Monday, March 7, 2016

Tapped Out

Ah, Tapper. The loveable old soak with a massive weapon (oo-err) and a heart to match. According to Flint (of Masons fame) he’ll pound you into the dirt on the pitch but buy you a pint after the match. With a 2” reach, Commanding Aura and the most “legendary” of heroic plays, who couldn’t love Tapper each and every game? Well, as it turns out that’s me.

Tapper is great, don’t get me wrong. He certainly has the ability to bring the pain on anyone foolish enough to get within reach of his big pointy stick. He’s a super solo with a generous handful of close-up team support. And that’s where his weakness lies I think. I’ve started to turn away from Mr Tapper and have been exploring Esters (ok, maybe I’ll stop trying to hold back the double entendres and let them flow). I’ll offer a few words here about why I’ve turned from the True path.

He’s slooooooow

Tapper jogs onto the pitch with a basic speed of 4/7”. With a 2” reach that’s a total threat range of 9”. Not too awful, but with a total of zero dodges on his playbook that’s a static threat range of 9”. Yes, Spigot can increase this to a respectable 11” but that requires Tapper to activate at least second (which we’ll discuss below). His “Marked Target” Character play is of no use to him personally either, as its range is too short unless he’s had his move reduced (which we will certainly discuss below).

He’s predictable

This static threat range makes him guilty of one of the worst sins in this game. He is predictable. If he can’t get you within swinging distance then he can’t hurt you, and can barely influence the turn at all. He can’t lob a barrel or a flame jet. He can’t chain-grab an opponent nor can he throw dirty knives at them. He has a one-track mind (don’t we all, boys). I’ve found that this makes him both a priority for the opponents to neuter, and that isn’t too difficult. Which brings us to…

He's a victim

“But Dave” I hear you cry.

That’s right, I can hear you.

“But Dave, with 18 boxes, ARM 1 and Tough hide, how can he possibly be a victim?”

Well, fool, that’s not really what I mean. He certainly can be taken out if you aren’t careful and get him isolated but I have in mind a more subtle kind of victim. Like the thuggish school bully being picked on by the geeky kids who’ve had enough (think “Revenge of the nerds”) Tapper is public enemy number one for the controlling teams out there and with DEF 3 he’s pretty easy to hit with character plays.
Allow me to list just some of the ways that other teams can ruin Tapper’s day in one activation or less.

Heavy Burden/Gut&String/Caught in a Net: You are now 0/3”. Enjoy that. Coupled with his virtual inability to influence a turn outside of his melee threat range, these are real killers.
Puppet Master/Tidal Surge: Jog on backwards 4” you beardy wierdo. You are now way out of range to influence the turn.
Shutout: Commanding Aura activating last? Whoop-dee-doo.
Blind: Not as bad as it was but a move of 2/5” triggered by a model 8” away is a kick in the goalies.


Utter Tool

If you think that those abilities sound a helluva lot like Alchemists, Morticians and Fishermen then welcome to the Christchurch meta. Sure, the above abilities can be used against anyone but the majority of other important players have either sufficient melee threat to get around them to some degree or an ability to reach out beyond their own melee threat range and influence the turn. This means that Tapper is going to activate early (if not first) in a turn to minimize the chances of one of the above happening to him. I find that this further enhances his predictability and means that if models can stay a safe distance from him the previous turn, hey won't accidentally wander into his threat before he activates.

So what does all this mean? Well, against good old fashioned “honest” teams who’ll face you in a straight fight (Brewers, Butchers, Union) then Tapper is likely a valuable asset. But when facing the more sneaky, underhand, dirty, conniving no-good teams (Alchemists, Morticians, Fish) of which New Zealand has plenty then we may have a problem. Its possible that I just need to learn how to play better but in the meantime Tapper will be sitting on the bench with a lovely cool pint. 

But where does that leave us?

Next article: Man, I feel like a woman.

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