Brewers: First Impressions of Esters

 Esters Card

The Horns do all the Talking

Esters is a totally new take on Captaining, letting Tapper sit his achy old bones on the sidelines and bringing in a beautifully full figured young lass by the name of Esters. She’s hot to trot with a big set of horns on her helm, a belt buckle Texan Rodeo champions would be jealous of and nice handful of hops ripe for brewing. She puts down the big stick and uses words instead to really bring the fight home, opening up a new set of buff potential to really open some doors for Brewers playstyle. So while Esters may not be the Captain that can kill a bunch of fools in a single activation, she instead becomes the enabler that can push the team over the edge.

The Numbers

She’s definitely enjoyed the Brewing life of a bit of excess here and there, so we’re not talking some ultra-portable speed demon here. She’s got a move of 4″/6″ and a Melee of 1″ so her getting around will generally be a bit more limited than most of the other players on the team. She keeps the standard Brewer fare of having a mid-range TAC paired up with a playbook 1 entry shorter, and that playbook is filled with utility in the form of Pushes, Knockdowns, a Tackle and a bit of Damage to chip in. Kick, Def and Arm match 1 for 1 with Tapper and then her Influence pool and cap are 1 higher than Tapper’s baseline and equal to his buffed pool/cap from Scum.  While she’s not bearer of Tough Hide, she does boast a whopping 22 Boxes and protection coming in the form of our new old friend, Gluttonous Mass. Ideally she can shunt some of that initial output coming from a Charge or a big Character Play.

What really makes Esters unique is her buffing system, her Empowered Voice ability. She’s got a non-Influence, non-Momentum based buff system that allows you pump MOV, DMG or DEF and a Legendary Play that allows you to do that ability 3 times in a single turn. So for that Legendary Turn you can opt to go for a widespread buffing across the team or you can create a hero to zoom across the field ready to wreck face and stand there untouchable. For a few characters it really pushes their potential in a lot of different directions. You can have speed demon Hooper Charging 9″ at DEF 4+ with +1 DMG before any other team member steps up to start buffing. Friday easily has a 22″ Goal Threat which can get pushed to 24″ via Spigot before any Pass Dodges. There’s a lot of depth to the versatility and that is before she even spends Influence. Toss in Blast Earth and Fire Blast and she opens up the ability to really start controlling the pitch with rough-ground and the threat of burning. With the proper positioning you have the capability of removing up to 4″ of threat ranges to the meat of her team. She’s also got a Heroic Play that is an amped up  version of Hemlocke’s Smelling Salts play to keep her team healthy and clear of buffs. Remember that the Empowered Voice and Legendary are Guild Only, but the Soothing Voice Heroic is for all Friendlies in the pulse.

Esters’ Team

The primary ‘all-comers’ team for Esters includes goal scoring potential as well as strong damage capability that allows a high level of flexibility and reduce the chance that my opponent will be able to expect the plan of the list.

That list looks something like this:

Esters – The big lady in charge of things.

Scum – We just gotta bring the cat along.

Hooper – biggest damage potential on KD targets and a model with 2″ melee.

Mash – secondary goal threat and also just a great ball handler, also has additional synergies with Esters (see Making the Most of Mash).

Friday – primary goal threat and a secondary damage dealer, especially on a significantly crowded target.

Spigot – the ultimate enabler alongside Esters, opening up higher SPD, higher DMG and better kicking. One of the few I would call an Auto-Include.

Other Potentials:

  • Stave – Extends his threat range in a big way and makes him potentially more survivable with a DEF buff. Also can help to fuel him without taking too much away from the overall team.
  • Gutter –  She is a threat range extender and a secondary goal threat with Spigot around, also a quick and easy creator of Momentum.
  • Stoker – Potential for massive damage and natural high Armor and Magical Brew which can be great in Mortician / Alchemist matchups.
  • Hemlocke – Addition of another healing / condition removing element along with another set of Control / Condition elements.
  • Avarisse & Greede – Largely untested in Brewers, but opens a great potential for TAC increase, which combined with short Brewer playbooks can become a big deal. Read Trent’s article about A&G to get some more ideas (http://ozball.club/2016/02/avarisse-greede-the-insatiable-lust/)

The Playstyle

So with Brewers we’ve been used to stacking one dude with a pile on Influence first thing in the turn and firing him like a rocket launcher at whatever was the most threatening (aka whoever on the other team has the most damage output and a stack of Influence to also use theirs). We’ve traded in the rocket launcher for a personal trainer who can help you do just about everything but doesn’t have nearly as much personal output. You’re not going to get 7 Influence of attacks from Esters, but she can throw down the gloves and push her weight around if she has to. She’s really only activating first in a turn if you absolutely have to protect your team, and in that case she’s getting between 3 and 5 Influence so she can sprint up, throw down 1-2 AoEs (one Blast Earth, one Fire Blast, or two Blast Earths) and then toss a buff over to one of her compatriots then watch the opposing team struggle to get into advantageous positions. Most of the time her best spot in the activation in the line up is going to be 2-3 down the line so she can get the most out of her buffing and Heroic Play, but she’ll also be tossing 2-3 of her Influence to someone else at that point so she’s in the major support role. Having Hooper, Friday, Spigot and Mash all loaded with 3 Influence a piece means that there’s a lot of stuff your team can be doing and there’s a lot of versatile plays you have access to at that point. Could mean throwing down some early damage or control with Hooper then having Spigot Heroic and Esters buff Friday for a major goal threat. Could mean Friday getting in some Dirty Knives on an enemy and gain some Momentum so Hooper can smash into somebody. You have options.

If you start a turn and you really feel like you want to get Esters to maximize her personal damage potential, let’s look at her possibilities:
EstersTvDA

 

So if she’s loaded up with 5 Influence and you can walk into melee with say, Ox (DEF 3/ ARM 1) let’s break this down:

Pre-Attack: Buff Self with +1 DMG

Attack 1: Momentous 2 DMG, 1 Push (Maybe get a crowd, but lets assume not)

Attack 2: Bonus Time for Momentous KD to put him at 2+/1

Attack 3: Bonus Time for 4 DMG Double Push (Let’s Assume 1 Crowding Out now)

Attack 4: Momentous 3 DMG / KD

Attack 5: Bonus Time for 4 DMG Double Push / 2 DMG

At the end of that, we’re looking at 15 DMG on averages. You absolutely need to get 2 wraparounds to make it happen with Ox at 19 health. Her best choice if you want to throw down early in a turn is either to kill a damaged opponent or do something like a Knockdown followed by a Double Push to just put Ox in a place where he can’t functionally do anything until another model goes. All that goes out the window if you get 2+ Crowd Outs where the +1 Damage can make her go over the edge the same way Tapper benefits so strongly from Commanding Aura. Realistically though, using her Playbook to deny the opponent much retaliation then sending Hooper or Spigot in for the real kill will be the place that she is the strongest.

Conclusions

Her biggest weakness is going to be the fact that she loses 2″ melee from Tapper and will definitely find it far harder to one round an opponent, but she gains a toolbox of performance enhancing goodies and team support to stand midfield behind the Tough Hide Pushers. She’s got some great denial and new tactics for the Brewers to utilize, including the creation of an even strong goal scoring team or a slow kill conditions based team. Her line of thinking is far less linear than that of Tapper’s due to her ability to make a lot of different characters shine while personally staying out of the main melee. She is quite sturdy, but still definitely has the potential to be killed as soon as a player goes all in on her. She will definitely take some getting used to to maximize all of her potential but she has a lot of versatility and very usable abilities that at the right time will be game changing.