A few times in the last few weeks you had the chance to get a sneak preview of how the Ratcatcher’s Guild Captain Piper works, as well as the other unreleased players, Squeak and Miasma. That sneak preview took place via the Steamforged livestream and for anyone who missed those videos they can be found HERE. Today we’re going to be revealing Piper’s full card to you, as well as doing our usual walkthrough of his various abilities and synergies within this disgustingly awesome new Guild!
Piper was one of the earlier character concepts that the development team came up with for the Ratcatchers. We knew that we wanted to give the Ratcatchers a more ‘indirect’ playstyle, which meant that the guild needed someone to lead them who isn’t as directly powerful as a captain like Hammer, Shark, or Fillet. We also knew that including a character based on the Pied Piper of Hamlin in the Ratcatchers was an absolute slam dunk. As a result, in the Ratcatcher’s Guild, the Piper uses his melodic tunes to distract and taunt the opposing team as well as inspire his own into feats of incredible agility. When on the same pitch as the Piper, no one really knows who is making the decisions except the Piper himself.
What if I Told You, I Don’t Score Goals?
Piper has a goal scoring focus, but that isn’t super obvious by glancing at the front of his card. There are a couple of tell-tale signs, the complete lack of a momentous damage playbook result above a , for instance. However, Piper has a reasonably average kick attribute of [3/6”] KICK, and his playbook doesn’t feature many dodges at all. On the contrary, Piper’s playbook has two momentous push results instead, weird! Well, that’s because Piper’s main focus is on having the rest of his team score goals for him, and he has a pretty fantastic toolkit to help them achieve that.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Piper has a brand-new character play called Reverie. Reverie is what makes Piper tick as a ‘goal scorer who doesn’t score goals himself’. This ability allows another player on Piper’s team to immediately sprint forward and take a shot. This is incredibly useful for a team looking to score multiple goals! Normally if the ball is on a player which has already activated during a turn, the ball is effectively ‘dead’ until that player activates next turn, since the friendly team can’t tackle a team mate. This can be bad for a goal scoring team. Piper can solve that problem with Reverie by letting that player sprint and shoot at goal! It is worth noting though, that Reverie allows a player to sprint and shoot without spending influence, the shot does still cost  momentum as normal.
The secondary use of Reverie is to use it on a player who doesn’t have the ball, simply to make them take a sprint. This is fantastic for repositioning players that are in danger or perhaps aren’t close enough to the enemy to attack them. A great use of Reverie during the first turn of the game, if you don’t have the ball, is to use Reverie on Scourge to sprint up the pitch before he activates. This would allow Scourge to charge into the opposing team and start spreading the disease condition on the very first turn!
After you consider Reverie, a lot more aspects of Piper start to click into place. For example, that momentous double push on Piper’s second playbook column becomes a lot more useful in a myriad of situations. Perhaps Pelage has the ball and is in range to sprint and shoot, but is engaged by an enemy player that could tackle the ball away on a parting blow. Piper can come in, push the enemy player away, and use Reverie to let Pelage get the goal!
We also have Piper’s second character play to consider, Pay the Piper. Pay the Piper allows the Ratcatchers to gain an extra momentum point each time an enemy player spends momentum while within [6”] of Piper. Something fascinating is that a lot of coaches don’t realise just how much momentum they spend each turn until the Ratcatcher’s coach starts tallying it up to Pay the Piper. There are also a number of elements within the Ratcatchers that make the opponent want to spend momentum, not least being the disease condition, which will whittle away everyone’s health over the course of a game. What often happens is that the opponent has to spend a lot of extra momentum to heal and clear conditions because of disease. Pay the Piper allows the Ratcatchers to gain extra momentum on top of that, which means the ‘momentum race’ becomes even more skewed in the Ratcatchers favour.
Tell Me, Do You Dance? You Will…
The back of Piper’s card has three abilities on it, each of which has a different use and focus. As we saw with Reverie, Piper has a clear focus on making his team score goals. The back of Piper’s card is really what allows him to properly facilitate those goals.
Firstly, we have Piper’s ‘dilemma’ mechanic, Haunting Melody. Haunting Melody was a lot of different things during Piper’s development; at one point it was even a character play. Eventually, we settled on Haunting Melody being something that Piper can just do once per turn without spending any resources. Haunting Melody also doesn’t require a ‘hit roll’ (TN test) of any kind. Quite literally, Piper just picks an enemy player within [8”] of him and says ‘choose!’ The opposing coach then decides whether Piper or the chosen player will move. Once the choice has been made, the Ratcatcher coach then moves the chosen player. It is important to remember that it is the Ratcatcher coach that moves the player, regardless of which one is chosen by the opponent.
Haunting Melody is a very strange ability, mainly because the Ratcatcher coach needs to accept that they will almost never get the option that they ‘really’ want. The opponent will likely pick which ever option is best for them. Therefore, a key part of using this ability is to make sure that both options are bad for the opponent, and that you can capitalise on whichever choice the opponent makes. When considering how best to employ Haunting Melody, it is important to remember that both options cause the player to Jog ‘towards’ the other player, and not ‘directly towards’. The difference being that ‘towards’ gives the Ratcatcher coach a huge amount of flexibility in how they can move players around. This opens up options like moving the player at an angle or even around corners rather than being forced to move in a straight line like the character play Lure.
Let’s take an example to make this a bit simpler. Piper needs to get the ball from an opposing player and do something useful with it. Piper uses Haunting Melody. If the opponent chooses for Piper to move, Piper can move up to engage the opposing player, tackle the ball, sprint away with it and score a goal. Alternatively, if the opponent chooses for their own player to move, Piper can move the opposing player towards him, bring it into melee, tackle the ball, then pass the ball to a friendly Ratcatcher and use Reverie to make them sprint away and score a goal! Options galore!
The second ability on the back of Piper’s card is a Heroic Play called Distracting Tune. Distracting Tune is a very simple effect with a lot of potential uses. Being able to move an enemy player [2”] at will may not seem very important, but remember what we said earlier about Piper using pushes to disengage friendly players for Reverie goal runs? Distracting Tune means that Piper can even do it without having to make an attack, although it will of course cost  momentum for being a Heroic Play.
Finally, we have Piper’s Legendary Play, Swarm’s Obedience. This is when Piper hits the crescendo of his song and makes everyone on the pitch dance to his tune. With a frankly enormous pulse range of [8”], Piper can potentially hit every player on the pitch if properly positioned. When he uses Swarm’s Obedience, Piper can reposition all those players. Remember that all push distances are optional, which gives a truly astonishing amount of flexibility. Swarm’s Obedience could be used to push enemy players away, ready for a Reverie goal run, for instance, or perhaps to bring some of your own players forward to surround an enemy player ready for a Scourge beatdown.
As you can see, there are a huge number of ways in which Piper can move both his own and opposing players around. Generally, Piper’s tricks are aimed at letting his team score goals, but they can be used to help the Ratcatchers score the occasional take out as well. We’re super excited to see what you all make of Piper, Devil of the Undercity. Join us again soon to see more reveals of this new and exciting Guild.