Return of the tiers!
It’s time for another instalment of my (highly requested) quarterly tier list for Warhammer Underworlds! If you want to check out how things look in Q1, here’s the link to the article here
As I explained before, every quarter I’ll be going over my own personal tier list for Warhammer Underworlds. Due to the lack in number of physical tournaments, for safety reasons of course, there’s very little data on that front that can be used…because it doesn’t really exist. As a result this is based off of my personal experience from playing the game, casting tournaments and my own knowledge as well as experience too. Remember, nothing in here is set in stone and it’s aimed at how I see the general player will perform. Players of higher skill/more experience can perform exceedingly well with lower tier warbands but in general this is a great resource for the everyday player who is also looking to plan out their matchups for competitive practice.
I’ve also done a video version of this if you prefer:
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. Either way, you have to plan against 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.
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.
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 as well as other effects of the meta.
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 Usually a mix of old and outdated warband mechanics and faction cards.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.
With the tiers out of the way, here are some of the main factors that impact upon my tier list:
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. This has only gotten more problematic with the release of cards that maximise the use of Primacy such as Primal Lunge which is basically a re-tooled Ready for Action. If you’re still not playing Primacy, you’re now at a massive disadvantage. I have not seen anyone play without Primacy and for a good reason too.
Essential Card Pack
The Essential Card pack bringing back Shadespire, Nightvault and Beastgrave universal cards that are immune to rotation has had an effect too. While it may not seem like having a big shakeup, the Essential Card Pack has shifted some warbands around but also allowed others to cement their positions, for better or for worse.
No FAQ and FAR
The effects of having no new balance is making the game a mess, honestly. There’s so much broken jank floating about freely that the S Tier warbands are getting obnoxiously strong. Need I remind you we last had an FAQ in June 2020? Near a year ago! With no new Forsaken and Restricted list since December 2020 is also starting to be felt. Now, a lot of things would be fixed by a new FAR but an FAQ would be awesome too so that certain things could be clarified and certain fighters have their fighter cards nerfed like what happened with Varclav. An order on reactions, Primacy and inspiring after an activation are sorely needed.
Note that Rotation is no longer a factor now due to influx of more Direchasm cards. While the effects of rotation are still felt by certain warbands, the addition of new cards has now softened this blow.
The Tier List
Above you can see my 2021 Q1 tier list. Since then, we’ve had made some minor changes due to game progression and increased card pool. We have also had some tournaments but still not enough to draw concrete data from. Those tournaments are the Straight Outta Shadespire monthly webcam tournaments and the April Vassal Clash. There are some odd trends in there that I’ll cover in the S Tier section.
This is my current tier list for Q2 2021 of Warhammer Underworlds. Before explaining what each placement means, there will also be a new key system noting if a warband has gone up a tier, down a tier or remained in the same position plus if they are a new placement. These symbols are:
[^] – Up a tier
[v] – Down a tier
[=] – Unchanged
[!] – New
Please note, warbands are ordered by the time of release. There is no hidden meaning or ranking for warbands within tiers.
[=] Mollog’s Mob: Mollog’s Mob has hardly changed because they’re starting to become really broken. The same points stand: abuse Primacy, abusing the buff to aggro, can generally deal with all other warbands, broken inspired ability and unrestricted universal card pool. Mollog still can just score glory for simply existing and the only way to beat him is to hope the player using him misses every attack and/or doesn’t draw into Ferocious Resistance. For those that have forgotten, here is why Ferocious Resistance breaks Mollog:
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 Ferocious 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. It just needs banning or an errata.
An interesting note here is that Mollog has barely appeared in any recent tournaments. Why is this? Is it because everyone has figured him out? No. Some people do fear that everyone has planned to deal with the Troggoth but it seems to be due to a “gentleman’s agreement” between players. This is basically because Mollog is so un-fun to use AND play against that people have just stopped using him. A great show of balance by how bonkers that Warhammer Underworlds has come to this.
[=] Lady Harrow’s Mournflight: Lady Harrow’s Mournflight remain an S Tier warband and rightfully so. The new universal cards have only made them stronger and more consistent. They’re still just incredibly good. They can flex into whatever you want them to do, massively outscore the opponent if left alone and just have amazing fighter card stats. They still fear Mollog as he basically can 1-shot them all but the newer warbands haven’t added much to shake them outside of possibly Drepur’s Wraithcreepers. Continue to enjoy their lavish abusal of the universal card pool such as with stacking Silent Relics on them because it is just silly good.
[=] Morgok’s Krushas: Once again Morgok’s Krushas remain in the triumvirate of the S Tier. They’re still all 5 wounds and hit like a truck. Plentiful mobility cards mean that movement 3 isn’t a problem for them anymore and they have far too much in-faction damage negation. They’re just consistently overpowered, have amazing faction cards coupled with amazing stats.
[=] Rippa’s Snarlfangs: Rippa’s Snarlfangs remain unchanged. Aggro is still good and they can easily slot in cards like Mischievous Spirits to shut down hold objective players. Sure, their accuracy isn’t great but the sheer volumes of attacks they pump out is what keeps them strong along with the great tools and bonuses that Primacy offers. Don’t forget their awesome faction cards too which give them more ways to attack, hidden damage negation and reliable scoring.
[=] Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers: Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers are another non-mover. They still abuse the Hunter and Quarry mechanic and that has only gotten more universal cards to help bolster it. Note that Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers got even more of a boost with more feature token flip cards, resulting in their Feed the Beastgrave build becoming even better! Not enough to push them into S Tier but it results in this warband being the best for that kind of deck.
[=] Myari’s Purifiers: Myari’s Purifiers may have a lost a tiny bit of power but they still remain in A tier. Consistent high scoring coupled with ways to get lots of defence dice consistently makes them hold their own with the other aggro warbands. New hold objective tech from the Essential Card Pack only makes them more reliable. Bolstered with great faction cards, Myari’s Purfiers are still demonstrating the power of the Luimineth Realm-Lords.
[=] Dread Pageant: Dread Pageant remain static with the power of Slaanesh letting them hold their ground against other aggro warbands. Fast, consistent damage and amazing damage negation keep them strong. Another +1 damage card (basically) with Gloryseeker and some other Essential Pack Cards keep them versatile and powerful.
[!] Starblood Stalkers: The Starblood Stalkers burst onto the scene showing the power of the Seraphon. Despite being a horde/swarm warband with 6 fighters, they have a ton of abilities and faction cards that give them a lot of power with consistency. The Great Plan is an amazing 3 glory objective card and even without that, they have some good 2 glory end phase objectives they can score reliably. Also Klaq-Trok gives them great aggro power coupled with the strengths of Otapatl’s crits!
[!] Drepur’s Wraithcreepers: Drepur’s Wraithcreepers may surprise some, especially as they are a Starter Set warband. Despite this, and my prior statements in my warband review, they are incredibly strong. Having 2 fighters that are only 3 wounds does hold them back a bit but they inspire so easily and have insane pressure thanks to the Patrician’s Deathbeat. Not only that but they have amazing faction cards that boost their aggro and positional power. Drepur inspired is the most accurate fighter in the game and they only need a few +1 damage upgrades to become a menace. Also Pall of Fear, along with other stacking defensive upgrades, can make Drepur a pain to remove with his base 2 dodge as he dances around the board while attacking and not charging thanks to Deathbeat. They’re borderline S Tier but we will have to wait and see for that.
[!] Hedkrakka’s Madmob: Hedkrakka’s Madmob may be a surprise to some, especially with their seemingly limited damage potential while uninspired, but they make such great use of the Primacy mechanic which allows them to do crazy things. They inspire fast and can easily get the Primacy token thanks to being able to get it off of any kill when compared to other warbands. Not only that but they have lots of uses for the Primacy token, discarding it for more mobility or more attacks. Stuff like Primal Lunge makes their attacking output insanely good and Wollop basically does 3 damage against 4 wound fighters without upgrades so hunting 4 wound fighters is fairly easy. They have poor defence and can be overrun but canny players are able to pump out an astonishing number of attacks that hit accurately and hard.
[!] Kainan’s Reapers: Kainan’s Reapers are incredibly new but I still feel confident in putting them into the A Tier. They’re accurate, defend well and despite being a 6 fighter horde/swarm warband, they pump out some ridiculous damage. Nadirite makes the Mortek fighters combat monsters, bolstered by Mortek Advance to help support the ability as well as increase mobility and activation efficiency. Cards like Great Strength and Punching Up make the Mortek fighter just as much a threat as Kainan himself who is a monster in his own right. The fact he is a wizard too gives the warband even more potential to branch into (such as Lost Pages). Faction cards also operate around making your opponent making terrible choices for themselves while also being powerful in general.
[=] Spiteclaw’s Swarm: 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. Thanks to cards like Punching Up and more good attack action upgrades, their relentless aggro build has gotten even better.
[=] Magore’s Fiends: 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 remain up so high as well as all the extra damage now from universal cards. The extra speed helps for their uninspired movement 3. The new Primacy tools haven’t boosted their power but have allowed Magore’s Fiends to remain in the B Tier.
[=] Thorns of the Briar Queen: The warband that has been S Tier so many times remains in B Tier, only just narrowly missing A Tier now. 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 still 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.
[=] Thundrik’s Profiteers: Pew pew of death warband. Thundrik’s Profiters are solid B Tier. They still feel the sting of rotation but the Essential Card Pack has given some power back to their hold objective build. Primacy still isn’t a great boon to them as well. They hold their own thanks to great fighter characteristics and a strong inspire mechanic. They’re still as dependable as every but suffer due to the popularity and consistency of fast aggro.
[=] Grymwatch: The monsters of Beastgrave, the Grymwatch remain firmly in B Tier for me. They bleed Primacy but their aggro builds is what keeps them strong. Their 3 faction card restrictions keep them in needed check but they cannot be underestimated. The Grymwatch aren’t bad but they aren’t the dreaded monsters they used to be either.
[=] Wurmspat: The Wurmspat, the old 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. They still feel the sting of not having many universal damage cards. The Wurmspat are just a much better Shadespire warband basically, in terms of comparisons, but haven’t been able to get much out of Direchasm’s universal cards so far.
[!] Crimson Court: The Crimson Court make their new appearance in B Tier. Now, while this probably shocks a lot of their fans, the warband still suffers due to a reliance on Hunger counters and general rules bloat. They have solid stats and good fighter cards but are let down by having mostly range 1 attacks. Their Hunger control build is probably A Tier but the Crimson Court currently struggle to deal with the higher-placing warbands. Their aggro build is showing more promise but it still pales in comparison to what the better aggro warbands can do in terms of damage and scoring.
[=] Stormsire’s Cursebreakers: This S Tier warband sits firmly in C Tier. Magic has received some more support with Direchasm universal cards but that just cements their C Tier status. Their aggro builds remain consistent as well as their alright Lost Page build.
[=] Zarbag’s Gitz: Zarbag’s Gitz nevertheless suffer heavily from Primacy. The warband just bleeds too much glory now and with Primacy about, that’s just too much of an advantage to give to your opponent. They’re solid C Tier but massively struggle against any of the high tier aggro warbands. Snirk can only do so much. The Essential Card Pack makes them much better at hold objectives but an unrestricted Mischievous Spirits and rampant aggro power ensures that they have a difficult time competing competitively.
[=] Ylthari’s Guardians: What keeps Ylthari’s Guardians relevant? They can reliable score Feed the Beastgrave. As with Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers, the new Direchasm universal cards have made that build more consistent. However, they’re still quite fragile too so aren’t a fan of Primacy and can only do Feed the Beastgrave reliably. As with Stormsire’s Cursebreakers, they can do an alright Lost Page build but it’s nothing to write home about which is why they remain in C Tier.
[=] 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 just surpass their aggro power as well as with the Starblood Stalkers and Kainan’s Reapers. Grashrak’s Despoilers have basically been power-crept out of usefulness but remain steadily in C Tier.
[v] Khagra’s Ravagers: For Khagra’s Ravagers, I wasn’t lying last time when I said I was being kind to them. They’re barely hanging in C Tier. Sure they can do aggro well but that’s all they can do. Desecration counters are too easy to lose and the worst thing is that they cannot hold objectives they have Desecrated, removing the hold objective playstyle from them. Other warbands do aggro better and it’s a real shame. If they could just hold objectives they have desecrated, then Khagra’s Ravagers would immediately gain more flexibility plus depth.
[!] Storm of Celestus: The Storm of Celestus blast their way into C Tier. Hold Objectives are not in a great state and thus this warband reflects it. The Essential Card Pack support does help again but it just cements them in C Tier. They’re still a great warband but just don’t do too well in the current meta with how overwhelming aggro can be at times. Then there is also Mischievous Spirits.
[!] Elathain’s Soulraid: Elathain’s Soulraid sink their way into the C Tier. While still really new, I did contemplate not adding them yet but I feel this is a good starting point for them now. The warband suffers from poor damage output on mostly range 1 fighters with 3 wounds. Coupled with an overload of rules, Elathain’s Soulraid struggle to do anything well. Sure, they abuse Poison cards with the Spinefin currently but pray for them once Beastgrave universal cards rotate out. Hard to see them doing well now and I only expect them to drop further in future editions of the tier list.
[=] Garrek’s Reavers: Garrek’s Reavers are still in 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. They do like the return of Pure Carnage though.
[=] Steelheart’s Champions: 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.
[=] Sepulchral Guard: The Sepulchral Guard are basically invalidated by the existence of the Thorns of the Briar Queen. Still, the pain of Primacy cuts deeps coupled with their slow inspire mechanic and general movement characteristic of 2. Eternal Chase helps a lot but it doesn’t counter the main body of problems that this warband experiences. Hence D Tier.
[v] Farstriders: The Farstriders drop a tier due to the Storm of Celestus. While having good range 1 output, it just pails in comparison to the Storm of Celestus. The Farstriders just take too long to get going and are set back by weak faction cards.
[^] Eyes of the Nine: The Eyes of the Nine have gone up a tier! Are they still bad? Yes, but the Essential Card Pack has given them a much needed boost to their hold objective playstyle. The Eyes of the Nine still suffer heavily in the current Direchasm meta but are no longer E Tier material.
[=] Godsworn Hunt: Primacy. The Godsworn Hunt 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: 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 and keeps them in D Tier.
[=] Skaeth’s Wild Hunt: 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.
[=] Morgwaeth’s Blade-Coven: 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. Their combo build is actually a threat and hilariously fun to use but is nowhere near consistent enough to be a solid threat.
[=] Ironskull’s Boyz: 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 instead.
[=] Chosen Axes: 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. It’s too easy to pick apart and smash apart the warband in the early game. Eternal Chase is essential for them but it’s only a partial stopgap to help cover some of the many holes that fill the Chosen Axes.
Tier List Overview
So that is my personal tier list for 2021 Q2 of Warhammer Underworlds. Primacy retains its hold on the Direchasm season. With the addition of universal cards that give you varying effects for discarding the Primacy token, the mechanic has only gotten even better. It’s actually a shock to see a player not using Primacy as basically the whole playerbase is using it and rightly so. Primacy is so easy to slot in and the buff to aggro makes it a no-brainer.
The lack of a new FAQ and FAR list is really being felt. I don’t feel that the meta is healthy at all and it’s only going to get worse as Direchasm goes on. It looks like Games Workshop will wait until a potential season 5 to get a new balance update. This was a terrible move with Beastgrave and it is even worse now. You can see how bad balance is with players just choosing not to play Mollog competitively. I’d go so far to say the best way to play Warhammer Underworlds competitively now is with Vanguard format. Only having Direchasm warbands and universal cards resembles some semblance of balance as the Direchasm warbands are much closers in terms of power with each other along with the better balanced universal cards. Plus there’s no work that needs to be done with comping non-Direchasm warbands and making new custom FAR lists.
That’s it for my Warhammer Underworlds Tier List 2021 Quarter 2. 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 tournaments, 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 3 of 2021, which should be around August time. Direchasm has changed 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 of the Q3 update, we would have had the whole Direchasm season to play with and experience. It will be interesting to see how the full season of cards and warbands will shape the last few months of Direchasm.
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?