Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cornerstones (3) - Ratchet

An appropriate follow up to Silence is Ratchet, who shares many playstyle aspects with the brooding Mortician Assistant Captain - unimpressive playbook, a Character Play intensive approach to influence and the ability to bring a Mascot back to play.

Much like Silence embodies the Morticians' weirdness and denial game, Ratchet embodies the Engineers - superior ball playing skills, synergy with the Mechanica model type, and some good old fashioned ranged damage.

Ratchet has a middling stat line:
  • 5/7" MOV is a standard MOV stat.
  • TAC 4 is slightly low but on par with most support pieces
  • 4/6" KICK is very good, in line with most Engineer KICK stats.
  • 3+/1 is a good resilient statline (especially with 17 boxes - tougher than old Spigot), and 2/4 INF is also standard fare.

Other than the KICK stat, nothing really deserves particular attention.

Moving on to the Playbook:

Ratchet's playbook is pretty encompassing of most Engineer playbooks. It includes a low momentous tackle, a double push and some standard non momentous damage spread. Actually, along with Colossus, he is one of the best melee damage dealers on the team - that tells you what Engineer playbooks are about (ie. not dealing damage in combat).

Ratchet, like most Engineers, only wants to make attacks to get the ball or get away from someone. If you get stuck in prolonged combat (other than putting the last bits of damage on a very wounded enemy), you are doing it wrong.

Thus far we have a defensive midfielder with a great KICK stat but nothing really spectacular otherwise. Let's move on to Character Plays:

Most of Ratchet's work will come from these character plays (and the soon-to-be-discussed Heroic). Like Silence, Ratchet brings two strong situational 1-cost plays and 1 generally useful 2-cost AoE:

Fixer is essentially a single target version of Hemlocke's Smelling Salts AoE play, but restricted to Mechanica models. It is very good when you need it, acting as a better version of Come On Mate!. Especially good in Pin Vice teams (ie. can target anyone), and as a late turn play, or to use up excess influence.

Long Bomb is a situational but solid play that is mostly likely used as a long pass, but without the risk of interception. As a backfield model, Ratchet is quite well positioned to pick up the ball defensively, either from a missed enemy pass/shot or a momentous Tackle. He can then boot it back down the field to a waiting striker or winger to put in the back of the net next activation. Perfectly legit first and second activation play which again plays into the Engineer theme of excellent ball control. At worse, it can help keep aggressive ball playing teams where you want them - at range.

Blast Earth is probably Ratchet's most commonly used character play. Engineers like to stay at a distance and plink at you while they score goals. With a massive 10" RNG, Blast Earth allows you to put rough terrain exactly where you want it to slow your opponent AND deal some damage. Unlike most ongoing-effect AoE plays, Blast Earth does not have clause that requires opponents to enter or end their activation in for additional effects - therefore if you can deal some damage and have the AoE in a good spot, why not roll the dice?

At first glance, the Heroic Play Overclocked seems highly situational. It might be useful on Velocity/Hoist to get them into combat, steal the ball, and land multiple push/dodges before scoring then being taken out (and consequently Reanimated).
It also stacks with all of Pin Vice's Mechanica only plays, so if someone is going to die as a result of those, you could always throw in Overclocked for extra efficiency.

Apart from that, giving up 2 VP/a lot of player health +1 MP in exchange for 1/2 effective INF  seems like a pretty bad trade unless it nets you a game-winning goal. To make sense of this, you need to look at Ratchet's Character Trait:

To understand the value of Creation [Mainspring], you have to look back at his Heroic Play Overclocked and at the back of Mainspring's card - specifically that when Mainspring is taken out, he causes 3 DMG and burning to every other model within 3" (including friendly models!).

For 3 MP, you can bring back Mainspring, use Overclocked on it, then send him charging into an enemy model 9" away (getting a few playbook results in the process), ultimately exploding in a huge ball of fire and punishing clumped up enemies. Combo that with Blast Earth, and you've got a serious amount of MOV debuffs and area damage. Very strong damage and denial combo.

Note also that often this will make Ratchet an effective TAC 5 with Ganging Up from Mainspring, making that momentous Tackle on 2 hits quite a bit more likely against the average model.

Ratchet - simple, reliable, with good tactical efficiency. Like the previous Cornerstone players, he has a range of good play at different levels of influence allocation, and can play well at different stages of the turn. He can slow the enemy, deal significant AoE damage at a distance, play the ball very effectively and heal his team. What else could you want in an Engineers player?

Dealing with Ratchet

Similar to Silence, Ratchet doesn't have great ways of getting out of combat. In fact, he only has that double push on 3 hits, and with a TAC of 4 and no outside help, that isn't going to happen against most players. He will thus be relying on other Engineers to help him out of combat, with pushes and KDs from the likes of Colossus, Salvo or Ballista.
To catch is that other Engineers (besides Colossus) are in the same boat as Ratchet - they do not like the idea of becoming tied up or KD, which stops them playing the ball or using character plays effectively. If you rush them and keep them from playing the ball or getting out of combat, they will become sad pandas and have trouble helping each other out.

Second, avoid clumping up players that can get hit by the Mainspring kamikaze / Blast Earth combo!


  1. Nice one. I don't know that many engineer's players would consider him a cornerstone these days, but he's certainly awesome in specific matchups (for me, he's been a huge boon for Ballista vs. Fillet in particular). One nitpick--

    "...scoring then being taken out (and consequently Reanimated)." Unfortunately Reanimate triggers on 0 hp, not taken out. Overclock skips it entirely.

    Enjoying these though. :)

    1. Our weakness at only having 1 -2 Engineer players in the entire country shows itself! Cheers.