Scalpel, Spirit Weaver
Welcome back sports fans!
It’s been a while since the last article came out of The Heroic Play, fear not though we are back! Real life (getting married, going on my honeymoon and starting a new job) has kept me very busy for the last month or two. Life is returning to it’s normal sort of pace now though so I will aim to be getting back to producing an article once every week or two. I’m still playing Brewers at the moment, but now that Season 2 has landed and is in full swing, I’ve been reading through the new rulebook (don’t worry no spoilers if you haven’t read the fiction yet) and Scalpel is a player that I’ve been looking at and thinking ‘damn she’s good’. It’s obviously quite hard when the Mortician’s Guild original captain is Obulus, because he is so powerful; but Scalpel has got some seriously interesting options, which makes me want to take a bit of time to talk about her.
When looking at Scalpel, Steamforged have done a great job of making keeping the Morticians feel to her; through both her playbook, and character plays and traits. In my opinion she wants to toy with her opponent like a cat playing with it’s food. Scalpel has a very disruptive playstyle; she has the ability to upset the opponents plans and force your opponent to re-write their plans on the fly. To get a bit more of a feel for what I am talking about I’ll discuss her stats briefly. The first thing that strikes you is that she is Fisherman’s Guild fast, with a MOV of 7″/9″ she can cover a lot of ground; her playbook also ties into her speed with her having easy access to a Momentous 1″ Dodge on 1 success in melee, or a Momentous 1″ Push/Dodge with 1 DMG for 3 successes.
Next up is her impressive TAC score of 7, coupled with Anatomical Precision meaning that for the majority of targets that she will attack, she gets all of her successes and doesn’t have to drop any for armour. To me what this means is against the typical players that you will see so 4+/1, 3+/1 & 3+/2 DEF/ARM combination players you will expect to see around 4 successes after armour if they get any against her. That puts you in what I would describe as her ‘sweet spot’ for attack results. It gives Scalpel the ability to head up to a player a then make a number of attacks to pull them away from support by using her Push/Dodge option to back pedal them back towards your lines ready for a more heavy hitter to come in and finish them off. Doing that will also generate you a decent sized pile of momentum as well. Allowing you to take further control over the ebb and flow of the game. With her Momentous 1″ Dodge on 1 success and non momentous Tackle on 2 successes, she is also a credible goal threat that your opponent needs to be wary of.
An example of a Scalpel goal run could be a turn where she is allocated 6 influence, she charges her target with the ball for example taking a Tackle and if you’re lucky enough to wrap, which you may well do, she can take a 1″ dodge, then making 3 more attacks she should be able to dodge around her target to get within shooting range of the goal. If all goes well you’re looking at having generated around 3 or 4 momentum, this allows you to throw her Heroic Play Unnatural Stamina up and put Second Wind on herself for free, then take a shot, Bonus Time it up from a 3/6″ KICK to a 4/6″ shot and scoring, using momentum to Run the Length and Second Wind, to head 11″ away from where you were to relative safety from retaliation.
Glancing over the remainder of her stats are the average DEF & ARM stats of 4+/1 and having 17 boxes making her fairly durable, combined with the standard Captain influence amounts of 4/6. These make her reliable and capable of having a turn where she can get a lot of work done on her own if you need to. Scalpel has also got some pretty reliable Counter Attack options in the form of her 1″ dodge or her Push/Dodge with 1 DMG, both of these are probably what you want to be looking for if you are making the Counter Attack. If they haven’t landed in base-to-base with you then the 1″ dodge makes you safe against other 1″ melee players, and if you can Counter Attack vs a 2″ melee player then the Push/Dodge is probably the best result as long they aren’t in base-to-base with you.
So moving onto look at Scalpel’s Character Plays, first up is Tormented Agony this can only be triggered through attacking a player in melee, the first use of this is in what I described as Scalpel’s ‘sweet spot’ on 4 successes and also does 2 DMG and earns you Momentum as well. The next time it appears in at the top of her playbook on 7 successes, which is till Momentous but comes with 3 DMG on top as well NICE! This play causes the target to lose an Influence and move it onto another model in the enemy team within 10″ who hasn’t yet activated, bear in mind that it is an allocation so it can’t take that player above their inflence cap, so if they already have their max influence you can’t place it on them.
In a similar way to pulling off Casket Time I kind of feel there is a bit of ‘living the dream’ sort of tactic that can come out of this play with Scalpel. The example of this would be that Silence uses Shutout to make a player go last; then Scalpel uses Tormented Agony to pass the influence onto the player who will be going last and the rest of her team then kills the player the influence has been passed to before it gets to activate. While it seems like a very cool tactic I feel that it could be a bit of a trap trying to live the dream and acheive it. A more realistic use of it is to probably move the influence on to a slower player who won’t be able to make use of it this turn causing it to be wasted.
Next up is Second Wind, which is very welcome in Morticians; early game Scalpel probably wants to use it on someone like Ghast or Fangtooth if you are playing them to get them up the field. Mid to late game I can see Scalpel wanting to use it on herself so that she reposition and keep herself safe, or maybe put it onto someone like Mist if he’s got a reliable goal threat, allowing him to retreat to relative safety after scoring. Something that also factors into Scalpel’s use of Second Wind is her Heroic Play Unnatural Stamina, which allows her to use it without spending Influence but by spending Momentum instead. I think this is really worth bearing in mind as it can be a little trick to keep up your sleeve if all Scalpel is doing for a turn is repositioning, you allocate her an Influence to sprint into position then use some Momentum to throw it out, and all of sudden Scalpel is acting as a battery for a turn if you need it to power some other members of the team.
Last but by no means least is Wake the Dead this character play allows Scalpel to grant one of her team Reanimate for a turn. Using this play when you have a player who is on the borderline in terms of whether they will survive the attacks the enemey is likely to put into them. If the resources of one enemy player are just enough to take the player down and then Reanimate brings the player back before they earn any VP you then pose a question to you’re enemy, do they assign more resources to finishing that player off again, and possibly not acheiving what they wanted out of that player originally, or do they leave them alive and give you the opportunity to heal your player back up and bring them back into the fray.
Moving on to her Character Traits, I’ve already covered Anatomical Precision when discussing her playbook; her last character trait is Slippery. This combined with Second Wind mean that Scalpel can quite happily use her end of activation Jog to leave melee with most players providing they haven’t got super easy access to a Knockdown, like on 1 or 2 successes. As I said at the start of the article Scalpel plays more into a Cat & Mouse kind of playstyle, being able to reposition freely and pose numerous questions for you’re opponent to have to work around.
Last but not least we come to her Legendary Play Voodoo Strings; initially with this I felt it was a bit lack lustre, not really thinking about how to use it to great effect. Following some deliberation on it though I think it can be a really powerful tool when used to catch your opponent off guard. One of the most obvious uses if to use it as a threat range increase for your team. Scalpel goes and pulls a bunch of the enemy team closer to your team so that you can get some extra attacks or charges off in the turn that you wouldn’t have done previously. The next application that comes to mind is to use it to pull the enemy team close together and clump them up ready for Ghast to charge in and pop off The Unmasking and catch a bunch of people in the pulse. In a similar vein, is using it late turn and setting Graves up to charge in get a Scything Blow off and making everyone hurt by it take Bleeding thanks to Crucial Artery. If you manage it as the final activation of a turn then you’re guaranteed 6 damage on those players, which is pretty big really. The last one that springs to mind at the moment is if your going for goal and the oppoent has Goalkeeper model such as Tenderiser, Compound or Veteran Velocity making you’re goal shot more difficult. Using Voodoo Strings to pull them out of the 4″ of the goal marker so abilities like Goal Defence & Rush Keeper are no longer an option for you’re opponent. Plenty to think about there really!
Last thoughts on Scalpel are around what sort of line up you want to take in her tournament 8. My thoughts currently are: Scalpel, Dirge, Silence, Mist, Rage, Ghast, Graves then Avarisse & Greede. This gives you all of the options to do some of the bits I’ve spoken about throughout the article. If you go with Mist, Graves & Silence, you’ve got access to 4 players (including Scalpel) who can score goals quite happily if required or if the opportunity presents itself. My default aim is to play for 2 goals and 2 takeouts and I feel that is what Scalpel’s team will play into. I put Rage in my tournament 8 because I think going into softer teams like Fishermen, Alchemists and some other teams that having access to Tooled Up can be really beneficial. Scalpel becomes a bit of monster with it having 2 DMG on 3 successes becoming 3 DMG with Tooled Up or increasing the damage on her 2 Momentous option on 3 and 4 successes so it would be 2 DMG and a Push/Dodge or 3 DMG and Tormented Agony. Alternatively someone like Silence becomes quite scary having 2 Momentous DMG on 2 successes which would become 3 DMG… Ouch! While the Morticians already have access to Singled Out through Dirge, Avarisse is a really good option for dishing it out Momentously on 1 success. I think the 7th activation can be good early game and less so mid-to-late game unless you use it to set up the afore mentioned The Unmasking or Scything Blow as an unanswerable activation at the end of the turn.
Well that brings me to the end of my thoughts on Scalpel. Hopefully you’ll find them insightful.
Till next time!