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Cardiology: Hunting Aspect

Decision: Should You Play Hunting Aspect?


It really sucks to say this, but probably not.

Factor: The Numbers

At first glance, this card is incredible.  Numerically, it's out of this world; no other card gives four characteristic points.  Essentially, Hunting Aspect combines Great Fortitude, Great Strides, and Enchanted Collar into a single card.  Let's take a closer look at what those stat points actually do for us.

To start, Hunting Aspect hits us with +2 move.  Lighaen - the only legal target for Aspect - starts with 5 move, so Aspect will bump him to a truly impressive seven move.  This allows you to move Lighaen from almost anywhere on the board to almost anywhere else.  This point is probably better made with a visual representation.  Let's say your beginning setup looks something like this - with your hunters represented by the blue circles and Lighaen positioned in the back. 

This kind of setup would allow us to play very aggressively with the hunters, allowing the deck to play to its stronger members early.However, if we place Hunting Aspect on Lighaen, we extend his range so much that he also becomes a credible threat. The next picture will illustrate just how far Lighaen can run at speed 7 (marked in white) and which hexes he could attack at maximum threat range (all the white hexes, and the red ones too!):

If you start Lighaen more centrally, there's literally nowhere on the board that he can't threaten.  While Lighaen's attack won't bring down the house on its own, he can absolutely knock your opponent's fighters off objectives or finish off wounded models.

In addition to the movement bonus, Hunting Aspect also grants +1 Defense - a bonus that's not easy to duplicate through other upgrades.  In terms of survivability, Lighaen will benefit against these common base attacks as follows when he's not inspired:

AttackFailure vs 1 DodgeFailure vs 2 DodgeNet Benefit
1 sword75%81%6%
2 sword56%65%9%
3 sword42%52%10%
4 sword31%41%10%
1 hammer64%74%10%
2 hammer41%53%12%
3 hammer26%39%13%

If you somehow inspire your war kitty and he doesn't immediately die, he can still benefit from the bonus to defense - though he doesn't gain quite as much going from 2 dodge to 3 as he did going from 1 dodge to 2.

AttackFailure vs 2 DodgeFailure vs 3 DodgeNet Benefit
1 sword81%85%4%
2 sword65%72%7%
3 sword52%60%8%
4 sword41%50%9%
1 hammer74%80%6%
2 hammer53%63%10%
3 hammer39%49%10%

For those situations where your Lighaen does get hit, Hunting Aspect also grants him an extra wound.  This really only benefits you against 1 and 2 damage attacks, but fortunately, those attacks are quite common now.  Of the currently available base attacks (not counting Dreadfane's hammerbois or ghostylassies, since they aren't legal everywhere yet), 186 of the 220 total attacks only do 1 or 2 damage.  So Hunting Aspect essentially grants Lighaen an extra life against 84.5% of attacks.

Overall, the statistical bonuses granted to Lighaen are quite significant.  He goes from being a sub-par Calculated Risk-taker to an above average Calculated Risk-taker.  And therein lies the real problem...

Factor: Lighaen

Lighaen is, indisputably, bad.  His starting defense is the worst in the game, and his primary attack is outshined by all but the worst ghosties.  He can't hold objectives, and can't use attack action upgrades.  His inspired stats put him solidly above trash figures like Grawl and Dibbz, but that's not really saying a lot.  He outclasses most Festering Skaven in most ways, but Skaeth can't resurrect Lighaen at will.  And his name looks like a Welshman's spelling of an Australian's pronunciation of "Lion."  He's bad.

If we look at 5-model warbands, the closest analog to Lighaen is probably Arnulf, the "designated driver who swears he is fine after 3 shots" of Garrek's Reavers.  So what we should ask ourselves is this: if you could get the same stat boosts that are granted by Hunting Aspect on Arnulf, would you play that card?  For anyone who has played Reavers, the answer is probably a resounding "yes!"  However, that answer hinges on the particular playstyle of Revers, and Arnulf's relative worth among them.

Arnulf is, at his core, trash.  But he's a stinky soiled diaper amidst a team of slightly less stinky soiled diapers.  Relative to rotten eggs like Targor, Arnulf isn't that bad.  Plus, Arnulf plays to your core strategies: he can hold objectives for early scores (not that Reavers were ever big on that), he can upgrade to more powerful weapons, and he can give his life in a glorious blaze to serve Khorne and score you objectives like "It Begins," "Khorne Cares Not," and "Martyred."

Lighaen does not benefit from the same advantages.  He can't hold objectives, so he can't help with scoring "Hunt's End (objective)" or "Purifying Rites" passively.  His attack sucks, and he can't upgrade to Nullstone for a better option.  He's also the only model in the Wild Hunt that isn't a hunter, managing to be both thematically and practically disappointing.  And relative to his compatriots, he's just much worse than Arnulf.  Furthermore, his inspire condition is murder on him - most times literally.  If Cringer leaps into battle headfirst with a charge, he's unlikely to make it to the end of the round so he can transform into Battlecat.

Factor: The Indistinct Elephant in the Room

Statistically, Hunting Aspect is one of the best single-model upgrades in the game.  The problem is that it's for a model that doesn't really do anything well.  You might be able to trick a new player into focusing on Lighaen for a turn or two, but experienced players will know that he's not significantly more dangerous with Hunting Aspect than without it.  You might get away with strapping some Katophrane Tomes to him, but without Hunting Aspect and inspiration, he's pretty fragile for a librarian (with both, he's as good as Snirk at reading, which we are not sure is a compliment).  Additionally, you'd have to spend one of your 3-4 non-Tome upgrade slots on Aspect, further limiting your already tight options.

So the real question we have to ask is: Should we play a great upgrade that can only go on a bad model?  In the end, that's probably up to you.  We generally avoid playing single-model upgrades altogether, but powerhouses like Trophy Hunter and Rapid Reload have been known to be strong.  Hell, that silly rat deck was based around two single-model upgrades.  And Hunting Aspect is one of the strongest single model upgrades ever printed.  On almost any other model, it would be a game-changer.  But on Lighaen, it's just underwhelming.  This is, perhaps, evidence that GW is finally beginning to understand how to balance strong effects like +1 defense without imposing onerous penalties like -2 wounds (looking at you, Cursed Shield).  Let's hope so!  And until then, probably slide Hunting Aspect right into that front page slot of your binder.  It's very pretty.


Hunting Aspect is an extremely strong card limited only by the unique awfulness of its sole legal target (well, almost unique; at least Lighaen is better than Grawl).  In the end, it's quantitative strengths are probably outweighed by it's qualitative weaknesses, and it likely isn't worth a slot in your deck.  


  1. As an Aussie, I'm confused - How many ways are there to pronounce 'Lion'?

    1. If my relatives in the American South are any indicator, at least 3.

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  4. Nice post, impressive. It’s quite different from other posts.trophy moose hunts in alaska


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