Yes, this week is all about Warhammer, so what better to review than the Deluxe Expansion for Invasion? In Assault on Ulthuan the forces of the Dark Elves and High Elves finally become playable factions with their own capital boards and 40 card decks.
For the purposes of this review I will not be covering the mechanics of the core game, if you want to find out my thoughts on the core set click this link. If you want a detailed video review of how to play the game click this one.
Assault on Ulthuan focuses primarily on the Elves. Ulthuan itself is the island continent that is home to the High Elves and by extension is the ancestral home of all other Elves.
The High and Dark Elves are bitter enemies, so their co-release makes a lot of sense. The High Elves have a large focus on Healing and Defence, while the Dark Elves are focused on malign magics and dark sacrifices. These two races are the perfect examples of Good and Evil in the Old World.
So, what do you get in the box?
- 2 Capital Boards
- 1 40 Card High Elf Deck
- 1 40 Card Dark Elf Deck
- 30 Cards split between the Neutral/Orc/Empire/Dwarf and Chaos Factions
- Collectors Checklist
The first major disappointment for most people with this expansion was the lack of 3 and 4 player rules. It was never announced however that those rules would be released with this expansion and anyone serious about playing multiplayer has invented their own rules.
Other than that though, everything else in the box is good quality. The cards and boards are great. The Capital Boards for this expansion are a lot more vibrant that the muted ones from the Core Set. As for the cards themselves there is a good mix and the new starter decks are playable right out of the box.
It should be noted that this expansion is not as good a deal as the core set in anyway. In fact I paid more for this expansion than I did for the core set but the number of cards is a lot smaller. That is less a poor reflection on this set and more of a positive reflection on just how good value the core set is.
Playable Without the Core Set?
Have you always wanted to play just Dark Elves vs. High Elves? Then yes, it is possible to use this expansion without the core set. However you will not have:
- Enough useful neutral cards
- Resource or Damage Tokens
- Access to the Draft Variant
- Access to the Alliance Cards
- Access to the Rulebook
Obviously the tokens could be replaced with any other tokens and the rulebook plus the errata could be downloaded from FFG’s site, however, unless you are dead set on just playing one of the Elf factions, then I would recommend the core set as a first purchase.
Necessary or Optional?
Unlike the battle packs, Assault on Ulthaun is a must buy for any casual players. The Core Set plus this expansion make the ideal purchase if you are not playing this game competitively. With both purchases you will have 6 playable decks and enough neutrals to support them.
Warhammer Invasion as a Casual Player
I’ve been playing this game casually since it’s release and I’ve racked up in excess of 40 games. I do own all the battlepacks to date, but I will not be buying any more.
For the casual gamer who is interested in a card based wargame with resource management and a flexible deck building system this is a superb game. The additional cards provided in the battlepacks do increase the choices in the game, but after a while the investment, from a casual stand point, becomes too high.
With that in mind, the Deluxe expansions make much more sense for casual gamers to purchase. For examples Assault on Ulthuan features two fully playable decks plus enough other cards to give the other factions a small boost. They also feature a more pleasing mix of card copies than the new battlepacks which will include 3 of every card. Although this is a boon to competitive players it seems a bit wasteful for casual players.
So, although AOU is the supposed to be the only Deluxe Expansion for the game, I hope that is not the case because I think that further Deluxe expansions (one a year maybe) would be the perfect way for casual players to continue to keep the game fresh, without the massive investment.
But what about the Cards?
Right, so lets actually take a look at some of what the High Elves and Dark Elves can actually do.
The High Elves are focused on Healing and Defence, but that doesn’t mean that they have no offensive capabilities.
Firstly Tears of Isha can heal all damage on one unit, and the Initiate of Saphery can heal one damage on each unit you control. Even better you can team this up with The Glittering Tower which allows you to deal one damage to an enemy unit or capital each time you heal a unit.
Continuing the idea of mass defence, the Elves now have the option to cancel any tactic played for 2 resources using High Elf’s Disdain and a new attachment that gives them +3 hit points in Dragon Mage Wakening and a new quest that allows the Questing unit to defend all three zones.
However the ultimate defensive tools are the Sword Masters of Hoeth. These guys are completely immune to combat damage as long as they are in the battlefield. This means they can attack and defend with 2 power almost without fear and because you have to do enough damage to destroy units before you can damage the capital, for 4 resources these guys can make your battlefield zone immune to damage almost indefinitely.
Offensively the High Elves have a new Shadow Warrior who inflicts one damage at the start of each of your turns. But most impressively the Dragon Prince which causes all but two units in each players battlefield to be sacrificed. Just make sure you don’t trigger important abilities on those nasty Dark Elf cards with this unit.
Finally, if all is going to hell in a handbasket you can pull out the Flames of the Phoenix, like Troll Vomit this card wipes out all units on the board, but unlike that card, this one returns them to the players hands. So, if you build up enough resources you can wipe out the opponents defences and then play down all your units again from your hand before they can muster a defence.
The Dark Elves have some very interesting new features. The first of which are the Hex cards. These are spells that inflict a negative effect which you can use to target your opponents units, particularly those annoying High Elf Swordsmen of Hoeth. The two hexes included in the starter decks are Mind Killer (-1 Power) and Word of Pain (Unit cannot Attack).
A second feature of the Dark Elves is their abilities to and powered up by Sacrificing. Firstly there is a tactic “Take Captive” that allows you to take control of an attacking unit until the end of the turn. You could then use it to defend against your opponent and still use Lash the Prisoner, allowing you to sacrifice it and gain two resources. As well as additional resources you could use Lash the Prisoner to trigger The Corsairs of Ghronds forced effect which gives one unit –2 hit points, or you could sacrifice the Walking Sacrifices for an extra card.
Team any of these effects up with Alter of Khaine and you can return the sacrificed cards to your hand for 1 resource too.
Similar to the High Elves the Dark Elves have a quest which allows them to make attacks as if the Questing Unit was in the battlefield. This card is very useful for allowing you to increase your card draw without wasting a powerful unit.
Finally I will mention the Cold One Chariot. This unit makes for one of the best defenders in the game. Its hit points are equal to the number of developments in the zone, effectively doubling the number hit points each development is worth. Of course you need to watch out against Orcs or Empire as both factions can move and or destroy developments leaving the unit with 0 hp, meaning it is removed from play.
I like it. The new races play very differently to the old ones. The presentation of the Deluxe Expansion is very pleasing to a casual player.The lack of 3 and 4 player rules almost 7 months on is a little disappointing, but other than that this is really an essential expansion for casual and competitive players alike.
Don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll… If you could only have one which Warhammer based game would it be?