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Murderball: Vet Rage Primer

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Figured I'd write up some details on how to get good use out of Rage, what he does and who he plays with. Rage is a very unique captain who does things no others really do in the game, and plays quite differently to how you'd expect. He's both powerful and versatile, though he definitely leans more towards a beatdown plan. There are a few different team compositions and plans you can run with him, and generally he makes for a very solid foundation of a team, especially when the rest of his team is also individually powerful.
To start by going down the pre game sequence:
Game Plans
Rage is less hungry for +6s and +7s compared than most teams, because he tends to generate excessive amounts of momentum once he gets going. Grudge Match and Seize The Initiative are still great, though. Kick 'Em While They're Down is a great effect to play after you just won initiative if you set up for it, but it does take some work - A&G use it very well. Get Back In There is great for increasing Rage's threat range and lets you play aggressively with him, and Full Back and Go For The Knees have good universal bonuses you're never unhappy to have. Back In The Game is generally useful for throwing models deep into enemy territory, while also having potential for huge blowout turns if you can set up a Gutter activation in the right place to take your own model out as you spend your 4th influence. The footballing plans (Sell It To The CrowdStick to the Plan, Keep the Ball Moving) are generally the cards you're least interested in.
The Initiative Roll
You pretty much always want to receive. It gives you a lot more flexibility in your player choices, and the ball is an important resource. Kicking off means you're lacking that resource, and you're forced into taking a model that has good kickoff pressure as one of your 4 player choices, since Rage doesn't have the threat range to do so himself really. By default that's Mist, who causes other issues with your team composition also, since he's an influence hungry model that doesn't deal damage, though I'll talk more about that later. 
Note that if you do end up kicking, this does mean you get to choose which half of the pitch to deploy on. Usually it doesn't make much of a difference, but a good piece of cover for Mist to work from, or something to protect your team from an attacking team, is always nice. If there's a large chunk of rough ground in the middle of someone's half, forcing your opponent to deal with it is nicer than having to work with it yourself.
Mascot Choice
Both Strongbox and Coin are useful models to have in your roster. It's doable to run with only one of them, though I prefer to take both. Coin is consistently moderately useful, where Strongbox is sometimes completely worthless / a liability, and sometimes incredibly powerful. Usually, you want to take Coin into teams that spread out a lot or primarily play football, and Strongbox into teams that group up and brawl, especially if they are going to be coming towards you rather than you needing to go to them.
Strongbox is also very useful against teams that Jog your players around (primarily Morticians with Puppet Master/Lure and Ratcatchers with Haunting Melody) since he can act as an 'anchor' and keep your players where they are by taking a KD on his parting blow. Rage otherwise doesn't like playing against Obulus very much (he can split your players up quite well) so if you're going for Coin only, have a think/plan about what you want to do about the Obulus matchup. Strongbox is also a useful KD merchant if you drew the Kick 'Em While They're Down game plan, so keep that in mind. It's not as huge a synergy as Sic 'Em was, but it's still relevant - though if someone is within 1" of Strongbox and KDed, they're probably getting taken out whichever game plan you play.
Coin is also useful for player flexibility, since the additional influence the snake provides (and not needing any itself, where Strongbox sometimes wants 1-2) allows you to fuel more influence-hungry players in a line up. Union have a lot of players that really want more influence than they generate, so this is a useful effect to have available. While both mascots allow you to effectively turn a 1-die character play into a 2-die (via Confidence or Bag of Coffers), Coin requires no influence investment to fuel that two-die play where the Confidence line needs two inf investment, so if you're planning on throwing a lot of Blinds, Goads, Marked Targets or similar then Coin is handy to have around.
Squaddie Choice
This is the difficult one. Almost every player in the Union line up has at least some use with Veteran Rage (excluding Rage1, of course). There aren't any unplayable choices, really. One thing to keep in mind is that you will want to be allocating four influence to Rage on a majority of turns. This means you'll have ~8 influence to divide among your remaining four players, potentially adjusted for Game Plan, goals scored, and anything your mascot wants. Usually because of this, you don't want to be taking more than two squaddies that want to be regularly stacked to full with influence. Naturally, sometimes players will be taken out, or unable to reach the action, but usually it's good to have a 'standard' three players that do a lot of work when fully stacked, and then have the other two players be more efficient and able to do things with minimal influence investment. If your 'payoff' players do end up out of position or unable to get much influence for some reason, your backup players will still be able to use the inf to at least reasonable effect - pretty much nobody in the Union is going to be 100% useless to put inf on.
Benediction is a cornerstone of pretty much any Rage line up. He brings several tools that are relatively hard to get, and in a durable package with a great counterattack. One of Benediction's main advantages is how tough he is. Rage really likes to be able to start beating down on a model that's already engaged. Benediction is your best option for moving up at the start of a turn, putting a melee zone on a person or three, and setting up for Rage to go in - and not dying to the enemy first turn before you get the opportunity to capitalize. There are no other models in the faction which can do this reliably, and it is huge for helping Rage start fights. Benediction is also great at pushing other models around, which allows Rage to use Red Fury to maneuver models into position to take them out, disengage himself or other Furious models, and generally control the scrum well. Benny doesn't need much influence to do work - usually 0-2, just as much as is needed to ensure I have momentum at the start of Rage's activation - which is another major upside in an inf hungry team. Extending the range of Red Fury lets you pull off some great plays too. He's also the more useful of the two Solthecians, and you probably want one or the other if you are going to be playing Mist, since 2" extra threat range for completely free is a nice benefit. Stand Firm is useful to apply to the model you kick off with, giving you some resistance to counter attacks or enemy assaults, especially Deadbolt and Lob Barrel. It's also occasionally useful if you expect Rage to be targeted, though you usually don't have the spare influence.
Gutter is a fantastic payoff model for Rage. She has several important utility tools, but her primary function is to convert influence into both damage and momentum at a good rate. She has a long threat range, and along with her 4+/1 14HP statline the free healing off her damage makes her surprisingly durable - note that it works on counter attacks. The great thing about Gutter is that if she doesn't have a lot of set up done for her, you can still put a stack of influence on her and be reasonably confident that she will get something done with it - be it a bit of damage to generate momentum and set someone up, or Chain Grab to engineer a scrum for Scything Blow next turn, or the huge Scything Blow payoff when everything lines up just right. Anatomical Precision is great for making playbook results easier to hit, means she almost never completely whiffs, and lets her hit some poor models (looking at you, Flint and Brisket) as though they had no defenses at all. Chain Grab is also a great play for Rage - Red Fury does many things, but anything that can be triggered off the playbook is suddenly a play that Rage can buy in his activation as well as Gutter's own. Yanking strikers into a scrum they don't want to be in is very handy. Gutter also has a knock down in her playbook, and 4 hits is not exceptionally hard to find when you have Anatomical Precision, so her parting blow is nothing to be sniffed at either. Tackling people is usually not worth it over the KD, though. Gutter's 8" sprint and 3/6" kick stats also mean that if you manage to pick up the ball, an opportunistic goal isn't out of the question either.
Hemlocke is the third squaddie I take in a large percentage of my teams. She has a ton of advantages and most importantly, all the things she does for the team are just not replicable by any other option. Firstly, she's an acceptable backup footballer, with a momentous tackle on her first column, a respectable 3/6" kick and an 8" sprint with DEF6+ against parting blows. Most of the time, though, Hemlocke is here for her character plays. The least impactful in my opinion is Smelling Salts - while it looks powerful, 2 influence on Salts could be two more attacks for momentum, which is usually a similar amount of condition clearing as Salts while bringing a lot of versatility. It is handy against teams with a lot of knockdowns like Farmers, though, since it lets you keep your Take A Breather for a future knockdown or a heal if you need it, rather than getting trapped on the floor with no way of getting out. Noxious Blast does a lot of work against some teams - particularly melee-heavy ones with poor defenses, like Masons. Having access to ranged damage is particularly powerful for Rage because it means your opponent can't just sit back defensively and force you to engage on them - instead, you can whittle them down with Hemlocke which forces them to engage onto you instead - this is huge when your teams is as powerful in an established brawl as Rage's is. Finally, Blind is one of the best control tools in the game. Hemlocke single handedly makes Rage's turn one reasonably good instead of pretty underwhelming. Blind is primarily useful for screwing with your opponent's best activation - usually you want to be blinding whoever is threatening the ball, or looking at starting a fight in the near future. You want to be bonus timing Blind pretty much whenever you get the chance - usually a hit blind costs the opponent at least a few points of momentum,so you're still trading up - but don't be afraid to one die blind (especially on turn one) if you expect your opponent to make their move before you get the opportunity to generate momentum. Coin is useful here. Blind is particularly solid on models that are aiming for the ball - since it reduces their threat range on the ball carrier, their TAC to tackle it with, and then their kick to move it afterwards as well. It's also good on models with low TAC values, since it has more chance of giving them no hits at all - models like Mallet - and those with poor defensive stats and telegraphed activations like most of the Blacksmiths. Note that Blind doesn't do anything to character plays, so some players can avoid suffering many penalties - Rage can bypass it by spending his inf on Red Fury on someone else, Obulus can get work out of his influence with Puppet Master (though his attacks become pretty awful).
Decimate is my preferred fourth slot for a second influence hungry model. She consistently and reliably turns influence into damage, with her TAC6 and Anatomical Precision she pretty much always gets work done. She's also got a great counter attack against anyone who can't reliably knock her down, and good defensive stats to go with it. Decimate's speed and easy dodges, with another good kick stat, mean she is a solid goal scorer - not great at tackling (though that T<< on column 4 isn't impossible to hit) but good at turning possession of the ball into 4VPs in a single activation. Scoring right at the end of a turn with Decimate is particularly nice, since having her up near the enemy goal usually means there are some juicy targets for her to chop up at the start of the next turn if any of the enemy footballers are looking to recover the ball. Decimate is great at hunting down lone flimsy models, especially those that just returned to the pitch - she can be relied on to put 8 damage on anyone without Tough Hide or a great counter attack, and generate momentum while she's at it. She's an acceptable kick off model if you need her to - though not as good as Mist. Thousand Cuts isn't a play which gets used a lot, but it can be great for setting up Gutter to really take someone out. The nice thing about Decimate is that she is a very very reliable player who always turns influence into results - but at the same time, if you hit a spike and roll that Thousand Cuts, she also has an amazing best-case scenario and sets up for the rest of the team. She doesn't do anything incredibly unique, though, so she is probably the easiest player to drop from the 'core' lineup.
I am not too fond of Mist. Now, he's a very powerful player, and definitely the best striker in Rage's options. However, he has some major downsides. Primarily, he is an influence hungry player who does not deal damage in any reasonable amount. This causes a lot of issues in your roster. If you're taking Mist, then in order to reliably fuel him you probably only want one other inf-hungry model. This often means that you end up unable to allocate more than ~8 influence to dealing momentous damage, which is a real issue for Rage's legendary turn, where usually you want to be spending at least 10 influence on taking people out given the opportunity. The solution here is to take an influence efficient player with good momentous damage in their playbook - primarily, this means Minx. The Rage/Gutter/Benny/Minx/Mist lineup in particular is pretty solid and does most everything well, but means you miss out on Hemlocke which I personally don't think is worth the tradeoff. Mist does do a lot of work, so if you're comfortable with being somewhat weaker in a brawl and more vulnerable to control (since if the ball is killed you're in a 5v6, and if you lose a beater you only get 4inf of relevant attacks that turn) then his goal scoring potential is second to none. One of Mist's main advantages is that he is by far the best kickoff model Rage has, with 12" of threat on the ball (if near Benny or Grace) without any influence investment, 14" with some well placed cover. This makes him a real nightmare for some teams to protect against. Throwing Mist in for a goal and having him immediately taken out is usually a trade you're willing to make. With his first column tackle, good Def and 2" reach, he's also a solid model to put the ball on if you need to protect it against a footballing team, especially considering how little influence investment he needs if he's just keeping the ball safe rather than actually doing anything.
Minx is influence efficient and also does good damage. This is not a common combination. Snared is a useful setup tool for the rest of the team, and Marked Target is useful for increasing your threat ranges, particularly if you have Coin to make it more reliable on turn one. Minx's threat range is extremely long, especially with Damaged Target, so she's good at hunting down models which returned to the pitch after being taken out. However, she has some trouble sometimes - if she can't charge she doesn't reliably do anything at all to a model with Tough Hide, and she is also really quite flimsy with her 12 max HP and poor counter attack. She also has a tendency to get isolated on her own near the enemy team, since she's much faster than anyone else, so she does occasionally get ganged up on and beaten down, which usually results in a taken out Minx very quickly. It can be difficult to justify the slot on Minx, since your two influence efficient models are usually filled by Benediction and Hemlocke. Minx is particularly good into footballing teams who want to play keep away, since her slightly lower toughness doesn't matter so much there, and she can chase them down well and keep them pinned down. Back To The Shadows has some awkward anti-synergy with Rage, since he usually likes for his players to remain engaging the enemy rather than dodging away.
Grace has a few utility effects which are quite handy. The most relevant of these is Quick Foot, which is great for increasing threat ranges and getting your slower models into the fight. However, this isn't usually worth an entire player slot, when you consider Grace's downsides - she's quite easy to take out, she doesn't play football particularly well, and she doesn't do much damage either - she's only really relevant as a support piece, and she isn't as good a support piece as Hemlocke. However, she should still probably be in your roster, solely because of Purity. As a final player, she is a great drop into Smoke because removing AOEs placed by Smoke's team (preferably, before she can drift them on top of your team) really messes with Smoke's plan. Smoke is otherwise a tough matchup for Rage, since she's good at playing keep-away, pretty resistant to Rage himself, and controls the board well while threatening to score goals very easily, so adding a model to the roster entirely to turn a poor matchup into a quite good one is probably worth it.
Avarisse and Greede
A&G bring damage, and lots of it. What they don't bring is durability, mobility, or indeed anything other than a big old bundle of murder. Now, that's not to say that these esteemed gentlemen aren't useful. However, there are a lot of matchups where they won't get much done, or will be a liability. Anyone that's looking to ignore the scrum and play football is likely to cause A&G issues, as is anyone who brings enough damage to take Avarisse out quickly. With his 3+/0 statline, that isn't too hard even with Tough Hide and 20HP. There are some teams where they are a solid choice, however - the stand outs are Corsair (who can't really kill Tough Hide models well) and Farmers (who tend to want setup before they do things, and have a lot of HP but are vulnerable to high raw damage numbers). A&G also make fantastic use of the Kick 'Em While They're Down game plan. They are quite influence hungry (though if you're feeling greedy you can stack up Avarisse and leave Greede on 0, and just hope nobody comes too close). Note that if Greede gets taken out, Avarisse becomes a whole lot more useless, especially since Greede isn't exactly great at reaching the scrum again once he's back on the pitch. A&G are one of the only optiions Rage has which brings a damage buff, since he can't take Rage1 for tooled up. This is handy because if Rage goes down, nobody else on the team can punch through a durable model, except A&G.
Harry 'The Hat'
Harry used to be a fantastic choice, but no longer sadly. He's still okay, but in the role of pusher / setup model he is outclassed by Benediction. He does have his advantages though - a good knockdown, and Goad and Inspiring Hat are very useful to have. Goad is a fantastic play for controlling the enemy team, especially into footballing teams - brawling teams will often just shrug and kill Harry. His 3+/1 defensive stat line isn't great, and though Rising Anger helps, he often gets knocked down and proceeds to get taken out in short order. Not having momentous damage till his fifth column of five isn't good enough to be usable most of the time. Unfortunately for Harry, he doesn't get enough out of his influence compared to the inf hungry models of the team, and when he isn't allocated a stack he doesn't really do anything Benediction doesn't do to make up for his low durability. He is a solid player, like Minx, into footballing teams, but it's hard to fit him in the roster even there, since you also have other options for control or anti-football tech models. He's also okay into control teams - especially Hunters, since all their ranged control effects also deal damage and so proc Rising Anger - however Rage already is naturally resistant to control himself, and the Hunters' likely solution is just to not focus Harry and instead focus on controlling those models in the lineup which actually do things.
Snakeskin is a weird mix between footballer and fighter. She's nowhere near as good at snagging a ball and putting it in the goal as Mist, but she is amazingly good at picking up the ball and holding onto it while preventing anyone else from getting anywhere near it. Clone, Nimble, and Charmed all help her keep the ball away from those who would want to put it into the net. She's also quite influence efficient when it comes to damage if she has it spare, since her 2 damage result, while not momentous, is somewhat easy to hit and also applies poison. She is an interesting substitute for Mist - one I need to test more, to be honest - if you want a little bit more beating down power, and primarily want to kill the ball if you get hold of it rather than score with it. She is very influence hungry, and dies quite quickly if a beater (especially a female one) manages to reach her without clone up. She's also an okay kick off model, with an 11" threat range on the ball and damage to back things up if the ball becomes unavailable. She's DEF5 against most ranged control effects (Deadbolt, Pinned, Puppet Master) which helps her avoid too much interference. 
Fangtooth is sort of like A&G, in that his defenses are pretty terrible but he brings damage output. Unfortunately, unlike A&G, Fangtooth only brings 1 influence which is a real issue in a Rage lineup, since you started out with just 12. Unlike Grace, Fangtooth is also quite influence hungry himself, and he slows your team down rather than speeding them up. He is a good knock downer, and his Gluttonous Mass makes him resistant to ranged control and not bad against 1" melee fighters. He does die quite quickly if the opponent is committed to putting him in the dirt, no matter what his 29 health says. Like Gutter, Fangtooth's best case scenario involves killing an entire team at once - though his max-inf of three hurts this somewhat, Red Fury helps, and so do potential Back In The Game shenanigans. Unlike Gutter, though, Fangtooth's 'fail case' scenario when he doesn't go off and blow everyone up is pretty underwhelming, which is a pretty big downside. Basically, if you're going to look for a best-case setup to kill entire teams, you could be doing so with Gutter instead and have a reliable fighter the rest of the time, rather than take Fangtooth for a similar upside but get a slow bundle of hitpoints that screws over your own team the rest of the time.
The First Turn
Most of the time the first turn is not anything special. Usually you want to be moving your players up enough that they can threaten to do something next turn, and then have 1-2 activations of actual work being done towards the end of the turn. Usually one of these is Hemlocke and the other is either the model you kicked with, or a model you dodged up the table with the ball. If you're dodging someone up, it's often Decimate, since she has a long threat, reliable damage, and can score if needed or pass for another dodge if one of your previous passes missed. Hemlocke wants to be blinding the enemy's relevant turn one activation, and if possible also Noxious Blast multiple people. Benediction usually puts Stand Firm on the model you're throwing forward if that's expected to be an issue, possibly also Confidence from Strongbox (though it may be better used on Hemlocke if you really need that Blind to hit). Rage usually Quick Times the forward model. Take care for the enemy's late-activation model going in on your team - Blind helps a lot, but if it missed you need to be more careful. If the enemy received, then if they go for a goal you only really want to go for a snapback goal of your own if you expect to win initiative - otherwise it's usually a more reliable plan to beat up whoever they scored with an put the ball somewhere safer. If you're receiving, then a blinded kicker often means a snapback goal isn't possible, which makes a goal of your own a lot more reasonable and often puts you 4 points ahead effectively for free.
Later Turns
Your first priority on most turns should be ensuring you get to spend most of your influence well and your opponent gets to spend as little as possible. Often you don't get to shut down much of their influence, but it should help your decision making. If you get the opportunity to take someone out who has inf allocated, go for that. If one of your models is going to be taken out if it doesn't activate now, activate it. Note that Mist's influence is usually only relevantly spent if he's doing footballing things, so if the ball is going to be out of mist's grasp in the near future then activating him is a good plan. 
A good plan for getting work out of your influence and restricting the enemy's is to feed them Benediction. Shove him up the pitch, push people around such that they're in your other models' threat ranges, especially ones with Inf on. Put up braced if you can get it on the playbook, or if there's a 1" model with a KD that's likely to go in afterwards (that isn't named Hammer). The mort important bit, though, is generating momentum and putting people inside Rage/Gutter/etc threat ranges. Sometimes this doesn't require any influence on Benny at all. Afterwards, prioritise getting work out of Rage and anyone else with influence, kill people with inf on them if possible. If you can get the scrum to form near Strongbox that's a nice bonus.
Hemlocke usually gets 1-2 influence, and either throws an early Blind if an opportunity presents itself, or waits till the end of the turn and either Noxious Blasts if possible, or grabs the ball and potentially scores / secures it if needed.
If the opponent doesn't have access to much KD or 2", putting Decimate right in front of their team (just ahead of Rage) can do well. If they go in on you, she can counter and dodge away to engage a different model, leaving a melee zone on someone Rage can kill without them being able to do much about it.
Rage Himself
Rage's personal card is relatively simple, but it does a lot of unique stuff. He's an influence efficient beater, like Fillet or whoever. However, in order to do the real scary / powerful amounts of damage, he needs an allied engagement zone on the target. This is a non negligible downside. Naturally other beaters have similar issues - Hammer wants an ally to take influence off, Honour needs Marbles, Thresher needs harvests, Fillet folds to counterattacks, and so on - but Rage's is one of the more awkward to set up. In exchange, he is very influence efficient - only taking 4 of the team's ~12 influence even when fully stacked - and additionally is very hard to control.
Seven columns - matching his TAC - means he doesn't wrap very easily. It does happen, though. With momentous 1-2-2-3 on the first four columns, he doesn't need many hits at all to inflict some serious damage. While his 4 isn't momentous, its existence helps plenty against tough hide and high health targets. The fact his 1 is momentous also helps him double up on momentum when wrapping. Tackle on 1 isn't used often, but is handy occasionally. The third column KD is early enough that you hit it reliably on a charge, making Rage pretty resistant to counter attacks and good at setting up teammates' damage. Rage also has access to pushes along with his damage (at no loss of damage) which helps him bring targets further into his scrum, prevent easy disengagement, and B2B people who might dodge out on a counter without having to spend an attack applying a KD. It's also useful for pushing people out of your melee zone so you can charge them. Concussion doesn't come up often, but it costs only 1 damage (or a momentum and a push) to apply so if you get the opportunity it's powerful. Usually you don't get the opportunity to kill someone with inf on them - and if you do, they usually die so the inf is lost either way - but when you do it's a handy bonus.
Quick Time
In an 'optimal' game, you pretty much never want to use Quick Time. 2 influence for no momentum and no damage is never really what you want to be doing. That said, it's reliable and doesn't need your team's help to do things, which means sometimes it's the best option if you're stuck in a fight you're going to lose. Usually if you need to disengage so you can charge, you want to be Red Fury-ing Benediction instead, since it costs half as much influence and generates momentum. Quick Time is also useful for other things, though - it gives your kicker / last activation more threat range on turn one, it gets you into range of enemies you might be outside of otherwise. Generally though, avoid using Quick Time unless you have to.
Red Fury
Honestly, Red Fury is up there for one of the best character plays in the game. Primarily, because it makes your influence pretty much always useful. It's extremely difficult to shut Rage down, because if you put Pinned on him, knock him down, engage him so he can't charge, Blind him, or whatever, he's still going to get to spend all his influence, probably on attacks from a player without any debuffs on. Sure, he might not get to charge, but he still does plenty of work. Red Fury lets you reposition the scrum to your advantage, with Benediction's pushes, Gutter's Chain Grabs, Mist's tackle, or Decimate's dodges. Red Fury also lets you spend more influence on very high-value attacks - like on Strongbox's absurdly short playbook, or Avarisse's huge damage numbers. You can activate Rage and push people into position, and set up Chain Grabs with Gutter, and still have the 4 influence on Gutter ready to do the actual Scything Blows. You can do it the other way round, and spend Gutter's activation setting up and generating momentum, and then spend Rage's influence on the payoff. You can also avoid allocating to a model that might die, then still use their playbook. Red Fury also extends Rage's threat range, by buying attacks on Benediction or Gutter to push players into Rage's path. It also lets you use Rage's heroic play on someone else, then use that buff on eight attacks, rather than the 4 attacks you'd cap out at with Tooled Up or similar on a Squaddie. Red Fury lets you sneak around most defensive effects in the game, either by pushing people around or by just spending your influence elsewhere if Rage can't reach engagement due to a counter attack, Unpredictable Movement or similar.
Furious is where Rage gets his efficiency. He gets to do a ton of personal work without taking all of his team's influence. This is huge because all the Union players do lots of work with influence themselves. Being able to fully stack three players with 4 influence is great - most other brawling teams, if they want their captain to have a full stack, get to fill up one other player at most, maybe with 1-2 spare to buff with. Furious is also a free sprint on turn one (unless you need to use Quick Time or something afterwards). On a model which can make four normal attacks, and has pushes and KD, it's pretty trivial to enable furious if you start engaging. If you're engaged but not able to immediately attack, you may need assistance from a friend like Benediction, but even then it's not the end of the world to just walk up to someone and beat them to death. Spending more than 1-2 influence to enable furious is a losing proposition - you're better off just making more attacks.
It's a nice bonus, but doesn't affect how he plays at all. Don't try and single out Union models, just kill whoever you can reach.
Rising Anger
Rising Anger is handy for making Rage harder to control. Many control effects - such as Deadbolt - also apply damage, which means Rage gets the momentum to immediately clear the effect. It also means that in a straight brawl where both teams spend all their influence in a turn on beating down with damage, the Union are likely to win the momentum race. Be careful when Obulus hits you, since triggering Rising Anger and then taking the momentum with Rigor Mortis is a common plan, but there isn't much you can do about it anyway. Rising Anger is also handy because a common solution to brawling captains is to put them on 1HP and then kill them at the start of the turn for a turn's safety from the fight - this still works on Rage, but you at least get to double up on the momentum bonus from Rising Anger, which helps you to recover.
Bloody Coin / My Gang
The damage buff. It's great. However, because you don't have access to Rage1, this is the only one you get, so use it well. Rage often wants to activate early in the turn to apply it, especially on his Legendary turn. You pretty much always want to be popping the heroic or legendary. If you're rolling an extra die, you're more likely to wrap, and if you do so just once it compensates you for the momentum you spend, since almost everyone (benny, rage, box, decimate, gutter at least) has a momentous result on their first column. Often because you get eight buffed attacks, it's a better idea to charge with Rage and then heroic someone else engaging your target and have them attack instead. Note that this doesn't benefit character plays, so Scything Blow isn't affected - however, it's usually still worth it to heroic Gutter for the extra die, and additional damage when wrapping / if you don't want to take Scything Blow or you need the healing from Life Drinker. On Rage's legendary turn you usually want to be spending as much of your influence as possible on damage, preferably momentous - even Hemlocke and Mist can beat down reasonably under My Gang, though. Sometimes you want to Legendary to avoid having to spend momentum, even if you don't have more than one model to affect, but only do that if you have to. Note that My Gang is an Aura while Bloody Coin is a one shot effect - sometimes it's a good idea to use Bloody Coin on someone even while My Gang is up, since that way they keep the buff if they move more than 6" from Rage, or Rage is taken out. It's only the attacking model that needs to be within 6" of Rage to benefit from My Gang - the enemy model, and the friendly engaging model, can be wherever you like.
The Stats / Raw Numbers
Rage's movement stats aren't great. He only has an 8" threat range unless he spends influence on Quick Time, which you don't want to do. This is why Red Fury is so big, and one reason why it's so effective to let the enemy come to you (or force them to with Hemlocke). Get Back In There is also fantastic on Rage, since it means that rather than moving 5" and then threatening 8" for a measly total of 13" from the pitch edge, he goes a much more respectable 17" - that's in line with Fillet on an unbuffed respawn. His defensive stats are pretty solid - not enough to survive a sustained fight (then again, if he's under attack you probably want him dead so you can come back on and charge) but enough to live through a single activation attack unless he's somewhere hugely dangerous. Rage (and the rest of the Union) are also somewhat more durable than they seem, simply because the team generates a large amount of momentum very easily which means you often have enough spare to heal your players pretty happily. Rage's Kick stats are pretty bad, though - usually you want other models to be doing the kicking. He doesn't disengage super well and often is in the middle of the scrum, so this isn't a huge issue - but if you're planning on dodging someone up in turn one, have Gutter or someone pass to them rather than Rage if you really need that teamwork action to go off successfully.
And that's it! In my opinion Rage's toolbox is one of the deepest and most interesting in the game, and he does a ton for his team while not demanding a huge amount from them. He's great fun to play and always has options and tools for any situation. Where most captains would have a few options - attack, use a play, maybe reposition - Rage has many at any moment because of the raw potential of Red Fury, and it's great to do and very satisfying. If you haven't tried Rage out, give him a shot, because he's honestly awesome.
- Henry

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He's pretty good.

For what it's worth, I took this lineup to the North West Frontier Cup last Sunday:

Rage, Coin, Strongbox, Gutter, Decimate, Benediction, Hemlocke, Minx, Mist, Snakeskin

There were no alchemists in the room, so I was able to cut Grace from the lineup. The other models that might leave would be Snakeskin or Strongbox, depending on the other teams at the event - if there aren't many Fish, cut Snakeskin.

Round 1 - receiving in the mirror match. Box, Gutter, Decimate, Benediction, Hemlocke on both sides of the pitch. I think Quinn should have taken Mist though, since it made his kickoff weaker. Both Decimates ate Blind on turn one - I set up to score at the start of 2 and in exchange the enemy Decimate set up a kill on my Rage. I lost initiative and my Rage died. I scored with Decimate, Quinn's Decimate scored back but went right into my team to do it. I set up with a KD and a couple crowdouts on Decimate, and went in with Gutter to Chain Grab the opposing Gutter into place and take them both out, before scoring again to end.

Round 2 - receiving vs. Thresher. Same team as last game. I blinded Thresher and threw Decimate forwards and off on a flank to get some momentum. Thresher goes after Decimate, which is fine - it means he's off out of the way for a while. In the meantime I set up some Scything Blows to kill Millstone and do some damage to Harrow, Jackstraw and Tater. Rage then kills Jack at the start of the next turn, Decimate comes back on and grabs the ball. Tater kills Gutter and Hemlocke misses a two-die Blind on Thresher and is immediately removed from the pitch. Benediction buys some time for Decimate to score - she dodges back off the goal to re-engage Harrow, and Rage kills him. Tater finishes off Benediction and oneshots Strongbox, leaving Dominic on 9VPs and me on 10. He wins initiative but isn't able to end the game - the ball is far from my goal, it's under pressure from Gutter, and Rage and Decimate are engaging Millstone. He opts to beat Rage down, and I push Harrow off the pitch to end the game.

Round 3 - receiving vs. Theron. Same team, but with Coin. Hunters' turn one is very scary. Decimate almost dies, but Gutter sets up to kill some people in the near future. Decimate goes for a goal run top of 2, but gets knocked down on a Theron counter attack and moves to try and survive instead. Theron kills Decimate, Gutter gets hit a bit by Jaecar. Rage KDs Chaska and sets Gutter up to take him out and put Jaecar low. Seenah bounces off Benediction. Rage legendaries, takes out Hearne and sets Gutter up to do a lot of work, but I'm greedy with her activation aiming to go off hitting Seenah and Theron one rounds her beforehand. Rage removes Seenah from the pitch, Theron kills Hemlocke and misses a Pinned on Decimate which leaves her free to go and score to end the game.

Round 4 - kicking vs. Piper. Weirdly the game where I have to kick has the turn one that goes best for me. I drop Benediction for Minx and kick with Decimate, who puts the ball in a forest where it's horrible for Jamie to get to it. He goes for it with Piper, but ends up having to leave the ball on Scourge and use his momentum to dodge Piper back away from the team. This means Decimate is free to run in, snag the ball off Scourge, and score. She's in the middle of the team, and so proceeds to die, but I'm ok with that. They group up round Decimate, so Hemlocke tags three people with Noxious Blast and Minx puts Snare on Piper and Scourge before dodging back out. Rats win initiative and Scourge moved to KD + Disease Rage to lock him out, since I only have 1 momentum. I'm able to activate Gutter instead, who has Go For The Knees and is hitting a Snared Scourge. She knocks him down, Chain Grabs Piper and puts him very low off Scything Blow. Piper legendaries, makes his escape, and gets the ball to Skulk and Reveries him, who proceeds to miss his shot (he couldn't Bonus Time). Rage clears conditions, put Bloody Coin on Gutter, and red furies her enough to get 8 hits (so, Chain Grab + Scything Blow) on each attack. She pulls in Piper, kills Piper and pulls in Pelage, then kills her and pulls in Miasma, and kills Scourge. Skulk scores. I win initiative and Rage takes down a half-health Miasma to end the game.


Once you get into a brawl, especially one involving any low def models, Rage is going to do mad things. The difficulty is getting there. Rage's turn one is really very underwhelming and Rage's low threat range makes him vulnerable to control in an odd way. It's not that he doesn't like getting slowed down - almost every way of putting movement debuffs on Rage also triggers Rising Anger and gives him the momentum to clear it, and if he doesn't quite reach combat he can still spend his inf. The issue is that his payoff models are 14HP 4+/1 defensively and he would really like them to be engaging the enemy before he gets there.

I think one of the issues I have with Rage is that I try to set up best case scenarios (Bloody Coin + Red Fury a model before it activates so I can get 8 inf of heroic-ed attacks off, for example), rather than taking the easily accessible VPs and only scoring 2-4 in a turn rather they trying to set up models to go off and get multiple 4-6VP activations.

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Update for The Faithful and Pride


Pride does quite a few useful things in a vRage lineup. Rush Keeper is a fantastic rule, but has a major issue. In particular, in this case it's on a 50mm model with a 1" melee zone. This means positioning Pride's base to actually threaten a counter charge is quite difficult. There will always be blind spots Pride can't reach. However you still get to force your opponent into those slots, or to engage Pride, either of which is a solid upside. Also on the off chance your opponent forgets it they probably are in a lot of trouble - getting unexpectedly knocked down and engaged while facing down a Rage team is a bad place to be. Predatory Gaze is also good for making footballing teams' goal runs less efficient, and isn't easily negated - you can't stay away from Pride to ignore it like you can with Horrific Odour, you just have to pay the tax.

Pride is a mascot that helps your bad matchups (kicking, football heavy teams) so I consider the cat a pretty good include in any team. It's difficult to justify multiple mascots, though, especially with new releases. Personally I'm currently running either Coin only, or Pride only. Pride has another major advantage though - the Solthecian trait. This means that you're able to take a lineup like Mist, Hemlocke, Minx, Gutter - what I prefer when I need to kick off with a Rage team - and still be able to give Shadow Like to Mist to improve his turn one goal threat. This helps you put pressure on the opponent and get set up for turn two.

Seasoned Spigot

Spigot is in some ways similar to Decimate. He's good at both beatdown and football, which is a great place to be. He's a great kicker and has an excellent goal threat. His damage potential is somewhat limited by his one inch melee zone, though, and he doesn't reliably do much damage - but when he's set up by his team he's pretty deadly. He's reasonable at getting the ball back, too - though he isn't particularly fast with an underwhelming 9" threat range on a ball carrier. Spigot is a model I don't think Rage will be able to include often - he already has a damage dealer who offers a lot of payoff for setup in Gutter, so his other models probably want to be consistent solo (like Decimate), or better at ball retrieval (like Mist). His main upside is his access to a personal KD, which is a nice upside.

Veteran Fangtooth

Fangtooth is pretty scary now. You can't target him with Red Fury, which is clearly a real downside, but he's potentially still a good include. F2 is the only model other than Hemlocke to help against conditions and the only model other than Benediction that can reliably put a melee zone on someone without getting beaten down too hard immediately afterwards. This has interesting team building implications - since Benediction is pretty much a Rage-only model he makes taking other captains awkward. Fangtooth has a lot of relevance in Brisket and Blackheart, so by taking him you get much more flexibility in dual captain rosters. He also enables turn one goal runs well. The top half of Fangtooth's playbook has a lot of very solid results in it, and he also wraps well, so anything that gets him more dice or reduces DEF is great for him.

Like A&G, Fangtooth also brings big damage numbers. He's not consistent at hitting them - though running Decimate or Minx helps a lot - but he does provide a secondary option for killing high toughness targets - which is something the team can struggle with if Rage isn't able to use his own playbook or apply Bloody Coin. Speaking of Rage's Heroic, it isn't very valuable on Fangtooth - since you only get to make three swings with it. You're also using Bloody Coin without getting any value out of it during Rage's own activation which isn't a great position to be in. Usually Fangtooth is going to be the setup model - move up, KD, do a bit of damage - and then Rage follows up. He isn't quite as good at setup as Benediction is - since losing Impart Wisdom and Red Fury pushes is a real downside - but in exchange, you get a damage dealer who can kill things rather than the useless brick of hitpoints that is Benny, and some extra passing and anti-condition utility.

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7 hours ago, Starlight said:

I strongly disagree about Benediction being a Rage only selection.

Who else would you take him with?

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I find both other captains benefit from Impart Wisdom and he’s so useful for moving opposing players around in scrums or blunting key attacks with Braced and Poised.

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Impart Wisdom does very little for either other captain. I'm Open / On My Mark are both situational, and when they're used you usually want someone to be kicking to you or near you anyway. None of the other Character Plays on Brisket and Blackheart work with impart wisdom.

Blunting attacks is a lot less relevant when Benny's melee zone isn't enabling Bloody Coin. Without the threat of an immediate takeout, Benny tends to get maneuvered around and ignored. He's only good if your opponent gets stuck trying to kill him which only happens if they make mistakes.

Blackheart and Brisket really want players who can switch gears to football if they need to. In Benny's slot you could take Fangtooth who's similarly solid in a scrum, but also helps the football game and is a better damage threat. You can't really afford to take more than one slow immobile guy in your team.

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