In my last article, I discussed the Acolyte and his faith-fueled abilities. This article will shift focus to the spell-slinging, ongoing-effect-wielding Apprentice. Where the Acolyte supports the party mostly through healing, the Apprentice supports the party with defensive and offensive buffs, along with a few debuffs for the enemies as well. The Apprentice also introduces the concepts of focus and ongoing effects.
Ongoing effects are buffs and debuffs that, as you might have guessed, stay in play until the Apprentice chooses to clear them. The other heroes clear all of the cards played on their hero board at the end of a hero cycle and reduce threat based on the number of empty spaces. Ongoing effects stay on the Apprentice’s hero board and reduce the amount of threat he is able to clear.
It might sound like ongoing effects penalize the Apprentice, but rather, they make playing the Apprentice a balancing act with his controlling player constantly weighing the value of the ongoing effect(s) against the ability to clear threat. Is the +1 D10 and +1 fate die from Hero’s Edge worth risking the threat penalty or being the target of more enemy attacks during the darkness cycle? It might be if a mini-boss like Yardu is on the board.
It gets even more interesting when multiple ongoing effects are in play. More ongoing effects means less spaces to play other actions as well as even less ability to reduce threat. On the other hand, it means more buffs for your fellow heroes or debuffs for the minions of the Darkness. Hence, a balancing act.
The Apprentice’s second unique mechanic, focus, powers most of the Apprentice’s magical attacks and mostly comes from item cards he is able to equip. Every card with the focus keyword can use a focus item to build the Apprentice’s dice pool. More powerful focus items can even be used to store ongoing effects. These items make taking a title after the first story quest extremely tempting, so the apprentice can hold onto them.
Ongoing effects make playing the Apprentice a balancing act. Having the proper effects in play can create a powerful party able to withstand waves of enemy attacks, but failing to properly manage your threat level can lead to threat penalties that can cripple the party and, subsequently, a quick demise. The Apprentice can also bring the pain with an impressive array of spells, and a powerful focus item will only further his damage output.
Next time I will discuss Archer and the massive damage she can bring to the party.