The Onslaught is dawning upon us and upon the city of Hammerhal. Khorne’s chosen have bolstered their forces by summoning the great daemon Skarbrand, and rain fire and blood upon the land. But Sigmar’s own warriors have also received much help and reinforcements from the Sacrosanct chamber.
First, a trip down memory lane. The first deck I built last season was based around the idea of choking down my opponent’s lanes with Protector Primes and setting up a wall of Disruptive Liberators and Hurricane Raptors that would be reset by their commander, Vorrus Starstrike. While my own units would funnel my enemies to maximize the usage of the Protectors, making my opponent’s aggression slow to a crawl, I would take the initiative with aggressive blessings to seal the deal before my opponent could rally. My inspiration was one of my old favorite decks from Magic, U/G Madness: an aggro-control brew that seeks to aggressively close the game in the early to mid-game and does so by pinpoint denial of the opponent’s own attacks and responses and controlling the game’s tempo, rather than the traditional slow control war of attrition on the card advantage battlefield.
Unfortunately it was missing a few things to be consistent enough, and while you could make Chaos Quick Quest decks sputter, it was a tad too slow for the likes of Destruction aggro. You could slow down the opponent but didn’t have the damage dealers to close the deal before your lane denial disappeared, leaving you open to a counterattack.
Thankfully, Skarbrand being the most popular card of this new set, coupled with many new tools available to us, makes this deck now a more complete solution to the metagame. Here is my current build:
2x Protector Prime
While some prefer to split the difference and field a Knight-Heraldor with a single Protector Prime, I would propose that it makes the deck fundamentally different. You lose a lot of the lane control power by going from two mostly dead lanes down to one. The Knight-Heraldor deck to me is a slightly different deck that revolves around aggressive combos with Longstrike Raptor and Skybolt Judicator. The aggro-control deck I favor needs double Protector Prime to work. That may change if people move towards wizard-heavy builds.
Vorrus’ Heroic Act is a subtler one than Gordrakk’s, but I would say it has the potential to be as powerful. The act of resetting a single unit that would be exhausted next turn is fundamentally worth two actions: it is equivalent to drawing another copy of that card, and playing it. If you play Vorrus right, that means you will be resetting at the very minimum your most relevant unit in play. Even if you didn’t get a second unit (or a subset of its corners) to reset, it would be a decent effect. Maybe not worth the once per game restriction, but often quite worthwhile. But most of the time you will get to reset two or three units, at least partially. This is a lot of value, often allowing you the equivalent of drawing 1 and a half to two and a half extra copies of your lane denial units and playing them for free.
3x Disruptive Liberator
3x Hurricane Raptor
3x Thundering Concussor
(2-3)x Lord of the Host
Thundering Concussor makes it possible for you to field a full 6 units that deny abilities from your opponent, which is key to the Skarbrand matchup. It also is a 3 corners unit with an extra 1 damage corner, which makes it much superior to Hurricane Raptor for its specific purpose. Hurricane Raptor here becomes a redundancy, to allow for both your unit and ability denial to be up to 6 slots instead of 3. Lord of the Host allows you to maintain denial over a longer period of time.
An important side benefit of denying abilities in their lane is that it makes it very hard to get rid of Thundering Concussor and Hurricane Raptor. Except for the Death matchup, who has access to a lot of unit-based or spell-based unit removal, resetting either of these units with Lord of the Host or Vorrus’ Heroic Act is a very safe way to ensure extra damage on the board.
All these were chosen to close the game with a huge damage burst as your lane control units start ticking down towards their own eventual exhaustion.
Frenzied Order and Divine Blast are just consistent upfront damage. One might fit Swift Judgement in any of these four slots, but those two are going to deal more damage unless you finesse Swift Judgement on an empty lane.
Blessed Weapons is the most damage of all Order blessings but needs to be done in chunks. Thankfully we now have many units that deal damage on the first corner, which helps tremendously with that. I have often used Vorrus’ Heroic Act to reset two units with first turn corners in order to complete the two last or two middle corners of Blessed Weapons.
The only blessing that is not fully aggro is Abjuration. It will deal as much damage as a Swift Judgement if the lane is occupied, and it will slow down aggressive unit-based decks. I feel you need to have it against the Destruction matchup. If you want to go full aggro, this one is the easy cut for Swift Judgement.
With regard to Realm blessings, Hypersnare Seed might be a good substitution for some of these if you shift cards around to have a higher unit ratio. Trials of Fire could also work if you build your own version with more removal, maxing out on Tactical Removal and Triumphant Smash.
3x Triumphant Smash
3x Piercing Shot
(2-3)x Tactical Formation
(2-3)x Beat Back
We are trying to quest the two Protector Primes and/or Vorrus, which means we need a lot of abilities. Lord of the Host is not considered part of these generic questing slots, as they are limited to being used on Vorrus. We are not playing Order before Glory because it cannot be considered at all when filling up our questing slots. Similarly, we prefer abilities that can be used pretty much at any time and on any lane in order to quest quickly. Therefore we prefer a lower number of slots dedicated to removal. Triumphant Smash is preferred over Tactical Removal due to the interaction with Protector Prime and units that have damage on all of their corners. It is possible to play a damage unit, then play Piercing Shot/Tactical Formation/Beat Back then Triumphant Smash to completely quest a Protector Prime, since the Triumphant Smash rotating our unit backwards will cause the damage quest to complete.
The best new card for this archetype is arguably Beat Back. Tactical Formation was useful to reposition Protector Primes, but once you and your opponents get a lot of knowledge on optimal start of game positioning, that advantage becomes marginal. It is now often used to reposition our denial units in response to an opponent’s own Beat Back. Beat Back provides us with the ability to further slow down our opponent, by moving units away from a champion with a unit into damage corner progression before they can complete the second corner, or to put them in front of champions that wish to put a unit in play to complete their quest. Because we are already packing a lot of tools for denying our opponent their quests, the extra control and synergy afforded by Beat Back improves our deck exponentially. The extra action also often allows very strong turns, possibly flipping multiple blessings in the same turn.
I play two Beat Back and three Tactical Formation over the opposite 3/2 split mostly due to Flesh to Stone being a thing and the fact that Tactical Formation is a response to Skarbrand fielding their own Beat Back, whereas Beat Back does not protect us from that. In the Beat Back arms race against Chaos, Tactical Formation is our trump card.
With 2 points left the only alternatives are Lochian Prince and Knight-Azyros. I prefer to stay away from the aelves, though Razorshell Harpoon Allopex is tempting as extra unit control, and might make the questing not completely trash. Knight-Azyros is a 3 hp swing compared to Liberator Prime and we are already not planning to quest that champion anyway. Every extra hp is worth a lot more since our plan involves cutting the damage output of our opponent by close to half in two out of four lanes. I am almost certain that Knight-Azyros is inferior in this build and should only be part of the Knight-Heraldor version.
3x Guided Vanguard Hunters
A straight upgrade to Paladin Decimator, dealing as much damage but quicker and having a damage on its first corner, making it a great unit to rotate backwards or reset. The fact you can move it around is sometimes useful, especially against slower removal like Death has. In long games you can use them to start one of your main champion questors and then move him over to Liberator Prime to complete his damage corner.
2x Longstrike Raptor
Incentive for opponents to play a unit in front of your Protector Prime when you have Triumphant Smash in hand. We’re not comboing hard with this unlike the Knight-Heraldor builds, it’s just a way to make an opponent tempted into playing a unit on their irrelevant champions.
2x Strike Force Liberator
This is one of those units that could easily be switched around, but it deals so much damage when you get it early that it’s hard not to play it. Obviously shouldn’t play 3x, as they are lackluster late game.
We’re not playing these but they could substitute for some of the filler units or abilities.
Those are both useful if we need extra damage reduction, but they don’t really play nice with Triumphant Smash, Lord of the Host or Vorrus. I cut the two slots of these I had for an extra Tactical Formation and Lord of the Host.
These could sub in for some of the damage units. Decimator is not as good as Guided Vanguard Hunters but could be Hunters number 4 to 6 if you have the slots. And Dracoline Evocator is another steady damage unit that is not necessarily worse or better than Decimator, Longstrike Raptor or Strike Force Liberator.
Razorshell Harpoon Allopex
This one is a bit out of the box. It fulfills the general idea of the deck by dealing with units already in play, as opposed to stopping them from coming into play. However, it makes your questing harder, since most of the units you want are Stormcast.
Might be worth it as a one-of. It is a very aggressive effect. My only problem with it is that I need my opponent’s cooperation to play it.
Keep Hurricane Raptor and Thundering Concussor in hand until they will be in the way for your opponent. Against Skarbrand it’s going to be crucial. You will need to study the proper timing to ensure they don’t blow you out of nowhere with Skarbrand/Total Carnage. Try to keep in mind they can hurt themselves, so if they fall on 16-17 hp on your turn they are still quite capable of coming up with a victory out of nowhere on their own turn.
Protector Prime in front of Bloodreaver Chieftain will have a large effect on their ability to hurt you early on. You will ask them the question of whether they think questing their Chieftain as a backup for Skarbrand is a better plan than putting their early damage on lanes without damage reduction. Asking them more questions means more opportunities for them to answer wrong.
Due to the start of game positioning back and forth, your opponent will likely be able to strand one of your Protector Primes in front of a Chaos Warrior or other throwaway champion. This is a good candidate for Longstrike Raptor. This makes them think whether they want to waste a card that could be used for questing elsewhere, or if they prefer you take them down to 15 hp faster.
For the love of Sigmar, do not flip your blessings early. Your best bet is to setup two of them to flip and do it on the exact turn that they fall down under 16 hp. Flipping Abjuration and Blessed Weapon without a trigger as your two flips is a heartbreaker, but on the average flip they should be left with a very short window where they can blast you to hell and it should be covered by your lane denial.
No need to be coy, it’s a race. You don’t need to line up your blessings with perfect timing like with Chaos, so just flip them when you can.
Beat Back is your friend. Use it to try to manipulate them into stacking where your Protector Prime are with it so that you can Triumphant Smash a tall stack and finish questing your Protector Prime in one go. Beat Back unit away from their Riptooth before they trigger damage corners. Beat Back units in front of their Savage Boar Boss because there are no stacking beast units.
Put down unit denial in front of Warboss Recruiter. Put it down in front of stacking units that are exhausting soon. Put down ability denial in front of Riptooth, since they can’t remove it except with something slow, like a Sweeping Gore-Grunta. Just generally be in their face and make them waste their action efficiency on partially questing everything on their board without ever getting to their blessings.
This right there is why the Vorrus deck faltered last season: you didn’t have enough denial, so their late game was to flip two or three blessings in rapid succession as soon as you faltered, because their early game was wasted on questing everywhere. With the extra units you now can extend the pain for a few more turns, which makes the matchup better than it was. Most of Destruction’s power is in how efficiently it can flip its blessings. Without its blessings, most of their cards durdle around doing not much of anything. Grot Ambush, Rally Cry, Pouncing Wolf Rider, those are all action neutral cards. They provide no benefit to board position or hand size. They only provide you free quest corners at no cost to your action economy. If they don’t get to flip a blessing, that whole mess of card is mostly doing nothing. Similarly, the stacking units are meh for damage without Support and average on Support 1, they only start being bonkers on Support 2. By controlling their board you are depriving them of all their advantages.
Let’s face it, Death is probably your worst matchup.
Most of the current Death decks use double Crypt Haunter Courtiers and Orb of Immortality. Best to keep your blessings for doing the last points of damage. Similar to Chaos, except their line is under 6 rather than under 16. Remember that Vorrus will trigger his blessing prior to damage when playing a unit, while Protector Prime needs to trigger damage first, if you’re doing math around beating Orb of Immortality.
Try to not let them put a Mordant on Vorrus, in order to make Royal Hunt dead. Tactical Formation is your friend here.
Guided Vanguard Hunter can be moved away from Frenzied Vargheist if needed.
I don’t think you can beat Bored2.0Death. It’s very frustrating. None of your units besides Hurricane Raptor are safe because they have removal in the form of units, spells and abilities. Hurricane Raptor will not close the deal for you when it’s half of a healing spell worth of damage.
Your only hope is to build a hand until they’re at 35 health and cannot heal anymore, setup to fire off three or four blessings in rapid succession, and try to take them down fast.
Deal with Volturnos Fast Questing Aelves using Beat Back and your lane denial. Most of the power of the deck is in Volturnos and Lochian Prince flipping quickly. If you can nip that in the bud their units are subpar compared to yours.
Knight-Azyros builds seem to be designed as a counter to our deck, making your Protectors a bit of a liability due to ignoring Rend. Stick a Longstrike Raptor in front of Knight-Azyros to make them face a tough decision. Use Beat Back to deny them Rend. If they’re smart they will play unit and ability in the same turn so you can’t deny them their ability, so deny them abilities in their lane preemptively.
Celestant-Prime builds can be tricky because they tend to always find solutions, but they can easily run out of cards and solutions if you pressure them enough, as they tend to draw 1 / play 1 most of the game until they need to play two cards on a turn to keep up with you. Don’t leave them a window to double draw (as their card quality will be superior to yours due to card selection). Play your cards efficiently. Never allow yourself to play a card without progressing your quests. Use the turns they put out Righteousness or other damage reduction to refill your hand.