With the new season updating many players’ cards and generally reshaping the game’s landscape as a whole, now looks like a good time to take another look at all the guilds and models we have available. Many of them have changed, but even those that haven’t exist in a different context now. I’m going to go over each card in each guild looking at where they fit now. I’ll try to look more at current functionality than how they’ve changed from beforehand, since a model’s season 3 stats are pretty much irrelevant now.
The Engineers are the next team on the list. They are a durable team, and lean a little towards the goalscoring end of the spectrum but are definitely capable of takeouts. They are also one of the teams with the most access to ranged damage and ranged control, and tend to want to play a keep-away game, at least until the enemy has been whittled down to low enough that they can engage. They have issues in a straight up fair fight, but lots of tools for avoiding one.
Ballista is a little on the slow side with a 6″ jogging threat, and pretty easy to hit, especially for a captain. He has the great KICK numbers shared by most Engineers, though, and a pretty good playbook. If he isn’t getting KDed, his second column >> makes for a good counterattack. His third column is where is personal threat actually starts to look solid, with a reasonably accessible m2>> which does a lot of work, and a KD in case of worrying counter attacks. Ballista isn’t going to usually be one rounding people on his own but can definitely take targets out with a bit of support. His last column gives you a choice between momentum and an additional point of damage, which is a nice bit of versatility. The guild doesn’t have access to many 4 damage results, so having one for when you need to get through tough hide is a good bonus. His first column tackle is a nice upside too – while he doesn’t have the dodges to be a dedicated striker he’s pretty good at getting the ball back and putting it on a striker if he needs to.
Deadbolt is Ballista’s signature ability, and one that gets used a lot. Ranged KDs are something that’s almost exclusive to the Engineers, and can mess with enemy gameplans in a lot of ways. It’s also not a negligible amount of damage, and the push means you can be 10″ away from your target which helps avoid repercussions. It’s particularly good at popping the ball off a model that’s hard to reach, or for causing issues to a model when momentum is scarce. Forcing models to clear conditions helps you rack up damage on them, and makes future KDs (like on counter attacks) much more of a problem. Missing with Deadbolt is a good way to lose games, as it means the opponent is probably in a position to retaliate against Ballista or the rest of the team in the near future, and letting enemy teams reach melee engagement is not really what the Engineers want to be doing. Deadbolt is not as efficient as just buying attacks in melee if Ballista has support from allies, but it’s better than taking melee swings if you don’t have any setup already. It can’t be counterattacked and applies a KD, which helps a lot if Ballista is vulnerable to a counter from a model with 4/1 defenses or similar, who he isn’t likely to KD off the playbook but can reasonably expect to hit with a character play. It also lets Ballista get out of being ‘locked’ by a sturdy model engaging him at 2″ and KDing him, since he can Deadbolt them to clear Sturdy and then KD them again off his playbook to avoid the counterattack.
Minefield is a useful tool but it’s quite hard to use well, since unlike Deadbolt it only does anything if the opponent chooses to come close – at the same time, if the opponent stays back to get shot more next time the Engineers are usually fine with that. It’s much more impactful against teams which rely on high DEF to keep themselves alive, since Minefield ignores defensive stats and high-DEF models tend to have low HP pools, meaning the flat 4 damage is a lot more worrying. It’s particularly effective against mascots – if Ballista is tooled up, Minefield can kill some mascots in one go. It’s hard to find the influence to put Minefield up on any turn beyond the first, but can be nice to grab off the playbook if you get the opportunity in between hitting people. It can be very effective if you’re starting to win a fight, since it means the opponent loses the option of running away and healing and has to stay in – however, the difficult bit for Engineers is usually getting into that fight winning situation in the first place.
Second Wind lets you reposition your models to safety after they’ve done their job – whether that’s moving back out of threat range after throwing character plays, or after scoring a goal, or moving to tag multiple enemies with Minefield after a takeout. It also gives Ballista something to spend influence on if he has one point spare after doing his job – whether because he expected to sprint and didn’t need to, or you over-allocated influence to maximise takeout odds.
Momentous Inspiration makes Ballista’s gunline much more usable. It means Ballista, and the team as a whole, can generate MP without needing to be close to the opposition. This is pretty close to unique, and of similar abilities Ballista’s version is definitely one of the stronger ones. This means his team is probably the best at a ranged standoff – unlike most other teams with ranged effects, the Engineers are able to sit back and throw stuff at the opponent and still heal / clear conditions from the enemy’s ranged interaction. Having access to enough MP to heal whoever the opponent targets means you’re going to eventually wear down any opponent at range – which forces them to commit to you, giving Ballista a positional advantage in a lot of matchups.
Tough Hide makes Ballista less of a target for enemy takeouts. He’s still not exactly tough, though. 3/1/18 with tough hide is enough to avoid being killed by most models, but if he gets KD or a dedicated takeout players connects with him he’s probably in a lot of trouble. His counterattack is okay, but with 1″ melee and since he’s relatively easy to KD himself, he doesn’t get to use it often. The best ways of keeping Ballista alive are to keep him at range, and near his team, so his teammates can support him if anyone tries to close the gap. Against some dedicated fighting models he also has potential to – if supported – take them out himself, which can be the best way out of some fights.
Breach! lets Ballista score a goal once per game without much difficulty. Going up to a 4/10″ kick is a big deal – it means Ballista needs to be only slightly further up than the halfway line to score. Kicking without spending influence is also very important – it means Ballista is really quite good at getting six point activations, spending a full stack of influence to take someone out and then taking a goal afterwards, which is a great plan for ending a game. Be aware that the extra KICK distance only applies during his activation, so he doesn’t remain a snap shot turret for the rest of the turn.
Ballista is a control heavy model who, as above, forces the enemy to close the gap. His standard playstyle is quite defensive but he is not averse to getting stuck in if you time it well. You can play him as a footballing captain or as a more takeout focused model, depending on the team you build around him. He supports a ranged damage playstyle very well, especially against teams that can’t interact at range themselves like Masons. There aren’t a huge number of matchups where Ballista is a bad choice, but mainly I’d try to avoid playing him if the opponent is able to quickly close the gap with multiple models and threaten to take your team out, the enemy is hard to control with your character plays (such as Rising Anger models like vRage) or the enemy can negate your positional control with their own (such as Corsair with Drag).
Pin Vice is very fast and pretty good at doing things once she’s got to where she’s going. She’s harder to hit than Ballista but much easier to take out once she’s been hit with only 11 HP. However, you don’t care so much about being taken out if your model has a big Jog distance, since it means they can just come back on at the side of the pitch and continue to do useful things. Pin Vice’s playbook isn’t quite as good as Ballista’s – with a much worse KD, momentous damage a column later, and a less accessible tackle – but instead she has a lot of dodges available, which combined with her high speed and four die KICK stat make her pretty good at getting to the goal to score if needed. While her tackle isn’t on column one, it’s still pretty accessible at column two with TAC6. Without pushes, Pin Vice is worse at setting up crowdouts than Ballista in most scenarios, so if she is planning on taking someone out then it’s probably going to be non-momentous.
Controller is an ability with a lot of impact, but spending 3 influence of your captain’s 6 max is a really very large cost. Usually, you’d only use Controller to do a budget Honour-Harmony impression in setting up a VP scoring activation to end the game – whether it’s by having PV reclaim the ball and pass to a teammate who scores, or scoring 6VPs at once by finishing off a target and scoring a goal. It isn’t something to be used every turn – 3 influence for no momentum isn’t great, and giving the opponent last activation of the turn is also a downside – but the few times it does come up it’ll end games in ways most other models just can’t.
Alternator is just Quick Foot with 2″ more range. Like Quick Foot, it’s not something you want to use often, but it can make the difference between a model doing nothing and getting plenty done, if the opponent has been staying out of their native threat range. It also means Pin Vice’s personal threat is 12″ which is a reasonably solid number. Because her threat range is pretty high, and she has a good jog distance, Pin Vice is one of the best models in the Engineers to kick off with, as the she threatens the enemy lines without much difficulty. She can have trouble getting round enemy defensive abilities since she has no buyable dodge and 1″ melee, but if you can get round that she can score turn one goals well.
Deletion is a useful damage buff, although it doesn’t work on character plays like Tooled Up does, which limits its utility in Engineers quite a bit. There aren’t many Engineers who do momentous damage, so the only real place Deletion is very useful is on Pin Vice herself. With both Tooled Up and Deletion, Pin Vice can make 5+ attacks and only needs one hit to deal 3 damage, meaning she’s good at taking out any opponent without a good counterattack. It won’t be momentous, but it gets the job done if you need the VPs. Pin Vice can also put Deletion on herself and jog up to someone for a reliable ~10 damage, which is a reasonable kill threat when completely unbuffed, especially if her teammates have been applying some ranged damage – and with her high speed she can reach the less durable enemies pretty well.
Close Control helps Pin Vice to score while avoiding counterattacks and parting blows. She still doesn’t really want to tackle from someone with a knockdown on their counter, but otherwise she isn’t exceptionally worried. She can also use it to safely hide the ball while the team goes for takeouts instead – which doesn’t happen often, but matters a lot against enemies who are more football focused than the Engineers are, such as Shark. The combination of Close Control and an easy disengage on the counter attack is a real problem for teams which primarily have 1″ melee strikers, such as sBrisket and Skatha.
Reanimate beings Pin Vice’s durability in line with other DEF5 captains at an effective 14HP, but with a couple other upsides. It’s quite hard to reliably deal 3 damage to a target when conditions have just been cleared from them, so she often requires 1 additional influence to take out, and the condition clear also means she can declare a counterattack even if she’s KD and force the attacker to lose out on a damage result or risk her dodging away. It also makes it harder to ‘jail’ Pin Vice by leaving her on 1hp at the end of a turn to prevent her doing anything next turn – it’s still doable, but requires 2-3 influence of investment to actually take her out after the turn line which does cost some time and slow the enemy down a bit – this is important because Pin Vice tends to want to commit for goals and go deep into the enemy team, so avoiding this scenario or making it less effective helps a lot.
Well Oiled Machine pretty much lets Pin Vice turn possession of the ball into a goal and some momentum for free once per game. A single pass under this legendary, followed by a free pass back, lets you convert 1 influence into 8″ of dodges, 2 momentum, or 1 momentum and a 4″ dodge. This is an excellent return on your influence, and often lets you reposition your entire team, move up to score a goal, and win the momentum race for the turn all at once. Missing passes is a concern, but most Engineers have excellent footballing stats and for inter-model passes you can usually set up to have the Tap In TN reduction too. Because her aura applies to herself, she can also bounce the ball off two people for one point of influence, although she can only dodge off three of those passes she can still be pretty much wherever she wants for 1 influence’s initial investment, and still have the ball afterwards.
Pin Vice is a much more aggressive and proactive captain than Ballista. She’s capable of takeouts but leans towards footballing, and is pretty good at it. Kicking she can often set up to take someone out at the end of a turn even if a goal opportunity doesn’t present itself, and receiving a turn one legendary can set up a goal and a win on the initiative race for turn two, which can lead into a second goal. Generally a Pin Vice team focuses a lot on enabling her, since if Pin Vice is free to run around in the back field killing flimsy players and/or scoring goals she’ll score a lot of VPs. Pin Vice brings a lot of useful and unique tools to do things that most other models can’t – like Controller, Well Oiled Machine, and her combination of footballing and damage threat. The price she pays is that she isn’t quite as good at football as a dedicated footballing captain, and she isn’t as good at taking people out as most takeout oriented captains, so it’s important to switch plans up depending on the opponent to capitalize on their weaknesses. Pin Vice is good into teams which skew hard in one direction or the other in my opinion – either heavy footballing focused teams where she can abuse her close control and get takeouts without threat of retaliation, or teams which lean hard towards fighting where her Reanimate causes problems and you can happily throw her forwards to trade her life for a goal.
Mainspring is not going to be fighting anyone, but this is the most impressive footballing cockroach you’ve ever seen. With 4/4″ KICK Mainspring is good at moving the ball around, setting up teamwork dodges on allies. Mainspring is also okay at scoring itself, with a 12″ threat on goal, if you can get the ball to it and don’t want to commit a player worth 2VP to score. Defensively Mainspring is pretty average, with a second column dodge on the counterattack which would be great if it wasn’t TAC2. On the charge Mainspring’s two column playbook means it’s not too difficult to get a T<< result and leave with the ball, although that requires you to put 2+ influence on Mainspring – probably most relevant if it’s going to be your first activation of the turn.
Long Bomb makes Mainspring really good at passing the ball around, and lets it snag the ball from someone and then reliably chuck it back to allies. Going from a 4″ kick to an 8″ kick is a pretty big difference.
Thief gives Mainspring a momentous tackle on the first column, and it also ignores Close Control. Being buyable for influence – even at 1″ range – means you can also avoid counterattacks if needed. Hitting with one die character plays is never reliable, but it’s sometimes a better chance than risking taking a counterattack, since Mainspring doesn’t have the spare influence to tackle twice (and Thief is OPT anyway).
Launch Control makes Mainspring an inf efficient mascot, since it gives you a point of momentum or a dodge without spending anything. It doesn’t work on Shots, so Mainspring isn’t particularly good at tackling and shooting on goal, but it makes the roach actually quite good at snagging a ball and passing it back to teammates.
Overheat makes Mainspring an even better model to commit to a goal run if you can set it up, since you get to punish your opponent even more for taking it out, beyond just being worth 1VP. It also makes it a pretty good choice to commit Mainspring to stealing a ball, since the opponent is unlikely to want to kill it unless they have no other options. Mainspring’s poor appeal as a takeout option also makes it quite useful for doing any job you don’t want to risk a whole model for, like protecting your important models by blocking charge lanes, triggering traps so other models don’t have to, and so on. Be aware that Overheat doesn’t trigger if Mainspring is killed by conditions. It does trigger if you take Mainspring out yourself, however, which can make for a lot of burst damage from an AOE play like Blast Earth.
Mainspring is useful in any matchup where you want to play any amount of football, which for the engineers is pretty much all of them. It’s nice when receiving for a free pass-dodge and/or momentum point, but having a large number of models which threaten the ball is great when kicking too. Mainspring is a model which you can happily play aggressively with, going after the ball with Thief or just putting a base somewhere annoying for the opponent. A fast model that tackles well is a great tool to have on a mascot – making use of it often requires you to be right up near the enemy team, so having a model with those abilities that’s not worth 2VPs is an enormous upside.
Mother doesn’t have any exceptionally impressive stats, with a particularly awkward 3/1/9 defensive statline which makes her pretty flimsy, especially for an Engineer. Her two die kick stat would be a useful upside in a lot of other guilds, but here it’s pretty below average, especially considering your other option is Mainspring. Mother has a tackle on the first column – though non-momentous – and a 2″ disengage on column two – although with her low defensive stats and TAC3, it’s still not something you would ever want to rely on.
Burrow effectively is a ~6″ dodge once per turn, which is a pretty good use of a point of influence. It makes Mother’s native threat range on goal just over 17″, which is pretty great for a mascot and more than most players that aren’t dedicated strikers. It also makes Mother hard to pin down and take out if she isn’t gone in a turn – although that’s not an unlikely outcome. If you can snag the ball with Mother, she’s also pretty good at getting out with it to safety – which is more important when you don’t have an 8″ kick like Mainspring does.
Spider Nests and their associated Spiderlings are useful for messing with opposing positioning. Because they’re removed if charged over, they don’t last forever, and once you’ve placed three markers you don’t have any easy way of getting rid of them again, so be careful. On-demand markers have a lot of uses though. Movement can’t end on top of a marker, so if an enemy has access to dodges, or can jog but not sprint, you can use the marker to set an area of pitch which they can’t reach. It can also be used to funnel enemies into specific locations when they try to engage you, or put crowding out penalties on someone if their positioning is otherwise restricted (such as avoiding counter charge). It’s not an impactful effect on its own, but can add up a lot when combined with other area control abilities the Engineers have access to.
Webbing makes Mother great at grabbing a free-ball, as opposed to Mainspring’s ability to get the ball off someone who is actually holding it. It does have a few issues though – mainly, if you don’t have a nest already down, you can’t use Burrow to get close enough to the ball and then use Webbing to actually claim it, since you can only place a nest once per turn. This makes using Webbing require some planning, and also makes it somewhat easily disrupted if the enemy is killing your nest markers. Without access to both Webbing and Burrow, though, Mother can still grab a free-ball which is just over 14″ away using Webbing, which is still not easily ignored. If she uses Burrow instead she gets very slightly more distance (because her 40mm base is more than 1″ wide) but that puts her a lot more out of position usually.
Mother is a useful piece, and works sort of as the mirror for Mainspring – going for free-balls rather than ones on a players, and much better at reaching goal scoring positions but much worse without no Overheat and worse defenses once the goal has been scored, and with less KICK dice. Unfortunately for Mother, one of the Engineers’ best squaddies is also great at recovering a free ball, which makes her a bit less appealing. She is also not as influence efficient as Mainspring, and can be a bit of a liability with her poor defensive stats. If you’re against a team that isn’t planning on hiding the ball and doesn’t really want takeouts – such as Navigators or Shark Fishermen – Mother could be pretty useful since goal threat is a lot more important than most of Mainspring’s tools there, although even then the low number of kick dice Mother brings makes things a bit dicey.
Colossus is a model that holds down the midfield and controls the enemy team in melee, and his statline reflects that well. His defensive stats are a bit below the bar, at 2/2, but with 20 health he isn’t a complete victim. Colossus is also extremely speedy for a ‘big guy’ and brings 2″ melee which isn’t common in the Engineers, and their customary excellent KICK stat with an early tackle. His playbook doesn’t have the dodges to be a dedicated striker in most matchups, but scuttling around for an opportunistic tackle and shot is definitely not out of the question. While Colossus’ damage isn’t momentous, he does bring quite a bit of it, and with a little bit of setup taking people out is a good possibility. He’s usually more of a setup model, though, with his excellent KD> result.
Singled Out is an important play for the Engineers, since it lets them actually get takeouts much more easily. Most of the Engineers really need a bit of support before they can start doing reasonable amounts of damage, but a Singled Out and a KD (with a crowdout) definitely does enough to set that up, and it’s easy to justify picking those results when they’re also both momentous.
Unexpected Arrival is a lot less commonly taken than Singled Out, but does have its uses. You can occasionally throw enemies off the pitch with it, which is also a good plan, although Engineers don’t have quite the tools to get ring-outs compared to some others (like Corsair) they are still not bad at it. Unexpected Arrival is also useful for breaking up a scrum if it’s not going your way, or otherwise pushing people into awkward positions. It’s not easily accessible on column 4 of a TAC5 model, but with three influence Colossus can potentially get there himself with Singled Out – KD – Unexpected Arrival. I wouldn’t recommend relying on reaching it even then unless you’re against a model with poor defensive stats, or can charge them (preferably both).
Close Control is the first of Colossus’ long list of useful traits. It’s not exceptionally gripping here, since his 2/2 defensive statline makes Colossus relatively easy to just tackle twice. This does make his counterattack more live, however – while Colossus doesn’t have a double push, his mKD> is still a reasonable option if the tackler was previously KDed by another effect. Putting up Singled Out on a counterattack is also nice for setting up a takeout without having to actually commit Colossus’ activation to do so, leaving him free to threaten the ball.
Light Footed gives Colossus a little bit more mobility on the pitch. Having access to a single Light Footed model is handy because it makes areas of rough ground on the pitch much less awkward for your deployment, as putting Colossus behind that area lets you retrieve the ball if it ends up there without having to sprint / spend more influence or leave a model in a vulnerable position as often.
Stoic makes Colossus a little harder to disengage from, especially if a 1″ striker’s primary disengagement tool is a >< playbook result. It also helps when Colossus is throwing people off the pitch with Unexpected Arrival, letting him more safely avoid being pushed off the pitch afterwards himself.
Tough Hide makes Colossus slightly harder to take out. With his low defensive stats, enemies often get to reach large damage numbers at the tops of their playbooks, so it’s not as impactful as it seems, especially if he eats a KD. However, it does mean that Colossus isn’t going to get taken out in a single activation by anyone without some real dedicated setup work, and generally requires some investment of time to bring down which lets the Engineers do things like score or get takeouts elsewhere.
Colossus is a great all round piece, holding down the scrum and setting up for takeouts while also threatening the occasional goal. The toolbox he brings is pretty varied (for a model which only really does things in melee, anyway) and supports any gameplan the Engineers aim for when it comes to getting VPs. Colossus’ main weakness is his defensive stats, which can be a liability, especially if the opponent can use his poor DEF to trigger effects like Scything Blow or The Unmasking to take out other members of the team. He’s very vulnerable to getting KDed, and enemies with good top-end damage can cause him problems. The teams I’d be most careful about picking Colossus into would be Brewers and Union, but even there he still isn’t a bad choice, just one that needs to be used quite carefully.
Harriet “The Hat”
Like most Engineers, Harriet is pretty durable, with her 4/1/16 defensive lineup rivaling some other guilds’ captains (looking at you, Theron and Shark). She doesn’t have a fantastic counterattack to follow her statline up, though, with no 2″ disengage until column three. She’s pretty quick on the sprint and has the customary excellent Engineer kick stats. In terms of playbook, Harriet brings a momentous 2 damage on column two which is pretty important. Engineers don’t have a lot of momentous damage in their playbooks, especially not in easily accessible locations. She also has some pretty good pushes and dodges, and while her KD is pretty high up, it’s enough to threaten on a parting blow or apply it with a charge if you need it.
Disarm is great for shutting down threats, especially if they already have low TAC numbers. It’s particularly good against strikers (because going to TAC3 or TAC2 is horrible) and against anyone who makes a lot of swings, since losing two dice off six attacks is more of a downside than losing two dice off one swing. On column three and nonmomentous, Harriet isn’t the best at applying Disarm, but it’s not awful either and it’s quite an impactful effect if you can put it up at the right time, especially against a low-TAC enemy like a Navigator.
Sucker Punch is ranged damage. It’s mainly useful on turn one when you have influence to spare and want to be chipping the enemy health bars away as much as possible before reaching engagement. It’s more interesting to Ballista because of Momentous Inspiration, but even there you don’t often want to be spending influence for Sucker Punch unless you have other reasons to do so- which we’ll get to.
If You Can Dodge A Wrench.. is that reason. Popping the ball off someone holding it is a good tool to have, although unreliable. If you roll a 1 on your scatter distance they can just snap it right back, and if not there’s still only a 50% or so change it ends up somewhere Harriet can reach it. However, those odds are still better than the zero you’d have trying to get the ball of an Unpredictable Movement model with Harriet otherwise, so it can come in handy. I wouldn’t ever want to rely on it. It works on Sucker Punch but also on her melee swings, including counterattacks and parting blows, which makes her a bit better at holding the ball than you’d expect against someone with close control trying to tackle her, like Flint.
Inspiring Hat is a fantastic effect, especially on turn one when receiving, or on Pin Vice’s legendary turn. The resposition and the momentum from a pass are both very impactful, and being able to get both at once is fantastic, especially when Harriet herself has a 4 die kick too. Moving your team up to threaten the enemy while also gaining the momentum to win initiative after the fight next turn makes turn one very good for the engineers into most opponents. On Pin Vice’s legendary turn, it turns every point of influence into two momentum and 8″ of dodges which is a great deal and often means Pin Vice gets to score a goal, reposition her entire team for next turn, and win initiative all at the same time, which can often mean gaining 8 VPs.
Learn From The Best gives Harriet a free Sucker Punch each turn she stays near Pin Vice / Ballista. Fortunately, that’s where she usually wants to be anyway – Ballista to benefit from Momentous Inspiration, and Pin Vice to provide the Hat aura. It’s a nice bit of efficiency, and also means Harriet can make four ‘attacks’ for 2 damage each pretty reliably, of which 3-4 are momentous depending on which captain you’re near, and making her a reasonable Tooled Up target if you weren’t able to put it on your captain.
Harriet is particuarly useful when receiving, as mentioned above, because the Inspiring Hat aura is so useful in that scenario, especially with Pin Vice. If you need to kick, she’s less essential, and if you’re running Ballista it’s harder to include her when he has so many good squaddies. I would also value Harriet somewhat less against teams where you aren’t planning on getting a takeout and using her damage results, such as Brewers where her 2-damage effects really aren’t great against a team with lots of Tough Hide.
Hoist is a very standard engineer, with middle of the road speed and defenses, slightly low HP due to reanimate and no other stats of note. Hoist’s playbook is pretty interesting though, as it contains GB and Trophy results without actually having any character plays. He has the useful Engineer tackle on column one, and an early >< result which makes him quite hard to pin down. He doesn’t have momentous damage or anything particularly gripping, but he’s never going to be useless either. He is a little on the slow side for a footballing player though, which is where his abilities would otherwise point him with his dodges, kick stat and momentous tackle.
Reanimate and Sturdy together make Hoist pretty tough to kill. Ignoring KDs and clearing conditions when taken out mean Hoist will often get to use his counterattack, which leaves him as a real problem for anyone trying to kill him without a 2″ melee zone. 4/1/13 with Reanimate is a pretty difficult statline to chew through in general, even if you aren’t trying to KD him first. Sturdy also makes Hoist more resistant to counter attacks and helps him get into fights to tackle the ball and get out again, though mainly this is relevant if the fight is already coming to you and you don’t need to worry about his slowness.
True Replication is Hoist’s unique effect, and it’s the definition of versatility. You can’t copy Captains’ plays, or those of Union hires, but still get a lot of options out of it. 6″ is a long range to pull from, too. You can copy from Mascots, which is primarily relevant for Burrow – making Mother a much more interesting choice in a lineup with Hoist, since a big teleport is great for making up for Hoist’s average speed. A lot of the plays on other Engineers are more available on the playbook for their usual carrier than for Hoist, like Singled Out – he’s primarily useful for those plays which can be bought with influence, letting you double up on OPT plays in particular. It’s also useful for activation order if you can have Tooled Up on two different models, or have a ranged damage play to finish someone off if your other models didn’t manage to. Hoist is particularly good at applying Disarm since his GB result is a column earlier than Harriet’s.
Hoist does a lot of things, but he never does anything that your team didn’t already have. He can go on goal runs, but isn’t as good at it as any of your dedicated strikers. Hoist’s main place is as a model which can contribute to a ranged gunline, but can also go in and play football if needed without immediately being taken out. He is somewhat let down by Mother’s awkwardness compared to Mainspring. Hoist isn’t really someone you want to take into a specific matchup, but instead someone you take when you want more of what you already have rather than a different model – so if you are playing against Navigators and really want to max out on Disarm models, or you want to have multiple ranged KDs or Blast Earths against a team you want to stay far away from. In that scenario Hoist does what you need – he just never brings a new or different tool to the six, which can make him hard to include at times.
Locus is slow but otherwise a standard engineer. He brings a very easily accessible KD which is always good to have, though Colossus is similarly good at applying KD and is much faster. Locus also only has a 1″ melee which doesn’t help his threat ranges at all. He does bring a momentous 2 damage, which is useful especially on a model with 4 max-inf. His tackle is very high up for an Engineer, and he doesn’t have enough pushes to really have a relevant counterattack.
Destructive Impulse is a useful ranged play. It’s similar to a lot of the other options in the guild, doing 2 damage at 8″ range for 2 influence, and triggering Momentous Inspiration. The additional utility this time round is the 2″ push, which can move people out of range to attack you, bring them in so Locus’ teammates can attack them, push them into rough ground or other AOEs to slow them down, or mess with charge lines. It’s quite a versatile tool. The main downside of Destructive Impulse as a ranged control effect is that it’s OPT, so you can’t get more than one hit of damage out of Locus, and there are other effects which are more impactful if you’re copying them with Hoist. Locus also doesn’t bring any efficiency or way of throwing his damage out there for free unlike someone like Harriet, so he’s quite influence hungry if you want to be using Destructive Impulse.
Remote Control is a useful way of recovering a free-ball – although it loses some reliability because Locus can’t use it to pass to himself, so you need to either have an ally around who can be passed to, or kick to space and hope for a good scatter. It also allows Locus to (if he isn’t engaged) drop the ball and then use Remote Control to kick it, effectively giving him an extra ~2″ of kick distance for a shot or pass. If you need to (say, you’re just out of goal shot range) you can also kick to just in front of Locus and hope the scatter has the ball remain within 6″ so Locus can kick it a second time, but it’s unreliable and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have no other options.
Gravity Well means that Locus pretty much always gets to be in range to make a counter attack. Against those targets where his KD is relevant and he isn’t going to get KDed himself, this is great and makes him a problem for some teams. If he eats a KD himself it doesn’t really get him anywhere. It can also be used to mess with people’s goal runs or protect other models, although the pull angle is a little awkward and probably means you will only get to drag the opponent to somewhere they don’t want to be / away from another target if they have forgotten entirely about Gravity Well. Note that you don’t have to push them if you don’t want to – if it’d help a striker get to within goal range or something, you can leave them where they are. Because Gravity Well is an incidental push that doesn’t cost the Engineers anything, it can be useful for breaking Stoic allowing your other players to shove them around more.
Reanimate and Tough Hide together make Locus one of the most durable models in the game. 3/2/15 is a solid statline to start with, and adding both defensive traits make for a model that takes a lot of effort to take out. Locus is just low enough defensively to get KDed often, though, and a dedicated damage dealer can definitely still take him out. Reanimate gets a lot better the more other defensive stats you have, since the 3HP you regain is a lot more impactful if it isn’t just costing a single additional swing. Generally Locus is going to be not worth the effort to take out unless he’s in a large number of crowdouts or otherwise an exceptionally easy target. This makes him pretty good at wading into a scrum and applying KDs to most of the people he can reach.
Locus is durable and that’s really his only selling point. Destructive Impulse and Remote Control are okay, but they aren’t particularly impactful options compared to the others available if you want free-ball recovery and ranged damage. Being super tough is a good upside though, and fortunately for Locus the teams where his durability matters the most are also the ones where his awful speed stat matters the least. He’s a solid option if you want someone you can throw at a team like Brewers, Butchers or Masons to keep their brawlers busy while the rest of the team goes for some goals. Some 2-2 teams also have real issues dealing with a Tough Hide model with good defensive stats, like Fishermen and Morticians, so he’s also an option there. Locus’ main problem is that in a ‘midfield scrummer that can KD people and not die’ he’s competing with Colossus, who trades off a bit of durability for a lot more reach, mobility and footballing options, and while Locus is better defensive Colossus provides better offensive setup, since a first column momentous Singled Out does a lot more for the damage the team brings than Locus’ momentous 2.
Ratchet has a good sprint but doesn’t jog that far, is even with most Engineers at football and damage, and hes somewhat worrying defensive stats. At 3/1/17 with no Tough Hide or other bonuses to durability, Ratchet goes down quickly if he’s reached by any enemy with a reasonable focus on combat. His counter attack also doesn’t help much, with no >> result until his last column and poor access to knockdown effects. He does have a nice m2> result in this playbook on the third column, which is reachable with a bit of help and lets him output a bit of damage, but he isn’t really a VP scorer unless something has gone horribly wrong.
Blast Earth is an important control tool for the Engineers. It provides them with ranged damage which is always appreciated and helps generate momentum. The AOE helps increase the damage output, at least against teams which want to group up together. Not being OPT makes it a reasonable target for Hoist’s True Replication, and allows Ratchet to throw two himself if you need the Rough Ground. The AOE left by Blast Earth slows enemies down nicely, buying more time for the team to chip away at health bars and reducing threat ranges on problem models. It can be overcome by Gliding, but reducing the opponent’s available momentum points can help deal with the opposition once they reach your lines, since they’re less likely to be able to heal themselves.
Long Bomb isn’t as relevant on Ratchet as it is on Mainspring since it isn’t free and Ratchet already has a 6″ kick and so needs it less. Ratchet is also a lot less likely to actually end up with the ball, since he doesn’t go in to tackle it anywhere near as often. On Ratchet it’s pretty much only used in an emergency, when moving the ball a long distance is needed immediately to avoid an enemy goal or get the ball somewhere far from enemy strikers for a future goal.
Tooled Up makes the Engineers actually do useful amounts of damage. The best target for Tooled Up – by a reasonable margin – are the captains, if you’re expecting an opportunity to actually make attacks with them. On both captains it’s worth ~6 damage, where on other players it probably does 3-4. It’s a fine use of influence on Ratchet anyway, though – if it only gives you 2-3 damage, spending 1 inf for 2-3 damage is a pretty standard rate, and even on a squaddie it’ll usually get you more than that. Generally though, you want to be putting Tooled Up on whoever has the most ranged damage on turn one, and then on your captain for the rest of the game, if you’re using it. It’s often not worth spending an activation Tooling Up if you can get VPs immediately, since it gives the opponent more opportunities to deal with your threats and/or get the captain’s target away from them. It’s mainly good for punching through durable targets such as models with Tough Hide, or high HP but low defensive stats.
Fixer is the Engineers’ anti condition tool, and it’s a pretty good one. Ratchet can use it on himself if he needs to, or clear from someone else. It doesn’t use up your Encourage, meaning you can clear conditions multiple times if needed or both clear and heal simultaneously. Being able to clear for free once in a turn isn’t actually particularly gripping when dealing with extremely condition heavy teams like the Alchemists – it’s more relevant against teams which have a bit more difficulty applying conditions, but profit from them after they’re applied a lot, like Snared in Hunters or KD in Brewers. Clearing poison, bleed and burning is difficult with Ratchet because all his other abilities push him towards activating somewhat early in a turn as a setup model, rather than towards the end of a turn when the opponent doesn’t have a chance to reapply them. That doesn’t mean he isn’t still useful against Alchemists, but he’s not as important there are you’d think.
Overclocked is a strong effect which you probably want to be applying on most turns. Because it only works on Mechanica, it’s naturally a lot more relevant in a Pin Vice team than a Ballista one, since giving your captain a free charge is pretty impactful. It’s a good ‘default’ plan to put Tooled Up and Overclocked on Pin Vice, in which case she’ll often be able to take someone out on her own or at least do them significant damage – although it’s not likely to be very momentous. If you don’t have an opportunity to apply TU to Pin Vice, or if she isn’t in your team, Colossus is usually the next best option, since his high speed and reach actually means he’s a pretty impactful goal threat if he gets to spend an effective 5 influence, and it gives you plenty of setup for little investment if you don’t have a goal opportunity. Colossus’ playbook is good enough that if you don’t do anything else, he will at least repay the point of momentum you spent to activate Overclocked. Velocity, Compound, Locus, Hoist and the mascots can all also be Overclocked but none of them are particularly hungry for it in the same way as Colossus and Pin Vice. The third top option is probably Veteran Velocity.
Ratchet is the cog at the centre of the complex clockwork maching that makes up the Engineers. He sets up a lot of the efficiency of the team, helps them against conditions, and also enables them to punch through tough models, while contributing to the ranged damage game and slowing the enemy down. This all makes for a very important model – however, he’s also by far the easiest to take out. It’s a viable plan against engineers to kill Ratchet repeatedly – he comes back on a vulnerable 9 HP and doesn’t have a counterattack of relevance. I’ve seen Engineers games where Ratchet has been Taken Out 3-4 times. Keeping him safe is important and one of the keys to winning fights as the Engineers. He is less important if you aren’t planning on fighting people and want to score goals instead. Against brawling teams with lots of durable models, like Blacksmiths, Masons and Brewers, you should think about whether you want to ignore their fighters and go for goals, avoiding taking Ratchet because of his flimsiness, or take him for Tooled Up and hope to pick up some takeouts while protecting Ratchet – he’s a big target, but that also means you know where the enemy is going to be aiming and can plan to counter them or collapse on whoever goes for him. I personally lean towards taking Ratchet most of the time, but both options work.
Salvo is pretty quick and has a great KICK stat – slightly less accurate than most Engineers, but makes up for it with 2″ of extra distance which is very valuable. Defensively he matches up with Harriet, but has a better counter attack with a second column double dodge. His damage isn’t very interesting, but he’s pretty good at football with a respectable second column mT result with TAC5, and a great looking fourth column mT<< result, though he’ll usually need to charge to reach it. His 1″ melee zone is a downside, and he doesn’t have an efficient buyable dodge, but he’s still pretty good all round here.
Arrow to the Knee is another nice ranged damage tool with a good range that isn’t OPT. The upside attached here isn’t particularly gripping in most matchups, but when it does come up you’re very happy about it. -2/-2″ KICK really messes with some footballers, especially since the reduction in KICK distance often forces them to come in closer to you and deal with being in everyone’s threat range even if they do score. It’s good on turn one for reducing the odds of a successful goal run from the kicker, or if the receiver dodges a model forwards to set up a goal Salvo can stop them. It’s also just good for throwing out some damage, even if you don’t need the KICK debuff.
Floored Bolt is pretty much Deadbolt from Ballista, though it does less damage and doesn’t push, the KD is the real thing you care about and the damage is still good. It’s also on a squaddie, which means it can be copied by Hoist and it is available even if Pin Vice is captaining the team today. Floored Bolt is powerful enough that Salvo probably wnts to be using it every time he activates – you’re pretty much always going to throw at least one ranged character play with Salvo, and Flooring someone is a great way to do so. If you really need the KD, it can be worth throwing Arrow the the Knee first, generating momentum from Momentous Inspiration to let you use Bonus Time! on Floored Bolt for a more reliable KD – rolling just two dice isn’t great for consistency, especially against DEF5 targets.
Tether Ball is the next Engineer tool for retrieving the ball. It’s got a bit more range than Webbing, and it’s more consistent than Remote Control, but most importantly it has the major upside of being on a model that is really good and useful even without its effect. Salvo appreciates Tether Ball a lot because it works well with Floored Bolt, KDing a model to scatter the ball and then grabbing it for himself, meaning it’s good for claiming the ball off a Close Control or similar model as well as free-balls like the other options.
Swift Strikes makes Arrow to the Knee and Floored Bolt into a 2-inf Acrobatics as well, which ups Salvo’s mobility a lot. He can pretty reasonably sprint, throw two character plays, and then make a shot for a 20″ goal threat, although that’s something of a risky plan when missing a character play loses you our goal threat. Swift Strikes also means that if you just want to throw out some damage, after his last shot Salvo can dodge 2″ back to 10″ from the enemy, helping him to stay safe.
Locked and Loaded is an influence efficiency option in a guild without many real battery models, and makes Salvo able to throw three character plays in a turn. The momentum cost refunds itself immediately if you’re in Momentous Inspiration, and even if not it’s still a good plan most of the time. Getting a free Tether Ball is particularly useful if you weren’t expecting Salvo to need to use any character plays. It also lets Salvo throw three character plays in one activation, which makes him a particularly good target for Tooled Up on the first turn, letting him deal 9 damage in one go and really start to worry a lot of squaddies and some captains, especially when combined with the other ranged models in the Engineers.
Salvo is a great piece who does exactly when you want an Engineer to do. He provides ranged damage and control, helping to avoid enemies trying to close on you and disengage from anyone who does reach you, as well as being very good at disengaging himself from any enemies which reach him personally. He’s also good at football, with one of the few long distance kicks in the guild and pretty good ability to get the ball back, whether through his playbook tackle or getting around ball killing with Floored Bolt and Tether Ball. He doesn’t one-round people very much or anything, but no engineer short of the captains really does. He’s a little flimsier than some of the Mechanica but with his good DEF he’s still not a liability like Ratchet. I don’t think there’s any matchup where I’d drop Salvo, and in general you’d need a very good reason to do so. He’s not as impressive if the enemy team has a lot of models which are resistant to character plays in some way, such as with high DEF or traits like Beautiful and Reinforced Plating, but even there he can usually find someone to put some crossbow bolts into who really don’t want to be hit with anything.
Velocity plays football, and well. She only has 9 HP, though her 5/0 defensive statline helps, and otherwise she’s what you want from a striker. With a first column tackle and a playbook full of dodges, she is pretty great at leaping into fights and snagging the ball, and her 4/8″ kick means she can score afterwards too. Her TAC is a bit on the low side, but it isn’t overly essential when you have a first column tackle, though Velocity does really dislike TAC debuffs like Disarm and Blind. If she gets to charge, she also has a nice mT<< on column three which is pretty accessible when you’re rolling 8 dice.
Acrobatic is an important play for Velocity, allowing her to disengage without needing to reach her second playbook column for her m>< or << results. It also lets her reach engagement with Unpredictable Movement models without them dodging away. Acrobatic also puts Velocity’s linear threat range on a ball carrier at a respectable 11″, and gives her an 18″ threat on the goal if she starts with the ball, both of which aren’t exceptionally outstanding for a striker but are more than serviceable.
Nimble really is what makes Velocity durable. Going up to DEF6 makes her absolutely insufferable to try and take out for any team that isn’t the Farmers, or someone with a KD on their first column. Especially if she can reach cover, Nimble makes Velocity a great model to score with because actually taking her out afterwards is so difficult. This often means she gets to survive until the next turn, when she can threaten another goal run, or buy enough time for her teammates to go for the goal themselves. Putting up Nimble at the start of a goal run also helps a lot, since being DEF6 means she’s great at avoiding worrying counter attacks and parting blows. If the opponent is trying to focus Velocity, it’s often worth just spending your first activation to put up Nimble and leaving her sitting there – at DEF6, the influence you spent will probably blank more than one of the opponent’s influence in exchange.
Close Control is another tool to help Velocity avoid counter attacks when she makes a goal run, and saves a point of influence over Nimble if you need it. You still will probably need to be DEF6 if you are worried about a counterattack KD, but a T result is less of a problem. Close Control makes oVelocity a great goal scorer against teams which themselves want to score lots of goals, since she is good at grabbing the ball off strikers and excellent at holding it away from them once she’s got it. Putting the ball on a Nimble Velocity in cover really blanks a lot of opposing options for claiming it back – character plays need to hit a DEF6 model, tackles and anything off the playbook are pretty difficult, and even if they do reach the Tackle they need to do so twice before stealing the ball – and that’s disregarding Velocity’s own counter attack, which has potential to let her dodge away or reclaim the ball once again.
Reanimate makes up for Velocity’s low HP, essentially leaving her on the 5/0/12 statline of most DEF5 Squaddies. It occasionally is worth more than 3 HP, if the attack which triggers Reanimate has a point or two of overkill. In addition, Reanimate’s condition clearing effect means that with Nimble up, Velocity is pretty much always going to be DEF6 for those last 3 HP even if otherwise she is Snared or Knocked Down, which makes pinning her down hard. Reanimate also makes ‘jailing’ Velocity difficult – or at least cost 2-3 influence at the start of a turn rather than 1 – which makes her a good option to score with into fighting teams again.
Velocity seems linear at first glance but has a lot of useful options. Into fighting teams she is great at chasing the ball and being difficult to kill, and puts a lot of pressure on / demands that they spend time killing the ball to avoiding giving up lots of VPs. Into footballing teams she’s still a good footballer, but also provides the option to play murderball instead by holding it on a DEF6 Close Control model. The Engineers don’t have a ton of damage options which makes access to ball killing important if you’re against an opponent you want to outfight / an opponent you don’t expect to be able to outscore. There are not many teams into which Velocity is a bad choice. However it can be difficult to justify her if you are on a ranged control game plan, since she doesn’t bring any real control tools (unless your opponent is footballing) and she definitely doesn’t do any damage.
vVelocity is still definitely a good footballer, with a statline just as good as the original’s but with a few upgrades. She’s gained a single point of HP, but more importantly she goes up from an underwhelming TAC4 an impressive TAC6, which is the highest of any Engineer squaddie, and brings with it a five column playbook for easy wraps. She keeps her first column momentous tackle and her 2″ disengage on column two, and swaps her combined Tackle Dodge result for a fourth column KD and some reasonable damage options. While not momentous, with her short playbook she can wrap quite well and do some reasonable damage with a little bit of support.
Route One gives vVelocity a pretty huge threat range, giving her the potential to reach engagement on a model 14″ from her or really get up the pitch towards the enemy goal quickly. It’s not as good for disengaging as Acrobatic, and does less to get around Unpredictable Movement, but it’s still useful. Triggering Route One off the playbook on a counter attack has potential to let her disengage, but can be difficult to line up, and she does risk a parting blow if she tries it. If she can wrap to column two on a charge on one model, she can dodge out of melee and Route One, giving her a huge amount of movement, especially if she is Overclocked – it’s much safer as a plan if she’s hitting someone without a KD parting blow though, so she doesn’t need to wrap.
Lend A Hand is not as powerful as Singled Out, but it doesn’t require you to actually activate your model and it’s completely free, which are good upsides. It makes vVelocity a reasonably solid footballing option which also really contributes to the beatdown game, especially for Ballista who’s pretty good at pushing enemies into his allies’ melee zones for additional dice. It does require you to put vVelocity in positions which might be dangerous for her – especially since she doesn’t have Nimble – but she’s durable enough to not go down quickly, and anyone coming close to her is risking getting beaten down quite a bit in response.
Reanimate is the same on vVelocity as it is on Velocity. Because of the lack of Nimble, it’s not quite as impactful here, since the additional 3 damage is likely to cost 1-2 influence rather than 2-3, but it’s still a good option. She’s still one of the best scorers in the Engineers, and requiring a real investment to kill means that enemies often need to give you activations with models in her melee zone, which has potential to turn into takeouts of your own.
Veteran Velocity retains her footballing ability, although the +2 TAC is probably less relevant for a striker than the loss of Close Control to avoid counter attacks. She’s not quite as good at grabbing the ball and scoring. The tradeoff is a lot of additional fighting ability, both in personal threat with her great TAC and reasonable damage output, and Lend A Hand supporting the rest of the team. She supports a scrum a lot more, although I still wouldn’t recommend getting into a straight up brawl against a lot of teams as Engineers. If you are planning to do so, she’s a pretty good option. She is much more aggressively aligned than original Velocity, losing out on resilience and ball killing ability for more damage dealing potential and a longer raw threat range. She’s a good choice to support a takeout based plan if you’re worried Colossus is vulnerable to high damage results against a team like Blacksmiths, or if you just aren’t worried about the enemy killing the ball and aren’t planning on doing so yourself.
Compound’s stats don’t look particularly impressive barring his 2″ melee zone, which is the only one in the Engineers except Colossus. He’s pretty awful at kicking for an Engineer with just two dice, and his defensive stats are almost as bad as Ratchet’s at 3/1/18. His playbook is pretty reasonable however, with an early mT> result, and access to a reasonable >> and a bit of momentous damage at the end. He’s never going to be a particularly scary brawler but his charge is reasonably likely to KD someone, meaning he’s an acceptable backup target for Ratchet’s Overclocked if the top choices aren’t available.
Horrific Odour is a great footballing denial tool. It makes tackling the ball and then shooting on goal a lot less of an option for any non-captain player, since it would cost a minimum of 3 influence to do so, or up to 5 influence if the target has Close Control and a relevant counter attack. It does cost a point of influence and Compound’s activation, however, which means you only really want to put it up if you’re expecting a goal run in the near future. It’s very good on turn one for messing with the kicking model’s options, or if you’re expecting a receiving model to score from the other end of the pitch. The main counterplay option your opponent has is just to stay outside 6″ of Compound, so positioning him well and keeping the bubble over all the positions which the opponent could shoot from is important. It does work on passes as well, though this comes up a lot less often. Sometimes you can completely kill a ball though – if a ball carrier planning on a shot or pass only has 1 influence, engaging them with Compound and applying Horrific Odour severely limits their options for getting that ball to anywhere useful.
Noxious Death penalises the opponent for taking out Compound. It’s not going to come up often if he’s sitting back and protecting the goal, but it makes him a lot more useful in a fight. He’s going to take a while to actually get taken out, has 2″ melee, and is pretty good at just getting in the way of the opponent, so in a brawl he can be very useful. He isn’t often going to get influence or make attacks, but he’s good at blocking charge lanes and otherwise being annoying because the opponent really doesn’t want to focus him. If he’s been taking some damage from the enemy, be aware that Noxious Death is like Overheat and doesn’t work if he dies to a condition, but does apply if you take him out yourself with Blast Earth or something. You can potentially set up a chain reaction killing both Compound and Mainspring for an 8+ damage Blast Earth if you get the opportunity, though you’re giving up 3VPs to do so, if they were going to be taken out anyway you get to deny the opponent some momentum and put plenty of damage on them. Because Noxious Death is a trait, it ignores Tough Hide, and so does the poison damage, which really can put a dent in an otherwise durable model. It’s also the only source of Poison available to the Engineers. Though he doesn’t often get taken out till towards the end of the game, Poison damage does quickly add up, especially if you aren’t applying other conditions and the opponent is spending their momentum to heal instead or for other effects.
Resilience makes Compound actually durable, at least from anything that isn’t a dedicated beatdown. He has enough HP that he needs someone to actively focus on killing him, and ignoring the first swing makes him a pretty underwhelming target to be going for. It makes killing Compound across a turn line particularly bad, since you need to break Resilience twice to do so. It also means that Compound gets a lot of opportunities to counter attack, helping him to disengage himself or keep himself alive. He’s also a pretty good ball holder, especially since anyone planning on tackling him is definitely in range of Horrific Odour. It is easier to break with other effects than Close Control, but it’s also a lot more universally relevant, since it works on ranged character plays and it works on results that aren’t tackles, such as Ball’s Gone!, a KD, or just an attack which would wrap to multiple Tackle results. Once Resilience has been popped Compound is a lot more vulnerable, so take care at that point – cheap ranged character plays, especially ones which can be triggered off the playbook like Marked Target, are particularly good at doing so.
Rush Keeper is an extremely strong zone control ability and punishes some teams really hard. It’s particularly good in teams which have a lot of ranged damage like the Engineers, since you’re very good at forcing the enemy to come to you to avoid being bombarded with character plays. While it’s naturally good at preventing goal runs, strikers often have ways of getting around it with dodges, or by making long distance shots from outside the aura. It’s fighting teams that Rush Keeper is particualrly relevant against, since they still want to come in close to you, but often don’t have as many dodges to help them get there, and don’t have the threat range to just end their movement within 2″ of Compound himself to prevent the charge. Rush Keeper also interacts well with Resilience since it makes it a lot harder to push Compound outside 4″ of the goal, knock him down at range or otherwise disable its effects. Against most opponents Rush Keeper will never actually trigger, since they will take lines of play that avoid it – instead, it costs them a lot of clock time to work around it, which is still a real advantage. If someone ever does trigger Rush Keeper it’s usually a big problem for them. At a minimum, they’re getting an additional crowding out penalty applied to whatever it is they’re doing. 1″ melee models often find themselves with nobody to attack, and 2″ melee models are in a similar place if they didn’t move into base to base with their target, since on the charge Compound is pretty likely to reach his >> result. The KD isn’t that much harder to reach on 9-10 dice. Remember that often Rush Keeper is caused by someone moving into engagement with an Engineer, which means Compound gets an extra Ganging Up bonus often. Knocking down a model can kill whole activations, if they cleared KD already or don’t have momentum (since they used their advance to trigger Rush Keeper). Sometimes to get around Rush Keeper a player will move up a less important target first to get it out of the way, so you may want to keep Compound’s threat there for future rather than using it, but that’s rare. DEF5 models can also avoid Rush Keeper by using Defensive Stance to go to DEF6 and avoid most of the impact. Some models can also avoid both a KD and a Push, letting them do their thing without any penalty bigger than a Crowding Out die – the most common example is Hammer if he’s near vChisel or under Tower’s heroic play.
Compound is a great choice if you’re planning on scoring early and don’t want to deal with a snapback goal, or you think the enemy is going to want to come towards your team, whether to fight you or to score. Against footballing teams a combination of Compound and oVelocity really makes them suffer if they want to get goals. Fighting teams also don’t want to deal with Compound, and he’s also pretty good against ranged control with Resilience. He doesn’t like AOE effects much and is only relevant if the enemy is coming towards you – this means he’s somewhat less relevant in a more aggressive Pin Vice lineup, and doesn’t feel as impactful into teams which can face off against Engineers in a standoff, such as Alchemists, or teams which have ways of forcing engagements on their own terms, such as Corsair fishermen. Other than a few specific matchups though, Compound is a great include in a lot of Corsair teams – Rush Keeper doesn’t happen often, but when it does it completely changes entire games and can really ruin an opponent’s plan.
Avarisse & Greede
A&G are both extremely slow and extremely flimsy, while also being quite influence hungry. Avarisse’s defensive stats are really problematic, which means he needs to be protected by the rest of the team in order to do his thing. Greede just is easier to take out than most mascots, while being worth 2VPs, which means you need to dedicate resources to protecting him every turn. The upside is that Avarisse hits like a train. He has a solid playbook, and generally kills anything he gets into contact with.. which is frequently not much.
The primary plan with A&G is to walk Avarisse into within 1″ of an enemy and drop Greede. If they don’t have a good counter attack, Greede applies Singled Out first (otherwise after first swing) and then Avarisse makes three swings at TAC8 with a +1 damage buff and free KD on his attack. Against most targets this does a minimum of 12 damage, or 18+ if you can set up to wrap (which isn’t hard with Bonus Time, or against targets with DEF3/2 or worse). The issues with this idea are that Avarisse needs to get within 6″ of an enemy model to make it happen.
A&G are actually a pretty reasonable choice in Engineers. This is because the abundance of ranged damage in the team makes it much more possible to force the enemy to come to you and engage, which makes their slow speed a lot less of an issue. However, they are still a bit of a liability, because the rest of the engineers are generally pretty nice and durable, so having 1 (or 2) models which can be killed really quite easily often works out badly – especially since they’re slow enough that if they’ve been taken out once they don’t really get to do anything for the rest of the game.
Decimate is a solid fighter. With TAC6 and a momentous 2 damage on column two, she will reliably put eight damage on anyone she is pointed at. Decimate has more reliable early damage than anyone in the Engineers, which is a common theme in their Union options. Her utility comes from the fact she’s also really quite fast and has good access to dodges on her playbook, too. She has a good counterattack with her << on column two, and on the charge can threaten to get the T<< on column 4 against anyone who chooses to counter attack rather than Defensive Stance.
Second Wind isn’t very relevant because she can’t put it on Engineers, so her only target is herself. Where’d They Go? is a lot less powerful when you have to do it at the end of your activation, but it’s occasionally nice for repositioning to engage a Furious model or get into cover after scoring or similar.
Thousand Cuts is a nice DEF debuff for our beat down models. However usually in the Engineers, it’s Decimate that’s doing the beating down herself rather than setting up for others – there aren’t enough other models with good damage to be able to afford spending Decimate’s activation setting up. It’s a nice reward for spiking to a lot of hits in the playbook, and can be particularly useful when you hit a low-def model for the six hits, and target a higher-def model next to it to make them suddenly much more vulnerable. -2 DEF is often enough to set up wraps with a lot of Engineers. It’s very influence inefficient to buy it without the playbook, and not reliable to expect to hit it on the PB, so don’t plan around it though.
Anatomical makes Decimate’s already good playbook better. In particular she’s good at hunting down targets like Flint, since she’s fast enough to catch him, goes through his armour, and ignores Charmed.
Decimate is a model which can score pretty well if needed, but helps out with the beatdown game well as well. She is very influence hungry and really wants a full stack frequently, which can be a problem, and she doesn’t scale particularly well with the support the Engineers can provide. She doesn’t have any momentous damage results above a 2, so she can have issues cutting through targets with Tough Hide, so against some teams if Decimate is your Union option you will be stuck going for a footballing plan, or relying heavily on Tooled Up.
Gutter is similar to Decimate in that she’s an all rounder in terms on stats. She’s slightly lower TAC but otherwise identical in base numbers. Her counter attack isn’t as good as Decimate’s, but she has 2″ melee and access to a KD. She doesn’t have any dodges and her tackle is super high, so don’t get any ideas about playing football with her – she can kick a ball if you want a Pass & Move, at least. Her playbook looks quite underwhelming at first glance – without setup, she’ll definitely generate momentum but isn’t likely to do any particularly impactful amount of damage. However, anyone with momentous damage is great to have in the Engineers, and Gutter is the only damage dealing option available with 2″ melee, so that’s a pretty big deal.
Chain Grab is a really powerful play. 6″ of pushes, and a point of momentum, all for hitting someone with a tiny amount of setup (or just a bonus time) is pretty high impact. It is primarily useful for forcing people into scrums when they don’t want to – which they usually don’t. You aren’t forced to push people the whole distance, so often it’s a good idea to keep people more than 1″ from you (but within 2″) so that 1″ melee models don’t get to apply crowding out penalties to Gutter’s future attacks, while keeping them within her own melee zone. The Engineers really like being able to dictate the terms of engagement, so being able to turn a single enemy who’s committed into a full on scrum with multiple enemies is a great option, especially against footballing or control teams which don’t necessarily want to be in there.
Scything Blow is why you play Gutter. While without setup she’s a mobile source of a small amount of damage and momentum, when you invest the resources into her she removes entire teams, and the Engineers are great at setting up for her. It’s on column 5, so you won’t be hitting it without assistance, but that’s for the best. With Singled Out or vVelocity with Lend a Hand, Gutter can be expected to hit her KD on the first swing (with Bonus Time, she’s TAC8 here) and then Scything Blow on every swing after that, against anyone not DEF5 base. If you have a target with 3/1 base stats, she has reasonable chances of getting 8 hits per swing after a KD – more, if you have setup beyond the minimum – which means she can wrap to column 3, for a chain grab and a Scything Blow on each attack. You can choose to resolve the Chain Grab first, meaning on each swing you pull in a new target and then do 3 damage to all targets, getting higher damage output wither each attack as she gains targets. It does kill your own models, but sometimes you don’t care (or actively want to, if you want to make 8 attacks in one activation with Back In The Game). Scything Blow makes a huge difference in terms of damage output compared to an all-Guild Ballista team, which means Gutter is a high priority target. It’s naturally best against models with a low DEF and high HP (so they don’t die before you can use them to kill everyone else) and against models with 1″ melee zones. Often high-DEF models have low HP, so while they aren’t good targets for reaching Scything Blow, they are very vulnerable to being killed by it while you hit someone else. Gutter is a model that probably scales the best in the game with TAC buffs and DEF debuffs, or at least close to it, and Engineers have plenty of TAC buffs available and great access to KD.
Anatomical is another effect that makes low-def targets (which tend to have ARM) very sad to see Gutter. Getting one free net-hit on every swing is a really big deal on a model which scales as well with hits as Gutter does. While it’s useless against 3/0 and 4/0 models, they’re generally easy enough to hit that you’re fine with that. I wouldn’t recommend pointing Gutter at a DEF5 model unless you have to, though.
Life Drinker is a really useful tool on a model that’s as much of a target as Gutter. Because she has potential to take out entire team on her own, she is often the first enemy your opponent goes for – especially considering that all the other options in the Engineers are really durable and have useful defensive abilities like Reanimate. Life Drinker helps a lot here, since it means she can heal herself for 8hp in an activation if she needs to. It doesn’t work on Scything Blow though, but usually you’re either going off and killing everyone or desperately trying to survive, rather than both. It works out of activation, which means she can regain 1hp on a counter attack to throw off takeout maths in some scenarios.
Gutter is a great tool to have available – even against teams which have lots of DEF5, there’s always at least one model with DEF4 or worse that can be used as a staging point for Chain Grabs. Gutter is good against models which want to group up (because Scything Blow is so good) and also good against models which want to split apart (since Chain Grab helps prevent them from doing so). She is generally a great option for Ballista. In Pin Vice teams she’s harder to justify, since PV doesn’t have as much setup or engagement forcing tools to set her up or as much influence to give to her. She generally wants models that can be slightly more independent which Gutter isn’t really going to do. The Engineers’ Union option is pretty much always going to be a model which does some momentous damage to capitalize on all their setup (Pin Vice doesn’t really need a Union model anyway) and Gutter does exactly that. She’s a bit on the influence hungry side but other than that she’s probably where you want to be.
Rage is a solid beater and doesn’t do much else – although a lot less resilient than most Engineers, he has enough HP that he isn’t going to get one rounded without some setup. His playbook is solid, although the only thing it really does well is damage that’s totally fine. His main advantage over the other Union options is that he’s influence efficient, with his 1/1 influence stat meaning he never pulls inf from the rest of the team.
Concussion doesn’t come up often, mainly because if Rage is reaching column five on his playbook his target is probably going to die and you’d rather have the damage. It does let you get momentum without killing your target if you have influence you can’t use, but that doesn’t come up often. Occasionally you’ll kill one model and then hit another that isn’t going to die immediately, and in that scenario if you can hit the sixth column result you’re probably happy with that.
Tooled Up only works on Rage himself, so it doesn’t come up often really. Making an extra swing is pretty much always a better option, with two exceptions. If Rage is going to charge someone who’s going to counterattack and disengage immediately, you may as well Tool Up for some extra damage on the one hit you’re going to get anyway. Otherwise, it’s useful if you’re charging someone with Fear which nobody else can break for you – since you’re not going to be able to spend that inf for an attack anyway, you can instead take +1 damage on Rage’s charge and Berserk swing.
Berserk and Furious together let Rage make four swings for one influence, which is a great rate. Obviously there are disadvantages – Rage is somewhat easy to control with his complete lack of positioning tech and inclination away from taking KDs. He does threaten a lot of damage within 8″ of himself, though, at very little cost to himself. It’s not that difficult to set him up with some pushes, and spending 1-2 influence to set him up is worth it when you get 3inf worth of ‘free’ work out of it and often end up ahead in momentum because of it. Ballista, Colossus and vVelocity between them can pretty much always get Rage disengaged so he can use all his free attacks, and often get a takeout for his trouble. He doesn’t have as absurd a best-case scenario as Gutter but he demands a lot less resources from his team to do work.
Crucial Artery is a nice extra bit of damage. Generally you’re not going to use this often, but free damage is free damage and taxing the enemy momentum is always nice. It also means Rage does ~11 damage to anyone without a good counter / Unpredictable which is starting to get to the point where they have to do something about it or get one rounded, which is a great position to be putting the opponent in.
Rage is good in a Ballista team, although he isn’t quite as good a payoff for setup as Gutter he is less demanding in influence and in support to get good work done. He’s great at generating momentum which is something the team has always had a few problems with. However he’s also quite a bit easier to kill, so you need to avoid over committing with him. He’s not very fast so he’s poor into footballing teams, and he can have issues against ranged control as well – although generally the ranged control teams which do well into Rage are the ones Ballista can bombard with ranged character plays and isn’t overly worried about, so Rage being weak there isn’t necessarily a problem.
The Engineers have a lot of options in any matchup and do a lot of useful and interesting things. In terms of numbers they are good at football and very durable, but not great in a fight. They are nowhere near as bad in a brawl as they seem, however, as long as you get to set it up properly. If you’re getting into a fight with Engineers, it should be against opposing players who’ve been beaten down to half health by ranged character plays, who’ve had to spend influence to avoid your defensive abilities and control effects, in a location you have better threat on than they do, and when they’re starved of momentum and split up from their teammates. Even then, it’s still not guaranteed to work out well, but it’s definitely pretty good for the Engineers’ chances and gives you a lot more of a chance to get those takeouts. If you let the opponent reach engagement without being disrupted, you’re likely to realise that your team in melee is a bunch of pasty nerds with clockwork bits and probably going to get murdered by dedicated fighters. This is mostly dictated by the momentum race. If engagement hasn’t been reached yet, the engineers are a lot better than most teams at generating momentum with Ballista, meaning they can damage the enemy and simultaneously shrug off any ranged response the enemy makes. As soon as lines meet, the enemy is much better at generating momentum, letting them disregard your chip damage and carve through your models, forcing you to choose between your damage (which is non momentous off attacks, mostly) or momentum to heal, rather than both like you could at range. In general it’s in Ballista’s interest to hold off on engagement for as long as possible, unless the opportunity presents itself to move forwards and take control of a scrum with an initial takeout.
Pin Vice works very differently, but she still wants to avoid a fight. She just does so in a different way, by playing a spread out game and surgically zooming in to score VPs when the opponent is off guard or an opportunity appears. The rest of the team can still sit back and play the ranged game – this means Pin Vice can score without worry of a snapback goal due to Compound, or take someone out with the knowledge that if she’s collapsed on, the enemy is grouping up to make themselves a Blast Earth target, or the people who threaten to do the most damage to you are going to eat a Floored Bolt. While Pin Vice plays aggressively, you need to be calculated in that aggression because she isn’t actually particularly good at scoring VPs outside of her Legendary Play, instead bringing versatility to the team, meaning she always has some way she can try to get VPs, even if her goal odds aren’t as good as Shark or Skatha and her takeout odds aren’t as good as Fillet.
As mentioned above getting stuck in a fair fight is one of the Engineers’ weaknesses, and the other is their mediocre ability to actually score VPs themselves. This means that models which can reliably take people out in a fight are perfect for shoring up the Engineers’ issues, which is where their Union choices come in. They all bring some momentous damage to the guild and they all are great at taking models out who’ve over committed to getting that fair fight, and ended up isolated from their team and engaged by multiple Engineers. If you’re planning on actually taking people out they’re often a good choice so you aren’t stuck only dealing useful amounts of damage with your captain.
That’s not to say that taking people out is mandatory. Goal scoring is definitely a good route to game wins as the Engineers, and they can pretty easily present 3+ threats on the ball on most turns. They don’t have as many easy dodges or as much 2″ melee as the Fishermen, but they do have good tackles and they are also way more durable which is a big deal. It means that an Engineer – at least some of them – can chase after a ball for multiple turns without being one rounded by any real damage dealer who reaches them. The Engineers don’t have a ton of ways of reliably getting the ball off an enemy who’s holding it without just running up to them and tackling it, so that’s likely to be something you do a lot. Because they’re great at passing but don’t have huge goal threat ranges, you’ll often end up sending one player in to tackle the ball and boot it back towards your team, then scoring with another player later in the turn. Because the Engineers can actually take a hit, you’ll often have one of those two players still alive to threaten the ball next turn. The players that are most likely to be taken out in the Engineers are also the ones which don’t want to be jumping in to the middle of the enemy team anyway (Ratchet, Ballista) while those that are going to be aggressively tackling the ball are either good and tough (Hoist, Velocity) or worth 1VP and explode (Mainspring).
As far as building a team goes, the Engineers have a lot of strong players available but a few easy cuts. Salvo is pretty much always going to make the 6, and definitely should be in the 12, as is Mainspring. Ratchet is a great support model against those teams where you can afford to take him, so he’s in, as is Colossus as the best option for holding down the middle of a scrum. Compound is also an important area control piece, so he wants in unless you’re all-in on Pin Vice’s aggressive game plan. You definitely want a Velocity – vVelocity is more universally useful but if you ever want to kill the ball you also should have oVelocity as an option. That leaves Harriet, Hoist, Locus, Mother and a Union choice to fill the last three slots, if you’re taking both captains. In my opinion the two default drops are Locus and Mother – Locus doesn’t really bring anything to the team other than durability, which the Engineers all have plenty of already. Mother is pretty easy to take out, and while Burrow is useful with Hoist it’s very difficult to justify cutting Mainspring because Thief is a very useful ball retrieval option, while Mainspring is also more efficient and Overheat is great on a model you want to be put into dangerous situations. If you’re planning on playing a lot of Pin Vice and not much Ballista, you could alternatively drop your Union include, though I like Decimate as a second versatile scorer/killer in a Pin Vice lineup. Hoist is a good ball claimer against teams with easy KDs – he’s particularly good at grabbing it off Corsair and Tapper. Harriet is only really important when receiving, but she’s so useful there – for Pin Vice specifically – that it’s hard to cut her from the 12 even if she is situational.
The Engineers are a hard team to play well – or rather, they’re a team where mistakes you make get punished a lot. Getting into a bad fight with Ballista or losing Pin Vice at the wrong time can lose a whole game off a single play, and the Engineers are not good at all at recovering after things go wrong, since they need to have all the bits of their complex machine of abilities interlocking correctly. If, however, they can get their clockwork system working properly and all running in the right way, they can take control of a game and keep it thoroughly locked down, with their ability to deny the enemy opportunities to close without overextending, control the ball well, and force the opponent to make bad engagements to avoid being worn down. They have a long list of good players and both captains support them well, but in very different ways which present a lot of possibilities for the opponent to try and work around.
Until next time,