Ok so let me start out by saying I have used Esters a little bit, but to be fair almost certainly not enough. Why? Simply because I love Tapper! I just find him awesomes! Every time i have used Esters i have just found myself wishing it was Tapper. However I will soon be changing the way I play my brewers and the big lady will get her chance to shine.
On the few occasions I have used her I have in general been slightly underwhelmed by what she can do. However over time and with the release of the remaining season 2 captains I have come to realise that this is because she gets her work done in a different way to Tapper. When she first came out I thought it would be more of what I had previously but on steroids. Now that we have all the season 2 captains it is clear that they all play very different from their counterparts and I think this is abundantly evident in the Brewers. So let’s start off by comparing there stats and playbooks.
The big lady is unsurprisingly not very fast 4”/6” won’t get you anywhere quick! However with her awesome Empowering voice ability she can make herself 6”/8” which really isn’t too shabby. Tac 5 is a tad underwhelming and until the release of Smoke it was the lowest of the captains. This however doesn’t mean she can’t hold her own. The traditional short Brewer playbook and the option of a momentous result on every column are pretty sweet. Her kick stat and defence/armour are the same as Tappers. Therefore they are fairly standard and although not exceptional, they are also not terrible. However she does weigh in (no pun intended) with a mighty 22 health boxes which is pretty epic. I don’t think that currently there is another captain who can match this. Unfortunately she doesn’t come with tough hide which is a shame as I really like this character trait. The big lady does bring 1 more point of influence which isn’t subjective to the location of the cat and to be fair she can be very influence neutral. More than happy with the 4 she generates but can still get work done with less.
So what can she do? Well like all brewers she can momentously sit you on your ass on 3 successes’ and actually if you manage 1 more she can do 2 damage as well! Which I think is pretty sweet. Unlike the majority of the other brewers she actually has 2 momentous damage options on her playbook. But Esters strength lies in what she can do for the team. I am not one of these that subscribes to the idea that she makes Stoker amazing, she simply doesn’t in my opinion. There are definite bonuses to including Stoker in an Esters line-up, but I would not go as far as to say he becomes an auto include. I think butchers players will be going through a similar thing with Meathook and Filay at the moment. What Esters really brings to the table that Tapper doesn’t is an un-paralleled level of team support. There isn’t currently an ability in the game that has the flexibility of Empowered voice. Yes Hammer does have a similar ability but his requires the expenditure of influence to activate it. Whereas the big lady shares the love for free. Empowered voice is so flexible the possibilities are endless. Friday with all the trimmings can have a 22” goal threat and spigot can go to 17”. Stoker can be pumped up to Def 4 and possibly armour 3, at which point no one will touch him. Giving out +1 damage does somewhat mitigate the loss of commanding aura as well. As if this wasn’t enough, when the old girl gets her lungs going she can throw out this ability 3 times in the same activation!! But the queen of the brew isn’t content with this level of team support she also has an awesome heroic play “soothing voice” a pulse that clears all conditions and heals 2hp on all friendly models within 3” (note it is friendly models, not friendly guild). Screw you Alchemists!! But on a serious note this is awesomeness. If you are in a situation where the conditions are racking up Esters can sort out multiple players whilst only using 1 point of momentum, allowing you to spread the momentum around a bit more for the other awesome Brewer heroic plays.
How does she play? Well to me she wants to be in the centre of the team like Tapper does. In this position it will allow her to dish out the bonuses as and when they are needed. It also allows her to be in the best position for the use of her heroic play. Unlike the great man though, I think she is happier sitting back from the frontline as opposed to being in the thick of the action. With her gluttonous mass character trait Esters is actually a pretty safe place to keep the ball. Your opponent will have to attack her at least twice to get it back and this will require extra influence expenditure, also you can spend a point to counter attack knowing that she won’t be knocked down or push/dodged out of the way! When the chips are down and the fighting has started Esters can roll up her sleeves and throw her weight around. Again however it is her 2 character plays “blast earth” and “fire blast” that allow her to control the board. These abilities allow Esters to cut off charge lanes and dictate where your opponent can go. If Spigot is in the line-up he can tool the old girl up, so that each of these does 3 damage instead of 2! That’s 6 points of damage which if used against a player who has only just come back on, could see them removed straight away. This threat along with Stokers Fire blast actually allows the Brewers to do a fair bit of ranged damage. Also along with Friday and her dirty knives an Esters team can play a conditions game that even the Lab rats would be proud of! If you were to also throw in Hemlock it can really cause some frustration to your opponent. They turn up expecting to get knocked down, but instead you are setting them on fire, poisoning them or just leaving them blind! Ouchie!
Esters offers a Swiss army knife solution to a problem, whereas Tapper will take the sledge hammer approach. Having looked at her playbook and abilities more now, it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is and actually get her on the board. Yes Tapper can single handily take out Fangtooth (as written about previously) but Esters opens up the Brewers to having more choices in how to win a game. With Tapper I look for 4 take outs and a late goal to close it out. But with Esters I think I will be looking to get a goal for influence, then 2 take outs and another goal (not necessarily in that order). A game with Tapper at the helm has always felt like a bit of a grind. Once I have gotten those first couple of take outs and I start getting on top (like Parkers mum) I feel that the win is inevitable. Often my opponents have ended up feeding players into my meat grinder even though they know they shouldn’t. But with Esters maybe I will be able to out fox them and the plays wont be so obvious. I have to zip up my man suit and accept the will be a few loses on this learning curve, which won’t be easy J. Also I can’t wait to use her Empowering voice just so I can LA LA LA LAAAAA at the top of my voice!
To start with I am going to run my usual 4: Hooper, Spigot, Friday and Mash. I know what I want from these players so hopefully it won’t be too much of a shock to the system. Stoker will get his chance but I just don’t know who to drop! Mash seems like the obvious choice, but then I am down to just 1 x 2” melee which I don’t like. Hemlock will also be added to the squad to really push the conditions game.
If you want more thoughts on an Esters line-up I suggest you contact @Kueller199 on twitter, he is a big Esters fan.