Warcry – Gnarlwood Fighters

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The upcoming White Dwarf 482 is packed with goodies. For Warcry in particular, it’s pretty much an auto buy. We have a battle report, a war cry dashboard which honestly might mean I’m picking up two copies, and the topic of today’s video, fighter cards for the models that appeared in the Warhammer Underworlds box Gnarlwood.

Now, we’ve seen Underworlds models in Warcry before. The Tome of Champions 2022 gave us the rules for all the various warbands which it called the Bladeborn fighters. Unfortunately, when the rules updated to the new edition, we didn’t get an update for Bladeborn, so they went back to being stand-ins for generic fighters.

Apart from letting us play with some awesome models. The Bladeborn fighters add an extra dimension in list building to the game. They are each part of an existing warband, so in this case the Sons of Velmorn are part of the Soulblight Gravelord warband while the Gnarlspirit Pack are part of the Slaves to Darkness warband. As part of a warband, they get access to that warbands ability list  and in addition, bring some of their own abilities. Each of the fighters is unique, so while you could have multiple Wight Kings there will only be one King Velmorn. This gives the designers a little more leeway to push designs as they don’t have to worry about a list spamming tons of the same model.

What really interesting about the bladeborn, is how they interact with other warbands. Each of the Bladeborn groups has single hero, so you can recruit this hero into another warband within the same grand alliance as an ally. If you this, then that unlocks the non-heroes in that bladeborn group as fighters you can pick up. So if you’re playing Flesh Eater Courts and you recruit King Velmorn as an ally, you can add any or all of his sons as fighters. 

Alright, enough talking about Bladeborn rules. Let’s have a look at some fo the fighters. A few of the pages from White Dwarf have appeared online, so we have the details of the fighters, I’ve use the Warcry Card Creator to mock up some cards, so these will look a little different to the ones you’re going to get in White Dwarf.

First up we have the Gnarlspirit pack. There are four in total and remember all of these are unique models, so you cannot have more than one of each. We’re going to have a quick look over them, we’ll look at abilities they have access to, then we’ll come back to the fighter cards to examine them in more detail.

This group totals out at 560 so taking all 4 will be over half of your warband. All are chunky enough with 15 wounds being the lowest and all having toughness 4. This is also a pretty speedy group, with all apart from Gorl having 5 move and Sarrakar the leader having fly. Apart from Sarrakar having Leader and Fly there are no other runemarks.

If we look at abilities, these are the combined options they have access to.

The first is a double Unleash which adds 1 to move characteristic and 1 to attack. We’ve seen this ability before, it’s a nice combination of Universal Rush and Onslaught abilities and will be better when you’re charging in  to attack.

Interestingly, this also gives the user the Beast trait for the remainder of the round, presumably representing them channeling their animal spirit. This is a drawback, Beasts cannot move through closed doors and cannot carry treasure. If you’re planning on doing either of those, just don’t bother using the ability.

Based on other abilities, I suspect the end of round is just there for the beast trait, but it does mean you to keep that +1 move and +1 attack dice if you happen to get activated later in the round. Since the fighter will have the beast trait that means the Beastspeaker or Master Moulder can both trigger an extra attack and still benefit from the +1 dice bonus.

The second ability is a triple, that ups the toughness of the fighter and adds 1 to their hits and crits. All the fighters are toughness 4 already, so moving to toughness 5 can be quite good. The combination gives you an option that increases survivability while still laying the smack down. You are getting slightly more damage against a T4 target than you would with an extra attack dice, but it’s typically only around 0.5 extra damage.

The third ability is a quad that gives each other friendly fighter a bonus move or attack. It’s nice that this doesn’t require any range and as it’s only other fighters you’re trading in your quad for 3 extra actions which compares favourably to the two from Rampage.

As part of the Slaves to Darkness faction they also get access to a decent reaction which can save a fighter that would otherwise die. A double that improves the strength, typically that’s worse than getting an extra dice. And Sarrakar gets access to the Hero Triple that will give him an extra attack or move if he kills an enemy fighter. Sarrakar isn’t exactly a monster, but it’s a nice ability to have.

Let’s look at some numbers.

Sarrakar Blackwing is notable for his fly and at 185 is one of the cheaper options. The ranged attack makes him somewhat comparable to the Tzeentch disc heroes, but at 5 move he’s not as fast. That said, the next cheapest fly hero is the Fluxmaster at 240 points, so that’s a big difference. All the abilities are melee only, so he doesn’t have much support for his range ability, but it’s nice to have. He isn’t a super strong fighter, but does open up a new option for the Chaos grand alliance.

Gorl Spinehammer is an absolute unit with 5.5 average damage and for the Slave to Darkness is the 3rd most efficient damage dealer behind the two Chaos Warriors with 2 handers. He’s comparable to the Darkoath Chieftan who is a little more expensive at 155 with 0.5 more average damage and 2 more wounds. We talked earlier about using the double Unleash to get an extra attack dice and become a beast, this guy is the best target for it and if you’re playing Untamed Beasts, an Unleashed Gorl Spinehammer is going to do more damage than a Rocktush Prowler and at a fraction of the price.

Lupan Longcut is notable for his reach, either 2 range with 3 average damage or losing a dice for 8 range and 2 average damage. The closest I could find for comparison was the First Fang from the Untamed Beasts who is 10 more points, but has significantly better damage. Lupan is 5 speed and does have reach on the melee attack but the comparison is still pretty stark.

Crimsona Kheira is the same cost as Lupan, but instead of reach she just has a bucket of dice ending up at 4.17 average damage. Her low strength means she will benefit from the Slaves to Darkness double to increase strength, similarly the triple that increases hits and crits is good, but really you want both of them. Increasing strength only gives you more chances to hit, and if you only hit for 1 that’s not too impressive. Similarly, increasing your damage is great, but if you’re only hitting on 5+ that impact is relatively small.

She’s straight forward but decent. Here I’ve paired her with a Bestigor who has similar move, toughness, and damage, but a little less health for 20 less points. The Bestigor isn’t a particular exciting fighter, it’s fine, which I guess says a lot of about Kheira.

Overall, they’re a really interesting mix. Gorl is a big beat stick, while Kheira has the consistency of lots of dice. Lupan has reach, while Sarrakar has fly and a decent ranged ability. I’m not immediately cramming them into tournament lists, but wouldn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage if I wanted to run them. I think that is a success for the design team, they’re comparable to other existing fighters while having their own spin and twist and feel flavourful and interesting. 

Next up we have the Sons of Velmorn. This is part of the Soul Blight Gravelord warband from the Death faction. They have five fighters in total, two are quite chunky while the remaining 3 are cheap chaff. In total the Warband comes to 505 points, again  about 50% of your total points. 

King Morlak Velmorn has the Hero runemark and also has the Berezerker runemark. Sir Jedran Falseborn has the Champion runemark, not to be confused with the similar Hero one. All the rest have the Minion runemark, which is important for some of the Soulblight Gravelord abilities.

They have three abilities specific to the Sons, with each fighter only able to access one ability each. The Double, Sleepless Sentinel, is only available to Sir Jedran and as long as he stays within 1 inch of King Velmorn, the King cannot be targeted. Since Sir Jedran has 30 wounds, that’s a lot of killing you need to do before you can even get to the King. Against Soulblight Gravelords, killing the heroes can be a better tactic than killing the minions, and this ability prevents that which makes it good. You may also be able to set up situations where the King is high priority to kill, like when he’s carrying treasure.

Next up we have a double for the minions. This is notable as the other sons are very similar to the Gravegaurd fighters and this is what sets them apart. This does not disappoint, with 2 extra dice to the end of the activation you’re getting a lot of extra damage. The fighters have between 3 and 4 attack dice normally, so the ability gives 50% to 66% extra damage which can be big.

Last we have a Triple which can only be used by King Velmorn himself. This adds 1 strength to other Velmorn fighters but as 3 of the 4 are already at 5 you’re going to need some tough enemies for this to be worth considering.

After that we’re into the usual Soulblight abilities.

A reaction to reduce damage taken, a double to give some extra movement.

King Velmorn gets the Double Beheading strike which will increase his crit damage, not usually something you’d be interested in but with 4 dice he’s got a decent chance of getting a crit.

He also has that classic Triple Sumon Undead Minions which is where most of your Triples are going to go. He cannot bring back Sir Jedran, but any of the other 3 are fair game. This isn’t a big change for a Soulblight list where you already have this, but now other Death warbands can get the Sons it opens that list style up for them.

Lastly, Sir Jedran gets access to a Quad which will give him an extra attack and bonus dice and strength equal to half the ability dice. Quads are unreliable when it comes to values, but in theory even a quad 1 will be a slightly better than a Rampage if you don’t need to move.

Those are the abilities. Let’s look at the fighters in a little more detail.

Here we have all the minions, they are directly comparable to the Grave Guard fighters. The Graveguard with Great Wight Blade is possibly one of the best fighters in the game right now, even though it’s slow it’s just so damage efficient and as it can be brought back you’re not too concerned if it dies. Thain, Fourth and Last is 5 more points, but that’s still insane value. Helmaw and Marshal Faulk both are variations on the Blade and Shield, 5 to 10 more expensive but better damage. The three combined cost 195 points, before the sons of Velmorn appeared you would just take 3 Wight blades instead, which would be the exact same price. So you’re trading some base damage for Sibling Rivalry essentially an onslaught double that gives 2 dice rather than 1. It’s situational, but comparable and the burst damage of the ability can let you concentrate damage when you need to.

Heading over to the big guys, we have King Morlack Velmorn and Sir Jedran Falseborn. King Velmorn is identical to a Wight King but costs 5 more. For that you’re getting access to a triple you’re probably not going to use, but will get the protection ability from Sir Jedran. The Wight King is one of the top options for Death, so even at 5 extra points this is still great value. 

Sir Jedran’s closest equivalent is the Seneschal as they both have the Champion runemark. Jedran costs an extra 50 but for that you’re getting slightly better damage, better toughness, and an extra whooping 15 wounds bringing Jedran to 30 health. What’s really interesting with Jedran of course is his Sleepless Sentinel ability letting him protect the King. This puts enemy players in a bit of a bind, what do you kill? A minion that will just come back on a triple, or this 30 wound beat-stick. 

Like the Gnarlspirit pack, this is a very flavourful set that is comparable to existing fighters but does put a spin on it. You could already run something similar to it with the Wight King and some Graveguard, but Sir Jedborn is a new twists and this group opens up the resurrection build to other Death factions.

This months White Dwarf has the cards for all the fighters included. They also have a cool looking project on how to make a Warcry Dashboard which seems to involve adding some foam board to an existing card which you could probably just use without worrying about the crafting. It also has a collection of Warhammer themed computer games!

If you have any comments or feedback please post them in the comments section below. Check us out on the Optimal Game State website, Mastodon, and YouTube channel for more discussion about the Games Workshop Specialist Games.

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