Here at Steamforged it’s been fantastic watching the forum & social media reactions to the first wave of the Blacksmiths Guild, Forged from Steel, that we pre-released at GenCon 2017. If you missed all the excitement of seeing the Blacksmiths cards for the first time, you can download the digital cards HERE. In our last Blacksmith blog we revealed the fourth Master Blacksmiths Hearth, the weapon smith of the Blacksmiths Guild. If you missed that blog you can find it HERE. Today, we’re going to take a look at the man whose job it is to keep Hearth alive, the Apprentice Blacksmith Alloy.
Get Behind Me!
Not all men and women seek glory or renown in their duty, preferring instead to strike silent and unseen from the shadows. Destined never to know adulation or recognition from the stands, it is in darkness they live, and in the same darkness they remain when they die. The personal bodyguard of the venerable Master Blacksmith Hearth, Alloy is mysterious and aloof even amongst the members of his own team, his motives entirely unknown. Although he is of the brotherhood of Blacksmith Apprentices, it’s safe to say that Alloy wears the title uncomfortably, rather than truly living as one of their number.
Indeed, Alloy is something of anomaly in the Blacksmiths Guild because his concept isn’t based on the role of a Blacksmith in the sense that we have become accustomed to. However, we decided that it would still be very interesting to pair this type of character with the Master Blacksmith Hearth. Who better to represent the Apprentice of a weapon smith than a player with the skill at arms to wield any weapon with precision?
It’s a Bold Strategy, Cotton
Like his concept suggests, Alloy isn’t like the other Apprentices we have seen before. Alloy is classified as a Striker and it’s easy to see why. For a start, Alloy brings an incredible [7”/9”] MOV attribute to the Blacksmiths as well as a long natural kicking range of [8”]. In addition, Alloy has a Playbook more reminiscent of a goal scoring player with easy access to Momentous and non-Momentous Dodge results. Alloy keeps the themes of an Apprentice Blacksmith’s Playbook, however, with some enormously powerful results on the fifth and sixth columns in the form of a Momentous Tackle & Double-Dodge and a non-Momentous  damage result. Alloy does have a single Momentous  damage Playbook result but it is still fair to say that dealing damage is not his primary focus on the Pitch. Alloy fulfils his role as a bodyguard away from the prying eyes of the mob.
Alloy’s goal scoring theme is continued in his Character Plays, particularly with Acrobatic. Acrobatic is a Character Play that veteran Guild Ball coaches have seen before on the likes of Harmony and Velocity. A [2”] Dodge may not seem that exciting at first glance, especially when Alloy has such easy access to Dodge Playbook results. What’s important about Acrobatic is that it does not require Alloy to make an Attack or otherwise engage with enemy players. Alloy could be completely isolated from other players on the Pitch but he can still make an Acrobatic Dodge move just by spending  Influence. Among the Blacksmiths Guild, Alloy has a speciality for moving in and out of enemy player’s melee zones both by using his Playbook results and Acrobatic for Dodge movement. More on this later…
Alloy’s second Character Play is another one we have seen before, Dirty Knives. A much more general use Character Play that is very much in keeping with the Blacksmith Guild’s preference for lowering enemy attributes in order to make them easier to hit. The [-1] DEF debuff that Dirty Knives inflicts is useful for a number of different tasks, such as making it easier for Alloy to Tackle the ball from an enemy player, or making it easier for Sledge or Iron unleash their insanely good Playbook damage on some poor sap’s head!
That’s not a knife, THIS is a knife!
Turning over to the back of Alloy’s card we see a little of his bodyguard status start to show through. Back to the Shadows is a Character Trait seen previously on the likes of Jaecar and Minx and it allows for some very flexible repositioning ability. If Alloy sprints up the Pitch on a goal run and damages an enemy player along the way before burying a goal, he will get to make his Back to the Shadows movement before even considering whether he also wants to spend  Momentum to use Run the Length. Additionally, because Back to the Shadows is Dodge movement, Alloy can use it to disengage from enemy players without taking a Parting Blow.
Alloy charging into an enemy Player that has possession of the ball is another good example of how useful Back to the Shadows can be. Alloy can Tackle the ball away before triggering the Dirty Knives Character Play from his Playbook. In this case Alloy has damaged the enemy using Dirty Knives, and so gets to retreat with the ball in his possession AND the enemy player has its DEF reduced by [-1] ready for Iron or Sledge to come in and wreck face.
As with all Blacksmith pairs, there is an ability that links Alloy and Hearth on the Pitch. For Alloy that ability is his second Character Trait, Arsenal. Arsenal represents Alloy being on the receiving end of Hearth’s weapon throwing as Alloy can arm himself with whatever weapons Hearth chooses to throw during each turn of a match. At the start of Alloy’s activation he can choose one of three benefits that will affect him until the end of that turn. Alloy can choose to have either a [2”] melee zone, to gain [+1/+0”] KICK, or to gain Anatomical Precision. Three very handy benefits considering the type of player that Alloy is.
We mentioned earlier on about Alloy’s speciality in moving through enemy melee zones with a huge amount of Dodge movement. Adding the potential for a [2”] melee zone into that mix makes Alloy even better at his specialisation as he can choose to Attack enemy players that have a [1”] melee zone with being engaged by them in return. On the other hand, you may wish to take the Anatomical Precision option to make Alloy’s Attacks that much more efficient by ignoring  point of enemy ARM on each Attack. Suddenly the Tackle result that you were likely to hit becomes almost a certainty in a lot of situations, and the higher Playbook results like the Tackle & Double-Dodge suddenly aren’t as far away as they would first appear. Alternatively, perhaps Alloy already has the ball and he just needs to give himself the best possible chance of scoring a goal for the Blacksmiths, in which case [+1/+0”] KICK might be the optimal choice. There are also ways to combine Alloy’s abilities with those that already exist in the Blacksmiths Guild, such as Hearth using Use This! to give Alloy a [2”] melee zone allowing Alloy to choose to take Anatomical Precision from his Arsenal and have the best of both worlds!