The Claws of Karanak answer the question “can Khorne followers be even more savage and deranged?”. All those Bloodbound that create a special link with Khorne’s favourite pets, the Flesh Hounds, have a chance to belong to this cult.
Background and Lore of the Claws of Karanak Warband
The Flesh Hounds are relentless hunters in shape of a massive demonic hound that Khorne sends in the Mortal Realms to prey whoever offended him, be a magic user, a coward that refuses to fight or a Slaaneshi supporter. Of those, the three-headed Karanak, is the most sacred, the ultimate hunter.
When the Flesh Hounds are sent to chase their prey, the Bloodbound, Khorne’s mortal followers, chase after them. Their howling drives them to higher levels of frenzy and blood-splashing slaughter. For some, however, those sounds never fade, and they create a spiritual bond with those demons.
The Claws are all linked by this necessity to constantly hunt, to serve the Blood God with renewed highs of violence and murder. The “hound-marked” live in caves and do not mingle with the main Bloodbound army, too savage even for Khorne’s standards.
They don’t speak, but growl and use other animalistic ways to communicate with each other. They wear the skin from those they flayed alive and armour shaped to represent the Flesh Hounds that they venerate.
Occasionally a member of this cult will bond with his demonic counterpart by eating its inside and if Khorne will see this kill with approval, will transform his body after 8 days of agonising pain in that of a Hound of Wrath. Their sanity completely gone, Hounds are chained until they can smell the next prey and then unleashed to continue the hunt.
To become a Packlord, a top hunter of this warband needs to beat their bonded Flesh Hound in a hunt. If the demon will be satisfied, then the Claw will be able to become a Packlord, if not, they will become the demon’s next snack.
The Claws of Karanak are attracted by the Gnarlwood for the promise of continuous slaughter and in particular they smelt the cowardice of the vampires of the Askurgan order that refuse to feast on blood as Khorne demands.
But how do Claws of Karanak hunt the battlefield in search of a prey? Let’s find out.
Fighters in the Claws of Karanak Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn.
If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on.
So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system. It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
The Claws of Karanak warband is made of 6 different fighters, of which 1 is the leader.
Packlord: 205 points
The Packlord is the apex of the Claws of Karanak, the one that hunted with a Flesh Hound and was accepted as a worthy challenger. And in game is a veritable beast, with 5 attacks at Strength 5 for 2/5 damage and a decent resistance with 20 wounds and Toughness 4.
To add to his arsenal, his signature ability costs a Triple and allows every friendly fighter within 8″ to benefit from 1 more melee attack per action after he takes down an enemy. To provide even more attacks to these ravening lunatics can only end in a deluge of blood spilt.
Everyone in the warband can perform a bonus move or bonus attack after taking down an enemy for a Double (Blood for the Blood God), but you should definitely keep a Triple available for this fighter.
The Quad, also available to everyone, allows to pick a target with a Wound characteristic of 20 or less (so no monsters or bulky opponents), and move him/her around the battlefield as long as it ends within 1″ of the fighter performing this Quad. Then you can perform a bonus attack action against that target.
It’s an extremely convoluted way to provide a bonus attack, but could help to move an enemy fighter in between two of yours so you avoid spending an action moving, but requires good positioning from the previous turn, so it can be a bit unpredictable. This way you could potentially remove a fighter from an objective as well.
The warband reaction is also an interesting one, as it provides a +1 attack to a target that disengages from any Claws of Karanak using this reaction. It’s an alternative way to provide more attacks to anyone in the warband, but works only against a single target and that needs to disengage first. It competes with Strikes Them Down, a generic reaction that has a 50% chance to allocate D6 damage to a disengaging fighter. It is an interesting trade off, but probably if you have the opportunity, and you have fighters that can take advantage of it, this is stronger, especially used by Blood Whelps.
Hound of Wrath: 190 points
The Hound of Wrath is a transformed mortal that managed to devour a Flesh Demon and get Khorne’s approval for that. They are rightfully considered a Beast, meaning they can’t open doors or carry treasures, but aside from that we have the fastest unit in the warband (7″), the second more resilient after the Packlord (18 wounds on Toughness 4), and the second highest damage potential (5 attacks at Strength 4, for 2/4 damage).
That alone would guarantee a place in your warband, but aside from being able to use all generic abilities (Blood for the Blood God and the Quad Savage Mauling) and reaction (Bay for the Coward’s Blood), it has access to two more abilities. The first one being an area damage: 3 damage points on a 4+ for every fighter within 1″ (Flaming Breath). It costs only a Double and the idea is that you can hit multiple enemies at the same time. However, if you are surrounded and you can kill one enemy with a normal attack, the generic Double is a better option as you can instead perform a bonus attack on the second fighter.
The last ability it has access to is shared with the Blood Whelps and allows for concatenating activations for fighters with the same Agile runemark (Blood Whelps and indeed Hounds of Wrath), meaning with accurate positioning you can activate 2/3 characters (as long as you have enough Doubles) before the opponent has a chance to react. And activating two Hounds in sequence can be quite bloody…
- Brutaliser with Shredder Blades: 120 points
- Brutaliser with Shredder Blade and Meat Hook: 115 points
The Brutalisers are those that survived the difficult life of a Claw of Karanak (spoiler: not many do) and they are granted the honour to wear brass helmets representing their patrons.
They have the same movement as most in the warband (5″) but Toughness starts to go down (3) meaning that those 15 wounds are even more precious now. They compensate with really strong melee profiles:
- The Shredder Blades have 4 attacks at Strength 4 for 2/4 damage.
- The Shredder Blade and Meat Hook, lose an attack to add on critical damage (5) and have access to the Triple Horrifying Trophy that can be used only after taking down an enemy but then prevents the use of abilities to all enemy fighters within 6″.
With such weapon profile, being able to take down an enemy should not be too much of a problem. It does compete with the Leader Triple, but in the right situation is extremely powerful (it can shut down healing and resurrection from some warbands that rely on it). You should always have one of these in your list, just in case.
- Blood Whelp with Barb-spear: 90 points
- Blood Whelp with Claw-flail: 90 points
The Blood Whelps just started their career in their cult and the vast majority will end up killed in action or eaten by their comrades pretty fast.
Despite that, they know how to work in a team, with access of the strong Double Pack Hunters that allows them to activate one after the other bypassing your opponent. With Toughness 3 their long-range melee weapons are super useful:
- The Barb-spear has only 2″ range and 2 attacks but is enough to keep the distance and do 2/4 damage per attack.
- The Claw-flail goes to 3″ range, adds 1 more attack (3) but loses in damage (1/3).
Either profile has some use, but the Barb-spear with a base damage of 2 is really tempting.
Abilities for the Claws of Karanak Warband
- Blood for the Blood God (Double, Everyone): After taking down an enemy perform a bonus move or bonus attack.
- Flaming Breath (Double, Hound of Wrath): A chance to do 3 damage to all engaged enemies.
- Pack Hunters (Double, Hound of Wrath and both Blood Whelps): Activate another visible friendly fighter with the same runemarks in range immediately after this one.
- Horrifying Trophies (Triple, Brutaliser with Shredder Blade and Meat Hook): After taking down an enemy, enemy fighters in range cannot use abilities.
- Scent of Weakness (Triple, Packlord): After taking down an enemy increase by 1 the melee attacks of friendly fighters within 8″.
- Savage Mauling (Quad, Everyone): Move an engaged enemy around by keeping him within 1″ of this fighter, then perform a bonus attack against him.
Reaction for the Claws of Karanak Warband
Introduced in the new season of Warcry, Reactions are things that can be done in certain circumstances, but always during the enemy turn. They cost one action, so they can be used only by fighters that have not activated yet or are waiting. There are 3 universal reactions and one specific to each warband:
Bay for Coward’s Blood (Everyone)
- When: After an enemy fighter makes a disengage action in proximity of this fighter.
- What: Until the end of the round add +1 to the melee attacks against the disengaging fighter.
Strategy and Tactics for the Claws of Karanak Warband
The Claws of Karanak are a Khorne warband and this can be seen in all they do. They are fast, strong and relinquish some defence to ensure they can provide the maximum damage possible when they hit.
As such, having basic infantry able to damage opponents without fully engaging thanks to their 2″ and 3″ range melee weapons is really thematic and useful. It increases their survivability despite their low Toughness and makes them extremely dangerous in high numbers. To add to this, as long as you have enough Doubles you can activate them one after the other with their ability Pack Hunters that can even involve Hounds of Wrath.
And these are veritable beasts, with strong attacks, a good resistance and incredible speed. Combined with a Packlord to provide more attacks with his Triple, you have some dangerous fighters your opponent can’t escape from.
While the Hounds are your main “go there and smash”, the Brutalisers are not exactly soft guys either: they cost less but still have their own share of damaging attacks. The Brutaliser with Meat Hook in particular has a Triple ability that can stop enemy fighters within 6″ from using abilities if he took down one of them. It is so thematic that a Khorne guy would show the gory remains of a fallen enemy to his comrades as a show of what expects them paralyzing them so that they forget to use abilities.
And against certain warbands, relying on healing or resurrection, it can be even more damaging than the Packlord Triple that adds 1 extra melee attack to all friendly fighters within 8″. Which one to use will depend on the circumstances, and if the Blood God smiles upon you, you may be able to use them both in the same turn.
The warband reaction provides an extra way to take down an enemy running away. It does require the perfect situation to take advantage of it, but used by a Blood Whelp can enable the stronger fighters to finish off the runaway.
The bonus move/attack after taking down an enemy is the cherry on the top of a perfect cake. An ability, for a Double nonetheless, that would be extremely strong in any warband, here is just a plus, something that you can do if you don’t have anything else better or if you have only Doubles. And even then, it may not be your first option, as activating more fighters before your opponent with Pack Hunters can be more beneficial than an extra move.
If you are a Khorne follower, or even if you just like bloodshed in the name of any other Chaos god, this warband could fit your playstyle.
Pros and Cons of the Claws of Karanak Warband
+ Lots of attacks with high Strength
+ Good speed
+ Synergistic and lore-matching abilities
– Average low Toughness
– No ranged options, excluding the 2″-3″ basic infantry
Some thematic warbands for the Claws of Karanak
Just for fun here we present few thematic warbands, meant more for fun or narrative context than for competitive play. Note that in narrative play you need to complete a quest that allows you to recruit a Hero before being able to add him to your roster.
Out of the box: Packlord, 1 Hound of Wrath, 1 Brutaliser with Shredder Blades, 1 Brutaliser with Shredder Blade and Meat Hook, 2 Blood Whelp with Barb-spear, 2 Blood Whelp with Claw-flail.
How to buy a Claws of Karanak Warband
The Claws of Karanak were initially released in the quarterly box Bloodhunt, but a new individual box has since been released.
A single sprue allows to assemble:
- 1 Packlord
- 1 Hound of Wrath
- 2 Brutalisers with either option of weapon
- 4 Blood Whelps with either profile
Tips on painting a Claws of Karanak Warband for Warcry
Claws of Karanak are a Khorne warband and as such there are several painting guides for this army, for example this one specific to Flesh Hounds to find your own inspiration for this warband.
If you want something more specific to Claws, Warhammer Community has a guide for the Packlord, applicable to all other standard fighters, and for the Hound of Wrath.