Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Roll of Fear

     In Spinespur, fear is a tangeable property that can have game-changing effects. Unlike many other games in which your models when affected by fear turn and flee or leave the battlefield entirely.  In Spinespur, Fear becomes a commodity in battle use can use against your opponents.

The Power of Fear
     Fear is represented in Spinspur in the form of Tokens.  Any time during this article we refer to "gaining fear" or "spending fear," we in fact are referring to Fear Tokens.  Fear Tokens grant a limited level of control over the scope of the battlefield.  

The Basics of Fear
     There are a few basic rules to keep in mind regarding Fear.

  • Fear Tokens are gained by models, but kept in a single "bank" controlled by the player. Thus a model has "access" to Fear Tokens it has not itself earned.
  • Models require a Grit Trait of 5 or higher to use Fear, or must be within X inches of a model with Grit 5 or higher- X being the value of the Grit Trait. (For example, Pigskin has Grit 7, meaning any model within 7" of him can use Fear.)
  • Players may only spend Fear to manipulate their own die rolls.
  • When the roll is an Opposed Roll, Fear must be spent (or passed on) by the defending player first, then the option passed to the Attacking player. This is key, as well as deciding how to spend them- we'll go into this. 

Gaining Fear
     There are a few different ways to gain Fear. Some powerful models are simply so infamous that by grant you additional fear tokens just for being in your force.  Some models gain them automatically at the end phase of each turn, allowing you to in effect replace one already spent, or bankroll your fear for later in the game.  Other models gain fear tokens either by taking certain horrific actions witness by enemy models (such as eating the fallen), or when they themselves witness enemy actions. 

     However you manage to do this, you want to do it, a lot. There is never such a thing as "too many fear tokens" available, and there is no cap on them.  Holding them for critical actions is important, and learning how and when to spend them can swing the balance of power in a game. 

The Use of Fear
     There are a few basic actions that all models can use Fear for. We're going to focus on those, and not go into Fear Magic and other abilities just yet. That way, this tactical guide is usable by everyone. 

  •  Intimidate- Basically the attacker's version of Playing Possum. When a model target an enemy with a melee or distance attack, the attacker may spend Fear Tokens to gain a bonus to Brawl or Aim on a 1:1 ratio.  Pros: It's guaranteed to raise your roll. Cons: It's spending a commodity before you know if you need to spend a commodity...  risky and expensive, and doesn't necessarily get you the same bang for your buck.
  • Mindrape- If you're using an ability that requires a Grit or Ment opposed roll, the attacker may  pend Fear tokens to gain a bonus on the roll in a 1:1 ratio.  Pros:  These rolls don't happen often, so when they do, it's valuable to modify them.  Cons: Many Grit and Ment check rolls gain you Fear Tokens.... so spending 3 to make sure you gain 1-4 is kinda counterproductive.
  • The Evil Eye- Basically, this allows a model to pivot on the spot during an opponent's turn to  aintain line-of-sight to an enemy.  Pros: Oddly enough, the best use of this isn't to keep up with the guy actually moving.. it's to make sure you can see the rest of his buddies.  Getting struck from behind in Spinespur sucks... making sure his allies cannot blindside you is incredibly important.  Cons:  Basically, if your opponent expects you to follow him, he can "rope a dope" you into turning your back to something else.  (MMO and video games players will refer to this as "pulling Aggro.") 
  • Feed on Terror- After rolling for Control (Spinespur's scarier name for "Initiative"), you may declare spending Fear tokens to have your Central Character (the guy leading your band of miscreants) heal himself on a 1:1 ratio.  Pros: Your leader gets healed.  This one's kinda obvious. Cons: Chances are this is a stopgap measure at best- it's a speed bump on the Road to Death. Odds are if you're down on Health, the thing that caused that is still there whompin' on you like you're a side of beef.  Do it if it buys you enough time to drop him or get support over to you.  Otherwise, it's unnecessary and uses up resources.  
  •   Playing Possum- When a model is targeted by a melee or distance attack, the defender may spend Fear Tokens to gain a bonus to Reaction on a 1:1 ratio.  Pros: It's guaranteed to raise your roll.  Cons: It's spending a commodity before you know if you need to spend a commodity...  risky and expensive, and doesn't necessarily get you the same bang for your buck as Bonecrusher does (see below). (Personally, I don't like the name of this one BTW- Possum is feigning death, not avoiding it.  Dodging Death, maybe???)
  • Bloodboiler/Bloodchiller- A player may spend 1 Fear Token to add or subtract 1 from their
    blood die, after die rolls are made.  Pros:  Lowering the blood die might turn a glance to a standard hit, or a standard to a crit, raising the damage you do.  If you've won the opposed roll by more than one, that one or two points might just make a major difference (like, say, killin' a guy). Raising the blood die raises your total result by one, and also means your position on ties is better- the higher blood die wins ties.  So, let's say your opponent has a total of 16 to your 15.  At the moment, you both have the same value on your blood dice. By raising your blood die to raise the total to matching, you now also win the tie-breaker by having a higher blood die. Cons: it's spending a Fear Point to only affect your total by one. Unless that guarantees the win (see above) it's worthless. Bonecrusher is likely a better bet, and if not just save your token. 
  • Bonecrusher- After Bloodbioler or Bloodchiller is used or passed on, the attacker may spend 1 Fear Token to reroll one of the bone dice, or spend both to reroll both Bone dice. The new roll replaces the old one, even if it is worse. Pros: To me, this is a bread and butter. Changing a 1 or 2 into ANYTHING is mathematically going to be a better play than a +1 on the blood die. So, sometimes Lady Fate will take a flying dump on you... but more likely than not you're going ot get a better result there than Bloodboiler, especially adding in the fact that boiler, depending on the weapon and the change on the blood die, has about a 50/50 chance of impacting your damage in a negative way.  Cons:  Nobody rides for free, and nothing is guaranteed.  Sure, you could turn that 3 into a 4 to 6 and win the tiebreak... or you could turn it into a 1 or 2 and burn it for nothing.  My advice is don't risk it on 3's and up- you've only got a 50/50 chance of something better even on a 3, and if it was 1 point better it's no better a use than Bloodbouiler would have been for a lot less certainty. Stick to turning 1's and 2's into bigger numbers.  
  • Tempting Fate- Breakin' the Law, Breakin' the Law! Tempting Fate requires you to give a Fear
    Token to your opponent, and all the dice get rerolled. Yours, theirs, everything.  Round Control roll, low Grit combats, anything. It also "locks" the dice rolls so that no Fear tokens can be spent on the new rerolls- what oyu get is what you get. The Caveat?  It can only be used once per game, per player.  Pros: First of all, it's just damned fun.  I've used it every game... even if I didn't have to, just to do it.  More tactically speaking, if someone just dropped a 6/6/1 crit on you and your die rolls have no chance of covering the spread, it's a nice "get out of jail free" card.  Cons: Don't get too happy with this one- you've got one round in that Luck Gun, make sure you time it right.  Never waste this on a thug or anyone who's not critically important to your gameplan, no matter how much you like that model.  Save it for missing a big attack on their Central Character, or to make a hit not happen on yours. 

     So, there's the basics of utilizing Fear. Hopefully this will help all the new players picking this game up after the Kickstarter.  Which, by the way, if you haven't pledged in, get on it, you're almost out of time! In addition, don't forget anyone who pledges $65 or more also gets an entry in the Spinespur Kickstarter Contest!  Can't wait to see you on the other side of the table... and neither can these guys.
Just some of our beautiful and disturbing models.

The Second Class Elitist.


  1. I need to study this a bit, but makes sense what it is used for. Thanks

    1. Yeah it's definitely important to know how you can use it, and when you should. Fear is game-changing when applied properly. Enjoy!