I'm going to start with a bit of analysis on the current version (0.9 at the time of this post) of the damage potential of Zhim'gigrak. However, I welcome all manner of analysis and discussion on his current state in this thread as well. I figure it will be a good place for some of the ideas for him and where he fits to be discussed.
So, his damage. First lets do some analysis of what he has that is similar to the rest of the game:
Basic Attack Damage - 2/3/4
This is a damage track that is so common in the game that I would call it basically the default. That gets a bit different when you start to look at it being from range rather than in melee though, because the more range you have on the attack the better the potential you'll get 3 of them in an activation rather than 2 like you often get from melee. So, to keep things sort of from getting carried away given how many heroes have that damage layout, I'm going to stick to the heroes that have an 8" MAG attack to do some comparison, so we're looking at:
I'm going to do sort of some analysis of the differences here and we'll see where it shakes out. For what its worth, I'm on a bit of a journey of discovery myself, I have some theories as I'm typing this, but I'm just looking to see what I learn from it too.
This one is interesting given that its the same being at a different point in the timeline of the material plane. That said, lets see what they do differently. Zaron's damage output comes from making basic attacks, skeletons charging, and skeletons with Explode at level 2 making it a bit difficult to factor for. In a given turn though, if we can compare to level 2, Zaron could put down 2/3/4 damage from his MAG 7 attack twice, then summon a skeleton who charges and could do 1/2/3, followed by an explode of 2 which is generally hard to get away from, but can be manipulated some. To short hand it I think we can factor a single turn of output potential to be something like: 2/3/4 * 2 + 3/4/5 for Zaron. Of course being a soul gazer, Zaron is bringing some other factors to consider as well and I would contend has the most support of a list of any of the 4 models we're discussing.
Now we're getting spicy! Viktor of course starts at MAG 7 as do all of the comparison points we're talking about, but also has the potential to be MAG 8 or even MAG 9 on some turns depending on the board state, list and so forth. If he's in turret mode, just like Zaron, he's going to be putting down just a bit more output due to the higher MAG stat, but its still capped at 4 damage each time. However, he has the potential to summon Dor'gokkan, at which point (assuming no souls on the target) he can add in another 2/3/4 * 2 attacks usually at minimum to a maximum of getting Dor'gokkan 2 melee attacks which would be 3/4/6. There are of course costs to putting Dor'gokkan in play of needing to spend a lot of fate, potentially giving the opponent fate, taking damage, etc. However, we're seeing 2/3/4 * 4 at an average of MAG 8 here sort of as the minimum, which is definitely not too shabby. Worth mention, that technically at level 3, Viktor could be getting off Hex to significantly increase the amount of damage happening to a Cursed model. Having recently played a lot of Viktor, I've basically never gotten this to go off.
I'll be the first to admit that my first instinct was to say that Zhim had invalidated Istariel entirely. After some more analysis and some game play I definitely have changed my tune on this, they're definitely different in what they do. So, again, 2/3/4 for damage to start the comparison as mentioned, Istariel is only MAG 7 with no way to make it better on her own though, so she's trailing behind there. That said, she does bring into the conversation for the first time the discussion of RES. Neither Viktor nor Zaron have any way to work around RES of the opposing model, neither of them do True Damage and neither reduce RES for attacks. Istariel as a basic rule ignores a single point of RES, given that there are only 4 models that automatically can go above that, it means that she's consistently doing that 2/3/4 at worse. She's also bringing the best condition of all of these models, because Burning adds in another 3 damage (or a fate expenditure) and enables her fate ability. Fate ability is throwing another d3+2 true damage on models that are on fire from 8" away, which more often is only going to be a singular model, but does have the potential for more depending on how the turn order resolves and what other models you've brought. So, we're looking at something like 2/3/4 *3 + d3+2 + 3 (fire) potential damage and from what is generally a safer distance. One more caveat being that at level 3 she's potentially a 3/4/5 damage if someone already is on fire or she gets them on fire with the first attack the next ones are.
Now that we've looked at all of the sort of "competition" I think that we need to analyze how the contender stands up. First, of course that same damage track, but Zhim is coming in at MAG 8 by default, which I would say gives him the accuracy edge over all three. Viktor can be equal or better, but won't do so consistently. Next, so Zhim puts down the 2/3/4, but also can get the +1 damage and Frost if he can get the manuever off, so looking at a potential grid of 3/4/5 essentially. Then IF he manipulated himself into being within 4" of enemy models to start with, he can add in the Frost condition to make the 3/4/5 more likely as well as getting another 3 damage out there. This puts him in a lot more danger than the rest of the models though because of where he has to stand to do that. We would be remiss if we didn't discuss the level 2 ability as well, because it allows the potential of making 2 additional attacks, though against other models, but basically putting other potential for 3/4/5 out there. I would generally analyze Zhim as doing a bit less damage than Istariel most of the time, but also providing more utility to your team than she does via Frost. Situationally though, he could end up out performing her in turns.
Since someone mentioned this on discord, I thought I would factor for it here, maximum potential damage in a turn:
Viktor: 20 (24 w/ Hex)
Keep in mind, I would call most of these numbers "living the dream".