Monday, July 11, 2016

Guild Ball - Captain Veteran Rage

I'm a bit surprised to find this article unfinished in my draft folder. I've been playing Captain Rage for a while now, although I cannot put my finger on how many games I've gotten in with him. I know I've used him at the "Get Over Here" tournament in April, which I won. I played him a couple games before that and have played him a fair bit since then. I also wrote a bit of an overview to my experience on the Guild Ball forums shortly after the GoH tournament.

Rage continues to be among my favorite Guild Ball characters, both in fluff and on the table play experience. Captain Rage delivers the same feeling and utility which Player Rage brings, but in a just different enough form to make him feel like a captain. Let's take a deeper look at him.

The Team

Captain Rage has the entire Union team to choose from, minus two characters in Blackheart and Player Rage. We can pretty easily remove Harry the Hat from the line-up due to how abysmal he is in the game. Even Captain Rage cannot redeem Harry into a viable spot on the field.

This leaves us with a mascot (Coin) and 8 players to choose from (Gutter, Decimate, Hemlocke, Minx, Mist, Snakeskin, Avarisse & Greede, and Fangtooth) to construct our tournament line-up. Although Strongbox will be added for a second mascot eventually, at the time of this writing he was not released yet. Looking at our choices I have settled into the following list for tournament play:
  • Captain Rage
  • Coin
  • Gutter 
  • Avarisse & Greede
  • Minx
  • Mist
  • Decimate
  • Hemlocke
Recent competitive games have developed my go to list as Rage, Coin, Gutter, A&G, Minx, with a single slot to be swapped between Mist, Decimate, and Hemlocke. Mist brings his very strong goal scoring to the field, along with a 2 inch reach which is helpful for Captain Rage. Decimate brings condition removal, which is especially helpful when facing Hunters and Smoke led Alchemists. Decimate brings additional damage to the team which is particularly nice against some opponents.

I'll point out that there is a community wide love affair with 2-inch reach. It's rated very highly by many members of the Guild Ball competitive community, beyond it's actual value in my opinion. 2-inch melee zone is useful, but the challenges it overcomes are not insurmountable. Savvy play can counteract the lack of wide-spread 2-inch melee zones on a team.

Readers will notice that there are 3 players who essentially fill must-take positions on my Captain Rage team. Gutter is the easiest of these to explain due to Cap. Rage reinforcing a primary role she was left with post-errata's. Gutter shines on this team through the use of Scything Blow combined with Cap. Rage's abilities. A&G are also becoming critical choices due to their ability to control activation. Additionally, Avarisse bringing "Singled Out" can add a tremendous bonus to both Cap. Rage and Gutter in terms of attacks and damage dealing.

The last "must take" of Minx is a bit more controversial for me. I originally was of the opinion that while she should be good on the team I could not find a space for her in my line-up. Mist and Decimate filled the remaining two slots (after A&G and Gutter), and Minx spent time sitting on the sidelines wanting to play. After a fair bit of theory and on the table play, Minx showed her value and truly shone as a key component to a Cap. Rage strategy. Minx brings two influence which she contributes to the team most turns, still using her Furious Charge to get into the fight and do some damage. More importantly, especially for 1st and 2nd turn, she brings "Marked Target". This ability to extend the charge ranges of the rest of the team by 2 inches dramatically increases the hitting power of the team. It also creates more challenges for the opponent, especially when they've carefully avoided the transitional threat ranges Gutter and Cap. Rage have.

Captain Rage Overview

Taking a look at Captain Rage's card we see the evolution from a player to a veteran player. His movement stayed the same but we see an increase to his TAC, additional armor, and a player level INF stat. This influence stat is particularly interesting because you'd expect to see it on a strong player, but it appears weak on a captain model. It's important to consider Furious when evaluating Cap. Rage's influence stat, giving him a no cost charge in addition to his influence.

Rage's playbook continue to impress, with momentous results in nearly every selection to be made. We see the addition of pushes to the third and fifth selections of the playbook, combined with the momentous damage. Cap. Rage becomes an even more impressive damage dealer when he can trigger his "Bloody Coin" ability, raising all his playbook damage by an additional point. This means he's regularly delivering 16 damage in a non-charge turn and statistically 20 damage on a charge turn. All of this comes with momentum generation each swing.

A discussion of Cap. Rage would be criminally incomplete without talking about his Character Plays. We see Concussion carried over as a playbook generated character play. This is potentially his least useful and least used character play overall. Cap. Rage has gained "Quick Time" giving him a 2 cost 2" dodge. This is very useful for a couple key situations which often arise. First, QT gives Cap. Rage the ability to extend his threat range or shift prior to charging, clearing a charge path or opening up a previously unavailable charge. Second, it allows Cap. Rage to deal with Clone and Unpredictable Movement.

Finally we come to one of the defining plays on Cap. Rage's card, Red Fury. This play gives Cap. Rage the ability to force a friendly model in 3 inches to make an attack without spending influence. This is particularly nice to use for triggering other models special playbook results such as Avarisse's "Singled Out", Fangtooths easy "Knockdown", and especially Gutter's "Scything Blow". It also gives Cap. Rage the ability to circumvent defensive abilities such as Fear by reducing the cost of the actual Attack to 0, despite Red Fury costing 1 influence.

I feel fairly safe in stating that all of this is not enough to put Veteran Rage at Captain level. Looking at the back of his card we see some additional abilities that bring him up to an expected level of impact on the game. I've already mentioned Furious, giving Cap. Rage a free charge in the same style as player Rage. He also brings Rising Anger to the table, potentially the most forgotten ability among Cap. Rage players. Lastly we see a unique ability, Usurper, which let's Cap. Rage prey on Union players brought to the table on opposing teams. Usurper gives Cap. Rage +1 TAC when making an attack against opposing Union models, bringing him to TAC 8 base.

We also have Cap. Rage's Heroic and Legendary plays, which are fairly well linked. His Heroic Play, "Bloody Coin" grants additional TAC and playbook damage when he is attacking a target engaged by another friendly model. This bonus is in addition to the "gang up" bonus already conferred to the attack. His Legendary play, "My Gang", confers the bonus of "Bloody Coin" to all friendly models within 6 inches of Rage. The application of this to Gutter in the ideal situation is particularly brutal, raising her TAC for each Red Fury attack to a 7 base (TAC 5 + 1 for gang up + 1 for bloody coin) and increases her playbook damage by 1. 


I've really enjoyed my games with Cap. Rage. He brings a game of unadulterated violence to the table, typically ending a game on 6 take-outs opposed to 4 take-outs and a goal. His mix of abilities solves some of the typical problems faced by combat teams and he has abilities to mitigate opponent strategies for locking down furious models. He continues to act as a highly effective combat model in the vein with his player version, removing the limitations brought by Maverick and a single influence. He's player Rage with more Rage included to the game, which is just fun.

An additional facet Cap. Rage brings as a season 2 captain is increasing the involvement of his team. Although he appears as, and in fact is, a super-solo style spotlight captain he still increases the team play aspect. He can hold a maximum of 4 influence, typically leaving 7-8 influence to be shared among the remainder of his team. He also thrives on attacking models who are already engaged by a friendly model, increasing the importance and play of his team as a whole.
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