Hello all, welcome to The Breakdown! This week, we are going to analyze Destruction.
We’re going to take a moment to look at each of the mechanics present in the cards and break them down into Major and Minor categories. We’ll then talk about the Tribes that Destruction contains and then we’ll tie it all together to see what synergies the greenskins have for us.
Before we continue on, we are only going to cover Wave 1 cards for this analysis! A new series of The Breakdown – Redux articles will run re-evaluating each of the Grand Alliances and how Onslaught has augmented their existing themes (and if new ones start to present themselves!)
Without further ado, let’s break down the Waaaugh!ers that are Destruction!
These are mechanics that are represented by a substantial number of cards and have well-defined synergies present within the Grand Alliance. These are things you can build around.
Just like with Death, the first Major Mechanic we’ll talk about is the keyworded Stacking. Shared with Death, this keyword basically allows you to circumvent the rules requiring the lane to be empty before playing a Unit on it (assuming the lane is occupied by another Unit, not a Spell), as long as the Unit you are deploying on is another Stacking Unit. By being able to “pile-on” your Units quickly in a single lane, you are able to accelerate Unit-heavy Quests like Orruk Boss a lot faster than otherwise and maintain tempo.
As for the Stacking Units themselves, Destruction has a total of 8 Stackers, 3 of which are Orruk and 5 Grots. Both Tribes have 1 defensive Unit each with the rest being offensive, giving lots of aggressive options for Orruk and Grot-centered decks.
Cowardly Grots, Grot Slashas, Orruk Scrappers and Show-Off Grots are all fairly simple, scaling up in damage by 1 for each point of Support they have (with Show-Off Grots only scaling if on top of Orruks!). Surprising Skulkers scale up by a whopping +2 damage per point of Support they have (AND can’t be Removed!) but take a whopping 4 corners before going off for a maximum of 7 damage. Cowardly Grots gets special mention as they (theoretically) can do the highest amount of damage of any 1 Unit at a grand total of 12 (X/3/4/5) but being extremely fragile.
Our defensive cards, Orruk Shield Bashers and Meat Shield Grots both scale per point of Support with Meat Shield providing more defensive bonus up front but expending itself quickly (so better versus bursty-damage) whereas Orruk Shield Bashers prevents far less damage without support (1/0/0/0) but provides a point of damage on the first corner (which is helpful for questing) and sticks around for a while (better vs multiple sources of small damage).
Lastly, Brute Smashas is the lone Stacker without built-in scaling, doing a very respectable 2/2/X and gaining Rend when Support 2 is reached.
UPDATE (2019/02/05): Stacking Units are now able to only Stack on top of *other* Stacking Units, similar to the tests run during Season 1.
Another shared mechanic, this time with Order, Rotation Manipulation is used almost entirely to Rotate Forward by Destruction. The two biggest examples being the infamous Gordrakk, Fist of Gork who Rotates every Orruk Unit to their final corner usually for the kill and Loud-Mouthed Megaboss who Rotates a Unit Forward 2 corners. These provide quick bursts of damage, Rotating through damage corners quickly or getting to different effects.
Another popular Champion is Savage Boar Boss who automatically Rotates any Beast Unit when it’s Deployed on it. Less well-known is Snazzgar Stinkmullett who fully Rotates a Spell to its final corner to potentially devastating effect.
Spells and Abilities also get in on the action. War Chant draws your cards, plays Units and Rotates them Forward by one. Waaagh! Call pushes your whole team Forward by one and Reckless Inspiration Rotates a Unit by 2 and gets bonuses if it causes your Unit to Exhaust. Finally, there is just a touch of Restart with the Blessing Waaagh! Then Waaagh! Again, though not a theme on its own.
Special mention also goes to Foot of Gork for being a defensive version of the effect, Rotating Units Forward without triggering their effects.
Bonus Actions (Action “Cheating”)
This is the final Major mechanic, and probably the most controversial. Having a near monopoly on the effect, Destruction is uniquely able to generate extra Actions, giving it the ability to either drop more things on the board (aided by Stacking) or to draw more cards for later turns. This can have a snowballing effect, where you generate more extra actions, which lets you draw and play more cards that give you extra actions.
The most obvious Units are the unassuming Waaagh! Chanter, followed by Pouncing Wolf Rider. These are the most common ones, are easy to include in any deck and can be Stacked on when they are no longer useful.
Alternatively, Megaboss on Maw-Krusha and Frenzied Warchanter provide conditional Bonus Actions (Removal and 6+ damage, respectively) with Prophet of the Waaagh! rounding it out as a Blessing option for Bonus Actions.
There is also the idea of Action “Cheating,” wherein you gain ‘virtually’ more Actions. Rallying Cry is extremely efficient, as it Deploys 2 Units for 1 Action (thus, “cheating” an Action) while also triggering an Ability Quest along with the 2 Unit deploys. War Chant also has a similar effect, enabling potential free Deploys and draws.
These mechanics make up a smaller amount of the total cards in Death, but they clearly represent a thematic trend and can be built upon.
A minor “mechanic” by virtue of number of cards that interact with it is Rend. Two Champions provide Rend (Massive Choppa Warboss and Sneaky Grot Shaman), and a grand total of 6 creatures have it, 3 of those being Beasts. This means that, especially with Grot Beasts, they are very well-suited to getting through damage prevention effects like Mystic Shield and various “Shield” Units.
Another minor theme with a decent bit of support is Life Gain. Primarily a Wizard theme, Spells and Wizard Abilities dominate this theme. Invigorating Chant and Battle Glory are basic spells that gain increasing amounts of health. Feast of Mork gives a huge 9 point health chunk while shutting off Abilities and Heroic Acts. Waaagh! Infusion and Reckless Inspiration also both provide Life Gain for you as Wizard Abilities.
This also has some Blessing support, with both Renewed War-Lust and Strength From Victory giving large doses of health. While I don’t think Life Gain is strong enough quite yet to be a major theme (no way to really capitalize on it yet as Destruction is more aggressive and less controlling currently) but keep an eye out for a future control deck, depending on what future sets come out with.
A small but intriguing subtheme, Destruction has a few tools to help with controlling the board state. Sweeping Gore-Grunta is the most obvious of these, able to Remove up to three Units in a cone in front of him if he’s allowed to spin (often aided by a Loud-Mouthed Megaboss). Prowling Wolf is able to proactively come down and protect a lane (Removing any Unit dropped on it the first time) or by using its Heroic Act after getting played out. Lastly, Trampling Grunta is a solid card that does its best Death impression and Dormants a Unit or Spell in front of it
The thing they all have in common? They are all Beasts.
Destruction is made up of 3 separate Tribes. Orruks and Grots make up the majority, with Beasts being a smaller Tribe, supporting both but having a decent load-out themselves to build around.
Making up 8 of the 20 total Units in Destruction, Orruks are actually fairly diverse. 3 of the Units have Stacking (Orruk Brute, Orruk Scrappers and Orruk Shield Bashers) and are very efficient damage dealers and a good blocker. Big Stabba Crew and Gore-Choppa Brute are big damage dealers as well. Rounding them out are 2 utility Units in Banner Carrier (a Removal prevention tool and buffer) and the infamous Waaagh! Chanter who generates Bonus Actions.
Over half of the total Champions (11 out of 16) are Orruk and also run the gamut. Warboss Recruiter and Gordrakk, Fist of Gork are the only two that specifically mention Orruks (potentially-free Deploys with Warboss, and the Ultimate Rotation™ which, after errata, is Orruk-only with Gordrakk).
Two Blessings also specifically care about Orruk Units: Frenzied Charge draws you cards for each Orruk you Deploy while Cruisin' for a Bruisin' is the big-daddy of them all, capable of swinging a game by itself as your Units naturally Exhaust or are Removed.
Overall, Orruks seem to be aggressively minded but have plenty of room to branch out in future sets, either by investing in more Stacking Units, more utility Units or more individually strong damage dealers.
Matching Orruks, Grots make up another 8 Units. Unlike Orruks however, they are far more heavily invested into the Stacking mechanic. 6 out of the 8 Units have Stacking, and also scale more with each point of Support they have in general. The two holdouts from Stacking are Pouncing Wolf Rider (essentially the Grot version of Waaagh! Chanter) and a big finisher Unit in Arachnarok Spider which feels more Beast than Grot.
Grots also seem more focused on intent. Meat Shield Grot is a direct parallel to Shield Basher from the Orruk side as a defensive Grot Stacker, but otherwise the Grot are purely offensive in nature. This, to me, shows that Grots are supposed to be the small, aggressive creatures while the Orruks pack more individual punch.
The doubling-down on Stacking also means Grots favour heavily Deploying on single lanes as opposed to going wide, as their Units are rather unimpressive on their own. This helps them synergize with Orruks who have strong base Units but, aside from Orruk Scrappers, don’t have much in the way of scaling damage from their Stackers.
Champion-wise, 4 out of the 5 Grot Champions are actually Wizards. Since no Spells directly interact with Grots (outside of Call of War which cares equally about Orruks as well), the Grot Units are lacking support from Grot-tagged Champions. Only the lowly Grot Boss and 2 Orruk Champions (Frenzied Warchanter and Massive Choppa Warboss) care about Grot Units.
Lastly, a single Blessing cares about Grots: Little Waaagh! which is basically a miniature version of Ushering of the Waaagh!, where the Draw + Deploy is spread over 3 turns.
Looking at the Grots overall, I expect to see more interesting mechanics featuring Stacking and more Units/Abilities to synergize with them that care about Support values. I also hope we’ll see some Grot-specific Spell support for Grots, seeing as they hold a monopoly on a lot of the Wizard Champions.
Coming in at 9 total Units, Beasts are a (slightly) smaller Tribe within Destruction. 3 of the Beasts deal Rend damage, making them great against opposing Mystic Shields and the like. Their real calling, and what I hope to see expanded on in the future however, is their array of Board Control options. Sweeping Gore-Grunta, Trampling Grunta and Prowling Wolf all do a great job at stalling your opponents and messing with their lanes.
Along with their Rend and Board Control theme support, I feel I should mention that, much like Aelf/Beasts in Order, 3 of the Beasts are mixed with Grots or Orruk. This to me says they expect Beasts to probably be a supporting Tribe primarily, as opposed to being your primary win condition.
Solid Champions really help the Beast Tribe. With both the amazing Savage Boar Boss and the solid Gore-Grunta Boss, they really up the value of each Beast you Deploy onto them. Amusingly, this means that Beasts actually have more Warrior support than Grots!
Blessing-wise, they only have one… but hoo boy it’s a doozy. Collar of Domination makes your already-respectable Beasts hit like trucks and can have the fun side-effect of locking down an opponent if they happen to be making heavy use of Beasts themselves.
I’m hoping that in the future we will see more expansion on their current themes. Right now, Destruction doesn’t have a lot of controlling elements, opting instead for pure aggro. I think if they can expand Beasts to be their “Rend and control” Tribe, they could have an interesting mechanical identity. Other than that, continue to expect Beasts to cross over with other Tribes when those Tribes need an excuse to dip their toe into Rend or Control.
Themes and Synergies
Before we wrap up, let’s look at everything we’ve just analyzed and see how it all fits together for when YOU go to build a deck.
Flood The Board (Bonus Actions + Stacking)
With the combination of Bonus Actions and Stacking, Destruction has access to unparalleled tempo advantage. By having extra actions and never having to wait for Units to fully rotate off before playing another, you can keep the offense going all the time. The Bonus Actions also mean that, when you don’t need to play out anything, you can spend those Actions drawing cards instead.
Spin to Win (Bonus Actions + Rotation Manipulation)
Focused on either Loud-Mouthed or Gordrakk, you can use Bonus Actions granted by your various cards to help you prepare for either a singular burst (Gordrakk) or intermittent bursts (Loud-Mouthed, Waaagh! Call) to dump a pile of damage all at once on an opponent. The Bonus Actions help you have the ability to play out multiple cards before using a Heroic Action. Combined with finishers like Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ (which, incidentally, Gordrakk makes nearly-inevitable the turn after), you are almost playing a combo-style of deck.
After analyzing Destruction, there are a few conclusions we can come to:
- Destruction is aggressive. With all the tools it has to be the aggro deck (Stacking, Bonus Actions and lots of Units with damage on their first corners), there is little incentive to slow down right now. With future sets, I expect to see some diversification to strategies that involve slowing down. Tools exist for more controlling builds, they just need more of the gaps filled in.
- Unconditional Bonus Actions are exponentially powerful. With access to 2 Units that give Bonus Actions and a powerful Ability in Rallying Cry to get 3 quest objectives in 1, Bonus Actions is probably the single strongest mechanic in the game. I highly doubt we’ll see any more Units like this, at least not in Destruction.
- Destruction’s Tribes feel well fleshed out. Unlike Death, which had a bit of Multiple-Tribe-Disorder splitting up its Units, each of Destruction’s Tribes seem relatively well fleshed out. They are prime to be able to handle a new Tribe (Ogors!) to fill the “big and slow” archetype, while making more specialized Units in the other Tribes.
For Set 1, Destruction was arguably the most powerful of the decks, almost entirely upon the back of Bonus Actions/Action Cheating, combined with the tempo advantage of Stacking. Based on what we know now of Onslaught, seems like they’ve tamped down on both of those things so we will see how they do in the new environment of post-Onslaught!
Next time on The Breakdown, we move away from the individual Grand Alliances to see how Onslaught impacts them and talk about some of the underlying mechanics of the game itself. Our first topic? The Action Economy. See you then!
Want to try and build your own Destruction deck? Think you can crack the meta? Try out the Deckbuilder and share it! Now updated for Onslaught!