It can be hard to justify taking a model whose sole role is that of a support piece. Especially when, by and large, you want those points for things that bring a more direct impact to the game. But sometimes a subtler hand is needed, one that manipulates the field just by their very presence. For example, a model that brings a variety of control concepts that support and facilitate your crew’s efficiency.
Mr. Tannen is that model.
No other model in 10T or Neverborn aggressively affects the game in a support role like Tannen. From his signature ability Cooler to his utility tactical actions, Mr. Tannen is a fragile piece that (when properly protected) warps the game landscape so that the odds are ever in your favor.
Cooler is the reason most people consider him in a crew. An ability that fundamentally changes how your opponent must look at the game. Penalizing models for cheating fate is one of the dastardliest things you can do, and no one does it as well. The enemy model has to be within 6” of Tannen for this to work. He has to be in the mix and his only defensive trick is “Manipulative 13” and only a handful of wounds.
It’s a gamble – you must simultaneously protect Tannen while exposing him. With proper crew and master selection, you can make it so that he is difficult to remove allowing him to affect the board for as long as possible.
Cooler effectively gives your opponent a three card hand. It penalizes them for cheating singular cards outside of his aura. If they cheated down to 5 cards, near Tannen they now have a two card hand. One card in hand? Cooler means you cannot cheat fate. It’s monstrous.
Knowing when and how to cheat is already a very difficult skill to master. With Tannen you have the added weight of asking your opponent “is it worth 2 cards?” This is a dangerous choice regardless of their hand. If they are clutching a fistful of severe cards, they are more likely going to stay away from Tannen. If they have a middling hand, they can’t “force” success on easier duels because now that 8-10 requires a second card to MAYBE win.
This works on defense duels and simple duels too. If you out activate your opponent there is added danger for your opponent. Now you can move Tannen in towards the end of the round and let him chill out when you send a beater in. Beaters are even more scary if they need two cards to cheat.
Cooler also reveals important information about your opponent’s hand. If they have a full grip and discard a 6 to cheat in a 10, chances are they don’t have any lower cards. Now you know they’re most likely holding moderates or better. Good players may try to bluff this, but when you’re bleeding cards, bluffing like that probably does more harm than good.
Roger Yohn summed it up well saying, “Cooler is a back breaker [when] dropped in the right place, like if you can get Tannen in the edge of a scrum he can tip the balance quickly.”
What Else Ya Got?
Cooler is great and all, but it’s just the front of his card ability. Flipping his card reveals that his tactical actions are also strong.
“So, What Brings You To These Parts…?” provides another 6” aura – “Chatty”. This prevents interact actions – situational, but amazing in certain pools like “Ply for Information” or even “Symbols of Authority” or “Supply Wagons”.
Leave It to Luck is his only 0 and a fun and flavorful ability if you have the right control hand. It is another 6” aura where Masks get +2 to their value and Tomes get -2. But it’s indiscriminate of model, so be careful about using this around your opponent, especially if they get particularly high value out of their masks. Situationally awesome (like versus Yan Lo when he’s running Fortify the Spirit).
On the attack side… his melee is worthless. He has no charge either; there is no reason you should be charging with Tannen anyway.
Bore To Tears is his second attack and is also an overlooked ability that hands out the Bored condition. “[Bored] can be a key debuff if your opponent can’t clear it or if they don’t have a lot of good push/place effects,” says Keith Bonneau.
Adam Talbot agreed saying, “A pitiful damage track, but Ca 6, 10” range, and on success (not damage) applies the Bored [condition]: -2 Wk and Cg til the end of [target’s next activation]. Situationally huge. This attack also has an often forgotten trigger on a mask called Blocked which prevents soulstone users from using [them]. Perfect for setting up murder onto a hapless henchman or master. Can really hamper a summoner’s day, too.”
There’s a second trigger that’s built in that pushes Mr. Graves 5” towards the target. Considering how slow Graves is, this is (again) situationally very useful.
I really like Adam’s note about summoners. 14” range (if you include a walk), doesn’t seem like much but midgame it can be very useful. Aggressive summoners (like Molly and Asami) are close enough turn 2 for that trigger, for instance.
Being an enforcer though, you’re going to need that high mask to get this off. But then again, if they’re in Cooler range, maybe you can sneak something through. I would definitely consider using Leave it to Luck to try to force this through on a critical model/turn. As long as your target is more than 6″ away, you only need an 11 of masks to meet a 13 drop vs. Wp 6.
So, What Brings…
Like all support models, Tannen really shines when you match him up with the right crew; especially in the right pools.
Your opponent will come to hate his auras so ideally you want to be in a situation where there are “better” targets. Whether that’s because there’s enough healing nearby, or severe retaliation waiting… Tannen is only 6 stones. Sending in an 8-stone+ beater in to remove him feels bad. It’s going to take a lot to get through his Manipulative and Cooler. Hitting and killing him is tough work. Threating a counter assault can make Tannen unattractive. It’s overall bad math for your opponent. If they can’t snipe him out from range, it’s just a bad idea. Anything that helps keep him safe from range is also pretty snazzy. Look at Sue vs. casts or something that grants an aura of cover.
Adam offers thoughts on the Neverborn side:
“My favorite Tannen Master is probably Pandora. As a Woe, Pandora is able to Martyr away wounds from him, and his Cooler ability really makes all the duels Pandora makes you take oppressive. Zoraida also gets some solid play out of his Chatty action as she can obey him into position and make him take the action while still maintaining Manipulative 13.”
In actuality, my favorite model to pair Mr. Tannen with is not a master at all, but another underrepresented model in Barbaros. Challenge and Cooler are made for each other and can drain your opponents hand to nothing very quickly. To attack Tannen you need to pass the Challenge duel, paying a card to cheat, then (usually) his high Manipulative, again paying to cheat, then the attack duel, once again paying to cheat. If you attack Barbaros, you are paying to cheat against his naturally high stats. Add Titania’s [Behold My Glory] to this combo for extra lulz.”
I have recently been dropping Zoraida, and I’m looking at slotting in Tannen because his “Leave it to Luck” combined with “Cooler” seems amazing for abusing “Bewitch”. While generally Zoraida should be obeying her own models, having a game changer like Tannen around can really dial up her opposed casts. If you’re bringing models into your crew with lures, he’s great to keep nearby and fully shut them down. Lilith’s Tangle Shadows can just drop him in place allowing you to bring the pain while maintaining his Manipulative. And of course, there’s Mr. Graves. A solid beater with great positioning. At 14ss for the pair of them, it’s quite the bargain.
Moving to 10T, we have some insights from Keith and Roger.
Roger and I both like the prospect of him in a “Combat Shen” list. Shenlong already has so many tricks up his sleeve and can be quite devastating in combat. He loves center scrums and that’s where Tannen shines. Dropping a couple of Tannen’s casts can also help mitigate the counter punch that Shen might normally receive. Keith likes him with some other 10T staples:
“Shadow Emissary can really help one of his main weaknesses (he’s slow). So being able to push him 4″ and give him fast is a really big add for Tannen. Second would be either the Terracotta warrior or a Charm warder, or both, each of these models can really help keep him alive an extra turn or two(if you are lucky). The idea here is that Tannen is there to negate your opponent’s ability to score a strat on a key turn, and/or to help drain your opponents hand via cooler. Either way, Tannen needs to be in a key spot and live for a few turns.”
Additionally, Yan Lo makes fantastic use of him by letting you control board positioning keeping Tannen safe in the back of the midfield and depositing threats to your beater. Lust and Gwyneth are great combos with him allowing you to bring a model over while keeping him in safe distance and Lynch with his access to Beckoners and his glass nature welcomes the added protection that Tannen can bring. Let’s not even get started with Cheating Bastard! We also have a similar trick to Challenge: Kang can issue a Taunt against a single model and is a good drop against a couple of factions. Not as effective, but definitely noteworthy.
Smoke Grenades should probably be stapled to Tannen in 10T regardless. Especially vs Guild and Outcasts.
I’m going to toss my favorite trick in the hat and say give him a shot with Brewmaster. We don’t normally do the Brewie bubble in 10T, opting for Swill-master instead. But when your opponent has to pitch a card to cheat AND he can’t take any actions without passing that willpower duel it gets ugly fast.
Mr. Tannen is only 6 stones. There are few things that compete with that cheap a cost in Neverborn (Beckoners and Stitched really) and while there is a competitive 6ss slot in ten thunders, Mr. Tannen is still always a strong consideration.
Keep him safe and you will be rewarded with a model that forces your opponent to deal with him, or suffer the consequences.
*Author’s Note: I’d like to thank Roger Yohn, Adam Talbot and Keith Bonneau for taking the time to give me some feedback on their Tannen views to incorporate and quote throughout this article.
Next up on Mighty Models is the Ten Thunders minion High River Monk! Recently reduced in cost, is this model worth putting on the table? Post your photos of a painted High River Monk here or on our Facebook page and I will be selecting a few to feature in the article!