Saturday, January 15, 2022

REVIEW: Warhammer Underworlds Illusory Might Rivals Deck

Today I have my review of the new Illusory Might Rivals Deck, the first solo card pack for Harrowdeep. This is structured to be used as a Rivals deck by any warband, but all of the cards are normal universals as well, so it provides tons of options for other styles of decks too. Let's dive into the deep end of the pack and see what it contains!

First off, a big thank you to Games Workshop for sending this to me for free to review. This is the first of the individually released Rivals decks for Warhammer Underworlds. Well, I guess technically the Silent Menace deck was the first during Direchasm, but that's been done kind of retroactively since Rivals didn't exist as a format yet. So, what exactly is a Rivals deck? Rivals is a new format of play with the release of Harrowdeep. It essentially removes the deck building part out of the game and lets people play right away. Any of the warbands that come with full decks in the box, 12 objectives, 10 gambits, and 10 upgrades, can be used as a Rivals deck, so anything released after Beastgrave. They're also releasing standalone decks that count as Rivals decks, and can be used with any warband. You simple use the fighter cards for that warband, then the rest of the cards from the Rivals deck. This is great for any of the Shadespire and Nightvault warbands, as otherwise they wouldn't be able to play in this format since they didn't have full decks. Of course, any of these cards can be used in any other deck as well using the normal deck building process as they're all universal cards.

That covers what Rivals is, so lets dive into this deck in particular. Like I said before, it's a full deck minus fighters, so it's 12 objectives, 10 gambits, and 10 upgrades. There are no Grand Alliance cards in here, as it needs to be able to be used by any warband in Rivals. The whole deck is themed around the Illusion upgrades. When you first open up the deck there's a card with a bit of lore, but on the other side it has the name of every card in this deck. This is great if you plan on using these cards in other decks, but then later on decide to try out the Illusory Might Rivals deck, as you'll be able to see which cards make it up.

I always like to start with the objectives, as these will give you a good idea of what the deck is aiming to do. There are quite a few objective cards that have to do with holding objectives, and then there are four that deal directly with the Illusion upgrades. I like Horrors in the Dark, which is a Surge/Hybrid and gives you 1 glory for either having 2 or more fighters in cover hexes not in your territory, or two or more fighters holding objectives not in your territory. I'm always a fan of surge hold objectives. Lengthening Shadows is good for aggressive and fast warbands, which gives you 2 glory in the end phase if you have more of your models in the enemy's territory than they have of their own models in their territory. Out of Time also seems decent. It's a 1 glory hybrid end phase objective that you complete if you hold a number of objectives equal to the round number, or are in a number of cover hexes equal to the round number. This seems especially easy to score if you draw it in the first round. Shock Troops and Shadow Match both deal with holding an objective who's number is equal to the number of upgrades the fighter has as one of their conditions, which again, seems like it could be easy. Overall the objectives seem okay. There are a lot of 1 glory end phase objectives, which just seems okay. 1 glory end phase objectives are fine if they're really easy to score for your warband. In total, it has 16 glory for you to score.

I'm going to go to the upgrades next, since the Illusion upgrades are a big part of it. Every Illusion upgrade has the following rule: they cost no glory to use, BUT at the end of the action phase, or when the fighter is chosen by a gambit, or dealt damage, the upgrade breaks. So essentially a cheap, quick, throwaway upgrade. Don't play them until you're ready to use them (or trying to score an Illusion related objective card). 7 out of the 10 upgrades you get in this deck are Illusions. False Presence is pretty good and has you place the fighter who has it back on one of your starting hexes when it breaks. Illusory Form lets you put the fighter on guard. There are 3 attack Illusions, which are all decent, but will pretty much be one shots, so use them wisely. On the non-Illusion front we have Ephemeral Fighter, which makes the fighter 4 wounds in rounds 1 and 2, and 2 wounds in round 3. This is great for low wound fighters, as it makes them a major roadblock, though they're likely to die in round 3, so plan for that. Shadow Mover and Weapons Master both play off of your fighter already having several upgrades, so this is another place where Illusions could work, since you don't need glory to play them. Load up a fighter with Illusions then give them Shadow Mover and give them +3 move for a turn! One big disappointment here is that Illusions don't count as upgrades for the Godsworn Hunt inspire condition, otherwise that would've been great for them, and honestly, they could've used the boost.

For the gambits we have all ploys and no spells, which makes sense for a Rivals deck which needs to be used by any warband. Cover of Darkness either makes it so gambits don't deal damage, or push a friendly fighter up to 2 hexes onto a cover hex. Both are pretty good. Illusory Find lets you search through your power deck until you find an Illusion card, and then shuffle your power deck. Siphoned Vigour lets you heal a fighter by breaking the upgrades they have. You heal 1 for 0-1, 2 for 2-4, and 3 for 5+. This is another great use of Illusions. Put them all on a fighter, use them, and then play this card since they're going to break anyway. Phantom Advance lets you push each friendly fighter with 1 or more Illusions on them, while Phantom Denial is a reaction when one of your fighter with an Illusion is targeted by a gambit. You can discard a power card and they are not affected by that gambit. Shady Bargain is interesting and lets you play an upgrade for free, but your opponent gets to do the same. It's a bit odd in this deck since so many of your upgrades are Illusions anyway and don't cost any glory to play. I think it would be good in a Godsworn Hunt deck though.

Overall, there's a ton of synergy in this deck and it all revolves around the Illusion cards. I'm not a skilled enough player to judge how good it is without testing it out in games, but it seems like you could pull off a lot of combos if you time things right. There are good cards in here for regular deck building as well, but I would really like to see how some people fare just using this deck as is. I think it has some feet on it. I'm also interested to see if the next warband released in Harrowdeep has a Rivals deck released alongside it. If you play Underworlds you'll definitely want to pick this up for the cards alone, but it's also great for anyone with a Shadespire/Nightvault era warband who wants to use it in the Rivals format.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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