Oxfordian Mage, Arcanist Enforcer


Overview

The ultimate shooty caster for the Arcanists, the Oxfordian mages are one of the closest things we'll get to a gunline. Their damage is both strong and flexible, they've got a 0 action that can produce soulstones, and they have a cadre of their own specific 0ss upgrades that power a master/henchman level upgrade for a pretty unique level of synergy.


Mobility

The Oxfordian mages are presumed to have long robes (So they can look the part) and larger books in which they hold all their spells. All of this accoutrement doesn't lend itself to being particularly fleet of foot. Not to mention they're a bunch of book worms who spend to much time reading and not enough time running for their lives. Walk 4 charge 6 is just about average. The interesting bit is they don't normally have an ability they can actually charge with unless given an upgrade, so move 4 is the only way they can really get around, short of getting yanked around by other folk (like The Captain or Angelica)


Offense

Oxford Mage.jpg

This is the Oxford Mages proverbial "jam". They've got three actions on the back of their card, and all of them are ways to deal damage. That being said, we'll start of the front of their card, because there's an ability on it that will fuel quite a bit of what's going on on the back:

Resonance: Oxfordian Mages work better in groups. The more of them there are around each other, the more aether there is in the air for them to pull from. This translates into the ability resonance which gives them an additional tomes to all of their casting actions equal to the number of other academic models within 3" (to a max of 2 additional tomes per cast). They don't inherently have any tomes to their cast, so having just one makes you have to be very tome dependant, and many of their triggers have caveats for additional tomes- so having 2 extra tomes can turn an okay spell into a burning fireball of death.

The Oxfordian Mage is one of only a few models with the "Academic" characteristic. In the Arcanist faction they are the Oxfordian Mages themselves, Amina Naidu, Kudra, Sandeep Desai and the Shastar Vidiya Guard. The other is, interestingly enough, the Freikorps Librarian who can be taken as a Mercenary. They do not, however, get the buffs themselves, they just can add to the Mage's tomes. It's worth noting that the nearby Academic needn't be friendly to grant the additional tome.

Elemental Bolt:
Their primary method of attack. CA 6, Range 10, rst DF, this spell can do a decent damage at 2/3/4. Good range and good cast means it's a pretty solid chance. Where the spell really starts to shine is in the triggers. And there are a bunch of them.
(Tome) Blaze Gives the target burning +1. Unfortunately it doesn't stack the number of tomes you have, but makes it effectively 3/4/5
(Tome) Freezing Wind Gives the target the slow condition. Again, doesn't stack with the number of tomes, but slow is always good.
(Tome) Electrocute Allows the attack to ignore armor. Very good against Freikorps or constructs.
(tome) Windblast Pushes the target 2" for each tome in the duel total. An awesome trigger for things like reconnoiter or turf war. The only trigger on this spell to stack it's effects, but if you have the "adds a tome" upgrade, two academic models around, as well as a tome in the card (flipped or cheated), this bad-boy can get up to an 8" push.
(0) Elemental Strike Ca6, Rst df, Rng 1) 1/2/3 damage.
Another spell where the devil is in the triggers. Er... details. It's the only base melee ability they have, though the damage is pretty light.
(Tome x1) Empower Soulstone This trigger went through a lot of playtesting, but where it ended up was pretty alright. After Damaging an enemy, add one soulstone to the crew's pool. Nice, and you can only do it once per turn, and you can't abuse it by having them ding each other. This is one of a very limited number of models that can generate soulstones.
(Tome x2) Flaming Strike Two tomes lets you increase your damage from 1/2/3 to 2/4/5. Gives them a bit more teeth even when they've only got one swipe per turn.
(Tome x3) Death Touch For the times when you flip or cheat a tome and have friends around- This trigger says your enemy dies unless they drop two soulstones or two cards.

Furious Casting
Their last ability is mostly just the icing on the cake- if you have the cards for it, this functions exactly like rapid fire. Discard a card, take three CA attack actions against a single target. If you have more than one mage and they all want to do this, it can get a little card intensive, but the results can be extraordinary.


external image file.php?avatar=12355_1397569984.pngResilience

DF 5 and WP 6 make them a little easier to hit, and a little less easy to manipulate. They've also got a couple abilities that help with their survival-
Student Loans
They've become indentured to the M&SU, and they know it. While within LOS of a friendly M&SU master or henchman (Ramos, Ironsides, Kaeris, Joss, Captain, Firestarter?) they get a positive twist to their WP duels. Not amazing, but not nothing. When they're within' range of Ironsides, however, and damaged, they will also get a plus flip to attack and damage. Pretty baller.

Arcane Shield
It's sort of like if Manipulative and Armor came together and had a weird co-dependant ability. If the Mage is unactivated for the turn, they can reduce damage dealt to them by 1, to a minimum of 0! So if someone tries to pop off a shot and only gets weak for one, this is one of the few abilities that will genuinely deflect that damage.

Albeit the aforementioned defensive bonus, Oxfordian Mage is going to melt under focused fire. As a model costs 6 stones, 5 wounds without Hard to Kill really makes itself a juicy target. His main attack range is a mere 10" which means you would have to place yourself into dangerous zone when attacking... This is really a subpar model even in M&SU group, the 5 stones Rail Worker compared to this seems a better pick.


Upgrades

The upgrade slot for these guys is almost always going to be the Oxford Mage specific ability. There may be a time when you know you're not going to use warding runes, and you don't care about any of the other upgrades, and you want imbued energies to get for casts in one turn, or something like that, but for the most part, you'll want at least one of the mage buffs:

Mage Upgrades:
Nemesis Ward: This gives the mage a +tome to their cast. This is in addition to anything they get from their resonance buff, which means you can get up to 4 tomes in a duel if you flip/cheat the fourth. It also grants the following buff to a model with the Warding Runes Upgrade within 10". "Protection from the Nemesis: This model gains a +twist in all DF duels with the enemy crew's leader".
Blood Ward: This ward allows the mage to give their Elemental Bolt ability a melee range of 2". This allows them to cast while engaged. This is rare one, which is too bad, or I would put it on all of my mages! It also gives the "Warding Runes" models within 10", "Protection from the Blood: This model is immune to conditions caused by the enemy models and damage from all pulse effects."
Doom Ward: This one gives them an additional DF/WP trigger called (mask) Blink. It allows them, on a failure, to push 2" in any direction. This can get them out of melee so they can retaliate with their CA actions. It also gives the model within 10" and warding runes'd, "Regeneration +1".

Temporary Shielding: This upgrade gives the Oxfordian Mage Strength In Unity, reducing their cost by 1 if all three are hired. It also grants Temporary Shielding which allows the model to discard the upgrade and a card when suffering damage to reduce the damage by 2. This is a free upgrade with zero cost in Soulstones and doesn't count towards their upgrade limit so there's no reason not to take it, even if running only a single Oxfordian Mage.


Tactics and Tips

The way the mages triggers work, you can do a lot with them in a lot of different crews. They're great control models with the push trigger, they can give out burning for a Kaeris crew, and slow for anyone else. They're great at making a Master or Henchman better/more defended/regularly healing. So, they can make a great addition to a lot of different crews and play styles.

Colette
There's an amazing little trick here that can pump out a lot of damage if the enemy isn't careful. If a Mechanical Dove grants the mage a positive twist to CA until the end of turn, and then another grants it a positive twist to Damage Flips, All of it's spells are super charged. It can use Furious Casting for three spells (all with +flip to CA and Dmg), and then Colette can give them 3 more attacks through prompt. If you've got enough targets within LOS you can create a lot of havoc.

Ironsides
The M&SU master of choice. Giving these guys a plus flip to CA and Damage would be pretty phenomenal, and giving Ironsides bonus defenses and healing would make her more potent as well. They can even use the trigger Windblast to force an activated opponent into her melee range, giving her free adrenaline.

Kaeris
Nice ways to prep burning for Kaeris to swoop in for a ton of Immolates instead of having to halo them herself (if you're using Kaeris to incinerate poor enemies). They've also got the rare chance to get soulstones back into Kaeris' pool which is helpful.

General Tips
Remember your Fundamentals
Slow will often cut a targets ability to function in half- and this is an AP dependant game. Pushing people can easily deny people positioning for Strategy or scheme VP. Handing out slow or pushing may have more of an effect that straight up doing more damage to a model on a turn by turn basis. You might think, "Oh they've got armor, time to electrocute", but don't forget: if they can also minimize a models turn, or prevent them from scoring points? Way better than one or two more damage.

Windblast is extraordinarily versatile
...and it's one of the ways you can make use of the (0) action. Get a cluster of three mages together, and you can potentially get nine 6" pushes throughout their activations. The trigger doesn't mention a direction, so you can pull the target in and attack with the (0) action to gain a SS, get the target w/i melee range of Ironsides for extra adrenaline, pull them into a scheme marker to trigger Willie's "Set Charge" or any number of other tricks (with Kaeris or Colette, you can get a ridiculous number of scheme marker traps for your opponent too). And you don't have to do damage, just succeed to get the push, so they can give you total control of the target's position.

They are Anti-Hanged
And deal well with anything with Terrifying (All) from a range with the plus flip to WP duels. Since all of their attacks are Ca, they seem to be tailor-made to take down a terrifying incorporeal like the Hanged. A solid counter to this otherwise very scary model.

They love academics
And they hate moving- try to get them somewhere where they have a variety of firing lanes. The more that can Furious Cast, the better. If something gets close, either try to leave a model that has a strong melee close to them, or alternatively give them the upgrade that gives them a melee to their casting. Their 0 is good, but if it's all they'll get to do for the turn, it's not as good.

Blink is a DF/WP duels trigger.
This means it can be used for several things besides just getting attacked. If you're getting lured or pushed somewhere you can move the opposite direction to stay closer to the other mages. If you can't pass a simple duel against terrifying, manipulative, or some pulse effect then you can burn a low mask to reposition. Just bear in mind that you can't use it on disengaging strikes, as neither model can declare trigger. If you want to get out of combat you're going to have to do it the old fashioned way.

Give 'em a Body Guard
This might just be the Mage who gets the melee attack to try and burn through a model that's engaged the group. It could also be someone with a decent melee and some movement shenanigans. Key choices are the Captain (who can hammer weakened foes, or airblast them with magics of his own), or Angelica (who can whack the hell out of a guy with Hooked Cane) or push the mages out of engagement with Give Em an Encore!



Playing Against Oxfordian Magesexternal image gandalf.jpg

An Oxfordian Mage can be pretty potent. At range. They've got a good 0 in melee, and one of them might have a decent melee attack, but the most of them are pushovers if you put a knife in their face. Even if they've got the blink upgrade, if one of them pushes out and you're engaging his partner, he'll still have to randomize. Engagement is the name of the game for taking this ranged glass cannon down.

If you have upgrade removal, you can either "plink" off the melee ranged upgrade, or the warding runes, and that will limit the synergy between mages and warding runes.

Resonance only works within 3", so if you can push them out, they'll scramble to get back together which means they spend less AP Furious Casting magic into your face zone.


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