The Renegades are the neutral faction in Codex. They have no allegiance to anyone, and are generally mercenaries and workers-for-hire. From lovable dancing rogues to violent lizards, they are a motley crew.
There are two neutral heroes, Troq Bashar of the Bashing spec and River Montoya of the Finesse spec. The neutral cards are generally simpler than the cards of other factions because they are meant as an intro to the game. By playing Bashing vs Finesse, you can learn how the overall game system works while using relatively simpler cards, and fewer cards too. In the Starter Set, each player controls one hero, but when you go to the Core Set and beyond, you can play 3 heroes at a time and have a much larger card pool to build your deck from as you play.
That said, the neutral faction cards are not just throwaway, beginner cards. They are very much a part of the game, and are actually the EASIEST to combine with other factions when choosing your team. Usually, teams that have more than one color of hero on them pay an extra 1 gold the first time they build a tech building or add-on each game. But the neutral heroes sidestep that; they are renegades who don't care who they work with. So they don’t count as a color here, and if you have a team of Red / Red / Neutral heroes, you don’t pay extra for your first building (while Red / Red / Green would).
Furthermore, the minor spells in the neutral starting deck are easier for other color heroes to cast, too. Usually a “wrong color” hero must pay 1 extra gold to cast a minor spell, but any hero in the game can cast a neutral minor spell without paying extra. So after you learn the basics of the game with Bashing vs. Finesse, you can certainly keep using them in your teams later on.
Troq is the hero of the Bashing spec:
Troq isn’t that smart, and he’s not that loyal either (as he used to work as a henchman for the Blood Anarchs, and before that as a soldier for the Flagstone Dominion.) He is well-meaning though, and has a big heart. He also has a big body. He likes to smash, and he loves potions of giant growth.
Troq is a simpler hero in Codex, but formidable in combat because of his stats. While he starts out as a 2/3 just like River Montoya, the Finesse hero, he becomes 3/4, then 4/5 as he levels up. He costs more to reach max level than she does, but his stats are ultimately higher.
Troq likes to smash, and his spells enable you to do that. Need to smash a unit? Give it The Boot.
This spell lets you destroy any early game unit, no questions asked. (Remember, heroes aren’t units, but Troq can hopefully take care of another hero simply by fighting them in combat.) Many early game units cost only 1 or 2 gold, so paying 3 gold to destroy them might put you slightly behind, but the versatility of this spell makes it worthwhile anyway. It’s pretty much always going to help you, it’s just a matter of how much.
Want to smash a building?
Wrecking Ball is an interesting spell because even though the effect itself is very simple and straightforward, it’s not so straightforward to know when or how to use it. Dealing 2 damage for 0 gold is generally a great deal, but it can only hit a building, so it won’t actually help you deal with enemy units on the board. You should think about two main categories of buildings here: a), tech I, III, and III buildings (they have 5 hit points each), and b) the opponent’s base (which has 20 hit points). Which kind of buildings should you smash with a Wrecking Ball?
Destroying a tech I, II, or III building puts your opponent behind one turn. It can make their hand full of dead cards that turn as they rebuild that building, and that can be enough of an advantage to pull ahead. Also, if you destroy one of those 5-hit point buildings, it will automatically deal 2 damage to their base, too. So you’ll get to slightly cripple them, and take of 10% of their base's maximum hit points in the process.
If you’re already closer to winning the game, then you can turn your Wrecking Balls directly to the base and deal 2 each time. That’s more efficient than dealing 5 to a tech I building and only having 2 of that hit their base. So usually early on, this spell is about crippling the opponent and right at the end, it’s about going for the kill.
Here's another way to damage buildings, from your starting deck:
Brick Thief lets you do that critical 1 point of damage you’ll need to destroy a tech building after you play two Wrecking Balls (or before, that works too). He also teaches you what the resist keyword does. And he teaches masonry on Sundays.
A lot of Troq’s power is actually in his ultimate spell though. So if you really want to smash the opponent, make sure to Final Smash them:
Final Smash has some drawbacks. It’s expensive to cast because you need to get Troq to level 8 first (so 2 told to summon him at level 1, then an additional 7 gold to get him to level 8) and the spell itself costs 6 gold. The general rule for ultimate spells is that you have to already have your hero at max level at the START of the turn to be able to cast it. So you’ll be telegraphing your ultimate a little. Another minor drawback is that the effects of Final Smash are not optional. So if the only tech I unit on the table is yours, you’ll return it to your hand, which you probably don’t want.
Now that we got that out of the way, consider the positives: it’s crazily, ridiculously good. If you actually smash someone with this for the full effect, the swing of getting rid of THREE of their units, and ALSO getting one of their tech II units for yourself is devastating. Troq has a lot of late game power here, so if you can survive until the late game, you can ride Final Smashes to victory.
Let’s shift over to looking at the Bashing units. The Bashing tech I units are very straightforward. I also hope you enjoy their theme and art.
Revolver Ocelot is a 3/3 for 2 gold with a combat ability. If he attacks a patroller, he can deal 1 extra damage to a patroller in the next slot over, if there is another patroller there. For example, an opponent who uses BOTH the Technician slot and the Scavenger slot in the patrol zone will be vulnerable to possibly taking an extra damage from Revolver Ocelot because those slots are adjacent. That means they will probably choose to patrol in less optimal slots just because of the threat of this.
Iron Man might not look like much, but he’s actually a benchmark of power. A 3/4 for 3 is near the top end of power that a tech I unit can even have. There are a few tech Is in the game stronger than him, but most of those have some sort of drawback. It turns out that those raw stats at that point in the game can be tough to deal with for specs that don’t have a 3/4. Basically, he’s really good at Bashing.
At tech II, you can get a Hired Stomper:
He can help you clear the board when he arrives, and he’ll stick around the clean up the mess afterwards. Be sure to compliment his jacket.
Bashing isn’t all bashing though. At least Sneaky Pig is slightly more subtle (or is he?)
At the tech II level, a 3/3 that costs 3 isn’t that great, BUT it’s a whole different story when you have Sneaky Pig’s abilities. He can bash right now, and he can bash exactly what you want. No matter what the opponent patrols with, Sneaky Pig can slip right past them and bash a hero for 3 damage, which is often enough to kill them. Or he can bash a tech building at a critical moment. He’s sort of like a damage spell that doubles as a unit if you need to defend with him instead. He's also unlikely to be identified due to his sneaky mask.
For more raw stats, try an awesome looking Harvest Reaper:
That 6 ATK is a heavy hit. It can even take out two patrollers at once sometimes! Having claws for hands really comes in handy here.
When it comes time to end the game, slam this down:
It’s hard to lose the game once this hits the table. It immediately deals 20% of the damage you need to win the moment it arrives. If it survives until your next turn, which it probably will because it’s an 8/9(!), it will a) attack for 8, b) ALSO deal another 20% of the damage you need to win directly to their base, and c) ALSO destroy two of the opponent’s units. That is one badass wooden duck. What’s inside him anyway? And will enemies really be tricked into letting him into their base? History says yes.
If you’re looking for some straightforward bashing, I hope you try Troq’s Bashing spec. If you want more finesse though, look into the other neutral spec: River Montoya’s Finesse spec.