Scenario Breakdown: Life is a Grind
Updated: Feb 22, 2021
In this series, I’ll share my thoughts on each scenario. We’ll consider the scenario’s effect on Deployment, the BattleLadder, the End Phase, and each champion.
The Life scenario is, candidly, my least favorite. This is because models don’t really fly around the board the way that they do in other scenarios. One of the things that first drew me to the game when I first watched beta demos was the dynamic shifts in board state that could occur. This is why I believe SFG messed up in making Life the default demo scenario - it does not show off the game. I’ve read a bunch of reviews from people who tried the game once, played the Life scenario, and then never tried the game again because they found it to be a static, boring grind.
Godtear often uses most of the board. Despite the preciousness of movement, models do move quite a lot in most scenarios. Less so in Life. Life is a grindy slugfest (this is starting to sound philosophical). I like to think of Life as a cage match. Champions enter without their followers and grapple in close quarters. This is not to say that there is no banner game in Life, there definitely is, but it is usually the kind of banner game where you protect a banner by locking someone down instead of by planting a flag in a far-flung hex.
Life is just as strategically deep as any other scenario, but I personally enjoy dynamic movement across the board. Your mileage may vary. Life can be fun, but you have to appreciate the little things (overtly philosophical).
We’ve just got a clump of hexes in the middle that will grow. This is not a scenario that’s likely to form up into lanes. It’s more of a rush the center situation. You get to deploy up to two hexes in towards the center, so it’s easier to get there than usual. The move is typically to bunch your champions in the middle and race to pay dirt. Followers are a bit trickier. Know in advance that unless they can move through hexes, your followers likely will be split into two lanes. Deploy them carefully with the knowledge that they will probably have a hard time moving horizontally across the board and that they will likely be encountering other followers who have also been pushed outside the growing hex cluster.
It’s fully open, so you can score the maximum ten steps. Kill away.
The player who lost the turn gets to place 2-4 hexes which are adjacent to existing hexes and, as always, decide who goes first next turn. This means that in a five round game, we are adding 10-20 hexes to the map. Wow. This is bad news for followers, as there will be fewer and fewer places for them to go. Expect followers and champions to become increasingly isolated form each other. Expect a lot of one on one duels between follower units at the same time that all of the champions are together in a cage match. Usually, players will want to grow hexes towards themselves, so have this in mind and leave open “lines of retreat” for yourself in case you lose the turn and want to grow a Godtear garden closer to home.
You want champions who are good at a nose-to-nose brawl. There is a lot of cruel violence in Life (there I go again). More than that, you mostly want champions who don’t need to be in a team huddle with their followers since, as the hexes grow, it will be harder and harder to keep the followers where you want them. The final consideration I’d offer is that you want champions who like it when there are lots of objective hexes.
Finvarr - He does well here. He will have an easy time getting his accuracy bonus, and the multitude of hexes will give him plenty of targets for his banner moving abilities. Debuffing speed in a scenario where a single hex is even more crucial than usual is quite good.
Halftusk - One of his better scenarios. The Froglodytes being able to enter objective hexes is an even more pronounced advantage in this scenario. If anyone can take a beating without giving up steps, it’s this chonky boi.
Helena - Yes please. Hard to push our gal off hexes when there are so many. The Peasants might be in for a tough time if they end up getting pushed too far away, so look out for Maelstroms. Still, this has got to be one of her best scenarios.
Mourneblade - Nah. The Knightshades will have a hard time getting where they need to be outside of the ultimate turn. Our skelly boy needs open field in which to exploit his long ranges. This is too claustrophobic for him.
Rodhri - Yeah! He’s maybe playable in this scenario because his biggest weakness (low movement) is less pronounced here. He’s obviously tough to kill. Still, I might reach for other guardians first because the household guard will struggle and movement does still matter.
Blackjaw - Pass. The Reavers will have a hard time reaching their targets. Blackjaw’s blazing speed does less for you in this scenario than in others. Blackjaw does not like slugfests with other champions.
Grimgut - He’s fine here. The more hexes that get plopped, the fewer places for Retchlings, but New Spew is flexible enough to find nooks and crannies for them. They will have a harder time protecting banners than usual, but speed buffs are always nice, and Slime is always potentially devastating. The early game maneuvers that let you block off the scoring zone are tempting, perhaps, but the opponent can probably counter them.
Jeen - Not her best look either. Dazzling movement displays are de-emphasized here. The Shrikes’ wonderful ability to Drive Back followers is also not really going to reach its full potential in this scenario.
Luella - A decent but not great spot for her. Her high health pool and potentially strong armor will help. Lightning Flash will potentially be devastating in close quarters. She probably won’t have the open field she craves for flashy (sorry) charges, though.
Titus - Oh yeah. Gimme some. Close-quarters brawling is his thing. Roar of Battle is also very convenient in Life. His low health pool means that Slayers will snack on him as usual, but his offense and cheeky little bits of extra movement are delightful in a cage match.
Nia - She has a good game here. The close quarters means that her mirror abilities will be more useful than usual. Obviously, she can grow her own little hex farm away from the main action and potentially create a bit more space for banners.
Raith’Marid - You might think that this is a bad scenario for him since it somewhat de-emphasizes movement. You’d be wrong. Teleporting into the empty spaces means that he can sneak behind the brawl to snag the banners easily. Tsunami becomes much more devastating when the entire game is clustered together. Undertow is even better than usual since the stolen hex can grow. He’s still durable and still Killy.
Rattlebone - This scenario hurts her a little bit. She will have a harder time using Hexlings to block off banners. Her good open field speed is less important than usual. Her ultimate, Power Hex, however will potentially be so devastating as to redeem her here.
Shayle - Yes, please. Avalanche becomes positively bananas in Life because of the plethora of hexes to be shifted. As a bonus, the champions are usually on those hexes. Landslide will have no problem popping up on the empty little corners. Shayle’s boon manipulation abilities become more relevant when everyone is clustered together. Shayle is always good, and that doesn’t change in Life.
Keera - I love Keera, but this scenario hampers her. The Dragons cannot move onto or even across hexes, so Keera has a much harder time than usual getting her attacks off. Even worse, she is somewhat fragile herself and will be forced to get in close, which is not her preference.
Lorsann - Not the first slayer I’d reach for. She prefers to strike at a distance and kind of play a kiting game. Hard to do here. Her good speed is less useful than normal. Her fragility will be a liability (accidental rhyme).
Maxen - This scenario probably helps him. Being slow is less of a liability than usual, and Maxen certainly likes to attack from up close. His followers' ability to place means that they will find the gaps that other followers can’t as the hexes spider outwards. Scavenger may come in handy when everything is packed together.
Morrigan - This scenario probably doesn’t change the likelihood that you take her. She often wants to hide behind Cold Bones and snipe at you, which won’t happen here. Still, she can get in and mix it up with Iceblade and Flash Freeze if she has the right boons. As usual, she depends more on the other champions in her team than on the scenario. I suppose that’s a point in her favor because it speaks to some scenario-flexibility.
Rangosh - Oh yeah. You know who doesn’t mind being up close while his followers hang back at a safe distance? Rangosh, that’s who.
Sneaky Peet - He can shine here. Leap is very helpful for getting to banners when everything is blocked off. The stabbers have some movement tricks that can help them stay relevant even in a field cluttered with hexes. As always, it has to be satiation where his high dodge helps him survive, but Peer can be a strong choice in Life.
Not my favorite, but I still like to play Godtear in any scenario. Life feels like chess sometimes because everything is packed together and one hex really changes everything. If you like that kind of granular, slow, grindy game, this is for you. I like it when things fly around the table, myself.
The best reason for using Life in demos for new players is that it scales well with 1v1. Personally, I think 1v1 is simple, but so much so that it does not demonstrate why the game is interesting. If you're demoing Godtear to new players who can handle 2v2 or more, my advice is not to use this scenario. SFG suggests it because it's simple, but Change is just as simple, in my opinion, and showcases the fluidity of the game far better.