Fillet It Up

Fillet has been doing the rounds for a little while now, and I have been able to play quite a few games with her and I feel confident writing about her in an authoritative manner.  The fantastic thing about Fillet is that she is completely different from Ox, and yet somehow still feels like a Butcher.  Let’s begin by looking at her card, and then discuss what she brings to a team with her as captain.

 

She’s a Maniac, Maniac on the Floor 

What an incredible card she has on paper.  My first thought was “OMG…  They have given me Shark as a Butcher.”  Her speed is unmatched in Butcher’s outside of Shank, with a 7/9 Move and the ability to Quick Foot herself up to 9/11. Her TAC8 is also the best currently available in the game, and with a Brewer playbook of 7 columns, if she does happen to get into a juicy target that she can get some wraps on, she will certainly crank up damage.  3/6″ Kick is acceptable for a 2nd tier Striker, and thanks to her mobility is probably even better than it looks, and although on paper DEF5/ ARM0 is a pretty respectable defense, anything that drops her DEF will definitely see her take a lot of hurt very quickly.  She has traditional captain Influence stats.  Her Playbook is a very interesting one.  As is common in Butchers (to most people’s surprise), her Tackle is Momentous and easily achieved at 1 hit.  Her track progresses with increasing Momentous damage, and a KD at 6 hits.  Blood Rain, her real money making play and the one you absolutely have to hit if you charge with her is on 4 successes.  One thing to keep in mind when looking at her playbook is that thanks to Smell Blood vs a Bleeding target, every single one of those damage results is increased by 1, making her Momentous 2 damage on three hits actually a very impressive 3 damage.

With Quick Foot and Blood Rain, she has two excellent additions to her own game plan, and facilitating that of some of the rest of the team.  Her final character play is something unique in Butchers, their first ranged AOE, Pain Circle.  It causes 1DMG and Bleed, and outside of her charging and reaching Blood Rain, is her only way of putting Bleed on a target.  Using at as your last activation in a turn, especially if you have gone second, can put a surprising amount of damage out on a few players, putting them in potential takeout range from a Shank, or Brisket.

Her traits are where she really comes to life, and takes her in to potential A-grade Striker territory.  Blood Dance allows her to make a 1″ Dodge any time she damages a model that is Bleeding. Note, this also works on Pain Circle, so if she targets a model that is already Bleeding with that AOE, she can Dodge 1″ before moving.  That is basically a Momentous Dodge and 2DMG on two hits, which for a TAC8 Model is pretty laughable, and if you manage to get two or three attacks whilst in possession, you can move upwards of 13″ in a turn pretty easily.  Haemophilia is a pretty cool ability when you combine it with her Legendary play, especially if you are winning a Momentum race.  One of my absolute most favourite moments in Guild Ball is when a Tooled Up Fillet charged Katalyst, made it Rain, and then hit the other two models who weren’t bleeding with Pain Circle.  Suddenly I had done 10DMG from just my charge and Pain Circle, but as it was last activation, I then used my Legendary to make 6 players (yes, 6 Players) take 3DMG, and then Bleed triggered in the next Maintenance Phase.  46 damage from one activation.  Actually happened, hand over heart.  So why would you ever, ever play Ox?

 

OMG FILLET IS AMAZING?

After my initial OMG moment, I wrote a few teams for her to play with and set to smashing out some games.  The first team I wrote was Boiler, Rage, Meathook and Brisket.  It was crazy fun sending a DEF6 Fillet flying to all ends of the board and watching all these conditions spring up all over the place. I was scoring goals, dodging around, throwing down AOE’s.  What I wasn’t doing however, and this is what I found tricky initially, was giving Influence to anyone else.  Fillet demands 6INF, every single turn.  She almost needs it to actually be able to get the best from her.  If you are not giving her influence, she passively does nothing for the team, outside of being reasonably high DEF and not providing the opponent with heaps of Momentum.  And in Butchers 6INF is usually half of the available Influence pool, which is a large investment, and in this team, over half.  That can make it hard to generate a lot of Momentum, especially if Fillet is using Pain Circle and Boiler using Swift Stance and generating no momentum, Meathook using her Heroic for another one.  I was losing Momentum races with Butchers.  And what I was finding was that I simply could not execute players like clockwork, the way I could with Ox.  People were clearing their Bleed off, healing damage and my other players, although decent hitters in their own right, were not doing enough damage to end players.  It is also a team with precisely zero 2″ Reach models, which I believe is the strongest ability in the game.

I went back to the drawing board and began trying to build a team that would operate with a more focused goal slant, trying to get Brisket and Fillet a goal apiece.  Minx, Brisket, Boiler, Shank was my team, and this one was a little more successful, albeit still not as reliable as my Ox version of this team.  I found myself trying to set up Brisket to slot my first goal, and with 13 INF available, and usually an extra one after the first turn goal from Brisket/ Fillet, I had enough INF to go around to give Fillet 6 and still feel like I had enough for the rest of the team.  The tricky part here was after that first turn, who I began activating with.  Boiler is a good option, because he can Swift Stance Fillet and at DEF6 she is very very tough to kill, but then he needs to be within 4″ of her, and she is usually a long way away.  Putting out some Bleed is handy, but canny opponents will clear that straight away and leave you with no other Bleed outside of a Pain Circle. I actually found that I struggled with getting takeouts, and I almost lost a game to a Corsair led Fishermen team because he was taking out my players quicker than I could take out his.

 

WIN A FREE SET OF STEAK KNIVES

Why was I struggling with Fillet?  What exactly was I doing differently to my other games?  I realised quite quickly that I wasn’t doing anything differently, and perhaps that was part of the problem.  In a traditional Ox Butcher team, you find yourself anchoring around him, reaping the passive benefits of Owner over and over again.  Damage stacks up so quickly and with Momentum almost overflowing, it is easy to get on a roll, win first turn, and remove players.  Outside of her Legendary and herself, Fillet’s team cannot do that.  Shank is actually a pretty normal player with Fillet, albeit a super fast one.   He doesn’t crank that much damage with her, usually floating around the 6-8DMG range per activation if fully loaded.  With Ox, it is easy for him to get 10-12DMG turns, and that is without the Legendary.  It makes the condition game a crucial part of what she needs to be a true damage dealing monster, which is where that extra damage comes in.  And that is why I believe Avarisse and Greede to be a crucial part of her gameplan. When Fillet can activate absolutely last, with no other player being able to impact what she does, the value of her condition game skyrockets.  And because of her unbelievable maneuverability, she can do this from a position of relative safety and suddenly blast in and put out 46 damage.  Singled Out increases her chances of making it Rain, and if you reach dire straights, Greede is a backup Striker who can finish a game (absolute, dire, dire straights).  Suddenly Shank was coming in and finishing off wounded models because they only had 6-8 health left.  Healing players became an urgent thing to do, instead of clearing conditions, because if they didnt heal, players would die, meaning the Bleed just kept racking up damage over and over.  Another fun one to start off with is Meathook. You know her Heroic?  It’s pretty good when everyone in the team is affected by it, and when she can be first activation and everyone is already Bleeding.

After I had that realisation, things started to come together a lot more for me.  I was using Fillet to whittle away health from a few key players, and then rushing in with Shank and Gutter early to finish them off, while Brisket slotted goals.  I began to reach a point where I was happy with my list, and of course, it was exactly the same list as I was using with Ox: A&G, Gutter, Shank and Brisket…. LOL

 

SLAPCHOP SHAMWOW 

For two captains who go about things in completely different ways, what an odd thing to do.  Ending up with the exact same team was strange.  I again, tried to pinpoint why I was using these same players with what was a captain that played in a completely different way.  It was because each of those players brings something unique and excellent in what they do that benefits every type of game plan.  Gutter, with Scything Blow, spreads damage across multiple models, and with Chain Grab repositions players into inconvenient positions. Shank can come from anywhere to take out a player, or steal the ball.  Brisket is a goal scoring machine, but Dirty Knives is a facilitating ability, and her defensive tech is extremely good. Avarisse makes everyone better.  It is hard to replace these four players in my team, because they have such great versatility and work so well together.   I decided to try and write a team and focus primarily on two things – the condition game of Fillet, and scoring goals. My first two choices were Avarisse & Greede and Brisket, obviously.  I then put in Meathook, who although she struggles with a low Influence generating stat, her Heroic play is actually extremely effective at putting a chunk of damage out, as well as slowing the enemy down and letting you redeploy.  The final player, because currently the team has no reach, is Shank.  When you need to get a ball out of hard to reach places, there is no player like Shank. 🙂  He is also an excellent goal scorer. The one deviation from my usual team was Meathook, and the reason is pure and simple, to get the condition game ticking over and over.

It is a good team, one that I have used in a few games and had some success with, but Influence allocation every turn is a struggle.  Avarisse, Shank, Brisket all immediately get two, and usually Shank wants three or four.  That starts chopping into Fillet’s pool and leaves Meathook with none.  But, you can flex it all around depending on the game state, and what you want to achieve from each turn.  Tooling Up Shank or Fillet, charging an already bleeding model and using her Heroic to ping three or four models is a great first activation, and can actually set you up to deny your opponent any momentum to clear conditions, especially if you can pass and Dodge Meathook back to safety.

 

FINISH HER

Back to Fillet.  The trickiest part of Fillet vs Ox is trying to understand what you want from Fillet in a turn.  Ox is easy.  Pretty much every turn he activates to get himself in the right position, and everyone else just goes on a murder rampage.  He is invariably very early on in the turn, and on his Legendary you roll up with 5INF and kill a dude (hooray no more Hair).  Fillet in the early game wants to go last to get full value from the conditions, and in the mid game she will probably be much earlier on, using the benefit of the Bleed conditions to rack up some damage, and then hopefully score a goal. In fact, she is a potential back to back activation like Shark.  The flexibility and her much more engaging activation thought process makes her a very attractive option for Butcher players looking to expand their tactical options.

Do I think she is better than Ox?  No, I don’t.  However, I very much don’t think she is bad, and in terms of fun levels, there is something pretty amazing about charging a dude and getting to say “TIME TO MAKE IT RAIN MOTHERFUCKERSSSSS!!!”. She is a selfish captain, one that demands a full INF load, and although she can deliver some amazing things with that it can make it pretty hard to do anything else in a turn.  Getting an early goal is absolutely crucial, if only just for the extra goal INF it provides.

 

Overall I think Fillet will be a lot of fun to play, and will open up a lot of different playstyles for Butchers, but she may struggle to cut it at the top levels of Butcher play.