Overall this Universal set has quite a good selection of cards. There aren’t that many bad picks, and some are absolutely high caliber options. I think the set mainly leans towards supporting Aggro as a playstyle, though there are some good Flex, Control, and Hold Objective options scattered in as well.
Side note: I really like the art style and am glad to see fighters from previous sets return in the art. Beastgrave only used fighters from that set, which made it feel fairly isolated, narratively, so I’m interested to see the lore expand and see what our old warbands are up to.
Raf: One of the most exciting things about this set of Universals is that everything is new; none of the evergreen ones we’ve seen in every other core set so far. Unclear if they’ll return next year so that they’re always legal in Championship mode or if this is a new trend.
Another exciting development is the addition of the Primacy Token. Sitting on the top of the Universals Deck is a card describing the new Primacy Token which may be in play during a game but will not always be in play. If either player has any cards that reference the Token, it enters play and will be claimed back and forth based on actions the players take. The token provides extra Glory (whether or not you’re the one who put it into play) and there are also Universals that play off of it. This is an entirely new mechanism to Underworlds and we’re all having fun wondering what the impact will be.
Absolute Dominance – 3/5
A variation on Annihilation – while you don’t need to wipe out the whole enemy warband, you also have to retain at least two fighters. Whether it’s better or worse than Annihilation will be very meta dependent and also dependent on your warband. In a very elite meta, killing two by the end of the game is reasonable, but against hordes, it’s pretty much the same as Annihilation for many warbands.
Aggressive Display – 4/5
A solid little card for aggro warbands. While the first part is difficult against Elite teams, you may just have multiple weapon upgrades in your deck anyways. Indeed, if you want to go down the Combo route, you need two on the same fighter by necessity – one Combo, one follow up reaction. It’s fairly hard to score early depending on your enemy warband, but is fairly well an auto score later in the game.
Awesome Predator – 4/5
Another good Aggro card. Getting to damage 4+ is fairly reasonable with just Great Strength on many warbands, though time will tell how easy or difficult holding on to the Potency counter is. Indeed, Mollog and Fjul-Grimnir get to 4 damage naturally and many warbands have 3 damage baseline.
Dominant Position – 5/5
Beastgrave has a lot of excellent Hold Objective cards, and this is no exception. Works very well with Supremacy, Uncontested, and Temporary Victory, though the 2 Glory makes it reasonably more balanced. It’s even somewhat viable for Flex and Control that want to sit on 2 objectives and disrupt enemy objective holding.
Hungry for Victory – 2/5
This could become a good card later, but currently there aren’t enough ways to get Hunger counters. It will require re-evaluation each time Hunger cards are released, though.
Intimidating Display – 3/5
1 Glory for pseudo-Conquest in any end phase is fine, but not that interesting. The first part of the Hybrid is more interesting, and has to be evaluated on a warband-by-warband basis. As the card art shows, this is probably an instant-score for Mollog (unless we get a new 7 wound fighter in Direchasm), really good for Hrothgorn with his +2 wound card, and pretty ok for any warband with 5 Wound fighters (Profiteers, Morgok, Ironskull, etc). I could see this being a pretty good Control card for tougher warbands, but it also depends on what warbands are strong in the metagame. Raf: I really like that this card is good for warbands of different types. Nice use of Hybrid here; low-count Elite warbands and horde warbands can both consider this.
Predatory Spell – 4/5
Aggro Wizard warbands will love this. The previous version of this, Strange Demise, also included Gambit Spells, so this is marginally worse, but any warband that wants to turret off spell attacks is going to run this, especially if they have ways to boost their Spell Attack Damage.
Savage Exemplar – 5/5
Excellent Aggro card. Most, if not all, Aggro warbands use their Leaders as beatsticks, so you’ll probably get this naturally. Heck, even Hold Objective warbands like Thorns or Grymwatch have good beatstick leaders, so this might be a very ubiquitous card. Raf: If this was an End Phase I might look twice at it but being a Surge it feels like an automatic take for most decks I’ll build.
Successful Hunt – 3/5 (5/5 for Hrothgorn)
For Hunter Aggro, this is pretty reasonable, though it’s worse than The Beast Is Slain, which can also trigger off of killing Leaders. However, there’s a lot of Quarry-creating effects in the game, so it’s probably still quite good, though now you’re relying on your opponent to help you set up, or you’re taking things like Hunting Season and hoping your opponent isn’t also trying to score this. Hrothgorn, as usual, breaks the effect and makes it an auto-take for him.
Surge of Aggression – 4/5
The Surge version of Awesome Predator. Basically everything I said for that card holds here – excellent for Aggro if you’re building Damage (or are playing Mollog), and the Primacy function will have to be evaluated as we see the mechanic more. My gut says it’s a great card for Aggro since you’re probably trying to get to 4 damage anyways.
Treasure Hunter – 4/5
I love this card. It makes the Hold Objective game more engaging and interactive, and can even be included in Aggro teams that are also looking to score Conquest type cards. It’s not as much of an auto-include as Dominant Position in my eyes, but it’s got great synergy with Swift Capture and works well with Flex/Hold Objective builds. Raf: Objective cards drive behavior, and this is a great example. This will impact the behavior of aggo decks and boost flex decks.
Winged Death – 4/5
Great card for shooting teams (including Wizards with Spell Attack Actions), though I’m not sure how much you’ll see the Movement half of the Hybrid. It’s Cover Ground + Gathered Momentum in one, and GM can already be fairly difficult to pull off if the board state gets too out of control.
Dauntless Aspect – 3/5
I don’t think giving a Guard token on a dice roll is a good enough inclusion by itself. Single Channel is a very reliable cast, but we lost a lot of Passive Magic support cards. It can be a nice way to reliably inspire Cursebreakers, but you usually want a more proactive effect from your Gambits. Raf: Hey if you’re running Purifiers in Vanguard and you feel like your Lumineth should be casting spells I suppose it is a spell.
Hungry Bolt – 4/5
Casting and Scatter make this a fairly unreliable card, but any damaging Spells are a consideration for Aggro Wizard teams. It’s a good ping spell for Wyrmspat, and if you get lucky, Fecula could potentially inspire off of a single Charge plus this spell! Raf: Feels like a way to get a Hunger Token with a side benefit right now.
Hypnotic Aspect – 4/5
A limited and dice-reliant Distraction, but Distraction is a powerful enough effect to consider this card. With Lethals and other positional ping damage in the game, this could also be considered a pseudo-damage spell, as well as a way to set up aggression or defense. I wouldn’t take it over baseline Distraction, but with Nightmare In The Shadows currently Restricted, this is a good option for a second enemy push. Raf: Feels like there’s going to be lots of ping damage this season. I like it.
Ferocious Blow – 3/5
Baseeline getting +1 damage is fine. Usually you want more dice or rerolls, but +1 can sometimes put you in damage range to one-shot something, which is always quite nice. With a hunger token this is a nice little card, but this will depend on how often those tokens hit the table.
Ferocious Lunge – 4/5
A card in the same vein as Headlong Flight or Tracking, but using the new mechanic. Much like those cards, you would never take this over Spectral Wings, and arguably even Malkyn Grace is a better option, but again it depends on the prevalence of Hunger counters.
Ferocious Resistance – 3/5
I’m hesitant to rate this card too highly, given that there’s a chance it fails altogether. However, on high-wound fighters this is basically “heal half”, which is a great effect, especially in conjunction with +Wound upgrades or cards that reduce incoming damage. Again, hard to evaluate the Hunger portion of it, but by itself on Hrothgorn, Mollog, or any 4 Wound fighter with Upgrades, there’s solid potential here.
Raf: I appreciate that they seem to be leaning into Hunger; there are quite a few cards playing with these tokens so if the pattern continues with the rest of the season I’m hopeful that it’ll see more play than Combo or Poison.
Thrill of the Hunt – 4/5
A way to get Primacy more easily, and also comes with a Heal or Push. A reaction after a kill to Heal or Push alone would be worthy of consideration for Flex or Aggro teams, but the Potency Counter is vaguely equivalent to 1 Glory, so this has some real value attached to it for teams looking to kill.
Slickrock – 5/5
If all future Trap cards are like this, sign me up. While Distraction is more flexible, this can straight up deny your opponent Objective Cards like Temporary Victory, Hidden Purpose, Swift Capture, and Bold Conquest. It also can stop last-action moves for Supremacy and the like. It can even break Charges that end on Objectives, denying the attack altogether! For Control type decks or anyone that want to add some disruption tech, this card is ace. Raf: Oh my god this card is going to make people mad. I expect to see it on the Restricted List quickly.
Hunting Season – 2/5
There’s some play for this card if you want to play Surge Objectives that trigger off of killing enemy Quarries, but then you need to these together. Hunter/Quarry has gained some usefulness with the end of Beastgrave and continuing into Direchasm, but I still don’t think it’s worth a card like this.
Hungry Advance – 3/5
Sidestep, but limited and with Hunger. For teams that want more push, it’s a consideration, but not being able to control the direction is a big downside, and Hunger is a double edged sword. It’s very good if you just need more speed and have ways to positively take advantage of Hunger, so keep it under consideration.
Earthing Staff – 1/5
I think you’ll take this more for the Quarry mechanic than the damage negation. Backlash is already a fairly low chance (1/36 on two dice), and Gambit Spells are fairly rare currently. But then, there are better ways to become a Quarry.
Fearsome Trappings – 4/5
For Aggro, rerolls are paramount. It’s a very snowbally card, though, since you need the aggro tempo on your side to have Primacy. It really does depend on the Primacy counter, so you should consider if you feel like it’s worth it to risk it being a dead upgrade when you don’t have the token.
Formidable Defence – 3/5
This is actually a pretty good card for Passive Control, where you want to focus a lot on surviving over fighting, and there are other ways to get +1 Dice to your attacks to make up for it. However, I don’t know if there’s enough support for Passive Control to take this over more proactive choices.
Hungry Armor – 2/5
There’s not a lot of support for Hunger right now, so this mostly only comes online the round after you equip it. That makes it a dead card in round 3, and not really all that good otherwise. As more Hunger gets introduced, it could increase in viability.
Master of Spoils – 3/5
I’m not particularly sure how to evaluate this card. It makes it easier to get the Primacy Token, which is good, but it makes another way to lose it, which is bad. The back and forth over Primacy will be very matchup dependent, so I guess you have to evaluate how much you think you’ll be vying over it, versus keeping control without this upgrade.
Preyskin Mask – 3/5
Editor: This fighter is a Quarry. -1 Dice to this fighters Attack action. As a Reaction, you can give this to an enemy that attacks your fighter then they’re stuck with iti. The design of this card is excellent. It’s a debuff, but it’s also a detriment if your opponents attack you. If you’re a resurrecting warband, you can put this on a fighter with weapon upgrades and give your opponent very difficult choices. That said, it is a self debuff, and your opponent can always choose to “soak” the effect by attacking with a less important fighter. And it’s basically a dead card vs more passive playstyles, so take with caution.
Savage Speed – 5/5
I’m so happy to see more cards with downsides on them. This is a great tradeoff – and some warbands won’t even see tradeoffs if they use single shield defence! +2 Movement is a huge boost, and can alone change the game in ways you might not expect. This will be at home in many Aggro and Flex decks.
Savage Strength – 4/5
This loses a lot of value with Great Strength and Sting of the Ur-Grub currently in rotation, as they both provide the same (or similar in Sting’s case) effects with no downside. But again, like the Speed version, if you’re on 1 Defence baseline, there’s no downside. Interesting to note for these that they cannot override Substance Siphon, which makes a powerful combination.
Soultooth Bow – 3.5/5
A range 4 attack that will reroll a lot of the time is excellent, though generally you want weapon upgrades to be more killy. It could be a nice option for warbands that want a bit more poke.
Soultooth Spear – 3/5
It’s a very solid weapon, and as with the Bow you’ll be rerolling quite often. But, with the Amberbone weapons in the game, you’ll never take sometimes rerolls over extra Glory imo. Raf: Agree, but getting hunter is nice. 2/2/2/ is a solid attack on an uninspired leader so being able to stick it on a different fighter and have another threat is cool.