Friday, May 20, 2011

Build Strategy: Scouts

Scouts use stealth; this is their prime purpose. Although nothing in the rules says that scouts have to approach the archetype as a ranged attacker, the way stealth works creates a situation that benefits the ranged scout over the melee scout. Since stealth automatically drops when you enter melee with a foe, you will only see the benefit on the first turn you take; as a ranged attacker, you can continue to take bonuses from your stealth over time. I’m going to assume that you are building a missile-using scout.

• Arms. You’ll want to put some points here, and tailor this to maximize your missile weapons rating, letting both armor and melee slide. Look carefully at the break points for tailoring abilities; for example, the bump from arms +2 to arms +3 is only 1 point, but this allows you to tailor arms +1, meaning that as far as your missile weapon goes, you effectively see a +2 swing… the same is true at the break point between +4 and +5, and between +6 and +7; at +6, you can have up to +8 in your missile rating, but at +7 you can have +10. This is a relatively minor investment (16 CPs) to get what is, in effect, an ability worth 30 CPs.

• Evade is helpful, and a few points will go a long way when synergized with stealth. You can make a modest investment here and see big rewards, as long as you don’t get into melee combat with a foe.

• Intuition. Your stealth is going to often mean that you end up, well, scouting for your team. As such, you will need intuition to pick up the details and make sure you get things right. Additionally, being able to go first allows you to make better decisions about using your stealth and getting into tactical positions.

• Between might and precision, there’s no choice; it’s precision all the way. You could conceivably build a scout who uses thrown weapons in place of missile weapons, but the return just isn’t worth it to have the better utility of might; let’s do the math. You invest 16 CPs to get arms +7 (tailored to +10 in either melee or missile), and you invest 16 CPs to get either might or precision +7. With a thrown weapon, you have a range of 7 units (based on your might); with a missile weapon like a bow, you have a range of 17 units (precision + weapon rating)! You can hit someone up to 170’ away without taking a penalty to your attack roll. That’s crazy good. Against a foe with normal movement, this guarantees you 3 attacks before the target can even get in melee range, and then the target takes a penalty on its attack in the fourth round; if you’ve had your stealth up and you’ve done a good job hiding, you’ve just dished out a LOT of damage to that charging foe.

• Stealth. This is your signature ability, and you have to make the investment in it. You see all manner of benefits from stealth; your foes can’t see you, you get bonuses to attack rolls, you get bonuses to evade rolls; it’s a very powerful ability. You’ll never regret a high investment in stealth. Putting over 1/3 of your total CPs into stealth is not beyond reason, and is probably a good guide. At 30 CPs, you should have at least stealth +5 (9 CPs), and you can justify stealth +6 (12 CPs). In fact, you could be very aggressive, investing at level (so 15 CPs in stealth when you are built on 30 CPs), knowing that when you get to 32 CPs overall, you will put a 16th CP in stealth to get it to +7.

• Resolve may be useful in a pinch, but generally speaking, you don’t have as many options as magicians (for example), nor are you expected to save the team (like disciples), so you can afford to skimp some here.

• Other abilities and applications: Since scouts don’t need as many abilities as other heroes, they have some points available to pick up some other needs in the team. It’s always nice to have someone with burglary (and since you are going to be the point man anyway, it could be nice to detect that trap before you walk into it)… these give you a chance to further define your scout. A scout who takes burglary is far different in approach from one who takes nature (linked to intuition).