Monday, June 6, 2016

Guild Ball - The Scalpel Experience Stage 2 (Morticians)

Sessions 2 and 3 with Scalpel netted me three more games with Scalpel. I'm starting to feel fairly comfortable with her, although I've begun to deviate from my stated testing plan. In my most recent game I began spreading influence around the table, not focusing on loading her up to 6 every turn regardless of circumstances. I'm feeling fairly comfortable with what she does on the table and part of what she does is force you to play the rest of your team. She can certainly "make something happen" with a full clip of 6 influence, but that should be a specific plan not the default with her. It's been a great plan initially for learning what she can do, but in an effort to start moving toward winning games (or at least challenging my opponents), I'm finding that her default seems to be running with 4 influence on many turns.

The Team

My recent 3 Scalpel games have been spread across 6 weeks so I am a bit hazy on the lists I took in game 3 and 4. I know I tried Bonesaw out in one of those games, on the recommendation of one of my locals. I did grab a quick not on the team I took for my fifth and most recent game, which consisted of the following:
  • Scalpel
  • Dirge
  • Silence
  • Mist
  • Cossett
  • Avarrise & Greede
 I made these choices for a couple reasons, looking at some specific roles on my team. Scalpel and Dirge were mainstays for the obvious reasons, but let's look at the other slots.


I want to have a goal threat in the team, I feel it's necessary in every team. If your playing without some type of striker-role model in your team then the high-goal-threat teams such as Fish and many Alchemists teams will walk over you quickly. Morticians have the choice to take Mist onto their team and I see little reason not to. I've discussed the benefits and strengths Mist brings to the table previously, and those stay true here. Another option for this role/slot is Bonesaw, although he does not work with my playstyle. bonesaw plays a more brutish and bully style game in how he executes as a goal-threat, which does not fit into this specific role/slot well for me.


I'm not sure any other way to name or word this slot/role on the team other than the Silence role/slot. Yes, you read that correctly, it's an entire role/slot named after the single model/player that will fill it. Silence brings a specific blend of control abilities, momentous attacks, and 3 influence to the table. This alone makes grants him his own unassailable place on the team. The reality is that the 3 influence alone gets him a non-removable place on Morticians teams. In the Scalpel led team he has filled several very useful roles for me including the removal of Gluttonous Mass and being a back-up, back-up goal scorer. Silence is fairly slow moving up the field but turn 3 and after he can be in range to threaten a goal kick, both via a snapshot and straight on his activation. Parking the bird nearby bumps his kick stat to 4 dice making him excellent at a bonus time snapshot.

Primary Damage Dealing

Dealing damage on a Scalpel team is important as she can switch between goal-scoring and damage dealing fairly easily. The typical choices I'm looking at for my primary damage dealer are going to be Rage, Cosset, and Graves. I have not yet played Graves so that narrows my choice even more. I used Rage in my first 4 games with Scalpel because I think he's more reliable than Cosset and he brings Tooled up to the field. Tooled up is a fantastic ability to drop onto Scalpel, combining with her anatomical precision to make her a very dangerous threat.
In my most recent game I realized I already had 2 of 4 player choices from the union and decided in favor of Cosset in an effort to play a balanced morticians/union team. This may not be the best reason to make that decision but it worked out ok. One area where Cosset brings a potential benefit over Rage is her Influence. Cossett brings 2 influence and will not always want both influence assigned to her (in the event she's not attacking during the turn). Rage will always want his single influence assigned to him, thus not contributing to the teams influence pool during the game. As long as Dirge is on the table and parked within 4 inches of where Cosset will be attacking both Rage and Cosset deal nearly the same damage during a turn. Overall it a toss-up on which I would take.

Utility / Complimentary / Other

This role/slot on my team is typically assigned to a player/model that I'm looking to expand my capability in some area of the team. It's often the easiest role to swap out and gives me choices to meet some of the challenges other teams present. This is the spot where Hemlocke drops into my union teams for facing Alchemists. In the Morticians team I have a couple choices here, two of which have really shined with Scalpel. Ghast and Avarisse &  Greede both present themselves as viable players to fill this slot. Initially I was putting Ghast in here and he was doing well with complimenting my control and damage aspects to play. He brings an easy to reach knockdown in his playbook and messes with peoples choices via Fear. In my recent game I opted for the dynamic duo of Avarisse & Greede, primarily because I'd been using them a fair bit in a recent tournament. The 7th activation was interesting, although not as helpful as it is with other teams and captains. I'm finding that Scalpel likes to go first in a turn, both to reshuffle my opponents assigned influence and to remove a model from the board before they get to activate. Using her as an early or first activation lays out a good activation sequence for my turn and makes the extra activation from A&G less useful overall.

Avarisse bringing Singled Out on his playbook was very helpful to the team, more-so than the extra activation. This is where A&G really contributed to the team, adding in the helpful +2 TAC for a number of plays. I think the most unexpected use I've seen is when Mist, holding the ball, charges a singled out model and ends up with enough successes to wrap his playbook into a 6 inch dodge. This typically positions him perfectly for a goal-shot (bonus times due to +2 momentum from the 2 dodges) and a threat on the return ball. Overall, Singled Out is a great boon to every player on the team and also becomes a huge compliment for Cossett, making her a slightly greater threat than Rage.

Opinion after 5 games

Scalpel is good, not great but definitely good. I'm enjoying my games with her and will continue to play her moving forward. I'm even looking forward to my 6th learning game with her, and to raising my overall win percentage with her. She's a utility captain who is not as clear with her threat as other captains (both season 1 and 2). She's more complicated than many captains, but I think that fits the intention of the Morticians overall.

Competitively there is a question on if Scalpel is a viable alternate choice to Obulus. I feel with my limited experience that she is viable, but not necessarily better. Admittedly, I do not agree with "Obulus is OP" opinion currently popular in some guild ball communities. If I were to choose a captian to play in a tournament (between Scalpel and Obulus), I would choose Obulus, but simply because at this point I'm more comfortable with his play-style and capabilities. Given another dozen or so games with Scalpel I think the choice becomes less clear and a true toss-up between the two.

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