Thursday, 21 August 2014

Doin' the Robot...and little else...with Ramos

Yeah, I’m way behind on my blogging. I’m just gonna shoot these out ASAP and see what happens. ;)

So the Rainbow Challenge continues, this time with the resident Arcanist summoner – Ramos! The official leader of both the M&SU and Arcanist movement was one of those Masters that has never interested me in either edition. I never liked his static playstyle in the previous edition and while his mobility issues were fixed in M2E, all he really seems to do is summon spiders. Mind you, I felt exactly the same way about Rasputina and as it turned out, she was much more entertaining than I thought she’d be. So will the new Ramos sway my opinion of him in the same way? I guess we’ll see.

For this game I was facing regular foil Chris (aka Kadeton) using Hamelin.

Apologies for the relative lack of pics today. At the time of posting I'm still in the US so I'll hopefully update with more pics of my Ramos crew once I'm home!

The Paint Job

It was actually pretty easy to pull a Ramos crew together. I already had Joss and some Steam Arachnids, and I’d been gifted Howard Langston and yet more Arachnids by the awesome Sean Overton during the November Miniature exchange on the “Wyrd Place” Facebook group. I was more interested in trying a Malifaux Child with Ramos than the Brass Arachnid (I should note this is before the Malifaux Child errata!), so that really just left the Electrical Creation, a few more Arachnids and Ramos himself to paint.

Big thanks to Sean for providing these - it made getting a Ramos together much easier! 

The basic paint scheme for Ramos was pretty ordinary – white and blue for the most part. But that (plus orange) seems to have become my primary Arcanist-Construct colour scheme so I just stuck with it. Ramos turned out well enough, but I’m particularly happy with the chipped paint effect I managed for my spiders and electrical creation. Given half the chance you can expect to see more of that in future crews! ;)

The Game

50SS, Flank Deployment
Strategy: Turf War
- Line in the Sand
- Breakthrough
- Distract
- Bodyguard
- Plant Evidence

The List

- Bleeding Edge Tech
- Electric Summoning
- Combat Mechanic
Howard Langston
- Imbued Energies
- Imbued Energies
- Open Current
Malifaux Child
Metal Gamin
Electrical Creation

So Joss was my scrap generator, the Electrical Creation was a cheap scrap counter to start the spider summoning with and the Malifaux Child was there to help summon yet more spiders (again, note that this game was before the errata – the Malifaux Child can’t summon spiders any more). With his speed and killing power I decided on Howard Langston as my fast (if expensive) flanking model. After that I threw in Johan (who seems an obvious choice in an M&SU crew), plus the Metal Gamin for some added resilience.

The schemes I chose were Line in the Sand and Bodyguard on Howard Langston. Despite Hamelin’s potential for scheme marker removal, the first seemed like a good idea with all the spiders Ramos could generate. As for Bodyguarding Howard, I planned to use him as a heavy flanker of sorts so I figured he’d be safe from the worst Chris might throw his way.

Fresh from evaporating Howard, Killjoy prepares to face the wrath of Joss & Hans.

The Result

For this game Chris went for a Hamelin crew with the usual key pieces (Nix, Rats, Obedient Wretch), plus Taelor and Killjoy to provide some killing power – something that Hamelin struggles with if he doesn’t get his Blighted condition going. Over the course of the game, Killjoy sacrificed himself to take out Howard while Taelor eventually moved to take on Ramos. Ramos survived the encounter thanks to his healing from Opportunist and Pushing out of harm via Repulsion. In the meantime, Ramos killed Nix, summoned many Spiders and Electrical Creations, then blew more than a few up using uncontrolled detonation. On the whole the game went fairly well for Ramos but despite getting full points for Turf War and Line in the Sand, my bodyguard (Howard) had died an early death so I lost the game, with Chris having scored the full 10VP from Distract and Plant Evidence.

Post-game Thoughts

Okay, so let’s get straight to the meat of the issue here – Ramos’s Summoning. In this game and even ignoring what I was doing with the Malifaux Child (who netted me about one spider per turn), Ramos was able to summon a lot of Spiders, and more than a few Electrical Creations. My problem with it is that with a few exceptions (more on that later), this was all he did. Just about every other option on his card tended to pale in comparison to just bringing out more spiders. Not only that, but summoning those spiders was very resource intensive with its tendency to suck up all Ramos’s soulstones and mid-to-high tomes in his hand. This left me with a feeling that not only was Ramos reliant on having tomes on hand, but he was leaving very few decent cards for the rest of the crew to cheat with. If given another chance I think I’d probably avoid going overboard on the summoning and instead try him in a more directly supportive role, using Combat Mechanic and Arcing Screen to help his crew along. He could (and probably should) still summon spiders of course, but he’d at least feel a bit less flat than he did in this game.

The only other trick I used with Ramos was Uncontrolled Detonation to blow up his own models. Combined with the Spiders and Electrical Creation’s own innate ability to detonate themselves for irresistible damage, I actually enjoyed this aspect of Ramos. The only problem is that like the summoning, they all required Tomes which of course made Ramos even more resource intensive. It was a cool trick to have, but ultimately it didn’t achieve anything beyond helping me to kill Nix in a single activation (which I’ll admit was very handy, of course!).

Regarding the spiders (well, “Steam Arachnids”), they proved to be a pain for my opponent to remove but unless they were blowing themselves up, they didn’t really deal out much damage themselves. Oh, they did kill a few rats, but what can’t kill a rat? ;) Anyway at best they seem to be a decent way of holding up the enemy and dropping their Df to make them easier to kill for my chunkier crew members. They did alright at this, but it also made it very easy for Chris to achieve Distract (yes, even with me regularly blowing them up!). In fact with me detonating them half the time they didn’t manage to prevent Plant Evidence either. That latter part is arguably my fault. I’ll readily admit that I got carried away with the exploding spiders so I can’t blame the crew for that!

Johan is the bomb. He hits like a tank with his Relic Hammer, offered some nice M&SU synergy and most importantly, has condition removal. That last part really helps against any crew that utilises conditions (like Hamelin). But even if I wasn’t facing such a crew, I still would have appreciated Johan’s presence in an M&SU crew like Ramos’s.

I’ve talked about Joss before, and he remains as good as he’s always been. He’s not easy to kill and has some great killing power himself. In fact, Open Current certainly helped me keep the Rat horde under control throughout the game. He’s a little slow, but that is helped a little by Imbued Energies (arguably one of the best upgrades in the game) and his trigger-ignoring attacks make him a great answer to a lot of models that rely on defensive triggers to survive.

Finally, I must admit I was a bit disappointed when Killjoy took out Howard Langston before he got a chance to do anything – I was looking forward to using him!

Final Impression

So overall then, I have to admit I did not enjoy playing Ramos. For me it comes down to how focused he is on doing one thing (summoning), to the point where everything else felt like I’d be underutilising him. Summoning is strong and while I enjoyed that aspect of other Masters (specifically Kirai), I’d much prefer that it was a secondary aspect of the crew, not the only thing my Master does all game. Like I said before, perhaps this was my fault – should I have let up on the spider summoning and focussed more on his support tricks? I’d be curious to know if people feel I should have used him differently and if so, how. But for now at least, Ramos is sadly relegated to the bottom of my imaginary “Masters I like” list, right along side Lady Justice, Collodi and (at least until I play him) Von Schill.

Until next time,