The Starblood Stalkers Review – Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm Seraphon
In Direchasm, the latest season of Warhammer Underworlds we have seen a number of factions given some love with their very own warband. Today it is the turn for the Seraphon with The Starblood Stalkers who are now up for pre order!
As a fan of both Warhammer Underworlds and dinosaurs made of stars, I was very excited when we received the set a little early from Games Workshop in order to review! I dig into the cards and have a look at the warband itself below, and stay tuned to our YouTube and Twitch channels as I’ll be painting these up live over the weekend!
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The Starblood Stalkers
As with all the recent Warhammer Underworlds warbands, in addition to the miniatures you get a prebuild deck made up of Starblood Stalkers specific cards as well as an additional deck of cards that can be used either to modify the prebuilt deck, or to use for any of your other Underworlds Warbands. I really like this change from earlier Underworlds seasons as it means you can just crack open the box and use the premade deck while you are trying to get a feel for how the warband works before you start tweaking and putting your own twist on it!
If you looked at the above images of the warband members closely you might have spotted something a little strange… it seems that Kixi-Taka has started speaking Itallian! Never fear however, as it seems that this mispack has been anticipated and an English version of the card is in a sealed bag alongside the others – Might just be worth keeping in mind however if it does look like you are missing the card in your set.
So on to the Warband! We get some cool abilities that may well frustrate your opponents with some ace mechanics that should be great fun to use!
The Leader of the Warband is Kixi-Taka a Skink Star-Priest (Who doesn’t actually cast any spells!)
Along with some pretty decent ranged attacks, Kixi-Taka has an ace action that allows you to either do damage to someone stood within 1 hex of a feature token(within 3 hexes) or to slip the token itself over! This is a really cool way of affecting the number of objectives on the board for the purposes of objectives, scuppering your opponents plans when it seems they are jostling for an objective or just doing a reliable 1 damage at range 3 without having to make an attack roll!
Kixi-Taka (and indeed all the Skinks in the warband) inspires when the warband holds 3 or more objectives, something you can very easily do without even using a move action with some of the pushing shenanigans that this warband has access to.
You get three upgrades restricted to him, Firstly Herald of the Old Ones gives friendly skins within 3 hexes a re-roll on a defence dice. This is perfect for keeping your 2 wound Skinks fighting fit! Astrolith Igniter allows you to spend a glory in order to give friendly fighter’s range 1 and 2 attacks Cleave. Finally Cloak of Feathers gives him +2 move putting him up to a nippy move value of 6 – in addition he can move through occupied spaces and not be damaged by lethal hexes! This makes it much easier to get him into the best possible position to support the warband, or even make a cheeky dash to snag a last minute objective.
Next up we have the Saurus Klaq-Trok, and he is the real muscle of the warband! He inspires whenever he makes a successful attack and has a great reaction that allows him to attack with his Powerful Jaws after his activation allowing you to chain together multiple attacks with potential to do 4 damage, threatening a lot of warriors from a single attack from him! When he inspires he gets quicker and tankier in addition to making his bite more reliable, so I imagine this guy will be in the thick of things harrassing the enemy warriors allowing your Skinks to get into position with their tricksy abilities.
His upgrade card Supreme Predator makes him into a Hunter and each enemy into a Quarry, not only does this make any Quarry targeting cards really good to stick in the deck, but the upgrade also allows him to re-roll an attack dice in rolls against Quarries! Finally it also makes him impossible to become a Quarry, which likewise may have some utility against certain cards.
Oh boy, I love Orapatl! This little fella is the chameleon Skink, and he is just as frustrating as you would expect him to be!
Armed with a range 3 blowpipe, it requires crits to hit, however as it has Cleave and Ensnare your opponant will also be looking for crits! It’s 3 dice so you are a little more likely to get these, get some support however and he becomes a lot more reliable. The really good part however is the fact that if it succeeds it gives the target a move token, shutting down their ability to move and charge! This is massive and will cause headaches for your opponent who will want to take him out as soon as possible – you’ll want to get him inspired asap to get him up to dodge 3 to try and keep him fighting!
He does have a little more defensive support in his upgrade. Adaptive Camouflage gives non adjacent fighters targeting him -1 dice to a minimum of 1
Huachi, Xepic and Tok
We now come to the 3 standard Skinks in the warband – I’m putting these all in the same section as they work in similar ways. They all have the Hunter keyword and all have a puny 2 wounds and a single defence dice making them very fragile, however they have some amazing movement shenanigans with the Skittish reaction.
Skittish allows a Skink to be pushed 1 hex as a reaction from any enemy fighter within 2 hexes – perfect for dancing around the board, sliding onto objectives and just generally being annoying. They are also pretty quick with a base movement of 4 meaning that reaction push could well set them up to get into an even better position or be able to fall back to their territory much quicker.
Tok and Huachi both have range 3 attacks letting them pepper the enemy at range while staying outside of threat with their reaction, Xepic on the other hand is only range one – but he does get a 3 dice two damage attack when inspired, so could be handy for dashing in and finishing off a target.
We also get some Skink upgrade cards that can be handy on these guys, Selfless Sacrifice lets a Skink make an attack action when they are taken out of action, Spawning Bond is a brilliant card that let’s you push the Skink with the upgrade if another Skink within 3 is pushed.
Rounding out the warband specific upgrade cards are Unhesitating that gives a fighter +1 movement (+2 if they are a Skink), Unfeeling Resiliance that reduces damage taken by 1, and Heaven Blessed Weapon which gives range 1 weapons Knockback 1 and +1 Dice.
For the warband specific objectives we get lots of cards that play to the advantages of the force, movement and objective control is a big deal as you would expect with cards based around holding objectives or being in enemy territory. We also see some easy to achieve cards such as Astromatrix Alignment that just needs you to flip a feature token in enemy territory (Easily done with Kixi-Taka) or Instinctive Tactics that offers an easy glory for making 2 reactions in a phase.
There’s also a nice Duel objective The Great Plan that requires 6 completed objectives with at least one Surge one Duel and one Hybrid for a pretty reliable 3 glory
Again, we get lots of mobility cards including ways to push friendly hunters with Burst From The Shadows, a really annoying card Huanchi’s Device that forces the opponent to push 3 fighters. Invisible Hunter is a cool card that removes Otapatl from the board then places him back on any empty hex at the end of the round – I feel this works best with some Predator quotes thrown in too! We also get a card that forces a movement token onto an enemy fighter in the same way as Otapatl’s ability, giving us some great ways of shutting down enemy movement.
We get a cool Seraphon specific mechanic in Asterisms. These are essentially effects that can last a round based on the current starsign in ascendance. There are 3 of these in the deck, and they last until the end of the round or until another Asterism is played. The Bulwark Celestial stops friendly fighters from being driven back, The Great Drake gives +1 dice to all Range 1 Attacks, and the Hunters Shield gives +1 Move to all friendly fighters. I love these cards and feel the are well worth taking to further enhance the warband.
As with all other warbands we also get a deck of non-aligned cards that can be taken in any warband and again we have a nice mix of abilities. The main running theme throughout these are cards that work with the Hunger mechanic. We get quite a few cards that can add or remove hunger tokens along with various effects that trigger dependant on how many hunger tokens a fighter has, I do wonder if the upcoming Vampire warband will have an innate Hunger ability on their fighter card too, potentially making this deck useful for them too.
We also get a really interesting upgrade in the Labyrinth Boots, these essentially will move the fighter to a specific objective on a Move Action based on a list of criteria detailed on the card – so for example if they are not on an objective or on objective 5 they will move to objective 1 if possible, but if they are on any other numbered objective they will move to the next objective in sequence if possible (So if they are standing on 3 then a move action will move them to 4). This is potentially allowing some really tricksy movement shenanigans setting them up for some game winning redeployment to someone not aware of the card!
As for objectives we get a nice mix, including some really easy to achieve ones based around giving fighters upgrades or by gaining the Primacy token.
I really like this warband, lots of movement and objective grabbing ability along with some nasty tricks to hinder enemy movement makes for a really fun if fragile warband. The models are stunning too, giving us a new faction to Underworlds with a very different aesthetic to the warbands that have come before. As with the other warbands this season we also get a deck that is usable out of the box along with a nice assortment of non-faction specific cards with a large focus on the Hunger mechanic.
Games Workshop have given us some nice different Warbands this season, and I can’t wait to see what we have in store for the remaining ones.
The Starblood Stalkers are up for pre order today and are released Saturday 27th March. Games Workshop provided Sprues and Brews a copy early for review purposes.
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