Grumpy's Guide to Nia
In this series, we will give you a quick breakdown of each champion. This is geared mostly towards people who have not played with this champion much, so it’s not an in-depth tactical treatise. This is more of a quick breakdown and assessment of the champion.
We will grade each champion’s offense, defense, support, mobility, and control. We’ll explain each grade and then give you a quick vision of a dream activation for that champion.
In a separate series, Grumpy has written about how champions match up with each other. Here are the matchup evaluations for Guardians, Maelstroms, Slayers, and Shapers.
Here is the grading scale for each category:
Nia is a pretty solid champion who has the misfortune of being in the same starter box as Morrigan. If you're willing to accept the disappointment of the Ice Lich into your life, though, you can also get your hands on this little gem of a champion. Nia brings a surprising punchiness, a strong banner protection game, and powerful support abilities.
Nia's crew has the unique ability to create objective hexes. This is very strong, especially when combined with control or area-denial effects. Nia's actions appear to be fairly weak at first, but it's important to remember that she usually gets three instead of two. This gives her versatility and action economy even if the impact of each individual action is not as strong as one would like.
Nia is a good champion for those who want to set up synergies within a crew. Her ability to generically copy any boon or blight makes her a really strong connecting piece. This champion features in many lists based around support synergies precisely because she can facilitate champions who would only otherwise support themselves in supporting each other. For this reason, Nia often plays in the center of the board so that she can pass out status effects to the wings. She also tends to hang back a bit so that she can grow hexes in safe places.
Here are Nia's Cards:
Offense - Bad
Like most shaper crews, this group does not really specialize in violence. They have only two damaging attacks, and both cap out at 5 damage dice. This is improved somewhat by Nia's erosion attack applying a protection blight, though. This is is effectively better than an extra damage die. Still, erosion will often need to be supported by Nia's meditate skill in order to hit in the first place. Stone's Throw is another attack option, and can be surprisingly strong if all three Quartzlings are in the hex. The problem there is that they usually won't be since you will want them in position to Calcify. This team can put out some damage, but not in an especially efficient or impactful way.
Defense - Good
This crew is sneakily tanky. At first glance, Nia has average defensive stats at 4/2 with 6 health. However, she does have the chance to spread accuracy blights to opponents, making her dodge 4 much more impactful. She also tends to hang back from the fray, which improves her survivability. The thing that pushes this crew above average, though, is the Quartzlings armor 4. This is a rare and valuable stat line for a follower unit. Armor 4 followers really thwart maelstroms, so you can confidently put Nia opposite an entire class.
Support - Outstanding
Crystal Mirror and Crystal Glare are two of the most versatile support abilities in the game. These two allow Nia to magnify not only her own strong support game, but the support offered by any of her teammates. These two abilities make Nia the cornerstone of many synergy-oriented lists. Nia brings a tasty collection of boons and blights of her own to spread around, as well. In particualr, Nia's collection of blights is impressive. Speed and protection are probably the two strongest blights, and her crew can dish them out. Nia's accuracy boon and blight are probably a bit less impactful, but useful nonetheless. Champions who really benefit from a particular status effect that they cannot otherwise put out themselves suddenly take on new dimensions with Nia. Rangosh loves Nia's accuracy boon. Morrigan loves to take the damage boon from her followers. Any champion who likes a fight loves to see armor blights on their foes.
Mobility - Awful
Nia is a dwarf. She and Maxen are the least mobile champions in the game. Both have March only in the plot phase, when it is least useful. Nia can take plot phase actions more often than other champions because of Rock Concert, but she still has an inefficient path to a top speed of 4 hexes per turn. Even poor Rhodri can at least move five hexes (albeit very inefficiently). She has no way to speed herself up. The Quartzlings do have Rolling Stones, which potentially gives them more mobility, but this is still conditional due to the straight line restriction. On balance, the crystal monsters are probably a bit more mobile than, say, the Household Guard or Shield Maidens, but it's not enough to pull this rating out of the gutter.
Control - Good
Nia has a solid control game. The ability to grow hexes is unique. This allows Nia to manipulate the board in really powerful ways. This is strongly influenced by scenario, but is always strong. On Life, this meas Nia can create new branches for the scenario rules to expand upon. On Quest, this means Nia can bridge the distance between the area she needs to guard and the area she needs to claim on. On Death, this means Nia can defy the dynamics of the scenario and keep objective clusters alive. Nia's ultimate, Geoge, even allows her to create two hexes in a single phase, which can drastically alter the board. The Quartzlings offer a speed blight as well, which really helps with banner protection. While Nia has the power to manipulate hexes, she does not really have a way to reposition models, so this is not a grade of outstanding.
I'm going to cheat a little bit and include the Quartzlings activation as well. Since this is all happening in the plot phase, there's no chance for the opponent to counterplay. Here's the start of Nia's plot phase.
First, the Quartzlings activate. They calcify and then recruit. That gives us this:
Then, Nia moves, marches, and uses Geode. We end up with this:
Luella will not get to that banner. Maybe if she devotes all of her actions and her ultimate to getting there, it's theoretically possible, but Nia and her crew will have a lot of simple ways to prevent this. There is no way for Luella to plant a banner that Nia cannot get to. Luella is also going to have a tough time into those armor 4 followers. In all likelihood, Nia is going to give her team a 5-6 step net advantage over the match up in her lane this turn. That's enough to swing a tight turn 3. It's particularly tough because there is positively nothing Luella can do about it.