Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Pass me the Scalpel
A few games into playing Scalpel now and I'm seeing the need to put digital pen to digital paper for some reflection. I'll harken back to my previous article and follow the same format.
Originally I considered Scalpel to likely be one of the most mobile models in the game and I stand by that call. She's right up there for sheer table distance covered, flat-tack moving 16" with a Sprint and Second Wind. Her Dodge-heavy playbook allows her to add to this on a whim. I've been most interested in tracking Scalpel's starting position in a game compared to her finishing location and every time she has been impressive - most recently managing an almost complete lap of the interior board space. She is definitely not a player of straight lines and predictability. 100% of her Second Wind usage has been on herself and every instance of Second Wind bar one has been triggered by her Heroic Play. The one time I spent INF to Second Wind it was so that I could Sprint up and stay outside of Brick's counter-charge bubble, then Second Wind to pick up a free ball before retreating back towards by own table edge as my first activation after kicking off. 16" of potential movement every turn is crazy good. If she had 2" melee I'm quite certain she'd be broken as heck.
Her mobility - the ability to position herself for favourable engagements and to disengage to safety - is arguably the most important part of her game.
She's so fast that she's often found to be playing hard on the flank because repositioning her to the centre is dead easy. Also having her on the flank helps keep her safe and plays to her remarkably solid...
My claims to her being relatively safe on the pitch, despite her average defensive statline, has also rung true. She's rarely in a position where she can be charged, less so at a time where my opponent isn't confronted with seemingly more pressing issues. The last attack in her activation is almost always a Push/Dodge on three hits and this allows her to disengage and then Second Wind well away from reprisal. Slippery has never come up. Again, Unnatural Stamina is a massive part of the Scalpel survival plan. The point here is that her survivability isn't reliant on her shtick and card text and bullshit - if she lives it's because as a player you've played well enough to ensure her survival. For me that has definite appeal.
I've found her Knock Down on 6 hits to be frustratingly difficult to achieve but at the same it's very much also appeared to be icing on the cake and as the KD result is non-Momentous she often has better things to do with her time (like clocking up 5-6 Momentum and draining models of allocated INF).
I haven't used Wake the Dead once yet but yesterday played her in a team with Bonesaw and Casket (who have Reanimate as standard) and the option to have three Reanimating models looked amusing at the very least.
I vastly under-estimated how punchy Scalpel is. Like, holy crap does she kick some serious ass! Four hits is the sweet spot - Momentous 2 damage and Tormented Agony - but I'm also loving her Playbook options for a range of Momentous and non-Momentous damage results combined with other options (Pushes and Dodges). In this regard I find her MUCH better than Obulus and his constant barrage of 1" Dodges while he flounders for 3 successful hits to generate 2 Momentous damage.
Tormented Agony... this is seriously one of the most fascinating parts of her game. Whenever I can I'll choose 4 successful hits to do some reasonable damage and shift INF around. It's a dramatically different control mechanism to what Obulus is bringing but is a clutch aspect of her role on the table. Sometimes it's worked exceptionally well and at other times it's blown up in my face. Example - stripping Hooper of INF and passing it all to Scum. Scum then goes mental and scratches up Rage real bad. Example - stripping INF off Esters and passing it all to Spigot before using Second Wind to escape any means of reprisal and leaving Spigot out of range to contribute anything in his activation (forcing an opponent to waste INF is living the dream).
Tooled Up on Scalpel is pretty damn sweet but I'm in a dark place where I'm running an all Morticians build at the moment so can't talk too much to that. I've tried it and it's amazing.
Anatomical Precision is a game-changer. I've been playing a lot of Brewers and Masons and they hate that Character Trait with the burning fire of a thousand suns. Excellent. It's remarkably useful for saving you from bad dice and dumb ill luck.
She's a constant contributor to the game (as you would expect of any good Captain) and scores 4-8 points in each match. In one game against Brewers she scored all of my points with 2 Goals and two Take Outs. Amaze.
Also as predicted (although I would have been delighted to be surprised!), her capacity to prove a solid support model for her team is low. She gets 6 INF and goes to work doing her thing, building a Momentum base and screwing INF allocation (indirectly helping the rest of her team I guess). The Second Wind on Ghast or Cosset theory has so far been just that - idle thoughts and dreams - because Scalpel is too busy saving her own ass to care about her team.
In every game I have used her Legendary Play to Push in a player of choice - preferably a Mascot - for a damn good beating. It's netted me a Marbles kill at the right time in the turn, and kept me from being counter-charged by Brick while still allowing me to pull Mallet in for some stabby loving. The 13" threat (Sprint, 1" melee, LP Push) has felt a little short and I feel that there's a lot to learn combing the LP with Dodges etc. It has provided her with the opportunity to bounce off models to close on the goal though. I also need to think harder about placement in order to Push non-direct target secondary models (i.e. stuff I can Push that she won't be punching). I like that it takes good positioning and thinking to make optimal use of the Legendary and this part of the unique challenge of getting best value out of her.
If it was a 3" Push in any direction that would be insane. But it's still pretty good.
What's she like compared to Obulus? Massively different. Less powerful. Enormous fun to play with though, and that's something that's personally very important to me. I'm currently on a bender trying to prove to myself that Steamforged aren't idiots and that they managed to create a more genuinely well-balanced game (ref: my next article), and in this regard while you argue that Obulus is better for competitive play, I do like that Scalpel still pulls plenty of weight and that played well she can produce the goods with consistency.
The necessity to "play well" might just be the most attractive quality. Obulus has so many "outs" and gotchas that he's started to feel more than a little boring to use. Scalpel is a constant challenge and thinking game and that's exceptional when you consider the longevity of the Guild and the depth of the game.