Free Cities Draft – Knuckles & Layne

As of this week, Steamforged has been spoiling some of the Free Cities Draft rookies from the latest community event. The first two rookies were the Fishermen’s new defender, Knuckles, and the Butcher’s new striker, Layne.


As we can see from the front of the card, Knuckles is quite the powerhouse. He’s as slow as Kraken, but retains the trusty Fish 2″ melee, has a decent 3/6″ kick and brings an average 2/4 influence. He also brings the single highest TAC for the Fisherman’s Guild; he can roll six dice when using his big anchor! When looking at his playbook, it’s easy to see what he’ll be doing: pushing or beating the crap out of someone. Of course, as is normal for any Fisherman, his damage results are non-momentous, so momentum generation will lie in pushing people around. On his third column, Knuckles has access to one of his Character Plays: Heavy Tackle. This ability brings the fifth way of dealing with Close Control for the Fisherman’s Guild – the first four being Corsair’s Rough Seas, Greyscales’ Ball’s Gone!, Veteran Sakana’s Fancy Footwork and Siren’s Seduced. This seems to be a nice buddy for Corsair, if not for his low 3+/1 defense and only 19 hit points… or is it?

Knuckles’ card front

On the back of Knuckles’ card, we can see a lot going on. Four traits, of which one is new. First of all, let’s talk about Resilience. This trait means that his 3+/1 with 19 wounds isn’t thát squishy anymore. Especially when considering the combination of Kraken’s Gravity Well and Protective Instinct, together with Knuckles’ Close Ranks. It means that if the opponent would like to hit Knuckles, they’ll most likely have to deal with Kraken ánd Resilience first, or suffer -2 TAC trying to deal with Kraken first, which should be enough of an investment for you to counter the play.
Knuckles’ fluff also suggests that he is a defense player at heart, and lives for protecting not only his squad mates, but also the goal. If Heavy Tackle didn’t shout ‘anti-striker’, his traits Lightning Reflexes and Backfield Presence will. Knuckles gains +2 TAC when attacking a model with the ball, even on Counterattacks and Parting Blows! And if someone wants to dodge away from Knuckles, he can just follow them, provided his movement path is unimpeded.

Knuckles’ card back

I can see Knuckles be a solid pick for Corsair, and he might even contend with players like Jac or Horizon for a pick in a Yukai list. He might also have his uses in Shark lists, but think I’d then rather pick Kraken, or just go ham and bring another striker.


While Knuckles’ card front screamed high numbers, Layne seems enormously fragile. The first things your eyes will look at are his 4+/0 defense and only 13 hit boxes. You can snap your fingers and Layne will break. But, as the Butchers are known for, Layne is to be considered a glass cannon of sorts. With a 6″/8″ movement, 3/8″ kick, TAC of 5 and 2/4 influence stat, he’s quite average along the board, but his playbook will show you that the strength of the card might lie on its back. Layne starts off with a momentous 1 damage + 1″ dodge, and immediately finds a momentous 2 and a non-momentous double dodge on his second column. This means that, as a striker, Layne is wont to either get a goal, or deal 8 damage and gain 4 momentum, which isn’t a bad deal. His tackle is non-momentous and on his third column, which should scream that something strong will be on the back of his card; what striker is so bad at retrieving the ball? Lastly, he rounds out his playbook with a momentous double dodge at 4 results and a terrifying momentous 3 damage + tackle on his fifth and last column. He also brings Acrobatics, which is very important for dealing with Counterattacks, seeing as he’s only a 1″ melee model.

Layne’s card front

Now we turn the card and… holy crap! Bleed the Cleats and Magic Touch are AMAZING traits for any striker, but especially a Butcher one. Layne gains +1/+0″ every (!) time he deals damage – yes, this also means in Counterattacks and Parting Blows – and receives a free tackle result on EACH AND ANY of his attacks. This means that he might as well have the strongest column 1 result in the history of Guild Ball – a momentous 1 + 1″ dodge + tackle + +1/+0″ kick. That means a double tackle on his third column, making quick work of any Close Control – a trait that he himself also has! Also, he has 3 damage on 2 under Ox. Why ‘under Ox’ you say? Because of another one of his traits, Get On With It, Boy!, Layne is able to either buy a free Acrobatics, or clear his conditions at the start of the turn. The latter of the two is actually amazing, as it means that you can heal Layne for 8 health per turn ánd clear him of his conditions. I can see this work mostly with Veteran Ox, as captain Ox isn’t usually in the vanguard, while Veteran Ox is usually the first one to go in. It also provides some protection from i.e. the Engineers gunline, as it’s possible to clear that pesky Knockdown and still go on your goal run.

Layne’s card back

Layne’s main problem is that he is a tricky to maneuver model in a Guild which has loads of great models that are less volatile on the field. But if you can manage to get Layne to go off, he goes off HARD. Think on it: Layne becomes a 6/8″ snap shot turret, which means that your opponent has to send someone to deal with him, which means that you have the upper hand in the scrum now. It’s a win-win situation in my book. But now it’s finding out who to drop, and when to play him…

Together with these spoilers, Steamforged have also shown that the FCD rookies will be available for purchase upcoming Friday! Be sure to head over to their store to get your models and complete your rosters!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

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