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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Descent Miniatures: Merriod WIP

So cool!

The red tentacles help it stand out as the Master model

Howdy folks!

So today I got a chance to put some paint to plastic! I wanted to get started on significant work for my Descent miniatures. Although I've already painted the Zombies for the game as a test on basing I consider these Merriod models as my true first tries. The Zombies are absolutely hideous, the sculpts are some of the worst I've dealt with, and I lost a lot of motivation after trying those models out. Content-wise I can't complain about the Zombies, as you get a ton of cool stuff in the box and one batch of bad models doesn't ruin the whole thing (especially with cool models like the Merriod). Also, outside of the missions where they're mandatory, they aren't going to get any use so a bad paint job isn't the end of the world.

So as I was deciding on what to work on next my wife suggested the Merriods, as they're simply the coolest sculpt in the box tied with the Shadow Dragons. They are also my favorite monster in the base game due to their awesome abilities and annoying defense. So I got to laying some base coats on the guys, then after getting into the groove I found that I got almost the whole thing done in a sitting! All I have left to do is shade and highlight the blue skin, after that add the water effects and other basing elements and they're done. They're suitable enough to play as is in fact. If I'm not especially lazy I'll shade the grey on the stomach and tentacles.

It was also a cool coincidence that the base matched a tile in the game. I didn't plan on it matching, as I tried to do so with the Zombies and didn't do such a great job. I just wanted to make an interesting base and figured even if it didn't match it would look cool.

Overall it was a simple paint job, I didn't want to spend too much time on the monsters as I really am trying to follow through with having a fully painted set (at least of what I own). Lately I've been trying to keep in mind that not every model has to be perfect, and to try to get a standard that not only leaves me happy with the result but is also timely. I can't have every model done to the same 3-4 session standard, it's just not feasible especially with the new job demands.

Anyway, here are some more pics and WIP, when it's done I'll give an update!

Keep slinging paint!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Hodgepodge Emissary Tactica (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Donkey)

Howdy Mali-Folks!

Today I'll be talking about the Hodgepodge Emissary, from his special nuances and upgrades down to his relation to my Viktorias crew. He has a lot of synergies with each individual master for Outcasts and it would take a long time for me to explore all his options, not to mention my limited table experience with him, limits me to only talking about his abilities in the context of general tactics and Viktoria synergies.

I managed to go a very long time without having actually read his card, entirely due to the fact that I absolutely hated this model. When they previewed the Emissaries I was excited. The Carrion is huge and intimidating, the Brutal was a massive dude with a caged man, the Shadow was a giant cool dragon, the Arcane was a fiery bull, then the Hodgepodge was... a hoarder on a donkey. He's a quirky model with character, and would fit in perfectly in the Gremlins faction (and is reminiscent of the Lucky Emissary), but not in my beloved Outcasts. Because of my aversion to the model I had no desire to buy it, which inadvertently led me to not read the card. That was a mistake on my part, and as soon as I read it I instantly thought he would fit in perfectly in my Viktorias list, and ultimately lead me to think that I've done as much if not all I can to make my list as good as it can be for me.

So what's he like?

General Stats

He's a 10ss Enforcer, with a notable lack of the "Living" characteristic. He has a good 6 for both WP and DF, 10 wounds, with a walk and charge of 5. He has a height of 3 so he can see over the average model if needed.

This isn't terrible, in fact it's pretty decent. Although he does have a crappy charge it isn't a bad set of stats.

Front of Card Abilities

So he's got three abilities on the front of his card that make him pretty interesting. Power Sink is a common ability among the Emissaries and can be very frustrating. Essentially the guy gets a version of Regenerate at the end of his activation and heals a number of wounds equal to the number of Strategy VP you've gained during the game. This translates into more healing as long as the game is going your way. Couple this ability with the next one, Hard to Kill, and you've got an annoying combination. Healing and Hard To Kill is a time honored combination in this game, and with the right timing can prove to be just annoying as all get out to your opponent. Because these are passive it's only a matter of understanding when you should activate to get the most out of the abilities.

His last, although to me his most powerful, ability is Instinctual which allows him to use 2 (0) abilities a turn as long as they're different. I've loved this ability with Von Schill as it's a very efficient ability, especially if you have (0)s that are awesome. For Von Schill this was Finish the Cur that allowed extra free attacks, and for this guy it's no different as his (0)s are pretty awesome.

Back of Card Abilities - the Nitty Gritty

So this is where the guy starts to shine in my book.

He has only one attack action, but it is very flexible and almost always useful. Call of the Lost is a Ca6 action with a built in Crow. It has both a range of 9 and melee 1 so you can use it regardless of being engaged and doesn't randomize in melee, but still capable of causing disengaging strikes. It has an average damage track of 2/3/4 so it's nothing to write home about. What he does have are very good triggers for all suits short of Rams, but with the built in Crow you'll always have something to do. The Crow trigger The Lonely Road is based on succeeding rather than damaging, so as long as you hit you get it. It forces the target to either discard a card or gain slow. Being that this is built in you can reliably use it for a bit of card control or condition control, especially if you start to use it in the last bits of the turn when they're down on cards. If there are no cards in their hand then it's time to hand out Slow and get an upper hand next turn. The Tome trigger Empty Road makes the target push 4" toward the Hodgepodge, very useful in schemes and strategies that require proper placement like Extraction, Turf War, Interference, etc. and can prove invaluable when needed. His Mask trigger Word of the Emissary lets you take the action again after damaging, but doesn't allow additional triggers as usual. This leads to an extreme amount of flexibility and use for the table, as every trigger can be crucial in the right situation and can default to handing out Slow as a backup. I've used him once and managed to get Word of the Emissary twice and got 4 shots out of the guy, even at minimum damage that is 8 right there. It's not 100% reliable but you can fall into that kind of efficiency that most players wouldn't expect, especially with his Power Sink ability making him usually activate toward the end of the turn to get a more efficient heal.

Although in the end I don't use him for damaging, I do find myself using him with 2AP to spare as his (0)s do all the work and surprised when he gets a decent amount of damage onto a model.

Now he has THREE tactical actions, and these are where he starts to shine.

His first is a 1AP action called Something in my Pack which centers around attaching his unique upgrades onto friendly non-Leader models. They can only have one of these "Trinket" upgrades at a time and there's no built in way of taking them off short of dying or having Hans shoot them off, so once they're on a model that's probably what they're going to have for the game.

These upgrades are absolutely awesome! He has 4 Trinket upgrades. Momento gives Companion to a model, Pretty Floral Bonnet gives Don't Mind Me, The Monkey's Paw gives Reactivate in exchange for the hefty price of two cards and guaranteed death at the end of the turn, and the Vitality Potion gives Regenerate +1. These are all extremely handy and can shift the dynamic of how a model behaves tremendously. This, in itself, is a strategy all its own as you can imagine the potential of several different models with these upgrades. Sue with Regenerate? Hannah with Don't Mind Me? Viktoria of Blood with The Monkey's Paw?!

The main drawback is that it takes 1AP to use this ability, but a certain Hannah can mitigate this...

He also has a (0) called A Weary Road, which needs a 7 and a discard. This allows the Hodgepodge to push 4" and place a Scheme Marker in base contact. This understated ability is one of the main reasons why I use him now, as it's essentially 2 AP for free - one for movement and one for the marker.

His other (0) is called The Piecing Together, a sort of nuclear scheme option. If you have at least two Destined from his Power Sink ability, you can get rid of the condition to allow up to 3 friendly non-peons and LOS - this can include himself - to push up to 3" and place a free scheme marker in base contact. This makes schemes like Search the Ruins, Set Up, and a few others essentially automatic. It's an absolute game winner if used correctly and can come out of nowhere - I can't wait until I get Set Up with this guy!

At this point I'll mention his upgrade Conflux of Avarice, which is only available if you use the Viktorias as your master. It gives a 6" aura I always forget about, but allows you to draw a card when a friendly model kills a model. If the model was not a mercenary you have to discard a card. Super handy! But the main part is his new (0) from the upgrade, Proper Motivation. This gives him a 3" push on a model within 6", and if the target was a mercenary they'd gain Focus for free. Granted this costs a discard, but it is absolutely bonkers in the Viktoria list.

Because he can use 2 different (0)s he becomes a scheme running beast with this, as he can put Pretty Floral Bonnet on himself, place a scheme marker while engaged, push 4" and place another scheme marker, Push another 3", then spend his last AP placing a marker on his other side outside of 4" from the last marker. That's 3 markers with 2AP. Another notable combination is pushing 3" from one (0) then another 4" and a marker with the other (0). That's a 7" move and marker placement without spending one AP. This guy can definitely run some schemes, not to mention live a long time from his heals and Hard to Kill.

So how does this dude fit in to the Viktorias crew?

If you recall my last post on the Viktorias I mentioned what they needed and who I included. One of those models was the Strongarm Suit, a great model that fit the bill but found that it was lacking in scheme running. Being that he was 10ss and the Hodgepodge was 10ss it was a simple swap but opened up the list wide! Suddenly I no longer lacked scheme running options throughout the game, still had sustainability with him, and provided even more options for killing with the Viktorias.

Here are a few notable plays I've used the Hodgepodge for:

  • Place Pretty Floral Bonnet on Hannah so that while she's engaged she can place markers behind her for schemes, her base is big enough to prevent models in front of her from denying schemes like Claim Jump
  • Place Momento on the Student of Conflict so that if one of the Viktorias dies she has the option of immediately activating after the surviving half and teleport them out of trouble
  • Place the Monkey's Paw on Viktoria of Blood! If I anticipate her not living after her activation I can instead discard two cards for her to Reactivate and cause more mayhem in case she lives!
  • Place the Vitality Potion on the Hodgepodge for even more healing shenanigans, or place it on Hannah to make her sustain longer. I've found it to be more successful on the Hodgepodge though
  • As mentioned earlier use his two (0)s to move 7" and place a marker for free, or push out to place a marker that won't be denied and move right back into engagement
  • Push another target 3" to get better positioning or get rid of conditions like Lilith's Wicked Vines
  • Place Monkey's Paw on a scheme runner like Winged Plague to get a crucial extra scheme running activation, this can be necessary for Strategies like Stake a Claim where a lack of movement options like Leap prove detrimental
These are all brand new options that open up just by including him instead of the Strongarm, who mostly only multiplied my hitting capabilities and synergized with Hannah well. The healing option he brings alone warrants his inclusion.

This all is coupled with the fact that he still brings the necessary traits I mentioned in my earlier post that the Viktorias need. He adds in scheme running, he has staying power naturally, he has a big 50mm base that blocks LOS, he's the full package.

I'll just have to get over his model... it's not terrible just out of place.

Anyway, that's my quick(ish) write up on the Hodgepodge Emissary, if you have Outcasts I invite you to try him out as he's actually one of our best options of scheme running and flexibility. I believe he has something to offer every Outcast list. Let me know what you think!