Tier 4 Playtest: Offensive vs Defensive

Tarsinion

New member
I'm greatly enjoying Emberwind's tactical combat system. To get a better understanding of the game, I tried to come up with the most powerful party of four different Tier 4 Heroes that I could.

I ended up with: Tactician, Ardent, Invoker and Archer.

The Ardent and Invoker can do enormous amounts of damage together (up to 1000 per Round, mainly with Chains of Calamity/Recurring Nightmare + Fey Kiss, redistributing overkill damage with Transference), while the Tactician provides them with extra Action Points, and the Archer can cancel the most dangerous Special Abilities and take out Foes at greater range. (While a crit Rogue can have a higher theoretical damage output of up to 720/round, the build I looked at takes too long to get going, with one full round of self-buffing and a 40% chance of not critting in round two, is too narrow and has zero flexibility or additional utility.)

To test this group, I chose the following selection of Foes that seemed to provide a good challenge: 5 Vinestones, 1 Landcaster Stag, 1 Thrasherbeast and 1 Shadeseer. The fight was over in 3 Rounds (roughly, the 1st Round for the Grunts, the 2nd for Awakened and Elite, and the 3rd for the Boss). (Note that in all fights I used the A.I. Hex Grid system; with a Storyteller controlling the Foes, things would go much worse for the Heroes.)

Before concluding that maximizing damage output was the best strategy, I tried out a group specialized in healing, defense and damage over time (poison).

I chose: Druid (healer), Spiritualist (Soul Bind), Rogue and Archer.

Against the same foes, the fight took longer (7 rounds), but felt much safer, with the Heroes in nearly total control of their HP totals (this team was more about HP than AP management). The very cool climax was the Rogue accepting 30 damage (having failed his Focus check for Mindcensor) to cancel all three of the Shadeseer's abilities with Toxic Shock and thereby killing it.

To compare the two teams further, I decided to pit them against a group of Foes they are clearly not meant to be able to defeat: 5 Vinestones, 3 Landcaster Stags, 3 Thrasherbeasts, and 3 Shadeseers. The defensive team's Spiritualist died at the end of Round 5 (attacked by all three bosses simultaneously), with all Elites and Bosses still alive (the latter at around 600 HP, though with sizable Poison stacks) and one very pesky Landcaster Stag that had remained out of range for the Heroes. I stopped there, assuming the Heroes would lose within a few rounds.

And the offensive team? Well, they actually won (after, I think, 7 rounds). I admit that I made a lot of mistakes during that fight (both in the Foes' and the Heroes' favor), because there was so much to keep track of. The Ardent did come close to dying (which probably would have been game over), with 14 HP at the end. However, if each Hero brings 1 or 2 healing items and the dice are in their favor, they actually stand a decent chance of winning.

I don't think this combination of builds is "OP" in the sense of ruining the game for anybody (I actually really enjoy the various decision points, especially for the Tactician). However, I do think there is a good chance that it will make "official Tier 4 fights" (i.e. in future published adventures) trivial.

By the way, the Tier 2 versions don't lose out on anything essential, apart from Die Type bonuses, and so even at that level, I think this group is a good choice, if you're looking for power.

In conclusion, based on my limited testing, in Emberwind combat it seems better to focus on high damage output than on healing and defense. Ranged attacks also seem more powerful than melee attacks, since (with high Accuracy scores) the difference between doing a lot of damage and no damage at all more often than not comes down to range.




How to use the following four builds:

(Note: Substitute in Move actions as needed. However, it's usually best to wait for the Foes to come to you.)

Tactician:
Round 1:
Use Battlefield Tempo on all other heroes (3x 1 AP), use Insightful Leader on the Invoker and hold up one Fast action for Energizing Victory.

Later Rounds:
Usually the same, with situational use of other Actions. Energizing Victory should be used on Ardent or Invoker (on Ardent only after Transference is active). On what seems to be the final turn, use Doubletime on the Invoker (optionally Amplified to be safe).


Ardent:
Round 1:
Chains of Calamity (0 AP due to Sceptre), Fan the Flames (1 AP) + Chains of Calamity (0 AP due to Focused), Chains of Calamity (1 AP due to Battlefield Tempo), Chains of Calamity (2 AP)

Later Rounds: Similar (no Sceptre and Focused discounts). Occasionally use Frostfire on larger targets. Use Recurring Nightmare once on Boss monsters.


Invoker:
Round 1:
Cast Transference (1 AP due to Sceptre), Antagonize (0 AP due to Focused), Woebringer (0 AP due to Insightful Leader), Antagonize (1 AP due to Battlefield Tempo), 4 x Fey Kiss (4x 1 AP).

Later Rounds:
Similar (no Sceptre and Focused discounts).
In a few cases, it may be worth using Illusion of Pain + Antagonize on an Elite or Boss (if for some reason no Chains of Calamity or Recurring Nightmare are active on them). Transference hopefully won't have to be recast.


Archer:
Round 1:
(Optionally) activate Squad Sight (0 AP due to Focused), use Howling Hail (1 AP due to Battlefield Tempo) and Howling Hail (2 AP). Always leave up one Fast action for Distracting Strike to cancel a special ability that interferes with your game plan.

Later Rounds:
Very similar (no Focused discount). Sometimes use Basic Ranged Attacks (e.g. if P is needed), optionally Amplified with Overdraw.



Builds:

Tactician Tier 4

Vicious (+Precise), Willful, Dynamic

HP 60
Tou 8
Res 4
Dod 10
Wil 10

CAP 2-18-5
Trigger 3
Sustain 1
Amplify 1
Tide-Turner 3
Move 1-5 sqs

Sword 7d8
Light Shield
Bow 5d8
Light Armour


Insightful Leader
Energizing Victory
Battlefield Tempo
Doubletime
Do or Die
Turning Point

Inspire Greatness
Bolt of Inspiration



------------------------

Ardent Tier 4

Keen (+Precise), Tough, Focused

HP 56
Tou 11
Res 4
Dod 8
Wil 8

CAP 2-16-9
Trigger 1
Sustain 3
Amplify 1
Tide-Turner 4
Move 1-5 sqs

Sceptre 5d8
-
Bow 6d10
Light Armour


Channeling
Power Overwhelming
Flashpoint
Chains of Calamity
Frostfire
Fan the Flames

Recurring Nightmare
Time Stop



----------------------------

Invoker Tier 4

Precise (+Keen), Tough, Focused

HP 56
Tou 11
Res 4
Dod 8
Wil 8

CAP 4-15-5
Trigger 1
Sustain 3
Amplify 1
Tide-Turner 3
Move 1-5 sqs

Sceptre 5d4
Off-hand Weapon
Wand 5d6
Light Armour


Woebringer
Threads of Fate
Hex: Antagonize
Hex: Fey Kiss
Illusion of Pain
Transference

Call of Torpor
The Greatest Flattery



---------------------------

Archer Tier 4

Keen (+Precise), Tough, Focused

HP 56
Tou 11
Res 4
Dod 8
Wil 8

CAP 2-16-7
Trigger 1
Sustain 3
Amplify 1
Tide-Turner 3
Move 1-5 sqs

Sword 5d6
Off-hand Weapon
Bow 6d10
Light Armour


Terminal Velocity (Ranged)
Doubletap
Distracting Strike
Death from Above
Howling Hail
Overdraw

Squad Sight
Boundless Quiver


---------------------------

Rogue Tier 4 (crit)

Vicious (+Precise), Evasive, Focused

HP 54
Tou 4
Res 8
Dod 15
Wil 4

CAP 2-16-9
Trigger 1
Sustain 3
Amplify 2
Tide-Turner 3
Move 1-5 sqs

Pole-arm 6d20
-
Bow 5d8
Light Armour


Viper's Reflexes
Dual Attack
Pinpoint Strike
Quicksilver Strike
Razor's Edge
Momentum

Bloodthirsty Flourish
Night of Knives



--------------------------

Druid Tier 4

Precise (+Deadly), Evasive, Focused

HP 54
Tou 4
Res 8
Dod 17
Wil 4

CAP 4-18-5
Trigger 1
Sustain 4
Amplify 1
Tide-Turner 3
Move 1-5 sqs

Sword 5d6
Light Shield
Bow 5d8
Light Armour


Beast of Burden
Wildspring
Rejuvenation
Growing Power
Moonbite
Starfall

Flourishing Autonomy
Resurgence




--------------------------

Spiritualist Tier 4

Precise (+Keen), Vigorous, Spirited

HP 84
Tou 11
Res 9
Dod 4
Wil 4

CAP 3-18-5
Trigger 1
Sustain 1
Amplify 1
Tide-Turner 3

Move 1-5 sqs


Sword 5d6
Focus Item
Bow 6d8
Heavy Armour


Vengeful Revenant
Diseased Bite
Garden of Thorns
Bloodseal
Purify
Mantra: Soul Bind

Healing Ring
Solemn Silence



----------------------

Rogue Tier 4 (poison)

Precise (+Steady), Evasive, Dynamic

HP 54
Tou 4
Res 8
Dod 17
Wil 4

CAP 3-19-6
Trigger 3
Sustain 1
Amplify 1
Tide-Turner 3
Move 1-5 sqs

Sword 5d6
Light Shield
Bow 5d8
Light Armour


Quicksilver Strike
Envenom
Serpent's Bite
Festering Wound
Toxic Shock
Distract

Viper's Fangs
Ravenous Toxin



-----------------------

Archer Tier 4 (poison)

Precise (+Deadly), Evasive, Charged

HP 54
Tou 4
Res 8
Dod 17
Wil 4

CAP 4-18-5
Trigger 1
Sustain 1
Amplify 3
Tide-Turner 3
Move 1-5 sqs

Sword 5d6
Light Shield
Bow 5d8
Light Armour


Doubletap
Resourcefulness (Venom Tipping)
Death from Above
Distracting Strike
Howling Hail
Venom Tipping

Squad Sight
Boundless Quiver
 
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