Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Spy Who Stabbed Me: Why Margaret Belle is the Best Commander in The Other Side

Come at me, nerds.

           It’s been a while since I put together a blatant click-bait post, so let’s give it a whirl. As I’ve had a whole 3 games worth of The Other Side experience, I feel qualified to make a definitive statement about who the best commander in the game is. Sure, Adeodatos is a pretty good force projector, if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy. Alright, the Storm Siren can lure enemy forces out of position. Big whoop. And yeah, whatever, your Lords of Steel make all the stratagems cheaper. La. De. Da. You can keep all of them. I’ll stick with the unsung hero of the British Empire, a lady who embodies all the virtues (gleeful homicide) and talents (shadow magic) that we prize in a young lady of these modern times (1907). I’m speaking of course of the pride of the Intelligence Service, Miss Margaret Belle.

            From the first number on her stat card (ok, the second. I obviously don’t mean the +25scrip thing) Margaret Belle outshines the competition. Look at that. 8” of movement. That’s just silly all by itself, but then you remember the part where she places 16” away at the start of her activation and, if that isn’t enough movement, you can give her the generic Earthside asset Marching Boots and push her up to speed 10. That’s 36” of movement on a rush action. At that rate, in a tournament she’s going to be running around on your board for round 2 while you’re still mopping up your game in rd. 1. Df and WP of 7 are both excellent. Armor 8 is the equivalent of the Royal Rifle Corps. Her Poisoned Knife attack has an AV of 7 with an (admittedly nothing to write home about) St of 3. However, when she stabs an enemy champion, it’s instead St 4 and Accurate. And for that juicy target that really, really needs to die, she has a morale action which is an 8 vs. WP (Read: it’s going to succeed most of the time) that locks a target out of cheating fate until the end of her turn and (on a trigger) hands them a shaken token. All of this combines to make for a potentially devastating assassin that can be almost anywhere and stab almost anything she wants in a given turn. And that’s just on the front of her card!

            In Glory, Margaret jumps to Sp 9 and WP 8. Her Knife attack increases to AV8(T) and gains a built-in trigger to flip the target out of glory, as well as another trigger to give her attack Piercing. Her morale action gains a trigger to immediately take a melee attack action against the target (hurray for free attacks!) and, if she’s got nothing to stab (likely because she’s killed her target or, more likely, because she’s busy supporting our boys on the frontlines by placing Objective Markers) she can spend a morale action to Draw two cards. Cards are at a premium in The Other Side, and if the King’s Empire has a failing (laughable concept, I know) it’s not having as much card draw as many of the other Allegiances. Of course, while deployed far behind enemy lines, she runs the risk of reprisal from the cowardly enemies she’s fearlessly facing down on her own. To counter this risk, her signature asset of Rapier Wit allows her to discard tactics tokens to force any action sent her way to target a Fireteam with which she is engaged (not "a fireteam she is engaged with", we don’t end sentences with prepositions in the proper King's English.) This can include the Fireteam that attacked her, so she’s probably safe most of the time so long as you end her activations engaged with someone with whom to pass attacks. And just for a bit of gravy, she gets another Morale action to force an enemy Fireteam to discard all tokens from their unit and then move them slightly out of position. Not the most powerful thing on her card, but a decent action to have in her toolbox (particularly to knock those Shaken tokens off of Burning Man loonies.)

            While I think she’s probably the KE’s best choice for most games, she truly shines in objective based scenarios like Scavenge or Set Traps. Placing Objective Markers is a Morale action, after all, which means as a Commander she gets a free one. I personally enjoy placing Margaret 16” away from the Fireteam with which she was engaged, issuing the Rush order, placing an Objective Marker, and then moving right back in to engage the same enemy unit. I’ve enjoyed using her with the Marching Boots, but I think they’re possibly overkill in most games. Rapier Wit comes stapled to her card in my opinion. Beyond that, it never hurts to have Toughness in case she gets caught with some Ranged Attacks when she’s unengaged/when you can't afford to burn a tactics token. For one commander games I’m starting to like Medal of Honor to avoid being completely starved of tactics tokens all game (plus that’s another attack she can hand off to the enemy). You can flavor to taste, but I think that it’s no contest that Margaret is the best commander in the Allegiance, and well worth including in any game.

Rule Britannia!