I owe you a blog post for this and last weekend, but I'm a little light on content and time at the moment. Here's some random thoughts, and a look at the Through the Breach worldwide event.
I’ve had the idea kicking around in my head that there has to be a compromise between “Build a new crew every game for the strats and schemes” and “Play fixed list every game, regardless of the set-up.” Both have their merits. Going with the former philosophy puts you in a position to minutely tune your crew to the game you’re going to play, while the latter lets you master the operation and synergies of each model in your crew. They both have drawbacks as well, though. If you change your crew completely every game, you run the risk of becoming a jack-of-all-trades master-of-none type player, while if you stick with one crew to exclusion you become predictable to opponents and leave yourself inflexible when the strategy and scheme pool strongly favor a different crew than what you brought. As an example: I’ve been playing a lot of Cheating Bastard Lynch recently. I don’t like it when the cards turn on me, so I like his manipulation of your draw and ability to stretch the value of the cards in your hand by forcing the opponent to cheat duels they don’t have to. This crew works well in a lot of scenarios, but its reliance on a bubble (well, two bubbles) means that Symbols of Authority, for instance, is a tough strat for that crew.
So, to find a compromise between the two, I’ve been refining a theory that the best way to approach tournaments is to have two crews pre-built: the one you like and the one that fixes the bad matchups of the crew you like. Since most of the time this split falls along one specific access for me, it tends to come out as “One crew that focuses its strength in one place, punching into the enemy in one specific location and then holding it” versus “A crew that can spread wide around the field and operate relatively independent from support.” There are obviously elements of both in most games (the strategy is something like Turf War, for instance, but the scheme pool is full of stuff like Undercover Entourage), but usually you can focus on one plan of attack and then make up what’s necessary from the other points after executing it.
As mentioned above, one of the options for my close-together crew is Jacob Lynch. You don’t have to be completely bunched together with them, of course, since the cheating aura comes out of both Hungering Darkness and Mr. Lynch, but this crew still works better when operating in tandem. If half the crew is outside the cheating aura on a given turn, you aren’t getting all of the value from the upgrade that you should be. Some other options with which I’m toying are Summoning Pandora and Fated Collodi. Collodi is more mobile than some of the other options on here, which means he’s actually one of the few examples of a master that can run both types of crews, but the Collodi playstyle with which I’m most familiar keeps him close to the rest of his crew to provide mutual support for most turns of the game. I’ll fiddle with them to decide which I want to use for if/when I go to a tournament next, but at the moment Lynch is in the lead, if only for sentimental reasons.
My spread out crew is in a bit more flux. As an unintended glitch, most of my games lately have been involving the bubble crew, so I haven’t had as many opportunities to try new ideas here. Lilith has classically been my go-to here, and that hasn’t changed much. Bringing her along with a crew of heavies (Nekima, Hooded Rider, etc.) that can spread the offense and interference around the board while the rest of the crew either lends them a hand or runs objectives is a pretty simple strategy for this one. Mama Monster’s biggest competitor in my head at the moment is Zoraida. Lilith is good at interfering with the enemy team between her root and tree-summoning abilities, but she’s surprisingly fragile in close combat and her primary trick, Tangled Shadows, has a CA value just low enough to be unreliable as a means of disrupting the enemy. Zoraida’s Obey actions, on the other hand, can provide both disruption of the enemy plans as well as offensive attacking power by triggering a charge by the aforementioned heavy hitters in exchange for 1 master AP, a pretty good deal. While Zoraida’s never going to kill anything on her own, the Will o’ Wisp summoning and condition shenanigans plus stealing the opponent’s heavy hitters to use against them can substitute for some of this. For some more direct interactions, I’ve considered Titania, as a recent test game underscored just how much more survivable she’s become. And then, of course, there’s Collodi, possibly with Bag of Tricks or possibly still with Fated but letting the crew spread out a bit more. He has no shortage of mobility due to friendly crewmembers being able to push him with his defense trigger, and his attack is the definition of disruptive.
The point is, I think there is a sweet spot between the two extremes of tournament crew building. You don’t have to lock yourself in and master one crew to the exclusion of everything else, but you don’t have to learn the whole faction to do well either. Find some middle ground, master two crews that complement each other, specifically one crew that excels on doing their work up close and one that does better operating as individual models rather than a unit. Then you just have to tweak things here and there to reach a high level of mastery and tactical flexibility.
The Obsidian Gate worldwide Through the Breach event is in full swing. Fatemasters are leading crews of Fated Earthside to try and stop a plot to weaken the barrier between the material world and the realm of the Oni. A crew of misfits (what else could pregens be, really) including a shapeshifted Siren, a former compatriot of Sherlock Holmes, an Abyssinian engineer and his companion Redati-5, and a Japanese version of Michael Scott from The Office, along with a slew of other possible characters for fated to play, enter a Buddhist monastery just as disaster is about to strike, and are wrapped up in a plot to stop a cult's evil plans, facing enemies that defy comprehension. Sign-ups are still going on for new Fatemasters, and the Fated character that receives the most play will become a character in The Other Side! Plus, quick-play rules are included to help those unfamiliar with the RPG to learn and get playing as soon as possible. What do you have to lose? Sign ups continue for another week or so, I think. So sign up!