Every Rose has its Thorns - Thorns of the Briar Queen Review

 Thank you to Games Workshop for sending us an advance copy of Rivals of the Mirrored City for review!

In this blog, we give our standard Rivals Review of the new Thorns of the Briar Queen, released as part of the Rivals of the Mirrored City box.

Podcast: TBD

Thorns of the Briar Queen

This seven-fighter warband has a solid leader and second-in-command, one standard fighter, and 4 weak fighters. They all start at 3 Move and 1 Dodge (w/ with the exception of the Queen herself). They each inspire in the first Inspire step of your turn if they are adjacent to an enemy fighter. When inspired, they all go to 4 Move and 2 Dodge, so inspiring them is fairly important. They all have Wave of Terror which means they all count as two supporting fighters as long as they have on ore more Charge tokens.

The Briar Queen

The Briar Queen is likely to be your primary damage dealer late game. Her Range 2 attack gives her a lot of flexibility, and being a Level 2 Wizard means any spells you bring are likely to be cast. 

Varclav and the Ever-hanged

Varclav plays the part of backup damage dealer but really exists to push the Chainrasps around with Solemn March. The Ever-hanged is your next best damage dealer (more accurate with Cleave, but weaker at 3 wounds). If his target is still alive (and adjacent) after the attack, you have a 66% chance to stagger them with the Throttle reaction. Oh, did we mention that The Ever-hanged is a Chainrasp?! It actually means a lot with Solemn March and a lot of their power deck.

The Exhumed, Ironwretch, Silenced, and Uncrowned

With unremarkable attack profiles, whether inspired or uninspired, these four exist for two reasons: to hold objectives and provide support.

Key Objectives 

  1. Distract the Watch
  2. Take the City
  3. Tide of Death

Key Gambits

  1. Backshanker - This gives you a lot of mobility and lets you easily take advantage of the extra accuracy afforded by Wave of Terror
  2. Sudden Mugging - Yes, this is a Gambit spell, but the ability to teleport a fighter around is massive, and since you can do this during your opponent's power step, you get the chance to Inspire before you make the attack!
  3. Terrifying Advance - While we always love a push card, the option to stagger an adjacent fighter is always welcome!

Key Upgrades

  1. Awful Leer - Blocking a key fighter (or even that last fighter in an Action Phase) from charging has huge potential!
  2. Driven by Hatred - +1 Dice is always a welcome accuracy boost, and you want these fighters to have charge tokens anyway!
  3. Horrifying Malice - Forcing your opponent to roll 1 less Dice is a good way to keep your fighters safe, and again, we want these fighters to have charge tokens anyway!

Play Style

Hold Objectives plus some aggro. For the most part, don't be afraid to be aggressive with the Briar Queen and the Ever-hanged. They're your best chance to remove your opponent's key pieces to try and keep your other Chainrasps alive.


Anything that lets you have lots of options for placing feature tokens. You won't hate blocked or cover hexes, but they can prevent you from placing Objective tokens in ideal places.

Playing Against This?

Farm the Chainrasps and stand on Objective tokens whenever you can.

Nemesis Pairings

Malevolent Masks and Paths of Prophecy for the Hold Objective Glory. Aim to have 18-20 Glory in your Objective decks.

New Player Rating

Bronze - Navigating the 2 wound fighters and learning to play a Hold objective deck well is not as easy for new players.