Jaak the Lad
Updated: May 15, 2022
Jaak is here and... whoo boy does he look strong. It remains to be seen how the text of his rules translates to the actual board space, but it feels like Jaak is going to be a go to Guardian right away.
This new goblin brings lots of versatility, a totally unique ability to heal others, and a way of planting banners that gets around the goblin problem.
Is Jaak too strong? Is this a sign of the power creep that SFG has so nobly avoided in their releases thus far? I don't think so, but it's one possible outcome. We just need no get Jaak on the table and see.
Normally, I prefer not to go through the cards at a granular level, but in this case it seems like a good idea because SFG has not (at the time of this writing) formally released them.
All of the rules below were screenshotted from the Band of Badgers Unboxing. I don't know any other place they are available at the time of this writing. Thanks to Band of Badgers and sorry if the text is blurry at times.
Jaak is Dodge 4, Protection 2, Health 7. He has a speed of three in the plot phase and a speed of 1 in the clash phase. He is slightly more durable than Styx or Nia (4/2/6) and has typical goblin speed splits.
The Cauldron Cronies are Dodge 4, Protection 1, and Health 1. They also have speed 3 in the plot phase and speed 1 in the clash phase.
This continues a recent trend of SFG to put out more models with high dodge and low armor. That's good - high accuracy attacks were previously somewhat undervalued in the overall scheme of things.
This is what makes Jaak special. Healing other models is unique in the game right now. It puts pressure on opponents to finish off their KOs and potentially punishes the strategy of "pocketing" a KO for a future turn by allowing an enemy champion to remain on low health. SIngle activation KOs are hard to achieve in Godtear, so there will probably be lots of opportunities to heal your models after someone has gone into them.
Let's have a look at the rules since they are not widely available at the time of this writing.
This is Jaak's trait. It just happens with no cost to your action economy. Crucially, though, it specifies "another" friendly model, so Jaak cannot heal himself. Moreover, two hexes is a pretty short range, so this is something you'll usually have to play into if you want it to happen. The extra effort to move Jaak or a teammate into range for the healing does make this less efficient than it might first appear, but it's still going to be very useful. This also gives your opponent even more incentive to take out Jaak's banner.
Here's Jaak's ultimate:
It has the same range, but it heals more wounds. Unlike Battlefield Brew, this can also heal Jaak himself. It's easy to imagine magical dream scenarios where this wipes out huge numbers of wounds, but my guess is that this is one of those ultimates that people will screw up by holding on to it for too long.
This really feels like a guardian crew in part because they are very focused on keeping the banner on the board. The crew’s traits are all conditioned on this.
The usual Goblin Problem is that the champion can only claim in the plot phase which crowds out other plot phase actions that Gobbos need to take because their whole schtick is getting their work done in that phase.
Here’s a solution:
The Cauldron Cronies can serve as a conduit for Jaak’s claims in much the same way that dragons serve as a conduit for Keera’s attacks. This means that Jaak’s banner can appear up to 4 hexes away, which would make Mourneblade blush.
Crucially, this frees up Jaak to go crush an enemy banner, whack someone with his Spider Staff, etc.
It’s massive. The Cronies are fast in this phase, so you should usually be able to get one in the right spot. Raith is scary (in part) because his followers project three potential vectors of banner denial. Jaak’s followers project three potential vectors of banner placement.
Additionally, the Cronies can move the banner around in the clash phase:
This one will really take some table time to master, but it is situationally turn-saving. Phantom Banners is the only other skill that can move friendly banners more than one hex. WIth the perfect setup, Toil and Trouble could potentially move a banner to a location three hexes away. This is a really powerful skill, but it will take practice to recognize and anticipate opportunities to use it. This strikes me as a key part of the skill ceiling with Jaak. With five followers to play with, this is a very realistic thing to set up, though.
Jaak has one attack which can be used in both phases.
As usual, goblins can attack in the plot phase.
It’s a really good attack. Range 2? Ok! 6 damage dice is a very efficient stat. The 4 accuracy means you’re on 72% to hit dodge 3, which is acceptable, especially when you consider that this crew can apply dodge blights (see below). A speed blight hit effect is also fantastic. Guardians love speed blights for obvious reasons, so that coming in on top of big damage is tremendous. Spider Staff is the best attack available to any Guardian.
The Cauldron Cronies also bring a plot phase attack:
It also benefits from Cauldron Cronies' trait when Jaak's banner is on the board:
Eye of Newt is pretty good, especially considering that you’ll nearly always have a banner down when you do it. Weirdly, the banner mechanics of the Cronies shift the goblin problem from the champion to the followers in this crew, so you’ll probably be moving and Deploying Cauldrons with this bunch a lot. With three cronies and range 2, though, you’ll get an attack off sometimes. It will usually be a 6/4 or 5/5, I imagine.
Boons and Blights
Given everything else he can do, Jaak also comes with a surprisingly strong boon and blight game. As previously mentioned, his main attack hands out a speed blight. Additionally, Jaak can give himself a plot phase speed boon:
Anyone who plays Luella or Finvarr knows how useful a plot phase speed boon can be. This means that Jaak can travel up to 4 hexes in the plot phase, which makes him a top-level banner crusher on demand. If Jaak doesn't need this in the plot phase, he can also use it as his second plot phase action in order to boost his woefully slow clash phase speed. This is a useful and flexible option.
Additionally, Jaak can do this in the clash phase:
Unlike Foot of Rabbit, this can be used on other friendly models as well as on Jaak. Protection boons are nice. Our favorite sketchy medic becomes much harder to KO at 4/3. This is versatile and effective. Sweet.
The Cauldron Cronies are also in on the support game during the clash phase (very gobbo):
Moving enemies away from banners is always sweet for a guardian crew, especially when combined with a speed debuff. Just ask Finvarr. Honestly, this is probably the most important part of the skill. Dodge debuffs are nice, but generic repositions are incredible. You'll usually need to anticipate this in the plot phase since repositioning goblins in the clash phase is rough. Still, three of your five in the same hex will be rocking accuracy 7 if the banner is on the board.
Blights are always good because anyone on your team can exploit them. A dodge blight is particularly welcome for Jaak since he only rolls 4 accuracy dice with Spider Staff. This is a versatile and useful skill. Like a lot of this crew's kit, it relies on the banner being on the table.
The Whole Picture
Jaak is really good. I think we'll often find him dwelling between lanes like Mourneblade with his cronies spread out in order to threaten banner placement in two different objective clusters. Jaak will love to go second, as Goblins do, since he can better leverage his plot phase speed to crush banners and deploy his cauldrons in bad places for the opponent. Like all guardians, he will like scenarios with lots of objective hexes so that he can more easily deploy (and move) his banner.
Jaak is clearly a great teammate. He brings top notch support in the form of healing and buffs/debuffs. He will especially like teammates with high health pools like Grimgut, Skullbreaker, and Rhodri. Maxen can make Spider Staff more accurate and thus more threatening. Jaak would also love someone like Nia who can both boost his lackluster accuracy and, more importantly, grow delicious hexes for Jaak to claim on. In general, anyone who can move hexes around will be a Jaak buddy.
Jaak will struggle to deal with high dodge enemies who can KO him and his Cronies with accurate attacks. Have we found a use for Lorsann? Luella has low dodge, but she will certainly pick on the followers. Grimgut may be nice into Jaak because Jaak cannot jump over the slimes, and the big fella has a pretty accurate Nom Nom for little goblin snacks. Halftusk is very accurate and can use the Froglodytes to deny Deploy Cauldron targets.
Jaak is real good, people.