Tournament List: the Filthy Four
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
It's my meanest tournament list.
I’m currently playing in the Borderless Godtear League, an SFG standard tournament.. It’s an asynchronous, online event where players each play one match per week. At the time if this writing, I am 2-0 and headed for finals despite drawing two top notch players in the first two rounds. Both of my opponents so far have (justifiably) complained about my list.
The list is: Raith’Marid, Skullbreaker, Kailinn, and Rhodri. It’s a rainbow, but a very angry, fighty kind of rainbow. It's basically just some obviously strong models. There's nothing creative or special about it.
I first presented a rough draft of the list on the Banner Bearers podcast. The original version had Luella instead of Rhodri. However, I got some strong feedback from the panel on that podcast. They pointed out that the list would struggle on Life and Knowledge since both Maelstroms would struggle on those scenarios (especially Kailinn).
Although the original reason to take Luella was that she hunted different followers than Kailinn, I realized that I really felt fine with SB, Raith, and the murder horses into nearly any opposing lineup on four out of six possible scenarios. What I really needed was a Life and Knowledge specialist. Time to instantiate the Rhodrissance!
Essentially, the list is always going to be Raith, SB, and Kailinn unless it’s Life or Knowledge. In that case, Rhodri comes off the bench to sub in for the ponies of pain. This makes it easy to decide which 3 to bring each round. I’ve noticed in the past that my lists need to do a better job of considering scenario versatility, and this roster change is a corrective to that tendency.
In my opinion, this list is absolutely filthy. If you'd like to see it in action, round 1 was on stream. Shout out to TheOldeCrow.
We’ve essentially got a core pairing (Raith and Skullbreaker) and two swing pieces (Kailinn and Rhodri).
Please allow me to break down each and why they are here.
Well, of course. Raith is probably the most powerful overall champion in the game. In the straightjacket that is a fixed list of four, the soggy dragon becomes even more appealing because of his incredible versatility. Raith is simply good into all matchups and all scenarios. Sure, there are some champions who handle him better than others (Keera, Luella, and Lily spring to mind), but he’s not actually bad into any of them. In a format where versatility is at a premium, it’s hard to ignore the game’s most versatile piece.
I’m me, so I’ll be putting a slayer on the table most of the time. I know, everyone loves Rangosh. I, especially, love Rangosh. Rangosh is probably more
powerful overall than Skullbreaker, but it’s close. Once again, the name of the game for me in an SFG 4 is versatility. I think that SB is a bit more versatile than Rangosh because Rangosh will struggle to hunt a high dodge target. There’s plenty of dodge 4 out there on the board these days, and Rangosh has only a 44% chance to hit dodge 4 with a Brutal Master boosted Jawbreaker. Unless you’re brining Maxen also, Rangosh will have a good number of tough matchups. By contrast, Skullbreaker can KO anyone any time. It’s pretty easy for SB to get to accuracy 6, and not super hard for him to get to accuracy 9 while still rolling a minimum of 7 damage dice. The Tooth Bearers also get to accuracy 7 pretty easily thanks to Hunting Call. On top of this, Skullbreaker’s trait makes him a slightly better banner squisher than Rangosh. Skullbreaker’s ability to hunt any target in any scenario gets him the nod.
She’s absolutely brutal. There’s no way I’m not taking her unless its Life or Knowledge. SFG’s original blog post explaining Kailinn announced that she would be scenario-sensitive. This is very true; she’s extremely strong two thirds of the time and a significant liability for the rest. For me, Kailinn is simply the best maelstrom. I like some others, but none combine the sheer speed and brutality of the centaurs with the subtle control over followers that Kailinn brings. In a decisive round 4 at this tournament, Kailinn positively exploded to secure the win. In the plot phase, she claimed a banner and used her ultimate to KO one nearby small follower, thus putting up four steps. In the clash phase, she zoomed into a different lane and picked off a small follower with Flashing Blade (she missed the second one), before using her bonus attack to KO a champion who was left on low health. The Virtues added two more follower KOs with Justice. This brought the crew's clash phase total to 8 steps. Since the nearest threat to her banner was now KOd, the banner added four end-phase steps. So, in total, Kailinn’s crew put 16 steps on the board in a single turn despite missing on a Flashing Blade attack. The horsies can just be a lot sometimes. Kailinn has some suboptimal matchups, but she can switch lanes efficiently, so it will take a village to stop her.
Like Kailinn, Rhodri is a situational beast. As it happens, he covers the exact situations where Kailinn falters, which makes for a nice fit. I’m glad that I was open to criticism from other players on this one. Rhodri was certainly the MVP of my first game this tournament on the Life scenario. The Thane of the Forsaken Hold saved my bacon in Turn 3 with a timely KO of Halftusk. In the decisive 4th turn, Rhodri showed off his natural sprinting to get back to the objective and seal the win with a late Bannerfall. Rhodri loves to play with Raith because of Undertow. Our sturdy boy’s area denial skills pair well with Skullbreaker in scenarios that become mosh pits. Both Raith and Skullbreaker can crush banners, which takes pressure off the dwarf in the banner game. On Life, Rhodri takes the middle and the speedy champions take the wings On Knowledge, Rhodri and Skullbreaker take the flanks while Raith bounces between lanes from the center. Simple.
Should I be allowed to play this?
In my opinion, no. It’s a bit much.
A lot of lists look like either variation of this list or an attempt to specifically counter it. That dynamic will eventually yield diminishing returns on replay. There are many formats which would prevent the filth I’ve laid out here by increasing player agency, like bans and drafts of various kinds. I really don’t have much to add to Gearbox’s excellent Piece on that front. There are also a few options that are not based on increasing player choice.:
1. Champion Rotation
This is built into the SFG competitive play document. SFG has always maintained the right to rotate some champions out. I would definitely cheer them if they began to use that option. Probably the best way would be to remove a very short list of champions at first. If they removed Raith and Kailinn, for example, I expect you’d see a wider variety of Shapers and Maelstroms.
2. Rules Errata
This is a heavy-handed option which SFG seems keen to avoid. Errata can create barriers to entry for a game that’s still growing. There’s also some expense involved in testing the errata and creating new cards to support it. I don’t this is likely, but it could potentially create a new gameplay balance. Another advantage to this is that it could also elevate some champions who are behind the overall power curve.
3. Restricted List
I first heard this one from Elliot the Banner Bearer and liked it immediately. The idea is that there’d be a list of champions who cannot be in the same 4 together. Players would have to limit themselves to one champion from the restricted list. So- you can have Kailinn OR Raith, but not both. This doesn’t outright ban any toys, but does open up more space for good models that are being crowded out in the standard SFG 4.
I certainly enjoy this list. I also could lose in the finals since both of my potential opponents seem to be bringing lists well-suited to countering mine. Godtear is still exciting and fun. I’m not complaining about being allowed to play these models. All of my games have been great fun. New players keep coming in. The game’s in a good spot. That said, mixing things up a bit could help keep the game fresh.