Engineers Breakdown


Since the start of season 4, the Engineers have been struggling in the Longshanks rankings. The nerfs – i.e. to the Mother-Hoist combo – seemed to not be well received as the amounts of games played during the season were at an all time low, struggling to compete with even the Minor Guilds. At the time of writing, the Engineers are still trying to keep their head above the water, keeping only the Union, Falconers, Cooks and Ratcatchers behind them. Still though, their win chance percentage is at 47.2% with a standard deviation of 3.0%, which means that the sought after 50% is within the probability interval, be it on the limits of the higher end.

Ballista, the original grandmaster of the Guild, has one of the lowest win chances around at 43.4%. The gunline specialist seems to have fallen onto hard times. The Queen Artificer, Pin Vice, is keeping a more steady win percentage of 49.5%, while the new addition to the machine, Rivet, has the highest win rate at 51.6%. The 4.1 patch actually did nothing for the Engineers, but the addition of the Miners – Spade and Fuse –  ánd Rivet seem to have sparked some interest. Suddenly, major players are bringing them to tournaments, and with some success!

But there are some concerns. When looking at percentages since March (Miners), their win chance actually seems to have dropped! Since March, the Guild is at 46.4%. Rivet is still at 51.6%, but Ballista and Pin Vice are at a shocking 40.9% and 42.9%, respectively. Is the Guild starting to go towards being a one-captain roster? Also, Rivet is still a new model, so people need to figure out how to play against her. All of this gives me some cause for concern.

As expected, the votes are skewed towards a slightly opportunistic, but mostly goal driven type of game plan for the Engineers. This is understandable, as almost all Engineer models have a very decent KICK stat, almost always having 3 or 4 kick dice and 6”-8” kick distance. Add to this the raw speed of the Guild, and seeing that almost all damage results are non-momentous, and you can understand these votes.

While mostly going for goals, it’s not like the Engineers can’t take some models out. This opens up the 2-2 game plan. If the opponent thinks your only threat lies in goals, they can be sorely mistaken. More than anyone, Rivet opens up this avenue playstyle, but I’ll talk more about this later on.

There’s also some votes for Captain Dependancy, which is understandable. Ballista likes to play gun-line as well, while Pin Vice goes for a very aggressive, in-your-face playstyle.

Usually, I would say that the new captain being the main pick is pretty impressive, and that there might be something wrong with her balance-wise, but knowing that the Engineers’ other captains are floundering, it seems understandable.

So, with half of your votes, you chose Rivet as the most valuable captain, which is very understandable. First of all, she’s a new toy and exciting, but maybe even more important, she opens up avenues of play, which weren’t possible before. Giving models reach and/or momentous damage results makes that scrumming suddenly can be efficient. But don’t be fooled, Rivet can still very much be a goal centered captain. The likes of Velocity, Spade and Salvo are now all TAC 6 with playbooks of only 4 or 5 long. Just think about it: 2” melee Velocity at TAC 6 with momentous T<< on 3. Spade with a possible double momentous T>< on a charge. 2” melee Salvo with momentous 1<< on a single success. No ball will be safe from these elusive targets. Still though, the enemy can be in a world of hurt; bring Colossus and Ratchet, and you’ve got a nice scrum starter. Overclocked Colossus at TAC 6 will hurt like a truck, and Tooled Up Rivet coming in afterwards will most certainly result in a taken out model. Your main concern, when playing Rivet, is keeping her safe. Without her, all of your TAC bonuses will fade, and suddenly your power level will decrease quite strongly. At 3+/2 and 18 health points, she won’t be taken out easily, but any decent 2” beater will take her out anyway.

A third of you voted for Ballista, the captain with the ~40% win rate. Ballista is very much a ‘safe’ captain. Stay back, soften up the opponent from afar, and make them pay for getting into your lines. Usually, Ballista plays for a 2-2 result. He likes to receive the ball to keep his gunline safe and score at the end of the turn. After that, he picks off squishy targets, while trying to regain possession of the ball. With his Breach legendary play, he usually is able to throw in a second goal. It’s understandable why Ballista is having such a hard time lately. Most of the strong Guilds have some kind of threat extension, which makes it hard for Ballista to keep his gunline intact after turn 1. Butchers, Hunters, Morticians, Blacksmiths; they all have decent threat extension tools, and therefore can come into the Engineers’ ranks before they’ve been softened up too much.

Pin Vice has received only a sixth of the votes. The Artificer Queen has been plagued by the coming of Rivet, as suddenly she’s not the best goal captain around anymore. In my opinion, Pin Vice is a very interesting model. There are so many cool things to do, especially involving her Legendary play and Harriet’s Hat aura, but playing her requires some thought. She plays a lot less safe than Ballista does, and her combos need all pieces to be in the right place for her to absolutely shine. This makes mastering her quite the feat. Usually, people tend to see her as a goal-getter, as the absolute star of the show, but I think she actually needs to be played as the support captain by setting up your squaddies to do amazing things via her character plays or Legendary. Her Playbook is VERY weak, in my opinion. Her first momentous damage result in on column 4, and her 2 damage result in on column 3. At TAC 6, this means that you won’t reliably get 2 damage against a 4+/1. So, she’s not a beater (unless you majorly set her up). Also, in a world where the likes of Seasoned Brisket, Bushel, Angel, Veteran Siren, Skatha and Piper get easily attainable tackle results with added dodges or pushes, Pin Vice has to deal with her momentous tackle on column 2. Other models within her Guild (Velocity, Salvo) at least have a T<< high up in their playbook, which means that they can reliably tackle the ball and disengage on a charge. Personally, I also feel that PV just needs to be looked at. With the advent of Rivet, she just doesn’t bring enough in terms of diversity. Rivet also makes her squaddies beat or score better, and she does so more reliable than PV does. In my eyes, PV can be reworked into a supersolo-esque striker type model. That way, the Engineers will have three very different captains, and they can choose which two they want on preferred playstyle. What are your thoughts on the Artificer Queen?

This was very much expected. The major nerfs to Mother at the start of Season 4 have left her in a sorry state, and with Hoist also being out of favour, there’s even less uses for her.

Mother, together with Hoist, were almost considered as an NPE to play against in Season 3. Their synergy was so strong, that the two of them were considered auto-includes for any matchup. But then the nerf hammer struck; Mother’s DEF was reduced from 4+ to 3+, which would make her a lot less survivable on the Pitch. With Hoist also losing Tough Hide, their combo was decimated. While still strong, Hoist’s range would now only be 7” + 6” + 4” + 2x 30mm. This results into a threat range of just under 20”, which isn’t all that impressive anymore in today’s world of Guild Ball. 

Mainspring, on the other hand, received major buffs in Season 4. Besides keeping Launch Control, his KICK was improved to 4/4”, and he gained a new Character Play: Thief. This play is basically a work-around for Close Control. Also, Mainspring can charge another model, as the range for the play is 1”. With some clever placement, Mainspring can easily steal the ball from 5+/2 in cover Friday, while attacking 3+/1 Spigot. His influence efficiency makes him the obvious strong contender for the Engineers Guild most valuable mascot.

You’ve all voted, and the majority went to Salvo as your most valuable model within the Guild. Other votes went to Ratchet, Spade and Colossus, while there were also some for Velocity and Locus.

Salvo, in essence, is a model that can basically do everything. Deal damage? Yes, through his Character Plays (if they hit…). Score? Yes, as he has a momentous T<< on column 4 and 3/8″ KICK, and brings Swift Strikes for added threat extension. Provide setup? Yes, through Floored Bolt. Provide debuffs? Yes, through Arrow to the Knee. Tech against ball killing? Yes, through Floored Bolt and/or Tether Ball. On top of all that, he also has the standard defensive line of 4+/1 with 16 hit points, and he brings some influence efficiency through his heroic play. Basically, he won’t one-round models, but that’s not what Engineers do anyways. If there is anything within the Engineer team that can be considered as an auto-include, Salvo comes very close.

The runners up are Spade and Colossus.

Spade has been considered as one of the strongest strikers in the game. 2” melee, placement effects, 3/8″ KICK, auto-hitting ranged push, momentous tackle on 1 success and Close Control. For a goal team, she might be an auto-include. Don’t expect her to do anything else, though.

Colossus can be considered as the setup king of the Engineers. He can set up take-outs with Singled Out and his easily attainable >+KD, he can break up scrums via Unexpected Arrival charges, he can easily strip the ball with his momentous tackle on 2 hits and Close Control. If he’s within Rivet’s Sturdy aura, he basically ignores any Counter attacks, as he also has Stoic. Add to that, that his damage track is absolutely outstanding (1-234), and you have a very important central model for the team.

I’d actually like to talk about Velocity as well, even if she’d received only a couple of votes. For me, Velocity is actually starting to be one of Rivet’s most important models. While she has her obvious uses as a striker, she might also be one of the strongest taxi models in the game. With a momentous >< on 2 and >><< on 4, while having TAC 6, she is able to move any of the opponent’s models for miles and miles. As she’s a Mechanica, Overclocked will work on her; this might result in a wrap for a double momentous >>><<< result! FOR FREE! Pushing people off the Pitch, pushing them into her own team, Velocity’s role within a Rivet squad is very much more versatile than with any other captain.

When looking at this graph, there are some obvious problem areas. Rivet and Ballista seem to be the better two captains, which leaves Pin Vice as bench warmer. Mainspring is considered much more valuable than Mother. Hoist’s uses with Mother have been nerfed immensely, and he’s also not the ‘unkillable model’ anymore, due to losing Tough Hide. 

After that, Veteran Velocity and Fuse are mostly considered as drops. 

Veteran Velocity feels quite obvious to me; after Spade, regular Velocity is your best striker model, and she also brings loads of utility to a Rivet squad. Also, Veteran Velocity has quite an identity crisis; is she a striker, or does she want to be in the middle of things to help with Lend a Hand? In any case, she doesn’t bring anything significantly more than her regular version already brings.

Fuse, in my opinion, also suffers from an identity crisis. Does he want to go retrieve the ball with his easy tackle and Under the Lines? Or is he a positional setup piece via Clear!? And what’s up with the +2 DEF against character plays? Basically, Fuse has loads of uses, but the Engineers already have models that can do these things; some even better than Fuse can. 

Are these results what you guys expected as well?

Having so many different votes in the ‘least valuable’ section can usually mean two things: ór the Guild is balanced very nicely, ór there are only certain strong models and the rest is considered garbage. Let’s see what you voted…

Mother, Locus and Hoist received the most voted. Locus is the odd one out here, as he still has an almost 70% pick rate amongst tournament rosters. Other votes go to Veteran Velocity and Compound, and some of you even voted for Mainspring, Harriet and Salvo! Very confusing…

Anyway, as I’ve already talked about Mother for a while, let’s talk about Hoist. Hoist was considered as a very strong pick in season 3 due to two interactions: Mother’s Burrow and Harriet’s Sucker Punch. Burrow would allow him to go for the most crazy of goal runs, while Sucker Punch would make him deal massive amounts of ranged damage. Burrow has been nerfed as it lost the free attack, and Sucker Punch is no longer buyable with GB tokens. This has greatly affected Hoist’s uses, along with losing Tough Hide and therefore suddenly being a model that can quite easily be taken out. Sure, he has his uses by copying Thief, Singled Out, Unexpected Arrival, Disarm, or Route One, but none of them can be considered as groundbreaking. The Guild already has quite a load of ball retrieval, Singled Out doesn’t stack and you don’t want to send in Hoist on his own anyway, Unexpected Arrival might be fun but you’d like 50mm base Colossus to increase the effects of the play. The only actual uses would be Harriet’s Disarm (as she herself hardly ever uses it) or Veteran Velocity’s Route One, as this works wonders together with Sturdy, but Disarm would mean that Hoist is in the thick of things, and we just established that Veteran Velocity is already seen as one of the drops anyway. I’m not sure how to fix the copycat, though. Any thoughts?

Where Hoist lost his Tough Hide, Locus gained it and is now considered as one of the toughest models to take out in the entire game. Add in a ranged damaging push, free ball kicking at range, a first column momentous KD, and protection for other models via Gravity Well, and you’ve got a nice frontline model. Sadly, Locus is quite slow and only has 1” of reach. Luckily, we now have Rivet to give him 2” reach and make him TAC 6. I think people need to warm up to him, as he’s actually amazing in a game that turns into a scrum. The control he offers might just win you the damage race, and at TAC 6, he can usually get to his momentous 2 damage result. Add in Tooled Up, and Locus is the unkillable tank that can handily deal out 12 damage as well. The problem is that most believe that he has to compete with Colossus as the centre of the pitch model, but I actually believe that Colossus and Locus bring entirely different things and might even be played together. Just think about Rivet, Locus, Colossus, Ratchet and Velocity. Thoughts?


I have to admit, the Engineers are in a weird spot for me now. Mother and Hoist were already problematic models, and Spade and Salvo were some of the strongest models of the squad, but the addition of Rivet has shaken up the squad even more. I can see people just playing a Rivet-only tournament roster, and bringing as much diversity to go along with her. On the other hand, Ballista at least brings the gunline playstyle. Pin Vice’s playstyle is too tricky at the moment, which is why she’s dropped as well.

When looking at the obvious balance problems, there are a couple to consider. Mother and Hoist need some love, Pin Vice has fallen out of favour due to Rivet, and Veteran Velocity has the problem that her original version is much stronger under the new captain.

I don’t think that Veteran Velocity is thát much of a problem that requires changing her (again), but Pin Vice could do with some light tweaking. Mother and Hoist, however, are still lagging behind the curve, even more so with the addition of Rivet and the Miners. Any thoughts on how to get those two back into ‘viable’ territory?

I feel that the low-ish winrate of the Engineers can largely be attributed to the difficulty of playing them; top-end players can do marvelous things with them, but low-to-middle of the pack tournament players might keep struggling to make them work. Also, the current state of the game might not agree with the style that the Engineers want to play; engagement on their terms, and staying in control of positioning on the pitch. Would you agree with me, or do you think there are other factors to consider?