cheddercaveman

Came up with an idea to do this while I was talking about some things on Discord. I want to document what I think the state of each hero is and possible tweaks that I think each hero might need to make them more compelling. These are just my thoughts on each hero, so people will obviously see things differently than I do and that's ok.

Defenders

Doenrakkar - He got some small buffs in patch 10, but really it just solidifies that if you can get him levels he might just never die. That said his strengths and weaknesses have basically never changed. Players do need to be thoughtful on when they Stoneform and when they do not, its definitely not always the right play. Some players maybe need to be looking at bringing him into the game a bit more.

Marcus - Apparently the quintessential Defender for people to be taking. He has strong CC (easy knockdown), ways to protect friendly models, and is pretty tanky in his own right. Stats show that he's the most taken model by a significant margin. Statistically basically every game of Judgement involves a Marcus. Is he broken or too strong? I'm inclined to say no, and I don't recommend any changes for him. I'm sort of in the situation where I think that people maybe need to branch out in how they're playing, but Marcus (and Sharn who's next on the list) both are very forgiving models.

The only thing that maybe sticks out to me to rein in his popularity would be a bit more counter play with RES (in particular RES 2). The difference between RES 1 and RES 2 in the game can be pretty massive. I'll elaborate on this more with Sharn.

Sharn - At the time of this writing we see Sharn included in only about a dozen less games than Marcus, meaning that statistically she's included in almost every game of Judgement as well. Sharn seems fine, she's going to be a bit more brawly than Marcus, but also a bit more survivable since she ignores the first point of RES reduction. I do still think that Hammer Smash should be reduced from 6" to 4" but otherwise I don't know that she's really in such a strong place that a lot of nerfs are required. What I will say is that even more than Marcus that I think the game may need more things that punish her RES situation because she's just a bit too forgiving perhaps.

Skoll - I think he's in a fine place, I still think his level 1 fate ability does too much damage, but what can you do. He's similar to Skye in that you can't just shove him into the enemy or you'll be disappointed. Bulwark is still strong. I haven't really felt a draw to go Mystic head in a long while now which is mostly fine given how much of a NPE it felt like in the past. I do find it odd that the level 3 ability on the warrior side is called Mystic Shield. I think there's room for some re-work of his levels to give the Mystic side a bit more love without it feeling overly NPE perhaps, at the moment though I'd say Warrior head feels more auto-select than Isabel's Holy which is not something I expected to feel.

Skye - Has been hard for me to want to get him back into lists, and the small nerf to how Diversion works definitely didn't help me out any. Now, we have had it indicated that Skye is due for some buffs as a result of this and his in general not seeing much play. With only 6 Defenders and frequently 2 in every list, I do think that we need him to be viable to provide variety. I think he's very close to being fine to play, but right now I just haven't been able to find the right list. Without really adding any new rules, what I think I want to see is more ability for him to sustain and/or more to support his mobility. To that end I'd be testing 1S for Serpent Strike and 1F (instead of 1A+1F) for Heroic Stand. These give him a bit more control on the map or allow him to continue to be maneuverable. 

Thrommel - Personally, I think that I should consider spending some time playing him. Mostly I have found that his 2A hammer attack can be pretty limiting in what I'm able to do with him at times, but it can also just be absolutely punishing. I do think that people focus way too much on having to get him to level 3 and that's why we don't see him nearly as often as Marcus for instance. I have a list that I maybe want to do some testing with to see if I do like him still. I think that he's dialed right in the spot that he needs to be though after a series of buffs through patches previous to patch 10.

Aggressors

Allandir - I think the nerfing of his crit from 4 to 5 has put him into a position where he needs to be. Still a very strong inclusion in a list, and being able to do AOE damage is pretty strong. He's not pushing out the other ranged-type aggressors from being viable any more though like it felt he was before. Definitely can't see a strong reason to buff or nerf here.

Brok - Only small changes realistically in Patch 10, but I think they were appropriate. We're definitely now seeing folks putting more Brok in there list and he's delivering. I'm happy with where he is now, I think all of his abilities see some time and he's definitely in great place right now.

Fazeal - One of the biggest winners of Patch 10 in my opinion and it was maybe the smallest change to move him to AGI  4. I've felt like now there are more choices in the "anchor" aggressor spot with this change and I think he's been doing well. Wouldn't at this time make any changes one way or the other. I do think I want to see maybe if Pestilence gets used a bit more, but overall feels to me that he's in a strong but not too strong place. I do have more to say about Undead though that will come in a follow-up.

Istariel - I had thought when I saw Zhim that Istariel was just going to fade into irrelevance. Then I started playing her, and honestly I think that she's the model that you can pretty much justify in any list you want. Built-in armor shredder can be strong, and just get her a Ring of Power and let her do her thing.

Kogan - I'm sort of surprised to see his win-rate being so high because many of my games against Kogan he's just turned into a punching bag for me. AGI 3 means that I'm usually getting whatever I need from the dice even without bringing a bunch of modifiers for it, and 1-2 more HP than other models isn't going to be enough to save him. I do think that he lives in a role where he's sort of grouped with Fazeal, Thorgar and Brok for your kind of "anchor" aggressor, where he has things that he can do without spending a lot of resources. On the other hand, I personally still feel like if you're not trying to get value out of the gun you should probably just find another model for your list to play because I'm of the opinion that he's solidly the worst melee aggressor if you're playing him only that way.

Nephenee - Interesting to see how she's seen by the community, and in general I see why. RES can be quite frustrating to her, she needs dice to make a lot of things work too. That said, she can definitely be a slippery one. I don't think that I'm at a place where I'd suggest changes, but I do think you need to pick a list with a plan for her. I do thing some of the things that I mention about being reliant on combat maneuvers does apply to her as well.

Rakkir - Not sure how I feel about Rakkir right now. I do think that he's going to come into more prominence with the release of Cradol right around the corner. That said, he can really feel like he has a hard time doing what you want him to do at times. He's extremely reliant on getting combat maneuvers most of the time which are already not that easy to get statistically while doing damage and there is a lot of Jaeger, Xyvera and Bracers of Disruption out there right now, not to mention Saiyin and Kvarto can both present a problem. I'm not sure that I'm looking for buffs here, but some of my recent play of Rakkir did highlight a few of these problems for me.

Thorgar - Finally after Patch 10 I feel like the dominance of Thorgar in the aggressor spot has been diminished to the point that I think he's in a good place! Thorgar hasn't seen any changes for a while, but I think Brok and Fazeal comign into their own finally has put this sort of role in a place where more than one model can fit the role he's intended, or you can have a list with redundancy.

Viktor - Where did this guy go? Feels like a resurgence from Istariel and the emergence of Zhim have maybe taken his thunder away. There are also other heroes now that can summon some powerful things, so maybe this little guy just isn't feeling the same amount of love. Aside from the fact that I've always found Hex incredibly hard to get use out of for what to me is a very cool ability, I think that Viktor probably just needs some people to get back to playing him.

Zaffen - Currently sitting at a very low win-rate at the time I'm writing this. I've played a bit of Zaffen lately too, and I definitely did see how he was a strong option for me to play with. He has a lot of utility and can definitely pump out some damage. He is somewhat "stuck" in a position though if you want to get him to work, too far forward and he's going to be on the receiving end of a dive from your opponents, too far backward and he can't influence the game. Perhaps he's too beholden on bringing models like Styx and/or Kvarto (who is right next to him toward the bottom of the win rate)?

Zhim'gigrak - Once heralded as the best ranged aggressor in the game he has definitely chilled (heh) out since his rules debut. We still haven't seen the physical model come out, so I do think we'll see some maturation in his abilities. I don't think that he's in need of buffs nor nerfs, or even really any changes at all. I still think that in the right list that he'll definitely excel, but isn't a model that you can just drop into any list. I am going to include a catch-all for Undead in another portion of this thread.

Zhonyja - She hasn't changed in several patches, I don't think she needs to. She's the right tool for many lists. I do think that people put too much emphasis on her needing to spend fate for Death's Toll however. She can go an entire game not spending that fate and she's going to perform still better frequent than Thorgar, Fazeal, Brok or Kogan who are the other models that she's often competing for a spot with.

Hybrids

Bale / Sarna - Initially when they came out they were wrecking everything it felt like. One tiny tweak and they seem to be in the place they need to be. They've maybe dropped off even a bit too much. I do think they sort of go into the grouping of 1" melee models I rarely want more than one of in my list, which means they're competing with Rakkir, Nephenee and Piper. They're another release that I don't think you can just drop into a list and hope for the best, you need a plan for them.

Barnascus - I feel like he's pretty much where he should be, but I never really get him into games. I do still sort of feel like his levels don't really "fit" him thematically, even though the level 3 does actually have some potential for being pretty strong. Like, why is a dude in a tank suddenly steady at level 2? and why does a pyromaniac in a flame thrower tank suddenly have something called a lightning shield? I think that he does bring a bunch of tools to a list and can possibly bring some decent redundancy with models like Thrommel or Marcus for Knockdown and Istarial or Allandir for putting fire out there. I don't think he's a model anyone really has spent enough time with to know when to go range vs melee and so forth either, but could have a lot of promise. Only changes here are wanted for identity consistency rather than power level.

Isabel - She's still pretty new to the game, so time will tell how she's going to go. I do think that she's in a strong place where you can have her shift between needing to be one of your models that is getting into melee or she can be playing a bit more of a tankier role between her heals and good combination of AGI/RES. Her levels are pretty impactful though in many ways and something that you'll want to pay attention to. I will say that until I watched a game where it ran the table I thought that her Retribution side didn't have a lot of merit, and now I'm thinking that its actually one of the strongest parts of her kit potentially. The only real concern that I have is if she's going to push out some of the other sort of off-tank type characters because she's maybe a little too good at a few too many things.

Jaeger - Overrated. I was tempted to stop there, but you know. Honestly, Jaeger kind of does everything. Has an AGI/SPD debuff, has a good ranged attack, soul strip which is unique to him (as a manuever), does well against monsters, and he's quite fast. You'll rarely feel like a list couldn't have him, but I do think too many people are playing him. I personally would still like to see the +1S portion of Retarius dropped as I think its a bit too much and its very harsh against a lot of Aggressors in a way that I don't think the game needs to be punishing more right now for a model that's already doing so many other things.

Kvarto - I would say that this guy has seen a lot of drop off in the last couple of patches, and I think that its reasonably easy to see some reasons for that. Telekinesis will always be a strong ability, but I think that we see people consider him when they are looking at Thrommel and/or Zaffen and otherwise he just feels like he's not getting any table time. I definitely have a couple of things with him that I think I see as making him hard to fit into lists. The biggest one I think is that Isabel off the bat has +1 MEL and the +1 RES that Kvarto doesn't get or needs a level to get. I would suggest that he does feel like he should be good when you can get use out of Telekinesis and/or Mind Control, but that requires him to bogart the fate or have a strong Mind Control target. He's also dependent on level 2 just to feel like he's tanky enough to be in the scrum or even using Optic Blast.

In particular, I think that there are two places that need to be looked at with Kvarto. First, Hold Monster feels like its basically dead space on his card. I pretty literally have never seen this ability used nor thought that it was a good idea. After that his bonus at level 3 I think needs to be looked at. Conceptually I do sort of like the idea of +1 (or +2) damage, but its too hard to pull off and doesn't feel like a reward for him getting to level 3. I think that it would actually be a very intriguing ability for him to have if he had it at level one in place of Hold Monster, but it might be too strong there. Maybe somehow shift some of the level 2 tech to level 1 and make it level 2? Not entirely sure, but I think some of these would make me feel better about him. Maybe level 3 could be TK not costing Fate ala Thorgar?

Piper - This guy, every time I look at him I see a ton of things that he can do. He has the longest melee threat in the game. He can be incredibly frustrating for an opponent to take down between Duplicate Self and Enhance Self. He can ramp up to some pretty solid damage numbers if you can get Backstab to go off. Mage Hand being able to push models can make a big difference for things like shrines, monsters, etc.  That all said ... he never shows up in lists it seems like.

Some models are going to have a harder time finding a place in lists I think, but this guy maybe its a bit too hard? I honestly think that his rules are in a good place, I suppose an argument for making Viper Venom something that either didn't require damage or was only 1S might be a tweak, but I'm not sure its needed. I think I would be happy to see Enhance Self improve his ability to Soul Harvest again which would also help him find places in lists. In general though I think for Piper its more a matter that he's fine how he is, just not really being explored right now.

Supports

Bastian - Heroic Ballad is still amazing, I think I still some times find him hard to put into lists because either he might not do enough or he might get banned. I think that he can be absolutely amazing with levels, even though I'm concerned that Null Stone is too strong into his level 2. Level 3 is amazing, but either of those levels is hard to get to unless he's operating as your soul gazer.

Cradol - Essentially she hasn't been released yet, so I'm not really going to do a ton of analysis here on her until she's been on the table more and her 1.0 is confirmed and locked in. I think she's going to have an impact, and we're starting to see Undead finally feel like they're more meaningfully in the game. Not sure she should be a Support given her DPS, but that's not a huge deal. I am going to include a catch-all for Undead in another portion of this thread.

Haksa - No recent changes, but really no reason that any have been needed. I think if you think you'll have fate available Equilibrium is still just amazing. If you can sit in an area too he's going to be able to provide a lot of healing to a warband for very little investment. If you need to move around a lot it can be harder.

Gendris - Still feels like my favorite 3" melee, but I need more table time with her. She has a strong win-rate right now, and I think that it makes a lot of sense. I haven't seen her getting too much Hold Person since it moved to level 3, and I haven't seen a ton of Terra summoning yet, but I think both are placed well. Tons of value on Find a Path as well as her going damage I think. I need more games here, but I think that she's in a great place right now.

Loribela - Simultaneously over-rated and under-rated. Strange statement, I know. I don't think she really needed the buff to do more healing with her levels, but I do think its ok as well. I hear a LOT of hype over her Dwarven Ale ability, and if players are clumping up you can definitely spread a lot of damage to them. If you can only get a single model though 3 damage for a 1A+1F is not nearly worth it unless positioning. It feels like too that people don't realize where the token maybe can be placed, but if your 2" melee model is b2b with something (or any model and a shrine) the ale won't kick them off of it.

That said, she definitely can be strong when played well and looking for her spots. I personally think though that you want to really look for her level 2 and you want to have Minotaurs and/or other Dwarfs. I don't think you need 7 models of only those two races, but for her to really feel like she's in the right list I think you at least want 1-2 others when you arrive on the table to go with her. Given that there are 10 additional options there I think there are plenty of possibilities.

Styx - I played Styx a bit during one of the recent online tournaments and I do feel like he has a lot of things that he can offer. I think a lot of them have been overshadowed since the release of Sharn though, because bad positioning with Styx is going to be punished severely. He does have a lot of things to offer, his attacks are not anything to sleep on, especially if you're fortunate enough for them to get a Stun/Curse out there. Nullify is incredibly hard to quantify the value of, but can definitely be a big deal in some games. That said, he often still gets overlooked in lists I think because if you're not moving slow models around it feels like he maybe doesn't have a role. I think I'd like to see him get looked at maybe for some small tweaks to further give strong reasons to play him over Sharn.

Soulgazers

Kruul - Two patches ago this guy had an amazing win rate and was being played by everyone. Since then he's definitely dropped off the radar more than a bit. I believe at the time I'm typing this that he might have the lowest win rate in 5s. Can't say that I recommend any changes to him though, I think everything is balanced pretty well. He does certainly want to be sitting on a soul though to play his aggressive game and that's not always going to work out, might account for less wins.

Saiyin - I don't really think she's full come into her own after some tweaks with this patch yet. Sleep is actually a good sleeper (see what I did there) ability that I think some players are going to come around to find has a lot more power than they thought. She's definitely the most consistent, but standard sort of soul gazer. The more value her healing and other support abilities can get the better she will be. Also, her MAG attack being clarified that she doesn't lose a die to the model engaging her is a big deal and glad to see it. I sort of wish that her level 1 fate ability was a bit more useable, but that's ok too. More people should play Saiyin.

Svetlana - High win rate and play rate right now, even though I do think that I'd say she's over-rated right now. Lets not confuse over-rated with bad though. Being able to pick up souls is always good, and being RES 2 against melee is always going to make it so you can position safely. One of the things that I think does go as a miss though is that its quite easy for her to be in a situation where you can make it so she doesn't do anything. Unfortunate soul on the far side? Going second? And other situations too. However, if you let Svetlana play her game, especially on a single soulpit map, you're going to have a rough game.

Xyvera - As of this writing she's the highest win-rate in the game. I think that her changes back in patch I think it was 8 have put her into a much better place. Her levels make a lot of sense still, her level 1 is always going to be impactful if played well. Increase in two soulgazer list composition I think too has put her into a place where she's sort of getting the best game for her. Further, her changes allow for another model that can pick up two souls in an activation as well as another model that can get the soul that's farther out. Her seeing more table I do think is potentially hardful for things relying on combat maneuvers because her level 2 actually can be brutal.

Zaron - Is he subtly the best model in the game? I have times that I think he might be. Biggest reason for this is that he does nearly everything. His Eldritch Blast going to range 8" means that he's nearly as good of an aggressor as Istariel, Allandir, Viktor and so on. He just lacks a fate ability to help with that damage, but the trade off is that he can soul harvest really well. Also his little skeletons can gang-up, move things around with pushes, and for good measure do damage.

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cheddercaveman
Undead

So, I wanted to take a minute to have a discussion particularly on Undead as more of their models are coming out. I think one rising concern that I am having is that there is seemingly a lot of notion that lists can't contain more than one undead model. Now, there are 7 different races, so I want to be clear that I don't think the direction the game should go is promoting singular race as the way to play the game at all. However, I look and if you look at for instance Cradol + Fazeal you could see how Fazeal should work as a good melee partner for her, especially when you factor in something like Poison+Pestilence. Zhim's Frost should pair well with either of the melee Undead models too. I haven't played those combinations myself to say for sure you could or for sure it would be too much of a detriment, but I do know from players discussing that the sentiment is leaning in the direction that its non-viable.

IF this continues to be the sentiment, especially as Cradol releases soon and we've already heard rumblings of an Undead Defender that's somewhere in playtesting, then I think there will need to be something that is addressed. Here's an example of a list that I saw recently that is good, has a direction, and features models a lot of people would like: Doenrakkar / Thrommel / Brok / Kogan / Loribela / Gendris / Svetlana. That list features only Minotaurs and Dwarfs, centers around Loribela a little bit but can play with out her, and presents a particular approach to the game. People have show to like playing things like this, and like these models etc.

Some of the BEST models coming out right now are the Undead models, and someone looking to get into the game is maybe going to see Cradol, Zhim and Fazeal and think to themselves that they really want to get into the game to play those models, maybe along side something like Zaron as well. Then when they start to get into the game, or even worse maybe after they have bought in with 2 or 3 of those, they learn that they can't really play them together. That has a lot of potential to be a disincentive for the game for some people.

What are some solutions?

One that has been suggested by the dev team has involved some kind of "soul cage" type artefact that would allow the Undead to actually retain a soul. I think that this would certainly shore up a little bit of the issues. The other issue that arises from Undead is being able to contest Shrines. I'm not sure if or what a "fix" for this might be either. Maybe there doesn't need to be? The final piece that I've heard is that if there are no eligible models for a soul to go to on a kill that it would just be automatically banked, or maybe that the Effigy is considered an eligible model for the soul to go to if its the closest (which it would be if there are no non-undead left so it still works as above).

Ultimately, do I think we're to the point that a major change needs to happen? No. Is this something that I am sort of watching to see if maybe my assessment is wrong or if I might start to feel more strongly about this problem? Yes.
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