Alright fellow Wyrdos, here’s part 2 of my first impressions of Gaining Grounds 2018.
First thing I want to talk about is the change in suited schemes. Claim Jump and Eliminate the Leadership return unchanged from GG17.
Claim Jump is almost always a viable, yet potentially challenging, scheme. It’s easy to deny, but it also is a kind of “win more” scheme in so far as board control wins games. If you have board control, or even just control a section of the board, you should be able to get 2-3VP from this scheme without too much issue. But if you don’t have control, this scheme can be difficult to pull off. And it’s always a risk versus masters with a lot of activations or summoners.
Eliminate the Leadership puts just the right amount of fear into you when you see it in the pool. It’s one of those schemes that kinda pushes you in a specific direction, but I’m ok with that. You don’t want to bring an “easy to kill” master to this… but then again if you’re skill and crew selection is strong, it doesn’t matter. And that’s something I really like about this scheme. It’s risky to take and risky to ignore. But ultimately leads to some compelling play regardless.
Other than that, we have a complete shift of suited schemes and I must say, I have mixed feelings about a couple of them. The first thing to note is that only one scheme is a kill scheme (Charge Soulstone) as opposed to two. GG2017 brought us Frame and Dig on suits, which lead to some extremely kill oriented pools that also punished you for killing. It was interesting to say the least, but I think I echo a lot of people when I say I’m glad Frame is gone.
Now I know what some people are thinking, Frame was an anti-kill scheme. Well, yes, it was in concept. But one of the most reliable ways to get your points was to shove something down your opponents’ throat they HAD to deal with. You send a nuisance, it gets ignored. You send a Howard… it’s getting killed and quickly. It was usually a good way to get a guaranteed 2pts. And if your opponent had an obey, well game over man. Auto 3pts. So that’s why I lump it into a killy scheme, because the end result of it more often than not was cause death so they kill you.
But that’s all gone now! Now we have Charge Soulstone and that’s it for kill. We also lost Leave your Mark and Accusation, which I think is going to make a lot of people happy as well. I never had an issue with Accusation but I know tons of people who hated it. And Leave your Mark was just one of those schemes that some crews can do and others just can’t. I like suited schemes to be a bit more all-comer. I understand that the game is predicated on the concept of how do you deal with pool given, but I don’t think suited schemes should be so restricting.
Moving on, in their place we get Smuggled Across, Buried Treasure, and Collect Evidence. I think this spread is interesting. First scheme requires minions. Next one requires scheme markers to be carefully placed and the last requires your opponent to place them so you can pick them up. I think it’s intriguing, but there could be some pretty counter purpose match-ups.
Of the numbered schemes, we’ve kept some goodies, gained a few new ones and regained some classics!
In the kept category we have – Covert Breakthrough, Undercover Entourage, Show of Force, Hidden Trap, Setup, Search the Ruins, Leaver your Mark, and Dig their Graves.
New schemes – Hold Up Their Forces, Challenge, and Take One For The Team
Reclaimed schemes – Make them Suffer and Vendetta!!
I am SUPER excited for Make them Suffer and Vendetta as they are two of my favorite kill oriented schemes. On that note… let’s take a look at the breakdown (non-suited):
Kill Schemes – 5
Interact Schemes – 4
Positioning Schemes – 4
I will say that some of these schemes bleed into each other, but I’m going for what they require to work at all. Like Leave Your Mark is interact, but Covert is positioning. Regardless of some of the finer points of the breakdown, we have a pretty balanced selection from the non-suited schemes. With the suited schemes, we have a great spread.
So without further ado, the schemes themselves!
SMUGGLED ACROSS (Mask)
First Impression: This scheme is broken out the gate and I’m sure there will be a modification forthcoming if not a full re-write.
High Point: I see where they are trying to go and I like schemes that reward proper planning and positioning over raw killing potential.
Low Point: Far too easy for a few factions. Auto-scoring 3VP on turn 1 is a no-no for me, especially on a suited scheme.
Who does this benefit the most: Gremlins, Arcanists and Neverborn.
. There’s a lot of passionate clamoring on the forums about this scheme, but the simple breakdown is that it’s far too easy for a few factions to score 3vp on turn 1, and not other factions. Public Demo was an auto 3pts on turn 1 for Gremlins, so this is obviously something people are not overly fond of.
The reality is there isn’t much point in analyzing this guy, he’s going to change pretty quickly. No scheme should be an auto 3VP on turn 1 for any faction. Not easily at least. There are some schemes that can be 3VP, but it shouldn’t be trivial to accomplish in one turn. But here’s a look at what I would do about it:
I echo the thought that I would like to change this scheme out from being on a suit and replace it with another scheme in the numbered section. My personal favorite for that right now would be Hold Up Their Forces. It’s an interesting scheme that requires positioning and nothing more. Undercover Entourage is a consideration, but there are a few models/masters that make it absolutely trivial. So I’d like to see it stay on a numbered suit.
That way if you moved Smuggled Across to a numbered, it’s a bit more palatable to be easier to complete. It still needs some rework. Aaron asked if it should be accumulative. I think it should. And not starting on turn 1, but turn 2. Then you have to keep guys alive and in deep. There are still some factions that have a way easier time of this, but it gives time to react by the opponent and isn’t an auto 3 pts by any stretch. I’m sure there need to be some other tweaks, but that’s a great starting point for me. Maybe remove the minion requirement, or bump it down to two?
BURIED TREASURE (Tome)
First Impression: I like the direction of this, but I think it’s challenging to score in general. A 6” bubble from a 30mm base is just over 13” diameter. That’s literally a 1/3 of the board. So you’re telling me I have to have 3 markers like that? And nothing but leaders can be in said bubble to get points? Hm… Edges it is.
High Point: I like the creativity of this. The concept of burying treasure seems awesome. Plus you don’t have to do it on the opponent’s side of the board, which opens some defend the bastion kind of feel.
Low Point: 6″ is a long way when it’s a radius.
Who does this benefit the most: I’m not a 100% certain. I would say 10T, Gremlins and Arcanists all have strong enough tools and utility to pull out 3VP, but a lot of the other factions I feel would struggle to be able to isolate markers like that. And Arcanists have the ultimate F you in the damnable raptor. It just needs to pop up nearby a marker or two at the end of the game and bye bye VP. At least McMourning can do that now too.
So this is kinda feels like a more flexible Covert Breakthrough on positioning with a much harder to ignore drawback for scoring. That being said, I do like it. I just think it might be too hard to score more than 1 or 2 points. One cool thing is that you can just stack markers, as there is no requirement they stay away from other markers. So if you have ways of dropping markers at range, you have some shenanigan here.
Shenlong really comes to mind here because he can just get pushed by Sensei Yu with markers and put into position. Then Shen can push other people out. But even that seems like it’s pretty easy to deny. I’ll absolutely abandon scoring a VP by taking a really mobile model across the board and deny you 3pts. Just by being 6” away.
There’s some benefit to being able to just drop on your side of the table. But again, it’s fairly easy to stop. Unless there’s been a tremendous amount of death. And maybe that’s the answer? Maybe because it’s an end of game scheme it’s one of those that you prep early on and just defend and kill? As I mentioned above, this kind of feels more like you’re defending some bastion rather than burying treasure. Not that that’s a bad thing, but maybe a thematic change to the name?
The more I look at this the more I think it’s probably better than I’m rating it. I may increase it a couple of points once I see some reports on its play
I think I would like this more if it acted like burying treasure. How about a 1 or 2AP action that has to be taken on the opponent’s half of the table but out of LoS of any enemy? Maybe you have to discard a soulstone or two cards or something? Act like you are actually burying treasure?
CHARGE SOULSTONE (Crows)
First Impression: I’m rating this stupid high because I love the flavor and the choice it makes. You want VP? Gonna have to use that cache for something beyond cards and defense. That’s a difficult, tactical question that I know a lot of people are going to not like. I personally love it.
High Point: This scheme is fairly easy to get 3VP out of, you just have to understand that your cache has been lowered by 3.
Low Point: Your cache has been lowered by 3!
Who does this benefit the most: Lucius and anyone else who has relatively “easy” access to soulstone gains. Which means guild in general. But this scheme is an auto-take for Lucius.
Not a lot to say about this scheme. Are you willing to invest 3 cache into getting 3VP? If the answer is yes, then there you go. What I do like about this is that it really kind of benefits elite crews. And I like having schemes that allow for that. Activation control was a major deal in GG2017. And It should be a thing, absolutely. But you shouldn’t be punished for taking stronger and less models so heavily. This scheme helps in that.
I think that’s a move in general for the new GG2018. Activation control and model spam still is effective, but from what I’ve seen so far hopefully a bit less dominating. And this scheme is the flagship in that direction for me.
COLLECT EVIDENCE (Mask)
First Impression: Mixed.
High Point: Interesting concept that I feel warrants more fleshing out. Punishing your opponent for scheming (or not scheming) is interesting but…
Low Point: … It’s fairly easy to make this scheme really hard to complete. A common first activation is to walk and drop a scheme marker. As long as you can walk far enough away (which granted isn’t always easy) you can just do that and then force your opponent to come after that one, lonely scheme marker.
Who does this benefit the most: Arcanists, 10T, Gremlins… special shout out to Lilith, Titania, Yan Lo and Lust. They’re flat out ability to warp you off a point is quite strong here. And last but not least (maybe) PARKER! His ability to make enemies drop schemes markers significantly helps you score here, especially because it’s normally while killing them.
This scheme… man. I want to expand on the Low Point I mentioned above.
The scheme causes you to score a VP if your opponent doesn’t have a scheme marker 6” off their deployment zone. But you still have to get over there and pick it up. If you have a cagey opponent, I don’t see why they wouldn’t just drop the one scheme marker as far back as they could, and say come at me. If you do push through, get there, shenanigans, whatever… you get 1VP. Now they just have to place another and let you come after that one too. Yeah there’s the risk that if you don’t get another marker down, they could score a 2nd VP, but you can already kind of tell how that’s going and drop another one if needed.
I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. I just think that it can promote some really bad matchups.
Also this scheme really messes with Titania and really makes Parker competitive… a bit.
There is something to be said for trying to bluff this scheme, and I do enjoy that quality. You don’t have to reveal it until you’ve scored VP from it. So you can just kind of play along and guarantee you get that 1VP before dropping the bomb. I feel like this is another scheme that’s going to be another pretty solid 2VP scheme that rewards good play and positioning with the 3rd VP. And that makes it a solid scheme.
Stay tuned for part 3 and the numbered schemes!