Sunday, March 20, 2016

Character Assassination (2) - The Fat Lady Sings

One of the great downsides of a limited availability schedule combined with a small meta is that these articles are rapidly going to focus on the guild opposition I see on a regular basis (Brewers and #FishOP). I'd like to openly invite contributors to this series who are seeing a wider range of opposition or this will shortly appear to be a VERY biased topic.

Caveat - you don't get to rag on Morticians because Obulus needs all the help and buffs he can get. And because statistics.


This article will discuss the ins and outs of the new Brewers Captain - Esters; lusty singer of songs, bustiest of valkyries, holder of the heart-strings of one Dr "Handsome" Dave Cameron, and latest dire threat to the existence of my pitiful band of hopeless misfits.

Two fat ladies.

According to Wikipedia, the font of all rigorously tested and wholly truthful knowledge (aka the wellspring of information to which desperate students have turned since ages past and time immemorial), Esters are derived from a combination of acid and alcohol. There are a few sub-types:

- Glycerides (fatty acids of glycerols)
- Phosphoesters (the backbone of DNA molecules)
- Nitrate esters, known for their explosive properties

Nitrate Esters. Nick gets it. Probably.

So allow me to unpack by taking these definitions and reapplying them as frighteningly dubious metaphors, pushing the boundaries of commonly accepted hyperbole, all the while highlighting a few of the more vomit-inducing abilities beheld by Handsome Dave's other favourite large lady.


Old Esters has some pretty sweet tech going for her right from the statline, so we'll start there:

- a deceptively adequate MOV of 4"/6".

- TAC5 combines with a 4-long Playbook to deliver solid hitting power. With support, wraps are not uncommon. Lack of reach (2" melee zone) is sad panda but she has three Push results to counter dodges and of course the ubiquitous Momentous Knock Down (third column). Each column offering a Momentous result is... momentous!


- Kick 3/6" is fine and generally not found to be her job. Spigots Football Legend can add some surprise factor here but I've seen the wretched cat be more of a goal threat than Esters (so far).

- DEF 3+ ARM 1 is super ok in combination with her other abilities and a crazy 22 damage boxes.

- INF 4/5 is super solid. Heads up - an Esters fully loaded in turn one is an Esters about to do deceptively serious work.

So now we have some of the basics down let's dig deeper and bring those much vaunted and most heinous metaphors to fruition...


Glycerides - It's the saturated fats that'll kill ya...

Esters has Gluttonous Mass (not Glutinous Mass... that's what I get after visiting the bakery) and good grief if there was ever a gotcha in the game then this would be it. Gluttonous Mass is easy to forget (speaking from experience, cheers Mike) and can make a real hash of your turn. Ignoring the first hit gives you the ability to:

- pseudo Close Control by ignoring the selection of a Tackle result.

- suck up (i.e. ignore) the first Attack then spend a point of Momentum to Counter-Attack a 1" melee zone enemy model, safe in the knowledge you won't/can't be Knocked Down or Pushed away/Dodged off.

- ignore the first Chain Grab, Shut Out, and (lol) Puppet Master. Ignore Deadbolt, Butchery, Tidal Surge. Ignore Brick's (or Compound's, or Tenderiser's) Counter-charge (Gluttonous Mass doens't work during an Advance, but because you've finished your Advance to trigger Counter-Charge it will still be effective).

- ignore a Charge Attack.

Esters - bad for my tummy.


- Gluttonous Mass ignores the first hit "that targets this model" so AoEs don't trigger it (for better or for worse).

- punch through it by allocating extra INF (easier said that done). Don't do what I did for three turns - allocating two INF to Silence so he could punch her to generate Momentum in order to Bonus Time a Shut Out on something else. Fail. Fail. Fail!

- burn a ranged play that targets her if you're desperate to make a Charge Attack count for maximum value later on (1-dice plays are risky because the model has to be hit by the Attack or Character Play, not just targeted).

Remember Gluttonous Mass ignores the first Attack or Character Play that hits. If nothing else it has weird implications on your order of activation and when it's on a key/central high synergy model like Esters (as opposed to a backfield keeper like Compound) it has a vastly different effect on the game. It's also not voluntary - it MUST be used on the first successful hit. Use this to your advantage where you can.

Phosphoesters - the DNA backbone of a good team

Esters is one of the most synergy intensive models available to Brewers (in a Guild rife with strong synergies and model inter-dependence). Practically everything she contributes to the game is designed to make your dudes better. This is reflected in her Push-heavy/short-length Playbook (moving opposing models around to generate Gang Up bonuses, more wraps, and more damage), her unique Character Trait, and her Heroic and Legendary Plays.

Empowered Voice is what most contributes to her comparison with Grissel1 in Warmachine/Hordes. She may choose one (Guild) model within 6" (which may be herself) to benefit from one of the following effects:

- +2"/+2" speed
- +1 DMG to Playbook damage results (not Character Plays)
- +1 DEF

This is a pretty sweet "free" ability (in that it costs neither INF nor Momentum to trigger). Here are a few uses:


- make Esters faster in turn one (sprint 8"), extending the threat of her ranged plays and setting her up for a solid Legendary in turn two.

- make Friday 8"/10" with Unpredictable Movement.

- make Spigot 9"/12" (holy shit!) in combination with his Heroic Play (Time's Called). Or make anyone else within 4" of Spigot effectively +4"/+4". That's... mental.


- non-Momentous 4 damage on Esters' fourth column if she uses this on herself. Plus wraps to a first or second column for additional fun times and bloodshed.

- Hooper bashing a Knocked Down opponent. Momentous 5 damage on five hits. Or how about Momentous 6 damage results when he's been Tooled Up by Spigot.

- arguably the best and most hilarious option? A Tooled Up, Empowered Voice [Strength] Friday. Momentous 4 damage on two hits. Wonderful.

- or just Spigot punching some Knocked Down fool with TAC7 and Momentous 4 damage on 4 hits. Just Brewer things.


- the real stars here are DEF6+ Scum or DEF6+ ARM1 Friday (when she's within 4" of Spigot). Hmm... feels like Spigot is going to be the topic of the next article...

- DEF4+ ARM1 Esters isn't terrible.

- and just for Nikola... DEF3+ Stave. What a champ!

At DEF3+ this guy's the real threat!

Meanwhile, Esters is holding on to her Legendary Play, It's not over until... This allows her to combo up all three Empowered Voice shouts in one turn onto various members of her team. Note that because Steamforged haven't completely jumped the shark (yet) she doesn't apply all three shouts to her entire team! Rather, she may choose to imbue three models each with a different buff (one speed, one defence, one damage).

The restraining factor here (if indeed there is one), is that all three models affected must be within 6" of Esters when she triggers her Legendary, so she has a tendency to brick her team somewhat to this end (commonly looking for the Legendary Play to go off at the top of turn two). The timing of the LP means she wants to go first so Shut Out is looking particularly spicy. If you can spot a big positioning issue you might also stuff the turn for the Brewers by crushing through Gluttonous Mass and pulling her out of position, or if she's really badly positioned locking her down instead (Shark's Legendary, punch through Glut Mass, Tidal Surge her away et al <insert obligatory #fishOP here>). Or pulling away a player that she would just love to buff. Or just killing the player she would love to buff. This is probably going to be quite tricky of course but somewhat like Tapper, Esters is susceptible to a control game (although less so personally).

Finally, and by no means of least significance, is Esters' incredible "bang for your buck" Heroic Play (Soothing Voice) healing friendly models within 3" for two hit boxes and removing conditions. Another nail in the coffin for the "not all in on Midas + Union players" Alchemists build, but also generally a massive pain in the arse for removing Fire and Knockdown (or when Graves has Scything Blowed everything and she just calmly switches off all the Bleeding). Don't forget Soothing Voice works on Esters too. Obviously.

Nitrate Esters

So she's helping her team mates out immensely and can dish out some punchy repositioning goodness in combat. You know she needs to help set her apart from Tapper? I know, let's give her TWO ranged Character Plays!

Blast Earth does 2 DMG and creates a 3" AoE of rough-ground.

Fire Blast does 2 DMG and sets your dude-bros on fire (they suffer the burning condition).

Which means Esters on 5INF at the top of turn one can Empowering Voice [Speed] herself to sprint to the middle of the pitch and instantly slow down most of your starting line-up if they aren't sufficiently spread out (and while you likely don't have the Momentum generated to remove conditions or Glide). Bitch.

This is really indicative of what I love/hate about her - the glorious fullness of her... game. She does work at range with two 2-cost Character Plays, helps her team out enormously, and generates Momentum in combat like a champ while soaking damage and tanking with the best of them.


And there's Esters. One of the more appropriately named Guild Ball models out there I think you'll agree. Also one heck of a competitive choice when balanced against Tapper so nice design work from Steamforged on this one.

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