Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: Arcanists

I began by taking a look at the Ten Thunders and then moved on to the Guild. The new files drop on the 10th, so as of this writing I have 5 days to get the rest of these things knocked out. There will be five articles to go after this one, so I’m still on track to make it through this series at one article per day. I assure you, no one is more surprised about this fact than me.

This particular article is one of the three remaining factions I don’t really play, so this presented a problem for me. My read on models and their competitive viability is always a bit shaky anyways, and that’s within factions I know well. How would I know whether the Wave 2 Arcanists were good for the faction when I don’t even really know what they’re doing now with only Wave 1? Answer: pass the buck!

Here you go.

I posted a thread to the Wyrd boards looking for feedback on what models I should be writing about in this article. The response was great and really helped point me in the right direction while reading. Probably the biggest benefit was just the reassurance that things I saw which looked strong were, in fact, strong. It was so useful, I’ll likely be doing it for the upcoming articles in the series as well. But, without anymore preamble, let’s dive in and see what jumped out from the Arcanists in Wave 2.



As previously, the point is to take a look at the models that are going to have broad appeal rather than being specifically strong in a particular crew. Because they typically are more complex and deserve more than a short blurb, Henchmen, Masters, and Totems are excluded from this.

Oxfordian Mage: As of now, I believe this is the only model with the Academic type, which is relevant as these models get a +tomes to duels when within 3” of each other that they need for triggers on their casts. They’re also one of, if not the only model with furious casting in M2E, so there’s not a lot of mystery to what they’re supposed to do. They seem like nice cheap ranged damage models, but are a bit slow and fragile. Also, fun fact, the Oxford in their name is Oxford, Mississippi, not Oxford, England. 

Coming to an Arcanist crew near you.

Coryphee and Duet-The designers made a pretty strong choice this time by making the individual Coryphee quite strong on their own, thus incentivizing you to keep them separate rather than immediately pairing into the duet. With armor 2 and +to df and wp flips they’re going to be hard to put down. They push 4” after their melee attacks with a trigger, so they’re still pretty speedy. Interestingly, they gave them puppet in addition to showgirl this time around, so the coryphée can be ran with Collodi (a cool idea) although they are specifically only able to form the duet in arcanist crews. With the mobility remaining more or less the same and many of the attack options duplicated in the duet, one imagines the choice between when to combine and get one model with swift rather than 2 individual activations will be situational (reckoning comes to mind as a time when you will want them together.) It may be a choice of letting one of them take a hit first and then combining them for mutual protection. 

Performers-As Collette’s shtick this time around revolves around using scheme markers, it isn’t really a shock that performers are good at putting them out and interacting with them. “Don’t Mind Me” is always good, and their seduction ability allows them to discard any scheme markers (not just friendly ones) as a cost for passing out debuffs to the enemy. Pretty good objective runners for 5 points, though not exceptionally speedy.  

Mannequin-They are solid as ever with Armor 3, cheap at only 4 stones, and can do some interesting moving tricks if you have other showgirls in your crew. Their magician’s assistant ability lets friendly models place scheme markers 6” away from them, which makes for some interesting utility for things like Plant Explosives. Plus they gained Puppet, so they also get to join Collodi's Marionette show. 

Gunsmiths-The first post on the forum thread read simply “Gun. Smiths.” The rest of the thread backed up this initial support, and it’s not hard to see why. Their main attack has a different trigger for each suit that lets you alternately ignore armor, h2w, and h2k; boosts the damage; adds blasts; or prevents the damage being reduced from soulstones. Normally I don’t like these options, but they have a (0) action that lets you pitch a card and add that suit to all your final duel totals. If you are a crew that hands out burning, you can use their other (0), The Hard Way, that gives you a double positive twist to all duels against models with burning. If you attack them, they have a tome trigger to give the attacker burning or a ram trigger to give the gunsmith fast. A very strong ranged model, and one we should probably expect to see fielded quite a bit in the coming months.

Plus they look like this guy.


Mechanical Rider-The Mechanical Rider is widely considered to be the best of the riders, and plays in nicely with some of the Arcanists' themes of focusing on strategy rather than being focused on offensive power. Its attack triggers either allow you to draw cards or drop scheme markers off of a successful attack, up to a maximum of 2. Moreover, she can summon 4ss or less arcanist constructs as a (0) action once the rider has two tomes. Given how powerful summoning is in this edition of the game, it seems like the Mechanical Rider has some good potential.

Silent One-The thing that jumped out at me initially was the Frozen Statue trigger from their defense. It gives them a condition that reduces all damage the Silent One suffers to 1 and is not considered engaged for purposes of Ice Mirror of Shattered Mirror. I sort of picture an interesting combo where they get attacked by their own crew to trigger this, then Raspy uses her as the focus for her blasts to chain out and hit enemy models, letting you dish out damage without having to win duels. For more general crews, I could see them being decent for objective holding strategies like Reconnoiter or Turf War. They also have a good casting attack for range with some decent triggers and healing with their (0) action, though the trigger is only useful in frozen heart crews.

Soulstone Miner-The main appeal of the miner is their “Surprise from Below” ability which allows them to deploy downfield at the end of any turn. This opens up some options for objective grabbing, particularly for schemes like Breakthrough where you need to get into the deployment zone (though, keep in mind, you will have to appear at least 6" away from the enemy DZ when you come onto the board.) As mentioned in James “Mythicfox” Doxy’s interview on Malibites, the fact that they’re constructs makes them synergize a bit better with some crews like Ramos, as opposed to the current champion objective grabber in the faction, the Moleman. Their soulstone generating ability is really just gravy, although I doubt many of us would argue with a model that could inflict 2 wounds to cycle 2 cards through our hand (via SS at the beginning of the turn.) Compare that to Ronin which you have to sacrifice for similar effects. 

Angelica-One of the models that utilizes all of these scheme markers thrown out by Showgirls, Angelica provides a lot of board manipulation. Her Hooked cane lets you push enemy models around, while here Give Them an Encore! gives you a 5” push for friendly non-leader models without having to attack them. The duel result and push distance are all augmented by the number of scheme markers around her, so you'll want to position her carefully when activating. She seems like she’ll thrive in a central position on the board, re-positioning things for the crew's benefit as the game goes along.

Blessed of December-Anytime you see Leap, you know it’s going to be a good thing, especially when paired with Unimpeded and a Cg of 7. These guys are going to move quickly on the board and can do some decent melee in addition to running objectives. When you throw in Frozen Heart and HtW+1, you’ve got a quick, solid model that can do whatever you ask of it in the game, but may be a bit pricy at 9 soulstones.

Fire Gamin-They’re cheap at 4 SSs and everything they do, including dying, passes out burning to enemy models. It’s a shame shame Sonnia can’t take them anymore, so let’s hope she gets an upgrade sometime in the future to get them back. They’ll be a gunsmith’s little buddy and can do some nice things like stoking the Rail Golem or just generally being a problem for enemy crews.

Slateridge Mauler-The four armed bear is tough but pretty slow, so you’re going to need to get it upfield somehow to even have a shot at earning its points back. Paired up with their good but not great melee damage spread and 8SS cost, this one seems like a pass for most crews and, since it doesn't really stand out, may get passed over even in Marcus crews.

Willie-Willie is a scary model in terms of all the blast damage he can put out, much as he was previously. However, with no way to protect himself, you’re going to have to be careful with exposing him too early or the enemy will shoot him to death before he can be effective. He's very all or nothing. I do like his ability to protect your scheme markers, though that may be a bit TOO meta, as I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've seen an opponent destroy one of my scheme markers via Interact during a game.

Arcane Effigy-The main purpose to this model is to supply some much needed status removal to the faction, and it might see use for this alone. Arcane Radiance is decent (particularly if you’re trying to get some more burning for your Gunsmiths) and you may as well do it every turn since it costs you nothing and it has no other (0)s.

General Thoughts: I really should look more at the Arcanists, if only because of how much I enjoy crews where you dance around the combat and focus instead on schemes. You have to win a flip to kill a model. You don't have to win a flip to do an interact and drop a scheme marker. The Arcanists, particularly the Showgirls, are going to excel at this. There’s going to be some debate between the Gunsmiths and the Blessed (as evidenced by the debate that broke out on the forum thread) for higher point combat models, and that’ll probably come down to the rest of the crew build for how well they’ll synergize. I'm leaning in the direction of the Blessed right now, mainly for its speed and versatility, but I certainly see why the Gunsmith is as popular as it is.


Next up, I think we’ll take a look at the newest faction, the Gremlins. Again, this is one I’m not an expert on, so I’ll be counting on you folks to point me in the right direction.