Monday, March 14, 2016

Character Assassination (1) - Guttered

A new week, a new series... This one will focus on a player I don't like (because they're so damn good) and/or am having a lot of trouble with.

This past weekend Auckland hosted a fair number of travellers to participate in the annual Ides of March Warmachine and Hordes tournament. Naturally this meant that a lot of Guild Ball was played. Tournament highlights include Union v Morticians (12-6) in Round Four, Will and Pete's across rounds game of Morticians v Masons (8-12), and the simple fact that Adam opted to play Guild Ball in Round Six (I assume Alchemists v Brewers and Adam won because he ended up placing 3rd overall - congrats for that by the way).

While this quite possibly heralded the imminent demise of our success at the OTC it also opened up a very interesting connection between what had previously been independent metas separated by the cruel tyranny of geography. Suddenly Christchurch was playing Wellington and Wellington was playing Auckland! Saturday night also yielded much Guild Ball action. As predicted it was discovered that various locales had been playing the rules "wrong" (Steamforged rules writing being what it currently is meaning no actual shots were fired and all was immediately forgiven).

We/I learned that:

- Playbook wraps are applied simultaneously (huge implications, eyes opened wide).

- Knock Down doesn't prevent Unpredictable Movement (because engaging and having a melee zone aren't the same thing).

- Gun Mages in Guild Ball are not much fun to play against.

- Blackheart doesn't actually have any Pushes on his Playbook if you understand which way the arrows are pointing.

- Wellington doesn't tend to use Guild Plot cards. Oh my!...

- You get a permanent Influence bonus for every goal you score, not just the first.

- Fish OP.

- Will Wheaton executing what he thinks is the closing play of the game and holding out his hand for a GG handshake before realising that he can't count properly and has not in fact won the game is hilarious.

- Peter Williamson is easily as much of genius at this game as he is at everything else.

Pro GB player with pro GB attitude.

- Scum OP.

- Mike Thorn has fantastic taste in photo frames (Mike - Jen says thank-you for the lovely and very thoughtful gift).

- You can return Icy Sponged players from any table edge in your deployment zone and they just have to be touching the edge (within the deployment zone, not completely within).

- Ah... so that's what Jac does.

- Gutter OP.

But for the purposes of this article I want to focus on that last observation.


Gutter does the following:


- MOV 6"/8" with Melee Zone 2". A walking threat of 8" is nothing to be sneezed at with 'reach' allowing her to contribute to or take advantage of Crowding Out from a surprising distance away. 2" melee is one of the best attributes in the game (sounds familiar) and helps to stealth swing the dice math once you get the melee bonuses/penalties/Bonus time train rolling.

Anatomical Precision means that she ignores the first point of ARM on the enemy model's card. ARM1 models become ARM0. Gutter loves her some DEF3 ARM1 targets!

- TAC5 with a 5-long Playbook looks fair but combines crucially with both 2" melee and Anatomical Precision to allow her to frequently bust out 4 hits with a friend or two nearby. She also has a Knockdown on 4 hits because reasons. And Momentous 1 damage on 1 hit because other reasons (we've started referring to this kind of stuff as "just Jamie P things").

- Momentous Scything Blow on four hits in the Playbook. Easier to achieve than you'd first think. Pretty damn busted.

- Life Drinker restores a single point of health every single time she damages one or more enemy models. Her 14 health points with a 4+/1 defensive statline looks somewhat innocuous until you realise she can heal herself for 8 points in her own activation, then another 4 points from Come on, mate! from a friendly model within 8". This turns a nearly dead Gutter about to activate with 4INF into a fresh Gutter ready to carve you up (again) next turn.

- INF 2/4 means she's adding enough to the team to not be considered a big drain.

- Chain Grab (range 4", cost ONE) Pushes a model up to 4" directly towards her. Any time in Guild Ball where you are repositioning models you are likely to be doing huge work. In a game where you only have 6 models to play with, having something not be where you want it to be (or where you left it) is a BIG deal. Sprint + Chain Grab range gives her a 12" threat to Push things around. Remember that it isn't once per turn either.


Gutter has some fantastic synergies within the variety of Guilds that can choose to use her too (these being Fishermans, Brewers, Engineers, Butchers, and of course Union). Here are a few:

- +1DEF Gutter who can Defensive Stance will make you punch the wall. Hard. So Blackheart isn't hating that option with his Legendary. Commanding Aura for more damages. Gutter is crucial in a team that isn't exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to 2" melee zone players, but still has useful damage dealers who need her support and encouragement (Decimate, Rage, Avarisse/Greede).

- +1DEF Gutter in Butchers (from Swift Stance), who can then Defensive Stance, who can then Chain Grab a model for Ox to wreck... that's a problem. The Owner and Ox's Legendary (Get 'Em Lads!) applies to all friendly models, not just Guild models so Gutter goes up to 11 in Butchers, potentially ignoring 2 points of ARM and dealing 5 damage Scything Blows like they're going out of fashion. Broken.

- All the harpoons Fisherman (I'd like to call this build "Fishers of Men") looks like a royal pain in the arse. Corsair + Kraken + Gutter + Siren and suddenly nothing is where you left it, everything is Knocked Down, you can't hold the ball thanks to Seduction, and they have the damage dealing options to smash face while holding Corsair's Legendary so they can downtown a goal to close out the game.

- Anything moving your toys into Tapper's Commanding Aura and/or artificially extending the threat range of the rest of the Brewers beatdown team is something they'll appreciate. Spigot will be well happy, not just about the threat range extender but also being able to charge/jog up to an already Knocked Down player and unleash stabby glass hell. Also more reach, more better.

- Engineers want to extend their Pushing/ranged game shenanigans, chipping damage to eventually apply to the finishing blows, or clearing a pathway for the goal-scoring game. Gutter can cheerfully assist with this. Reeling in a model that's Knocked Down and already bristling with crossbow bolts lets her have another 3 swings dishing out Momentous 2 damage results or Momentous Scything Blows. Be mindful of getting a group of bunched up players Knocked Down and Flurried only for Gutter to lazily wander up and apply 12 damage to all and sundry with Scything Blows.


What doesn't Gutter like to see and how can you deal with her?

- Alchemists, specifically Midas. This all comes down to True Replication and that fact that giving Midas Momentous Scything Blow on one hit in the Playbook is effectively suicide (but that's for another article).

- Conditions are a risky game, specifically Fire. Forcing her to Chain Grab to close the distance means one less damaging roll in melee. Unfortunately conditions are often easily worked around and you still need to roll the 4+ to land it on her.

- High DEF models make Chain Grab less of a guaranteed play but don't forget that Bonus Time exists.

Can cause Gutter some issues.

- Clone/Gluttonous Mass/Beautiful. Something that ignores a Character Play or makes you harder to hit. Something that makes her spend for less outcome. Tough Hide to reduce Scything Blow damage.

- Kill her. Kill her dead. Right now. You simply need to be able to delete Gutter from the pitch in one activation. I say simple - in reality it's obviously difficult to manage for some Guilds. If you leave her alive at the end of the turn and you've lost the initiative roll, unless there's a game-winning play available to your opponent, she will be activating first in the next turn, punching something repeatedly, and healing 8 damage. Then if she's still alive in the next enemy activation she'll be healed for another 4 damage. Killing Gutter can become a kind of horrendous mini-game where you're stuck in an almost indefinite time-loop of misery and sadness. Finding the fine line between playing this game and trying to play around this game is way tricky.


Gutter has been errata'd a few times as far as I can tell (something of a Lich2 counter-part as it were). She used to heal two damage every time she caused damage, and Chain Grab used to have a 6" range. I'm not sure if she needs to be errata'd again and exactly how I would go about doing it. A few thoughts:

Not a drain on resources.

- make her INF 1/4 so she's more of a drain on the team?

A drain on resources.

- put Scything Blow higher up on her Playbook? Remove Knock Down?

- change her melee range to 1"?


So there's Gutter - easy to hate, hard to deal with. No idea who will be the focus of the next article in this series - probably something that smashes me tonight in the Dojo (place your bets on which Fish player I guess)...

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