Grumpy's Guide to Mourneblade
Updated: Nov 27, 2022
In this series, we will give you a quick breakdown of each champion. This is geared mostly towards people who have not played with this champion much, so it’s not an in-depth tactical treatise. This is more of a quick breakdown and assessment of the champion.
We will grade each champion’s offense, defense, support, mobility, and control. We’ll explain each grade and then give you a quick vision of a dream activation for that champion.
In a separate series, Grumpy has written about how champions match up with each other. Here are the matchup evaluations for Guardians, Maelstroms, Slayers, and Shapers.
Here is the grading scale for each category:
Mourneblade is delightfully weird. He breaks some fundamental rules and norms of the game. The fire skeleton is not that hard to KO, but it's usually not worth the effort. Mourneblade can absolutely shut you down, except when he can't. The Knightshades are slow, except when they suddenly appear in exactly the place they are needed most. Mourneblade has a giant flaming sword, but can only make an average attack at range 3. He's just sort of a walking (shambling?) contradiction. I love him.
Mourneblade's crew is defined by their ability to do three things. First, Mourneblade can claim at range. This is bonkers good. It's very, very hard to deny him a claim action. He can usually claim in safe, far away places without getting too far out of position. Second, Mourneblade can take a huge hit, get knocked out, and not care too much. Third, Mourneblade's followers can completely lock some models in place, ensuring that friendly banners and vulnerable allies will be safe.
It's a strange package, to be sure, but in the right situations, it's absolutely dominant. Mourneblade loves scenarios like Quest and Chaos which allow him to really capitalize on his ranged claiming. Any scenario that spreads the board will work well for him. By contrast, Mourneblade hates Life (that's thematic) because it bunches everything together and reveals his somewhat lackluster stats.
Mourneblade really doesn't like auto-wounds. Lorsann, the Tooth Bearers, Sneaky Peet, the Red Bandits, and Rangosh can all put him in the dirt in a single activation just by hitting dodge 2. The worst, though, is Maxen. Maxen can get the KO at range 3 whilst also scrapping Mourneblade's banner. It's perhaps the hardest counter in the whole game. Still, Mourneblade has enough dirty tricks up his sleeve to handle one tough matchup per game. It's only when the opponent is brining multiple autowound options that you really need to shelve our sweet dead boi.
Here are Mourneblade's Cards:
Offense - Bad
It's not that terrible! Only two attacks, which is typical for a guardian. Still, both of the crew's attacks have something going for them. Soul Cleave is range 3 (nice!) and has a fun hit effect that adds to the crew's control game. 5/5 isn't amazing, but it will chip most champions and KO most small followers. The Knightshades can theoretically hit pretty hard if they recruit into a hex of two that is already perfectly positioned next to their Death's Door target. This would be a 6/6 attack, but it seldom happens. More often, the Knightshades are swinging at somewhere between 4/4 and 6/5, which is not the worst. With this crew, you're really hoping to score in the end phase. If you pick off one or two small followers in the clash phase, you're doing well.
Defense - Good
Mourneblade's Undying trait is kind of hard to quantify. What is defense anyway? If we define defense as "not giving up Battle Ladder Steps," then Mourneblade is probably outstanding. If we define it as "not getting KO'd," then Mourneblade is probably below average. This rating splits that difference. The entire crew has dodge 2, which makes them very vulnerable to hit effects. This means that they can usually be debuffed, pushed around, and otherwise controlled pretty easily. However, the crew has strong armor. The real defense that Mourneblade has, though is that it's usually not worth it to take him out. Undying means that Skelly boy gives up the same number of steps that a follower would. Moreover, the trait also allows him to rally for free fairly easily because there is no range restriction on Undying. The KO will push him out of position, but Mourneblade has range 3 on his claim actions, so this won't really stop him from doing his thing. KOing Mourneblade doesn't really score you steps, and it doesn't really harm his action economy that much. On top of all that, Mourneblade's armor 4 means that you're going to need to spend a pretty high value attack to take him out (unless you have an auto-wound). Mourneblade will go down, but he usually won't mind.
Support - Bad
This is a very selfish crew. Usually, guardians are at least good for team-boosting boon or something. Not Mourneblade. His crew can buff itself, but no one else. To some extent, allies may benefit from Mourneblade's control game, but this crew does not directly support other crews. At all. Even Death Wind can only move Mourneblade's banner. The one way that Mourneblade supports allies is by using his Raise Dead ability to let them Rally out of activation. That's a corner case, but potentially very powerful form of support.
Mobility - Good
At first glance, Mourneblade and his crew seem slow. They are not. They have bad speed stats, but more than compensate with janky tricks. Mourneblade has an average speed of 2, but his followers can also move him two hexes in the plot phase. This means that Mourneblade can move up to four hexes in the plot phase and two in the clash phase. Six total hexes of movement? Not bad. Plot phase movement is much more helpful when going second (you can crush banners), but this is still an above average amount of mobility. The Knightshades are outright slow, with a speed stat of 1 in both phases. However, Mourneblade can use one of his actions to move them 2 additional hexes. Since Mourneblade can claim at range, he won't always need to take his own advance in the plot phase, so Forward Minions is a bit more usable than other champion Plot Phase actions. Mourneblade's ultimate also radically repositions the Knightshades. Grasping Dead removes all of the emo skeletons (no range limit) and puts them all anywhere you like within 4 hexes of Mourneblade. That's a very large landing area for the skellingtons. Admittedly, it's only once per game, but this is such a powerful movement effect that it helps the crew earn this mobility grade.
Control - Outstanding
Oh, Death Grip. It's so good. The Knightshades have the ability to wreck your opponent’s day. This is highly conditional, but when it works, it really works. The Death Grip ability means that when opponents start an advance action adjacent to a Knightshade, they have speed zero. This only applies if they start adjacent, so fast models can run past them if they start free. Death Grip reduces speed to completely to zero, though, so the speed boon will not help. It applies only to advance actions, so other movement effects (March, Shoot ’n Scoot, Current, Leap, etc.) will ignore this. Still, Death Grip can, if properly used, totally lock something down. Death Grip can protect banners, shield vulnerable models, jam up otherwise fast models, and create a constant headache for opponents. This is really the only control ability this crew has, but it's enough. It's a passive ability, so it's always working so long as the Knightshades are in position.
It's the clash phase, and Mourneblade's sweet, dear ally, Titus has been KOd by Maxen. The screen of Gearhawks, though vulnerable to Titus, seems to have secured Maxen's banner. To make matters worse, Lilly is in position to crush Mourneblade's flag. All she has to do is use Haunting Melody to get the two Knightshades away from her, and she can saunter over to paydirt. Looks like Lily and Maxen will have banner advantage, right?
Actually, not so much.
Mourneblade uses Soul Cleave on a Thornling. This has a 63% chance of getting the KO, but all Mourneblade really needs here is to hit (96.5%). The hit effect allows Mourneblade to recruit a brand new Knightshade right next to Lily. Now, she will need to use two actions if she wants to be free of the sorrowful zombies, so the banner is safe. For his second action, Mourneblade uses Raise Dead on Titus. The maelstrom will no activate without having to use a rally action, so he can just KO the Gearhawk in front of him with a Piercing Strike (86% chance) and follow up by crushing Maxen's banner. Notice that Mourneblade has totally swung banner advantage (nine steps) by affecting two banners which are six hexes away form each other! Also, this activation did not require use of the ultimate.