Having chipped away at a standardised and consistent team build I'm attempting to move further away from the comfort zone. To this end I've reworked my 9-man roster as follows:
- Scalpel, Dirge, Cosset, Minx, Bonesaw, Casket, Ghast, Graves1, Graves2
This change most significantly removes Obulus from my game plan entirely which honestly seems fine because I just don't like him that much anyway. So, based on the dubious advice of Dr House it's time to jump on shakier ground and be more like Portugal (and destroy everything that works). Seems sensible.
To help me both celebrate and legitimise this fresh and creatively new approach to losing games, Chris returned from a busy holiday of buying pashminas and shoe horns in the dusky and refrigerated malls of Dubai to complete our three-game pre-season series of Morticians v Hunters. With the score standing at one game apiece we had all to play for (and yet simultaneously nothing to really care about). This time however he brought out the big guns and the real captain of the team. No, not Minx...
Teams selected with Morticians kicking off were:
- Scalpel, Dirge, Casket, Ghast, Minx, Graves2
- Theron, Fahad, Minx, Seenah, Chaska, Jaecar
Ghast was on kick off duty and managed a fantastic shot that landed just over the halfway line.
1. Jaecar retrieved the ball and successfully passed to Seenah, laying down a Pitfall trap to make Ghast's life more difficult. Dirge advanced. Seenah passed to Theron, botched it, and the pass scattered back to behind the lines. Casket advanced and pointlessly put down a Ghostly Visage. Minx retrieved the wayward ball and successfully passed to Theron. Graves sprinted up towards the halfway line.
Theron placed his forest to further stymie Ghast's possible advance and attacks into Jaecar, passed the ball to Chaska who used the momentum gained to Dodge forward. He then shot an Arrow to the Knee at Dirge. Minx charged towards Jaecar and triggered the Pitfall trap. Fahad was thrilled to find that I'm an idiot and Furious charged into the now Snared and Bleeding Minx, wrapping to the second column, applying a huge amount of damage (5) and double-Dodging away. Arse.
Ghast was just barely in range to sprint around the forest to engage Jaecar. Two punches Pushed him 4" into Theron's forest and into range of Scalpel's loving embrace. Chris went into the tank and came up with an amazing solution - Chaska sprinting, Bonus Timing a pass to the double-engaged Jaecar (success), using this to Dodge Jaecar back behind the forest again, and then putting both barrels into Casket. Bastard.
Scalpel sprinted right up to the forest (learned a new thing: you can't sprint over obstacles) and popped Voodoo Strings to pull Jaecar back in. A combination of the forest and shit dice got me three hits for the momentous Push/Dodge and a point of damage. Jaecar rolled like a champ and double-Dodged out of melee. Dick. I spent some time having a big cry and whinging about how broken the actual captain (Jaecar, obviously) of the Hunters is before spending 2 influence to Second Wind to engage him again. That might very well be the game right there.
0-0, plenty of action, most of it embarrassingly bad for my guys
2. Chris won initiative and loaded up Jaecar and other dudes. Jaecar obviously went first, skinned Minx alive for the Take Out, tickled Casket for more momentum and after Dodges and his advance, Tapped In an easy goal. The goal kick went over his head and landed near Graves but not close enough to snap.
Ghast charged into Seenah (hitting a Chaska trap) and between his charge and bought attack triggered two momentous Unmaskings dealing 6 damage to both Chaska and Theron, 4 damage to Seenah, and pushing the bear away to avoid a counter-attack declared against his second attack. Chaska was also Pushed into base contact with Casket and Theron was just Pushed away because I could. Ghast cleared his Snared condition.
The next few activations were Chris reapplying Snared and me trying to remove it. Theron removed Fear, pinged Rising Anger, and used an Arrow to the Knee to put Snared back on Ghast. Dirge advanced and removed Snared from Ghast again. Minx free-charged Ghast and put Snared on again. The bear hungrily eyed up Ghast and I had this sinking feeling that the fluff was about to play out in real life.
Meanwhile Graves put both Bleed and Gravedigger on Fahad. Chaska blew Dirge out of the sky and also shotgunned Casket in the face to be completely free from melee. Scalpel killed Fahad (Morticians on the scoreboard finally!) and sprinted in to attempt a second Take Out on Chaska but the dice weren't kind and he survived on three hit points.
Finally, the moment we were all waiting for...
Ghast was absolutely thrashed by Seenah and although the damage math was hard Chris eventually worked out the optimal way to get the Take Out, finishing him off with a mighty Bear Hug just like the story! Ah... it's so satisfying when art imitates life. Ghast's lifeless/throatless corpse hit the ground harder and faster than my hopes at getting back into this game.
10-2, Hunters (I hear 10 point turns are pretty good).
3. I win the roll for initiative and Graves does what he must - spends his 1 influence to run through fast ground and collect the ball, getting it as far away from Jaecar as possible. Theron walks up to Scalpel (still engaged by Chaska) and spends 4 influence kicking her ass applying Snared and knocking her down. She activates, stands up (no momentum to clear conditions) and bullies Chaska into a position where she can deal the Take Out blow, heal Casket, remove Snared on herself, and punch the Unnatural Stamina button repeatedly until her knuckles break. She only just manages to get out of the charge/sprint lines of both Jaecar and Seenah.
Minx charges into Casket and snares him. His counter-attack is pathetic (and his low playbook results are becoming more symptomatic of my frustration with him) and his follow-up activation is almost equally disappointing. Heavy Burden onto Jaecar and a sprint (sorry, "sprint"... effing Snared...) saves him for another turn. Various Hunters align themselves to inflict massive pain on Casket next turn and I eke out the game for more punishment and humiliation. Woot.
4. Chris wins initiative and the writing is on the wall. I hold my momentum because Casket's counter-attacks are clearly shit and also if he survives I might have a shot at goal with Graves who is still holding the ball and standing in fast ground. Predictably generous dice math denies me the opportunity and Casket is #getrektson in short order, momentously and fittingly Bear Hugged to death.
We both completely forget Reanimate on Casket and with that Take Out the Hunters win the game.
Aside from actually losing the game and getting damn near white-washed, there may be nothing quite as tragic as a fully loaded Captain watching her last team mate die, positioned in such a way that if he lives (because you know, you remembered Reanimate!) then she isn't even in range to accomplish anything with her 6 influence. FML.
12-4, Hunters win.
Post-game as is often the case when one loses and reflects solemnly on the complete imbalance of the game, Steam Forged's total inability to write solid rules, the wrong number of sugars you got in your cup of tea, the terrible humidity of an Auckland summer, and whatever else requires you to throw the blame at anything other than your own bungling ineptitude... I rapidly fired through a range of emotions, as understood and experienced by all coaches...
The game snowballed VERY quickly from the top of turn two and it took a small amount of honest discussion to figure out exactly where we went wrong this time. Many questions were asked.
- not Knocking Down Jaecar with Ghast's first attack in turn one?
- not Dodging Scalpel into the forest so kindly provided by Theron on the Push/Dodge result, thereby reducing Jaecar's dice on the counter-attack to 3 after cover and the Crowded Out penalties had been calculated?
- stupid Jaecar double-Dodging out away with his counter-attack?
- triggering Jaecar's trap with Minx (good) but putting her in a position to then be charged by Fahad (bad... so very, very bad)?
- Chaska's baller pass needing 6s to Dodge Jaecar back behind the forest?
- my horrendous positioning of pretty much every player for pretty much the entire game?
- Chris's vastly superior and consistently focused position of his players for pretty much the entire game?
Clearly there are winning strategies and protocols that must be followed and Portugal has of course already provided in abundance with this handy flow chart.
Tacking the ball off Jaecar in Scalpel's turn one activation might just have made all the difference. Instead I blindly went for damage and a misused Push/Dodge. For shame!
Pro-tip - get the ball to Ronaldo.
I'm wondering about Casket and Graves2. In theory Veteran Graves achieved what it says on the box - setting up the Gravedigger kill of a Mascot for Scalpel. Problem is that in the 9-man roster I currently have he only has one side to his card. I feel like I should be taking Vileswarm... but the ratties are hot trash held together by vomit and self-loathing. And taking Graves2 instead of Graves1 means missing out on sweet, sweet Tooled Up. Hmm...
Casket is also problematic. His unfortunate demise almost entirely falls on my shoulders as a result of callous misplays and poorly conceived choices but it highlighted a lack of contribution to the overall synergy of the team. I really want players who will do more work actively to set up kills for Scalpel and or bring better ball-handling to the team. Casket's only real positive in this game was dying only slightly less quickly than Ghast. Ugh... I mentioned my issues with his playbook earlier and it comes down to this - no Pushes or Dodges on the first three results. Counter-attacks with Casket are a bit rubbish, aren't they? Also, probs remember Reanimate #shamemyfamily #nationalembarrassment
It brings me back quickly to Cosset. What I really wanted in this game was Lure. So desperate to pull Jaecar out of his bunker and walking him 7" with Light Footed would certainly have done the trick! In fact I actually would have walked him 5" after forcing his trap to be triggered on himself as he becomes my friendly model. Geez that would have been awesome! This to me is what justifies Cosset's place on the Scalpel team.
And Silence... I'm still struggling to find a place for him. He would most certainly take the place of Graves2 in the main roster (which still gives Bonesaw a shot at glory or ultimate failure) but when would I put him on the field? At that stage it looks like the Graves2/Silence slot should be taken by Obulus again who I'll probably not be playing in the foreseeable future as I'm so enamoured with Scalpel!
- Scalpel, Obulus, Dirge, Graves1, Cosset, Ghast, Minx, Silence, Bonesaw
Super unsure about this line up now.