From the very beginning, Soak has been something really hard to value in BattleCON. UA-granted Soak in particular, like on Eustace and Kallistar and Voco, is really hard to value because adding a free “and sometimes your attacks fail” to opponent kits means that if Soak UAs are strong then they feel really terrible to play against - and Voco was no exception. His character concept was originally a runaway zoner that absorbed attacks and kited opponents with life loss, requiring awkward ranges and lots of mobility.
But somewhere along the line there was a test build with too much Soak (turns out Soak 2 per Zombie made games take forever), and he ended up with awkward ranges and lots of movement. And the difference between movement and mobility? The part where you’re in range to hit the opponent but you end up with a strange gap at Range 2 and 3 where things sorta don’t work out at all.
From the beginning, we were pretty sure that either Voco’s UA had to change, or his Styles needed to be reworked entirely. It’s not that the UA was weak (it needed to be optional or Ignore Soak felt awful, but otherwise Soak 2 is pretty good) or boring really (you needed to fight in a mob of Zombies), it’s that it didn’t really mesh with the rest of his kit. Voco as-designed needed to be at very specific ranges, but if anything went wrong his threat just fell apart entirely and his UA would just help you soak and maybe do some damage by zombie-ing the opponent in the foot or something. But the two Alternate UAs also played pretty well, and they meshed a lot better with Voco’s actual gameplan.
Voco’s new Unique Ability is essentially the same as his old Everyone Together Now! alternate ability from Devastation Extended, granting him improved Range and a bonus to Power based on his Zombie coverage on the board. It plays much closer to Burgundy than his old kit, letting him spew out fan-zombies and then pick them back up for a big hit - which is nice, since his Power was never anything to write home about. This gives his gameplay a bit of a logical ebb and flow: some beats he’s got a ton of threat al across the board, and some beats he’s got to run around and set up.
The first and most important change is that many of his Range problems (especially the Minrange-related ones) are fixed while he has Zombies nearby. He unfortunately needs to spend them all, but +1 or +2 Power is a respectable bonus on top of being able to actually hit. Abyssal becomes a lot better like this, with opponents needing to dodge all his Zombies if they want to hit a safe spot - which is fine, but he’s gotta set it up. The End: effect is just gravy, letting Voco slide the opponent into a better position for his antics (and likely into a just-placed Zombie marker).
On top of that, his stats were bumped up a little as well. While his Priority definitely isn’t good, he can get a lot of mileage out of Thunderous’ improved Priority, synergizing well with its Damage: push effect and the ability to quickly duck into the opponent’s face and spend the generated Zombie for a total of +0 Power.
And on the slow side, Hellraising is a major Power style, generating Zombies for the +1 Power while trading up with new Soak 1 in order to mitigate a bit of opponent damage. It’s now one of the most consistent Styles in the game when combined with his UA, though it tends to have issues with Burst if not set up right.
Speaking of consistency, Metal got a simple but important change - moving past an opponent now generates a Zombie in their space. This turns on Metal Shred even from no Zombies on board (which is pretty powerful when threatening opponents that have high Soak), but also gives him massive confirm with Metal Drive from just about anywhere on the board.
Unlike the rest, Monster needed a bit of a separate fix - with Zombies on both sides of the opponent, Monster had the ability to generate infinite (optional) Advance 1 effects. Which was pretty silly. The new version keeps the huge advance and now features a guest appearance from Voco’s old UA, which means its trading potential (Soak 2 and potentially +2 Power) is nothing to laugh about.
The Damage: benefit means you never really feel bad spending Zombies for Power on it, either
Shred’s pretty much the same card. Similar to most of his other changes, the it’s easier to use now since it counts Zombies all across the board.
Finishers are basically the same as well. The Wave changed to a Power bonus in line with most other multi-attacks so he doesn’t randomly kill folks like Alexian, and Z-Mosh has better defenses, but they should do just about the same things as they used t
In general, the hardest part of the rework was finding what to do with his UA. We tried shuffling the pieces of his old UA onto cards (Abyssal had “End: Remove a Zombie to make the opponent lose 1 life.” for a number of tests), but in general the biggest concern was making sure the massive disconnect between his Minrange and his uncontrollable advancing was resolved somehow… which meant basing everything off of Everyone Together Now! New Voco’s a lot better in an all-out brawl, but he’s still a slippery defensive character with the ability to occasionally blow up the board and a lot of damage mitigation based on Zombies he’s set up.
We hope you enjoy the Hellraiser’s new flair! He’s a hell of a brawler, and his revamped goal of powersliding around and wailing on people with zombies has picked up some new methods and a nice coat of bonus Power to get the job done.
Until next time!
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Content - Daniel Honig, Balance Lead
Editing - Marco De Santos