The Wyrdhollow Is Growing
Both the expansions for Warhammer Underworlds: Wyrdhollow have now been out for at least a fortnight each. With a new season round the corner, are the two new warbands, The Headsman’s Curse and Skabbik’s Plaguepack, worth it? Although I play Nighthaunt in Age of Sigmar I have not used either warband in a game of Age of Sigmar so my opinions only reflect the warbands as they play in Warhammer Underworlds.
You Have Been Condemned
The Headsman’s Curse, a collection of ghostly executioners. They are the literal judge, jury and executioner of the Nighthaunt. They all revolve around, somewhat unsurprisingly given the theming of the warband, supporting each other and eliminated the enemy fighters they have condemned. Using their unique plot card the Headsman condemn their enemies, giving them condemned counters that they get to claim upon elimination, feeding into their inspire condition and objective cards.
hey are a very elimination-heavy warband, which I am personally biased towards already, and they have quickly become one of my favourites to play. If the Headsman himself is alive the warband literally will not stop coming. For every kill he gets, being able to revive a fallen ally is both common for death-allegiance warbands and very practical in a support-focused warband such as this one, even if the raised allies still provide a glory point bounty if slain subsequent times.
Something has to be said about the stylistic choices in The Headsman’s Curse’s sculpts. For a big, beefy, 5 health and 3+ damage leader, the Headsman himself is the physically largest model both in the warband and my personal collection of Warhammer Underworlds teams (unfortunately I don’t own the elusive Mollog’s Mob warband to compare against the largest warband member).
On top of that, with the Headsman’s sword being such a large weapon in terms of its 3+damage, it’s nice that on the sculpt it is by far the most attention-grabbing design element. Meanwhile the rest of the warband is equally thematic with their silhouettes decreases in size as their health stats decrease. Warhammer clearly puts a lot of effort into designing the sculpts for warbands because the subtle details like the Bearer leaning into the weight of dragging his execution block is lovely, not to mention the Scriptor literally pointing to his target that he condemns.
The Plague Is Spreading
Plague and disease are rampant in the realm of beasts and Skabbik and his faithful Plaguepack wish to sample it all. A group of Skavern in Warhammer Underworlds that have a stagger-based gimmick, that’s been done before, but Skavern plague priest, that’s new. Joking aside they are actually a very fun control warband, even if they are a bit squishier than you’d like for territory control. On the surface their gimmick is that whenever they are next to an enemy at the start of a round (excluding the two smaller Skavern minions) but as helpful as that is, this is more of a deterrent for weaker warbands. The real gimmick is in the power cards that allow them to make use of territory they have “defiled”.
Defilement is a exclusive mechanic that is handled through the warband’s plot card and is not only how the group inspires but also how they score multiple objective cards and, as mentioned before, get use out of many power cards. Defiling territory is simply done by having either a fighter with the “befouler” keyword on an objective or having any two fighters from the warband in the same territory. Because territories only defile at the end of a round this leaves the Plaguepack needing to spend round one focusing on set up so they can “pop off” on round two, a feat much easier said than done with their average 1 defence dice and 2.5 health.
Another downside to the warband is that most of the objectives are scored at the end of a round or during an opponent’s turn, meaning you need to set things up and manage to maintain them during at least one activation before you can score anything. On the other hand, they are very good after you establish a presence and get some defiled territory. Whilst they won’t win anything for their damage output, when you want to control the board in Warhammer Underworlds 1 damage is all you need to drive back your enemies.
Just like The Headsman’s Curse, the Plaguepack also has some stunning sculpts. From the adorable little rat minion Skritter to the classic biblical-esc, bandaged, infected Rabidus, these censor-flailing priests are equal parts religious rats and disease-ridden pests. In addition, the writer in me really appreciates all the medical/infection/disease puns in the Plaguepack’s names that I presume are as follows: Rikkit – on the nose reference to rickets, but with a different spelling. Poxlix – Referencing the colloquial term for a disease “pox”, such as with chicken or monkey pox. Rabidus – a reference to rabies. Skabbik and Itchitt – scabs and itching respectively.
Now Entering Round 3
At the end of the day, what do I think about these two warbands? I like them. I’ve played about a dozen games with them now, so my thoughts are by no means conclusive in terms of their power level, but these two warbands are definitely fun to play as, especially in Wyrdhollow. Like all warbands in Warhammer Underworlds they both have strengths and weakness, and both have situations they thrive in and situations when you’ll wish you were playing anything else instead. What matters to me is they are fun to play, nice sculpts and fun to paint and if any of those three things appeals to you I’d recommend both of them.