This originally started out as "Choosing your First Guild" but I got into what you needed to play the game first, and after a million pages, decided to break them up. So, let's look at a lot of text that talks about all the money you're going to spend on things that aren't models just to play this game.
That's kind of a rough impression, but the basics for this game is measuring tape and a handful of dice. Anyone you're playing with will probably help with the rest. The ideal starting kit is a 5$ measuring tape, a 7$ box of dice (you want at least a dozen die), the 14$ widget kit for Guildball with the Kick scatter, and something to mark character plays with. The best recommendation I have is a Privateer Press token kit for your favorite color (base on faction. Cygnar has blue, Khador red, etc). That's another 12$. Chances are, someone you're playing has spares, so don't worry about it too much, but pretty soon, you'll want your own things. The list I just gave you is 38$, give or take a few bucks. After your first couple of games, they're things that you'll want to accumulate, and in many cases, already have around the house. If you've played Warmachine already, you have tokens, dice, and measuring tape. You just need the Kick Scatter. This is the TL:DR part. Get into the meat of the article and I have things like pictures to cheer you up.
So. A lot of people grab the models, show up to the game store and get a bit daunted when your ten year tabletop wargaming veteran dumps out a bag full of tokens, rings, measuring widgets, coins, marbles and anything else you can imagine cut into shapes made of quarter inch acrylic plexiglass. My favorite is the Mark I metal Centurion model that thumps onto the table but you don't know what it is because it's in the toe-end of a knee sock. No worries. You won't even know what hits you.
The Token/Widget collecting has gotten even more prevalent in the last couple of years as measuring widgets have picked up popularity. For the longest time, 40k was the king of the board, and any question was answered with a cursory check on a measuring tape. Melee was determined by being base to base and that's really all there was to it.
Then a couple of games introduced melee ranges, and in my case specifically, Warmachine. Warmachine brought in a lot of half inch melee, 2'' melee, 3'' movements after an activation, and all sorts of other in-game effects that involved half inch, 1'', 2'', 3'', 4'' and 5'' measurements on a regular basis. It became very clear very quickly that glancing over the top of a model while holding a tape four inches off the table was not very accurate and players were more competitive than the devices used to measure things. So widgets picked up. Warmachine had a little half inch one with a 2'' side. Then several other companies got into it and based on player feedback, began building ones with 5'' sides, 3'' sides, 2'', 4'', you name it. Now there's a dozen companies that do nothing but widgets. And if you're a podcast with more than a name and less than an episode, you have your own brand of widgets.
Similarly, Warmachine had a lot of in-game effects and statuses that needed to be marked, and introduced token kits for them. Other games have this too, like Infinity, and now Guildball. So when you see this veteran player dump his kit, know that he's accumulated this assortment over several years, and that most of it is stuff you don't need right this second. Let's talk about the stuff that is necessary, and then we can talk about some of the extras.
1. Measuring tape
At this point it's moderately archaic but still needed. It's still the best way to measure out 17'' and etc and nobody minds too much if all you're doing is sprinting and seeing if you can kick a goal next turn. Get a cheap 5$ one from walmart or whatever. It's not the sort of thing I would get at a game store since it'll have some miniature company's name on it and they'll want quadruple the price. Get the cheapo and buy another Guildball mini with the rest. Quick tip: Anything that says "Games Workshop" on the side costs triple what it's worth and takes a little piece of your soul that you'll never get back.
2. Measuring widget(s)
Maybe you come from warmachine already. If you do, your regular stuff is probably fine. Until MK3, Privateer Press didn't produce really good 1'' widgets except for the little key one for a long time. The new MK3 kits do really well though if you have one. I actually probably prefer it to the standard Guildball set, but there's pros and cons. The AOE template is pretty useless in Guildball, and the Spray Template is nothing more than a 10'' straight edge. However, the widget on the upper right has a half inch, 2'', 1'' and 5''. The only thing it doesn't have that you'll want often is a 3'', and sometimes a 4'', but mostly 3''. I do really like this one though because at 5'' long, it's easy to use the 1'' end for melee measurements without getting too much in the way of other models. However, 2/3rds of this kit is largely useless so I would wait til one comes up used, or your money is burning a hole in your pocket. Get the following Steamforged one instead.
So, the Steamforged set is probably the best one to get simply because you'll need the Kick Scatter token. It's the only widget like it in the industry and very basic to the game. It simply points what direction the ball goes after a kick, and it's never straight on.
The little widget in the bottom has a 2'' side, a 3'' side and two 1'' sides. That's enough for many situations and is most melee ranges in the game, and most movements. It's not a bad one. The only dumb token in the entire set is the drop scatter token. It has the same problem as a measuring tape and requires you to hold it over the top of the ball and look down. It's probably fine, and once you roll the direction, you measure the distance off the ball, so the drop scatter widget at best is a rough estimate. Really though, want you want is the Kick scatter. If someone has an extra, buy it from them. Otherwise, old Warmachine ones are great for everything except that Kick Scatter.
This is one of the few areas I think Steamforged dropped the ball on. A token kit is anywhere from 26$ to 32$. I can get a starter kit for the cost of a token kit that's already outdated since they're from Season 1 and we have models from Season 2 that are already in tournaments. None of the new captains have tokens in the Season 1 kits, so for teams like Brewers and the Butchers where the Season 2 captains are wildly popular, the Token kit is a waste. I'm actually going to direct you to Privateer Press's kits.
You can easily write the statuses and character plays down on the blank sets, and since there's a dozen factions in Warmachine, you even have a selection of colors to choose from. Instead of 30$, you're looking at 10-15$ for a far more adaptable kit. And the focus tokens are made to stack, and there's 20 of them. I highly prefer them to influence tokens and even after I buy the new Muse on Minis token sets in the next month, I'll possibly continue to use focus tokens from Warmachine.
On top of that, many Guilds have AOE character plays, and only a couple of AOEs to go with them. The Engineers are a perfect example, easily placing two AOEs a turn and their kit only comes with one. Grab some of these.
A pack comes with 5 and they've got a spot to write on. On top of that, they work great for a drop scatter token since you can actually place this one around the ball. These are 7$ to 10$ for 5 rings, depending on the local markdown. Your local hobby or leather store will have simple 3'', 4'' and 5'' metal rings that work too, but they don't have the arrows on them for ball scatter. For AOEs though, they're great.
Lastly, status tokens. Steamforged has this little bundle.
However, as of Season 2, there's a new condition called "Snared", which is not a token in this kit. It's, again, already outdated. So again, I use my old PrivateerPress ones that used to come with individual faction token kits. Now, however, PP wised up (in one, single area) and created universal packs. There's two. Effects and statuses. The Effects come with Fire, Corrosion (poison) and Disruption (whatever you want). The other one comes with Knockdown, Shadowbind, Stationary, and Blind. Stationary could double as Icy Sponge tokens, but you'd be the only player in the world to ever actually use Icy Sponge tokens. Bleed is really the only one that doesn't translate directly since Shadowbind works for snared just fine, but between Blind, Stationary or Disrupted, take your pick. Or, wait for Muse on Minis to release theirs. However, so far, this list has had things you can pick up semi-locally. In the next section, we'll talk about some of the products out there you can order.
The caveat to all of this is that I've seen anything from marbles, to the little glass aquarium things, to colored balls of fluff used for statuses. I like to have a bit more visual than that for both me and my opponent, but as long as it's clear on the table, that's what matters.
Get what you want. They have Guild dice with the logo on them, but often you'll find you don't have enough. That's not really their fault, there's only 10 dice and it's not often that you need more than that though it happens probably at least once a game. I wish the kit had 12, but at 10, it's usually adequate. I would definitely have another set handy though.
It's also worth considering having some D10s or D20s to keep score and momentum.
5. Card Sleeves and a marker
Couple of bucks. Get some cheap sleeves and a small dry-erase marker so you can mark health on your guys. I've gotten all fancy and laminated mine, but that's because I have easy access to one. Otherwise cardsleeves are perfect. But you'll need some.
THE OTHER OPTION
Instead of Cards, get an app. If you've got a smart phone, there's no reason for you not to have a Guildball one anyways since it's great toilet reading. There's two options. Tooled Up is one. It's free. You download the app, download the card pack and it's ready to go. You can build lists, play games, record damage, have a timer, everything. Get it.
The other app is Guild Ball manager. Both of these apps are in the Google Play store. Idk about Apple users. No one likes those guys anyways. Buy sleeves, you hipsters. But for all the smart guys on Android, there's all kinds of options. Guild Ball Manager downloads and is ready to go. It's an easy to use app, also has a damage tracker, list builder, all that great stuff. The only issues I've seen is that it doesn't just straight up use the Guildball resources PDF cards, and sometimes the app is wrong, whereas I've never had an issue with Tooled Up.
EDIT: The other side has spoken and there's an app for IOS called GBKeeper. I'm told it's pretty decent, but that's straight from the mouths of Apple users so who knows if that's the truth or not.
None of the below is required, and honestly, it'll be a few weeks before you can appreciate the handiness of most of it. The above should have you set up for your first game without needing a whole lot, but the below is what you're going to see that everyone else has and once you know what you need, you'll see that it's a lot handier.
1. Measuring Widget(s) and tokens
The movement from measuring tapes is more involved than just 5'' and less measurements. As tabletop wargaming establishes that it can be a competitively tight game, the small things that can be wrong easily are slowly taken out of the equation. Within a year, I think it'll be rare that you see a measuring tape used regularly at any Guildball table, and the same goes for Warmachine. There's already assortments of 1/4'' plexiglass acrylic measuring sticks, anywhere from 4'' to 10'' long that can be stowed in a bag and combined for any length of measurement. The most useable ones will be the ones at 5'' and below, but even for 9'' sprints, you'll see a four and a five used together more often on the competitive scene as time goes one. Especially if it's for anything like a kick or a charge that really matters and it's possible that they may be out.
This link here takes you to a collected Guildball Resources thread on the forums. The top section includes various companies that sell tokens designed for Guildball.
My second favorite is the Art of War studio.
They have the new measuring sticks, Guild specific, all of the status tokens you could want and updated core sets to cover all of the new spells. Most companies have the same thing, but I like AoW's quality quite a bit and I like their designs. If it wasn't for the next company, and that AoW is in the UK, I'd already have a set from AoW. If you're in Europe, I'd pick these guys.
Muse on Minis is my favorite, but they have yet to release the full Guildball line. The Muse guys live an hour and a half from me, I've been to their convention, and met and talked to most of of them. They're great guys, and we've had good times in Omaha and Des Moines both, so it's personal preference when I try to throw money in their general direction, and try and support a semi-local company. John DeMaris runs the Muse Token line, and is extremely easy to work with on custom orders and I have nothing bad to say about him. I've never seen a guy take so many pirate jokes without breaking into tears. If you're in the states, these guys are my recommendation.
I'd also like to point out that in their last podcast, they announced that the GB tokens would be releasing within the month. I'll be purchasing those immediately Currently, I use their multiwound magnetic trackers for my Momentum counter, and that's been pretty decent. The best one is the objective health counter. It's large base sized, and has up to 18 pts, so it's perfect for tracking momentum, and acting as a goal.
Counter Attack is another that I have seen used personally. The best is their goal sized token that has multiple layers and can track both momentum and score.
2. Season plots
Similar in concept to scenarios for Warmachine, Guildball uses Season specific plot cards. There are twelve of them. You deal out 2 piles of five, select three, discard two. They have things like +1 DEF against the next attack, or +2 TAC during a counter attack, things like that. Not particularly game-changing, but slightly different and adds some flavor and mild unpredictability. Season 1 had one called "Don't touch the hair" which was basically Unpredictable Movement, but after the first attack. It created a pretty negative play experience though and as such, none of Season 2's are quite as drastic. There are a few tokens that are needed, but they come with the deck. The plots are not required to play, but any player past the basics will probably be playing them.
They are also available for free online as well in the Guild Ball resources section, so you're also welcome to print them off and sleeve them. Saves you 11$.
3. Goal/Momentum counter
I touched on this in section 1, but I want to hit it again. You can use dice for this, or an actual purpose built token. I encourage it. It's important to both you and your opponent in this open information game to know what eachother's momentum total is currently at. Any die greater than D6 is probably fine, but there's some nicer setups out there.
My overall goal is to build/paint a pretty Brewer goal with a momentum counter built in but that's still in conceptual phase.
Not a first purchase, certainly, but definitely one that is the best tool for specific situations. There are several variants, but my favorite is the Army Painter one.
It's a small pen laser that lays down a long straight line when held directly overhead. It's best use is for charge lanes or ball paths. Some of the measuring sticks will work for this as well, but when looking at LOS issues and etc, the laser is one of the best 10$ purchases you'll ever make.
5. Pitch Mat
I used to really not care for mats. It was in warmachine, and a 4x4 mat was expensive, and didn't bring enough flavor to the board to interest me. Since Warmachine always used scenarios, I had to set up and measure things out regardless, before even placing terrain. Prior to MK3, a mat that had all the markings for scenarios and deployment lines was a lot of open information in a game that didn't allow premeasuring. Now, even in MK3, it's still a cluttered mess to have a mat that has all that information, and what's worse, Steamroller scenarios change from year to year.
Guildball doesn't have any of those problems. There is no proper scenario. Premeasuring exists. There's no reason not to have a mat that lets you convert any 3x3 surface into a playing field just like that. I'll talk about terrain in a moment, but for the most part, a pitch mat has all you need. For 57$ you have a ready made setup. To many people, that's not worth it, but I play enough that it's extremely nice to have and makes for a very pleasant looking game.
Steamforged has produced 2 specific mats. There are probably others out there, and I think there are people photoshopping their own designs and having them printed out, but I'm just focusing on the official ones. There's the Classic Pitch, and the Proving Grounds.
The proving grounds, to me, have a lot more character. But more importantly, it has two uses. The Demo format for a 3v3 game of Guildball uses the smaller, green board in the middle, and uses the goal spots that are six inches further in from the normal spots. As a prior PG from Warmachine, I'm fairly used to introducing other players to any game I'm playing, so the Proving Grounds immediately stood out to me as the preferred option.
Again, these mats are not required, you can easily make the needed measurements. I do prefer just rolling the mat out though, and I enjoy the asthetic quite a bit. When my fully painted army is on the move through fully painted terrain on a full color print mat, it's a beautiful site.
There's two main options. Ideally, your local game store will already have terrain, but Guildball tournament grade has specific measurements. Obstacles need to be within 2x2, Barriers need to be within 3x3, and forests, rough ground and fast ground all need to be within 6x4. Many of the standard terrain sets from Warmachine don't really meet these needs, so there's a few other options.
One of them is to build your own. I have another article here, building your own terrain using Hirst Arts, and at some point in the future, I'll do one about not cheating and casting your terrain, and making it out of stuff around the house. For now, the best suggestion I have is normal sticks, branches, basing material. Mine looks like this.
The second option is buying some. If you're going to buy some, the only really Guildball Specific terrain is the beautiful 2D stuff from Broken Egg Games.
My problem with Broken Egg Games is their pricepoint sucks. They're super proud of their stuff. They've got good quality stuff, but they charge you pretty heavily for it. Art of War and Muse on Minis both have considerably more reasonable prices.
EDIT 7. Carrying Tray
I happened to do some horse swapping and landed this super sweet carrying tray for Guildball from Tectonic Crafts. For Warmachine, where you could have thirty to sixty models, carrying trays are pretty mandatory. Instead of unpacking your army bag for every single table switch in every round of a tournament, you just loaded everything you wanted in the tray and left your bag somewhere safe.
Guildball isn't quite as bad. It's 8 models and a pocket of tokens. It really doesn't take too much to carry it around, but after a bit, a tray is pretty nice. I was planning on building one eventually, but now I've got a pretty sweet little one. They're worth looking at.
In Closing this became a fairly long article, but I hope it's given you an idea of what you need going in, and what's out there for options. Don't feel pressured to have all of this immediately. Most people out there want you to play the game and get involved and have more than enough for you both to use. Get out there, play. This is just a resource for you to know what you'll need at some point and what else exists. This is aimed at players new to tabletop wargaming, and Guildball, unlike any other, seems like it has the highest percentage of players new to the genre. Warmachine had a lot of ex 40k, Fantasy and stuff, but Guildball seems like it's half tabletop noobs completely. It's cool to see.
Anyways, hopefully this has been some help to you. Part 3 will be the basics of choosing a guild with some hard numbers and averages in the differences. Thanks again!