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The Firm - The Drowned Earth Faction Review

The Firm - The Drowned Earth Faction Review

A review of The Firm faction of The Drowned Earth Miniatures Game.

The second in a series of blogs focusing on the playable factions within The Drowned Earth: today we’ll be analysing the Firm – who they are and what they can do on the table.

Introduction

The Firm are the definitive "bad guys" within the world of Ulaya, and there is no chance of them being "just misunderstood". They are 100% the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low. I would say that these are the second most popular faction to purchase after Artefacters: I guess some people just really like being the bad guys!

Aesthetically, there is definitely a Japanese-Yakuza inspired vibe going on with the miniatures and their artwork. If they were to be described in a few sentences it would be that they are the organised crime within the world of Ulaya: gangsters, mobsters and thugs, determined to make money through often straight out violence and blackmail or cons and trickery. The Firm is not a single entity or organisation, much rather a collection of different gangs. Sometimes working together, sometimes against each other and sometimes unknown to each other completely.

They have a great backstory narrative included in the main rulebook with some great artwork, I really recommend giving it a read.

Playstyle Overview

The Firm are a good all-round faction, which puts them in a strong tactical position because instead of playing to their strengths, they can focus on exploiting the enemy weaknesses. They are not as agile or fast as the Artefacters, or as well armoured as the Bondsmen – but they are proficient in range and close combat. Their damage output is excellent and perhaps their most definable attribute: The Firm are good at killing and they generally prioritise dealing damage over other aspects of game play. Personally I think this makes them very forgiving for mistakes; if one character is removed from play, it doesn’t hurt your damage output as severely as it does for other factions – because there will likely still be a few characters still capable of dealing 4+ damage from a single attack.

I do think that because of this damage-oriented focus, the Firm have less efficient focus on their specialist than other factions (mech and medic). For example, their starter-set medic Venk is also a long-range sniper…. Needless to say I’ve never ever used his medic skill; he’s normally too far away from everyone else for it to be effective. He’s a sniper first, a medic second. A stark contrast to Corian from the Artefacters who is often nearer the mid-field fighting. This selfish nature is also deep rooted in the backstories of the army: there is little loyalty amongst thieves and villains.

I also like to describe the Firm as the "monster" or "elite" faction; as they are able to run the most in affiliation "big guys" – Kassel, Hosk, Makko are all pretty tough, and can be joined by Kalhanna [Wayfarer Mercenary], for exactly 100 points. A scary prospect having those 4 brutes on the other side of the table. Did I mention Kaneda can also ride a giant mantis just in case you fancied an alternative leader to Kassel?!

Disclaimer – I regularly play The Firm. They are my second favourite faction after the Bondsmen, and I’d say I’ve played them between 15-20 times over the last 2 years. My win rate with them is pretty high, 90%+.

 

Starter Set Characters

Kaneda

I don’t like Kaneda. But being the leader of the "bad guys" – maybe that is a sign that he is doing his job well. Kaneda isn’t here to be liked, or to make friends. After reading his backstory, I can’t help but see him as a wannabe "gangster" but really he’s just a spoilt, entitled brat– who just happens to be the son of a high ranking member of the Firm. There is just so much about him to love! I joke, but what’s he actually like on the table? Well fortunately, he’s actually a bit of a badass.

His stats - Like all leaders, Kaneda gets an additional Action Point (granting 3 per game round), has average agility (6) and marksmanship (6) but above average close combat (7) and intelligence (7). Meaning he can reliably shoot, dodge, tackle dynamic movement tests and grab objectives. His toughness (4) and armour (0) is in roughly line with the other faction leaders.

Armed with a twin uzi, he has an adequate range of 9/16, and with the Spray special rule it means you will be shooting at +1 Marksmanship if the enemy is within 9 inches. A reasonable damage output (3/4) makes it worthwhile to get in close and let rip. Of course, if you are at that range – you are likely to be charged, or may even decide to charge into combat yourself. In combat, Kaneda is armed with the ancient blade, which can dish out an average damage potential (2/3) but does have the Pierce (1) rule to modify the enemy toughness by 1.

Kaneda also comes with two special rules to help ensure he is dishing out wounds: fitting in well with the Firm faction focus on damage dealing. Gunslinger allows him to reroll the attribute dice when making a shooting attack; which is an excellent little rule if you have a habit of rolling poor dice. Counterstrike is a strange rule in that, after losing a close combat engagement: any armour roll that Kaneda saves will inflict that same amount of damage on the enemy. As odd as it is – free damage is free damage, and it fits the backstabbing nature of the character really well.

My tip would be to get in close with Kaneda as quickly as possible. Personally, I’d avoid close combat just through the risk of being bogged down too many rounds by a high-armoured or high-toughness opponent – Kaneda is too fragile to win a war of attrition. Ideally get him within 9 inches of the opponent, and move and shoot, utilising cover where possible. Your damage output is higher at range, so always treat combat as a plan B – even though Kaneda is pretty good in combat vs the average character.

 

Venk

One of my favourite miniatures in the range, the quintessential ‘grumpy dwarf’ with mysterious origins. He is however, in my opinion, the WORST MEDIC IN THE ENTIRE GAME. But with that said, he is definitely an auto-take for me in the Firm. I have run him in the faction every single time I have played them. But why if he is such a bad medic? And why do I think he’s such a bad medic?

Well if we look only at the stats – they are pretty average, but Venk does has a high Intelligence stat (7), which should make him a good medic if he is in range. The key thing here… if he is in range. Venk is hardly ever in range and to be honest I am not even sure you would want him to be. Typically for me most casualties occur in the midfield, right in the middle of all the flying bullets and hand-to-hand combat.  Venk should avoid these! The closer you get to the enemy, the easier it is for them to shoot you, to charge you and otherwise "introduce you to my friend, Pain" to quote Mr T [yes… an 80’s Rocky 3 reference].

Venk sucks in close combat with a very low stat (5!), very low damage output potential on his poisoned blade (1/2) and ONLY three wounds! Three wounds for 21 points! You do not want to be anywhere near the charging range of anyone. Avoid combat at all costs! Whilst the "Float Like a Butterfly" special rule is nice, allowing you to dodge 1 inch after hitting in close combat, does help pull you out of the cold grip of death that would certainly come with any prolonged combat… just avoid having to use it in the first place.

If Venk wants to avoid combat, this typically means that when a friendly character is wounded in the centre of the table: they are staying there until the crows pick the flesh from their carcasses. The Firm have no room for sentiment. At 21 points, which is more on the expensive side of things for non-leader, non-tough character, you do not want to risk losing Venk to save another (often cheaper) member of the team. I’ve even let Kaneda lay there in a puddle of his own blood before… Don’t tell his Dad…

If we are keeping Venk at a safe distance, he must be able to do something worthwhile? Right? Fortunately he is a great sniper. Armed with a mastercrafted rifle, Venk has an absolutely insane range (9/21) which is CRAZY. Granted, you need a nailed it result to be able to hit the longer range, but the fact you CAN is insane. This offers unrivalled table control, being able to dictate who can move where, under threat of a long range, good damage (3/4) shot with Pierce (1) and Sunder (1).

As a nice added bonus, Venk also has the Sniper special rule: if he is rolling an unopposed shot, he can reroll the attribute dice.

Venk is easily one of my favourite characters in the entire game. Just stick him in a position with good line of sight, ideally in cover, and remember to ignore the fact he is a medic and he should do well. I normally choose to activate him last, allowing maximum opportunity for him to react to the enemy and more likelihood you will enforce unopposed shots towards the end of the round. The biggest mistake you can make with Venk, is giving in to the urge to ‘’rescue’’ injured characters or grab objectives and leaving your strong sniping position. He could potentially ally well with Kyoshi – but its not mandatory.

 

Hosk

What’s not to love about an angry, albino gorilla swinging a hammer?  I love Hosk. I love the miniature, I love the artwork, I love his angry, drug-fuelled, backstory. Do I love his rules? They could be better, but they are no means bad.

His stats are pretty average – close combat (6), marksmanship (6), agility (6), and a low intelligence (5!). You clearly don’t want him to be your primary objective grabber, but let’s be honest – did you really expect an angry gorilla to care about objectives? He has the increased movement (5/7) and wounds (5) that all Berengii [gorillas] have, and also toughness (3) and armour (1) that you would expect. He’s also a little cheaper to take than other apes - at only 21pts.

His damage output (4/5) is high in close combat with his powersledge, with added Pierce (1) and Sunder (1) to really ensure that damage gets through. This is strong enough to instant kill most miniatures, if the dice go your way. In combat he also has the Savage special rule which allows him to reroll the attribute dice. Whilst he would have of course been even better with higher close combat stat (7? Please!) he may have become too powerful/borderline broken when combined with Savage.

He is also armed with duelling pistols, with a mid-range (10/14) and a predictable damage output of (3/3) regardless of range. Although, I do find myself using the powersledge a lot more often (rule of cool – right?) for those cinematic ‘movie’ deaths. The duelling pistols are pretty respectable, and can do as much as any other character with a ranged weapon.

He also has the Ambush special rule: which can be fun. But to be honest, I often forget he has it!

I know I’ve said it a few times’ but as long as you remember he is an angry ape, you won’t be surprised by any weaknesses that he has – just laugh it off if the dice fail you. I’d send him towards the enemy like a heat-seeking missile aimed right at their biggest threat, often paired with Kassel.  Just expect him to have a huge target on the top of his own head as soon as you deploy him, even if your opponent has never played against Hosk before – the miniature just screams out ‘’I want to hurt you’’ up close and personal. Most opponents won’t want to risk that happening. Your job is to make it happen.

 

Mirja

Mirja is an interesting character that I am still unsure about but she is growing on me. Aesthetically a lovely miniature wielding a dangerous looking flamethrower – but when looking at her rules I’m torn between thinking she is amazing, or thinking that she is the first character from the starter set that I would swap out. When considering my argument that The Firm are all about damage output; Mirja seems a little underwhelming as she offers the same damage (2/2) both ranged, and in combat. The rest of her stats are pretty good-to-average, but that damage really stands out like a sore thumb. She is cheap to take though, at only 15 points.

She is also the team Mech – and whilst, with other factions, that would almost make her mandatory to take… the Firm are selfish and she suffers from a similar issue to Venk in that, I would rather her be doing other things than fixing broken weapons. Unless there is some sort of broken weapon epidemic going on during a game, I’d rather her just focus on the objectives or dealing damage.

"But you said her damage output was underwhelming" – I know, I know. But once you look a little deeper, and actually give her a go in the squad, you start to realise that although it is low, it is a fairly reliable damage if you can get close enough. Both the ranged and melee attack from the inferno pack do the same damage, and both offer Fire (2). This essentially could work out to be an additional 2 wounds at the end of the game round, unless your enemy is smart enough to dive into the water and put out the flames, or passes their saving dice rolls. The ranged attack is also an auto-hit teardrop template, which means if the enemy is clumped up closely, you could have a lot of fun reliably dishing out Fire tokens and 2 damage to multiple enemy characters, or at least forcing them to use their action points to dodge as a reaction. Alternatively, in close combat she has the ‘’aggressor’’ special rule which allows her to reroll the feat dice. Because of the Fire special rule, She has the potential to do more damage per attack than the base damage (2/2) will lead you to believe.

Her stats are pretty average – close combat (6), marksmanship (6), intelligence (6) and toughness (3). Her agility is a little higher (7) which does making dodging as a reaction, especially at long range, a good idea.  This is aided by the special rule "camouflage" which give the enemy -1 marksmanship for shooting at her.

My advice would be to send her straight down a flank, dodging as needed if shot at. When you get close enough, kill as much as you can with the inferno pack. If the enemy is spending action points putting out fire tokens, they are not spending them attacking you. She can also be used to grab or defend objectives – not many people want to run into an auto-hit template! She is great fun to run alongside Makko or mounted Kaneda. Potentially Pyro too, for a fun 30pt double fire-loving duo.

 

Lissz

Lissz is such a cool character. To quote a famous Carlsberg advertisement "if Carlsberg did…" and I guess in this case it would be a "if Carlsberg did… a Japanese-inspired Sorian [dinosaur-human hybrid] assassin". The miniature looks fantastic, crouching with her two blades in hand – ready to pounce.  Another one of my absolute favourites.

In keeping with her assassin-ness (is that even a word? It should be!), she is a scout which means she can often deploy further up the table than anyone else in the faction. She has the Stealth special rule; which essentially means she can be deployed as a Stealth token which needs to be discovered before she can be attacked. This has two main benefits – the opponent will either spend potentially a fair amount of Action Points to discover her (meaning they are not attacking anyone else) but it also puts you in the position of deciding when you want to react to someone. She also has the Ambush special rule which allows her to surprise attack an enemy and move into base-to-base with them as if charging, as a reaction. This is pretty great for an assassin!

Her stats are not amazing, but they are not bad either. Better than average movement (5/7) and close combat (7), the rest is average with 6’s all around, toughness (3) and armour (0). In terms of raw stats, she is not that bad at all. I do find however, Lissz to be my least favourite of the starter set characters. I mean yes, she does provide some unique skills and options that the other 4 characters do not have: but they are just not that interesting for the way I play them. I am sure that some people will swear by her as being amazing, and I have sometimes used her for a sneaky last round objective grab. But other than that, for an assassin I find her damage output to be lacking.

Unlike other characters – she gets no rerolls for either close combat or marksmanship, and no special rules that modify her or the opponent’s stats. Her damage output is pretty poor for what I would expect an assassin to have: blowpipe (1/1), ancient blade (2/3). Whilst they do come with Stun (1) [Ranged only] and Pierce (1), it still feels a little lacking. Whilst it is handy to dish out stun and remove Action Points from enemy characters – I’d personally rather take 2 dilos for less cost than Lissz.

As cool as Lissz looks, I often leave her at home. I’d love to hear if anyone has different perspective on her though! Aside from objective grabbing, I’m not sure there is much else I would use her for.

 

Additional Characters

 

Kaneda Mounted

What is scarier than a yakuza boss wielding a samurai sword? That’s right! A yakuza boss wielding a samurai sword whilst riding on a GIANT MANTIS. Now, the miniature isn’t to my personal taste, but most people really love it! I’ve had many people say that that miniature is the sole reason they picked The Firm out of all the other factions, or perhaps even the main reason they brought into The Drowned Earth in the first place. I can sort of see the appeal: it's big, it looks intimidating and admittedly it is a lot of fun to paint. I’d just have preferred a dinosaur mount myself…

The Mantis itself has good defence – armour (3), toughness (3) and wounds (5). It also replaces Kaneda’s close combat attack with blades: a damage (4/5), Pierce (2), Reach (2) attack. So not only can it do 5 damage if you nail it, you are also negating 2 points of toughness from the enemy. This can be huge against enemies that have high toughness, but average or lower armour. The cherry on the cake is the Reach (2) however. A rare rule – but it means you do not have to be in base to base in order to utilise it, you just have to be within two inches. Often this will mean the enemy cannot choose to close combat attack you back, because they themselves cannot reach.

Mounted Kaneda also replaces the Gunslinger special rule, with the Haymaker special rule. This allows you to cause damage to other enemy characters within 2, even if they were not the target of the close combat attack. This is fantastic for dealing with grouped up miniatures, especially when combined with the many template attacks found in the rest of the faction.

Note: The cavalry rules are a little more complex than standard, so I would advise not using a mounted character in your first few games whilst you get the hang of things.

So he is pretty good, albeit expensive at a whopping 46pts! I myself have only taken him once though… why? Because I prefer…..

 

Kassel

The man. The myth. The legend. Ok… well he isn’t a man: but he is a legend in my games nonetheless. Kassel is awesome. I must admit he sat on my painting shelf for over a year, until he intimidated me into painting him and ever since, I’ve used him as my primary leader for the Firm (Sorry Kaneda!). So, the miniature itself is super cool – a kung-fu master, ready to hand out a "can of whoop-ass" to quote The Rock. I love the simplicity of him. No weapons on show except his wrapped and fight-ready hands.

Points-wise is he more expensive (28pts) than unmounted-Kaneda (23pts), but still significantly cheaper than mounted Kaneda (46pts). This does play a role in why I select him more than I do the others – I feel he gives a good output for his points investment. Its not that they are bad – all three leaders are very viable. They all do have 3 action points as standard, being leaders, which is great for Kassel – as he is currently the only leader Berengii in the game, and therefore the only ape with 3 action points as standard.

His stats are perfectly acceptable – close combat is above average (7) as you would expect for a martial-arts expert, the others are average 6’s all around. He doesn’t have any armour at all, but does have an impressive toughness (5). Which is great if you are playing factions with a lot of Sunder attacks, as you are not affected by the rule.

In combat, Kassel has killed some pretty tough characters for me. He fears no man, dinosaur or gorilla. The aptly named fist of fury is his close combat attack, which dishes out reasonable damage if the dice are on your side (2/4), and grants both the Knockdown and Stun (1) conditions. He also has the special rule "Sting Like A Bee…" which boosts your damage +1 (3/5) if you charged.

Sometimes though, you might find yourself in a combat that you don’t want to be in. Fortunately, he also has the special rule "Float Like A Butterfly…" which allows him to dodge out of combat, to avoid prolonged engagements. A special rule that Kaneda would have found really useful too!

At range he is armed with the tech-bow, which is a good-range (10/16) weapon. Although the high pass range of 10 inches looks impressive, the weapon itself has an unchanged damage potential (3/3) so its not as good as it could have been. Still that tech-bow is a great little weapon that has got the job done for me when needed.

In case it wasn’t clear already – I love Kassel. I often run him alongside Hosk for maximum ape-fury. A great combo which will cut through anything in close combat like a hot knife through butter.

 

Makko

Another great miniature that really encapsulates the look-and-feel of the Firm. Makko is another gene-spliced human-dino hybrid. This time a triceratops rather than the more common carnivore-based Sorian. Now, I do love Makko and since his release – I have used him every time I have played the Firm, and almost every time I have played against the Firm – my opponent has used him.  BUT I am pretty sure there is a better way to play him than how I play him.

Like the Berengii, Makko is a tough – meaning he has more wounds (5), and better toughness (5) than a typical character, meaning he is more survivable.  There are two key ways to use Makko – ranged, or melee. I think melee is the better option statistically, but I still find myself focusing on ranged attacks instead. Why?

Makko is armed with a very useful ranged weapon – choke grenades. These grenades have a low initial damage potential (2/2), and a low range (10/10) but they do have some interesting rules which make them perfect for controlling the game. Firstly, they are a template weapon, meaning multiple enemy characters can be affected. Secondly, it has a very small deviation (1) meaning if it scatters - it shouldn’t go too far off target. Thirdly, it provides smoke – which offers your characters cover bonuses and helps get them up the table into close combat range. Lastly, and perhaps my favourite reason, they have the choke special rule! This rule turns the smoke into a toxic gas: any character within or partially within the template that spends an AP will also lose a wound. This works in their active turn and also if they are reacting. So if they want to dodge an attack? Auto-lose a wound. They want to move? Auto-lose a wound. They want to shoot twice? Auto-lose two wounds. This is CRAZY good. If you activate Makko first and manage to get one or two choke grenades in strategic places, you can completely destroy the plans the opponent had that turn. The main negative here is the very low marksmanship (5!), I’ve had it work to great to success and ive had it completely fail and nothing happen. High risk, high reward.

What if you wanted to go the combat route? Well Makko is a beast in combat too. He has a good close combat stat (7) and his head-tusks attack has a good damage output (3/5) with the sunder (1) and knockdown special rules. Like Kassel, Makko also has the "Sting Like a Bee" special rule, which would boost his attack (4/6) if he successfully charges. This is really, really strong. He has the potential to just run through the enemy, instant-killing along the way. Did I mention he also has ambush special rule to really ensure that enemy characters cant just run past you and avoid fighting.

In my opinion, Makko is the best 25pts you can spend in The Firm and an absolute must take, regardless if you want to play him ranged or in close combat. I can’t think of a single reason to not take him.

 

Lakassk

Oh Lakassk. You are a Sorian [dino-man hybrid] so… you have that going for you I guess? Other than that, you are my least favourite Firm character… and I’m not sorry about it. Now I am sure there are some people that love using him and think he is a great character to have but I am not one of them. For 15 points, I’d rather just spend the points elsewhere… on literally anything else. But again – this could be down to my own playstyle more than anything. Like Lissz, he just doesn’t fit with what I want the Firm to do. Which is a shame because the miniature does look pretty good! And who doesn’t want to run Sorians.

Its also worth knowing that he is the second mech available to the Firm, which can be useful to fix those broken weapons… but if you have read this far down the blog already then you know my feeling about specialist roles within the Firm!

Stat-wise, he is actually above average for his points cost: close combat (7), agility (6) marksmanship (6), intelligence (7) and toughness (3). No armour though. This says to me he should be grabbing objectives or fighting in combat. In combat he has the same weapon as Lissk – the ancient blade, with an average damage potential (2/3) and the pierce special rule. Yawn….. boring….

His ranged weapon is a little more interesting – the nova cannon. It has a good range (11/18), low initial damage (2/2), but it is a template weapon with the blind special rule. Now I know what you are thinking…. Makko and Mirja both had the same range damage (2/2) and you like them… yeah I am not sure what it is with Lakassk. It just doesn’t feel as impressive, so he rarely if ever sees table time for me. Is blind good? Yes – for sure, it gives the targeted miniature -2 marksmanship, agility and close combat.  Which is good at keeping your own miniatures alive and does provide good synergy with the other Firm characters. But I prefer the fire and choke conditions more… and if I am already taking Mirja and Makko – I definitely don’t want a third character that can only do pitiful damage at range, even with the stat modifiers that blind brings with it.

I guess Lakassk’s biggest flaw to me is that he does not fit into my playstyle of direct damage dealing – he’s takes a bit more brain power than that. I would love to hear how you use him! I probably give him a lot more hate than he deserves. I just prefer Mirja to fulfil the same role.

 

Thug

Confused by the image of three characters on the card? Don’t be! These are the heroes for the Ulaya Chronicles: Raptor Claw Island box, made playable for standard games of The Drowned Earth (available to purchase separately, if board games are not your thing). Essentially you can pick which miniature represents your "thug", which is great!

As you would expect for a nameless foot soldier, the stats are really bare bones. Close combat (6), agility (6), marksmanship (5!), intelligence (4!) toughness (3) and low wounds (3!). Clearly you are at a disadvantage in any form of firefight, and have the lowest intelligence I’ve seen in the game, so maybe avoid trying to get objectives.

The thug is armed with a sidearm, with decent range (10/15) and average damage (2/3). So not that bad, but the marksmanship (5) really does make this worse than it looks. In close combat its not much better with a knife being the thug’s weapon of choice – damage (1/2) and the pierce (1) special rule. Again, pretty lacklustre.

I do like that Olmec games have found a way to make these characters playable in The Drowned Earth, but do feel compared to other factions, the Firm have got the short end of the stick when it came to rules.  Now whilst the Thug is 2 points cheaper if you take Makko (of course you are taking Makko!), at only 8 points… you can essentially just use a thug as cannon fodder to waste a few of the opponent’s action points, and maybe hope to utilise the intimidate special rule to trigger something special… personally I’d rather take a dinosaur and avoid having to think about this profile at all.

 

Pyro

Like the Thug above, Pyro is a rules profile for a hero character om the Ulaya Chronicles: Raptor Claw Island box, made playable for standard games of The Drowned Earth (available to purchase separately, if board games are not your thing). Unlike the Thug however, I think there might be some potential to take Pyro.

Now her stats are pretty terrible (especially terrible when you consider she is 17pts and they are almost identical to a 8pt thug!) – Close combat (6), agility (6), marksmanship (5!), intelligence (4!) and toughness (3). Although she can be 2 points cheaper if you run Mirja in the same list, it still feels pretty expensive.

So where is the potential I hear you ask?! Two words. Inferno. Launcher. Like Mirja, Pyro is armed with a flamethrower albeit in a slightly different format. Pyro’s version has a range (12/12) and a large template rather than the teardrop template Mirja uses, whilst the damage output is the same (2/2). This flamethrower of course comes with the Flame (2) special rule, which could be an additional 2 damage at the end of the turn (unless they pass their damage rolls, or jump into water beforehand).

I can see a themed template list with Pyro, Mirja, Makko and Bez being a fun thing to run: with templates and choke and fire tokens everywhere. Would certainly fit the cinematic aesthetic that most players love.  I can’t say Pyro looks very competitive, or adds anything super new to the Firm… but she does exist. So you can use her if you want. Personally I won’t.

 

Bez (Coming to The Drowned Earth soon!)

So far only available to backers of the Ulaya Chronicles Kickstarter, but scheduled for retail soon. Bez is a very interesting looking character and one that really fits into the Firm, although based on the artwork I really didn’t expect her to. Whilst the squirrel on her shoulder might give the wrong impression; Bez is a character that I think will become a staple in a lot of games due to her versatility.

Her stats could not be more average: close combat (6), agility (6), marksmanship (6), intelligence (6), toughness (3) and armour (1). That really is as average as it gets! She does have the medic special skill though and I can see her using it a lot more than Venk, if only because she doesn’t have a 21 inch range rifle. So what does she have?

Armed with a slingshot called a globepult, Bez can fire potions contained in glass bottles with a decent range (10/10) but weirdly the lowest damage I have ever seen (0/0). Is that a typo?! A template weapon with no damage? No, no it isn’t a typo. On the back of her card, she has the unique special rule "Kill or Cure’’. This effectively lets you choose the type of potion that you will be firing. The options are A) Heal (1) which will allow you to gradually heal allied characters without needing to be in base-to-base. B) Damage 1 + venom (1) – this will make the weapon do damage, but also WHAT DOES VENOM DO!? C) Damage 1 + Choke – now I explained the effects of choke quite well in the Makko write up, so you can imagine how excited I am about having two characters now able to do this! Remember all three of these are template attacks, so can affect multiple characters with one well placed shot.

The "Kill or Cure" rule on its own is enough to warrant including Bez, just for the strategic flexibility that this provides mid-game.

Oh, she also comes with an ancient blade…  just in case she gets herself into close combat. When people realise how annoying she can be, she will be a big target for them to take out. Remember though that she only has three wounds, so she won’t last long if she is focused on. Keep her moving, and throwing her globes all over the place.

 

Kyoshi (Coming to The Drowned Earth soon!)

Like Bez, Kyoshi is only currently available to backers of the Ulaya Chronicles Kickstarter, but he will be available for retail soon. Also like Bez, I can see some potential with this rifle wielding chameleon.

His stats are actually below average – Close combat (5!), agility (6), marksmanship (6), intelligence (6), toughness (2!) and no armour! That doesn’t sound too good does it?

He is armed with a tranq rifle, with a good range (10/20) but low damage (1/2). Meaning you will only be doing 1 damage at the nailed it range. It does however come with the special rules Venom (1) and Pierce (1), meaning the damage potential is slightly higher.

He also comes with the Re-stealth ability allowing him to go back into a stealth state, assuming no enemy has line of sight to him. Which is going to come in super useful as he is about as fragile as a paper cup in a hurricane with such low toughness, no armour and only three wounds to rely on.

Whilst I love the miniature (it really looks awesome) – I can really only see two ways of playing him. The first is to pair him up with Venk and have them snipe enemies from a distance, but have them deploy relatively close together; focusing fire on the same enemy character before moving on to the next one. Venk can then (finally!) use his medic skill to bring Kyoshi back up, should he be wounded. Alternatively the second option is to take both Venk and Kyoshi but have them control firelanes on opposite flanks of the table. This would enable Kyoshi to utilise his scouting special ability to deploy in a slightly better position (potential sniper tower etc) but remember… he is going to die quickly if the enemy targets him.

 

Leadership Abilities!

Killer Instinct (Kaneda only): nice little leadership buff, that further increases the damage potential. When an enemy character rolls a 9 or 10 on an armour save, they will take 2 wounds instead of 1. This is a good ability, but I prefer Kassel to Kaneda so I rarely use it myself.

It’s a Trap! (Kassel only): when a friendly character is charged, this ability effectively allows you to swap that character with a nearby friendly character if they have the ambush ability and are within range. A flavourful ability that can help prevent losing characters to combat fights that they have no chance of winning.

Painted Target: this is likely my favourite ability and the one I take more often than not. Essentially if an enemy character has the fire token, they are lit up like a beacon of Gondor, and no longer benefit from cover or smoke if targeted by a friendly character.

Alert Crew: a card also available to Bondsmen and the Artefacters, this allows an additional 6 points of effect cards to be taken.

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