Esters | Season 4 | Guild Ball

Snakeskin Salvo | Granite Anvil & Sledge | Ploughman | Scalpel | Ratcatchers | Skatha | Falconers | Veteran Siren | Esters | Boiler | Smoke

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Yesterday on the blog we revealed the ninth of our updated Season 4 model cards, the Fisherman’s Guild Veteran Siren, the Turning of the Tide. Today we’ll be continuing with our model card reveals with a look at the Season 4 card for the Ferocious Matriarch of the Brewer’s Guild, Esters!  

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As we mentioned on yesterday’s blog, one of the first things we did when we started the development of Season 4 was to take a look at the intended playstyle for every Guild as a whole, and then each model individually. This process helped us to identify not only which models needed to change, but also by how much and with what purpose in mind. These objectives were in addition to overall aims such as reducing complexity and tweaking game balance. 

We’ve seen a lot of talk about the Brewer’s Guild over the last year or so. They started 2018 commonly rated as one of the weaker teams in the game, then the arrival of Veteran Decimate shot them up in most people’s estimations. For those who were wondering, yes, we intentionally made Veteran Decimate powerful enough to increase the power level of the Brewer’s Guild overall and make things more interesting for the remainder of Season 3. Not everyone will agree with that decision, but we felt that to get the Brewers exactly where we wanted them needed quite a few changes to models. Rather than have a large scale errata six months before a new Season, we felt that releasing a model that we knew was slightly above the curve to bring the Guild up was the healthier option. The intention was always that Veteran Decimate would be a temporary fix to keep things ticking over until we got to Season 4, where we could take a look at the Brewer’s Guild as a whole and straighten a few things out.

When we analysed the Brewer’s Guild, we’re still happy with the playstyle that we’ve always wanted them to have. They’re among the most resilient Guilds in the game, with enough offensive power to be able to compete with the likes of the Butchers and the Blacksmiths in a straight fight. They’re also not particularly agile, but they have a couple of thematic ways to extend their threat ranges as well as the odd nippy model that can fire home an opportunistic goal or two.

In addition, we’ve also made a concerted effort to simplify some of the more complex elements of the Brewer’s Guild. Alongside the iconic Butchers and the Fishermen, the Brewers and the Masons are our recommended ‘starting Guilds’, as presented in our two-player starter set, Kick Off!. To help with this, we paid particular attention to the most complex elements of all four of these Guilds to ensure they are as new player friendly as possible whilst retaining a solidly fun playstyle and power level. Esters is a fantastic example of where we’ve done this.

  

Siiiiinging in the Change, I’m Siiiiiinging in the Change, What A Glorious Feeeeling, I’m Haaaaapy Again!

So, a lot of change to dig into here. Ester’s statline has changed only slightly, the only change being that her INF stat has increased from 4/5 to a more standardised 4/6. However, she had retained her 1” melee zone, and 22 total health points. Overall it’s fair to say we still want Esters to be a more supportive Captain, able to help her team whether she’s buried deep in a brutal melee, or sitting back outside of one. As long as she is near her teammates, Esters can be very helpful to her team. 

Ester’s playbook has been streamlined quite significantly. A lot of the double results have been stripped out in favour of more straightforward but still useful choices. Having a momentous 2 damage on the second column is unheard of for Brewers, and having a double push option on her third column gives Esters a stronger counter attack than she had in Season 3. Her playbook is less complex, but ultimately stronger than before. 

Moving onto her character plays, we should tell you in advance to read everything we’ve done to Esters before making a judgement. Looking at single changes without context will just be confusing. So, let’s begin. We removed all her old character plays and replaced them with Tooled Up and Quick Foot. 

We did this for a number of reasons, primarily to do with her character traits. However, we were also never completely comfortable with the Brewers having a reasonable amount of damage and board control from range, which they had when Esters had Blast Earth and Fire Blast. They also just didn’t make much sense with how we wanted to convey the idea of Ester’s powerful voice having a tangible effect on the pitch. More on why we chose Tooled Up and Quick Foot in particular when we talk about the back of Ester’s card. Speaking of which…

Aria Grande

Okay, now we can talk about Esters as a whole. Let’s get the simple ones out of the way first. Resilience is the new name for Gluttonous Mass. The only other change to this ability is that it now protects Esters from parting blows, well, one parting blow per turn if it’s the first time she is attacked. Handy for walking out of melee when you’re only going to get hit once. Additionally her Heroic Play, Soothing Voice, hasn’t changed because it’s wonderful just the way it is.

Now we move onto the main feature of Esters’ new card, and it’s a fantastically small and simple rule, Aria. Aria is the replacement for Esters’ old Empowered Voice abilities and legendary play. Those mechanics just asked so many questions of players. Which buff to choose, when to use it alongside when the best time is to activate Esters, when to use her legendary play, which abilities to choose then, which models to use them on and when. SO many questions that just made Esters extremely tactically complex to use. All of that has been cut out and replaced with Aria.

Perhaps the thing we love the most about Aria is its simplicity, but even then, it can do so much for the Brewer’s Guild. Considering that all non-Mascot models have a heroic play (yes, including Mash), the Brewers can get up to four free heroic plays out of Aria every turn. That’s 4 extra MP back in the pockets of Brewer’s players each turn and a boat load of tactical questions being thrown out the window. Activation order is no longer a problem, since the Brewers don’t need to generate MP before using their heroic plays when playing with Esters, and Esters doesn’t need to activate for the team to benefit from Aria. Choosing which ability to use where doesn’t matter anymore, since each Brewer comes with their own custom made and inbuilt buff with their heroic plays. This is fantastic from a raw strength perspective, but also because as we mentioned, the Brewers are one of our ‘starter Guilds’. This makes Esters’ playstyle much clearer and easier for newer players, and that’s one of the big things we love about Aria.

Now it’s time to circle back around and talk about those character plays. While we didn’t like the complexity of Empowered Voice, we did like two of the benefits that it gave to the Brewer’s Guild. Being able to increase the damage output of one model per turn, including herself, was extremely useful and needed to stay. Hence, she gained Tooled Up. Also, being able to increase the speed of a friendly model by 2” was a fantastic ability for Esters to have. So she also got Quick Foot. Yes, she does have to pay influence to use these buffs now, but Aria has just replaced one type of efficiency with another in the form of free heroic plays all the time.

Overall, Esters is one of the models we are happiest with in all of our Season 4 changes. She represents perfectly what can be achieved by simplifying the rules of a model, whilst still allowing for innovative tactical use on the pitch and interesting choices for the players. However, it is important to note that Esters is not an accurate representation of what we have done to the Brewers as a whole in terms of the scale of the changes made. Esters is certainly the ‘most changed’ model in her Guild, we haven’t completely re-written every model in the Brewer’s Guild by any means. We were just so excited to show off what we’d done with her that she had to be our blog reveal.

That’s all for today folks. We hope you enjoyed today’s reveal of the all new Esters. Join us next time to see the reveal of the Season 4 player card for Boiler the Apprentice of the Butcher’s Guild.