Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|32: That’s How They Getcha!
Finally, we get to confront the Skinner this week.
One thing that’s a little bit weird: the Skinner is supposed to be the Big Bad of this whole cult, but after fighting Tyrroicese last week, she doesn’t feel THAT scary. I suppose it’s kind of an “if it bleeds, we can kill it” vibe – the Tyrroicese had all sorts of resistances, while this is “just” a person with pretty-much humanoid minions, albeit undead ones.
Now, OK, that’s an oversimplification. The other side of that coin is that Tyrroicese didn’t really have much in the way of special attacks: it hit really hard and it summoned oozes, but that’s pretty much all it did. Meanwhile, who knows what this lady has up her sleeve. (Other than a really large meathook on a chain. We know about that part already.) So what she lacks in exotic defenses, she might make up for on the other side of the ball.
Part of the confidence may just come from leveling. More hit points, better attack bonuses, and a few new tricks up everyone’s sleeves means we’re that much more survivable. Now, Basil didn’t add much at Level 9… or at least not much that will be useful in combat. It may come in enormously useful once we get back to investigating things. But for now, I’ll just have to live with being incrementally better.
Speaking of leveling, I kinda got the vibe that the main reason the Graycloaks volunteered to go with us was to create a reason to delay going back in immediately; in other words, to create a story reason for us to level up. Not that we WERE going to go back in immediately, but Steve kinda (lightly) forced the issue with that. Yet, for bringing all these extra bodies, it’s not like they sent a Graycloak team into battle with us, they just came along for… traffic control? A little weird. Doubly so since they’re the supposedly-hardened veterans and we’ve been on the job for 2-3 weeks. But whatever… DISBELIEF, SUSPENDED. We’ve got Graycloaks manning the Gatorade cooler to our rear. Down we go to the lower level.
The first thing that stands out about this battle is the “lollipop” logistics of the map. The stairwell terminates in a roughly circular room, then there’s a long diagonal hallway to the southwest, headed toward the room with the blood pool. So the good news is it makes a natural chokepoint for Dougie and Lo Mang that should be pretty easy to hold. The bad news is that – at least until Dougie and Lo Mang push down the corridor a little – it makes it a little tougher for me and Gomez to get clean sightlines for ranged and/or spell attacks. The stairwell in the center of the room precludes just taking a straight shot down the corridor, so you have to angle in on either side, which doesn’t always lend itself to a good shot. (And in the case of my bow, certainly doesn’t provide 30’ of distance to avoid the -2 penalty for volley.) And if you want to switch sides (on a clock, moving from 11 to 7 or vice versa), you might have to run all the way around the stairwell to the opposite side. So it’s a SAFE place to start combat, but it’s a tactically inefficient spot as well.
And, OK, the second thing that stands out was Chris dropping the “we’re here to collect your taxes” line on her. It felt like something out of the Lethal Weapon series. If we’re gonna be cops, let us be wise-cracking 80s cops, I guess.
So combat starts, and at first, things are actually going fine. Better than fine, when you factor in the fact that Dougie’s slashing weapon does EXTRA damage against the minions. They don’t seem especially hard to hit, their hit points are… tolerable: I wouldn’t call them easy, but the first one went yellow after one round, so not ridiculously hard either. (There have been creatures where we load a full round of attacks on them and they’re still green.)
Things get even better when I land one of my best bow shots ever on the boss when she finally comes down the hall to join the fight. Seriously… 60 points on one arrow? I love my sword-cane as a roleplaying device, but if I can land those kinds of shots consistently, I may have to hang it up and become an archer for good. (The clear next step will be to add a property rune to the mix.)
But then the Skinner finally makes her way down the hall and reminds us this is going to be a real fight. First, an attack. Not a special attack, but still… crazy to-hit bonus, big damage… she’s a piece of work. And it does put it in the back of your mind to worry about what other tricks she has waiting for us. And then we see the real hidden power of the blood pool, as she manages to feed off one of her minions to heal herself. That’s right… they’re walking, punching healing potions that only she can use, and my 60-point arrow (Mostly? ENTIRELY?) falls by the wayside. Lovely.
So the real question is how to tackle the fight going forward, in light of this new information? She’s got three juice boxes left, one of which is decently damaged but the other two are mostly untouched. So the question is whether to focus on the boss or the adds. The “boss” school of thought suggests that if you just keep piling damage on her, either a) forcing her to heal will suck up actions that she’d otherwise use to attack, or b) MAYBE you power through and kill her outright because she just can’t keep up. Also, making her heal is the equivalent of getting a one-shot kill on the minions, and that’s almost certainly more efficient action-wise than fighting them ourselves. On the other hand, the minions are the softer targets – easier to both hit and crit – and once we take care of them, we only have to grind her down to zero one time and it’s over. Also, this is more speculative, but is the amount of the heal dependent on how many hit points they have left? Maybe we don’t have to kill them entirely; maybe if we take half their hitpoints, the heal is only half as effective or something.
Or, knowing us, we’ll probably just hit whatever is in front of us until a strategy emerges from the mess. That seems more like our modus operandi. So be sure and come back next week to see if we can pull it off. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.