Gnarlwood Rivals Review 3: Gryselle's Arenai & Beastbound Assault

Other Rivals reviews are available in previous articles!

In this blog, we give our Rivals/Nemesis review of the 4th Gnarlwood warband and Rivals deck: Gryselle's Arenai and Beastbound Assault. Both the Warband and deck are available via links below (jumps to


Gnarlwood Rivals Decks

Gryselle's Arenai

Gryselle's Arenai is a 5 fighter Aelven warband that revels in bloodshed and murder. As gladiatrixes from the fighting pits of Har Kuron, they are all fast, nimble, and accurate. Every fighter inspires in the 3rd round or if they meet their own unique condition and they all have the Acrobatic special rule: When this fighter is dealt damage by an Attack action, reduce that damage by 1, to a minimum of 1, for each (Dodge) in the defence roll. Acrobatic may give them the chance to survive attacks that would normally kill them. All 5 fighters also have the Combo keyword on their primary on-fighter Attack actions. You can see all of the fighter cards below (source:

Gryselle, the Slaughterer

The only 4-wound fighter in the warband, she has a decent shot at being around into the third turn. 3 Dice for 2 (or 3) damage pretty good, especially since she goes to 3 Smash when she inspires.

Thrialla, the Lash

Definitely Jason's favorite! She's likely the easiest to inspire and gets that crucial pip of damage for her troubles.

Retaria, the Entangler

Your other Range 2 fighter. Of note here is that Stagger happens before the reaction step after an Attack action, so targets would get Staggered before Combo-triggered attacks do!

Kalexis, the Silvered Blur

One of, if not the fastest fighters in the game, Kalexis starts at 5 Move and goes to 6! Our tip here is to hold her back until Round 3, then let her come in and do some work! The Blur special rule would let her attack action gain some incredible accuracy!

Traxia, the Aegis

Alas, poor Traxia. The only fighter in this warband not rolling 2 Dodge for Defence. To make up for it though, she has an extremely accurate attack and a cool, if niche Critical Ability in Buckler Jab. The Critical Ability rule is in the Gnarlwood rulebook, but in short, if Traxia rolls a Crit on Defence, an adjacent fighter is going to take 1 (or 2! if she's Inspired) damage. Note that her unique inspire condition can trigger on any Critical Ability, so upgrades and gambits that give her things like Crit Grievous 1 would trigger her inspire.

Key Cards

  • Objectives
    • Ritual Performance - we like the Hybrid nature of this Surge objective. With a decent variety in damage characteristics and multiple attack opportunities with Combo, we see this being fairly easy to score.
    • Storm of Blades - Given that Thrialla is making 2 Attack Actions in her activation, this is possible to score in 3 activations, maybe less if you get lucky and get the Combo upgrades out early.
    • Blood on the Sands - We felt we had to include an End Phase and this is our favorite one early in the game.
  • Flourish Sidebar - While we don't explicitly call out any of these Gambits below, we feel they need to be mentioned because they have the potential to be quite powerful. Flourishes are gambits that persist until a friendly fighter's successful Attack action or until the end of the phase. Each has an upside and a downside, but can severely impact how effective your fighters are.
  • Gambits
    • Unquenchable Fervour - Damage reduction is always nice, but the ability to reduce damage by 2 is huge. Preventing a 3 damage attack from taking one of your 2 wound fighters out of action is a very big deal!
    • Moment of Rapture - Healing 2 isn't always going to be useful, but this card gives you a way to get around some of the more difficult Inspire conditions for the warband.
    • Paean of Slaughter - We like this one early, because in some cases, a re-roll is just as good as an extra die, and unlike the Flourishes, this one doesn't have a drawback.
  • Upgrades
    • Blood Sigil - Damage reduction is always welcome, especially on 2 Wound Fighters!
    • Paragon of the Arena - This card allows you to react to every Attack action for the fighter, so with Combo, you could gain two of these benefits in a single activation
    • Mistress of the Bladestorm - We really want this card early to make the most of the Flourish cards


A board that gives you aggressive opportunities, but keeps your fighters relatively safe & lets you pick the engagements.

Play Style

Opportunistic aggro

Playing Against This?

Just kill the 2 Wound Fighters

New Player Rating

Silver. Most truly aggro warbands get the Gold rating for new players, but these ladies are very squishy.


Surprisingly, Fearsome Fortress - stagger, surges that don’t require kills, healing, extra defense
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Beastbound Assault

No fighter cards to cover!

Key Cards

  • Objectives
    • Unexpected End - Classic kill Surge
    • We Stand Together - Be on two objectives with two fighters for 1 Surge Glory. A similar card was restricted, so this has to be good!
    • Train Them Up - It's an end-phase reprint of a card that everyone used to take (Change of Tactics). Because a Charge is a Move and Attack, you can do this with 2 Activations.
  • Gambits
    • Blossoming Friendship - Give out a Denizen upgrade for no glory early in the game
    • Vicious Critters - Crit Grievous 1 on ALL attacks for the round?! Can you imagine this with Exiled Dead?!
    • Well-Trained - We love push cards!!
  • Upgrades
    • Countless Familiars - Give two fighters each an additional Denizen upgrade for a deck that wants lots of fighters to have Denizen upgrades
    • Deadly Swarm - The only way in this deck to get consistent additional damage
    • Kindred Affinity - This card allows you to easily get your Denizen upgrades out or draw more power cards, but its utility is best when the card comes out early.


Choose a board that suits your warband.

Play Style

Flex: Aggro + Objectives (On NOT Hold) with a focus on one or two fighters to get all of the Denizen upgrades.

Playing Against This?

Take out fighters with Denizen upgrades first, then pick off the minions/companions/beasts

What Warband Should I Play?

Any warband with lots of beast, minions, or companions. Our favorite choice is the Exiled Dead.

New Player Rating

Silver. Warband selection is more important here than any other deck we've review so far. The Objectives become a lot easier to score with the right fighters.


Again, look for warbands with beasts, minions, or companions: Exiled Dead, Sepulchral Guard, Grymwatch, Thorns of the Briar Queen, Mollog, Hrothgorn, Blackpowder, Spiteclaw's Swarm, even Gnarlspirit Pack.