Thursday 20 June 2019

Aristeia! - Aristo Analysis - Hannibal


Hannibal is both manager of and fighter in his own team. A natural born leader inside and outside the HexaDome. He doesn’t stand out because of his combat skills, but because of his ability to help his teammates get a jump on the enemy. He is a total strategist, intelligent, capable of reading and understanding the game to his benefit. A skill developed in a world where there are no second chances.


Hannibal is the Man with the Plan, the foremost strategic mind in Aristeia! and a natural born leader inside the HexaDome and out.

This dapper man styles himself a businessman rather than a brawler, which isn’t far from the truth. The only caveat resides in his particular areas of expertise, namely warfare, private security and his latest venture: combat-as-spectacle.

The truth about Hannibal’s past is hard to pin down. If you take him at his word, he came from money, but the collapse of his family fortune forced him to drop out of university and accept a position at an intelligence agency. It was the eve of the NeoColonial Wars, and Hannibal claims to have received decorations from several allied governments during the conflict. After the war, Hannibal—more interested in maintaining his upscale lifestyle than in military accolades—promptly branched off into the private sector. As a military contractor he was well-poised to exploit a growing demand for private security and the confidential exchange of any number of products, including sensitive information and extra-legal merchandise. Naturally, no evidence exists to connect him with any illicit activities, so either he’s embellishing the truth or he did a good job of covering his tracks.

On the back of his business acumen, Hannibal has lived expansively in every capital in the Human Sphere, indulged every pleasure and even amassed quite the art collection. His greatest accomplishment was his position at Van Orton’s Foreign Company, perhaps the most high-profile mercenary outfit in the Sphere, famous for providing security for a number of showbiz celebrities. As Van Orton’s second-in-command and Chief Strategy Officer, Hannibal was able to cultivate the associations he needed to dip his toe in the Aristeia! pool. Turns out his discerning eye and military experience were perfectly suited to the sport, and soon enough Hannibal was bankrolling his own team, a team of hard-boiled mercenaries in his own image.

The same dubious morality informs Hannibal’s dealings outside the HexaDome. Despite his success as an Aristo and team owner, Hannibal has maintained a working relationship with Van Orton and his Foreign Company. Since Hannibal isn’t adverse to actual field work, Van Orton has been offering him noteworthy jobs to raise his team’s public profile or, alternatively, covert operations with iron-clad confidentiality clauses and extortionate rates.

Inside the HexaDome, Hannibal plays the role of a leader and tactician. He studies his foes before, during and after each game, always looking for a weakness to exploit and assessing the right moment to strike for maximum impact. He’s far from the toughest fighter in the circuit, but his intelligence and cunning set him apart from the chaff. With him at the helm, his team always has the wit to seize the upper hand and the guts to bash the other team to death with it.

“Hell, yeah. I love it when a plan comes together.”

Hannibal is an Aristo from the "Soldiers of Fortune" expansion, joining the game alongside his fellow
PanOceanian, Valkyrie. Although there is no metal model, or alternative sculpt, available for Hannibal his expansion (and those which have come since) have been noted by most hobbyists as a significant improvement over the level of detail found on the plastic models in the "Core 8".

His pose is relatively simple, but effective for a Controller style Aristo, and the individual elements are robust.

The texture on his torso, as well as the detailing on his shotgun, face and hands, make for a fantastic model, which takes easily to simple paint and shading and also rewards detailed paint work.

Hannibal is a Controller style Support Aristo, but takes a very different approach to this role than that of others which fit into a similar category. His overall approach is more aggressive, which is reflected in potentially high personal damage output, but also in the ways in which he interacts with other Aristos.

In terms of his basic attributes Hannibal is fairly average with middling Speed, Energy, Hit Points, Brawn and Agility. His Initative of 5 is above average, which can be particularly useful with his Action and his Defense of Green and Blue is also good, helping keep him up long enough to activate.

With no Switches of any kind Hannibal really doesn't benefit much from Yellow dice, nor does he offer much in terms of his own abilities beyond direct damage. While highly effective he's certainly very straightforward.

"Coordinated Assault" is an Attack which has become much more interesting, and situationally more effective, thanks to the introduction of Minions. While it is often tough to get your entire team into Line of Sight of Hannibals target, that will be much easier once you have more than three "Allies" in the Hexadome. As it stands this has the potential to be a top line attack, but will usually be only slightly above average when the lack of switches is taken into account.

With "Programmed Strategy" we begin to see the real potential of Hannibal as a Controller. Being able to fire any Action, on an Ally anywhere in the Hexadome, with a cost of 2 or less has the potential to be very efficient. Activating State clearing or Healing out of turn, as well as dropping extra Attack Actions to help finish off a wounded Aristo is the very least of the potential. Actions or Attacks which also include movement are one way to bypass the restriction on the Move Action, and this makes Aristos with such Actions valuable pairings with Hannibal.

Last, but certainly not least, we have "Pointman". The only downsides to this are how easily it can be shut down by Smoke and the restriction to a maximum of three Dice of a single colour in a roll. Otherwise it's hard to overstate how effective this can be. With "Pointman" active the Attacks of secondary Strikers like Parvati and Eclipse become genuine one-shot threats, and even a Contender Attack becomes dangerous (or, at least, more likely to fire the Switches you are probably fishing for).

In terms of Tactics Hannibal is a nearly entirely "Generous" Aristo. And the one "Selfish" Tactic is really only "Selfish" in terms of having timing restricted to Hannibal's turn, as it targets another Aristo.

First up we have "Code: <Audible>" which takes two Allies, who are not currently Active, and swaps their Initiative Cards in the Running Order. Note the timing on this, which is during the Actions Step of one of your Characters' Activations. This timing restriction prevents you from using this Tactic in order  to prevent missing the Activation of an Aristo who was literally just taken down in the previous Activation by an opponent. That minor restriction aside, this is otherwise perfect for preventing a missed Activation due to a trip to the Infirmary. It can also (or, as well) allow the double-Activation of an Aristo. This is most useful for those situations where you have an Aristo who has already made it into the Scoring Zone but another who can't quite make it but, obviously, has a wide range of alternative applications for Strikers and Controllers.

Next up is a card so useful that I've already seen entire deck strategies built around it. Some Managers see "Code: <Blitz>" as such an effective boost to dice reliability that it's worth deliberately burning through the rest of your Tactics Deck, leaving it as the only card. Thanks to the fact that it is shuffled back into the Deck every time it is used means that you would keep pulling "Code: <Blitz>" and be able to keep using it to re-roll dice on (nearly) every dice roll.

Re-rolling any number of dice from a Roll is certainly effective, and it's often the first of Hannibals Tactics which I reach for. On the other hand it's not, on its own, a match shaping Tactic but there is a strong argument to be made that a repeatable re-roll makes such a difference to reliability that it is the most effective Tactic in the game.

Let's just say that I will personally meet it with a NO! every time it's played by an opposing Manager.

Another great Tactic, in a long litany of great Tactics, is "Code:<Dive>". This is very similar in operation to "Programmed Strategy", but allows the use of Actions which have an Action Point cost greater than 2. 

While it does have the timing restriction allowing it to be played only on Hannibal's Activation, it's hard to call this Tactic "Selfish"! While most of the Actions costing more than 2 Action Points are Attacks, making this a largely offensive Tactic, it can be played on any Action allowing broad applicability. 3 cost Actions which combine movement with an Attack, like that on Hammerhead, likely represent the most effective targets.

One possible synergy here is a full triple-activation for a single Aristo. First taking their own Activation, then being triggered again by Hannibal with both "Programmed Strategy" and "Code:<Dive>", followed with "Code: <Audible>" to swap the Aristo into the next position in the Running Order to Activate. 

Last (in terms of alphabetical order anyway) but certainly not least, we have "Code: <Timeout>". By allowing you to Shuffle your discard pile back into your deck this can allow you to cycle back through all of the Tactics which you have already played.

Even 'though this Tactic is removed from the game, rather than being Discarded after being played, it still offers the best way to maintain Tactics draw over the course of the match which currently exists within Aristeia! There's simply nothing else which allows Aristos like Wild Bill and Oberon to continue to play at their full potential for the full length of a match.

Ignoring niche plays like the specific team build which allow for up to 8 plays of the "NO!" Tactic in a single game, which this Tactic plays into, "Code: <Timeout>" is still powerful. For Teams who don't burn through their deck quickly it can allow recycling key early power plays back for use again later in the match and thus offers use both as a mid game and a late game play.

For scenario selection Hannibal is certainly going to add the most for those where there is a premium on eliminating opposing Aristos. His own high damage output and the main focus of his Actions feeds into this. 

At the same time, with the right Team around him, Hannibal can be quite a boon to mobility and therefore have more to offer for scenarios where you need to shift positions in order to score successfully.

Team synergy with Hannibal boils down to two key questions:

1: Does this Aristo have a 2 Action Point (or less) Action or Attack which Hannibal can help them to fire?

2: Will this Aristo significantly benefit from the bonus Orange die on Attacks?

Some Aristos, like Valkyrie, can cap out their own Orange dice so effectively that Hannibal will often be offering them no bonus. Other Aristos, like Gata, simply don't have the damage output to be effective in that role even with Hannibal to support them.

As the leader of the Soldiers of Fortune team Hannibal also has a place in the Infinity wargame. He appears alongside his fellow Team mates in the Foreign Company, owned and operated by the Silk Lord Van Orton.

So, that's the leader of the A-Team, the "man with the plan", the indefatigable Hannibal. 

If you are looking for more on Hannibal, check out the official writeup here:

And for some ideas on how to build a team around him I recommend that you check this article out by Into The Hexadome:

And, as always, we'd appreciate your thoughts. Not just on this article but on the series as a whole as well. Are these articles suiting what you want from Aristeia! content?  Is there something more you'd like to see from them?

But, also, do you use Hannibal?
What kind of team do you like to run him in?
Has he been effective for you?
What limitations have you run into?

Your thoughts and feedback are always appreciated.

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