Gilding the Lily - First Reactions
Lily's rules are now fully revealed. Much thanks to @ellio for posting some shots of the cards from Gencon! I apologize if the image quality is not totally perfect, but I think we've got something legible.
Overall, Lilly seems to be pure shaper. She personally has no means of dealing damage and instead focuses exclusively on shaper things: moving hexes, moving enemy models, and distributing boons and blights. She has outstanding speed and a powerful toolbox of control effects to offset her lack of offense. The Thornlings seem mostly like an extension of this control game in that they are optimized to occupy and deny areas of the board.
Before I get into some analysis, I'd like to just put the cards all in one place so that you can take them all in.
Ok... got it? Cool. Let's talk about it.
Lily seems to have pretty good stats. Speed 3 in both phases is unique in the game Though not as mobile overall as Kailinn or Raith, the Fae queen is probably fast enough to be a terror in the banner game. It will take some table time to see if Lily can pull "yo-yo" maneuvers in the way that Kailinn can by claiming on a faraway hex and then zooming into the action to influence the clash phase. With dodge 4, armor 1, and 7 health, Lily is not especially durable. Dodge 4 can frustrate some matchups, but she'll probably go down after two or three high quality attacks. Her speed and passive ability to drop status effects will mitigate the harmful effects of being KOd.
Touch of the Fae
This mechanic is totally unique in the game. Lily can.. leave status effects in hexes? This raises some rules questions right away. Regardless of how it's FAQd, this trait will offer an efficient and flexible way to put out whatever boons and blights you may need. The best part is that it doesn't take an action or roll any dice, you just get it for free once per activation on demand. Neat!
This seems like the kind of ultimate you use early in the game because its payoff lags a bit from its actual use. It's easy to imagine popping this before an opponent's plot phase in order to deny claim opportunities. In combination with Earth Call, Lily can pull a hex away from a cluster for your team to claim whilst also clogging up the objectives which remain closer to your opponent. The key to making this maneuver pay off long term will be keeping the Thornlings on hexes alive.
In this part of the turn, Lily messes with the battlefield. Earth Call is a better version of Styx's Apparition because it has longer range (3) and no restrictions on what direction the target hex has to move. It will be a bit harder to use since it's in the plot phase (when you want to claim), but this is a strong and flexible ability, especially in combination with other control effects. Lily's Breath of the Earth allows her to toss out an extra status effect, which is nice. I expect Breath of the Earth to be seldom used.
In the plot phase, the Thornlings get a chance to rally around their boss with Deep Roots. This reminds me of Rattlebone's ability to Call Totems, but it's a follower action instead of a champion action, which makes it more usable. This is a good defensive option when Slayers have their sights set on Lily, as it can unexpectedly put chaff in their way. Tangling Thorns hands out a low-accuracy speed blight, although the Thornlings can give themselves an accuracy boon in the previous phase. Speed blights are generally excellent and will assist Thornlings in their general function as obstacles. Thank goodness for Overgrowth, because people will want to kill the Thornlings often.
In this part of the turn, Lily messes with enemy models. She has some powerful ways of doing this. Haunting Melody is just straight up powerful. At accuracy 6 and range 3, it's easy to land. It moves every model in the hex up to two hexes in any direction. This is simple and exquisite. There is no skill in Godtear quite like it. It's more accurate than Landslide's Earthquake and has a longer range, but it moves the hex instead of a full follower unit. This ability can serve whatever positioning needs you encounter. It can protect banners, banish threats, clear the way for banners to be crushed, or serve up targets to your damage dealers. Nature's Visage is a bit more situational. It's less accurate, but still has long range. The Visage allows you to influence a larger area of the board than Haunting Melody, but you don't get to move models as far. The ability to relocate friendly models as well as enemy models is very good, though. At its best, Nature's Visage can be like a miniature version of Raith's Tsunami - you get to totally rearrange a certain section of the board.
The Thornlings do actually get an attack. It is... weird. You always get a base of 4 damage dice which can spike to 7 if you roll the target's exact defense value. Let's look at some odds. The attack's accuracy scales with the number of Thornlings, and this crew can give itself boons and blights as needed, so you can probably roll the number of dice you want.
With 1 accuracy, here are your odds of rolling various values:
Here it is with accuracy 2:
Here it is with accuracy 3:
Here are the odds with 4 accuracy dice:
Here's accuracy 5:
And with accuracy 6:
And finally, the maximum possible for the Thornlings, accuracy 7:
So your best odds of spiking to 7 damage dice come when you attack a dodge 2 target with accuracy 2. If you need to target dodge 3, your best chance to spike is by rolling 3 accuracy dice. If you need to spike against dodge 4, roll 5 accuracy dice. If it's Peet, roll 6 accuracy dice. If Peet somehow has a dodge boon (yuck), roll 7. It's not super reliable, but you can probably get lucky once per game if you set things up so that you can roll the right number of dice. The Thornlings also get a move of 2 in this phase, so that's nice. Repositioning them to help the banner game is probably a better move than going for big hits with Nature's Wrath. Sprout is good not only for adjusting your Nature's Wrath accuracy, but also for making sure you can land Tangling Thorns.
Lily is probably very good, but only table time will give us a sense of how good. Control style champions like Lily are the ones that I find really require experience and a feel for how to position your models. I like her! The Godtear development process continuously turns out champions which are balanced, but which feel unique. Good job SFG!