Overall, the Dread Pageant is a very good warband. Two strong fighters, two mooks with good utility, and a spread of excellent cards means they’re going to comfortably slot into the meta with their speed and reliable damage. Likely they will be a more Aggro focused deck, but they do have the tools necessary to play Flex or even Hold Objective style in a pinch.
The Inspiration effect here is kinda funny. It’s bad in that some games you’ll never get it, but that’s because you’re killing too fast or not getting hurt enough. So… it’s kind of ok if you don’t Inspire quickly? I’m not sure if it’s right to focus on Inspiring over killing, likely it’ll be a matchup-dependent choice, and also depends on your opponent’s actions and damage.
Raf: My impression of the inspiration condition is that it pinches your opponent’s decisions quite a bit, particularly with regard to Slakeslash. He’s difficult to take out in 1 hit, but spending a couple turns wailing on him means making it likely the whole warband inspires. He also can’t be ignored, particularly if you can get him stuck into the middle of things where he draws attention. I love Bonded Bodyguard for this; sling him up into the fray and he’s still a threat to move or charge again.
Overall, the Pageant is happy being on the aggressive as they’re survivable and have decent attacks. I’m really growing to love them, which makes me more annoyed that I don’t love their aesthetic.
In a lot of ways, he’s a bog-standard Leader. 1 Shield, 4 Wounds, 2 Hammers that goes from 2 to 3 Damage on Inspiration. However, his Reaction to Heal himself makes him fairly hardy, and his high movement with Range 2 can make him a very mobile, variable threat. With a couple upgrades, he could be a great beatstick.
Speaking of beatsticks, 5 Wound fighters with good attacks are never a bad thing, especially ones that can Heal naturally. Slakeslash is a premier frontline fighter, and while he’s not looking to one-shot enemies (at least, until he gets upgrades), he’ll be a proper terror on the charge.
Uninspired, he’s a fairly squishy, though reliable, archer type. His Arrows of Desire gimmick can make him very deadly at setting up kills and messing with positioning, but he dies very easily. Inspiring for that second Defence dice and extra range is quite nice, but he’ll likely be dead far before that.
Double Dodge, always on Guard, with a Range 2, 2 Damage weapon? What’s the downside? Oh, 2 wounds and only 2 Sword dice on the attack. Still, she can be deceptively durable if your opponents aren’t expecting it, but anything with Cleave, Ensnare, or lots of dice can just ruin her day in a moment. Or just 2 chip damage cards.
Excess of Gluttony – 2/5
Slightly better than Carnality, since Slakeslash can charge in and sit in the middle of multiple fighters with little to no issue. However, that’s still usually a fairly suboptimal play, so I would tend to pass on this one. Raf: This was a very easy score in all my games, which makes me want to rate it highly. However, given that my games were with a limited card pool I think this card will be edged out by other options in Championship mode. I still think it’s a 3/5 at least.
Excess of Carnality – 1/5
While Aggro does mean running towards enemies and fighting, with only one Range 1 fighter, you rarely want to gang up like this. Not to mention it’s after an Activation, so Drive Back pushes will basically always disrupt this card if nothing else does. Raf: Like Gluttony, this was an auto score in most of my games and a great way to get the upgrade engine going. I’m a lot higher on both of these than Zach and both will be in my builds to start. 3/5 for me.
Excess of Avidity – 3/5
A reasonably solid card, especially with faction push cards and fast fighters. Hadzu and Glisette are fine sitting back away from the action anyways, but I think the decks will tend a bit more towards Aggro, making this a less desirable option. Raf: I think our preferred playstyle bias are coming through with this warband. I found this one much harder to score!
Endless Revel – 5/5
You should always score this. You can score it with one fighter, so there’s basically no excuse not to score it. Perhaps if you want to get multiple attacks off with your bigger fighters, you may find it hard to play efficiently and score this at the same time, but it’s good enough to include in basically any deck other than maybe pure Passive Draw decks.
Cavalcade of Madness – 3/5
As I said above, the Inspiration mechanic is quite unreliable, but you should be able to score this later in the game… sometimes. I don’t know if it’s a reliable enough card to include in every deck, but it’s worth consideration. Raf: You’ve really got to work to make this happen and isn’t too hard to disrupt. I’d have a tough time running it but could see it bearing out in practice.
Beautiful Deaths – 3/5
This is Annihilation on steroids. For an Aggro build, it’s very strong, especially since Vasillac and Slakeslash are quite hardy and good at hurting things. However, your two mooks aren’t that hard to kill, and against more elite teams, killing 3 fighters isn’t the easiest ask in the world. In a meta with lots of horde teams like Thorns or Zarbag, this card might be insanely strong, but against Cursebreakers or Morgok, it loses a lot of luster. Raf: Honestly any “3 surviving fighter” cards are going to be tricky with this warband. They do have the ability to stick around but I think it’ll be rare you make it to Round 3 with 3+ against any warband that is playing aggressive.
Scintillating Sadism – 2/5
Pretty hard to set up the more fighters are alive, where one Wound on your mooks is basically a death sentence. Still, 2 Glory that you might just get for playing the game isn’t necessarily awful, it’s just… not necessarily reliable.
Grisly Tableau – 3/5
Another Aggro option. The issue is that not everyone wants to stand on objectives, and it can really mess up your target priority or positional play trying to score it. Still, Surges off of kills, especially if the meta skews towards Hold Objective, is quite nice.
Godseekers – 4/5
Conquest, but in any End Phase! As an Aggro band, you want to be moving forward… but doing so puts Glisette and Hadzu in pretty perilous positions. Maybe that’s ok, as it just makes the card easier to score. Overall, an excellent Aggro card that you can usually play to pretty easily. Raf: Definitely scoreable and reliable but if you’re running this I think you stay away from any “3 surviving fighter” objectives.
Excess of Vainglory – 4/5
A nice Aggro card, though a bit difficult early in the game. Dropping a fighter with 2 or more upgrades isn’t usually that hard (unless it’s Mollog or the like), and having 3 or more upgrades on a fighter is pretty common. That said, it can gum up your Round 1 hand, so consider that when adding.
Excess of Paramountcy – 2/5
While Vasillac has Range 2 and therefore can sit on an Objective and swing, he likely wants to be in more proactive positions and can be shoved off. If this was 2 Glory, I’d be for it, but as is I’m not sure it’s worthwhile.
Excess of Indolency – 3/5
You’re basically never scoring the first part of this Hybrid unless you table your opponent. Holding 2 Objectives for 2 Glory is… not terrible. Much like Excess of Avidity, you can fairly reliably score this, but I doubt decks will tend towards this style of play.
Lure of Slaanesh – 5/5
Amazing card. Distraction or Sidestep, and with an upside on top of the flexibility. This will be in basically every Pageant deck. Raf: This would be in every anything deck if it was universal.
Fueled by Sensation – 2/5
Hurting yourself for the Inspiration or other effect is cute, but I’m not sure it’s really what you want to do. And Heal(1) on a Ploy is… middling, at best. Raf: The nice thing is that it’s almost never a dead card. You can use it to surprise inspire, or to take one of your big boys out of kill range, or just as a late game heal if you’ve already inspired.
Enervating Perfume – 3/5
Reducing damage is good, especially when it looks like your opponent will only have exactly enough to finish a fighter. But it’s pretty situational, as your opponent can always choose to go after a squishier fighter, or add more damage, or just not Attack/Charge instead. Raf: If you delay a charge a turn I think it’s done its job either way, but situational and there will likely be better options for your deck.
Deadly Embrace – 2/5
A 50/50 to make an attack back when your fighter dies is pretty mediocre. The best case is letting an Inspired Glisette die to get an extra swing while you keep your better fighters alive, but that’s still a dice roll and your opponent still gets the kill Glory. Raf: This is one of those cards that isn’t great on paper and probably isn’t great in practice, except for the times when it rules and that’s the only thing you or your opponents remember. My dumb Timmy ass is going to keep this in decks longer than it deserves.
Dark Desires – 4/5
Very interesting, because you’re rarely going to get the “Best” value out of this. When you want to put a Token on a big fighter to lock them down, your opponent will choose the push, and when you want to get a fighter off of an Objective, they’ll choose the Token. But, even at worst, it’s still good, especially mid-round where you can really mess up game plans. Raf: I’m a little more meh on this because I think it’ll be extremely situational. I’d drop it to a 3/5.
Cruel Pangs – 5/5
Ping damage that can be used to finish a fighter, or activate your Inspiration, or set up a kill, or really anything else you can think of. Great card.
Bonded Bodyguard – 5/5
This card is wild. With the current reading, it’s basically just a free push for Slakeslash, one time when any fighter moves. Use it to deny enemy charges. Use it to support Vasillac. Use it to get on Objectives or away from Lethals. It’ll play serious mindgames with your opponent. Raf: This card absolutely kicks ass. An enemy fighters moves almost anywhere and you get 2 free hexes for Slakeslash? There are so many uses for this card.
Sword Shatter – 3/5 – [Editors Note: WarCom’s nice clean images included 2 Upgrades in the middle of the Gambits for some reason. This card is an UPGRADE]
Destroying Upgrades is a very powerful effect, but is it good enough to use over combat-focused Upgrades? I’d wager not, but a Control style Pageant might run this card and use Vasillac as a tank that messes up enemy fighters.
Cruel Volley – 2/5 – [Editors Note: WarCom’s nice clean images included 2 Upgrades in the middle of the Gambits for some reason. This card is an UPGRADE]
Letting Hadzu double shoot once per round is neat, but you’re not relying on him for damage and it’s a dead card once he gets killed. Raf: However, it gives you 2 chances to push your opponent’s around. I think you seriously consider running this and it’s worth testing. 3/5.
Vicious Barbs – 4/5
Turning off Inspiration for a round is very slick. This usually comes with reducing their damage or number of Defence dice, so it either helps your survival or weakens theirs. There are some warbands that it’s less useful against, but overall I think the power level is quite high.
Shared Pain – 3/5
At first glance, this seems great. Shunt wounds off to a different target? Yes please! And yes, there will be a lot of times where you can save Vasillac from dying by having Slakeslash tank the wounds, but there will also be plenty of times where there’s no nearby friendly fighter, or the other fighter would die as well, or the damage doesn’t matter. It’s a good pick, but don’t expect it to break the game every matchup. Raf: This is like a great 6th man in basketball. Going to be useful in every game but will never steal the show. Your opponents will likely often choose targets to get a kill without letting you inspire and this lets you surprise-save a fighter and inspire.
Rush of Sensation – 4/5
A free move after a kill is pretty good. You can kill someone on an Objective and then move onto it. You can kill and retreat away from counterattacks. You can kill and then move up to support the next attack. But, it is situational and somewhat matchup dependent.
Swift as Desire – 3/5
A slightly better Great Speed, in that you’ll get faster the later in the game it is (if you don’t die). Realistically it feels like overkill considering how fast your fighters already are, and there are better Movement options available.
Strength from Pain – 4/5
It’s a slightly worse Great Strength or Sting of the Ur-Grub, but if you need another damage boost, you can do a lot worse, especially on Slakeslash.
Soporific Musk – 1/5
Really only good for preventing retreats, usually if you’re already adjacent they’ll just attack you instead. I can’t see running this unless you really, really need to shut down Gathered Momentum or similar cards.
Sickening Resilience – 5/5
Insane defensive card. 33% chance to only take 1 damage? On every hit? On Slakeslash or Vasillac, fighters who innately heal? Mindbogglingly good. Even if it’s a dice chance, the fact that it’s every attack the fighter takes means you’ll eventually roll it and laugh. Raf: Like many cards in this warband, it is going to warp how your opponent plays which is already a good (if often invisible) thing.
Sadistic Goad – 2/5
It’s a reasonable little weapon, especially as a finisher, but there are better Attack action upgrades out there, and you’d really only put it on your mooks anyways. Raf: This would be great on a fighter with a 1 damage melee attack, but you want to use Hadzu’s push anyway. Way too situational. Now, if you’re playing the Glass-Mad Gargant scenario from White Dwarf then grab this for sure.
Mark of the Dark Prince – 3/5
And now a fairly disappointing Upgrade for Slakeslash. Getting Cleave or Ensnare is cool, but you’re taking a damage each time you do it? That’s a hard sell, though if the attack is successful his innate Healing will negate the damage. Still, it’s a notable tradeoff. Raf: There will probably some builds that involve a Voltron Slakeslash where you want this. Again it’s nice for inspiring and getting those key kills but I’d like this a lot more if he had a 3+ damage attack.
Distracting Ostentation – 4/5
Excellent defensive card to make Slakeslash even tankier against Range 1 fighters. -Dice is a great mechanic, and even moreso when you have a naturally tough fighter like your Slaangor.
Dance Without End – 1/5
There’s probably some cute plays to make with this, using Glisette to set up support or getting her onto objectives, but overall it’s limited in use and on a fairly squishy fighter. Raf: a +Move card is almost always better.