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So, looking at a few smoke lists, and wanting to get ideas from people, currently running

Smoke

Flask

Vitriol

Venin

Mercury

Calculus (sometimes Hemlock)

OPTIONAL - Compound / Katalyst

 

The idea is to throw out loads of AOE action, hold Smoke back, and play a defensive ranged game. Vitriol and Venin and for the scoring and late game Smoke can do her cloud jumping magic for the win.

thoughts and any other ideas based on what people have played and experienced!

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I've tried both the list you have and with Venin swapped for Katalyst. Both are viable options, and who you prefer is probably going to come down to your play style (same with Calculus / Hemlocke).

Generally, I have Mercury going early in the first turn to put a fire AOE out so Smoke can double it and move both around. This has a long reach, and can really restrict the opposing team's movement, as they can struggle to generate momentum if they kicked. Calculus I try to leave a little later to poison some key targets. By turn 2 I'm usually looking at some damaged players with some conditions still active. Smoke often has the chance to go for a goal during this turn, and a couple of takeouts are possible between Katalyst (try and go early to leverage existing conditions and pulse some damage on the opposing team) and Vitriol ( Hunt down players who are looking a little worse for wear / remove their conditions rather than heal).

Momentum generation is probably the biggest problem - Katalyst can generate some if you are splashing intensifies, but against a lone burning target if you need the damage you get more out of his non momentous 2 damage (up to 3), and Vitriol can deal big damage but not much momentous without charging / ganging up. Momentous inspiration helps, but not a huge amount... Instead, I try and use fire / blind to limit the momentum my opponent can generate.

Venin is usually a little slower to get going than Katalyst (start of turn 3 bleed damage if you time things right turn 2) but he's a lot tankier and a better kicker in terms of distance.

As for Hemlocke vs Calculus, Calculus has better survivability, but Hemlocke is probably a better choice vs condition heavy teams (Other Smoke teams, Fillet Butchers, Brewers, Ballista Engineers, etc).

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I personally have either Mercury or Vitriol, usually not both. Katalyst is just way more valuable than either if played right. If you need the fire, take Merc. If not, well, I still think Vit may be left behind. Merc isn't that bad with the ball. 

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Mercury is great on the ball. I often find him doing a lot of work in the middle of a game - passing the ball around while also attacking / using an AOE...

Vitriol is hard to ignore though - she is incredibly flexible in that she scores easily, she deals impressive damage and she can also build momentum easily, while being a pain to pin down / take out in the right circumstances.

She doesn't really help Smoke's condition game, but she still has good synergy with Smoke, as they can drop Smoke bombs for each other, and a player that can move a long distance and take out those players that have taken some damage is very useful...

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Great replies, i like all the options. I need to explore Katalyst more, I find I go for Venin loads more than him. Venin in the early game is a great soak piece, just pop up his +1 armour and 4/2 is such a hard stat line to crack. I then find if the situation is right, you can trigger a pass to him and take the 4 inch dodge and get in on their goal. I always take Mercury, I find the ability of 1 player to deal 5 damage is huge at range.

So I guess the general thought at the moment is Smoke is the INF fuel for the team, and just let them do their thing. Then when the time is right you can load her up for a goal run.

Any thoughts on using the full ranges list with compound and sitting back and waiting for them to come to you? then you have compound, and unpredictable moment as you defence?

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I've been playing the OP's list with Calculus (don't own hemlock, compound stays on bench) for a few games now. I really enjoy it, and my wins have been more 4-1 takeouts to goals, sometimes 2-2. 

However I've been theory crafting a goals oriented list that I would like some feedback on. 

Smoke, Flask, Mercury, Venin, Vitriol, Mist. 

I haven't tried it as of yet, but the general plan is pretty simple. Without Calculus to hog 3 Inf most turns, it allows Venin an opportunity to function more as an effective striker. The sole intent of spreading the fire around is to limit movement and soak up some of the enemies momentum, I do feel that without Calc early momentum generation suffers though. And obviously this list doesn't capitalize on smokes legendary play at all really.  With Mist and Vitriol on each flank, both having smoke bombs available and their insane movement speeds they can cover that fairly well and give smoke options to shift positions fairly easily. The thing I've noticed about smoke is she is ridiculously hard for the opponent to lock down, and I would feel fairly confident in keeping her in the midfield looking for opportune moments to snatch the ball and get it out to one of the strikers. 

Any thoughts on this brand of play and how viable it is? I'll start playtesting but would like a good theoryball on the subject. 

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[WARNING: tournament recap!]

I went to the Boudica Memorial yesterday in Yarmouth playing a Smoke list:

Smoke, Flask, Mercury, Calculus, Vitriol, Decimate, with Compound and Hemocke on the bench.

I decided to main-team Decimate at the last minute on the advice of my regular opponent, as in our playtests he thought I didn't have a decent finisher to back up the condition damage I was doing, as I'd already decided from those tests Katalyst's Intensify is just not powerful enough. I've emboldened Smoke's name in the recap so you can find specifically what she did of significance (eg. what I remember her doing).

1st Game: Daniel Garnett with Engineers

That bloody cockroach!!! Vitriol ran up the side of the pitch and took it out early on, but it came back twice and got Overclocked, the 1st return taking out Flask and causing a chain reaction that took out Mercury, who was in both their blast radii. Minefield was a killer, but I managed to take out two of his other players with Decimate thanks to wittling down most of his team with AoE damage in the early turns. Smoke made sure that when I missed someone, I could Chemical Breeze at the end of the turn and at least get the conditions onto them, which also helped stop him running away from my murdering psychobitches. Flask came back with Husbandry and in the first activation of that turn charged into the centre of the pitch at Ballista, getting a wrap for 4 damage on each of Ballista, Ratchett and Rage, dodging so that he engaged two of them and threatening killing them both if he finished off the little robot. Unfortunately, time got called soon after that, so the game ended in a 6-8 loss.

2nd Game: Straw with Hunters

I'd spent some time looking at the Hunters rules and had their pages open in the rule book next to me (might cut up and rebind my Season 1 book so I have just the player pages for quick reference mid-game) so I was aware of some of the nasty tricks. This game Hemlock came in for Calculus due to the large number of conditions I know they dish out. Worked beautifully in the first turn when, due to Decimate running across to retrieve the ball and kick it to Vitriol on the opposite side, Egret managed to Flurry and hit Decimate, Hemlocke, Flask and Mercury! Hemlocke, however, went next, removed the poison from herself and Smelling Salt'd the other three, completely negating the attack. Vitriol completely screwed up her attack on Egret, but had (I think) Second Wind on her so was able to run away behind a barrier with the ball to prevent a charge. Mercury and Smoke set up a wall of fire in front of Jaecar (hitting Egret as well) to prevent him charging straight down the pitch, so he went the long way round.

2nd turn, Decimate brutalised Egret and my defensive players (everyone without a 9" sprint) shifted to the right flank to put distance between them and Hearne and Jaecar. Turns out Mercury is pretty good in combat (vs. low DEF), as he managed to keep pushing Jaecar off himself with MP and damage, and at one point charging to push Jaecar into charge range of Decimate and so leading to his death.

After a goal kick was retrieved by Zarola, Vitriol charged, engaging her and Egret, stripped the ball and kicked it toward Decimate, but it missed and scattered to Theron. Theron kicked it back toward Egret, landing a little short. Smoke used a sprint then Cloud Jump to grab the ball and stay in cover, which screwed Egret, as she was low on health so couldn't risk the parting blow from Vitriol and ended up Crowded Out trying to tackle Smoke in Cover (2 TAC vs. 4+, 1 ARM...). I won initiative in the last turn and ended it quickly with a charge from Decimate, getting Crowding Out from Smoke and Vitriol for megaTAC and the final 2 VP to make it 12-0

3rd Game: Jason Mountain with Brewers (2nd Battlehammer of the day)

Only my second game against Brewers and first against Tapper, who is a horrible bastard. I kicked the ball straight into a barrier (good scatter make sure it didn't move) which forced Friday to come really close for a double-teaming by Decimate and Vitriol (Mercury helped from range). Stoker screwed me with his easy :>>: stopping Decimate being able to do more than her charge against him, so I spent the last 2 INF on Second Wind for Vitriol. Friday had come on the other side and scored (despite Smoke Cloud Jumping about 12" to get in the way and play Tracking Back), so Vitriol picked up the goal kick and used Stoker as a :><: taxi to get in range to score for me. Due to a tiny scatter and Vitriol taking the shot from within a smoke cloud, her Second Wind allowed her to immediately jump back on the ball, setting me up to score 1st activation of the next turn.

Sadly during this time, Tapper and Hopper had powered down the centre of the pitch and picked on Calculus. She held on as long as she could, but some failed Blinds and Fireballs within 4" of Smoke meant I couldn't heal her or prevent the charge that took her out and led to Tapper charging over her corpse into Flask. Smoke used her Cloud Jumper to get the hell away from the oncoming storm and Mercury slowed them down with a fireball.

Here's where I cocked up - I forgot to put his two quick takeouts on my scoreboard, so I thought the score was at 10-4, rather than 10-8. Instead of sprinting Decimate across the pitch, Second Winding, then walking 6" to pick up the ball, I charged Stoker then dodged into Scum in the hope of winning the initiative next turn and gutting the cat for the win. Mash used the fast ground to sprint to the ball, move back and kick to Friday, who scored. Mash only had 2 INF so Decimate might have been able to hold onto the ball and prevent the game ending 10-12.

4th Game: Parker with Alchemists (3rd Battlehammer!)

Mirror (sort of)! Parker was playing Midas with Katalyst, Vitriol, Venin and Calculus. I retrieved with Decimate and kicked back to Mercury, but thanks to cover and fast ground, his Vitriol charged onto Decimate, dodged onto Mercury, tackled and scored in his 1st activation!!! I kept the ball close, used Smoke to accelerate Vitriol and Hemlocke to kick the ball to Decimate while poisoning his Vitriol, then piled pretty much all my team into her, finishing his Vitriol off at the beginning of turn 2. Midas came down and stripped the ball from Decimate (just, as my Vitriol was making sure he got crowded out) and took a shot on goal which he missed! Smoke did some sneaking Cloud Jumping shenanigans to get the ball to Vitriol, while Venin, Midas, Decimate Hemlocke and Mercury got into a brawling cluster fuck of conditions right in front of my goal (so many 1" auras and melee zones...). Smoke being close meant I could generate MP from retreating and applying conditions, while Decimate battered Venin in an effort to get enough MP to mass-remove conditions on my own players.

Vitriol charged Katalyst and :><: taxi'd into scoring range, then Decimate dodged, took a parting blow from Venin and Second Wind'd onto the ball, taking it out of his returned Vitriol's range. In return, his Vitriol pulled mine off Katalyst, freeing him up to charge Mercury. Smoke then played a blinder, as I'd kept track of Venin's health, taking him to 6 with Mercury's (Bonus Timed) AoE - Legendary to slap two templates on Venin and Midas, taking out Venin and halving Midas's health, smoke bombing to one side of the brawl, walking up and punching Katalyst on the other side twice for MP then Cloud Jumping across to her previous smoke and getting her well out of Dodge. Sadly I lost the initiative (would have charged Flask with Decimate, dodged and scored to win the game), and so lost the ball to his Vitriol who then passed it over some rough ground to Calculus who dodged 4" closer to my goal. This was Too Flash for Smoke, who Cloud Jumped, charged for free, tackled, kicked it back over the rough ground close to Decimate then failed to hit Calculus with her remaining INF. Decimate moved into his Vitriol, dodged onto the ball, had it tackled away in the counterattack, took it back then :<<: away and kicked toward Vitriol, scattering to within 9" of a burning Midas before I took my reroll and managed to scatter it onto Vitriol, just after the beeps of me clocking out came out. He gains a point but can't see a way to reach Vitriol so slams Midas and Katalyst into Mercury, taking him out. I get my 1 minute activation, turboing a charge into Flask, more than 2 hits for the MP to take the MP and so use all my 2 MP for the Bonus Time'd shot on goal, which hit with every dice, giving me a 12-7 win.

 

TL:DR - Smoke is very much a team player. She boosts Mercury and Calculus by making up for their mistakes by moving AoE's around to guarantee conditions go on (or reapplying them), repositioning for support or to cover holes, while giving her excess INF to real play0makers like Vitriol and Decimate. A lot of turns I was able to put 4 and 3 on Vitriol and Decimate (alternating depending on position) then 2 each on Smoke, Calculus and Mercury.

I feel like I want 3 or 4 on Smoke, but she works fine with 2, as Flask and Vitriol can always provide smoke clouds, and when the opposition get close, you won't be throwing out as many condition AoEs to reposition anyway. It's similar to how I play with Midas in some ways, as I don't often use more than 4 INF on him, as I'd prefer to be tackling and scoring with Mist and Vitriol, with him acting as a back up to them (he only gets stacked when I get Unmasking or Scything Blow and can really go to town). Smoke needs less however, and supports the damage/condition game, so with her I was playing for 1&4, possibly 2&2, rather than the 3&0 I go for with Midas.

Also, Grant is now the only Battlehammer/hamster I have yet to play, and with Jason is one of the two I have yet to beat. See you in June for the Norfolk Open!

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Nice report S_A_T_S. Just remember that Smokes legendary can't do 6 damage and you would not have killed Venin and halved Midas's health. 

Chemical Shower states "models within one or more of these AOE's immediately suffer [3] condition damage."

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9 hours ago, Alarum said:

Nice report S_A_T_S. Just remember that Smokes legendary can't do 6 damage and you would not have killed Venin and halved Midas's health. 

Chemical Shower states "models within one or more of these AOE's immediately suffer [3] condition damage."

Well that's crap. Alchemists don't dish out much damage anyway, so I wouldn't see the harm in having the double stack of damage.

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6 damage is a ton, particularly with the potential to deal it to multiple players.  You're unlikely to see anything like that out of Fillet's legendary, and she's a Butcher.

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11 hours ago, S_A_T_S said:

Well that's crap. Alchemists don't dish out much damage anyway, so I wouldn't see the harm in having the double stack of damage.

Alchemists dish out a Ton of damage when you play for it. Letting those templates stack to 6 damage for free would be incredibly stupid. The 3 free damage at the kind of range and area they already have is pretty close to stupid. 

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8 minutes ago, AduroT said:

Alchemists dish out a Ton of damage when you play for it. Letting those templates stack to 6 damage for free would be incredibly stupid. The 3 free damage at the kind of range and area they already have is pretty close to stupid. 

Agreed that could easily be game over. Especially at the end of the turn... That is 8 damage with no way to respond, no roll, probably on multiple models.

Also not much damage? the 2 times I've run Smoke I've won with 4 take-outs and 1 goal, the team does brutal amounts of damage. It's just they spread the damage around so turn 3 you end up with multiple take outs as everyone is on the verge of falling over.

At the moment I'm running Smoke, Flask, Calculus, Mercury, Venin, Katalyst. Going to try swapping Katalyst for Vitriol as my damage dealer.. I just can't get Venin to act as a damage dealer, but he's a great include for the 2 Influence and the Heroic Play, It allows me to use the Influence elsewhere while still having a useful model.

 

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Even with it not stacking, activating last in the turn with a couple of Influence on Smoke, that is probably 12-16 guaranteed damage (no rolls) spread over the entire team. Hell in the perfect situation it could easily be 24 damage, if you can get each template on 2 models and then Chemical breeze them onto the other members of the team for additional poison damage.

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Not with her Legandary, but just Calculus and Mercury dropping their templates, and Smoke copying/moving them, with a Venin Coagulate follow up on turn one is really mean as your opponent likely doesn't have a lot of Momentum to remove the Conditions and making half their team take six+ damage is a hell of an out of the gate tempo swing and not at all hard to set up really unless they refuse to move up off their starting line. 

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Totally, this is how I play it. This is why I feel it's one of the Katalysts or Vitriol in contention for the 6th place. As Venin is just so useful.

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I played the same list as Ratty except I used Vet Katalyst. Vitriol could have done the same work as Vet Kat and wouldn't have given up a heap of Momentum but with Theron forcing him to move away from the group, I missed out on Intensify damage on multiple models. He handed Theron a beating though. Smoke ended up scoring 2 goals and 2 take outs in that game. The rest of the team softened them up for her to snipe with her Legendary though.

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12 hours ago, Ratty said:

Also not much damage? the 2 times I've run Smoke I've won with 4 take-outs and 1 goal, the team does brutal amounts of damage. It's just they spread the damage around so turn 3 you end up with multiple take outs as everyone is on the verge of falling over.

At the moment I'm running Smoke, Flask, Calculus, Mercury, Venin, Katalyst. Going to try swapping Katalyst for Vitriol as my damage dealer.. I just can't get Venin to act as a damage dealer, but he's a great include for the 2 Influence and the Heroic Play, It allows me to use the Influence elsewhere while still having a useful model.

Maybe it's just me or my meta then. I get next to nothing out of Venin, nor have conditions done all that much to do damage. They are really just there to sap MP and irritate/slow down the opposition so that Vitriol and Decimate can slaughter everyone. When vKatalyst comes out, I would consider Smoke, Vitriol, Calculus, Mercury, vKatylst and Flask. Condition damage is just too slow alone, and normal Intensifies don't do enough. Playing without Vitriol or Decimate as a 'finisher' seems foolish, as it's too easy for them to just take a breather on whoever is most injured each turn, but hopefully vKatalyst will work in that role. Unlike Vitriol & her smoke bomb, however, he doesn't have a way to trigger his own traits on his activation.

A decent player isn't going to let you hit more than one person with AoEs, and they will make sure they have enough 2" melee zones to ignore auras. Against my regular Union opponent, if my players move more than 3" off my line, someone WILL be brutalized or killed by Blackheart, giving him the MP to go first turn 2 and either finish off the T1 target, demolish someone else or score a goal and run away. Burning does nothing, as to get close enough for it to effect Blackheart is to get close enough for Gutter or Decimate to earn the MP to remove it.

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It's all to do with the Influence balance of the team. Venin doubles down on Conditions, he turns Poison and Burning for 3 DMG a turn into Poison, Burning and Bleed for 6 damage a turn and he does this for 0 Influence, this allows you to power the rest of your team with his Influence. With a character like Midas you need the Influence.

If you take Mist, Vitriol, Midas and Decimate in a team suddenly you have a team which has multiple characters that need lots of influence to do anything, Mist is fairly pointless with less than 3 or 4, Vitriol similarly. So you end up with players just hanging around and twiddling their fingers.

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Smoked Engineers tonight, 12-4. Alchemists definitely do the ranged Character Plays game better than Balista. Ended up taking out Mainspring, Ratchet, Kick Bolt guy and, Balista in that order, then scored a goal with Smoke for the win. Hoist was as good as dead given he'd Reanimated from conditions the final turn and Smoke could have just dropped Chemical Shower to finish him off but it wasn't nessisarily. My opponent scored one goal with Velocity. 

After the game we both agreed he needed to put more emphasis on scoring goals because there was no way he could out damage me despite earning more Momentum from his plays than I do from mine. I definitely think that's what you need to do vs Smoke lists because her team will melt yours so fast you need a couple of quick goals to force pressure. This match ended on the first activation of the fourth turn. 

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5 minutes ago, AduroT said:

Smoked Engineers tonight, 12-4. Alchemists definitely do the ranged Character Plays game better than Balista. Ended up taking out Mainspring, Ratchet, Kick Bolt guy and, Balista in that order, then scored a goal with Smoke for the win. Hoist was as good as dead given he'd Reanimated from conditions the final turn and Smoke could have just dropped Chemical Shower to finish him off but it wasn't nessisarily. My opponent scored one goal with Velocity. 

After the game we both agreed he needed to put more emphasis on scoring goals because there was no way he could out damage me despite earning more Momentum from his plays than I do from mine. I definitely think that's what you need to do vs Smoke lists because her team will melt yours so fast you need a couple of quick goals to force pressure. This match ended on the first activation of the fourth turn. 

Did you find that all your kills were coming later in the game. I find Smoke doesn't really focus damage, but can spread a silly amount over the whole team.

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1 minute ago, Ratty said:

Did you find that all your kills were coming later in the game. I find Smoke doesn't really focus damage, but can spread a silly amount over the whole team.

That's exactly what I tell people. Condition damage doesn't see people go down till start of the third/fourth turn, but when they do they drop like flies in rapid succession. Exceptions are Mascots, who I prey upon with extreme prejudice, and the primary target of vKatalyst, who I've only proxied once and not this recent game, but he's crazy damaging. 

In the above game Mainspring died beginning of turn two to a one two Flame Jet/Flame Burst combo. Ratchet went down to Flask's and Katalyst's Intensify on turn three. Balista and Kick Shot guy succumbed to Burning, Poison, and Bleed damage beginning of four. Coatulation is Mean and a solid part of my play. Without making a single attack, and only being allocated a single Influence for a turn one Sprint (which I didn't really get to do because he got Knocked Down), Venin put out fifteen damage. 

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