Aristeia 101: Smoke & Mirrors

Smoke & Mirrors Team is a fascinating team. Padre-Inquisitor Mendoza, Murtair, Kozmo, and Taowu make up a fun team with previously unseen mechanics plus novel takes on traditional roles. Need some simple synergies?

Padre Mendoza for Healing and BURNING

  • Mendoza provides front-line healing whether you like it or not. He’s a better healer than Parvati and hands out Burning (the only other stackable State in the game other than Poison). There’s really no reason for the opposing team to keep him alive. That’s before we get to his tactics! As such, he’s very risk/reward based – the more risk he’s in, the more he’s actually able to do.
    • He helps moderate Murtair’s own risk/reward game. Having a source of healing enables Murtair to use Fury, Bezerker Charge, and Unbridled Fury with some degree of safety.
    • Mendoza helps stack Burning alongside Kozmo. Since Burning can turn into uncontested damage, this is a very potent team-up against hard targets such as Maximus, Hammerhead, etc.
    • Healing is of questionable help for Taowu since he only has 2 health which is not hard to blow through. However, he can make use of the Burning states that Mendoza hands out for use with Ignorance. Also, while Taowu is easily our pick for most annoying character in the game? Mendoza will likely get prioritized. Tanking via Hate is definitely a thing.
  • Tactics:
    • Tabula Rasa is essentially the Nuclear Option of Mendoza’s tactics. You’ll really need to think the usage through here since it heals and removes states from EVERYONE. No more Burning for damage or Fiat Voluntas. No Dazzle from Res Non Verba. No Wounds for Murtair’s Track. No States for Taowu’s Ignorance, no Immobilizes. Tabula Rasa is actively anti-synergistic in that regard. Make sure you are getting more out of this though healing and removing of negative states on your team (or buffing states on the enemy) than you’re paying for in synergy for the following actions.
    • Fiat Voluntas is a good card with Mendoza and Kozmo handing out Burning. The fact it has no range, no line of sight requirement, and is for your whole team (note the word “allies” and “any number”). Mendoza is already a fantastic healer but takes it to a whole new level without the potential drawbacks of Tabula Rasa.
    • Hic Et Nunc is the definition of taking Lemons and making Lemonade. Its almost an in-game resurrection, and pairs exceedingly well with Murtair in particular because of his Bite. This would allow you to bring back a character defensively or offensively, depending on the flow of the game.
    • Res Non Verba works will with Mendoza and Kozmo. If you’re going for a pyromaniac playstyle for both charactes, this will be a good card to have.

Murtair the Hunter

  • Murtair plays a balancing game between his berserker tendencies (as his Agility roll suggests) and being dead. He is high offense, but is best when set up for his attacks and has a few wounds on him. Wounds he can get rather easily.
    • He and Padre Mendoza need to be watchful of their ranges from each other. Mendoza’s passive heal can spell the difference between Initiative 4 and Initiative 3. But, at the same time, being Initiative 7 is only one step away from being dead. Keep in mind this balancing act.
    • Kozmo might need to save Murtair now and then. Asteroid Belt will help with that. Laying out Smoke to help prevent Murtair from getting gunned down is good too. Gravitational Slingshot is almost custom made for Murtair and Kozmo (think of the fastball special with Colossus and Wolverine).
    • Taowu’s Paralyzing Terror will help Murtair out quite a bit. Its easier to get to someone who can’t move! Likewise Confusion can ensure Murtair has a more favorable turn by moving his target’s position in the initative line up with someone who has already gone or is farther away. Of course, No! can help stop opponents from fortifying their defenses as well.
  • Tactics:
    • Berserker Charge and Unbridled Fury are high risk/reward cards for Murtair, and why he benefits from Padre Mendoza. After using these, he might well need the healing, particularly if he maxes out either one.
    • Track is a way for him to hunt down a wounded enemy or come beside a hurt teammate. Note it says Target, not Enemy or Ally! Going 1-5 spaces with no line of sight requirement is very powerful, especially if he’s Dazzled, has intervening characters or Smoke.
    • Quenched is another risk/reward card but is very much the Reward side of things. He gets a full heal but its contingent on him sending the opponent to the infirmary.

Kozmo To The Rescue!

  • Kozmo is the Tank of the group, but he can do more than just soak up damage! Piling on Burning is possible with Supernova, ruining ranged attackers fields of fire with Nebula’s Smoke, and using Meteoric Charge when tied in allows for scoring opportunities even against some of the toughest blockers.
    • Padre Mendoza will always appreciate there being more Burning tokens out there for Fiat Voluntas and Res Non Verba. Likewise, every state out in play on enemies’ benefits Taowu’s Ignorance.
    • Additionally, Taowu quite likes Kozmo’s Smoke for Hallucinations. While he has to hit the Switch to place himself adjacent to the Smoke, his range is a bit better than his actual ability to lay out Smoke. As such, he can get around better and will have more options.
    • Alternatively, Kozmo will quite like Taowu’s Smoke thanks to Multispectral Visor giving him an extra Orange die to attack rolls. This makes Supernova better, but could even work for Kozmo’s Contender. Two Oranges isn’t the worst possible attack.
  • Tactics:
    • Asteroid Belt makes Kozmo an amazing tank. Essential an emergency call, Kozmo can step in on any attack targeting an ally. This is great for fragile characters like Mendoza and Taowu, plus gives an assist to Murtair.
    • Infinite Density is a nice perk for Kozmo and Taowu since they both send out Smoke. Immobilizing enemies is usually quite useful and makes something good a bit better. It also interacts with Dazzled, but nobody on this team provides that State.
    • Gravitational Slingshot has an obvious combination with Murtair to set him up for his turn. However, it works nicely with any character be they ally or enemy. It’s a very powerful position manipulation card due to its lack of a line-of-sight requirement for the destination space. This is great for scoring, taking someone out of the scoring zone, getting someone out of harm’s way or putting them into it.
    • Stellar Nucleosynthesis is a good match for both Kozmo and Taowu. Uncontested damage is quite nice, and 2 points of it is nothing to sneeze at.

Taowu to attack their deck strategy

  • Taowu is an interesting character. Any attempts to remove him from the board results in losing a card. At best you only discard one Tactic card then don’t gain another. If you can’t finish him off in on hit? Well, each attempt is a card discard. He’s really annoying, and is best dealt with -Speed, Immobilize, or abilities that can cause damage without a defense roll on his part. Adding in his ability to Immobilize (for a price) or throw out Smoke? Very irritating. Ideally, you’re always doing something that can cause him to get his Character Switch. It’s a slightly meta way to debuff the other team – by attacking their deck!
    • Padre Mendoza is kept safer via his Immobilizes and Smokes. While its true the other characters are as well, Mendoza is fairly high-value target.
    • Kozmo and Taowu share an affinity for Smoke. As such they can provide both protection for each other as well as additional gameplay options (increased damage rolls for Kozmo, teleportation options for Taowu).
    • Immobilized enemies are easier for Murtair to get to, letting him save Action Points for damage rather than movement.
  • Tactics
    • Mind Reading is unique in that it doesn’t synergize with anyone because you’re taking your opponent’s card. In that regard, it potentially synergizes with all your characters. If you play the stolen card there is a downside in that you have to return it to their deck. But, you could just sit on it, denying them the chance to get it back. Keep in mind that just because its in the discard doesn’t mean it was PLAYED.
    • No! is the Standard Deck answer to anything you really don’t want to see. This is less character specific and more a tool for the overall game. If you’re not playing Standard, this is the only way to get it except for Mind Reading (in which case you could potentially have 3 Nos in your deck should your opponent have it as well). Regardless, it’s a universal deck defense, and consistent with Taowu.
    • Confusion works well with any character who is in danger, thus making it another meta-defense. Should a character be threatened by a nearby enemy, using this to switch who is actually being used works nicely. Likewise, switching it so an Infirmary-bound character goes when it’d be vital for another character to go instead is nice.
    • Ignorance is yet another sort of meta-defense. Given you can potentially wipe out a whole hand here, its fairly potent if you set up for it.