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Subject: Valkea strategy guide rss

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Jonathan Rowe
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Here's a draft of the Valkea section of a "Heart of the Mists Players Guide". Corrected version of this is now in the HotM Players Guide in the Files section

Of course, I will have misapprehensions (which I hope you'll correct) and I'll have missed things about the implications of powers (which I hope you'll point out).


Valkea is a straightforward combat character, ideal for a first game of Heart of the Mists. She has a simple ‘engine’ for storing up objective tokens, representing her fierce “momentum”, then spending it to boost her attacks or accomplish other tactics. Her Advanced Feats make it easier for you to do this.

Valkea’s Powers
Valkea has two powers, both usable once per turn. Never Defenceless is a Fast Action that lets you move a Weapon or Shield from Valkea’s discard pile to the top of her deck whenever she is dealt damage. Valkea doesn’t need to Bury cards – she just has to be dealt damage, even if it is cancelled by other Gear or Feats.
Prepared is a Fast Action that places 1 objective token on any card in play. To do this, you must discard all the objective tokens in Valkea’s Hero Area (at least one). Valkea can place this objective token on a player’s card, on the Time Charter, the Active Encounter or an Event. Since this will involve Burying “Myrmidon Discipline” and “Blunt Riposte F3 [3]”, think twice before using it.

Playing Valkea
Valka’s “momentum” is represented by objective tokens (rather like how Elatha’s ammunition is represented by objective tokens). However, Valkea can move her momentum tokens to other cards: they turn back into objective tokens when added to the Time Charter or the Active Encounter; they become ammo if added to Elatha’s cards.
Playing Valkea, you need to get “Myrmidon Discipline” into play as soon as possible then start adding momentum tokens to it. This happens automatically when Valkea does a lot of damage, but also when “Build Momentum” cards are discarded for their Combat keywords. Even ineffective attacks with the Short Sword are opportunities to discard “Build Momentum” cards to generate more momentum tokens.
Momentum tokens are spent to power “Focused Thrust”, which slashes an Enemy’s Physical Defence for the rest of Valkea’s phase. Even the puny Short Sword becomes deadly against an Enemy weakened in this way and other players might take advantage of this to use Reflexes that can damage this Enemy during Valkea’s Phase.
“Shield Rush” offers a damage boost without needing momentum and can move dangerous Enemies back to the Quest Area – or across to other Heroes who can finish them off.
During the Defence Phase, Valkea should consider discarding her Weapons to power the “Talon Block” which damages her attackers. She can get them back using Never Defenceless.
The “Pummel” Feat places Dazed Conditions which protects Valkea and sets up Advanced Feats later on.

Buying Advanced Feats
Going down the combat route, “Perseverance F3 [2]” significantly boosts the effect of “Focused Thrust” – now Valkea only needs 1 momentum token to get the -2 reduction and 2 tokens gets a -3 reduction. “Weapon Focus F3 [2]” and “Myrmidon Push [4]” both improve Valkea as a damager-doer. “Stand Fast! [1]” helps replenish momentum in combat.
An alternative damage route involves Dazing opponents. “Blunt Riposte F3 [3]” adds to Valkea’s ability to place Dazed Conditions. “Spear of Thunder [2]” lets you discard Enemies with 2 Dazed tokens on them; “Whirling Spear [3]” deals damage equal to the number of Dazed tokens.
Valkea also makes a fine strategist. “Stand Fast! [1]” lets other Heroes acquire objective tokens (Elatha turns them into ammo) and “Iron Will F3 [2]” lets you turn momentum back into objective tokens, which can be given to other players or used to buy Time or progress the Active Encounter.

Valkea’s Drawbacks
Although dangerous, Valkea is frail, especially against magic attacks. She needs to eliminate or Daze her opponents before they attack, because her defences are only modest.
Valkea has problems with deck management: she can’t heal, has few ways of drawing extra cards and her Never Defenceless power is situational. Valkea has great cards, but often not when she needs them..
Valkea can only attack one Enemy at a time and only at close range. Her Spear can attack at 2 range but only once and then it must be discarded. Skirmishers will be a particular problem. Although Dazed Enemies are less effective, Valkea can easily become mobbed by too many opponents. Durgen can help her by restoring the Spear during Valkea’s Attack Phase with his Weapon Mastery. However, Valkea should avoid discarding her Spear until she can acquire the Spear of Dawn (then she can alternate between weapons).


VALKEA’S BASIC GEAR

Valkea starts with her Long Spear, Chainmail and Shield in play. Her Short Sword is in her deck and may not be available on the first turn.

Long Spear A1
One Regular Action deals 2 damage for +2 focus and you can buff this to 3 damage/focus if you discard a Combat card. The Spear goes to the top of your deck and you'll draw it back next turn.
The stronger Regular Attack deals 3 damage for +2 focus and you can discard up to 2 Combat cards for 5 damage and +4 focus. If you do this, you have to discard your Spear (but you can recycle it easily using Never Defenceless). This stronger attack is range 2 so it can target Skirmishers and Enemies in other Areas.

Chainmail C1
This armour cancels 1 physical damage then goes to the top of Valkea’s deck.

Round Shield D1
As a Reflex, this cancels 1 physical damage then goes to the top of Valkea’s deck, ready to be drawn again.

Short Sword B2
Valkea starts with one of these in her deck. As a Fast Action, the sword deals a solitary 1 damage for +2 focus, but you can discard a Combat card to make it 2 damage/focus and the sword moves to the top of the deck after each use.
This attack doesn’t amount to much, but if you discard Valkea’s “Build Momentum” card for its Combat keyword, you can set an Enemy up for a more devastating follow-on attack.
As a Regular Action, it inflicts 2 damage for +2 focus; you can discard up to 2 Combat cards for 4 damage and 4 focus. The card then goes to the top of the deck again.

VALKEA’S BASIC FEATS

Valkea‘s Basic Feats are sufficient for her to defend herself and go on the attack, but she will struggle to generate enough momentum to power “Focused Thrust” (her best attack) very often without Advanced Feats.

Build Momentum x2
This Reflex lets you draw a card, which is handy for drawing back a Weapon, Shield or Armour that has gone to the top of the deck, ready to deploy it again.
However, this Feat needs to be discarded for its Combat keyword, because this lets you place 1 momentum token on a card in Valkea’s Hero Area for +1 focus. Choosing how to use these crucial two cards is key to Valkea’s tactics.


Focused Thrust x2

This card offers a Regular Action in two parts. First, discard 1 or 2 momentum tokens from Valkea’s Hero Area. A single Enemy loses Physical Defence equal to the tokens discarded and this lasts until the end of Valkea’s Phase.
(It’s helpful to place the tokens on the Enemy’s card as a reminder which Enemy has been affected and how much Defence they have lost.)
Secondly, you can resolve any Weapon action (even if it’s a Regular Action) for an extra +1 focus.
Nb. This Feat is range 1 so you can normally only target Enemies in Valkea’s Hero Area.

Myrmidon Discipline G2
This is deployed as a Fast Action for +2 focus and you put a momentum token on it straight away. You can add another token to this card whenever one of Valkea’s actions places 3 Wounds on an Enemy in her Hero Area.
You can also add tokens to this card using “Build Momentum” and spend them using “Focused Thrust”.
If this card is ever left with no tokens on it, it must be discarded. This card is like a ‘battery’ for Valkea, so it’s worth charging it up with “Build Momentum” so that it isn’t lost after the first use.
NB. This card has the Blunt keyword, which may be inherited by an attack that draws objective tokens from here (eg “Focused Thrust”).

Pummel x2
This useful Fast Action places a Dazed Condition on an Enemy for +1 focus so long as Valkea’s Spear is in her Hero Area. You can discard a Combat card to place another Dazed Condition on another Enemy – and if this card is “Build Momentum” that also places a momentum token as usual.
As well as being useful in its own right (Dazed Enemies do less damage), this Feat can set up victims for the “Spear of Thunder [2]” Advanced Feat, which needs an Enemy to have 2 Dazed Conditions on it..

Shield Rush x2

This Feat offers a Regular Action in two parts. First, it lets you resolve a Weapon action (even another Regular Action) and adds +1 physical damage for +1 focus. If you leave it at this, discard this card.
Second, if you discard a Combat card you can move an Enemy from Valkea’s Area to any other Area. If you do this, Bury this card.
(As usual, if the Combat card discarded was “Build Momentum”, you can place a momentum token in Valkea’s Hero Area).

Talon Block x2
This Reflex if Valkea has a Shield in play; it cancels 1 damage of any type.
If the cancelled damage was dealt by an Enemy (as opposed to by the Location or the Active Encounter), you have the option to take a Piercing card from Valkea’s Hero Area and move it to the top of her deck, dealing 2 physical damage to that Enemy for +1 focus.
Valkea’s Long Spear and Short Sword both have the Piercing keyword.
This and “Shield Rush” are the only Feats in Valkea’s deck that lack the Focus keyword which is useful for some Advanced Feats.


VALKEA’S ADVANCED FEATS

Valkea’s Advanced Feats include new uses for her momentum tokens and powerful abilities to place Dazed Conditions on Enemies, then manipulate or destroy Enemies that are already Dazed.

Stand Fast! [1] x3
This is Valkea’s only 1 point Advanced Feat. It's the same as "Talon Block" except it has range 2 and can be used to protect another Hero too. The Hero who benefits from this card (and you can play it on Valkea herself) may either draw a card or place 1 objective on a card in their Hero Area.
Obviously, Valkea will use this to charge her “Myrmidon Discipline” but Elatha will benefit from it by charging her Traps.
There’s no special benefit if this Feat is used to protect an Ally instead of a Hero.

Focused Resilience [2] x2
This Reflex moves a Focus card from the discard pile to the top of Valkea’s deck.
(All of Valkea’s Feats are Focus cards except “Shield Rush” and “Talon Block”).
If you discard a momentum token from Valkea’s Hero Area and gain +2 focus, you can place a Weapon card back on top of the deck or place a new momentum token on any card in Valkea’s Hero Area. This might be useful if you can’t use Never Defenceless (perhaps you’ve used it already or Valkea hasn’t been dealt damage yet) or if you want to move a token from another card to charge up “Myrmidon Discipline” or “Blunt Riposte F3 [3].

Iron Will F3 [2]

This card is deployed as a Fast Action for +2 focus.
It makes a new Fast Action available: if you discard 2 Focus cards (from your hand or Valkea’s Hero Area), you can move a momentum token from Valkea’s Hero Area to any other card in play – this could add an objective token to another player’s card, the Time Charter or the Active Encounter. If you are using the Snow & Sand expansion, an objective token could be added to an Event.

Perseverance F3 [2]
This card is deployed as a Fast Action for +1 focus.
As a Reflex, it lowers Enemy Physical Defence by an extra -1. This means, if used with “Focused Thrust”, the Enemy’s Defence can be lowered by -2 (for one discarded token) or -3 (for two tokens).

Spear of Thunder [2] x2

This is a Fast Action that requires you to discard 1 momentum token from Valkea’s Hero Area. It allows you to discard any Enemy that already has 2 Dazed Conditions on it, then discard this card.
NB. Discarded Enemies are not Eliminated – you don’t get Renown for them. They just leave the game.
Special Enemies can’t be discarded like this, but for +1 focus you can place 2 Wounds on the Enemy and Bury this card.
This Feat has the Lightning keyword, which may place a Wound on Vulnerable Enemies when you target them. This might Eliminate the Enemy before it has a chance to be discarded.

Weapon Focus F3 [2]
This card is deployed as a Fast Action for +1 focus.
As a Reflex, it adds +1 physical damage to any of Valkea’s Weapons, for +1 focus and discarding 1 momentum token.

Blunt Riposte F3 [3]
This card is deployed as a Fast Action for +2 focus. Place a momentum token on this card. As with “Myrmidon Discipline”, if there is ever no token on this card, Bury it immediately.
As a Reflex, you can spend 1 momentum token from any card in Valkea’s Hero Area (including this one) to place a Dazed Condition on an Enemy for +1 focus. If used twice in succession, you could place the 2 Dazed Conditions needed to set up “Spear of Thunder [2].
To use this Reflex, the Enemy must be in Valkea’s Area and must have been dealt damage by Valkea’s Weapon.

Whirling Spear [3] x2
This simple Reflex can be used after using Valkea’s Spear. It deals physical damage to an Enemy equal to the number of Dazed Conditions on that Enemy. The focus cost is equal to the damage dealt.
Multiple uses of “Pummel” or “Blunt Riposte F3 [3]” could place a lot of Dazed Conditions on an Enemy, giving you the option to discard the Enemy using “Spear of Thunder [2]” or damage it using this Feat.
This card has the Blunt keyword, which may add an extra Wound to Vulnerable Enemies (like Skeletons).

Myrmidon Push [4] x2
This is a Fast Action that can only be used if you have both a Weapon and a Shield in Valkea’s Hero Area. It deals 2 physical damage for +3 focus. You can discard up to 3 Combat cards to add +2 damage/+1 focus for each. This could take the damage up to 8 (for +5 focus), which is very impressive for a Fast Action.
This card is Buried after use.

VALKEA’S REWARD GEAR

Playing Valkea, you choose between two Reward Gear cards. They both improve significantly on her Basic Gear.

Alekar’s Shield E3 [2]
This costs +1 focus to deploy and offers 2 Reflexes.
The first cancels 3 physical damage for +1 focus. You discard this card or return it to the top of Valkea’s deck.
The other Reflex only cancels 1 physical damage for +1 focus, but lets you recycle a Weapon card from your discard pile or your Burial pile, adding it to the top of Valkea’s deck. This card then goes to the top of the deck.
Notice the unusual E3 restriction: is it a misprint? You may deploy this alongside as Valkea’s Round Shield.

Spear of Dawn A1 [2]
You can deploy this for 1 Focus cost. It works just like Valkea’s Long Spear, offering a two Regular Actions.
One Regular Action deals 2 damage for +2 focus and you can buff this to 3 damage/focus if you discard a Combat card. The Spear goes to the top of your deck and you'll draw it back next turn.
The stronger Regular Attack deals 4 damage for +3 focus and you can discard a Combat card for 6 damage and +45focus. This stronger attack is range 2 so it can target Skirmishers and Enemies in other Areas. Instead of boosting the damage, you can move a momentum token from Valkea’s Area to any other card (such as another player’s card, the Time Charter or the Active Encounter). Either way, the Spear of Dawn is discarded.
Although Alekar’s Shield offers impressive protection, the Spear of Dawn will probably appeal more because of its ability to move objective tokens around at no cost. However, it competes for the A1 slot with the Long Spear so Valkea cannot deploy both at once.

VALKEA’S STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES


Valkea is all about combat, with a simple ‘machine’ for powering her abilities.

Boss-Killer
Given long enough, Valkea could place a lot of Dazed Conditions onto a Special Enemy, effectively paralyzing it. When she’s good and ready, “Whirling Spear [3]” can deliver horrible damage levels (and a lot of focus).

Deadly
Valkea starts off as a modest warrior, with only “Focused Thrust” to buff her damage. However, many Advanced Feats add to her combat effectiveness, notably “Perseverance F3 [2]” and “Weapon Focus F3 [2]”. Her Piercing and Bladed (and sometimes Blunt) keywords also inflict Wounds on Vulnerable Enemies.

Quick Witted
Most of Valkea’s weapons and armour return to the top of her deck after use. You may discard her Weapons for their Piercing keywords to turn “Talon Block” into an attack, but Never Defenceless will have them ready again quickly – or if you’re in a hurry, “Focused Resilience [2]” or Alekar’s Shield will re-equip you faster.

Strategist
Objective markers function as momentum for Valkea and some players love managing this resource. Do it wisely; often it's better to withhold using a Feat until you've increased your momentum with “Myrmidon Discipline”, “Stand Fast! [1]” or “Blunt Riposte F3 [3]”. Valkea can progress an Active Encounter by adding an objective token to it, using “Iron Will F3 [2]” or Spear of Dawn. Objective tokens can also be added to the Time Charter (to buy extra time) or to other Heroes’ cards – notably Elatha’s Traps and Quiver.

Stunning
Valkea can placed Dazed Conditions on Enemies using “Pummel” or “Blunt Riposte F3 [3]”. Since Dazed Enemies do less damage, this is good in its own right and several Dazed tokens might immobilise an Enemy. “Spear of Thunder [2]” removes a sufficiently Dazed Enemy from play.

Cluttered Inventory
Several of Valkea’s cards compete for the F3 slot: “Iron Will F3 [2]”, “Perseverance F3 [2]”, “Weapon Focus F3 [2]” and “Blunt Riposte” F3 [3]”, meaning you can’t have all of them deployed at once.

Luck-based
If Valkea gets lucky, you will draw her Short Sword and “Myrmidon Discipline” in the first turn and use these to start building a reserve of momentum. If you are unlucky it could be the third turn before that happens.

Plodding
Valkea sends most of her Weapons, her Shield and Armour and several Feats to the top of her deck. This means she is largely drawing back the cards she used last turn. She only has 2 “draw again” cards and she needs to use them to gain momentum. Poor deck management is a big problem for her.

Poor Healer
Although she has a +2 Restoration Bonus, Valkea goes through her Deck quickly. Weapons can be recycled but other cards can’t, making her dependent on healing to rescue cards from the Burial pile or discard pile.

Short Reach
The Spear has a 2 range attack, but only if you then discard it. Valkea has no other way of attacking Enemies at range, especially Skirmishers.

Vulnerable to Magic
Valkea has few ways of cancelling magical damage: her Chainmail and Shield only cancel physical damage and “Talon Block” only cancels a single point of magical damage. Valkea has no “Dodge” cards in her deck.

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Adam Gastonguay
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Thanks for this! She is my favorite character, backstory-wise, but when I play her, I quickly find myself getting overwhelmed by low-powered mooks. It's always quantity, not quality that does her in against me. I never seem to be able to get the objective tokens to the right places at the right times to get the right combos together.

You've given me some stuff to think on, so I'll give her another shot soon, perhaps with my Misthuntress so an arrow can take advantage of those -2 to defense modifiers.
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Walt MacEachern
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Thanks. Some really good insights and things I've missed.

One question: You talked about "Valkea's Phase" as if the heroes have to have to complete there turns before the next hero can play. It was my understanding that, [possibly as a change for HotM] that you can freely alternate between hero's as desired until all actions have been taken. This really opens up coordinated combo's between heroes. Am I right on this, or are only reflex actions by other heroes allowed as implied by your writeup?
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Jonathan Rowe
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waltermac wrote:
One question: You talked about "Valkea's Phase" as if the heroes have to have to complete there turns before the next hero can play. It was my understanding that, [possibly as a change for HotM] that you can freely alternate between hero's as desired until all actions have been taken. This really opens up coordinated combo's between heroes. Am I right on this, or are only reflex actions by other heroes allowed as implied by your writeup?


The 'classic' Mistfall had each players going through their Hero's Attack Phase and completing it before another player started theirs. Consequently, the only cards other players could use during someone else's Attack Phase would be Reflexes.

Mistfall added as a 'variant' the option of playing everyone's phases together - I know HotM repeats this but I thought the 'standard' rule was still to play them separately.

The game is certainly easier if everyone plays a combined Attack Phase together. If you do this, then other players will be able to use any sort of action, not just Reflexes, to take advantage of the poor critter that Valkea has marked for destruction.

I gather it's up to players whether they want to play the game "classic" (one at a time) or "ensemble" (everyone at once)
 
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Stephen Zipprich
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CthulhuKid wrote:
Thanks for this! She is my favorite character, backstory-wise, but when I play her, I quickly find myself getting overwhelmed by low-powered mooks. It's always quantity, not quality that does her in against me. I never seem to be able to get the objective tokens to the right places at the right times to get the right combos together.

You've given me some stuff to think on, so I'll give her another shot soon, perhaps with my Misthuntress so an arrow can take advantage of those -2 to defense modifiers.


Try playing Valkea with Durgen. His hammers and some of his Advanced Feats allow for placing progress tokens on hero weapons (range 2) and he can discard a card to place a weapon from a hero's discard pile on top of their deck. If planned right, it can be pretty potent.
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Jan Probst
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Note that Never Defenceless is of course a Reflex (errata), otherwise it would not work - you cannot do a Fast Action to "respond" to a damage event.
It of course still is really really bad, with the new (now official) lack of aftermath draw-up, she at best has her main weapon every 2 turns if she uses it.

Which brings us to the Spear of Dawn:
deadmarlowe wrote:
However, it competes for the A1 slot with the Long Spear so Valkea cannot deploy both at once.

She'll want to "alternate" Spears, even in the "best case" of getting to use Never Defenceless regularly (enemies being alive in defense phase is actually a bad case, but bear with me), she won't have a spear next turn.
If she keeps both spears in circulation, she'll always have one. Due to this, I'd probably rate the Spear of Dawn as her #1 most important first purchase.

Edit:
Some Strategy thoughts in general:
- Yeah, she badly wants Durgen along, he greatly fixes the problem that her Hero Charter is blank of usable abilities. He also brings sufficient and highly repeatable multi-attacking, which she lacks.
- Her best bet is probably to use the spear to help clear someone else's H with that range 2, and tank her own H with Dazes and general toughness. (Assumes a multi-round fight. In a proper fight someone else would use the extra breathing room to kill them, or ignore them because encounter progress closes the encounter)
- Bad as her multi-attacking and stuff may be, her single target damage is excessively good. My first HoM session report sort of demonstrates that she can pretty much do nothing much all quest until the final battle (attention is a limited resource in 4 hero solo yo) and still be a net valuable contributor due to smacking up the boss oh so very hard.

Edit2: added links to things
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Jonathan Rowe
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Thanks Jan - I'll put those thoughts in the final draft
 
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Jonathan Rowe
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So I noticed today that Valkea's "Build Momentum" feat is a bit more restrictive than I thought. You only get to place the objective token when you discard "Build Momentum" while resolving an action from your hand - not an action on a card in your Hero Area.

This is depressing because a standard tactic was to use "Build Momentum" for its Combat keyword to boost damage from a Weapon. You can still do that, but it won't qualify for placing that objective token.

I suppose my new tactic is using "Build Momentum" with "Pummel", to place that second Dazed Condition and add an objective token.
 
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Jonathan Pickles
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deadmarlowe wrote:
So I noticed today that Valkea's "Build Momentum" feat is a bit more restrictive than I thought. You only get to place the objective token when you discard "Build Momentum" while resolving an action from your hand - not an action on a card in your Hero Area.

This is depressing because a standard tactic was to use "Build Momentum" for its Combat keyword to boost damage from a Weapon. You can still do that, but it won't qualify for placing that objective token.

I suppose my new tactic is using "Build Momentum" with "Pummel", to place that second Dazed Condition and add an objective token.



It's irritating as it seems so unnecessary & it's easy to forget as AFAIK none of the other discard for bonus effects are restricted. My de facto house rule might be to ignore that restriction as I am likely to forget it a lot anyway.

I played Fengray then Valkea thought the same Great Hunt scenario to compare them as he is the most similar to her I feel. I used Bron the Wise as an ally to patch her & because Fengray does not really care who comes along. She took a lot longer to complete the mission but was much more fun too. Once she was fully set up with Myrmidon's Discipline, Perseverance & Weapon focus plus the good transient cards & the Spear of Godliness she was as effective as Fengray.

While I do play it properly & kill everything as fast as possible she did have to grind through a couple of encounters over 2 or even 3 rounds but this got her more Resolve.

One handy point that came up is that the weapon action from Focused Thrust does not need to target the same target as the thrust itself. This lets you set up easy fast short sword kills while the Spear of the Dawn does not usually need much help slaughtering things.

Another nombo is that Weapon Focus can only boost weapons (!) so not Talon Block or Whirling Spear & they remain pretty useless. The whole dazing thing seems poor but may work with another hero if you do not play properly and set up multiple conditions for a long fight.

Talon block might work if you get enemies to attack in the hero phase from enrage after they have been Focus Thrusted. You can discard and bury Talon block to absorb the damage which seems the best use for it.
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