The Fishvigators Set Sail!
by Alex Vian · Published · Updated
Today, Steamforged officially released the second model of the Navigator’s Guild, Fathom, and so we know who will drive Gutter out of the Fishermen’s Guild roster for good as Season Four of Guild Ball Kicks Off!
Gutter and her remaining Union teammates follow Avarisse & Greede off the roster as the Navigators join the fray, leaving Fathom and her fellow Navigator, Horizon (revealed last week), in their place. Obviously, both Navigators bring their fantastic new Guild rule, Precise Calculations.
Precise Calculations is particularly interesting on these two models, who both bring 4 TAC and 2 kick dice to the match(as we’ll see, shortly). Obviously, these values are going to be a lot more reliable than their similarly TACed brethren, but just how reliable? That’s a question for later.
Horizon is a truly unique model, breaking some core rules of the game in unique ways: First, despite being a Squaddie, he only is worth 1 VP to your opponent if they take him out. I bet there’s a fun lore reason for this one, but primarily it means the low defense, low hit point smuggler isn’t a big blow if he goes down under the knives, bows, guns, or giant maces of your opponent; Second, when he dies, he can jog back onto the field from within your opponent’s deployment zone, as well as your own!
He’s relatively, slow on the jog/sprint, but boasts a Free 5 inch dodge every single turn (thus the 2 / 3 INF stat)! On its own, Horizon becomes a dangerous model, capable of popping up wherever he’s needed and threatening to unleash his playbook on unsuspecting bad guys.
It’s clearly a footballer’s playbook – Horizon is not here to replace Gutter in your team, boys. Tackle on 1 (now the best tackle in the Fisherman’s Guild!), with no momentous results on either 1 or 2. His first momentous result, the push-dodge on 3, fits in with the “Pirate” sub-theme of the Fishermen’s Guild, as does the momentous Unexpected Arrival on 4. And the exciting Tackle Double Dodge on 4 lets you live the dream of diving in on 2” models and then double dodging out with your 1” melee range with the ball.
Fathom, on the other hand, is less ‘different’ than Horizon by a long shot. She gives normal victory points if she’s taken out, and has a normal amount of winger hit points to match.
What she does bring is an interesting interaction with an existing character – she can chain activate Angel, the Fishermen’s star rookie striker (who most people don’t use as part of their team at this moment). Obviously, back to back activations are a powerful effect in a game where each team only has 6 activations, and the ability to chain strike one goal-scorer into another really can put the pressure on the opponent.
Fathom’s Heroic Play is brand new, and adds another dodge to Fathom’s playbook, allowing her (thanks to acrobatics) to potentially dodge 6 inches during her activation without attacking, meaning she has the crazy goal-scoring range all Fishermen coaches love.
Like Horizon, Fathom boasts 4 TAC and 2 kick dice, however Fathom has a kick range of 8”, meaning her overall goal threat range is an unassisted 42”. Her playbook, understandably given her ability to bounce everywhere already, leaves a lot to be desired: a tackle on 2, a single momentous dodge on 3, and she shares the momentous tackle double dodge Horizon boasts on 4. It’s clearly a footballer’s playbook.
What does this mean?
Obviously, Corsair has lost his friend Gutter, and no matter how much vSakana or Kraken says they can fill that void, Fishermen’s ability to get takeouts is diminished in the new Fishvigator world. But, they’ve added some interesting tools to score goals to a guild which already excelled at scoring goals. So do these models justify taking the place of the Fishermen’s Guild’s current options for scoring goals and living the dream?
With the Assistance of the Pitch, I have reports from 5 games with Horizon and the Fishvigators across a few matchups (including a Shark v. Corsair scrimmage). So let us help you get a head start on figuring out where these models fit. All of the percentages I’m about to talk
Horizon on the Pitch
The most significant aspect of Horizon is that he is only worth 1 VP if he’s taken out, and he’s easier to take out than any Mascot. The notion is that you want him taken out, but an activation can be an important part of the turn even if all that activation does is dodge 5” and then jog 4”. Being taken out isn’t a big blow to Horizon, but neither is it a goal to seek out – coming out from your opponent’s deployment zone at full health is fine, but your opponent will still be able to kill him again with a stiff breeze and you’ll be down the activation.
First off, it’s real difficult for him (and Fathom) to generate momentum without charging. The first and second results are very consistent, but any armor at all makes hitting the momentous results unlikely.
And because he goes down so easily, it is important that you don’t let your opponent gain more benefit than the 1 VP he’ll get for killing Horizon by loading him up with influence when you don’t go first. 1 VP may not be worth killing a model early in the turn, but 1 VP AND 2-3 influence? That’s a tempting target. Commit to Horizon doing things with caution. He generally wants to shoot first (go early!), so that you don’t lose the model, the influence (if any) you allocated to him, and the activation when he inevitably melts.
But if you go first, hooooo man he can be a threat to a great number of teams. Close Control isn’t a concern for this guy if you can get him in on the charge: 95% of the time, Horizon can charge in, wrap to one with 5 hits to choose both of his tackles, grab the ball off Corsair, and dodge to safety without facing the Counter Attack. Defensive Stance cuts the odds to 67.9%, which is a big blow, but still is more likely to happen than not. Likewise, Iron (82%), Flint (67.9%), Tentacles (67.9%), vSpigot (95%), Velocity (49%) or similarly statted models with close control will really struggle to defend the ball from Horizon on the charge before he dodges 5” and then kicks the ball into the goal. And precise calculations makes his tackle on 1 result all but assured against all but the most heavily armored opponents. He’s a great way to solve the problem of close control for the Fishermen’s Guild, if you have left Siren, Greyscales, vSakana, and Corsair at home.
But if you don’t go first, Horizon still gets a great gig as a road block to suck up influence without being allocated any – he can get in and out of any engagements, tying up enemy resources to get rid of him and go about their business. Need to protect Shark from a charge? Put Horizon in the way. vOx threatening and/or causing you problems? Engage him with Horizon. Since he’s only worth 1 VP, his role as a speed bump becomes even more valuable.
In addition to adding a ball-taking threat to teams that want to face the Fishermen’s Guild by scrumming up in front of their goal, Horizon gives the Fish an outlet against teams which press forward into the Fishermen’s half. Either racing past or dying and jogging on into a position of safety, Horizon can sit in tap-in snapshot range for the Fish.
He seems likely to contend with a model like Hag or another specialist squaddie in the team, serving as an influence battery and threatening to do some stuff when you take over the Momentum advantage, causing as many problems and getting into threatening positions whenever you are unable to – at least until an opponent looks at him stiffly. So if you’re looking for a more aggressive piece who won’t be allocated influence all that often but who is capable of game-changing plays when timed correctly, Horizon is your man!
Fathom on the Pitch
Unsurprisingly, Fathom’s link to Angel makes her immediately most appealing when she’s a teammate of Angel’s. Her ability to dodge in and out of combat also makes her a clear competition for the slot currently occupied in most Fishermen teams by Greyscales or Sakana. So with Angel out of favor and the models in that slot among the best Fisherman options, where does that leave Fathom?
For Starters, Fathom is another piece of support for Angel in a Shark team: not only can Angel be given tactical advice, she can then chain activate, to boot?? Allow yourself to live the dream of beating your opponent 4 activations into the game on turn 1, after Shark, Fathom, and Angel have each scored goals against your opponent’s single activation. Unlikely? Absolutely. But if you pull it off, PLEASE let me know on Twitter.
Angel has always been a model just on the cusp of greatness – obviously great if she has the ball, most people who use her look to establish her as a Def 6 “Angel Turret” shooting 5 dice shapshots from 10” away. Tactical Advice lets her threaten to create a lot of momentum for the Fish, but her low TAC and lack of Acrobatics, Where’d they Go?, or another easily accessible dodge pushed her down the ranks of Strikers. But now she can be chain activated as soon as one specific teammate passes her the ball, and a whole new world of Angel Goals opens up.
Fathom also has a better kick than either of the Sakanas or Greyscales – a 2/8” rerollable completes 94% of its passes or kicks, while the 3 die kicks of the other edge options for the Fishermen’s Guild are only successful 87.5% of the time. It is, unsurprisingly, the equivalent of a 4 dice kick.
In this role with Angel, Fathom can really pressure the ball and lead to goals. Re-rolling failures makes the 2nd result of her playbook quite consistent to reach, and that great kick lets her either score on her own or find Angel, dodge the striker out of trouble, and then chain activate Angel for her goal run without the opportunity to interrupt that plan which has foiled many Angel plans before.
Without Angel, however, Fathom is still a really mobile striker! 6” of dodge (albeit partly situational and costing a momentum that may be needed for the shot) and an 8” kick gives her a greater goal threat range than Shark on a decently tough to kill model. She doesn’t protect the ball as well as Greyscales or take it as well as Sakana, but she scores goals for fun – and that’s what being a Fisherman is all about.
All this and we haven’t even talked about Smelling Salts (which we haven’t used, yet, to be fair).
Other Major Notes
There are some other important notes to bear in mind while trying to pilot the new Fishvigators – namely, the impact of Crowd Outs on their ability to do anything. Having only 4 TAC means the loss of a dice is huge, cutting out not only the dice but its reroll if it misses. On the flip side – Bonus Time has a greater than normal impact on these two models than it does on their teammates. If you NEED a goal to close out the game, Fathom is now arguably the best model to take that shot in the entire game, as her bonus time shot converts 98% of the time at the cost of one extra momentum – the only other model who can hit these odds is, of course, Angel, in a One Legged Stance aura and under the effects of Super Kick. The two of them working together to finish off an opponent is a fun idea.
Armor is a massive blow to Navigators, meaning they’re unlikely to be your first choice into Blacksmiths, Masons, or Union matchups where high-armor models are quite common. Unlike high defense models, you lose these dice AFTER re rolling them as successes or failures. A heavy blow for a low TAC model who would otherwise still be very consistent.
Horizon is a decent alternate kick option for those sick of kicking off with Siren, with his 12” threat in an activation making up for the fact that he’s jogging not all that far and kicking the ball fairly short.
Both of the new Fishvigators are going to be competitive for slots in the team: especially once rosters expand to 12 as Season 4 begins. Their role in an already competitive Fishermen 10, however, is going to be hotly contested. I think Fathom clearly slots into Gutter’s old spot, leaving the 9th and 10th spots, typically occupied by Jac and your least preferred Sakana to face challenges from Angel and Horizon for the roster. In my opinion, Jac and oSakana will make way for the duo, making a 10 man Fishermen’s Guild roster of Shark, Corsair, Tentacles, Siren, Hag, Greyscales, vSakana, Fathom, Horizon, Angel.
Regardless, Angel and Horizon will push their way into the 12 when that becomes an option in Season 4!
A reformed Warhammer Fantasy player based in the Twin Cities, Alex plays Malifaux, Guild Ball, X-Wing, and Armada. He also is the host of the Malifaux Tactics podcast here at Midwest Wargaming: Lecture Notes from the Breach
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