A Living Card Game is only as good as its expansions, so today we're reviewing the first War Pack for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest--The Howl of Blackmane. Will it make us howl in rage or joy? Let's find out.
In the Living Card Game format you find a base game, and then packs of cards to expand the pool. But unlike CCGs these expansions are known quantities of known cards, so there's no collectibility problem--you know exactly what you're getting. Conquest's expansions are called War Packs. Because this is simply a pack of cards, we're just going to talk about a few of the most-interesting cards, and how they played for us. If you're not familiar with the base game, you can check out our review here.
The base game comes with cards for seven distinct Factions. The howl of Blackmane War Pack concentrates on the Space Marines--giving you a new warlord, along with a Signature Squad for him. Let's look at those.
Ragnar Blackmane, who's a standard 2/7, but it's his reaction that's important here: "After your warlord commits to a planet with an enemy warlord, deal 2 damage to a target enemy unit at that planet." Very cool. The downside is that it only triggers if you can guess where your opponent is sending his warlord. But if you do that, it's very powerful.
First we have the Blackmane Sentinel, which is a 2/2 army unit. It has a Command icon, which is great, but its reaction reads, "After your warlord commits to a planet, move this unit to that planet." I love that. He just sits at a planet, adding his Command, and then when you finally "guess" correctly with Ragnar, he pulls the Sentinel over there. And the War Pack comes with four of them--get too many of these on the field and the other warlord should be quaking in his space-boots...
Jeremiah--This is really cool because typically your deck-building is constrained to three copies of a single card, but because your warlord's Signature Squad goes in entirely you get to stuff four of these bad boys in your deck!
Frostfang is a weapon attachment, and a Relic (so only one per player). Awww...why only one? Because Frostfang is like the Kusanagi of the Warhammer universe, or something. First, it has three Shield icons. Next, you can attach it to any Space Wolves unit, and that attached unit gets +2 ATK and +2 HP while it's at a planet with an enemy warlord. Awesome. There's only one in your deck, so don't plan on necessarily seeing it, but if you do...
Next we have a support card called Ragnar's Warcamp. Every Space Wolves unit you control at a planet with your warlord deals double damage while attacking an enemy warlord. That has the potential to be very, very powerful--but there's only one in the deck.
Lastly, we have two copies of a free event: Blackmane's Hunt. It has one Shield, but more importantly, the reaction is, "After your warlord commits to a planet, commit your warlord to an adjacent planet." These make that "guessing game" as to where your opponent will commit his warlord much easier.
As you can see, this Signature Squad is really good at kicking the other warlord in the teeth. Who cares about taking planets when you can just win by taking out the other general?
Firestone--I've played with Blackmane a few times, and when I got him and some of his squad out, I did some serious damage to the other warlord. Another time I couldn't get the squad out, and he was tough, but not overly tough. Still, I really like Blackmane, and I think I like him better than the core set's Space Marine warlord.
Interrogator Acolyte: This is an Astra Militarum unit, but since they have synergy with the Space Marines this would work with the new warlord. "Interrupt: When this unit leaves play, draw 2 cards." Plus a Command icon. This is a strong card.
And it works well with Noble Deed, which is a 1-Shield Astra Militarum event where you "Sacrifice an IG unit to deal damage equal to its printed ATK value to target an enemy army unit at the same planet."
The Orks make an appearance with Deathskull Lootas, an expensive (4-cost) card with 2 Command points, 2/3 stats, and a Reaction: "After this unit damages an enemy unit by an attack, destroy a target enemy support card." Since the card pool in the game is still relatively small, this one is a little expensive for what it does. But as time goes on, I could see it being an important part of an Ork deck.
The most-interesting Chaos unit in this War Pack is the Heretic Inventor, which only costs 1 to deploy, and is a 3/3. So what's the downside? "Forced Reaction: After this unit enters play, your opponent may move it to a planet of his choice." CHAOS!! [shakes fist in the air] That's a crazy reaction, but what do I care if he moves it somewhere? It's cheap, strong, and I might be able to shift it around thanks to card effects. And even if I never do, it'll still be somewhere, gumming things up for my opponent.
Jeremiah--Yeah, it's a cool double-edged sort of thing--if your opponent sends it off on its own somewhere, you're going to win the command struggle for that planet and get cards and resources uncontested... But if they put it head-to-head with one of their units it's strong enough to do some damage! Very clever card!!
The Dark Eldar have a cool support card called Archon's Palace that costs 2. "Interrupt: When your opponent wins a command struggle, exhaust this support to cancel either the card bonus or the resource bonus of that planet this phase." I expect that one to quickly get blowed up real good by some Orks...
Jeremiah--Meanwhile the Dark Eldar also have some pretty gross-looking cards...like Visions of Agony. I don't even know what it does--I just stuffed it away before my kids looked over my shoulder!
Eldar have a pretty cool attachment called Starcannon that has 1 Shield and costs nothing to play. You attach it to an Eldar Vehicle army unit, and the unit gains Armorbane, which means the opponent can't ditch Shields to protect it.
Jeremiah--This is a neat little card. I like strategies that break the game for other players; you just have to get a tough enough vehicle out for this to have a lasting effect on the game.
Firestone--Right now I only see this working well on the Wildrider Squadron. But once we get a few more vehicles in the card pool, I think this card will only get more and more awesome.
The Tau have a couple of cool cards. The first is the Pirahna Hunter, which costs 3, and has 2/2 stats, but is mobile, which means you can move it around after you see the state of the board/planets/units/everything. And, after it moves from one planet to another, you get to draw a card.
The other is the Homing Beacon, a 1-cost support that reads, "Reaction: After a unit you control moves to your HQ, exhaust this support to gain 1 resource or draw 1 card." Free stuff every turn? OKAY!
Again, these weren't all of the cards included in the War Pack. We'll always talk about the warlord and his or her Signature Squad, and then some of the (subjective) best "other" cards.
Jeremiah--They've also added more neutral cards, so as the game expands there'll be no more shuffling those in and out of decks to create a committed deck for each faction!
Firestone Final Verdict--Fantasy Flight gave us a great War Pack right out of the gate. Great warlord and Signature Squad. And I really like that every faction gets something new to mess with in every War Pack. Terrific expansion.
Jeremiah Final Verdict--These added cards make a lot of the factions just that much better. In general, I love the LCG format because each expansion doesn't add dozens of cards to each faction--you can slowly let your decks grow and evolve with the game. The more I see of Warhammer 40K: Conquest, the more I like it!
Thanks for reading!