Free Cities Draft – Wave Two

Hi all!

Another week of FCD Rookie spoilers has passed. I hope you’re all happy with the new toys that you’ve been given?

Let’s see what these new models have in store for us, shall we?

KAMI

Lately, Steamforged have published their releases in alphabetical order, so I will follow their example and let the Alchemist rookie see the stage first. Kami is the Alchemist’s new attacking midfielder.

There are a couple of interesting things to see on this card. First of all, there are NO damage results on Kami’s playbook. An early tackle, loads of dodges, and a GB token at the end of her playbook. She’s quick (7″/9″ MOV), agile (5+ DEF), and can play the ball quite well (3/6″ KICK). At only TAC 4, you would think that Kami would only really want to attack on charges, but Anatomical Precision and the new Deadeye traits show that there is some merit in attacking with Kami. Using the new trait, Kami can add a GB token to each successful attack, making her able to use her Character Play Chemical Ordnance. Ah! So she does have damage results on her playbook, ranged damage results even! Her other character play, Kill the Ball, is fully on theme with Kami’s FCD background story, and it’s the first tech against killing the ball as a free ball for the Guild. Lastly, she has another new trait, Elusive. This trait gave me flashbacks to S3 Crucible with Slip Past – Kami is able to take a condition off of a model and can then teleport towards said model, either friendly or enemy. This trait gives loads of options for non-linear goalruns. It’s nice and janky, and can be used offensively or defensively. With her easy tackle, her speed, and her ability to spread conditions around, she’ll be a great addition to a Midas squad. The real question is: who will Alchemist captains bench from their tournament rosters for her?

FLEA

Next up is Flea, the new defensive midfielder for the Brewer’s squad.

Flea is an odd one. Looking at his playbook, you would think that you’re looking at a mascot card. Only three columns long, and only non-momentous damage results. At 3+/1 and 20 hit points, Flea’s Farmer heritage can be recognized. As a squaddie, Flea doesn’t seem to impress – certainly not with the likes of Hooper and Veteran Decimate around. But when we zoom in on his character plays and traits, we see that Flea does something very special – something that no Guild has ever had before. Flea buffs, and gets buffed by, the Guild mascot. With his heroic play Animal Treat, he can buff up the TAC of either Scum or Quaff, which he can also pull towards him through Get Over Here and which he can force additional attacks from through the new character play Go Get It!, which is basically a Mascot version of Red Fury. By the way, Friday also has Get Over Here for Scum, so the murder kitty has the option of moving 12″ out of its own activation – is 26″ goal-threat-cat a thing now? TAC 7 Scum or Quaff sounds quite funny, but not amazing… unless you also add in Tapper’s Commanding Aura or Esters’ Tooled Up. But is the mascot the real damage dealer here, or are we missing something? Flea himself can also deal quite a nice amount of damage through Assist, giving him a +2 DMG boost with either Tapper or Esters. This means that Flea has non-momentous 4 on 2, which is quite amazing alongside the knowledge that his playbook is three columns long and he will be TAC 8 under Commanding Aura and Assist, maybe even TAC 9 with Quaff’s Pick Me Up! Just think of your opponent’s face, seeing Flea hit his models for 7 or 8 damage per attack. But again, the question is: who will be benched for this rookie? The Brewers already have loads of ‘must have’ models, so will Flea be able to find a spot for himself?

NOMAD

Third up is Nomad, the Engineer’s Guild’s new winger.

When I saw this card, I thought “Knuckles has a contender”. I’m not sure which is better, but they certainly are in the same tier. Fast (5″/8″ or 6″/9″ MOV), tricky to hit or pin down (5+ DEF, easy to reach 2″ reposition, Unpredictable Movement), an amazing kicker (4/6″ or 4/8″ KICK, Goal of the Month). And then there is his legendary play, Wherever I May Roam, which is basically a one-off like Hearne’s Nature’s Blessing. Fun fact: this legendary also works with Ratchet’s Blast Earth AOE, as this is considered as a (temporary) rough ground terrain piece. This means that on his legendary turn, he has a minimal goal threat of 23″. Also, did I mention that this guy is TAC 6 or 7 under Rivet with a momentous 2 on 3? Talking about Rivet – just think of a 2″ melee Nomad with Unpredictable Movement, on a 5+ base with 13 hit points… I think the design team forgot that their idea for the FCD rookies was “high output possibilities, but decently fragile”. There’s nothing fragile about Nomad. At first I thought Nomad should always have a spot in the Engineers 12, but lately I’ve been reconsidering though. The Engineer squad has loads of specialists, and Nomad is an all-rounder. The important question is: is an all-rounder something that the Engineer coaches were searching for?

CHAMP

And last, but not least – Champ, the Mason’s new attacking midfielder.

Looking at the front of Champ’s card, I was thoroughly unimpressed. Luckily, Stamina showed me that this girl can go for miles and miles. With an indirect 10″/12″ MOV, Champ finds herself in Bonesaw territory for being the model that can move the furthest on her regular advance. Her playbook has a standard Masons feel – early momentous results, late non-momentous results. The early momentous tackle+dodge result is nice, and the momentous push-dodge on column two is also nice to have. Champ’s first damage result is found on column three in the form of a momentous 2 damage result – something we can now call ‘the Corbelli result’. Her Poised trait will make nice use of her early disengaging playbook results. Hold the Ball! is a new character play, handing out the Close Control keywords. And lastly, her new trait Put Me Back In, Coach! perfectly shows off Champ’s tenacity, as she can come back on her recovery level onto the pitch right after she’s been taken out – with her influence and effects still on her, but without any conditions. Champ, in my mind, is another toolbox model – one of many that the Mason’s Guild already has access to. Her main usage seems to be ball retrieval for a score-heavy Corbelli list, but with his recent nerf and the buffs to i.e. Honour, I have a hard time considering her as a decent addition to a tournament twelve. But I might be wrong – please show me I am!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE ROOKIES

It seems that the main goal for the FCD rookies was: can I bring something new and exciting for my Guild, while also having a fragile, rookie base model? In my eyes, they’ve succeeded with most of the rookies. Some are slightly overtuned, and some sadly just missed the mark on what their Guild wanted from them.

The Alchemists now have access to a fast model whose damage ignores Tough Hide and activates many an Alchemist trait by spreading conditions while also generating momentum. Blacksmiths now have the possibility to play a gunline strategy, able to slow down fast and aggressive teams while enabling your own. Brewers can increase their mascot’s output to that of a squaddie, while still keeping it only cost 1 VP on their take-out. Butchers now have a Close Control striker, that can easily retrieve a ball and score even in between multiple opposing models. Engineers now finally have an all-purpose model within their ranks of specialists, that actually isn’t as fragile as he seems to be. Farmers now also have an all-rounder Reaper, who can switch between dealing damage and retrieving/scoring the ball on a whim. Fishermen get scrum control, damage, and ball protection all on a single, quite hardy model. Hunters get what might be the most mobile squaddie in the game, that can also spread the Snared condition around at range. Masons get a ball-retrieval model, that can’t be locked down by taking her out. Morticians get squaddies that have the ability to deal captain-level amount of damage, while also adding to the goal game.

Will Kami be played by Alchemists? Most likely in a Midas squad, as this is their only anti-freeball tech, or maybe she’ll have some nice synergies with the upcoming third Alchemist captain.

Will Cutlass be played by Blacksmiths? Many a Blacksmith coach has already added her and Culverin to their twelve, just for the spot they fill in making some of their rough match-ups more doable.

Will Flea be played by the Brewers? In a meta where Veteran Decimate, Hooper and Spigot are the obvious picks, I don’t know if Flea will be able to make a dent. He does have some nice synergistic plays alongside new Tapper, but will that be enough?

Will Layne be played by the Butchers? I would say ‘no’, as Brisket is still a thing, but I can see him performing admirably as a first-activation retrieval piece to get the ball back after having to kick. That would be his only shtick though, and it’s quite easily countered by keeping the ball out of reach from him, or on the ground behind your lines.

Will Nomad be played by the Engineers? Have you heard David Cameron in The Rookie podcast, or read his twitter account lately? If I don’t see Nomad in my opponent’s twelve, I’ll be glad. Amazed, but glad. 4/8″ possible KICK? 9″ possible sprint? Possible TAC 7 with a 5-column playbook? Possible 2″ melee with Unpredictable Movement? What’s there not to love about this model?

Will Amber be played by the Farmers? Yes, but only by Farmers that aren’t single-captain. Amber is clearly a Grange squaddie, as her ability to adapt to any situation isn’t that useful for Thresher, who does all of the work himself anyway.

Will Knuckles be played by the Fishermen? Battle Shark Galactica is a thing now. That should be the only answer you’ll need.

Will Edge be played by the Hunters? This is a tough one, for me at least. I’m not that well known with the Hunters’ play style. I would say that a hyper-mobile ball retriever, that can also put out Snared, feels like a ‘yes’, especially for Steeljaw or Skatha. After the recent Egret buff, I can see them work together quite nicely.

Will Champ be played by the Masons? I would say ‘no’, but there might be someone who’s willing to champion Corbelli even after his nerf. I don’t see her being more of an asset to a Honour or Hammer squad than those squaddies that the Guild already has access to.

Will Gaffer be played by the Morticians? A Mourn player would most certainly say ‘yes’. Obulus and Scalpel can also find great use of out this model, if only for his The Knowledge trait. Scalpel with a 3/8″ KICK is a thing, you know.

So, based on this, and also looking at the output of the models with or without influence, I’ve come up with the following tier list:

  • S-TIER: Knuckles – Nomad
  • A-TIER: Edge – Cutlass – Gaffer
  • B-TIER: Amber – Flea – Kami
  • C-TIER: Champ – Layne

I expect Knuckles and Nomad to be present in many a six. I expect Edge, Gaffer and Cutlass to be present in many a 12. I expect Kami, Amber and Flea be present in some tournament rosters, but not all. I expect Champ and Layne to mostly only see play in casual matches, or with people that still play Corbelli.

What are your thoughts?