Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions is a Trading Card Game (TCG) by PlayFusion. We took an initial look at Champions here, which you can check out for details of how to play. In this article we're going to discuss a deck that has caused a bit of controversy among Champions players. We'll look at a variation of the deck and why it does so well. Destruction, predominately Aggro Orruks, quickly climbed to t`he top of the early metagame (a term used to describe the top competitive environment) with a variations of an "aggro" deck (a term for an aggressive deck that focuses on solely dealing damage and isn't worried about anything else).
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It became so competitive that in early September, a month after the game's public release, PlayFusion errata'd what many thought was the cause. The Champion Gordrakk, Fist of Gork originally allowed you to rotate all of your units to the last corner, which was an incredibly powerful ability that could be used after slamming lots of units down over a couple of turns and then using Gordrakk's ability to deal a huge amounts of damage across all lanes and also rotate a lot of the player's champions in the process. PlayFusion errata'd Gordrakk to only rotate Orruk units to their final square.
Many felt that an errata so early in the game's release was unwarranted, especially when there are several powerful card combinations in game, and while it was strong, it did require some build up with stacking units. It could have been a move to restrict Gordrakk becoming increasingly more powerful as the card pool increases. Changing him early would stop the snowball effect and could possibly cause greater controversy later on when there are also more players. It went some way to fixing the issue and certainly stopped the huge amount of one turn damage Destruction was able to generate, but it didn't balance all the alliances equally.
Destruction decks are still able to generate a lot of damage quickly, before other decks were able to build up any active defense due to the limited action currency of the game. Because Destruction are able to generate more actions in a fairly short space of time, which also play well into their synergies, making their decks very powerful.
The Orruk Aggro deck is very prevalent in the current metagame, but it could be simply because of the limited card pool. Each of the four Grand Alliances only has two effective deck types at the high-levels of play and most of those require some skill to pilot. This early in a game, it's very easy for players to find a strong, easy to play deck that will let then win a high percentage of the time. This happens in all CCGs/TCG's and can take time to balance out as card expansions are released, so PlayFusion are attempting to find the cause directly.
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To further look into balancing measures, PlayFusion have also started a series of 14-day tests in the digital version of Champions (the physical game is unaffected) to see what else can be done to stop the green horde. During the first period Waaagh! Chanter and Crusin' for a Brusin' are removed from play. In the second period Gordrakk, First of Gork, will receive further changes, along with, Savage Boar Boss, Warboss Recruiter and Loud-Mouthed Megaboss receiving changes. The third period will see some game rule tweaks. PlayFusion are planning to record data and feedback from these periods in an attempt to find balance among the alliances.
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Onslaught, the next Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions expansion is planned for late November and while no details are yet known about what the sets will contain, there's a very prominent Nighthaunt on the cover. It will be interesting to see what new cards in the pool will do to the metagame and along with seeing if the changes to Destruction will stick.
The below featured deck is a variation of the standard metagame Aggro Orruk deck and players will change the cards to suit their style of play, we list it below so that we can discuss what makes the deck some competitive, but looking at the key cards contained within.
Destruction Aggro Orruks DeckChampions Gordrakk Savage Boar boss Orruk Boss Warboss Recruiter
Blessings Crusin for a Brusin Renewed War-Lust Prophet of the Waaagh Ushering of the Waagh
Deck 3x Big Stabba Crew 3x Brute Smashas 3x Gore Choppa Brute 3x Orruk Scrappers 3x Orruk Shield Bashers 3x Pouncing Wolf Riders 3x Waaagh Chanter 3x Deadly Chop 3x Mosh Pit 3x Rallying Cry
Aggro decks in any game are generally popular because of their straight-forward nature, which makes them very easy to play. Card games by their nature require a deep understanding of the card pool and your opponent's available options to be truly competitive and the high-level players are constantly working out the odds for their opponents reactions and options in order to better judge their own. Aggro decks are rarely interested in what your opponent does and have a very straight forward sequence of play if the right cards are drawn.
In Magic the Gathering early years, one popular strategy was playing a purely white deck that focused on pushing out as many white creatures as possible and then pumping them with cards like Crusade that boosted all white creatures. The very nature of aggro decks make them powerful because they are dedicated to one purpose, dealing damage. There is rarely a requirement for a certain combination of cards which reduces the chance of a bad draw. Every card in aggro decks aims to be the most cost effective way of dealing damage to your opponent and what your opponents play are almost irrelevant to your own sequence of cards. This one-dimensional style of play is also the weakness of the decks, as the sequences are well known to all players, so building a deck to combat them can be simple if the card pool allows.
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The Aggro Orruk deck is exactly that, all of the cards contained within the deck are the most efficient way of dealing damage to your opponent. If everyone of your cards can deal damage to your opponent quicker than they can deal damage to you, you will win. If a card is used to directly counter one of your cards without any other benefit, all that your opponent is doing is delaying. A way to directly counter your cards to your detriment is required to beat an aggressive deck, or riding out the wave of fast damage whilst building up your own ability to deal damage. Most aggro decks can burn themselves out and aren't effective late game.
A lot of what are common weaknesses to aggro decks are not present in Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions though. The action/card draw currency means that if your opponent is using a card to counter your own, they are down as many cards and options as you are. Added to the ability of the Orruks to generate more actions than normal, means they can draw into more cards, thus increasing their options before other decks can deal with them. The Aggro Orruk deck is not invincible, it can be beaten, but its straight-forward style of play makes it very easy to pilot, and very forgiving to mistakes, unlike other high-tier decks that can suffer from poor sequencing and card draws.
The four champions listed above for the Aggro Orruk deck make it very easy to rotate and unlock the blessings for more damage and deck efficiency. They all have solid in-play abilities that either improve the playing of cards, or allow you to draw more cards. Champions rotating cards in play is incredible for improving the efficiency of the cards as you still get the results of all corners. What would normally take you several turns, is done in only one, meaning that you are free to play more cards onto the table and still receive the results of the original card played. Savage Boar Boss does this by speeding up all beast units by one rotation and Gordrakk does this with his Heroic Ability to really drive through your board presence.
The Blessings also tie in very well to what Orruks are doing anyway. Crusin' for a Brusin' can be pushed through very quickly as the Champions are usually pushing through units on the board, to deal 12 damage very quickly. The rest of the Blessings are there to improve card draws and gain additional actions, allowing you to maintain a constant tempo of play and card drawing.
All of the units in the deck allow you to maintain a constant level of dealing damage and combined with the Champions they can be rotated through quickly. The Pouncing Wolf Riders and Waagh! Chanter grant you additional actions, which as discussed above, lets you maintain card draws and a constant level of card playing and damage dealing that your opponent has to deal with. If the Pouncing Wolf Rider is played on the Savage Board Boss Champion, he speeds up their ability to generate actions and will also rotate the Champion.
The three different action units in the deck are also very straight-forward in their use. Rallying Cry means you can deploy two units instead of one, which is a very efficient use of a single action, Mosh Pit is a straight damage dealer and can be boosted by the stacking of units in game. 3 of the 7 different unit types in the deck have stacking, so there's a great chance that you will be able to boost the damage by 1 or 2. Deadly chop is the only restricted use card in the deck, requiring your opponent to have a spell or unit in play to remove. Removing a card is a requirement for rotating the Warboss Recruiter, but it's also good to remove any high damage cards your opponent might be playing, especially in a mirror match (playing against the same deck) and for an added bonus, Deadly Chop also does one damage. All of the action cards are there to rotate through the Champions edges that require actions, and all play very well in to the deck strategy and synergies.
The changes PlayFusion are trailing might go someway to identifying and halting the relentless advance of the green horde and we think they're right in trying to identify the source rather than trying to boost the other alliances or blanket errata'ing cards. It is a shame to have such changes so early in the release of a product, but PlayFusion are being very transparent with the community and handling things very well. Nobody likes errata to cards, or ban or restricted lists, especially not the developers themselves, but oppressive metagame decks are always obvious in testing and only become apparent in the wider release. The fact that the initial change to Gordrakk didn't have a huge effect on the Aggro Orruks, suggests that there could be a wider issues. PlayFusion are being extremely proactive in addressing issues as they build up their competitive scene and this speaks volumes as to their commitment to it.
Have you been playing Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions? Do you play physically or digitally? What's your favourite alliance? What do you think of the different trials PlayFusion are doing for Destruction? Let us know in the comments below.