Scalpel | Season 4 | Guild Ball

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Last time on the blog we revealed the sixth of our updated Season 4 model cards, the Farmer’s Guild Honest Labourer, Ploughman. Today we’ll be continuing with our model card reveals with our first look at a Season 4 captain card, Scalpel, the Spirit Weaver of the Mortician’s Guild.

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They’re Creepy and They’re Kooky, Mysterious and Spooky…

As we mentioned on last week’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.

The Morticians are and always have been the ‘control’ Guild. Other Guilds have elements of control in their playstyle, but for the Morticians, it IS their playstyle. What this means is that the Morticians are specialists at giving themselves more options to approach a situation with than most Guilds, and also at controlling the number of options available to the opponent. To take a super simple example, Ghast’s Fear trait means that the first time he is attacked each turn, the attack costs 2 influence instead of 1. This instantly means that any enemy models that only have 1 influence just can’t attack Ghast, limiting the number of options available to those enemy models.

For the Morticians, it’s the role of the captain to facilitate both sides of the control playstyle, depending mainly on what the team needs them to do on a given turn. Obulus has always been great at exerting an extreme amount of control over a single enemy model with his signature character play Puppet Master, and with his legendary play Rigor Mortis he’s capable of seizing control of the tempo of a game at any given moment. In Season 3, this unfortunately left little room for Scalpel to do something different. We attempted to give her some single target control in the form of Tormented Agony, and a bit of general board control with her Legendary Voodoo Strings. But overall Scalpel’s playstyle felt very unfocused and ultimately, not very ‘Morticiany’.

In Season 4, we have altered Scalpel’s intended playstyle quite significantly to mirror Obulus’. Where Obulus remains the master of single target control, Scalpel is adept at controlling an entire team of enemy models at once…

You Remind Me of The Babe (What Babe?) The Babe with The Power (What Power?) The Power of Voodoo (Who Do?) You Do! (Do what?)

 

Wait a second, card back!? This isn’t how we normally do things! True, but to explain how Scalpel works in Season 4 it actually makes a whole lot more sense to talk about the back of her card first. So let’s get to it! First off, Anatomical Precision remains as one of Scalpel’s character traits. It fits thematically and is generally very useful whenever she attacks someone with armour. Excellent! Moving on!

Unnatural Stamina also remains as Scalpel’s heroic play, although it has changed slightly to allow Scalpel to use any of her character plays for free, not only Second Wind, giving her much more flexibility.

Finally, we come to the core of Season 4 Scalpel’s design, Voodoo Strings. In Season 3, Voodoo Strings was the name of Scalpel’s legendary play, but no more. Voodoo Strings is a character trait which will affect every turn of the game and every single attack that Scalpel makes during her activation that involves playbook damage. In short, whenever Scalpel damages an enemy model with a playbook damage result, one model within 6” of Scalpel will suffer a 2” push. That can be the enemy model Scalpel is attacking, Scalpel herself, any other enemy model within 6” of her, or even any other FRIENDLY model within 6” of her. Even though each model can only be pushed by Voodoo Strings once per turn, it still allows Scalpel to move up to 6 models 2” each and every turn! She can charge into a scrum and reposition everyone involved in that melee. Imagine having Ghast engaged by 3 enemy models with 1” melee zones. Scalpel comes in and pushes each of them to being just over 1” away from Ghast, and that melee that WAS super bad for Ghast is suddenly really stack against the opponent.

All the possible uses of Voodoo Strings will take a little time to think about, but once you do, the possibilities it opens up for a Mortician player are almost endless.

This Isn’t Even My Final Form!

So, with Voodoo Strings in mind, it’s time to finally look at the front of Scalpel’s card. Her stat line is completely untouched, as is her melee zone of 1”. Scalpel’s total number of health points has dropped from 17 to 16 because as we’ve seen already, Scalpel is way more about offence than defence.

At first glance, Scalpel’s playbook looks a lot simpler than it did in Season 3. A lot of the combination damage + X results have disappeared. It’s true that at first glance, this playbook ‘looks’ weaker than it did before, but don’t forget about Voodoo Strings! Every one of those playbook damage results effectively has a double push attached to it, that can be used on any model within 6” of Scalpel.

Onto Scalpel’s character plays! Firstly, Scalpel still has Second Wind, but this character play has seen a number of changes which have affected each model that also had Second Wind in Season 3. We noticed that Second Wind was starting to promote an unintended new way to play the ‘hit and run’ playstyle for teams, mainly being caused by Union Decimate. As a result, the first change we made was to ensure that Second Wind can only be used on friendly Guild models, ensuring that it is used only by Guilds that it is intended for in Season 4.

We also changed the effect of Second Wind from a jog to a 4” dodge. In some of the more extreme cases, Scalpel included, it was possible to use a very fast model to engage the opposing team, deal a lot of damage, and then retreat so far that the enemy team couldn’t retaliate. This is not a fun playstyle to face, so we have changed Second Wind to be a 4” dodge to limit the maximum distance that a model can use it to retreat with. However it’s now a dodge move, so it can be used to more easily disengage from enemy melee zones since a model making a dodge cannot be targeted by a Parting Blow. However, with these two changes effectively limiting the potential of Second Wind, it only made sense to also lower its cost from 2 to a much fairer cost of 1 influence.

The next change we need to mention is that the other two character plays Scalpel had in Season 3, Tormented Agony and Wake the Dead, have both been removed. These character plays represented the parts of Scalpel’s design that we felt were confused and unfocused.

The new character play that has replaced Scalpel’s older ones, Spirit Bomb, is the icing on the cake of Scalpel’s new positional control playstyle. There are models that are fairly safe from Voodoo Strings a lot of the time, such as enemies with Unpredictable Movement that Scalpel might struggle to engage. Spirit Bomb is Scalpel’s answer to problems like this. If there is a situation that Scalpel doesn’t want to rush headlong into to sort out or if she needs to drag a model with decent defensive tech towards her, she can pull the pin off a Spirit Bomb grenade and throw it in first. On top of that, she can even use her heroic play to use a Spirit Bomb without spending influence!

Scalpel has become the aggressive positional control piece to mirror Obulus’ more singular style of control. The challenge when using Scalpel will be knowing when to pull her back, since Voodoo Strings only works during her activation, it won’t help her when making Counter Attacks. So make sure to plan where she finishes the turn carefully, and don’t forget to save an influence or an MP for Second Wind!

That’s all for today folks. We hope you enjoyed today’s reveal of the all new Scalpel. Join us next time for a reveal of some of the tweaks we’ve made to the Ratcatcher’s Guild!