Happy Friday everyone!
Today, in the second to last article on the Master Set factions, I wanted to go over what I think is the most enigmatic and challenging to play faction in the Master Set, the Swamp Orcs. I'll admit up front, I haven't mastered them, so let me know in the comments if I miss something. That being said, I still like them, and have found some fairly effective things to do with them.
Who Should (and Shouldn't) Play the Swamp Orcs?
If you want to play a faction that isn't straight forward or easy to win with, these guys are for you! They do also have some pretty good commons and a beast of a summoner. Besides, if you play them right, you can large chunks of the board annoyingly covered by vine walls. That's good times!
Basic Play: Commons
I like two of the three commons in this set. I'm not a huge fan of the shaman, his ability just isn't reliable enough. I've seen games where it is huge, and seemingly invincible shamans shrugged off blow after blow, and I've seen games where every hit lands on the shaman. They are your only one cost common, so don't completely disregard them.
Now, hunters are a common I can get behind. They're a little expensive, but their ability is pretty handy. They can be surprisingly potent, but you need to have vine walls down for them to really be useful. I use these guys for bounce attacks moving through a vine wall, either to get a quick 2 hit on a champion or pull down a common. Remember, they are ranged, so they have an effective threat range of five squares (move of 2, then ranged attack).
And last but not least, the mighty Savager. I love these guys. I know they're the least "subtle" unit, but a common with 3 attack? They always make my opponent sweat, and the minor random protection of fear is just a little bonus shield. I never rely on the fear, but it's always fun to mock your opponent when their common flees the board in terror. Even champions are afraid of these guys. I use them for practically everything, but they are vulnerable to focused fire, so it's usually good to have a couple of commons out to screen them. Just make sure they get enough kills to be worth the cost, if you only get one kill with a savager, you're doing it wrong (unless the kill is a champion).
Advanced Play: Events and GRABBY VINES OF DOOM
Vineguard is as iffy as the Shamans are, you may get lucky and take no wounds, or you may take all the wounds. Still, it may be handy occasionally if you have a decent growth of vines going. Do note that it includes all Swamp Orcs you control, so your summoner and champions are effected by this event. Ditto for Vinemancer Ambush. Both of these events are highly reliant on having a good growth, but don't be afraid to use it just to help one unit either. The one thing these events can do that is really handy is give your savagers the ability to move through vinewalls without risking a wound.
Now, Ensare is my kind of event, grab a common within four spaces and pop it on a vinewall. First of all, this is just annoying, because if they move off the vinewall, they may take a wound. Secondly, it lets you set up all kinds of fun things, from removing common shields to pulling an annoying common away from your savager or summoner, or letting you kill your opponent's expensive commons.
Vine Growth is a fantastic event for the Swamp Orcs, honestly, I've wished many times the deck had more of them. This can be a real boost to growing your vines. Speaking of vines, these things are awesome! Try to grow your vines all over, they don't impede most of your orcs. Use them both to get in your opponent's face and set up a defensive network. Your opponent can move over them at the chance of a wound, or he can let them slow him down and spend the time and attacks to try to get rid of them. It's a win win for you.
Advanced Play: Champions and Summoner
I'm not a huge fan of the swamp orc champions, but that's okay, because I end up playing savagers more. I do really like Splub. He's a bit expensive, but he can create vinewalls whenever and wherever he kills a unit, this is a good thing. Glarg doesn't do anything for me, Blerg seems like he'd be cool, but he's just too expensive when you get down to it. I can almost get two savagers for the cost of Blerg. I'd much rather have that.
Mugglug is a beast of a summoner, he can win the game for you if you manager to weaken your opponent enough before you both run out of cards. Don't be afraid to push him into combat, but don't overextend with him.
I'm easily most excited about the reinforcements for this faction. I really want to see what other champion options may come our way. I'm also looking forward to seeing what other commons they get, I think I could handle dumping the shamans and modding this deck a bit. That being said, I love the feel and art of the Swamp Orcs, and they're definitely fun (if challenging) to play. They are surprisingly maneuver dependent and are a very dynamic faction.