Warhammer Underworlds: Hunger vs Primacy

With the full Direchasm season out, how do these 2 mechanics compare?

Greetings and welcome to a more traditional article from what I’ve normally been pumping out. Now that the Direchasm release schedule has, well, stopped I can return to articles and subjects of yore! Today I’ll be going over something I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time, Mechanic Clash: Hunger vs Primacy! In this article I’ll cover both mechanics in-depth from their pros, cons and everything in-between as well as how they compare to each other.


Hunger vs Primacy Origin

Image Credit: Warhammer Community

For this comparison, thankfully both mechanics were released in Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm. As they were out in the season, we can conclude they were designed together and will likely have the same lifespan as other seasonal mechanics (sorry there Combo). It means a comparison can be more accurate when done with other seasons and mechanics as there is no time gap. The reason I want to compare Hunger and Primacy is because it shows the evolution of Warhammer Underworlds’ mechanics as well as helping to highlight one mechanic which is pretty good and the other which is very disappointing.


Hunger

Such a deep mechanic

So what is Hunger? It’s not that complex as the original Warhammer Community articles hinted at. It’s not even really a mechanic if you think about it. Hunger is better known as Hunger counters. This is because there is no real effect for having Hunger counters and all the mechanic cares about is having Hunger counters, unlike the Quarry and Hunter mechanic which relies on each other to interact with themselves and other cards, Hunger counters just matter if you have any on your fighter(s).

Hunger counter generation is tied solely to cards for gaining and losing them unless you are a single lucky warband. This means you need a lot of universal cards for Hunger counter generation because cards that tie into the mechanic need you to have lots of Hunger counters to do anything with them. Other card effects trigger when you discard Hunger counters too, strengthening the importance of having reliable and consistent Hunger counter generation.

Here are some example Hunger counter cards:

Season of Famine and Hungry for Victory are your typical Hunger objective. All they care about are that fighters which aren’t out of action have Hunger counters. There’s not much interaction here as your opponent can’t really stop this Hunger counter stocking unless they wipe out your fighters and/or have specific Hunger tech cards to remove Hunger counters. Still, Season of Famine is very good for Hunger counter decks and is typical of most Hunger counter objectives.

Energy Drain and Compelling Hunger are strong universal gambit that also shows off the mechanic well. Energy Drain gives a fighter on an objective token a move token, then every fighter within 2 hexes gets a Hunger counter. It combines Hunger counter generation with control effects. While you can play it on your own fighters, it can pin enemy fighters on objectives too. Energy Drain is typical of most Hunger counter gambit cards. It has one effect that works on its own (such as with the application of the move token) then another effect for either gaining Hunger counters or for just having Hunger counters (Hunger counter generation).

Compelling Hunger is a more unique card as it can only be played on fighters that already have Hunger counters. If a fighter meets that requirement, they can be pushed and then gain another Hunger counter. This is unique because it requires the fighter to already have Hunger counters resulting in it only working in Hunger decks.

Hunger for Success and Hungry Armour are also typical Hunger upgrades. Hunger for Success gives the equipped friendly fighter a Hunger counter after each activation in which they made an attack action, then after a failed attack action they can discard 3 Hunger counters to attack again. However, if this attack fails then the fighter is dealt 1 damage. This type of upgrade once again represents the typical Hunger upgrade well, Hunger generation with a secondary effect that is usually from discarding Hunger counters, in this case the ability to attack again but at the cost of 3 Hunger counters.

Hungry armour is representative of the other general type of Hunger upgrades. This card gives an equipped fighter a Hunger counter at the start of each round and then lets them re-roll 1 defence dice if they have 1 or more Hunger counters. Once again it has Hunger counter generation but the secondary effect is for a passive buff (the defensive re-roll) instead of a discard cost effect such as with Hunger for Success.

Pros:

  • Cards that generate Hunger counters usually produce a lot during the course of the game and/or when played
  • Hunger objectives are easy passive “control” cards that your opponent can’t really stop you scoring unless they wipe out your fighters or tech specifically for Hunger counter removal
  • Power cards that depend on Hunger counters provide additional effects for fighters with Hunger counters on top of Hunger counter generation
  • Hunger counter upgrades combine Hunger counter generation with supplementary effects for having Hunger counters

Cons:

  • Hunger counters are not explained in the core rules, good luck new players
  • This mechanic requires complete dedication to use effectively and adding 1 or 2 Hunger cards will not add much to your deck as these cards rely on mass Hunger counter generation to perform well
  • Hunger decks can be very draw dependent, especially if your Hunger counter generation is tied to your power deck alone
  • Not much interaction as the Hunger mechanic revolves around getting the power cards needed to give you more Hunger counter generation, resulting in minimal opportunities for the opponent to interact unless they specifically tech into Hunger themselves
  • Crimson Court are the only warband used for Hunger due to their faction cards and amazing Hunger counter generation
  • More counter/token bloat for Warhammer Underworlds

Hunger overall isn’t a terrible mechanic but it isn’t a great one either. Hunger counters just don’t add much to Warhammer Underworlds. Replace the word Hunger with anything else and the counter mechanic would be unchanged. I would have liked some kind of passive effect for having a set number of Hunger counters so they had some actual character. The other problem with Hunger is that you can’t add 1 or 2 cards to benefit from it. You have to fully dedicate to Hunger to get its effects, for better or worse.

Then there’s the Crimson Court. This warband completely breaks and makes Hunger as a mechanic. Each fighter generates 1 Hunger counter per action phase, making them the best at generating Hunger Counters. Then they also have faction cards that boost their Hunger counter generation too. There really is no other warband that you’d use Hunger for outside of the Crimson Court. Not only that, but it basically makes all the Hunger universal cards extra faction cards for the Crimson Court. Hunger will now also exist forever as long as the Crimson Court are allowed to be played. I’m not a fan of tying seasonal mechanics to a warband so we’ll have to wait and see how this ages.


Primacy

Primacy is something new to Warhammer Underworlds. This Direchasm mechanic works much differently to Hunger. To play Primacy, you need at least 1 card in your power and/or objective decks that mentions Primacy. With that condition met, you can then play the Primacy mechanic during your games, announcing it to your opponent after you reveal your warbands to each other. Primacy is supposed to represent the primal power of Direchasm and you gain the Primacy token after an activation by: holding 4 or more objectives, killing an enemy leader, killing an enemy fighter with no wound counters.

What else is of note is that both players have the ability to gain and lose the Primacy token as long as it is in play. This means that even if your opponent has no Primacy cards, they still have the potential to gain the Primacy token themselves. This actually offers some great counterplay along with allowing your opponent to gain the benefit of gaining the Primacy token as you have to discard the Primacy token at the end of the round to gain 1 spent glory.

While the Primacy mechanic is generally geared to aggro, the fact that you can score it via hold objectives too means it has more than one avenue of use. Even if Primacy is heavily slanted towards aggro usage. In addition, there are lots of universal cards that grant addition effects for having and/or discarding the Primacy token.

Here are some example Primacy cards:

Surge of Aggression and Awesome Predator are good examples of general Primacy objectives. Surge of Aggression is a Surge you score the moment you gain the Primacy token or succeed with a 4+ damage attack whereas Awesome Predator gives you 1 glory in the end phase for having the Primacy token or a fighter with an attack action that has 4+ damage. They represent typical Primacy objectives, rewarding you for gaining the Primacy token or having another static condition that is generally aggro focussed.

Feign Strength and Puffed Up show off ways Primacy gambits work. Feign Strength gives you the Primacy token but you discard it at the end of the power step so you guarantee getting the Primacy token at the cost of not being able to have it in the end phase. Puffed Up grants all your fighters +1 wounds while you have the Primacy token but then you lose it after a failed attack action. These show off Primacy gambits that either gain you (or let you discard) the Primacy token whereas Puffed Up demonstrates gambits that grant you effects while you have the Primacy token.

Primal Lunge and Proud Runner are some more Primacy upgrade examples. Primal Lunge lets you discard the Primacy token to make a move or attack action with the equipped fighter, then discard the upgrade. Proud Runner grants +1 movement and gives you the Primacy token after that equipped fighter moves 5 or more hexes, however you lose the Primacy token at the end of the action phase if that fighter has no move or charge tokens. Primal Lunge demonstrates extra abilities offered by discarding the Primacy token whereas Proud Runner grants you another way to gain the Primacy token but at a cost if that fighter doesn’t meet a specific requirement.

Pros:

  • A mechanic that is easy to access with only a single card mentioning Primacy required in your decks
  • A great buff for aggro, rewarding you for what you were going to do already
  • Opponent can access the mechanic too even if they have no Primacy cards
  • Power cards related to Primacy offer additional effects for having or discarding the Primacy token
  • Very interactive in the right matchups, with the constant switching of the Primacy token between players during a round

Cons:

  • The Primacy mechanic is not explained in the core rules, good luck new players
  • The extra spent glory is another boost for aggro and detrimental to horde/swarm warbands
  • Hedkrakka’s Madmob mean Primacy will always exist in Warhammer Underworlds
  • More counter/token bloat for Warhammer Underworlds

Primacy overall is a great mechanic, even if it does give a huge buff to aggro. Outside of that, Primacy is fairly balanced, allows a lot of counterplay from the opponent and can be easily accessed by any player with just a single card mentioning Primacy. That may be too easy but it does result in easy experimentation and implementation of Primacy. The extra spent glory isn’t really needed and hurts horde/swarm warbands who give the Primacy token away easily, resulting in an extra 3 glory to the opponent. I would have liked Primacy not to have the glory effect as the cards related to it offer enough great bonuses already or by having you discard the Primacy token at the start of a round to gain 1 spent glory.

Hedkrakka’s Madmob are the elephant in the room. While not as bad as the Crimson Court who brake Hunger, Hedkrakka’s Madmob just make Primacy work even better for them. They also basically make Primacy exist forever in Warhammer Underworlds which is kinda worse than Hunger in my book as only the Hedkrakka’s Madmob player will have to use the tools to manipulate the Primacy token in those matchups when Direchasm rotates out. Yet we will have to see how that plays out when the time comes. At least Primacy can still be always gained by the opponent.


Which Mechanic is Better?

You may have already guessed this but I think Primacy is easily the winner here. Even with its downsides, Primacy has been the best implementation of a new universal mechanic in Warhammer Underworlds. Despite its power, Primacy is easy to use, interactive and even allows little Primacy minigames during a game as the Primacy token can switch hands multiple times between both players. The mechanic is probably too easy to access, but just having 1 Primacy card allows you to use Primacy easily. Plus it can be used by hold objectives players, even if Primacy is much better for aggro players.

Hunger, on the other hand, needs complete dedication to use and only really works for a single warband. Sure, Hunger is the most extensive use of counters yet in Warhammer Underworlds but it feels too extreme in that regard. You can potentially end up with lots of Hunger counters on fighters if you don’t discard any plus the mechanic is basically locked into turtle control builds as that is what most Hunger objectives reward you for. Then there is the Crimson Court. While Hedrakka’s Madmob are also bad for making sure Primacy exists forever, they at least don’t invalidate Primacy for other warbands. Hunger is completely pointless for other warbands outside of the Crimson Court due to their fighters generating 1 Hunger counter per fighter at the start of each round. As I said previously, this ends up with all the Hunger universal cards basically ending up as additional faction cards solely for the Crimson Court, other warbands just can’t match their Hunger counter generation or manipulation.

The comparison is really interesting in my eyes as Hunger and Primacy are such big polar opposites while still being from the same season of Warhammer Underworlds and design space. No matter your feeling on the mechanics, the ease of accessing Primacy compared to the difficultly for Hunger speaks volumes as it makes Primacy the more flexible mechanic overall. Hunger isn’t terrible (as I also stated earlier in the article) but it is disappointing when it could have been so much more instead of just spamming Hunger counters to win.

If we see more mechanics like these two in the future of Warhammer Underworlds, I’d rather see something like Primacy with just a toned down power level so it doesn’t warp the game such as how Primacy currently does in Direchasm. Most importantly, I would not want to see these possible future seasonal mechanics tied to warbands as well.


Closing Crit

We now come to the end of Mechanic Clash: Hunger vs Primacy. What did you think and would you like to see more? I’ve always wanted to cover subjects like this now I have the freedom to do so. I hope you enjoyed this focus on two very close Warhammer Underworlds mechanics. I think it’s a great look at these two gameplay additions and the most interesting to look at first. I thought about covering the Hunter and Quarry mechanic first but those feel a little bit more problematic to discuss due to their breadth and scope, even with the somewhat interesting evolution those mechanics have.

So until next time, when deciding which mechanic you like more, remember that the rolling of crits can always be used to settle any difference!

4 thoughts on “Warhammer Underworlds: Hunger vs Primacy

  1. Very good article. Explaining the mechanics by using prime examples for each card type, really helps getting your points across.

    Do you already have an article dedicated to how to play control builds? I believe i have a decent understanding of what aggro and objective play means. But I struggle to put my finger on it for control.

    Also what’s this lost pages I keep hearing about?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!

      Nah, I have an article on playstyles called what kind of player are you. It has a good explanation of control (:

      Lost pages are the upgrades for wizards which give you 1 glory for each of them when you have the scattered tome equipped. All from Beastgrave.

      Like

  2. If this is the way forward than so be it and I don’t have an issue with game systems that only affect certain warbands, but I’d definitely like more consistency when it comes to the universal cards they produce per season. That or less cards with more impact upon the game. I’m sure that the Crimson Court will have a lot of other, more toned down Hunger management options in future seasons. Exclusive mechanics aren’t the problem, it’s the way that they’re play tested and implemented on such a short notice.

    Most of the universal stuff this season has been the same as previous seasons, a lot of cards, with next to no punch or mechanics that require an awful lot of consideration for minor rewards.

    Primacy on the other hand, has been a point of contention and while I do love the moments of pendulum back and forth for when one player obtains it, I worry about having the constant reminder that your opponent could cascade you with spent Glory, every end round and that is quite a detractor from the experience of actually doing your best to gain some sort of advantage. It feels great on most warbands, yes, but on others it feels like you’re inevitably going to hand the opponent a sure win or you can either achieve a pyrrhic victory by sweating really hard.

    As with the online video game, AoS, 40k, and many other GW products, they have to strike a fine balance between delivering great content and great rules for that content, they’re still not there quite yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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