Warband Breakdown: Spiteclaw’s Swarm Flex (Aggro and Control) – The Deck

The much-anticipated return of warband breakdown!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Greetings brave reader! It’s been nearly a year that I’ve been filled with requests, shout-outs and demands to return to my warband deconstruction series (renamed breakdown) so what better way to start than with my venerable Skaven deck? Now as you may know I’ve pretty much retired my Skaven (currently) which makes it the perfect time to talk about what made them so strong and, as the series says, deconstruct it.

I’ll be going over the last version of the deck which was pre-banned and restricted list. You can’t really run it again but this is why I created this series. Part 1 goes over the deck but parts 2 and 3 cover the more important positioning and anti-warband tactics.

What made my Spiteclaw’s Swarm the most successful warband in Warhammer Underworld’s current history was a combination of an overpowered deck and finely tuned tactics. Once I got Spiteclaw’s Swarm to its final state, my warband went onto win 10 tournaments, 2 Grand Clashes and go undefeated for 6 months.

This may come across as bragging but I wanted to show how I got it to be so consistently powerful and how you may be able to do the same with your own chosen warband by using this as a guide.


Warband Choice

Originally I had a huge interest in Spiteclaw’s Swarm after testing them upon release. As many players did I eagerly viewed Warhammer TV’s and Warhammer Community’s previews of the warband, feeling I’d hate Spiteclaw’s Swarm and love the Chosen Axes. This was completely flipped upon playing the 2 warbands. I saw potential but they had literally been released 1 week before the 1st Warhammer World Grand Clash so I stuck with my Steelheart’s Champions.

After the Grand Clash I realised movement 3 wasn’t enough and I needed a warband with movement 5 which was where Spiteclaw’s Swarm shone. Their stats looked fairly terrible but they had the movement I needed as well as the 2 defence dice that I loved with Steelheart’s Champions. Their movement gave me the ability to control the board and dictate where exchanges took place. If I could make aggro Steelheart’s work for myself then I could do the same for Spiteclaw’s Swarm!

The big boss man (rat) himself. Warhammer Underworlds’ best fighter in the game. His movement 5 coupled with 2 smash damage 2 and 2 range make him amazing. The Skaven inspire mechanic of choose ploys make it easy and precise. This gives Skritch 3 damage and 2 dodge. He becomes a tough seeker missile with 7 hex range that threatens the entire board.

Krrk is a solid fighter and your poker. He goes out killing 2 wound fighters or bringing down fighters into kill threshold range for Skritch. His block to 2 block defence makes him surprisingly tough which will catch a lot of people off-guard.

Lurking starts off with 2 dodge meaning you don’t need to inspire him. Use Lurking Skaven as bait, placing him as the only fighter in range of first activation charges. Only inspire when you want to attack.

Festering Skaven seems pretty useless at first and he is from a glance. Inspired he becomes a nuisance but hid true purpose is as a weapon caddy. Give him attack action upgrades to make him a true threat.

Hungering shares the same issues as Festering but becomes a little more reliable by attacking with smashes. He’s just a weapon caddy as well.


The Deck

As always I followed my deck building article. I looked at the warband fighter cards. They had the high movement I wanted as well as extra defence dice. Skritch and Krrk were the only damage dealers so I need attack action upgrades too. Skritch was the main focus however so I included cards to make him stronger and more resilient.

Originally I started off as pure aggro but later refined it into flex (aggro and control) so I used objectives that allowed me to score glory without needing to kill. This is where the control aspect came in. I could sit back, earn easy glory and charge in or do the reverse via go for big kills then back off. There’s more to control than just sitting back and drawing cards. My way is riskier but if you can properly achieve it then this type of control becomes incredibly strong.

I also run 22 cards. While 20 is great I find 22 gives me some more options after a do-over and helps me squeeze in more powerful cards. 24 is too much for me but fine if you just want strong cards. My deck revolves around strong card combos coupled with plays. 22 cards gives me just a little more wiggle room without being too greedy.

Look at that bad boy. 16 restricted cards and 3 banned cards (all rightly so). This isn’t legal anymore but as mentioned early the reasoning is to breakdown what I chose and how I used it to all work together. A lot of the cards are still available for use so you can still supplement them into your playstyles where applicable.

Objectives

As always this is what gets your engine going. Only 4 objectives rely on killing (Change if Tactics just needs you to charge) whereas the rest focus on more passive elements that you can exert via control. It gives you the flexibility to do what you want as long as you can play around with the options given to you.

The only faction card and with reason. Score a glory for killing a fighter with Skrtich. He’s the greatest for a reason. Yes-yes.

Fairly easy to achieve and can be used with Trap. Scorable by any fighter in the warband too.

Despite being a 5 fighter warband, this is relatively easy to score once the killing starts. Far too easy with Great Concussion though.

My favourite objective in the game. I will happily spend an activation for a guaranteed glory. Skaven also have 2 cards to easily get this via Musk of Fear and Bodyguard for a Price.

It’s Escalation. Everyone plays upgrades.

You will use ploys and you will use them a lot. It even has Skritch on the artwork!

Another aggro staple.

Your endgame which the score immediate objectives allow you to achieve. Always try to hold onto this if possible.

Skritch will find your leader and he will kill him. Especially with his high base inspired damage of 3.

Part of the control machine that can be scored while killing.

Just a stupidly easy card to score with 5 fighters.

As per Shining Example.

Gambit Ploys

Now gambit ploys are of special mention because your power deck is basically built around them. Every “choose” ploy has a dual effect where they inspire a fighter along with the card’s normal effect. Your ploys need to be at least half “choose” ploys.

The only faction ploy. Simply choose a friendly fight to inspire them while also putting them on guard. Great as a defensive card before or after charging that also helps score Change of Tactics.

Inspire 2 fighters at once! A staple card.

Banned and busted. The great strength with Spiteclaw’s Swarm was the movement 5. Use to space fighters 2 hexes apart which effectively neuters movement 3 warbands who are originally 3 hexes away while you can still charge them. Also useful for seperating lone fighters from their warband.

Great against control players and the like who sit back. Use it before your last activation to place Skritch next to your intended target and smash away. Even sit back yourself then launch a surprise attack, all while inspiring your chosen Skaven (Skritch) too.

Use to teleport next to fighters who come into your territory. Also use it to save Skritch after he has made a suicidal charge deep into enemy territory. Especially useful after playing Time Trap.

Another busted and banned card. Skritch can actually play around this thanks to his range of 2. Charge 2 fighters within range, no matter who runs away you still have a target to attack.

A key card. Ready for Action is your extra attack card. The additional move is incredibly useful too. A card to never leave home without.

I hate Rebound but it does a single important job. Stop Twist the Knife. If it goes off, amazing. If not, you stopped your opponent playing Twist the Knife. Stacks with Tethered Spirit to effectively give you 3 rolls to prevent an attack. Great to freak out your opponent as well.

Push Skritch into attack range while inspiring him too!

Ah Time Trap, my favourite card in the game. Inspires Skritch and allows you to do a multitude of things. The possibilities are almost endless.

Great for Skritch to kill 4 wound fighters while inspired. Just remember that it doesn’t work with Victorious Duel, Precise Use of Force and Skritch is the Greatest.

Upgrades

The Upgrades are where the deck really shines. Not only do they buff Skritch but they unlock a lot of your combos while also making the lesser Skaven real threats. It’s actually the hardest part I found when it came to deck construction as there are so many good upgrades out there.

This is a key staple of how I play my Spiteclaw’s Swarm. As long as Krrk is adjacent to Skritch, he will be on guard. Amazing at setting up Change of Tactics but the real benefit is being on guard from the start of an action phase as long as both fighters are adjacent meaning extra defence when losing priority. Bonkers when Skritch has Acrobatic.

This is amazing. Basically allows Skritch to continually move around the board attacking while on guard. Punish fighters who think being 3 hexes away from Skritch is fine. I’ve killed entire warbands this way.

Your free +1 glory card. Ideally put it on a clanrat. Would be replaced with Hero’s Mantle or Tome of Offerings now though.

Utterly amazing. Skritch with 3 defence is silly good. Put him on guard and laugh. Great on any other Skaven too except Krrk.

This was what made Skritch so reliable. 2 smash is good but this gives you the reliability Skritch needs because he pumps out so many attacks. Potion of Rage doesn’t really do the same job.

Movvement 5 means this is an easy take. 6 wound Skritch is great as well as 4 wound clanrats that can be resurrected.

Your way to make Skritch damage 4 resulting in a nightmare for all your opponents.

Extra chance to make Skritch damage 4. Useful to stick on Krrk or a fighter with a Shadeglass weapon.

It’s a silly good weapon. Around a 42% chance to roll a crit and do 4 damage. It’s what makes your clanrats monsters. Skritch really works to churn out glory for the warband so you can dump these on the other fighters to over-saturate the board with threats for your opponent.

Same as Dagger but with a lower chance for crits. Still a solid choice.

Soultrap but on steroids. Always take it for the potential redeploy to pull Skritch out of bad situations and even setup the next attack. Extra points when you get this off and teleport next to Krrk with Bodyguard for a Price.


That’s my in-depth review of card choices for the deck. While most are banned or restricted it will give you a solid basis as to why I chose those cards to make a monstrously powerful engine, even moreso than how other warbands could use those universal cards.

However this is only a part of what made it all work together, an essential cog of the machine. Part 2 will focus on board selection detailing how to set up the warband for each eventuality and board type with part 3 focusing on the tactics used to make everything gel as one. When all 3 parts are out you’ll be able to see why this was such a terrifying warband to face. Not even crits will save you.

12 thoughts on “Warband Breakdown: Spiteclaw’s Swarm Flex (Aggro and Control) – The Deck

  1. Love it!
    Can’t wait to read the other parts.
    At the end maybe an example deck with the bar-list in mind? And what have changed since then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you love it! I was tempted but probably won’t as this deck just doesn’t work anymore with the banned and restricted list, believe me I’ve tried 😭

      Like

  2. John would it be possible to explain how the interaction with Rebound and Twist the Knife works? Why does rebound counter Twist’s usage?

    Like

    1. They occur during the same reaction window and thus the player who wants to play Twist the Knife can’t if the opponent has Rebound. Both occur during successful attacks before damage is dealt.

      Like

  3. Hi, just started playing yesterday, bought the game painted everything, I have some question about the rats:
    The action of leader (resurrect) can be use how many times per round?
    Also since i m playing in italian, i’m unsure if it is bad traslation but when the skavens get inspired (any power cards work on them?).
    Btw your article was great for understanding the tactics and the best cards to put in my deck for the first matches
    Thanks in advance

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The action can be used during your activations as long as there is a Clanrat to return to the battlefield.

      Skaven only inspire off of ploys that say “Choose” a fighter.

      Thanks, glad it was useful!

      Like

    2. Couldn’t find part 2 and 3- are these still coming out? Or just need to be linked? Loved part 1 – makes me want to try my hand at skaven post bar list!

      Liked by 1 person

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