Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Step 3 into Guildball: Choosing your first Guild

This is Part 3, indicating there's a Part 2 and Part 1.  If you missed them,

Part 1: Guildball Intro

Part 2: What do I need to play?

  Secondly, this article is piggybacked off of the statistical analysis I did last week.  It covers all the Guilds with a fairly comprehensive infograph that hopefully hits all the main points of a Guild for you.  If you're new to the game, a lot of the numbers don't matter to you, so I'm just going to summarize the basic playstyle and aesthetics to each one, and link you to the full thing if it interests you.  I want to hit some points about actually choosing a guild for the game here, whereas in "Guildball at a Glance", I just wanted to get the info out there after I'd worked on it for two weeks and it was a lot of info, for new people and veterans alike. For the full article and all links, it's,

Guildball at a Glace: A Statistical Analysis of the Game

  So, the meat of the subject.  Choosing your First Guild.

  By first, I mean that you're addicted now.  You've passed that threshold.  But now you're going to pick a team, a Guild, and you don't have any clue where to start.  Or maybe you've got one, but you've got to pick between two or three of them.  Let's cover a couple of basics.

  A) This will probably not be your only Guild.  This isn't a pledge of allegiance or a huge financial commitment.  When I came to Guildball, I looked long and hard at playstyles and guilds and playtested a few times before I bought in.  Coming from Warmachine and Warhammer before that, buying into a faction can become a 1000$ investment in a year.  Even if you don't like the faction, by the time you've built enough of it up to find out, you're already stuck.  You can sell it off, sure, but used rates are 40-50% of MSRP or what you could have paid for it.  On top of it, charging extra for a decently painted army just ensures that it won't sell since most people would prefer to paint it themselves, or to play it bare metal instead of paying extra for any painting at all.

  This particular problem doesn't really carry over to Guildball.  A full fledged 75pt list in Warmachine is easily 400-500$ and you need two lists for a tournament.  Guildball wants 8 models for a tournament.  6 to play, 2 subs to put in to switch it up.  My first tournament was Esters, Scum, Hooper, Spigot, Friday, Mash, Stoker and Gutter.  That meant I had bought the Brewers starter set at 32$, and then Esters for 20$, Mash for another 20$ and the rest for roughly 10-15$ apiece.  Mostly about 10.  So 120$ for a tournament list, and a model to spare since I wasn't playing Tapper from the starter kit.

  If you want to just play a six man list, you're looking at 32$ for the starter and 30-40$ more for a mascot and 2 more players.  In the Brewers, the only 20$ models are Esters, Mash and Stave, and it's mostly according to base size and the accompanying pewter.

  I now own all available Brewers.  If I wanted to sell them off, I'd probably get 100$ for it.  Maybe a hair less.  Even if I got 80$ for them, that's most of another Guild.  The Brewers only have 9 released models right now, 10 including Quaff by the time this article is released probably.  80$ picks up most of another Guild easily, and 10$ purchases here and there afterwards are nothing compared to needing another 75$ trollblood unit for Warmachine.

  The TL;DR, don't overthink the commitment.  It's easy to come back from finding out you don't like a Guild's playstyle.  Half of the time, someone came to the same realization with the guild you want and will trade.

  B) Don't be afraid to proxy, either with the paper models or on Vassal.  Steamforged wants players and so does your local community.  Nobody is going to mind if you bring the paper models.  My local store has a box of them so you can try it out even.  People want you to play, and they'll accommodate that.

  Online also has an option called Vassal and the module is built by Steamforged.  Hop onto the Vassal Ball facebook group and request a game and someone will run through the ropes with you.  Play some games.  It's all free, and in some cases, easier than playing Guildball on the table.  If you'd like to try vassal, check out this article on this blog here,

  I'm also prone to proxying models, even if I don't have a paper representation.  The Season 2 Brewer's Mascot, Quaff, has been a zombiecide dog mounted on a base for a long time, and Vet Spigot has been played by regular Spigot for awhile too.  I think my first time playing Esters, I used Calandra, a Trollblood caster.  Generally nobody minds, as long as you don't take it to a tournament.

 What do you like to do vs. what looks the coolest?

  There's two main things I look at with people getting into a game.  If they've never played a miniature game before, I encourage them to go with their gut and pick the coolest looking models to them.  They can ask a lot of questions about playstyle and etc, but it's really hard to actually know what you enjoy doing if you haven't ever played anything similar before.  So pick the neatest looking models.  What makes you really want to put that model on the board and charge into the other team?  What captures your imagination the most and puts you on the pitch?  That model for me is Tapper, and similarly Hooper and Stave.  That full out sprint from two models with their sticks out swinging, kilts billowing in the wind behind them and Stave moving up the center lobbing bombs to cover them?  I love it.  The Brewer's playstyle is also very similar to the Trollbloods I came from, so that translated well, but really, it was the aesthetic that did me in.

  What do you like do?  If you're playing a 6 man team on a ball field, do you want to play ball?  Then, off the top of my head, you're looking at Fishermen, Alchemists and Engineers.  Do you want to fight?  Get in and mix it up in melee?  Brewers, Masons, Butchers and most Union builds (though they have a strong ball kicking element as well).  Or are you a dick that hates people deep down and wishes they would all die?  Then Morticians are you what you want, and if you don't like easy buttons, there's the Hunters.  Both are control Guilds, but Hunters do it with a very tightly developed team hit and run strategy, while Morticians are basically standing around while Obulus takes all their influence and does it all by himself.  Super solo with 5 other models out there with him.

  Then there's individual differences.  A few player changes and the new Captains and everything is different.  Tapper with the Brewers is a very bashy player.  Esters, however, buffs her team to do nearly anything, including strong bashing, but she brings a great control element game with her ranged plays.

  The Fishermen are probably the best example.  Shark doesn't want to fight.  He wants nothing more to run circles around you and score the ball three times.  Corsair is the opposite.  He's all Brawler with a higher than average kick.  A few player changes, couple of Union models and the Fishermen suddenly have one of the tankiest teams in the game.

  All of the Guilds have their own niche.  Both Brewers and Butchers want to bash, but Butchers are little squishier, yet hit a little harder.  Brewers can tank decently on their own, but are little slower to the field .  They also have a ranged element between Esters and Stave that the Butchers don't have at all.  The playstyles are all very distinct.  Some similarities do exist, but the tools are all different, and instead of becoming more similar, so far, Steamforged has done nothing but show that they can become more specific and diversified.

  Before we get started, probably the most useful infograph to you is the basic Guild Comparison chart.  It'll give you a lot information about the Guilds, but if you haven't played a lot yet, the difference between Offensive Character Plays and Defensive ones and whether they're ranged or Guildball probably don't matter to you a whole lot.  However, the whole thing can be seen here.

Guild Comparison

  So.  Alchemists.  Alphabetical.

  Alchemists are all in on ball kicking with some ranged condition attacks.  They have two extremely adaptive super solo Captains, one heavy guy that's yet to be released that's worth taking and Vitriol, one of the models in the game.  So good nobody knows if she's supposed to strike or fight.  If you want ball kicking team with a captain and at least one or two models that can really put the hurt down (Midas, Vitriol, either Katalyst), get the Alchemists.  Midas is really what it comes down to.  Smoke, the Season 2 Captain, is very much a ball kicker and condition damage dealer.  Midas actually dictates what the opponent brings since he has the ability to steal a character play.  You opponent builds a list around having something like "The Unmasking", Midas can take it.  He and Vitriol are also exceptionally difficult to kill, and especially him.  Really feel like you get models killed easily, well, most of the team won't help you out but Midas is pretty forgiving in that regard.  DEF 5 base, Unpredictable Movement standard, can give himself both Clone and +1 ARM as well.  If you don't like Midas, don't buy Alchemists.

  Aesthetically, they're kind of a Victorian era steampunk looking group.  Obviously the overall theme of the game is moderately Steampunk, but that idea is really carried by the Alchemists and Engineers.  The Midas sculpt is a great rendition of the typical Ironman landing, and he's such a dynamic model in the field that part of me wants to play the Alchemists just for him.  

  Nah, Vitriol.  I want to play it for Vitriol.  Even though I despise her ballerina sculpt.

  Full infograph on them is here: Alchemists Infograph

  These are my guys.  I own four Guilds and I keep coming back to Brewers.  Their playstyle is very natural to me and I enjoy it a lot.  They're a very bashy team, and that's what they want to play, but they can switch gears very quickly.  Friday, both Spigots and Season 2 Mash can all strike very well, and Friday and regular Spigot both can fight pretty decently too.  If you're looking for a team that can play several playstyles easily, Brewers are one of the options.

  Right now the craze is all Esters.  Tapper, who I originally played Brewers for, is very straightforward, and easily predictable or controlled.  That can be played around, but I find Esters is far more forgiving in that regard.  She patches a lot of holes in the Brewers with her buffs and just really supports the team.  She also is one of the best ranged models in the game, and a Tooled Up Esters removes mascots and Greede from the game on a regular basis, Turn 1.  

  They're also a fairly tanky team with plenty of defensive buffs.  It's not often they get one-rounded.  

  Aesthetically, they're Scotsmen.  I keep saying aesthetically, as if you can't see the picture above I posted, but the Sculpts are what drew me in, not the concept art.  Everyone in the Guild except Esters and Friday are sprinting or hauling up the field all out fighting.  I love it.  Very dynamic sculpts, and I'm a sucker for kilts.  

  Full Infograph here: Brewers Infograph

  The Butchers have a lot of things in common with Brewers.  Very melee oriented, brings conditions to the table quite a bit.  What they don't have in common is they're far faster than Brewers and will easily get into the fight turn one.  They also die way faster than Brewers do and are basically glass cannons.  Their 2'' melee models in the game are not particularly popular right now, so they struggle with a lot of things that 2'' melee makes simpler, like Unpredictable Movement and Clone.

  They do kill though.  Not so much because of their high TAC value, because their playbooks are just as long, but because of their damage buffs.  Ox alone has 3 ways to get +1 damage on a model, and can do all 3 in one turn.  They're supported by a couple of decent strikers like the Briskets, but overall, the team wants 4-6 takeouts a game.  You want to fight, brawl and be dirty about it, Butchers are your people.

  Aesthetically, they're all in aprons.  They're actually more dynamic in most regards than the Brewers are.  Boar, Boiler and Shank are all beautiful models. Shank's chains spiraling around him is one of my favorites.  

  Full Infograph here: Butchers Infograph

  Engineers want to kick the ball.  They've got consistently strong strikers across the board, and their mechanica models are extremely difficult to remove.  They also have some ok ranged elements from their Season 1 Captain, Ballista, and they have the ability to gain momentum at range with him as well.

  As far as ball teams go, they probably have the toughest learning curve, but it pays off when you get it figured out.  They don't really want to fight much, though probably more than a Shark Fisherman team.  They do have access to Rage right now, the Union slaughterhouse, so that helps them quite a bit but for the most part, they want to push you around from range, run their mascot into you and blow him up, and score goals.  

  Aesthetically, they look like a bunch of welders with some puppets that play the game too.  Imagine a whole guild run by a bunch of Geppettos.  Pinocchios a real team.  The only dynamic models in the range are the strikers which are notoriously difficult to put together.  The Season 2 Captain isn't bad either, but most of the models in the range are pretty stoic.  They just stand there and look at you.  Even the giant spider dude from Toy Story without the doll head.  He's stoic until he charges 12'' at you under Pinvise.

  Full Infograph here: Engineers Infograph

  The Fishermen are probably the easiest Ball playing faction to step into.  Specifically a Shark led team, the Season 1 Captain.  At decent TAC, they build momentum fairly easily, and with 2'' melee across the guild and high DEF, they can do it pretty safely.  If they get caught, they die, but they're tough to button down.  

  The other side of the coin is Season 2 brings Corsair and Sakana, both of whom can fight a bit, and with Jac and Kraken, the beefier guys from Season 1, they become a bit more of a seafaring Brewers team that tanks moderately well.  Not as well as Masons or Brewers, but pretty well, and still amazing a kicking the ball.  If you want to hop right in and start scoring, the Fish are for you.  

  Aesthetically, their sculpts are great.  Kind of a waterworld feel to them (old Kevin Costner movie that wants to be a Mad Max in the Sea kind of story), lots of whispy movement to their poses.  Shark's model alone is one I need to own, and if I own his, I might as well own the rest.

  Fishermen's Infograph: Fishermen Infograph

  I can't find any concept art outside of the box, so here's the Hunters.  They play almost entirely a ranged game except for that one dude Jaecar and then the Bear.  Both come charging in, wreck your day, kill everything you love, and then one of them runs away and hides and it's not the giant bear.  No, that guy stays and hangs out in your face and counterattacks you at TAC7 with a push on Column 1 or a KD on Column 2.

  The rest of the Guild is not that straightforward.  The rest of them want to shoot, and stay back.  The Captain starts wanting to fight in melee towards the end of the game but for the most part they stay and try to control the flow of the game.  Very steep learning curve and some very good players in the game have yet to figure out how to play these guys.  A couple have demonstrated that it can be done, but by and large they struggle in the meta. I own this guild, and they're fun, but I can not make them work for me.  However, since they've only got six players right now, one captain and one mascot, they're pretty limited in what they can do.  Their day is coming.  Want to get in on the ground floor of a Guild, these are the guys.

 Aesthetically, they're Robin Hood with a little bit of Tolkien.  Theron looks like what one of the Hobbits from the last trilogy would have looked like if he was 6ft.  All beautiful sculpts.  The only boring one is Chaska, who just stands there.  With his shotgun.  Yeah.  He brings a shotgun to a soccer game.  How's that?

Full infograph here: Hunters Infograph

  Masons.  Another adaptable Guild, but they've got a far better ball kicking capability than some of the other beefier, tankier teams, yet they tank the best as well.  They're not quite the fighters that Butchers or Brewers are but they've got the tools to get it done.

  Season 1 Captain, Honor, can put models to ARM 3 relatively easy.  She's also got great Guild support built in with some solid character plays and she's got some solid bashing stats herself.  Season 2 Captain is Hammer, and he's all in on the fighting.  He can score just fine, but he really enjoys just smashing other models.

  Anchoring the team when they can't get the TOs enough is Flint, the supposedly best striker in the game, and then Mist from the Union, whom they have access to.  The two of them run the ball extremely well and can make the game a 2TO - 2 Goal game very quickly.  Another Guild that my wife and I own.  They're a lot fun, easy to pick up and play and answer a lot of questions.  Pose a lot of questions too.

  Aesthetically, they're kind of the knights of the game.  Lots of pretty colors, pretty armor.  Very aesthetically pleasing.  Most of their sculpts are the early ones, so very small compared to some of the newer stuff but that's being fixed slowly but surely.  They're probably some of the more boring sculpts right now though.  They're ok, but they don't really inspire me.  I like my Brewers.

Full Infograph here: Masons Infograph

  It's like the Adam's Family had a Guildball team.  These guys are all in on control.  Not much for kicking the ball, they like to hide it against scoring teams, or keep it on Obulus who is very, very difficult to button down.  Relying on some Union choices to do their own scoring (Mist), and their killing as well (Rage), they spend most of the game choosing your order of activations.  They focus on disrupting plans and order on the other side, tearing it apart piece by piece and wrecking the isolated models.  Obulus and Ghast, both with 2'' melee, generally anchor the team for damage, tanking and momentum generation.  Rage, Fangtooth, Mist, Avarisse and Greede are all common choices to be in a Morts list.  Honestly, a Morticians list is Obulus (rarely the Season 2 Captain, Scalpel), Ghast, Silence and Dirge.  The last two are Union.  

  Season 2 Captain isn't bad.  She does lots of great things, but she doesn't just straight up answer and ask questions all day to every guild like Obulus does.  Knowing the opponent's team is just as important as knowing your own when playing the Morts, so players getting into this Guild want an approximate knowledge of the game.  They don't play like any other guild, but are also very strong.  

  Aesthetically, they're the undead.  Again, very Adam's Family looking.  Dark, brooding, long robes.  Not quite the same undead look from other miniatures games, with skulls and ghouls everywhere, mind you.  Just rough looking pale guys carrying burial and post-mortem equipment.  Some beautiful sculpts though like Ghast, Casket, Obulus.  Ghast is another one of my favorites.  Very dynamic, full of motion.  Take a look when you get a chance.

  Full Infograph here: Morticians Infograph

  Last, but not least (That was the Hunters), we have the Union.  Union's got the largest playbook, so the most variety as well.  Their captains are pretty straightforward.  Mostly bashy, but some support.  Blackheart, from Season 1, probably has the most support.  Great Legendary, 2'' melee and just some great all around things he can do.  Vet Rage, from Season 2, is all bashy.  He can buff speed for one guy, but mostly he just wants to kill and helps others kill.

  However you want to play the game though, the Union has it.  Not as much control as some other guilds, but a little bit.  You want to play bashy though?  They've got it, all day long.  Kick the ball?  Got it, all day long.  There's a little bit of everything in here.  If you don't know what playstyle is for you, kinda want to try it all, Union's a great place, and the nice thing is that any guild you buy in the future will use some of the Union models you already have now.

  Aesthetically they think they're either classy English gents in top hats, or ninjas swathed in stealthy robes.  Then you've got like, Fangtooth and Minx who nobody knows what happened there.  I don't like some of the Union models, and the standard Minx model is one of my least favorites.  However, both Rages are straight up copies of Daniel Day Lewis's character from Gangs of New York, which is pretty cool, and Avarisse & Greede are great sculpts too.  Again, English gents with Tophats. I like that aesthetic.  The rest of it, meh.

Full Infograph: Union Infograph

  So, maybe you got a glimpse here in the last three (four) articles of something you liked about the game and maybe even a Guild to get started with.  Worst case scenario, show up to your FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Store) and get a demo in with someone.  Try some different guilds, play the game, etc.  I've tried to build a decent platform here to view the game from, but I definitely encourage you to roll some dice out there and see what you think.  It's a great game, in a great place right now.

  If you've got any questions, email me here, comment or catch me on twitter, @diceotfirstdegree.  I'm Jedianakinsolo on most of the forums, and I can't give you any high tactical advice, or which is more broken, Fillet or Obulus (Though I have an opinion) but I can definitely show you how to assemble and paint your first models, walk you through the rules of the game and get you going.  I'm all in for that.

  Enjoy the last of some of this great weather and I'll see you guys around!


  1. Great writeup (step 1 - 3)! Loved reading it, and revisiting it almost every day now I am contemplating starting Guild Ball. It's really hard to make a pick for first Guild, and while your write-up helps a lot, I am still nog decided. Could you give some pointers?

    I would like to have a team with a gameplan to score 2 or 3 times to win the game. So far the guilds that I like are (in no particular order): Alchemists, Fish, Butchers, Masons and Union. I have read all the player cards, tactics on forums, etc, but its really hard to see how they would play without ever have played the game.
    I know I can printout the cards and try it out. But with 5 guilds still in the race that's five games assuming one game is enough to get a general feeling for each.

    Would you have some advice/guidance to help me pick a guild?

    1. I just saw this. Did you ever make any decisions?

  2. Fish! Also got the mystery box with brewers and hunters, but they are still unassembled. I love scoring :)