Season 4 Ratcatchers review
by midwestwargaming · Published · Updated
The Season 4 Ratcatchers are here and I can’t be more excited!
In this article I will go over the differences with you, share my opinions with you, talk about my experience with the guild and make bold predictions.
Captain Piper, the most interesting man in Season 3 somehow got more interesting in Season 4! Let’s look at his changes. On the front of his card, his playbook stayed the same and so did most of his stats, with one big exception, his kick increased from 3/6 to 4/6. Additionally, his character play, Pay the Piper was reduced to 1 INF. The back of his card stayed the same.
So, only two changes but much like how Ox has become significantly more scary with just a few tweaks, the same can be said for Piper. Piper’s role is to pull of shenanigan goals via passing the ball and paying INF for Reverie. In season 3 you would sometimes just lose games, due to no fault of your own, because Piper would just fail his passes. If he has ONE JOB TO DO, he needs to be great at that job and now Piper is great at getting you those zippidy-doo goals from no where.
I joke that Piper has one “job” and, while Reverie goals is his bread and butter and what makes Rats win games, I’d be foolish to not give some credit for his secondary role, which is, causing a momentum dilemma. Pay the Piper is a criminally underrated control ability and it stacks so so well with the disease mechanic. Previously, Pay The Piper was always an after-thought ability. Something you’d do if you misallocated influence or didn’t have the ball or a way to get the ball. NOW, Pay the Piper is something that should be done every turn. Disease is already going to make their heals very inefficient, now every time they do anything with momentum it is inefficient because they’re helping you. In my games with S4 Piper I’ve played a fair amount vs Brewers, who LOVE bonus-timing their attacks to assist in their ability to wrap and just the presence of Pay the Piper made it so my opponent repeatedly chose not to bonus time, and by doing so my models lived much longer. Pay the Piper is a simple lose/lose for your opponent and the mind games it plays on them is just beautiful. Little changes go a long way and new Piper is a joy!
Similar to Piper, Squeak had very few changes. In fact, he only had one change, his MOV changed from 4/6 to 5/7. Now I know many people were not pleased with this, mostly because Squeak has this perception as being one of the worst mascots, but, I don’t really agree with the masses on the malign for our mascot. Dreadful Shriek still remains one of the best counter attack character plays a Mascot/Model can have and thankfully it stayed the same. The increased movement on Squeak is more significant than you’d think because he gets to move twice a turn. It stacks very nicely with “Tag Along” and gives this little stinky package a 13″ threat range.
The REAL buff to Squeak though is with Vet Graves.. we’ll get to that later.
Skulk, the coolest goalkeeper in the game has gotten a few “cleaning up tweaks” and playbook tweaks. Skulk’s Knockdown on was moved to the 4th column instead of the 6th column. That is the good news. The bad news is that his momentous 3 damage was moved from the 5th column to the 6th column. Also, his tackle double dodge on 4 has now changed into a momentous double tackle double dodge on four! Honestly, these playbook tweaks, while mixed with pros and cons, has way more relevant pros. How often were you really getting Skulk to hit someone on his 5th column? Singled Out may exist within our faction but Skulk is not really a model that is often charging. He’s much more useful to position near a striker or position near a goal and play zone defense with his character plays. More often than not models are trying to escape from Skulk’s sticky presence, so the fact that he has an easier KD on parting blows is gravy! And if he ever does charge a model, a momentous <<T is way more exciting than 3 damage. He’s not your damage model, he’s your annoying goalie that slows down the opponent’s scoring game while simultaneously giving you a spicy reverie goal and that spicy reverie goal got a whole lot easier in Season 4! How did it get easier? His kick stat got boosted from 2/6 to 3/6! The last change I’ll mention is that Goal Rats is gone.. boo hoo.. it was an ability most people never used. Skulk was great in S3 and he’s going to be greater in S4.
How can you tweak perfection? You can’t! And Steamforged left the best INF battery in the game completely untouched. Why do I make the claim that she is the best INF battery in the game? Because she does more with with 0 INF than any model in the game. period. Move up, snare or bleed some models (maybe even disease them) and pass the turn without any fear because she has empathy! A ten wound model would normally feel like a huge liability but with empathy you get to play as aggressive as you want with little fear. Oh, and if they do try to kill her and fail (and stay engaged) have another three damage! Pelage is pure perfection. Make sure that when you play her you don’t try to make her your main source of damage dealing. She “can” do work with 4 INF, especially against males, but Scourge is just a much better beater and Piper should always have at least 4 INF, so, there just isn’t enough INF to share with her. Just allocate Pelage 1 or 2 so she can threaten a charge or walk up and plant a Singled Out on someone.
The beast mode of the Ratcatchers! In Season 3 this model was usually one of your last to activate and the game plan was simple, feed him injured models and get 3VP from Snack Break. Well, Steamforged didn’t like that. Ratcatchers were designed to be goal scorers not fighters so now SnackBreak no longer grants you bonus VP, which is sad, but it does now heal Scourge 6 HP instead of 4 HP. Is this a nerf? Yes.. There’s no sugar coating that S3 Scourge was better, but don’t panic, this guy will still be in almost all of your starting 6 rosters.With Tac 7 and 2″ reach, plus Plague Ridden, he is your biggest baddest beater and he does it better than anyone else in Rats. Also, now that Snack Break has been changed to 6 HP, he’s going to frustrate a lot of opponents. In one turn Scourge can snackbreak and himself for +10 (tough hide) HPm and if another model is inclined he can heal up to 14 (tough hide) HP a turn. So, unless they’re able to one-round him, your opponent really should just not bother with trying to hurt Scourge. Also, Snackbreak is a hilarious counter attack. I imagine there will be multiple situations where your opponent assumes he/she has just enough INF to remove him but then you disrupt all that math with a tasty little counterattack that heals you 6 HP. Play Scourge, he’s great!
It’s hard to follow up Scourge but Miasma might actually be the best Ratcatcher squaddie in Season 4, which is saying a lot because there’s no duds anymore. Not a lot has changed on the front of the card. Ratacylsm was brought down to RNG 4 but since the range can be measured from anywhere within this change isn’t that substantial. The back of the card is where the magic happens. Salve was massively upgraded. Before, you used to have these awkward activations of being forced to activate Miasma when you didn’t want to to stand up Scourge (which would also remove his disease condition) and then you’d end up debuffing your beater. NOW, no more awkward activations, just plant this model firmly in the middle of your team and soak up value as your team saves momentum by casually removing conditions for free and the other team tries to fight you at a disadvantage because Virulent Strain is effectively giving your entire team cover.
In my games with S4 Ratcatchers, Miasma is the MVP. Similar to Pelage, she just does so much work for so little influence. Against bashy team that want to fight all day or against condition spreading teams like Hunters or Alchemists, they HAVE to dedicate their attentions to Miasma or she will single handedly win you games.
Steamforged just keeps giving us more and more presents. Similar to how Scourge lost his extra VP on takeouts, so too did VGraves. His stats stayed the same but his playbook was substantually buffed. He now has a Momentous Tackle on 1 instead of a Momentous Push. Pushes are nice counter attack plays for protecting a model, but if your model is going to be *SPOILER* camping the ball for the most of the game, than you’d rather have an easy tackle for counter attacking it right back into possession. There were some other changes near the end of his playbook but all that really matters is his two column. Look at it and then look at it again. VGraves has the most powerful 2nd colum playbook result in the game (not just ratcatchers) but in the game. You will debuff 4 models in a turn if you choose too, just by smacking one shmuck who can’t counter attack because you knocked him down. Knockdown and They Aint Tough on two is bananas level strong! Or maybe you want KD and Exhaustion (more often than not They Aint Tough is the right choice but sometimes Exhaustion is right). The front of this model alone warrants bringing VGraves, but the party isn’t over the bad of the card is just as good.
Remember how I said that VGraves would be parking the ball most of the game, he’s doing this because now he has close control. They replaced an over-costed heroic with a free character trait that will really help the Ratcatchers out vs teams that are trying to race them in the scoring game. Close control on a 2″ reach model with a tackle on one is good. Close control on a 2″ reach model with a tackle on one and 2 armor is great! Close control on a 2″ reach model with a tackle on one, 2 armor and is most likely protected by Miasma’s Virulent Strain (giving the enemy -1 TAC) is the greatest! Now just park VGraves into cover and laugh yourself silly as the enemy continuously fails to strip the ball off him. I didn’t even bother to add in the fact that Skulk might be nearby with Pest Control or Horrific Odor so even if they somehow did get the ball, they then wouldn’t be able to do anything with it.
But wait, there’s more! As if he wasn’t good enough, SFG blew a beautiful kiss in our direction and gave VGraves the Heroic play we all wanted. Finally, he has a synergistic ability that actually makes you happy to play your rat mascots. It never felt good before to charge with Squeak because that INF would have been better suited on someone else, but now you don’t have to feel bad. Just keep the rat close, let your heroic rip and have fun getting work out of your little mascot every turn. Vet Graves is so so good and should be an auto-include in every Ratcatchers starting 6.
Last but not least. The man. The myth. The legend! Bonesaw has been given the biggest makeover ever. His TAC and DEF both went up to 5. His MOV dropped slightly, down to 5/7 instead of 6/8, but if you jump to the back of the card you’ll see that debuff is irrelevant because he now has an extra 5″ jog every round from Stamina. He lost his zany Football Dervish ability which is sad, because that was pretty fun but it also caused lots of rules questions and also required you to roll many many dice and if any one of those pass attempts failed you were just boned. It was very high risk for a goal and seemed unnecessary when models out there have simpler abilities like Super Shot or I Shoot Better After a Beer. Another nice change on the back of the card is his heroic play swift wind just because a character trait. Now the agile monk whose breakdancing on a 50mm base can do his parkour any time he wants (so long as your willing to risk a few parting blows). But if you are willing to risk parting blows than don’t worry, Slippery has you covered and that will bring Bonesaw up to 6 defense.
Honestly, a lot of the stuff on the back of his card is cute, but the big changes are Def 5, Stamina, MOM T on 1 hit, and the increase to Tac 5. These are all the ingredients you need for a strong striker, everything else is sprinkles and candy. Bonesaw is the only 8″ kick option for Ratcatchers and he should be brought for that reason, Reverie goals are almost too easy with him on the pitch. But you should also take him and experiment with a Bonesaw kick off. Right now, Ratcatchers prefer to recieve, but when forced to kick Piper is usually the right option because he applies the most pressure. Bonesaw’s stamina ability allows him be a single activation 13″ threat on your first activation and if they aren’t careful your kickoff with him might turn into a first activation goal. I’m not 100% sure you take him in every matchup, in the few games I played he felt similar to Season 3. He either scored goals or he got boned by unpredictable movement models who killed the ball against him. So, choose him wisely, but if you do, be ready to have a harder to kill and much faster striker. Bonesaw is finally ready!
Final thoughts.. People ranked Ratcatchers as a bottom tier guild in Season 3. People who don’t play Ratcatchers will still likely rank them as a bottom tier guild. People are dumb. The lack of options is irrelevant when your cast of models is this strong. I don’t forsee Ratcatchers winning more tournaments than Blacksmiths or Morticians, but, in my opinion, they are going to be just as dangerous as most mid-tier major guilds. I’m not sure what weakness Ratcatchers have to be honest; they just seem all around solid. I’d even go so bold to say, I think they look stronger than Season 4 Masons. So there you have it, go forth and conquer with rats!
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