Keeva (one of the other regulars from Tabletop Sydney) is the mad scientist who discovered you can slap combo cards on skeletons (Sepulchral Guard) and make them death dealing machines. The theory is simple: combo cards are powerful if you manage to chain them together. However, they are considered bad because it requires you to invest multiple upgrades to be useful, and if that fighter dies, then your investment has gone down the toilet… But what if your fighters don’t really die?
But this doesn’t make any sense, isn’t Sepulchral Guard an objective warband?
I like to play the game a bit different, that is I don’t care for how warbands are “supposed” to be played (e.g. Starblood Serial Killers).
I wanna start with an anecdote that may shed some light into the thinking and method behind this. I’ve been playing Age of Empires 4 (AOE4) alot and currently I’m sitting about 1270ELO, which puts me about rank ~3600 in the world. I’m certainly not the best, but considering there’s about 60,000+ players players in the 1v1 ladder, it’s not too bad either. For those who don’t know, Age of Empires 4 is a RTS (Real time strategy) game set in the medieval times, like Starcraft, Dawn of War or Red alert. You collect resources, make an army and fight your opponent to win the game.
This idea came from from watching twitch.tv/x5_pig, who is also an amazing RTS player and great content creator). I’ve been playing recently as the French, who in the current meta have the strongest knights in the game. Knights in AOE4 are fast and can decimate your worker lines if left unanswered and French knights more so. They command a response and players will train spearmen (who are strong vs knights), often preemptively, to fend you off. But what if you did something unusual and didn’t commit to knights? Instead, go straight to men at arms (armored infantry that are effective vs spearmen) and pressure your opponent. There’s nothing special about French men at arms, but your opponent, who is now stuck with a handful of spearmen to defend themselves find themselves in a difficult situation. All because they had operated on the false assumption that you would play to your strengths and make Knights.
So what has this got to do with the Sepulchral Guard? My point is that playing a game in an unusual or unexpected way, can give you an advantage. Either due to your opponent operating on bad assumptions or inexperience playing against your style. It’s the same thing here, we’re going to break the status quo and play the Sepulchral Guard differently.
Why didn’t ya play combo guard in Beastgrave / Direchasm?
Keeva was working on a combo skeleton (Sepulchral Guard) deck for last season. While the combo upgrades were easily available, it was easy to shutdown the combo by targeting the fighter that had the upgrades stacked. Additionally the warband would be vulnerable to pure hold objective warbands because they could avoid fighting you and attempt to outscore you.
Harrowdeep’s championship introduced a few things, which makes it worth revisiting this crazy idea.
- Many of the most powerful hold objective cards have rotated out. Notably [Temporary Victory], [Hidden Purpose] and [Absolute Stillness]. Pure hold objective warbands aren’t quite as good as they were before.
- This card is available to Sepulchral Guard: [Partial Resurection]. This gives the Sepulchral Guard two ploys to raise your fighters back without using an action with [Restless dead] as the other option.
Here it is! and below in image form
I’ll go over some of the key cards and why they exist.
All of the combo cards are pretty straightforward, get a combo card and a reaction on the same fighter and they will destroy almost anything they hit. For example any fighter that receives [The setup] and [Heavy Reminder] will be able to chain their attacks together to knock out any 4 wound fighter with deadly accuracy. [Quick Opener] in this deck basically acts as a reprint of [Ready for Action] and can trigger another combo chain.
[Partial Resurrection] and [Restless dead] are key cards to bring your combo loaded fighters back from the dead without taking up your precious activations. It also helps you meet your inspire condition.
How do you play this nonsense deck?
You actually set up as though you were playing a hold objective Sepulchral Guard. Place your leader as far back as possible, petitioners near objectives and your strong fighters up front. You also want to aggressively do-over objectives / power cards to ensure you can grab that early glory.
After you’ve scored some early glory, it’s time to load up a combo if you can. You can put the combo upgrades on anyone you see fit and use it to blow up key fighters from your opponent.
If you want to see this deck in action, you can watch this match of old vs new below on YouTube. It’s a great game against Kent who is always a challenging opponent. During the recording of this video, Kent had already played against the Combo skeletons before, so this is against someone who knew what was coming.
Is this a silly gimmick or a new way for the Sepulchral Guard to be relevant again? Give it a try and let me know what you think.