Board Gaming, Strategeries

So you want to be an axe murderer? Part 2

Pardon me kind sir, which way to - Middle - Earth??
Pardon me kind sir, which way to – Middle – Earth??

Welcome to Part 2 of my 8(?) part strategy series of one of my favorite games, Chaos in the Old World. In the first part, we talked about the perks and foibles of Khorne, everyone’s favorite mass-murdering psychopath. In this installment, we’ll talk about Khorne’s Chaos deck, Upgrades, and a few more pointers on how to make a delicious martini from the tears of your enemies. On with the show!

It should be noted that I am only discussing the base game here. The more I play with the Horned Rat expansion, the less I like it. 

Like this, but with less freedom and more blood.
Like this, but with less freedom and more blood.

The first card that needs to be discussed is Battle Cry, your single best card. You’ve got 4 of these and you can not afford to waste them. The good news is if you’re playing well, you should see all 4 of them in a game. At a cost of one power, it prevents any corruption tokens from being placed in the region that turn, which can be crucial to delaying a ruination (while also denying Dial Advancement Counters as a happy side effect). That delayed ruination can (and will) be the difference between you having enough time to beat the world’s face into submission and allowing one of those other non-violent sissies to have their way. This card requires some finesse to play and is key to a winning Khorne strategy. As much as Tzeentch pisses you off (the slippery little bastard that he is), you’re better off not going after his areas of interest with this card unless one slot is already taken and he’s got a lot of guys there. Unfortunately, a savvy Tzeentch player will also know this and be equally careful about playing his Change of Ways; and he’s got waaaay more stall than you do. Poor Nurgle and Slaanesh though, it’s their fate to stay in specific places, and have nothing like Change of Ways to stymie your cruelty. Delay corruption to your heart’s content. This card is one of the perks to going first every round.  Don’t waste this incredible power specifically to deny someone Dial Advancement Counters, though on occasion you may find yourself with the need to do so in order to secure a double click. Battle Cry is the lynchpin to winning with Khorne. Well, that and murdering people.

Following very closely on the tail of Battle Cry is Blood Frenzy. It’s hard to name Battle Cry as the best card when this card exists, but the simple truth is, when played well, this card can still whiff, and Battle Cry when played well can turn games. Blood Frenzy is definitely a more Khorne feeling card though. 0 Power spent (the only 0 cost Khorne card) gives you 2 Battle dice with a first strike ability in the region played. While this makes it an extremely flexible card, it’s best application is extending your reach to areas you can’t currently make it to in the effort to kill more figures in different regions. In a way, it’s a poor man’s Teleport. As with Battle Cry, don’t think you’re going to sneak this one easily past Tzeentch, but when you do, man is this rewarding to smash his smarmy blue face in with. Even though it has a 0 Power cost, sadly, Blood Frenzy makes a pretty terrible stall card. Once Nurgle and Slaanesh have set up camp, feel free to plop this down to hand out some beatings there while you advance your menacing agenda elsewhere with your figures.

Um....different field I think...
Um….different field I think…

Field of Carnage is another strong Khorne card, and again, one that takes careful play to maximize effectiveness. A lot of people think that playing Khorne takes no real skill and they couldn’t be more wrong. Seeing as every game will turn into a 3-on-1, it takes a LOT of skill to come out on top. When Khorne dominates, it may feel like he was handed an easy win, but let me tell you as someone who has played Khorne poorly and has seen Khorne played poorly, this is not the case. But I digress, Field of Carnage. For 1 Power, it prevents other figures from being summoned away this turn. This is great for a number of reasons. And by number, I mean two. Remember what I said about everyone having pressing business elsewhere when a Bloodletter shows up? Not anymore. Once someone has played a figure, put this down and provided you can get an attacking figure into the same region unmolested, your odds of scoring a Dial Advancement Counter are drastically improved. This can be especially strong in the first turn before the other players have really established themselves and can force them to adjust their plans. But really, that (and murder) are the essence of Khorne. Secondly, this card can be used to prevent the exodus of figures from a doomed region, which can potentially set another player back a turn. When they’ve got 4 Cultists on a region with 10 Corruption Tokens on it, they don’t want to leave the Cultists there and this leaves them no choice. Potential when the area is contested by two powers is greatly magnified.  

Unfortunately, not all of Khorne’s cards are worthwhile. Reborn in Blood makes an additional battle phase happen in the region it was played. This may sound like a good card (moar fighting = moar better, rite??) but it’s not for a number of reasons. A: 2 Power cost. That’s a Bloodletter you didn’t summon or two Cultists or any number of other combinations that are better uses of your Power. B: Wording/timing rules do NOT make this a 4 die Blood Frenzy. C: You got lucky in round 1 and a few exploding 6s wiped the region! Hooray! Now what? D: It’s telegraphing your move. To some extent, ALL cards to this, but this one more guilty than most and at a high premium. Once you play this, it may encourage other players to place Warriors, and with the fragility of your Upgraded Cultists and Bloodletters, your odds of MAKING it to the second round in the first place just went down dramatically. Alternately, Tzeentch drops a Change of Ways or Slaanesh drops a Field of Ecstasy. How you say…womp womp? Even making the argument that if other players have summoned Warriors or Greater Daemons you can use it to make them fight each other more…that doesn’t count as you killing the units, so it doesn’t exactly advance your win. At absolute best (and a weak best at that) it could theoretically slow down some of the others. Maybe. If they’re playing odd. And get lucky. 
Translation: "
Translation: “Dear Police: You think I’m a bad guy, you are falling down on the job where this Khorne character is concerned.”

After the bitter tequila shot that is Reborn in Blood, we have the refreshing lime wedge of Ritual Slaying. I’m not going to make the argument that this is a GREAT card. It needs a lot of support, good timing and luck but if the stars align, this card can be a game changer. It allows you to draw a Chaos card each time you kill a figure in this region. Which is a pretty huge coup as it increases your odds of drawing into the oh-so crucial Battle Cry. The problem is that once the card is down, your intent is super clear. It may be worth it to combine with a Field of Carnage if you get lucky. In order to really make the card work you need to have a lot of dice to roll, which makes you think you might want to combo with Blood Frenzy. On top of that, you need a lot of targets if you want to draw a lot of cards. And as with all of Khorne’s wacky schemes, the whole house of cards can be brought down with bad rolls. Despite that there are numerous blocks to this card’s effectiveness, don’t count it as bad. Count it as difficult. If it nets you the game winning card at a crucial time, you will sing its praises.

The Blood God’s Call is a truly fantastic card. While not especially useful for in the early game it’s devastating in the later game. When the card is played, immediately move up to two of your figures to this region from any other region or regions. Wow. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. It moves TWO figures, so it’s a foil to Tzeentch Teleporting you to BFE. At a cost of 2 Power, it can move the Bloodthirster (and another figure) for cheaper than resummoning him, provided he’s on the board. It allows you to make huge leaps across the board as opposed to plodding region by region. It’s an immediate move, so no Change of Ways for you! (Though Field of Ecstasy will still crash your party). As it’s a move and not a summon, it skirts Temporal Stasis. What I’m trying to say is that this is one of your better cards to punish Tzeentch with. Strong maneuvering card that is good for bringing in hitters from useless places. Can possible do double duty as a pseudo-Battle Cry by preventing corruption/ruination by virtues of extreme violence. Can do double duty as a pseudo-Blood Frenzy in that it allows you to bring the pain somewhere not connected to your other troops. Sudden drop of bruisers anywhere on the board is super sweet.

Could someone give a brotha a hand up? Please??
Could someone give a brotha a hand up? Please??

And to follow the awesomeness of The Blood God’s Call we close with the stinker that is The Skull Throne. The name says it all. It talks about a goddamn chair. Maybe a cool chair made of skulls, but a chair none the less. How the hell are you going to be out there murdering people when you’re sitting on your ass? Officially, the cards adds the sum of your Attack values for the region rather than your number of figures. Which, if you haven’t noticed, does not involve the spilling of any entrails, crushing of any skulls, or freeing your fellow countrymen from the burden of breathing. If it were free, you could at least argue that it’s a stall card, but nope, while it costs only 1 Power, if you can’t find a better use for the power to spend, you’re beyond my help. The only possible kinda use I can see for it is if you have a strong presence in a high value region and you can deny domination points for another player…but the Dial wins before VP, so this is largely a moot point.

Onto Upgrades!

Bloodsworn: Number 1 priority. Makes your Cultists pull out tiny knives to join the fun. Even at a single point of Attack, you’re increasing your odds of spinning your Threat Dial with a waterwheel of blood. Also, it’s easy for other players to forget that your Cultists actually can cause problems now, and when they take actions to neutralize those threats, those are less options available to them to deal with other problems you create.
Bloodletters: Don’t do this. First strike sounds really cool, but upgrades are a rare and precious thing and this is a waste of time. The working idea is that your Warriors may be able to neutralize opposing Warriors, improving their own longevity, but the truth is, you don’t really care about those Warriors. Yeah, it sucks when they hit back. That happens when you’re the guy going around picking fights all the damn time. You care about killing Cultists and delaying ruination to give you time to get your Threat Dial win. Also, for the millionth time, this can be undone with bad luck.
Bloodthirster: Doesn’t change his combat stats. Doesn’t make him cheaper or make him move easy. What does it do? He counts as 3 figures for Domination purposes. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse than the Bloodletter upgrade. Some of you may try to win VP with Khorne. It’s certainly not impossible, but man are you making it harder on yourself. If you want to unlock that achievement, by all means, upgrade the Bloodthirster, but I’m pretty much saying that if you’re not trying to win by Threat Dial with Khorne, you’re doing it wrong.
Power of Blood: Phew. Good to know Khorne has more than one good upgrade. Power of Blood gives you an additional Power every round. That may sound underwhelming, but it is in practice WAY more useful than it sounds. That additional power turns into more units. Or more movement. Or more cards played. All of which leads to, that’s right, more sweet, delicious murder. And isn’t that why you’re here?
Deluge of Ferocity: Draws you one additional Chaos card during the Draw Phase. Certainly by now you understand how and why this is so good. This, some dial bumps and a careful playing of Ritual Slaying are what allow Khorne to cycle his entire deck. Giving you all of the good stuff. I’d probably take Power of Blood before Deluge of Ferocity, but if you’re playing well, you can score both of them in a double click round.
Closing thoughts:
Khorne can be a lot of fun to play, and he can be a pain in the ass. If you’re doing it right, he’s a bit of both. Remember a few things. A. Kill stuff. B. No, really, kill stuff. C. It matters less how many things you kill and more about how many places you kill them. You want everyone to know that no matter where they go, they should be terrified. It’s easy to not worry about a bloodbath that happens thousands of miles away from you. It’s a lot more to worry about when nowhere is safe. Keep count of corruption tokens and placements when you are deciding who needs a special visit from Uncle Touchy this turn. Corruption and ruination isn’t your game, stalling it until you win by dial is. Watch out for Tzeentch. He has a lot of foils for you. Watch out for Heroes. If you’re playing well, you’ll consistently be their favored target and they can even kill your Bloodthirster if they catch him alone. Don’t be afraid to summon your Bloodthirster. Yeah, he’s expensive, but boy is he intimidating. Plant him somewhere people want to go (like the Empire) and he acts as a major deterrent to others wanting to be there. Eventually they may man up and summon their Daemons for a battle royale, but that’s precisely the condition you want. You profit immediately from battle and they don’t. And they have to spend 3 Power to get their big bad guy on the board, and that’s 3 Power not spent on other things. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, spread out. Don’t exclusively rely on your Blood God’s Call or Blood Frenzy to expand your reach. It’s not about wasting your power chasing them, it’s about making them waste their power running when the truth is there are no good places to go.
This concludes the Khorne Kodex, up next (after a thorough scouring of cards and brains) Grandfather Nurgle and how to make everyone sick of you.  

Nice paintjob. IN BLOOD!!!!
Nice paintjob. IN BLOOD!!!!

4 thoughts on “So you want to be an axe murderer? Part 2

  1. Nice strategy write-up! I do have one question though. Under your discussion of the Skull Throne card you state that “you can deny domination points for another player…but the Dial wins before VP, so this is largely a moot point”. According to my understanding of the rules it is true that when the dial advance to the victory condition it trumps the status of the VP track (e.g. even if another player passed 50 victory points due to dial advancement, the dial still wins). However, it is far more likely that a 50 VP win will happen during the corruption phase, which of course takes place before the end phase and dial advancement, thus making your earlier point not moot at all!

    1. I’ll have to consult the rules to make sure, but it’s my understanding that the points wouldn’t matter because you check for the win in the end phase during “Check for Game End.” If I’m wrong about this and a victory by points happens before advancing threat dials and checking game end, then the stock value of this card does increase, though I don’t think it makes it a good card unless you’re having a pretty wretched day as the Blood God. It happens. I was in a game not long ago where Khorne didn’t score his first kill until turn 4. Thanks for reading!

      1. I just checked the rules and you are correct. There is an explicit “Check for Game End” step in the end phase. Thanks for clarifying. I will have to tell the Khorn player of our last game that we robbed him of his victory due to getting this wrong! Have only played this 3 times now, but it is already a favorite and I cannot wait for game number 4.

      2. It’s a game that I just love more and more with every play. Truly fantastic. I’ve played and played and played and studied this game more than any other game except maybe Thunderstone. I like to think the advice I give here is pretty solid, and CitOW is a game that really thrives on having players of equal skill level. The imbalances between skill level are really felt more here than most games, so I wanted to try to get people better at the game. 🙂

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