Monday, March 8, 2010

The Zatikon Underdog: The Chieftain

The Chieftain

Special ability: Cancel enemy movement, any number of times, any range, when the enemy tries to move in a direction away from this unit. Enemy still pays costs for attempting to move.

Welcome to THE UNDERDOG! Last weeks focus was on the historically lovable, easily beatable piece: The Chieftain. A classic underdog, the Chieftain is used to being underestimated. Similar to William Wallace, Shaka Zulu, or the Ice Queen Boudica, his moral boosting influence doubles the armies power with sheer courage and ferocity, leaving every battle a fight to the death...

At first, it seemed like the Chieftain was an all out powerhouse to be sided by barbarians, berserkers, werewolves, and other bruisers for a steady beating advance. So wrong. Out of harms way is exactly where the Chieftain leads from, far from enemy archers to rally his units and enter the battle after the clash has subsided, decimating stragglers with his power as the enemy tries to flee.

Not trusting magic, and with 'no heavy cavalry', the Chieftain's army is best when made of a variety of low cost units to suit any situation. One of each: Pikeman, Rider, Cavalry, Ballista, Quartermaster, Berserker, Barbarian, Bowman, Strategist, and lowly Axeman.

With the Quartermaster down followed by a Ballista, Berserker, and Axeman, we start the assault. With the Ballista aimed at any magic user from the start, thus taking away their usual 1 action a turn for movement, the Axeman and Berserker can move as quickly or as slowly as they want into the battle field, depending on the enemy's deployment. With the Pikemen ready for cavalry or attacks to the ballista, Cavalry and Rider for added pressure to Magic users, healers, and other low power/ life units, and Bowmen covering the defensive or offensive position, the set up begins.

As the offensive slowly develops until the opponent engages, the "check mate" opportunity is scouted. Maybe an advance with the Berserker is pushed, him wiling to die for a one turn slaughterfest, or between Cavalry, Ballista, and Rider, there is a key piece is attacked with little maneuverability. Whatever the move, there is that Chieftain ace-in-the-hole waiting to cement the play.

Backed up by a barbarian or two, enemies who have over-extended themselves into the Chieftains territory are about to face Mr. OneHit, and some ever growing opportunistic savages just waiting on the enemy units like sheep to the wolves.

Changing it up a bit, subbing in a mason or two does wonders, forcing your opponent down the middle instead of around your walls. Switch in a catapult, and maybe even a ranger or sergeant to free up some actions, and suddenly you've got an opponent running at your walls into waiting pikemen! While this adaptable arsenal of units is solid, and if well played can be a real pain against most anything, the Chieftain is truly his best with one particular unit...

Another Chieftain! That's 600 points of headlights headin' right for the deer! With one banger on each side of the board, there's no where to run but down the middle. What happens when Double Trouble gets too far up the board and there a straggling piece lunging for the castle? The piece sits there stuck, unable to move a single space for victory! "Hold of the Chieftain" is everywhere, even in your house, so there's nothing but shooting ducks in a barrel.

Question is, what are you shooting with? With a first turn Quartermaster, Chieftain, Barbarian, there aren't many more points left of the remaining 400. Second turn Chieftain, and then what? Well, what would the Chieftain do?

Ballista seems like a necessity. Any Witch or Abjurer is a problem for our kings, and there are few counters within 400 points. Ballista out ranges all magic users except warlock, and in this case is still a distraction. For one action a turn, negating a magic user is crucial.

Gotta protect that Ballista too. Knights, lancers, Elephants all advancing before we get the lockdown, so some pikemen are recommended, or, for a bit more, a shaman fits the bill.

What about the slaughter? Really, with the Quartermaster and Ballista, we're working with 200 points left before Pikemen or Shaman. Scratch the Shaman, we need units! The quartermaster is just too good to let go of, as the Chieftains can be susceptible to ranged attacks that don't have to move, so we need some healing out there. Even a ballista that finds it's way to knocking into a Chieftain on the side can't kill it in one shot, and with healing every turn, the Chieftain is just as effective taking Ballista bolts to the chest every turn as moving up the board.

One thing I found was the more pieces I could put on the board, the scarier the Chieftains looked. A single ballista, or even a warlock, just made 3 pieces in total. What is a Chieftain without a hoard? Thus, for 200 points, we need to pack a hoard. Pikeman, Bowman, Barbarian, Rouge? Scouts aren't bad, as we let the opponent melt away in a pool of poison while unable to move, and foot soldiers deploy fast and keep with a non-movement theme, but I like flexibility, so with some pokers, shooters, hackers, and stunners, it's sure to get messy in that barrel.

It's easy to look straight for an abjurer or warlock, envisioning a winning record, and that's OK. Some people need fancy robes and cleverness to feel good about themselves. The Chieftain only knows one thing for certain: If there's to be a fight, it's a fight to the finish.


  1. Awesome Post! Looking forward to seeing what you have to say about more of the lesser played pieces in Zatikon.

  2. Hey! Nice post! I love the way you make it sound like a movie or real history!

  3. Oooh goodness, your posts are so much fun to read it makes me wanting to post futile ;p

  4. Haha Mongo! Without your post "Gaining more commands every turn" and on the mighty Abjurer, our Chieftain wouldn't be such an underdog as no one would see the true power of the command post! Keep 'em coming!