The 21 Known Ultimates: A Tier List and Ranking
Updated: Sep 6, 2021
Ultimate actions are a huge part of Godtear. Using them at the right time and in the right way is an essential skill if you're trying to play at a competitive level. Early on in my Godtear career, I was too precious about ultimates and sometimes did not use them. This was bad. It feels bad to lose a game when you did not bring some of your most important resources to bear. The worst ultimate of all is the one that you never use.
It is hard to disentangle an ultimate form the context around it. All ultimates gain or lose value depending on opponent, scenario, and warband composition. My attempt to rank them here is, therefore, nonsense. Still, it is perhaps a useful exercise to force myself (and perhaps my readers) to think harder about what makes an ultimate useful. I fully expect that there will be disagreement about these rankings. I hope that those disagreements will be instructive and help you to clarify why you value an ultimate more or less than I do because getting a bit more rigorous with your evaluation of the game will probably make you a better player.
I have scored each ultimate on a scale of 1 to 10 in two categories: Usefulness and Magnitude. Usefulness is simply how often I expect the ultimate to be potentially useful. Magnitude is how much the ultimate affects the game when it is used. This leads to a composite score out of 20. I have put the champions in ordinal rank order according to my assessments and also grouped them into tiers. The tiers are probably a better indicator than the ordinal ranking, as there are some ties (particularly amongst Slayers).
We'll start at the bottom.
Trash Tier (only in a relative sense, these are still ultimates)
Call to Arms- Helena - Usefulness 2, Magnitude 3 - 5/20
Here’s an ultimate I have literally never used. The idea of making multiple recruit actions in theory seems good, but if multiple followers have been wiped out, it’s probably because a dangerous Maelstrom has eaten them. Do you really want to sacrifice one of Helena’s actions to feed it more? It’s fairly unusual to want to trade a champion’s action for follower recruit actions, even if you might be getting one or two more of them. Even in the scenarios where you would want to do that, the unlikelihood is compounded by the need to have that follower unit's champion within range 2. My girl needs all her actions to get back on that objective hex, thanks. Maybe someone has used this, but the next time I see that will be the first.
Storm Rider - Luella - Usefulness 5, Magnitude 3 - 8/20
Those strength 3 damage rolls are essentially pointless unless you are targeting armor 1, which is still quite rare in the game. It’s only range 1. Ugh. Really, the best thing about Storm Rider is that you get a two hex movement. This ultimate becomes much less disappointing once you think of it as just being an extra move. Not much, but not nothing.
The Great Tusk - Usefulness 6, Magnitude 3 - 9/20
This ultimate is used every game, which is nice. It just… doesn’t do much? You're going to be claiming anyway, so it's nice to hand out a boon or two while doing so, but this doesn't really compare to the other ultimates in terms of magnitude. If more than one or two things benefit from this, then you’re probably going out of your way to set it up, which may not be efficient. Halftusk’s real ultimate is regeneration.
C Tier - Kind of Ok
Firebrand - Keera - Usefulness 6, Magnitude 4 - 10/20
This ultimate is useful and will usually find itself expended. It potentially does 3 total champion damage, but one damage on three champions is much less helpful than 2 damage on one champion because slaying is about focus firing on the weakest link. It’s useful, but not that impactful. An extra wound is nice, not complaining, but compared to other ultimates, the impact feels meh.
Buffet - Grimgut - Usefulness 4, Magnitude 6 - 10/20
This is kind of an awkward one because the Best way to play Grimgut is as a banner protector. Usually, the big zombie ball thing is not going to be in the thick of the fight. However, this ultimate, in the right situation, does have the potential to score six steps. That's important! The threat of it can also affect the way that enemy followers are deployed. It's not the most useful ultimate, but its potential impact is not negligible.
The Slayer Tier - Very Bunched Together
Pounce - Sneaky Peet - Usefulness 5, Magnitude 6 - 11/20
This is a nice part of Peet's toolkit. Pounce offers a nice 6/6 attack as well as a surprising amount of movement. Since you can place Peet on any hex adjacent to a target within range 2, he can potentially move four hexes with this. The ideal use of this is to change lanes in the clash phase in order to score a KO and squash a banner. It's quite strong. It does not offer guaranteed damage, so it does not get the nod over some of the ultimates that hit a bit harder.
Deathblow - Lorsann - Usefulness 6, Magnitude 5 - 11/20
This ultimate is very strong. It's an accurate two automatic wounds at range 3. You do have to make a hit roll, so it's not a truly sure thing like Beastly Charge, but Range 3 makes up for that somewhat. Remember that Lorsann's Shoot and Scoot Trait also means that this ultimate effectively comes with a hex of movement as well. I love using this to score plot phase KOs which are quite hard for an opponent to hide from. Aside from Shoot and Scoot, this ultimate is the best thing on Lorsann's cards.
Beastly Charge - Rangosh - Usefulness 6, Magnitude 5 - 11/20
Ina game with swingy dice, this ultimate offers you pure, chess-like certainty. No dice are involved. You just get to move 2 hexes (on top of the three Rangosh can move in the plot phase normally) and simply apply two wounds to anything adjacent at the end. Wow. It's pretty common to crush a banner and KO someone in the plot phase with this. It's very strong. Rangosh is already mobile and hostile, but this allows him to turn that up into overdrive for a turn. I love it.
Birdshot - Maxen - Usefulness 7, Magnitude 5 - 12/20
This is an 8/8 attack at range 3. That is the strongest attack in the game, and it's not close. It is still based on dice, so it is not as reliable to KO someone as the slayer ultimates which do guaranteed damage. Birdshot is better used to start hostilities against a champion which is close to full health so that Shotgun Max can finish them off with another attack. It does not offer extra movement the way some other Slayer ultimates do, but it absolutely melts face. Some unlucky players have reported dice flubs with this, but say it with me: it's an 8/8 attack at Range 3.
The B Tier - Getting Spicy Now
Power Hex - Rattlebone - Usefulness 5, Magnitude 8 - 13/20
This ultimate can pretty easily give a champion all of the blights. That's a very high magnitude effect. It has a lot of restrictions, though. It's only range 2, and for every blight you give, there also needs to be a Hexling in range. Call totems makes this possible, but there will often be a dead Hexling or one that you'd rather not move for some reason. It's probably unlikely that your opponent will serve up two champions for this, but even if you only end up putting 3 or 4 blights on a single enemy, that's a big deal. This is also one of those ultimates which has so much magnitude that the threat of it affects your opponent's decisions. It's strong.
Path of Destruction - Usefulness 5, Magnitude 8 - 13/20
This ultimate is bonkers good. An ideal Titus activation is to simply use both of his very strong attacks. The difficulty, of course, is that Titus has to be in position to do so. This ultimate makes living the dream much easier because Titus can move 2, attack, move one more, and then attack again. Three hexes of movement on a model with Titus's offensive power is a lot. This ultimate has the potential to score eight steps, and often does. It's also handy to crush a hard to reach flag because you can KO the followers blocking your path, crush the banner, and then get a couple more follower KOs just for good measure. Titus would be truly broken if he had more health.
Geode - Nia - Usefulness 6, Magnitude 7 - 13/20
This ultimate offers action efficiency since it effectively lets Nia claim and Calcify for one action, but it offers more that's not as obvious. For one thing, it is the only ranged claim action in the game outside of Mourneblade. For another, this ultimate can be used in the same turn as Calcify, which means that Nia can grow two new hexes and put a flag on one of them. Since she gets her free action based on the number of quartzlings on the board at the start of her activation, Nia can then do something else useful. This ultimate is a big deal, especially in scenarios like Death and Quest where objective hexes are scarce or static. It takes awhile to see how to get the most out of this, but it is quite good.
The A Tier (I'm So Excited!)
Bannerfall - Rhodri - Usefulness 6, Magnitude 8 - 14/20
I think some folks may have expected this to be higher in my rankings. I think Bannerfall is strong, but it is not the guaranteed five steps on the ladder it appears to be. For one thing, in order to have it be truly guaranteed, you would need to be going second and willing to hold Rodhri's activation to the end of the turn. For another, Rodhri would have to be adjacent to an empty objective hex with an action to spare. the dwarf is slow, and if he waits until the end of the turn, other models have a chance to push him around and/or block his path to the objective hexes. Finally, for this ultimate to matter, you have to be losing the turn by five steps or less. If you're ahead or behind by six or more, this does you no good. Bannerfall is strong, but it's not as strong as it might seem to be from the text of the ability. There is counterplay. That said, it is reasonably high in my rankings because it can often win a turn.
Grasping Dead - Mourneblade - Usefulness, 9, Magnitude, 6 - 15/20
This ultimate is very strong because it offers recursion, repositioning, and enemy movement denial all in a single package. You get all your Knightshades back, and you get to place them within range 3. This means you can be very picky about putting the Knightshades next to those models in the enemy warband which are least equipped to handle Death Grip. This ultimate is absolutely turn-altering and offers almost as much control as the ultimates which are ranked above it. The only reasons why it's lower are that it does not actually move any champions and that there are, in fact, ways around the Knightshades. Still, this ultimate is not to be sneezed at. The threat of it is also important, so use this one wisely. The best scenario for it is when you're going first at the top of turn 2 and your opponent is bunched up. Just go ahead and ruin their day.
Flash Freeze - Morrigan - Usefulness 7, Magnitude 8 - 15/20
It's range 3 and hands out two crucial blights to everything in range. Yikes. Speed blights are devastating, and this puts out a six hex diameter aura of speed and dodge blight. It's incredible. Morrigan's attacks are already accurate, so the dodge blight does not help her as much, but models like Landslide and Rangosh certainly appreciate it. Because this ultimate has Range 3, it's not necessarily hard to use it to support models which are not in Morrigan's crew. And, yes, it helps set up Snowball's Chance if you're into that sort of thing.
The Reaping - Styx - Usefulness 9, Magnitude 6 - 15/20
Styx is not out yet, so you may not have seen the card. It's range 2 and reads: "Knock out an enemy model within range. It does not award you any steps on the Battle Ladder." Obviously, I have not played with Styx since not all of his cards are released, so all I can do to assess the value of this ultimate is speculate. I think it will be very good. Ina game with swingy dice, diceless certainty is a precious thing, and this ultimate lets you just straight up KO a model without any dice rolls at all. Rodhri, with his armor boosted to five and his seven wounds? Nah. Deadsies. Sure, you don't gain steps, but you do gain positioning control and action efficiency denial. It's a big deal.
#5 Phantom Banners - Finvarr - Usefulness: 7, Magnitude, 9 - 16/20
This one is much more powerful than you might think. Admittedly, it is not as helpful in scenarios like Death and Chaos where there are relatively few objective hexes on the board. However, when it works, it really works. There are no other abilities in the game which are range 4. It's just this one. An eight hex diameter area is huge. This ultimate essentially lets you rearrange all the friendly banners in that area. It takes a bit of practice to see the possibilities with this, but once you begin to see them, they appear all the time. In a previous post, I attempted to diagram this (scroll to the end). Phantom banners will protect at least one banner in most games, two banners in many games, and three once in a very blue moon. In terms of magnitude, this is the only ultimate which can potentially net you more steps than Firestorm.
The Godtear God Tier
Firestorm - Blackjaw - Usefulness 7, Magnitude 10 - 17/20
No ultimate has more potential magnitude than this one. I have seen Firestorms score ten steps on the ladder. It is probably not the most frequent outcome, but it is also not a dream. It's real. There is simply no other ultimate in the game which can score this many steps instantly. There is some maneuvering required to pull it off as Firestorm is only range 2, but Blackjaw is often fast enough to put the origin of this flame nova in the right place. Oddly, I recommend using this one in the clash phase because if you use it in the plot phase, you will probably KO enough followers to leave Blackjaw with little to do with his attacks. Better to claim and then burn all the followers.
Overrun - Jeen - Usefulness: 9, Magnitude, 9 - 18/20
In a recent tournament final, I lost because even though I could see this ultimate coming, I could not stop it. It's essentially Tsunami but for friendly models. Not quite that intense, to be fair, since it is not a place effect, but still. This ultimate lets Jeen have bonkers movement in the clash phase as well as the plot phase and hand it out to friends for good measure. This creates so many potential attack vectors that banners which seemed very safe become suddenly vulnerable. Banner crushing is a great use of this ultimate, but it can also let you move models into or out of position for whatever else they may need to do, whether it's KO an enemy or run from an enemy to avoid a round losing KO. Overrun is versatile, high magnitude, and useful in every single game. Jeen would be quite good without it, but Overrun makes her great.
Avalanche - Shayle - Usefulnesss: 10, Magnitude: 9 - 19/20
It's just bonkers, really. You get to move every single hex within range 3 of Landslide in any order. Shayle just gets to... rearrange half the board while still hiding far behind his golem? Please and thank you. This is not a bad ultimate to use in an early turn, either, because the long-term effects of this particular ultimate will be felt in subsequent turns. It's always useful and it always radically changes the board state.
Tsunami - Raith'Marid - Usefulness: 10, Magnitude: 10 - 20/20
Was there any doubt? Great ultimates dictate tactics. This ultimate dictates strategy. If you are facing Raith, a huge part of your game plan needs to be built around making him use this ultimate in a way that does not totally wreck you for multiple turns. Combined with Kersplash, Tsunami lets Raith place essentially anywhere he might wish to be and then to move everyone within 3 f#&%ing hexes two hexes in any order. So... Rodhri's whole immovability thing is toast. A six hex diameter area is massive, and everything in it essentially makes an advance action controlled by Raith. At a minimum, this sets back a huge part of your warband's positioning by a turn. Tsunami doesn't just crush banners, it crushes hopes and dreams.