Think Rugby, but in a Gladiator stadium. A Captain, four players and a mascot. Your team, your fight.
You know Dark Souls? Did you know it has a board game? You may have heard of Steamforged. They recently held a wildly successful kickstarter for the Dark Souls boardgame. However, the boardgame is neither their first game, nor their first miniatures game. It started a few years ago with Guildball. Some of you may have heard of “Warhammer” or it’s American competitor, “Warmachine/Hordes”. Both fall under the tabletop wargaming umbrella, along with many other miniatures games. The newest contender to this genre is Steamforge’s “Guildball”. Guildball is a ballgame set in a fictional world full of crime, poverty and heinous organizations full of greed and intrigue. It’s almost a steampunk Victorian setting for the most part. Many guilds have become increasingly powerful in the wake of the Century Wars, and instead of settling their disputes through politics or money, they settle it on the field with their team. Thus: Guildball.
At the beginning of each round, players allocate “influence” to each character depending on what your plan is that turn, and each character is able to do an action per influence or use it towards “character plays.” There’s a second resource in the game, called momentum. Momentum is created by the players based on successful attacks, passes and scores, and can be spent to heal or perform extraordinary acts, or “heroic plays”. Some teams are better than others at building momentum, others at using it, and others still at taking it from you.
Playstyles are extremely varied. The Fishermen Guild and the Alchemist Guild both want to play ball, and bring the best “Strikers” to the game for that purpose. The Brewers’s Guild and Butcher’s Guild, on the other hand, would rather take out your players, and maybe score at the end when your team is down and broken, laying on the field in pieces. Then there’s Guilds like the Hunters and Morticians who don’t particularly excel at either, but are dominant at controling, and limiting. There’s currently nine Guilds, and almost any playstyle can be found among them. If you want to hit hard and survive, but maybe score a goal too, there’s Masons. If you want to hit from range and focus on scoring with the ball, there’s Engineers. If you want to be good at any and all of it and have the widest selection of players, there’s the Union. Any and every option is available and more on the way with each season.
Unlike Warmachine or Warhammer, a list is not built up of points spent on models. A tournament list is 8 models including a mascot and a captain, and two of them sit on the sidelines to be subbed out between games. Because a tournament list is just 8 models, most guilds only have 10-12 players available currently, though this number will go up slightly as the game ages. Compared to Warhammer or Warmachine where a tournament requires two lists, each one being anywhere from 20 to 50 models, and a pricepoint of 400-1000$ per list, Guildball hands you a starter kit for 32$, and individual models sell for 10-20$ per model depending on the size of the model. I own three complete Guilds currently, and most of another, and all of that for less than one Warmachine list, and waaaaaaay less than one Warhammer list.
Here's a few models. This is a Fisherman team. All about kicking the ball, pushing models around and being hard to get ahold of.
A few of the Butchers. They're out for blood.
My particular favorite, the Brewers, or the drunks. They can brawl and ball both, but they'd prefer to brawl.
The Morticians. They're dicks. All control, denial, and taking things from you.
A little bit of everything. There's some union, some morticians. It's all painted beautifully. Well, it looks confusing. Sure it does. I thought that too, and I’ve played seven years of tabletop games. It took five minutes to figure this out.
This is Corsair. He’s a badass from Season 2 for the Fishermen’s Guild. In Season 1, the Butcher Captain chopped his damn leg off in the storyline, and now he’s back. Unlike the Season 1 Fisherman Captain who plays ball all day long and exceptionally so, Corsair brings the fight back into the game. What’s the difference between Season 1 and 2, you ask? Is the Season 1 guy gone? Nope. You can play them both. Seasons just introduce new players and rules modifications to the game, much like large patches to any online game.
This card is still confusing though, I digress. Let’s look. He’s got a name. Corsair. There’s a base size on the upper right. We don’t care because he comes with a base. Under that though it says his Melee zone is 2’’. That means he can hit people from 2’’ away which is great, and probably the best character rule in the game. Most Fisherman Players have it. They’re annoying like that. Now all the numbers. From left to right, let’s talk about this.
MOV 4/6. He can walk 4’’ for free, sprint 6. Sprinting costs an influence, one of those resources we talked about.
TAC 6: He rolls 6 six when he attacks things in melee. This is pretty high, and only a handful of models have higher. TAC 6 and 2’’ melee means this guy is a boss in a fight. Most captains can handle themselves, but this guy is in the top half for sure.
KICK 3/6: Believe it or not, this is what the game is supposedly about. The 6’’ is how far he kicks, and the first number, 3, is how many dice he rolls to do it. 3/6’’ is pretty decent, a little above average. Most players in the Fish have at minimum that, and usually more. There’s ways to modify it but 3/6’’ is a great place to start.
DEF 3: So, let’s say Corsair attacks another player’s Corsair. TAC 6, we talked about that, right? So he rolls six dice. On a three or higher, it counts as a hit. 3+ is pretty average for a big guy like this. Not amazing, but with 2’’ melee, he has other options. Also, the back of his card says that he doesn’t give a shit about some things. We’ll get there.
ARM 1: So, everything on a 3 or higher hit, right? Well, take one away for his ARM stat. If four dice hit (average), then take one away, now he only has 3 hits. File this number away for a minute.
INF 4/6: The main resource here. 4 is how much he generates, 6 is how much he can be allocated. At the beginning of the turn, all of your dudes put their influence in a pool. Corsair contributes 4. Then you allocate it to people you want to do work. If Corsair’s in a good spot to kill a guy, then give him six. Someone going to take a ball and kick it? Great, give him some. Etc. It’s a resource.
At the bottom, we’ve got his health. This guy’s a pretty difficult guy to one or even two round in some cases. Pretty decent for a captain. See the numbers in squares? Those are what he can come back into the game with after being taken out, depending on the number of “Icy Sponge” tokens you spend on him. Most of the time, you spend just the one he gets, and he’ll come back in with 6 boxes and you can heal up from there.
The back of the card is similarly cluttered with abilities. Cosair’s got a lot of good ones, including Sturdy so he ignores the first Knock Down. A great ability. He also has a “Legendary Play” which he can do for free once per game. Most captains have something like that. Those are the basics of a card, which comes with the model. Getting into the game is easy. There are 3 man starter kits.
Then after that you buy individual models. You’re 3 away from being able to play a full game, 5 away from a full tournament list. The Guildball buy-in cost is very low for a miniatures game. Even better, it can be free. Steamforged has posted their entire ruleset, including the model’s cards and the complete rulebooks with tokens and scale sized printouts of the players themselves, all on line. You can literally print everything you would need except the dice and maybe a tape measure, for free, cut it out and play it. Even better, there’s an online option, ALSO FREE, called Vassal. Vassal is free to download, and Steamforged has developed an also free module for it allowing you to play the game online with friends, people from other countries, states, or just online because it’s easier than putting pants on. The game is widely accessible at 0 cost if you want it to be. You wouldn’t download a car, but you can download Guildball. It’s encouraged!
Try a game! Print it out, give it a shot. The rules are all there, youtube is full of videos, there’s a complete set of forums for assistance, news and strategy. Try the game! Want to get started?
For all of the rules and paper proxies, check out:
For trying out vassal, try:
For regular support and online community, go to:
Want a professional introduction to playing the game? Steamforged has one, at:
Hopefully this has piqued your interest enough to take a look, maybe even give it a shot. If you have a local game store, contact them and see if they have anyone there willing to do a demo. You can even use the Pundit locator on the steamforged website to locate a nearby rep to demo for you.
TL:DR A small miniature game that's fantastically addicting and either free or cheap to get into. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through here on imgur, or email me at email@example.com. I’m a long time miniature wargamer and have two years of hobby support on my blog so hopefully I can answer a lot of your questions. Thanks for reading!