Gift of the Ethereals--A Double-Take Review of a Warhammer 40,000 Conquest War Pack

Last week we told you all about The Howl of Blackmane, the terrific first War Pack for Fantasy Flight Games' LCG Warhammer 40,000 Conquest. Today we're looking at the third War Pack, Gift of the Ethereals. Is it really a gift? 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 Gift of the Ethereals War Pack concentrates on the Tau--giving you a new warlord, along with a Signature Squad for him. Let's look at those.

 

Warlord

Aun'Shi is a 2/7 Soldier, but he also has the Ethereal trait. In the Blackmane War pack we saw an army unit with that trait. We'll see a few more here. His power is that each Tau unit you control at this planet gains Armorbane, which is very nice, indeed. Maybe even cooler is the "Forced Reaction: After this warlord resolves its attack, move it to your HQ. It's great buffing this dude up, having him pound someone, and then beat it home before someone can touch him. The downside is that if you do it too soon, your troops lose that awesome Armorbane. 

Signature Squad

Ethereal Envoy is a 1-cost army unit with a Command point, and 1/3 stats. A Forced Reaction of: After this unit resolves its attack, move it to your HQ. It's a ghost, just like the warlord. 

The Aun'Shi Sanctum is a 2-cost Support card that reads: "Exhaust this support to ready a target unit at a planet with 1 or more Ethereal units you control."

There's a strong Attachment called Honor Blade. It costs 1, has three Shields, and only attaches to an Ethereal unit. The attached unit gains: "Each other Tau unit you control at this planet gets +1 ATK."

There are two 0-cost Events called Ethereal Wisdom that let you give a target Tau unit you control +1 ATK and the Ethereal trait until the end of the phase. 

Firestone--The Tau are probably my favorite Faction, so I was very excited to get some new cards that centered on them. But I just found this batch to be "merely" good, and not great--but it could easily be that I'm still learning how to play him well. I didn't dislike the Tau here at all, but I think I still like warlord Commander Shadowsun from the base set better, but only a little. 

Jeremiah--I haven't played much with the Tau, but I'm becoming a fan of the Astra Militarum (more on that later...). I like the future synergy I see coming with the Tau; the Ethereal keyword will surely cause some great combos as we get more cards and get more familiar with them!

The Rest

 Same Card. Different factions. both awesome.

Same Card. Different factions. both awesome.

Well, the rest start off with a bang. The White Scars Bikers are a 3-cost Space Marine Army unit with a Command point, and 2/3 stats. Kind of expensive, but then there's the special text: "This unit gets +2 ATK while it is at a planet with a warlord." Not just your warlord. ANY warlord.

Firestone--These guys mesh really well with Ragnar Blackmane from the first War Pack. They make an already fearsome group even more dangerous. I'M A WARLORD HUNTER!!

Jeremiah--Yeah I love having the Space Marines as neighbors to the Astra Militarum so I can stuff these bad boys into my deck. They pack a great punch!

Another Space Marine card is the 0-cost Event Crushing Blow. "After a Space Marine unit damages an enemy unit, deal 1 unpreventable damage to that enemy unit." Just as the name implies, it's how you finish off a tenacious foe.

The Astra get some interesting cards. The Mystic Warden costs nothing, and is 2/2. So what's the downside? "Forced Reaction: After a battle at this planet ends, sacrifice this unit."

To Arms! is a 0-cost Event with two Shields that lets you ready a target Support card. That's a tough decision, and that makes me (Firestone) like the card. 

Finally, Honorifica Imperialis is a 2-cost Attachment with two Shields. You can attach it to an army unit, and while at a planet with an enemy warlord attached unit gains Armorbane and Ranged. 

Jeremiah--This is becoming my favorite Faction: cheap cards that let you get other cards on the table for even less, while giving you the chance to draw even more cards. Yes, I know you can get decked by drawing too much, but cards in your hand means better and more options. And I'm all for it!

The Orks get a Mekaniak Repair Krew, a 3-cost 2/3 Army unit with a Command Point. You can exhaust it to ready an Ork support card you control, and then you deal 1 damage to this unit. 

They have a nasty 2-cost/1-Shield Attachment, called Goff Big Choppa that gives the attached unit +2 ATK and Armorbane. *shudder*

For Chaos we have the Nurgling Bomb, a fun 3-cost Event with one Shield and the Combat Action: "Target a planet. For each non-Nurgle unit at that planet, its controller must choose to either deal 1 damage to it or rout it."

The Dark Eldar get a crazy card called the Slyth Mercenary, a 1-cost Army unit with 2 Command points and 2/2 stats. The crazy part is that any player can pay 2 resources to take control of this unit if it's at a planet. Oh, those fickle mercenaries...

Jeremiah--Yeah the Orks pull out the big guns.. errrr... axes with Goff Big Choppa, and I really don't know how I feel about letting my opponent pay to steal control of a card...

Firestone--Yeah, that Mercenary seems risky. So cheap to put on the table, and 2 Command points! But who wants to to die at the hand of their own unit? Not me... Still, this shows they're willing to get creative with card ideas, and I love that.

A potentially brutal Event is the 0-cost Despise. As a Combat Action, you can force each player to sacrifice an Ally unit he controls, if able. Playing a mono-Faction Eldar deck? Opponent using Allies? Then this is a good card for you...

Finally, the Eldar get some strong cards. The 2-cost Warlock Destructor is a whopping 3/4! But you have to pay 1 resource every turn or discard the unit.

The Eldritch Corsair is exactly the same as the White Scars Bikers that the Space Marines get in this pack. A great unit.

Foretell is a 0-cost Event that's played as an Interrupt: "When a Battle ability triggers, exhaust your warlord to cancel its effects. Then draw 1 card."

That's it. No neutral cards this time around. 

Firestone's Final Verdict--I wasn't quite as thrilled with the warlord and his Signature Squad in this War Pack, but some of the other cards here more than make up for that. It's another great pack of cards to enhance a game that's just getting better and better. 

Jeremiah' s Final Verdict--I understand that not every new warlord is going to blow away the previous one, and I like that--no power creep, anyone? Overall we've now seen the base set and two of the first three War packs, and I've been really impressed with the balance of the cards. You want a heavy hitter, you're going to pay! But they also reward good deck-building with great synergy, and things are just getting started! Gift of the Ethereals is another great addition to this very fun game!

Theology of Games would like to thank Fantasy Flight Games for providing us with review copies of Gift of the Ethereals. This in no way affected our opinions of the game. 

Thanks for reading! How are you enjoying Conquest? Let us know in the comments.