Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cornerstones (6) - Siren

Finding a subject for the Fishermen Cornerstones article was difficult. I think they are one of the least synergistic teams in the game in terms of their interactions and playstyle, while also being one of the most balanced teams in that they don't really have any real auto-include characters in the vast majority of matchups - Sakana probably being the closest.

Thus I had initially opted to write about Sakana over Greyscales (my two initial candidates for the fishiest fishes around), finished the article, had it all ready to post, had started to write the next Cornerstones article.... and then it hit me. I was focusing too much on the 'auto-include' aspect and not enough on the 'core support' aspect, which I think is more important. And nobody fills the later role on the Fishermen squad more than Siren, one of only two Fisherman to received a nerf since the beginning of the game. She lies somewhere between the sneaky mobility and speed of the Fish and the douchy control of the Morticians. Delightful.

Without further ado, following our format for the evening, the Stats:

  • She is fast - really fast. Among the fastest natural human movers in the game. Throw in 2" melee and she has a pretty good 11" melee threat.
  • Her TAC is bad. Generally one of the worst TACs for human model. Despite this, you will probably want to get in combat with her at some stage.
  • Her KICK is average at 3/6", good enough for what she needs to do, and resulting in an unbuffed 15" scoring threat.
  • Her defensive stats are not great at 4+/0 and measly 10 health. She does however have several defensive traits that help her out in this department.
  • And we have that standard 2/4 INF again.
Overall, outside of her MOV, her stats are not impressive at all - much like most Morticians, funnily enough. Let's have a look at her Playbook:

The playbook itself is not fantastic. The damage is mediocre (mostly due to the few columns) and her Tackle is both high up and non momentous (mostly likely only hitting it after a charge). The double dodge on two is nice though. She does have two interesting momentous results however - a dodge on 1 success (Fisherman specialty for counter attacks or momentum farming) and a GB/GB on 3 hits (come back to that later).

One of the advantages of having a poor TAC is you have a short playbook - 3 columns long means there is a high propensity to wrap on the charge, especially if you can get around ARM somehow. Getting a Tackle + Momentous Dodge on a well placed charge can be a game winner, and Siren has both the MOV and KICK to make it happen.

Moving on to the heart of most Cornerstone players, the Character Plays:

Siren has two character plays that both mess with people.

Lure is a play that pulls enemy players out of position via a Jog (ie. affected by ground/terrain). The faster the enemy player, the better! It is one of the best ways for Fish to isolate and crowd up on an enemy player in order to get a takeout. With an 8" range, she can pull someone in from 17" away! That's more than the space between the two deployment lines (not that you will want to do that first activation, but it shows you the threat range).
It's also an excellent way to set up for a Kraken/Corsair harpoon to further isolate someone.

Siren's second play, accessible via either 3 playbook successes or 3 INF is Seduced, effectively an objectively worse version of Puppet Master (shorter range, less options, and the lower cost is offset by the 1 INF returned by Puppet Master). Despite this, it's still a very useful play.
The primary use of this play is to force an enemy model to pass, thus getting the ball back into your control (or set up a pro snap shot!). Like Puppet Master, the threat of it is often stronger than the actual effect and your opponents will often drop the ball in order to avoid this. Have a retriever ready to capitalize!
The secondary use of Seduced is to force an enemy model to make an attack - this is especially good if the target of the play has a low momentous KD result (Kraken, Ghast, Stave, Tapper, Fangtooth....) to KD a player that has not yet activated. You get a momentum and a KD'ed enemy model. Winner.

Siren's three traits are all defensive and help make up for her subpar defensive stats:

First is Beautiful, rendering her almost immune to targeting character plays. Engineer bolt shots, Puppet Master, Dirty Knives, Shutout, Heavy Burden, Chain Grab.... - any targeted character play you can think of suffers a -5 RNG penalty when targeted at Siren (note that if she is out of range as a result, she is no longer a valid target for the play).
This makes her both a solid backfield or flanking model, and an excellent kick off player (especially vs the aforementioned Engineers).

One note of caution though - AoE character plays that do not target are not affected, so watch out for things like Blast Earth, Embalming Fluid, Lob Barrel,  or any of the Alchemist' flurry of condition AoEs. With 10 health, even a few points of damage is dangerous.

Second is Charmed [Male], boosting her to DEF 5+ against two thirds of the human models in the game. Seems good.

Finally we have Protected [Kraken], which grants Siren +1 ARM if she is within 4" of Kraken. This trait would be amazing without the positional requirement, as it sort of ties her into a backfield role if she wants to benefit. 5+/1 is a very good defensive stat and will protect her from most attacks, and with Lure, she can help set up Kraken to pull someone from a long ways away.
The downside of course is that she only gets it while near Kraken, and as mentioned Fishermen often spread out a lot, chasing the ball and such. Nevertheless, a nice bonus to have and being backfield is not usually a bad place to be.

In summary, Siren exists to do two things: control the enemy team's positioning and get the ball back to your team somehow. Fishermen benefit hugely from both aspects, and both her character plays feed the Fishermen play style, either in terms of scoring goals or getting isolated takeouts. And I need to play Siren a lot more.

Dealing with Siren

It's quite easy to see how deal with Siren - she is one of the squishiest models in the game and requires on both careful positioning and her triad of defensive abilities to keep her alive. If you can somehow get around these, you can take her out with ease:

  •  Non- targeted attacks (pulses, AoEs) get around Beautiful. 
  • Her low health is a definite weakness - chip away at her and force her to chew up momentum to live. This will keep her out of the fight.
  • Charmed [Male] and the potential +1 ARM from Kraken are a huge part of what keep her alive. Threatening her with female fighter models (ie. Gutter, Brisket, Decimate, Vitriol, Cosset....) is a good way to scare her away. The only issue is to watch out for her counter attack if you do not have reach yourself. Gutter is probably the best Siren killer in the game as she ignores both Siren's stats buffs.
  • As mentioned, you can consider dropping the ball back or holding it with a high DEF model with a poor KICK stat (I personally am incapable of rolling a 5+ on Character Plays, no matter how many dice I throw at it) is a good way to protecting yourself from Seduced.
  • Finally, and most importantly, be wary of how easy it is to get Lured then Harpooned back into waiting school of Fish and swallowed by the ocean's tide.

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