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malladin.ben

Falconers tournament outing

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Thanks to the very generous TO and opponents at Leodis Games today I was able to use my acrylic falconers in a 4 game tournament. I went 3:1 which now makes me (however briefly) top Falconers player IN THE WORLD! (Seriously, I'm a very average player, but I guess ive pkayed them more than many so far, sobthere may be some kernels of wisdom I can share).

Here's what I learnt:

1. Managing engagements is key to their success. They're not as light as they may at first seem. The fact that they need to be 6" away from the enemy makes them vulnerable, and they are generally slightly below average hp and defensive stats, but with careful feeding of models to the enemy in a controlled manner you can manage the rate that you lose hp and give up vps. But against anyone other than probably shark you're probably going to lose models. Rundaas and Minerva want to be engaged, so they're your most likely candidates. Fortunately Rundaas is pretty nails with tough hide - surprisingly hard to kill. You don't want to keep them stuck in a big scrum with all your enemy's players. Sacrificing other models as a distraction did a job for me. Ikaros is actually pretty good for this - if he's anywhere near the ball he's too much of a threat to leave alone and one of your better defensive statted models so can soak up a few hits. Use him to split up enemy attention.

2. You don't need three harriers. Yes they're nice and you can do good work with 3, but it adds an extra set up activation that threatens little directly. A lot of the time Devana's activation doesn't allow for more than 2 Death from Aboves, and waiting around 3 or 4 activations to get it all set up can be a big problem. Limiting yourself to 2 harrier players feels like you're a lot more tactically agile, and those 2 should be Minerva and Rundaas. Minerva is a superb set up machine and Rundaas turns 4 influence into 4 good things practically every activation.

3. vHearne is an excellent battery and half decent back up brawler. There's so many good uses for last light in this team. Devana is an obvious target for it with 3x 1 INF character plays, but I've also found it good on Ikaros - you've usually got 1 INF spare to put on him even if you're not planning anything with him, but with a last light he threats 11" to the ball and a tackle (more if he can run through a harrier), or decent for reacting to an enemy goal and moving the ball a big distance. It also gives you chance to escape a KD parting blow - take flight to leave, take the parting blow, then get back up and sprint away. Can be a decent way of pulling the enemy in different directions and making the most of your hp. It can also potentially make for a decent bluff to attract attention to a model you're not really planning much from. When you're flush on MP, it can also be used for a 2 inf character play, including skewered from hearne himself. Back to vHearne: as a back up brawler he's not a bad replacement for minerva if she's out of it for a turn. He's got the KD, and skewered gives out snared which is helpful, and the momentous >> is decent.

4. Devana can mix it in combat as well as at range. If you've already got your harriers, eye spy and dirty knives in place, and frelsi engaging (which isn't that hard to do, I've found) there's really not much you can do with the other 2 or 3 INF in her stack than punch them in the face. You can still death from above when you're in melee, and being in there isn't such a worry if you're finishing off a model or two in the process. Tied with the tactical agility argument I mention in (2) above, this let's you play the takeout-as-control game butchers used to play so well in S2. She can go in first activation if you need, too. frelsi on her own can be enough to get the takeout on a key model, but with just a Minerva activation gone she can really go to town. I nice I've found is to leave a model on 3 or less so that devana can legendary them at the start of her activation for the takeout whilst also helping set up the next target. The skill is knowing when to take her in. Once I went in on brick and failed to take him out, so he just hit me back and, with knockback, took himself out of the harrier which could have saved Rundaas an attack setting it up. In another game I took out a 6-stack corsair under a single harrier before he got to activate. Timing and knowing how much set up you need to do the job is incredibly important to doing well with her, and that's the interesting puzzle of playing this team.

Cheerio,

Ben

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So, another event with Falconers, another 3-1 finish (putting me back on top of the falcobers pile, for a few hours at least before Sven matched my result against a tougher crowd on Sunday and slipped ahead by 30 points). I thought I'd share with you some thoughts on what was a really bad match up - the Order.

TBF I think any team going for 3-0 with the ability to spread their players out is difficult, but Grace makes for a particular additional problem as she can remove a harrier.

It got me to thinking about how we can handle teams like this, and I'm wondering if the answer is to reverse the play order that I've been using so far and put less reliance on the harriers.

Let me explain...

My standard approach so far has been to stack up Minerva, Rundaas and Devana, activate Minerva first to KD, eye spy and harrier off someone, then Rundaas goes in and gets out another harrier, dirty knives and does a bit of damage and positioning models with his pushes to hopefully set devana up to finish off 2 models that turn. If I'm under pressure to take out a particular model devana can go straight away, if not Frelsi and Hearne can go to make her set up even more efficient, and you've got 1 INF left over which can give Hearne a sprint to keep him in the game, or mataagi can put down an extra harrier, or Ikaros can receive last light and become a goal threat if you've got the ball, or able to disrupt their ball game if not.

Against goalscoring teams you need to be able to score 2 takeouts a turn to keep pace with their likely 1 goal a turn. When teams spread out it makes it much harder Devana to do that on her own.

So, the flipped style of play I'm thinking is to go first with Devana. If you use a late activation in the previous turn to make sure Frelsi is in position, you're TAC 7 with a +1 damage buff. That makes it 50/50 you hit your 2dmg result, so will typically get you 12/13 damage against a 4/1 model. Not a particularly amazing output, but with a bit of supporting damage from a previous turn, or her legendary play it clicks over into a reliable takeout. The big advantage here is that you can get the takeout on that crucial model and take a threat off the board.

My other line of thinking with this flipped approach is that Rundaas goes before Minerva. He does more of the set up work and Minerva finishes them off with +2 damage from a harrier and easy pickings.

The one thing im not sure about is who fits the final slot in this team: Mataagi or Ikaros?

Mataagi gives you that extra harrier, which might be particularly useful against Grace, and with DEF 5 and a 2/8 kick is not a bad model to put the ball on and boot it into a corner when needed. With a momentous 2dmg on 2 he can also chip in as extra damage of Minerva or Rundaas are out of the fight.

Ikaros gives you a decent ball outlet, the it low T in the guild, and a more reliable chance to score back if you have the opportunity. But he's taking influence away from other players if he's being given enough to be a threat. I like Ikaros into a fighting team as he can be a real distraction, draw dangerous players away from your team, and there's less pressure on him to score until you want to close out the game. But against a goalscoring team I wonder if he's more of a distraction to you than the opponent.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Not had chance to try it out yet.

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I have been finding that T1 I set up Devana (of course), but later on I tend to set up Rundaas instead. Killing someone and spreading dirty knives on everyone in the process (oh man that col6 result is bananas). The poison and the bleeds do amount up for a bit of softening up if your opponent are low on momentum or you do it last activation. 

The biggest problem I've found with the falconers against some sort of tempo game is good counter attacks, because Devana or Rundaas can't really go in and kill Decimate (either version), Benediction, Shark or similar without the KD - meaning you are putting a lot of faith in MInerva/Hearne for KDs or using death from aboves instead, in which case you are probably killing a model that already has activated so it is quite a low tempo affair) if that model already took out a model or scored you are behind anyway)

If you can leverage the first turn pressure/take out that death from aboves give you, and keep the ball fairly safe from early activation goals, you get a bit more leeway to do your thing however. 

I also need to try and use the death from aboves for tackles more, but I am too wary of missing and giving up the damage. Only used airmail once, and it was glorious so I want to explore their footballing a bit more. 

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(Disclaimer - I have 0 games with them thus far) 

In looking through the cards, it seems like it should be fairly easy to get 1 or 2 goals a game, but then they will struggle a bit in the end game to either get the final take out or to get the final goal.  They do seem really squishy, and they could struggle a bit with a high damage output team that can hide the ball well.

 

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You often think you will get goals, but actually the board state moves into a scrum and you start a punchup. I keep going to 4-1 victories - which is bad. I don't think 4-1 will be a viable win condition in S4.

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5 hours ago, EpicChris said:

I don't think 4-1 will be a viable win condition in S4.

That bodes ill for Hunters, if true. What leads you to this conclusion?

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Various designers have said they want to move to 2-2 by making the ball easier to play and by introducing more football teams to the mix (Rats, Order, Navs). 

I think we can expect 2-2 to be the standard with 3-0 much more common and 4-1 rare.

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I agree that I think that SFG wants more ball movement and interaction, we will still have guilds that are designed to go 6-0 or 4-1.  2-2 is the sweet spot of balance, but there should be guilds that are at extremes to have some variety in the guild lists.

Without a doubt, I expect to see in S4 more ways for models to interact with the ball.

 

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Hey guys,

I guess I'll add some input on the whole Falconer situation from my point of view, some of the lessons I've learned:

Most matchups seem pretty fair, and I think the only ones that are super bad are Brewers and Masons. It's hard to get the ball from them, you can't really outbeat them, since Hammer or vDecimate can just come and whack Devana with little effort. I think against these teams you have to play carefully and go for a full football approach. (Devana, Frelsi, Ikaros, Ergret, Mataagi, Minerva), set up a harrier, sacrefice Devana to try and get the ball back, and air mail it to a player on the flank, score, and repeat? And try to chip out the hammer team with Egret, Mataagi until you find an opening.

I currently rock these two setups:
Devana, Frelsi, Minerva, Mataagi, Rundaas, vHearne (almost everything, maybe egret flex for vHearne into Blacksmiths?)
Devana, Frelsi, Minerva, Mataagi, Ikaros, Egret (Score or die pretty much)

The best approuch I've had with Falconers is just to beat the living snot out of stuff and steal as many activations a turn as you can, which is fairly easy. If you can setup a KD and manage to go first and last, it's just party time. Don't focus on football (unless that's your only option), but a free goal is a free goal, Rundaas is especially good as a striker in the beating setup, and can do serious 6VP activations. And receiving with Ikaros on your team is almost a guaranteed goal :')

Mataagi mostly gets 1-2 influence a turn to set up a momentus harrier if he can. If he can't he still can score if the ball becomes available. He's just a nice guy to keep on the flanks and harass players with pretty low HP.

vHearne is deffo a good battery, but also a cornercase utility/finisher. I've used his last light skewered a few times to get a snared on a model, or just deal the 3 damage to finish them.

But the most fun thing about falconers is that there isn't really any setplay/flowchart, you have to adapt pretty well, and know when to delay some key activations, or when to take advantage of them. But the best thing is that they are hella fun.

Ben has already covered most things, but if anyone has some more specific questions I'll gladly give my opinion on them.

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20 hours ago, EpicChris said:

You often think you will get goals, but actually the board state moves into a scrum and you start a punchup. I keep going to 4-1 victories - which is bad. I don't think 4-1 will be a viable win condition in S4.

That's the opposite of the impression I got from the playtest events. And from looking at the cooks, and navigators for that matter. I think there's been an active effort to  move away from the "2-2 is best" philosophy and make all combinations from 3-0 to 0-6 viable. That said, I haven't heard any of them comment specifically, so I may be reading more into things than are there.

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9 hours ago, BE-X said:

Most matchups seem pretty fair, and I think the only ones that are super bad are Brewers and Masons. 

Interesting. I've not played them into masons yet. I can see the counter charge bubble causing problems, and hammer is just such an easy guaranteed take out against practically any Falconer...

But brewer's I didn't have many problems, amd certainly not in regard to getting the bal off them at all. Against the beaty teams I've had good work from using Ikaros as a distraction to pull models away from the scrum and give you the edge.

But Grace is now my nemesis!

I guess a lot of it comes down to personal playstyles, both of both and your opponents. I often struggle against all-out goalscoring teams, no matter what guild I play.

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1 hour ago, malladin.ben said:

Interesting. I've not played them into masons yet. I can see the counter charge bubble causing problems, and hammer is just such an easy guaranteed take out against practically any Falconer...

But brewer's I didn't have many problems, amd certainly not in regard to getting the bal off them at all. Against the beaty teams I've had good work from using Ikaros as a distraction to pull models away from the scrum and give you the edge.

But Grace is now my nemesis!

I guess a lot of it comes down to personal playstyles, both of both and your opponents. I often struggle against all-out goalscoring teams, no matter what guild I play.

Just to give my 2c.

I have played against grace a couple of times now, and every game both me and my opponent felt another player would have been better. Since she has no real counter attack (rundaas/Devana just need to glance at her), needs to be close to the Harriers, and you can always position the harriers more defensively if they are important (and move them up with Devana). It is probably not black and white tho, and more games will tell for sure. 

Against Brewers and the ball, it is Friday that is the problem if they decide to keep it on her. One game the brewer player had her in cover in spigots aura and I just had to wait for him to do something with the ball, since there is nothing that takes the ball from her even semi reliably. Falconers are good at stealing the ball from most other brewers models though, so could at least threaten other players to limit the ball use. 

Mataagi has been a sleeper for me. He gets 1, and sometimes there are no good openings to activate him, so he goes last and puts a m2 + bleed into someone and suddenly the hp math for the next round is way off for just one inf. Mataagi in cover is a decent spot to keep the ball "safe" in falconers too. However, models like oDecimate just hound him down so positioning feels key, and sometimes leaving him on the bench could be right I suppose. Still learning. 

Falconers are really good at snap back goals though I feel, with the board position you often have and the quick models in Rundaas/Mataagi or sometimes just Frelsi. 

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Brewers I've had limited issues - their low DEF means that we both get smashed in a rumble but Nocturnal Hunting is just ridiculous in this scrum setup. Also their counters (outside of vDecimate) are pretty bad (usually KD) so Rundaas just smashes them up. With 3 Harriers out, and covering so much of the team, Devana can then nuke pretty much anyone. vDecimate skulks around and kills a Falconer a turn, but if she's rolling with the ball I'm happy - so many Falconers are fast enough to snap-back. Be wary of bloody Second Wind though...that sucks the big one.

I've seen people say Devana has to go last - this is very wrong. If you set Frelsi up the previous turn, Devana can Last/First like a boss and threaten your opponent's key piece, especially with the Legendary. I think people might wait too long for the 'perfect' legendary but for me, any tempo advantage (such as taking out a captain or INF stacked model) is worth it. Devana rolling 7 dice at a DEF 3/2 model [Snared] can do serious damage - if she DoA the previous turn, her target should be vulnerable (or Mataagi gave them the Numasi Kiss for 4/5 damage - 2 + Bleed) and boom - tempo.

 Mataagi is a motherflippin' boss. Sure he'll rarely hit Rundaas's core damage, but if Minerva or other Falconer's have set him up, he can wreck some face. But I just love giving him 1 INF and sitting him in cover and snipping 6" away for the 5 DMG at turn end, or dropping a momentous Harrier. Love this guy, just wish he had 12 HP not 10.

Protect Minerva - if she falls, I find the Falconers are F'd in the B. She delivers SO much that once it's gone you really notice it. I try to skulk her around and throw all healing at her possible. I find her Nocturnal Hunting pays it back. But she is definitely a weak spot for Falconers - if I mirror, I'd DoA Minerva into next week as the top priority. 

Never be afraid to counter attack - Falconers are like Blacksmiths - their counters are kooky. They don't disengage but they do further 'free' setup - pop out a harrier if you forgot, Eye Spy, Dirty Knives, Bleed, Snared etc. 1" will limit these but getting them off is great.

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I still think Masons and Brewers are the worst offenders, and I'll put here why, now ofc these are my opinions and research.

So Brewers:
If you play a standard Esters team against Falcs (Esters, Quaff, vDecimate, oSpigot, Friday, Hemlocke), they can just play the ranged game against you and wait you out. You set up vDecimate, with bag of quaffers, second wind and tooled up, times called, etc and Esters throws some stuff into you. vDecimate can outthreat the falconers with ease, so playing the range game is not very viable. If you play the melee game against them: oSpigot and Esters show that they also deal a shitload of damage. So a play that plays the slow game won't ever take heavy casualties against falconers I feel, and if they see a good opening just apply vDecimate to Devana with a big stack and that's that.
Recovering the ball is an whole other issue. So if the ball is on mash, you could tackle it with mataagi with relative ease. But friday in cover with spigot and maybe the Esters defence buff is ass. 5+/1 or 6+/1 is bad for Devana and even Ikaros(cause not great odds and good tackle on friday). And you have to get the ball back atleast twice. And if they really don't want you to get the ball back they'll blind whomever is going for it.
Egret can only do some chip damage against the team since Esters clears conditions with her Heroic.

Masons:
Hammer has a great counter attack with a double push on 1 pretty much, he's not that hard to kill for Falcs, but it's too hard to pin him down. Can't really KD him with vChisel around, and with Brick and Marbles around him you'll have a hard time with all your 1 inch melee models
And he can just put 6-7 influence into devana or minerva and kill them outright on the first activation with some luck.
Brick and Marbles also stink for Ikaros who will have trouble taking flight around them.
They can also hide the ball on Flint, who has close control, so you'll need two harrier tackles to get the ball off. Ikaros will need two tackles aswell, but flint has a decent push dodge and a good tackle also.

Those are the most obvious things, I've played these matchups a few times against very good players and it's not easy to do much. But it's the matchups I will grind a bit for the WTC, to make it atleast playable.

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Hammer with vChisel is...a bit busted right now. I think the issue here is that a lot of these matchups are S3. I'm not really caring too much now about S3 specifics as I play as I expect Brewers and Masons to change in S4. We all know vDecimate was a patch, and once S4 rolls around, that patch won't exist. 

S4 will redefine a lot of these guilds - let's see what falls out. I will be sad about 4" harriers though. Man, 6" Harriers in S4 would be da Bomb.

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Hey, thanks for the infos so far! I've got one question:

 

My standard approach so far has been to stack up Minerva, Rundaas and Devana, activate Minerva first to KD, eye spy and harrier off someone

 

How do you manage that with 3 Inf? It sounds like you get to walk up to your opponent and make three attacks. I can't imagine being able to do that often without Minerva biting the dust. I would have thought she stays in the back, but then you have to decide between eye spy and harrier. Any pointers on getting the most out of her while keeping her alive?

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2 hours ago, Luebbi said:

Hey, thanks for the infos so far! I've got one question:

 

 

 

How do you manage that with 3 Inf? It sounds like you get to walk up to your opponent and make three attacks. I can't imagine being able to do that often without Minerva biting the dust. I would have thought she stays in the back, but then you have to decide between eye spy and harrier. Any pointers on getting the most out of her while keeping her alive?

Yes it's true you have to expose Minerva, but the 3 mom, amazing setup is worth it. She can handle herself for a bit. Use mom to heal her and try to takeout models threatening her.

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21 minutes ago, EpicChris said:

Yes it's true you have to expose Minerva, but the 3 mom, amazing setup is worth it. She can handle herself for a bit. Use mom to heal her and try to takeout models threatening her.

Or you can use best Hearne, I mean Vet Hearne to Last Light Minerva

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On 8/11/2018 at 3:12 PM, EpicChris said:

Yes it's true you have to expose Minerva, but the 3 mom, amazing setup is worth it. She can handle herself for a bit. Use mom to heal her and try to takeout models threatening her.

This. It actually takes a decent amount of effort to take her down in my experience. 2" melee + early KD and eye spy is an amazing kit, without even mentioning the harrier.

A lot of keeping her safe is about target selection, and having devana and Rundaas nearby to threaten the takeout following the set up. That way your opponent has got got one activation to to something before they likely lose that model. If that model's got one on them, it's going to force their hand into activating that model before they were ready.

There's more you can do to make that decision awkward, too. If you've got Ikaros sat on a wing with the ball, that's going to give them another priority activation. If you've got a 1" model KD'd and 1"-2" away from minerva they're going to have to spend momentum and move in, meaning the KD on the counter attack becomes useful, so they probably want to stand them up with a come on mate instead, meaning you've got an extra activation to do things with instead.

Even if the worst comes to the worst, you're trading a takeout of Minerva who's already spent her INF, for the ability to take out a model who hasn't, which is probably a worthwhile trade off.

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This past weekend, I played a local tournament in Austin with some really good players.  I ended up 2-2 with Falconers.  This is the line up I used for the 4 games:

Devana, Frelsi, Mataagi, Minerva, Rundaas, vHearne

Here was my thinking going into the tourney:

- Go for a 4-1 game and look for the final goal to seal the game

-  Maximize the number of Harriers on the pitch

-  Use Last Light on Devana to give her flexibility for a additional character play

-  Keep Minerva in cover, and use her more for support

-  Keep Frelsi close to Devana

Here are my observations after the tourney

-  Devana can do a lot of damage with some set up.  Without any set up, she does not do that much.  Do not over commit her and activate her towards the end of the turn.  Devana's legendary is amazing.  If you can beat up several players prior to Devana's activation, she can get a lot of work done. 

-  Last Light on Devana is really good. 

-  Place the Harriers where you think the opponent's players are going to be, not necessarily where they are.  However, by putting a Harrier on a key model early can force your opponent to move a model before they want to.

-  I think you need at least 2 models that can place Harriers on the Pitch.  If in doubt, hard cast a Harrier.

-  For Rundaas, I found that I normally would hit first with Dirty Knives then Harrier before selecting damage results. 

-  Stripping the ball at range with Devana or Mataagi can dramatically change the board state, by moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, especially if they can strip the ball, move then pass or Air Mail.

 

Looking forward to get some more games in with them.

 

 

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