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Off the Meta | Half-Orcs Gotta Get Gear

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Hello and welcome everybody, it's a new week and despite all the fuss about Heroics, it's time for something a little different. To that end we're going to be taking a look into my absolutely favorite set, D&D's Battle for Faerun. In D&D, I've always loved the various applications of gear and so to go along with that we're going to take a look at the Half-Orc Fighter!

The theme for the Half-Orc is very clear. Gear; getting gear, gearing up, and growing with gear. The different Half-Orcs all work with gear in a unique way meaning they're very dependent on what gear you bring and what sort of strategy you use with it. In addition, they are adventurers, meaning that they're going to benefit heavily from in-set play where monsters abound, but lose potency in Unlimited. Regardless, there are powerful ways to use gear even in Unlimited, provided you support it appropriately with the right characters. On it's own, the Half-Orc has poor stats with a good fielding cost and lacks the punch needed to push it over the top without experience or gear. If you don't want to use gear, don't get a Half-Orc.

Half-Orc Fighter - Lesser Emerald Enclave:
While this character is equipped, it gets a bonus +1/+1. This is a decent ability since it compensates for the Half-Orc's stats, effectively turning him into a Black Canary without even mentioning the added effect of the gear. That said, the real utility of this Half-Orc lies in his synergy with Unicorn - Paragon Beast. Since it has the "good" alignment, it can get a whopping +3/+3 with any sort of gear. This is best matched with the Magic Helmet - Lesser Gear meaning that your 5/4 - 6/6 is drawing two blockers at a time, with a purchase cost of 3 and a TFC-1. The comparable Frost Giant - Lesser Elemental has double the purchase cost, 6 times the fielding costs, worse defenses across the board, and only 2 extra damage on his level 3 face. The trade-off is that you're taking multiple character slots and have to leave your Half-Orc on the field for a turn in order to equip it, but the energy efficiency and combo-potential is undeniable.

Half-Orc Fighter - Greater Lords Alliance:
While you have this Half-Orc fielded, you're able to purchase gear for 2 fewer energy. This isn't actually good for your Half-Orc, but rather for building up your armory to aid your other characters. With this, you can buy any gear aside from the Magic Sword - Paragon Gear for a single generic energy. This means you can buy a full contingent of gear for you entire team at an extremely cheap price. Also, if you don't mind the generic energy, it can serve as a momentary influx of extra dual-energy dice until you field them all. That said, either the Red Dragon Global or the Elf Wizard's fielding effect are usually better multi-purpose options than dedicating a whole character slot to purchasing dice from your other character slots.

Half-Orc Fighter - Paragon Zhentarim:
The final and most interesting Half-Orc, the Zhentarim live up to their reputation as elite. When fielded, this Half-Orc can immediately take up gear and swing. This turns the standard system of gear on its head and allows you to constantly use Magic Swords and Helmets to attack whereas you normally have to have a character on the field at the end of your turn to equip it since equipping from the field only occurs at the start of either player's turn. Not only that, but he gains a bonus +3/+0 if a "good" aligned character engages him while he's equipped. This isn't going to mean much out of set, but in constructed, this can be a major blow to Unicorn-teams. The real utility of this ability is in a Wererat - Greater Lycanthrope centered team. Alongside another 3-cost "evil" character like Vampire - Minion Undead or Elf Wizard - Paragon Zhentarim (how thematic is that!), you can use the Half-Orc to swing out with 5-6 attack every time you field him and then equip the Magic Sword to your Vamp/Elf blockers at the start of you opponents turn. This allows you to keep up a relentless assault that's kept safe behind a wall of well armed blockers, constantly taking advantage of the Magic Sword and Wererat to give your characters +3/+1.

The Half-Orc itself doesn't have very specific counterplay involved outside of characters that interact with adventurers like the Owlbear or Drow Assassin. However, the gear it relies upon is a different story. Within set, the only real option is the Copper Dragon which is designed around dismantling gear when fielded, or in combination with breath weapon. In Unlimited, you open yourself up to some very nasty, albeit eccentric, counters. Hands down, the strongest counter to gear is Jinzo - Energy Shock who can clear away an entire board of gear in a single instant. Frankly I'm surprised that he doesn't see more play given his very reasonable cost/statline and his ability to completely shut down the fairly common setups Lord of D. Ring, Cerebro - Cupercomputer, and the usually safe bet of Millennium Puzzle. Other characters who can perform a similar role are Namor - Atlantean, Breaker the Magical Warrior - Mana Break, and Constantine - Action Hero.

As you can see, besides the natural adaptability that gear gives you, Half-Orcs require fairly specific setups to get the most out of their use. They can also support a more extended playstyle because of multi-turn requirement to use gear offensively. The Half-Orc suffers from one of the main issues in the D&D set, which is that it rarely plays well out of set, and it's difficult to draft the right set of gear and characters in Limited. However, with a very specific setup I believe there is a place among Unlimited teams for both Half-Orcs and the relevant gear, it just requires some dedication since you won't be able to gain almost any experience outside of poorly managed Kobolds. Because of all this, you have to make sure you're designing your team around the gear and Half-Orc combo. If you can put together the right setup, you're going to be able to hold your own against a good number of teams.

That's all I have to say about the Half-Orc Fighter, but I'm not done for the week just yet. My blog is here for more than just review single characters, so later this week I'll be introducing my other main post: Making it Meta. The goal is to take the character I review on Monday and then make a team that is best suited to the unique abilities of that character. I don't pretend that every character can be thrust onto the main stage of Unlimited and hold its own against the Hulks and Black Widows, but I want to make a team that can at least work against the average player. I'll explain it in more detail when I first post, so until then, have a great week everybody!

Updated 05-26-2015 at 01:26 AM by Necromanticer

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  1. RJRETRO's Avatar
    Another good blog! Keep 'em coming!

    (Also pumped that you did a blog on the one D&D rare that I have. Awesome.)