Engineers in Season 4

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

 

Ballista.PNG

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

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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

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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

Mother

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

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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”

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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

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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

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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

Ratchet.PNG

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

Salvo

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.

oVelocity

Velocity

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

vVelocity.PNG

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

Compound.PNG

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

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

Decimate

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

Gutter

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

oRage

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.

Overview

Engineers.PNG

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,

-Henry

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Blacksmiths in Season 4

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.

With that in mind, the next team on the list are the Blacksmiths. This team is one unlike the others in the game, with no captains and no mascots, and Masters and Apprentices instead. They can switch between footballing and takeouts, but are quite heavy on the setup – they have a lot of buff effects in the guild and tend to focus on amplifying the Apprentices’ effects to enable them to score the VPs, as we’ll see. Since there’s no models with captain or mascot types, I’m going to go through and look at each master-apprentice pair in turn instead.

Anvil

Anvil

Anvil is a pretty tough guy, who’s only DEF2 but has a great 3 ARM. This means he won’t resist high TAC attackers exceptionally well, but he’ll present a horrible problem for anyone with a small dicepool. He’s also pretty reasonable elsewhere, with acceptable movement stats (although his threat ranges are a little on the short side, when you consider his 1″ melee zone) and good TAC. Like the rest of the Masters we’ll see, he has a ‘Brewer’ playbook with one fewer column than his TAC, meaning he wraps easily – however like the rest of the masters, his PB is much more about the setup than the damage. With a momentous KD on column one, though, he’s pretty good at it. His counter attack isn’t great, with no early 2″ push, and his damage is entirely nonmomentous.

Singled Out is a very useful character play for setting up apprentices, especially combined with a KD, since +2 dice is more impactful the lower the target’s DEF is. In Blacksmiths it still doesn’t result in wraps often, however, because the apprentices tend to have overly long playbooks – however the top ends of those playbooks are definitely scary. If you’re only able to put up one of Singled Out and the KD, Singled Out is better than KD against any DEF2 model, and breaks even vs DEF3 at 8 TAC dice, vs DEF4 at 6 TAC dice, and vs DEF5 at 4 TAC dice. Usually the tiebreaker is that KDing the enemy also prevents counter attacks.

While The Iron Is Hot is primarily useful for moving the whole team up the pitch on turn one. The Smiths have lots of ways of speeding each other up but aren’t exactly fast individually, so getting a couple extra inches is great. It also lets you disengage from enemies if you need to. A useful trick is to KD someone and then dodge back away from them – if they need to clear KD for momentum and then jog to re-engage, they’re very vulnerable to a future counterattack KD. Since Anvil’s melee zone is 1″, this is only really relevant against other 1″ models however. This also means anvil’s theoretical threat range is 10″, but in order to actually do anything once he gets there requires him to be your captain, and even if he is there are usually better places to be using 4+ influence. Being available on the playbook does mean that Anvil has potential to disengage 2″ on a counterattack if there is nobody blocking the line from anvil to a goal-post.

Sentinel is a rule with a lot of impact, and really helps keep your apprentices alive. Since it’s a 1″ aura, you need to keep everyone bunched up together quite a lot, and you are quite vulnerable to ranged character plays, especially ones which apply conditions since Smiths don’t have much anti condition tech. Most apprentices have standard 4/1 or 3/2 defensive stats, and going to 4/2 or 3/3 makes a lot of teams unable to reliably attack them. This pushes them towards hitting the Masters instead – however the Masters tend to have much better health pools, and aren’t bad in terms of defensive stats either. Smiths are one of the teams that are the best at shrugging off melee attacks because of all this ARM.

Tough Hide makes Anvil very resilient to chip damage – again, except for condition damage. He’s not going to get taken out without setup, and even then costs the enemy a lot of time before he goes down. Models with tough hide tend to have ~4 total defensive stats (i.e. DEF3 ARM1, or DEF2 ARM2) rather than the otherwise standard 5 (like your usual DEF4 ARM1 or DEF3 ARM2 player). Anvil is one of the more durable options available because of this, with his defensive total of 5 and tough hide as well. He has the hit points to take a reasonable amount of punishment from condition heavy teams also. Be aware that heavily set up attacks which hit hard per swing (like butchers, brewers and other blacksmiths) are much more worrying for Anvil than weaker but numerous attacks (like in Masons), and that setup is easy to apply because Anvil has a 1″ melee zone and no good counterattack, so be careful not to strand him on his own.

Tested Mettle is nice for Anvil to lock down enemies, since it makes him harder to disengage from with a >< or >> result. If you can get Anvil into base to base with an enemy they’ll not have a fun time getting rid of him – it doesn’t help much against someone focusing Anvil himself of course, but if they want to deal with other priority targets (which they probably do) it’ll cost them some resources to disengage.

If Anvil is the captain, his Legendary grants Tough Hide and Stoic to everyone nearby. This is hugely impactful, since as mentioned above most non-Tough Hide models don’t have good defensive stats otherwise, while the Smiths can pretty reasonably reach DEF4/ARM2 or similar. Stoic is also great for preventing the enemy from pushing apprentices out of Sentinel. A lot of teams really can’t deal with a fully Tough Hide team and just have to accept that they aren’t going to be getting any takeouts this turn – particularly teams which aim for a 2-2 or 4-1 plan mainly. Teams which play football aren’t really that bothered at all, and teams which lean towards 6-0 or otherwise are heavy on dedicated damage dealers can work through the defensive buffs, or go for the backup plan of killing Anvil. Anvil himself is the Blacksmith who doesn’t actually get any more durable on his legendary turn, so he’s the obvious point of weakness – which is odd considering that normally he’s the toughest team member.

Anvil is a great player and a solid captain into most teams, although I’d avoid giving him the title into footballing teams. This can have interesting results, since a lot of footballing teams also have a 2-2 style captain option which is exactly the type of model Anvil is good against as captain. Fishermen, for example, would be fine to play Shark vs Anvil but really don’t want to play Corsair, where they may not want to play Shark into other Smiths captains. This creates a bit of a ‘list chicken’ situation, so getting a good read on what captain you think your opponent is going to play helps a lot. Anvil, like most Blacksmiths, is quite unhappy to have to deal with enemies who have a lot of conditions, or even just access to Noxious Blast or Dirty Knives.

Sledge

Sledge

Sledge has 1″ more threat range than Anvil because of his 2″ melee, and reasonable 4/1 defensive stats with slightly below-average hit points of 13. That’s pretty standard for an apprentice. In terms of football skill he isn’t really fast enough to do much work, but he can tackle a ball and pass it if needed. His influence generation is standard for an apprentice – like most apprentices, he usually wants a full stack of influence, but since he’s capped at 3 this means the rest of the team has a few more inf to spend setting people up. Speaking of setup, his playbook is pretty absurdly long as 7 columns for a TAC5 player, but has some very impressive numbers in it. With 2 damage on column 1 and 4 damage on column 3, even without setup he’ll do a reasonable amount of damage. With it, he’ll soon be reaching that momentous 6 or momentous 8 and taking people out in a single activation, even with only a few swings. Note that while aiming for the 8 is great, he has a momentous 10 damage on 8 hits effectively since his first column on the wrap does 2. He has a poor counter attack and doesn’t really set up for his allies much, but that’s not why you’re taking him anyway.

Long Bomb means Sledge can reasonably be expected to tackle a ball and send it 10″ down the pitch if needed. This is actually somewhat handy, especially if you want to score some VPs but don’t have the time to set Sledge up to actually take someone out. It’s not something to be used often, though – usually only if you’re on 8VPs and have somewhere to put the ball where the opponent has no way of retrieving it.

Piledriver makes Sledge’s high playbook results much more attainable. It also means if Sledge can make two Piledriver swings in an activation he can deal a guaranteed minimum of 8 damage to anyone – be aware that Piledriver hits are applied after armor, which means even if you get zero hits on an ARM3 model you still get to deal 4. While powerful, Piledriver isn’t always the best option – you usually get more benefit out of making two swings than you do out of making a single Piledriver attack – since the damage you get is approximately equal or better, and you generate more momentum (barring tough hide). The main exceptions (when you’d actually buy Piledriver with influence) are if you want to guarantee 4 damage without rolling dice to get a takeout, or your target is one with good enough defenses that there are reasonable chances of rolling zero net hits on your attack. You can also put up Piledriver if you’re expecting a counterattack disengage after your first swing either way. Piledriver is worth slightly more than 2 damage, so it’s worth triggering it off the playbook if you get exactly two hits.

Powerful Charge is a bit of compensation for having to charge, which Sledge doesn’t really want to do. Paying 2 influence for a single swing cuts into your number of attacks, and losing out on those attacks isn’t something you ever want to do unless you’re going to get counterattack disengaged after one swing anyway, or you need the 2″ extra distance to reach the enemy in the first place.

Tutelage is pretty good for a free Piledriver. As mentioned above it’s not quite as good as a free attack, but it’s pretty close. The Blacksmiths are quite short in terms of influence generation and have a lot of hungry players, so getting effects for free is a great way of mitigating those losses. Sledge’s damage near Anvil is much better, since it guarantees 8 damage and moves his ‘3 swings’ damage up from 6 (without setup) or 12 (with some setup) to 8 / 14, which are both useful breakpoints to be hitting, as many models have ~14 max health and many models return from being taken out with ~7 health.

Sledge is a great include in most blacksmiths lineups, although I generally avoid taking him without Anvil. He’s at his best into teams with Tough Hide and low defenses, since his high raw damage numbers will really cause problems for a target with bad defensive stats, and the small number of actual damage results minimizes the effect of Tough Hide. With his 2″ melee he’s also more resistant to counterattacks than a lot of other damage focused apprentices. He is somewhat vulnerable to being focused down himself, since he doesn’t have a very good counter personally and his defensive stats are pretty underwhelming. Like most apprentices, keeping him in Sentinel is a good plan – he also benefits from KDs, armor shreds, and gang ups which are generally much more present in a scrum than when the opponent is spreading out a lot. If they are splitting up, Sledge is still better than some other apprentices though – his threat ranges aren’t terrible and he’s able to do reasonable consistent damage even if he isn’t supported – it’s more that he needs Anvil, and Anvil hates those teams.

Ferrite

Ferrite.PNG

Ferrite has pretty standard stats across the board, except for her great KICK numbers. She also has slightly low durability for a Master, at 3/2/17 with no other defensive tech – and with 1″ melee, her counterattack isn’t particularly gripping either. She also doesn’t really do very much if she isn’t within 1″ of an enemy, so she does tend to die quite a bit. Ferrite does bring a pretty good playbook for footballing, with an accessible momentous tackle and 2″ repositions. Her KD is pretty high, but column 4 on TAC5 is still enough to prevent enemies from just ignoring her and taking a parting blow. She isn’t going to be killing anyone any time soon, being more of a support piece and a footballer.

Acrobatic is useful for supporting that footballing plan. Ferrite isn’t the fastest of models otherwise, and with her 3 max-inf she needs all the efficiency she can get. Acrobatic isn’t the most efficient, but it gets the job done, and it helps Ferrite avoid being pinned down by multiple enemies.

Disarm – on the first column – really helps Ferrite mess with enemy models in a fight. It’s mainly useful against those enemy models which have low TAC, especially combined with the Smiths’ high armor values. Navigators are a good example, as are enemy strikers and other models with low TAC and an intention to hit people, such as many TAC5 brawlers along the lines of Fangtooth. It’s also good into teams which really want to reach the top ends of their playbooks, like Brewers. Disarming a model – especially momentously – is a high impact effect if you can ever get it on someone who’s got more than a couple of influence left to spend, and really messes with a lot of models’ activations, especially if they are planning on making a lot of attacks, like a captain. The -2 dice modifier is more impactful the more attacks the model was planning on making.

Weak Point sets up the team’s damage dealers quite well against most teams. A point of ARM reduction is worth one net-hit per swing all the time, which is pretty comparable to a KD or Singled Out. The issue Ferrite has is that she only applies one debuff – where Anvil can both SO and KD, Ferrite has issues reaching her KD, even against a target she’s taken an ARM from. Also, armor shreds are available elsewhere in the guild with additional free effects added, and unlike Singled Out and DEF debuffs, ARM reduction doesn’t stack well – since once you’ve reduced a model to 0 ARM, applying another Weak Point effect does nothing.

Get Over Here! [Iron] helps with Iron’s mobility, which is usually his main downside. Since Iron is great (as we’ll get to later), if you’re taking Ferrite you’re probably playing him, and this is a useful option to have available. Iron also benefits a lot from what Ferrite brings – Weak Point helps his damage, and Disarm helps him avoid counter attacks. Because it’s a dodge, Get Over Here! is also great for disengaging models from fights you want to avoid, or getting Iron to an advantageous position like in cover and/or in Sentinel.

Tong In Cheek is primarily useful for supporting a goal run. When she isn’t the captain, Ferrite has a 3 influence cap, which means paying for Acrobatic is difficult and so is sprinting – any extra couple of inches of distance you can get for free helps a lot. It also gives a 3 influence Ferrite a 19″ threat range on goal which isn’t bad, if she already has the ball. This is pretty much the closest any master gets to scoring VPs on their own, rather than an apprentice doing the heavy lifting.

When she’s the captain, Ferrite’s legendary is a big Times Called effect, speeding up the entire team. Because it is an aura – not a pulse – she will need to stay near her allies for them to get the benefit, which can be difficult – it means that Ferrite can’t legendary for herself (to set up a goal run, say) and then also have the benefit go to her team, instead needing to stay back a bit more. Because it triggers when an advance is started, it also doesn’t let you pull Iron any further. Usefully, if Ferrite is the captain she has 5 max-inf, which makes her goal scoring much more doable and means she actually needs to use the legendary on herself much less – although if you’re putting a lot of influence on your captain in Blacksmiths, it usually means that at least one apprentice is going to be stuck doing very little this turn, which isn’t a good look.

The best effects on Ferrite’s card are – by a reasonable margin – Disarm and Get Over Here!. Iron is good enough that moving him around is a pretty reasonable upside, so I’d always take Iron if I’m taking Ferrite, but Disarm is the reason you actually take her most of the time. As mentioned above it makes Ferrite great into teams which want to play lots of football or otherwise have low TAC. These teams are usually where Ferrite wants to be playing anyway, since her status as the flimsiest Master also matters a lot less since even though she isn’t quite as tough, she is still a relatively difficult model to take out for a team like Navigators or Fishermen.

Iron

Iron

Iron is slow but otherwise all round great. He’s pretty good defensively – especially as an apprentice – with a 3/2/13 statline, which really gets tough when combined with Sentinel. He isn’t a great kicker and doesn’t score many goals, but makes up for it with TAC6 and 4 max-inf, meaning he can make four swings a turn and make good use of his excellent playbook. Unsupported, he can be expected to reach his second column m2 and do a solid 8 damage. If you’re willing to put in the resources to assist him, his momentous 7 is a pretty good payoff – but the real money is in the middle, on his fourth column momentous 4 damage, and his column 3 KD. That 4 is a really solid result to be hitting, and Iron needs very little setup to reach it and easily put out 12-16 damage. With a single crowdout and a bonus time, Iron can be expected to KD his target on the first swing and then reach column 4 on the rest, or just do 16 straight up – and that’s a lot less assistance than Sledge needs to do his own 16 damage. The cost is Iron’s 1″ melee zone and slow speed, meaning he’s more of a high damage wrecking ball that the opponent must deal with than the more ‘glass cannon’ Sledge. Iron also has a great >> result on column 1 for counterattacks, but his 1″ melee makes it pretty hard to rely on.

Impetus lets Iron get around a bit more quickly even if Ferrite isn’t available to pull him forwards. Like most effects that turn influence into movement / distance, you only want to be using it if you have to, but it’s good to have the option to have a 9″ threat range on the charge if you need it, since having an unmodifiable 7″ threat would really make Iron easy to avoid or control.

Battering Ram gives Iron some utility if he isn’t able to reach the enemy. Moving your other models 2″ up the pitch is a pretty good use of zero influence on turn one, and helps get your longer-threat other apprentices like Sledge into a position where they can threaten the enemy team. It’s also good at other times for reaching targets which are being bodyblocked, or repositioning a scrum so that an enemy is in range of multiple crowdouts before Iron attacks. It also helps for shoving enemies out of cover before you start hitting them.

Close Control puts Iron as one of the best ball holders in the Blacksmiths. Since he can easily reach DEF3/ARM3, a lot of TAC4 and TAC5 strikers will  have difficulty getting anywhere against him, and some other strikers have a second column tackle which is not easy to reach against a heavily armored target – especially if Shark has to activate immediately or risk being Disarmed and losing all chance of getting the ball. It doesn’t protect against non-Tackle results, so doesn’t completely blank the Fishermen or Navigators, but it certainly restricts their options quite a lot. It’s also good for completely ending the footballing chances of a team that would usually want to go 2-2, since any team without ball stealing character plays is going to have a lot of difficulty ever reclaiming it, forcing them into a fighting heavy gameplan they may not be well equipped for.

Tough Hide puts Iron head and shoulders above all the other apprentices in terms of toughness. Like Anvil, Iron has noticeably better defensive stats than other Tough Hide models in other guilds, and is a really poor target for most teams’ fighters, especially since he spends most of his time in a bunker of Masters slowly grinding their way up the pitch. It’s great to have at least one Apprentice that isn’t going to die to a stiff breeze if you misposition them slightly, and Iron is that Apprentice. He’ll still go down quickly if the opponent gets to spend some time setting up on him with some debuffs or damage amplification, but that at least gives you a chance to get a Sentinel onto him, or pull him out of danger with Get Over Here!.

Tryhard makes Iron a good goal scorer if you’re able to get him there. He’ll reliably put the ball in the net if he can reach that 2″ distance, but he isn’t exactly fast – so as mentioned above, he’ll probably end up holding the ball as your blob of durable Masters slowly escorts him up the pitch, taking out any resistance along the way until you get the chance to score.

Iron is highly durable, a good ball holder, and a great damage dealer, so he’s pretty handy in a lot of places. While Ferrite always wants Iron, Iron doesn’t necessarily always need Ferrite – additional mobility is nice, but if you’re expecting the enemy to plan on brawling and bringing the fight to you anyway, you don’t necessarily need it. Iron is a fine model into most opponents, but I’d try and avoid him against control teams which can slow him down – a blinded, burning, or snared Iron is very sad and probably won’t do much. If the enemy is just going to engage in a ‘fair’ fight, though, he’s a solid include, and his ball killing ability makes him good into football focused teams as well.

Burnish

Burnish.PNG

Burnish is a very average Blacksmith Master, with slightly more health than Ferrite. He’s a bit low on the TAC side compared to a lot of masters, but doesn’t really punch people very often anyway. His column two KD and >> make his counterattack acceptable (for a 1″ melee model) but he won’t be doing damage or playing football, and doesn’t really have any more setup than that KD for his apprentices.

Flame Belch lets Burnish apply some control effects at range, slowing down enemy models and blocking charge lanes with some reasonable damage. 2 inf for 2-4 damage isn’t particularly impressive though, so usually you’d rather just take momentous damage on attacks unless you want the fire MOV debuff, or it’s turn one and nobody else is in range. Flame Belch isn’t OPT, so it can be used multiple times if Burnish is the captain. It doesn’t have a great return on influence invested, but can position AOEs to really slow down a team trying to engage on you, and range can be useful when finishing targets off.

Kill The Ball is a useful too for moving the ball a long distance – resolving a goal-kick makes the previous ball location irrelevant and can completely shift things from one side of the board to the other, which helps if you’re trying to avoid an enemy goal run or your bunker of ball killing protection for Iron is expected to finally fail soon.

Reduction is the closest thing the Blacksmiths have to anti condition tech. Unfortunately, setting your own team on fire after clearing conditions is a real downside, and means that dealing with someone like Smoke can be a major problem. It’s still worth it if your models are poisoned and burning, or something, but the movement penalty is really not great to work with in condition heavy matchups. It’s better to be burning than snared against Hunters most of the time – just be aware that if you get snared again next activation, your models are now at -4/-4 movement and will really need to clear conditions for momentum if you want to get anything done at all. The main strength of Reduction is in clearing KD, since being knocked down is by far the most punishing of conditions and really matters a lot more than fire – especially because most KDs are short ranged, which means the movement debuff of Burning is less relevant.

Reinforced Plating is the only real tool Smiths have to deal with ranged character plays, and they really appreciate having it as an option when they are universally somewhere between average and terrible in the DEF department. Standing Burnish next to Iron lets you prevent any ball-stealing character plays – note that unlike Resilience, it isn’t mandatory on the first thing that hits him, which means your opponent can’t ‘break’ it with an irrelevant play first, it always prevents something relevant. You can also use it even if the model isn’t being directly targeted, such as if it’s under an AOE play like Lob Barrel, or to prevent playbook-triggered effects like Chain Grab, Ball’s Gone and Fancy Footwork.

Covering Fire is nice for getting a bit of free damage out without putting influence into it. Since the AOEs are of most use on turn one, if Burnish isn’t the captain it’s often worth using it early to get some damage down and slow up the enemy, getting them low enough that they have to worry a lot more about being one-rounded by your apprentices.

If Burnish is the captain, then Tooled Up on him lets you deal 9 damage at range with three Covering Fires, which is starting to get to the point where models get killed before they’re able to activate or otherwise taken out when it isn’t expected. You do need Tooled Up to do a reasonable amount of damage even on legendary turn, though. The main use of Burnish’s Legendary is to deny two character plays against those teams where they’re important – preventing Smoke’s burst damage for a turn, for example. Most of the time if Burnish has popped his Legendary, enemies won’t bother using character plays against your team – but that’s fine, and usually means you will be able to get into a fight properly with your apprentices in good shape.

Reinforced Plating is where Burnish shines, along with bringing a Fire effect for those apprentices that care about it. Character play heavy teams are his best target, and while specialized there are quite a few character plays going around that the Smiths could really do with ignoring. He’s a reasonable include against Obulus, Theron, and any Fishermen, Engineers, Alchemists or Navigators team. I wouldn’t bother with him into brawling heavy teams like Masons, Brewers or Butchers – while his fire AOEs help slow the enemy down, the team doesn’t have enough other ranged damage / control effects to turn that delay in engagement into a major advantage, and you’d do better to run a Master who can support the apprentices more thoroughly.

Cast

Cast.PNG

Cast is fast. She’s also got good kick stats, reasonable TAC, and exactly mirrors Sledge in defensive stats. With her 4 max-inf, she is a bit on the influence hungry side. Her playbook is not quite as impressive as Sledge’s or Iron’s, with no impressive damage numbers until her column six. She does have a nice momentous 2 on column 2. Her Tackle isn’t quite low enough on her playbook for her to reach it unsupported, which doesn’t help her ability to play football – although her mobility is good enough that she’s great at chasing down a free ball.

Shield Glare is Stagger and half a Disarm in one play, stacks with both, and doesn’t even need to be put on the same model you’re attacking, which makes for a versatile play. However, spending influence on setup does limit the amount of actual VP scoring Cast gets to do, and as an apprentice that’s pretty much her job. Generally spending an influence to apply Shield Glare is only worth it if someone else is going to be following up on that target, or it means Cast is going to reach her sixth column, since the damage she gains otherwise doesn’t get her very far. It does help her reach her tackle, but that’s a lot of influence investment. It’s sometimes good for reducing the impact of counter attacks, or really messing with an already Disarmed model to make sure it gets nothing done.

Shield Throw lets you pop the ball off someone without needing to tackle them, and gives you some free damage at the same time. It is OPT, so you can’t just hit one person and have the damage apply to someone else every time, and if you get a ‘1’ for distance on the scatter the ball carrier can just snap it again and there isn’t much you can do about it afterwards. Circular scatters like this are really quite risky and tend to have a lot more results where you don’t benefit or nothing happens than they do results where it actually helps you, but it’s your only chance of getting a ball off on two hits, and sometimes you just want to get a momentum while popping Resilience on someone, or get two points of damage on someone further away.

Burning Passing makes Cast much more comparable to other apprentices in terms of damage. It leaves her with the same m4 on column 4 as Iron, albeit with one less TAC die. She still isn’t going to do as much as the other damage dealer apprentices with setup, but she’s much faster and she has a momentous 3 on column two, which is great for beating up people without any other setup (beyond Burning).

Swift Strikes does a lot of interesting things for Cast. It makes Shield Throw more useful, since you can pop the ball off someone and then dodge towards it to pick it up (though you’re still crossing your fingers for a good scatter). It also makes a lot of her playbook results suddenly very appealing, with a m2<< (or 3<< with Burning) on column two, and a GB><<< on column five if you take Shield Throw. It doesn’t work out of activation, though, so her counterattack remains pretty awful.

Cast’s main strength is that she’s somewhat self sufficient, since she has a good early playbook and is fast, which means against teams which don’t want to group up together much she can remain useful. As an apprentice with a 4-inf cap which really wants a full stack, she’s one of the more influence hungry options, but she does bring a lot of useful little tools. Cast’s main issue is that in order to actually threaten models she needs Burning to be on them, since without it her damage doesn’t scale anywhere near as well as the other damage focused apprentices. Burning is definitely available in Blacksmiths, but it’s harder to find than other more universal damage buffs like KD, DEF reduction, and/or ARM reduction. Because her counterattack sucks and to take advantage of her speed requires her to usually lose access to Sentinel, Cast is at her best into teams that want to spread out and play football rather than those that want to group up and brawl.

Hearth

Hearth

Hearth isn’t a model that’s going to do much personal work, even if she’s the captain. Her defensive stats are below average for a master, even with her 23 HP. She’s also on the slow side. In terms of base threat though she’s even with Anvil, since she loses an inch of movement but gains a 2″ melee zone. This is great when combined with her first column KD, which is pretty much the only result she’ll ever really want out of her playbook. She has a 2″ disengage on column three, which with TAC5 isn’t unattainable but it’s not exactly fantastic either.

Instruction is like a mini Piledriver, but importantly it doesn’t cut into your apprentices’ max influence. It helps your apprentices reach important results like tackles, and is worth approximately 2 damage if you’re going for takeouts. It’s not quite as good as Tooled Up for killing people, but it does give better odds of momentum generation through wraps and has more utility if you aren’t aiming for takeouts. It can only be used on Apprentices, but most Masters don’t have an exceptional playbook top end anyway. Instruction isn’t OPT, so you can put it on multiple Apprentices if you get the opportunity. It’s good if you really need another model to reach a specific result, but 1 influence for 2 hits isn’t an exceptionally good rate so it’s not something that you’ll want to put the influence into every turn. Smiths have access to a lot of buffs, but other than turn one you’re usually better off only putting up a couple of them and instead having more influence to do actual work with.

Use This! is a very unique and really powerful effect. Going from 1″ to 2″ melee is a big deal and changes a lot of models in Smiths. It’s 1 influence for 1″ of threat range, which is pretty standard in terms of movement buffs, since 2″ of threat from Quick Foot or While The Iron Is Hot tends to cost 2 influence. It also does a lot more than that though. It lets the team make counterattacks when they’d otherwise be unable to, apply crowding out penalties more effectively, avoid enemy crowding out penalties, get around Unpredictable Movement and avoid enemy counterattacks. Use This! is great on short threat ranged models that want to reach melee and pin people down, like Iron and Anvil. It’s also good on strikers who’d otherwise be vulnerable to counter attacks, like Cast and Alloy. It does nothing at all to a model with a 2″ melee zone already though, so some teams and models won’t care at all.

Match Experience turns ball possession into a lot of mobility, really speeding up the whole team and helping to compensate for Hearth’s low movement numbers. An investment of 3 influence can move the entire team 8″ up the pitch, which lets you present a lot of threats on turn one and work well into teams which have a lot of ranged effects and want to play keep away. It’s at its most useful if you are the receiving team, but can be handy even later in the game, especially if you have some of the more footballing focused apprentice / master pairs. Match Experience can be used regardless of whether the model in the aura is the kicker or receiver, but Hearth is slow enough that she really wants to stay in the middle of the team to enable the buff – but with her defensive stats, staying central is probably for the best anyway.

Sturdy helps Hearth make use of her counter attack and lets her shut enemy models down. If she KDs someone with a smaller melee zone, they need to spend MP to stand and then move to re-engage, meaning she can take a counterattack (without fear of being KD herself) and KD the enemy again leaving them with no way of standing back up. It doesn’t work against models with on-demand dodges or free condition clearing, but still is strong on a good percentage of models, including a lot of captains. It also makes Hearth better able to take a Parting Blow and walk out of melee if she needs to. KDs on Hearth’s counterattack are her only real way of avoiding getting killed, since otherwise her 2/2 stats just aren’t great, so keeping as many of the enemy team KD at any given point should be a priority, especially once a brawl has started. Fortunately for Hearth, she’s pretty good at that.

Armoury makes Hearth’s melee zone 3″, meaning she can do the aforementioned KD – ignore counter – KD again trick even against 2″ melee models. Be aware that it also gives the target of this effect quite a large amount of room to maneuver without taking a parting blow – they can usually reach someone else, which can give them a way out of the trap if the other target is easier to go for. It also helps Hearth’s threat range for no influence, which is nice on such a short ranged model, and makes her great at avoiding Unpredictable Movement, Counter Charge and other defensive abilities with a limited range.

If Hearth is the captain, she makes the entire team’s melee zones 2″. This can be pretty powerful in some teams, or could not have much impact if you’re already running 2″ models. If you have a team like Hearth – Alloy -Burnish – Cast – Anvil – Sledge it’s very impactful though – as mentioned above, gaining a 2″ melee zone is a very impressive buff which really does a lot to help you to outposition the opponent. There’s a lot of possibility for Armoury to change a scrum by causing disengaged enemies to suddenly be re-engaged by multiple of Hearth’s teammates, locking them in place. A free Instruction for all the apprentices doesn’t go amiss either – it means that those pinned-down models are in for a lot of trouble if anyone connects with them.

Hearth is useful in most teams, since her Sturdy + easy KD combination works well against most enemies. Her abilities are most useful for controlling a scrum or messing with other fighting teams’ plans, and she does a lot less against teams that don’t want to scrum. She is also always a good option if you get to receive through the sheer utility you get from Match Experience, especially against teams that rely on being able to control engagement on turn one. If they allocate influence to buffing / support models expecting to have time to set up and buff for a last-activation kicking payoff, threatening the enemy team ASAP with multiple models can force them to change their plans.

Alloy

Alloy.PNG

Alloy is very much the Smiths’ premier striker. With a high speed, momentous tackle, great kick stat and easy access to dodges he does exactly what you’d expect him to do. He’s a little bit flimsier than most apprentices with only 12 HP, but has a reasonably accessible << on the counterattack, which helps, even if he does have a 1″ melee zone. This also means he doesn’t have many options for avoiding counterattacks himself, since he has no way to avoid the ball being stolen back from him. This makes him a great target for Hearth’s Use This!. Alloy isn’t terrible at damage either, with a momentous 3 on column 4, but it’s not as scary as some other apprentices. His column 5 mT<< is a great result too, especially since his long playbook makes odds of wrapping low, he’s able to potentially grab the ball and escape a counterattack on the charge anyway. Alloy’s high speed also makes him pretty good at still getting work done when he returns to the pitch after being take out – which will probably happen quite a lot.

Acrobatic puts Alloy at a 12″ threat range on his own, which is pretty high for a Smith if a little low compared to other premier strikers like Flint and Mist. However, Alloy is in a team with a lot of extra movement buffs which can amplify that number much further towards a properly impressive value. It helps him get out of being pinned down after he’s scored, which makes it riskier for the enemy to leave him on 1HP at the start of the turn since he can just disengage if he gets to act.

Dirty Knives gives Alloy something to do if he isn’t able to threaten the ball, or if he has some spare influence. It isn’t OPT and is triggerable off the playbook, which means with a little bit of support Alloy can turn 4 influence into 4 targets poisoned, damaged and with a DEF penalty which should make them think twice about going in on your team. It also means Alloy can switch between a VP scoring role and a support role as needed depending on the situation – and unlike with Cast, his support plan still does damage and applies poison, which often results in quite a bit of damage towards the end of a turn, or a momentum lead.

Back To The Shadows helps Alloy score safely, as combined with Run The Length he can move 8″ back to safety after putting a goal in. Needing to do damage isn’t that hard for Alloy, since applying a Dirty Knives on the way past his opponents is a useful thing to be doing even if you don’t need BttS. It also means Alloy can move up and apply Dirty Knives to an enemy while staying very safe from any repercussions.

Arsenal helps Alloy make reliable goal runs. Anatomical Precision is a big benefit on a model with TAC5 and a second column tackle, since it means he’ll actually get the ball without too much difficulty off most opponents, unless they can reach DEF6 or DEF5/ARM2 or something. It also makes that Dirty Knives GB result, and his m3, much more accessible if you aren’t planning on moving the ball around. If you already have the ball, or it’s on someone easy to tackle / without ARM, you can have an extra kick die instead to ensure Alloy scores safely, but I’d usually lean towards taking the Anatomical (barring ARM-less teams like Farmers) if I’m planning on trying for any playbook results above the first column.

Alloy is a great model – while he gets taken out a lot, he’s a fantastic goal scorer and still does things if that’s not an option for some reason. He’s also one of the best options the team has for a kickoff model, since with his 7″ jog and 8″ kick he can put the ball somewhere very awkward for the enemy, and threatens the enemy lines well, making them worry a lot about hiding the ball, which costs them influence and weakens the impact of their own turn one. He’s particularly good into teams which don’t kill the ball well, such as Union, or into teams where you want to have options other than brawling, such as Butchers where a scrum is risky. He naturally works very well in combination with Hearth, and the two of them together are probably some of the first includes in a lot of lineups.

Farris

Farris

Farris’ stand out stat as a Master is her 10″ sprint distance, which when combined with her 2″ melee makes her one of the fastest Masters. She isn’t exceptionally durable, with a statline that matches Anvil’s, but without Tough Hide and with 4 less hit points – her counterattack isn’t bad though, with a 2″ melee, TAC6 and an acceptable double push on column 3. Her playbook isn’t particularly gripping, with her KD all the way up on column 4, but she at least has the TAC to make it an option. A second column momentous tackle does a lot to help her footballing capabilities, although her 2/6″ kick makes that look somewhat worse, she can at least take the ball off most enemies. Her 5/10 movement stats mean she wants to charge or sprint a lot more than most masters, or at least she gets more work out of that influence if you need her to.

Stagger helps Farris to reach that KD with some reliability, and applies debuffs which set up her teammates and can’t be cleared with momentum. It’s not as impactful as Dirty Knives or Shield Glare, but like Instruction it has the upside of being available through influence on a Master, rather than cutting into the Apprentice’s output.

Quick Foot is a useful tool for setting up Apprentices on turn one and extending threat ranges. It can be applied to multiple models if Farris is the captain, too. 2″ for 2 influence is pretty standard – although the main competition in threat extension (While the Iron is Hot / Battering Ram) works on the whole team rather than one model, Quick Foot has the advantage of not actually moving the model until they activate, meaning you need to worry less about moving into enemy threat ranges when you extend your own. Quick Foot also works on Get Over Here!, so if you want to get Iron into the fight on turn one it’s a good option as he gets to ‘double dip’ on the movement speed increase.

Give It A Whack pretty much makes Farris’ kick slightly more than 8″ rather than her printed 6″, as long as she is unengaged and free to drop the ball in front of her. She can’t use it to pass the ball back to herself, though, so she can’t use it for a bootleg Where’d They Go? sadly. Because the distance of the kick is measured from the ball location, she gets easy Tap Ins too, at just over 5″ out of 8. It also means she can move a free-ball if it’s within 12″ of her which makes her good at retrieving the ball on the kick off and at dealing with a ball that’s been dropped or scattered from an enemy who’s been taken out / knocked down.

Sentinel is just as good on Farris as it is on Anvil. While Farris can’t give out / gain Stoic to prevent pushes from breaking Sentinel, she instead is just faster, and has a 50mm base allowing her to provide the ARM buff to a larger area. She’s the Sentinel master that’s most likely to be able to keep up with the faster apprentices like Cast and Alloy – although be aware that she is also not really very durable, and can be vulnerable to getting killed herself while she tries to protect them.

Ride Off makes Farris great at moving the ball around – when combined with Give It A Whack she’s effectively running a 3/10″ kick with a Tap In distance of just over 6″, and doesn’t even need to spend influence to make her passes. It’s a little bit of efficiency which is good to have – Farris with 1 influence has a goal threat of just over 20″ and does plenty of other things if you don’t get the opportunity to go and score, which makes her a great footballing option to have available. If you use Ride Off to make a Shot, you still need to spend the momentum though. Because you won’t get a ton of chances to actually play football with Farris (the apprentices being the ones who chase the ball the most), it’s usually worth it to Legendary if she isn’t the captain whenever it’s useful, especially if it lets you use Match Experience dodges or gives you the spare influence to apply Quick Foot or make some attacks.

When she’s the captain, everyone gets Super Shot and free passes. This makes for a lot of free influence and free momentum, but does nothing at all if you don’t have the ball, or lose it. The main strength of Ride Off here is moving your entire team absurd distances through Match Experience without spending any influence on turn one, letting your team get stuck in immediately. It costs you your captain slot, but gains you a lot of tempo and applies a lot of pressure, so can be a good choice especially if the opponent isn’t expecting it, especially if you’re in a matchup like Alchemists where you need to be proactive.

Farris is a useful piece if you’re planning on playing football, especially when receiving. She isn’t bad at setting up for damage dealers either, and has a very mobile Sentinel, but footballing is where she actually shines. She is useful as a scoring option that costs little influence and does things in a fight too, so can be a good hedge if you want to be able to score if needed but also want to maximise your team’s output in a fight. The toolbox Farris brings is very varied and useful into a wide variety of matchups – she doesn’t like all-in fighting teams since she’s a bit likely to get taken out, though, and she likes to actually have some influence allocated to her, which makes her more appealing if you are playing 3-inf cap apprentices rather than 4-inf ones since you have more to spare for the Masters then.

Bolt

Bolt.PNG

Bolt looks slow at first glance and is otherwise standard, except he has a great four die kick. His playbook has a nice second column momentous tackle pointing him further towards the footballing game, along with a 2″ disengage – making him even with Alloy, although without the ability to gain Anatomical Precision. Bolt also is one of the few apprentices without an overlong playbook, meaning he wraps more easily than most – however his damage isn’t exceptionally gripping, with a m2 on column 3 and capping out with a 4. He does have an easy >< result which can let him do a bit of setting up sometimes, pulling targets out of cover and into enemy threat ranges.

I’m Open! makes Bolt a great option for moving the ball between teammates, since if he wants to he can make three passes in an activation, which among other things lets you reposition models absurd distances under Match Experience and lets you generate a lot of momentum on turn one even if you aren’t dodging. Be aware that I’m Open has a 6″ range, even if the model you want to pass to you has an 8″ KICK distance. It also makes Bolt’s personal goal threat better, as it lets him pass to an ally to dodge forward, then retrieve the ball for another dodge before going to score. The other important point about I’m Open! is that it helps when you’re killing the ball, since you don’t need to pass away from Iron before going on a goal run, letting Bolt pull the ball off and immediately score without giving your opponent an activation to try and steal it in between.

Shoemerang is a ranged play which does damage and a KD, which is already very useful even if its 4″ range is quite short. It also does some other useful things, though. Only the damage target has to be within 4″, not the KD, meaning if there’s someone you can chain off then you can KD someone up to ~10″ away, if there’s a 50mm model to be targeting. You can also target a model that’s much easier to hit and apply the KD to a high def model, such as someone killing the ball – for example, tagging Ox with the play to knock down Brisket, or getting a KD onto a model with Resilience or Beautiful without directly targeting them. You can also target an ally with the play if you absolutely need that KD, since plays targeting allies hit automatically the KD is guaranteed, though you can’t target yourself so you need a well positioned friend. Sometimes you also actively want to damage an ally, such as if Alloy is being left on 1HP to be killed at the start of next turn, you can take him out beforehand to let him come back onto the edge of the pitch and threaten another goal run. A lot of the time it’s just a short-ranged Floored Bolt, but it’s not like that is even a bad option – and having the possibility to do things like KD Ghast without triggering Rising Anger or Fear is a lovely bonus.

Stamina more than makes up for Bolt’s low movement stats. He really doesn’t like starting his activation KDed since he loses the free jog, and he also dislikes movement debuffs a lot, but he gets to double dip on movement buffs (like Farris’ Quick Foot) and really goes very far. If you Quick Foot Bolt on turn one, he can threaten 15″ up the board on his own before you include any pass-dodges from I’m Open or any of the other many threat extension tools available to Smiths like Tong in Cheek, Instruction, Battering Ram and While The Iron Is Hot. Actually getting Bolt to do something when he gets there is the difficult bit, not actually getting him the distance – since he isn’t exactly the highest damage model, he really needs to get the ball, and that isn’t particularly easy for him either. Because he’s got such good threat ranges, though, Bolt can be a ‘free’ extra relevant activation on turn one which can’t be easily disrupted by the opponent, and even just doing a KD and eight damage is pretty impactful on turn one. Stamina also means Bolt can get out of engagement by jogging away, then clearing KD if he needs to and just jogging a second time.

Tutelage more than makes up for Bolt’s low influence stats and makes him one of the most efficient apprentices. Getting a free I’m Open makes goal runs easy even with only 1-2 influence, and a free Shoemerang makes for useful support even without any influence at all. Without Tutelage Bolt really isn’t efficient and doesn’t do much – since paying for his plays leaves him with little influence to do much – which makes Farris practically mandatory if you want him. Fortunately Farris is pretty good, so that’s not a huge issue – the main concern is that Bolt tends to run off long distances to do things on his own, and getting Farris back within 6″ of Bolt before he needs to activate again can be difficult, so you need to know when to commit Bolt and when to do something with him that’s a bit less impactful, but enables more useful work next turn.

Bolt is a model that does lots of cool useful things, and brings actual efficiency to a team which doesn’t have much of it and sorely needs it, since they only generate 12 influence and have a lot of influence hungry models. However, his main downside is that he doesn’t actually get VPs himself anywhere near as reliably as some other apprentices. This means if you’re taking Bolt, you probably want your other apprentices to be ones that do generate VPs consistently – fortunately, that is most of them. Bolt is a very versatile and useful model, and his main downside is requiring Farris to be very effective, which does skew team construction a bit. He’s also a bit vulnerable to ranged control effects like MOV debuffs and KDs, and he makes your team in general more vulnerable to ranged control by reducing the number of raw output models which need to be disrupted from 3 to 2.

Furnace

Furnace.PNG

Furnace is a versatile and universally effective guy. He brings a handy 2″ melee, with TAC6 and a playbook with an accessible KD and a first column tackle. He makes good use of that tackle with his 8″ kick as well, although he personally isn’t going to be dodging anywhere. He’s acceptably durable as well, with 3/2/20 defensive stats he doesn’t go down exceptionally easily. He’s the only Master with any momentous damage, and if he’s the captain he’s not bad at taking people out, as far as Masters go – since he effectively has a momentous 4 damage on column 6 with TAC6.

One At A Time Lads! is another cheap but situational damage buff. Preventing Crowding Out penalties is useful if your apprentices are expected to jump into a scrum, especially if a lot of the enemies have 2″ melee. It doesn’t prevent the enemy from getting Ganging Up bonuses when hitting you back though, so you only want to be jumping in if you have a good reason to be doing so. It helps models with 1″ melee that want to be beating down in particular, such as Iron, and also benefits Alloy and Bolt a lot if they want to be trying to reach a ball carrier protected by their allies.

Tooled Up is a powerful damage buff but doesn’t do as much in Blacksmiths as you might expect. Because the models which do damage are the apprentices, there aren’t any models in the guild which get to turn Tooled Up into more than approximately +4 damage, since nobody gets to spend more than 4 influence on damage often and nobody reliably wraps their playbook. Smiths also tend to run a lot of very large individual playbook results which don’t benefit as much from Tooled Up – +1 damage is much more impactful when you’re taking a lot of m2 results than it is when you’re aiming for a smaller number of m4 or m7 results. It does work on damaging character plays, which is mainly relevant for Burnish and Alloy – Captain Burnish can throw out 9 damage worth of AOEs if he wants to (and can successfully hit with them), and Alloy can spread around quite a lot of 2-damage Dirty Knives relatively easily if Tooled Up, even if he doesn’t reach his own m3 result.

Searing Strike makes Furnace’s m1 damage result a Master-appropriate setup tool. Spending a point of influence for a momentous Weak Point is okay, but it gets much better when it comes with a free Burning condition and a point of damage, and works on Parting Blows. The application of Burning in particular is a nice bonus, since it actually means Furnace works very well as a setup model for Cast, probably more so than her actual Master in Burnish. Searing Strike also helps Furnace himself reliably reach his KD.

Sentinel on Furnace helps protect his teammates in the same way as Anvil and Farris. He’s not as good at keeping it around as the others – since Farris is faster and Anvil can gain Stoic – but he’s also an easier Master to include in a roster, since both Anvil and Farris really want to bring their respective apprentices along with them where Furnace is pretty universally useful no matter which apprentices you want, and having someone with Sentinel is useful for keeping your apprentices alive when they’re threatened. It’s also reasonable to take a triple-Sentinel team against takeout heavy lineups, which can really make team that want results beyond column one very unhappy.

Tempered Steel puts Furnace up to TAC7, which makes his KD very reliable and lets him output some good damage for a Master, since he has an ARM and DEF debuff available and a short playbook. I’m usually pretty happy to pop Tempered Steel whenever I feel like I want the KD to make the odds better, as if he isn’t the captain he’s not often going to be making a large number of attacks anyway.

When Furnace is the captain, he gives +1 TAC and Searing Strike to the entire team. This is basically the reverse of Anvil’s legendary, in that rather than boosting the team’s defenses he makes everyone into a real damage threat. Cast in particular does extremely well when her personal attacks apply Burning themselves and she’s TAC6 base. The whole team does a lot though – and if he has a max-inf of 5, Furnace can bring some damage personally too, as a small amount of support will get him to 4 damage per swing letting him one-round some players – this is something the Smiths otherwise don’t really have (output without spending activations on setup) so it can be a great tool to have for emergencies. Furnace is probably the master that turns 5 influence into takeout VPs most reliably (where Ferrite is the goalscoring equivalent) and so can be particularly handy when you have taken more supportive apprentices, or you’re against a team that can take out apprentices easily and need someone who can do work without dying immediately.

Furnace is a great all rounder, with good damage output for a Master, good footballing ability if needed, and some great setup tools as well, both offensively and defensively. He works well with Cast but otherwise isn’t exceptionally tied to any one apprentice, so he’s a great choice if you’re running a master-less Apprentice (most commonly Iron), or you aren’t planning on taking Sledge or Bolt but want a Sentinel piece. He’s a bit less impactful against teams without much ARM, and I wouldn’t want to take him into Alchemists since setting them on fire is probably actively detrimental to you. Otherwise he’s a pretty fine choice into just about everyone.

oCinder

oCinder.PNG

Cinder is the least durable apprentice, with poor 3/1 defensive stats, and no extra health to compensate. She’s pretty quick, though. Her playbook is pretty much an exact mirror of Bolt’s, with a momentous 2 in the middle and no other gripping damage results, a 2″ disengage on column two, and an early tackle (though not momentous). The only particularly good looking part of her statline is her 8″ kick distance.

Kill The Ball is easier for Cinder to pull off than Burnish, since she’s quite a bit quicker than he is. It’s good for moving the ball around, but Cinder is a bit more interested in actually scoring goals which makes it less of an appealing choice. Sometimes you can’t actually physically reach the ball, though, and Killing it is usually a better choice than just leaving it there.

Decoy puts Cinder up to DEF5 for a single attack, which means she’s more likely to actually get to use her reasonable counterattack. It also makes her more resistant to character plays, although it doesn’t really help against control effects since she would need to activate in order to actually put it up. It’s mainly useful if she is scoring a goal, since she’d have to go up the pitch towards the enemy and Decoy gives her a bit more resistance to being collapsed on after she’s scored.

Kindled gives Cinder Burning Strike – not Searing Strike. She applies Burning but doesn’t shred armor, which is by far the best part of Searing Strike. It does mean she’s okay at slowing down models that threaten your lines, but a -2″ movement debuff that can be cleared for momentum isn’t particularly gripping. Kindled is probably the least impactful Master-specific effect, and so Cinder is an apprentice that really doesn’t mind what Master she ends up playing with – although since Furnace is the least tied-down Master, they will often end up playing together anyway.

Far Strike is effective for extending threat ranges and avoiding counterattacks. It makes Cinder good at getting the ball back if it’s being killed through distance, whether on the ground (Kill the Ball) or on a model with Far Strike for a tackle. This is especially effective if she’s had Instruction applied which guarantees the Tackle. Since Far Strike only works once per turn, it’s not great against Close Control or Resilience models, though. Needing to be within 6″ also makes Cinder somewhat vulnerable to getting chased down herself, and can be bad if the enemy has Counter Charge or similar models. As well as tackling, Far Strike is also okay at getting momentum without worrying about a counterattack if you already have the ball and want to score at the start of a turn, and for putting a few points of damage up on turn one when threat range matters most or if an enemy is running away. It also makes Cinder able to disengage from 2″ melee models without a parting blow even if she only reaches column 1, since she can make normal attacks until she’s outside 1″ and then Far Strike for the last dodge to get out completely.

Unpredictable Movement makes Cinder quite resistant to 1″ melee models, which helps her otherwise terrible defenses a lot. She’s still very vulnerable to anyone with 2″ reach or a dodge to engage, so she’s still risky, but it at least forces the opponent to spend a bit more influence occasionally. You can make UM work better against 2″ melee models by giving Cinder a 2″ melee zone herself with Hearth. Cinder can be an ok place to kill the ball if you don’t have Iron, but she’s vulnerable to ranged plays in the same way Iron is (unless you have Burnish) and any model with 2″ melee will take the ball off her pretty easily, so she’s only worth it against some teams.

oCinder is a useful piece if you specifically want the 6″ range Tackle. If you aren’t making use of Far Strike then you probably have better things to be doing, since she isn’t going to be doing much damage in a fight and Alloy, Farris and Bolt are all probably just better at scoring than she is, while Iron is a much safer place to kill a ball that also does other things. However, snagging the ball at a distance without risk of a counter attack is a not irrelevant upside, and if you want to play lots of football it’s definitely a useful option to keep available. oCinder is also probably the least inf hungry Apprentice, since she is often just going to throw a Far Strike attack and otherwise do little, which frees up a lot more influence for the Masters to use. If you’re planning on playing a lot of football, and the opponent doesn’t have a Close Control / Resilience model to kill the ball on, Cinder can be a nice choice. Unfortunately most teams have someone who resists a Far Strike tackle now, especially the teams you’d want to play football against – which means oCinder would primarily be a last pick option in the draft after you’ve seen the entire enemy team and know whether she’s going to be remotely useful.

vCinder

vCinder.PNG

vCinder is still as fast as oCinder, but has dropped Far Strike and her 8″ kick for a 2″ melee and TAC6, making her much more of a damage dealer. She’s the beatdown focused Apprentice with the longest threat range, but also the flimsiest, with 1 less hit point than most Apprentices at 4/1/12. Her playbook isn’t quite as deadly as most other fighting Apprentices either, with 4 damage on column 5 and 6 on column 7, which is the price she pays for her comparatively good mobility. She also has a second column tackle and 2″ melee, which makes her pretty good at ball retrieval, and some dodges in her playbook, so she’s actually a reasonable backup striker if you need it. Unlike the other damage focused apprentices she lacks a KD, but she still isn’t someone you just want to ignore for a parting blow, and she has 2″ melee to mitigate the impact of counter attacks.

Impale gives Cinder the option of a momentous 3 damage on column 3, once per turn, which is a nice increase of damage. It also doesn’t need to be used on her charge target, so she can get a target further away if she wants. If you aren’t going to be making any more attacks with Cinder afterwards, you may as well be taking the Impale, since it is free extra damage over the playbook result. You can also buy Impale with influence if you aren’t planning on going within 2″ of the enemy, which lets Cinder be useful even if the opponent is keeping their models far far away.

Grim Vengeance is a very dangerous tool and gives Cinder potential to generate a lot of momentum and damage in a single activation. It’s an influence efficiency tool in a team that really wants as many of them as it can get, and it makes an attack Cinder makes that finishes someone off effectively ‘free’ in influence. The free attack is the option with the highest game impact, unless you have the opportunity to score a goal with your free kick. Sometimes there’s nobody around to keep hitting, though, so you can just dodge a bit further back towards safety or Sentinel, or pass to an ally for a dodge (Match Experience is, again, great here). Grim Vengeance is particularly nice if you can take someone out ‘incidentally’ without actually spending influence on hitting them specifically, which we’ll get to later. VCinder’s Grim Vengeance is also one of the only ways in Smiths to make five separate impactful attacks with momentous damage on them, which makes her one of the best targets available for Tooled Up. It makes Cinder often want to be the model you commit to a fight last, to finish off / clean up after everyone else has got targets low.

Searing Strike is as good on Cinder as it is on Furnace. There’s a bit of a conflict between it and Grim Vengeance, since Searing Strike makes you want to go in to set up for allies and Grim Vengeance makes you want to go in to clean up afterwards instead. Burning is also not very impactful if you’re planning on finishing people off during your activation anyway. The ARM debuff is great though, since Cinder’s playbook isn’t fantastic without support and getting an extra net-hit helps a lot with reaching the good results, basically putting her m4 result on the same column as Iron’s. The Burning condition application does help to make vCinder’s parting blow better, since she doesn’t have a KD. It’s also useful on Impale, since it lets you debuff an enemy for other apprentices to follow up from a long distance in the same way as Dirty Knives (with more upfront damage but a slightly lower impact debuff usually).

Sweeping Charge brings vCinder’s damage up a lot and makes her charge pretty devastating. Note that it triggers on playbook damage results, which means you can’t use Impale off the playbook to Sweeping Charge. If you can kill someone with the Sweeping Charge damage, you get a free swing on your primary target, effectively letting you charge them and still make four attacks total. Cinder is particularly dangerous with the Full Backs plot card. She’s also an apprentice that is happy to only have 2 influence allocated for the charge, which helps with efficiency. Because she wants to charge to a position where she’s engaging multiple enemies, she often ends up engaged by multiple enemies, which makes One At A Time Lads! great on her too. If you’re playing her with Furnace, be aware that Tooled Up doesn’t increase the damage dealt by Sweeping Charge. One At A Time Lads! is also relevant even if you aren’t charging, since Cinder wants to be engaging multiple enemies, so that she can kill one of them and take a free swing at the other, so crowdout resistance helps there too. Because it’s 3 free damage on the charge, and Cinder’s playbook caps at 2 damage until column 5, it’s almost always worth it to charge rather than walk and attack with Cinder, unless you need the momentum or you have enough support to reliably reach columns 5+ and no need for the AOE damage – or you want to avoid doing a load of damage to your own models. Handily, while Scything Charge hits allies, Searing Strike only applies to enemies, so you won’t shred the ARM of your allies and set them on fire. Charging into multiple enemies and Searing Striking all of them really gets scary, especially if you can finish someone off with it – incidentally killing a Mascot in particular is great for getting extra swings on the important targets.

Overview

Blacksmiths

The Smiths are an interesting guild int hat they function very differently to any other. Their captain is never much of a super solo and they’ll almost never get much done without investing in setup first – but their payoff for that setup is huge. They have a lot of useful tools and the ability to get a lot more done on turn one than most primarily-melee teams, and great defenses against both brawling and footballing. The apprentices are a little on the flimsy side but they have a lot of ways of mitigating this issue, and the Smiths can thoroughly crush a model if they commit to taking out an Apprentice and fail to do so, while the Masters all have captain levels of durability.

The Smiths’ main weakness is control effects, or anything which doesn’t play a ‘fair’ game plan. That means teams that don’t have a primary plan involving being in melee with you, hitting your models, and being hit back. Blind is no fun at all for Smiths, as are effects which slow them down. They’re quite vulnerable to conditions, since they have no effective condition removal and often only have a few models that reliably generate momentum. They also don’t like effects which prevent them from reaching engagement in other ways, such as the Granite-vHarmony combo or models with Counter Charge or Rush Keeper that resist the Smiths just walking up to them. Positional control such as Scalpel or a Knockback model can make the Apprentices much more killable, since they go down much more quickly if pulled out of Sentinel range. In general, they don’t like it when they are pressured into activating apprentices without setup for fear of them dying or being controlled, or aren’t able to effectively apply that setup. If they are able to proactively move towards the enemy and apply the pressure to them, on the other hand, they do very well. If the Smiths’ first activation of the turn is to send a Master in and KD and set up multiple enemies, the opponent needs to deal with the Master and save their models before the apprentice goes in – this is exactly where you want to be as Smiths, forcing the opponent to spend influence trying to avoid your game plan or minimizing their losses, rather than by going after your apprentices before you can set up.

Some smiths are more resistant to control effects than others, while some are better at capitalizing on an opponent’s lack of control. Iron is great if the enemy can’t stop him from reaching engagement, but is slow enough that it’s a possibility for some teams – at the same time, he’s great against teams that ‘control’ your apprentices by just killing them, like Butchers. Sledge brings 2″ melee as his primary anti control tool, and doesn’t care as much about the enemy defensive stats since his damage has a hard floor of 8, but is quite killable. Alloy is one of the more vulnerable apprentices to being killed, especially since he tends to extend away from his support, but is a good tool against teams which can outfight you or which want to group up together, since he can do work and then pull back out again. Bolt is intensely worried about movement debuffs and KDs, but like Alloy is happy to play a somewhat spread out game. Cast is a player that’s great against other teams that spread out, since she’s useful without as much setup as other apprentices and she’s quick. oCinder is best if you’re planning on dealing with a fighty team by ignoring the scrum and playing the ball game. vCinder on the other hand loves it when the enemy team groups up together for a good Sweeping Charge – though she’s also fast enough to chase down spread out models.

Apprentice choice often informs Master choice, since some apprentices (particularly Alloy, Bolt and Sledge) really like bringing their respective Masters. The others (Iron, the Cinders, and Cast) can go without a lot more, which lets you mix and match things quite a bit. Burnish is the anti-control option with Reinforced Plating, Anvil, Hearth and Furnace help in a straight up fight, while Farris and Ferrite work well when you’re planning on playing a lot of football. The difficult question in Smiths is who to drop from the roster. Because they don’t have a Union choice, only one model needs to be cut since they have 13 available. The usual choices are Ferrite and oCinder. Ferrite is primarily a Disarm bot with some footballing ability, so if you aren’t planning on playing against a lot of low-TAC teams she isn’t someone you’d be too bothered about – and Iron is pretty good even without Ferrite. oCinder, similarly, has only one really important tool on her card and while handy, if you’re planning on going for a more beatdown focused plan you aren’t going to miss her too much. Cast is also an option, since she’s reasonably universally handy but doesn’t really shine in any particular team composition, and while good against spread out teams there are other models that also can deal with an enemy that refuses to scrum, like Alloy, vCinder and Bolt.

The final choice smiths need to make is choosing a captain. Anvil is probably the default into any team that’s planning on fighting, since he pretty much buys a turn where the opponent can’t do much of anything which is a huge deal. If you want to play lots of football and/or be aggressive with the first turn then Farris is also a solid option. Ferrite also speeds everyone up on the first turn, even if you don’t have the ball. Furnace is good if you want to be more proactive in a fighting matchup rather than defensive. Burnish is mainly relevant for really hating on control teams, but you lose out on some proactivity which may be more important than ignoring a second character play – his ranged game with two Flame Belches a turn is probably still not quite scary enough, since he doesn’t have much other ranged damage support in-faction, and you’re spending a lot of influence on no momentum which is always a bit on the risky side. Hearth could be a choice into scrumming teams you can pin down with Arsenal, but those matchups are probably ones better covered by Furnace or Anvil most of the time anyway. None of the options are actively bad, though – most of the Masters don’t need more than a couple influence whether they’re captains or not, and the actual model choices matter a lot more than who is the captain. The Smiths have loads of interesting toys to work with an all of them are high impact, as long as they’re used well. They aren’t an easy team to run, especially since they rely heavily  on good positioning and activation order – spend too many activations setting up for your apprentices and they might die first or your target might escape, but spend too few and you won’t get enough done to make up for the risk made when you commit one of your VP scoring models. When it goes right, however, your apprentices do more damage than Hammer and score with the ease of Shark, while using up less influence and letting the Masters lock the enemy in place with no way to do anything impactful through your armor. All it takes is some good timing and plenty of practice.

Until next time,

-Henry

Fishermen in Season 4

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.

This time round I’ll be taking a look at the Fishermen. Generally one of the teams that goes for takeouts the least, the Fishermen bring a lot of options and different playstyles to the team, particularly because they have the great quality of bringing two solid captains who do very different things to each other.

Shark

Shark.PNG

Shark is a captain with pretty impressive defenses and excellent footballing ability. He’s extremely fast, with an 11″ basic threat range and a playbook full of dodges, and has one of the best basic kick stats in the game. With his 2″ melee and TAC6, he very reliably hits his dodges and can tackle from anyone that isn’t a dedicated ball killer without difficulty. Defensively his 4/1/16 is pretty reasonable for a captain – his main defensive ability, however, is his second column << counter attack result, which keeps him quite safe from 1″ melee fighters unless they have extremely reliable KD access. His long threat ranges also mean that he’s able to keep himself safe through sheer distance, forcing enemies to spend influence to even reach him in the first place. Shark’s playbook isn’t great for damage, which is common in the Fishermen, but if someone’s taken a few hits already he can spend 6 influence on attacks for a takeout if you really need him to.

Quick Foot lets Shark charge 13″, with two influence left to generate momentum and shoot after tackling, which is great to have if the opponent is keeping the ball far away from your team. It does cost a lot of influence and doesn’t generate any momentum, so you need to be somewhat careful with when you use it – other models in the Fishermen can give you additional threat range much more efficiently, so Quick Foot is more of an emergency measure if you need someone all the way up the pitch now and don’t have time to set it up with others.

Stagger is somewhat relevant if you’re trying to set up a takeout, or if you’re hitting someone with very low defensive stats and aiming to reach Tidal Surge next attack. If your target is a 4/0 or 3/1 model, Stagger lets you reasonably expect to hit the m>< result on future attacks, which means you can push that model ~5″ (potentially more if you spike to Tidal Surge) which can net a sneaky 2VPs for pushing them off the pitch. Stagger also gives you something somewhat usable for your influence if you’re just building momentum.

Tidal Surge is a very powerful ability but it costs a lot of influence to buy, and is hard to reach on the playbook. Note that because the target model is friendly during the action, you can’t use TS to put someone off the pitch directly – though you can push them to within 1″ of the edge of the pitch, then charge them for the m>< result and push them off that way. Tidal Surge is also a nice bonus if you get a lot of hits on your charge, but don’t rely on it. If you already momentum, you can use TS on Shark + charge for a 15″ threat range on tackle, with 1 inf left to shoot with, but this line has no momentum generating options (barring a wrap) so you need to make sure you have one already if you want to go for a goal run.

Light Footed extends Shark’s threat range a bit, or rather it saves on valuable momentum. It also means he ignores Foul Odor models and he has a lot of options for kicking off. Shark’s kick off threat is fantastic, and the possibility of scoring as soon as he gets an activation is very real. Because of his 7″ jog and 8″ kick, he’s great at putting the ball somewhere awkward for the enemy team – usually, that means as far as possible from anyone who has the defenses to hold onto it against Shark.

Caught In A Net helps to prevent Shark from getting pinned down and taken out after he makes his goal run. Usually you’ll want to be using it on the first activation of turn two, immediately before scoring a goal and using Run The Length to dodge back away from the enemy. This helps to prevent the enemy team from reliably retaliating, which is important when you probably spent a lot of influence and momentum on that first activation.

Overall Shark is a pretty linear player – he does one thing well, and that’s score goals. He’s also an excellent kickoff model. He dies a lot, however, because he tends to want to play aggressively and get up the pitch into the opponent’s half to score those goals, and so is a prime target for a takeout. Because he is so fast, however, Shark can regularly reach the ball immediately upon returning to the pitch, so getting him killed isn’t the worst thing – you’d much rather Shark be Taken Out than stuck between four enemy models on 1HP, which is where he does occasionally end up. Try to keep him out of reach of enemies that might be able to set that up. Sometimes you are forced to send him into the scrum to retrieve a ball, but there are other options for dealing with that. Because his tackle is on column two, he doesn’t reliably reach it against models with exceptional defenses, such as DEF5/ARM1 enemies, and he only has 50% odds (before bonus time) to tackle a DEF4/ARM1 model in cover. He has enough influence to make multiple attempts, at least, but do be aware that if you send Shark in to try and get the ball and don’t get there, you probably lose your captain for very little back. Because he’s quite good at generating momentum from his attacks, it can be worth playing it safe if there are temporary effects making a tackle harder – just generating six momentum, winning initiative, and then going for the tackle at the start of the next turn after Tough Skin or something has expired. Bonus Timing to get that tackle is often worth it, as is Bonus Timing Shark’s shots on goal. Even if they’re fairly reliably successful, the penalty for missing a critical tackle or shot is so impactful that you usually don’t want to be taking that risk. Shark is at his best when he isn’t the only threat on your team – if there are other models available to also threaten the ball, it means the enemy has a lot less of an easy time preventing your goals, where if Shark is the only goal threat he is likely to find himself knocked down, snared, burning, Blinded, Goaded or similar. Don’t be afraid to play Shark aggressively – trading his life for a goal puts you up in VPs (unless they got him with Casket, anyway) and if he gets dealt with, you have other models which can apply pressure to the enemy while he demands resources from the enemy. Shark is at his best into teams which don’t reliably kill the ball, or which want to group up and stay together, and are slow. Brewers are a good example, as are Farmers.

Corsair

Corsair.PNG

Corsair is a lot slower than Shark, and trades a point of DEF for 2 HP which makes him a lot more vulnerable to character plays and control effects. However, in exchange he gets a really great playbook, with 5 columns to his 6 TAC, excellent access to pushes, and some reliable (if non momentous) damage with attached pushes. Shoving people around is a big part of Corsair’s game, and he really gets to make use of his short playbook by pushing people into his allies’ melee zones for additional ganging up bonuses, setting up wraps. There aren’t many TAC buffs in Fishermen, and no damage buffs, which means that grouping up and putting lots of melee zones on someone is the best option Corsair has for taking people out. He also has a great Tackle result and an easy to reach KD, which sets his playbook to reach the higher columns. His counter attack isn’t quite as good as Shark’s, but with a double push on column three it’s not terrible either – he’s still going to cause problems for someone like Jaecar.

Drag greatly makes up for Corsair’s slow movement speed. It doesn’t help him reach the goal, but it does huge amounts of work yanking people out of position. It makes playing defensively into Corsair extremely hard, since it’s very easy for him to pick a target and force it forwards to where it can be knocked down, pushed around and taken out. Often when setting up a takeout, Corsair can take Drag off his playbook to pull in the next target while the previous one is about to go, ensuring there’s always a target available, and removing the chance for Drag to miss. Be aware that you can’t Drag a model over an obstruction, barrier, or other model. Some opponents will protect against Drag by hiding important models behind less valuable ones. Other effects which are good into Drag include Stoic and Resilience, since while Drag isn’t OPT, forcing Corsair to spend 4 influence just on moving a model around for no momentum makes it a lot harder for him to take anyone out.

Rough Seas is a useful ball control tool. The Fishermen are generally quite good at controlling the ball and this is another option for the list. It sets Corsair up for opportunistic goal runs, since with his 4/8″ kick he has a reasonable ability to sprint into shot range, snag the ball from someone and score with it. Because Rough Seas just takes the ball – without a Tackle – it’s also good against models with Close Control or good counter attacks. You do need to hit on two dice, however.

Coup de Grâce makes up for the Fishermen’s lack of momentous damage, to an extent. Be aware that it does not trigger if you push someone off the pitch, and it only happens once per turn. It does sort of let you ‘bank’ momentum from one turn to the next however – if the momentum race isn’t close on one turn, you can leave a model alive and then take it out at the start of the next turn instead and have the momentum then. It also doesn’t have to be Corsair that actually does the taking out, so you can happily leave the damage dealing duty to other models if Corsair is busy threatening the ball, pushing/controlling models or something else.

Sturdy is a very powerful rule – especially on a model with a 2″ melee zone and an easy KD. Against most 1″ melee models, walking up to them and knocking them down from 2″ away causes them a lot of problems, since if they clear conditions and walk up to engage Corsair, he’s just going to KD them again on his counter attack. They’ve already cleared conditions and walked, so they won’t be able to stand back up again- and even if they have a good KD of their own, Corsair is just going to ignore it. There are ways out, of course – getting help from other models is the primary one – but it’s a good plan if you can catch someone isolated, and against a lot of brawlers it buys time while they clear the KD elsewhere for you to take more activations before they can act. Sturdy helps Corsair stay alive, but be aware that if Sturdy is broken / Corsair gets knocked down, he dies very quickly. 2/1/18 is not a durable statline and results in a taken out captain very quickly. Corsair is also not a fast model by any measure, so keeping him alive is important because otherwise he is going to take a long time to get back into the game again. Sturdy also lets Corsair happily take the occasional parting blow to reposition, since unless he has the ball he isn’t going to be too worried about most things that could happen to him.

Tough Hide keeps Corsair alive against chip damage and ranged plays. Tough Hide, Sturdy and poor defensive stats makes Corsair a somewhat unappealing takeout option, but very vulnerable to a focused attack if he gets isolated. Some teams – other Fishermen, for example – have a lot of issues dealing with a model with Tough Hide due to lack of damage buffs, but others – like Blacksmiths – have models which do a small number of very high damage attacks, which are much harder for Corsair to endure.

Hook, Line and Sinker lets you pull someone in without spending influence once per game. This has a few important uses – primarily, it lets you drag someone and still have 6 influence to spend hitting them afterwards, which often means you can just take them out immediately. It also allows you to drag a model with Resilience without needing to break it (since it’s not a character play) and it also lets you drag in high DEF models which might otherwise be missed by Drag. You can use it if the enemy is bodyblocking your Drag with another model and simply pull them both in. Pulling multiple models is also occasionally useful with good positioning. While usually you only want to be dragging in and taking out one model at a time, you can pull in a takeout target and simultaneously get a striker further from the goal, force them spend influence to disengage from Corsair’s good parting blow, or set up two models at once in the KD+Engage bubble of problems.

Corsair is a model that plays like almost no other in the game, but he’s very effective. His long threat range and ability to bring the fight to him (rather than go in to the fight) means he’s very reliably able to spend his influence on useful things. He’s also got excellent damage (especially by Fishermen standards) if you are willing to accept that the momentum race isn’t going to go too well in that scenario – though CdG does help a bit there. You do need to avoid the very real threat of getting Corsair killed, since if he does you’re in a lot of trouble. He is one of the few models in Guild Ball that can score VPs in three different ways – taking models out with damage, scoring goals, and throwing models off the pitch. With all his pushes, Corsair can play the ringout game exceptionally well and get a lot of VPs for it. However it can be risky, since he isn’t Stoic or anything himself and a few well timed pushes from the enemy can get him thrown off himself, since in order to throw someone off he usually needs to be within 6″ of the board edge personally. Corsair is great against enemies who want to set up defensively and force you to engage on them – such as Engineers – since he breaks the normal rules of how an engagement starts, where the engaging team is the one that is more out of position and the defender is able to react accordingly. Corsair’s teams tend to be quite focused on enabling Corsair himself, and often if you’re going for the takeout game Corsair is the only model that remotely threatens to actually score any VPs, so getting him controlled (such as with Heavy Burden or Blind) or unable to get VPs in some way can be an issue. A reasonable tactic is to run a durable model at him – while he has damage, Fish have no damage buffs, which makes a model like Casket take an enormous amount of time to actually kill for Corsair, which really buys a lot of time for the rest of the team to position to get goals or outfight him.

Salt

Salt

Salt is very mobile, and reasonably tough for a mascot with 5/0/7 defensive stats. She isn’t going to be taking anyone out any time soon with her TAC2, but does have reasonable footballing ability (for a mascot). Like most Fishermen, Salt has a momentous dodge on column one, although that does mean she doesn’t tackle till 2 which is a real downside. The two column playbook does mean that on a charge, Salt needs three hits to tackle and momentously dodge away, which isn’t too bad.

Where’d They Go? makes Salt hard to pin down and a pretty good goal threat, with a 17″ threat range which is high for a player, let alone a mascot. Using Salt to score goals is a definite possibility, and can work out very well, since if you do so you are only giving up 1VP for 4VP in return, halving the amount you give to the opponent. The distance the otter can move also helps in retrieving balls which have been dropped – dropping the ball behind your model negates quite a bit of the Fishermen’s ball retrieval tools, so having an option for getting it in that scenario is very useful.

Loved Creature penalises the opponent a little for attacking Salt. While not as impactful on the Fishermen as it would be on a more fighting oriented team, it’s still a handy bonus to have, especially on Corsair. It’s quite relevant because in order to be remotely useful, Salt needs to be right up in the enemy team snagging the ball and/or scoring goals, which involves quite a lot of risk and often means a dead mascot in the near future.

Salt is a pretty simple mascot in terms of functionality and use. Scores opportunistic goals without risking a real player, and then threatens to snag the ball if they try and avoid Rough Seas / Seduced by dropping it. The main issue you have here is that the tools Salt brings are all ones which other Fishermen also have access to, so you can get the same effect in other places if you really want them anyway. If you’re an aggressive player Salt can do a lot of work – Shark really thrives on putting pressure on the opponent from multiple different angles, and if the mascot is also threatening to snag the ball and get a goal it’s just another problem in the list for the enemy team to deal with. Salt is best into teams which don’t kill the ball well, lack armor, or which have only a few output models and wouldn’t want to dedicate a whole activation with one of them to dealing with your mascot.

Tentacles

Tentacles

If Salt is a mascot mirror of Shark, Tentacles is Corsair. Tentacles is slow, but otherwise a great include, with an excellent kick stat (6″ means easier tap ins!), great defenses for a mascot at 4/1/9, and 2″ melee with a first column tackle. The octopus’ influence stat means it won’t often gets to do a ton of work, but otherwise it looks promising.

Blind is a very powerful character play, and messes with a lot of opponents’ activations. It’s particularly good at shutting down the enemy kicker on turn one, since it makes it harder for them to reach you, harder for them to do anything when they get there, and also shuts down any goal run hopes they had with the KICK penalty. It’s also great against high impact captains or other models with great playbook topends, or anyone with a lot of influence. Finding the time to use Blind early in a turn can be a bit difficult, especially since Tentacles’ own activation is unlikely to generate any momentum elsewhere, meaning you need to give the opponent the opportunity to act before you actually blind them unless you like living dangerously by throwing one-die blinds which leave you passing to the enemy with 0MP when going first with Tentacles.

Close Control is another tool for making opposing strikers’ kick offs much less reliable. Blinding the kicker and then putting the ball on a close control model with 2″ melee and a first-column Tackle pretty much completely ends any chance of a goal run. It’s also good on later turns, where you want to be able to keep the ball out of play while Corsair beats the enemy team down. Against teams that want to fight it’s naturally a lot less relevant, but it does make opportunistic goals a lot less of an option, especially since beatdown focused teams are probably a lot worse at tackling the ball. If you’ve been grinding your way up the pitch, you can also have Tentacles make his own goal runs too, ignoring parting blows with Close Control – but the 12″ goal threat isn’t exactly impressive there.

Tag Along is useful for repositioning Tentacles if you sprinted forward earlier in a turn to throw a Blind. It’s also great for setting up damage, since with 2″ melee Tentacles can be brought along with an attacking model to provide an additional crowdout. It’s also pretty easy to set up an advance that leaves his melee zone with that 2″ melee. This also means that Tentacles is actually probably a more reliable source of +1 tac (via ganging up) than Salt’s Loved Creature is.

Tentacles doesn’t score VPs like Salt does, but has a lot of utility. Importantly, the two effects the octopus brings that are its major selling points – Blind and Close Control – are effects which are not available elsewhere in the guild at all, and which have major impact on the game. If you want to deal with opposing high-threat models, Tentacles makes that much much more doable. If you want to deal with opposing ball pressure, Tentacles makes that much more doable as well. Those two scenarios cover a vast majority of the teams in Guild Ball right now. As such, I’d be pretty happy to pick Tentacles into any team pretty much, and while Salt is a reasonable flex option, the question is ‘do I want to include a second mascot in my 12?’. Running Tentacles as your only mascot is an option, running only Salt is – in my opinion – making several matchups much harder for no real benefit.

Angel

Angel.PNG

Angel is another model that might as well come with a big label saying ‘STRIKER’. Fast, high DEF, low health, fantastic kick stats, and low TAC all look exactly like you would expect. The main problem Angel has is that unlike most other Fishermen she only has 1″ melee. She makes up for it with a momentous T< result on her first column, which really helps out with her low TAC and does a huge amount of work. It means she still gets momentum tackling Close Control models, which is important, and it means she can use her influence maneuvering into position for a shot while getting the ball for ‘free’. It also means she needs five hits on the charge to tackle and disengage from pretty much anyone, even if they have Close Control. She also has a 2″ disengage on column 2 for her counterattack, which is handy – although reaching column 2 is a bit difficult on a counter for Angel. She isn’t the most durable model in the world, especially if she eats a KD, but she isn’t the flimsiest either.

Nimble pretty much makes Angel unkillable for a turn. Going to DEF6 from DEF5 is a huge difference, and means anyone without a first column KD just isn’t really going to harm her. It’s possible, of course, but usually it just means they’ll go for someone else. This also means a lot of counter attacks worry Angel very little, since unless the opponent has a 2″ disengage on column one she is probably just fine. Note that hitting someone with a column 1 KD on the counter is still a bit iffy, since if you want that momentous dodge result you have to take the tackle – you can’t just dodge, let them KD you, stand up and then take the tackle next time, so the ball might scatter somewhere awkward if you eat a KD. Fortunately most models with a first column KD have terrible defensive stats so you can just take the column 2 >< or something anyway most of the time, and save the tackle for after their counter attack.

Super Shot puts Angel up to a 5/10″ kick which is absolutely terrifying to deal with. It also means she has a great 5″ Tap In distance which is very handy. Scoring with Angel once she’s got the ball is pretty easy – the difficult bit is getting the ball, especially considering she has 1″ melee and no buyable dodge. However, if you have backup threats to threaten wherever the ball goes, Angel can score early in a turn with Nimble and Super Shot up, and be a very worrying Snap Shot turret for your other players later on in the turn, which is also very hard to dislodge with DEF6. Be aware that while Super Shot makes her a 10″ kick, it can be worth staying within 8″ anyway for Snap Shot purposes, since it means you can still threaten to bash a goal in at the start of the next turn, rather than needing to reactivate Angel to put up Super Shot first.

Get Over Here lets you pull Salt up, playing into the primary Salt/Shark plan of presenting a large number of ball threats and getting it with whichever model isn’t controlled. Because it lets Salt make a 7″ dodge, it’s also good for pulling the otter out of danger after attempting a shot or ball retrieval. Wander is the Navigators’ mascot, but I’ll ignore that until we look at the Navs in a future article.

Light Footed is less relevant on Angel than it is on Shark, since she is less likely to be your kick off model, and her threat on the ball is much less impactful. Angel is one of the Fish that’s less likely to actually try to get the ball, and instead sits back waiting for the others to do so so she can put it in the goal afterwards.

Angel is a model with a lot of power but some real downsides. Primarily, she’s a model that’s almost entirely useless if you don’t have the ball, while also not being very good at getting the ball back, which is not a very good combination. She’s also a little bit vulnerable to getting killed by dedicated damage dealers, particularly those with good early damage or KDs, such as most Masons. She doesn’t like dealing with teams with lots of armor, since her low TAC really suffers against those teams, or Unpredictable Movement, since she has real issues engaging those models. She doesn’t really care about Close Control at all, however, so she is a solid choice into models like Bushel, Velocity, or opposing Fishermen.

Greyscales

Greyscales

Greyscales is pretty slow (for a fisherman) but has reasonable stats otherwise. His 4/0/13 defensive statline is really quite vulnerable against some attackers, however, and if he gets pinned down he’s going to get taken out very quickly. His playbook is pretty solid, with easy access to momentum, and a 2″ disengage on column two for a nice counterattack. Columns 4 and 5 are pretty irrelevant though. His column 2 tackle with TAC5 isn’t exceptionally consistent, but he is pretty good at going for it multiple times with his 2″ melee.

Ball’s Gone! is a very handy play to have access to, since it gets around Close Control and lets you avoid a lot of counter attacks. You don’t have to actually pass the ball, so you can use it as a momentous tackle that can’t be ignored with CC which is just fine. You can’t use it for just a pass if you aren’t doing the tackle part, however. Ball’s Gone! is pretty good for snagging the ball off wherever it’s been killed and putting it somewhere safe for the Fishermen to score with later – while Greyscales might well be taken out as a result, that’s probably still a worthwhile trade.

Decoy makes Greyscales very hard to pin down. It greatly increases the odds of him being able to actually make his counter attack (since a 4/0 model is easy to KD, but 6/0 is fine against everyone not named Tapper, Hearth or Kraken), which means he can disengage freely with his easy dodges. It also works against Character Plays, which is both a benefit and a penalty – it means he’s harder to tag with control effects sometimes, but also causes real issues. Opponents can throw a cheap 1-cost character play at him to negate Decoy before going in with someone to hit him. Note that it’s the next time an actual TN test is rolled, which means you at least can’t have it broken through a character play triggered from the playbook which automatically hits. It’s at its most useful when you score with Greyscales, and put up Decoy to prevent the opponent from actually doing anything to you on the backswing.

Where’d They Go? makes up for Greyscales’ poor movement stats. It lets him get into and out of engagement very easily which makes him extremely effective against any opponent that doesn’t have very safe places to put the ball. It also means he’s one of the better models – like Salt – at picking up balls which have been dropped to avoid Rough Seas and so on. It’s also more efficient in terms of distance than sprinting, and means that on turn one when you just want to set up to threaten a goal run at the start of turn two, you can move GS 9″ for a single influence.

Unpredictable Movement is how Greyscales doesn’t just get taken out as soon as he comes onto the pitch. Evading enemy models – especially 1″ models – is a great upside and another reason why he’s a pretty good model to score with and present as the only possible target for opposing retaliation. Some models can get around it, but it usually costs some influence, since even 2″ models may need to sprint to reach B2B, and Decoy + UM means the first model to go for Greyscales probably doesn’t get to do much.

Greyscales is a pretty good all round football player – his 2″ melee and buyable dodge means he’s good at getting the ball back, and he isn’t bad at kicking or reaching Tap In range which makes him solid at scoring once you’ve got it, too. He’s also one of the more forgiving and durable models on the Fishermen lineup, since Unpredictable Movement makes him such an awkward target. He doesn’t like enemies who can get around his UM – such as those with ranged character plays, or 3″ melee – and he can’t really be expected to deal with dedicated ball killing effects. He isn’t a bad ball killer himself if you need it – or at least, he’s probably the best option the Fishermen have available if you aren’t playing Tentacles. Since Greyscales does pretty much everything you want (as long as you want to play football) he’s a pretty good filler model into most opponents if you don’t specifically want any others – his resilience means he’s unlikely to ever really be a liability.

Hag.PNG

Hag isn’t tough or mobile, with the same defensive statline as Greyscales, lower speed, and less TAC. Her 2/3 influence cap, third column tackle, and underwhelming playbook mean that this is not a model that’s going to get you many VPs. Her playbook also doesn’t have momentum on column one, which with TAC4 means she really isn’t going to do much of relevance if she’s buying attacks. You aren’t picking Hag because of her base numbers.

Decoy, as mentioned in Greyscales’ writeup, pretty much makes this model an unappealing target for the enemy. Hag needs to use it a lot less than Greyscales, however, because she’s going to be spending a lot less time up in the enemy lines scoring goals, and much more time behind her own team helping them out, which makes her defensive stats less important. If Hag is being attacked, she’s unlikely to have had time to put up Decoy – and if she did, the one attack it protects her from is less important than on Greyscales. Since she doesn’t have a good counterattack, avoiding the KD on the first swing doesn’t really mean as much, where on Greyscales it might mean he gets to dodge away and negate an entire activation.

Fisher’s Reel is a great support character play. Moving your models around is important to Fish, since they want to maximize their threat ranges on the ball and have as much influence left over as possible once they get there. Note that Hag can’t use this to disengage herself. It also helps Corsair threaten more of the enemy team, and can be used to pull people into or out of engagement according to what you need. It isn’t often you’ll get to trigger this on the playbook, since most of the time it’s free or you won’t have an available target to attack (since you need multiple crowdouts before you can reach it reliably) but if you do get the opportunity, you may as well go for it, since it costs you 1 influence either way but gives you a free momentum point if you poke an enemy model while you do so.

Fear makes Hag a poor target. It makes most enemies have real difficulty one rounding her – generally, since most attacks on Hag do ~3-4 damage, you can think of her as a 4/0/16 model or thereabouts, which is just outside the ‘kill in one activation’ range of most captains. It’s particularly good against models which make a small number of high value attacks. Note that it gives a ‘free’ bonus time if it makes a character play cost more – Deadbolting Hag costs 3 inf, but they get to roll three dice to hit her. It also doesn’t do anything if the attack was free anyway – so oRage, while he can’t hit her once he’s engaging, could put Tooled Up on himself, and then charge her and take a Berserk attack, without triggering Fear at all. Fear also doesn’t do anything to AOE character plays, since they don’t directly target a model. Noxious Blast is very much not Hag’s friend.

Shadow Like is the only dodge Hag gets to actually make herself. It helps her diesngage if she’s pinned down – although if she’s B2B with a 2″ melee model, she still needs to somehow get more distance before she can jog away, which can be difficult with her poor playbook. It pretty much makes her a 6″/8″ movement stat, which is much better than her printed 4″/6″. It’s not like she was going to be making your kick off jog anyway. It also means she can hop 2″, do things, and then move the other 4-6″ afterwards.

Talisman makes Hag an influence efficient support piece which is great in a guild full of influence hungry models. Moving a model 2″ for free every turn is a pretty good use of 0 influence, and moving up both your inf-stacked models to threaten the enemy more is great for just one influence. If you have no targets, you can also put up Decoy for free, which is a useful tool if you’re in a lot of trouble but probably isn’t going to come up often unless things are going horribly wrong.

Call of the Sea is a pretty major game changer. You can happily just use it early on in the game to jump a few models 4″ up the pitch for a good turn one, but it does a lot of other things too. You can use it to pin in enemy models with lots of dodges by shoving them into a triangle of three other models they can’t move through. It also lets you reposition a scrum that isn’t going your way, moving allies out of enemy melee zones or enemies into positions that make their attacks suffer multiple crowding out penalties. Like Fisher’s Reel, it doesn’t work on Hag herself – and the damage she suffers means she’s often in a very vulnerable position soon afterwards, so do take care.

Hag is a fantastic piece into most teams because her utility really helps amplify the Fishermen’s mobility to great levels. She’s probably slightly more of an autoinclude in a Corsair team, since he really wants as much threat range as possible, while Shark appreciates the distance but also wants as many models as possible to threaten the ball themselves. She doesn’t like AOE / chip damage and conditions very much, but it’s not usually enough to justify not playing her in a Corsair team – if the opponent is throwing ranged damage at you, 2-4″ of extra distance to close the gap is probably worth more than the ~2mp you’ll need to keep Hag alive. While Hag is a flimsy backline support piece, Fear means she still is quite difficult to hunt down, even for those teams with mobile assassin models, so she is never really a liability.

Jac

Jac

Jac is quick and has good reach, as with most Fishermen, but is really let down by his defensive stats. He’s 3/1/19 with no Tough Hide, which makes eating a KD really very problematic for him since he’s going to get taken out extremely fast. He does, however, have a pretty solid playbook. While he doesn’t have the dodges to really threaten goals, his first column tackle means he’s not bad at grabbing the ball and putting it on someone who can score later, and he’s great at pushing enemies around. His column 3 mT>> is great for preventing counterattacks on his tackle, and his good pushes combined with his 4-inf cap and 2″ melee make him a real threat at pushing enemies off the pitch. His KD isn’t reliable enough to set up for his teammates often, but definitely doable with a bit of help. He also has a 3 on his playbook, which isn’t particularly impressive but makes him an acceptable follow up model for Corsair if you need to finish someone off when they’re being ganged up on by five of his teammates.

Goad is a very useful character play, and does a lot of useful things – especially on a model which can be reasonable expected to generate momentum itself to fuel a Bonus Time if needed. It prevents the enemy model from disengaging if you’re close to them, and stops them from spending their activation getting too far from the edge of the pitch if you’re planning on pushing them off next turn. You can also use it to force a captain or other important model into acting suboptimally, if you want to prevent them from scoring or killing somebody more important than Jac. There’s potential to Goad and then run away with Jac if you started within 6″, which can kill an activation altogether and deny a lot of resources to your opponent. Goad isn’t something you’ll use every turn, but the few times it comes up each game have the potential to be absolutely crushing.

Battering Ram is another way of giving your team 2″ of additional threat range without investing any influence. It means Jac can do a budget Hag impression if you aren’t running her, or you can give your team even more free movement if you’re running both. It also lets you shove enemies out of the way which can put a scrum more in your favour, disengage Jac from 1″ melee models without a parting blow, or give you 2″ of additional distance ‘free’ towards pushing an enemy off the pitch.

Resolute makes Jac TAC7 on the counterattack, which is a big difference from TAC5 and makes his mT>> a much more possible result. This is important, because if Jac didn’t have a good counterattack he’d just be a free bundle of VPs for a lot of opponents. As is, he is reasonably safe against enemies who aren’t going to knock him down, but very vulnerable to those who can, which at least means he isn’t dead meat against everyone. It also makes Jac a reasonable ball holder if the opponent isn’t very football heavy – most models will need to wrap to both tackle and disengage from Jac, and his T>> makes failing to wrap probably kill a whole activation.

Trident Tested is Jac’s second set of pushes, meaning that like Hag he can move his allies 4″ – although Jac’s costs a point of momentum, you can also do it every turn if you want to. It also means he can move enemy models 4″ without rolling any dice which has real impact when trying to score some ring outs, as long as you have the momentum. If you aren’t worried about enemy retaliation, Jac can reasonably sprint to push 2″ with Battering Ram, continue moving into base to base, push 3″ more with attacks and then Heroic from the extent of 3″ for another 2″ of pushes, moving a model 7″, or more if he can continue round the enemy’s base rather than just going straight towards them after pushing. If you’re going to push people off the pitch, though, you probably need to be bonus timing a lot of those attacks to hit those pushes. Unlike going for standard takeouts, missing on a ringout often means the opposing model walks back away from the edge and undoes all your hard work, leaving you with nothing for your efforts, where whiffing on a takeout at least still leaves the target on 2hp or whatever, and your opponent needs to spend momentum if they want to avoid just dying next activation rather than the jog they get for free.

Jac is a great utility model, with a leaning towards throwing people off the pitch but some potential to assist at both goalscoring and taking out enemy models too. He brings quite a lot to the table in terms of team support while also bringing some VP scoring abiliity himself, where Hag is all-in on the support plan. The downside is that he needs to be close to the enemy to get those VPs, and his durabilty really doesn’t support that. While you’re the one with the initiative that’s fine, but if your opponent manages to catch Jac at an inopportune time or go first when you don’t expect hit, Jac has a real tendency to just get taken out immediately. If you can’t use his counterattack to protect him – which is inconsistent at best, since he’s so easy to KD – he’s going to give up 2 VPs very quickly. His utility, with his team movement and Goad, is effective enough that you don’t actually have to risk Jac’s life to get reasonable amounts of use out of him, though.

Kraken

Kraken.PNG

Kraken is pretty underwhelming in terms of numbers, although his 20 HP will keep him alive for a reasonable while. He’s a bit slower than most fishermen and caps out at 3 influence, but he’s carried in terms of strength by his playbook. With a KD on column 2 and 2″ reach, he’s off to a good start, but follows it up with an easy momentous >> for some good ringouts, a second column 2 damage and 3 on 4 for taking people out if you need it, and a nice KD>> in case of a spike in rolls at the top end. He’s not going to be scoring you goals often, but Kraken has a great playbook for controlling the enemy team, setting up teammates for damage, or throwing people around. His counterattack is also pretty strong.

Drag is, if anything, better on Kraken than it is on Corsair, since it means you can follow it up with six Corsair attacks. Kraken is also slightly faster than Corsair, so he can drag people in from further away – although if he sprints, he can’t KD them afterwards. Running two Drags on the same team lets you move enemy models enormous distances, especially if they are models which can’t dodge away or take a parting blow from models with 2″ melee and great counter attacks – which is a lot of models.

Tough Hide is what sets Kraken apart from Jac in terms of durability. It makes him almost exactly as tough as Corsair, which is a solid place to be – he loses Sturdy, but gains 2 boxes and his KD and >> results are a column earlier in his playbook with 1 less TAC. Actually killing Kraken is a relatively difficult proposition, although it gets much easier if he eats a KD, if he’s in trouble the Fishermen have a lot of support tools like Fisher’s Reel to pull him back out and slow down the attack.

Gravity Well makes trying to reach other models near Kraken very difficult. Yanking in models can cause them problems – especially since it means that disengaging on an attack difficult, and prevents enemies from getting away from Kraken once they’ve reached him without spending ~3 influence to disengage. It also has other uses, like breaking Stoic for free occasionally, and making it difficult to engage Kraken without taking crowding out penalties from nearby allies – if Tentacles is base to base with Kraken behind him, there’s no way to engage him without getting pulled in to another dice pool penalty. Be aware that you don’t have to pull models in if you don’t want to, and not all the way – if in the scenario above, Tentacles has the ball and you want to move your octopus soon, you could pull them in to break Stoic or get them somewhere it’s harder to disengage from, without putting them within 2″ of Tentacles to avoid a parting blow later, if you wanted to.

Protective Instinct is another problem for the opponent. It makes reaching models that are hiding behind Kraken even harder, and generally just forces the opponent’s first plan to be ‘deal with Kraken’. This is really not what they want to be doing, and chewing through all his health boxes takes a long time. It’s also great for disrupting the enemy’s other plans – particularly with pushes. Several models in the Fishermen’s Guild (Jac, Hag, Corsair, even the strikers with their >< results) have ways of putting a model into engagement with Kraken on a counterattack, which can blank activations at times and at the very least force them to spend influence doing something other than attacking their primary target.

Kraken is a great roadblock for the enemy who buys a lot of time for the other Fishermen to set up their goals. He’s also great at throwing people off the pitch and not bad at the takeout plan. He wants quite a bit of influence because his playbook (and Drag) are just so good, but that’s not necessarily a problem. He also benefits a lot from other models’ ability to move allies around or push enemies in different directions, since he creates an area that forces the enemy to spend a pile of influence to actually get anything done. It’s also nice that Kraken’s control abilities all still work while he’s KDed – he just loses his excellent counter attack – which makes him a bit harder to just stop with a Deadbolt. In general he’s usually at his best when you’re forcing the enemy to kill him first, and then taking advantage of the time this takes them to do something else that gets you VPs. He’s good against fighting teams since he prevents them from taking out too many Fishermen too quickly, and also great against footballing teams for preventing them from making their goal runs unhindered – if you aren’t playing Kraken in any specific matchups you probably need a very good reason why not.

oSakana

Sakana

Sakana is a pretty standard Fisherman, with the exception of his 8″ kick range. His playbook is pretty average too, with the main downside of not having a double dodge until column 5, meaning his counterattack is very underwhelming. At 4/1/14 he’s very vanilla in terms of defenses, but without a good counterattack he’ll go down quickly to any threatening attacker. His playbook does have a useful 5th column with a >><< result for ringouts and a 3 damage for takeouts, but it’s pretty hard to reach and that investment might be better spent elsewhere.

Smoke Bomb lets Sakana bring cover with him wherever he goes, which is a cool bonus but not exceptionally impactful given that you’re spending inf for it. Most of the time with good positioning you can have cover even without using Smoke Bomb.

Weak Point is Sakana’s main contribution to the takeout game, since giving Corsair a free extra net-hit on each swing means a lot more wraps and a lot more damage as a result. It’s a bit telegraphed however, and because Sakana has no KD, anyone he Weak Points that isn’t already in the zone of crowdouts and KDs is probably going to just leave, and anyone that is in that zone is probably going to die either way. It does help out against heavily armoured teams like the Blacksmiths, especially against ARM2+ targets where it also helps Sakana himself. If you’re going for goals, though, Weak Point doesn’t do much, since if Sakana can get three hits to apply it, he can definitely get two hits to tackle the ball anyway.

Anatomical makes Sakana’s momentum generation extremely reliable and his Tackle also quite good. He really doesn’t like dealing with DEF5 targets, but he’s often only going for column one anyway so it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference most of the time.

Cover Of Darkness gives oSakana a 12″ threat range on the ball and an 18″ threat range on the goal, both of which are pretty solid. Neither of them are the best in the game or anything, but they are good enough to make him a threat. Greyscales threatens 1″ further on the ball and 1″ less on the goal, but doesn’t have Anatomical so has more difficulty tackling, and Sakana spends 1 less inf getting there if he’s got cover without using Smoke Bomb.

Poised is a nice piece of free momentum, but most of the time doesn’t do very much because Sakana’s counterattack isn’t disengaging him from pretty much anyone. It does mean you can use both defensive stance and a counterattack against a first activation charge, which can be useful against some goal runs – however, if you’re holding the ball, you have other good options there, so it doesn’t come up much. It’s a useful tool to have because it’s free, but don’t count on it to actually do very much.

Original Sakana is a reasonable all round piece, mainly focusing on the football game with a little bit more takeout support than somebody like Greyscales. He doesn’t have a buyable dodge but otherwise does everything you’d want from a striker, with a long threat range on both the ball and the goal and a reliable Tackle. Which striker you play is pretty much a matter of taste, since they’re all quite similar to each other. Sakana’s best matchups are those where Anatomical Precision is particularly relevant, like Blacksmiths and Masons. The main point against oSakana is that vSakana is also an option, which we’ll get to in just a moment…

vSakana

vSakana.PNG

Veteran Sakana has the exact same statline as the original, with the exception of his influence stat, but we’ll get to that later. His playbook is slightly adjusted, however – importantly his T and m< results are swapped. This makes vSakana better at getting the ball, but worse at generating momentum in those cases where the ball isn’t available. He is still pretty good at getting momentum though, since Tac5 Anatomical is pretty good at reaching column two against everyone but Def5 models. He also swaps the column 4 m<< for a m><, and the >><< on the last column becomes a m>>. Since he’s a bit more pushy than oSakana, he’s a bit better at ring outs, but still nothing to plan for often. His counter attack is still pretty terrible.

Fancy Footwork is an excellent ability. Like Ball’s Gone!, it lets you snag the ball off a model with Close Control, and works as a momentous tackle, too. It’s slightly different to Ball’s Gone!, however. It isn’t as good against counter attack tackles, since there is no way to offload that ball before the opponent hits us back. However, instead, it lets us tackle from anyone within 4″, not just the target of our attack. This is a really big deal, and gets round a lot of ball killing tech. A lot of the ways a team can cap out a model’s defensive stats for ball killing rely on other nearby models – whether it’s Spigot giving +1 DEF to Friday, or a Blacksmith Master giving +1 ARM to Iron. That means there’s another model nearby – often one with 1″ melee whose counter attack doesn’t need to be worried about – who can be used as a target for Fancy Footwork while you steal the ball from its holder. It also means vSakana maintains the 12″ threat on the ball of oSakana even without Cover of Darkness, as long as there’s someone to bounce off in the right place beforehand. Note that if you want to get the ball off someone who can ignore a character play – such as someone in Burnish’s Reinforced Plating – you can’t use Fancy Footwork as it’s OPT limited.

Raise the Black Flag is quite difficult to use well, since in order to speed Sakana up himself he’d need someone in his melee zone before he moves. It’s mainly relevant for the movement penalty – with a 6″ range, some models can’t reach Sakana after he’s applied it to them, and if they can there’s potential for them to be unable to get close enough to avoid being stopped by his incredible 1″ dodge on the counter attack. Occasionally you get to speed up Corsair or Kraken with it, which is nice, but not something to be relied on. This scenario would mostly come up when Sakana is finishing off a pulled-in target at the start of a turn, and can freely put a movement buff on one of the Drag characters to set up for the next pull in and take out later on. It also lets you break Resilience on a ball holder, allowing you to follow up with Fancy Footwork and take the ball.

Anatomical is still as good as it was on oSakana. It also means vSakana is still good into those matchups where oSakana was a strong choice. If anything it’s slightly more important here than it was on oSakana, since he wants to hit columns 2 and 3 more frequently.

Bag Of Coffers more than makes up for vSakana’s influence stat. You can use it mid-activation after spending some influence, which means it’s only ever a downgrade on just being 2/4 influence if you want to allocate 0 inf to vSakana and activate him last – or he dies before he can activate. This gives him a little bit more versatility than just generating 2 inf, since you can put some influence on Sakana and see how his activation goes before you decide where that point of influence goes, such as getting an extra attack to tackle with if you need it or putting 1 on someone else if you don’t. The free Bonus Time! also makes Bag Of Coffers great for setting up the guild’s one die character plays, such as Blind and Goad. It’s also nice for improving the odds that Sakana reaches his third column for an important Fancy Footwoork, or letting Kraken bonus time a Drag. Be aware that it can’t be used on Corsair.

vSakana is similarly useful into armor heavy guilds, but also does a lot to improve the team’s ability to bypass ball killing tools. He doesn’t quite set up takeouts as well as oSakana does with Weak Point, but instead capitalizes on them by using the victim to speed up Corsair for the next Drag. He brings a lot more useful little tools than oSakana, who is much more linear. In my opinion oSakana isn’t even that much better at football – the threat range is nice, but vSakana is better at actually getting the ball back which is the hardest part of scoring goals. The point at which vSakana is least necessary is when you have other ball retrieval models that can deal with it being killed, like oSiren and Corsair, and just want the best striker you can get.

oSiren

oSiren

Siren is fast, but her statline is otherwise absolutely awful. 4/0/10 is one of the worst defensive statlines in the game for a non-mascot, and frankly is worse than some mascots’ too. She’s also TAC3, so isn’t going to be taking people out very often, and has an influence cap of 3. However good Siren’s character plays and traits are, she has definite potential to give up a lot of VPs and generally be a liability. She has the usual early dodges, and a double dodge on column 2 – but good luck getting there on a counterattack with TAC3.

Lure is a control play very similar to Drag. It has 2″ more range, but the distance it moves the enemy model is dependent on its MOV stat. Drags and Lures get stronger the more of them you have in the team, since each lets you threaten to pull another model out of position or get a target even deeper into your lines. Lure should be used first, though, since Drag is often followed up by the target being KDed, which means they can’t jog for Lure. Speaking of which, some opponents will position their models such that they can take a parting blow and KD the Lured model if it jogs away, which stops them in their tracks and prevents them from ending up so far into your lines, so be aware of that. Moving Siren up into Lure range is risky since she’s so flimsy, so be careful when you use it.

Seduced is a great way of getting the ball back. Since it only has a 4″ range, it’s only really doable if Siren is within 11″ of the ball carrier, or has a charge target within 11″ she can use to trigger it off the playbook. Often using the playbook is optimal, since it costs 1 less influence leaving Siren with a point of influence to potentially shoot a goal with, kick the ball back to her team, or otherwise make use of it. Because seduced causes an actual pass – not just moving the ball – you can use it to dodge models around. You can also get the opponent to pass to space if passing to Siren would be difficult (say if she charges a model with 2″ melee), or you want the ball to go further. Seduced can also be used to make the enemy model attack, but that isn’t often very relevant since a single swing is not a huge deal. You can sometimes mess with enemy plans with it, however – KD a model at an inopportune time, or get a model that’s already activated to tackle the ball leaving the enemy with no way to get it back off them. On column 2, Seduced is quite difficult to trigger on a normal swing, but not too hard on the charge – especially since Siren has only 3 TAC, so charging actually gets her more dice than just making two swings would, even discounting the impact of armor.

Beautiful makes Siren a lot harder to mess with using ranged control. She can occasionally hold the ball against models which would otherwise take it, like an opposing Corsair/vSakana/oSiren or Obulus. One thing it does not do is protect her from ranged AOE character plays – like Hag, Siren really doesn’t like Noxious Blast, Fire Blast, Rataclysm or similar effects – especially because she only has 10HP and comes back on an incredible 5 health.

Charmed makes Siren a slightly harder model to kill for male players, but it’s often better to think of her as a 5/0 model that is particularly vulnerable to female / mechanica / animal players. A lot of the more mobile damage dealers that would hunt Siren down are female, and the others (e.g. Shank) are still definitely able to worry Siren even if she is DEF5.

Protected means that inside 4″ of Kraken, Siren is actually acceptable durable against some targets. Fortunately, if she’s close to Kraken, she probably can’t be attacked anyway whether she’s getting +1 ARM or not. The ARM bonus still doesn’t matter against the above ranged AOE plays, however. Siren usually ends up sitting behind Kraken until you need use of Seduced / Lure, walking out and using it, and then either backing away to safety immediately or getting blown up by the enemy when she does so.

Siren is entirely about her character plays. If you really want to be able to get the ball back from the enemy reliably, she’s the one to do it, but she doesn’t really do anything else. She’s an okay striker occasionally, especially if she has someone to charge for Seduced to pass-dodge into threat range, putting her at a 19″ goal threat. The main question with Siren is whether you value your ball retrieval tools more or less than occasionally giving up 2VPs to the enemy, and then afterwards needing to play extremely carefully with your 5HP model. Siren is very easy to mess up with and get killed, but the trick is in knowing when committing her to the fight for the ball is worth her life.

vSiren

vSiren

Veteran Siren is just as fast as the original Siren, but gains a point of DEF and a point of TAC, going from ‘horrifyingly flimsy and useless in a fight’ all the way up to ‘moderately flimsy and somewhat bad in a fight’. She loses her 2″ melee but instead has the same result as Angel, with a momentous T< on her first column, which greatly compensates for her low TAC value. She also has reasonable access to pushes, and with a bit of setup can move someone a few inches towards the edge of the pitch or out of a scrum if needed. Her extra point of TAC also means, like Angel, her counterattack isn’t too bad.

Dread Gaze is a powerful character play. Being able to apply ranged knockdowns is a big deal, especially since the guild has a lot of models with good melee knockdowns too. Forcing the enemy to use Rest at the start of their activation to clear a KD means they’ve very vulnerable to counter attacks later in the turn. It also means that even if by taking vSiren you lose access to Seduced, you still have some tools for popping the ball off a model which is holding it, since scattering the ball off a KD frees it up and at the very least puts it on a different model which may be easier to Tackle. Dread Gaze is also a 2″ push, which while not exceptionally impactful does mean the enemy is 8″ from Siren – enough to keep her out of a few threat ranges and force others to sprint – and can cause occasional problems for enemies if you push them into rough ground or behind an obstruction. Be aware that if you’re scattering the ball, you can choose whether to push first or KD first, so either scatter the ball from the original spot or their post-push location.

Fair Wind makes vSiren the inverse of oSiren – where oSiren gets the ball off models which are holding it and hard to tackle, vSiren gets the ball when it has been dropped on the ground to avoid Rough Seas. It also can be used in combination with Dread Gaze to KD someone, force the ball to scatter, and then move it afterwards. With a 6″ range, unless there are other models or markers in the way, Fair Wind can be used to move the ball 4″ edge to edge directly towards vSiren, which is enough for her to snap it – though you may need to contest for it with other models within 1″ of it. It also means Siren can ‘pass’ without a dodge possibility or MP generation by dropping the ball and then Fair Wind-ing it – which lets her give it to a model just over 8″ away with no chance of failing any die rolls, if you really need to.

Escaping Fate is vSiren’s durability, and it’s much more consistent than oSiren’s but still really not enough to make her ‘tough’. Against a model with 2″ melee, it costs them one additional influence to kill her. It’s okay against 1″ melee models however. Against a 2″ model, if you’re expecting them to trigger Escaping Fate next swing, you can declare a counter attack, use EF to dodge to 1″ away, then hope for a >< or << on the counter to move to 3″ total away. 1 HP is risky, but sometimes it’s all you need – it does make Siren relatively difficult to kill in a single activation which is a nice bonus, especially when she is protected by Kraken.

Shadow Like makes vSiren absurdly speedy, which makes up for her lack of 2″ melee. She has a jogging threat range of 10″, which is more than Shark’s. She’s also good at disengaging, since even when B2B with a 2″ melee model she can dodge to 1″ away, take a ><, and then sprint. She has pretty good threat on a lot of ball carriers, with her easy T< and long threat – the only reason she isn’t among the best strikers in the guild is her 3 influence cap, but even so she’s not a bad option.

vSiren brings another element to the control game, along with some reasonable footballing ability. She’s still a little on the flimsy side but harder to punish than oSiren. Her tools are all useful options for the toolbox – though she is a little bit risky to play, as a lot of her power depends on hitting with Dread Gaze and/or getting good results on that circular scatter that can’t be snapped up by another player. Even disregarding her character plays, however, she’s a very mobile threat on the ball. She doesn’t like teams with lots of armor like Smiths, since her 4 TAC can have trouble into some of those targets.

Fathom

Fathom

Fathom’s stats are a little odd, but that’s to be expected for a Navigator and we’ll get to it later. In terms of survival ability she’s a mirror of Angel on 5/0/12, although her counter attack isn’t as good with no easily accessible double dodge. She’s slightly slower on a jog, and the top of her playbook is where the good stuff lives, which means she wants to spend a lot of her time charging. Since she doesn’t have the traditional Fishermen momentous dodge on column one, she isn’t going to be impressive at farming up momentum points. She also isn’t fantastic at doing damage – though she can wrap to three damage on five hits, anyone with Tough Hide doesn’t care in the slightest. Her 8″ kick stat solidifies her role as someone who puts the ball in the goal, along with her mT<< result which is exactly what you want on your ball chasing models.

Acrobatic puts Fathom’s threat up to 12″ already, which is on par with plenty of other striker options. It also helps her to disengage from enemies and then re-charge them, which is often important because Fathom’s non-charge attacks are really very unimpressive, especially if you need momentum.

Smelling Salts provides the Fishermen with much appreciated condition removal. This isn’t available anywhere else in the guild barring just spending MP to clear things, which works but is pretty awkward on occasion since the Fish aren’t the best guild at generating momentum. It’s particularly important for a Corsair team because they tend to group up a lot and really don’t like getting tagged with AOE character plays, and they play a slow grindy game where effects like poison and disease can add up. It’s also a way of clearing KDs from your models without needing to worry about them getting stuck if they’re knocked down again in future, which does a lot to improve things against particularly KD heavy guilds like Brewers. Having 2 influence on Fathom means you can afford to use Jac’s heroic to move your kicker forward potentially, without needing to worry as much about them being stranded if they get knocked down before they can activate. On the other hand, Fathom probably has better things to be doing on turn one than enabling 2″ more threat range on your kicker.

Precise Calculations more than makes up for Fathom’s low kick and TAC numbers. Her two die kick is effectively 4 dice – it also means that if she is crowded out, Bonus Time puts her at a ‘4 die’ minimum regardless of how many penalties she’s suffering. On attacks, this approximately is worth a -1 def debuff with regards to how many hits you expect. It makes DEF modifiers a lot less impactful, and greatly increases the value of TAC buffs (i.e. charging). However because Fathom’s playbook is toploaded, it also means that highly armored models, or dice penalties like cover, aren’t great for her to deal with. Because she can wrap to her tackle on the charge, Fathom doesn’t worry about close control or high def much, and she doesn’t care at all about distance with her mobility. Instead she has difficulties dealing with high arm and control effects like Blind. This makes her an interesting mirror of Corsair/Siren, whose ball reclaiming abilities work well on the exact targets Fathom dislikes, so between them they can get through most ball killing tech. Bonus Time is very effective on Fathom since each die you add is much more likely to be a hit.

Light Footed helps keep Fathom’s threat range high. She spends a lot of time sprinting around the pitch chasing the ball, and so being able to position her wherever you like helps a lot – especially since she wants to go in a straight line for a charge often, so can’t really skirt around terrain.

Linked [Angel] is a powerful effect to have available. It means Fathom and Angel together are one of the best options Fish have for getting the ball and scoring to end the game, since Shark teams in particular are generally great at getting a goal or two but have trouble finishing things up afterwards. It’s risky to use if you aren’t immediately going to end the game with it – since a lot of the time you’ll be spending 6+ influence and giving your opponent the last activation of the turn, which is a big commitment. However this does enable Fathom to really dive deep into an enemy backline, snag the ball and boot it up to where Angel can happily collect it and score. This is a good reason to play Angel, especially in a Shark team, although Fathom is still great even if you want more utility focused models rather than going all in on goal scoring. Between them if you just need 1-2VPs Fathom and Angel can also do 8 or so damage to an injured model if you really want that final takeout to end a game, but I wouldn’t recommend aiming for it often. As well as using Fathom to set up an Angel goal, you can also score with Fathom and use Linked to activate Angel immediately afterwards. You have to say you’re doing so before the opponent makes their goal kick, however, which means they will probably put the ball far away from Angel. If she’s central on the pitch, however – which she often is, if she’s being a snapshot turret – this forces them to put the ball in very awkward places, and all but eliminates the possibility of a snapback goal unless Angel is thoroughly pinned down already. Sometimes you’ll want to use Linked either way, since just getting to do two things with two useful models at opposite ends of the pitch is often very impactful – like scoring early with Fathom, and then putting Nimble up on Angel to avoid them killing her if she’s vulnerable.

Waverunner makes Fathom’s threat ranges truly absurd. It’s not that hard to find a terrain piece to bounce off, especially with other dodges available. You can use it before or after your move, or use Acrobatic to get in range. Goalposts and Theron and Skatha’s AOEs are terrain pieces (but Foul Odor is not). Waverunner puts Fathom’s linear goal threat at an impressive 22 inches, and there’s potential for her to Acrobatic + Waverunner 6″, charge 8″ for a mT<< for an extra 2″ then shoot 8″ for a 24″ goal run including tackling the ball. You need a little bit of alignment in terms of terrain to get it working, but it really isn’t unlikely.

If the opponent isn’t actively trying to kill the ball, Fathom scores goals more effectively than almost anyone else, which puts a lot of pressure on an opponent, especially when the rest of your team could easily be primarily focused on other avenues to VPs. Fathom also brings more utility to the rest of the team than Sakana or Greyscales, with Smelling Salts helping out some matchups quite a lot. Her main downside is her durability. Fathom really wants to be jumping in to the enemy and running after the ball, and at 5/0/12 she isn’t exceptionally durable, especially with her poor counterattack, and she doesn’t have Nimble or Decoy or anything to keep her alive after she goes in. Trading Fathom’s life for a goal is probably going to happen a lot – but that’s probably fine, since she’s fast enough to do useful things next turn anyway, especially since returning to the pitch has plenty of positioning options for getting Waverunner going. Since she really doesn’t like dicepool or net-hit reduction, Fathom is awkward into heavily armored teams like Blacksmiths and Masons, but solid into teams without much armor like Hunters and Farmers.

Horizon

Horizon

Horizon is pretty bizarre looking. His offensive stats suck because he’s a Navigator, but then he also has poor movement stats and a highly worrying 3/1/8 defensive statline, which is bottom tier even for a mascot. He also comes back from being taken out on full HP, which is a blessing at least. In terms of his playbook, it’s similar to Fathom’s. Horizon is even less of a damage dealer, but with a first column tackle he wraps easily to a T<< even against a Close Control model. His m>< result is also quite hittable, meaning he can actually throw people a good distance with some Bonus Times.

Unexpected Arrival makes Horizon great at messing with positioning. He can chuck people off the pitch, or just charge into a scrum and disengage as needed. It’s also quite useful as a way of shoving enemies away from your important models. If you’re sending Horizon in to do any of these things, he’s definitely going to get taken out – but as we’ll get to later, you’re probably okay with that.

Precise Calculations still does what it did on Fathom. Horizon only needs three columns worth of hits to get a useful result, where Fathom really wants to reach 4, though. He’s also a bit better at disengaging, so he has more opportunities to charge. While Horizon has a 3 influence cap, wanting to charge every turn makes him quite influence hungry.

Don’t Get Cocky allows Horizon to play aggressively and not worry too much. He’s going to get Taken Out a lot, but that’s not necessarily an issue as long as he’s done his job. He’ll spend a lot of time right up in the face of important models on the enemy team – they can take him out if they want to, but it’ll cost them an activation, and generally for a lot of teams’ output models spending a whole activation generating a single VP really isn’t a good deal. Someone like Hammer, Fillet or Seenah killing Horizon is really quite underwhelming for them – models that take two whole turns for a dedicated beater to kill are very rare, and in terms of vp generated per turn taking out Horizon every turn is even with that. Returning to the pitch on the enemy deployment zone also makes Horizon a real annoyance. He’s usually available as a snap shot threat, and with Precise Calculations he’s reasonably likely to score when he tries it. He also has pretty good odds of throwing any enemy models which return to the pitch straight back off again. One thing to avoid with Horizon is getting him killed before he activates, though – he wants to be a very early activation in your turn, since he’s easy to kill and often has influence. Losing Horizon isn’t a problem, but losing 3 influence’s worth of momentum and output is a lot more of a problem.

Stellar Navigation is an important component of Horizon’s mobility – it makes Horizon even with vSiren as the Fish model that goes the furthest without influence. Since he comes back from Taken Out so often, his low jog distance is still noticeable though. Being able to dodge around for free does a lot of useful things – it means he is very reliably able to charge for Unexpected Arrival or his tackle, and he can re-engage after being counter attacked. He can also charge for UA, then follow up with Stellar Navigation for an extra attack to >< someone off the pitch from 5″ away. Quite a few low-def models only have a 5″ jog so this can result in a quick ringout against anyone returning to the pitch. Horizon’s total goal threat is 17″ which isn’t exceptionally huge but is enough to make him a solid goal scoring option – like Salt, he can also do this while only giving up 1VP in return if he’s taken out in response. He isn’t as good at tackling the ball as Fathom with her 2″ melee, but he’s still got reasonable potential to hit that mT<< and score from there. He’s also good for grabbing the ball from an enemy and booting it back towards your team, since again committing him is something you’re happy to do. He needs five hits on a charge to tackle the ball and Unexpected Arrival, which is not unlikely either and great for messing with enemy formations while you retrieve the ball.

Horizon is a very strange player. He’s an influence hungry models that’s not exceptionally good at generating VPs, but he does a lot of very useful things which no other player really does, because he is worth half as many VPs as other models. Sending him in to push someone off the pitch is a lot safer, since getting Horizon himself chucked off afterwards is no problem. Charging to UA people out of position is fine, because delaying the opponent’s best models’ impact by a turn is very much worth 1VP. If you can set up a goal with Horizon you’re very happy since you’re going up by 3VPs. Do be aware that some models and opponents can control him or take advantage of his being taken out in other ways – vOx is happy to spend a couple of influence killing him to put up The Owner for a turn, and there’s a reasonable number of times where giving up 3VP to Casket Time is enough to end the game. Giving up a VP is still a nonzero cost, and Horizon is a pretty easy player to generate momentum off, so committing him needs to be towards some actual purpose, even if that purpose is just ‘get in the way of the Furious model’ or something. Horizon is particularly useful against teams which don’t focus on takeouts, since he can do things to disrupt them without worrying as much about being taken out, and the 1VP they get if they do take him out is less likely to be relevant. Like Fathom, he has difficulty against heavily armored teams, although he gets to charge more than Fathom does since his disengage is more reliable, so he can still reasonably plan on triggering UA against a team like Masons. His lower DEF does mean he’s more vulnerable to ranged control – no Navigator likes being Blinded – and while he isn’t worth VPs, negating any influence allocated to him is still something you should try to avoid.

Overview

Fishermen

The Fishermen’s Guild is probably the most scoring focused team in Guild Ball, with a huge number of models which are great at going long distances, tackling the ball, and putting it in the goal. You really need to be actively trying to make a Fish lineup that doesn’t at least have the potential to go for a 3-0 footballing game, and the Fish do not often aim for anything more combat heavy than a 2-2 plan – not to say it isn’t possible or viable, however. The Fish do have some control effects – mostly around positioning rather than actively debuffing the enemy. Good use of positioning is very important to both Fish captains – Shark wants to spread his team out such that the enemy can’t pin down multiple models at once, leaving someone always free to pressure the ball. Corsair wants to group up for crowding out bonuses, but also cares a lot about the enemy positioning, and pulling enemies away from their allies. Corsair also often appreciates keeping a model or two away from his main group, forcing the enemy to deal with a goal threat in addition to his own ganging-up plan. The Fishermen don’t really have a ton of setup for offensive purposes, with no damage buffs, no real TAC increases beyond crowdouts and no access to momentous damage. Corsair isn’t bad at takeouts, but he isn’t going to kill an entire team on his own – or if he does, they probably end the game long beforehand – and almost all the Fish are quite vulnerable to getting taken out themselves.

The Fish’s primary weakness is getting the ball killed, since if the ball isn’t in play they need to be really quite creative to actually get any reasonable number of VPs. Most teams are better at fighting than the Fishermen, especially if the game goes late – while you can Drag in a model and hit it a bunch, if an entire team of six models gets close enough to start a fight, they’re going to have a lot more relevant attacks than the Fishermen and they’re going to generate a lot more momentum while they do so. Getting into a ‘fair fight’ or a straight up brawl is something to be avoided pretty much at all costs. Models with Tough Hide are also very difficult for the Fish to deal with, since their lack of damage buffs means the most any single playbook damage result ever does to a Tough Hide model is 2, which is just not good enough most of the time. However, models which are highly durable are something the Fish are generally pretty happy to see. Durability usually comes at the cost of lower defensive stats, and if you are planning on pushing and dodging rather than doing damage, Tough Hide really doesn’t do anything at all. Tough Hide also doesn’t do anything to save a model from being thrown off the pitch. Ring Outs are quite difficult to engineer but can result in a lot of VPs for a team that can enable them like the Fish can. However, it’s also somewhat easy to disrupt. Think of a model’s distance from the edge of the pitch (in inches) as its health. Drag and momentous push results suddenly look very appealing, as does Unexpected Arrival. You can choose to do slightly less ‘damage’ and push targets into more melee zones for more ‘damage’ on your next swing, you can keep models 1″ from the edge of the pitch to push them off at the start of the next turn, and so on. It’s also the only real way that Fish can generate momentum while making progress towards a take out. However this also comes with downsides. The Fish’s own durable models, if they’re pushing people off the pitch, only have ~6 “HP” themselves because you need to engage someone in order to get those push results to send them off, so you have to be close to the edge yourself. Also, the counterplay is much easier to pull off. Healing a model from actual damage is generally capped at 8 per turn (and an attack often does more than 2 damage, where ringout attacks don’t often push more than 2″). Any model can use its jog to ‘heal’ for free when trying to avoid being pushed off the pitch, and dodges are much more accessible than free healing effects outside of momentum uses. This all means that if you’re aiming to push a model off the pitch, you should be aiming to do so when it has already activated, or when you can get it all the way off reasonably reliably in one go. Putting a model 1″ from the edge of the pitch doesn’t mean anything if they’re just going to activate next and walk back away again, and it requires you to risk your own model a lot as well. Models that have already activated are fantastic targets, since they often have no way of being rescued by their teammates, especially if you can KD them to prevent them from being passed to.

Dealing with ball killing by actually getting the ball back is somewhat difficult – there are a lot of ways to keep the ball out of play. However, they all have their downsides. Every team has models with at least some ability to prevent the Fish from taking the ball, whether it’s Beautiful, Resilience, Close Control, Reinforced Plating, or just excellent defensive stats. Generally, most character play resistant models can be tackled by a fast striker like Fathom or Greyscales. If a model is hard to tackle because of excellent defensive stats or close control, then the job probably falls to oSiren, vSakana or Corsair. If the ball is instead being dropped far away, or distance is being used as the primary defensive tool, then you want Salt, vSiren, or one of the Navigators to zoom in and grab it. When there’s a defensive position with multiple of these effects up at once, you could have an issue – the primary example would be Iron, who can reasonably easily be a DEF3/ARM3 model, in cover, with Close Control and an ability to ignore a character play via Burnish. This requires a lot of resources from the opponent but isn’t something that is easily circumvented. The best bet here would be to peel away layers of defenses one at a time, focusing on those models that have already activated. That means pushing Iron to outside of cover and outside the 1″ auras if possible, then claiming the ball afterwards – or just putting 6 influence on your captain and throwing them at the problem – even in the scenario above, double Rough Seas means the ball is yours if you want it, and a model with a first-column tackle and 2″ melee (vSakana?) can just break close control and then try again. The other important thing to note about ball killing is that a lot of it requires active spending of influence by the enemy. If the effects protecting the ball carrier are temporary (such as Tough Skin to make vMinx a DEF5/ARM2 model), don’t be afraid to back up a little outside of the enemy threat ranges, generate momentum off whoever you can, and aim to go first and threaten the ball at the start of the next turn when things are easier to handle.

Fishermen have quite skewed matchups because they don’t generally take models out easily. This means they have poor matchups against those teams whose flimsiness is their main downside, since they can’t capitalize on that downside very well. Butchers, for example, are fast enough to catch the Fish and do plenty of damage, and their lack of durability isn’t a huge liability here. Other teams have a lot of their strengths rely on their durability, and so don’t get to capitalize on it so much into Fishermen. Brewers are very tough, but that doesn’t matter to most Fish models whatsoever.

Both Fish captains have their own strengths and weaknesses, but generally Shark is more vulnerable to ball killing and control effects, where Corsair is worse against teams which can outfight and overwhelm him. Shark also usually wants to take at least three models which can threaten the ball carrier, to make it harder to kill it with distance – you want to be starting turn two by scoring with one of them, and leaving one on each flank or thereabouts so that the enemy doesn’t have anywhere safe to put the ball afterwards. Corsair usually still wants one or two goal scorers, especially if they can also help his Drag plan somewhat. If you’re expecting to need to group up ever, or just want someone to protect your other models, Kraken is never a bad choice and does a ton of work into almost everyone – though teams with a lot of damage can ignore a lot of his defensive ability by just killing him directly, it takes a while and his counterattack helps a lot. The Fishermen’s Guild 12 man roster is quite awkward to construct – there are 15 models listed above, so three of them need to be taken out. In my opinion both Sakanas do relatively similar things, so you don’t often need both of them in the lineup – personally I lean towards dropping oSakana since vSakana brings more utility, but raw speed is still definitely useful and either of them could be the cut. The second drop I go for is Salt, since he doesn’t really bring anything unique and Tentacles has a lot of important tools which are useful in most matchups. The final cut is more difficult, and could be a lot of models. Personally I’m actually leaning towards oSiren, just because she is so flimsy that she ends up being a real liability, and the teams she’s meant to be good against (those that kill the ball and then fight you) are also the ones that are particularly able to trivially kill her. Don’t drop both oSiren and vSakana though, or some models will be very very difficult to tackle. Angel is another option, since she’s somewhat situational and probably the footballing player that’s the worst at actually getting the ball back of those available. Horizon is also difficult to justify the player slot for in some scenarios since he has such an odd role, but he’s very useful and I really like using his unique toolbox. Greyscales is an all-round ‘filler’ model in a lot of lineups and is also quite killable if the enemy can get round UM, and he isn’t a great tackler either. Jac is another model that has lots of utility but tends to die a lot. I feel like the core of the team is Shark, Corsair, Tentacles, Kraken, Hag, (a Sakana), (a Siren), and Fathom. Once you’re on the above, you can fill out the rest of the roster with pretty much whoever you like and it’ll probably work out quite well. You have three footballers for Shark, a utility model that doesn’t need inf in Hag, good tackling models, ball retrieval character plays, and support for Corsair’s brawling. The Fish look linear at first but can bring a surprising amount of versatility, and if you want to score goals they have more tools to do so than any other team by a huge distance.

Until next time,

-Henry

Morticians in Season 4

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.

Our fifth team to be looked at is the Morticians. The Spooks are probably the most control heavy team in the game, with a lot of tools for disrupting the opponent’s plans and generally making their lives difficult. They aren’t very resilient and are quite a complex team to play, but they have a lot of power to them. They’re a very unique team to play as well, with a lot of tools that other guilds really don’t have.

Obulus

obulus

Obulus’ stats at first glance are pretty underwhelming for a captain, with one major exception – his 5/7 inf stat. Making 5 influence does a lot for the team’s efficiency and lets them work well – one of the issues the Morticians have is that a lot of their tools are powerful but influence intensive. Having a personal max influence of 7 is also a huge deal. You won’t put 7 inf on Obulus every turn, or even most turns, but when you do it’s usually a big deal. It means you can frontload a lot of your work for the turn into either the first activation (to end the game before the opponent acts, or kill someone before they can spend inf) or last activation (to double up and go first-last to take someone out, or to force the enemy into a situation where they need to choose whether to commit and get hit back by a 7inf model, or do nothing and let him do whatever he wants.

Obulus’ playbook is again pretty underwhelming – however if you can get him a crowdout or two to reliably hit that 2 damage, he’s going to take out a 14hp average model in one activation. If he’s Tooled Up, he can do it on his own, and he doesn’t need to worry a ton about counterattacks because of his 2″ melee.

Confidence has a couple of uses. Firstly, it lets Obulus reasonably expect to hit his KD on most models which means he can set up for his team well. It’s also pretty good on damage dealers, especially if they charge to give the reroll more value. The other primary use of Confidence is to improve the odds of Obulus’ other character plays hitting against high-def models – if they miss it’s generally a huge problem and can completely change a turn, so it’s good to have a tool to minimise that risk.

Misdirection doesn’t come up exceptionally often, but it’s a powerful play in the right circumstances. Taking influence from models which need specific amounts for a character play is always good, as is removing it from strikers or models with the ball to prevent them from kicking it to someone who needs it. The inf allocation to your team is generally a lot less important than the removal from the enemy – if you really needed influence on another model you could have allocated to it earlier anyway. It’s also good for taking attacks off models with very high value swings – usually 2/3 inf brawler models like Scourge and Seenah, or for weakening the impact of a highly buffed model (like a fully buffed kicking model for the Brewers).

Puppet Master is one of the most powerful single character plays in the game. It has a huge range of uses – however, it costs 4 influence which is also a huge amount. It does mean that PM will very rarely miss, which is important. The main strength of Puppet Master is it’s good in almost every scenario. Want to be proactive and go for the enemy? PM one of your threats forwards, or pull an enemy model (preferably one that’s already activated) into your team. Need to deal with a threat? PM it away from your team. Looking for VPs? Take the ball from whoever is holding it, no problem. Need to deny the opponent VPs? Make them kick the ball to space somewhere awkward. Need extra goal threat range? Have Obulus Puppet Master himself for an additional 4″ jog. There are very few situations where it isn’t useful. However missing it means you spent a third of your team’s influence on nothing, and it isn’t efficient. Midnight Offering costs 2 inf, Seduced costs 3 inf, Drag/Lure cost 2 inf. Puppet Master lets you pick which you’re using, but costs more than any of them. What you’re paying for here is the versatility. There are a few tricks to using Puppet Master, however. You can’t PM someone who’d dropped the ball behind them to pass it to you – but you can make them snap it during a jog. Making someone attack with PM doesn’t happen often, but can occasionally be a way to sneak a KD or Tackle onto someone who’s not expecting it. If you can get an enemy model who’s already activated to tackle the ball somehow, they’re often stuck with it and unable to get it back off them. Try not to depend on using PM to pull in someone with other models behind them – if they get knocked down on a Parting Blow, they’ll stop safely 1-2″ in front of their team. Some players will also similarly put the ball on a model with a bad kick distance to prevent you making them pass to them. Puppet Master is a fantastic tool, but a lot of the time its strength is in making your opponent do awkward things to try and mitigate it, rather than its actual use – which is a common theme in Morticians. Occasionally it’s better to put 5 inf on Obulus and hold it till late in a turn before using it for something else, than it is to actually PM someone unless you have a specific plan in mind.

Shadow Like makes up for Obulus’ slow movement speed, and makes him hard to pin down when combined with his easy access to playbook dodges. It does also mean that while he is mobile as a character, his low actual MOV stat makes Midnight Offering and Puppet Master less valuable on him as mobility tools. They’re still fine to have however.

Unpredictable Movement is very powerful when combined with Obulus’ 2″ melee and great dodges. It means the only models that threaten him in melee either have Extended Reach, or 2″ melee and a great KD / 2″ reposition. Because actually connecting with Obulus requires some influence expenditure (on movement to reach B2B, or less damaging attacks), he’s quite hard to one round from full, even with his 4/1/14 statline. However, because UM is his only real defensive ability, he’s quite vulnerable to ranged damage effects which are unaffected by it.

Rigor Mortis is an exceptionally powerful Legendary Play. Taking all of the enemy’s momentum is a huge deal and really messes with a lot of their plans. Even if you never use it, a lot of opponents will aggressively spend their momentum if Rigor Mortis is up and Obulus is unactivated, because holding it just means it’ll get taken anyway. It’s a perfectly reasonable choice to take a load of mom off the opponent towards the end of the turn, in order to guarantee going first next turn which is often very powerful. However there are some other uses too. If you have ways of giving opponents momentum (such as Rising Anger) you can trigger them prior to using RM for extra benefits, and to deny the opponent that effect later. Rigor Mortis is best, however, when you’re taking advantage of the fact the opponent is going to go down to zero momentum. Having no momentum at all is a very risky place to be and something which it’s usually a good idea to avoid at all costs, and Obulus can reliably put the opponent in that scenario. Importantly, this would mean that the opponent can’t score a goal unless they can generate momentum first, so if they’ve been setting up for their striker you can shut that down. If you can KD their models, they won’t be able to stand up except by forfeiting their movement, which can end an activation before it’s started, and really shut down opposing turns if it’s timed well. It also prevents counter attacks which helps Obulus’ odds on a goal run. Often the threat of Rigor Mortis does a lot for Obulus in terms of preventing the opponent winning the momentum race, especially if he’s going to activate late in the turn which he usually does. If you see the possibility of getting a big advantage from it, don’t be afraid to RM for as little as 1MP – the very first momentum point is by far the most important one, and taking it away can completely change a whole turn.

Obulus brings several very impressive tools. His personal threat is okay mainly because of his 7 influence cap, since his playbook doesn’t really lend itself to takeouts exceptionally well. Obulus is good into teams with lots of 1″ melee, and great at shutting down footballing teams or those that want to spread out, where he can pull in a single target to isolate. Obulus’ biggest weakness is ranged damage and other effects that can get past his defenses – that means that teams like Alchemists, Engineers and Hunters can be difficult for him to get past.

Scalpel

scalpel

Scalpel is fast and deadly, and not bad in other areas either. 4/1/16 is a little on the lower side defensively for a captain with an underwhelming counterattack, but nothing unmanageable. Her playbook doesn’t really get good until she’s getting three hits, but that’s not particularly hard given the rest of her card. Out of momentum, damage and mobility, her playbook doesn’t give her all three at once until column six, so she is likely to need to pick which she wants, but any two of the above three are easily available. She doesn’t KD until very high up her playbook, but it’s available if needed to make her parting blows somewhat relevant. Her speed also makes her a great Midnight Offering target, and a great kick off model since she threatens a lot of the board.

Second Wind is useful for going in, taking someone out or scoring a goal, and then dodging back out again to somewhere it’s awkward for the opponent to do anything about you. If you’re sending in someone else rather than Scalpel herself it’s also functional there, although most of the time you’ll want it to be Scalpel that’s going in. Often Scalpel will want to spend all six influence on damage, but if something has gone horribly wrong and you know you won’t get an expected takeout, or you need to reposition to safety, Second Wind is a good tool to have.

Spirit Bomb is fantastic for messing with enemy positioning. It lets you do a lot of damage to enemies that are grouped up, and moving people around is a very powerful tool, especially if some models in the enemy team have already activated, since in that scenario they are effectively roadblocks for the enemy team that aren’t easily moved. It also means that if it hasn’t been used yet, Scalpel has a >> on column 4 which makes her counterattack a bit better. If you reach four columns on your playbook during your activation however you should almost never take spirit bomb since you have other things to be doing with that attack.

Anatomical is a great rule to have and means Scalpel actually reaches column 3 consistently against most targets. The only ones she commonly whiffs against are DEF5/ARM0 models, which she should probably avoid hitting in favour of other options. Fortunately with Scalpel’s high speed she’s usually able to pick her targets.

Voodoo Strings is a very effective trait which does a lot of different things and makes Scalpel play like an actual Mortician. She doesn’t just kill enemies, but instead kills one enemy while reshuffling everyone else to cause them all lots of problems. Put already activated models in Furious models’ charge lanes. Move your own other models up into position, or out of engagement. Mess with strikers’ threat ranges. Pull enemy models towards you. Push models to within 3″ of each other to set up a high impact Spirit Bomb. Push people into rough ground to slow them down. Because she can push herself, it also enables goal runs a lot of the time. Most importantly, though, it’s free. Obulus needs to choose between controlling the enemy team, and generating damage / momentum. Scalpel has the major upside of instead controlling the enemy team (albeit in a less huge way) while still killing someone and getting momentum too. The downside here is that Scalpel needs to be within 1″ of an enemy in order to actually do very much. While she’s fast and has dodges / spirit bomb to engage with, Scalpel does occasionally have issues dealing with targets that are hard to connect with, such as those with Unpredictable Movement or the Blind character play. You can use Spirit Bomb to reach engagement, but that makes you more vulnerable to counter attacks, and is risky because if Spirit Bomb misses she’s stranded with nothing.

Unnatural Stamina is why you should pretty much never buy Spirit Bomb on the playbook or for INF. Getting a damaging character play for free is a big deal, especially when it’s also one she can use to re-engage with an enemy. Being able to do damage seven times (six attacks, heroic spirit bomb) means Scalpel gets a huge amount of benefit out of Tooled Up. This also means that Scalpel’s ‘best’ line – where she makes six attacks and a Spirit Bomb – does 14 damage without Tooled Up, or 21 with, which is enough to one round lots of players. It also includes enough ‘free’ movement effects that she can get around most enemies’ counterplay, although at the risk of being stranded if Spirit Bomb misses. I would recommend not missing with Spirit Bomb – or at least put it on two nearby targets, so if you miss on your primary one you can still push another person into range if needed.

Scalpel is great into teams that can’t control or kill her easily. Her main weakness is her bad counter attack, and her need to be within 1″ of enemies. She can have issues against Counter Charge models or other denial tools. Scalpel is a particularly good choice into teams which are heavily positioning dependent – particularly Blacksmiths, where she can easily oneround most apprentices and pull them out of Sentinel with Voodoo Strings. She’s also great into vRage, since she can really mess with his scrum setup and prevent him from using Furious. There aren’t many matchups where she is actively bad, but there are some which are more risky than others. Generally the ones I’d say she was worst in were those with lots of DEF5 or Unpredictable models, like Alchemists – but they also have ranged damage and conditions which Obulus dislikes. In general, if the matchup is positioning dependent Scalpel is good, and everything else is up to personal preference.

Dirge

dirge

Dirge is extremely fast and has good kick dice for is a mascot, which makes it a really good ball retrieval tool. 5/0/7 isn’t a particularly bad statline for a mascot, but it does mean that any model with a reasonably accessible 2 damage result will kill it without issue, so take care. TAC 3 isn’t exactly great, and Dirge’s playbook isn’t impressive so you probably won’t be buying attacks often, with one exception.

Singled Out is a pretty good effect to have access to. With TAC3, it’s not reliable against anyone with 3/2 or 4/1 defensive stats, but putting it on a model pretty much means that the opponent must get out with that model – or at least control anyone that threatens it – as soon as possible. Putting Dirge forward and applying SO presents threats to the opponent that mess with their activation order, while the risk to the Mortician player is relatively low – because Dirge isn’t a very appealing target, and committing players to dealing with Dirge is a pretty underwhelming use of influence.

Dark Doubts is what makes killing Dirge an underwhelming proposition. Especially for teams like Brewers which have trouble hitting momentous damage against a 5/0 model, killing Dirge really slows down the team’s momentum generation for the turn. Note that the -2MP is applied after any momentum gains for the takeout. It also doesn’t apply if Dirge is killed by a condition, or by a Trait such as vOx’s Lash Out. You also can’t drain 2MP from the enemy by killing your own bird with something like Fire Blast, sadly.

Flying is very handy for Dirge. Completely ignoring terrain and models makes ball retrieval much easier when dealing with things like forests, lets you sprint over obstructions, and makes it a very risky proposition for the enemy to drop the ball behind their models. This is particularly relevant because Puppet Master makes them want to drop the ball to avoid being made to pass it, while Dirge is good at snagging it if they do. Dirge’s mobility and non-awful kick dice do make for potentially reasonable goal runs occasionally – this can be handy because you’re comitting a model that’s pretty underwhelming to be killing to the goal, which is better than losing a model like Bonesaw or Scalpel or someone. Be aware that if you fly directly through a 40mm or 50mm model’s base, you leave its melee zone and take a Parting Blow, so try to avoid that and keep a part of Dirge’s base outside the enemy model. Flying also means that Dirge gets no benefit from Fast Ground.

Tag Along is mainly relevant for damage dealers like Scalpel and Cosset. With Dirge’s high movement, following the killers around and providing them with a crowd out is a great bonus and increases the number of targets they’ll reliably kill – especially Cosset. The additional engaging model also makes an opponent’s counter attack worse, which is particularly relevant for Cosset who hates being counterattacked.

Dirge is a great support tool, especially if you need to retrieve the ball from a kick off. The bird isn’t going to get VPs by itself often, but it’s going to be moderately annoying for the opponent and make the team all round slightly stronger if it’s ignored, which is a reasonably useful set of options for a mascot. It’s a relatively ‘safe’ choice and there aren’t really any matchups where Dirge is a liability, since its mobility makes it relatively easy to keep safe if they’re going bird hunting.

Vileswarm

vileswarm

Vileswarm’s mascot statline is a lot more mediocre. 4/0/9 is very much killable and can be a bit of a liability for a mascot, and its kick stat is also bottom tier. At mobility and combat it’s average at best. Vileswarm does bring a solid playbook, though – 123 means that every hit your pile of rats gets translates directly to damage, which isn’t a bad rate. There aren’t a ton of attack amplifiers in the Morticians – especially if you’re not running Dirge, so lose easy access to Singled Out – but Vileswarm does pretty well on a charge against a KD model. Note that because Vileswarm is TAC3 and scales linearly with dice, a charge attack is actually better than two swings unlike on most other models, since you get more dice that way and armor applies only once.

Scatter is a pretty good mobility tool. Placing within 1″, because it’s edge to edge, is actually approximately a 2.5″ dodge that can go over bases, which is a pretty good deal for 1 influence. It lets you disengage to re-charge a target, or get right into the middle of the enemy team after charging to make things awkward for them.

Furious means that Vileswarm can be expected to actually bring some good damage, without needing influence from the team. The Morticians have relatively little in the way of influence efficiency available, so having some on your mascot is nice. Dirge is handy but doesn’t do as much without allocation as Vileswarm does, other than just ‘be fast’. Getting 1 influence onto Vileswarm can be a fine plan, though, since it means that it can almost always charge via Scattering out of engagement, or it can make an additional swing if it doesn’t need to.

Noxious Death, like Dark Doubts on Dirge, makes killing the mascot an awkward proposition. Again, it doesn’t work on conditions, so keep an eye out for that. Killing the rats with poison or bleed is a good way of stopping them from being too much of a problem. Unlike Dark Doubts, Noxious Dead does trigger if you kill your own model, so setting that up can be a effective if you time it right. 3 damage (which ignores Tough Hide) and Poison is a good number of hit points, especially because it doesn’t require any hit rolls and so can be really punishing for low-health high-def models, and enemy mascots. Don’t be afraid to commit Vileswarm to a scrum for some damage, since if it gets killed that’s probably fine. Just avoid losing your rats to conditions. It’s also occasionally vulnerable to effects like The Unmasking or External Combustion that combine a push and damage, which can be used to push Vileswarm away before it explodes. Fortunately the Noxious Death only affects enemy models, so you don’t need to worry about Vileswarm being pushed into the middle of your own team and taken out there.

Vileswarm is great if it gets to make charges reasonably often. That means against teams that aren’t good at getting away from a 1″ melee model, and that want to group up together. Try to avoid Vileswarm into teams like Alchemists (where the conditions make Noxious Death weak, and the Unpredictable models make Furious hard to apply). You could still go single-mascot in either direction in Morticians, but Vileswarm is a bit more hit-or-miss than Dirge, which is more consistant. There are some places Vileswarm is fantastic – Masons, for example – and some like Alchemists where you’ll be much more underwhelmed. Even there though, Scatter means a burning Vileswarm can probably still charge something and get a bit of momentum and damage off for little investment, which is a fine deal.

Bonesaw

bonesaw

Bonesaw isn’t fast (but we’ll get to that later). Otherwise, that statline screams ‘Striker!’ and that’s exactly what Bonesaw is. High DEF but low HP, 8″ KICK, and pretty reasonable TAC for a striker too. Bonesaw’s playbook isn’t going to do much damage, but with both a T and a dodge on the first column it gets the job done. His >< on column two also means he isn’t bad at moving enemies around if he needs to. The T< results are nice for avoiding counter attacks, especially against the sort of low def models that tend to have easy KDs.

Meditation makes Bonesaw’s shots very reliable. Effectively going to six dice – eight with bonus time – is a fantastic pool. It also means that no matter how many times Bonesaw is crowded out, he can still make what’s functionally a 4 die shot through Bonus Timing to two dice, with a reroll. Note that you can reroll hits (if you get 6 4 4, you can reroll the 4s to fish for a Screamer!) and Meditation works out of activation, so you can park Bonesaw 8″ from the goal with Meditiation up to threaten a Snap Shot goal.

Unexpected Arrival is handy for messing up scrums. It’s also good for pushing enemies back into range of the rest of Bonesaw’s team. On column 4, it’s not something Bonesaw will be hitting reliably, but if you can connect with the right enemy on the charge you can throw a lot of people around. You can also use it to push people off the pitch, which Bonesaw is quite good at. You don’t have to push models the full 4″, so if you think you can hit it reliably you can push someone to the extent of 3″ from Bonesaw, then make another attack to push them further, rather than put them out of range on the first swing. You can also choose not to push one model so you still have someone to attack for more dodges later.

Slippery is handy for getting away from people, since if they have good defensive stats Bonesaw’s 1″ melee makes it hard for him to disengage with his dodges. Remember that you’re allowed to take the rest of your movement depending on the parting blow’s result – so if you get Tackled you can choose to turn around and re-engage the tackler. Because Parting Blows happen just after you leave a melee zone, it’s also possible to take a jog to disengage, take the PB, then stand back up and be unengaged if you have another Jog you can take. Speaking of which…

Stamina is what makes Bonesaw actually mobile. Jogging twice is great – it means he can engage someone, tackle, and still have a jog to go for the goal. It means he can just go 10″ for no influence, and has a charging threat of 13″ unsupported which is great. Stamina does have its downsides, though. You can’t use it if you’re knocked down – it’s an additional-advance, not a standard-advance, so it can’t even be used to clear the KD. Jogging twice also means that Bonesaw is doubly affected by movement buffs and debuffs – he really doesn’t like Blind or being on fire, but he gets 4″ of benefit out of Fast Ground. If you want to fish for an Unexpected Arrival on a charge, you can also Stamina out of melee and then charge back in. It also means you can jog up to someone and still have an advance you can forfeit to stand up if Bonesaw eats a KD.

Swift Wind makes Bonesaw’s mobility what it is, and lets you actually do things with a 50mm base model without getting pinned in. It means he can charge straight through a model to push it back towards the team with UM, and means he can’t easily be pinned in by multiple other models. Because he’s 50mm, he doesn’t have the same issues Dirge has with taking Parting Blows for entering models’ bases. Unlike Flying, Bonesaw does not ignore terrain, so he can’t walk over Barriers, Sprint over Obstructions, or ignore rough ground.

Bonesaw is a great model to be including whenever you are planning on scoring multiple goals. He doesn’t really contribute to the Mortician game plan much beyond that, but it’s good to have the option of running a model that can put the ball into the net and threaten to do so repeatedly. He’s good into teams you aren’t planning on outfighting, or which have issues killing the ball. He doesn’t like being knocked down or set on fire at all, and he’s somewhat easy to kill so keep that in mind.

Brainpan and Memory

Brainpan

Memory

Okay, so Brainpan is a pretty average model, but clearly not intended to attack things. Memory is very much not a normal model, but does have a pretty good TAC and a 4 column playbook, which means the puppet makes for a pretty deadly option with a bit of setup. Memory is clearly very killable with its 3 hit points, though. Memory is also the only model in the game without a Tackle result on its playbook – Tackling being the thing Brainpan does, it appears. If nothing else, Brainpan and Memory bring two models / bases for a single player slot, which is actually a big deal. It means you get two crowdouts from one model and it means you can more easily pin people in with bases to prevent them dodging away when you need to commit less of your team to it.

I’m Open! lets Brainpan pull the ball off other members of the team and move it around from there. Being able to get the ball off allies is very handy, because it means you don’t need to be concerned about leaving the ball on a model that’s already activated and so being unable to score with it if needed. It can also let you use the ball to dodge a model forwards to threaten the enemy without risking putting the ball somewhere the opponent can easily steal it.

Puppet Show and Pulling the Strings are how you get Memory to actually do things. Moving Memory for influence is a bit inefficient, but if it lets you reach engagement that’s what you need to do sometimes. Memory’s attacks are generally really good though, with a little setup. Memory is also a reasonable goal threat, since you can pass to it for a dodge, hop it further up the pitch, and then have it make a Kick. You can also use Puppet Strings and I’m Open to generate a lot of momentum on turn one if neither team is committing to a fight.

One, Two! makes Brainpan’s set up for Memory to score quite consistent. Note that the +2/+2″ KICK also ups the Tap In distance on the pass to 4″, which is a handy bonus, especially if Memory is engaged. While Memory can dodge off the pass, be aware that in order to make Memory actually take the Shot, Brainpan needs to be within 8″ of your puppet in order to tag him with Pulling The Strings (and have line of sight), so don’t dodge Memory too far away.

Thought letting you bring Memory back repeatedly lets you use the puppet as a roadblock for enemies a lot. It also means that the enemy just killing Memory is less of a potential problem, since Memory being dead doesn’t adversely affect Brainpan at all unless it dies during Brainpan’s activation (which would be a real issue – watch out for good counterattacks!).

Memory’s Inanimate Object trait makes it a model that engages and does things, but isn’t worth VPs, which is very useful. Blocking people’s charge lanes, engaging Furious models, and generally getting in the way is a good plan. Because Memory doesn’t activate, the only way it can clear a KD is through Encourage, so getting the puppet knocked down can be an issue sometimes. There is a second option, though, which is to kill your own Memory and then bring it back un-conditioned later. Speaking of killing the puppet, doing so does generate momentum but does nothing for the opponent’s VP total. Be very careful with that though – Memory isn’t worth VPs, but it will still be worth a takeout if vOx wants to activate The Old Ways (for free via Lash Out!), Minerva gets her free Encourage from Nocturnal Hunting, and oChisel gets her +2 ARM from Revelling. Just because Memory isn’t worth VPs doesn’t necessarily mean it should be thrown away without good reason.

Control Strings lets you move Memory around repeatedly. This is great for putting that crowdout where you need it, or shifting your roadblock around as the enemy tries to maneuver around it. It also lets you pull Memory back into Brainpan’s range if you want to actually do something with it. Remembering Control Strings is a very important aspect of Memory and doing so is the key to actually get work done from the pair. You can trigger Control Strings at the start of Brainpan’s activation even if Memory is currently taken out, so Thought brings Memory back within 2″ and then it makes a 2″ dodge, for a total threat range on attacks from Brainpan of just over 6″ before spending influence, which isn’t awful (though not great either).

Brainpan and Memory are very unique and very weird models. They do a lot of things that no other model does, and even if they don’t get influence they are pretty useful just because they have two bases. In terms of actually doing things with them they are quite clunky however. They don’t have a huge threat range if the puppet is taken out, they really don’t like Memory being knocked down or counter attacked, and their goal threat requires rolling a lot of dice. Using BPM is playing Guild Ball on hard mode, since there’s a lot of things to do and remember (Control Strings!) that just aren’t relevant for any other model in the game, so the practice you have with other models is not something which applies much here. Memory functions very differently to other models in GB – that means that getting the most out of them requires a lot of practice. In terms of matchups, BPM are good into teams with charge lanes you want to block, Furious models, and limited knock down abilities – I could see them being good into Ox Butchers and Navigators. I’d recommend avoiding playing Memory into Fillet (since vOx is so good there) and into KD heavy teams like Brewers, where it won’t get much done.

Casket

Casket

Casket is another model whose statline is distinctly average. 3/1 isn’t a fantastic defensive statline, and only bringing 1 influence is a legitimate downside. His playbook is also pretty average, with momentous 2 on 2 being a good high point. KD on three is doable with a bit of support, but his counter attack is pretty bad, especially with his low def. However, we aren’t taking Casket for his base stats.

Ghostly Visage is a really useful character play. It’s hugely impactful against anyone who wants to charge – like Navigators, any Furious model, and anyone at the edge of their threat range. Charging into a Visage model is pretty much always a poor idea. You can even put multiples down if you want to, though that won’t come up often. It’s a great response to enemy plays like Marked Target and Marked for Death, too. Ghostly Visage is also handy on turn one for reducing the threat range of the enemy kicking model, since the kicker usually needs all the distance they can get on their turn one threat, and forcing them to sprint and attack rather than charge weakens that threat quite a bit.

Heavy Burden is also a great control tool. Again, it’s great at messing with enemy threat ranges. Note that it’s only got a 6″ range itself, so if the opponent’s model is one with a long threat, they’ll at least be able to tag Casket. Being momentously triggerable off the playbook is a nice bonus, especially because then it auto hits, so you can hit someone with low def and put it on the high-def model next to it, without having to worry about missing with your one to two die OPT play. The dice pool reduction on character plays is usually not relevant but occasionally amazing – it’s good to put on models with 2-3 die character plays they really don’t want to risk missing, like Chaska’s Boom Box and Ballista’s Deadbolt. Again, Casket’s low def means they’ll often be able to hit him if nothing else.

Foul Odor primarily makes the opponent’s momentum generation a bit slower. They’ll usually be able to Glide whenever they need to, but it does mean they can’t hold that momentum for other useful things. The exception is if the opponent is going first in the turn, they don’t have momentum right at that point and so Foul Odor can really mess with their threat ranges. It’s particularly good against slower models, since going from 4″ to 2″ jog makes a huge difference compared to going from 7″ to 5″.

Reanimate and Tough Hide together make Casket one of the hardest models to take out in the game, and definitely the most durable in the Morticians. This is a very useful thing to have, because the rest of the Morticians are really quite flimsy. He still won’t stand up to a prolonged beatdown – his defensive stats are too low for that – but he won’t be worried by chip damage here and there, and he costs the opponent a reasonable amount of commitment and influence before he goes down – hopefully in the time he’s bought the rest of the team has done something to get themselves some VPs. Reanimate and Tough Hide also work well together since a lot of models won’t be able to finish Casket off post-Reanimate with only a single swing.

Casket Time is an extremely powerful ability and does a huge amount for the team’s ability to actually win a game. Morticians have a lot of tools for controlling the opposition but don’t have a ton of tools for actually getting VPs themselves. Casket Time making a single takeout worth 4 VPs is a really big swing that does a lot to improve the speed at which Morticians can do things. It lets them go for 2 goals and just one takeout, or one goal and three takeouts to end the game. Be aware that because it only works on Humans, it can’t be used on most Mechanica models, Mascots, or Seenah. In addition to being worth double VPs, preventing the enemy from returning to the pitch is a great bonus too. If planned right, you can put an enemy on 1HP at the end of a turn, then Casket Time them at the start of the next turn, putting them a model down for effectively two whole turns. If you get to Casket Time a captain they often pretty much lose the game, or at least go heavily behind. This means that trading a model for a goal against the Morticians is a lot worse of a plan than it is against most other teams, especially if they’re relying on a mobile captain like Shark or Skatha to return to the pitch quickly and threaten another goal. Take care not to let the opponent take their own model out with ranged damage before you get the opportunity to Casket Time them.

Casket is a great all round piece and is good into pretty much everyone. He slows the enemy team down in movement and in momentum, stops footballing teams from doing their thing without risk of giving up 8vps (casket time + goal), and works well against fighting teams for sheer durability and his ability to turn a minor advantage in a scrum into a major numbers and VPs advantage.

Cosset

Cosset.PNG

Cosset is defensively very flimsy and not great at football, but is very fast and very deadly. She doesn’t have a KD and has poor defensive stats and a 1″ melee, so she’s very vulnerable to counterattacks. However she has a five column playbook full of momentous damage and TAC6, so if she does get to connect with an enemy that’s already knocked down or similar she’s going to do a lot of damage. She’s also never going to take influence from the team, which is big in a team with few influence efficient models.

Lure pulls people in for your team to beat up on. With a 15″ threat range, Cosset is pretty good at setting up for people this way. Usually you want to target a model that’s already activated so it can’t just go next and run away. It’s naturally a lot more effective when the enemy has models that have higher movement stats. The opponent is able to take parting blows against the Lured model, so if you Lure someone within 1″ of Strongbox or something they’ll probably choose to have their model KDed rather than pulled in and beaten down / Casket Timed. Be careful when using Lure, since using it often puts Cosset in a more vulnerable position and could get her killed with her poor defenses.

Screeching Banshee is nice if you hit it on the charge, or need to set up for someone else. It effectively costs you 2-3 damage compared to just taking the numbers on the playbook, which isn’t nothing, but if you get to make 2 more swings afterwards then the DEF debuff potentially evens out by giving you access to higher results, while also setting up for the rest of the team. Often you don’t need to set up for the rest of the team though because Cosset is deadly on her own, though.

Furious is where Cosset gets her efficiency and it’s as good as it always is. Furious models do things for the team without requiring an influence investment, which is always a huge bonus. Cosset doesn’t actually get to use Furious as often as other might, however, just because she’s so flimsy that going in on a target which isn’t isolated / going to immediately die probably means she’s going to get take out in short order afterwards. Cosset does have some dodges in her playbook so if she needs to she can potentially disengage from a target if she needs to, but in general she really doesn’t like enemies reaching her and standing engaging where she can’t charge them.

Assist really sets up Cosset’s damage to go through the roof. Remember that Dirge has Follow Up, so you can Charge, have Dirge follow you in to engagement, and then resolve your charge attack. With just Dirge helping out, Cosset is TAC8 which is pretty likely to wrap her 5 column playbook, letting her get extra benefit out of the damage side of Assist also. 7 hits is the sweet spot for one rounding models, since that puts her at 8 damage on a single swing. Even without other setup, Cosset with Dirge behind her can be reasonably expected to do ~10 damage to most targets without a good counterattack.

Back To The Shadows lets Cosset disengage again after chopping someone up, back into relative safety. Not that being 5″ from the enemy is really very safe. Mainly this just lets her do damage to someone and then dodge back out to charge again next turn. This plan is best when you win initiative, so you can actually charge before the opponent gets to chop up Cosset. Pulling back doesn’t often get Cosset to safety, but it can bring her far enough back that anyone who chases her to kill her gets Casket Timed in response, which is sort of like being protected.

Cosset is an inf efficient model who both sets up for other models, and kills things herself. She’s best into teams without much in the way of good counterattacks, or when combined with other models which are good at knocking the enemy down. Mobile high-damage models are something she very much wants to avoid with her poor defensive stats. If you are playing Cosset, taking Dirge is a very good choice, although running Vileswarm for double Furious models does gives you a lot of payoff if you’re able to set it up.

Ghast

Ghast.PNG

Ghast isn’t a footballer and he isn’t very fast either, but he’s solid in a fight. TAC6 with 2″ melee and a second column KD makes for a good amount of board control, especially when combined with his excellent counter attack >>. He has reasonable damage himself, with a great 2KD result and a somewhat accessible m3 as well – however, his personal takeout threat is hampered by his 3 influence cap. Usually Ghast will be a model that walks up to the center of the field, knocks down multiple targets, and forces the opponent to deal with him before they can get away. With his great counter attack / parting blow and good disruption of the enemy, he’s not a model that’s easily ignored. Defensively he’s somewhat easy to hit and KD himself, but has enough hitpoints that he won’t get one rounded.

The Unmasking is a powerful play but it does require quite a bit of setup. It’s mainly something which comes up as a way to turn a vulnerable target (such as a low def, knocked down enemy) into a major payoff, by dealing a large amount of damage to other nearby enemies. It’s also occasionally useful for knocking people off the pitch. Setup is usually better spent on other Morticians however, since both captains scale very well with buffs and will get more work done as a result. It’s a nice tool for breaking up a fight on a charge, but never something to be relied on.

Fear makes Ghast an unappealing target, especially for models with a small number of high-output attacks. This makes Ghast sort of the reverse of Casket in terms of durability – Casket is great into a large number of small low-damage hits, where Ghast is less resistant there. Be aware that if a character play’s inf cost is increased by one, they also get an extra die to roll to hit – though Ghast’s DEF3 means he’s probably getting hit either way. Because Fear only applies once per turn, after it’s down then Ghast is a lot more vulnerable to a dedicated attack. In general Ghast is a problem to deal with if you just want to efficiently get him out of the way before doing something else, but actually going for him directly and just killing him is still definitely doable. Fear doesn’t work on ‘free’ effects, so it can be worked around via effects triggered off a playbook attack on someone else, Furious, and so on – it’s also not going to do anything to AOE plays since they don’t target a model. Against a model like oRage, Fear prevents him from actually making attacks because of his 1inf cap, but if he isn’t engaged he can still tool himself up and make a charge and a berserk attack (if he isn’t counterattacked) without caring about Fear. vRage’s Red Fury also means he can bypass Fear entirely (by using it on himself or someone else) – while it’ll still be available for an attack later in the turn, that doesn’t help if Ghast is Taken Out. Fortunately, vRage won’t often be picked into Morticians because Scalpel exists.

Rising Anger helps to punish the ‘just kill Ghast’ solution. It’s also good at keeping Ghast from being slowed down and controlled at range, so he’s usually able to actually reach the scrum quite reliably, since he doesn’t care much about Deadbolt and so on. Because Ghast has quite a lot of HP, he often takes two turns to kill, which means you get 4mp out of Rising Anger for Ghast’s life which is a nice upside. Morticians tend to spend quite a lot of influence on non-momentous effects (either playbook or character plays) which means any source of some extra free momentum is appreciated.

Ghast is good at pinning down models that don’t want to be stuck in melee with someone. Some teams can get around him, but he’s always going to cost the opponent influence and activations to disengage. He’s especially good against models that rely on their playbooks to escape from enemies rather than Acrobatic type character plays, since Fear makes them a lot less happy to just dodge out. He can be risky into teams that can easily knock him down and just kill him, like Brewers and Masons, but his good counterattack is very relevant against beatdown teams without good KDs, like Butchers.

oGraves

oGraves.PNG

Graves is another model with solid offensive stats, bringing TAC6 and a 2″ melee again. Defensively he’s a bit harder to KD than Ghast was, but he has a lot less HP so dies a bit more easily. He also doesn’t have a very relevant counterattack when it comes to disengaging, and he doesn’t have a KD anywhere in his playbook which isn’t great. His playbook is generally quite underwhelming, since most of the time he’ll just be pushing people around a bit or tagging them for a little bit of damage. Graves is also a pretty good footballer, with a tackle on his first column, 2″ melee and a three die kick. He isn’t fantastic at reaching goal threat range, but he’s pretty good at getting the ball off an enemy and passing it back to someone who can score later on.

Scything Blow is a powerful character play, but making it work generally requires a lot of setup. Morticians don’t have a lot of defense debuffs or TAC buffs, and those they do have are often better applied to the other beaters’ targets, since even with Singled Out Graves still won’t reliably hit Scything Blow on every swing unless his target is very easy to hit, and he doesn’t get much work done if he isn’t reaching Scything Blow. He also can’t set himself up at all because he has no KD.

Tooled Up is a very powerful character play in a team with two captains that can reasonably be expected to turn it into +7 damage. It’s particularly good for turn one where you have time to set it up. It’s also nice later on, since if you don’t have a target for it early because you need to activate your captain, you can always make a reasonably useful hit with Graves, which we’ll get to later. The captain is usually the only model Tooled Up is particularly impactful on, unless you have a stack on Casket ready to put someone in the box who definitely can’t escape, or you have the setup to enable Cosset or Memory to wrap their playbooks.

Crucial Artery makes that 1 inf on oGraves still useful if you don’t get the chance to tool someone up. Graves’ first hit is worth 4-5 damage, which is a pretty good use of a single influence, and easily sets up for a teammate to cleanly take that person out (or threaten to) at the start of the next turn. Because it only applies to damage dealt to enemy models, you can happily Scything Blow your teammates and they will ‘only’ take three damage.

Damaged Target makes Graves’ threat range actually quite large if he gets the chance to charge. As mentioned above, he doesn’t do a ton of work with a full stack of influence, but the first time he hits someone is of quite high value. If you can set it up, charging with Graves into a position to Scything Blow multiple targets gets you 12+ damage for two influence which is a pretty good deal. It’s only relevant against teams with poor defenses but can work reasonably well. Scalpel is particularly good at grouping up already activated models into a position where they can be killed by Scything Blow.

oGraves is a pretty linear model. He exists primarily to put Tooled Up on your captain, with backup plans of grabbing poorly protected footballs and/or poking people for a bit of damage and Bleed. If your captain is likely to be controlled or prevented from doing their thing (say, against a team with Blind) or you don’t need Tooled Up for them to kill people (say, against a team without much/any tough Hide), Graves isn’t really necessary. He’s never a bad choice though, especially with Scalpel – she’s very good at grouping up enemies for a Spirit Bomb, which can add up to a huge amount of damage if she’s doing 3 to all of the targets in the AOE with Tooled Up.

vGraves

vGraves.PNG

Veteran Graves trades a point of DEF for a point of ARM, and loses 1 TAC but gains a much better playbook, with a momentous tackle on column one now, and an easily accessible KDGB result which is great to have. Gaining access to a knockdown is a great bonus, and makes vGraves much more of a useful attacker against targets you aren’t immediately planning on taking out. ARM is also better than DEF if the person hitting you has low TAC, but worse against character plays and high TAC models, so vGraves is pretty resistant to strikers and support models as the only ARM2 model in the guild.

Exhaustion is quite a powerful character play, if you’re in a scrum against fighting teams. Some teams really rely on their counter attacks to get away from scary models like Cosset and Scalpel. It’s less relevant when you’re knocking down the enemy model anyway, though. Exhaustion can be good against models you won’t reliably KD (which isn’t guaranteed with TAC5), so you can put it up for 1inf before you walk up to someone on the first activation of the turn and start hitting them. It also means vGraves is very good at tackling from most models as they don’t often get to react to it.

They Ain’t Tough makes Graves’ KDGB result on column two pretty much say ‘this model is going to die if it doesn’t escape immediately’. Any of the damage dealers in Morticians benefits greatly from all the buffs here – although Scalpel already has Anatomical, so only needs TAT against ARM2+ targets. Note that They Ain’t Tough is not OPT, so you can put it on multiple models if needed. This result is also good for popping Resilience on other targets, since you can KD one enemy while breaking Resilience on another for one influence which is a nice deal. Morticians don’t have a ton of ways of dealing with Resilience models and rely on high impact character plays a lot so this is a good tool to have available.

Close Control makes vGraves a real nightmare for some footballing teams. If he’s got the ball, it takes several attacks to get it off him, and he has a good counterattack which needs dealing with as well. It also means he can tackle the ball off pretty much anyone and unless they have 2″ melee, spare momentum and an effect like Ball’s Gone or KD on their counterattack they won’t be getting anywhere.

Packmaster is an influence efficiency tool which is always appreciated, and often turns into a point or two of momentous damage in itself to repay the momentum you spent on it. It’s pretty much ‘free’ damage if you’re in a position to send Vileswarm in – which conveniently, vGraves sets up quite well, with his KD, TAT and momentous pushes.

vGraves is another very useful model to have available, especially into footballing teams or those that rely on good counter attacks to stay safe. The biggest downside of vGraves is that you lose access to oGraves and Tooled Up, which is really extremely powerful for the Morticians. You need a very good reason to not be running at least one Graves, and both of them have definite upsides and strengths. oGraves does a lot of work against very durable fighty teams and vGraves does lots against footballing teams that want to stay disengaged. Unless you’re planning on playing the same Graves in practically every game, it’s a good idea to have both in your roster.

vHemlocke

vHemlocke

Hemlocke has a very standard statline except for her 2/3 influence, which marks her as more of a support model than an output one when combined with her playbook. She has a good Tackle and 2″ melee, but isn’t particularly impressive in melee otherwise. Having no available momentous results on columns 1 or 2 is an issue if you want her to do something relevant with her attacks against someone without the ball, and she’s also not going to do much on a counter attack. She is reasonably quick and hard to hit, which are nice qualities to have in a support model, however.

Blind is a handy tool to have available. It isn’t really ever going to be completely blanking an enemy’s activation, but it usually does enough to make the target a lot less efficient. The -2 TAC penalty isnt particularly dramatic – except on models that really want to hit the top of their playbooks, like Blackheart or most Brewers – because if you’re within 6″ of the enemy, anyone with a reasonably threatening set of attacks is probably going to cause Hemlocke problems even if they do have -2 TAC. The -2″ movement is similarly reduced in value because there’s a model within 6″ of them at the point where you used Blind. The Kick penalty is the really impactful part, because the fact Hemlocke is within 6″ doesn’t matter in the slightest, and taking two dice and 4″ of distance off a goal run really makes it a lot less reliable. Hemlocke is great at messing with strikers and generally causes them a lot of problems – especially since they are usually low TAC also and can have problems with getting the ball off someone when they have another -2, especially if it’s on someone like vGraves. She’s good at shutting down the enemy kicker when you’re receiving the ball, or messing with enemy goal runs if they’re hoping to score on turn one.

Midnight Offering is one of the best character plays in the game. It lets you threaten anyone on turn one, including seeing up Scalpel or Cosset to crash in and kill someone important. It lets you back Obulus off or otherwise move people out of the opponent’s threat ranges. It gives Hemlocke a 20″ goal threat if you need someone to just put the ball in. It makes Scalpel’s threat range frankly absurd, and isn’t bad for moving up your slower models to position either. Hemlocke should pretty much always get at least 1 influence so she can use this if necessary because it’s just so good. It also lets you maneuver around enemy threats, so if the opponent has a threat range extender like Marked Target then after they’ve spend the influence for it you can reposition the targeted model to remain safe.

Smelling Salts is primarily relevant against condition focused teams like Alchemists and Hunters. It’s best right at the end of the turn vs. Alchemists to prevent conditions from being reapplied. The other utility is against KD, where standing up two people at once is a solid use of 2 inf in a scrum against Brewers or Masons, especially since you can still heal in addition to Smelling Salts. It’s not the primary reason why you take Hemlocke, but as the only model in the guild with any form of anti-condition tech it can come in handy a lot of the time.

Dark Doubts, like on Dirge, makes this model a little worse of a target to kill. 5/0/12 isn’t an exceptionally flimsy statline, but it’s definitely killable, and one roundable by a lot of the more beatdown focused captains. Morticians all tend to be flimsy, but have their own effects to penalise actually trying to take them out or other defensive tech. Hemlocke is a useful and killable enough model that she’ll regularly go down anyway, but Dark Doubts is a nice bonus either way. Like a lot of other effects along these lines, it doesn’t work if Hemlocke dies to conditions or anything else that isn’t an attack or play, such as a Trait.

Soul Seer lets you spend 3 HP for 1 influence. Since 1 influence pretty reliably can be turned into 1 momentum, which heals 4 HP, you’re profiting in this scenario even when you disregard the huge amount of versatility Souls Seer gives and the number of different other effects as well as MP that influence can give you. It means Hemlocke can Blind someone 12″ away without spending any inf at all, or Midnight Offering into range, Blind them, and then sprint back to 14″ away, making her much safer and making the TAC/MOV penalties of Blind much more impactful. It also means you can allocate 1 to Hemlocke, and have a Blind early, or a Midnight Offering to reposition later if you don’t get the opportunity to throw it, without wasting any influence. If you really want to you can also use Soul Seer to take Hemlocke herself out if she’s on 3HP or less, which isn’t exceptionally relevant but occasionally lets you deny your opponent a few momentum points for the takeout. You don’t get to resolve the character play in that scenario, however, because her takeout immediately ends the activation before the play can be resolved.

Hemlocke is very good. There are very few scenarios where she isn’t an excellent choice. Midnight Offering is such a useful tool for both captains (but especially Scalpel) that it’s always going to be doing something handy, especially combined with Blind and Smelling Salts on the same model, which can also double jog with 2″ melee and mom tackle on 1 for the occasional goal run. She’s also reasonably influence efficient, and awkward to kill with Dark Doubts. Hemlocke should be in your 12 for sure, and most of the time she’s one of the first models you’ll want to include in your 6 too.

Silence.PNG

Silence brings an exceptionally average statline, with 5/0/12 defenses which aren’t exactly uncommon either. His playbook – on a 1″ melee model – isn’t particularly gripping, although his momentous 2 on 2 can do reasonable damage to an enemy without a good counterattack. Speaking of which, his counterattack doesn’t really do anything amazing either. You aren’t going to be taking Silence for his stats.

Fire Blast is a useful control tool. It’s good for slowing down enemies’ threat ranges – and they can’t mitigate it with momentum if you put it in front of them, rather than on top of them. It’s also a ranged damage tool which is quite handy in Morticians who don’t have much that can kill a model at a distance. Burning is a useful condition to be applying because it’s problematic enough that it needs to be cleared, and helps you win the momentum race. Fire Blast also occasionally lets you kill your own Vileswarm at range which can work pretty well. It’s triggerable off the playbook too, and auto hits in that scenario, so you can get it without needing to roll if you have someone nearby to be hitting.

Shutout is a control tool which is very much unique to the Morticians and can hugely mess with an opponent’s turn. You can lock an enemy that’s overextended out of running away until it’s too late and they’re pinned in or taken out. You can force the current ball carrier to activate last, meaning they can’t pass it on for a goal run or for momentum. You can put it on models that buff allies or set up for the team to force the entire team to work without those buffs – Tapper in particular doesn’t like this since it completely blanks his heroic, but it also does good things against Blacksmiths’ Masters and any model with a support play like Tooled Up.

Tucked is the reverse of Shutout, and should be aimed at the opposite targets. Tag strikers when they don’t have the ball, output/payoff models before they are buffed, and anybody KDed without anyone in their melee zone if the opponent doesn’t have momentum. It’s also good against captains or other important models in a standoff. Putting Tucked on a model when you still have a whole team left to activate means they need to pick between committing (and getting killed afterwards) or staying back (and getting nothing done this turn), neither of which is a very good plan. Silence is particularly good at forcing the opponent into horrible lose-lose situations which is always a fun plan. Tucked is also pretty good targeting the opponent’s kicking model on turn one, if the ball isn’t immediately accessible to them, since they have to choose between committing and dying or doing nothing.

Kick Support primarily helps Silence more reliably pass the ball around the team for some MP. He isn’t going to score goals pretty much ever, and he isn’t particularly good at tackling either with his 1″ melee, nonmomentous tackle and nothing that lets him avoid a counter attack.

Tenacity is a very handy trait – it makes Fire Blast into a Molotov if you want it, and lets you spend INF to bonus time your Tucked and Shutout. Throwing Fire Blast for 1 is a great deal, but the important thing is that if you have no or little MP, you can still mess with people’s activation order right at the start of the turn without worrying as much about having horrible problems if Silence misses. You can also bonus time to get up to three dice if your target is DEF5 or something.

Silence is definitely a situational model because he’s entirely a hard control tool, and doesn’t do much at all to actually generate VPs or otherwise improve the game state – just messes with the opponent’s plans. He is very good into teams with activation order issues, particularly Smiths, but he is a bit of a liability in a fight with his average defenses and no other durability / counterattack utility. One of the big issues Silence has is that you can only afford to take so many ‘support/utility’ models before you really need to fill the rest of your slots with players that actually do the work themselves, and Hemlocke is already taking the ‘amazing utility model’ slot which really limits the number of scenarios where you can justify playing Silence. He’s also quite influence hungry, especially if you’re playing against teams with high enough DEF models that you want to spend 2 influence on it – which is most of them.

Pelage

Pelage

Pelage has similar numbers to a lot of other Morticians, with DEF5/ARM0, middling movement and kick numbers. Her main downside here is that she only has 10HP, which makes her very vulnerable to getting oneshot by most captains and generally quite risky to put anywhere near the enemy team. She doesn’t have a good counterattack to protect herself with, and as we’ll see she doesn’t do much unless she’s within 1″ of enemies, so playing her is definitely something that can backfire. She does, however, have quite a bit of momentous damage in her playbook if she can reach it. In comparison to Cosset she’s less vulnerable to character plays and probably pretty even in terms of resistance to someone just walking up to her and hitting her.

Singled Out lets Pelage actually reach that damage. She’ll very reliably turn influence into momentum against a target that doesn’t have a good counterattack, and get some damage out of the bargain too. Pelage is an actual output model that generates victory points, which is relatively uncommon in Morticians beyond your captain because the guild has so many utility options.

Cloak of Rats is an interesting ‘dilemma’ mechanic. Usually, this makes following up after Pelage to finish off a kill very easily, since it means if Pelage put a target low on HP they’ll probably also be Snared (unless the enemy would prefer them to just be dead to reduce the MP given out). It also lets Pelage do things of relevant even without any influence, which is good to have, although it requires her to be close to the enemy which is risky. It’s also nice if you get to go in and hit one target, while being within 2″ of another. Hitting multiple people with Cloak of Rats really starts to hurt, considering you didn’t have to pay any influence for the effect.

Empathy is Pelage’s defensive tech. It doesn’t stop the opponent from getting VPs in the slightest, but it does usually put them very down in momentum if they go for it. Be aware that there are lots and lots of ways of killing Pelage without taking a playbook damage result, such as with character plays (even if triggered off the playbook), traits, or effects from hitting other models entirely like Scything Blow. It also doesn’t do anything to someone who was planning on taking non momentous damage anyway, like Corsair. Against some teams it can be a reasonable plan to send Pelage in to generate some momentum, and if the enemy turns round and kills her you’re up a lot of mom and some damage, and can go in and kill whoever was hitting her.

Grim Caress penalizes enemies for going for Pelage and not killing her. A lot of teams can kill her in one activation anyway, so Grim Caress won’t trigger, but it’s good for punishing an opponent who whiffed their attacks. It’s also really nice if your opponent has unactivated 0inf models at the end of a turn, since Pelage can go in on them and do a load of damage, then get more free damage when they activate themselves unless they’re helped by others, since they have to either take another 3, or take a parting blow to get away. Be aware that Grim Caress is not optional, which means you have to do the 3 damage whether you want to or not. It’s a Trait, so it doesn’t trigger Loved Creature (thankfully), but it does trigger Rising Anger.

Killer is where Pelage actually starts to take people out on her own. She will pretty reliably do 9+ damage to a male person she can jog up to, which isn’t particularly impressive but it’s not bad. Because she has an inbuilt damage buff and tac buff, she also benefits a lot from allies’ assistance as she’s both likely to wrap her playbook, and gets a lot of benefit when she does so. Her damage is still a little on the average side for a dedicated brawler, but she’s not going to be someone the opponent can ignore.

Pelage is only really relevant into teams with a lot of male players, since otherwise her damage output just isn’t very gripping. However she also does pretty badly into teams with a high damage output of their own due to her low HP. She is interesting as a model because she’s a damage dealer with a lot of ‘free’ damage effects which is pretty nice. She’s good against Tough Hide models with her trait based damage, too. She has issues making the 12 however, because as far as output models go other possibilities are more consistently useful in matchups, since even when she is useful and powerful she is still very vulnerable to just getting one rounded by someone and disappearing. While she denies your opponent the MP for doing so, if they killed Pelage with 4 inf on her they effectively denied you 4MP as well, so they’re probably fine with doing that. Pelage is a very risky model to put INF on.

Skulk

Skulk.PNG

Skulk has your standard statline, but with a 3 inf cap and TAC6. That TAC6 is also followed up by an excellent playbook for utility, especially combined with his 2″ melee. Skulk is one of the only squaddies in the game with 4/1 or better def, 2″ melee and a 2″ disengage on the second column, which is really quite rate. This means his counterattack is excellent into most targets, since he’s good at leaving engagement and is hard enough to hit that he’s not going to get KDed easily. He also has a cool T<< result on column four, and a momentous 2 and 3 result available (if a little high). His own KD isn’t super easy to reach, but it’s not impossible – especially charging – and it does mean he’s not someone you’re willing to take a parting blow from.

Horrific Odour really messes with goal runs, especially on turn one. It isn’t quite as effective against captains, who more often have influence to spare, but especially when combined with a close control model like vGraves it gets very hard for a model with a 4 influence cap to actually get the ball and shoot with it, especially through a counter attack. A 6″ aura is a really very large bubble and shuts a lot down. Note that it works on Kicks – not just Shots and so can stop a team from moving the ball around so much also. Putting Skulk engaging a model with the ball and only 1 inf leaves it dead unless they have something like I’m Open! to get it off them.

Pest Control is a nasty debuff, especially since you can put it up without actually activating Skulk with a counter attack, which can really scupper a goal run. The important bit is the distance penalty – removing a die is great, but the opponent can always Bonus Time to 75% goal odds no matter what you do usually. Putting them out of goal range just bricks their plans without any real solutions unless they have additional influence to spare to dodge around into range. The solution is to disengage from Skulk, but that’s surprisingly difficult.

Follow Up means that just walking away from him and taking a parting blow isn’t as much of an option. His KD is high enough that he’s not super likely to hit it on 8 dice, but even if he doesn’t they still aren’t getting out of Pest Control. It’s Directly Towards, so clever positioning of the leaving model can make it hard to reapply that melee zone, though.

Lightning Reflexes makes Skulk even more insufferable to disengage from. He can just follow someone who’s used Where’d They Go? or Acrobatic to disengage. It’s also great in loads of other scenarios – just putting crowdouts on people when they aren’t expecting it is great, or scooting up to engage someone at other inopportune times. You can trigger Lightning Reflexes on all sorts of things which are usually ‘free’, like Shadow Like, the dodge from Seize the Initiative, Run the Length, Pass and Move, and so on. He’s generally really annoying for a lot of dodge heavy teams to get away from. You can declare a counter attack, have the opponent dodge away, and then follow up with Lightning Reflexes before the counter attack is resolved, allowing you to guarantee you get to resolve that counterattack – against dodgy strikers, at least.

Poised makes that counter attack free. This is nice because it means that at the start of the turn you can use both defensive stance and a counter attack against a charge at the cost of only 1MP. It also reduces the number of resources the Morticians need to put into Skulk to have him pretty much completely neutralize a striker.

Skulk is a goalkeeper, and though he’s a very odd one in terms of methods he’s definitely at his best when he’s making the opposing team’s strikers have a horrible day. He’s not particularly impressive at hitting people, and he isn’t the most footballing heavy model either, but if your opponent is planning on making lots of goal runs Skulk is a pretty good choice. That means you want him against captains like Shark, Pin Vice, Seasoned Brisket, and Skatha.

Overview

Morticians

The Morticians are a team that walks a fine line between ‘the opponent is unable to even touch my models’ and ‘everyone is dying and I can’t do anything about it’. They have a huge number of powerful control tools which can be used to really thoroughly disrupt the opponent’s game plan, but most of them are somewhat soft control. You can mess with their activation order, but their models still get to activate eventually. You can mess with their positioning, but if you do so at the wrong time they’ll just jog up to you anyway. This means one of the Morticians’ main problems is finding the opportunities to actually get some victory points, rather than just slow down the opponent’s game plan. For Obulus, this often involves acquiring the ball from whoever is carrying it and scoring with it. For Scalpel, the default plan is to find someone important on the enemy team and stab them until they stop moving. That’s not to say that Scalpel can’t play football, and Obulus can’t take people out, however. An important task in a Morticians team is finding the right balance of support/control models, and actual point scorers. Because Obulus leans a little more towards control and Scalpel leans a little more towards point scoring, usually I’d plan to run ~2 models that actually score points (beyond the captain) in an Obulus lineup, and ~1 in a Scalpel lineup.

Morticians’ main weakness is opponents who are resistant to their control plans, or who can connect with them and take advantage of their poor defensive stats. They aren’t fond of ranged character plays, which are much less positioning dependent than making actual attacks from 1-2″ away, and bypass defensive abilities like Unpredictable Movement. AOEs also sneak past Fear, and conditions get past on-death effects like Dark Doubts and Noxious Death. Both captains are also quite unhappy to be controlled or targeted personally, since they are both extremely critical to the team’s game plans. For Obulus, there aren’t many models which can reach him reliably, and even fewer which can one round him – the only real candidate for oneshotting Obulus without setup is probably Thresher on his Legendary turn, though there are others that get close. Scalpel is much more killable by your average model with no Unpredictable and a weak counterattack, but her higher health makes her less worried by ranged damage. Both captains, however, need to be aware that their support staff are generally quite vulnerable. Casket is the only non-captain in Morticians that’s not going to go down quickly to a concentrated attack, and it gets a lot harder to Casket Time someone if he’s got a couple of crowdouts on him. The Morticians are quite vulnerable to control themselves, with a lot of their useful threat concentrated in a small number of models, low health pools and mediocre threat ranges. In general the Morticians’ primary plan is to use their turn one threat / ranged control tools to engineer an advantageous position early on, turn that into a Casket Time and/or a goal / takeouts, and then desperately scramble for the last few points from somewhere before the enemy team restores their team to a reasonable board position. Often that ‘scramble for the last few points’ plan revolves around putting a big stack of influence on the captain and hoping they turn it into some VPs, or at least make the opponent’s turn far worse.

Morticians really reward good threat assessment skills, and it’s great to be aware of what your opponent is trying to do. Because they rely on countering the opponent’s plays before/as they happen, they are the team that depends the most on actually know what your opponent’s models do. They are also flimsy enough that messing up on that threat assessment has a tendency to result in your models being taken out or scored against very quickly. Even before the actual game, drafting models that are good into the opponent’s composition is important. It is easy to pick several models that shut down the opponent’s game plan well, and then realise that you have no models that actually get you victory points, or that your entire team is influence hungry and you’re never going to be able to actually fuel all the shiny toys you have bought. Once you get into game, be aware of the opponent’s threat ranges – Midnight Offering is great for fixing any mistakes you may have made here – and where their influence is going. One of the most powerful ways of controlling the opponent’s models is to kill them before they activate, since they they are actually unable to do anything rather than just forced to act suboptimally. Enemy players being taken out also guarantees you last activation, meaning you can set up to be in control of the boardstate again next turn. Killing models before they activate is naturally quite difficult – although Scalpel is pretty good at it, and Obulus can do it too if they’ve already been hit a little. Otherwise, your best control tools are messing with enemy threat ranges via Heavy Burden, Blind and fire, and positioning such that they can’t reliably reach anyone. Obulus is much safer inside enemy threat ranges than most models because of his Unpredictable Movement, but Scalpel needs to be positioned very well to be safe. It’s important to note that being all out of momentum is something which dramatically changes how the Morticians play and makes their control tools hugely stronger. Knocking someone down often completely locks them out, since they won’t be able to move. Not being able to counterattack makes a lot of the Morts’ threats much scarier. Burning can’t be cleared any more, and you can’t Glide, which suddenly means threat ranges are much more restricted. If you can get the opponent out of momentum, you can really mess with them – if they don’t have the ball, making them go first can put them in that position and force them to commit to you immediately if they don’t want to get penned in. Obulus’s legendary can put the opponent completely out of momentum once per game, which can just be used to prevent counterattacks, but against some teams it can do a lot more and ruin plans – primarily through thorough use of the knockdown condition.

As far as roster construction goes, Morticians need to drop three models from the 15 they have available. The first one to go is often Pelage, because the team has other VP scorers which are less vulnerable to getting killed. After that it’s mostly down to personal preference – dropping one mascot is often fine, and then pretty much anyone other than Casket and vHemlocke could be cut. Brainpan and Memory are often one of the drops because they aren’t really essential in any specific matchup. Even Obulus is a potential drop if you want to go all in on the Scalpel show. If you’re cutting Cosset, Dirge becomes less valuable and if you’re cutting vGraves, Vileswarm becomes less valuable. When building a 6 man roster, as mentioned above I’d usually lean towards taking one additional VP scorer in a Scalpel lineup with three support/control pieces, and two in an Obulus lineup. That VP scorer is often Casket, and with Obulus’ utility at getting the ball back Bonesaw is an obvious second include for his team. As far as support/control pieces go, vHemlocke is great in both lineups but particularly so in Scalpel. Obulus likes access to KD to mess with enemy momentum, which is best provided by vGraves and Ghast – vGraves also helps out with the footballing game. Scalpel loves access to Tooled Up from oGraves, and both captains appreciate Skulk into football heavy lineups.

The Morticians as a whole have access to a lot of very effective tools, each of which does its own highly unique thing. There isn’t a lot of overlap in terms of what model does what between different options, and you only get four player slots, so picking the right tools for the job has a major impact on how each game plays out. The Morts are one of the harder teams to play in the game, but they’re very rewarding and there are a huge number of lines of play and options available to the team at any one time, let alone across a whole match / event. If anything one of the Morticians’ biggest weaknesses is that they have so many options and useful tools that you’re never going to use every one perfectly, and trying to do so makes the match clock a real problem. Experience with the Morticians is very valuable for playing both for and against them, and they probably scale the best with practice of any team in Guild Ball right now.

Until next time,

-Henry

Brewers in Season 4

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.

Number four on the list are the Brewers. The drunks have always leaned more towards the beatdown side of the game, with a bit of football here and there. They do a lot of knocking people over, and tend to like ganging up on a target rather than going off and doing their own thing. In season 4 they have a whole lot of great options, especially if you want to put the opponent face down in the ground.

Tapper

Tapper

Tapper isn’t fantastic defensively, isn’t the fastest either, and doesn’t bring a ton of influence for a captain. However, he is pretty much exactly what you want in a fight, with TAC6, 2″ melee, and an excellent playbook. Like almost all Brewers his playbook has one fewer column than his TAC, meaning he wraps easily and benefits a lot from most buffs. With a KD on the first column and some good early pushes, Tapper brings a strong counter attack and doesn’t care much about enemy counterattacks either. He also has pretty good damage, with 2 on column 2 and m3 on 4 which is solid when you get to make six swings and your targets are often KD. He isn’t great at tackling or footballing in general, but can pass for dodges if you need him to.

Commanding Aura is a fantastic play. Activating Tapper first in a turn and putting up CA really sets up the team to do work – if they’re grouped up together. It works on Tapper himself and is triggerable on his playbook – if you can KD someone, hit them for CA, and then make four more swings for m3 that’s a good 16 damage, and doable without setup on some targets / with just a single crowdout on almost anyone. Against targets with high DEF or ARM, you can also just buy CA with inf and then swing four times, which often does 12 – the sweet spot for a lot of 5/0 models or the flimsier 4/1s. The buff to both TAC and damage in one play means it stacks well with itself, since the bonus TAC increases the chances of wrapping, and wrapping makes the bonus damage apply more times.

Stand Firm is a great tool for controlling the opposition. Tapper has an excellent counter attack and really appreciates being able to use it as often as possible. A lot of 1″ melee models have no good answers to having Tapper walk up to them, KD them from 2″ away, and then put up Stand Firm. If they spend momentum to clear conditions and walk up to you, the counter attack is going to KD them again when they’ve already used both Rest and their advance, so they’ll be stuck – and they can’t prevent the counterattack because of Sturdy. Even if they have anti-KD tech, Tapper’s pushes are often enough to blank their attacks anyway. Stand Firm can also be used to let a model take a Parting Blow which would otherwise lock them down, or avoid a character play which threatens your kicking model, like Deadbolt.

Tough Hide keeps Tapper from being one rounded without some setup, and protects him from chip damage. It’s not going to save him from real heavy hitters (Butchers, Seenah, most of the fighty smith Apprentices) but they usually need at least some assistance before they can connect, whether it’s a Snare for Seenah or a KD to prevent a counter attack.

Old Jakes’ makes up for Tapper’s low inf state, effectively making him 5/6 influence in a lot of scenarios. It reinforces Tapper’s identity as the model that goes in first, knocks down some targets, and sets up for the team to follow up and take some opponents out. He can’t put the influence on himself, so you don’t want Tapper to be your last model to activate, and you should have a plan for who to put the influence on when you’re allocating at the start of the turn. It also means that losing Tapper before he can activate is even more punishing for Brewers than it is for most other teams’ captains, so it’s even more important to keep control of the scrum. Fortunately Tapper helps a lot in those scenarios.

Tapper is a great brawler. He doesn’t really have any way of chasing down enemies that don’t want to engage with him, however, and he can sometimes have issues dealing with opponents that can one round his 3/1/18 Tough Hide defensive statline, which is quite good but not impossible to take out, especially if he ever gets knocked down or otherwise prevented from counterattacking. His slow speed and the short range on his auras means he’s also much happier when receiving than when kicking, since the ball helps him move up the pitch quickly. There are also some matchups where his 2″ melee is a real asset for threatening models that are hard to pin down, like those with Unpredictable Movement, or his excellent counter attack helps against models with 2″ melee of their own.

Esters

Esters.PNG

Esters has a similarly slow and underwhelming statline to Tapper, but gives up some offensive capability with no TAC6 or 2″ melee, and gains a point of INF. While this looks like she isn’t going to be beating down as much, her playbook is great. Just four columns means she will wrap her playbook often with a small amount of assistance. She’s also one of only a small number of Brewers with a momentous 2 damage on the second column, which makes her wraps also very impactful. While her tackle is high up the playbook, the third column on a TAC5 model isn’t extremely hard to reach, and it means she can charge for the T>> and potentially threaten a goal run. No Brewer has dodges on the playbook, so a tackle and push result is about where you’d want to be in the guild.

Tooled Up is a great play. Unlike Tapper, Esters can buff her team without them needing to stay near her afterwards – she’s really solid at setting up her teammates to go far up the pitch and get work done, without necessarily having to follow them. TU also means Esters herself has a momentous 3 on column 2 and generally hits extremely hard, if at a short range. Her low tac and correspondingly short playbook means she is quite vulnerable to dice pool penalties like enemy crowdouts, but at the same time she benefits hugely from her team’s assistance for ganging up bonuses. Tooled Up makes he deal 6 damage on 5 hits, or 7 damage on 6 hits, which is a really scary situation on a model that can hit 5 times and is resistant to control effects.

Quick Foot is mainly useful for setting up allies to go in to the enemy. Esters doesn’t want to be using it on herself often, because if she only has a max of 4 inf left to use she isn’t likely to get a huge amount of work done. It is at its most useful on Esters herself when she’s going for a goal run, in which case going to an 8″ sprint helps a lot. Generally Esters will use this on the first few turns while the lines of engagement close together, then stop doing so when switching to personally beating down once enemies are closer.

Resilience makes Esters much harder to control and gives her some resistance to character plays. It also helps her personal beatdown and football plans quite a lot because she needs to worry a lot less about counter attacks and parting blows. It does a lot of work against teams and models with a small number of high impact attacks, like Smiths’ apprentices or 3-attack brawlers like vFangtooth and Scourge. Resilience is pretty much the inverse of Tough Hide – while TH is great against lots of small attacks which slowly chip away at you, Resilience is awful against plans along those lines, and Tough Hide really does badly against a small number of high damage swings.

Aria is an extremely powerful rule and the primary reason to take Esters. You usually want to play four models with Heroic Plays in an Esters lineup and keep them somewhat grouped to make use of Aria. Most Brewers have a Heroic which is impactful and does a good amount of work even when you’re spending momentum for it, so getting ~4 free momentum every turn is a really big deal. Aria is particularly useful on those turns where you’d have a hard time generating momentum otherwise, such as on turn one when kicking.

Soothing Voice is a somewhat situational heroic compared to some others in Brewers – especially considering Aria does not apply to Esters herself. The big thing to consider is that if Esters needs to clear conditions from herself, she can so so with this, meaning that the clear from nearby allies is effectively ‘free’, and she can still heal as well. It also means that if she starts her activation KDed, she can clear it, move to engage an enemy, and still be able to clear KD a second time, which helps against a lot of models with good counter attacks. Cheap AOE condition removal is also very useful in some condition heavy matchups such as Alchemists and Hunters.

Esters is somewhat less proactive than Tapper and isn’t as focused on winning the scrum. She’s less good at starting a full on fight between the two teams. Instead, Esters’ primary plan is to set up her allies with a bundle of additional bonuses and hurl them into the enemy team to get work done. This can be takeouts, but can also be goal scoring – Quick Foot on a striker, especially in combination with other models in the guild, can make for unexpected goals or ball retrieval. She does need to be careful not to overextend her allies and try to back them up once they’ve gone in. Esters is best into condition heavy teams, and at dealing with those enemies who aren’t interested in grouping up and fighting, like footballers and controlling teams.

Scum.PNG

Scum is fast and hard to hit, but is very easily taken out, even for a mascot, with just 6 HP. The cat isn’t great at football, and makes up for it with a pretty good playbook. A three column playbook is somewhat underwhelming on its own but scales absurdly well with buffs and assistance. Unfortunately Scum doesn’t get to make an enormous number of attacks with that potential, but it’s still one of the scarier Mascots in terms of damage output possibilities- especially combined with the cat’s good speed. Scum’s max-inf of 2 also means that he can be fully stacked with an application of Old Jakes’ from Tapper, and benefits a lot from Commanding Aura, making the two an effective pair at times.

Feral means that if Scum is hitting things, he’s bringing two effective influence, which is not common on a mascot. It’s not as universally useful as other ‘2 inf’ mascots like Coin, since you need to hit things with the cat, but if you aren’t buying attacks you probably should be playing a different mascot.

Shadow Like gives Scum an effective 8/10″ movement stat. This means the cat is really quite handy for getting the ball back on turn one (just don’t expect him to kick it well) and can reach any enemy you need to. It also helps for disengaging from fights if they’re going badly – although if a fight starts to go badly, Scum probably isn’t going to last long enough to escape anyway.

Unpredictable Movement makes the cat reasonably durable – some of the time. It doesn’t do much to 2″ melee opponents, and also doesn’t help if the enemy is already within 1″ of you, because you were just attacking them. Sending Scum in to do damage can be a risky proposition because if your target doesn’t die as a result, there are reasonably high changes that your cat will not last long afterwards since you’ve given up your primary piece of defensive tech.

Scum supplements the beat down game and is primarily useful against teams where the 1VP for taking out a mascot isn’t particularly relevant, such as Fishermen. I wouldn’t want to bring the cat into a team with 2″ melee takeout players (like Butchers), or ranged damage (like Hunters). The cat is a reasonable supplemental player in scenarios where you need a little bit of extra damage to finish opponents off, but it’s always a risky proposition taking a player that’s quite this flimsy and doesn’t do anything unless it’s within 1″ of an enemy.

Quaff

Quaff.PNG

Quaff is a little more reassuring defensively, with two additional HP for 4/1/8 reducing the change he gets one rounded quite as easily. Quaff is similarly bad at football, but reasonably speedy (especially for a Brewers). With a two column playbook, Quaff has potential to push enemies really very far and will commonly generate several momentum off a single attack, especially a charge. It’s not too unlikely with a KD for setup to get five hits for 5″ of pushes and three momentum. The dog isn’t exactly great at doing damage, though.

Second Wind is a very useful play, especially on turn one when you have time to set it up. It’s very handy for Esters who likes to buff players and send them forward, allowing them to retreat back towards the team after doing work, or back off into cover where the enemy has to go out of their way to deal with them. If you set up a goal run it also helps your scorer reposition to safety afterwards. It can also be handy on your captain to just get them up the field, since they’re both quite slow, and SW lets you move their auras into position for a brawl later – or just disengage them if they are being targeted, since dodges are otherwise hard to come by in Brewers.

Pick Me Up is fantastic. Brewers scale extremely well with buffs because of their short playbooks, and this bonus is one which improves wrap odds a lot while costing you nothing. Quaff can also target himself with this to set up some good wraps with ease. You want to be using Pick Me Up every turn and getting a lot of work out of it wherever possible. Note that it doesn’t work on captains, but that’s fine – Brewers have a lot of non-captain fighters to choose from. It does work on Union models, which can be handy at times.

Loved Creature makes Quaff less of an appealing target. It’s universally handy if the enemy goes for you, with the only real way to bypass it being to go for Quaff right at the end of the turn. Like with Pick Me Up, +1 TAC is a really useful buff for the Brewers and makes them extremely scary – if you can engineer a situation where the opponent wants/needs to hit Quaff, it can often result in a lot of damage as follow up.

Quaff needs to be in the middle of the fight a lot less than Scum, and also is often quite a bit safer if he does end up in the brawl. On his own Quaff can give an ally +3 TAC (gang up, Pick Me Up, Loved Creature) which is worth a lot of damage in the Brewers. Since he also isn’t exactly slow, Quaff is also handy against teams that aren’t brawling – Second Wind helps with putting melee zones on people, and if they’re spreading out to the wings then Quaff is also not an irrelevant threat when it comes to pushing people off the pitch.

vDecimate

vDecimate

vDecimate’s statline is decidedly average, with the standout being her 2″ melee zone. Her hit points are also really quite low for a 3/1 model, at 14. What she does bring, however, is a pretty great playbook. She is one of the few Brewers without a playbook shorter than her TAC, but instead has an excellent counter attack, some reasonable damage, and a mT> on column three which is great for ball stealing, combined with her 2″ reach. With a good playbook but mediocre actual numbers, Decimate benefits quite well from allies’ buffs to make her truly threatening.

Acrobatic is one of very few dodges available to Brewers. It’s good for disengaging enemies to go for shots or target others, and it gives Decimate a respectable 11″ threat range on her own, which can go up a whole lot from allies. Combined with her T> result, Decimate is pretty good at getting the ball off almost anyone regardless of Unpredictable – though high DEF can make reaching column 5 difficult.

Stagger is nice because unlike KD, it can’t be cleared with momentum. It also means that Decimate’s playbook gets really scary (as does the rest of the team) if she can reach that fifth column for the mKDGB, which often sets up for wraps on future attacks with a little bit of assistance.

Anatomical is handy in that it sort of makes up for the fact Decimate doesn’t have a standard Brewer playbook. You really don’t want to put her up against a 5/0 target if at all possible, but she’s reasonably okay against most others. Anatomical is worth somewhere between 0 and 3 TAC depending on your target. It does also mean that even though she is TAC5, Decimate is very likely to generate momentum on every swing if that’s what you need, even if she isn’t reaching her momentous damage.

Tough Hide helps keep Decimate alive, but it’s not exceptionally reliable. She’s still only got 14HP, and will disappear if she gets pinned down by an enemy, no matter how good her counter attack is. If she eats a KD she is in a very unhappy place, since any dedicated fighter will quickly chew through a 2/1/14 statline regardless of Tough Hide. She is reasonably easy to keep alive against teams without damage buffs or dedicated brawlers, although conditions are also a bit dangerous to her since they ignore Tough Hide.

Duelist’s Lunge isn’t as relevant as most Heroics in Brewers are, but it basically lets her very resistant to most counter attacks, since she finds it very easy to stay in base to base with her target. She can also use DL to follow up after pushing the opponent repeatedly, which helps her make goal runs in some scenarios and gives her a good amount of threat when it comes to pushing people off the board. Threatening to push people off the board from 8″ is a handy benefit because a lot of plot cards want you to stay within 8″ of the edge of the pitch, and the Brewers really want to scrum in the middle of the pitch so dissuading people from staying away is a good plan.

Decimate is primarily relevant in Esters’ team. She has the best threat range on the kickoff in most scenarios, and is capable of pushing enemies into everyone else’s threat range so you can beat them down with your other slower players. She’s also okay at threatening the ball which makes your opponent’s choices of what to do with it when receiving a bit harder. She doesn’t scale as well with buffs as some other brewers, and she doesn’t have as good personal threat as they do either, so a Tapper team that is planning on primarily fighting probably isn’t exceptionally interested. She is one of the best options for getting the ball off some models – notably oBrisket – so that is something to consider, especially with Esters – Tapper can do it himself with his column one KD, or just go for the backup plan of beating everyone down in a scrum. If you’re worried you won’t win the scrum or won’t get to form one, Decimate is a solid option in a backup footballing plan.

Friday

Friday.PNG

Speaking of footballing options, Friday’s card immediately shouts ‘Striker’. With a good KICK stat, high movement values, good defensive numbers (but low health) and a momentous tackle on the first column, Friday is pretty much exactly where a footballing player plans to be. One thing she doesn’t have, however, is a good way of disengaging – since she don’t have a buyable dodge or anything that reliably gets people off her in her playbook. She’s also not great at dealing with counterattacks, since she has 1″ melee and nothing to prevent the opponent from taking the ball back, or knocking her down. In general Friday isn’t particularly fantastic at getting the ball, but once you have it she is very much capable of putting it in the goal. That’s the easy bit, though.

Dirty Knives gives Friday something to do if goal scoring isn’t an option. Damage and poison is handy for messing with weak or evasive targets, and helps the momentum race. The -1 DEF is the biggest part of the play, though, since like all the other buffs in Brewers it makes anyone it’s on disappear quickly if they connect. Putting 2 INF on Friday is never a terrible plan, since if the opportunity presents itself she can sprint and shoot – or if not, she can knife someone instead.

Defence Support makes Friday much safer than she would be otherwise. 4/1/12 is a bit vulnerable to getting one rounded – especially because Friday doesn’t have a counter attack that’s going to really do anything. 5/1/12 is a lot more secure and generally means she isn’t going to get killed in a single activation. This means as long as she’s sitting with the rest of the team she is reasonably secure – and if she leaves the safety of the others to go on a goal run, then being taken out isn’t a disaster anyway. At that point she’s already done her job, and trading 4 VPs for 2 is generally something the Brewers are happy to do.

Get Over Here makes setting Scum up to do damage more viable, and also means you can pull the cat back out of a fight once he’s gone in, to help if the opponent is otherwise going to take him out. Note that it works even if Scum is KDed. You can also use Get Over Here to pull Scum up the pitch on turn one to go into the enemy team – which while sometimes a risky plan, gives you an additional model’s worth of influence spent hitting things on turn one which can mean the difference between a takeout / momentum race win and not. You can also move him up to provide an additional gangup for Friday’s attacks.

Shadow Like is the only way Friday has of reliably escaping from a fight. This means she can go in and snag the ball off someone, or she can leave a fight if she starts with the ball, but probably not both at the same time. It also means she has an 11″ threat on the ball carrier if she gets an opportunity, which is something your opponent needs to play around.

I Shoot Better After A Beer gives Friday a fantastic 4/10″ KICK, which lets her score from practically the half way line. It also gives her two backup plans if she can’t disengage from an enemy – firstly, going to 5/1 on the parting blow (6/1 near spigot) means she has potential to ignore anything scary they could do. Secondly, the huge KICK distance she has means that if she’s just tackled the ball she has potential to just score without bothering to disengage first. You lose a die, but when you have four dice it’s probably okay to drop one of them. Combined with Friday’s other abilities she totals a 20″ goal threat on her own, which is great for a striker without needing the playbook and means she can score on turn one every game if you are receiving and want to do so. It also helps her to threaten a goal even if she’s staying towards the back of the scrum in relative safety.

Friday is a fine choice into most teams. Usually you want to run a Spigot (not that that’s really a downside) and if you’re playing Scum you should probably have Friday (but Friday doesn’t require Scum). She is one of the less impressive Brewers at beating people up, but you have plenty of beaters elsewhere anyway. She’s usually good into teams you are expecting to need to score against or risk being outfought, or when you’re receiving to get a nice clean turn one goal. If you run both Spigot and Hooper in addition to Friday, Tough Skin can make her DEF5/ARM2 which is great for holding the ball against teams where that’s something you want to do. There aren’t really any specific matchups where Friday is a liability, as long as you play safely with her. Her durability drops rapidly if she’s in the frontline or away from Spigot, so take that into account.

Hooper

Hooper

Hooper is pretty much a slightly downgraded Tapper in terms of stats, with similar defensive numbers and movement, 2″ melee, and mediocre KICK. He also caps out at 3 INF which is a real downside, although it does also guarantee he is never a huge drain on the team’s resources. His playbook is 5 long like his TAC, although that’ll change later. With 2 damage on column 2, 3 on 4 and 4 on 5 he start off relatively underwhelming but really gets going at the top of his book. This means Hooper, although he only makes a small number of attacks, benefits greatly from most of the Brewers’ buffs, as he brings some large damage numbers and benefits a lot from a wrapped playbook. His KD on three is reachable if needed but generally you want other players to be doing the KDing and Hooper to follow up afterwards.

Smashed Shins is a handy play, but it’s primarily useful when you can put it on a striker before their goal run. The usual plan here would be to put the ball on Hooper to let him counter attack and apply the debuff if they attempt to tackle him. However, it’s on column 3 which makes it somewhat inconsistent, and Hooper’s 3/1 defenses are also underwhelming which makes him a risky ball carrier, since many strikers can wrap their playbooks and dodge away. Hooper’s Smashed Shins is also on the same column as his KD, which is similarly useful if the opponent is trying to tackle the ball. To make it work on Hooper you usually need to go out and manually apply it to the striker you’re worried about with his own activation, so it’s a lot less useful than, say, Mallet’s.

Tough Skin is a defensively minded play which does not come up frequently, but is occasionally invaluable. Mainly, it gives Hooper something to do with INF on him if he can’t find someone to hit. If you’re able to beat people up, that’s usually a better plan than applying Tough Skin, since Hooper’s attacks are of very high impact and losing one of them is a real cost. The point when Tough Skin becomes particularly useful is as mentioned above in Friday’s description, when you want to put the ball on a 5/2 model to slow the enemy down while you take them out. It’s also occasionally a good thing to apply if you’re planning on committing only a single model to a fight – usually someone with all of Esters’ buffs on – and your opponent is going to have no choice but to attack that person.

Same as on Tapper, Tough Hide means Hooper is unlikely to get one rounded. This is really handy here because it means you can safely put 3 influence on him (which he usually makes good use of) and not worry about it getting lost.

Shove The Boot In is a major trait for Hooper’s output. It makes his playbook 23-45 which is really top end, and means he wraps to 7 damage on six hits. Generally if you can get Hooper to connect with an enemy KDed model, they’re going to be Taken Out. Inbuilt damage buffs are particularly useful because they don’t requuite you to activate any other models setting things up, and if you do get setup they stack with it. The 4 on Hooper’s playbook going to a 5 also means Hooper is particularly good at dealing with low-def, Tough Hide models – since a small number of high-damage hits are particuarly good at chopping up Tough Hide.

True Grit is something Hooper should be using every turn he gets to make a swing. TAC5 with 5 columns and Hooper’s playbook is okay. TAC7 with 5 columns and Hooper’s playbook is really terrifying, especially when combined with any of the Brewers’ many other support abilities. The condition clear is also handy for Hooper – he is quite slow, which means that being able to get rid of Snare, Burning and KD is handy, especially when you wanted to activate True Grit for the +2 TAC anyway even if it didn’t clear conditions.

Because you want to be activating True Grit pretty much every turn, Esters is a good combination with Hooper because he benefits from Aria and her buffs very well. At the same time, the TAC bonuses provided by Commanding Aura are also great – the matchups Tapper is good into tend to be also the ones Hooper likes, since they have similar defensive tech and for both of them the primary strength they bring in a fight is 2″ melee. Hooper has a much worse counter attack however which can make him a lot less reliable. He’s a pretty solid choice into everything, since getting into a scrum and then cleaning it up with a big pile of damage is pretty much the Brewers’ plan A. He’s particularly good into other Tough Hide teams.

Mash

Mash

Mash is an all rounder whose only real weakness is his slow speed. He’s particularly good at football however, with 2″ melee and a mT> on column two he’s great at snagging the ball from most targets. He also has a four column playbook with a momentous 3 at the end of it – while he isn’t as deadly as Hooper or anything, he’ll still make good use of Commanding Aura and put the hurt in if he gets the opportunity, and his 4 max-inf means he’ll get to make more actual swings than Hooper does too.

Howzat!? makes Mash’s counterattack pretty impressive. There aren’t many models that can deal with a KD and a 4″ push on the backswing. While Mash isn’t exceptionally good at reaching column 3, with TAC5, it’s not impossible, especially if you Bonus Time or have other buffs from elsewhere. It’s also nice for shoving people around and reshaping a scrum to your liking, or threatening to push enemies off the pitch. Note that you can’t take Howzat on a Parting Blow, which is the primary reason why there’s a KD on the same column of his PB.

Resilience and Tough Hide on the same model pretty much just make Mash a horrible pain to actually take out, especially combined with a solid counter attack. Resilience also means Mash is an okay ball holder, since he can’t be tackled on the first attack and can T> on the second if the ball is taken, even if he doesn’t reach Howzat!?. Mash’s defensive abilities really help him stand in a scrum and do good work without worrying about the enemy’s attacks – there’s pretty much always a better target for them available.

Batter Up is nice for moving the ball off Mash once it’s time to score, since his own personal goal threat is an incredible 12″. Shipping the ball off to Friday once Mash has tackled it is also a pretty good plan. It’s particularly nice in Aria since it’s a ‘free’ 4″ dodge or momentum point in that scenario, but at the same time Aria is best on Heroics you use every turn, and Mash’s is only relevant if he personally has the ball.

Mash likes a good fight, and since he’s so slow he’s really a bit underwhelming against people who aren’t interested in coming to him. Against teams that spread out he’s mainly relevant as a ball holder – in particular, he’s someone with a good counter (to prevent tackles) who’s also got Resilience to prevent Character Plays that steal the ball. Most possible ball holders in Brewers have one or the other of these – Mash is the model that brings both. He’s never going to be as much of a VP generating model as those with better attacks, but he’s always a solid role plays and usually can do useful things regardless of the situation (unless the enemy are more than 8″ away, anyway).

Pintpot

Pintpot

Pintpot brings a good profile for hitting things, like many Brewers. His Tackle is awful and he has 1″ melee, and isn’t great defensively. However, he has momentous damage both early and late, and importantly he never takes influence from the rest of the team with his 2/2 stat. His damage also comes with momentous pushes attached, which is good for forcing enemy models back into others’ melee zones and generally putting the scrum into your favour.

Concussion is actually extremely relevant on Pintpot. Unlike most other models with Concussion, he’s not necessarily planning primarily on one rounding people, and the play is low enough in his playbook that he can reach it reliably after KDing his target. Pintpot is a handy tool for influence denial in this way, since taking 3+ inf off a crucial model can often completely kill the opponent’s turn, if it cuts the opponent off from an important character play or stops them moving the ball or getting an important takeout.

Smashing Face is handy because it auto hits. Sometimes you just want to do damage without rolling any dice at all, which means it’s great against high def targets which would otherwise not take much damage, and if you just want to guarantee a takeout at some point Smashing Face does it well. Note that it does damage allies too – while usually a downside, it’s easy enough to work around. It also means that if you need to, you can kill your own models – if the opponent has left your captain on <6hp and is planning to kill them on the first activation of next turn, Smashing Face lets you get them off the board beforehand and so lets you actually use your captain’s activation next turn. Note that Smashing your own model ignore Tough Hide because it’s not an enemy play.

Rowdy lets Pintpot make best use of Smashing Face by diving in to multiple enemies to apply it. It does not prevent them from getting Ganging Up bonuses back on Pintpot, though, so try not to go too deep. If you’re in a situation where Rowdy is useful, you probably want to make sure Pintpot is doing something appropriately impactful since otherwise he’s likely to get taken out. 20HP is nice, but 3/1 without Tough Hide is much less so.

Six Pack is a great ability. It’s basically 6 free influence per game, which is huge. Usually you won’t need to spend any on turn one, which means Pintpot is 5/5 inf on turns two and three – but most games are likely to end before turn four anyway. Pintpot can be influence neutral while making four swings and buying Smashing Face which is a great deal. Brewers are quite limited in the number of influence efficient models they have access to, so Pintpot is a great option for that reason. Brewers are highly dependent on getting an advantage in a scrum and then pressing it to get takeouts and goals, so having more influence to spend than your opponent on any given turn really makes that much more doable.

Come On Then! makes Pintpot resistant to counter attacks, which is important on a model which wants to be jumping in to multiple enemies, and which otherwise has poor defensive stats. It also denies the enemy a point of influence if they attack him (two if they charge), which makes the resource balance between the two teams skew harder towards the Brewers, especially combined with Concussion and Six Pack. It’s an important tool because Pintpot is definitely very killable on his own, he just costs the opponent a lot more resources to deal with than he really demands himself.

Pintpot is a model I’m happy to include in almost any team. He’s a bit on the slow side and doesn’t do anything if he isn’t within 1″ of enemies, but that’s not the point. Brewers’ primary plan is to start a brawl and then beat everyone up, and Pintpot makes winning that brawl very doable. Influence efficiency is important in the game and Brewers don’t have a ton of it (though they’re good at denying the opponent their inf). He’s less good against teams with ranged plays or control that can slow your advance down, but as long as you have some anti condition players elsewhere (it’s hard not to, in Brewers) he’s still going to get there eventually. Just take care he doesn’t get killed before he can put in the work.

oSpigot

Spigot

Hey, it’s another model that wants to fight people! Like Mash, Spigot has a 4 column playbook to go with his TAC5 which makes him wrap scarily often. He also brings a first column KD which helps set up the rest of the team well. His 5/8 MOV is also slightly better than the rest of the team’s. He isn’t a particularly gripping footballer, with average numbers across the board there. As far as beating people up goes, Spigot doesn’t have the efficiency of Pintpot or the 2″ melee of Hooper, so he needs to get his damage from elsewhere.

Ball’s Gone! is nice for grabbing the football off Close Control models, since it ignores it, and off models with good counter attacks, since you can just pass it (and potentially dodge) away from any repercussions. It’s also easier to hit than Spigot’s actual Tackle, which is nice.

Floored is Spigot’s source of damage. If he can jog up to someone, he can KD them on the first swing and make three TAC7 attacks with a four column playbook, which has potential to get to 12+ damage, before we even include the rest of the team’s many buffs, or a target that’s KDed before Spigot gets there. Because Spigot is more about the wraps and multiple attacks than high individual damage numbers, he’s a bit less amazing against Tough Hide models compared to Hooper, but makes up for it by being a lot better against high DEF, or without assistance, since his column 1 KD lets him set up for himself much more easily, and gives him three swings rather than two to follow up his KD with afterwards.

Tough Hide makes Spigot acceptably durable – he has the same defensive profile as vDecimate, but with a worse counter attack because of his 1″ melee. Like most Brewers he’s just fine in a fight until he gets pinned down and isolated by a dedicated damage dealer, and then suddenly he very much isn’t.

Time’s Called is one of the best Heroic Plays in the game, at least on a Squaddie. It’s one you want to be popping early and often each turn, especially with Esters. The Brewers are pretty much universally on the slow side, and Time’s Called is how they catch up. Quick Foot is a reasonable character play. Free Quick foot is really good, and makes a model very useful. Free AOE Quick Foot – that stacks with Quick Foot, if Esters puts that up – really makes a huge amount of difference. It’s especially good on turn one, when reaching engagement is a priority for the Brewers, and speeding up your kicker or goal scorer helps a lot in getting useful things done.

Spigot is a great beater, and brings a lot of utility to the team with Times Called. He’s also a lot more useful personally, outside of a scrum, compared to a lot of the Brewers’ fighters. His main downside is he’s relatively easy to kill for some teams with his somewhat low HP, and his 1″ melee means his damage isn’t always fantastic. He also doesn’t have anything to do with any allocated INF unless he gets close to an enemy. Basically he works in a similar way to Pintpot, but with Tough Hide rather than Come On Then for defensive tech, and he helps you to get into a scrum in the first place rather than helping to win the scrum once you get there. Teams that are better at scrumming or want to do so against you tend to be places where Spigot is less necessary (not that he’s bad) and teams that don’t want to scrum are where he is more useful – since he’s good at pinning people down, and his movement buffs helps to reach people who are spread out.

vSpigot

vSpigot.PNG

vSpigot is an all-in footballer, and a good one. He’s lacking in dodges like most Brewers, but otherwise does exactly what you want a footballer to do. He’s reasonably quick, has great KICK stats, is better defensively than most Brewers and has a really good playbook if you aren’t planning on doing damage. He has a tackle effect on every column, getting better as it goes (although his mTKD on column 3 is the real sweet spot). He also has a >< on column three which is almost the only playbook dodge in the guild.

Goad is a very handy character play, and gives vSpigot something to do when the ball isn’t around other than just farm momentum. Since he’s one of the brewers that’s going to be on the outskirts of the scrum, he can often force opponents to not send their scarier models into the main fight, or prevent them from doing anything at all by pinning them behind terrain or other models which have already activated. It’s also good for messing with enemy strikers and preventing snapback goals when Spigot scores.

Ball’s Gone is just as good on vSpigot as it is on oSpigot. It doesn’t come up as often on him, though, because often vSpigot wants to keep the ball himself rather than put it on someone else, and he doesn’t have any way of getting it back again. It’s primarily relevant for getting the ball off someone with Close Control.

Speaking of Close Control, the fact vSpigot has it makes him great at snagging the ball without eating a counterattack immediately. He’s also an okay place to put the ball, although his 1″ melee means he isn’t likely to be able to counterattack if someone’s trying to get it off him. Sometimes you get to ignore parting blows, although that doesn’t come up as often since you’d need to have started the activation with/next to the ball for it to be relevant.

Football Legend is a nice handy thing to have access to. It means Friday can score from the halfway line, which is nice, and it means vSpigot has a personal 4/9″ KICK which is a great base set of numbers to have. It also makes passing the ball around for momentum and dodges on turn one very consistent, since even one die kick models like Scum can get a successful pass most of the time with two dice and Tap In. Note that Tap In rounds down, so Football Legend doesn’t help there.

Back To His Best makes vSpigot’s threat range actually solid at 11″. He’s not going to be dodging past multiple models to reach his target, but he threatens the ball acceptably. Getting a free Kick is basically a free point of inf, which if spent on a momentous attack means you’ve broken even on the cost of Back To His Best and got the movement speed increase for free. It also means if you can get the ball to him, vSpigot can threaten a goal from 16″ away without needing to be allocated any influence, which is somewhat

vSpigot is one of the best strikers available in the guild and does his job well. He’s pretty linear and doesn’t directly help you in a scrum, but Goad does often result in scrum advantages by messing with the activations of the opponent’s better players or preventing strikers from ignoring your scrum and scoring. He’s also an influence efficient option in a lot of scenarios which helps justify his inclusion. He isn’t great into teams which are planning on killing the ball, especially with UM or Resilience, since both those traits are ones which really make him underwhelming and lock him away from the ball easily – although he can at least use Goad to pop Resilience. I’d be happiest playing him into teams which can’t easily hide the ball, and where you want a backup goal option in case the scrum goes badly, such as Masons, Brewers and Farmers.

Stave

Stave.PNG

Stave’s stats pretty much make him look like a liability. He’s slow, easy to hit, and only brings 1 influence. His primary upside is TAC6, but that’s hard to apply with a low movement speed and 1″ melee. He does have a reasonable playbook, with a mKD on column one and m>> on three meaning his counterattack isn’t bad, if he doesn’t get knocked down himself or hit by a model with 2″ melee. In general, even if he has 23hp, he’s really not someone you want in the middle of a fight – which is handy, because he’s slow enough that he wouldn’t be able to get there anyway.

Lob Barrel is one of the best character plays in the game, and the primary thing you plan to take advantage of when you pick Stave. 2 influence for multiple AOE knockdowns is a great deal, and the push is fantastic on top of that. It lets you push people towards you to gang up on them, push people away from you to keep them from reaching you or saving their allies, and it also let you sometimes push your allies forward to extend their own threat ranges, if you can clear the KD – which isn’t too hard in Brewers. Stave should pretty much always be planning to use Lob Barrel. It’s also handy for disengaging Stave if he’s being chased by someone. Note that you don’t have to push people you hit – if someone’s at the edge of range and you want to hit them for the KD, you can do so without pushing them further away. Also if you don’t want to hit your own models, you can choose not to automatically do so.

Battering Ram lets you move your team around for no influence which is nice. It also works on enemies but that doesn’t come up extremely often because Stave doesn’t really want to be in B2B with the enemy – it does work for disengaging from 1″ melee models. Pushing allies 2″ is helpful on a team with low threat ranges, and generally lets you get advantageous positions in the scrum, and improves your goal threat.

Tough Hide is if anything a downside on Stave. He’s DEF2 which means he is going to have a lot of problems if anyone remotely resembling a beatdown model connects with him, and Tough Hide means he takes longer to get Taken Out while the opponent generates huge piles of momentum off him. Don’t be fooled into thinking his health and TH makes him durable – it really doesn’t. All it does is make sure he doesn’t get oneshot from full health (usually) so keep that in mind.

Explosive Brew makes Stave actually influence efficient, even though he only generates 1. He doesn’t need any influence at all to move multiple models 4″ and apply KD to multiple models, which is really great – especially in Esters’ team. Stave wants to use his heroic every turn pretty much – 1 influence is generally a point of MP and something more as well, from a playbook, so turning 1 MP into 2 influence is a great deal. Lob Barrel is OPT, so you can’t lob 2 for 2 inf and a point of momentum, but that’s fine.

Stave is best into teams that group up where he can mess with their positioning and KD multiple models. That means teams like Masons, Brewers and Blacksmiths. He is definitely vulnerable to being taken out by all of these teams, so take care with him. He is not an easy model to use because he’s so flimsy but the work that can be done with Lob Barrel is very much worth it when it happens. If in doubt, it’s probably best to err on the side of playing as safely with him as you can. Take care when picking Stave into teams with powerful playbook triggered effects, like Fillet, Fangtooth and Gutter.

Stoker

Stoker

Stoker has your average Brewer statline, with an additional point of ARM. Otherwise he’s pretty standard, with a beater’s playbook that matches that of Spigot and Mash. His 2 is a column higher than on Spigot/Mash, with his KD on two. He has an excellent counterattack with a double push on his first column, with the main downside being his 1″ melee. Stoker is a bit better against non-damage attacks than most Brewers thanks to his ARM, but more vulnerable to character plays and other non-Playbook damage due to his lack of Tough Hide.

Molotov and Flame Jet both act as ranged control effects which aren’t common in the Brewers. They also give him something to do with his INF when there are no enemies within walking range, though it’s nowhere near as impactful as most actual attacks. Because Molotov leaves an AOE behind, you can put it in front of an opponent and have it apply as soon as they enter, meaning they can’t spend 1MP to remove the burning condition before it slows down their advance. Flame Jet is nice for finishing off people who are staying away or controlling footballers, though usually a -2/-2 MOV debuff isn’t going to stop a dedicated striker from scoring.

Burning Passion is Stoker’s ‘I hit stuff well’ special rule. Unfortunately it isn’t set up by other members of the guild in the same way as Floored, but it’s definitely better than some other fighters, since Mash (for example) is pretty much exactly the same as Stoker in output but without this buff. Stoker’s 4 column playbook does mean he wraps often with a little help and really starts putting the damage down. His character plays do require him to spend inf to put the fire down, which reduces his potential output, but we’ll get to that.

Magical Brew is a nice piece of anti-condition tech, as if Brewers didn’t have enough of it already. It makes Stoker harder to control and slow down, and the heal means he’s also a little bit harder to take out than his pretty average statline appears. If you want to take a team where everyone on the entire team is resistant to conditions you can do that – although it’s probably only a workable idea into Alchemists.

Human Ball of Fire is primarily useful for applying Burning without spending INF, meaning that Stoker gets to follow up with four buffed attacks. With +1 damage, he’s reasonably scary, especially if he has some TAC buffs, and reasonably comparable to other brawlers like Spigot or Hooper. However needing to get into base to base with enemies to apply the debuff means that he only has a dangerous threat range of 5″, which is really quite low compared to other brawlers (even in Brewers) like Spigot’s 8″ or Hooper’s 7″.

Stoker is a difficult model to include in a lineup, mainly because he’s very comparable to other models in the Brewer roster. If you want a model that walks up to the enemy and hits them multiple times, you have a lot of options. Hooper has 2″ melee, Spigot brings Time’s Called, Pintpot is way more efficient, and Stoker has fire AOEs and some condition resistance. That’s pretty much it, which isn’t really a particularly gripping set of upsides. The other useful thing he has is ARM2, which can be good in some matchups like Navigators where ARM is very valuable. However Resilience is also extremely good against a team that wants to charge that much, so even there you are most likely better off with someone like Mash if you need someone to hold the ball with.

Lucky

Lucky

Lucky is an all rounder. His stat line is an exact copy of vSpigot’s, except he has 2″ less KICK. He doesn’t have a particularly good playbook compared to most Brewers, with one major exception – he has a momentous 2 damage on column 2, which is very rare in the Brewers, and means he’s actually a lot more consistent without setup compared to some of the rest of the roster.

Sleight of Hand is a nice effect, although it isn’t as effective as Soothing Voice. It does work even without momentum, though – so handy if you’re against Engineers or Hunters and want to clear conditions on your kicker turn one while keeping the momentum to Glide or use Times Called. It also gives Lucky something to do with his influence if he isn’t able to reach engagement.

Raise the Stakes is a trait you don’t want to be using very often. Moving Lucky 4″ is great, but usually letting the opponent dodge any of their models 4″ is a trade in their favour. Because the opponent dodges second, you can’t use this to engage a target often because they’ll just dodge away – and if you put Lucky where he engages two models, they can choose to dodge neither of them and put additional crowdouts on him instead, or set up their captain for a high impact future activation, or something similarly problematic. Generally you only want to be using Raise the Stakes if it’s absolutely required for some reason. Usually that’s to extend Lucky’s goal threat range from a relatively average 14″ to a really quite good 18″, especially since it’s non linear. The opponent can dodge a model to put a crowd out on Lucky, or on the ball path, but that still leaves him with a two die shot, or three with Bonus Time, which is pretty reasonable. There are a few other times you’ll use Raise the Stakes (absolutely need to get within 8″ of someone to heal them before they die, use three bases to pin in an enemy target so they can’t escape, or something) but it won’t come up often. Raise the Stakes does mean that Lucky can reasonably be expected to score on turn one with just a couple inches of movement from Stave/Spigot and/or a Pass & Move. This means he is an alternative to Friday in some scenarios, where you’re receiving and want to score a turn one goal, but don’t want to commit an entire model to goal scoring who can’t contribute to the fighting plan.

Stack the Deck is great for the team’s efficiency. It basically makes Lucky a 3 influence Squaddie, which is not exactly common. Bringing efficiency is Lucky’s main upside, since otherwise he isn’t particularly outstanding at anything, though he is versatile. If you want an efficient model, your options are vSpigot (who locks you out of oSpigot, and doesn’t fight), Pintpot (who’s slow and has issues with control teams), Stave (who dies very easily, and is also slow) or Lucky.

Lucky is an all rounder and something of a filler option, who can be dropped into most lineups and do okay but is not likely to be a standout player. His main strength is letting you use Times Called on turn one when kicking, without needing to worry as much about being unable to clear conditions (note that if the opponent has two ranged KDs – like Ballista + Salvo – they can wait for you to clear one, then reapply it, so be careful spending that momentum). He doesn’t have a Heroic, which makes his inclusion with Esters quite awkward. Helping Tapper out on the kickoff is his best slot – although if that’s where you need condition clearing, there are other options in the Union slot.

Avarisse & Greede

Avarisse

Greede

These guys again. 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 5″ of an enemy model to make it happen.

A&G are most relevant against teams which are slow themselves, durable (so A&G’s damage is actually needed) and don’t have the ranged control tools to prevent Avarisse from doing his thing. Unfortunately, if you want an influence hungry model which does tons of damage to take people out with, you already have access to loads of them, including Hooper and Spigot, who pretty much do everything A&G do and then some more.

Gutter

Gutter

Gutter is an all rounder in terms on stats. She’s speedier than most Brewers but otherwise standard in base numbers. Her counter attack isn’t great, but she has 2″ melee and access to a KD. 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. Note that because all damage buffs are Guild only, she can’t get any bonuses on them. In general Gutter is let down badly by not benefiting from Commanding Aura.

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. Forcing people into scrums is exactly what Brewers want to do, and really why you’d take Gutter here. 6″ pushes are really absurd – remember that Lob Barrel is fantastic and that only pushes 2″ – and can completely change the face of the game, or grab people looking to skirt the edges and makes them come closer.

Scything Blow is a primary aspect of Gutter in Union, but less so in Brewers. She has potential to really wipe teams out with this, but the difficulty in setting her up is real, since Brewers just don’t have as many DEF reduction and TAC bonus effects which work on non-Guild models. It’s occasionally relevant but can be difficult to make work because of this.

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 handy since Gutter is often in the thick of a fight. She is mostly a utility model in Brewers however, so she isn’t as often a primary target for the opponent and having her taken out is less of an issue. It works out of activation, which means she can regain 1hp on a counter attack which can throw off takeout maths in some scenarios.

Gutter is a moderately useful tool in most circumstances – 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 something of a niche pick for Brewers mainly because she’s quite influence hungry and doesn’t benefit from a lot of the team’s buffs, which makes things hard to set up.

Fangtooth

Fangtooth

Fangtooth is another model whose statline looks singularly bad. His TAC is very average and everything else is below par. He has a lot of health, but that generally just means he won’t get one rounded, rather than actually making him resistant to getting killed in the long run. He does bring a great playbook however – KD on column 1, m2 on column 2 are nice results to have access to, and his >> and momentous 4 are pretty impressive too. Just don’t expect him to tackle anyone.

The Unmasking is a terrifying ability. If you can set Fangtooth up to trigger this repeatedly it will wipe out entire teams with ease. Note that all push effects are ‘up to’ the distance marked, so you don’t have to push people out of range, letting you trigger it multiple times. It makes any team with a low def model very way about picking it, and is exactly the sort of huge, impactful payoff the Brewers want to turn an advantage in a scrum into a load of taken out models.

Foul Odor is a nice control ability that occasionally taxes the enemy for a point or two of momentum. It doesn’t really do much more than that however – don’t expect it to work wonder. Union are great at winning the momentum race though, and this is one of the little tools that work together to always put them at a slight advantage in that competition.

Resilience makes Fangtooth a real problem for a lot of models, especially 1″ melee ones. Starting a turn with no momentum and walking up to Fangtooth means your first swing whiffs, and then your counter KDs them and leaves them stuck, or pushes them away. It also means that when Fangtooth is going in to take people out himself, they can’t counterattack him meaningfully even if they aren’t knocked down. Resilience also makes models which only make a small number of high-impact attacks (such as most 2/3 inf brawlers, and Furious moels) want to avoid Fangtooth and go for other models – which is nice, because his poor defensive statline would otherwise make him a prime target.

Fangtooth Unleashed is something you want to use often. It makes Unmasking 4 damage base, which is extremely scary. It also makes Fangtooth a 6/8″ move, which really improves his threat ranges a lot and means he’s much more likely to be able to jog to engage a target, letting him make more attacks once he gets there. The damage is a real downside, but not huge – usually if Fangtooth is dying, it’s to a dedicated attack with multiple crowdouts and setup, and in that scenario an extra 4HP probably doesn’t get him anywhere.

Fangtooth is great into teams with low def models, and teams with a small number of high impact attacks – that means Farmers, Smiths, Brewers. He’s somewhat resistant to ranged control with Resilience, too. He’s a reasonable choice into most teams but needs to be actively played around a lot of the time – you can’t just jam Fangtooth into a lineup and let him do his own thing, instead you want to be setting him up with debuffs and crowd outs to really get work out of him – if you’re just walking up to people with Heroic and taking three swings for 9 damage and 3 mom, that’s okay but probably not worth the investment and the vulnerability of his statline. Note that Fangtooth can benefit from Esters’ Quick Foot (but not Time’s Called) and Quaff’s Pick Me Up for some really scary attacks. Unfortunately nobody in the Brewers can apply Singled Out for him, and crowdouts can be difficult to engineer without risking your own team with Unmasking. He’s most commonly played with Esters since it’s possible to run enough models with Resilience that the oppoent doesn’t have any good targets that aren’t insufferable on the counter attack.

Hemlocke

Hemlocke

Hemlocke is a utility model, and her statline reflects that. Her 5/0/12 statline is pretty standard for a support model, and works well for her mainly because she doesn’t usually plan to be near the enemy often. She’s reasonably quick and has a good playbook for dodges and tackles, but her low tac and 1″ melee mean she isn’t a fantastic striker. She’s also a pretty risky model to be putting within 1″ of an enemy since if she gets pinned down she’ll be taken out quickly. She does have a lovely m>><< in her playbook but it’s not going to get reached very often – usually the amount of setup you’d need to get to it would be better used elsewhere in Brewers. It does mean Hemlocke is solid for opportunistic goal runs on occasion, since if the ball is on someone with poor defensive stats, Hemlocke needs five hits for a mTm>><< wrap on the charge which usually is enough for a goal. Usually though, you want to keep her away from a fight.

Blind is a handy tool to have available. It isn’t really ever going to be completely blanking an enemy’s activation, but it usually does enough to make the target a lot less efficient. The -2 TAC penalty isnt particularly dramatic – except on models that really want to hit the top of their playbooks, like Blackheart or most enemy Brewers – because if you’re within 6″ of the enemy, anyone with a reasonably threatening set of attacks is probably going to cause Hemlocke problems even if they do have -2 TAC. The -2″ movement is similarly reduced in value because there’s a model within 6″ of them at the point where you used Blind. The Kick penalty is the really impactful part, because the fact Hemlocke is within 6″ doesn’t matter in the slightest, and taking two dice and 4″ of distance off a goal run really makes it a lot less reliable. Hemlocke is great at messing with strikers and generally causes them a lot of problems – especially since they are usually low TAC also and can have problems with getting the ball off someone when they have another -2. She’s good at shutting down the enemy kicker when you’re receiving the ball, or messing with enemy goal runs if they’re hoping to score on turn one.

Noxious Blast is a much stronger character play than it looks. In particular, the Brewers are a team that fights very well, which means that having ranged damage is a great tool – because it forces the enemy team to move into your threat ranges rather than hang back and make you come to them, which is exactly what the Brewers want. Noxious Blast is particularly good against teams which rely on armour over defense for durability, or have tough hide, like Blacksmiths and Masons– note that anti-condition models are present in all these factions, but often are otherwise not the best choice into Brewers, which really results in some difficult drafting decisions. If Hemlocke activates last in a turn and puts down Noxious Blast, even if they clear the poison next turn it’s still 4-8 damage for 2 inf, which is pretty good.

Smelling Salts is a useful tool if you’re against condition based teams, but Brewers already have a ton of tech for those matchups. Like Lucky, however, it’s usable on turn one to protect your kicker without spending your point of momentum, which can be really useful.

Magical Brew and Slippery aren’t really very impactful rules on Hemlocke’s card, and basically just make her a bit more awkward of a target to focus down. She’s just low enough in durability that she’s an option, but can be a real pain to pin down and actually kill with all her little extra tools.

Hemlocke has a lot of utility against a lot of different teams. Blind helps a lot vs. footballing teams that spread out a lot – it’s good to put the ball on one side of the pitch and then Blind whoever is closest to threatening your ball holder. Noxious Blast is good against low-health ranged control teams like Morticians and Engineers, while also working well in a scrum against Masons, Union and so on. The only teams where you definitely don’t want Hemlocke are probably Butchers and Farmers. Butchers can kill her quite easily and are flimsy enough that chip damage doesn’t matter much. Farmers also kill her easily (2 damage on column 1 is great against def5) and have enough HP and anti-condition tech that they don’t mind Noxious Blast at all either. She can be relevant at clearing KDs in the matchup, but that may not be worth a slot. She’s always going to be somewhat useful, but she’s more of a support model than a primary plan so make sure you have enough models that actually do things. Noxious Blast and Blind are tools that do things the Brewers have absolutely none of anywhere else, so being able to pull them out if necessary is a very handy option to have.

oRage

oRage

The non-Captain version of Rage is a beater and doesn’t do much else – he has enough HP and DEF that he isn’t going to get one rounded without some setup, but his non combat stats are pretty average. His playbook is solid, although the only thing it really does well is damage that’s totally fine.

Rage’s Concussion is a lot more situational than Pintpot’s, since its 1-2 columns higher, on a model that doesn’t benefit from Commanding Aura, and he really wants to be taking damage for Berserk.

Tooled Up on Rage matters pretty much not at all, because it only works on Guild models and on himself you’re better off making more attacks.

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.

If you leave Rage’s activation till late in a turn, Crucial Artery means he does even more 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 brings more efficiency and scrum winning ability to a team that’s already reasonably efficient and good at winning scrums. He doesn’t have as many buffs to scale off as he does in Union, but is still a reasonable choice if you want to double down on the Brewers’ strengths, rather than diversify and try to cover your weaknesses.

Overview

brewers

The Brewers are all about grouping up in a scrum and beating people down, and have some of the scariest ‘best case scenario’ setups in the game. Given a little bit of time to prep, the Brewers will take down anyone. They also don’t have a bad football game – not on the level of other factions, maybe, but you still can’t ignore the ball without risking opportunistic goals, and they’re also good at keeping hold of the ball and stopping the opponent from doing anything with it. They’re one of the most resilient teams in the game when it comes to chip damage and especially character plays, with both Resilience and Tough Hide along with a huge number of anti condition effects.

The team’s main weakness is that they want to work together. While this means they get great results when they have setup, it also means that without any assistance from their allies they tend to be underwhelming. The top ends of their playbooks are great, but if they can’t get there they don’t really get very much done. They’re also quite slow and have some order of activation issues – if Tapper is forced to go last, they aren’t very happy – the same applies if a payoff model like Hooper has to go first. In general Brewers don’t like it when the pace of the game is dictated to them – either by the opponent aggressively pursuing takeouts and forcing the Brewers to deal with them before they start losing control of the fight, or by going for goals and pressuring the ball, forcing models to reposition, Hooper to go early to apply Tough Skin, and so on.

Both captains bring very different things, but generally Tapper is a good choice for winning the scrum against teams that want to fight, and Esters is a good choice for setting the team up to connect against those that are more interested in running away. Both have uses in most matchups however. Tapper’s 2″ melee really means he can get to some enemies Esters just doesn’t threaten, and Esters’ personal threat is not to be ignored and can remove models from the board easily if the opponent doesn’t plan for it. Usually Esters is going to want to take 3-4 influence and set others up, unless someone is foolish enough to walk to within 5″ of her in which case she can just take a full stack and beat them down. Tapper usually gets either a full stack for a takeout if a target presents itself, or a similar 3-4 influence to KD some targets and put up Commanding Aura + Old Jakes.

Brewers need to drop 2 models from the 14 available to make a team, with a third cut if they want to bring a Union option. The most often ones removed are Scum and Stoker, since Scum is a very risky proposition while Quaff is always useful, and Stoker just doesn’t bring much in the way of unique tools compared to other 1″ melee beatdown options. Dropping a Spigot is also a possibility if you’re planning on playing the other Spigot in all your games anyway, or if you aren’t willing to take the risk of trying to keep Stave safe with his bad defenses, he is also a potential cut. Lucky is also an option since while he’s a good all rounder, there isn’t much that he is the best at on the team. Most of the Union options are reasonable choices – Fangtooth is probably a better option if you just want damage than Rage, and then Hemlocke brings a lot of tools the Brewers otherwise have no access to, so that’s also a definitely useful option.

Personally I feel like Hooper and a Spigot are the standard includes in most lineups. Hooper is one of the team’s more consistent damage dealers with his 2″ melee, and the team always wants to bring enough damage to threaten the enemy, even if you are planning on also threatening goals. I’d always try to take a model that’s inf efficient and can donate to the rest of the team if needed, too – usually Pintpot. vSpigot can do it too though. Brewers have plenty of good choices, even if most of them involve putting the enemy in the dirt, that’s very much not a problem a lot of the time. KD is a very powerful effect and the Brewers bring it better than anyone, and capitalize on it extremely well also.

Until next time,

-Henry

Union in Season 4

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.

Our third guild to be looked at is the Union. The mercenaries have been ones of my personal favourites for a good while now, and are generally really fun to use. They also have a larger roster of potential models than most guilds which gives us some interesting choices in what to cut – they also have two very different captains who use different players.

Speaking of captains, I’m going to kick things off with a look at the options there.

Blackheart

Blackheart

The Pirate King is a versatile player with a ton of strength. His defensive stats aren’t fantastic at 3/2/16, but they’re not terrible, just slightly below most captains. Blackheart does supplement this with a solid counter attack, with a double dodge on column 2 and 2″ melee he’s hard to pin down if he doesn’t eat a KD. His statline otherwise is quite standard for a captain, except his low jog distance which we’ll get to later. Blackheart’s playbook has a pretty underwhelming first few columns, with no T till column 3 (on a model with a football focus), and his 2 damage is nonmomentous and on column 3 also. The best feature of his early book is the m1<< on column two, which is a great result in every situation. Once you reach columns 4 and above Blackheart really starts to shine, with fantastic effects everywhere for then on. He doesn’t get there on his own very well, but with a bit of support he can be reasonably expected to do 16+ damage to anyone with a bit of setup which is really scary.

Butchery sets up the kills. Usually you’ll want to take this off the playbook and follow it up with multiple attacks – note that it isn’t OPT, so if you need to threaten multiple models (or you’re wrapping enough you can take it while you kill a different target) you can apply it multiple times to different models. It also can pop gluttonous mass if you don’t need the result for somewhere else. You put it on someone and then hit them, and they die, that’s about it.

Misdirection is somewhat situational and doesn’t come up often, but it’s actually really solid. It’s difficult to justify spending 2 influence for no output, but the 2 inf shift as a result means it’s breaking even there, just with tempo as the cost. It’s good for taking influence off models which have very important breakpoints as to what inf is useful – such as strikers that need X inf to get the ball and score, or Berserk models which get double value out of influence, or models with character plays so you can prevent an important one from being used.

On My Mark is an extremely powerful play. It isn’t OPT and it’s ‘free’ attached to your damage – if nothing else, it makes that 2 damage result momentous if you’re completing a pass. It also lets you reposition your entire team if BH ends up engaging someone while your team has the ball which has pretty big implications for positioning. There are issues with it – primarily that there’s a chance to fail a pass and lose the ball – so try and use Tap Ins and three die kicks when you can. It also lets Blackheart have an enormous goal threat if you want to score. Note that scoring is not something you want to do all the time with BH because moving the ball gives you so many options, and he isn’t very good at getting it back again with his column 3 non-momentous tackle. Using On My Mark for dodges (even paid for, rather than playbook) lets you set up multiple models the threaten the opponent on turn one if you’re receiving, which can be difficult to deal with.

Shadow Like pretty much just makes Blackheart 6/8 move with a little bit of extra versatility. It means he can almost never be completely pinned down by an enemy no matter what, since he can dodge out to the extent of 2″ and then dodge further with an attack, without even using his advance. It also lets you trigger traps, get Snared, and then clear it before you actually move. Generally it just makes BH a little bit more versatile, which is his strongest point – he’s very hard to lock out and pretty much always gets valuable work done with his influence unless he’s taken out.

Strike From The Shadows is a really powerful Legendary. Using it on turn one to just get the team up the table is not an exceptionally powerful use of it, but it works if that’s what you want, and makes Union’s poor turn one when kicking better. If you’re choosing the dodge option, the other use is letting you rearrange a fight to take someone out. Putting a couple crowdouts on someone who isn’t expecting it is a really impactful option when Blackheart’s personal threat spikes so dramatically if he has some support. You can also use it to completely pin a model in to prevent it from escaping with dodges or counter attacks or unpredictable movement, if you can set three models up so there is no 30mm wide gap between them. Using Strike from the Shadows for DEF is more situational – since it’s only really good against fighting teams, and if you’re activating Blackheart right at the start of the turn – but in that specific situation, it makes the entire team extremely durable for that turn. Blackheart goes to 4/2 and most of the team goes to 5/1 or 6/0 which really is horrible to deal with. The strength here is that because it affects pretty much the whole team, it often leaves the opponent with no good targets to attack at all.

Blackheart is a fine choice into just about anything, but he’s least happy to deal with opponents that can just kill him. That usually means opponents that can KD him easily or have lots of ranged damage to punish his low DEF and mediocre health. He’s also much better when receiving compared to when kicking, because the ball is such a good resource for him. He really likes a team composition which supports him with buffs to his attacks, such as Singled Out or DEF reduction effects, and models which are capable footballers or at least have a couple dice to pass the ball with.

vRage

vRage

vRage brings the beatdown. He’s here to take people out and he does it really quite well. He’s got great offensive stats and a playbook with a whole lot of damage in it. His inf stat also means he only ever pulls 1 influence from the rest of the team (compared to Blackheart’s 2) and he’s pretty solid defensively with a 4/1/17 statline. He does however have no real counterattack to speak of, so if someone reaches him he can’t really do anything about it back to them. However they’re within 1″ of Rage, so if he doesn’t die immediately they’re in trouble. When we look at things that aren’t killing people, Rage isn’t great. He has an underwhelming kick stat (especially for a captain), a terrible tackle, and no way to reasonably disengage so he isn’t going to be scoring any time soon. He also has an 8″ threat range and no way to extend it that doesn’t reduce his ability to score takeouts significantly which makes his personal threat relatively simple to play around – it’s just that failing to do so is very punishing and probably means your models die.

Concussion doesn’t come up often, mainly because if vRage is reaching column six on his playbook his target is probably going to die. 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 3T result you’re probably happy with that – often the mT result is also more valuable than the damage if you aren’t threatening to kill the target immediately.

Quick Time is 2 influence for zero attacks which is not something Rage wants to do often. Given that Rage has pushes in his own playbook, he doesn’t need to disengage from enemies using Quick Time very often – and Red Fury does help here too. Quick Time does give Rage 2″ of additional threat range if nobody is within 8″ and he can’t engineer something with Red Fury there either. It can also be useful for freeing up models that are vulnerable to getting pinned down, but usually if you’re using Quick Time something has gone horribly wrong. Disengaging with QT to set up a charge is usually worse than just taking two normal swings with that influence. It’s handy for setting up threats on turn one, since Rage is very unlikely to be able to do anything else.

Red Fury is up there for one of the best character plays in the game – primarily because it makes your influence always useful. It’s extremely difficult to shut Rage down, because if you put Pinned on him, knock him down, engage him so he can’t charge, or Blind him, he’s still going to get to spend all his influence, probably on attacks from a player without any debuffs on. Sure, he might not get to charge, but he still does plenty of work. Red Fury lets you reposition the scrum to your advantage, with Benediction’s pushes, Gutter’s Chain Grabs, Mist’s tackle, or Decimate’s dodges. Red Fury also lets you spend more influence on very high-value attacks – like on Strongbox’s absurdly short playbook, or Avarisse’s huge damage numbers. You can activate Rage and push people into position, and set up Chain Grabs with Gutter, and still have the 4 influence on Gutter ready to do the actual Scything Blows. You can do it the other way round, and spend Gutter’s activation setting up and generating momentum, and then spend Rage’s influence on the payoff. You can also avoid allocating to a model that might die, then still use their playbook. Red Fury also extends Rage’s threat range, by buying attacks on Benediction or Gutter to push players into Rage’s path. It also lets you use Rage’s heroic play on someone else, then use that buff on eight attacks, rather than the 4 attacks you’d cap out at with Tooled Up or similar on a Squaddie. Red Fury lets you sneak around most defensive effects in the game, either by pushing people around or by just spending your influence elsewhere if Rage can’t reach engagement due to a counter attack, Unpredictable Movement or similar.

Furious is where Rage gets his efficiency. He gets to do a ton of personal work without taking all of his team’s influence. Being able to fully stack three players with 4 influence is great – most other brawling teams, if they want their captain to have a full stack, get to fill up one other player at most, maybe with 1-2 spar. Furious is also a free sprint on turn one (unless you need to use Quick Time or something afterwards). On a model which can make four normal attacks, and has pushes and KD, it’s pretty trivial to enable furious. If you’re engaged but not within 1″, you may need assistance from a friend like Benediction, but even then it’s not the end of the world to just walk up to someone and beat them to death. Spending more than 1-2 influence to enable furious is a losing proposition – you’re better off just making more attacks.

Rising Anger is handy for making Rage harder to control. Many control effects – such as Deadbolt – also apply damage, which means Rage gets the momentum to immediately clear the effect. It also means that in a straight brawl where both teams spend all their influence in a turn on damage, the Union are likely to win the momentum race. Be careful when Obulus hits you, since triggering Rising Anger and then taking the momentum with Rigor Mortis is a common plan, but there isn’t much you can do about it anyway. A plan against brawling captains is to put them on 1HP and then kill them at the start of the turn for a turn’s safety from the fight – this still works on Rage, but you at least get to double up on the momentum bonus from Rising Anger, which helps you to recover.

Because you don’t have access to Rage1, Bloody Coin / My Gang is the only damage buff you get, so use it well. Rage often wants to activate early in the turn to apply it, especially on his Legendary turn. You pretty much always want to be popping the heroic or legendary. If you’re rolling an extra die, you’re more likely to wrap, and if you do so just once it compensates you for the momentum you spend, since almost everyone has a momentous result on their first column. Often because you get eight buffed attacks, it’s a better idea to charge with Rage and then heroic someone else engaging your target and have them attack instead. Note that this doesn’t benefit character plays, so Scything Blow isn’t affected – however, it’s usually still worth it to heroic Gutter for the extra die, and additional damage when wrapping / if you don’t want to take Scything Blow or you need the healing from Life Drinker. On Rage’s legendary turn you usually want to be spending as much of your influence as possible on damage, preferably momentous. Sometimes you want to Legendary to avoid having to spend momentum, even if you don’t have more than one model to affect, but only do that if you have to. Note that My Gang is an Aura while Bloody Coin is a one shot effect – sometimes it’s a good idea to use Bloody Coin on someone even while My Gang is up, since that way they keep the buff if they move more than 6″ from Rage, or Rage is taken out. It’s only the attacking model that needs to be within 6″ of Rage to benefit from My Gang – the enemy model, and the friendly engaging model, can be anywhere.

Overall Rage is great in a fight, but his primary strength compared to other fighting captains is that he is hard to control and doesn’t have support models that are easily assassinated. He’s a lot better against ranged damage heavy teams than Blackheart, since Rising Anger helps a lot and he’s going to reach engagement eventually. He has the same issues when kicks as BH, since he doesn’t really get much done on turn one. If you can survive the first turn without losing a critical piece you’re usually in a good place. Gutter is fantastic with vRage and you need a very good reason not to be taking her. Benediction beings setup, and extends the range of Red Fury, but doesn’t actually bring any output or assistance beyond a melee zone. I feel that if you want a 2″ melee model with pushes to set up for Rage, Harry is a better option since he helps against control again (with a second Rising Anger) and if he gets Singled Out onto someone they are likely to disappear very quickly. Rage doesn’t like dealing with footballing teams very much since they tend to not want to group up and get beaten down, and play a faster game where his weak turn one is more of a problem.

Coin

Coin.PNG

Coin isn’t a mascot with a particularly impressive statline when it comes to attacking, with a highly impressive TAC of 2 and a pretty underwhelming playbook. The snake is somehow quite good at football even though it doesn’t actually have any feet, and is also quite durable with a 4/1/8 statline which is good and solid for a mascot. The big thing in Coin’s statline though is its 2″ melee zone. This makes Coin pretty great at applying crowding out penalties to models, which is something vRage really loves to have, and a lot of other Union also appreciate the assistance. You won’t often be using Coin’s melee zone to do much attacking, but that doesn’t really matter hugely.

Constrict is not something that comes up often really, but sometimes you can use it to lock down a ball carrier on the charge if nobody else can reach. Don’t bank on ever reaching it other than with a charge, though, and usually putting the inf on Coin to charge with is going to leave you disappointed.

Bag of Coffers is a highly effective trait and the main reason to take Coin. It functionally makes the snake bring 2 inf, which is lovely for a team as influence hungry as the Union. It does bring with it some activation order issues, but there’s usually someone you can put the influence on, and if nothing else it works to give Coin a free sprint. The free Bonus Time makes BoC particularly useful on models with one die character plays, such as Hemlocke’s Blind or Minx’s Marked Target – both of which are also models which are happy to activate early for setup/control or late for conditions and damage. It also lets Coin make a three die kick for zero influence, which is handy for retrieving the ball or setting up dodges.

Follow Up makes Coin slightly better at keeping a melee zone on models which would otherwise ignore it and leave, but it’s usually not difficult for them to disengage anyway, since the advance is Directly Towards them so going round another model works, and most models also have some way of disengaging from a model without a threatening counterattack or parting blow.

Coin is great into most matchups, particularly those where you need to interact at range somehow and really want those character plays to hit. In general you’ll be sitting the snake somewhere behind the team, applying BoC, and occasionally moving up to put a crowdout on an enemy. There’s not really any scenarios where Coin is actually bad.

Strongbox

Strongbox

Strongbox is probably the single model in Guild Ball with the worst base stats. 2/2/8 isn’t keeping this tortoise alive for very long, 3/5 movement is also awful and TAC2 and 1/4″ kick are the absolute bottom of the barrel as well. If you’re looking at the base stats there is absolutely no reason to bring Strongbox, especially compared to Coin who actually has reasonable numbers for a mascot. The playbook is a pretty good reason, though. Two columns with 2 on 2 means that if you get to put a damage buff on Strongbox, you get a damage output larger than Seenah’s per hit, and def debuffs / tac dice are relatively easy to come by in the Union. Strongbox also has an easy KD which sets up for other models well.

Confidence is nice mainly on turn one, where it can set up your kicking model to charge the enemy and do some work / aim for a tackle, or go on a model with a ranged play to give someone else something to do early. It’s similar to the free Bonus Time from BoQ, only it costs an influence rather than giving one. Strongbox teams tend to be a lot more influence hungry. Confidence is impactful, but not as easy to make work as BoQ or as versatile – though it does work on captains. 1 inf on strongbox for confidence can turn into a sprint if not needed, which can be nice since going from 3″ to 5″ is almost doubling your movement. Confidence does make Blackheart very likely to reach the top of his playbook on the charge, which can be very impactful.

Tough Hide means Strongbox isn’t easy to take out from incidental chip damage. Conditions will be a problem though, and any dedicated fighter will still kill your tortoise easily.

Shelling Out is the primary reason to take Strongbox, and in a scrum it is insane. Compared to BoQ’s one additional die, Shelling Out is a free ‘bonus time’ on every attack, which stacks with Bonus Time itself, for a lot more swings, and doesn’t require Strongbox to activate. The enemy does need to be within 4″ of Strongbox however – not the ally attacking – which can be difficult with how slow Strongbox is. The bonus MP from a takeout is nice – usually if you get into a scenario where you’re taking someone out within Shelling Out, you’re probably in a very good place for the game (unless you’re ignoring the ball, that is).

Strongbox is all about Shelling Out, and that means you want him into teams which are willing to group up and fight you. That means Butchers, Brewers, Masons and so on. You really don’t want to be bringing a tortoise to a gun fight, and any other scenario where Strongbox is unlikely to reach a scrum is also bad news. That means Hunters, Engineers and Alchemists should be avoided. Strongbox helps out with the fighty teams quite a bit, but you should always have Coin available for the others – your Mascot choices for the 12 are either ‘both Mascots’ or ‘just Coin’ in my opinion.

Avarisse & Greede

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 5″ of an enemy model to make it happen.

A&G are most relevant against teams which are slow themselves, durable (so A&G’s damage is actually needed) and don’t have the ranged control tools to prevent Avarisse from doing his thing. The problem is that Avarisse is a model that needs positional setup to do his thing, and if you’re putting work into setting things up for him, that work could just as easily be setting up Gutter or Fangtooth, who provided similar levels of payoff when things go well while also being reasonably useful (or at least less of a liability) when things are not fully set up.

Decimate

Decimate

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. 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 is a quite useful play for repositioning your team, usually either to move to safety after scoring, or put melee zones / crowdouts on targets you want to be reaching with Rage or Blackheart. Decimate uses the first of these options well, but the second is often difficult to do because if you put it on someone else you’re spending a lot of activations on setup, and if you do so with Decimate herself she has potential to get killed or at least knocked down / disengaged before you get to use your payoff. It’s at its most relevant when you want to go early with Decimate and go on a goal run, then follow up with a dodge back to engage someone and threaten takeouts, forcing your opponent to decide between securing the ball and stopping your captain from chopping up whoever Decimate reached.

Thousand Cuts is 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. It’s very achievable in Union because we have many other DEF debuffs and TAC buffs, and they scale exponentially with each other – +2 TAC is much more valuable against a DEF2 target than a DEF4 one, and -2DEF is much more valuable when you’re TAC10 than when you’re TAC4. Thousand Cuts’ 1 damage also means it sets up Minx’s Damaged Target, which can be a reasonable use of influence on turn one.

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 definitely leans towards taking people out but works well as a ‘backup’ striker if you don’t want to dedicate an entire player slot to a model like Mist who doesn’t fight well – especially in a vRage team you really want to ensure you are able to spend 12+ influence on momentous damage in a turn if needed, so it’s difficult to include multiple non-fighting models like Mist and Hemlocke. Decimate isn’t really good into any specific matchup (though she shines vs teams with armour) and I consider her to be a reasonable ‘filler’ model you can put in the roster and never be unhappy to be running. She’s not an awful kicker if you don’t want to run Mist.

Fangtooth

Fangtooth

Fangtooth is another model whose statline looks singularly bad. His TAC is very average and everything else is below par. He has a lot of health, but that generally just means he won’t get one rounded, rather than actually making him resistant to getting killed in the long run. He does bring a great playbook however – KD on column 1, m2 on column 2 are nice results to have access to, and his >> and momentous 4 are pretty impressive too. Just don’t expect him to tackle anyone.

The Unmasking is a terrifying ability. If you can set Fangtooth up to trigger this repeatedly it will wipe out entire teams with ease. Note that all push effects are ‘up to’ the distance marked, so you don’t have to push people out of range, letting you trigger it multiple times. It makes any team with a low def model very way about picking it, and is exactly the sort of huge, impactful payoff the Union want to turn all their offensive combat buffs into takeouts. Note that Unmasking does benefit from Tooled Up, but not from Butchery or My Gang. It’s somewhat easier to set up in terms of hitting it on the PB vRage (since Red Fury helps, and he has TAC buffs) but the payoff is bigger with Blackheart (since he has Tooled Up access) and Blackheart has the ability to reposition models with his legendary and On My Mark to make it really impactful.

Foul Odor is a nice control ability that occasionally taxes the enemy for a point or two of momentum. It doesn’t really do much more than that however – don’t expect it to work wonder. Union are great at winning the momentum race though, and this is one of the little tools that work together to always put them at a slight advantage in that competition.

Resilience makes Fangtooth a real problem for a lot of models, especially 1″ melee ones. Starting a turn with no momentum and walking up to Fangtooth means your first swing whiffs, and then your counter KDs them and leaves them stuck, or pushes them away. It also means that when Fangtooth is going in to take people out himself, they can’t counterattack him meaningfully even if they aren’t knocked down. Resilience also makes models which only make a small number of high-impact attacks (such as most 2/3 inf brawlers, and Furious moels) want to avoid Fangtooth and go for other models – which is nice, because his poor defensive statline would otherwise make him a prime target.

Fangtooth Unleashed is something you want to use often. It makes Unmasking 4 damage base, or 5 with Tooled Up, which is extremely scary. It also makes Fangtooth a 6/8″ move, which really improves his threat ranges a lot and means he’s much more likely to be able to jog to engage a target, letting him make more attacks once he gets there. The damage is a real downside, but not huge – usually if Fangtooth is dying, it’s to a dedicated attack with multiple crowdouts and setup, and in that scenario an extra 4HP probably doesn’t get him anywhere.

Fangtooth is great into teams with low def models, and teams with a small number of high impact attacks – that means Farmers, Smiths, Brewers. He’s somewhat resistant to ranged control with Resilience, too. He’s a reasonable choice into most teams but needs to be actively played around a lot of the time – unlike Decimate you can’t just jam Fangtooth into a lineup and let him do his own thing, instead you want to be setting him up with debuffs and crowd outs to really get work out of him – if you’re just walking up to people with Heroic and taking three swings for 9 damage and 3 mom, that’s okay but probably not worth the investment and the vulnerability of his statline. Note that while Unmasking is absurdly deadly with Tooled Up, Fangtooth generally scales better with def and tac modifiers than he does with TU, since hitting Unmasking is so much better than not, and he wraps well.

Gutter

Gutter

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. The 1″ push on column 2 is actually quite handy, because it means she can (if someone better at it isn’t available) push people into Rage’s threat ranges even without support.

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.

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 – life Fangtooth – she removes entire teams. It’s on column 5, so you won’t be hitting it without assistance, but that’s for the best. With a single crowdout and Bloody Coin, 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 is the game ending primary plan of most vRage teams, 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 – unlike Fangtooth she’s also good at killing targets who are somewhat spread out, since she can just grab them in before going off.

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 the other top target is often vRage, who has Rising Anger. 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 Red Fury can be used to heal Gutter if needed, and she can regain 1hp on a counter attack which can throw off takeout maths in some scenarios.

Gutter is a moderately useful tool in most circumstances – 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 mainstay of vRage teams and should always be taken there unless you have very good reasons not to. In Blackheart teams she’s harder to justify, since BH doesn’t have as many buffs to set her up or as much influence to give to her. He generally wants models that can be slightly more independent which Gutter isn’t really going to do. She’s solid into teams where there’s an abundance of low def models even in Blackheart’s lists, but much less of a mainstay.

Hemlocke

Hemlocke

Hemlocke is a utility model, and her statline reflects that. Her 5/0/12 statline is pretty standard for a support model, and works well for her mainly because she doesn’t usually plan to be near the enemy often. She’s reasonably quick and has a good playbook for dodges and tackles, but her low tac and 1″ melee mean she isn’t a fantastic striker. She’s also a pretty risky model to be putting within 1″ of an enemy since if she gets pinned down she’ll be taken out quickly. She does have a lovely m>><< in her playbook but it’s not going to get reached very often – usually the amount of setup you’d need to get to it would be better used elsewhere in Union. It does mean Hemlocke is solid for opportunistic goal runs on occasion, since if the ball is on someone with poor defensive stats, Hemlocke needs five hits for a mTm>><< wrap on the charge which usually is enough for a goal. Usually though, you want to keep her away from a fight.

Blind is a handy tool to have available. It isn’t really ever going to be completely blanking an enemy’s activation, but it usually does enough to make the target a lot less efficient. The -2 TAC penalty isnt particularly dramatic – except on models that really want to hit the top of their playbooks, like Blackheart or most Brewers – because if you’re within 6″ of the enemy, anyone with a reasonably threatening set of attacks is probably going to cause Hemlocke problems even if they do have -2 TAC. The -2″ movement is similarly reduced in value because there’s a model within 6″ of them at the point where you used Blind. The Kick penalty is the really impactful part, because the fact Hemlocke is within 6″ doesn’t matter in the slightest, and taking two dice and 4″ of distance off a goal run really makes it a lot less reliable. Hemlocke is great at messing with strikers and generally causes them a lot of problems – especially since they are usually low TAC also and can have problems with getting the ball off someone when they have another -2. She’s good at shutting down the enemy kicker when you’re receiving the ball, or messing with enemy goal runs if they’re hoping to score on turn one.

Noxious Blast is a much stronger character play than it looks. In particular, the Union are a team that fights very well, which means that having ranged damage is a great tool – because it forces the enemy team to move into your threat ranges rather than hang back and make you come to them. It’s a good backup plan if you allocated influence to Blind with and didn’t get the opportunity – you can put 1 on hemlocke for a Blind, and either use it early if you can, or have Coin apply Bag of Coffers to set up a Noxious Blast if you don’t get the chance to make an impactful Blind early. Noxious Blast is particularly good against teams which rely on armour over defense for durability, or have tough hide, like Blacksmiths, Masons and Brewers – note that anti-condition models are present in all these factions, but often are otherwise not the best choice into Union, which really results in some difficult drafting decisions. If Hemlocke activates last in a turn and puts down Noxious Blast, even if they clear the poison next turn it’s still 4-8 damage for 2 inf, which is pretty good. It also has uses in applying damage to enemies on turn one for Minx.

Smelling Salts is primarily relevant against condition focused teams like Alchemists and Hunters. It’s best right at the end of the turn vs. Alchemists to prevent conditions from being reapplied. The other utility is against KD, where standing up two people at once is a solid use of 2 inf in a scrum against Brewers or Masons, especially since you can still heal in addition to Smelling Salts.

Magical Brew and Slippery aren’t really very impactful rules on Hemlocke’s card, and basically just make her a bit more awkward of a target to focus down. She’s just low enough in durability that she’s an option, but can be a real pain to pin down and actually kill with all her little extra tools. Also, if she doesn’t die in a single turn, then ending an activation in Hemlocke’s melee zone can result in a quick takeout for someone looking to use that gangup bonus.

Hemlocke has a lot of utility against a lot of different teams. Blind helps a lot vs. footballing teams that spread out a lot – it’s good to put the ball on one side of the pitch and then Blind whoever is closest to threatening your ball holder. Noxious Blast is good against low-health ranged control teams like Morticians and Engineers, while also working well in a scrum against Masons, Brewers and so on. The only teams where you definitely don’t want Hemlocke are probably Butchers and Farmers. Butchers can kill her quite easily and are flimsy enough that chip damage doesn’t matter much. Farmers also kill her easily (2 damage on column 1 is great against def5) and have enough HP and anti-condition tech that they don’t mind Noxious Blast at all either. She can be relevant at clearing KDs in the matchup, but that may not be worth a slot. She’s always going to be somewhat useful, but she’s more of a support model than a primary plan so make sure you have enough models that actually do things.

Minx

Minx

Minx is extremely fast, slightly below average in terms of durability, and okay in a fight. She’s also 2/2 inf, so never takes more inf from the team than she herself brings. She is definitely vulnerable to getting focused down and taken out however with her 12hp – her counter attack is also not very good which means she’s quite easy to set up kills on. Her playbook does have some reasonable momentous damage, and the attached dodges are nice. While she has a column 2 tackle, it’s non momentous. This means she isn’t great at scoring, considering she only has a two die kick stat and isn’t great at disengaging from most targets – she also has no real way to get around any form of ball killing tech like UM, Resilience or Close Control, so don’t be fooled into thinking she can score. She’s much more of a fighting model.

Marked Target is a great threat extender. On Minx it isn’t momentous, and it’s higher up the playbook though. It also doesn’t actually increase Minx’s personal threat at all, since she threatens 10″ anyway. It does let her counteract the effect of a movement reduction however. It’s also good for setting up other models on turn one – if you can connect with Minx on turn one and then Marked Target for someone else to also get there, you’re getting quite a lot done.

Screeching Banshee, like Decimate’s Thousand Cuts, means Minx can set up for the rest of the team nicely if she goes early. It isn’t momentous which makes it underwhelming, but it isn’t as hard to reach on the playbook as it looks because Minx charges frequently.

Back To The Shadows gives Minx a little bit of safety, but not a lot. It’s nice for putting up a Snare on a couple people and then moving back to within the team’s protection – or into engagement on a model Rage threatens. Usually Minx is still at risk, but BTTS means that if the opponent wants to reach her they at least have to risk getting hit back by the rest of the Union. It also lets her go in, dodge out, and be ready to charge again, rather than be stuck in melee once she gets there.

Furious is why you take Minx – it means she’s very influence efficient and does things with no allocation while bringing useful things to the team, which is a huge upside. There are zero other models in Union which really do this at all, outside of mascots. The closest is oRage, but he always wants 1inf of his own so he’s never actually contributing to the team, just breaking even. She generates momentum with her 0 inf which is great, along with setting up for the rest of the team.

Hunter’s Prey is a nice setup tool. Union don’t have a lot of conditions, which means it’s less inviting to clear them (and the opponent probably isn’t taking their anti condition models) so Snare can stay on for a while. Union have a lot of models that really appreciate the DEF debuff letting them reach their top columns so you really get a lot of use out of this.

Damaged Target gives Minx an absurd threat range, especially combined with Noxious Blast or Thousand Cuts to get in on someone on turn one. She isn’t a bad model to have INF on on turn one anyway, since if no targets present themselves she can also set up your kicker with Marked Target.

Minx is a versatile model but leans towards the aggressive side. She’s a good tool to have available in a lot of scenarios, especially ones where closing the gap on the enemy is an issue, since she both threatens a long distance herself and amplifies other models’ threat ranges. She is most at risk against fighting teams who can take her out if she is overcomitted, but even there an influence battery is a great thing to have. She isn’t often cut from my 6.

oRage

oRage

The non-Veteran version of Rage naturally can’t play with his future self, so he’s only an option with Blackheart. Like his captain counterpart, he’s a solid beater and doesn’t do much else – although a lot less resilient with no armor and no Rising Anger, he still 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. Amusingly he’s actually better at football, with a lower T, though still awful at it.

Concussion is still as situational as it always was. Rage’s activation is less likely to one-round someone than vRage, which makes it slightly more valuable, but you still primarily want the damage and won’t often take the column 5 result.

Tooled Up is a great setup piece, and gives Rage something to do when he can’t reach anyone. Most of the beaters in Union are good targets, but it’s best on a model which can use it on the most instances of damage – which means Gutter, Fangtooth, Blackheart, and anyone with enough setup to wrap. If you’re activating Rage himself you’re almost always better off having an extra pair of attacks than putting up Tooled Up, unless you’re expecting to get disengaged on the counterattack and only going to get one swing in no matter what. Tooled Up is a great effect to have but it’s much better when you’re using it for more than just 4 damage – when you’re wrapping or doing AOE stuff – so usually you want to combine it with other buffs / debuffs and crowdouts.

Berserk and Furious together let Rage make four swings for one influence, which is a great rate. Most teams can put ‘kill threat’ inf on somewhere between two and three models in their lineup. A team with Rage in it can get use out of ~3.5 (6 Blackheart, 4 other fighter, 1 Rage, with a bit left over for Hemlocke/Minx/etc) which is a really great place to be. 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. He also has the benefit of still being able to do things even if he can’t charge, since Tooled Up is still a good use of influence anyway. Try not to leave Rage’s activation until late in the turn if there’s a chance it’ll get negated, since Tooled Up doesn’t do anything if you don’t have any influence elsewhere for it to amplify.

If you do leave Rage’s activation till late in a turn, Crucial Artery means he does even more 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 most Blackheart teams, but has the same downsides as Blackheart himself – not great against ranged control, somewhat vulnerable to getting one rounded. Generally if it’s a matchup you’re willing to drop Blackheart into, Rage is also a fine choice. The exception might be heavily goal scoring focused teams since he isn’t particularly fast or mobile, although he’s good there once he reaches someone. Consider using the ball to move him up to somewhere threatening with Blackheart, or helping him out with Marked Target.

Snakeskin

Snakeskin

Snakeskin is another player with abilities at both football and fighting, but where Decimate skews towards beatdown with a little bit of scoring, Snakeskin is primarily a footballer with a little bit of combat ability – compared to Mist, anyway. Her statline isn’t exceptionally impressive, and a 4/0/12 defensive profile in particular is a real vulnerability in some scenarios. She does bring a reasonable counter attack, which helps, but she’s still definitely at risk of getting blown up. Her playbook is solid and like Decimate’s includes a nice T<< result – although hers is a bit harder to reach. Her damage is also not the easiest to get to, since she doesn’t have m2 on 2 like a lot of Union models, but it’s better than Mist’s.

Nimble helps Snakeskin stay alive occasionally but is influence investment for no output which isn’t a great thing to be doing with your time. It is primarily useful because it lets Snakeskin reach DEF6 when combined with Charmed, allowing for her to safely hold the ball against some teams. If you’re using her to kill the ball, however, she really needs to activate early in the turn while probably not getting much work done with that activation, which is not a fantastic place to be – of course, against football heavy teams that’s a cost you’re willing to pay usually.

Where’d They Go? is what makes Snakeskin actually good at football, since it means she’s reasonable at threatening the ball no matter where it is and also lets her disengage from opponents trying to pin her down. It also gives her enough threat range to make her a viable kick off model, and lets her get around a lot of defensive tech like Unpredictable Movement. One thing it doesn’t help with is Close Control, which tends to be a real problem for Union trying to get goals, but nobody else on the team really deals with it either so there isn’t a ton to be done about it, other than changing plans to just killing everyone.

Venomous Striker gives Snakeskin a backup plan if she can’t threaten the ball. It’s not gripping but it’ll do in a pinch, and means she’ll be able to finish off the occasional straggler too. Snakeskin also isn’t too bad at hunting Mascots down in some scenarios. She’s not fond of targets with ARM or good counter attacks, but if your team’s busy applying KDs to models in a scrum, Snakeskin capitalizes on that with a nonzero amount of assistance and some momentum.

Beautiful is the unique effect Snakeskin brings that’s of interest. It makes a lot of ball-removing tools unusable or at least hard to apply, like Seduced, Lure, Puppet Master, and so on, which makes her ball-holding capabilities good against some teams. It also makes her harder to control with ranged plays as a threat, which is cool when facing down Engineers, Hunters or other teams with similar plans. She makes for a good kick off model if you want to threaten a goal, into teams which would be able to prevent Mist from doing so.

Note that while Beautiful makes Snakeskin harder to control than Mist, she isn’t as good at actual football. Her tackle is less reliable and she’s more vulnerable to counter attacks since she doesn’t have 2″ melee. She’s definitely a strong choice into character play heavy matchups but she isn’t as much of an all rounder as Mist is. She’s best as a kickoff model into Morticians, Engineers and Hunters – however of those, Hunters are the only team that she actually threatens a goal against – the others she primarily just prevents them from doing too much with the ball themselves.

Benediction

Benediction

Benny is slow, but durable. 3/2/19 is definitely a solid statline and one that can take a beating from most enemies. He isn’t great at kicking, but has good TAC and a nice playbook if you want to push people around. He really doesn’t do much damage, even if you’ve put resources into supporting him, which you probably shouldn’t be doing. Occasionally you’ll want him to knock people down, but generally his attacks aren’t particuarly strong, just consistent. Pushing people into Rage’s threat is a great thing to be doing, and Benny does it pretty well with easy pushes and 2″ reach. He isn’t a model that’s going to be scoring you VPs often though.

Braced is a great result to get on a counterattack, or just if you’re expecting to get beaten down. Usually you’ll want to take it on the playbook, not for INF, since it costs the same amount but is momentous. Benny’s primary job is to walk up to people and put melee zones on them to set up for Rage, without immediately dying. Braced helps a lot with that, since pretty much nobody in the game can take out a Braced Benediction without some significant support from other models.

Stand Firm is handy, again, for walking up to brawling teams and engaging them without dying. It makes models with good KDs less effective at putting Benny on the floor to let them disengage, and helps Rage dodge counter attacks which would otherwise be problematic. However, it’s influence spent for no momentum back which is something you want to avoid in general, so only use it if there’s a specific model or plan you want to avoid the KD from.

Impart Wisdom gives Red Fury a longer range and that’s about it. It occasionally helps Strongbox put Confidence on other targets, too. Extending the range on Red Fury is a nice benefit and lets you be a bit more fast and loose with your positioning without worrying about Rage getting locked out of being able to do anything. The times when you want a long range on Red Fury the most are when the opponent is spreading out, keeping at range and controlling your positioning – however with Benny’s 4/6″ MOV stat, he isn’t going to be doing much else at all in those matchups.

Poised and Regenerate make attacking Benny an even worse plan than it was already. He’s generally a poor target for most opponents, unless they’re willing to commit heavily to killing him. While he can push people around he isn’t really very good at escaping once he has been pinned down, and his traits make him very resistant to incidental attacks and chip damage but won’t help him out very much against a dedicated beatdown, especially if he eats a KD and goes to DEF2.

Benny is only really playable in vRage, since a slow lynchpin for fights isn’t really what Blackheart wants or needs. Including him in a Rage lineup can be difficult since he doesn’t increase your offensive output in any real way. He’s also not very good against anyone that isn’t interested in scrumming. He’s something of a safety net – he’s going to be consistent and rarely give up VPs, and he helps you out if your positioning has issues with his pushes and Impart Wisdom, but he doesn’t really help you to actually win the game.

Grace

Grace

Grace is another player with the standard 4/1/14 statline which matches Gutter and Decimate – however she doesn’t bring the same ways of backing it up as they do, with her 1″ melee and underwhelming counter attack (the << is on the same column as Decimate, but TAC4 is a lot worse than TAC6 Anatomical). She has an 8″ KICK stat which makes her look something like a footballer, but there she has issues with getting the ball due to her 1″ melee, low TAC and lack of a first column tackle. She also only contributes 1 influence to the team which is a real downside.

Healing Light is a handy Play but doesn’t come up exceptionally often. If you’re only healing 1-2 models, 2 influence could just as easily be spend generating 2 momentum which could be a 4 health heal anyway. It is occasionally good to be able to do both at once for 7 health. In general, the Union don’t have a ton of options for actually getting a player out once they’re in danger of being killed, and often the best way to avoid losing models in a scrum is to take out whoever is threatening them.

Quick Foot is very relevant in Union because a lot of models have limited threat ranges. Going from 8″ to 10″ is a big deal on vRage, as is going from 10″ to 12″ on Blackheart. Like Quick Time, you don’t really want to be investing 2 influence on movement unless you have to, but it’s a much better plan to spend 2 inf on Grace than to cut into the influence Rage gets to spend on attacks or Red Fury. QF is mainly handy for helping out the team’s turn one when kicking, since it lets more models actually do things and makes the threat range of your kicker better to actually pressure the ball with.

Impart Faith means Grace can apply her abilities even if the team is spread out – which is actually somewhat relevant here because Grace is a model that’s mostly useful against opponents who are spreading out.

Blessed gives Grace some much-needed efficiency. She’s functionally a 3/5 inf squaddie (which is great) but 2 of that influence has to be put on Grace herself (which is less great). Unfortunately Grace really doesn’t actually do very much personally – Quick Foot is a nice play, but the rest of her card is really not particularly impressive. She isn’t going to be getting you many VPs.

Grace is an option primarily into teams that spread out and run away from you, such as Fishermen. However there are quite a lot of good utility models at chasing people down – Gutter for Chain Grab, Decimate is also fast, Hemlocke has ranged effects, Minx is fast and has Marked Target – which makes justifying Grace’s inclusion difficult. If you want an influence efficient model that extends threat ranges and supports the team, that slot is already filled more effectively by Minx, so you only want Grace if you want to double up on that slot which isn’t something you want often.

Harry The Hat

Harry

Harry has pretty underwhelming stats. His 3/1/19 defenses mean if he gets knocked down he dies very quickly, and while he has great access to pushes he isn’t going to be scoring often with his fourth column tackle and no mobility. He does bring 2″ melee and good momentous pushes, which is a combination vRage is very happy to see. His KD is slightly easier to reach than Benediciton’s, and is momentous. He has a bit of momentous damage, but is generally more about the setup than he is about the takeouts.

Speaking of setup, Singled Out is a fantastic character play for the Union. Lots of models really appreciate additional TAC dice. This also means that Harry is pretty reliably able to reach his own KD, if you’re able to make multiple swings (which you usually can, as a 2″ melee model with good pushes). If Harry walks up to a model and applies Singled Out and a KD, they are definitely going to be taken out in the very near future if the opponent doesn’t do something about it immediately. Both captains, Gutter, Fangtooth, Decimate and so on all very much want extra TAC dice. It’s non-momentous, but remember that if the two extra dice result in a wrap later in the turn it’s paid itself back anyway. This play makes Harry a more offensively minded counterpart to Benediction – instead of providing a crowdout with a lot of durability, Harry provides a crowdout and actually forces the opponent to deal with it immediately because the odds of a takeout following next activation are so high. He’s a lot more proactive than Benny, at the cost of 1 ARM, which is a reasonable trade. Singled Out isn’t usually worth a point of vRage’s influence to put it up via Red Fury – unless it gets you to the critical point where you go from 6-7 hits to 8-9, resulting in a wrap. 7 hits gives 5 damage, 8 gives 7 damage, and 9 gives 8 – going from 7 hits to 8 is worth an influence if you’re going to follow it up with at least three more swings, since you’re trading 5 damage for 2+2+2 (and more momentum, which means more bonus times, which means more damage again). If you’re already expecting 8+ hits per swing it’s not worth spending Rage’s inf for SO on that target.

Molotov is handy for manipulating threat ranges. You can use it to reduce the distance enemies can go to reach you early in the game, or if you’re expecting a goal run. Putting it on a model forces them to spend a momentum to clear it, but putting it just in front of a model means they suffer the condition during the advance and can’t clear it mid-advance to prevent the -2/-2 penalty. Note that you need to roll to hit enemies under the AOE, but you can guarantee fire if you need to (or improve the odds, at least) by putting the AOE next to the target and then using Harry’s playbook to shove them into it.

Inspiring Hat makes the ball an even more useful resource for the Union than it already was. Like a lot of the Union’s tools, this makes it easier to win the momentum race. It’s great on Blackheart for On My Mark, to reposition the entire team while also gaining momentum. vRage doesn’t have as many tools for abusing the Hat aura as much, but he really likes having spare momentum and also benefits greatly from access to 4″ repositions in general. Note that Inspiring Hat doesn’t work on Harry himself – however with his three die kick (and potential Tap In), Harry with the ball can pretty reliably move models around if you want to. The Snap Shot discount isn’t exceptionally relevant – Harry isn’t often that close to the enemy goal – but it’s nice when it happens. Generally you want to keep Harry in the middle of the team to allow for Inspiring Hat to do its work, which is also where he wants to be to set up for any fights.

Rising Anger makes it a bit more difficult to focus Harry down, or at least means you win the momentum race if it happens. Harry is often the model to be committed to a fight first, and a primary target for the opponent to deal with before he causes more problems for the opponent, so this will come up quite often. It doesn’t actually stop the opponent from killing Harry, but it does mean you win the momentum race when they do. Also, if the opponent moves in on Harry, they probably aren’t taking him out in a single activation, and if they’re within 2″ of Harry they’re probably within the rest of the team’s threat range, and suddenly you are at a point where you can start forming a scrum.

Harry is a great include in pretty much every lineup. Being able to push people around is nice to have somewhere on the team, and Singled out is extremely valuable for both Blackheart and Rage. He’s a bit more proactive than Benediction and also better at setting up for his team. He’s good into both controlling teams (because Rising Anger helps a lot there) and fighting teams (because he’s really effective in a scrum). He doesn’t do particularly well into football focused teams that don’t want to scrum, so that’s probably where he gets dropped from the 6 the most. He’s a great all round piece – especially when receiving. Just because he can start a fight doesn’t necessarily mean he should though – he can end up overextended so try not to let him get isolated against fighty teams.

Mist

Mist.PNG

Mist is pretty much the exact definition of a striker. High DEF with the corresponding lack of ARM and low HP, good movement stats, low TAC. He makes up for his low combat ability with a first column tackle and 2″ melee, which means he’s pretty good at getting the ball off most people. He’s got reasonable access to dodges in his PB if you need to generate momentum or disengage – don’t expect him to do any damage – and has a T<< on five hits if he wraps, which is a possibility on the charge. His great kick stats mean once he’s got the ball then putting it in the net is a definite possibility. 2″ melee means he can engage enemies to help out Rage well, even if he doesn’t do much to them himself.

Acrobatic and Smoke Bomb both amount to a 1 inf investment for 2″ of threat range. Smoke Bomb also gives cover which is occasionally relevant in a fight, though it doesn’t come up often. Acrobatic does also mean that Mist is pretty good at getting out of a situation where he’s engaged by multiple models, which can mean it’s risky for the opponent to try and shut him down without killing him – to prevent him from returning to the pitch and going on a goal run.

Cover of Darkness puts Mist’s threat range on the ball up to a solid 14″. Note that if he needs to put down Smoke Bomb to go the full distance, he’s not going to be able to both tackle and kick the ball afterwards, so usually you want him to start his goal run off in cover if possible, and end it in cover for next turn.

Skilled Within Shadow doesn’t actually come up super often, mainly because if Mist is on the pitch then enemy ball carriers are unlikely to position themselves in cover. This is really important, because cover is really bad when you’re a TAC4 model since losing a single die makes getting even one hit quite difficult, so preventing that from happening helps Mist’s goal run chances a lot. If you want to farm momentum, against a lot of targets it’s worth putting a Smoke Bomb on them if you have no other assistance from elsewhere, because otherwise you’re unlikely to reach column 2.

Mist’s primary strength is that he is the best kick off model available, especially to vRage. Blackheart is okay to kick himself in some matchups, and Snakeskin can also fill in for Mist occasionally, against control teams. Threatening to steal the ball and score on turn one is a big deal, since it prevents the opponent from just doing whatever they want to on turn one and using the ball for dodges to set up threats – even if you don’t actually go for a goal run. He’s also just good at putting the ball in the goal in general outside of turn one, and forces the opponent to deal with that. If you score with Mist early, and leave him hanging around 4″ from the enemy goal post, they are pretty much forced to send some actually good fighting models back to deal with him, which buys time for the rest of the team to advance up the pitch. It’s not particularly uncommon for Mist to score on turn one, get killed at some point since he’s so far overextended, and then return to the pitch for a second goal run on turn three or so. If the rest of the team can engineer a couple of takeouts in the meantime that can mean a clean 2-2 game. Mist’s presence on the team can turn a team that commonly goes for 6-0 into a 2-2 option, on his own.

Overview

union

The Union are a team that generally has to play aggressively. They aren’t great at controlling enemy models and they also don’t have many tools at all for protecting their own players from whatever it is the enemy wants to do to them. That means in order to be successful they need to get into the enemy and prevent them from executing their plans by taking them out, or by scoring goals themselves. They generally do well at forcing the opponent into advantageous fights and lose-lose situations where you’re pressuring for a goal, but can switch to a takeout if the opponent protects the ball. Union teams usually spend a lot of time and focus on how they themselves are going to generate VPs, rather than preventing the opponent from doing so. Obviously you can’t completely ignore the opponent’s plan – this usually just means you lose – so you need to use the tools you do have in intelligent ways. Chain Grab is a big one here, as are Blind and Molotov. Just taking out a model that needs to do something important for the enemy is also an option that comes up a lot. Find an angle to mess with the opponent’s win condition while still advancing towards your own. Union are never going to completely deny the opponent in the same way as most teams, but they can make it slightly less efficient than their own plans.

The Union’s main weakness is their turn one, specifically when kicking. They don’t have a large number of ranged character plays, and have issues getting any player that’s not the kicking model to actually connect with an enemy on the first turn. Most other teams that have this issue can make up for it with a superstar captain kickoff for an impactful last activation – however, vRage really needs his team to support him to get much done. Blackheart is let down by his 4″ jog – while Shadow Like helps him at other stages of the game, on the kickoff you get to jog twice but only Shadow Like once, so his threat range isn’t as good as a model that was just a 6/8 MOV, and he can’t move the ball very far on the kick. This means the usual plan is to kick with Mist or Snakeskin and try to go for a turn one goal. It’s okay, but tends to mean that no other model in the team is actually doing anything early on. Against teams with good turn ones (Hunters, Engineers, etc) it can be a slog to reach the opposition, and if they focus their attacks they can often take out a player or two before you connect. Once you do connect you definitely have an advantage however, so that’s not necessarily a disaster, but it skews the game a bit. If the opponent knows what they’re doing, kicking to a ranged control team makes for a very hard game.

Of course, that’s assuming you’re kicking. When receiving, Blackheart can do great things with all his ball movement abilities, especially combined with Harry. vRage, while still unlikely to do much fighting on turn one, at least gets to score with Mist / Decimate on the first turn which is an acceptable use of your turn one and makes the takeout game a lot faster than it would be otherwise.

In general you want to take Blackheart into teams that are light on control elements, don’t kill the ball well and/or can’t easily KD and one round him. He’s also good into footballing teams. I would probably pick him into Butchers, Fishermen/Navigators, Alchemists, Ratcatchers, Order. vRage is the option I would take if I’m worried about getting controlled or onerounded by a superstar like Hammer, so into Engineers, Morticians, Masons, Hunters. Beyond the captain, a ‘default’ lineup I’d be happy to take into anything would usually start with Harry The Hat, and Minx. Add oRage for a Blackheart team, or Gutter for a vRage team, and the last slot is more flexible and could be anyone. Personally I like Hemlocke in a lot of matchups, or Decimate for a bit of goal scoring ability, with Mist/Snakeskin as options when you have to kick. Fangtooth is also good in matchups where people are grouping up and you want a ton of raw damage. I don’t think there are many opponents where Harry and Minx are bad options.

As far as the 12 goes, you need to drop 4 players from the possible options. The easy cut is A&G, since they are slow and situational while also not bringing much that you can’t get from Fangtooth anyway. After that, things get a bit harder. Strongbox is a model that’s good in some matchups, but Coin is serviceable everywhere so he isn’t entirely necessary. After that I am currently planning on dropping Grace and Benediction, because they are both very difficult to justify when Minx and Harry exist and do similar things but with some real upsides over what the Solthecians bring. There are probably matchups where both of these models (and Strongbox, too) would be useful, but I think all the other models in the Union lineup also have their own unique strengths.

Until next time,

-Henry

Masons in Season 4

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.

Next up is the Masons’ Guild. They’re pretty solid right now (heh) and they look like an all round cool and interesting guild to be running. They have multiple good players in each role, and are one of the teams where literally every model is a potential include in a roster.

Let’s take a look at some captains.

Honour

Honour

Like a lot of the masons, Honour brings a versatile toolbox that does a bit of everything. She’s reasonably quick, mainly because of her great m1<< result on column two of her playbook. Otherwise her stats are entirely middle of the road for a captain and generally very standard. Like a lot of masons she leans more towards ARM than DEF for her durability, which can leave her a little vulnerable to ranged character plays and control. The top half of her playbook isn’t exceptionally gripping, like most masons, but her first two columns do pretty much everything you need. Her mobility and first-column Tackle mean that she’s pretty good at getting a goal from most board positions, and her m2 result means she can also be reasonably expected to put 14+ damage on anyone she can reach if she needs to, which is great for hunting down easy targets.

One of the main downsides of Masons is their lack of ranged interaction – they aren’t great at affecting the enemy in any way if they aren’t within a few inches of their models. Honour helps to make up for this with Superior Strategy. Because it costs so much influence, it isn’t by any means something you’d use every turn, but instead lets you have useful and powerful tools even if the team isn’t in a position to do what it usually does. Superior Strategy is at its best on turn one, where you’re unlikely to be able to spend that much influence on useful things otherwise. The seventh activation it provides means that you get the last activation even if receiving, or you get to take two in a row at the end of the turn if kicking, which does a lot to prevent the opponent from interacting with your plans. Usually you want your Superior Strategy target to use their ability to move twice to zoom up the field and get some VPs – either by taking someone out, or by scoring a goal. The usual targets would be Flint (if you are looking for a goal) and oChisel (if you’re going for takeouts). Mallet is also an option but can be a little on the slow side, and vChisel’s influence movement allows you to ‘missile’ with Honour herself, by spending 4 for Superior Strategy and then using Adaptive Strategy to refill Honour back up to her max influence. Superior Strategy has several other uses – getting the ball off someone who has already activated by giving them a new opportunity to pass it, extending the threat range of someone who’s been controlled by the enemy, and so on. It’s also good for giving Honour somewhere to spend her influence if she’s controlled herself – if she’s been given a stack of six influence and then immediately been Blinded and Heavy Burdened or something and can’t reach a target, she can still do useful things with her influence at least.

Quick Time is another relatively situational character play. It does several useful things but like Superior Strategy, spending influence for no momentum, VPs or damage is only something you want to do if you don’t have other options. On Honour herself, it lets her dodge to engage Unpredictable Movement ball carriers and gives her an 11″ threat if nobody is within 9″, but otherwise you’re often better off taking attacks since she can make a 2″ dodge (with damage and momentum attached!) for half the price if she’s getting it off her playbook instead. On other models it’s still somewhat inefficient, but occaisonally effective for getting people into / out of threat range. Moving Marbles to engage a target before Honour hits them can be good (although Honour’s >< result can also work). In general if you’re using Quick Time it’s because something has gone wrong in some way, but that doesn’t mean it should never be touched.

The back of Honour’s card has three strong character traits. Assist[Marbles] amps Honour’s damage up significantly, since it means Marbles puts her on TAC8 with a m3 result on column 2, and potential to make 7 swings. This is a straightforward 21 damage to anyone, or 18 without legendary, even if rolls never get her to column 4. In general, if someone is engaged by Marbles they need to immediately disengage or they will disappear very quickly – the ‘keep marbles away’ minigame is something the opponent needs to be very aware of for most of the game. It also means that Honour has the capacity to take out even highly durable players given the setup, and the only model that needs to be risked in that setup is one that’s only worth 1VP and has Loved Creature – but we’ll get to that later.

Linked[Harmony] is another very handy trait. Again it doesn’t come up often – if being able to take the last activation of the turn is an advantage, then giving up last activation of the turn is a disadvantage. The upside is that it allows you to frontload 10+ influence of actions right now which is a really big deal in some games. Linked lets you finish off a tough target Honour wasn’t quite able to take out on her own, or set up a six point activation where Honour takes someone out and Harmony scores. Usually spending so much of your influence in one shot is only worth it if it ends the game or gets you very close to it though, since the team is probably going to be pretty useless for the rest of the turn with its ~3 remaining inf.

Poised is some free momentum every now and then which is nice. It lets you both counter attack and defensive stance a charge at the start of the turn which is a handy bonus, but Honour’s 1″ melee zone means it’s not particularly impactful. With her << on column two, she’s quite resistant to 1″ melee zone models without knockdowns, and can at least force others to take the KD which isn’t nothing. She’s still not insanely durable or anything though, and with no Tough Hide she’ll disappear extremely quickly if she does eat a KD.

Topping Out is mainly good for putting 1 additional INF on Honour herself. This means she can spend her full stack and then have a 7th influence to shoot a goal with or take that final swing to finish a player off. If you get the opportunity to pop it to give the entire team extra ARM at the start of the turn that can be strong but it’s not something that comes up exceptionally often because it’s only really relevant if you’re right in the middle of the team, activation Honour early, and the enemy doesn’t have other good targets – otherwise they’ll just hit whoever didn’t get the buff. It’s hard to use well because it’s more situational than it first appears – but the ‘fail’ case of only using it to get a seventh swing with Honour is just fine and still often very relevant.

Honour is good at a lot of things but generally leans more towards goal scoring – her damage is somewhat dependent on getting Marbles into engagement, which is difficult to do against a lot of opponents, and even then the difficulty of reaching the KD in her playbook makes some targets hard to deal with anyway, if they have an easy >> or << result. She’s great at reaching the ball with her dodges and easy tackle, and not bad at putting it in the net either. The nice thing with Honour is that she’s great at switching things up depending on the opponent. In general Honour is at her worst against opponents with controlling effects – things that disrupt the team at range or mess with positioning, hide the ball where it’s hard to reach, and have lots of reach and good counter attacks, such as Morticians and Hunters. She’s good into teams that are bad at controlling the ball, have targets vulnerable to an opportunistic takeout, and can’t easily deal with a turn one Superior Strategy missile, such as Butchers and Union. Her usual game plan in a lot of matchups is to get 4 VPs with Superior strategy on turn one, desperately scramble to find 2-4 additional VPs from somewhere else, and then finish up with a big Linked activation for another goal and/or some takeouts, or go on a solo Honour goal run if you’re not taking Harmony.

Hammer

Hammer

Hammer is more linear than Honour is, and more beatdown focused. His primary strength is his sheer damage – he has a damage buff of his own that’s easy to apply, access to more of them in-Guild, and a great playbook. He’s also got a 6 column playbook with 7 TAC which makes wrapping a definite possibility. His defensive stats are a little on the poor side but Tough Hide means it’s still difficult to take him out in one go. His 3/8″ KICK and column two mTKD means he’s not bad at scoring either – while not as mobile as Honour, if he connects with the ball holder he’ll happily take those 4VPs. While the first three columns of Hammer’s playbook are the momentous ones, the fourth column is the sweet spot. If you can hit that early on, you get to prevent the opponent from taking a counter attack (which Hammer is somewhat vulnerable to) and still deal damage, which greatly increases the odds of Hammer being able to take his target out in a single activation.

Impetus, like Quick Time, is influence spent for no output and so usually is something you only use if you really need to go a long way right now. Unless you’re worried about defensive stance, it’s better to charge than it is to Impetus and jog to engage, so Impetus is only really relevant against targets more than 8″ but less than 10″ away barring special circumstances.

Iron Fist, on the other hand, is something Hammer is likely to use very often. It’s worth X damage where X is the number of playbook damage results you’re taking – that means if you’re going to have to Impetus and also charge, using Iron Fist first is worth 3 damage (since you’ll have your charge attack and two swings after), or 2 if you miss the 2KD on the first attack and have to take the mTKD instead. Not using Iron Fist and taking an additional swing is also probably 2 damage, but gives an additional point of momentum and more pushes, and scales better if Hammer has any other damage buffs on, like Tooled Up. In general, unless you’re in the specific above scenario (needing to go more than 8″) it’s worth using Iron Fist, especially if you’re in a situation where wraps are a possibility – which they often are for Hammer, especially on the charge.

Knockback is a trait that does a lot – because it works on every playbook result, it makes Hammer’s counter attack great, with a “double push” on the first column. Hammer can also use Knockback to ‘surf’ a model to move further up the pitch to get into goal range or reach another target – however because the dodge has to be directly towards the target, it’s somewhat difficult to use and requires a lot of attention to be paid to positioning. While playbook pushes are combined into one push, Knockback is triggered separately so against a Stoic target you still get the Knockback effect (you have to resolve the playbook result first).

Speaking of Stoic, it’s not exceptionally important but does help in a few matchups. It makes Hammer a bit harder to counter attack for some targets, letting him be greedy and take damage results instead of knockdowns occasionally. It’s also useful against some ranged control effects such as Chain Grab, Deadbolt and Drag. Stoic also means Hammer can be reasonably aggressive at pushing people off the pitch with his own knockback and playbook pushes, since residing near the edge of the pitch is a bit easier for him when he’s unlikely to get thrown off himself.

Tough Hide makes Hammer quite hard to one round, but doesn’t fully make up for his otherwise poor defensive stats. He’s quite easy to get good playbook results against, so he is generally vulnerable to getting knocked down, and once he’s DEF2/ARM1 he is a lot easier to take out. While he doesn’t need any support from his team to remove enemies from the pitch, once he’s isolated he does need some assistance to not get taken out. Fortunately the rest of the Masons are quite good at helping Hammer on that particular front, but we’ll get to that later on.

Hammer Time is something that’s quite difficult to use, since if Hammer is acting early in a turn where the buff is actually useful, he’s often moving up into the enemy away from the rest of his team. It’s handy for giving Hammer something to do if he’s been taken out previously and doesn’t get to do much this turn, just moving up to threaten for next turn and support his team. In general if you’re in a situation where Hammer’s legendary would be remotely relevant it’s probably worth using it – Hammer is influence hungry and getting to spend much influence in a way that makes Hammer Time useful isn’t common, so take the opportunity if you get it.

Hammer’s good matchups aren’t necessarily wheat they would first appear to be. While he’s a relatively linear brawler, his team has a lot of tools that help him to resist control effects. This means he’s very effective into control heavy teams that need a bit of setup before they can kill him, such as Hunters, Morticians and (Corsair) Fishermen. Against other teams that can take a hit and brawl back, or that can hunt down his support staff he can be less happy, like Brewers, Butchers and Union.

Marbles

Marbles

Marbles has several useful abilities, but one of the most impactful isn’t even on his own card. Supporting Honour with Assist is very strong, and Marbles does it pretty well. He’s fast enough to move up to engage targets, and while his defensive stats aren’t amazing, they’re better than most mascots and force the opponent to dedicate actual influence / resources to killing him rather than getting to do so incidentally. Marbles is not someone you’ll ever want to be making basic attacks with or kicking the ball around, but that’s not necessarily that big of a problem. His playbook is pretty underwhelming, unless he’s charging, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Goad is a really effective character play. Forcing the opponent to only move towards Marbles can thoroughly screw with a goal run or takeout plan, since it’s not like the monkey is usually where they want to be aiming for either. It’s particularly effective if he can move up to next to someone and Goad them, meaning if they can’t push/dodge to disengage somehow they are going to get killed by Honour soon after. It’s a one die play, though, so it misses quite a lot and should usually be Bonus Timed if it’s remotely important. The main way around Goad, at least on models that don’t have enough dodges to bypass it, is to kill Marbles. Which is very doable if the opponent is willing to invest influence into doing so, but at least buys some time and forces the opponent’s hand which is still solid.

Taking out Marbles is also risky because of Loved Creature. +1 TAC for the whole team is a really handy buff for a lot of teams – although it’s actually somewhat less relevant in Masons simply because the first half of their playbooks is where most of the good stuff is anyway. If you can set up to wrap books with LC though that’s always good to have, and it does give you even more consistency on top of that you already have. Mainly though it discourages the opponent from actively hunting Marbles down which is a useful effect, given that his utility means that he’d probably be target number one otherwise.

Go Ape! is a very strong ability for a mascot – counter charges are very impactful and getting caught by one even once can result in a huge swing in the game’s tempo. Marbles’ playbook isn’t hugely impactful even on the charge, unless he can get 5+ hits with his ~7 dice for two pushes, but it does tackle a ball carrier pretty consistently. It also moves Marbles to within 1″ of the enemy, so if they can’t get back out again, there is potential for Honour to unexpectedly get Assist also and take someone out that wasn’t expecting to immediately get killed.

Marbles is a model that’s very dependent on the rest of the team. If you’re taking neither Honour nor Brick, then Goad is nice but probably not worth a model slot all on his own. With both, he’s excellent and almost definitely the correct choice. If you’re only taking one of the two, he’s a solid option but not necessarily essential- Brick is a fine battery without Marbles, and Honour can still score well and do reasonable damage without Assist on the board.

Wrecker

Wrecker

Wrecker is a really handy mascot with a lot of useful effects. With his 8″ of movement, he’s nice and putting a Ganging Up bonus wherever you want it and retrieving the ball, and 2/3/9 is a pretty good defensive statline for a mascot too. In particular, Wrecker is very annoying for models with low TAC to get away from, with a knockdown available on parting blows, 3 ARM to really mess with models only rolling four dice, and a push on column one to make his counter not bad either. He won’t often get much influence, but if you need a model knocked down before someone goes in a charge from Wrecker can do so if necessary, and has solid odds of wrapping so you get 2 momentum from your 2 influence.

Battering Ram gives wrecker plenty of utility even if he’s not near enemies. If he is, he can shove people around and break up scrums if they’re unfavourable to you, or generally mess with the enemy positioning. It also gives 2″ of additional threat range to your own players, without spending any influence, which is a really nice benefit. Note that because it’s a Push, it will trigger Stoic on Hammer – it’s a ‘may’ effect so he still gets to move 2″, but because any subsequent push wouldn’t be the “first push” that turn, he won’t be able to ignore a push later on.

Follow Up isn’t exceptionally useful – mainly because if an enemy model makes and advance that causes them to leave his melee zone, they’re probably eating a KD on the Parting Blow, which means it’s not a choice the opponent will be going for very often anyway unless their model is Sturdy or something along those lines.

Wrecker is generally pretty reasonable into most teams, since even if he’s against a team that can abuse his low DEF with ranged plays, he still has a reasonable number of hit points and can just sit back behind the team giving them extra threat ranges and be useful without needing influence anyway. He’s a good include in pretty much any Masons team where you don’t specifically want Marbles – he’s just at his best when you get to use him to completely blank a TAC3-4 striker, or put the ball on him to make stealing it problematic for some enemies. He’s a good choice for ball holding in particular against Seduced and Puppet Master, since he’s somewhat resistant to melee swings but also has awful Kick stats, which makes forcing him to Pass pretty underwhelming.

Brick

Brick

Brick’s primary advantage is that he costs the enemy influence and time on their clock while needing no real investment from the Masons’ player. He isn’t good defensively or offensively, since he’s somewhat vulnerable to getting ganged up on with his DEF2/ARM2, and his playbook is extremely underwhelming for a ‘big guy’. However, he brings 2 influence to the team and doesn’t want any of it back, doing useful things for the team even without any allocation. This is a very rare trait which few models really do, and really sets up the inf-hungrier Masons to do plenty of work.

Concussion is not something that comes up super often, since usually if Brick is getting this high on his playbook he’s taking the KD. However occasionally it’s relevant – if a target is jogging up to engage someone (so blanking their charge attack isn’t relevant) and has momentum to clear conditions, KD may not be as impactful. Theoretically if you can set up a target with enough gangups, you could give Brick some influence to wipe all their inf out, but usually in that sort of situation there are other players who’s use the influence to just take that player out anyway, which also removes all their influence while generating momemtnum and getting VPs too.

Counter Charge is why you play Brick. It is difficult to set it up so it’s unavoidable -even with Go Ape from Marbles giving you a pair of bubbles – particularly to protect against 2″ melee models. If a model is more than 4″ from Brick they can be engaged from outside the aura – if they are within 4″ of Brick, their base can’t be moved over during Brick’s charge so there is usually somewhere the enemy can stand where Brick can’t actually engage the target. Note that even in this scenario Brick can still declare that he’s charging, and go 6″ in a straight line in any direction if he can’t engage the target. This can be handy for blocking LOS to the goal or putting melee zones on other models. Counter Charge also doesn’t work if Brick is engaged, or if he’s already engaging the target. That’s a lot of ways around the effect, but the strength of CC is that all those ways around are things the opponent has to think about, not Brick’s player. Making the opponent measure out potential charges and melee zones, distances from Brick, dodges to move in without triggering the effect, and so on all cost them time on their clock and concentration, which is very valuable. It only takes the opponent to not consider Brick once, for counter charge to go off and completely mess with their plans. Actually triggering counter charge usually means that a goal run ends immediately, a model that planned to get some damage and momentum out of their influence does nothing instead, a takeout of one of your players doesn’t happen, and so on. Entire games can end as a result of a single mistake in a variety of ways, but not paying attention to counter charge is a very easy way for that to happen.

Knockback is not as impactful on Brick as it is on Hammer, but mainly it lets Brick still control a target to some extent on a Counter Charge even if he doesn’t reach his KD, possibly due to a defensive stance. Since he’ll only ever push a target 1″, a model with 2″ melee will always have something to hit post-countercharge (if they don’t get KDed / can clear it) as he needs to be within 1″ to actually do his thing.

Tough Hide looks useful on Brick, and it makes him a bit less of a victim, but he’s still likely to go down quickly if he gets into an extended fight since he has no way of getting out of a fight once he’s in a scrum – especially because the teams Brick is best into are the ones which can carve through Tough Hide quite easily.

Brick is pretty much entirely about Counter Charge, which means he’s at his best against the teams Counter Charge is best against. Usually this means teams without much 2″ melee or with few dodges, which want to be close to the Masons and don’t have ranged control. This means teams like other Masons, Brewers and Butchers. Every team has ways of getting round Brick’s abilities – it’s more about forcing them to spend that time / extra influence than it is about actually using counter charge every game. He’s particularly bad into teams that don’t really want to be within melee range of the Masons anyway, like Engineers and Hunters.

oChisel

oChisel

Chisel does one real thing, which is hit stuff. She’s pretty good at it too, with a five column playbook, TAC6 and an inbuilt damage buff. She’s also not a bad footballer, since she has access to dodges, an easy tackle and 2″ melee with reasonable kick stats. Her main downside is her durability, where she’s really quite easy to take out for any dedicated damage dealer. If you’re sending oChisel in, she’s probably going to get you some VPs but don’t be surprised if she is taken out quickly herself.

Concussion won’t come up often because if you’re hitting someone with Chisel, they’re probably going to be taken out in the near future (especially if you’re reaching column 4) and so lose all their influence either way. It does mean that her counter attack is reasonable against people trying to tackle her and go for a goal, or take her out without KDing her first, but in those situations reaching column 4 is still a bit of a tall order.

Iron Fist is probably going up every turn, but isn’t often something you’ll want to spend influence for. It’s only relevant if you’re in melee with someone, and in that scenario you could spend that influence on a swing for momentous damage into a heroic for Iron Fist, leaving you in the exact same scenario except 1-2 damage up on where you were. The exceptions are if you’re only going to get one swing because the opponent has a great counter attack – relatively unlikely on a 2″ melee model, worst case you can >< into base to base anyway, unless you already used Rest and moved and are going to eat a KD. Iron Fist makes Chisel’s playbook go 23-4578 which is really very scary on a model with 4 max-inf. She prefers to have momentum before she activates, but can be expected to put ~11 damage on a 1″ melee model before it gets to act right at the start of the turn – with reasonable odds of doing more than that – which is a great place to be.

Speaking of taking models out at the start of the turn, Revelling makes that a fantastic plan. Chisel’s main downside is her low durability, and going to DEF3/ARM3 really makes her much tankier. She’s still vulnerable to ranged plays but it’s nowhere near as easy to one round her. She also becomes a good ball holder against a lot of teams – 3/3 is a real pain for some models to get through, especially if she’s in cover. If you can get a takeout set up at the start of the turn then go ahead – it can be worth leaving a model on 1-2hp at the start even without revelling, since it means they don’t get to bring that model back on and immediately have it act (and you get last activation) but Chisel makes that plan even more valuable – especially since taking out a model on her first swing means she can heroic and go hit someone else without much fear of counters, and do 9+ more damage there, which is enough to really concern a lot of players and take out most mascots straight up.

Chisel is particularly good with Honour because she’s a great target for Superior Strategy. Activating her at the end of turn one with two jogs means she can threaten 14″ up the pitch (16 with Wrecker) and still make four swings, which will take out a lot of models or put them low to be taken out next turn, especially if Chisel has Tooled Up on her or is otherwise assisted by her teammates. She’s also a fine choice for Hammer since she’s a model that can go out and get VPs on her own and really gives the team a ton of damage, which lets the team really threaten durable targets. She is quite influence hungry however so you’ll want to include her in teams which have efficient models elsewhere – and while she does well on her own, she really shines when she has some support since a few buffs will mean she easily wraps her playbook and wipes models off the pitch impressively. oChisel is best played into teams which can’t interact with a turn one missile plan and can’t control her at range, and where her high damage helps deal with Tough Hide, like Brewers. She is risky into teams with control effects or potential to oneround her, like Scalpel.

vChisel

vChisel

The Veteran version of Chisel is a lot more supportive than the original, but she still does a lot of useful things on her own. She’s not a bad backup damage dealer with m2 on column two, TAC5 and 2″ melee, and she’s a solid footballer too with her early tackle and access to dodges with a good kick. She’s a bit more durable than oChisel as well, swapping a point of health for a point of ARM which is definitely a positive trade. She does lose out on a point of TAC and has a much worse playbook when it comes to taking people out, so she often doesn’t do quite as much killing as oChisel does – she isn’t really an output model – though she can in a pinch – and instead sets up the rest of the team.

Squad Tactics is a handy damage buff and really very impactful, if you can get it to work. It does have activation order issues since Chisel has to act before the target, spend influence for no immediate result, and get a melee zone onto someone who isn’t just going to leave. Like with Marbles, it can be difficult to set up properly but the payoff for doing so is quite good. Chisel is also less vulnerable to the ‘just kill the Assist model’ compared to Marbles, and has a bigger melee zone – however she still isn’t great at stopping people from just running away, so it’s best to set this up later into a turn to beat down someone who’s already activated, or if you’re using it early consider it more as a Tucked style effect which forces the opponent’s activation order, rather than an actual damage buff.

Adaptive Strategy is very handy for Masons primarily because it helps against control effects. If you set up to put influence on one model and it gets invalidated by something the opponent has done, Chisel can move that influence onto another model and let you spend it usefully anyway – very handy against effects like Blind which control a threatening target. It’s also good for moving influence onto / off of a dedicated striker model (like Flint) depending on the position of the ball and the odds of a goal run becoming a possibility. It lets you put 4 inf on Flint to make the opponent spend activations hiding the ball, and then switch up and put that inf on Mallet for damage output instead. Note that while Chisel can give her inf to other people, she can’t pull it from others onto herself – to prevent her from spending a stack of 4, then pulling 4 more for an 8 influence activation. It is also useful in an Honour team on turn one to let Honour Superior Strategy herself, then refill her back up to 6 influence for a long range, high impact turn one.

Take One For The Team is also fantastic at supporting the rest of the players. It’s primarily useful for Knockdowns, but that’s more than enough. Combined with Hammer’s Stoic, it can make him ignore all the control effects of a Deadbolt or a counter charge, and it lets him use his >> counter attack against 1″ melee models that otherwise would put him on the floor, which greatly reduces the number of opposing models that threaten him. It’s not exceptionally useful against condition heavy teams like Alchemists, since they often put out so much fire and poison that shifting a single one of them just isn’t very impactful.

Chisel is generally a good choice into a lot of teams, particularly those with ranged control abilities which need preventing. She’s also influence efficient herself, since she can spend just 1 inf on Squad Tactics and walk up to an enemy, putting them in a position where they have to deal with her or be in lots of trouble. Conveniently these matchups and team comps are the exact ones you don’t want oChisel into. Both vChisel and oChisel are good enough that you should probably be playing one of these two in any team, and need a very good reason to be dropping both of them at once.

Flint

Flint

Flint scores goals. That’s about it, but he’s good at it. His defensive stats leave something to be desired, as does his TAC, but he’s fast enough and the result he wants the most is on column one. He’s definitely someone the opponent is able to kill if he gets too close, but that’s not usually a disaster since he probably got 4VPs and can come back and do it again. He does absolutely nothing for the beatdown plan and really needs to be able to reach the ball carrier, so he’s a bit linear but he does what he does well.

Where’d They Go? is great for disengaging and a lot more reliable than Flint’s other options since reaching the second column of his playbook for that >< is not particularly likely against a lot of targets. It means he can engage an Unpredictable movement target or disengage without taking a parting blow, both of which are great – although he can’t do both at once, which can be a problem on occasion.

Charmed helps him not immediately get taken out or knocked down on a counter when he goes for a goal run – although 4/1/14 still isn’t a fantastic statline, just an average one. Mainly, it means that the models he’s particularly vulnerable to are female damage dealers – of which there are quite a few. He’ll disappear extremely quickly if someone like Decimate or Gutter gets to him, so do take care around those models.

Close Control primarily protects Flint from counter attacks and other 1″ melee strikers. Combining close control with a counterattack means that Flint costs 3 influence to steal the ball from which can be enough to prevent a lot of goal runs. Mainly though it means he can run in and snag the ball, and not immediately lose it again, making his goal run much more likely to succeed with his 4 max-inf – he can sprint, Where’d They Go? to engage, tackle and shoot without a lot of answers unless his target has an easy knockdown.

In general Flint works in both Honour and Hammer teams, since goals are handy for both to get every now and then. He’s good with vChisel’s ability to move influence around as mentioned above. There aren’t many matchups where a dedicated goal scorer isn’t a reasonable choice, but be aware that Flint does absolutely nothing else, so he can be underwhelming if the ball is killed well, or if the opponent is primarily goal scoring focused then snapback goals can be risky – it can be a better idea to hold onto the ball yourself rather than score to prevent them from just scoring back, and in that scenario Flint doesn’t really do enough to be worth a player slot.

Granite

Granite

Granite is your frontline. She isn’t extremely fast, but she has reasonable all-round stats otherwise and is pretty good at beating the opponent down. Her playbook doesn’t lend itself to damage but has a lot of nice control effects. Her character plays come momentously with damage attached, and her KD is easily accessible too. She’s also really durable with solid defensive stats and plenty of hitpoints. Her 2″ melee really helps her control the opponents – moving up to a target and KDing it from 2″ away really limits the options a 1″ melee model has in response and can result in them just being pinned down completely.

Gut & String means Granite has access to two DEF debuffs which can really set up for other members of the team to take people out. While the tops of Masons’ playbooks aren’t fantastic, they do generally include a 4 damage result which can help to chew through low-def Tough Hide models quickly, and with DEF modifiers and crowdouts from Granite there’s plenty of potential for wraps also.

The combination of G&S with Broken Earth also means Granite can take 4″ of movement off the enemy, which really costs them quite a bit to deal with. While the rough ground can be ignored with Gliding, that means that Granite is often forcing the opponent to spend 2 momentum (Glide, Rest to clear KD) and generating 2 momentum herself off her playbook, for 2 influence. This is not a huge deal but it does really help mess with the enemy’s resources. If they have a 4/6″ MOV model, they need to glide to even move at all if Granite has both her plays up. Broken Earth isn’t going to completely blank anyone’s plans, but it helps to slowly grind out advantages which is definitely something Granite can do.

Speaking of grinding out advantages, Between A Rock makes teams wanting to scrum against Masons very sad. Avoiding the most durable members of a team and going for takeouts on priority targets is often plan A, and moving Granite up to engage and crowd them out can really make it hard to score takeouts on other models. It also makes Granite a lot more mobile, since 4″ of extra movement lets her mess with positioning, block charge lanes and so on. Note that she can Jog if vHarmony pulls damage to within range, regardless of whether the original target is within the aura. There are also tricks you can do with this where if the enemy goes for Granite herself, Harmony can pull the damage, trigger Between A Rock.. and have Granite walk straight out of engagement leaving the enemy stranded, if they have no other targets.

Close Ranks is what makes Between A Rock so good as a control tool. With double crowdout penalties, attacking anyone but Granite is really unlikely to succeed, especially with Masons’ high ARM stats, unless your playbook results are really low down. Note that Close Ranks works on all crowding out penalties, not just attacks but also passes and character plays – not that it comes up often, but it’s potentially relevant on occasion.

Sturdy makes the ‘hit Granite’ plan forced by Close Ranks a really awkward plan. 1″ melee models, even if they have an easy KD, are pretty much screwed if Granite walks up to them and hits them, since if they clear conditions and move to engage, she counters, ignores any KD they apply, and then knocks them down again with no way to get back up. She’s always going to get to take her counter attack, which means she has a lot of opportunities to push the enemy into awkward positions, put up Broken Earth early in a turn without having to activate, and needs only a small spike with dice to reach her double push result.

Granite is great into anyone that wants to scrum, fight or deal damage at close range. She really messes with plans for Butchers, Masons, Brewers, Union and so on. She isn’t great against teams which can slow her down or control her at range and that aren’t interested in a straight up fight, such as Hunters and Engineers. She does have some tools to deal with ranged damage but it’s not really what she does best. She likes having a couple influence to throw down some KDs and some character plays but it isn’t entirely necessary. She doesn’t actually do much damage herself, so take care if playing her in a team with multiple other support models like vChisel, vHarmony and so on – while your captain will be very hard to control, they’ll need to be because nobody else will actually be able to get you VPs.

oHarmony

oHarmony

Harmony is fast and hard to hit, and otherwise her base stats are absolutely terrible. Her playbook isn’t great even disregarding her TAC, and with just 10HP and a bad kick stat too, she really doesn’t do much at all. The only good feature of her playbook is that she has a tackle on column 1. Otherwise, her biggest issue is that she is easy to kill. At only 10hp, if anyone with a good playbook reaches her she’s going to die, especially because her counter attack doesn’t really do anything either. She returns to the pitch if taken out on just five hitpoints and so can really be a liability in a lot of scenarios.

Weak Point isn’t something you pretty much ever want to use, since if Harmony is in melee range of an enemy she’s extremely vulnerable. She can disengage from enemies if she gets the chance okay with Acrobatic, and she does have a 16″ personal threat on goal which is an acceptable amount.

The reason you actually take Harmony, though, is for Family and Linked. If you aren’t playing Honour, you shouldn’t take oHarmony under pretty much any circumstances. Family makes her TAC6 and 4/6″ kick – while TAC6 still doesn’t make her playbook actually good, she can be reasonably expected to turn 4 influence into 4-8 damage against most targets, and she can get dodges to threaten the goal potentially. Linked means that these relatively underwhelming numbers aren’t considered on their own, but instead added to Honour’s already good damage / goal threat when thinking about the amount of work the pair can do before the opponent gets to respond. In general Harmony is going to be sitting back and doing absolutely nothing until the time comes to spend 10-12 influence in one go and try to finish the game with it. This is a pretty powerful tool to have, but whether it’s worth it is another matter. You’re pretty much giving up a player and playing a 5v6 game (where your opponent also has a 10hp model they can kill for 2VPs), hoping to get to 8VPs so you can finish up instead of the usual 12. It’s definitely effective when it works and has a lot of power to it, but it really messes with your team selection, especially when all the other models Masons can bring have so many useful things to be doing.

One other use for Harmony is against footballing teams. With Protected, she’s DEF5/ARM1 when near a model with Counter Charge, which can be good enough to keep the ball away from them or at least cost them a lot of influence. This does have the disadvantage of meaning you’re taking two players who both don’t do any actual work in the ‘reach 8 VPs’ plan, which can make your  team not do much. However, they also don’t need any influence, so you get to fully stack the other models of your team which can be enough to get the work done.

Harmony is best into teams where her underwhelming damage is enough to possibly actually get a takeout, or the ball, and which don’t have a ton of highly mobile killers to hunt her flimsy statline down. Usually one of these is going to show up, so it’s more about making the opportunities for her to do work than dropping her into specific matchups – if she gets hunted down by Shank, he’s also a model she can possibly take out back if he doesn’t finish her off, so sometimes she can work as bait in her own right.

vHarmony

vHarmony

Veteran Harmony retains some of the good qualities of oHarmony’s statline – good defense and mobility – and adds a better TAC to it, along with two additional hit points which is actually a really handy benefit. She doesn’t have any of the Linked shenanigans her original version has, so she has to make up for it with actual rules on her own card, and in general she does so. Her playbook is a pretty reasonable one – she gets very little benefit from allies supporting her attacks, but just hitting people herself she’s likely to get momentous damage which is where she wants to be. She isn’t going to be killing anyone much though.

Marked Target is a really handy play to have access to, especially in a melee focused guild like Masons. 2″ of threat range extension for 1 inf is a lot better when it isn’t costing the model doing the attacking influence itself. Auto hitting off the playbook is also a nice bonus. Marked Target is also good for popping Gluttonous Mass off enemies. The existence of Marked Target means that the opponent has to take it into account when determining how far away they want to position, even if you don’t end up using it – which is pretty nice when a lot of the Masons’ threat ranges – Hammer’s in particular – are otherwise pretty linear and uninspiring.

Animosity is just there to prevent vHarmony from using Linked, which is probably for the best, she’s good enough on her own.

Field Medic is a very handy trait. Clearing all conditions from a friendly model is a really useful effect to get, especially while profiting on momentum and repeatably up to four times a turn. Harmony is great at cleaning up conditions from allies, especially against those teams that focus on them like Hunters and Alchemists. Note that she can clear conditions from herself with this effect too. Masons are generally pretty vulnerable to conditions since they’re slow and easy targets for most ranged character plays, so this is a very useful option in ranged matchups.

Team Player is quite difficult to use well, because damage on vHarmony tends to be somewhat scary due to her low max health. However, it can save the life or screw with combat math for attacks on other models, which the opponent may expect to finish a player off. It lets you allocate more influence to low-health models and generally not worry as much about those models not surviving to spend it. It’s also useful for effects which trigger on damage being dealt – as mentioned in Granite’s section, moving damage onto Harmony lets you trigger Between A Rock.. which is great. It also lets you ensure that other damage-based events happen to Harmony instead of another target, such as letting you prevent Theron or Minx from Snaring someone at an important time. Note that just because you can save someone’s life doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If you can’t keep them alive more permanently then all you’re doing is giving up two takeouts rather than one. Remember that you need transfer a whole instance of damage, and wraps are added together first – that means that if someone takes 15 damage in one go, you either take none of it or all of it (and immediately get vHarmony herself Taken Out).

vHarmony is great into a lot of teams because Team Player works so well with Granite, and if you aren’t playing Granite it’s probably because the enemy team is a ranged control team, in which case you still want vHarmony because of all her other abilities. Like any 5/0/12 model she’s somewhat vulnerable to being hunted down by mobile models, but that’s what Granite is for. If you’re against a condition heavy team she should be one of your first picks – otherwise, she’s merely a good choice. She isn’t someone you must include in every lineup, but you usually won’t regret taking her. Like other support models she doesn’t score VPs herself, so keep that in mind.

Mallet

Mallet

Mallet is an all rounder, mainly let down by his slow speed. His TAC looks average, but Singled Out helps a lot. His Kick is better than it looks because he’s always in Football Legend, so he’s actually a 3/7″. However he still isn’t going to be scoring many goals, since he has a 6″ sprint and no additional mobility. He does a lot of useful things but doesn’t really stand out at many of them.

Singled Out is a great play for reaching the top end of the playbook. It does mean that Mallet is pretty consistent at hitting his own KD against a target even without charging, which is a nice benefit. Singled Out isn’t as good in Masons as it is in other guilds, because they don’t have access to a ton of DEF debuffs to make those two extra dice turn into more hits, and they generally rely on the early columns of their playbooks anyway for most of their results. Eventually you’ll reach a critical mass of bonuses and start wrapping which is great, but nobody does it often except oChisel and Hammer, and those two really don’t often need the help of Singled Out to get takeouts.

Smashed Shins is mainly useful on the counter attack. It makes Mallet a pretty good ball holder against football heavy teams, since if they want to Tackle him they’re going to get -4/-4″ KICK which usually means a goal run is very much not on the table any more. Sometimes you will take it during your activation but it isn’t something which will come up often. It does mean that if you’re trying to deny a striker their goal run, you only need one hit to do so rather than needing to reach all the way up to column three for the KD or Tackle.

Extended Reach basically says ‘Mallet can’t be Counter Attacked’. It’s really handy and lets you get at a lot of models which would otherwise be hard to deal with, like Unpredictable Movement ones. Masons do have a reasonable number of other models with good reach though – the Chisels and Granite mean that most lineups will have 1-2 2″ melee models anyway. In general, avoiding counters is strongest when you’re doing something that is easily disrupted by a counter – like trying to wipe them from 100-0 with oChisel. Mallet doesn’t really have the damage to kill a target reliably, though. He’s pretty good at knocking people down and setting up others however. Note that if you hit someone from 3″ away, his melee zone returns to 2″ after this activation ends which means the target may well be free to just walk away without dealing with a Parting Blow, so it might be worth going to within 2″ anyway.

Football Legend gives the team a bit more consistency when it comes to passing the ball around. Note that odd kick distances round down for Tap In, so it doesn’t increase that distance on anyone. It’s nice to have, especially on the kick off – since an extra inch of kick distance there increases the odds the opponent won’t be able to reach the ball, or at least has to spend extra influence doing so.

Forceful Blow is handy because Mallet often has to charge due to his small jogging threat range. Getting free damage and pushes on it is nice, though not something to plan around often. Note that this damage is from a Trait, not a playbook damage result or Character Play, which means it doesn’t benefit from Tooled Up and ignores Tough Hide.

Mallet is a fine pick and can help the team out at doing anything. He’s at his best into football heavy teams as a ball holder for Smashed Shins. He generally dislikes ranged control even more than most Masons because of his low speed. Into brawling teams, he can do okay but is a bit on the flimsy side – defensively he’s halfway between Granite and Chisel. He does a similar role to Granite however (walk up, KD people, pin them down) and doesn’t really do so as well as she does.

Tower

Tower

Tower has the most average statline you’ve ever seen. He doesn’t do anything particularly well, but he isn’t completely useless either. He has a reasonably early tackle like most masons, but with only a 1″ melee and no dodges he doesn’t get to use it super often. His 2 damage is a little high up the playbook to show up very often, although he isn’t bad at pushing people around, and he’s reasonably tough (18hp, compared to Mallet’s 16 and Granite’s 20).

Tooled Up is the reason you take Tower. It makes Honour’s Superior Strategy beatdown plan on turn one significantly better, especially on models that can make 7 swings (Honour) or wrap their playbooks (Chisel). After turn one it can be hard to find time for Tower to spend an activation just putting up Tooled Up and not doing much else, but if you do it is good to have. It’s nice on Hammer if you get the opportunity, and generally effective primarily against the more durable guilds who are likely to move up without immediately killing you or scoring.

Floored is great, but Tower’s playbook is really underwhelming which makes it less gripping. He’s unlikely to get to use his own KD – even on the charge – and if he does charge for it, he’s only got two swings left to actually benefit from Floored, and even with it he’s not exceptionally likely to get a wrap. If you can set up with a KD from someone else like Granite then he can do some damage, but so could most other Masons.

Knockback means Tower has a double push on column 1 and a triple push on column 3, which means he’s very resistant to models with 1″ melee and no easy KD. He isn’t an exceptionally easy model to KD either, especially if vChisel is nearby too. Against some teams this can present a real problem.

Protect Those Close does more to mess with teams that want to go in at 1″ range. Giving a whole group of models Sturdy does amusing things with vChisel, which is fun. Awkwardly one of the best models in the guild (Granite) gets no benefit. Hammer appreciates this benefit however, as he does any other effect which makes him harder for the enemy team to control. Sturdy is potentially better than Take One For The Team against KD heavy teams since it also prevents the momentum from a mKD while allowing for counterattacks in the same way, and the best ‘answer’ is ‘KD them before Tower activates’ rather than ‘go for Chisel’.

Tower is quite situational, but generally great into teams which have a lot of knockdowns and which are very durable and make you want Tooled Up to get through their health bars. That means Brewers and Engineers. I wouldn’t really consider him into many other matchups, and in those specific ones he still wouldn’t get a ton of influence, but that’s where he would be at his most useful.

Lucky

Lucky

Lucky is an all rounder. His stat line is an exact copy of Tower’s, except he trades a point of ARM for a point of DEF – which is a nice trade, since DEF4 or more is not common in Masons, so sometimes you want someone with a bit more resistance to character plays. He brings a good playbook too – He’s the only Mason with a m3 result in the playbook, though others can get there with inbuilt damage buffs. He’s also got a reasonable knockdown and tackle, and a 2″ disengage on column three. His higher DEF also means he has less health boxes than Tower or Mallet, though.

Sleight of Hand is a nice effect, although it isn’t as effective as Field Medic. It does work even if you aren’t able to reach engagement, though – so handy if you’re against Engineers or Hunters and want to clear conditions on your kicker turn one while keeping the momentum to Glide. It also gives Lucky something to do with his influence if he isn’t able to reach engagement.

Raise the Stakes is a trait you don’t want to be using very often. Moving Lucky 4″ is great, but usually letting the opponent dodge any of their models 4″ is a trade in their favour. Because the opponent dodges second, you can’t use this to engage a target often because they’ll just dodge away – and if you put Lucky where he engages two models, they can choose to dodge neither of them and put additional crowdouts on him instead, or set up their captain for a high impact future activation, or something similarly problematic. Generally you only want to be using Raise the Stakes if it’s absolutely required for some reason. Usually that’s to extend Lucky’s goal threat range from a relatively average 14″ to a really quite good 18″, especially since it’s non linear. The opponent can dodge a model to put a crowd out on Lucky, or on the ball path, but that still leaves him with a two die shot, or three with Bonus Time, which is pretty reasonable. There are a few other times you’ll use Raise the Stakes (absolutely need to get within 8″ of someone to heal them before they die, use three bases to pin in an enemy target so they can’t escape, or something) but it won’t come up often. Raise the Stakes does mean that Lucky can reasonably be expected to score on turn one with just a couple inches of movement from Wrecker and/or a Pass & Move. This means he is an alternative to Flint in some scenarios, where you’re receiving and want to score a turn one goal, but don’t want to commit an entire model to goal scoring who can’t contribute to the fighting plan.

Stack the Deck is great for the team’s efficiency. It basically makes Lucky a 3 influence Squaddie, which is not exactly common. If you have vChisel, you can move this influence onto someone else so Lucky isn’t the only model who can use it, unlike other ‘virtual’ influence abilities like Furious. Bringing efficiency is Lucky’s main upside, since otherwise he isn’t particularly outstanding at anything – Masons are somewhat short on models that don’t want much influence.

I think of Lucky as a ‘filler’ model which can be put into most lineups and do fine, but isn’t often the stand out piece you want for a specific matchup. As mentioned above, he’s good as a footballing option if you don’t want a dedicated striker like Flint, or you’re worried about Flint’s durability against a team with female takeout models. He’s also handy into condition focused teams – especially those that make conditions cost more to clear, such as Ratcatchers and Alchemists. Lucky is also one of the Masons that scales best with attacking buffs (other than oChisel and Hammer) since the top end of his playbook is actually quite good, so he can benefit well from Mallet’s Singled Out and similar effects.

Avarisse & Greede

Avarisse

Greede.PNG

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 5″ of an enemy model to make it happen.

A&G are most relevant against teams which are slow themselves, durable (so A&G’s damage is actually needed) and don’t have the ranged control tools to prevent Avarisse from doing his thing. Unfortunately, if you want an influence hungry model which does tons of damage to take people out with, you already have access to oChisel, and if you want to go further after that you can take Tower who’s great in those matchups too.

Decimate

Decimate

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. Early good damage isn’t exactly uncommon in Masons, though. 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 Masons, 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 which isn’t something we have much access to elsewhere, especially since it stacks with Granite’s Gut and String. 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 Masons. 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 another model along Lucky’s lines – 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, unlike Lucky who also brings efficiency, and makes up for it by being really great in a fight. However she can’t benefit from Hammer/Tower/vChisel’s damage buffs. She’s a potential Superior Strategy target for Honour and goes a long way in that case, with potential to both score and get takeouts. She doesn’t really bring that many unique things to the team though, so it can be difficult to justify her as your one Union choice.

Minx

Minx

Minx is extremely fast, slightly below average in terms of durability, and okay in a fight. She’s also 2/2 inf, so never takes more inf from the team than she herself brings. She is definitely vulnerable to getting focused down and taken out however with her 12hp – her counter attack is also not very good which means she’s quite easy to set up kills on. Her playbook does have some reasonable momentous damage, and the attached dodges are nice. While she has a column 2 tackle, it’s non momentous. This means she isn’t great at scoring, considering she only has a two die kick stat and isn’t great at disengaging from most targets – she also has no real way to get around any form of ball killing tech like UM, Resilience or Close Control, so don’t be fooled into thinking she can score. She’s much more of a fighting model. Her 7″ jog does mean she’s okay as a kick off model, but you’re playing a guild with Flint and Hammer in it so you probably have other options there anyway.

Marked Target we’ve already mentioned in vHarmony’s description, it’s a great threat extender. On Minx it isn’t momentous, and it’s higher up the playbook though. It also doesn’t actually increase Minx’s personal threat at all, since she threatens 10″ anyway. It does let her counteract the effect of a movement reduction however.

Screeching Banshee, like Decimate’s Thousand Cuts, means Minx can set up for the rest of the team nicely if she goes early. It isn’t momentous which makes it underwhelming, but it isn’t as hard to reach on the playbook as it looks because Minx charges frequently.

Back To The Shadows gives Minx a little bit of safety, but not a lot. It’s nice for putting up a Snare on a couple people and then moving back to within the team’s protection – both Between A Rock.. and Team Player work on Union models. Usually Minx is still at risk, but BTTS means that if the opponent wants to reach her they at least have to risk getting hit back by the rest of the Masons. It also lets her go in, dodge out, and be ready to charge again, rather than be stuck in melee once she gets there.

Furious is why you take Minx – it means she’s very influence efficient and does things with no allocation while bringing useful things to the team, which is a huge upside. The only other model available who does so is Brick – if you want to be proactive rather than passive, or have a model that’s good against ranged control rather than against melee brawlers, Minx does the job well. She generates momentum with her 0 inf which is great, along with setting up for the rest of the team.

Hunter’s Prey is a nice setup tool. Masons don’t have a lot of conditions, which means it’s less inviting to clear them (and the opponent probably isn’t taking their anti condition models) so Snare can stay on for a while. It’s a really nice benefit for our primary beaters, and also restricts the opponent’s movement options if they want to go on goal runs or reach the less durable support models Masons bring.

Damaged Target doesn’t do much in masons because they don’t have much in the way of long range damage. It can be handy on turn one however – if your kicker is someone who can do some damage to someone and then not immediately die on the backswing, Minx is a potential follow up activation afterwards since she’d have a 12″ threat range in this scenario, not counting Wrecker’s assistance. She isn’t a bad model to have INF on on turn one anyway, since if no targets present themselves she can also set up your kicker with Marked Target.

Minx is a versatile model but leans towards the aggressive side. She’s a good tool to have available in a lot of scenarios, especially ones where closing the gap on the enemy is an issue, since she both threatens a long distance herself and amplifies other models’ threat ranges.

Snakeskin

Snakeskin

Snakeskin is another player with abilities at both football and fighting, but where Lucky and Decimate skew towards beatdown with a little bit of scoring, Snakeskin is primarily a footballer with a little bit of combat ability – compared to Flint, anyway. Her statline isn’t exceptionally impressive, and a 4/0/12 defensive profile in particular is a real vulnerability in some scenarios. She does bring a reasonable counter attack, which helps, but she’s still definitely at risk of getting blown up. Her playbook is solid and like Decimate’s includes a nice T<< result – although hers is a bit harder to reach. Her damage is also not the easiest to get to, since she doesn’t have m2 on 2 like a lot of Masons, but it’s better than Flint’s.

Nimble helps Snakeskin stay alive occasionally but is influence investment for no output which isn’t a great thing to be doing with your time. It is primarily useful because it lets Snakeskin reach DEF6 when combined with Charmed, allowing for her to safely hold the ball against some teams. If you’re using her to kill the ball, however, she really needs to activate early in the turn while probably not getting much work done with that activation, which is not a fantastic place to be – of course, against football heavy teams that’s a cost you’re willing to pay usually.

Where’d They Go? is what makes Snakeskin actually good at football in the same way as Flint, since it means she’s reasonable at threatening the ball no matter where it is and also lets her disengage from opponents trying to pin her down. It’s good, we’ve talked about it before.

Venomous Striker gives Snakeskin a backup plan if she can’t threaten the ball. It’s not gripping but it’ll do in a pinch, and means she’ll be able to finish off the occasional straggler too. Snakeskin also isn’t too bad at hunting Mascots down in some scenarios. She’s not fond of targets with ARM or good counter attacks, but if your team’s busy applying KDs to models in a scrum, Snakeskin capitalizes on that with a nonzero amount of assistance and some momentum.

Beautiful is the unique effect Snakeskin brings that’s of interest. It makes a lot of ball-removing tools unusable or at least hard to apply, like Seduced, Lure, Puppet Master, and so on, which makes her ball-holding capabilities good against some teams. It also makes her harder to control with ranged plays as a threat, which is cool when facing down Engineers, Hunters or other teams with similar plans. She makes for a good kick off model if you want to threaten a goal, into teams which would be able to prevent Flint from doing so.

Note that while Beautiful makes Snakeskin harder to control than Flint, she isn’t as good at actual football. Her tackle is less reliable and she’s more vulnerable to counter attacks since she doesn’t have Close Control. She’s definitely a strong choice into character play heavy matchups but she isn’t as much of an all rounder as Flint is.

Overview

GB-Teams-Masons

The biggest strength of Masons is that they can change their own plans easily depending on their opponent and on the game state. Masons can take out six players if they need to, and are also happy to score three goals, along with everything in between.

Their main weakness is their lack of control, particularly at range. Masons are very short on models which can go out and mess with whatever the opponent is doing, and have almost no abilities which interact with models that are more than a couple of inches from them. If you want to do something about the opponent, you need to be right up on top of them. That means that ranged control effects of the opponent’s – or ranged damage – tend to cause them problems. If they’re being slowed down by the opponent they have no real options but to grit their teeth and keep running towards the enemy until they get there. Fortunately for Masons, ranged control and damage in general has been toned down in impact and in range this season, so they’re looking very happy about that.

Masons do have a lot of tools that make them resistant to being controlled, rather than control of their own. It’s not hard for Hammer to have multiple knock downs thrown at him in a turn and still be standing, or for Honour to deal with control tools by sending oChisel zooming up the pitch to murder multiple players across the turn line. In general, Hammer’s line up tends to be at least somewhat aimed towards enabling Hammer, since he’s a big wrecking ball that smashes most things you put him up against, especially if you have someone like vChisel nearby to negate enemy knockdowns or otherwise keep Hammer safe. Honour is more of a support piece on turn one, but can easily transition into personal goal scoring or takeouts depending on how the enemy team plays.

One of the issues with Masons is that they have 14 good players and good Union options, and no obvious models to cut from that to make a 12 man roster. Brick is somewhat situational and his best matchups are ones Masons are already good against, so he is a potential cut. oHarmony brings powerful tools, but she is something of a target herself and is entirely useless in a Hammer lineup. Lucky is an all rounder that doesn’t really have many standout uses above those of other models in the lineup. If you’re cutting Brick, Marbles isn’t super impressive, especially if you’re planning on playing primarily Hammer. Mallet is only really relevant against football heavy teams, so if there aren’t many of them locally he’s a potential cut. The same applies to Tower and highly durable / KD heavy matchups like Brewers and Engineers. The usual Union options would be Snakeskin and Minx – Snakeskin for an anti-control kickoff option and Flint alternative (or double strikers if you want), and Minx for influence efficiency and strength in a scrum.

In general the core of the Masons usually involves Granite and one of the Chisels. After that you can take whoever you want really – it’s a good idea to have someone vaguely fast somewhere in the 6 to threaten the ball, and someone who doesn’t need much inf every turn (which could be vChisel). Like the team as a whole, the actual roster choices you make are very adaptable and you aren’t locked into much at all.

Until next time,

-Henry