When the Guild was released in season 2, the team had a rough time establishing themselves amongst the rest of the Guilds. Ever staying at the very bottom of the pack, a little buff to Theron and Hearne, the coming of Skatha, and Veteran Minx in season 3 helped them along somewhat. But it wasn’t until the start of season 4 that the Guild was considered as top table viable’, and viable it was: the Hunters were the absolute alpha in the early days of the newest season. Reworks to the likes of Skatha, Seenah and Chaska made them storm up the ladder, and lead to Will Wijnveld grabbing the world title with this team. Congrats again, by the way!
Steamforged acknowledged the strength of the Hunters and decided to change up some numbers and playbooks in the 4.1 patch; especially Chaska and Seenah were touched. This has resulted in a decline in their season 4 winrate, and it seems also in their popularity, as we see the amount of games played with Hunters has decreased tremendously since 4.1. (Thanks for the info, Ritch!)
At this moment, the Hunters are placed in fifth with a winning percentage of 51.7% and a standard deviation of 2.1%. Looking at only these numbers, they seem nicely balanced; a smidge on the strong side, but still well balanced. Skatha sits as a nice 53.4%, Theron at 51.0% and the new addition to the roster, Steeljaw, sits at 49.5%. Every single captain lies close around the 50% mark; VERY nice. Or is it?
It might also be interesting to see what happened to these percentages in 4.1; were these numbers higher in the early S4 days, so is the current percentage only an average? The answer is ‘yes’. Since patch 4.1, the Hunters percentages have dropped immensely. They’re now almost down at the bottom of the pile, stuck at 44.7%. Steeljaw remains at her 49.5%, but Theron (41.2%) and Skatha (41.7%) have suffered immensely. To give some more insight; their win rates before the 4.1 patch was 55.5%, with 57.8% for Skatha and 54.1% for Theron…
How did this happen? Maybe the answer can be found in your answers. Let’s find out…
For the Hunters squad, I actually thought most votes would go to ‘opportunistic’, but it seems that the diversity within the captains is more important. Skatha is the striker, Theron is the control-piece and Steeljaw is all about setting up those take-outs; the range of playstyles available for Hunters is nice and broad, but it’ll still be mostly a 2-2 or 1-4 game. The 3-0 isn’t impossible, but Skatha doesn’t have that much help in the scoring department, so even she brings Seenah along for the 2-2. So basically, your game plan is mainly dependent on the opponent you are facing; an opportunistic playstyle.
For now the votes make sense, nothing weird to see here.
This pie chart reminds me of the Brewers pie chart. ½, ⅓, ⅙. Just over 50% of the votes went to Skatha, most likely because of her dominance pre-4.1. Just over 30% chose Theron, and the remaining votes are obviously for Steeljaw. I feel that, because Steeljaw is new, people might not have a clear image on her strengths and weaknesses, and will therefore mostly not even include her in their choice. Tell me if I’m wrong, though.
So, first off, let’s talk The Ron. The first Hunters captain has many controlling ranged plays, can create LoS blocking terrain for free, and can hand out free character plays for influence efficiency. At 4+/1 and 16 health points, Theron has an average statline. His only real defence is the double dodge at his second column, which means that Theron will fall if any decent beater with a good KD comes into him. But does he deserve a beating? Yes, he does. Theron can provide SO much support for his team, it’s actually quite amazing. Nature’s Growth makes a forest AoE on the start of his activation, which can be used to block charge lanes or just line of sight. It also makes Hearne able to teleport around the pitch. Arrow to the Knee is the bane of strikers, and Pinned is one of thé best control effects in the game. And with Sun Strike, every character play hit gives you momentum. And oh, Sun Strike is not OPT, so you can also put it on other models to gain even more MP. Also, Theron’s damage causes the Snared condition on the opponent’s model via Hunter’s Prey; this means that his 8” range character plays also cause Snared. His Heroic, Blessing of the Sun Father, gives someone the opportunity to use a character play without spending influence; basically a better version of Salvo’s Locked and Loaded, as this heroic isn’t bound to just Theron. It can basically be a free Pinned, Skewered, Boom Box, Flurry, Chain Bolas, Eye Spy, Harrier, etc. Oh, and he ignored Rough Ground via Light Footed, a trait that many a Hunter model has. Due to Theron’s versatility and control, he’s a very strong captain, but quite the target against fast beater teams. He’s very strong into goal scoring teams, though, as basically all of his plays and traits are absolute nightmares for goal runs. I feel that his current ~41% 4.1 win rate doesn’t do him justice.
Skatha, the striker captain of the Guild and absolute monster at the start of season 4, isn’t your typical striker captain model. First of all, Skatha is a 5+ with 14 health points, so she won’t fall over that easily. Add a double dodge to her second column, and you don’t want her to be able to make counter attacks. Still though, a single KD should be enough to bring her into ‘easy take-out’ range. Second, with only a 4/6” kickstat, she needs to really get close to score that goal, so what does she have that give her that type of movement? With a 7”/9” jog and sprint speed, extra speed through a trait, dodges everywhere on her playbook, and loads of dodges from her character plays and legendary play. Skatha is FAST. Nature’s Chill makes a fast-ground AoE for free at the start of her activation. Only that makes Skatha a 17” goal threat, which is nothing to scoff at. Via Snowball, she’s able to pass a ‘ball’ and use the teamwork action Pass’n’Move to dodge 4”, bringing her up to a 21” goal threat. Blessing of the Moon Goddess adds a double dodge to her next successful attack; charge in for the double dodge and suddenly you have a quadruple dodge; 25” goal threat. We’ve now spent 4 influence to move 19 inches, of which 8” are dodges. Amazing! The Blessing can also basically give you a momentous tackle with double dodge on 1 result, if you first have to retrieve the ball. But that’s not all she does, as she can also use the Snowball to move her friendly models around, and she can bestow the double dodge Blessing onto her squaddies as well. Oh, and her Legendary, Winter’s Night, adds a dodge to any successful attack performed by a friendly model within 6” of Skatha, giving your team even more mobility. (Oh, and that Legendary can also be used in the goal run to give 26” of goal threat, maybe even 28 or 29” if you attack another target to dodge off before shooting the goal. So, is that all she does? Nope, she can also use Cold Snap to do some AoE damage and, even more important, the Snared condition. So she also sets up kills for Seenah with Cold Snap, and using Winter’s Chill and passing a Snowball to increase Seenah’s range with another 6”. This means that Seenah can be within your formation in turn 1, even if she starts on the deployment line. For me, I was absolutely shocked to see Skatha at a measly 42% win rate in 4.1, while she was at Boar levels before the patch. What has happened? Did the hits to Seenah, Chaska and Midnight Offering affect her THAT much? I’m actually at a loss, as her team still feels véry strong to me. Could someone elaborate?
Steeljaw is the Trap Queen. She makes it possible for every friendly human model to place traps, and she buffs those traps to also contain either the Weak Point effect or the Bleeding condition. Steeljaw herself is able to put down three traps due to her character play Bait, and is able to reposition traps once every game via her Legendary. In this regard, Steeljaw is the absolute queen in staying out of engagement, but at the same time setting up for your major beaters to go to work. Fahad and Seenah should have a field day with all the defense and armor shred, and Snared to trigger Isolated Target’s +1 DMG effect. Since she’s the new toy, and since I have 0 experience in playing against her, I have no feeling on how strong her team is other than looking at the raw data, and expecting her win rate to drop a tad in the following months, as with every new toy in the meta.
The choice between Fahad and Snow actually seems quite even compared to other Guilds.
Basically, Fahad is there for one thing: free damage due to Furious. Against a Snared 4+/1 target, Fahad’s charge will usually hit for momentous 3 damage, sometimes even momentous 3 and non-momentous 2 on the wrap (57%); that’s 5 damage for free with only Snared as setup. Add in a KD or some crowdouts, and Fahad’s damage will increase immensely. One KD, one crowdout, and the Weak Point effect on a 4+/1 results in a 6 to 7 damage charge (60% to wrap twice), which usually is almost half their total health pool. Also, due to having dodges on his damage results results in Fahad setting himself up for a charge in the following turn.
Snow, on the other hand, is more utility based. He can hand out Anatomical Precision to your beaters (which might be handy against teams like the Blacksmiths, Masons or Engineers), brings Loved Creature, and passively brings a way for your models to disengage without even having to counter. Pack Mentality is a 6” aura stating that any friendly model within 6” of Snow and not knocked down, upon receiving damage, can make a 1” dodge directly towards Snow. This means that your opponent is inclined to always go for the KD first, as there are quite a number of models with decent to good 2” reposition counter attacks, which would result into them disengaging even if the opponent’s model started base to base with yours. Furthermore, Snow brings a momentous tackle on 1 and 2/6” kick, so he might be able to retrieve a ball within his 8” melee threat range.
Both mascots have their uses. I see no reason to change anything here.
Well, I guess the above pie chart is quite obvious. The bear is the most important piece in your roster, according to almost 60% of the votes. Next up is Veteran Minx, and the remaining ~15% of the votes is scattered between Zarola, Minerva, Jaecar, Veteran Hearne, Chaska and Egret. The only models missing here are Hearne, Ulfr and Mataagi.
Seenah is the main damage dealer for the Hunter coach. Her playbook is made so that the amount of hits you score is the amount of damage you can do, and you have TAC 7; +1 damage if you attack a Snared target via Isolated Target. Her 3+ and 21 hit boxes seem quite glass cannon-y, but she has Tough Hide and an easy to hit single push or knockdown on the counter. The counter isn’t that strong, but can still threaten some 1” models. Even if you don’t give Seenah influence, she can still attack through her Feral trait; that’s a free attack within 7” of Seenah, and she still hits like a truck. On her fifth column, she can also buy The Mauling – a 2” pulse with a 4” push and 3 damage effect. Against a regular 4+/1, Seenah is able to reach this result 50% of the time, so if you really want to dish out some AoE damage, you need to set her up. Also, The Mauling’s damage can be increased via Harrier or Isolated Target. Seenah is an excellent model to bring for your damage element, but be very careful with her positioning as she’s prone to control.
Veteran Minx is a very fast (7”/9”) 2” melee model, with a 4+/1 and 12 hit boxes defensive statline. This feels like she’s quite vulnerable, but she has some tricks up her sleeve. She can place traps to bring down the opponent’s defense to allow for easier counters, but she mostly relies on the Heightened Senses trait, as she has no way to reposition her opponent and trigger her own trap. The Heightened Senses trait states that her defense will be +1 higher for models that have already received some damage. This would make her a 5+/1, which is an absolute nightmare to have to swing into. Luckily, healing could be an easy fix, and would result into Minx being quite the target. Also, Minx brings Blessing of the Sun Father, so you don’t need Theron for free character plays. Going into her character plays, Minx has a play that is unique to her; Marked for Death is a very powerful effect that allows friendly models to charge 2” further and charge for only 1 influence against a model that is within Minx’s melee zone. Suddenly Seenah can threaten 11” and charges for only 1 influence; that is scary. Marked for Death has a cost of 2 influence, but can also be bought from Minx’s playbook, as the GB token is available on her third column. At only TAC 5, it’ll require Minx to charge to reliably get to that result. Luckily, she can also basically buy the effect using her own Blessing. Minx can also be used for the goal game, as she threatens to tackle the ball away at 11”, and she has a decent 3/6” kick stat, giving her a 17” native goal threat. Pair her up with Skatha, and this will increase immensely.
What is very important to note here, is that the Hunter coaches seem to not have a clear idea about who their strongest models are. While it seems that Skatha, Fahad, Chaska, Veteran Minx and Seenah seems auto-picks at 90+%, and Snow, Egret and Minerva are other strong picks around the 80-90% pick rate mark, all of the others hang around the 50-70% mark.
People are still unsure if Theron or Steeljaw is the pick to complement Skatha, which I feel affects the pick rates for a lot of the squaddies.
The ‘losers’ seem to be Mataagi, Steeljaw and Ulfr, although this is not by a landslide. They’re still fairly close to the rest of the pack.
It seems that this indecision has also leaked through to the ‘least valuable’ question, as almost half of the team received votes.
Around 75% of the votes is divided up between Mataagi, Zarola, Ulfr and Jaecar, two of which also received votes for being the best squaddie in the team. The rest of the votes are divided between Veteran Hearne, Hearne, Egret, Chaska, Snow and Minerva, again containing quite a lot of models that received ‘best squaddie’ votes. Basically, the only ones not receiving votes are the captains, Fahad, Veteran Minx and Seenah.
Mataagi is one of the two Falconer models that is eligible to play in the Hunters. At 5+ and 10 hit points, and no strong counter results, Mataagi is one of the team’s most fragile models. Luckily, his kit is based on him staying out of harm’s way. Far Strike makes his first attack be at 6” range, and with that attack he can readily make a dodge, do some (momentous) damage, or put a Harrier down. He also has Snap Fire to basically roll 1 damage per hit, which is very nice together with Crucial Artery, making him a fairly decent last activation. But that’s all he does; lay down a Harrier at range or hand out some Bleed late in the turn. Sure, he has a 17” goal threat, but that’s on only 2 kick dice, and most times you’ll need to get the ball to him first, as he’s not prone to get it himself easily with a non-momentous tackle on column 3 at TAC 5. For me, he doesn’t add any value to the team; Egret actually does his job better, and you can use Minerva for Harriers. If people do have some tech for him, let me know in the comments!
Zarola has been a topic for heated discussion in the Hunters camp. Some people absolutely adore her for her out-of-activation movement Legendary Play, and for being a 5+ with Unpredictable Movement, and the ability for Linked activations with Fahad. Others still remember Midnight Offering and are therefore spiteful for it being a once-per-game ability now, they understand that a 1” UM is still vulnerable to 2” melee models, and that Zarola’s activation doesn’t really do a lot extra (unless she’s using Chain Bolas to set up Snared for Fahad). The fact that you’re likely to already bring Seenah and vMinx, who will need somewhere around 10-12 influence together with your captain, it’s very much likely that there won’t be much left for Zarola or any other models, literally making her a one-off Power of Voodoo bot that might hand out some crowdouts. While that doesn’t feel like a lot, that Legendary can still be quite the lifesaver, so even if only for that I’d consider bringing her along in the 12.
Ulfr is supposed to be the Hunters’ striker squaddie. 8” sprint, 8” shot and Where’d They Go makes for a decent 20” goal threat. It’s also quite nice to see that his TAC will shoot up to 6 with a 4-column long playbook if he’s outside of 4” of a friendly model; this greatly increases his ability to wrap, even more so due to his Ambush trait, making it cost double to Defensive Stance one of his charges. At only 4+/0 and 16 HP, he’s quite an easy model to get down, so be sure to grab a goal before he’s taken out. Together with Skatha, he has his uses, but if Skatha needs to set up Ulfr, she can also just go for the goal run herself. Still though, it’s less problematic to lose Ulfr after shooting a goal than losing your captain. Ulfr basically has one job, making him very predictable; something that the Hunters really don’t like to be.
Lastly, we end up with Jaecar. At 4+/0 and 14 hit boxes, Jaecar goes down quickly. Luckily, Jaecar has ways to protect himself from retaliation from his chosen target. He basically has damage with dodges everywhere on his playbook, can dish out the Gut & String effect on column 2, can make his opponent Snared through his Big Game Traps, and has a 4” end of activation dodge via Back to the Shadows. Add in that G&S and Snared provide a -2 DEF debuff, and Jaecar already has Anatomical Precision. Bring in Steeljaw for Weak Point traps and that’s -2 DEF -2 ARM. Jaecar’s damage can get out of hand quite fast, as it’s quite easy for him to make a model a 2+/0, and just start slapping on 4 momentous damage per hit. Jaecar’s main problem is that the Guild already has Seenah, who is less prone to be pushed out on a counter attack, and that he’s quite greedy for influence. Still though, I’d not see him as a drop; it’s harder than Seenah to set him up, but if you can get it right, his activation will be massive and set up so much damage on a single model.
Thing is, looking at these four models, all of them are actually quite okay; they don’t really nééd buffs to do their thing. I myself think that Hunters have quite a luxury problem in that none of their models is really much worse than any of the others.
The question I asked myself was: will the answers to these questions give me some insight into why the Hunters have been performing to badly lately? The answer to said question is: no. I’ve actually become even more confused, as, while diving into this Guild, I’ve seen so many strong models and awesome interactions, that it’s hard for me to understand what’s causing this recent slump.
I’d like to ask the Hunters community to pitch in and enlighten us to why their team is having such a hard time lately. Is it because the nerfs are strong enough that your team can’t keep up with the top tier Guilds anymore? Is it because the pro’s haven’t been interested in them due to new toys, and so no one is really championing them since 4.1? Is it because the 4.1 captains have given other Guilds answers to deal with the Hunters? Please let us know your thoughts on the matter. I’ll try to keep the discussion going in the FB comments.
For now, I’d like to call it a day. I don’t like leaving an article like this – questions unresolved, and ending up with more questions than I started with – but think I need more information from the community to get any further to solving this mystery.