Monday, April 4, 2016

Cornerstones (5) - Boiler

As we get deeper into the cornerstone series, it becomes harder to define which player in a line up most characterizes their guild's playstyle and therefore becomes as close to an 'auto include' in a lineup as you are likely to find.

When a new player thinks 'Butchers' - they initially think of a player like Boar who is all TAC, huge damage, and not much else. However as you get deeper into the Butcher playstyle, Boar falls out of the lineup pretty quickly when you take into account his weaknesses and his lack of synergy, and start to appreciate the many intricate layers of synergy and tactics that come with wasting opposing teams.

Boiler, I think, encompasses all aspects of the Butcher game style and is perhaps their best "support" model, for lack of a better option. Allow me to make my argument:


Like most Cornerstone players so far, Boiler's stats aren't particularly amazing. I would even say they are average across the board, with the exception of
  • a good MOV stat - he is a winger after all, so being pretty fast is fitting.
  • a below average KICK stat. 2/6" is not terrible and usually enough to pass the ball around or score a goal (75% odds without modifiers), but given his lack of repositions he probably won't be doing the later too often.
14 health boxes, 1" melee zone - really nothing of note here.

Moving on to the Playbook:

Again, not a particularly impressive playbook at first glance, given his TAC of 5. You might even question his status as a Butcher looking at that non-momentous damage result!

Like several Butchers, he has a low momentous Tackle result, a KD result about midway through his playbook, and a non-momentous GB result.
One thing he does have that no other Butcher has (at the time of writing) is a push dodge result, which is excellent for a 1" melee model. With a little luck, it can save his ass on a counter attack.

Overall, again like both Ratchet and Silence, a relatively uninteresting playbook, at least until you consider his other abilities and Traits:

Traits are where we start seeing Boiler's magic reveal itself.

Anatomical Precision is, in the majority of combats, an effective free hit. It helps him reach those higher playbook results quite easily (much like Gutter!). When you take Anatomical Precision into account, hitting that push-dodge on a counter attack is far more likely than it would first appear, and getting the two hits for the momentous 2 damage/Tackle is almost as certain as getting one hit.

Crucial Artery is also a powerful ability not only on the damage side of things, but also in terms of momentum control and Butcher synergies. In terms of momentum, making your opponent burn MP to heal/remove conditions without any conscious resource investment on your behalf is money. In terms of synergies, both Meathook and Fillet have strong synergies around the bleed condition which makes Boiler a great inclusion with either of these models.

Finally, we come to Boiler's coup de grace synergy with the team's Season 1 Mascot, Assist [Princess]. This trait turns Boiler from a good all-round support winger to the Butchers' highest potential killing machine, as it is the only damage buff in the team exclusive to one player.

Keep in mind this is without any of the Butchers' myriad of buffs like Get 'Em Lads!, Butchery, Tooled Up or The Owner. When you throw these in, almost any Butcher player can deal very high amounts of damage, but Boiler's Assist trait and relatively short playbook gives him that extra edge in the damage dealing department over even a dedicated beater like Boar.
The short playbook is key to multiplying damage buffs. For example, under the Owner + Ox's Legendary ie +2 to Playbook Damage, landing 8 hits with Boar gives you 6 damage. Landing just 6 hits with Boiler nets you 8 damage. Throw in a Assist from Princess and the same number of hits, and Boiler goes to 10 damage from one attack, never mind the bleed effect on top of that. BRUTALITY.

In short, Boiler's Traits allow him to deal a lot more damage than his stats or playbook demonstrate, and make him an excellent buff multiplier.

While Boiler's Traits reinforce his damage dealing capabilities (appropriate for a Butcher!), both of Boiler's Character Plays are support buffs for his team, one defensive and one offensive.

Swift Stance, while costing quite a bit, is a very powerful buff when used on DEF 4+ or DEF 5+ models (like Brisket or Fillet). Moving from 5+ to 6+ effectively halves the expected number of successful hits against you, which is a lot more than you get out of using it in making Boar DEF 3+. It is perhaps one of the strongest tank buffs in the game at present, not only allowing the recipient solid resistance against mass TAC dice, but also against Character Plays. The downsides to this play are as mentioned the cost of 2 INF and the short RNG of 4".

Boiler's second play is Marked Target, which at first seems like a pretty straight forward offensive threat buff for your team - everyone now charges the target from further away, Shank for example now getting a monster 14" melee threat even without Where'd They Go?. That is pretty scary.
However, in a game of alternating activations like Guild Ball, such a play is often used defensively or as a control element. Your opponent can react to the play and position differently, maybe taking pressure off your team at a crucial moment.
The second thing of note about Marked Target is that it can be cast for 1 GB off an attack with only 1 hit thanks to Boiler's playbook. Given Boiler's pretty good combat capabilities, it's usually better trying to cast it this way than trying to hit with 1 die, and you might even hit it off a wrap and take it over the non-momentous 1 damage. Also, given it's low cost (both in INF and GB) it is a pretty effective way to pop "one off" shield abilities like Clone or Gluttonous Mass.
Most impressively, you can even use it on a counter attack, which can expose an enemy to a charge they didn't see coming and make reacting to it very difficult!

Overall, I feel Boiler is a cornerstone players for the Butchers - not only can he certainly pull his weight in the damage dealing department, but he also brings some valuable utility and defensive support to the team which greatly opens up tactical space. His only attribute which makes me a bit sad is his 2/6" KICK, but 'tis a Butchers' life.

Dealing with Boiler

Despite the kid's many benefits, he does have a few weaknesses that can be exploited:

  • As mentioned, the thing that sets Boiler ahead of the pack in terms of damage is Assist [Princess]. If you remove Princess from the table, as a Mascot, she is not coming back and this takes Boiler's potential down a few notches. Note that this is easier said than done since:
    a) Princess has Loved Creature which gives a MOV and TAC buff to the team on the turn she gets taken out (two stats you don't want Butchers to have more of) and
    b) while she can activate early to telegraph where Boiler will go, this can be used as a diversion by a clever Butcher player. Plus she's no slouch in the damage dealing department either!
  • Like most Butchers, Boiler has a 1" melee, which makes him vulnerable to counter attacks, Don't Touch The Hair! and other such defensive ploys, as well as not being able to counter attack reach models himself.
  • Swift Stance has a short range (4"), which together with the other Butcher buffs (primarily Ox), locks him into staying close to his team, for a winger.
  • Keep the counter attack Marked Target in mind when attacking him, because it can really ruin your day :)


  1. Replies
    1. No doubt. Ideally I'd have someone else proofread them for a fresh set of eyes. Ideally.