Warband Retro Review!
Welcome to my Warband Review series. You may remember it for my Nightvault warband reviews but I’ve never actually done any sort of review for the Shadespire warbands. So starting today I’ll be working my way through from Garek’s Reavers all the way to the Farstriders. For the first review it’s all about Shadespire’s first warband; Garrek’s Reavers!
Garrek’s Reavers are a wandering band of Khorne Bloodreavers. They lack the armour of the more veteran Blood Warriors but these servants love the speed this grants them as well as the feel of fresh slick gore across their skin from fallen foes. They seek to defile the Mirrored City with endless bloodshed and slaughter. Such constant acts of repeated murder in the paradoxical city of Shadespire will eventually draw the gaze of Khorne for him to claim alone.
The warband consists of 5 Khorne Bloodreavers. Despite their human similarities, each fighter stands out with their own weapons and stances. Blooded Saek is rather iconicly posed for the game whereas Karsus uses his chained axe to great effect.
My favourite part of the miniatures are all the little signs of Chaos mutation and battle damage. Many a model has numerous scars due to the lack of armour while others show protruding spines and horns as rewards for their continued bloody slaughter.
The sprues come in a lovely shade of blood red, perfect for every Khorne devotee. The miniatures generally go together quite well but Karsus and Saek are known to snap due to their single contact points on the bases. Also these bases are some of my favourite Warhammer Underworlds bases. Just the right amount of skulls and Khorne details for my liking.
Garrek’s Reavers consists of 5 fighters. They’re fast with a universal movement of 4 (5 upon inspiring) with a decent wound total of 14. They hit quite hard as well with Saek starting off at 3 damage. The warband has the same inspire mechanic which requires 3 fighters to be out of action, whether it’s your’s, your opponent’s or a mix of both. It’s thematic and generally quite powerful as this forces your opponent to choose carefully in regards to who they try and kill first. It’s problematic against warbands who can return fighters to the board after being taken out of action like the Sepulchral Guard and Spiteclaw’s Swarm but I still like it overall.
Garrek Gorebeard is the warband’s leader although it may not seem like it at first. He has a respectable 4 wounds with movement 4, a single dodge and a 2 damage 2 smash range attack. He doesn’t hit too hard but he is reliable and quite durable by having the highest base wounds characteristic in the warband.
Upon inspiring Garrek becomes a beast. He goes to movement 5 and damage 3. Garrek is what I call an endgame fighter. Starts off rather weak but really gets into his stride later in the game. You can either sacrifice him by using your leader as throwaway bait to tank damage or have him hang back and enter the fray when he’s inspired with upgrades to tear apart the enemy. Ignore him at your peril.
Karsus is a key part of the warband as well as being Shadespire’s first ranged fighter! His range 2 chained axe may only be 1 damage but it is 3 fury and allows Karsus to attack from behind his fellow Bloodreavers to gain support and protection! You can even opt for the Brutal Chop which gives you a reliable 2 damage attack. At 3 wounds he’s in the middle ground for durability. He might be able to take a hit or 2 but don’t expecting him holding the door.
Inspired Karsus really comes into his own. Chained Axe goes to 2 damage and Savage Whirl goes down to 2 fury from 3 but now targets all adjacent enemy fighters. He also goes to movement 5 which increases his threat range from 6 to 7. You can run but you can’t hide.
Blooded Saek is the main damage dealer of the warband. With 2 smash and 3 damage he’s a true glass cannon, especially with his 3 wounds. He generally kills what he hits.
Inspired Saek adds a pip of movement and permanent cleave. He just becomes even better at killing while becoming a true bane of Stormcast and all block fighters in the game.
Targor isn’t the toughest or strongest or most durable fighter but he does serve a purpose: being thrown into the enemy to score objectives. Base stats are rather underwhelming outside of the movement 4 with a 1 damage 2 fury attack.
Upon inspiring he becomes movement 5 and goes up to 3 fury with 2 damage which actually makes him quiet reliable. At least when it comes to dealing with weaker enemy fighters.
Arnulf is actually a favourite of mine from the warband. He is the same as Targor stat wise but has an important difference. When he rolls a crit to attack he gains +1 damage. Basically he’s an unreliable way to do 2 damage while the warband is not inspired.
Once inspired Arnulf goes to 3 fury but remains at damage 1 but has a 42% chance to roll a crit compared to 31% when not inspired. Just roll crits basically.
It’s card review time! As always, faction cards first.
A Worthy Skull: Faction Assassinate, it’s alright.
Coward!: Amazing when Quick Thinker wasn’t banned but now generally no one runs from Reavers as they want to kill them in return.
Khorne’s Champion: Are you a bad enough dude to somehow only have 1 Reaver left alive from both warbands?
Let the Blood Flow: 2 glory is really nice but it’s super hard to pull off. More reliable while the warband is inspired but by then most of your fighters will most likely be dead.
Faction Objectives – Top Picks
Blood for the Blood God!: Score immediately after making 3 charges, it’s great. Don’t need to do damage, just charge.
Draw the Gaze of Khorne: Difficult to pull off against more elite warbands but not while inspired. Still a solid objective that pays for itself against low wound horde warbands.
It Begins: Reliable 1 glory as long as each player has 1 or more fighters out of action.
Khorne Cares Not: One of my favourite objectives in the game. It’s a comeback objective. You are always guaranteed 2 glory. Just need 5 fighters out of action and can be scored in any end phase. Score while killing your foes or while being pounded into the ground. Always take.
There is Only Slaughter: Meta dependent but generally no one sits on objectives. Once again another reliable 1 glory objective.
Faction Gambit Ploys
Blood Rain: It’s nice and can potentially stall an enemy charge for an activation but it’s not reliable. Oddly screws over wizards by making them almost unable to cast their spell attack actions.
Boon of Khorne: A nice full heal for a friendly fighter. Just that your fighters don’t really benefit from this dude to their low wounds characteristics.
Final Blow: A nice way to do 1 damage after losing a friendly fighter but can only be played against adjacent attackers.
Rebirth in Blood: It’s a nice way to save your last fighter and heal them with a built-in Illusory Fighter but…they’re still taken out of action first. So your opponent gains a glory as well as any objectives scored off of that. Just run Last Chance instead.
Skull’s for the Skull Throne!: Kill someone and draw 2 cards. Duel of Wits is easier and more reliable.
Faction Gambit Ploys – Top Picks
Blood Offering: Take 1 damage for +2 attack dice. I love it. Better than Haymaker.
Desecrate: Destroy all the objectives! Get a glory for it now with Scorched Earth.
Fueled by Slaughter: A sneaky way to trigger extra attacks when any fighter is taken out of action. Ploys too. Combine with cards like Shardgale for surprise attacks.
Insensate: Turn your Reavers into tough walls for an activation. Just watch out for cards like Pit Trap and Lightning Whip.
Khorne Calls: Faction Determined Effort. Solid gambit ploy.
Deadly Spin: A nice attack that targets all adjacent enemy fighters, just a shame that it’s 1 damage.
Ever-Advancing: A nice upgrade but as it’s restricted to Garrek only I’d rather take the universal Lightning Reflexes.
Terrifying Howl: Just difficult to use as getting Karsus adjacent to enemy fighters without charging is very difficult.
Unstoppable Charge: Nice but Saek usually has enough movement to reach where he wants. It also doesn’t ignore blocked hexes too.
Wicked Blade: Arnulf’s inspired attack profile with a base damage of 2 now meaning 3 with a crit. Nice but the are better attack action upgrades out there.
Faction Upgrades – Top Picks
Berserk Charge: Make Saek only miss on supports when charging, solid.
Bloodslick: +1 defence for Garrek helps buff him up if you’re looking to make him tougher to kill, especially when combined with Acrobatic.
Frenzy: Nice +1 dice for any fighter that charges and you will be charging a lot.
Grisly Trophy: An extra glory for every time Garrek takes an opponent out of action. Amazingly strong upgrade.
Whirlwind of Death: While restricted to Karsus, +1 damage is a very useful upgrade.
Now we go on to universal cards. There’s a special case here. As Garrek’s Reavers came out in the Shadespire starter set I’ll be reviewing the universal cards that came out there. For the universal cards from the Nightvault expansion, check out my Echoes of Glory review.
Also there are not many universal cards in the starter set which means I’ll be reviewing them all together regardless of card type.
Hold Objective 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5: Your standard hold objectives. Alright and reliable but not the fastest way to score glory.
Sprint: Double the movement of a fighter but then they can’t be activated again that action phase. Alright but more of a staple for hold objective players.
Disengage: Tap for potentially 1 damage then push away 1 hex. Situational.
Total Offence: +2 dice when making an attack action that isn’t a charge but then can’t be activated again. Doable with Karsus but not recommended thanks to Blood Offering.
Annihilation: Aggro players dream. I like it and used to run it in all my pure aggro builds.
Conquest: Another great aggro objective. This time just have all your surviving fighters in enemy territory. An old staple when Shadespire first came out.
Denial: Old and reliable but another old staple. Worked well combined with Conquest. Amazing for single games but not so reliable in Best of 3 games.
Supremacy: What keeps the hold objective playstyle alive. Reliable, predictable and solid.
Confusion: Swapping 2 fighters is actually really strong. Great for hold objectives but also positioning. Always take for Spiteclaw’s Swarm.
Healing Potion: One of the few healing cards in the game anndbest 50/50 card. Always heal at least 1 wound with the potential of healing 2. A shame this didn’t appear in the Nightvault starter set.
Shardfall: Niche but really strong. Devastating for boards with narrow chokepoints. Especially those with multiple legal hexes. Messes up ranged fighters too but mainly those with range 2 attacks.
Sidestep: The universal push that everyone loves.
Great Fortitude: +1 wound is very useful. Got dwarfed by Deathly Fortitude and Sudden Growth until they got restricted.
Great Speed: +1 movement is often overlooked. It’s a great persistent buff that helps with board control.
Great Strength: Aggro players’ public love. +1 damage to range 1 and 2 attacks makes those base damage 3 fighters into monsters.
Like all my warband reviews there will always be decklists. In a mirror of my Nightvault reviews the will be a deck made only of Shadespire cards (including the Leader Pack expansion) and then another with all available cards. It’s for players who only have a season’s set of cards plus that’s just how I do all my reviews. It’s a popular template that others have emulated 😉
It’s simple, straightforward and strong. Charge in and crush your enemies.
Blood for the Blood God! is your reliable score immediately objective. It Begins, Khorne Cares Not and There is Only Slaughter are your reliable faction end phase objectives. Change of Tactics is guaranteed score immediately glory. Cover Ground is scored off of Spectral Wings as well as any inspired Reaver with Great Speed. Precise Use of Force and No Remorse are your score immediately objectives that are very doable thanks to Twist the Knife and the high base damage of the warband. Ploymaster is reliable end phase along with Master of War and Chosen Champion, although the latter 2 require you to be in a leading position. Superior Tactician is your restricted end game.
Blood Offering and Insensate are the consistently strong faction cards. The former giving you +2 dice for a small tradeoff and the latter making your warband surprisingly resilient for an activation. Distraction helps keep fighters off objectives and brings them closer to you. Hidden Paths and Spectral Wings are your mobility cards. Spoils of Battle gives you a juicy free upgrade to get going. Last Chance and Rebound help keep your fighters alive. Twist the Knife is your hidden burst of reliable damage.
Bloodslick and Grisly Trophy are the faction upgrades for Garrek to turn him into a monster, especially when inspired Frenzy is consistent +1 dice on charges. Whirlwind of Death helps make Karsus even stronger. Acrobatic is a helpful defence card as the whole warband is dodges. Heroslayer, Daemonic Weapon and Shadeglass Sword are your very strong weapon upgrades. Great Speed synergies with Cover Ground and general speed. Great Strength helps you please Khorne.
All Available Cards
You may have seen this before and you’re right! It’s my decklist I used to win my latest store tournament with. The special thing about my Shadespire reviews is that they’re all trophy-certified as I’ve won trophies with every Shadespire warband. If you want the full lowdown of the deck read the article here.
For those not interested in the article, here’s the lowdown from it:
The main focus of this deck is aggro. Run at the opponent and hope they all die while also scoring all your objectives.
Objectives are quite straightforward. Score everything to unlock Superior Tactician. The deck has 8 score immediately objectives so it’s all about momentum. Cover Ground is a really reliable objective that can be scored from an inspired Reaver with Great Speed, Spectral Wings at any time and also Faneway Crystal. Next is Blood for the Blood God. Make 3 charges, easy. What Armour? is straightforward too. Martyred as generally the Reavers die first. Change of Tactics and Precise Use of Force are restricted but really good objectives. The former is guaranteed glory while the latter helps with boosting glory from kills. Branching Fate was from Tony. Karsus can score this from the get go whereas Arnulf and Targor score this while inspired. I also took upgrades to help me score it. Combination Strike just complements all my score immediately objectives. It Begins is another reliable 1 glory card. Generally it’s quite easy for both warbands to have at least 1 fighter out of action each. Then Khorne Cares Not, the best comeback objective ever. 2 glory for any 5 fighters being out of action. Score this while winning or losing!
Blood Offering and Insensate are my only faction gambits. 1 wound for 2 extra attack dice and capping the damage your fighters take in the next activation to 1 are just amazing. Rebound and Last Chance are survivability cards. Lethal Strike is just hoping to win as well as countering Mollog. Hidden Paths and Spectral Wings are my mobility cards and the latter helps score Cover Ground. Fuelled By Fury makes my attacks more reliable. Ready for Action is the auto-include and I love Twist the Knife. Everyone has forgotten about it and helps getting sneaky 4 wound kills without glory.
No faction upgrades! Gasp! Dark Darts replaced Mutating Maul for several reasons: gives me more ranged threat, helps score Branching Fate, helps score What Armour? Great Speed boosts mobility and makes an inspired Reaver movement 6 to score Cover Ground. Great Strength and Gloryseeker are my extra damage upgrades. Challenge Seeker is just great, I love putting it on Saek for 3 smash 3 damage cleave attacks. Heroslayer because I can make it work with all my dice manipulation cards. Potion of Rage because RAAAAGE WHY DOES IT NEVER WORK and also Fated Blade which is my new favourite weapon. Then Tome of Offerings because it’s too good not to take.
With all that every card serves a purpose to score my objectives. I can kill but I really just need to be able to charge. Killing is a bonus. I can also make any fighter a threat which messes with target priority. Fated Blade doing 3 damage can kill a 4 wound fighter with Twist the Knife while Dark Darts will pick off anyone trying to escape.
Garrek’s Reavers are the glass cannon. They hit hard and fast but can’t take damage in return (outside of Insensate). The warband also has some of the best faction cards in Shadespire, if not the whole of Nightvault. Their objectives are the strongest with Khorne Cares Not being the standout example. A really reliable objective you can score by wiping out your opponent or losing all your fighters. Insensate is also worth mentioning due to how tough it makes the warband for a single activation.
Throughout Shadespire’s lifetime Garrek’s Reavers were always a dark horse until all the cards for season 1 were released. At that point they became the best warband in the game. Fast, hit hard and could deal with Spiteclaw’s Swarm. At this point the game was in a “1 hit meta” state where damage 4 was plentiful meaning it was more about who could pump out attacks the fastest instead of who was the most durable. This was boosted by cards such as Twist the Knife, Trap, Incredible Strength, Shadeglass Hammer and Shadeglass Dagger.
The 2 Shadeglass weapon upgrades allowed any fighter to be a threat which heavily messed with an opponent’s target priority. Incredible Strength allowed Saek and inspired Garrek to both be at damage 4 or help make Karsus damage 4. Trap and Twist the knife were what really tipped it. Those 2 ploys allowed every Reaver (apart from Targor) while uninspired to kill any 4 wound fighter without the need of glory. For example Arnulf charges Sevrin and rolls a crit on 2 dice. All of a sudden that explodes into 4 damage and Sevrin is dead after the first charge. Even if Arnulf fails, he’s still contributing to Blood for the Blood God! and you can still use Twist the Knife and Trap for another fighter. It was really tough to deal with as even if you wiped out Saek and Krasus you’d have to deal with Targor and Arnulf with Shadegalss Hammer/Dagger.
With the release of Nightvault things remained the same for Garrek’s Reavers until the arrival of the banned and restricted list. With the restriction of aggro card staples the Bloodreavers were severely hit in terms of power. It leveled the playing-field for the game but now the Reavers could no longer charge in recklessly knowing the odds were on their side. They became much more difficult to win with consistently.
Upon the arrival of Godsworn Hunt and Mollog’s Mob the warband finally got the cards needed to support them, especially with the last 2 expansions. Branching Fate is a really useful objective as well as Fated Blade that helps with high burst damage. Garrek’s Reavers maintain their crown of glasscannons. Fast and hard hitting but no durability at all. Not as powerful as their Shadespire days but still really strong with their own niche role that can comeback to win against opponents who underestimate them.
Garrek’s Reavers are a fun but challenging warband to play. If you’re interested in buying them you can buy their Nightvault expansion here. This expansion comes with good cards such as Martyred, Potion of Rage and Gloryseeker.
There you have it, the first of my Shadespire warband reviews. Going over Garrek’s Reavers and their lifespan within Warhammer Underworlds was an enjoyable nostalgia journey. It’s interesting to see how a warband changes across multiple seasons. Tune in next time where I’ll be going over the stoic Steelheart’s Champions, the warband that got this crit rolling writer famous.