It’s Wednesday, and that means that we’re back today with more Season 3 character reveals! Last time we looked at Midas, the egotistical captain of the Alchemist’s Guild – if you missed him, check it out here. This time, we’re going to discuss another of the most notorious captains from the Guild Ball universe – Blackheart, the ruthless leader of the Union. Like Midas, Blackheart is one of the most popular players that coaches take to the field, and he has also seen some of the most dramatic changes. As with Midas, we’re going to highlight what’s new for the Pirate King, and talk about some of the thinking and design concepts behind the changes. So, let’s not waste any more time!
Much like Midas, when we approached Blackheart, and considered how that we might change him going forward into Season 3, the biggest challenge was striking the right balance with Blackheart against other players in the Guild (or Union, in this case!). In Seasons 1 and 2, Blackheart was a powerful piece that could really turn up the damage for other Union models, thanks to his Commanding Aura ability, especially when coupled with bonuses from abilities such as Tooled Up, Bag of Coffers, or Anatomical Precision. Whilst that play style was certainly one we didn’t want to take away from Union players, it was something which felt better suited to Veteran Rage, given his bloody rise up through the ranks. Rather than having two players that were very similar then, we decided that in Season 3, we could look at a slight retooling for Blackheart, to allow him to lead with more versatility.
The most obvious changes to Blackheart, and as we discussed above, are his updated Character Plays. Firstly, we’re sure that you’ve noticed that he kept Misdirection – although, as a Character Play, there are some differences! To begin with, Misdirection now only costs 2 Influence to use rather than the 4 previously, making it a lot less prohibitive to use, and much better at allowing Union coaches to distribute Influence to players on the fly, as the turn continues on – more about that in a moment! The other change to this ability, is that it is now in the new OPT column, meaning that it can only be used Once Per Turn. We wanted Misdirection to be a more accessible, fun, and powerful tool for the player, by reducing the cost - but not an overpowering change, as it could have become if it was allowed multiple times per turn at 2 Influence! Next up is Blackheart’s new signature Character Play, On My Mark, which allows for a model within 6” to immediately make a Pass without spending Influence. Perfect for when a model unexpectedly has the ball snap to them, or gains possession after a successful Tackle but doesn’t quite have the Influence left to Pass the ball on, On My Mark is designed as a great accompaniment to Blackheart’s other abilities. Coupled with Misdirection, Blackheart can Pass the ball to a model that was out of position at the start of the turn and hasn’t been marked, and allocate them Influence to allow them to either Pass the ball on themselves, or even take that all-important Shot. Consider that, plus the extra 2” Dodge from Strike from the Shadows, and now you’re really talking! Also note that On My Mark isn’t a once per turn play, so if you wanted, you can really move the ball around the pitch, inside of one activation…
Finally, although we wanted to tone down Blackheart’s ability to increase his own, and his teammates fighting prowess, we didn’t want to remove it completely. Blackheart has now gained Butchery, which allows him to acutely focus that damage buff onto one model specifically, directing his teammates to eliminate the most important threat, or simply increase his own damage output. Looking his Playbook, you’ll no doubt notice that while his non-momentous 2 DMG result has moved up one hit, he has also gained a momentous 1 DMG and 2” Dodge result on two hits. This should make it much easier for you to generate momentum and damage at the same time, as well as triggering what we really feel is the focus of this character – unorthodox and unpredictable movement, and the ability to extend that to the other models in his team. What makes Blackheart difficult to face is that he can easily make models on his team that were not relevant at the start of the turn into dangerous lynchpins for Passing, give them an unexpected Dodge away from the opposition, or give them a crucial Attack; as well as being extremely mobile himself. Despite a slight MOV reduction, in addition to his momentous 1” Dodge on one hit, and momentous 2” Dodge on two hits, and a 2” Dodge from his Legendary Play, Blackheart also retains Shadow Like, meaning that he has another 2”Dodge up his sleeve!
Blackheart has come into his own in Season 3, and become a model with a lot more versatility when compared to his previous incarnation. Rather than marching into the middle of the pitch to give out his Commanding Aura buff, now, Blackheart can still give out extra damage, but also act as more of a leader for the rest of his team, and direct a greater extent of the action. Of course, he’s just as survivable as ever at ARM 2, meaning you won’t have to worry about him being taken out first.
How will the changes to Midas and Blackheart affect how you play your teams? Let us know by heading over to our forums at Steamforged.com, where you can discuss them with your fellow coaches! We’ll be back on Friday, with more SteamCon news!