Crew Overview: The Court of Owls
"Beware The Court of Owls, that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadow perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word of them or they'll send The Talon for your head"
A secret society compiled of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of Gotham City. The Court of Owls belong to the elite of Gotham. Descendants of the city’s founders, they will stop at nothing to gain more power. Utilizing their army of trained assassins known as Talons, the Court of Owls eliminate their targets discreetly. No one learns of these practices, almost as if the Court's operations simply “don’t exist”. That's the most dangerous thing, how do you prepare yourself for a threat you don't know exists.
The driving force of the Court of Owls crew are its henchmen, the Talon, who normally have well above average stats, and weapons that focus on dealing damage quickly and effectively. Their Objective deck primarily focuses on removing enemies, but a playstyle like that has a cost. Simply dealing damage isn’t enough. First you must target and mark an enemy model as “Prey” before dealing the final blow if you want to score your Objectives. The Court of Owls are considered one of the "elite" crews in the game, with each model having enough strength to take down any target in the opponent’s crew.
Once a model is marked as Prey, many of your Resources become much more powerful and are key to your success. At the beginning of the game the Court of Owls player places 3 Owl Markers anywhere in the Gaming Area. These markers move around and allow you to mark an opponent’s model as Prey as well as assist in scoring your Objectives.
Talon’s Claw. One of the main Objective cards and staples of your deck. Remove a model as a Casualty that’s currently marked as Prey. Sounds easy enough right?
This Resource is your main way of marking a model as Prey. The first time each Round this resource is free. After that point it will cost you 1 Resource point. Keep this in mind when planning your Objectives. Don't waste these. Only one model can be Prey at a time. Marking a new model removes it from the previous.
A card that also takes advantage of your Owl marker’s positioning is An Owl's Tale, which urges you to have 2 Owl Markers and 1 friendly Suspect within 4" of the same enemy model. To help accomplish this, remember that Owl markers move when any model, including yours, is removed as a Casualty. Although it may not be convenient for you to lose your own models, don’t pass up that opportunity to move an Owl marker into a better position. Scoring this and immediately using a Resource to mark that model as Prey is an effective strategy.
Let’s take a look at some of the Objectives that show off just how powerful the Resources can be once a Prey has been marked.
Terrible Accident tells the opponent your intent. This turn, you plan on killing their Boss! (or their highest costed model, sometimes that can even be one in the same)
You have the entire turn to try and finish them off, but your opponent will do whatever it takes to try and keep them alive. Send in your superior Talons to strike fast and hard to complete this Objective.
This Resource comes in handy when you want to Effort during an attack but don’t want to exhaust your models too quickly. Against Prey it gets even better, and even more deadlier!
“The Court of Owls watches, watches all the time. Ruling Gotham from a Shadowed perch, behind granite and lime.” The Court of Owls
The Court’s Secure Bases can be used as a bait card. Forcing your opponent to make the decision, do I let them score or do I risk my model being marked as Prey? It’s a win-win for you. If they move a model in range to deny you from scoring, use that opportunity to score other cards.
No Sewer marker is safe. As a Resource, surprise your opponent and send a friendly model across the Gaming Area in contact with a Sewer. It can even be played during the opponent’s activation, setting up a devastating attack if the chosen model hasn’t activated yet. Combo it with the following Resource to ensure your opponent’s jaw drops!
The Owl’s Labyrinth puts your opponent in a bit of a conundrum. Let you score the card, or suffer a negative effect. If a model is marked as Prey, Enervating 2 can be a matter of life or death. They must choose wisely.
When a predator stalks its prey, separating it from the herd is always a more effective strategy. Use this Resource to move a model marked as Prey up to 4”. Bringing it in range of your Talons or even away from its protectors. If they are unfortunate enough to be within 4” of an Owl marker, forget about 4”. Send them off to a Sewer completely away from their herd and into the hands of your predators just waiting to strike.
“Owl to Bat!” The Court of Owls
The Shadow Claw card rewards you for attacking models that don’t have to be marked as Prey or maybe they were lucky enough to survive your first attack. It combos well and helps to set up other cards that require a Suspect in play, or better yet marking your next Prey.
Use this Resource to surprise an opponent just when they thought they had moved their model out of harm’s way. Furthermore, if you end your movement in contact with the Prey you also get to move an Owl marker. Use this wisely to help score and set up the rest of your deck.
Let’s take a look at what a Court of Owls crew may look like. Starting off by taking one of two Leaders available, The Court. Representing their influence over Gotham, they play much different from other Leaders. Their main advantage is how cheap of a Leader they are. Only costing 50 reputation, this allows you to bring more models in a crew that has a lot of expensive Henchmen.
At first glance you may think, why would I want a model that doesn’t deal damage in a crew that wants to kill things? Well The Court is a bit special in that it doesn’t move like normal models. Instead it can teleport around the Gaming Area using its unique Special trait, Shadowed Perch. Then when you remove a model marked as Prey, the Court can immediately use a free Special action. With multiple Specials to choose from and its amazing Resource from its Objective card you’ll always keep your opponent on their toes.
“You are simply standing in my way” Gotham Butcher
The Gotham Butcher is a very attractive model to pair alongside The Court. He’s huge, he’s brutal, and thanks to the Court of Owls’ special crew rules Free Agents can take Equipment. Load him up with Ancient Training for a +1 to hit when attacking or a Grapple Gun and Genetic Alteration to make this massive model one of the fastest (and scariest!) in the game. Don’t forget that he gets even better every time he removes a model as a Casualty with The Murderer trait! Thanks to The Court’s Objective card’s Resource, you can launch the Butcher at your foes without fear. If you happen to lose him, simply bring him back and do it all over again.
“Come take his bones as yours!” The Court of Owls
Next up, Dick Grayson’s ancestor and one of the most notorious Talons, The Talon William Cobb. With a high Willpower and Endurance, he’s one of the best models the Court of Owls have in terms of statistics. At first glance his Owl Knife may seem underwhelming with just a single Blood damage, but then we look at its traits. Handy and Sharp mean you’re rerolling to make sure your dice count and Crushing makes it harder to block, requiring 2 successful blocks to stop one of your hits! Pair that with his Combo trait means The Talon is always doing damage. He also brings his own Objective card that allows another way to mark a model as Prey.
To round off the crew we can add Strix, 1880’s Talon, and 1890’s Talon to help make sure we score our cards like Terrible Accident and The Shadow Claw.
Strix is one of the most lethal models in the entire game. Her Paired Katanas rarely miss and can be difficult to block with Overwhelming.
1890’s Talon carries the same Owl Knife as William Cobb and can reroll his defensive rolls using his Tanto. Making him more sturdy than his counterparts.
1880’s Talon is fast and deadly but be cautious when moving her. She can be taken out easier than the rest of the crew due to her lower Endurance.
That’s all for now Bat-fans. Now it's your turn to stalk some enemies, mark Prey, and eliminate models.
In future articles we will be going over other options and strategies for playing the Court of Owls crew for the Batman Miniatures Game by Knight Models.