Jeen: Useful and Good
Updated: Apr 7, 2022
Updated 4/7. An earlier version wrongly claimed that the Golden Shrikes had Press Forward in both phases.
Jeen is a useful and good champion who should be played in certain situations. I think she is often misunderstood.
The misunderstanding starts with folks noticing that Jeen is a maelstrom and thinking that this means her primary purpose is to KO followers. This is an understandable presumption, but it is incorrect. Jeen is here to speed up your team and manipulate the board state.
Over the course of a game, Jeen’s crew can be the key to success without ever making an attack action. Jeen is about banners and board manipulation, not KOs. It helps if you imagine that she’s a shaper. A green goblin? Who would’ve suspected?
Put Her On The Right Team
Jeen is effective only in certain war band compositions. You generally want to put her in lists that feature other champions who are slow and/or unable to deal with enemy followers blocking them off. Maelstroms are already good at both of those things, so if you’re playing other maelstroms, Jeen is not going to be good for you.
While Jeen’s support game is redundant for other Maelstroms, it is extremely helpful for slower champions or for those who can’t deal with a swarm of followers. This list includes Shayle, Styx, Nia, Rattlebone, Keera, Maxen, Rangosh, Halftusk, Helena, Mourneblade, and Rhodri. That’s roughly half of the currently released champions, so Jeen is not exactly corner case. Jeen’s partners matter so much because she is definitely a support piece more than an output piece. Make sure she has teammates who appreciate her.
The Shrikes are Golden
The Golden Shrikes are more powerful than Jeen. When the these little rascals show up, champions that were bad banner crushers suddenly become very good ones. This happens anywhere on the board, totally on demand. I can always tell that someone does not know how to play Jeen when they cluster the Shrikes together. This really negates a lot of their powerful flexibility. Jeen does not need to be near them, and they do not need to be near her. Spread the shrikes out. Think of each one as a little mini-shaper there to support one of the other crews in your warband.
The Shrikes do this in two ways.
First, the golden gobbos hand out speed boons at range 2 in the clash phase. That’s amazing. The Retchlings wish they could hand out clash phase speed boons.
This shows how much range a single Shrike has to advance and hand out the best boon in the game. This is a single Shrike. Jeen comes with four of them. If you spread them out during deployment, there won’t be much that your opponent can do to prevent you from putting a speed boon wherever you want it whenever you want it.
Jeen has Press Forward in the clash phase as well. 2 speed boons in this phase is a unique thing in the game. If you use this well, you will feel your whole warband accelerating.
The second way the Shrikes turn lumbering pedestrians into speedy flag-snatchers is by repositioning followers that stand in the way. Drive Back is one of the best traits in the game. Once per phase, the Shrikes can relocate a whole hex of followers without rolling any dice. It’s not even an action; you just get to do it for free twice per turn. It can happen almost anywhere. Remember that Press Forward diagram? Here's one for Drive Back:
This is with the speed boons that they have such easy access to but without the use of Sprint. The smaller radius is for the clash phase, and the larger one is for the plot phase.
Remember that the Shrikes are fast and can spread out all over the board, so they can pretty much apply Drive Back anywhere at any time. This makes them the most effective follower movers in the game next to Landslide. The big Rock Golem’s Earthquake skill is more powerful, but it also needs to roll dice and to happen within range 2 of Landslide. Drive Back is automatic and can essentially happen wherever you want it to.
The combination of these two support services can turn weak banner crushers into strong ones. Consider this example:
This situation comes up all the time in games. Your opponent puts a banner just out of reach and puts some followers between your champion and the banner. The Shrikes fix this whole thing for you. Halftusk can now crush the flag with one advance action (and no dice rolls) before punching Grimgut twice. Beautiful.
Of course, these abilities can do more than crush flags. Drive Back can tee up followers to be Bladestormed, move them away from a low health champion they might KO, etc. It works on large followers, too, so you can pull a hound away from a flag, Landslide away from Shayle, or a Dragon away from Keera.
Speed boons are always nice. In addition to helping you crush flags, they can get you into claiming position, help your slayers hunt down a wounded champion, help a fragile character run away, etc.
Flags are the focus, but mobility and positioning are absolutely essential in Godtear. Jeen gives out elite support in these premium categories.
How Jeen Can Be Survivable
Jeen’s Martial Discipline trait can help her survive better than some other Maelstroms. Poor Titus is usually Slayer food because of his 5 health and 3/3 stat line. Jeen has the same 3/3 stats and the same 5 health. The difference is that Jeen can acquire a relevant boon after being damaged. In the same way that some models have a toolbox of attacks for targeting different defense profiles, Jeen gets a toolbox of defensive boons to counteract different attack profiles.
Let’s say that Rangosh hits Jeen with a Whiplash which damages her but does not KO her. Rangosh pulls her in for the Jawbreaker, but Jeen can select a dodge boon from Martial Discipline. She’s now Dodge 4 vs. the upcoming Jawbreaker which will only be on 45% odds to hit even if Rangosh has a bandit to eat.
Martial Discipline works especially well against autowounds. If Sneaky Peet backstabs Jeen successfully, she can add an armor boon after the autowound but before the damage roll. Peet will be rolling 5 dice into armor 4. That’s not great for Peet.
Jeen is not super tanky into big attacks, but she can usually take one more hit than expected. She’s very tough into opponents that bring a high volume of weak to average attacks. 5/5 usually won’t be enough to KO this plucky little dervish.
How to score with Jeen
Jeen should play banners. Pretend she is green. In the plot phase, she has an advance of 3. This will often be 4 if she uses the clash phase to do some setup (as Goblins should) and gets a speed boon either from herself or from a handy Shrike.
At speed 4, Jeen can get to enemy banners very well if she’s going second. If she’s going first, she can often get to far away hex and claim a safe banner. Sometimes, she can do both in the same activation since her followers can clear her a path. Bladestorm also grants an extra hex of movement, so if there is a banner that needs crushing, Jeen can potentially get it from 5 hexes away without using her ultimate. The only other champions that can do that are Raith, Styx, and (conditionally), Grimgut.
Check this out:
BuT HeR AtTaCkS aRe BaD!
Sure. So are the attacks of many other banner-focused champions.
What’s that you say? A Maelstrom needs to KO followers? How uptight. Free your mind. Why does a Maelstrom need to KO followers? I can think of only two reasons why. Either you need to get followers out of the way or you need to score steps. The shrikes get followers out of the way automatically and for free. Sadly, though, Jeen does not explosively score steps.
But why do you need to score steps? To win the turn right? Well, there’s more than one way to win a turn. If Jeen scores a banner and helps someone else on the team crush a banner that would have otherwise been safe, she has effectively netted you eight steps on the Battle Ladder. That’s even better than KOing four followers since it won’t max you out on the ladder and happens in the end phase. This is pretty achievable for Jeen because she has speed to burn and, as previously explained, makes everyone on your team good at crushing banners as needed.
Also, despite what you may think, Jeen can KO followers… I guess. This should not be your main goal with her, but she is able to do it.
Here are the odds that Jeen's attacks will KO small followers with various defensive stat lines:
So… not great, but also sometimes worth it. If Jeen can target at least 2 followers with a skill she’ll probably KO at least one or maybe two of them. Consider this 2-4 steps an added bonus to grab when situationally convenient.
Bladestorm is better than any of Blackjaw’s attack skills. It’s 5/5 and can target an entire hex worth of followers, plus it offers extra movement. It can even take out tougher followers and even harm some champions if you use Sharpen Blade to make it a 5/6.
Polearm Sweep is pretty bad. Don’t expect much unless targeting a stat line of 3/2 or less. Those targets do exist, and there’s nothing wrong with using this skill to scrap a few Gearhawks or something. Otherwise, you’re probably better off moving and gaining a boon in the clash phase. It’s rare to use this in the plot phase at all.
Rapid Strike is a bonus action. It usually won’t KO anything, but it can expend defensive boons on enemies or offensive blights from Jeen before the real attacks happen. It’s free! Don’t complain about free.
Look, I know it’s not a lot of dice, but it doesn’t need to be. If Jeen KOs 1-2 followers per turn, that’s fine. 2-4 steps on top of the strong banner game? Excellent.
You don’t need the big, explosive turns that you get from Blackjaw. Often times, those spectacular activations are inefficient because the ladder is maxed out. Afterwards, all of the followers are gone, and there are no KO points left on the table. You can shear a sheep many times but skin it only once (thanks, Matt Damon).
But like I said, Jeen can win you turns without taking a single attack action. If your Guardians and Slayers can all also crush banners, they can have much bigger turns than they would have without Jeen.
Overrun (Reverse Tsunami)
The ultimate turns up Jeen’s banner crushing support up to 11. She can come screaming in from nowhere and push friendly champions into banners.
This ultimate is very flexible because it also moves Jeen 2 and can be used in either phase. If Jeen has a speed boon left over from the clash phase, she can use this to move 6 hexes. No banner is safe. Even in the plot phase, Jeen can use Overrun to move a total of 4 hexes if her trusty shrikes have given her a speed boon beforehand.
The real magic happens when you use this ultimate to help teammates, though.
Consider the scenario below. It's your plot phase. You've got Jeen and Keera. Your opponent has the three guardians.
The enemy Guardians have used all of their banner protection tricks. Finvarr has debuffed poor Keera's speed. Even if Keera wasn't on speed 1, she would still be unable to advance at all due to the Knightshades. Rhodri and his crew are right across from Jeen, they are blocking her path, and none of them can be moved. This is a hard nut to crack, right?
Nah. This is child's play for Jeen and her Shrikes. Using Overrun, they can crush all three of these banners on their own.
This is not a magical Christmas Land situation. This is a 2 vs. 3 situation against champions who specialize in protecting flags.
If you think that these situations don't arise in games, let me just offer that this is exactly how I lost a tournament final once. If you think about it, this situation actually not that unusual. The details may vary, but the general situation occurs often. Players often miss how a champion in one lane can influence what’s happening in another lane because most champions don’t have the explosive speed that Jeen brings. Whenever a teammate can’t get to a banner, Jeen can potentially help.
Jeen may not be a top tier champion. She does have a low health pool and weak attacks. I accept this. She’s not Raith out there. Jeen is also an indirect Kailinn victim because she is at her best supporting champions like Keera and Shayle. Kailinn makes it hard to take those champions. If there is a ban built into the tournament format, Jeen becomes much more attractive. This is a good example of how bans actually give people more freedom to play their toys. But that’s an article for another time.
Consider Jeen in the right spots and she will shine. If she’s in the wrong spot, that’s on you.