Mr. Tannen, Neverborn/Ten Thunders Dual Faction Enforcer

"Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it." - Hunter S. Thompson


At first glance Tannen can seem a bit underwhelming. Slow, poor damage and low resilience makes the 6 Soulstone cost seem exorbitant. Looking closer, though, Tannen brings some significant abilities to the table that can make him an incredibly useful addition to Neverborn and Ten Thunder crews alike.


One of Mr. Tannen’s biggest weaknesses is his mobility. Tannen works best when he’s close to other friendly models and being restricted by his Wk of 4 can really slow your crew up. Tannen doesn’t even have a value for his Cg, which is probably a blessing because charging him into melee would never be a good idea. The only plus point about Tannen’s movement is that he doesn’t get any penalties when moving through Severe Terrain because of the Unimpeded ability.

It is normally a good idea to team Tannen up with a models like Mr. Graves or Beckoners who are able to give Tannen a push to help get him into position. His lack of pace makes repositioning Tannen a time consuming task, so you really need to consider his deployment carefully. He's usually at his best in scenarios where models will be congregating around an objective, and better if you can give him a boost up with another model.


Tannen doesn’t excel at all in terms of hurting models, with underwhelming damage output even if you flip Severe. Fortunately, Tannen should never be used in a damage dealing role, so any wounds he inflicts can be seen as a bonus.


Pocket Knife is the only Ml attack Tannen has, and with poor accuracy, tiny range and limited damage output it should only be used in the direst of situations. Basically this gives Tannen the option to make disengaging strikes, although typically he's the one more inclined to be slinking away from combat.


Bored to Tears comes under a ranged attack, but it’s really a denial action in disguise. With a decent Ca value it should hit more often than not and while it won’t do much damage it can really put the hurt on in other ways. Once successful this action gives the target the Bored condition, reducing their Wk and Cg values by 2 until the end of their next activation. This can slow down scheme runners who are trying to get past Tannen to score points and can sometimes put a melee model out of charge range, giving you some breathing room. If a big enemy bruiser is threatening one of your key models and Bored to Tears will put them out of range then it can be worth activating Tannen early to do so, just bear in mind that without his Manipulative Tannen may be then next juciest target.

This attack has 2 Triggers:
  • Yawn requires a Mask card and stops the target using Soulstones until the end of the turn,
  • This One is Yours needs only the built-in Mask and pushes a friendly Mr. Graves towards the target

Yawn is great for making enemy Master or Henchman more vulnerable to assassinations, although it does require the usual activation order considerations. This One is Yours is great if you have Mr. Graves in play, but useless otherwise. Setting up a model for Graves to take out is normally very effective and always hugely satisfying. The debuff to the Wk stat from Bored synergizes well with this Trigger by making it less likely that the target can walk out of Graves' threat range before he activates and between This One is Yours and Graves pitching Tannen around with Show Ya' the Door the pair can play a pretty convincing game of leapfrog across the table.


Cooler is Mr. Tannen’s key ability, this is what you bring him for. Enemy models within 6” of him must discard a card before Cheating Fate. This makes your opponent really need to consider their resource management very carefully as they’ll burn through their hand in no time if they try anything fancy around Tannen. This ability can blunt an enemy assault, or make them more vulnerable to your other models attacks, so how you use it will determine whether you get your points worth from Mr. Tannen.

Apart from making the enemy suck at Cheating Gate, Mr. Tannen can also make them completely useless at completing schemes with his Tactical Action (1) "So What Brings You To these Parts…?”. This gives Tannen the Chatty condition, which will stop enemy models taking any sort of Interact action within a 6" aura. This will prevent them dropping or removing Scheme Markers, or completing schemes like Distract, Cursed Object and Deliver a Message. Since it's a (1) action it requires Tannen to activate early to get the most of it; this makes him more vulnerable to attack and slows him down as well, so it's worth considering carefully when to take this action. "So What Brings You To these Parts…?” is generally better when you know in advance where the enemy will be trying to interact (like in Squatter's Rights) or if you can have Tannen take actions out of activation (like with Zoraida). Tannen isn't really mobile enough to deny Breakthrough or Plant Evidence with this ability, although the size of the aura may limit your opponent's options.

Leave it to Luck is a (0) Tactical Action that is always a bit of a gamble when you use it. This action adds 2 to any Masks played or flipped while any Tomes played or flipped must deduct 2 from their value. Whether of this going to be of any use to you generally depends on what your hand looks like, if you have a lot of Masks it's great, otherwise there's no real benefit (and a hand full of Masks even means you'll be flipping less off the Deck). It can potentially make it harder for your opponent to use actions which require a Tome card, so keep an eye on nearby models' Triggers and Target Numbers. Probably the best use of this action is to let The Dreamer summon models with weaker than usual cards, and you can even summon a Teddy if you have the 13 of Masks or Red Joker in your hand!


If he gets singled out, Tannen will go down very quickly. With an average Df and only 6 wounds, he won’t be able to last against any heavy hitting models. To boost his defense, Tannen has Manipulative 13, but due to the fact that some of his abilities work best when used early in the turn this ability isn’t going to protect him forever. When deciding activation order it’s worth seeing how much influence Tannen’s support actions will have that turn; if he’s not going to accomplish much it makes sense to activate him late in the turn to keep his Manipulative intact.

Mr. Graves is great at improving Tannen’s survivability with his LoS blocking size, ability to throw Tannen out of danger and a Trigger that allows Tannen to keep his Manipulative ability even after his activation. If you don’t opt for Graves, it’s still worth while running Tannen with a bodyguard type model. Also, if you are running Mr. Graves don't forget that you can trigger Your Fight is With Me regardless of whether Mr. Tannen has activated yet, so you don't need to have Tannen go first in order for the Trigger to work.

Cooler makes Mr. Tannen more annoying to get rid of than you might think. If you can put pressure on your opponent's hand before they go for Tannen and hold some good cards for his defense duels he'll last longer in melee.


Ten Thunder upgrades

Servant of 5 Dragons: Cleanse the Earth improves Tannen’s area control game by letting him discard scheme markers within 3” when you discard this upgrade. If you're planning on using this ability, remember that you have to discard the card at the start of the activation which means you need to plan ahead. The Wp buff doesn't add much to Tannen as he already has a respectable Wp and improving this by 1 won't make him much more survivable.

Recalled Training: Getting a positive on every flip for a turn can turn the course of a game if used in the right setting. Tannen is quite a passive model, so benefits less from this upgrade than most. On those turns when he needs to drop a Condition on something early this upgrade helps him do it and buffs his defense to make up for dropping Manipulative, but it's probably better used on someone else.

Neverborn Upgrades

Pact: Hitting things with Tannen usually isn't a high priority and even his Triggers are still effective if you get the Black Joker on the Damage flip. This upgrade might save him from certain doom on an unlucky defense flip, but that's only going to happen one time out of every 54, so it's most likely not worth the asking cost.

Nexus of Power: Allowing Soulstone users to heal 1 wounds whenever they spend a Soulstone can be fairly useful, especially as you’ll want to use Tannen where the fighting is the thickest to push the odds in your favour. The problem with giving Tannen Nexus of Power is that it paints a big target on him and he goes down easy. He also can't use Soulstones himself so he doesn't actually get any direct benefit from it, which means you'd only consider it if you really need that healing and no other model in your crew can hold the upgrade.

Useless Duplications: A cheap, versatile upgrade that can help protect Tannen and other friendly Mimics. Forcing projectile attacks to randomise between Tannen and friendly models within 2" is a good way gettting his auras to work without exposing him too much to enemy ranged attacks, do bear in mind though that if you bring him with Mr. Graves it works both ways and Tannen could end up taking hits while he's hidden behind the big guy. The second half of the card lets you discard a card to help defend against close attacks; it's expensive but it can be very helpful for protecting Mr. Tannen from something that has him cornered. Bear in mind this doesn't play so nicely with Cooler since the negative flip means models won't usually be cheating fate, but if they had to do so to get through Tannen's manipulative already then that's just gravey. The upgrade is rare 1 and spreads its buffs around to your mimics so it's definitely worth considering if you have at least one other mimic in your crew although which one of them actually carries it is important as well.

Retribution's Eye: Do NOT put this upgrade on Mr. Tannen, it's a complete waste of a Rare 1 upgrade. Sticking it on whatever buddy model you're taking with Tannen is a fine idea though, provided they have a decent Ml attack.

The Mimic's Blessing: Adds an extra layer of defense from charges and projectile attacks, but only when Tannen hasn't activated, so it kind of doubles up with Manipulative. If you happen to have very good activation control this could make Tannen pretty survivable, but otherwise you might be better of with Useless Duplications. The second half of the card does offer some card filtering as a consolation prize if your model is killed, but this upgrade is generally better for keeping big, dangerous models safe while they set up to charge.

Depression: As a Woe Mr. Tannen can carry this upgrade. He doesn't get much out of the zero action except for making his Yawn Trigger easier to pull off, but it does give an extra attack action to all other friendly woes in his line of sight. Traditionally Kade is the man (baby?) to take this upgrade and Iggy is the budget option. Tannen is a reasonable alternative that plays well with the nasty aura theme of the Woes, so if Melancholy is relevant to your crew he has the upgrade slot to provide it.

Tactics and Tips

In many ways, Tannen is a bit of a dichotomy; his abilities all want him to be within 6” of your opponent’s most dangerous models, but his poor resilience makes him appear unsuited to that role. To get around this, Tannen shouldn’t be used by himself, but instead with another model or two that are able to take advantage from the debuffed enemies and draw the heat away from Tannen. The most obvious synergy is with Mr. Graves as not only is Graves an exemplary bodyguard but they each have Ttriggers that specifically benefit the other model. If you don’t take Graves, any resilient beat stick model will do well, especially if they have a 40mm + base which makes blocking LoS and charge lanes to Tannen far easier.

Playing Against Mr. Tannen

Tannen can really be a game changer when used well. It's usually a good idea to assign Tannen a high priority-either to kill or move out of position-even when he's surrounded by more obvious threats. Once you start making duels around Tannen your hand will evaporate quite quickly, so hitting him with range attacks is preferable and if you can get around Manipulative all the better. He doesn't have many wounds, so damage from blast or pulses can add up to kill him quite quickly and anything fairly heavy hitting should be able to get rid of him, provided you are willing to commit the resources to do so.

Mr. Tannen can have a massive impact on the game, so if he’s in a key position it’s normally worthwhile to commit to removing him ASAP.

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