Monday, November 6, 2017

The Concept Behind a Guildball Lineup

  Guildball's a weird game when it comes to the genre it fits in.  Technically, it's a tabletop miniatures game.  Most of the players (as of right now, but the demographic is changing) come from a tabletop wargaming background like Warmachine or 40k so it kind of fits into that category at the moment.  It's certainly the experience that the high-level players are coming from in most cases.  For example, Jordan Nach, a Guildball Podcaster for awhile, was a very skilled Warmachine player before Guildball.  They show up to Guildball with a decent concept of listbuilding and understanding the meta, be it the local meta or the game meta, so these concepts aren't new to them.  For newer players though, this is kind of a big step.  People seem to think it's like Chess.  You show up with what amounts to equally good players and may the best man win.  That's really not the case. You might show up with the standard 20 Chess pieces, but I'm showing up with 12 pieces.  King, 3 queens, 4 rooks and 4 knights.  Good luck.  That's a drastic example, but that's also why Chess isn't played that way.  So lets look at how Guildball is played in a tournament setting.

  Before you waste too much time on this article, if you've been to a few tournaments before, this article is information you probably already know.  I don't have any deep insight into why you bring only Fillet and not Ox and what models to take with her. This is geared towards the new players who have the first six, and they A) don't know why you would need more than that and B) don't know the questions to ask when they decide to begin bringing more than six.  I'm in a relatively new meta (Though I come from a far more experienced meta), and many players at the last tournament brought their starting 6.  That didn't mean I won the game right off the bat, but it felt like playing Rock, Paper, Scissors and I know all they had was Scissors.

  So when people talk about building a list, or a lineup, they're used to building armies.  Guildball is unique in that there is no point value, just a number of players.  It's a little overwhelming at first to look at the Organized Play document (OP from hereon out) and try to select 10 models to take into the vast variety of Guilds that is steadily growing for you to play against.  In 40k, you took one army.  Either you played a balanced list that could handle everything, or you played a hard skew that was extremely good at one thing.  This boiled down to either answering the question your opponent brought, or asking the question.  E.G., can your gunline handle a billion Tyranids? Or are you the guy that brought the Tyranids?

  Warmachine attempted to answer this in it's effort to be the US Wargaming Tournament game of choice, which in many ways it was for a long time.  Warmachine let you build two lists, and at each game you would look at your opponent's list and choose who you wanted to take.  This allowed you to tech armies into specific problems a little more.  Army A was good into gunlines, while Army B was good into melee.  Or maybe Army A wasn't amazing into anything, but it was extremely difficult to kill while Army B was good into everything that could kill A.  Warmachine's tournament list building was half the battle and a lot of that game was won long before the models ever hit the table.

  Enter Guildball.  Guildball doesn't bring the two list format technically.  Instead, you build the list at the table, but the choices made in the ten you bring limit you enough that you need to know your playstyle before you get there, and what your team needs to win.

  So we need to talk about the OP document, since the OP document is what dictates what we can and can't take, and what happens to set that up.  This document is available right Here.  The "Regional Cup" document is the one you want. Beginning on Page 4, where it talks about the "Pre-Season Friendly".  This is most tournaments you'll attend.

  On page 5, it talks about creating a roster.  Currently, the standard list is 10 models.  This can be 2 Captains, 2 mascots, 6 players.  It can be 1 Captain, 1 Mascot and 8 Players.  It can really be any variety.  There's only one guild that has more than 2 Captains, so no, Union players, you can't take all 3.  For non-union players, you can only take one Union guy per roster.  You'll pick your ten, take them to the tournament.

  Once you get there, you'll line up against your opponent, and you'll get his sheet.  You'll see what Guild he's playing and what 6-10 models he brought.  Then the game begins to get set up.  Look at the OP document, and you'll go to page 8 for the exact process.  The important steps are C, where Guild Plots happen, then D, where you select Captains and Mascots simultaneously, followed by E where the initiative roll happens.  This is a change from earlier seasons where you knew who went first before you picked Captains, and it affects good lineups.  Farmers, for example, really like Grange for kicking teams, but if you don't know if you're getting the ball or not, Thresher is typically a better all rounder.  Once we know who's going first and second, we draft players one at a time taking turns and the game begins.

All these great models, and you can only take 10 of them.

  When you build a 10 man team for a tournament, keep this draft in mind.  There's a lot of questions to ask yourself, and let's roll through some of these.  The goal here is to understand our gameplan, our flex pieces, and what conditions change what.  It's important to note that your ability to read your own list and knowing it well enough to modify it correctly into an opponent's list is pretty much useless if you don't know what their models do.  And please, do not wait until the game starts to start reading about the Alchemists.  If that's the first time you've browsed through their cards, you've probably already lost.  You don't need to memorize them, and you're still going to get caught by a few things but it's definitely in your favor to read through all the cards periodically and try to understand the Guilds out there.  Real familiarization won't happen till someone in your meta is playing them regularly, but at least a passing understanding of the gotchas in the Guild are worth knowing.  There's a great series on Youtube called "Guild Ball Gotchas" by a great guy named Vince.  He goes through these and tries to give you the heads up on them.  So, read the other cards before the tournament.  Preferably before you do this article, but maybe do this, then go read the cards.  Either way, read the cards.  So, on to your own list.

  1. The Captain(S) and their pets  How many Captains/Mascots are you bringing?  There are certainly weaker captains in Guildball that don't even make the 10.  Pre-errata Hammer is a good example, and Scalpel also struggles to ever be a better option than Obulus in the Morticians.  Then you have Guilds like the Alchemists where both Captains are movement oriented kicking geniuses, it's just a matter of what playstyle you want to play.  What are you comfortable with?  Then there's a few like the Fish who's captains do very different things and answer a lot of questions.  Brewers can kind of do the same thing, Tapper supports a fighting team and Esters is better in a kicking team.  Also, many Mascots are designed for a specific Captain, like Marbles and Honor.  If you're bringing two captains, you may be bringing two mascots as well. So:

 A. What playstyle and Captain are you more comfortable with and confident are you that they can be enough in any situation?

 B. Do both Mascots offer enough to be taken, or is one a good enough all-rounder for both Captains, or just any situation in general?

  So lets build a lineup.  I'll use a recent example of mine (not necessarily a great example but I liked it).  I took a Union team to a tournament recently and had a lot of fun with them.

  In answer to A, I will take two Captains.  I'll take Brisket3 and Rage2.  Blackheart is considered a better captain than Brisket3, but her playstyle fits me and I enjoy playing her, so I'm more comfortable and confident in playing her.  As far as any situation though, I think there's some teams she'd really struggle into and that's why I brought Rage2, another playstyle I enjoy.  I prefer Captains with a strong playstyle and the various tools to make that playstyle work, over a jack-of-all trades like Blackheart who has a strong toolbox, but isn't simply amazing at one thing.

  My plan with these Captains is to put Brisket3 into fighting teams, specifically teams with lots of 1'' melee that can't button her down.  So, Butchers for sure, I'd play her into Brewers too, maybe Masons (Definitely Hammer Masons), Hunters and probably Blacksmiths a little.  Hunters, she's uniquely good at because of toolbox of dodges.  Her legendary straight up ignores Pinned from Theron, and even into Skatha I think Brisket3 simply outkicks her.

  Rage goes into the kicking teams, so Alchemists, Fishermen, Honor Masons, etc.  I think the two Captains cover a wide enough variety of options to give me a fighting chance in any game.

The ends of my list's spectrum.

  In answer to B, I only took Strongbox.  I really like Coin with Brisket3, but I needed another slot for players and Strongbox is more important to Rage2 than Coin is to Brisket3, plus he brings Confidence and an extra TAC to the Brisket3 game.  He's a little slow, and I really miss the extra inf from Coin, but confidence is pretty decent, and it's actually very solid for helping a couple of players buff their kicking stats enough to be reliable for Brisket3.

It was at this moment, writing this article, that I remembered I still haven't finished painting Strongbox.

  2. Are we asking a question, or answering a question?

  We talked about this briefly earlier, about Warmachine lists that posed very difficult questions rather than being able to answer them. Guildball has less of these, but a few.  The quick examples are things like a tanky Corsair list, where he brings Kracken, Jac, Sakana, and Tentacles, and then whatever else you feel like you want.  This presents a very survivable list that can still control and score the ball very well.  You have be careful when fighting it because A) You will struggle to kill any one model before they suck you in and kill you instead, B) If you try not to engage, either Kracken or Corsair will drag you in, and C) It's a somewhat simple list to run compared to the puzzle you have to unlock when answering it, causing you to clock out.

  Another example is Corsair's brother Captain, Shark.  Shark and Siren can take the ball from nearly anyone, anywhere and score it.  They can't fight, they can't tank, but can you stop them from scoring?  They do one thing really, really well and can you stop it?

  Rage2, Hammer and Ox1 are the same way, on the other side of the coin.  They kill all day and that's all they want.  Can you control them enough to not lose players faster than you can score?

  So are you playing to answer problems, or be the problems?  The Guild you are playing will partly answer this for you.  Engineers, for example, don't answer a lot of problems, they live to score and that's all they really want to do.  Ballista will attempt to control the board a little while they score, but that's about it.  Guilds like the Farmers or Brewers, however, don't have very strict gameplans.  They can play the ball or fight, but they need to be able to adapt into it and answer the question.  If they're going into Shark, they need to hide the ball and fight his team.  If they're going into Ox1, they need to control Ox1 and play the ball.  So what Guild are you playing, and how are you playing them?

  My Answer: I'm playing Union, the jack of all trades.  I can answer questions pretty well, and pose them too if I'd like.  I'm playing to somewhat answer questions, but I want to answer them with questions of my own.  Into killing teams, I'm going to play the ball, and I'll use Brisket3 to do it.  Brisket3 has many abilities to recover the ball, control it and score it.  My question is can you button her down?  Players with 1'' melee really, really struggle to catch her and when you finally do, I use her legendary to pull her out and the chase is on again.

  Rage2, on the other hand, is an unstoppable melee monster, and he has the tools to prevent him from being buttoned down as well.  Can you stop that?  If you're playing the ball, I'll bring Rage2 and attempt to kill everything.  I feel like between my two contrasting Captains, I can answer most questions, and do it well enough to cause problems.

  3. With that question answered, we can break it down into further problems and begin assigning players to our roster.  

  Who are the immediate choices?

  Now we start looking at the gameplan.  We have a mascot(s) and Captain(s) picked, and we're left with our player slots, including one Union.  In my case, I have 2 Captains and 1 Mascot and I'm all Union so I don't care about that last bit.

  So now, let's identify our staples.  The basics of who we want.  The guy we never leave home without.  Alchemists usually talk about Vitriol here.  Brewers won't show up without Spigot1 and Friday.  These are the easy options.  You can break it down on what slots they fill, and you should so you know what you have left.  There's a few categories.

A) Ball players 
B) Brawlers
C) Support

  Some of this overlaps but that's the gist of it.  Spigot1, for example, is a staple in the Brewers because he does all 3.  He has Tooled Up and Football Legend, he's a hell of a fighter with Floored, and he's a decent kicker with Ball's Gone and Football Legend again.  With moderate scores in all three categories, we can't leave home without him.    He answers a lot of questions.

  My Answer:  Each Captain in Union has a few players they absolutely need.  Players that both Captains need are the obvious choice.  Mist and Harry make most of my lists.  Mist is an amazing standalone striker with 2'' melee.  Mist and Brisket3 for sure go hand in hand because she triggers his 2'' dodge, and he's a really good "I'm Open" target for her.  She won't leave without him.  Harry is a toolbox that brings some control to the game, and 2'' melee as well.  Furthermore, Rage2 likes him for his pushes that Rage2 can use through "Red Fury" and this can free up Rage2 or set him up.  Also, Harry and Brisket3 get along great because of his aura that allows players to dodge for free, which Brisket3 and Mist both particularly enjoy.  I generally find that I don't do a lot with Harry in the game, he doesn't kill, he doesn't win games, but he's an important piece that does a few key things.  This last Errata to Harry really put him in a nicely balanced place I think to where he doesn't quite make every list (Benediction, we'll talk about him in a minute) but he's in the 10 for sure.

  There's the basic 2 for both Captains.  I'm at 5 on my roster now.  Now lets pick for individual Captains.

 Gutter is a Rage2 requirement, in my opinion.  She's not great on her own these days (which is fine, she's nicely balanced compared to Season 1 and 2) but "Red Fury" makes her very solid.  She's an ok striker if I need her to be but she's a bit slow for it.  However, the 2'' melee gives her some reach, and she's very much a damage dealer if I can line her up with Rage2.  He really needs her to finish players off.

  Benediction is also a requirement these days for me I think.  Benediction kind of pushes Harry out of the way a bit because he brings the same pushes that Harry has, and are why I brought him in a Rage2 list.  Benediction can't deal much damage, but every fighting list needs a way to hide the ball.  This is a specific role that Benediction fills very well while also being able to push models around for Rage2.  He gives me that time I need to kill models without getting behind in score.  Also, his ability to extend character plays gives Rage2 a lot more freedom with "Red Fury".  A lot more.

  On Brisket3, I already mentioned Harry and Mist.  Those are the requirements for her.  I've played her with Benediction but he's a bit of a waste with Harry.  So now I'm at 4 required players, and my 2 Captains, 1 mascot.  I have 7 out of 10 slots filled.

  This maths out to 2 Brawlers (Rage2 and Gutter), Ball players (Mist and Brisket3) and 3 Support (Harry, Benny and Strongbox).  Again, there's some overlap (Gutter can kick, Harry and Benny can brawl a little if the situation is right)

  So 3 slots left.

4. What questions are left unanswered?

  If you've gotten through this far, you should have 2-4 slots left.  This is where you shore up your weaknesses in the gameplan.  Look at what lists you expect to drop and what they need.  You have your ball players and your brawlers, but do you want more of the same, or options?  Can your ball playing list survive into a brawler and can your brawler kill faster than a ball kicking list?

  There's specific roles to look at too.  You probably already have them answered, but lets recap.

Who is kicking off in your lists? Your Captain, to get them up the board, or another player that can capitalize on it?  Vitriol and Friday both come to mind as viable kickers that can put pressure on the ball since both can recover it and score.  My answer:  I have Mist, who can do it in both lists.  Rage2 and Brisket3 both are good at it, but Mist is much faster, and I find that Rage2 is still slow enough that even kicking off may not get him up far enough to get him into the enemy.

Who will recover the ball?  Again, Mist.  Maybe Brisket3.  And by recover, knockdown isn't a bad option all the time either.  Vitriol comes to mind again.  Siren is a classic option.

Who will hold the ball?  I have Benediction, as I mentioned.  For you, this can be a high-def model, a fast model, or a model with good defensive tech like Unpredictable Movement.  Brewers, for example, can try to hide the ball on Mash who has 2'' melee and UM, or the cat, who is just stupid fast.  I used to bring Mash specifically for this purpose.

Who will fight if I need them to?  In my Rage2 list, it's Rage2 and Gutter.  In my Brisket3 list... do I want a fighter?  If I feel like there's a soft target (Flint hates Brisket3), I may bring Rage1 with Tooled Up to help out Brisket's Momentous 2 on Column 3. Harry also can brawl a little but eh.

Who is my support, and do they do what I need them to?  What do you need?  Healing? Speed? Rage2 is slow, so speed is good.  Brisket3 has "I'm Open" so she likes good kick stats, and Harry's Aura is very key for her.  Are you Brewers? Do you need Spigot1's Tooled Up? (Yes, yes you do.).  Are you Farmers and do you have condition removal? Will you need it?  Both Masons and Farmers have models with Counter Charge, and KD sucks.  If you have a way to clear it, that may be key.  It's a question of how bad your day gets if X tool in your list can't work.  That's the matrix to justify your support.

Where is your momentum coming from?  Some teams don't have to ask this question.  Masons and Brewers both farm momentum on the low end of the playbook like it's growing on trees.  Other players need to think about it.  Hunters, for example, can collect it at range but it's only pennies on the dollar.  I think Jaecar, for many reasons but this one specifically, is absolutely required in the 10 man roster, if not a 6 man list too.  Even if he doesn't kill a model, he's good for 4-5 momentum every turn that he's fully loaded.  You may not go first, but you absolutely need that Momentum.  Decitmate is a popular option in the teams that can take her for the same reason.  She's basically guaranteed 1 Momentum per INF that you put on her.

 Actually, I mentioned Masons a little as not worrying about it, but it's actually an issue if they want to kill in a team.  An Honor team doesn't mind so much but a Hammer team will be starved on Momentum because if his team is killing models, they're on the high end of their playbook and not getting momentum.  I know a lot of players used to bring Decimate to keep the momentum game up.  Now that they're down to one Union option, Mist kind of takes over but it depends.

Last, but not least, do you have enough INF?  This one is usually what I didn't think about until I have an 11 INF list and 5 models that want 4-6 each (Hello, Hunters).  A 6 man list full of very, very capable models is worse than a 6 man list with 3-4 very, very capable models, and 2-3 models that don't actually want INF that much.  The Farmers would love nothing more than to bring 6 Reapers, but they get maybe 8 INF out of it.  You have to bring Planters.  Millstone is happy with just 1 or 2 a turn, but she contributes 3.  Coin is a great mascot because he doesn't want any, and can give out 2.  Another great thing about Benediction is that he gives 2, and maybe only wants 1 if that.  Think about your gameplan again, and what's your allocation going to look like?  It's worth having a model or two that can do a good thing for the team for free.  Minx in the Union is a great example.  She donates 2 INF every turn, but can charge for free.  She's not an amazing player, she doesn't win games, but those 2 INF help everyone else do what needs to be done and she can still get you a little momentum.

This is also the biggest argument in favor of Spigot2.  Spigot2 can score from a mile away on 1 INF.  If he's not in range, but has the ball, he can still hide it pretty well as fast as he is, and he's donating 2INF to the INF starved Brewers every turn.  Think about your gameplan and where the INF is going every turn and where it's coming from.

My final 3 picks

  Rage2 has Strongbox, Benediction and Gutter.  Mist is already in my roster, and I like to bring him sometimes for some additional ball pressure.  Another option is Decimate.  She can deal a lot of damage in a Rage2 list and is guaranteed Momentum.  Plus, Thousand Cuts is always good and so is Second Wind to get Rage2 up a little further.  Decimate is in my Roster.

  I mentioned Minx earlier.  Minx has actually made my Rage2 list more often because she donates 2 INF and doesn't need anything to do work.  If all she does is charge in and snare something momentously, I'm ahead.  Rage2 loves the free 2 INF.  Minx is also in my roster.

  The last one is tough.  Hemlock is a little bit of a consideration because of Blind and her condition removal.  If you find that your Brisket3 list is getting wrecked by melee lists, think about Hemlock for Blind.  However, I went with Rage1 for Tooled up and his Furious charge.  Generally, I find that good players tie him up, but this works in my favor since they're busy tieing him up and not Brisket3 or Mist.  And if he is tied up, he tools up Brisket and she kills someone.

5.  The Lineup

  You've got the sheet now.  Your tournament tray is on the table.  Your opponent shakes your hand, introduces himself.  He puts his guild down, hands you his sheet and looks at yours.  This is where the game begins to get played.  You've built your list, now you need to read his and understand it.

  At a base level, I have two lists.

  Rage2, Strongbox, Gutter, Benediction, Minx and Mist.  I'll sub Mist for Decimate if I feel like I really just want to hide the ball and not score at all.  I'll keep Mist if I need something to engage countercharge or furious models (Brick or Seenah).  Rage2 will go into ball teams, or team that I can outfight.  Fish, Engineers, Farmers (maybe), and I haven't decided on Blacksmiths.  I'm pretty comfortable with him into Masons and Brewers as well.  He wrecks Hunters too but Pinned is a bit more difficult work with so I'll probably do Brisket3.

  Brisket3, Strongbox, Mist, Harry, Decimate and Rage.  Decimate subs with Gutter if I feel that the 2'' melee will be important (Obulus Morticians, Farmers, Seenah or Brick, etc).  Rage can sub out if I want both Decimate and Gutter for kicking all day.  I may do this into Hammer and Butchers, where I really don't want to fight at all.  Brisket3 goes into the definitely fighting team.  Butchers, maybe Blackmiths, and I feel ok into Corsair fish with her but not amazing.  I also really like her into Hunters since her dodges negate Theron's Pinned and she can outkick him all day long.  Even if Skatha comes into the game, Brisket3 is better and Skatha will struggle to keep the ball.

  If you look at the individuals in the list, they answer smaller problems.

  Rage2 kills better than most things.  He can dodge himself or others into and out of situations, and he has "Red Fury" that can enable other players to trigger out of activation character plays and pushes.  Benediction being crowded out? Red Fury, attack, push that model away.  All kinds of stuff.

  Brisket3 brings dodges and unpredictable movement.  She's very hard to pin down for 1'' melee models, and her legendary makes it difficult to finish her or Mist since usually I'm saving him.  She also has "I'm Open" which means the ball is never dead on a player.

  Strongbox is good with Sic 'em, has Confidence, and can do a good thing for the team for free.

  Mist kicks, retrieves, has 2'' melee and is wicked fast.

  Harry has pushes, enables ball dodges and brings both Goad and Molotov for easy board control and neutering major threats.

  Gutter and Decimate both farm Momentum like crazy, can ignore armor, damage players and kick the ball. They both also answer an armor problem with Anatomical Precision.

  Minx donates INF and can do her job without any in return.

  Benediction kills the ball, brings those all important pushes, and enables "Red Fury" or "I'm Open" that much more.

  Rage1 brings some more kill to the team, a damage buff, and presents a problem the other team has to deal with.  He's a distraction that doesn't take away from the INF pool.

  My opponent is playing say... Brewers.  I know Brewers.  He's got Esters and Tapper.  Tapper is more likely because he's got 2'' melee into both of my Captains.  His team can kick some but it's probably better at fighting.  Or he may take Esters and try to take Rage2's charge on the chin with gluttonous mass.  Let's say he's new at the game and take Esters and the cat.  I picked Rage2 and Strongbox because I was more concerned with Tapper since he can definitely kill Brisket3.  I think he's building an all around team, and probably more of a kicking one since Esters doesn't brawl quite as much.  As he picks players, I'll analyze and answer.  Most of the time, I'll build the list I was planning on but I can account for a few surprises.

  He wins the rolloff, so he'll pick first.  He has the cat, so you can expect Friday to be one of the players.  He picks Spigot1 for starters. Spigot1 is in every list, so this tells me nothing.  Supports the kicking theory, but also he fights. So yeah.  In other news, Hemlock's ability to stand people up hurts Spigot's Floored ability, so she'd be a consideration if I'd brought her.

  I didn't, so I'm going to pick Benediction.  Let him know he made a mistake because good luck getting the ball off of that guy.  Spigot1 can maybe. Maybe.  It's more important to get "Braced" up though against Spigot1.

  He picks Stave.  This is a horrible decision because Stave sucks, but the barrel will be good into a lot of things on my list.

  I take Mist.  Stave basically guarantees a goal since Mist will bounce off of him like a trampoline, get 2 momentum on the charge and score.

  He picks Hooper.  A standard, brawly pick.  Someone's gotta do some fighting.

  I'll take Gutter.  I was going to anyways, but 2'' melee since Hooper is coming is required.

  He takes Friday.  Surprise.  Going for a few goals it looks like.  Probably a 2-2 game, including a goal on the first turn.  Let Esters take Rage2 on with Gluttonous Mass, and Hooper to support her.  Spigot1 will get a take out or two if things go well.  Friday will focus on scoring.

  I'm actually going to take Harry.  Harry and Benediction together is kind of weird, it's a lot of pushes which doesn't actually kill anything, but I really, really need low cost ranged plays that I can pop Ester's gluttonous mass with before Rage2 kills her.  I also don't mind that many pushes because I can break up his scrum a bit.  As far as the ball goes, Benediction can hang onto it halfway decent and when he's not, Mist will score with it.  I'm up for a 1-4 or 2-2 game.  Mist will kickoff, possibly recover because I have Benediction in there for that 2'' dodge, and Rage2 can dodge him as well.  If he recovers, I can score (Thanks Stave).  Killing Friday will be a goal since that'll hurt the goal threat, and killing Esters removes the support quite a bit and she takes a bit to get back on the board.  That's the gameplan and I have answers for the issues this list brings.  I will probably have to take a barrel lob on the chin but I have enough options that I don't think that will bother me.

  That's my Union lineup.  If I was personally playing, say... Hunters, I'd take:

  Theron, Skatha, Fahad, Seenah, Jaecar, Hearne, Zarola, Ulfr, Chaska, Minx.

  Theron brings control, and can fight a bit.  He's going for mostly takeouts and maybe one goal.  Pin targets, control the board and snare things for Fahad and Seenah.

  Skatha can play ball into the fighting teams.  She'll be absolutely destroyed by any teams that can play the ball at all, but into Butchers or even Brewers, she's possibly better.

  Fahad because he donates badly needed INF, and does things for free.  He also hides a ball pretty well at DEF5 plus Nimble.

  Seenah's a beast.  He annihilates players.  I'll drop him into ball teams other than Fish who will bounce off of him.  He's a threat they have to be concerned about but you have to know how to play him.

  Jaecar builds badly needed Momentum, and can murder people.  He's hard to button down and his trap is some nice control.  He'd be in both lists for me.

  Hearne1 has come a long ways.  He's got good tools including singled out, and also brings some momentum and 2'' melee.  He's a decent striker as well and has decent movement shenanigans.  His kicker is his heroic that also helps with the INF game, which he needs to since he only brings 1 INF to the party.  I'll bring him to help spread out that Blessing of the Sun Father, which is key if I want to play Chaska.  I'll bring Hearne1 with probably both, but Skatha for sure.

  Zarola is specifically anti Obulus or Siren tech.  You displace my player, I fix the problem.

  Ulfr is the designated Striker.  He's cute, not bad, but only decent on Skatha.

  Chaska is control.  If they're going to spread out Chaska goes to the edges and shoots them off the board.  If they're trying to scrum, Chaska forces them back.  Hopefully he does it for free with Blessing of the Sun Father, but at most, I'll give him 2 INF maybe.

  Minx is my 2 INF model.  She does some work for free and provides INF and Snared to the party. Any Hunter list I build can have 3 models that charge for free.  That's fun.

  My Theron list would be Theron, Fahad, Jaecar, Seenah or Hearne1, Minx or Hearne1 and probably Chaska or Zarola.  Hide the ball on Fahad, kill and control models until I feel like Hearne1 or Jaecar can score.  Seenah comes out if they have enough models with 2'' melee to stop Furious on him (Farmers.  No Seenah for Farmers ever).

  Skatha would take Fahad, Jaecar, Ulfr, Hearne1, and then flex.  Minx maybe.  Ulfr, Skatha and Hearne1 focus on scoring.  Jaecar can kill some stuff maybe, Minx can help.  Chaska's an option too with his decent kick stat but you won't have enough INF to do much with him.

  I'm not an amazing Hunters player, many aren't.  But that's my off the top of my head considerations for a 10 man lineup on them.

  The thing is, put some thought into it before you go.  It's ok to play what you want to play, but if you're going to play the 6 man starting Ox team, I'm going to wreck you with a list that has all the answers to your problems and lots of problems you have no answers for.  Maybe I won't wreck you, maybe you're really good.  It's an uphill climb though.  You're talking the basic 6 that everyone knows, and no options.  If it was those basic 6 into another basic 6, that's one thing.  Basic 6 into my 14 options before Union, and then 10 man roster I can choose from, that's a lot of ways to shut you down.

  But I also understand not knowing where to go from there, especially if you're pretty comfortable with those 6.  There's a few exceptions.  The Brewers really struggle to not take most of the first box.  Tapper, Scum, Friday and Spigot are pretty much in every Brewers list, and Hooper was for a long time.  Really, he still is, just not in my lists.  The last spot is Stave's, but he's really the only player that's been largely sidelined from the original 6.  The Masons are pretty comfortable with their first 6 too.  Harmony gets pushed out for Tower, but Honor, Marbles, Brick, Flint and Mallet are still very common.  Then you have Guilds like the Butchers, where you rarely see Ox1 or Boar.  Or the Fish which actually use most of their models somewhere.

  Before a tournament though, roll through these questions.  Have an idea of what your list does.  It's one thing to pick a guild you enjoy, and then hope your skill at the game carries you the rest of the way.  There's a lot of forethought to be put into it, and understanding your list, and the options you'll utilize in what ways will win you many of your matches before they even get to the table.  I'm not a high level player, and my name probably isn't even on the ranking system, so don't take my lineup as the gospel truth, best list ever, or that every consideration or conclusion I've made is the best one.  I'm saying look at your models and try to understand the puzzles you'll need to unlock out there.

  I hope this article is of a little use to you as you branch out from the starting 6.  Thanks for reading and good luck!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Honest review of the Honest Land Farmers

  I broke down and bought them.  I fell for the pricepoint trap that Steamforged set and I picked them up.  Besides, I already had Tater.  Excuses.  Let's look at these guys.

  Oh hey, the PR image with the professionally painted models.

  So pretty, right?  Look, the contents of the box are fantastic.  I can't spin this any other way.  The box comes with the six models, a cute ball, a goal and a thematic piece of terrain.  Then it's got all the cards, and all the tokens you need.  The tokens are punched cardboard but that's fine.  I'm still going to buy the Muse tokens because I like the quality, and Muse isn't charging nearly enough for those fine tokens.  But for a new player, getting into the game or even an existing player coming in, everything you need is right there to dump on the table and go.  You don't even need a marker for the cards because there's health dials.

See?  So neat and organized.  Health counters too!
  That's kind of the theme to this box.  Dump on the table and go.  The "The Kick Off" box (next time, lets not add "The" to titles) was very much the same way, with albeit lousier miniatures.  I own that box too.  My 1 year old plays with Brick and pretends he's playing Dad's game while Dad actually gets to play the game.  It's perfect for that, and letting new players try the game out before buying actual, real, miniatures. 

  The Honest Land continues that trend with somewhat better miniatures.  It's along the same Pre-assembled PVC lines though, and that shows.  For starters, the pose and dynamics of the models has taken a drastic dive.  No more Minx sprinting through the woods, or Ghast whirling chains about his head.  The Farmers are very stoic, very much just standing there.  The most exciting it gets is the bear hug pose from Windle.  One would think that maybe this is just the requested aesthetic in the memo the sculptor gets with the concept art, except that the Blacksmiths are the same way with the exception of Anvil and now the new apprentice Alloy.  This would lead me to believe that this aesthetic is on the memo, but all the way back to the concept artists because, hey, China can't cast the complicated stuff in this cheap material we're switching to.

  Look, here's Tater.  The metal guy that came out like a year ago and made my Brewers temporarily playable.

  Not bad.  Decent quality, still pretty stoic.  He's got weird cheekbones but otherwise I don't mind this sculpt except how dynamic it isn't.

  Then we open the box.

  I can already tell you that they were warped coming out of the box, just sitting in the summer heat during shipping.  Hot water already got applied to Harrow's forks and Bushel's hook.  That's to be expected but I'd hate to leave these guys in the car for an afternoon at my new home in Northern Arkansas on a wonderful July 100+ degree day.  It wouldn't be good. 

  These are fine.  Cool quality for terrain.  I could see packs of terrain doing well.  In most cases it's better than the 2D stuff for people that prefer the aesthetic and it's better than a lot of homeade 3d stuff.  I'm fine with the terrain and the ball and it's cool.  The goal is interesting in the fact that it can be painted up pretty well, and this throws the "Best Goal" category at tournaments into a weird loop.  Do you vote for the best goal someone made or the best goal someone painted?  The guy who wins the best goal because he painted it the best is also likely to win best painted too.  It'll come down to the TO which is fine because that's what TOs are for. 

  It's interesting to note the quality on that goal too.  Look at the seed bag in the front and the texture on it.  That's pretty solid.  But then compare to the ground it's on and eh, the detail in the ground is somewhat soft.  I'm going to leave my Farmers on their bases because I plan on using a lot of grass anyways so it's not a big deal to me, but if you want to take them off, they pry off ok. 

  Nice little pegs to slot them into.  Whatever.  I glued Wendle back down.

  Alright, so lets get into the models here.  I've got Tater and Harrow right here, looking like brothers and learning their stances from dad.

  Look at Harrow's face and hair.  That's going to be consistently worse than any standard metal model.  The stitches are all over exaggerated, the detail on the feet is super soft and the seam line that runs around the collar of the model will mess with you trying to define what's the shirt and what's the work apron.  Overall, the model isn't bad, but the face detail and specifically the hair is rough.

  It feels like there's more detail in the back on this one.  The vegetables and all that nonsense.  Detail back here is actually improved I think.  The bag is probably a separately cast piece they glued on, which begs the question, if they're gluing pieces on anyways, why aren't these models just a little more dynamic?

  Jackstraw is the main culprit in the detail department.  This is a model I really want in metal or resin and will pay the money for it.  This is a beautiful model, Steamforged.  I love the character in this guy, and I'm from Kansas so this dude is right up my alley.  Let's be fair, the Farmers in general are probably what I relate to the most, coming from the breadbasket of the USA.  I love this model, but it's probably the worst in quality because of the fine detail that's simply soft and missing.  Sure, you can paint it in, but that's why we buy miniatures, right?  The arms have rough seams which can be fixed, but then you don't know if there's straps on them, or cloth, or if the cloth is part of the headpiece or separate.  The back doesn't have straps on it like the front, it looks like the rib cage so where do the straps go?  Nobody knows, it just kind of fades away.  I love this model, it's easily my favorite in the whole Farmer range, but I really wish I could get it in a different material.

  Now we get to Grange. You'll notice that his fingers are there in the crease of his arm but you have to find them or they just turn into wrinkles in his shirt.  His hair is softly detailed like Harrow's, but it's not supposed to be as unkempt so it won't translate as badly as Harrow's does.  The cloth wrinkles are soft, all the way across the board with Farmers.  You'll have to make sure your paint contrast is higher than normal and your highlights are crisp to really show any detail on these.  This isn't Grange's worst problem though.  Grange almost definitely is one piece.

  Grange has these saws strapped to his back.  Nevermind the fact that nobody can imagine fighting with saws.  Look at that flat plastic there though, between the blade and his back.  What are you supposed to do with that?  A metal model, you'd paint there and glue the saws on.  Not here.  You're just stuck with that.  Good thing it's under the shoulder and kind of hidden, right?

  Ha, no....  Because they did it between the blades too.  What is that?  Nothing.  It's cheap casting is what it is.  The detail in the pants, shoulder, straps, all that's not bad and workable.  This flat spot right here?  What's that supposed to be?

  Here's Bushel.  People are cutting off that hook and glueing it back by her hand because it's bending super easy in any heat or pressure.  She doesn't have 2'' melee anyways, so it's not a bad idea.  The detail here is, again, soft, and you'll paint most of any detail into her hair since there's next to no edges to highlight or work with.  Her face is pretty rough too, and good luck with the eyeballs that are actually just depressed sockets.  Trying to define her shirt from her overalls is also fun.  Blacklining is pretty much required with these models.

  Let's compare, shall we?  The dude in grey on the right is from the "Banner Saga" board game based on the PC/phone game of the same name.  He's a boardgame miniature, with a thick sword, soft detail in the clothes and everything else. Very much a boardgaming miniature.  Jackstraw is better than this guy, which is good.  I wouldn't consider the dude on the right paintable.

  Wendle, and another Banner Saga miniature.  The detail on the grey dude is exremely soft, even moreso than the previous Banner Saga miniature.  That's fine, that's to be expected.  Wendle has him beat.

  And now we're into Zombiecide: Black Plague.  This is one of Cool Mini or Not's leading game series and I love their sculpts.  I have not painted them though because of their detail quality, and how easily that plastic bends.  Every time we drove to Arkansas with this game, you'd shake the Zombies out and they'd be warped like crazy, which is fine.  See, Zombiecide is a boardgame.  However, Guild Ball is not.  I'm hardpressed to say that the quality here is better than Zombiecide though.  The faces are better with the middle guy, the detail is soft and on par with the Farmers, but the sculpt is super dynamic.  There's a lot going on.  The clothing wrinkles are even more detailed in some places than they are with either Guildball model. 

  This largely disappoints me.  This is where the divide is for miniature gaming.  I feel like SFG got on the "Tabletop Wargaming" boat, and they picked up the fragments of many Warmachine communities, but now they want off this boat and on the Board game one.  I understand the appeal, and I can't say that the price point is extremely appealing.  As far as players it's bringing into the game, I think it is bringing new players for sure, but not ones from the Miniature gaming side.  Traditional wargamers aren't enjoying the new sculpts or their quality.  Whether they will move on or not, I don't know yet, and if they do, will the new blood being attracted in be enough to offset it?  I don't know. 

  So lets try to paint them I guess.  I primed mine and then did a zenith highlight.


  I painted the ball real quick, and did faces.  Jackstraw, again, I love this sculpt.  With both him and the pumpkin for the ball and terrain, you have to add detail because it's not on the miniature.  I went a bit brighter with my highlights and dragged lines down the side to add more contrast without getting ridiculous.

  I didn't talk about Peck hardly at all.  Also extremely soft details and a resin miniature would have done him well.  Quaff, for example, had a lot of detail in his fur and so did Snow.  Peck, on the other hand, if you want him to turn out you'll have to paint most edges yourself to get anything from him.  Here, I've done all the shirts, and kind of like the pumpkin, really tried to add contrast to the wrinkles.

  Slowly making progress.  Added some stripes to the shirts because what kind of Farmer doesn't wear some sort of plaid.  You'll also notice I started doing jeans on some of the players, and on Wendle specifically you can see the texure I added on the thigh.  Those white lines like the jeans are worn and faded are painted in with a very quick, light sketching movement using airbrush paint.  

  Alright.  They sat on my desk at this point for a few weeks, and I finally made progress on them, but not in an area where pictures were any good, so we're skipping past the super tedious small things like all the various vegetables.  The same things apply that I've been doing.  Everything needs blacklined if possible.  You'll spend time trying to define things, and you can't use washes because the detail is so soft that it doesn't pick it up very well.  Here's the crew, pre terrain.

  I'm reasonably happy with them given the quality of the models.  However, if SFG is going to continue down this road, and may quit painting the models.  They're going to have to get better or give us a resin option.

  For terrain, I use my favorite Army Painter tufts (the only thing I buy from Army Painter, honestly.  I'm on the verge of building my own grass tuft machine though.)  The tall wheat looking strands are cheap cheap large brushes from Walmart.  I cut the ends off and hotglued them in.  It looks alright, gives it the full farmer feel.  I've got 3 harvest makers made up of just those grass tufts in a previous article.  The pumpkin is the ball, but I may trade around and get another pumpkin from someone and use them as the last two harvest markers I need.  I don't like the idea of kicking a pumpkin around.  Anyone that's ever lived through a halloween knows how well that'd work.

  Anyways, check out my... chicken. My black chicken.

  He turned out ok, but again, there's not enough detail to actually paint the detail.  You're on your own painting details in.  Good luck on the beak.  Is it flash? Is there on purpose? No one knows.

  Harrow.  Kind of a boring model. The best part was the basket in the back and all the cool colors I get to play with back there.  I don't even own purple, and I only own green because I did commission for a Cryx player back in the day.  

  On the plus side, Harrow was more exciting to paint than the next guy.

    The tools on that apron were horrible to paint.  No hard edges.  You're just fumbling in there with a brush and hoping for the best.  As far as that blocked in mold disaster back there around the blades, I just faded it in brown.  Idk what else to do with it.

  And my favorite guy.  Still want this guy in resin.  I really don't know what his arms are, or where the straps and cloth covering them begin and end.  Feel free to make it up.  Heck, quickshade the whole thing.  Oh, hey, that won't work.  

  Ironically, I used Wendle (Windle, I don't know.  Who's naming these kids?!) as my test model on everything because he's never going to see the field seriously.  Unfortunately, he turned out very well imo and I'm going to have to play him just because I like the paintjob.  Granted, I felt the same way about Stave for about two games so we'll see.  Anyways, the detail on Windle is better because he's bigger.  His pose is dumb, but otherwise, he's fine.  Also, the sculptor will cry on the inside if you paint the thing on his forks as anything but a carrot.  Do with that information what you will.  I like the sculptor, so I painted a carrot.


  I did not follow the studio's idea of what Bushel is wearing.  She's got jeans and stuff in the studio version, but none of that made sense to me so I did the coverall route instead.  I mean, what kind of striker wears two to three layers of pants?  Not a good one.  And definitely not any girls.  I mean, we're lucky she's not in daisy dukes.  

  Look, a ball.  Hooray.  Again, there's not enough detail for you to just paint the raised edges like a normal quality model.  It's up to you.

  The goal and the terrain.  Kinda neat stuff, but not anything I worried about too much.  I actually am not a fan of physical goals.  They slide on the mat too easy and I bump them a lot.  But they look cool.  I may use this as terrain rather than a goal.  

  So these guys are done.  I'm happy with the results, I love the rules, but I have to say that the future of SFG's models doesn't look great.

  I understand SFG's reasoning, I really do, and if that's the reasoning they stick with, I hope it pans out for them.  I hope they pick up more new players than they lose from guys that actually want tabletop miniatures and not Cool Mini or Not wannabes.  Maybe they can step up the quality using PVC, maybe they'll allow direct order resin versions.  I don't think I'll buy Blacksmiths unless I get them for a steal.  In fact, my next purchase is likely to be Shadespire.  A nice, compact low model count game, but with faaaaar better model quality.  We'll see.

  Look, the pricepoint is good.  If you don't care about painting, these models are perfect for you and there's no reason not to pick them up.  I'm more than happy to point new players to these and the two player box set. By all means, get in the game, and that seems to be SFG's direction.  I really like SFG's rule making ability and the game's balance and direction overall.  I have high hopes for the future of Guildball, just not the models.

  Enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you on the fields.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Guildball Season 3's new guys

  The new book is out and with it came only a few surprises at this point.  The Farmers, and the new Union pair.  For the most part, the other releases have been out, and tested, and opinions are already out there.  I'm a long ways from being qualified to tell you how good they are, and aren't.  I can give you some impressions if you haven't seen them, but consider this more of a news outlet than the actual no-kidding way to play the game.  There's some great podcasts out there for that.  Strictly the Worst is helmed by two highly competitive players and Pat, who's there for the human connection.  Singled Out and Double Dodged are both Australians with good, confusing hearts and are halfway decent at the game, but both really just play second and third fiddle to Trent Denison, the real skill on the continent.  Those are the guys you want to tell you how to play the game.

  There's two things I'm not going to cover here.  A) The new Farmers.  Those guys need an article of their own.  B) The new Hunters.  Also need an article of their own, but it won't be as exciting as any other article ever.

  So, Alchemists.  Alchemists got Crucible.

  She's got all the same condition damage we're used to seeing with the Alchemists, except she can do both burning and poison.  The difference is that she wants to do it in melee, and not at range, and she doesn't put down AOEs like Calculus and Mercury want to.  That makes her a questionable choice for Smoke, but the real kicker is just figuring out how to play her in melee.

Brewers got Pintpot.

  I've gotten to play Pintpot, and he's fantastic.  He fires away into any group he wants to, and he acts like has 5 INF to do it. He likes Tooled Up, he likes Commanding Aura, he likes all those things and he excels with them.  Pintpot isn't afraid of a scrum, at all, and is nice to kind of have around to fire into the enemy's group of dudes while the rest of your Brewers try to build their own proper scrum.  Pintpot's just a heat seeking missile out there somewhere.  It's great if he can get Commanding Aura, or maybe an extra TAC from Quaff.  He's good with, without it.  2'' melee on him would be broken, but it's the only thing missing.

  In comparison, we have Veteran Ox, or Ox2.  Ox2 wants to be like Pintpot, he wants to do the same things, but with the 2'' melee we all crave.  The problem is that he doesn't have a psuedo 5INF pool like Pintpot can, and in fact, he caps at 3.  This is supposed to be covered by the cheaper charge, but if he's already stuck in, it's not a lot of consolation.  He also thinks that he can fight the world simultaneously like Pintpot can, but he has to "Get Stuck In" to do it, which probably wastes one of his three precious INF to do, and if he's in the scrum he wants to be in, he's crowded out so it's a good thing "Get Stuck In" is on column 1.  He has good damage, good momentum, and great DEF for a 2'' melee guy on a 40mm base, but it's almost like the "Get Stuck In" aspect should be ignored.  Just let him kill things normally.  I have played against him, but not played him personally, and between playing against him, and the reviews I'm getting from the players that have him, they'd rather have Pintpot.  Every time.

  Locus is one of those players that's going to get played no matter what, simply because his sculpt is amazing.  Play wise, I haven't seen him yet, or played him.  DEF3/2 w/ reanimate and stoic is great, and a 4/6'' kick is always fantastic.  His playbook is solid as momentum and pushing goes, but he isn't killing anyone.  He has some interesting character plays, but overall seems like a tank that can kick a ball.  He's a tougher statline than Colossus but Colossus has more boxes.  Overall though, I'd personally rather see this guy than Hoist, but that's about all I have to say about him.

  The Hag, I have seen.  She became an auto include in several lists.  She's a 2INF farm that can change the state of the game with no INF investment whatsoever.  She usually does little more than dodge models around the board, but 2'' extra on already fast Fishermen is nuts.  She's got 2'' Melee and fear, so she takes commitment to kill, but once engaged and going, she goes down pretty easy.  However, the legendary and the talisman mean that whoever you fear the most is going places, or dodging out of melee with you.  She's hell on Brewers when she can casually Legendary and shove them all apart.  Very much a player to free up the board for her team, but a stiff wind will take her down.  A nice note, Red Fury on Rage2 ignores Fear since the enemy model isn't spending an influence to attack, but rather Rage is.  Use Red Fury to pop Fear on her and Ghast and then go to town.

   Granite is another one I haven't seen yet.  Our Mason players kind of dropped off into Season 2 when Hammer wasn't everything he was cracked up to be.  Granite reinvents them a little bit, carrying the Brick playstyle a little bit further.  Brick already gave them this ability to dare you to attack them and pay the consequences with his 2'' melee counter charge, and Granite is no different.  She's slower than most mascots but her "Between a Rock..." ability is dangerous and really makes you think twice about going in on a model.  On the same token, you can use it to lure her in, but at DEF2/2, is that what you really want? Especially if she's got Tar Pit up.  She interesting, but that's about all I have on her since I haven't faced her yet.  She's popular with Masons.

 Brainpan and Memory, the really weird guys here.  I've played against these guys exactly once.  The hordes of Mortician players evaporated in the wake of the Obulus nerf but they're still out there.  Memory is odd in that Memory does not actually do anything.  No MOV, no ARM, no INF, and it doesn't generate VP when it dies.  It dies to a fart, but that accomplishes
almost nothing for you.  He's got a 2'' dodge at the beginning and that's about it.  However, he's TAC5 on a 4 long column that tops out at 4 damage and has a 3//4'' kick.  So Brainpan runs the Puppet Show (which may also bypass Fear, now that I think about it), which allows Memory to dodge around or Attack, and "Pulling the Strings" lets him kick.  This means you can't button Memory down.  He'll dodge out consistently, no problem, it's just a matter of how much trouble you can make it be.  They're an interesting pair, and it'll be INF intensive to get Memory up the field unless you just 4'' dodge him momentously the whole way.  He's a hell of a damage dealer though.  Very strange models and I'm not sure what to think of them yet.

Then there's my new favorite Captain, Brisket3.

  Brisket3, hot on the heels of the Fillet vs. Brisket vote where the Butchers fought hard to show their love for Brisket, who promptly left them for another team.  Brisket is an interesting striker, and I've played her several times now.  Making me still not an expert. But, she's fun.  The weird thing is how much interaction she has with her team.  For starters, she's Solthecian, so she gives Mist a free 2'' Shadowlike dodge, which is stupid.  If he's in cover like he should be, between that and the dodge, that's a free 4'' move that largely disengages him, and allows him to threaten 14''.  Before any boosts like Quicktime from anyone in the Union.  Brisket also likes to be near Harry so she can dodge about for free after receiving passes from any of her 3/6'' ot 3/8'' kickers using "I'm Open".  I haven't even used Route One yet.  So far, my opponents have kept the ball farther than 6'' away.  I haven't used Aplomb yet either.  I want to, but it just hasn't come up.  It's been "I'm Open" and her text on the back of the card.  Her Legendary is good for an easy turn one score, or turn two, or to disengage a dieing model or whatever you need.  It's a great tool to be abused.  She scores reliably, can easily get screamers, and is just great.  She struggles to retrieve a really bunkered ball, but as great as she turns Mist on, he can retrieve the ball a lot easier than she can, and kick it to her as well with "I'm Open".  She's also got Momentous 2 damage on Column 3 which is at least useable with access to Tooled Up, Shelling Out, Singled Out, etc.  There's plenty of things she access to in Union that can maker her do some work.  Her inherent strength isn't necessarily herself though, as much as it is that Blackheart or VetRage exist.  Brisket3 probably can't carry a team on her own as the only Captain in a 9 man lineup, but when coupled with Rage, she can play ball into killers, and Rage and kill ballers.  They cover eachothers weaknesses fairly well.

The last two players to be mentioned here are Benediction and Grace.  These two are extremely new, only coming out with the Book spoilers.  There's no models in stores yet, but we've got the rules to at least start proxying.

   Benediction is a tank.  He's DEF3 ARM2, so he's going to get hit, but the 2 ARM help.  However, his two character plays give him Sturdy to ignore the first KD, and the other gives him another 2 ARM against the next attack.  This means that against most models, they're not going to get much more than a column or two against him in an attack, even on the charge, and because he's not KD, and has 2'' melee, he can counter attack back (for free once, with poised) and get a 1'' push minimum, maybe 2'' push.  I wish the KD was a little lower, but oh well.  Where I think this guy excels is hanging on to a ball.  In almost all other regards, Harry the Hat is better.  Harry has better TAC, better plays for control (Molotov and Goad), he has better access to pushes and damage, he does more for the team with his hat aura, and he has 2'' melee as well.  Where I want to consider Benediction is just to hang onto the ball, little more.  2INF a turn maybe for his two plays, and he hangs out.  I hope he works for the Brewers.  He'll be a good option for Rage2 I think since Rage wants to kill the ball, and then kill people.  With this guy, that gets easier.  In most cases though, Harry covers more bases and is the better player.

  Then we have Grace.  I'm not sure what to do with her.  Healing Light is immediately useful since as of Season 3, 90% of healing abilities went out the door, which is why Hemlock became a bookend, and why Esters lost of a lot of her appeal.  Quickfoot is the immediate benefit, and with 2 free INF every turn while still contributing one to the pool, that's probably her best thing.  She feels like a striker, but with a 2/8'' KICK, she's just going to break your heart unless you can get within 4'' of the post and spend the extra momentum for the bonus time.  The back of her card is largely useless and cute.  It's nice that her quickfoot range is essentially 10'' because of Impart Faith, and Purity will see some use but none of it is particularly game changing.  A free Quickfoot every turn is the deal here.  Give her 2INF and she can throw it out there twice.  It's also been mentioned that she just gains INF at the beginning of her turn, so if you give her 3, she comes out with 5 INF.  5 INF would  be a lot nicer if her playbook was anything but tackles and dodges and non-momentous damage.  Under the right condition, she'll kill people, but that's 5 INF you're converting into just one momentum.  Of all the characters allowed to have 5 INF, Grace is not who I would have voted for.

  So where does she fit in?  I don't know.  The thing about both of these players is that they're both Solthecians, so they'll give Mist a 2'' shadowlike dodge.  That's worth something at least.  Grace gives Mist 4'' extra movement, plus his 2'' extra from being in cover, which he should almost always be.  Now Mist, who threats 10'' base (8'' sprint, 2'' melee) goes two 12'' with his cover bonus, and 16'' with quickfoot and shadowlike, both from Grace.  In a Brisket3 list where Mist is the primary ball recovery guy, 16'' before dodges is nuts.  However, that's really all Grace does, plus her healing which is nice, but everyone's been dealing without it for awhile.  It's useful, but in a game with such high opportunity cost, it's expensive.  Who do you take out? Gutter? Decimate?  Not Mist, not Harry.  Probably not Avarisse and Greede.  So Gutter or Decimate, but Grace can't really kill people.  She can, but it's pretty inefficiently.  Grace only makes sense in pure striker games where she makes Mist absolutely ridiculous, or games where it's imperative that whoever is going gets there.  Is your meta killing Rage2 and controlling him with AOEs and staying out of his threat range? Grace helps with that.  She gives respectable threat to any beater in the Union, and she does it for basically the 1 INF she isn't donating into the pool like your other character would be.  But then, that's all she does.  She doesn't fight, and she doesn't strike, which in a Brisket3 list who at least wants 3/6'' for "I'm Open", it's something of an issue.  She's better than Hemlock, but Hemlock doesn't play, so I don't know what that's worth.  I'll buy her eventually, but I'm not going to stand in line for it.  It's going to be one of those "I played at the game store, so I should support it with a 10$ purchase of some sort" things.  That's why I have Crucible, Venin and Spigot2.

  That's the overview.  I'm not a tournament winning player, I just like to talk a lot.  Strictly the Worst and Double Dodge both cover them if you want some tried and true experience talking.  I think everything here is playable, and I'll probably play some Benediction IF he works for the Brewers since the Fish are raking them over the coals right now.  We'll see.

  Feel free to destroy my opinions with rational thought and logic.  Hopefully it's an ok, all in one place overview.  I may look at the Farmers, probably the Hunters as well (I own Hunters, maybe will own Farmers) and if I'm not absolutely destroyed for this article, I might let my ego type up a few more.