The Smiths, at the time of writing, have a decent winning chance of 47.4 percent, with a deviation of 2.4, which makes them come up just shy of having 50% within their confidence interval. Their preferred captain is Anvil, at 52.1%, and it takes a while until the next Masters come in. Furnace at 46% and Farris at 45.3%, and the others are below the 45% mark (while also having low amounts of games played). It seems that the amount of possibilities for the Guild hurts the team’s average winning chance by making it hard to see which combination of Masters and Apprentices are needed for every matchup. Let’s see if the votes echo this sentiment…
First off, what gameplan did you guys think the Smiths have?
Over half your votes went to ‘captain-dependent’, while a quarter of your votes went to ‘take-out centric’. The rest of the votes went into ‘opportunistic’, and it seems that a very small contingency plays footy Smiths.
Exactly what I expected. The Blacksmith are often called the ‘combo Guild’, or the ‘Guild of endless combinations’. Every single Master Captain has a different outlook on how the game should progress. Take-out Centric is also what I expected to see, as I feel that most games end in a Sledge and vCinder beatdown party. But I’ve also seen 3-0 and 2-2 games played by this team, led by captains like Farris or Ferrite, which explains the votes into Opportunistic.
This second question is also greatly what I expected to see, having Anvil in a strong position with nearly half of the votes. On Longshanks, Anvil is shown to have the highest winning chance. Having Farris and Furnace trailing him seems logical, but seeing Hearth with 10% of the votes feels off to me. Hearth is one of the least played captains on Longshanks and only wins four out of ten matches. Fun fact: all top Masters have Sentinel’s Armour aura!
Having Anvil at the top feels like an obvious choice for the amount of value he brings as a captain. His character plays increase the game tempo, his traits make his immediate surrounding area an impervious bastion – especially together with the Legendary play – and Anvil with 5 influence can even go in for some decent damage as well. And of course, he is the one that powers up Sledge, the main beater of the team.
Farris gives the Guild some more mobility and striking options, especially on the receiving end of the kick-off. Her Legendary play makes for an endless amount of momentum through free passes, or huge amounts of mobility through Pass’n’Move dodges. She herself also has a 14” threat range on the ball as captain, so is a very decent kicking model to threaten first activation goals. Also, she powers up Bolt through Tutelage, which might just be one of the most influence efficient scoring models in the game, being able to make 22” goal runs with just 2 influence.
Lastly, there’s Furnace. While being portrayed as very much a beater captain through his traits and plays, he has some merit in being adaptable in your gameplan. Having a Tackle on his first column, a 9” threat on the ball and a 3/8″ KICK, captain Furnace is able to go on unexpected goal runs. But, correct me if I’m wrong, he doesn’t have to be a captain to be able to be useful and do his thing. It’s not like he’s going to do a lot more than i.e. Anvil with 5 influence, right?
The other captains, except for Culverin, also have some votes, but I feel that those tactics are too niche to completely break down, i.e. the Burnish gunline (which got stronger with the addition of C&C!). I would like to see why people are considering captain Hearth in the comments, though!
A question that is almost the same as the previous one, but with a slight deviation; how valuable is a Master without considering them as a captain. Still, Anvil has more than half of your votes. Bringing an easy KD, While the Iron is Hot and Singled Out, and being a near unkillable bastion indeed feels nice, but is it thát important? Or does Anvil get these votes due to being the one to power up Sledge? I’d like some help from the community to understand this choice, but I guess the next question will answer it for me.
Farris follows with just under 20% of the votes. Farris undoubtedly is better as a captain than a regular Master, as she’s lost 2” of her threat on the ball, and the extreme amounts of mobility/momentum generation through her Legendary. What she still brings, is being the one that powers up Bolt, still being a native 18” goal threat, and having decent pushing power for ring-outs. While Masters are usually seen as setup pieces, Farris can make VP’s on her own quite easily, which is why she’s regarded so highly.
Hearth follows on third place at 13.7% of the votes. This I do understand. Instruction and Use This can be very strong in the right hands, but for me her greatest strength lies in Match Experience. Getting double 4” dodges on every pass lets your team go INCREDIBLY fast, which can be invaluable in certain matchups, like Hunters, Engineers and Alchemists, who’d actually like to stay away from you. Having a 3” range on her Legendary turn can be very strong against Furious models, as she just turns them offline by standing close. Her first column KD also requires your opponent spend momentum to stand back up. Her ability to do SO much with 0-1 influence is amazing.
The other Masters get the rest of the votes, with Furnace getting the brunt of them, and Burnish actually not getting a single vote. I’m expecting to see him pop up in my last question…
And I’m guessing the result of this question greatly show why you chose Anvil as your most valuable Master. Sledge leads by a huge margin, getting 47.1% of your votes! Veteran Cinder follows at 37.3%, and the others are actually all sub-5%, except for Cutlass and Cinder getting no votes at all.
Sledge obviously can be one of the strongest hitters in the game, hitting for 8+ damage per blow when set up correctly. Luckily for the rest of us, he only is able to get three influence per turn, although he can still randomly delete models off of the pitch with that. With his Powerful Charge, he’ll never have to be afraid of Counterattacks – except against Sturdy models – and through Tutelage, that charge will always have Piledriver attached. TAC 9 against a 4+/1 model usually means 4.5 hits, so either 3 or 4 successes after Armour. Add 3 successes, and you’ll get either 6 or 8 damage. 4+/1 models usually have between 14 and 16 HP, so that’s basically taking 50% off in a single hit. Add Hearth into the mix with Instruction’s +2 hits, and you’ll even be able to wrap to 10 damage total. Ouch!
Veteran Cinder also gets some love, and it’s obvious to see why. Having a 10” native threat range, being able to receive four influence, ánd maybe being able to make another attack through Grim Vengeance feels very strong. Not having a KD on her Playbook makes her somewhat vulnerable to good Counterattacks though, but even if they push or dodge away, you’ll always still have Impale for some extra damage. Let’s also do the maths for her; 10 dice charge on a 4+/1 results in 4 successes after Armour, but let’s also factor in Hearth’s Instruction to go to 6 successes. This is 4 damage + 3 within 2” of her through Sweeping Charge, which is 7 damage + Searing Strike. Her following attacks will be against a 4+/0 now, being an Impale and 2 damage from the playbook. This totals in 12 damage, which isn’t enough to kill most 4+/1’s, but this number will jump up considerably after some setup, which is what Masters are all about!
When doing these calculations, it’s obvious to see why people are crying out for nerfs, but I’d like to ask those people a question: when do Apprentices activate? The answer should almost always be ‘after setup from the Masters’. This means that you usually have a window to get to safety, kill them first, or make that goal run. Every Guild has ways to limit their efficiency within this window. Want to know how? Ask in the comments!
Lastly, it seems that Cutlass and Cinder are missing. I think Cutlass has received no votes due to her being new, and people have to playtest her first, but Cinder might be a contender for my last question.
Looking at this chart, it seems that indeed Cinder needs some help, together with Cast and Ferrite. Unexpectedly, Burnish has a very decent presence in tournament lists, so I’m guessing that the threat of his Reinforced Plating is enough to bring him and force opponents to think twice about their squad composition.
Seeing Culverin and Cutlass at 72.5% can largely be attributed to ‘new toy syndrome’, I guess, but I’ve heard some talk about how they improve some of the Smiths’ weakest matchups, like the Butchers. I can see how that works with ranged knockdowns and rough ground auras to slow down their charge into your ranks, but I’d like to see it before I believe it. If someone else has some other idea on why C&C are important models, let me know in the comments!
As expected, also when looking the tournament lists, Cinder, Cast and Ferrite are the ones that are mostly considered as ‘least valuable’, but it’s important to note that nearly ALL models are present with votes in for this question, if only 1 or 2 votes for most.
Looking at Ferrite first, I’d like to look at her Apprentice. In the current Blacksmiths strategies, Iron is mostly used as a ball-killer model, for which Ferrite doesn’t bring anything extra. Also, Iron can still bring the pain, and has no need for Ferrite to be ‘turned on’ other than having an extra 4” threat range. Besides that, she doesn’t bring as much to the team as the other Masters do with their influence. To operate, she really needs a full stack every turn, which limits what your Apprentices can do. Also, she lost Hobble going into season four, which might be one of the biggest blows to her efficiency. When looking at what Masters are supposed to do, which is setup, I’d actually suggest to get Hobble back, but make the Legendary a choice; OR +2”/+2” movement for everybody in the pulse, OR attacks within a 6” aura cause Hobble. I’m going for a Hobble aura, as I think that a pulse would be way too strong. Other Masters also have auras as Legendary, so why would Ferrite be different?
Cast received almost a quarter of the votes, which – in my opinion – can be attributed mostly to her being an allrounder of sorts. She’s quick, she can do damage, she can go for the ball, goal runs, she has a debuff, and some sort of ball retrieval. In a Guild where Apprentices are usually considered as ‘specialists’, she really falls short. Her ability to deal damage is greatly hampered by the fact that she’s quite vulnerable to decent Counterattacks, and her damage is already not that impressive. Charge against 4+/1 with Instruction gives give five successes after Armour, which is four damage against a burning target. After that, it’s most likely 2x three damage, resulting in 10 damage. It’s actually better to only go for regular attacks and constantly hit the momentous 2 for 12 damage in four attacks, 13 when considering Instruction, which is on par with Veteran Cinder, who doesn’t also need the Burning condition to be applied to get the same amount of damage done and is less vulnerable to Counterattacks due to her 2” melee. Cast’s tackle is non-momentous and placed on the third column at TAC 5 – which actually is the worst of all apprentices. This means that more boxes have to be ticked before she can do what other Apprentices (Sledge, Veteran Cinder, Bolt, Alloy) can do. I think that she will need to get some sort of clear direction in her kit, as her current version is all over the place. Either go for the fast melee winger with an easier tackle and her dodging around with Swift Strikes (à la Midas), or make it worth our while to deal damage with her and improve her damage track. Make it so that her damage is almost on par with the other beaters, but much higher when the Burning condition is applied, on par with Sledge’s max, while keeping her vulnerability to decent Counterattacks intact. Any other ideas? Leave them in the comments!
Lastly, there’s Cinder. For one, Cinder has the problem of having the Spigot-syndrome; she’s called Cinder, and her veteran version is considered as one of the best Apprentices in the Guild. Besides that, her kit is based on killing the ball with Decoy and Unpredictable Movement, or removing free balls from play with Kill the Ball, and maybe tackling the ball at range with Hot Shot and shooting a goal with her 3/8″ KICK. Sadly, she only has a 1” melee zone, so the current world of 2” strikers (Corbelli, Spade, Mist, Vitriol/Crucible, etc.) can easily get around her ball killing tech. Also, Iron has proven to be a better ball killer with Close Control, and when placed in cover and within the Sentinel aura. Basically, she has nothing really going for her at this time as everything that she does, another model does better, together with being super vulnerable against 2” beaters at 3+/1 with only 13 health points. I actually have no idea how to get Cinder back up to snuff, except of going for a slight rework. Any thoughts?
So, to sum everything up, there’s clear fan favourites in the Guild, but it’s not because of them actually being too strong. The strength of the Blacksmiths team lies in how well the coach can manage them, as positioning and activation order are very important to reach success.
As it stands, I think that the duo of Anvil and Sledge as the most valuable two of the Guild might be something to be looked at, but it’s nothing to prioritize at the moment. Mostly Anvil’s Legendary as captain, as Stoic ánd Tough Hide basically turns off anything that the opponent might’ve been able to do in that turn, except for scoring a goal when in possession of the ball (or if your name is Veteran Boar :-P). In my opinion, looking at the likes of Cast and Cinder is more important, as that hopefully would result in even tougher decisions for a tournament roster, and might even open up a less take-out and more 2-2 oriented approach to the Guild.
What are you thoughts on the matter?