Seven Cards to Shake the Firmament
How Cataclysm Will Impact the Head-to-Head Battles of Warhammer: Invasion
“The Great Cataclysm shook the firmament with such force its echoes still pervade, and always will. All semblance of tranquility was blasted away in an instant.” –Warhammer, “War Unending”
Just as the Great Cataclysm forever reshaped the face of the Old World, Cataclysm will forever reshape the struggles of Warhammer: Invasion The Card Game. This deluxe expansion adds a new multiplayer format to the game, and its 159 player cards (three copies each of fifty-three different cards) fuel the fires of both the game’s multiplayer and head-to-head formats.
In earlier previews, lead developer Lukas Litzsinger and guest writer Torsten Krämer explored the multiplayer battles of Cataclysm. Today, we’ll look at the impact Cataclysm is likely to make upon the game’s head-to-head play.
Each Cataclysm player card is playable in both multiplayer and head-to-head, and each faction gains a new Hero, a number of other units, supports, and tactics. For the most part, these cards reinforce the factions’ core identities and bolster their signature strengths. While many of them shine brightest in the Cataclysm multiplayer format, all of these new cards also add new abilities. This means you’ll find more options as you build your deck.
To more closely examine how these options may allow you to build a deck more specifically attuned to your preferred style of play, we’ll explore seven of the expansion’s new cards–one for each faction and one neutral card.
The Last Oath
The Last Oath (Cataclysm, 8) continues a strong Dwarf tradition of valiant deaths and retaliatory strikes. It also adds something new to the faction: direct damage capable of destroying units in an opponent’s Kingdoms or Quest zones at action speed. Previously the Dwarfs had few options to damage an opponent’s units in those zones. One of the most popular options was the Dwarf Ranger (Core Set, 10), but his two hit points made him vulnerable to many Destruction strategies. Furthermore, he was limited to the Quest zone if you wanted to trigger his ability. Finally, he could only deal one point of damage per action, meaning that many units were effectively immune to his effect, either because they had Toughness or too many hit points for his damage to prove effective. Another card the Dwarfs could use to damage opposing units was the Hero, Duregan Thorgrimson (The Fourth Waystone, 81), and his ability only worked at the beginning of the Dwarf player’s turn. However, because Dwarf players can choose from any number of beneficial effects that force the sacrifice of their units, they will soon be able trigger The Last Oath at any point to to change the state of a game.
The addition of The Last Oath to the card pool means that the Dwarfs will be better positioned than ever to suppress their enemies’ acquisition of cards and resources, and, of course, the card only gets better in the multiplayer format.
In Cataclysm, the Orcs are depicted as a bloodthirsty race, driven by an insatiable thirst for battle. Many of their most powerful cards play for free if they burn a zone, and once they burn a zone, they can also trigger a number of devastating abilities.
Still, the Orc hordes prove most successful when they’re driven by the leadership and vision of a cunning warlord. Brute strength is great, but it’s even better when it’s paired with clever tactics. One of the cleverest new tactics that Orc players will want to use is Warlord Go Smash (Cataclysm, 15). Few factions can hit the Battlefield running as quickly as the Orcs, and if they can get to an early lead, Warlord Go Smash can help them maintain it, along with such cards as Pillage (Core Set, 78), Troll Vomit (Core Set, 80), and The Unending Horde (Rising Dawn, 6).
The new cards in Cataclysm provide several factions with abilities directly tied to the burning or damaging of zones, and while the Orcs grow in ferocity with each attack, the Empire stands strongest so long as all its citizens stand together.
Accordingly, while Fervent Disciple (Cataclysm, 20) and other such cards may offer immediate, high-impact rewards, they best reward Empire players who can design decks that balance the principles of both attacking and defending. In such decks, the Fervent Disciple is a potent mid-cost unit that can apply early pressure as a first-turn drop or that can serve as a strong finisher.
Of course, to get the most out of your Fervent Disciple, you need to keep her zone from burning, and this requires some strategy. That’s why the unit’s artwork and flavor text are particularly appropriate. They indicate that this Priest unit is a militant devotee of Myrmidia, the Goddess of War, and Myrmidia represents the art and science of warfare, not just raw fury.
Cataclysm introduces a number of High Elf cards that lend new dimension to the faction’s use of healing and indirect damage. It also strengthens the faction with a new Champion Card, Reprimand (Cataclysm, 31).
Timothy provided us with more information about this powerful tactic:
“I wanted to accomplish a few goals with Reprimand. First, I wanted to give Order a way around Necromancy and Destruction’s ability to return cards from the discard pile to play. Second, I wanted to give the High Elves a cost-effective way to deal with early threats like Spider Riders (The Skavenblight Threat, 8) or Clan Moulder’s Elite (Tooth and Claw, 57), but I didn’t want it be another Judgement of Loec (Legends, 26). I feel that Reprimand fills this role perfectly. With its variable cost, it will always be just as costly as the unit that you’re whisking away to the bottom of your opponent’s deck. Additionally, it can really shine against units with an alternative cost such as a Daemon Prince (The Imperial Throne, 114).”
Cataclysm provides Chaos with a number of cards that gain strength whenever a zone burns, and the faction doesn’t particularly care if it’s an opponent’s zone that burns or its own. So long as it doesn’t cost them the game, the forces of Chaos love to watch their zones burn. The more things burn, the stronger they become.
Serpent’s Strength (Cataclysm, 38) is just one of the new cards that helps drive Chaos toward ultimate destruction. While it’s easy to see how frightening this card could become in a multiplayer game where three or four players might all have zones burning at the same time, the card is no less effective in head-to-head play, especially given the recent prominence of the new legends from the Eternal War cycle. When any of those legends enters play, it triggers its Forced ability, “When this legend enters play, you must burn 3 zones instead of 2 in order to win for the rest of the game.” This means that if your opponent is running one of these new legends, Serpent’s Strength could potentially reward you with three additional combat damage for zero resources. And if you’re also running a legend from the Eternal War cycle? Then, a single copy of Serpent’s Strength could functionally serve as four free power for your Battlefield!
Hand destruction and deck destruction have long been two of the Dark Elves’ hallmark strategies. Yet, even though these strategies have long coexisted, they haven’t always worked well together. While it may seem natural for a deck focused on starving your opponent of cards to be able to attack his hand and his deck simultaneously, very few cards have rewarded both forms of destruction. Accordingly, Dark Elf players have long found it difficult–though not impossible–to balance the two effects in decks that were also slim and efficient enough to start quickly and withstand an opponent’s attacks.
Cataclysm may change that.
Corsair Tower (Cataclysm, 45) is just one of several cards that push these strategies, and the synergies it promotes mean that the better your deck is at hand destruction, the better it becomes at deck destruction.
One of the cards from Cataclysm that’s likely to make a heavy, immediate impact upon the tournament metagame is the support, Arcane Orrery (Cataclysm, 52). Limited to neither the forces of Order nor Destruction, this powerful magical Item is truly neutral, meaning any player can include it in his deck.
What makes this card so special? Certainly, it’s not the ratio of power to cost that it yields. At two cost, its one power is entirely standard, but its ability is anything but standard. The ability of the Arcane Orrery is game-changing.
Throughout recent tournament seasons, a wide number of top players have taken advantage of a number of “infinite” loops that led to instant victories. Meanwhile, other players were able to find tremendous success with heavily aggressive strategies, like those driven by Call the Brayherd (Fiery Dawn, 114) that could overwhelm their opponents with early swarms. However, nearly all infinite loop and swarm strategies rely upon the ability to play multiple copies of their cards within the same turn. By preventing them from doing so, the Arcane Orrery carves new space within the game for those strategies that need a few more turns to build toward success.
Because it’s vulnerable to all the standard support destruction, and because it doesn’t make any impact if it never enters play, the Arcane Orrery doesn’t quite spell the death of either loops or swarms, but it’s one truly powerful card that’s bound to make its impact felt across the Old World!
War Is Coming
If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy of Cataclysm, head to your local retailer today. Cataclysm will soon shake the very foundations of the Old World!
This deluxe expansion for Warhammer: Invasion The Card Game will arrive at retailers next week.
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