“Knights are magnificent figures, clad in gleaming plate armour crafted by Dwarven smiths, armed with weaponry of the finest quality and mounted on powerful destriers.”
–Warhammer: The Empire, “Knightly Orders”
In the past months, we’ve seen a wide array of cards that give players new reasons to attack. We’ve seen units with the Raider keyword, units with the experience mechanic, and units that can trigger powerful abilities when they attack. Now, as the hordes of Chaos marauders gather to sweep down from the north in a bloody tide of violence, guest writer Torsten Krämer looks at three cards coming in The Ruinous Hordes that are not focused on attacking, but are instead focused on defense.
Torsten Krämer on the Panther Champion
The Empire’s defensive abilities have always been among its strengths. Their abilities to divert attacks and take out opposing units with Counterstrike can make them a tough nut to crack. And the Empire’s defenses have only become more important throughout the Eternal War cycle as their foes have gained the Raider keyword, powerful Battlefield abilities, and more reasons than ever before to attack, attack, attack.
Fortunately, as their enemies gain attackers, the Empire is able to match them with the acquisition of stalwart defenders. Coming in The Ruinous Hordes, the Panther Champion (The Ruinous Hordes, 86) can challenge an attacking unit to single combat. If it does, both units are removed from the main battle and deal damage to the other equal to their power.
The Panther Champion’s ability offers you a range of tactical options when you’re attacked. Against multiple attackers, the Panther Champion can split your opponent’s power so that you can defeat the opposing force without losing a unit that the attackers normally would have been able to destroy by combining their power. You can more easily frustrate your opponent by dividing and conquering his forces if you have more than one Panther Champion, and the situation only gets better for you if you can make your Panther Champion tougher or more powerful, make him capable of defending any zone with Protect the Empire (Arcane Fire, 106), or bring him into play as a surprise defender with Waiting in Ambush (Signs in the Stars, 69).
Since both the Panther Champion and the target attacking unit are removed from combat, you will be able to cancel a number of effects that only work while attacking. For example, the Panther Champion is just the man to take care of a unit wielding Basha's Bloodaxe (Warpstone Chronicles, 91). If all else fails, your Panther Champion can sacrifice himself to keep a single, overwhelmingly powerful unit from continuing its attack and dealing damage to your capital or legend.
Test of Will
Of course, the Eternal War cycle has given us another great way to handle attackers – the Ambush keyword. Units with this keyword can ambush from facedown developments into defenders, often triggering special abilities, and the Dark Elves possess one of the best of these units, the Bride of Khaine (Days of Blood, 3). While she can outright destroy an attacking unit with her ability, the Druchii promise to make your attacks even risker with the new tactic, Test of Will (The Ruinous Hordes, 97).
Ambushed from facedown, Test of Will can get rid of one attacker or cancel your opponent’s attack for free, but at two cost it's also cheap enough that we will surely see it played from hand. Though it’s much like the ever popular Sacrifice to Khaine (Chaos Moon, 37), Test of Will is restricted in when it can be played. But it’s also restricts your opponent in his choice of units to sacrifice, making the card both a curse and a blessing to the Druchii cause, and clever Dark Elf players will be able to ensure it's more of the latter.
Lying in Wait
Finally, The Ruinous Hordes gives us a tactic that makes sure that everyone who uses Ambush cards can look forward to the next pack, not just the Druchii. Lying in Wait (The Ruinous Hordes, 100) allows you to turn your units back into developments after they've ambushed, so that they can do it again.
Even if you don't rely on Ambush, this tactic can come in handy. It can help you net the gain of a development from a unit that is about to be destroyed, and much like Dance to Loec (Fragments of Power, 17), Lying in Wait can counter the sudden trigger of an opponent's effect that relies on you not having developments or enhance the effect of a card you control whose strength depends on the number of developments you control.
Along with the game’s latest FAQ, the Eternal War cycle is revitalizing the bloody battles that lie at the heart of Warhammer: Invasion, and as attackers gain more and more abilities to trigger, it pays to have a good defense.
Look for the Panther Champion, Test of Will, and Lying in Wait to reshape the battlefields of the Old World soon. The Ruinous Hordes arrives at retailers next week!