Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cornerstones (8) / Character Assassination (3) - Blackheart

The final article in the Cornerstones series is an exception on two counts - it is the first to feature a Captain, and is also a Character Assassination. Get ready for the whine.

I decided to include the Union's captain as their Cornerstone because the Union as a team is so individualistic and devout of synergistic special rules. They have a dedicated support model (Hemlocke) and a dedicated scorer (Mist) but for the most part are all "core" brawlers with unusually good KICK scores. #justunionthings

Let's start by looking at these stats. On the whole I'd say they are good for a captain, but not necessarily amazing.
  • 5/7" MOV is pretty average, by itself anyway.
  • TAC 6 is very good, and common on captains.
  • 3/6" KICK is an average solid stat.
  • 3+/2 is a solid, tanky stat line. 16 boxes may be a little bit low for a Captain, but it's not too bad.
  • 4/6 INF is also standard for a captain.
Note also the 2" melee. So we can see he is pretty solid all-around - decent kicker, and pretty good in a scrap. Moving on to the playbook.

This playbook could either be seen as very good or freaking amazing depending on how well you use Blackheart.

The early part of his playbook is quite good on a defensive level - momentous dodge on 1, and a double dodge + 1 DMG on 2. This is followed by a Tackle. So definitely not too impressive in the momentum or damage department so far, but good for mobility. If all you set up for is getting low results, you can at worst farm momentum and move around as much as a Fisherman (a 3+/2 Fisherman that destroys people in combat).

Then shit starts to get real - KD and momentous GB/GB on 4 hits in order to activate Commanding Aura (more on that soon). 4 hits is a pretty likely result with TAC 6 on a charge with no other modifiers.
When you move into the 5 and 6 successes column, all his results basically read "3 momentous + whatever other result you want, bro". Double dodge, KD, Tackle - it's all there. I dunno why the Momentous 3 with no other result is there, as it will never ever be chosen. I am guessing it's a legacy thing.
5+ hits is where it gets freaking amazing - with a little set up and Commanding Aura, getting 5 hits is not that unrealistic for old Blackheart. He'll wreck someone and move around like a ballerina while doing in.

Anyway - good striker playbook with lots of mobility and good options for counter attacks. Then if you get 5+ successes, he starts tearing holes in people while doing it too. Momentously. Sickening.

Ok, I'll admit I've never seen Blackheart use Misdirection. With the amount of mobility he has, he's usually just better killing someone and removing all their INF rather than spending 4 INF to steal one. It's a nice strong play to have in situations where he get pinned down however.

Commanding Aura, however, is ridiculous for Union. Sure, you can get it in Brewers on Union models, but you probably won't get it on too many Union models since you want those Brewer synergies on your team. Having it on 4 fighting Union models (who aren't bad at scoring goals, btw) with access to Coin however - that's another realm of BS altogether. Commanding Aura pushes Blackheart's personal damage significantly by allowing him to reach those 5/6 successes somewhat reliably with minimal set up. With 6 INF, he is crushing people and getting momentum like a boss at the same time. Nevermind Gutter, Decimate, Avarisse, and all that....

This is when I start to rage (more) about Blackheart. What you have here is a way for a beatstick tank to move 2" for free at the start of it's activation, basically guaranteeing him an exit from almost every combat for 1 INF (dodge 2", then momentous dodge for 1). Seems good. Oh, it also makes him an effective 7/9" MOV (better, even). Fast as Shark? Seems legit for a walking killing machine. Who is also a 3/6" KICK for lolz.

Oh wait, he also has a legendary with two super strong effects - an immediate 2" dodge for all friendly guild models OR +1 DEF for everyone. You usually just see the first one even though +1 DEF on all friendly guild models (who are all likely at least 4+/0 or better) is pretty ridiculous. Even stronger when you consider that after Blackheart has activated you'll probably have 6 momentum to defensive stance and counter attack, rendering your team nigh invincible for a turn. Seems legit.

Anyway, as mentioned, you probably won't see that +1 DEF because all his fellow douchebags dodging 2" and getting out of combat or getting ready to wreck someone you thought was safe or scoring goals from miles out is pretty good. In fact, it's pretty good JUST for Blackheart to gib someone unexpectedly from 13" away. And all it costs you is the INF to run/charge.

Dealing with Blackheart

Weaknesses? Few to none.
  • He is not a stellar kicker, but he is a very good striker due to high mobility and momentum generation. More than good enough to reliably put the ball on the post multiple times.
  • He does little for his team outside feat and commanding aura, but that tends to be enough since he can move that aura around to basically wherever he wants, even when MOV debuffed (unlike Tapper), thanks to his low-playbook dodges and Shadow Like. Even in the worse case scenario if he is completely shut down from moving and isolated (which requires a LOT of investment), he still has a 10" threat on Misdirection to dump his INF somewhere.
    Not to mention that his team is made up of highly independent models that are pretty awesome all on their own, so throwing in +1 TAC and DMG  and DEF/2" dodge is alright.
  •  His DEF of 3+ makes him a little vulnerable to character plays, I guess.....

VetRage is clearly designed to be the beater/brawler of the Union captains but it's hard to outfight 2" melee + Commanding Aura (functionally identical to vRage's Legendary with less set up and a smaller area - but every turn) + a nasty playbook - and this does not even consider Blackheart's amazing mobility and decent KICK stat. Not only does he strongly compete with vRage in the damage dealing department, but he certainly leaves him in the dust in terms of scoring goals. There is a reason Union has been on top of the overall guild rankings for a long time, even after receiving a good chunk of nerfs to their models - that reason is this god amongst guildballers.

All I can say is - thank the powers that be for the Season 1 errata, bringing him back into line... or should I say, almost back into line.

Thus ends the Cornerstones series. Thanks for reading.


  1. Sounds like picking up a Union team was a good thing for me then. :) Martina

    1. It'd be nice to have a Union player in Auckland - they all seem to buy in and then mysteriously disappear...

  2. The sculpt is a bit clunky, but not the worst I've seen.

    1. The Kickstarter sculpt is more like his art, standing upright with the sword point on the ground. Most people seem to like it better than the 'standard' sculpt.

      Either way, Blackheart OP.