Hello everyone, Shpelley here! For those of you who read last week’s article, you’ll remember I set up a poll to see which Grand Alliance’s Unleashed cards I would review first. Well, the people have spoken and the first Alliance is (as you may have guessed from the title) Chaos! So without further ado, let’s take a look at what Chaos has to offer us in Unleashed…
The meat and potatoes of any Champions set is, of course, their Champions. I think they did a really good job with the Champions this set, most of them feel pretty flavourful and also being mechanically sound.
- Grotesque Allurer – This is a 1 cost, 1 health Slaanesh Lochian Prince with a minor downside. It’ll make good filler in a deck making use of >=6 Slaanesh Units, and the downside simply isn’t a big deal (and can actually help you double-Quest his damage corner!)
- Hellflayer Bladebringer – This is a really nice Warrior/Wizard for Chaos I think! His static effect allows his opponents to make the decision, but it’s all upside for you (mostly): they either take 2, or lose their guy. The only downside to its static effect is that he could, in theory, speed up the Questing of the opposing Champion. Otherwise, his questing is pretty simple, with Slaanesh Unit/Ability/Slaanesh Unit/Removal, and being a Warrior/Wizard, he can take advantage of double-Quest completion on his Ability corner with Forgotten Arts.
As an 8 cost, -1 health Warrior/Wizard, he’s right in line with other Warrior/Wizards, and can reasonably slot in with some easy Questers and/or another headliner Champion. Probably not super popular overall, but a reasonable choice especially in a more mid-range build.
- Infernal Enrapturess – Another good, mid-range Warrior Champion. The trait on Infernal is obviously very context dependant: if the opponent is playing with a good amount of Spells, you can get an insane amount of value out of it. If they are an all-Warrior lineup, all you are left with is a kinda awkward Quest line and good 6 points and 2 bonus health stats.
This would make a decent sideboard card, or possibly even main deck in digital if you have the points to spare and easier quests elsewhere, to punish some of the heavy-Wizard decks that are becoming more popular. Note that Spelleater Curse will only trigger this Champion once as it triggers on instances of Removal and not how many things are Removed, technically.
- Rraine, Champion of Slaanesh & Rraine, Prince of Hedonism – The headliner of Unleashed, sporting the eponymous “Unleash” mechanic is a bit of an odd duck. His static trait is, at face value, undeniably powerful. Being able to throw out Action-neutral Furious Strikes and Reckless Assault is very strong.
What lets him down is his Quest line. An odd ordering of different corners, I think this is to encourage playing out a variety of Abilities: Healing would be covered by Putrid Offering or triggering Daemonette Icon Bearer, playing out a Unit, Removing with Blood Hunt, Reckless Assault or Putrid, and playing out another Unit. This is very Action Inefficient as it requires 4 separate Actions (since no Slaanesh Unit Removes anything) which is then offset by his trait.
Flipping him seems pretty slow in your average Chaos aggressive deck, but can also see how being able to throw 3 high-damage burn Abilities in 1 turn might make him a powerful finisher, and the extra Actions throughout the game can help you not dump your hand too quickly. If he gets Unleashed into the Prince of Hedonism, the game is likely going long enough that the opponent is effectively cut off from using Abilities in that lane.
Lastly, the issue I have with Unleashing him is that going from Warrior to Warrior Wizard with a Spell corner means you have to be slinging spells on another Champion or they are going to be dead a lot of the time. At 12 cost, the only *reasonable* Wizard you could be using is Viceleader, Herald of Slaanesh so it’s not impossible, just impractical to re-Quest him.
Overall, I like the general design of the card, but I wouldn’t expect to see him played much in competitive play when options like Skarbrand exist as alternatives for aggressive, burn-focused decks.
- Sinistrous Keeper of Secrets – Not super exciting. Against a Unit-heavy deck, you’ll likely trigger his trait often enough to get a decent enough value out of it (I’d imagine ~3-4), but his corners are a bit clunky. This will definitely require 4 different Actions to complete. Ideally, you’d start with a non-Daemon Unit and use Gift of Change to complete corners 1 and 2, but requires a Unit to start off with. 10 points and 1 health bonus as a Warrior/Wizard is okay, but nothing to write home about. Overall, not super impressed but seems reasonable enough as an Uncommon.
- Slaaneshi Lord on Daemonic Steed – This feels like a bit of a filler Champion. The trait isn’t likely to trigger more than a couple points of damage over the course of your average match since your opponent has control over 2/4 lanes this card cares about. If the opponent ignores it, or is forced into playing stuff on those corners (maybe with a little help from The Masque?), he can wrack up damage decently well.
Quest-wise, the SLoDS is easy, but takes a while. Slaanesh Unit/Slaanesh Unit/Damage/Unit means you’re playing at minimum 3 Actions and it requires heavy investment into Slaanesh Units. If you have that, it’ll quest pretty well for you. Other than that, at 5 points with a 1 health bonus, the SLoDS most impressive feat is probably having a name as long as Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury.
- The Contorted Epitome – I really like just about everything with this card. It has a trait that isn’t the most busted, but feels very flavourful and occasionally very useful, and its unique Quest line (4 Spells!) means you’ll be playing with that trait a lot if you go to quest him. As a 7 cost Wizard with a gain of 1 health, it seems appropriately costed and slots in nicely with the other Wizards Chaos has to offer. Chaos has access to enough good Spells that I suspect we’ll see this played in a few popular, maybe somewhat “off-meta meta” picks.
- The Masque – A really strong Champion. His passive trait is very strong, but with a not-insignificant risk: having 2 or fewer cards in hand means you don’t have a ton of options on hand. If the opponent can handle what you have on board, you are gonna be riding near-empty and have to think your plays through pretty carefully.
Aiding that is the absolutely amazing Quest line the Champion has. Unit, Damage, (Slaanesh) Unit, Damage is about as clean and efficient as you can ask for. Cranking out a quick Blessing with very few cards means you can devote the rest of your Actions (and cards in hand) to working on another Champion or interacting with your opponent. Once you flip a Blessing or 2, you can work your hand down to try and quickly end the game, while simultaneously strangling out an opposing lane. Topping it off with a strong 8 cost/2 health Warrior stat line means he can reasonably contend with the likes of Skarbrand, Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury and other high-cost Chaos Champions (but not, you know, Chaos Champion.
- Viceleader, Herald of Slaanesh – A really important Champion in Chaos, and one that might prove to be a bit too good for its cost and effect. The Heroic Act on Viceleader is pretty good, as you put silent pressure on the opponent to not put high-value Units on that lane, for fear of having it reflected back. Along with that, the Quest line looks iffy but is significantly less so with help from the new Spell, Dark Delusions (more on that later). The real story, however, is its cost.
This thing comes at a staggeringly low 3 points, with only a -1 health cost. This means it fits into shells with big point headliners like Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury while still leaving room for classic Quick Questers like Bloodreaver Chieftain and giving them access to powerful Spells. This also slots in nicely into the already existing All-Wizard/”Potter” style decks.
This card is an example of a Champion with only an okay Quest line and decent trait making it in entirely on the back of how dang cheap it is.
The Blessings we got this time around for Chaos all feel pretty useful in various situations. Just like with their Units (as I’ll explain), there is a variety of aggressive and more controlling aspects, leading to more options for both and for a growing mid-range style of deck.
- Dance of Decadence – I’m a big fan of this card, in that it feels like a well-balanced aggressive Blessing. Rotating Units as they come in both help with some of the slower Slaaneshi Units, and also helps start a snowball effect where it can help you complete your Quests a little faster. Not sure if it stacks up to the likes of Unrivalled Battle-Lust, but it could take the 4th slot in a Unit-heavy aggro deck.
- Entwining Passion – The worse of the 2 hand-control Blessings we’ve gotten this set for Chaos. Unfortunately, it kind of presumes you have more cards in hand to spare to rip apart/Purge the entirety of the opponent’s hand while getting some incidental damage/healing in the bargain. Probably my least favourite new Chaos Blessing.
- Excessive Worship – A really nice card, especially for Wizard-focused decks. Drawing 3 is just generically useful and “Draw 3 + Benefit” seems to be a new baseline for Blessings in Chaos and Order. The free deploys mean this can lead to anywhere from 0-3 free Actions, along with the 3 cards drawn gives it a high ceiling for Action efficiency (anywhere from 3-6 virtual Actions with Draws and Deploys considered). A generic Draw 3 also makes this a great filler Blessing for any deck while you figure out if you need a more specialized Blessing. Really like this one.
- Keeper's Challenge – Another really great generic Blessing, this time more offensively focused. 3 instant damage is on the low side for a Blessing, but not awful. The bonus effect tacked on, potentially rewinding back up to 3 Quest corners is a massive tempo swing. With Chaos’ ability to get ahead of Questing quickly with things like Bloodreaver Chieftain, this can slam the door on decks hoping to race with powerful Blessings. On the other hand, slower Questing decks probably should give this one a pass, as it loses its value pretty quickly by the mid-game once 2 or 3 Blessings start getting popped. A great tool for aggro looking to race other aggro/mid-range decks.
- Mark of Slaanesh – A control player’s tool. Basically a more controlled Outrageous Carnage without the damage portion. In a control deck, or one looking to stall the game out, I could see this one seeing some play. On the other hand, it’s hard not to compare this to Dark Delusions and not feel a little put off by how Action hungry it is. An okay card for an under-served archetype.
- Performance of Pleasure – A great tempo card for mid-range and control decks! Purging cards out of their owner’s hands means they are essentially losing 5 Actions worth of cards. Ideally, flipping this when they have 1-3 cards in hand can keep them starved for cards for 4 turns, which should give you enough time to either get out ahead or seal a win. A great card that once again serves an archetype that has otherwise been lacking in Chaos up until now.
Slaanesh Units aren’t particularly focused on any one theme, and seem to be more useful to filling out existing archetypes more than presenting one of their own. The only real recurring themes we see are Rend (tying it to their tabletop compatriots) and some loose “distraction/dodge” elements in Dormant and avoiding Removal. Interestingly, they have their own naming schemes, broken down below:
- Defensive (Fiends): Deadly Fiend, Horrific Fiend, Masochistic Fiend
- Aggressive (Daemonettes & Striders): Graceful Daemonettes, Heart Piercer Daemonette, Sensuous Daemonettes, Hellscourge Strider, Tormented Hellstrider
- Utility (Misc): Fleet-Footed Seeker Chariot, Seeker Hornblower, Daemonette Icon Bearer
For the defensive cards, Masochistic Fiend seems like the clear winner. It does a nice bit of damage on the first corner (great for Questing), gains you some life and helps with tempo using Dormant. The combo of Deadly and Horrific Fiend seems…cute, but honestly not worth the trouble. The eccentric corners (a theme amongst Slaanesh Units, it seems) make them inconsistent individually, and bringing them together merely stalls the game out as opposed to advancing your game state.
Amongst the aggressive cards, the “Striders” really stick out to me. Hellscourge Strider in particular seems very fitting with Slaanesh. Personally, it seems a bit over-tuned as it is strong enough to go into every aggressive deck regardless, AND hoses one of the primary archetypes that gives Chaos aggro some trouble (Healing Sylvaneth). The other Strider represents some nice potential value on a reasonable X/2/2 body.
The Daemonettes are interesting flavour-wise, if not entirely strong. Graceful Daemonette definitely feels like a “Strike, Dodge, Dodge, Strike” Unit which is very in-flavour and likely sticks around to do the full 6. Heart-Piercer is probably the worst offensive Unit, though at least Rend makes it fit mechanically with Slaanesh, historically speaking and fills a bit of a gap in Chaos (slow, heavy hitters). Sensuous Daemonettes is just kind of okay, doing a slightly under-par amount of damage while providing another Unit with Rend.
As far as the utility Units go, some are hit and some are a miss for me. Fleet-Footed Seeker Chariot is probably a really good Unit in a meta with a bunch of Wizards, doing an impressive 7 damage over 3 turns, but is seriously weak outside of that: prime sideboard material, basically. Seeker Hornblower is an “interesting” card that is probably too cute to see much competitive play, but could certainly lead to some slam dunks if the stars align.
The most confusing one, by a long shot, is Daemonette Icon Bearer. This Unit feels so much more like a Nurgle Unit that I’m not convinced it isn’t a sleeper agent. Honestly, I would much prefer to see a Slaanesh Icon Bearer grant Rend to adjacent allies and maybe do return damage if struck (to represent first-strike style damage). The Icon Bearers should be one of the more flavourful Units in my opinion and this just seems like a wasted opportunity.
Along with the new Slaanesh tag, at the end of the last Season we had a bit of a “stealth-update” adding the other Chaos Gods’ tags to most of the existing Chaos Units. This doesn’t do much right now, as none of the old Champions have seen updates to their corners (making them as easy to quest as ever) but it shows signs that they’ve learned from their past mistakes when it comes to tagging things in Chaos. Hopefully, something more comes of this in the future especially now that they’ve covered all 4 Chaos Gods.
Chaos has received a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to Spells this set I feel. Some of the cards they got stand out from the crowd as very strong, while others feel really weak for the time they take to rotate, or too narrow to get the most out of them.
- Born of Damnation – A card that doesn’t do enough on its own in my opinion. This spell essentially “cantrips” your other Removal into a free Gaunt Summoner activation. Unfortunately, that effect isn’t particularly strong on its own, and waiting 3 turns to (potentially) Remove 1 Unit for a little extra value isn’t particularly good for the Action investment. A little too easy to play around for too little pay-off, in my opinion.
- Cacophonic Choir – Another Spell that requires a bit too much setup for too little payoff. In theory, this Spell could go off for a whopping 14 damage. Unfortunately, it requires your opponent to oblige you by playing out a ton of Units (what if they are a Wizard-focused deck?) and to also be mixing Spells and Units. The inconsistent nature of the Spell makes it hard to recommend running over more consistent damage Spells that Chaos already has.
- Dark Delusions – Now this is a strong Spell. This is basically a souped-up Spell version of Starving Vargheist which is already a staple card in Death control decks. As an extra boon, this Spell lives in a Grand Alliance filled with Wizards who want to play a Spell, then Remove something for their Quest lines. Obviously this card is only good in more controlling/mid-range builds, but in those decks there aren’t many better options than this!
- Hellshriek – This is a very mediocre Spell. A slightly-worse Arcane Bolt with the potential to be a repeat threat. Unfortunately, even most all-Wizard decks aren’t playing Arcane Bolt, and to get the Restart trigger (which is of dubious value, as it means you likely aren’t able to Quest that lane any further) your opponent basically needs to play into it. I tend to dislike Spells that need your opponent to help you out, so this is a pass from me.
- Hysterical Frenzy – This card takes forever and can be reduced by having your opponent play out things to kill you. If we had a way to forcefully complete Spells, it might have a place ala The Maw with Snazzgar Stinkmullett but we don’t have that here. Hard pass.
- Lash of Slaanesh – I actually think this is a decent card. X/X/5 is pretty on par with a strong Unit, and drawing a Card to replace itself seems like a suitable trade-off to losing 2 damage off something like Arcane Bolt. Not the best, but a decent filler card in an all-Wizard deck potentially.
- Overwhelming Acquiescence – This is a really great Spell. 1-Corner Spells almost by definition are really great, speeding up Wizard Questing and being pseudo-Abilities. 2 damage isn’t anything to really write home about, but the ability to disrupt is an amazing tempo play. Wizard decks often have an issue dealing with really fast Quick Quest decks and this neatly plugs that hole. Add in the fact it gets buffed with Tzeentch's Fortune in the late game and you have a real winner. I’d put a full set in any Wizard-focused deck in Chaos.
- Phantasmagoria – Definitely a more subtle card, this is another good tool for Spell-based control decks in Chaos. Preventing Units and Spells not only helps keep you alive, but also can help stunt Quests very meaningfully. I’m a big fan of any Spell which has an effect the turn it comes into play as well. Drawing 2 cards at the end cements this as a potentially valuable Spell in helping you maintain momentum in a mid-range/control shell.
- Song of Secrets – In theory, this Spell looks like it could be great. If you can drop and have it rotate when they are low on cards, you can get a serious amount of card advantage. Personally, this seems a bit too conditional to me. Had this not had an X corner on its first corner, you could drop this when the opponent is starved on cards, probably with the help of Dark Temptations (more on that later), and guarantee yourself some bonus cards.
If the opponent already has a relatively full hand however, they can just draw up the turn you play it and plan to play to the board over the next 2 turns. Paired with Dark Temptations is probably the only time to use this Spell (or boarded in against someone who uses Flesh to Stone) where it’ll potentially shine. Definitely a card I could see making the rounds depending on how things shake out, but not a slam dunk.
Probably the most “specialized” of the cards Chaos got in the new set, 3/5 of the new Abilities are actually Wizard Abilities. A couple of them are pretty niche, but there is at least one standout amongst them….
- Dark Temptations – …and that is this card. Dark Temptation is, simply put, amazing. This is a card that requires your opponent to “cooperate” but makes all their decisions really bad if played right. Purging 2 cards from an opponent’s hand OR getting 3 draws to their 1 is Card Advantage for you. Obviously, the opponent is going to choose whichever of the two is least-bad for them (based on what information they have, anyway) but there is definitely a few ways to coerce the results you want out of them.
I think the ideal time to play this Ability is probably when they have 2-3 cards in hand. At that point, Purging 2 cards means they’ll likely need to “skip” a turn to draw 2 at that point. On the other hand, if they draw a card, it is knowing they just filled your hand with potentially more ways to deal with whatever 1 measly card they just drew.
In my opinion, if you are Wizard-focused at all, this is an easy 2/3-of because of just how far ahead it can put you.
- Discordant Disruption – This is Spell hate for Wizard mirrors. The ‘downside’ of Purging cards from the Discard pile is pretty minimal in 95% of cases. Unfortunately, this is way too narrow outside of sideboard slots. Is nice that it can be cast while using Spells, though, to avoid players from “hiding” their Spells behind your own.
- Disruptive Song – More Spell hate. Slaanesh really want to be “the” Wizards of choice it appears. This one can be used by anybody, but once again it’s really narrow as it only effects Spells. Even more narrow is that returning Spells back to hand is inherently much worse than just Removing them. If you want Spell hate in your sideboard, you have better options.
- Impossibly Swift – This is a neat card. Being able to Redeploy as opposed to simply Moving a Unit means that this can be used to have 1 Unit potentially handle 2 Unit corners (even on the same Champion). I can also see the utility of moving something like a Fearless Khorgorath to mess with someone’s Questing.
Sadly, I don’t think this’ll make the cut in most decks, as there just aren’t enough card slots in a deck that you’d want to replace with an effect like this. Aggro isn’t likely to give up any of its very efficient damaging Abilities, and mid-range/control are generally looking for beefier effects, Card Advantage and Removal. If Chaos gets more interesting/powerful “enters play” effects in the future, this might get a second shot at life, but that time isn’t now.
- Pungent Soulscent – Another quirky card that just needs a bit too much setup. Theoretically, you could get pretty decent numbers out of it with careful setup and planning with Exhaust, discard, etc. On the other hand, you could just play Furious Strike or Daemonic Fury without worrying about any of that. If Chaos gets a self-milling archetype in the future, this might see play. Right now? This card just isn’t worth a slot.
So that’s everything! Unleashed brought us a lot of really interesting, new options for decks and archetypes we haven’t seen pushed as much in Chaos. Wizard and Spell-based decks got a lot of new toys to play with, hoping to bring those out of “meme-tier,” while mid-range and control decks received a cornucopia of options to choose from.
Aggressive decks, outside of a few choice cards, didn’t receive much backing this set. I suspect that is very much on purpose, as Chaos aggro has been a tier 0.5/tier 1 deck for a few sets now and the addition of Slaanesh (and the other Gods’ tags) seems to indicate that they know a simple split of Daemon/non-Daemon won’t cut it for restricting Quick Quests. Hopefully, the new, powerful cards they’ve added make Chaos feel less 1-note than they have in the past.
Thematically, the set seems to have done a good job representing Slaanesh, especially in the Champion and Blessing department. Just about all the Champions and Blessings feel about right, and their power level seems within reason. Spells were a little more hit and miss, and felt a little more generic, but plenty of options are available for Wizards of varying interests now (aggro, mid-range and control). The Abilities are probably some of the most flavourful, while being a little on the weak side (other than Dark Temptation).
The Units though feel a little off. I suspect the issue there is trouble representing “Quick, damaging, fragile Units” without accidentally pushing aggro off the balance cliff once more. Rend seems to be how they’ve chosen to go about it for Units, which is fine in the short term, but it’ll be interesting to see where they go now with all 4 Chaos Gods being represented. Without some restructuring/errata on the older cards, perhaps rotation (if that does indeed happen) will end up being the ‘cure’ for that eventually.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with what Chaos got this set! So the question becomes: what do you guys think of our Slaaneshi friends? Have you built or come across any fun Chaos brews? Let me know in the comments below!