Sun. Moon. All-Stars: The Hunter’s Guild in Season 4

When it comes to Season 4, there’s a chance that every other Guild is just prey. At their inception, the Hunter’s Guild and their Captain Theron’s control and takeouts gameplan was belied by overly complicated interactions which never seemed quite to accomplish their goals.

For Theron and the followers of the Sun Father, that changed in Season 3. And finally in Season 4 the followers of the Moon Goddess have just one message for Guild Ball pitches across the planet: Winter is Here, bitch!

Captain – Theron

Theron, aka The Ron doesn’t see any changes to the functionality of his card. “Snipe” has become “Arrow to the Knee” once again, rewarding those who refused to get new tokens. Also, his Forest AOE just can’t be in contact with a piece of terrain, allowing for it to more closely wall off areas than it’s previously been allowed to, before.

Theron still switch hits comfortably between a momentous ranged controller, a beat down piece capable of putting out a lot of damage on his own, a support captain for his teammates, and a game-ending halfway decent striker. He’s certainly the closest model in the game to an all-around Captain, contributing to whatever game plan the Hunters need him for that turn.

Captain – Skatha

Holy. Shit. Obviously, Steamforged spoke at length about the strength of Skatha in Season 4 during their reveal article, but in

truth, their article falls short of what this girl can do once you get her on the table. She ping pongs off enemies and teammates alike, extending both her own and her teammates’ threat ranges to absurd levels, putting her teammates into the right places to do the most damage.

The strengths here are obvious – the ability to get a tackle double dodge or a triple dodge on 1, even at the cost of 2 INF, is crazy. She’s a 7″/9″ move model who can place a free fast ground to speed her up, or to help her teammates keep up. And oh yeah – Cold Snap is triggerable off her playbook now, throwing snared on your opponents’ high defense models just in time for Jaecar or Seenah to wade in, knives/claws flashing.

I haven’t had occasion to use the new version of Snowball, yet, primarily because Skatha has been so busy flying around the Field, stealing the ball off of whomever has it and then bombing back over towards the goal to score goals with the real ball instead. Unlike any other 1″ striker, Skatha has few problems managing great 2″ counter attacks or unpredictable movement models, as she, uh . . . finds a way to dodge in off an only semi-nearby model.

And, of course, kickoff Captain Skatha can both threaten to take the ball and score and deliver Seenah into your opponent’s backline on the same turn, putting your opponent deeply into trouble immediately.

Mascot – Fahad

Fahad remains completely unchanged, and is an incredibly efficient Mascot capable of potentially scoring a take out with enough set up, or else he can always score the classic Fahad Chain-activation Cat Goal with his pal Zarola. Of course, an opponent can easily shut Fahad down by engaging him, but if your opponent is devoting a model to shutting down your mascot, that’s probably alright.

Mascot – Snow

Snow has traded fun for function, as Guild Ball is very serious business. ‘Oooh . . . Ball!’ is gone, making way for Loved Creature. Snow is otherwise unchanged, bringing the strong trait ‘Pack Mentality’ to the Hunter’s Guild, as well as the ability to add Anatomical Precision to a friendly Guild model in a pinch (To date, I have never once allocated Snow an influence, but I suppose somebody must have a key moment where Snow’s character play came up huge!). Loved Creature is obviously a huge effect for teams which want to be making attacks, especially if third column results are important to your plans. Snow remains a strong choice into Union, Butchers, Hunters, and many other guilds which are looking to score takeouts against your Hunters without the benefit of access to a lot of easy knock downs.

The Team

As a whole, there has been an important change to the Hunter’s team rule – rather than separate traps being dropped by Chaska, Jaecar, and vMinx, they now all drop 30mm ‘Big Game Traps’ which do 1 damage and the snared condition. You can have up to five of these traps on the pitch at once, so your old Minx and Chaska traps will be just fine. Jaecar’s pit trap, however, is now just a 40mm base proxy to use for measurement. Traps as a whole are still  fine, but there are a few Hunters teams that play without any of Jaecar, Chaska, or vMinx, and those teams are fine (none of those models are super essential to what Skatha is trying to do, as an example).

 

Chaska has a brand new playbook, making him a bigger part of the Hunters’ takeout game on a regular basis, with 5 TAC and a Momentous 2 damage on his second column stepping in and getting rid of the push-dodge nonsense he brought to the team last season, he’s capable of dealing out a big pile of hurt. Further, Boom Box is now limited to once per turn, but does 6 damage in that one shot in addition to its 4″ push.  4 attacks and then a Blessing’d Boombox is a casual, reliable 14 damage for the Hunters. Terrifying.

Fahad’s pal Zarola has also received several buffs that makes her much stronger: she now has a 3/6″ kick, and an influence cap of 4, 5 TAC  and a 5 Column playbook that wouldn’t be remiss on a member of the Fishermen’s Guild. She still can link both ways to chain activate with Fahad, and brings Chain Bolas and Midnight Offering both with her, unchanged, from season 3. She has completely the same traits on the back of her card, and a model who already played in most Hunter sides continues to be a strong bid for an auto include support piece in every game (with or without Fahad).

Egret has also received both a strong buff and a slight nerf, raising her level ever so slightly, and still leaving her as a fringe piece. Her momentous push dodge moved back from her 3rd column to the 4th column, while swift strikes was improved to allow a 2 inch dodge rather than a 1 inch dodge every time she does damage during her activation, leaving her with a very enticing nonmomentous tackle, poison, 1 damage, double dodge result on her third column. She may not have ‘Where’d they Go?’ like her winter counterpart Ulfr, but on the charge she can make do if she is able to wrap even to her first column.

There are a few Hunters who received even smaller or no changes. The only change to Veteran Minx is the overall change to the Guild’s Trap rule, and neither Mataagi nor Minerva, the Falconers who play up, was changed from season 3 to season 4. All 3 are great hybrid support/take out pieces, extending Hunters’ threat or increasing their damage output, and capably dishing out damage of their own if you find yourself in a pickle.

Hearne, too, remains completely unchanged, still being an incredibly valuable model when it comes to teleporting around, Blessing models with key character plays, and throwing out a bit of damage here and there as needed. If Theron hasn’t set up a Hearne goal against you, yet, you probably don’t play against Hunters very often.

The Veteran version of Hearne is a very interesting choice for the Hunters, especially with Skatha, for his new ability to teleport on all damage, rather than just when damaging snared targets. This allows him to easily place himself in the most advantageous spots for him and your team, at the cost of ‘Singled Out’ from oHearne. Of course, since Minerva brings ‘Eye Spy,’ and Grudge Match is a plot card, this is a mitigable loss if you greatly need ‘Singled Out’ in the team.

Jaecar has received only a little touch, losing his ability to Bleed opponents. Gut and String has been changed to be a non-condition Snared, and Jaecar’s trap is now the Big Game Trap rather than the Pit trap, but he still does exactly the same things he did before, for the most part. You’re still taking him in more games than you are not.

 

 

 

Which leaves a few cards left. Starting with Ulfr, who has improved greatly at his job! Ulfr has laid claim to being a striker

capable of being out on his own, charging and threatening your opponent’s backline and knocking in goals. He permanently has a 3/8″ kick now, which is huge since he was reliant on doing damage to get that kick stat before, and it was tough for him to take the ball, dodge away, AND do damage in a single turn in season 3.  His playbook has lost a column, EDIT: (Thanks Chris Horst!) but his TAC has remained the same, meaning his Lone Hunter ability is even stronger as he’s capable of spiking to a 6 TAC 4 Column striker. Unlike most Hunters, he doesn’t even have momentous damage results on his card! But he still ambushes opponents, threatening to wrap up a tackle and where’d they go against a model which maybe can’t afford to Defensive Stance, since you’re activating before them. 11 Dice on a charge when he is all alone with no teammates to help Ulfr? Not bad for a 1″ melee striker.

Which brings us, last but definitely not least, to . . . The Bear. This Seenah is perfectly fine being seen.

 

7 Tac, Momentous 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, double push on 1 and knock down on 2 . . . Seenah is phenomenal! Our Bear Queen has come to reign, defending herself slightly better at a 3+/0 defense, as well. Seenah has a strooooong playbook, and even a single singled out or eye spy will let her erase the biggest and toughest models around, especially if they are snared going in. Seenah is quite different than she was – no longer furious, she is now Rabid, and possesses a free attack instead of a free charge. All of her damage results cause your opponent to bleed, and she still has tough hide. Seenah is undoubtedly the killiest ‘Big Guy’ in Season 4, and she is honestly great. You can yo-yo her with Zarola, or fling her across the board with Skatha. She’s a good pal to Theron, as well. You do need to be careful with her: 21 tough hide hit points on a 3+/0 aren’t THAT hard to chew threw if your opponent sets their mind to it, or is a Butcher or a member of the Union, but with a great counter attack, Seenah may be able to smack herself out of trouble.

Seenah has been by far my favorite model of Season 4 so far, and may even pull me into Hunters more often than the Other guilds I’ve been dabbling with.

Guild Playstyle

Hunters are incredibly fun in that each of their captains lend themselves towards a play style but are perfectly capable of contributing towards another. Theron is clearly a takeout captain, looking to win with 4 takeouts and a goal, while Skatha is just fine scoring 3 goals (or 12 goals: they’re your models. Play a 12 round game and score 12 snowball goals). But Theron can also score a goal (or two if you’re getting real froggy) thanks to his access to dodges, and Skatha isn’t exactly a slouch in the fighting department with those momentous cold snap and momentous 2 results. What it really comes down to is which squaddies you surround your Captain with, and whether you’re prepared and able to impose that playstyle on your opponent.

That said, Hunters have one of the busiest and most contentious twelve person teams in Season 4. Both Captains obviously come in, and Fahad definitely is in. Seenah, Jaecar, Minerva, and Zarola are all locks. Hearne is a sure include. Veteran Minx claims a spot, and Chaska is way too strong a model to not include. And we’re at 10, with Ulfr, Snow, Veteran Hearne, Mataagi, and Egret all clamoring for time. My instincts tell me to play Ulfr and Mataagi over Veteran Hearne and Egret, or even Ulfr and Veteran Hearne over Mataagi (though the matchups where I want Veteran Hearne over Hearne feel rare). But all told, a model whose weakest model is Egret is in a strong, strong spot.

If you’re asking me which six you should play with first, it’s Skatha, Fahad, Zarola, Seenah, Ulfr, Vet Hearne, even you’ll have to pay influence for Zarola’s character plays. This team is fast, aggressive, and capable of getting both take outs and goals depending on your opponents’ reactions. Of course, the team of Theron, Fahad, Zarola, Jaecar, Seenah, Minerva is also a lot of fun, in an entirely different way.

Happy Hunting. THE BEAR IS SO GOOD.

Alex Vian

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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