…That’s just an awful pun…anyways.
Today I was planning on a caster review. About halfway through i got frustrated and rewrote it into this post about Durant2! This guy here is probably my least favorite caster in the game and it took me a long time to come to that conclusion. It’s not because he’s particularly bad or broken, the reason main I dislike this caster is that Sovereign Tristan Durant is boring (and not wonderfully designed, but I’ll get to that in a moment). Nothing on his card screams out “Use me! Build a list around me! Break your opponent into little pieces with me!” He also doesn’t have the gumption to suck badly enough to get a remake…Chances are that Protectorate is going to have this lackluster caster until mkVI lands. This is a problem that deserves a little bit of attention because it isn’t isolated to Durant2. The first caster release cycles of mkIII casters have been completely…tame. There’s nothing exciting about them (the two cycles being the mkIII battle box casters and the journeyman promotions). I’ll ramble more about why this is such an issue in another post. Anyways, I’m going to sort through why Durant2 is so unoptimal, then redesign him to be better.
The front of the card is a great place to start. Clearly Durant2 has no business being anywhere near anything aggressive. Like a good support caster, he needs to be sheltered away from the enemy until the game is over. Certainly with such an unimpressive front, the back side of the card should be worth something, right?
And the first words are Field Marshal [True Sight]! An amazing ability for ranged jacks…And this is Protectorate where our ranged jacks don’t care (Revelator, Sprays), suck (Judicator) or are overpriced (Vanquisher). This ability would be golden in pretty much any other faction with a strong ranged presence. He also has True Sight personally which is….something (he has no good offensive spells to cast or any ranged weapons). Also critical dispel on his spear, because flat dispel was too good?
Time for the spells! Surely Durant can redeem himself here! First up, a bad nuke! Strictly inferior to Hex Blast in every way, but it’s not like he’d be casting it anyways (and everyone has a bad nuke). On to the next spell! It’s incredible! Another bad nuke! Well that’s roughly a third of his spell slots allocated to spells he’ll never see any use out of. Spell number three, Hand of the Creator, has a bit of promise, it says “heal everything within 14” of Durant d3”. Too bad PoM’s heavy infantry are trash and d3 won’t actually save any heavies from dying. That just leaves Inviolable Resolve (an unimpressive armor buff) and the reason Durant2 isn’t a complete dumpster fire, Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny is a spell you can build a list around but it isn’t an exciting spell. It basically just gives every jack 2 bonus focus on each attack and that’s just not really exciting. It also doesn’t let pillow fisted jacks actually kill things, a boosted P+S13 still will only scratch ARM20.
Perhaps his feat will save the day? Nope. It’s one of the most clumsily written feats in the game and it forces the player to load up on jacks or else play the game essentially without a feat. That’s right ladies and gents, if Durant2 doesn’t bring a bucket of jacks he basically has no feat.
So that’s a brief summary of Durant2, the caster I dislike the most in the entire game. Now, it doesn’t help things to just complain about them, so I’m going to pick apart why Durant2 is a poorly designed caster and how he could’ve been designed better (which isn’t the best way to spend my time but since I don’t have any power with PP to affect change).
I’ll start with the big one, Durant2 isn’t a focused nor synergistic design. He has a jumble of spells and rules as if someone threw him together at the last minute and didn’t want to break the game (remember this phrase, I’ll be talking about it in another post).
Take True Sight and Manifest Destiny, one supports ranged, the other demands melee. In Protectorate, we don’t need True Sight, we need a gap closer or a threat extender. What else seems unimpressive about Durant2? I think his stats, his weapon, his feat and his spells…Pretty much the whole caster.
Before we start putting the pieces back together, there are a few important questions to ask: What is Durant’s role in the faction, what makes him special and what makes him unique?
Protectorate already has 3 obvious jack casters, Feora2, Durst and Amon (and a little bit Sevvy2, but it’s not the same demand for jacks that the other three have). From these 3, we have two 2 “speed” casters and 1 brick caster. From his set up, it seems that Durant2 was intended as an attrition caster.
Hand of the Creator is the first thing I want to address. D3 boxes are not going to stop a jack from dying. Unless the opponent is bad and is spreading their damage around, Hand of the Creator actually reads: “Uncripple the systems of every faction friendly jack in this caster’s battlegroup.” So that’s exactly what I’m changing. 2 Cost, Ctrl RNG, DUR Turn, Warjacks in this caster’s battlegroup ignore the effects of crippled systems.
Next, Inviolable Resolve. Probably on his card because it’s sort of like having Fortify from his first incarnation. It gets junked in favor of Polarity Shield. Why? Three reasons, first it fits ones of PoM’s themes, denial. Second, it still gives him a spell that can benefit non-jack things. And third, it helps compensate for the lack of a threat extender.
Now for the bad nukes. Since he lacks any sort of ranged ability, it’s important for him to have a bad nuke, the other one is getting scraped for Fog of War. This is a spell that hasn’t been seen in PoM before. While not the most amazing spell for heavy jacks (especially the Ashen Veil heavies) it helps balance out the difference between the Ashen Veil and non-Ashen Veil heavies. Light jacks love it and most importantly, Fog of War is pretty huge for our troops choices.
For the other bad nuke, swap it for Hex Blast. Hex Blast is mechanically superior since it strips on hit instead of damage (and forces Durant to decide what spells he needs to cast). To curtail the inevitable “Chasten costs 2, not 3” – argument, it has to deal damage, to strip jack/high armor buffs you’ll be boosting (and sighing as you lowball the damage roll and fail to strip buffs).
So I had a couple thoughts for the field marshal and I finally settled on Field Marshal [Relentless Charge]. This respects what the other jack casters do, while simultaneously fixing some of PoM’s jack issues.
Junk his personal True Sight, replace with Iron Sentinel. While this does let Durant skew his DEF to 18 against ranged shooting, he has to buddy up to a jack to use it and let’s him play up the field but leaves him open to some counter-play.
Finally, remove crit dispel and replace it with Disruption. It’ll still probably never get used but it’s interesting. Crit:Dispel is just wasted ink (especially with Chasten or Hex Blast on his card).
Now his feat. Potentially this feat could be a huge amount of focus (on paper we’re talking about 28+ focus on a single turn). But it’s not an exciting feat (he has no exciting output for his personal focus, but it lets you cast both Hand of the Creator and Manifest Destiny with 7 fully fueled warjacks. I’m junking the whole thing. It encourages jack spam and can be difficult to use. I’ve had a few thoughts about what would be cool/fun/good to use (which I’ll chatter about below).
Flash Point – While in Durant’s control range, when a friendly Faction model is hit by an enemy melee attack, immediately after that attack is resolved the attacker suffers 1 point of fire damage and Blind. Flash Point lasts for 1 round. (A model suffering blind cannot make magic or ranged attacks, suffers -4 MAT and DEF, and cannot run charge or make slam or trample power attacks. It must forfeit its Normal Movement or Combat Action during its next activation. Blind can be shaken.)
First, the name, Flash Point. Prayers of War is more appropriate to a choir themed caster that layers hymns on jacks (which is a fun concept, but for later). Next up, the effect. My Durant2 has very little in the way of mitigation for his army so a perfect place to add that in is on the feat. Leveraging the “punishment” theme of PoM, I made a feat that punishes the opponent for behaving improperly towards the holy army of Menoth! Hit me and I burn your eyesight away! How cool is that?
I had a couple of other concepts for “hit me get punishment” type feats. One version basically applied Spiny Growth to everything. Another version caused hits to proc blind in the model’s melee range. Another was based on jacks emitting the old soulstorm aura (auto 1 point of damage to enemies models within 2”). As I got towards the final version, I had one that proc’d after the hit instead of the attack, which prevented the damage if it killed the enemy model. I settled on the current version because it fits the theme better, it’s still very strong, and it allows the opponent some opportunity for counterplay. Weapon masters can still charge and kill jacks, but they die doing so. Jacks get 1 big attack. But all of this requires the sacrifice of the PoM model (or the HP of that model) to work, which is really fluffy.
Here’s a PDF for the compiled “card” (FILE:durant2_revamp) if you care to put it on the table. I’ll be giving him a spin or three with a willing victim and we’ll report back! Now begins the countdown to the cease and desist order from PP’s lawyers!