Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cornerstones (4) - Mallet

Mallet is the first 'non-support' model I have selected for this series, mainly because Masons do not really have a player that falls into this category. The closest would be Marbles (the mascot), and you could make an argument for Tower being that support player, although it would be hard to make a case for him as a cornerstone since he doesn't make lineups very often.

Mallet, on the other hand, is pretty much in every Masons team. Why is that, you might ask? In short, it's because he does it all, and helps others do it too. He fits perfectly into the Mason shtick of reliability, lack of flashiness, adapting to the particular turn by focusing resources towards a particular plan or players' skill, and being a tough old boot.

As usual, we begin by looking at the stats:

 Much like the other Cornerstone players, Mallet's stat line is not particularly impressive outside his signature Mason 2 ARM - He may be an old man, but he's a tough old Mason man.
  • 4"/6" is quite slow, but he partially makes up for it with his traits (ie. Extended Reach)
  • TAC 5 is reasonably average, but he gets a big buff via his reliable Singled Out play.
  • KICK 2/6" is below average, but Football Legend brings it up to solid 3/7" at all times.
  • 3+/2 is a typical resilient Mason stat, and with 16 boxes he tends to stick around
  • 2/4 INF stock standard stuff.
  • He also has a 2" melee!

Basically his base stats aren't great, even supbar in MOV and KICK, but both those stats are improved by his other abilities.

Moving on to arguably his most valuable asset, his sweet playbook:

This is a stellar Mason playbook, and plays a huge part in landing him a spot in this series. Masons, while lacking flash on the surface, rely on very diverse playbooks to set up a situations where their specialist players can pull the trigger. This playbook tells you Mallet's specialization is either apt at being a grindy workhorse working the centre of the pitch (Momentous KD, Push, Tackle and some sweet 1 hit GB results, all with 3" reach), or a burst damage dealer (good damage on 4/5 successes columns).

Like most Mason playbooks, the momentous results are early in the playbook. This plays into the grindier, slower style of the team of making plays happen around a solid center of Attacking and Defensive Midfielders. Compare this type of playbook to say Alchemists, who have very few momentous results on 1 hit, and really want to avoid drawn-out combat.

There are two standout results: Momentous KD on 3 (same as Brick, which makes it quite low for a Mason) and Momentous GB on 1, which is one of the big parts of him being the star all-rounder centre (see the below section on Character Plays).

Damage is excellent, with a momentous 2 on 2 hits, 3 damage on 4 hits and 4 damage on 5 hits. Basically, if you load him up and set him up properly, he can deal some serious damage.

Of course, we can't really talk about this man's playbook without looking at his Character Plays:

Mallet has only two character plays - both can only be triggered as the result of an attack, and both are RNG: P, meaning their can only target the model Mallet has attacked. This fits in with the Masons' design as a melee-centric faction with very few ranged plays (Goad and Shutout are the only two at the time of writing).
Secondly, both plays are triggered off only 1 success and are momentous.

Singled Out is a solid TAC buff that all Masons can make great use of, especially when not charging. Not much to say about this - more TAC is more good.
Smashed Shins is also a situationally excellent play early turn if Mallet can get it on a key striker, effectively shutting down their scoring potential (even a Super Shot/One-Legged Stance Angel becomes a 2/6" KICK after a Smashed Shins).

Essentially, Mallet can either control the enemy's football game, or set an enemy model up to get wrecked. Both are better early turn, but Mallet himself makes great use of Singled Out (and it gives you momentum) so any time is good.

Moving on to the Character Traits:

First we have the same aura as Spigot, namely Football Legend. I won't repeat what I wrote about Spigot here in its entirety, but suffice to say that Masons are slightly better kickers than Brewers to begin with, so the benefits are slightly more accented on Mallet, and given his usually aggressive positioning on the field, almost anyone in the Masons lineup can become a scoring threat.

Secondly, we have Extended Reach, which grants Mallet a 3" melee zone during his activation (the only model in the game with this trait at present). This makes Mallet excellent in scrums, since he can make attacks where others would not be able to and helps make up for his low MOV by giving him a decent 9" charge range.

Finally, we have Forceful Blow, which basically means Mallet hits freaking hard on a charge and can also reposition enemy models if he wishes.

These later two abilities, combined with his damage-heavy playbook, have led to the popular first turn Mallet Missile tactic with Honour - kick off with Mallet, load him up on 4 INF, use Honour's legendary and Superior Strategy to give him an extra activation and even more INF, Tool him Up with Marbles, sprint Mallet up the field and use his second activation to charge into the enemy and take out a valuable player, perhaps score a goal or whatever.

This play highlights the Masons playstyle perfectly - they are also able to adaptively pool their resources into making a specific play happen each turn. Mallet can either be an enabler - either in terms of ball control, player control, or damage - or the trigger, depending on what you need that turn. And that is what makes him the cornerstone of his team.

Dealing with Mallet

Mallet really wants to get into combat. His damage is there, his plays are there, and other than his Legend aura, his abilities rely on hitting people in combat. His 3" melee helps make that happen.
On the other hand, he doesn't really have a good way of getting out of combat IF you get into his face. His 3" reach can help keep you at ARM's length, but then limit his potential. He is thus prone to getting bogged down in an unfavourable melee, if you can engineer it.

He also likes to be one of the earlier activations for the Masons since he does not really require any set-up to do what he needs to do and has general applications, and is a pretty reliable source of momentum generation. This telegraphs his play somewhat, and he will usually be predictably be allocated a nice chunk of the influence pool.

Finally, like most Masons, he has a low DEF which makes him susceptible to character plays, or abilities ignore ARM (Ox's plays, Anatomical Precision, etc.). Use this to move him around, slow him down, or otherwise hamper his ability to position effectively. Or just take him out - his slow speed will hurt his ability to get back into position.

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