As most people know who read this blog, or the one person who listens to my podcast knows, I have been playing Masons, with virtually no break, for about a year and a half.
I think I have got to be not terrible with them, I have got 2nd and 3rd a few times in 16 and 32 man tournaments and I know the guild inside and out.
So, on Friday, I arrived to Vengeance and I was persuaded by Jason and Martin – my podcast co-hosts – to play Engineers. The logic was (partially) that in such a big tourney I may not do well anyway, and (mostly) that if I choked during a game they didn’t want to hear me being salty about it all weekend.
The total number of engineer games I had ever played at this point was 0….as such I treated the tourney as a way to try the guild out with open eyes. I took some team combinations that seemed fun, with the aim of ‘stress testing’ the players and seeing what will work.
I am not going to do a game-by-game account, partially as I don’t think it is useful, but also because after 7 games and a lot of beer I can’t really remember many of the games very well at all.
So, I will list the players I took, and talk about them. I am aware I am very new to this guild, so I would really appreciate and comments / criticism about what I have found out – 7 games is a good start, but obviously no where near enough to have a valid critique of the guild.
Why did you take this team?
Thanks for asking, disembodied internet voice! As this was a snap decision, I took the models I had painted. Simples!
I took the rotund Tony Stark lookalike along to 6 out of the 7 games. His first turn Breach! play to score a cheeky goal made me a fan straight away, knocking down 2- 3 models turn one and scoring a goal seems very strong. Second Wind allows him to do this and jog back if needed.
I forgot about Minefield for the first few games, when I remembered he had it it was very useful, allowing me a Vitriol take out in one game which helped me swing the match in my favour. I found Dead Bolt completely ball-breaking if you kick, as he can lock down a first turn goal run. I also found him to be a fairly effective melee beater, sometimes it seems even worth firing a Dead Bolt then just walking into contact and then pistol-whipping them on the ground. 2 INF for 3 dam/knockdown and a point of momentum isn’t too bad, especially if you consider what some people get out of 2 melee attacks for the same INF expenditure. That said, his momentum for damaging attacks isn’t consistent, especially for the higher damage values.
He only died once, to a concentrated attack from Obulous and friends, but even when he comes back on the pitch he can contribute the game straight away, unlike many players who have to slink around and heal for fear of getting in melee and being taken out again.
Also, I found that he could still be useful on 2 / 4/ 6 INF, the lack of need for a full stack every turn means you have a fair degree of flexibility with allocation to everybody else.
I did find several times I wanted access to Breach! again – maybe a first turn use of it is not always needed, but it seems such a potent start to the game it feels hard to ignore.
So, when would you not take him? This brings me on to…..
I took Pin Vice once. On paper, I really like her play style, character plays and, well, everything else. When I used her I was kicking, and kicked with her to get her up the field. I attempted to get an early goal by launching her forward, but a Harry counter attack (4 dice, requiring 2 hits against DEF 5+ for the double push) killed her hopes of an early goal, and she died soon after.
This hardly felt like a fair test for her, she can be a great goal scorer and beater with Tooled Up and Deletion. Also, as I am a Mason’s player at heart the concept of having linked activations on a stick with Controller seems very strong, albeit expensive.
I didn’t get much out of her Legendary, Well Oiled Machine – I feel it is potentially very strong, as it in many ways copies the season 2 plot card One Touch Football – and that card was super useful as a threat range extender for both goals and take outs.
So, I need to try her more. A lot more. I am also unsure as to when you would take her over Ballista in a 10-player team, and it may well be better to take just one captain with the current state of organised play, where you declare a captain before you know if you are kicking or not.
I took the spider robot to every game. The nest markers make recovering the ball, even from a good kick-off, trivial. Mother also make two tap-in goal attempts, with Burrow, alas missing both of them. If these had been scored it wold have been a very different game (alas, I lost both of these). It isn’t the end of the world though – the INF expenditure isn’t too high as Mother has a tackle on a single hit, and it means the ball is then loose which might mean the Engineers can get it again anyway.
Plus, one of the tackles was on Ghast, turns out Burrow gets around Fear! Always useful.
I need more practice with nest marker placement if I am planning on a turn where I am not burning them to move or grab the ball, as they can help disrupt play significantly.
I need more time with Mother, but I am very impressed so far.
Sorry, bug, I didn’t take you. I wanted to at first, Launch Control, Long Bomb and a free pass is a big deal, but Mother can teleport and grab the ball. I can see potential in Mainspring being used to grab the ball if your opponent scores first, to throw the ball up the pitch to an awaiting Velocity, but right now the flexibility of Burrow to get around defensive measures like Unpredictable Movement seems too good to miss.
I took the big guy to every game, and loved every minute of it. He takes an astonishing amount of effort to take out, and he sucks players towards him in a scrum which frees up the rest of the board. He got several take outs for me also (some with help of Ratchet and Overclocked, some without). I also found Unexpected Arrival pretty potent at messing up people’s plans, and breaking up scrums. Also, for a big, 2″ reach model, he is astonishingly fast, and with at least a 10″ threat range he can be a real threat to a team and the ball early on.
Alas, like all DEF 2+ models, if he gets knocked down he will leak momentum, though taking him out still seems to take far more work than it is worth most of the time.
I used the swiss army mannequin in 3 of my matches. In a couple of them he used True Replication to copy Tooled Up from Ratchet, who was then able to use his 4 INF for a couple of powered-up Blast Earths. In a third game he held up two butchers players and just wouldn’t die.
I don’t think I got the most out of him though. Copying Tooled Up is nice (especially early game) but I feel later on the INF cost and the activations for setting up the combo may not be worth it. I feel maybe later on he should be used to hunt the ball more aggressively, after all he has a momentous tackle on one hit. Also, he can play very far up the field without much fear of an easy take out.
I need to give him more of a run-out, maybe hot-swapping more character plays as I get more used to the team. The idea of him using Horrific Odour or Unexpected Arrival on a charge makes me giggle. I am not sure how useful it would be, but I like to giggle.
I used Velocity in every game. She scored some goals (as you should expect!), once using her double dodge/double push result to get in range by pushing straight through a scrum. Also, she takes a lot of commitment to kill. However, she isn’t Flint, and a 2″ dodge from Acrobatic is obviously worse (and less forgiving) than a 4″ from Where’d they go? meaning you have to be more careful with positioning. Also, if Ballista scores the first goal (as he often does), I think I have to be more thoughtful as to where she should be positioned, and how much to allocate to her, as it often felt like I mis-allocated to her.
Close Control and DEF 5+ though? Or DEF 6+ with Nimble? Good luck getting the ball off her though, Close Control in particular really helped in my games when she was holding the ball waiting for an opening.
I used Ratchet in every game. Aware that he is about as squishy as you can get in this game, I kept him far back and he was never taken out. I often gave him 4 INF for 2 Blasted Earth attacks per turn. Whilst this was a regular supply of damage, it was very rarely (if ever) the cause of a take out.
I feel I may have been better off past the first turn maybe only allocating him 3 INF, for a Tooled Up on someone else (maybe Ballista, or Colossus at a pinch). I also need to remember to use Overclocked more often, especially around turn 2, where the lines have not necessarily engaged. Fixer was useful to keep Colossus up from knockdowns without a momentum cost, though it can bring Ratchet very close to the player lines.
His playbook doesn’t seem terrible either, hopefully he will never need it, but his momentous push on 2 hits and momentous 2 damage/push on 3 hits is a little high for TAC 5, but if he has some ganging up he may be able to pull it off.
So, I like him, and I can’t imagine many team line-ups without him, but I need to think more carefully about how often I use him to just bomb things rather than help other players out.
I used Salvo 3 times. I think I mostly mis-played him…relying on his ranged attacks like Flurry and Arrow to the Knee for damage, keeping him stationary. Looking back at him now, I really mis-played him. Several games had me losing the momentum race, and Salvo has a momentous result on every column, as well as a momentous tackle on 2 hits and the jaw-dropping momentous tackle / double dodge on four hits. This will only really work on the charge, but it can mean a tackle with little they can do about it, though the chances of your opponent using a Defensive Stance against this feel high.
I also kept him to central, which means that when he had the chance to use Tether Ball he couldn’t. I feel I would need to use him more like an actual winger, and threaten the ball more often, and only really use his character plays when it feels relevant.
I only used the hulk buster once. I didn’t get much out of him to be honest. I feel he occupies a similar space to Colossus, but with less damage output. Then again Gravity Well feels good against teams with a lot of 2″ reach. I need to try him more, but from experience of facing against him, he feels very fragile as well.
In the end I won 4 games and lost 3. I feasibly could have won one of the ones I lost with a goal that didn’t miss, but then again I could have lost one that I won if my opponent didn’t miss his goal, so it all balances out. I am reasonably happy with how I did, but I am aware I still have a lot to learn.
Moving on from here….
I am painting up Veteran Velocity, Compound and Decimate at the moment. Veteran Velocity (on paper at least) seems to have some use against first-turn goal plays from some teams, before she uses Fly Keeper to then get involved in the action, but it will be hard to lose Velocity.
Compound would have helped some of my games significantly, Horrific Odour can really hurt Avarisse and Greede, and his Glutinous Mass seems good against players who want to bounce off him.
Decimate? Well several games I found I really wanted to finish a player off with a take out that Ratchet had weakened. Her abilities to grab the ball and dodge around players is well documented. She can thrown out (at least) 8 damage and 4 momentum, almost virtually guaranteed. I think she may work well in a game aiming for 2 take outs and 2 goals. Then again, I think she would work worse in a pin vice team, at least partially, as she wouldn’t work with Mechanical Heart, plus there seems to be a real wealth of good players in the guild, and finding a place for any union model is hard.
What, no Harry the Hat? Noob! He’s great!
Ok, calm down, suddenly-aggressive disembodied voice! I know he has some great tricks. Inspiring Hat is very good early game (though it seems less useful for Ballista than it does for Pin Vice), and his 2″ reach is very useful.
Thing is, his damage output is ok, it isn’t the guaranteed damage / momentum gain that Decimate can gain, which if I’m asking for a takeout is a big deal. Plus she is much more of a ball threat, and hiding the ball both Decimate, Mother, Velocity and so on will get tricky. Plus I always found Harry relatively easy to take out, I am aware Rising Anger is a thing, but DEF 3+/ARM 1 is just asking for an early knockdown followed by a beating. Especially if he hasn’t gone crazy yet, then his counter attacks are pillow fisted.
So, I may give him a try, but I don’t hold to him being the only choice in the line-up that works. I may be wrong, and too willing to be a unique snowflake and ignore him, but I have never seen Decimate do a bad job in any line-up she is in.
And one more thing!
That said, with my current inexperience I am unsure who to take in my 6, and who to switch around when facing certain guilds. I will need to try out this guild a lot more, as they have many strong options. I am sure, as always, in a few months I will change my mind and eat my tasty, tasty words.
Until then, thanks for reading, gentle reader.