The New Age of Science: Season 4 Alchemists

Hey everyone! My name is Dillon Byrne, and through perseverance rather than any actual skill, I’ve managed to find myself ranked the third best Alchemists player in the US. With those mediocre qualifications out of the way, let’s talk about what’s happening to my favorite guild in season 4.

Players

Okay so let’s start with a rundown of each model. Captains first:

Midas – Our golden boy still does the same job he has since his season 3 rework: score goals. Only now I think he’s better at it. He has an extra kick die, his tackle is better, and his playbook dodges are better. The only downside is his buyable 2 inch dodge now costs INF rather than momentum, which means you have to budget for that in your allocation. Lure of Gold is cheaper and therefore more versatile, despite the range nerf. Magnum Opus lets him turn on Fulmination himself for his first goal run, and Midas Touch does the job on later turns if your opponent somehow manages to clear the massive amount of conditions this team puts out. Midas is once again a force to be reckoned with.

Smoke – Smoke has 5 TAC. SMOKE HAS 5 TAC! This makes the dice math on her tackle result much more favorable, so get ready to throw Smoke into the middle of the action to steal the ball and then Cloud Jumper out. While you’re in there, be sure to Chemical Breeze yourself a couple times to poison and burn the entire scrum. Infuse can be good to finish off a model, especially if they have Tough Hide, but I wouldn’t count on it as a regular source of damage- it isn’t quite efficient enough. Watch The World Burn is good for a momentum or two on the first couple turns, and more on the later ones when you can throw Smoke last activation into a weakened scrum and Chemical Breeze and Chemical Shower for 6 damage to most if not all of their entire team. She scores better and her condition game seems about the same. The standoff game plan is gone, but I for one won’t miss it.

Our cute little mascots next:

Flask – Everyone’s favorite robot butler loses Intensify, but without the Sic ‘Em plot card did anyone ever get a chance to use it anymore? Overheat is enemy models only now, which is is very nice as it was used against me more times than I care to admit. But the best part of our beaker keeper is… well… Beaker Keeper. We’re a guild with no shortage of character plays, and now one of them each turn is free. This makes Flask the mascot choice for me.

Naja – I love this little snake, I really do. She’s still got her 2 inch melee/Unpredictable combo, her damage is momentous now, and she’s got a cool new trait called Test Subject which can be useful for some extra damage or a clutch Hypnosis. However, perhaps because she’s a test subject now and her trust in him has been broken, she no longer has Assist [Venin]. She still does pretty much everything she used to, but I value Flask’s Beaker Keeper highly enough that I think I’ll struggle to put her on the table. Someone please prove me wrong, Naja has got me through some tough times and I don’t want to lose her so easily.

Finally, all of our squaddies:

Calculus – A bump up to 5 TAC and a playbook triggered Noxious Blast are some sweet new toys to play with, but it comes at the cost of a more standard playbook instead of the dense beauties she and Mercury used to sport. She has the same movement as before, other than a momentous dodge on one, and her tackle is still on 3 which means she’s still okay but not great at playing ball. Poisonous Fumes going up to a 2 inch aura is great, now nearly every model has to suffer poison to attack her. Reactive Solution is also great, it allows her to be allocated 0 INF in a turn but still be useful.

Veteran Calculus – Only small changes here, but they’re pretty good. Her double dodge is more accessible, and Sticky Bomb poisons now. Only downside is Extraction is now only the burning or poison condition. There goes my secret Hunters tech…

Compound – Our keeper loses his Tackle/1 result, Chemical Resist, and two health. In my opinion, this is all negligible. He still does the job you take him for, and he does it well. The loss of Chemical Resist is offset by the condition removal on other models, and we want those conditions there anyway to be able to pull them off later for free stuff. The biggest change is Resilience (some of you may know this trait as Gluttonous Mass) working on Parting Blows. I personally like this, as it allows Compound to free himself from engagement easier to re-activate Rush Keeper. There was a debate about this online so this seems to come down to personal preference.

Crucible – There is a lot different here. 2 inch melee, 8 inch kick, 3 INF cap, but the same Reactive Solution we saw on Calculus for a free character play. She lost Slip Past and Nimble in exchange for Acrobatic and a new play called Great Balls of Fire, which is a 4″ tackle that bypasses Close Control and also burns the target. Chemical Admixture is an always on Midas Touch, she no longer has to suffer the conditions herself, which helps her survivability significantly. She kept her signature trait, Covalence, and it’s the exact same. This new Crucible is interesting, she’s a pretty fearsome ball-player, but you have to be careful with her as she’s very squishy.

Katalyst – Katalyst traded 3 health and Seismic Kick for a single kick die and an extra inch of pulse range on External Combustion. There was also a small clarification on External Combustion: the pulse has to happen after the push and the damage. He’s still a fantastic model, and now he has friends in the fight once again. Stay tuned for those…

Veteran Katalyst – Let’s get this out of the way. Witness Me is now a trait that grants 2 extra momentum upon a takeout once per turn. A moment of silence please…

Okay now that we’re all done crying (what, you weren’t?!) he also loses Furious. He gets a third INF to compensate, but it doesn’t. His pushes, KD, and tackle are the same, which is to say irrelevant, and his damage is lower on already conditioned models, but slightly higher on non-conditioned models, due to Venomous Strike setting up Burst of Fumes from the first attack. Ground Pound seems very niche to me, as paying all 3 INF for it hurts (it’s also the one non-Captain character play in the guild you can’t Beaker Keeper) and reaching his 6th column to get it from the playbook seems a bit Christmas-y. His health is lower, but he no longer damages himself every turn. I cannot figure out when I want this model. He dies in any scrum, and doesn’t put out that much more damage than the rest of your fighting models. Perhaps a puzzle for a better player than me to solve.

Mercury – Oh boy do I love new Mercury. Momentous Fire Ball on two hits is superb, and a 2 inch Burning Spirit is some surprisingly good defensive tech against 1 inch melee models. This is the friend in the scrum that oKat wanted all last season. Get ready, it’s a ton of fun.

Venin – And what’s this, another friend for oKat? Steamforged, you’ve answered all my prayers twice over! Melting Body is now a trait, which means Venin gets to be 2 ARM before he activates from Turn 2 onward. This makes keeping him alive easier, despite his reduction in health. Venomous Strike plus Debilitating Strike plus Coagulation means he’s the highest damage output on average in the guild, besides vKat. Be careful, he goes down easy to someone with damage buffs, but otherwise as long as you heal back the health he loses from poison he’s pretty tough for your opponent to deal with. Park him in cover to be extra rude.

Vitriol – Vitriol has an extra inch of jog, a momentous tackle on one, and a free sprint or charge. This is even before her free Clone (now without the 2 inch dodge) if you park Flask close to her. Her heroic lets her apply the burning condition, so she’s now self-sufficient. She’s more reliable than season 3, and is generally good for a goal a game in a guild where either captain is good for another. I don’t think I ever want to leave her on the bench.

Playstyle

So like I hinted at just now with Vitriol, I think it’s pretty reliable to get 2 goals a game with these Alchemists. Your captain can get one, Vitriol/vCalc/Crucible can get the other. This leaves you 3 squaddies and residual condition damage to get two takeouts if a third goal doesn’t present itself (spoiler alert: it usually doesn’t). My preferred three are oKat, Venin, and Mercury. Katalyst’s knockdowns and general scrum control are great as always, Venin does some serious damage with setup and some respectable damage without, and Mercury can deal with hard to reach and/or high defense/armor models with Fire Ball. Both Calculi, Compound, and Crucible have their matchups into certain guilds, but my normal six is pick-a-captain, Flask, oKat, Mercury, Venin, and Vitriol. The captain choice is interesting and I think specific matchups will need some play time to figure out, but my general idea is that Midas wants to kick and Smoke wants to receive.

Those are my thoughts for competitive play, but the guild also has a ton of fun playstyles to explore in more casual games. I’m really hoping we get a ball-player out of the rookie draft (obligatory plug for Nomad) so I can run Midas, Flask, Vitriol, vCalc, Crucible, and Nomad (please!) to do my best impression of Shark Fish. On the other hand, while our ability to get a 1-4 victory (or 1-3 or even 1-2 thanks to old vKat) is harder than before, I think you can still play a surprisingly brawly Alchs lineup with, for example, Smoke, Flask, pick-a-Katalyst, Venin, Mercury, and one of Crucible, oCalc, or Compound.

As a general rule, both captains want to get into the enemy team quick now. This is foreign territory for you Smoke fans, but it’s a playstyle I personally enjoy and think is good for the game. We’re not a particularly tough guild, so we have to score our VPs quickly before we get caught in the scrum for too long, but I think we have the tools to do that.

The condition game has been ramped up to 11 and it’s a ton of fun, although I’m sure our opponents won’t enjoy most of their models being on fire. Being able to spend those conditions for additional actions, plus Beaker Keeper, on top of being a 13 base INF guild means we have action economy on our side against any other guild I can think of, except maybe Hunters with triple Blessing. I think this is a strong advantage that isn’t immediately apparent, although we won’t know for sure until the meta at large settles into this season.

One thing I didn’t mention yet is that all of our fighting models (and some of our ball-playing models) now have a momentous 2 damage result somewhere on column 2 or 3 (oKat’s is on 4 but his TAC is high, and Mercury’s is disguised as a Guild Ball result). This helps a ton in a guild that was generally low on momentum before. This is on top of all the momentum our opponents will be spending to clear their conditions. I hardly ever had momentum to spare in season 3, but we should have some to play around with now.

Overall, I think the Alchemists in season 4 are a stronger, more flexible guild, and are more fun to play as and against. I really like the redesign, and I think any of you reading this will too once you get them on the table. Welcome to the new age of science.

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