Shayle is my favorite champion. I wrote a little bit about why in a previous post. At the risk of getting repetitive, I’d like to write about Shayle in a but more of a granular, tactical way.
Shayle, when played well, is extremely rude. That place you wanted to be in? No. You aren't there anymore. That objective you fought to get to? Yeah... it's somewhere else now and so are you. Playing into Shayle should feel like you are constantly being disrespected.
Godtear is all about positioning, and no one except perhaps Raith can control positioning as well as Shayle can. Despite having one good attack, Shayle is not a killer; he is all about banners. To be a bit more specific, Shayle is about protecting his own banner and making enemy banners vulnerable. Shayle is not so likely to squash banners himself.
Some Details on the Card
I generally like to assume that my readers are aware of what’s on the cards, so I don’t usually go over them in detail. In Shayle’s case, though, there are a few things to point out.
The first bit of rules text I’d like to highlight is the way Runecaller works. Every time Shayle takes ANY action (claim, rally, etc), Landslide gets a 2 hex place if Shayle is within 3 of it at the end of that action. Because Runecaller triggers at the end if the action, it is difficult to shut this down; Shayle can start KOd and 5 hexes away from Landslide and still trigger Runecaller if he can move directly towards the golem after rallying. Runecaller makes Landslide the most efficient mover in the game; it can potentially place eight hexes away over the course of two phases out of activation. It’s bonkers. Raith can move a bit further, but he has to sacrifice all of his actions and two of his followers to do so. Landslide flies around effortlessly.
The second bit of card text to consider is Boulder Bash. The six damage dice (easily boosted to 7) will draw a lot of eyes, but I’d argue that Boulder Bash would be a key part of Shayle’s kit if it did no damage at all. The most important thing about Boulder Bash, in my view, is its hit effect. Dodge blights are essential for Shayle’s game because winning with Shayle is all about hitting with Earthquake. Speaking of which....
Earthquake, Earthquake, Earthquake
Earthquake is the reason you’re taking Shayle. It is quite possibly the best skill action in all of Godtear. The best thing about it is that you can use it in both phases. The second best thing about it is that its hit effect moves every follower in a unit regardless of where they are on the board. As long as you have one follower in range, they all are. It’s wild stuff. The third best thing about it is that, unlike other skill actions which reposition enemies, it moves the target two hexes instead of one. Shayle does some cool things that are not Earthquake, but make no mistake, Earthquake is the show.
The biggest limitation on Earthquake is its modest accuracy of 4. That’s... not great. You’re on 72% to hit dodge 3 and only 45% to hit dodge 4. For this reason, Shayle absolutely hates high dodge. Earthquake is one of those skills which really needs to go off, so accuracy boons and dodge blights are Shayle’s best friends. This brings us back to the real purpose of Boulder Bash: to set up Earthquake. I know it may feel like a waste to throw a 6/6 attack at a small follower, but if you need to move that follower’s unit around and the follower is at dodge 3, don’t hesitate.
This also means that Shayle is better into some champions than others. Peet and his stabbers are a nightmare (Earthquake misses them 80% of the time) whereas dodge 2 is a tasty 91% control fest. In addition to thriving against low dodge targets, Shayle loves to face off against Maelstroms because Landslide is not a tempting target. Landlside can be killed, but it usually is worth more effort than the two steps are worth.
3 Mean Things to Do With Shayle
1. Throw Landslide at someone
Let's say we're at the top of clash phase turn 1. It's the Death scenario and Shayle is opposite Maxen on a flank. Things look like this:
This is a pretty normal board state, but Maxen is already in a bad spot. Since Shayle is going first, the thing to do is activate him and throw Landslide in Maxen's grill. Shayle can move and then use Tremor (even though no one is in range) to place Landslide four hexes forward. So we're here:
Maxen is sad now. He has very few options. If he does not activate, Landslide will Boulder Bash him and then Earthquake him away from the Hexes and the squishy wizard boss. If Maxen does activate, he can try to kill Landslide or move around Landslide. Both are unlikely to turn out well. Shrapnel shot has only a 36% chance to kill Landslide or get it down to 1 health for the Piercing Shot coup de grace (assuming that Maxen forgoes the push and that Landslide has no armor boon). Walking around Landslide will not get Maxen out of Earthquake range (unless he chooses to move away from the objectives), so there's a 72% that Landslide simply undoes Maxen's walk action and then gives the dwarf an affectionate Boulder Bash for his trouble. This will likely hurt a fair amount and set up Maxen to be easily earthquaked again in the plot phase. SO RUDE.
2. Use enemy followers as roadblocks
Let's say that the Shield Maidens have just finished their activation.Two of them rolled up to Shayle and took a swing at him, reducing him to just 1 health (rude), while one hung out with Luella to hand her some armor (polite). Shayle has activated, but Landslide has not. The board looks like this:
Luella has a speed boon, so she's about to charge in, crush that banner and finish off Shayle with two attacks, right? Nope. One of the Maidens is in Earthquake range, which means they all are. The Maidens can't move again this phase. There's a 91% chance this banner and Shayle are both safe. Here's how it looks after the earthquake:
Luella is more or less hosed now. She cannot get to the banner. She can't even get within 2 hexes of Shayle to use Arc Lightning to finish him off. Rough stuff. This is possible because Earthquake can move the ALL of the Shield Maidens 2 hexes. As you can see, that's positively massive.
3. The Stone Spike /Earthquake 2-Step
Let's say it's the top of the clash phase, Shayle activates first, and the board state is like this:
Helena seems to be doing ok. She's in a good spot to crush that banner, and even if Landslide Earthquakes her off the hexes, she can just walk right back on. The move for Shayle here is to use Stone spikes. Once he does, Helena is under a lot of pressure. She has to activate immediately, or else there is a 72% chance that she both will not get the banner and will be unable to score in the end phase. With her movement debuffed, Helena can't get back onto the hexes if she gets Earthquaked off. So, Helena's best move is to step onto the banner. She can then either try to Holy Light Shayle or Shield Push Landslide away. Neither help much. Landslide can then Earthquake her off the hexes and Boulder Bash her in some order. Assuming Helena plays this right, the net outcome is that Shayle scores 2 steps and probably hurts Helena while Helena scores zero steps and accomplishes very little.
Oh Yeah... Avalanche
It's a little bit silly that I've gone on for this long about Shayle and not even mentioned his super duper awesome ultimate. Avalanche lets you move each objective hex within three hexes of Shayle. If you take another action first, you can place Shayle for optimal hex manipulation. Range 3 is a big deal; this can potentially move A LOT of hexes. Even better, models on the objective hexes move along with the objective they're standing on. This ultimate is so flexible and useful in so many different ways that it seems silly to try to diagram them for you. Here is a partial list:
- Move hexes closer to your champions so that they can claim without moving
- Move hexes further from their champions so that they cannot claim without moving
- Move a champion standing on an objective into your slayer's threat range
- Move one of your champions standing on an objective out of their slayer's threat range
- Open up access to an area for your followers
- Close off access to an area for their followers
- Move your banners out of their movement range
- Move their banners into your movement range
- Move a hex across (or closer to) the center line in Quest
- Split off a new area for Nia or the Life scenario to grow hexes off of
- Profoundly mess up the otherwise static Knowledge scenario
.... and more!
What's especially crazy about Avalanche is not just that it can do all of these things, but that it can do several of them at once. As a little bonus, you also get to place Landslide when all the shifting is done. The only ultimate that can truly mess up a turn as badly as this one is Tsunami.
Shayle is probably the most powerful champion after Raith. He has low armor and only movement 4, so he's not as incredibly well-rounded as the Drippy Drake. Shayle is, however, the apex of board manipulation in a game that heavily emphasizes board position.
There are ways to deal with Shayle, though. Rangosh's dodge 4 and high damage output work well into Shayle. Sneaky Peet, as previously mentioned, laughs at Earthquake. Elves also tend to bring high dodge, so they do well. Finvarr's ability to debuff speed will be especially hurtful to the slow geomancer. Lorsann can apply high accuracy attacks from range while presenting a poor target for Earthquake. Titus also has a sneaky good game into Shayle since Superiority applies to large and small followers alike.
There are ways to manage Shayle, but if you have the option to ban a champion, definitely ban Shayle unless your opponent also has Raith.