It’s tier time!
Welcome to a new article series that I’ve been kinda against doing for a long time. As some of you may know, I’ve been strongly against posting tier lists for Warhammer Underworlds as they’re super subjective and can cause a lot of divisive issues. In fact, this was the last tier list I did. Recently on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I decided to post my personal tier list publicly for the first time…and it was far more popular than I thought it would be. Not only that but I got lots of comments from people saying it helped them a lot with Warhammer Underworlds in general. After that, I decided to basically break my personal rule and go ahead with this article series, especially as I want to explain my reasoning behind these choices thoroughly.
So what’s this going to be about then? Well basically every yearly quarter, I’ll be posting my own personal tier list. Now there are a few key things to point out here. Firstly, this will be hard to justify statistically as…well there are not many events going on so it’s basically all my personal opinion and general Warhammer Underworlds knowledge/experience. Next, I’ll be basing it off how I see the game and meta, what I’m saying is not set in stone. It will be including tournament coverage I’ve seen via either online tournaments or tournaments I’ve commentated in so it won’t all just be opinion based. If you want a good look at a more general and thorough tier list, Aman from Path to Glory does his own great series on it.
Now we come to the tiers themselves. Here’s what my ratings generally mean:
S Tier – A warband that is incredibly strong and also maybe even broken, or both! Either way, you have to plan for playing against warbands in this tier. They’re super consistent, something you’ll likely encounter in a tournament and can generally easily get into top cut and/or win an event.
A Tier – Strong but missing a few things to make them super powerful like S Tier. Still, you’re very likely to encounter this warband and it has a high chance of making top cut at an event as well as placing first overall.
B Tier – Still good but usually more dependent on universal cards for their power. A warband you’ll always have to keep in-mind but it suffers a bit to keep it out from the higher tiers. Will need more work from the player to get a tournament win but has a good chance to get mostly wins from as well as making it into the top cut of an event.
C Tier – Middle of the road. Stable and consistent but not quite strong. You could generally go on a 50/50 win/loss ratio with this warband at a tournament.
D Tier – A warband that is suffering quite a lot. Has a lot of bad matchups and/or hit hard by universal card rotation. Has a fair chance of winning at least 1 round in a tournament but you’re likely to lose the majority of your games with them.
E Tier – Just bad. Usually a mix of old and outdated warband mechanics and faction cards. Has warbands that do the same role as them but much better. You’ll be lucky to win a round with them at a tournament, let alone make a top cut or even win an event.
Warbands are ordered within a tier based on their release date. While warbands fluctuate with power within their own tiers, that’s even more subjective than what I’m already presenting. Just pointing this out now in case some people feel I’ve ranked warbands within a tier based on best to worst or something.
With the tiers out of the way, here are some of the main factors that impact upon my tier list:
Kinda obvious, especially as we’re at the start of a new season. It mainly effects warbands who rely on universal cards for their power. Even then, rotational shifts change the meta hugely based on what cards are rotated out and what new cards take their place or leave a void unfilled.
Primacy is the biggest universal multiplier introduced into Warhammer Underworlds. It makes aggro so much better by giving you extra glory for doing what you already want to do. Warbands that can maximise the most from it gain much power as well as those warbands who are difficult to give Primacy away to the opponent. Unfortunately, this means warbands with lots of 2 to 3 wounds fighters will suffer greatly because of this.
The Tier List
Above you can see my old tier list. Since then I’ve made some minor changes as I had more of a think and expanded the tiers to make my list more accurate as everything was too closely bunched in the middle for my liking. Now here’s what my tier list looks like now:
That is my current tier list for Q1 2021 of Warhammer Underworlds. Now, before you go crazy let me explain each warband and tier to make more sense of everything.
Not much of a surprise if you’ve been playing recently. Mollog has risen to power with Primacy. His amazing inspired side coupled with his incredibly strong inspired ability always made him a force to be reckoned with. Primacy has given the Troggoth a huge power boost as it’s very easy for Mollog to one-shot enemy fighters and it’s hard to keep Primacy off of him thanks to his annoying minions. But there’s a bigger issue that pushes him into S Tier; Ferocious Resistance.
This card is just insanely good for fighters with a wounds characteristic of 5 or more. With Mollog, it literally breaks him. Giving him the potential to go from 1 wound to max wounds is just crazy. Now, I rank matchups like in fighting games on a scale of 10. A 5-5 matchup with another warband would be an even one. This card makes all of Mollog’s matchups gain huge pluses. It makes his hard matchups even and makes the ones he dominates basically unwinnable. With how Ferrocious Resistance works currently, warbands like Skaeth’s Wild Hunt, Garrek’s Reavers and Morgwaeth’s Blade-Coven have no way to kill Mollog and makes their 7-3 matchups 9-1 to Mollog. Not even restricting Ferocious Resistance would fix this power imbalance.
So what would bring Mollog down from S Tier? Changing his inspired ability to work like his uninspired side and/or banning or errata’ing Ferocious Resistance. Either/or would just knock him down into A Tier as he still has that great damage 4 while inspired with a strong Scything attack. Cards like Savage Strength and Savage Speed are afterthoughts for Mollog as he only has 1 defence so he’ll always be strong while they exist in the game.
A surprise for some but Lady Harrow’s Mournflight are still my favourite warband. The reason they are so high is because they’re just so innately strong, fast and flexible. They can basically do whatever you want them to do. Not only that but they all start off at 2 defence and have very powerful faction cards. While they don’t gain a lot of ground with Primacy, they’re very difficult to give it away due to their defences as well as the ease to get access to +1 wound upgrades. Coupled with a reliable inspire condition you can choose when and where to inspire, which is a massive boon in itself.
In order to get them out of S Tier, after much thought, I feel the best way to nerf them would be to change all their defence characteristics to 1 dodge while uninspired. There are still a lot of other problems with the warband such as the Anguished One’s inspired ability of just ignoring crits (which means your opponent can’t defend if you roll a success when she has Cleave and Ensnare), but those can’t really be fixed easily unless the warband is re-written. I feel making them 1 defence while uninspired would just make them more enjoyable to play against while also resulting in the user having to be even more careful with keeping the Mournflight alive.
Once again Morgok’s Krushas have come to power. Aggro has risen greatly in Direchasm and these Orruks capitalise on it massively. They’re all 5 wounds with lots of base 3 damage so play Primacy exceedingly well. Plus there are enough movement cards to get around their own movement characteristics of 3 until inspired. The change to diagonal configuration to 4 hex minimum and loss of the Molten Shardpit means it is even harder to keep away from these Brutes.
What would knock them down? I’m not sure to be honest. They’ve already had 1 faction card hit but you would need to restrict a lot of universal cards to knock them down a tier or 2. They love Savage Speed, Savage Strength and Ferocious Resistance. Even then, they have Primacy to abuse as well.
With the rise of aggro comes the rise of the aggro warband. Rippa’s Snarlfangs love the buff to aggro with more movement cards to make objectives like Cover Ground and Gathered Momentum even more consistent, even then Primacy is what drives them forwards. Cruel Hunters is still an amazing faction objective and with hold objectives losing power, their natural counter has gone. They still suffer against elite warbands (and bad dice) but at least the damage can be mitigated by the plentiful +1 damage cards. Unless they take faction card hits (for some reason) and Mischievous Spirits gets restricted, I can see them comfortably staying in A Tier.
Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers shouldn’t be of much surprise. Their main power still comes from the hefty benefit of effectively breaking the Hunter and Quarry mechanics. Once again, the rise of aggro helps these guys as their control build is pretty much dead. Primacy is still a little mixed for them buy generally Hrothgorn will get it back for you if a Gnoblar dies instantly. The only thing I can see that would knock this warband out of A Tier would be making Hrothgorn’s Quarry effect only work while inspired. Either way, Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers are a very solid pick right now for a competitive player.
The first Direchasm warband makes its appearance! I’ll be honest, I did rate Myari’s Purifiers a bit lower until I saw them in action in games as well as winning events. As highlighted in my review, their passive glory engine is very efficient. You do have to remember their fragility but the warband has multiple defence dice as well as plentiful access to Guard via faction cards and abilities. Their faction power cards help keep them so high and they can quickly score glory if left alone. If more +1 wound cards get restricted (namely Deserved Confidence) then I could possibly see them dropping down but the main factor against Myari’s Purifiers for now would be aggro getting even faster.
Another core set warband, the Dread Pageant stay so high due to their flexible nature and generally very strong faction cards in general. The warband packs speed, surprising durability and healing as well. The warband can be surprisingly durable thanks to cards like Shared Pain as well as Slakeslash. Inspiration is difficult but not needed. Thanks to their faction cards, I can’t really see them dropping down. Double Dominant Position is just so good.
Spiteclaw’s Swarm, the gem of Shadespire. Just an innately strong warband. They are very reliant of universal cards for their power but even then the warband packs incredibly mobility, defence, inspiration and mechanics. Skritch is the greatest (yes-yes) and flexible. He can either resurrect at the back or go about claiming enemy heads. Builds currently either focus on hold objectives or aggro. They could (or should?) rise in power as the season goes on with the release of more universal cards but only time will tell.
Magore’s Fiends are the old staple aggro warband. What they lose in damage, they make up for in dice. Once again Primacy is the main reason they got bumped up so high as well as all the extra damage now from universal cards. The extra speed helps for their uninspired movement 3. As more Primacy cards get released, I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys go up in power too.
The warband that has been S Tier so many times is down in the B Tier. Thorns of the Briar Queen are still very strong, the ability to ignore lethal hexes and Varclav’s push are some of their main strengths. Having 3 faction cards hit, however, is a big loss. This is why they are in B Tier in general. I can easily see them competing and beating A/S Tier warbands but that would be down to the player’s skill alone. For everyone else, I think they will struggle to pilot the Thorns of the Briar Queen successfully with all the faction restricted cards.
Pew pew of death warband. Thundrik’s Profiters are solid B Tier. They lost a bit of power with rotation as their hold objective build was hit and Primacy wasn’t a great boon to them as well. Still, they hold their own thanks to great fighter characteristics and a strong inspire mechanic. They’re still as dependable as every but suffer as fast aggro becomes more consistent and popular.
The monsters of Beastgrave, the Grymwatch now occupy B Tier for me. Rotation and Primacy, like a broken record. They bleed Primacy and miss a lot of the Nightvault hold objective cards. They can still score glory like no ones’ business but need to rely heavily more on aggro to win. Their 3 faction card restrictions keep them in need check. The Grymwatch aren’t bad but they aren’t the dreaded monsters they used to be either.
The Wurmspat were the shining star of Beastgrave, even if most people wrote them off on launch. They have strong abilities suited to controlling aggro but rely on universal cards for their main power. With a loss of most of the spells and damage gambits from Nightvault, they have dropped in power considerably. I can definitely see them going up the tiers once more universal cards are released. The Wurmspat are just a much better Shadespire warband basically, in terms of comparisons.
A surprise to some, but I’m honestly being kind to Khagra’s Ravagers. I feel they’re more C Tier territory but I’m giving them a pass for now as they’ve not been used in any tournaments yet. Why such a low grade for a brand new warband? Well, their faction objectives aren’t great, difficult inspire mechanic, generally range 1 with movement 3 AND their Desecration mechanic is…well…bad. Now the latter is fine to understand, Desecration could have easily broken the game. The issue is, they struggle against other higher tier aggro warbands and basically lose against good hold objective players. This is because you can’t hold an objective that’s Desecrated, so you give away Uncontested to your opponent. Unless Uncontested gets restricted, they might stay in B tier. I’m not saying the warband is terrible, just that Khagra’s Ravagers are very middle of the road. You’d be more successful using Magore’s Fiends instead.
The Farstriders narrowly miss B Tier mainly thanks to rotation. Ping damage was their lifeblood. Now it’s gone. They can do fairly well at ranged harassment still but you’d need to focus on aggro to get the most out of the Farstriders. Plus the upcoming ranged Stormcast warband will probably outperform them anyway.
This previously S Tier warband sits firmly in C Tier. Why? Have you met my friend rotation? Stormsire’s Cursebreakers are still the only warband that can do magic reliably. The issue is, when most of your magic universal cards are removed, they kinda lose all relevance. Their aggro builds however still keep them consistent and even now they can do an alright Lost Page build.
Primacy, Primacy and rotation. Having an Amberbone weapon restricted (while needed for overall balance) hurt too. Zarbag’s Gits just bleed too much glory now and with Primacy about, that’s just too much of an advantage to give to your opponent. They’re still solid but massively struggle against any of the high tier aggro warbands. Snirk can only do so much.
I’m spinning around. The same point again. Rotation. What keeps Ylthari’s Guardians relevant? They can reliable score Feed the Beastgrave. However, now that build loses ground too much to aggro builds as hold objective players have mostly migrated to aggro. They’re still quite fragile too so aren’t a fan of Primacy. As with Stormsire’s Cursebreakers, they can do an alright Lost Page build but it’s nothing to write home about.
Grashrak’s Despoilers: It’s just Primacy. Grashrak’s Despoilers are still good and Draknar is great but the overall low wound characteristics and Primacy just don’t help at all. They play the Hunter and Quarry mechanic well but Grymwatch do it better. They may have the best butts in Warhammer Underworlds but the undead Ghouls do their job but better.
Garrek’s Reavers are the first to grace D Tier. They are currently a less consistent Grashrak’s Despoilers. They actually get around Primacy pretty well with all their self-damage cards but their age is showing. Saek is too easy to snipe first and once he’s gone first, the rest of the warband falls apart.
What keeps Steelheart’s Champions in D Tier are 2 things: they can do an alright control build and actually do well in aggro when they win boards. However, in all other scenarios they suffer heavily. 3 fighters with movement 3 and range 1 is just such a big handicap. They just struggle getting in and not getting 1-shot by the opponent.
It’s not even rotation and Primacy, just Thorns of the Briar Queen. Still, the pain of Primacy cuts deeps coupled with their slow inspire mechanic and general movement characteristic of 2. Arena Mortis didn’t really help them too much. If they were all movement 3, things might be different.
Primacy. They give it away (now) too easily while struggling to get going thanks to less than stellar faction objectives. Other warbands do their job but just better. If they had some more reliable faction objectives, then it really would be a different story. By the time they get going now, the game is generally already over.
Ironsoul’s Condemnors are Steelheart’s Champions+. Same faults apply here. They are just slightly more mobile with better faction cards but then fall down the trap of being a 1-trick warband. They have the BEST inspire mechanic but it’s their movement that holds them back.
Skaeth’s Wild Hunt really use the Hunter mechanic well but their low durability and low overall damage are just too big a drawback. They bleed Primacy then struggle to score it themselves. Generally, your main range 1 fighters need 2 +1 damage upgrades to be lethal, it’s just too much work when Rippa’s Snarlfangs exist. They’re great for learning the game with but not so in regard to winning tournaments.
This warband had big problems in Beastgrave. Problems which only got worse with Direchasm. Primacy is their bane and they struggle to score it. You’d have a better bet with other aggro warbands. Morgwaeth is great but if she gets killed early, it’s game over. If Khamyss, Lethyr and Kyrssa were all 3 wounds instead of 2, things might be different.
You know the truth and so do I. Outside of Gurzag, Ironskull’s Boyz are so bad. Bad faction cards, bad damage, bad mobility. They’d need a re-write to get any higher. It hurts to say but that’s the truth. Also just play Morgok’s Krushas.
Movement 2. Movement 2 is what holds the Chosen Axes back. Their faction cards are pretty good but damn that movement 2. Their inspire mechanic is not great but that low movement is just too limiting. Too easy to pick apart and smash apart early game.
Don’t look so surprised, the Eyes of the Nine aren’t alone in E Tier! With the loss of Nightvault universal cards, they lose nearly all relevance. Especially with the drop in power for hold objective play. Primacy hates them and Stormsire’s Cursebreakers are the magic warband she’s not telling you about. They’d also need a rewrite. Personally, I’d make Vortemis inspire to a level 3 wizard, increase Narvia and Turosh to 3 wounds and give them a gambit spell to summon the Blue Horror. It’s a shame but it is what it is. Note: I ranked them much better in Nightvault and even Beastgrave but the Blue Horror only goes so far now with what they have available.
Tier List Overview
Well, there’s my personal tier list for 2021 Q1 of Warhammer Underworlds. As you can see, to me Primacy has had a huge effect on the meta, which is to be expected. Now Primacy isn’t bad or broken, I do find it fun as an aggro player. However, with the extra glory it provides, Primacy becomes near essential for the majority of competitive decks and those not running Primacy need to be able to deny it so the opponent won’t be able to gain it easily.
Next is rotation. Lots of warband have lost power due to this, notably the Wurmspat. Warbands dependent on universal cards should rise up in power as more universal cards drop, remember we are only at the start of a brand-new season for Warhammer Underworlds. It will be interesting to see if Myari’s Purifiers and the Dread Pageant can maintain their tier status as Direchasm continues.
One notable point is the lack of a new FAQ as well as a future Forsaken and Restricted (FAR) list. We haven’t had an FAQ since…June 2020 and who knows when another FAR will drop but the changes in those will affect the tier list. Depending on what errata’s and/or new restricted cards we get, lots of things could change drastically. However, there’s no need to factor that in currently as it’d just be random guess work.
One card which I think would massively change the landscape, however, would be the restriction of Mischievous Spirits. It would certainly help out Hold Objective play a lot and stop aggro players casually slotting it into every deck they make. There are lots of interesting cards which restricting and/or banning would be beneficial to the game overall but I feel that’s better suited to its own focus. Just highlighting what one possible card restriction could do to the outlook of a future tier list.
That’s it for my Warhammer Underworlds Tier List 2021 Quarter 1. I hope you enjoyed the read and found it useful. As stated earlier, remember this is just my personal outlook on the game if you were to solely play competitively and wanted to win/place in the top cut for a tournament. For the most part, all the warbands are fine to play casually and warbands in lower tiers can still win, it just takes a lot of skill and experience from the user as well as some added luck (CRITS).
Don’t be disheartened if your favourite warband is lower than you expected, some are just really showing their age. Shadespire and Nightvault warbands would love to see some buffs but that kind of work isn’t likely to be seen unfortunately. They are approaching 3 to 4 years in age though and it is still impressive to see some Shadespire and Nightvault warbands still doing so well today.
Depending on how things go, the next instalment of this article will drop early/middle Quarter 2 of 2021. Direchasm is going to change rapidly in a short period of time thanks to the compressed release schedule, making monthly versions of this incredibly difficult to reliably make. By that time, 3 to 4 new warbands will have dropped. It will be interesting to see how the new warbands and universal cards shake things up.
As always, I’m happy to hear your own thoughts on this subject matter, as I expect general consensus to vary wildly between players. This is fine, as tier lists are always incredibly subjective. Still, tell me if you think I’ve left anything out or what more should be added. I left out individual deck builds for each warband (in-depth anyway) as that’s…so much information to compile in a wildly varying deck construction environment.
So until the next Tier List, remember, DO NOT DO TIER 15! And also rank your own crits via tier lists yourself. Did you know? Magical crits are higher tiered than attacking crits?