wounds. Those wounds are really nice as most aelves tend to have 3 wounds or less. We've already covered her inspire reaction up above but it's worth mentioning that it is of the utmost importance to keep her alive. This heavy reliance on your leader to get your fighters going is quite similar to Thundrik (Thundrik's Profiteers).
Upon inspiring, Morgwaeth gets a bump in damage so that she's hitting for 3 damage. It's a nice boost and with the help of Great Strength, she's capable of taking down most fighters in this game.
Your leader is your most important fighter on the battlefield, period. She's a powerful fighter and decently survivable so she'll be doing a majority of the heavy lifting early on. While it may be tempting to charge her into a fighter she can take easily, over committing her will cost you dearly. Be smart, be surgical, and she'll reward you for it in spades.
Kyrare is the ranged fighter of the group and your second most important fighter. She's got two attack profiles. The first one, and candidly the most relevant one, is her range 4, 3 fury, ensnare attack that hits for 1 damage. This makes her hands down the best archer in the game. There really is no argument here. Her second attack seems more of a courtesy. It's a range 1, 2 fury, 1 damage attack. You'll probably never use it.
She's got the second most wounds on the team with 3 which is fairly standard. Due to her half serpentine nature, she's starts off with 2 dodge and 5 movement. This means she has a threat range of 9 hexes off the bat! That's crazy good.
Upon inspiring, her ranged attack becomes significantly more accurate because it swaps over to 3 smash and gains cleave. This means that, more often than not, your opponents are going to need to critically defend against her to survive her ranged onslaught! Her secondary attack becomes a bit more useful as it also becomes more accurate and bumps up in damage to 2.
Kyrae is probably going to be your primary candidate for inspiration, after Morgwaeth. On some occasions, you might even inspire her first. Due to her quick movement and range, she should generally be fine. Slap on Gloryseeker and Fighter's Ferocity on her and chuckle in glee as she melts fighters from afar.
One thing to note is that you can use Kyrae as a bait/distraction piece as well if the situation calls for it. While she's quite powerful, it might be useful to let your opponent take her down to "protect" your weaker fighters. Your opponents will quickly learn that she is a high priority target and as such will most likely over commit to take her down should you use this strategy.
Now we get to some of the more fragile members of the warband. Khamyss is a sister of slaughter and as such has some cool combo shenanigans that give her some neat flavor. Her Barbed Whip attack has a range of 2, hits on 3 fury, and deals a solid 2 damage. Her attack profile is identical, aside from the combo keyword, to the Briar Queen (Thorns of the Briar Queen) which is fantastic given how much of an early threat the Queen can be.
She has 2 wounds though. This means she will be taken down quite often and quickly. Her innate ability to never be driven back is nice though as she can't be eliminated via lethal hexes. This offers her a touch more survivability. In fact, it can be quite annoying as we all know when interacting with Ghartok (Magore's Fiends).
Khamyss' Bladed Buckler works as a reaction in that after her first attack, she can react with it to hit for 1 damage. It's not the most accurate attack in the world, but on a 50% chance she will deal another point of damage. Keep in mind that this attack is range 1 so you'll have to make a choice when attacking with her. Do you stay a safe distance away and go for 2 damage or do you risk it for the biscuit by charging adjacent to her target in hope of dealing a potential 3 damage? Personally, I am not sure it's worth it but it's something to consider on a contextual basis. Plus, we all know how lucky Snarlfangs attacks can swing games when dealing with Rippa's Snarlfangs.
When inspired, this sister of slaughter goes to 2 dodge and 5 movement. It's not much but again, makes her a tad bit more survivable. The important thing is that her combo reaction attack becomes slightly more accurate. Still, it's not enough to rely on this attack. The threat range of 7 is neat, though.
Our final two fighters are Kryssa and Lethyr. Let's start with the former.
Kryssa has a movement of 4, 1 dodge, 2 health and a melee attack action that hits on 3 fury for 1 damage. It's pretty lackluster. The cool thing is that she has roughly 50% chance to deal 2 damage from the jump thanks to her Sacrificial Knives special rule - on a critical hit, she gains an extra point of damage.
Once inspired, she gains a bump in movement and defense. It's not much but she will take everything she can get. Upgrades will really help her but they might not be worth the investment on such a vulernable fighter.
Lethyr shares the exact same profile as Kryssa before and after inspiration. The only difference is the special ability that comes with her pair of Sacrificial Knives. If she has 2 or more success in her attack role, she is able to deal damage twice. So if Lethyr is high rolling a bit, she can deal 2 damage. It's an interesting mechanic and makes you wonder how much damage she could potentially dish out if you put on some strength and accuracy upgrades on her. Still, I don't like the odds.
If I were to make an inspire priority list, I'd probably have Lethyr at third, after Morgwaeth and Kyrae. Of course it depends on every situation but she has potential for sure once inspired.
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.
Blessings of Khaine: So inspiring these ladies is hard, we've established that. Therefore I don't think it's worth taking this card. I guess you can treat it as a conditional third end phase score 1 glory but doesn't sound very appealing now, does it?
Blood Rite: So you've got three fighters who can hit from beyond range 1 so the idea of making an attack action while holding an objective isn't out there. Getting the elimination is the more challenging part. Still, I think I like it enough as it's decently reliable with Morgwaeth and Kyrae, your heavy lifters.
Consecrate to Khaine: Taking someone out while holding an objective really depends on the kind of meta we see. If it's objective heavy, which it most likely be, the stock of this card is certainly raised. I liken it to Ritual Kill from Skaeth's Wild Hunt. They've got the same exact card but rarely take it despite having superior attack profiles. It's a gamble, for sure.
Daughters of the First Temple: It's a pretty straightforward card and one that does reward you for following your game plan. While I don't see it being scored in round 1, it's certain quite viable from round 2 onwards, especially if you have a tooled up Morgwaeth.
Devoted Disciple: This is a super easy card to score as lethals are everywhere. Sure you have to take a damage but there's not much difference between 1 and 2 health in this game. Take a jog through a lethal hex and maybe score Calculated Risk along the way. Just make sure you don't end near a lethal hex to avoid death by push card.
Perfect Kill: This is a faction version of an older card, Precise Use of Force. It was a great for aggro warbands then and it certainly is great for aggro warbands now. Morgwaeth will probably be doing the heavy lifting here but it's worth it.
Proof of Devotion: So out of the two options here, wiping the enemy warband is the more likely outcome. With that being said, I doubt you will ever wipe the opposing warband consistently enough with any warband, certainly not with this warband.
Purposeful Strike: We're starting to see some synergy here with engaging with enemy fighters while on objectives. Make a charge in the final activation of the round and at the very least, you should be able to capture a glory token. At the most, maybe you get an elimination too.
Ritualized Formation: An in faction Supremacy is a bit dubious with this warband. While they've got the numbers and movement to get it done, they don't have the staying power.
Swift Sacrifice: Ignore the fact that it says Kyrae on this card. Get an elimination with Morgwaeth and you get a pretty decent surge objective. Okay, Kyrae is a desperate back option.
Torturous Death: I tend to not like cards that force you to attack the same fighter multiple times in a single phase. You could do it by swarming a single foe but that doesn't seem tactically viable with me.
Triumphant Stance: It's a form of Uncontested and considering how often that card gets scored, this might be viable option for your warband should you have the right gambits to supplement this play. You have to make a choice though, do you want to get on objectives yourself or keep everyone off them. Something to consider, I think.
Bloodbane Venom: On a 49% chance, you can deal an extra damage after a successful range 1 or range 2 attack action. So there's a couple of variables here. First you have to hit, then you have to roll a crit off 3 dice. Seems dicey.
Carve a Rune: You have to hit first and then hope there was a crit in the attack role in order to get that glory token. I guess you could try to fish for the crit via accuracy upgrades. it’s not unlikely but crits always fail to show up when you need them to. Probably best to attempt with Kyrae.
Catechism of Murder: This is an auto-include. Cheat your tough inspire condition and start getting offensive earlier than your opponent expects.
Crimson Rejuvenation: I like the idea of being able to heal your fighters for sure. The challenge is that if a majority of your fighters are taking damage, they probably aren't surviving it. You could use this as heal for Morgwaeth herself but I think I prefer wound boosting upgrades instead.
Drilled to Perfection: Giving guard via cards hasn't been worth it since Shadespire universals rotated out. If this is was closer in spirit to Buried Instinct, I'd be all over it.
Fanatical Faith: This is just what you need when trying to protect your lightly armored fighters. In Underworlds, people tend to gear up for one-shot charges. This card not only denies them the elimination, it also probably wasted the cards the invested to try to one-shot your fighter. A must take.
Headlong Fury: Right off the bat, this card is limited to fighters that are inspired. Remember, that's the hardest thing to do outside Catechism of Murder. Despite the tough requirement, the maneuverability this card offers you cannot be ignored. It's an out of activation move with no token penalty. While it can be a dead card early on, it can work wonders later in the game. Whether you want to get into charge range, run away, or hop onto an out of reach objective, this card can help you do it. Rating: B
Incredible Agility: Being able to ignore the effects of lethal hexes sounds great on paper but in practice, it doesn't offer you much more flexibility. It could be a niche card though if you get max offset with the Molten Shardpit board. It could be a clever way to overcome that minefield of lethals in order to get some charges off.
Perfect Precision: While there are some much better accuracy gambits out in the universal pool, this card deserves some consideration. More than half your warband has a tough time hitting the broadside of a barn. This could help alleviate that issue if you want some redundancy.
Zealot's Rage: Solid card, much needed in aggro warbands. Auto-include, don't even second guess it.
Crimson Shard: Amazing card for your leader. She is your best fighter and the most integral piece on the board for you. Giving her the ability to eradicate things more reliably is a boon.
Crone Blade: This reminds me of Bloodtheif a bit. No one takes that card.You shouldn't take this card either. Healing is nice but the attack profile isn't good enough to be worth the upgrade slot.
Death Dancer: This is a faction copy of Duelist's Speed but it doesn't work on scything attacks. That's alright though, it's still pretty solid. Morgwaeth can pinball up the board annihilating fighters or Kyrae can readjust her positioning after every single shoot. Seems solid.
High Oracle's Butcher: I really want to rate this card higher because I know the potential carnage Kyrae can unleash on a good day. However, in order to have that good day, she needs a very particular set of skills, er upgrades to start slashing through her foes. Losing out on the bow's range hurts. Ugh.
Invigorated Attack: So just like the card art demonstrates, park Kyrae on an objective and her already odds on attack becomes even more accurate. It works well enough with Morgwaeth and Khamyss as well in case Kyrae goes down. I just don't think she needs the accuracy boost, at least not in such a limiting fashion. If you play into objectives more though, it could be pretty solid.
Rapturous Defense: Giving an extra defense to one of your two worst fighters seems like doing the most. Not worth the slot.
Rune of Khaine: Not worth the investment, especially when it's on Morgwaeth - the lynchpin of your warband. Hard pass.
Rune of Slaughter: If you go accuracy heavy, this card could be pretty potent. It's just not as reliable as some other upgrades that boost damage and as such it leaves much to be desired.
Victor of a Thousand Duels: Generally I am not a fan of 50/50 effects but in this warband, particularly on Morgwaeth I find this card to be worth it. If you VOLTON her, which you will, she can be quite hard to hit. More attacks means more opportunities to get Morgwaeth to inspire the rest of her sisters.
Whirling Whip: This doesn't have the combo special rule which make Khamyss particularly interesting. Furthermore, this is restricted to one of your weaker fighters. Not worth the slot.
Morgwaeth's Blade Coven are one of the more peculiar warbands we've seen release in the Underworlds. Now, peculiar doesn't mean bad but it does mean that they're going to be a bit harder to play than most other warbands.
They've a couple things going for them: a powerful leader, an accurate ranged attack, and some solid gambits. On the flip side, below average fighter stats, a challenging inspire condition, and subpar objectives mean that this warband is playing with a handicap. There will be a reliance on the universal pool for the gals.
Again, this inspire condition is tough as it dictates their intended play style so strongly. You need to be cautious at first, gauge what your opponent is trying to do, gain some quick glory, and then unleash as much violence as you can. If you think about it, it's exactly how one of these witch aelves would probably fight in the lore.
At this time, I see two ways to play them. Midrange, surgical aggro where you score as much as you can in round 1 and then go hard and an objective flex build that potentially could be more defensive. One thing for sure is they want to draw into their gambits and upgrades quick so a To the End package might be useful.
I also think teching into Amberbone weapons might benefit you greatly. I plan on trying it.
So, should you buy the Morgwaeth's Blade Coven expansion for Warhammer Underworlds Beastgrave?
I believe so. It's a challenging warband to play but if you enjoy that kind of puzzle solving and are up for it, I think you can find them particularly rewarding. Plus, they've got some amazing universal cards in their box - more on those later.
If you would like to pre-order Morgwaeth's Blade Coven, head on down to your local Warhammer Store or gaming store. If you prefer to shop online, check this out here.
I hope you enjoy your experimenting with this warband over the coming weeks. Look out for more content coming out in regards to them over the next couple days.