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  • Writer's pictureGrumpysarn

Helena Openings

Helena's cards are out and she has already been loaded into MightyFinePants's excellent TTS mod. We can play with Helena now.

I admit that I have not gotten any games in with her yet. I'm looking forward to that soon. In the meantime, though, I took the liberty of firing up TTS, putting her on the digital table and considering some openings.

Basically, I set up a change scenario and thought about what positions Helena and various opponents of Helena could get into by the end of turn 1. From there, I asked myself if I would like this situation as the non-Helena player. Look, I get it, this is rough, preliminary stuff, but I find it's easier to think visually with an image in front of me.

With the caveat that we're playing fast and loose here, my early assessment of Helena is that she will reliably get you five points just by being herself. Most of the options for re-positioning her (including a KO) will just result in Helena walking back onto the hex afterwards.

First, here's an example of how Helena might be positioned by the end of a clash phase:

If our lady Leads the Charge and advances twice without impediment on Turn 1, she can get herself and the Peasants into this configuration. This is a tough position to shift for a lot of other champions. The Peasants are dodge 4, armor 2 and are backstopping Helena fairly thoroughly. Even if someone kills her, she's probably staying on an objective hex, rallying, and scoring five steps.

Next, I lined up several other champions on the other side of the board, got them into an end of Turn 1 clash phase position, and contemplated how much I liked their positions. For simplicity's sake, I assumed that no other champion was helping out.

Option 1: Shayle

Here's where Shayle might get to without help at the end of Clash Phase 1:

I'm not sure how Shayle approaches turn 2, really. Earthquake doesn't help that much with the peasants because it's at 45% to hit as long as they are within 2 of Helena. If the Peasants aren't moving, then Helena can walk back onto a hex unless Landslide can earthquake her twice (72% each) and be blocked off by Shayle. Helena could walk back in before Shayle moved, though. It's true that Boulder Bash is threatening, even into Helena's strong defensive stats, but Helena and her followers can also probably kill Shayle after awhile. I'd say I like Helena's end of this.

Option 2: Jeen

Here's where Jeen might get to without help at the end of Clash Phase 1:

This is a bit more like it. The Shrikes have displaced the peasants with Drive Back, so Helena's formation is broken up a bit. Jeen is not going to be able to kill Helena or move her off a hex, but she can perhaps kill enough peasants to come out ahead. Supposing it's Jeen's plot phase first, the shrikes can Slash and Dash a Peasant before moving. A two stack of Shrikes is at about 48% odds to kill a Peasant. More importantly, they can use Drive Back to tee up two more for Jeen. If the Shrikes toss that two stack one hex further away from Helena, the Peasants' stats drop to 3/1. At that point, Blade Rush is at 83% to kill each. Jeen Also has a potential Polearm Sweep and Rapid Strike afterwards, but those are not so likely to take out a peasant sitting at 4/2. I'd say you can expect to take out two or three peasants with Jeen and potentially one more with the Shrikes. This means Jeen has a decent chance of netting more steps than Helena will score. Still, Jeen is relying on dice and Helena is not. It's also possible that Helena and company can pick up an extra step or two by killing a shrike.

Option 3: Keera

Here's where Keera might get to without help at the end of Clash Phase 1:

I don't love this for Keera at all. The big limitation the dragons have is that they can't enter objective hexes and, at least in this setup, they have no direct access to Helena. Of course, this is fixable since a dragon can just eat a peasant and move in. With proper positioning, the dragons can force Helena to be adjacent to them if she wants to be on an objective hex. Even then, though, killing Helena is not that great. First of all, it's hard to do because of her 3/4 defensive statline. Second, even if you do it, Helena can still just rally and walk back onto the objective hex. This means the best case scenario is a tie, and, of course, Helena and the Peasants can hit back. Keera can probably grind out a KO or two over the course of the game, but Helena is still the favorite to score more steps overall as long as she can stay in position. Keera can't get her out of position without help.

Option 4: Titus

Here's where Titus might get to without help at the end of Clash Phase 1:

Yeah. This, I like. Titus will net two steps fairly easily here with Sweeping Slash because it's at 78% odds to kill each Peasant, even when they are boosted by Helena. Titus can line up an even bigger turn, though, with a little "I'll Kill You All" action and/or advancing in the plot phase. Piercing Strike is on 65% to kill a Peasant under Helena's defensive aura. If Titus can get two Sweeping Slash targets and two Piercing Strike targets, he expects roughly 5.78 steps on average. This means that he's in a good position to net more steps than Helena is. Titus's weakness is his low health pool, but Helena can't really threaten him, and Titus's trait (and offense) will keep him fairly safe from the Peasants. The Glory Seekers can also potentially contribute as well. I'd say this is our best option so far.

Option 5: Rangosh

Here's where Rangosh might get to without help at the end of Clash Phase 1:

I don't totally hate it, but I certainly don't love it. If the Bandits can clear out one of those Peasants and if Rangosh can KO Helena with a Jawbreaker, then Helena can be pushed out of range to rally and step back onto the hex. That's a lot of "ifs." It's probably not happening. Still, over time, Rangosh can win this fight and score some steps, but it won't be as reliable over the course of the game as Helena simply standing there. Plus the peasants can potentially kill Rangosh at some point. Pass.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, there are more champions to consider (Raith!) and more variables than I am accounting for here. Still, this experiment suggests that in most cases, going one on one with Helena is not ideal. This means that coping with Helena might require combinations from different crews. At the outset, though, I'd say that this champion is quite strong and will take some creativity (and probably a Maelstrom) to handle.

What if Titus went into the peasants in combination with a slayer? Could we clear out the peasants to open a push lane for Helena to be displaced after a KO? Could Grimgut wall off the hexes to keep her out after Helena got earthquaked? Can Finvarr Shadow Ward her off the hex into the waiting embrace of a Knightshade or two? These kinds of combos will take more table time to investigate than I have been able to put in so far. My hope is that you'll find these early observations a helpful primer for your own experiments on the table. Enjoy!

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