Hello all, welcome to The Breakdown! My name is Shawn (shpelley), tech gremlin here on the site. With spoiler season trucking along and Onslaught coming up quickly over the horizon, I feel like it’s important to talk a little bit about each of the Grand Alliances in the game and really get down to what makes them tick, both thematically and mechanically for those new to the game, and also to help us evaluate what is coming down the pipe with Onslaught.
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 different Tribes or “tags” that we see and how they interact with the mechanics. Finally, we’ll take a look at the synergies between these mechanics, what works, and what doesn’t in the faction and what to look for in Onslaught and beyond.
Without further ado, let’s break down (my personal favourite) Order!
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.
The first major mechanic we can see revolves around the Restart mechanic, featured on cards like Vorrus Starstrike, Pennant of Sigmaron and Seeker of Souls. Restart, as you might guess from the name, is the ability to return a Unit (or theoretically a Spell, though we don’t have any way to Restart Spells at present) back to it’s first corner. There are two things you should keep in mind when Restarting a Unit:
- Restart ignores all corners it passes, except for the first corner. This means if you Restart a Unit like Disruptive Liberator on it’s 3rd corner, it won’t deal 1 damage when it passes over it’s 2nd corner. If you Restart a Unit like Hurricane Raptor when it’s on it’s 2nd corner, it will deal 1 damage to your opponent (as per its first corner).
- Has no effect on Units on their 1st corner. Example: Restarting a Hurricane Raptor when it’s on its 1st corner will not do 1 damage to the opponent.
Restart is a great way to squeeze more value out of your Units, maintain effects on the board that you want (including Lane Denial, explained below) in addition to taking advantage of boosts from things like Aetherwing Scout and Blessed Weapons. Keep in mind, however, that this can delay your ability to complete a Champion’s Quests if they need more Units. Used well, however, Restart can be very powerful indeed.
While Restart is a keyworded mechanic, there are other cards that manipulate Unit rotation in Order as well! The most common one being Triumphant Smash, which rotates a Unit you control back one corner if it removes a Unit or Spell. Rotation Manipulation can also be found on cards like Knight-Heraldor and Isharann Soulscryer (which advance Units forwards through a Heroic Act), Lord Relictor (who can Rotate a Unit back 1 corner) and Stand Fast which prevents your Units from Rotating at all (and thus reapplying their effects on the next turn).
The purpose of these mechanics is once again to improve the value of each of your Units, either by getting to reapply their effects a second time by Rotating backwards/preventing Rotation, or pushing them forward to either push through damage/complete quests/line them up for a maximum-value Restart.
Another un-keyworded effect is the ability of some Units and effects to prevent or otherwise hinder your opponent’s ability to play Units/Spells/Abilities where they want them. The poster child for this effect is Hurricane Raptor who, when placed in a lane, essentially prevents anything outside of a Heroic Act from being played in that lane. A more conditional example is Disruptive Liberator, who prevents Unit placement in the opposing lane and Aspect of the Sea who causes any Unit placed across from it to become Dormant while the Champion is channeling a spell. Inspired Glory (who combines extremely well with the aforementioned Aspect of the Sea)
These Lane Denial cards are amplified greatly by the above-mentioned mechanics, letting you prolong these effects far longer than their mere 2-3 corners would suggest. Expert use of these effects can prevent Blessings from flipping and provide the tempo you require to kill your opponent before they are able to enact their gameplan.
These mechanics make up a smaller amount of the total cards in Order, but they clearly represent a thematic trend and can be built upon.
One of Order’s subthemes is the buffing of your Units through various means. Blessed Weapons, one of Order’s best Blessings (imho) is a straight buff to damage for all Units within a T radius of it. Other bonuses come from Lotann who buffs adjacent Aelfs (and even his own lane if the Unit in question is also an Aelf) when you meet his condition, Aetherwing Scout which does no damage on its own, but buffs adjacent Units and Celestial Prosecutor who, shock, also buffs Units adjacent to it for 2 of its 4 corners. These bonuses help smaller Units (like basically all of the Aelfs) have more of an impact.
When looking at these buffs, always remember that while they are amazing when used in tandem with more offensive Units, by themselves they don’t do much on their own.
Another small subtheme present is the ability to “hit back” based on a few conditions. These include Lord-Castellant, who deals 3 damage when he controls a Beast if an opposing Unit does damage in his lane. There is also Enraged Allopex who does more damage on its 2 corners if the lane it’s in took damage on it’s opponent’s previous turn. Keeping with the Beast theme, we also have Savage Loyalty who pings your opponent when you take damage for each Beast you have out (thanks FadzleeHairul on Reddit for the catch!)
Lastly, Divine Vengeance which lets you do a whopping 6 damage but only if one of your Units gets Removed and Vandus Hammerhand who does 3 damage if anything an opponent does Removes an allied Unit in his lane. Just remember, Removed is not the same as Exhausted; the enemy must Remove the Unit explicitly!
All these add up to a more reactive strategy which favors patience and careful placement. If you can get things to line up, your opponent might end up doing more damage to himself than you do!
This one is probably the smallest subtheme. There are only 3 cards in this class, but they are fairly strong. Both Swift Judgement and Longstrike Raptor want the Champion across from it to be Disengaged in order to get bonus damage (+5 in the former’s case, +2 on its 2nd and 4th corners for the latter), while Skybolt Judicator gets +3 on his final corner if the opponent doesn’t have a Unit sitting across the table. Both Units especially benefit from something like Tactical Formation or Knight-Heraldor to force the issue.
This is almost an extension of the Lane Denial mechanic, where instead of preventing placement in specific places, you can pressure your opponent to play out their Actions in specific places. Take advantage of this and you can either force through large portions of damage, or slow down their own gameplan.
The Units in Order are all, without exception, categorized within various Tribes (by the use of “tags”). Each Tribe has it’s own synergies and things it focuses on, and should be taken into account when building your Order decks.
Ah, the knights. Stormcast basically represent Soldiers, Knights and anything with a really nice, big, easily paintable…. I mean, well-defined silhouette. Within Stormcast’s ranks we find all of our Restart and Lane Denial mechanics (the two great flavours that taste great together), and most of our Rotation Manipulation cards as well. Cards like Lord of the Host, Gift of Sigmar, Vorrus and Heraldor all care about Stormcast Units specifically.
Stormcast doesn’t really interact with either of the other Tribes, aside from the lone Gryph-Charger Pack which means they often are best played together, or not at all unless the card alone provides enough value. Another interesting thing to note is every offensively-minded Stormcast Unit aside from Hurricane Raptor takes a turn to start doing damage, meaning that timing is a lot more important (and Heraldor becomes more valuable).
Aelfs & Beasts
The pointy-eared folk of Warhammer differ from their Stormcast comrades in a few key ways. Firstly, all 4 of the “pure” Aelf Units have an impact on the board immediately. Secondly, Aelfs and Beasts are very closely tied together. 2 of the 6 total Aelf Units are actually Aelf/Beast Units, with Razorshell Leviadon wanting even MORE Aelfs to throw at the opponent (at least, that’s how I envision it works). Lotann goes ahead and buffs up your Aelfs if a Beast is deployed in front of it (and, fancy that, 2 of our Aelfs count as Beasts, too!). Isharann Soulrender and Namarti Soul Feeder seem to indicate a small Discard-pile recursion engine, but currently lacks much support.
Beasts themselves have a bit of support along with being a +1 with the Aelfs. Lord-Castellant punishes players for playing across from your own Beasts, tied with Enraged Allopex to ramp-up the Counter Attack playstyle. Beyond that, Stardrake is one of the only other pieces of Removal that Order has (and hits like a truck to boot), and Gryph-Pack Charger is the lone Beast Unit who cares about Stormcast Units at all. Beasts also have a great pay-off card in Jaws of Death to deal a whopping 5 points of damage, cementing Beasts as the burst-damage Tribe (at least, for now).
Overall, these 2 Tribes have probably the most synergy and lots of different deckbuilding “shells” can be made with them.
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.
Restart + Lane Denial
The basis for decks like Vorrus Control, playing out and then extending the life of Units like Hurricane Raptor and Disruptive Liberator with Vorrus Starstrike’s Once Per Game Heroic Act and well-timed Triumphant Smashes/Lord of the Hosts can force your opponent to stumble, giving you the time you need to finish them off. Wizards can add things like Seeker of Souls, Surge of Justice and Stand Fast for even more Restart/Rotation Manipulation shenanigans. This tends to put you firmly into Stormcast, but it’s not unusual for a wandering Hurricane Raptor to appear in other lists. You can read a short article about Vorrus Control at the following.
Aelves + Beasts + Lotann
Lotann is a really nice, cheaply costed Champion that fits in any Aelf/Beast build. Being able to play out an Aetherwing Scout onto a Lotann for a potential +2 bonus damage on any adjacent Aelf can make that 1 damage corners hurt a lot more than they normally would. Coupled with a few Lochian Princes for their oh-so-easy Questing and you have a winning formula. Just watch out for that “wrong-half” problem, where you want to draw Beasts but you end up drawing Aelfs and vice-versa. To help with that, some lists are adding Celestant-Prime as a deck-filtering machine. You read an article about just such a deck here!
Usually a list containing 2 Lord-Castellants and 2 Lochian Princes, this is a variation of Beast-Aelfs generally speaking. With 2 different Champions who punish opposing players for putting Units down across from it, you can really put the squeeze on the opponent to line up their plays very carefully. With so many must-Remove Units, Divine Vengeance really gets to shine here, doming the opponent for a whopping 6 points of damage for daring to try and to prevent the 3 from Castellant.
After analyzing Order, there are a few conclusions we can come to:
- The name of the game for Order is Value. 2 of it’s 3 Major Mechanics revolve around getting as much value out of each Card as you can. Restart helps your Units stick around longer to do more damage while Rotation Manipulation gives you control of when and how you deal your damage.
- Most of the mechanics revolve around Units. While Order has some decent spells, most of their Abilities and synergies revolve around Units. As Unit quality increases, Order’s major mechanics will amplify that.
- Order attempts to be more than the sum of it’s parts. Very few of Order’s Actions have really large corners/high numbers, but together they let you do more than you’d expect.
Order has been my favourite since the game has started, and I hope I’ve gotten you excited to try out it’s Large Shouldered Men/Fancy Aelfs/Scurry Beasts! May the Light of Sigmar never fade, my friends…
Want to try and build your own Order deck? Think you can crack the meta? Try out the Deckbuilder and share it!