Monday, June 13, 2016

Guild Ball - The Scalpel Experience (3)

I have now played through my obligatory 6 learning games with Scalpel and am deciding how I plan to proceed on my casual games. I'm pretty comfortable with how she works and what she does, spending the last couple games not maxing her influence. Scalpel is certainly a team player, not a super-solo captain by any means.

My sixth game was against the Butchers, played by one of the local pundits in the area who I do not get to play against often. He started as a Fish player and played his Butchers with a strong Fish influence. This means he focused on Scoring with Shank and Brisket a bit more than doling out tons of damage during the game. Fast scoring was something that actually game Scalpel a tough time facing. Combining the quick scores with Brisket's unpredictable movement defense actually created challenges my team was not in position to deal with.


Looking at where Scalpel is strong is a good place to start with her. Scalpel has some very specific strengths that have come into focus while playing her, specifically her high movement, her playbook, and her ability to finish off a model.

Movement / Speed

Scalpel is incredibly speedy for a guild ball model with a 7"/9" movement stat plus second wind. Slippery as a character trait making it tough to hit her with parting blows increases her overall movement. I've found she can easily engage models where she wants, quickly moving across the board to do so. I've even run into situations where my opponent extends a model too far on turn 1 and Scalpel can engage and generate enough momentum to get me initiative on turn 2. The prevalence of Dodges in her playbook, most importantly a push/dodge on 3 successes, gives Scalpel the ability to move long distances across the board.


Scalpel's playbook is very strong with momentum generating results in every selection except one. Only her 2 success Tackle is non-momentous, which is not a real concern overall. She has easy access to both her character play (tormented Agony) on 4 successes and dodges plus damage through the rest of her playbook. Considering Anatomical Precision ignoring 1 point of armor, it is rare for Scalpel to land on a less than 3 successes. Her playbook access to dodges becomes more important when combined with being able to reposition using her Heroic play to get Second Wind, dodging out of her combat first then repositioning without generating a parting blow.


It's odd to talk about kicking strength on a model that only has an average 3/6" kick stat. That said, we are also looking at a morticians team which means that's actually pretty damn good. Obulus struggles with a 2/6" kick stat, often looking for the bonus time to reliably take a shot. Scalpel plus bonus time hits a reliable 4/6" stat, which is excellent when combined with her movement plus dodges. 

The Finisher

Scalpel is an amazing finisher when it comes to combat and damage dealing. Once a select model is down to less than 10 wounds Scalpel can get to the model and reliably finish the job of taking them out. Anatomical precision combined with the easy access to 2 damage strikes in her playbook can quickly generate 8 - 10 points of damage in a round.

Tormented Agony

Scalpels Tormented Agony character play is a really good transition between her Strengths and Challenges. Tormented Agony is a tricky play to use, much more so than it originally appears. On first glance it seems straight forward. Attack a model and transfer their influence off onto another player who has not yet activated. Many times this means a mascot is ending up with 2-4 influence that would be better assigned to a player. The tricky part is when Scalpel may force a take out on the turn. Scalpel sitting on 6 influence and targeting a model with 12 - 14 wounds remaining is the tough spot to make a choice on. This is the range where Scalpel could take the model out but can also easily miss the mark by 1 - 3 points of damage. In the event Scalpel can take the model out it is a poor choice to transfer their influence away when it will be removed with the target on take-out.


Scalpel struggles in some specific areas which are important to keep in mind while playing. The biggest area is with damage dealing where she appears to be a killer but truly is not. Targeting a "typical" model with defense/armor of 4/1, Scalpel is only statistically hitting 4 successes per influence spent on an attack. This locks her in at 2 damage plus her character play, netting a total of 12 damage based on a full stack of 6 influence. That's respectable, but not really in range of doing a lot of damage. Scalpel does not have damage buffs on her card, nor easy access to damage buffs on her team. The most reliable source of increasing her damage is Tooled Up by taking Rage, which is unreliable as Rage can typically put that influence to better use. Additionally, Scalpel will want to dodge more often than not, leaving her short of the 12 damage unless she spiked to 5+ successes per attack.

The second challenge using Scalpel is her Legendary play. Voodoo Strings is really helpful if Scalpel moves to finish off an unpredictable movement model or any other target with the ability to dodge away from/after the first attack. She can use the legendary to pull them back in and then go back to work taking them out. This seems like a great thing until you take into consideration two other facts. First, it's only once per game; Second she only gets the best use from it if she can take out the target model. Considering these two facts means that the Legendary play is sub-par overall. I would have preferred to see this as a Heroic play with a shorter range to it (perhaps cover 6 inches instead of 8). As it stands this becomes a challenge for using well, and is a generally sub-par legendary play when compared to other captains.

Using her in Tournaments?

The biggest question on within the Competitive arena is her viability as a Morticians captain for tournaments. I think she is viable and can be good with the proper team. A highly skilled player who has selected a team that does not benefit from Obulus can get a lot of work from her and be very competitive. As a matter of fact, I would say she is very competitive overall. Unfortunately I do think that Obulus has easier choices and can get more done in a turn than Scalpel can. This is going to push most players, especially competitive ones, to using Obulus over Scalpel. I also find that the teams which do not benefit from Obulus are very limited, and although fun to play are not flexible for tournament play.

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