Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Guildball for the New Guys - Surviving your Opponent's Next Activation

  In the last New Guys article, we covered surviving your own activation.  Getting through a charge or an attack without getting sidelined and wasting an activation.  Today, we get to deal with the repercussions of your opponent's next activation, and how you can be the one to sideline and waste their activation for a change.

  We'll rehash a couple of things, like Counter Attacks and Defensive stance and we'll delve a bit more into when to use them, rather than planning against them.  We'll also start working on the next layer of the game, where you're thinking an activation ahead hopefully.  I'll break it into two categories.  Reactive Measures and Preventative Measures.

  I'm straight up making these terms up as I go, so bear with me. 

  I'm defining Reactive Measures as what you can do during your opponent's turn, and Preventative as things you do during your own activation.  We'll deal with Reactive first because it's hard to do Preventative without understanding how to use your Reactive abilities, and therefore enhance their effectiveness.

  Reactive (Counter)Measures. 

  For starters, most of this is dependent on you having Momentum.  My first activation, I ideally want to either net 3 momentum or score a goal or both.  Usually, netting 3 momentum is the best available option for a variety of reasons, most of them being I don't have the ball.  However, I'm a big fan of fighting teams, and a lot of times I can generate that momentum by killing a model so now I'm 2 VP up, 1-6 momentum in the bag, and I have nearly guaranteed last activation for myself unless I in turn lose a model. 

  Scoring a goal usually is better, especially if you have the ball.  Otherwise you're leaving yourself open to having it taken off of you and all sorts of things.  I usually refrain from scoring only if I'm behind on points against a team that can immediately counterscore.  Regardless, you need some momentum to score effectively and you're going to have to farm some anyways.

  I say 3 momentum as a goal for a few reasons.  Right off the bat, it lets me do everything I want in the next two activations.  It lets me Defensive Stance and/or Counter Attack during my opponent's next activation, and lets me clear conditions on my next activation or use a heroic.  3 is a good goal. 2 is ok.  1 can hamstring you pretty badly, specifically in factions that are very Heroic dependent (Brewers) or against a condition team (Alchemists) where you can count on wanting to clear conditions at the start of an activation.

  So if you're not scoring, you need to generate momentum with the first activation.  This is easy in teams where there's momentous damage.  You can kill a model and get momentum at the same time.  Win/win.  Masons struggle a bit more because their high damage is non-momentous, so they'll have to weigh momentum vs. killing a model.  If you kill a model and only gain 1 momentum out of it, does it mean you just handed a model to the opponent?  That's really the question you have to ask.

  Defensive Stance

  Defensive Stance is +1 DEF against charge attacks, or, if you're already at DEF6, it's -1 TAC on the charge.  I personally feel like the value of Defstance goes way down after DEF6, so if I'm low on momentum it's rare I'll use it.  +1 DEF affects every single dice, while -1 dice just affects one. 

  What does it change?  Let's pick an example.  I like picking on Hammer, so we'll use him.  Regardless of the model, you know there's +4 TAC extra because it has to be a charge in order for us to use Defensive Stance.  So unless it's a mascot, you're looking at around a minimum of TAC8 on the charge.  Hammer will be TAC11 on the charge.  Since most of the time you charge, you're looking for high playbook results, so we're looking at 5 or 6 hits initially. On a DEF 4 model, there's a 50% chance of 6 hits at Hammer's TAC11, and 72.55% of 5 hits.  If I defensive up to a 5, it drops to 12.20% for 6 hits, and 28.89% for 5 hits, and this is before ARM so you're talking a 76.58% chance for 2 net hits after ARM if you want somewhat reliable results.  DEF4 and DEF5 are, I think, the winners for using DEF stance.

  DEF3 has 96.13% chance of 5 hits before ARM and 87.79% of 6 its.  DEF stance gets us to the numbers we saw a minute ago, 73.55% for 5 hits and 50% for 6.  DEF2 just gets worse from there.

  Given the effectiveness of it, or lack thereof on models like Stave at 2/0, We start having to do things like math and knowing our opponents cards. 

  Why Defensive Stance? 

  1.  Because you're going to counter attack is a great reason.  The best, even.  It's expensive at 2 momentum, but if this is a key model you need alive (Unactivated, has the ball, or is a really nice paintjob that looks bad on the sidelines) then the 2 momentum is worth it (1 for Defstance, 1 for Counter Attack).  In order to counter attack though, you need to stay standing.  Let's talk Hammer again.  Hammer is a problem here at a KD on 2.  Defensive stancing from a 3 to a 4 still has a 96.72% chance of getting the 2 net hits after ARM for the KD.  In fact, you have to get all the way up to DEF6 with 1 ARM (Or cover) before the chances are in your favor.  So against Hammer, it's not as good. 

  Ox, on the other hand, doesn't see his KD until column 4.   Deffing up from 3 to 4 with 1 ARM gets you down from 88.67% to 72.55%.  Not great, but if I have the momentum, I'll do it.  From 4 to 5 though, he goes to a 28.89% to get the 5 hits he needs to hit his KD after removing a hit for ARM.  Def up from 5 to 6 is just money in the bank.  We're seeing real value of defensive stance against Ox rather than Hammer. 

  This goes for a Tackle too.  Hammer has a Tackle on 2, but against Mist, going from a 5 to a 6 takes him to 56.93% for that Tackle.  We're right at a coin flip here and asking our opponent some tough questions because as soon as this attack fails, we counter attack.  Mist has a Push Dodge on 3 and a Dodge on 2.  Against Hammer or Ox, if they're not base to base, Mist is probably gone.  Against a model like Stoker... Hey, let's talk Stoker.

  Stoker's a 3/2.  We're kind of talking lousy def stats, but at 3/2, they need that extra hit.  Ox's KD on 4 needs 6 hits against Stoker to work, and at DEF 4, that's exactly 50%.  If Stoker doesn't go down, he counter attacks with a double push on 1 and Ox is out of the fight.  Hammer probably still gets it with an 88.67% chance of getting the four hits he needs for that Column 2 KD, but this is why we learn our opponent's models.  Ask for that card before you make a decision.

  Speaking of Ox and knowing cards, I'm aware he has "They Ain't Tough" for -1 ARM that he can either apply in combat or from 6" away.  This leads me to my next point.

  2. To waste resources.  We'll cover this a bit more in the Counter Attack segment, but it's a valid point here too.  I might not counter attack with a lot of models, but still Defensive Stance against a kill.  If I can prevent a wrap or a high playbook result like a momentous 7 damage from Sledge, it's worth me defensive stancing if those odds put me into the "Likely to survive category".  Now he's wasting resources on this kill.  Same goes for a high Tackle. Spending more INF to kill me, or take the ball if he doesn't get the hit he needs on the charge can hurt the dice math a lot.  Especially since the Charge is usually the most important attack.  It's the most dice, the most resources.  In many cases, it's the best chance they have of getting the high result they need (Tapper's column 4 Commanding Aura is a great example, as is Ox's KD on 4) to finish out that model this activation.  If Tapper fails to get CA, his dice math go downhill.  He really wants CA and a wrap to the KD but that doesn't happen often.  If you have the Momentum, you can really ruin some otherwise good odds of killing your model.

  The goal is to force them into a decision where is it better to walk in with lower TAC on lower DEF or charge in with higher TAC on higher DEF?  Some models at TAC6 or 7 can do it on a walk but when you start looking at TAC5 and lower, it becomes a dilemma.

  Why Counter Attack?

  This one is easier to answer.  In fact, some of the discussion here is Why wouldn't you counter attack?  We'll do the Why first.

  1.  To Neutralize the Threat is the obvious answer.  We talked a lot about this in the previous article, but from the perspective of what to watch for when they counter attack.  Many models in the game are designed as strong counter attackers.  Stoker, as we mentioned before, is a great example at 3/2 and a double push on 1.  You absolutely have to KD that guy if you don't have 2'' melee, or you're gone. 

  This also helps you position your models if you understand what makes a good counter attack.  I can be fairly brave with Stoker and offer him up as the easiest model to get into (he's slow, so I often need that anyways) because I'm fairly confident he can weather the attack from a 1'' model.  Stave is similar with 2'' melee and unpredictable movement.  With a low push, he can dodge out from a model, counter attack and be out of the problem. 

  So what are we looking for?  Unpredictable Movement is nice defensive tech, but it's not enough.  Good counter attacks are going to be pushes, dodges, KDs, double pushes and double dodges and lastly, a few guildballs, within the first two columns.  TAC6-7 can have good options up to column 3 but in most cases, you want no more than column 2.  You're also wanting a combined DEF stat of 5.  So 3/2, 4/1, 5/0.  2/3 is...ok but a charge is probably going to get what it wants regardless against a 3/3 under defensive stance.  This is before defensive tech and positioning.  So, combined DEF of 5 and good options no later than column 3, but really, column 2.

  Single Push/Dodge on one or two is the beginning, but it doesn't make a good counter attack.  If your opponent did not base to base you, great, awesome.  If he did though, this is not going to disengage you.  Use it to push them into melee with another model if possible.  Single dodges are slightly more useful because you maybe can dodge into cover or out of a crowdout but these are still not amazing uses of a counter attack.

  Knock Down.  I use to think this was the peak of Counter Attacks and this is really not true at all.  Knock Downs are cute, but all it does is force them to use a momentum to stand up, and they can quite likely get momentum on the charge.  So they declare a charge, you declare a counter attack and instead of taking the non-momentous higher damage, they take a lower momentous option.  A push maybe and push 0''.  Then you KD them, and they spend that momentum to stand right back up.  The upside to this is that you traded 1 momentum for their 2 INF.  That is one nice thing about Brewers and their momentous KD.  They can dodge the counter attack and get momentum for it anyways, but it's still hard on the math when they're trying to kill a model.  The exception to this is if a model began it's turn with conditions and had to clear them before attacking.  Now, KD is the best thing on the market.  Keep that in mind when you're deciding your opponent's next move.  It might be worth getting a random KD on his loaded basher so you can have a good Counter Attack later.

  Double Push, Double Dodge, or Push Dodge.  These are probably the best, most accessible Counter Attack results.  It completely negates 1'' melee and requires a base to base 2'' melee model to deal with.  This means you can position just outside of their base to base range and even though they can get to you, you can push them out if you have a reliable counter attack.  Or dodge out.  Or push dodge out.  Whatever gets the 2'' distance you need.  I find these to be the most consistently reliable options.

  Lastly we have Guildball options.  Specifically, the strong ones are Where'd they Go? (Flint, Greyscales, Ulfr, Shank, maybe some more), Ball's Gone (Spigots, Greyscales, Brisket2, Bushel off the top of my head), or really anything that has a strong push like The Unmasking on Ghast and Fangtooth.  Those will disengage abruptly.  Ferrite has a sneaky one now too called "Disarm" which is -2 TAC.  That'll hurt your dice math pretty badly. 

  These options and the defensive stats we mentioned make a solid counter attack model.  These are the guys you want to dare your opponent into because of their ability to neutralize the threat.

 2. To waste resources.  We have covered this a little bit, but I'll counter attack to force the KD.  I'm more than happy to make you KD me for little to no damage and dodge that column 6 high damage option on the charge.  If you get the damage, I'm a few attacks from dead, but now I'm relatively safe in many cases.  Less so against Captains but still. If you don't KD me, I escape.  This is a useless dare if you don't have any good counter attack options.  If I'm base to base and you're unlikely to get above Column 2's single push, meh.  Do your best.

  The pickle in all of this is tackles.  You charge in for the ball and I declare a counter attack.  You can't KD me though because the ball scatters.  Sucks to be you, this is a lose lose decision unless you have close control on your charging model.  Then you just hope I don't have an early KD or Ball's Gone.

  3. For Setup on future activations.  Now we're thinking ahead, but this is one of my favorite things to do.  There's three things here.

  A.  Incidental damage.  Maybe I can get a couple damage on a model early on so my next activation is more assured of killing that model.  This is a rare occasion but it has happened.  Usually it's someone that goes into my Captain knowing they can't kill them, but knowing I can't escape either.  Either they waste INF on the KD, or I counter attack and apply some out of activation damage.

  B.  Playbook Guildball options.  This is my favorite way to get Singled Out applied.  If the model being attacked has a great debuff like Weak Point, or Thousand Cuts, or Dirty Knives, anything like that, it might be worth counter attacking because now, you've applied this debuff out of activation for one momentum.  Clone is also a great option on Vitriol, Snakeskin and... that's it I think.  Clone's actually really solid since they'll do the charge or whatever, you counter attack and then the next attack is just wasted, and you get a 2'' dodge away, and if they choose not to take another attack it's still good for the rest of the turn.

  C.  Sturdy/Gluttonous Mass/Close Control, go away.  This is my best anti-Corsair tech.  Pop that Sturdy or Close Control, whichever is more important.  Get it gone now.  Sure, he's going to beat you up and he knows you can't push him away or dodge out with Tapper, so he just does damage because he needs all the damage he can get to finish you.  So you counter attack, get the KD and it does nothing.  Now, however, next activation, any single Brewer can KD Corsair.  He's pretty vulnerable now, or he has to spend an INF to gain sturdy again.  This is great on models like Esters, Compound, Flint or really anyone with one of those three defensive techs.  Get them gone while you can so the next activation doesn't have to deal with it.  Efficient use of resources, right here.

  NOTE:  In case you didn't know, you can bonus time a Counter Attack.  If you're rich on momentum or desperately need the Counter Attack to work, this is an option.

Why wouldn't I counter attack?

  Now the tricky part.

  1. Because there is no hope.  Sure, Stave has a KD on 1 with TAC6.  Seems ok except he's 2/0.  He can Defstance up to 3/0 but we're still pissing in the wind.  Even Harrow at a 3/0, Defstance up to 4/0.  Hammer's KD on 2 is still going to get there.  Let's not throw momentum away.

  2.  Because we need the Momentum.  Counter attacks are great but sometimes you need that momentum really bad.  I've made this mistake many times where I have a mediocre counter attack and one momentum.  So I take the counter attack, down to 0 momentum and the counter attack doesn't do anything decent and now, my model is KD and I could have really used that momentum t stand up and do something.  That's the normal scenario.  Before you spend that 1 momentum you have on a Counter Attack that isn't a sure bet, make sure that it isn't more important to have it for a heroic or to clear conditions.

  3.  Because you have Close Control.  Let them waste the tackle.  Now they attack again.  Counter attack now.  They tackle the ball, you tackle it back.  It takes 3 INF to finally keep the ball.

  4.  Because you might counter attack on the second attack.  Their KD is on column 4 or 5, so they need the charge to get it done, but you don't declare a Counter Attack.  So they do straight damage and then you declare a counter attack for the next swing.  Surprise!  This is also gambling and illegal in some states.  On the plus side, it's kind of a win win.  If they KD you on the charge just to be safe, you cost them 2 INF for free.

  5.  Because you don't want Knocked Down at all, actually.  You're pretty sure you can survive the activation and you'd rather start it standing than knocked down.  So weather the storm and don't give them any incentive to do otherwise.  This does not work against factions that have KD in nearly every playbook and bonuses to KD models (Brewers, specifically, but Farmers have a lot of KD too)

  6.  It won't accomplish anything for the goals of the game.  They're not going to kill you this activation.  You can't escape them if you did counter attack and you don't have the momentum to just hand out freely.  So buckle down and wait your turn.  Don't throw away Momentum you don't need to.

   When to Defstance and when to Counter because I've got all the momentum of an uphill-traveling slug.

  In a lot of cases, Defensive Stance is really only useful if you can immediately Counter Attack.  Without that follow up, Defstance starts losing it's worth.

  So when is it more valuable than a counter attack?

  1. When the DEF is already high enough to really negate the charge results.  Mist is a good example.  At 5/0, he can go to 6 and +4 TAC on the charge is looking rough.  The rest of the results are going to struggle to reach high enough into the playbook to do the job because you negated the best chance they had at doing work.  In most cases, he's trying to hang onto the ball.  Against Close Control, do Defstance.  Against low DEF stats, do counter attack.  One note is that on someone holding the ball, it's unlikely they'll KD you so you have good chance of getting a Counter Attack off.

  2.  When a counter attack is pointless.  Using Mist as an example again.  At TAC4, there's a lot of models he's pretty much useless counter attacking against UNLESS they take the ball and you can retrieve it.  Then it's maybe ok.  The other way it's pointless is if they have Close Control.  Mist can't even get it back, and really, you're better off staying in melee so they have to risk a Tackle to leave or spend INF on a dodge of some sort (Where'd they Go, Acrobatics, Quicktime). 

  3.  When they're not likely to stay there for more than one hit.  A lot of times, I'll charge someone, bounce off with a Momentous Dodge or Double Dodge, or my favorite, a Tackle Dodge like what Brisket3 has.  So I hit once, take the ball an I'm gone.  This kind of slides into a Pointless Counter Attack like in option 2, but if it's not really the same.  Especially if they already have the ball.  Shark is a really good example here.  Shark likes to charge into a model, get his double dodge and bounce into range of the goal with some momentum to spend on the kick.  If you don't have 2'' melee, you can't even reach him, and what you need to try to do is negate that Momentum.  Defstance is the answer.

  So now, onto Part II.
Preventative Countermeasures

  We understand the Counter Attack and Defensive Stance Basics now.  Let's back up an activation and see what we can do to further maximize their efficiency. 

  It's inevitable that your models are going to be attacked.  That's the game.  That's how it works.  The idea is to force the opponent into scenarios they don't like.  This isn't always possible but you would be amazed at how much more efficient your defensive gameplay becomes when this is in the back of your mind.

  By maximizing our defensive efficiency, we're talking about several methods.  There's defensive tech like Character Plays and Passive Abilities.  There's terrain, and there's positioning.

  Let's talk about the basics, the little things.  When you pick a model up and you move it, you have to get away from the Point A to Point B mindset.  If you have played another miniature game prior to this you've probably already got some idea of that but many, many people are new to this genre entirely so let's talk about it.

1.  Terrain.

  Terrain is a big deal.  There's less in Guildball than say Flames of War or for sure Infinity.  Games like the Batman Miniature Game and Infinity are both more invested in the terrain than the minis themselves.  Yay, I got Batman and 5 henchmen for 60$.  Now I need 300$ in terrain.  GB doesn't require that much investment in terrain, but if you're not playing with any, you need to start.  Terrain benefits many models in the game like Mist, Sakana and many others with passive abilities. 

  It also blocks charge lanes and grants cover.  When you look at an 11 dice charge into Stoker at 3/2, Defstanced up to 4/2 and standing in cover and needing 4 net hits (6 before ARM) to reach the KD in Ox's playbook, cover drops from 50% to 37.69%.  Cover can be a big deal.  I said before that minus one dice by Defstancing a 6/0 model is kind of a waste of resources, and I agree with that still, but doing it for free in cover is great.  Cover is more efficient against the following normal attacks though too.  TAC6 down to 7 against a 3/2?  That sucks.

  I mentioned charge lanes.  This is some fine positioning, but make note of the models with INF allocated to them and what their jobs are.  If Mist has 4 INF and is within a foot of you, moving to where there is terrain between you both negates it pretty considerably.  An obstruction or a barrier stops the charge completely.

  In the example below, Mist (technically Alloy in this particular game, but in this case it's the same effect) is stuck up behind cover.  Hooper has the ball and is well within range of Alloy/Mist but he can't charge over terrain, which is an immediate 2'' drop in threat range.  Technically he could dodge out around cover and then charge, but that's why Friday is right there, to block that.  Friday's a 4/1, in cover, and to engage her he has to be engaged by Tapper too.  So now we're talking being down 2 dice before swinging.  And, if he breaks loose and gets into Hooper, Hooper is a 3/2 with Tough Skin and in cover, and will Defstance up to 4/2 and counter attack.  It's a tough nut to crack.

  Everybody ignore Cinder, since she solves this problem.  I dislike her immensely.

  However, this is some ok positioning on my part, taking advantage of the available terrain and my opponent's mistakes. 

  Forest and Barriers also block Line of Sight.  No charge if you can't see the model.  Forests force a model to glide as well, so they're sprinting through and attacking.  You can't defensive stance that but you're definitely dodging a charge and you don't have to deal with +4 TAC.  Rough ground is ok defensive terrain but once the momentum starts accumulating it's benefits go way down.

  Here, I've got Stoker, with the ball.  He's within kicking range of Friday, who could easily score at this point from where she's at on the pitch.  The problem is Mist.  Friday could take the 4'' dodge back  but the large bubble is just Mist's movement + acrobatics.  He has another 2'' melee after that.  It's doubtful the dodge will get her out of range, and if Mist has access to momentum and he likely does, he'll glide.  If Mist has no momentum, the pass to Friday is probably not a bad move.  However, in the event that he does, Stoker's going to sprint away to the trees so that he still moves forward.  It's not that he's out of range of Mist at this point, but Mist will have to acrobatics forward, sprint and buy an attack because currently, he has no line of sight to Stoker in the right picture.  That's 3 INF, and Stoker will be at 3/2.  It's doable, but not great.  And then Mist is stuck out there with the ball and Friday can come get it.  The important thing to note is that while it's tempting to get into cover with Stoker at the treeline and go to 3/2 w/ cover, if he does that, Mist gets line of sight and can charge.  Right now though, tucked in like he is, Mist can't see him.  The other option is for Stoker to back up to the box and give up ground.  This is probably the safest play, but if it fails, Mist will be in range for a goal.

  If you're hiding behind Fast Ground, I can't help you.  Please make better life decisions.

2. Positioning around models

  While we're on the positioning soap box and have that first picture, you can hide behind your own models.  Heck, you can even use his models to block charge lanes.  Friday is extremely safe because Tapper is there to crowd out.  That means nearly any of those models have to deal with negative 1 TAC for Tapper, and another negative 1 TAC for cover, plus the resulting Counter Attack from Friday will have +1 TAC for her.  This is before we factor in Commanding Aura being up on Tapper.  Recognize the opportunities.  Friday's where she's at because of a conscious decision.  She could have been over a bit more to have better accessibility to the board but she is far safer where she's at.  Use your other melee ranges to cause problems for other models.  Farmers are really solid at this with so much 2'' melee, as are the Fishermen.  I like to leave a ball on Jackstraw at 5/0 and tuck him in around Harrow or Grange or Tater.  Anyone with 2'' melee, if not two or three models.  Come and get it.  Negative dice for you, bonus dice for me.

  Here, Mercury has the ball and Ballista wants it.  Ballista can get to Mercury, but not without being engaged by Vitriol.  This can be potentially solved by Ballista shooting Vitriol for the 2'' push and KD but now we're throwing 2 precious INF at a side target that's got 5 DEF.  I haven't removed the possibility of him taking the all from Mercury, but I've certainly discouraged it by simply positioning near Vitriol.

  A small thing to remember too.  The best workaround to most counter attacks is to base to base a model so even if they push you out, you can probably still reach them.  So when you're placing a model, consider leaving it in range so you're farther up the board, but positioned in a place where they can't base to base you.  Either just back out of that range, or behind something slightly so that in order to charge in the required straight line, they have to leave a gap.

  Here, Boar can reach Harry with that wonderful Furious charge, but he can't get base to base.  Heck, he can't even get within an inch.  Harry's a 3/1, then he'll Defstance up to 4/1 and have cover.  This takes Boar's 3rd column KD down to a 62% chance of success, and he'll have to take it because if he doesn't, Harry will only need 1 success to push Boar 1'' away and waste his next 2 to 3 attacks.  If Boar was closer, he could base to base and be pretty safe.  Take the momentous damage, get pushed or get Knocked down and stand back up.  He'd be within 2 either way and be fine for his next three attacks.  Harry's positioning alone prevents that though.

  These are the little things, where positioning in the inches matters immensely. 

3. Defensive Character Plays

  Then we have Defensive Tech.  I talked about Hooper's Tough Skin, getting him up to a 3/2 before Defensive Stance.  I like Hooper to go early on the first turn to run up and Tough Skin whatever model is farthest up, plus it lets me burn activations while accomplishing something.  Friday also gains +1 DEF if Spigot is around, so between those two, Friday is at 5/2.  She may look enticing at the halfway point on the board, but with a combined Defensive Stat of 7, you should think twice about it. 

  I keep using Brewer examples, but there's so many.  Mash gets +1 ARM near his wife, Esters, and she can also give him +1 DEF.  Then Hooper gives him +1 ARM and he already has unpredictable movement.  So he's a 4/3 with UM.  Good luck.  This is also a very resource intensive strategy but Mash is really good at Snap Shots so people like to sprint him way up the board.  With stats like that, it's not an entirely terrible strategy.

  There's a lot of defensive tech out there.  Nimble for +1 DEF.  An Engineer player tucked Velocity into my lines, daring me to kill her turn 1.  It didn't happen.  There's Clone, which we've talked about.  There's Defend the Ground from Tower and Ploughman for the free Defensive Stance.  There's a lot of character plays out there that can really buff the survivability of players.  The issue is when to do it. 

  I only do it first activation if it can really discourage my opponent's plan.  If I know my opponent's first activation is to kill Velocity, then activate and use Nimble for the +1 DEF.  Now you've activated and haven't lost an activation if they kill that model, and they may not even kill that model.

  I usually wait till second or third activation though.  If the turn is building up for someone to go into a model towards the end and really go for the win on the momentum race, I can burn an activation getting some defensive tech onto that player.

  Those are the simple things.  Things like Defend the Ground, Tough Skin, things another model can put onto the model you're trying to protect.  Other ones like Nimble, Clone and Decoy are little trickier because you feel like you're wasting INF when you want to do things but when it works, it works.  These character plays are also normally players you want to hold a ball with too.  Greyscales with Decoy and Unpredictable Movement can dodge out to max against a 2'' melee player, probably get the dodge on column 1 and he's gone.  You only have to worry about 2'' melee models too since with Unpredictable movement, 1'' melee models have to catch him over multiple turns.

   4. Offensive Character Plays.

  Now we look at things you put on the enemy, or at least throw out there.  Things like Gut and String, or Disarm.  Stuff that Hamstrings (Also an option) the model that your opponent wants to use.  Blind is getting really popular with that -2 TAC.  Get that on Thresher or Hammer and you've really cut them down.  Mist coming for your ball? Blind him.  He's pretty useless at TAC2, but that's if you can get a 2 dice character play onto a DEF 5 model.  But look at your character play options and see what shuts down an opponent.  Jaecar is really good at this with Gut and String and Back to the Shadows.  Dude charges in, knocks your MOV for 4/4 and takes you to -1 DEF.  His next attack damages you and after he's done he dodges away 4''.

  Playbook Guildball results are great options sometimes too, especially if they're ranged.  You can get something like "Skewered" (Hearne1/2) onto a model by hitting it on the playbook rather than casting it for 2 INF.  Sometimes this is better if Hearne is going into a model that's already crowded out, set up for getting beat on but if it's pretty fresh model, you might be better off just going for the 2 dice roll.

 There's also several AOEs out there.  Poison and Bleed aren't really dangerous but Fire is.  -2/2 MOV is hard on threat ranges.  The trick isn't to hit the model with it and give them a chance to clear it, the trick is to place it front of them so they accrue it during the charge and can't clear it before failing the charge. Blast Earth can do the same thing and cause Rough Ground but then you can glide over it.  However, it's pretty momentum intensive and if the other guy is low on momentum, you may be forcing him to choose between Glide or a Heroic. 

  Using the Harry and Boar example from earlier, Harry can prevent the charge entirely from Boar by dropping the Molotov AOE in the way.  If Boar charges through it, he loses 2/2 MOV immediately, and he can't clear it.  If I had hit Boar with it and lit him on fire, he could clear it at the start of his turn and his threat range is restored.  There's no way for Board to get to Harry right now without a speed buff.

  Lastly, lets touch on Character Plays one more time.  Control.  There's not many of these.  There's Lure (Siren1 and Cosset off the top of my head), Tucked and Shut Out (Silence), Puppet Master (Obulus), Pinned (Theron) and Goad (Spigot2, Marbles, Harry the Hat, Jac.  Maybe a few more).  These are more than debuffs, they control directions you can move, activations and can take over your model for a moment.  This is a great way to shut the enemy down.

  The Morticians player, Silence, is king here.  Shutout and Tucked are amazing if you know the other team.  Shutout the striker so he goes last, giving you time to get the ball, or Tuck Rage2 before he can get the 2/2 MOV buff from Grace to get to you.  If you do it wrong and tuck a model that was going next anyways, you've wasted it.

  Puppet Master is weird.  You can use it walk them away from you or attack.  It's expensive but powerful.  You can walk them into you as well but for defensive purposes that's not great.  Lure and Goad are both like that.  If Siren is sitting at 4/1 near Kracken for that ARM, in cover, and this is a guy she's targeting, she's 5/1 with Cover.  Lure that guy over so he's either out of range of what he wants to attack or he's engaged with a model that he doesn't want to deal with.

  Goad doesn't force a walk, but it limits where you can go.  Because of it's range, that usually means they can get to you if you get the Goad, but if you can get it before you move (Good Marker is great for this) and then walk away, it's pretty solid.  You can do it from behind cover too, or from deep in a crowdout situation.  Harry is awesome here.  I like to use Goad to protect Brisket3, I don't care if you go into Harry.  He's got Rising Anger even.  Free 2 Momentum for me.

  The example here has Decimate, instead of Brisket3.  Decimate's Knocked down and on 8 health.  Boar will likely kill her within two attacks.  However, Harry goads him at the start of his activation, then walks out of charge range and to cover.  Boar is completely neutered here.

  5.  Take a Breather/Come on Mate

  Last, but certainly not least, don't forget that you can heal in this game.  If you've already been beat up a little bit, consider bringing that health up by four again.  The GIC is likely to this some, taking Engineers down to two in some cases or three and etc, but it's worth considering.  On models with health in the low teens, 4 health back can really help.  Jackstraw is a really great example.  At 5/0 plus Reanimate, he's a pain to bring down even with only 10 boxes, which is why I love throwing him up there.  All I want him to do is put down two harvest markers every turn anyways, which he can do from the edge of the pitch if necessary.  So I toss him up there, leave him as 'easy' pickings except at 5/0, he doesn't go down easy and a momentum or two, or three if I can spare it is an efficient and effective use of my resources to negate theirs.  I've seen Hammer go after him, five, six attacks in and that 5/0 is slowing him down.  Can't quite get him but he's close.  So he activates, pops out two harvest markers, teleports away and heals.  Now he's out of the scrum Hammer built.  He's away from the crowdouts and he's got 50-60% of his health again before reanimate.  Is this 5/0 model really worth the three activations and 12 INF it takes to bring him down for 2VP?  Probably not.  But those are the situations you want to create for your opponent.

  So remember to heal.  I think it's less valuable the lower your DEF is since the investment required for the necessary damage is so much lower.  Sure, you can heal Stave, but I'm wrapping every time I hit him so... good job on not changing anything.

  Condition removal is here too.  Against teams like the Brewers and Hunters that like to apply those conditions that give them bonuses, keep the conditions off.  Smoke is another story, she applies everything all the time.  You just have to tank it out.  However, you leave a model knocked down in a game where Spigot1 has activated yet and you have made a horrible mistake.  Are you knocked down and snared?  Seenah's going to eat you alive.  Get rid of those conditions if you want to make it.  Trying to keep conditions off is always a good idea, but in particular situations it's pretty crucial.


  That's about it.  We can cook up all kinds of examples all day long and run the dice math, but this is the gist of the options available to you.  Keep an eye on your momentum, make sure you have some available.  It's not all about going first next turn.  There's not a lot they can do sometimes if you've staged correctly and you always have that one momentum at the beginning.

  Hopefully this had made some sense and helped out.  It's a bit more spread out than the previous article on getting through your own activation but that's pretty cut and dried.  You made the decision to go in, you know what you're getting into and you make all the decisions about how you're going to do it.  Here, you have to anticipate the threat.  You have to take your best guess and cover your angles.  It's a gamble a lot of times.  The biggest thing is to focus on your positioning first.  Use that cover.  Deny the charge lanes.  Hide near a 2'' melee model for those crowdouts.  Little things that aren't important when you move the model, but could be very key here in an activation or two.  It's a mindset that you have to pick up.  It's also a really great thing to go back through a game you've won/lost, but usually lost and say "Yeah, if I'd gone back to cover" or "Yeah, rather than kneesliding as far away from the scrum as I could, I should have tucked into cover and my other model over there." 

  The hardest part is recognizing when it's a good time to quit while you're ahead.  Do you spend the INF on that Clone? Or try and get it off the playbook while you still have the INF for it?  Does Mist charge and hit this model three times while he has the ball and go for momentum to win first turn rolloff, maaaaaybe, or should he just sprint away and hide where it's difficult to get to him?

  Esters is like that every turn.  The +1 Damage or +2/2 MOV is really enticing, especially since it's free.  But a lot of times, it's more efficient to put +1 DEF on someone.  It's hard to recognize when, and it's no fun when you do, but it bears consideration. 

  That's about all I've got on this topic.  This was a requested topic from some local players as a follow up to the last article and it was a great suggestion.  Really appreciated it.  The next one looks like it's going to cover various positions in Guildball.  They're listed on the cards as Midfielders and Backs and nonsense like that, but we'll look at what makes a Striker a good Striker.  What's a Kickoff Model?  What makes a model good at exerting control pressure?  We'll get into that next time.

  Merry Christmas, and enjoy the holidays!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Guildball Batrep #2 – Blacksmiths vs. Brewers

  We got next to no feedback on the previous Battle Report, so clearly we're meant to do more.  Or we enjoy it more than you do and your feedback is impervious to our pats on eachother's backs.  Either way, we're back.  Still Adam and still me, JD.

  Today's matchup is Adam playing his Butchers if he can assemble them in time, or another crack at the Blacksmiths.  I'm going to swing into the Brewers and try to bring something different today instead of my beloved Farmers or Union.  There's been no great changes to the Brewers, but occasionally I have to pull them out again to remember that they make me mad enough to put them back.  I don't feel like they're that far out of the game.  Certainly not enough to create a meme page on facebook with triple digit contributing members just to bemoan their hilarious inequality to the rest of the game.  We'll leave that kind of failure with other games.

Brewer rant, be forewarned

  The Brewers just don't seem to have it in this meta though.  It feels like a gameplan issue.  The players that are successful with Brewers have molded them into a playstyle identity they enjoy and have a consistent strategy with them.  Pat, with the great, highly recommended podcast "Strictly the Worst", is a prime example of this.  Most Guilds, you really already know what the strategy is.  The Brewers have lost that identity since S2, specifically during the "All score, all the time" period.  The Brewers are something of a bashy guild, but not as bashy as the Butchers and not as good at scoring as... even the Masons.  Morticians, Hunters and Butchers are really the only teams worse at scoring.

  Used to, the Brewers and Masons had this "Adaptability" identity.  They both could bash and they both could score.  The idea was to score better than bashers and bash better than scorers, with Brewers better at bashing, and the Masons better at scoring.  The game hit bashing really hard though in season 2 and it became very difficult to do well consistently with a fighting team.  It's only been very recently that fighting has kind of come back, and mostly due to the Shark/Siren/Midas/Vitriol nerf.  Those two teams could win 3-0 very quickly, and the only way to keep up was generally scoring.  Now that they've been set back a little bit by the errata, fighting has a shot. 

  The Brewers are still struggling though.  They've been outpaced it seems.  The recent two acquirements are PintPot and Lucky.  Both are very good, but it still seems to struggle with not having a Captain that can really lead a team in.  Tapper struggles to put a model down without his old heroic and Esters has an extremely poor INF > MOM conversion rate that really just leaves her as a support model while you hope Friday, Spigot1 and PintPot can carry the day.  This also leaves them with almost no 2'' melee, so you almost have to bring Tapper to deal with many problems.  Or Hooper, who is a set of his own problems.  So lets talk about lineups.  Enough ranting. 

JD's lineup.

  First and foremost, I'm a Tapper guy.  His non KS sculpt is the sculpt that got me into the game.  He will most certainly be my main Captain.  I will bring Esters because I think she does have game into a few lineups.  Specifically Fillet, Smoke, Burnish probably, and other condition heavy games.  But that's about it, and I don't like her.  Against Butchers, I'd probably go for a scoring game, at which Esters is possibly better than Tapper.  Against Blacksmiths though, I probably need to bash since I don't have any good ways to keep a ball against the likes of Cinder. 

  I'll also bring Scum.  I think Pat has ruined Quaff for most people even though I used to play him exclusively.  The cat missile has become a Brewer staple though, and is the best way to pick up momentum turn one.  If you're not aware of what it is, hopefully I can demonstrate but the gist of it is that Friday, at some point while she's forward, calls the cat to her.  The cat then hopefully makes use of "Sic' em" if you have it and charges some model within 11''.  At TAC7 on the charge, the cat has a chance of wrapping once, maybe twice, and if you put influence on the cat, you can get a few more attacks in for momentum.  It's not uncommon to see four momentum from Scum.  This is before any buffs like Commanding Aura, Tooled Up, crowdouts, any such nonsense.  If you're super lucky, the cat uses the momentous push on column 2 like four times to push a model within range of a basher and then the game is really on.

  Required models are pretty straightforward.  Spigot1 brings too much support to leave home without.  I don't often get Tooled Up on Tapper because Tapper is a perfect first activation, but Tooled up is great on other models like PintPot or Stoker.  Friday is my nearly only striker, and she is fantastic at it.  She also enables the previously mentioned cat.

  I think Hooper is required, unfortunately.  I dislike him, but he has 2'' melee which is necessary for certain matchups.  Unpredictable Movement, lots of 2'' melee (Fish, Farmers, etc) and he's ok into the condition game.  In every way but Melee range/threat though, he's outclassed by Stoker who has a far better toolbox and doesn't require a heroic to get a useful TAC.  The Brewer GIC helps with this but still.  So Hooper and Stoker are coming.

  PintPot is also coming.  Between PintPot and Stoker, Hooper really struggles to see the table in my games.  PintPot is also amazing for INF efficiency.  Easily one of the best rulesets in the Brewers.  In an Esters lineup, PintPot is doing the work. 

  Mash is coming.  He's really not a striker, but more 2'' melee, and against some teams an ok ball holder.  Against real scoring teams, they have the dodges to deal with him and he has no close control.  Close control and we'd be talking, but no.  He does bring 2 INF though.

  That's 9 models.  This leaves me with a fun model spot, which is Lucky, Spigot2 or Stave.  I haven't played Lucky yet, but I'm kind of itching to put Spigot2 on the table too.  However, I've played Spigot2 a bunch (believe it or not) and not my nearly painted Lucky yet, so Lucky it is.

  Tapper, Esters, Scum, Pintpot, Stoker, Hooper, Mash, Friday, Spigot1 and Lucky.

Adam's Lineup - So I've come to this conclusion that there is no way you wouldn't want Alloy and Hearth in a line up. No matter the guild I'm playing these two add so much to the blacksmiths kit. I can't wait until I have the second box so I'll actually be able to use the models. Going into the Brewers, and knowing they like to smack people, I have this plan in mind that I want to play ball. I haven't really decided how well the Blacksmiths can hang in a scrum with the Brewers at this point due to inexperience. I've said it in my last rep with these guys, and I'll say it again here, the pressure that Cinder, Hearth and Alloy put on a ball is insane. It's an incredible good set up to take the ball off someone on one success from 14" away. I'll always be taking Them with me, into every line up.

  This also adds Furnace into the mix, who I think is a solid master as well. The brewers aren't the fastest moving team, and the ability to remove armor, and limit more movement speed with burning is great. My next choices are Ferrite and Iron. They play ball together really well, and who doesn't like a momentous 7 damage? Ferrite also has one of the best legendaries to me of this squad, especially for scoring goals. She's also great at just debilitating players. Which comes into play later on as well. My Final 4 picks are Anvil and Sledge, since they do allow you to shift to a more fighting team if you wish, and the potential with Hearth, and Anvil, to allow Sledge 5 net hits on his way to a momentous 7. And Lastly I end up with Farris and Cast. Cast has this great ability called Shield throw that allows me to knock the ball off someone without having to tackle at all. Farris has a huge amount of movement and seemed like a nice addition to a ball heavy team. I need to spent more time with some of these other models to really know which ones should make it into a ten man team.

JD - Against Blacksmiths, I feel like I can't outball them with Brewers.  At all.  So Tapper, and Scum are my Captain/Mascot pick.  Adam picks Ferrite/Iron.

Adam - I don't really want to fight the Brewers, so I pick Ferrite and Iron as my captain and apprentice. The flexibility of a captain pick is really nice here, especially when that model gets to have an extra two influence it can be allocated. As well as her legendary changing giving everyone hobble on top of a move buff. Any time you damage someone when you have hobble this gives -2/-2 movement to them. This with the Burning can really hurt the Brewers in my opinion.

The Rolloff - I roll a 2 to Adam's 4 and he elects to receive.  I do swap board edges, as you'll notice in a few pics.  The side I chose was more open, and I generally need that for slow Brewers and their desire to scrum.

The Draft.

  Adam leads off with Hearth (Granite).  I take Friday, both of us leading the draft with obvious, non-telling decisions.  He picks Alloy (Mist), I go Spigot1, he picks Furnace, I pick PintPot, he takes Cinder and I take Hooper. 

  JD - I hesitated a lot on Hooper, but I decided I needed his 2'' melee against Cinder's UM and the other three 2'' models in the list (Counting Alloy).  Otherwise, I like my lineup.  I debated hard between Hooper, Stoker or Lucky, and I think either one is better than Hooper except for the 2'' melee. Mash, even with his 2'' melee, was right out.  I normally like him against semi-bashy teams to hoard the ball with his 2'' Unpredictable Movement, but Cinder's ability to just ignore that whole thing with Hot Shot means Mash has no place in a fighting list. 

  As far as Plot Cards, I have Good Marker (Fairly important for Brewers I think), Heroic Landing (Also important), and Match Fixing (Less important, but I fully expected a goal kick from Cinder so I felt like it was a decent card to have).  There was no Knee Slider or Sic' Em in my hand, so I expect Adam got them but since he's playing Blacksmiths, Sic' Em goes to discard.  What a waste.  I expected Knee Slider though. 

  My GIC is Another Round, for the free heroic, the main thing I wanted to try in the Brewers this game.

Adam -  My Line up is fairly linear. Like I said earlier, Hearth and Alloy go great, especially with Furnace and Cinder. They all lead into each other in my opinion. Hearth is my big support key here being able to hand out 2" melee to people and giving plus two net hits on playbook results is a huge deal for me. I was satisfied with who I took overall. I put a lot of thought into if I would take Cinder or not, I debated between her and Cast. Especially since Cast gets extra damage from burning and could be tooled up, so she could hit pretty hard. However it really came down to this idea, that I wanted to play the ball here more than fight.

   My plot cards for this one were, Knee Slider, Wingback, and Brace for Impact! Knee slider being a really big deal to me here, because I don't know if you if you've seen Iron and his ridiculous movement capability, but a 10" slide back to safety is incredible. I had a feeling I was going to get the hurt laid on me at some point, and with the Apprentices being super squishy, Brace for impact seemed like a solid choice. Wingback seemed helpful in theory, but never really saw use.

JD - Holy cow, you had Wingback? Was neither Alloy nor Ferrite in range of Wingback all game? Or when you were considering a charge with Iron early on? I'm surprised I didn't see that one come through.

 Adam - Yeah, I thought about using it for awhile but no one really needed to charge.

  My GIC is Tough as Nails, which allows me 5 healing and +1 arm on a friendly guild model who is knocked down for the turn. Most of my models have 2 armor, or three if they are by a master, so immediately removing 3-4 dice from the equation was really nice

The Kick - Friday moves up, kicks.  She walks the full 6'' and tries to put it way over and does ok.  Enough to force Alloy to retrieve which is something. In the future, I may try to force Iron to receive to prevent him being the first turn goal scoring model, but either Iron does it, or Alloy does it.  Both are very capable.

  On that note, Iron gets 4, Ferrite 1, Furnace 1, Cinder 2, Hearth 1 and Alloy 3 I think.

  Pintpot gets 1, Scum gets 0, Friday 4, Tapper 4, Spigot 2, Hooper 2. 

   Alloy acrobats up, sprints to the ball, back and kicks to Cinder.

  Spigot uses the GIC for his heroic and gets Time's Called down, affecting Friday, Tapper and Scum.  He tools up scum, the cat with no Influence. 

  Cinder moves up, passes to Ferrite and shoots Friday for 1 damage and Searing strike.

 Hooper sprints up and into cover, trying not to block his charge lanes.  I wanted to get Tough Skin onto Friday, but it was more important to be farther forward for better charge lanes on round 2 than it was for Friday to be 5/2 near Spigot.

  Furnace tools up Iron, moves forward and drops his AOE on Cinder, very aware that Cinder is a prime target for Friday since Hot Shot is 6''.  Even on fire, Friday can walk there.

  PintPot sprints forward.

  Hearth moves up, uses Instruction on Cinder.  This was disappointing to me because it guaranteed Cinder a double dodge counterattack on Friday.  However, both of us had forgotten at this point that Cinder has Unpredictable Movement and Cinder was safe from Friday anyways.  Instruction on Cinder actually benefitted me since I changed gears and began looking at Hearth instead.

  On that note, I've decided it's Friday's turn due to some order of activation issues.  Iron is coming to town, and I kind of want Tapper to go into him after scoring. There's two problems with this.  A) Tapper needs to go before the cat so I can Ol' Jakes 2 INF onto him, and I have no momentum for that heroic, and Tapper can't produce any in his position.  B)  I'm pretty sure Adam has Knee Slider, so even if Tapper goes last, I'm quite likely to have wasted a perfectly good pat cat activation on a gamble that Tapper will be in range of Iron.  It's not worth the bet so I activate Friday.

  Friday shadow likes forward, calls Scum up and charges Hearth.  Adam camps the momentum, so no counter attack and Friday does a two non momentous damage and two momentous pushes over the course of the charge and two follow up attacks. 

  Ferrite moves forward, calls Iron up and successfully kicks to him. 

  The surprise in all of this is that Friday's two pushes are enough that Hearth is in range of Tapper, thanks to "Time's Called" on Spigot.  This is unexpectedly fantastic news.  Tapper heroics 2 INF onto Scum, and charges Hearth.  He declines the KD because of Sturdy, and ends up just doing 3 momentous damage twice and a push.  I pass on Commanding Aura since the only benefit would be on the cat and it's not really worth it.  3 momentous damage is as much or more than the cat would accomplish.  Right?

  Iron looks long and hard at trying to get a momentum off of PintPot or Spigot, but the counter attack potential is too great on both, so he wastes a few INF.  He just uses Impetus, sprints an kicks for a goal, making it handily. 

  The ball bounces out and lands right on Tapper who declines to snap it.  Iron uses Kneeslider and disappears off to my left.

  Scum shadow likes forward and walks into Hearth.  I'm a little worried about positioning and blocking up Tapper for what I have in mind, but I'm pretty sure Hearth will be out of the way quickly so I don't worry about it.  Scum hits Hearth twice, wrapping both times.  I opt for a Momentous 2 and non-momentous 1 both times, which with Tooled Up, takes it to a 2 and a 3 for a total of 10 damage.  This easily puts me ahead on momentum, no competition, and I will go first.  The score is 0-4 Blacksmiths.


  Tapper gets fully loaded, so does Spigot.  Hooper gets one, Friday two and Pintpot zero along with the cat.  Originally, I had planned on snapping the ball to Tapper, but it occurred to me that my first activation would be Tapper into Hearth, and even if she couldn't survive, it was worth her counter attacking for control of the ball or KD, so Tapper left it off of himself.  In four hits, Tapper kills Hearth and triggers Commanding Aura.  I want the next attack on Cinder, but I need to sprint to get into goal range so I use the last two INF for that instead, finally snapping the ball, and score for a 6pt activation.

  This is good news for me since I've now got Commanding Aura up on two apprentices and Instruction is off of the table.  Of all the Masters to bring down, Hearth with 2'' melee on a stick, free 2'' melee for Alloy and 1 INF cost "Instruction", she's the one to bring down.  Furnace is nice, Ferrite is great, but Hearth is really the Apprentice's Toolbox. 

  As expected though, the ball bounces out to Ferrite.  I use my Match Fixing plot card to reroll the perfect scatter and Adam gets another perfect scatter.  Both snap onto Ferrite.  She immediately sprints and scores, taking the score to 8-6 Blacksmiths.  She slides back to cover.

  The Goal scatter poses a problem.  I need to hide the ball here, but I can't go too far to the right and forward because Alloy can pretty easily move an score.  I have him blocked in with Friday and cover but he can still move around quite a bit.  Even worse is Cinder with a 14'' tackle against Brewer Defense.  I try to put the goal kick to my right corner.  Far enough forward it can't scatter behind my own line, and far enough to the right to put it out of reach for everyone.  It scatters six inches to the one, right into the cover near Hooper.  Right where either Cinder can pick it up.

  If I leave the ball, Cinder picks it up, kicks to Ferrite and scores.  I can't kill her because she's got Unpredictable Movement and Hooper only has 1 INF.  Hooper ends up walking around the cover to pick up the ball and using Tough Skin on himself.  I feel ok about this.  Cinder is engaged by Tapper, and Hooper is a 3/2 now, plus cover.  Cinder needs two successful hits for this to work.  It has to be Cinder because Alloy is locked up.

  Furnace moves up, puts 2 damage into Tapper, KDs him and puts the crowdout AOE on Cinder, but not himself since he wants to help Alloy kill Tapper.  With Tough hide, it's pretty sketchy but still in the realm of possibility since he's a 2/0 now against Alloy.  

  Friday calls Scum to her to block Alloy's path and dodges into Cinder to ignore Unpredictable Movement.  I need one more momentum to stand Tapper up, and Friday gets it with a nice push that tucks Cinder into the pocket with Tapper, Furnace and Friday. 

  Cinder counterattacks, dodges away.  Friday stands up Tapper, hits Furnace for another momentum and walks into range with Cinder, causing her to unpredictable movement away.  This is what I want though, so now Spigot or PintPot can kill her. 

  Cinder has other plans.  She moves within 6 of Hooper, bonus times the shot up to TAC6, back down to TAC5 because of cover.  She needs four out of five successes to tackle the ball and gets it.  She also gets a successful kick to Iron who dodges back out of 8'' of PintPot.

  Spigot activates.  I can't get PintPot to Iron to disrupt him from a top of 3 score, but I might could use Spigot's heroic to boost him.  However, I can't be within 4'' of Tapper for Commanding Aura on Cinder, and be with 4'' of PintPot for Time's Called.  I decide to try to kill Cinder because I don't think I can get it done without Commanding Aura.  So he moves into CA, kills Cinder in 3 hits (KD, wrap and wrap.) and wastes an INF.  Score is 8-8.

  Alloy moves through Scum's area, producing Unpredictable Movement there, hitting Friday for damage and Dirty Knives.  He almost ends his activation but remembers back to the Shadows at the last second and does it, putting him out of PintPot's range.  Which is good, because I think under CA, PintPot kills him. 

  Pintpot really needs to go into Iron though.  If I could get there I could KD him, and the ball scatter would either come back to PintPot or better yet, go off the edge of the board and I win, but I can't get to him.  So I go into Ferrite, KD her and do incidental damage because Adam remembers his GIC and gets a third ARM for the activation, taking her to a 2/3 against a TAC5 model. 

  Iron sprints into the corner, staging for Round 3 and my cat idles.

    I win the rolloff pretty easily, ahead by 3 momentum.  I decide to go second, forcing him to fight for momentum and give me a chance to damage a model or something.  He activates Ferrite, standing her up, hitting Pintpot with a momentous Disarm, who Counter attacks and gets a push, barely at TAC4 now.  Ferrite's stuck there, acrobats away but Adam clocks before he can call Iron up.

  This is game.  Tapper goes for the kill on Furnace, knocks him down but Adam does his GIC again and Tapper just can not get up his columns enough to get CA down until the fourth hit, at which point he hasn't done enough damage at all.  Iron scores, taking the game to a 9-12 Blacksmith win.

Thoughts on the Game

  JD - I actually enjoyed getting my Brewers out again.  These are some of my favorite models, I love their sculpts, I'm happy with how I painted them, and I enjoy the playstyle.  I really did enjoy this game.  I also have not changed my position on Brewers and the main reason they are out of the bag is for batrep variety, and so Adam can play Blacksmiths into a team that's not the Farmers, or the Union I've played religiously for a year.  Despite the meta swinging back from the straight up ball game, I still don't feel that Brewers can kill faster than the other team can score.  This is further excacerbated by the Blacksmiths where hiding the ball is almost impossible.  That said, I made some errors here that cost me the game, while at the same time, it's evident that Adam is learning his Blacksmiths quickly. 

  Pros are that I got an ok cat attack off, never went second, killed Hearth and really felt like I was keeping up until the goal kick scattered into Hooper's turf.  After that, there was very few ways to keep the ball away from Cinder and Alloy.  I think Hooper was the best decision, but it didn't feel like a great one.  I could have kicked it away with Hooper, but the odds of him failing the kick, and putting the ball closer to Alloy, or into the backfield were somewhat high and I couldn't risk it.  At 3/2 in cover, I felt pretty safe, and even Adam was pretty concerned about that roll he needed for the tackle.

  The Cons of my decisions come down to a couple.  Tapper probably should have kicked that ball off into the backline rather than scoring.  Let them spend a few activations trying to get it back into play, and waste Alloy's activation.  Maybe.  I don't feel like I played horribly there as I needed the Goal influence.

  I still dislike Hooper.  I didn't need the 2'' melee as much, or it wasn't relevant.  Lucky or Stoker would have been a far, far better option.

  The two big problems were the Spigot and PintPot activations.  I got greedy, and wanted to use Commanding Aura against Cinder for the kill.  That wasn't necessary, and in fact it was overkill.  I should have stayed closer to PintPot for the heroic and put PintPot into Iron.  That was the far better decision. 

  Secondly, I didn't realize PintPot actually has dodges.  He's only one of two Brewers to have dodges (Spigot2 is the other).  If I had known that, I would have charged Ferrite, dodged out and gone into Iron for the KD, or at least pushes.  At least be engaged with him, but with 3 attacks it should be ok to get the KD.  And with PintPot's heroic where he ignores the next attack, Iron can't do anything about it.

  Lastly, I should have gone first on the last turn.  I knew the game was over and was curious what Adam would do going first.  I don't think it would have changed anything, but I should have gone first. 

  Adam - Going into this game I didn't feel like I was going to just end up kicking and scoring repeatedly. My thought process in my line up was just to play solid ball and be able to get a couple kills in between. The allure of a momentous 7 damage and a non momentous 5, really make me feel like I'm gonna do some fighting here. However, more often than not, I found that challenging these guys is a bad idea, and I really needed knockdowns instead of damage to ensure I wasn't put in the dirt. I don't thing that they're bad at fighting, but, I definitely feel like they smash ball teams, with how weak they are in the fighting game a lot. I think they have a real leg up on teams that play the ball personally.   I have really enjoyed the Blacksmiths so far, and I've actually had a hard time with what models to bring, other than alloy and hearth anyways. I can't wait to paint up my my team, and get the next set of models so its completed. 

  Something I can't stress enough when playing this team, is deployment positioning. It's so important and something I talked about last rep Jd and I did. Changing the way I deployed, changed the whole game to me. Putting Alloy on the left wing, and Iron on the right wing, with Cinder in the middle, give me a ton of ball threat wherever this ball goes. Not to mention where the Masters deploy being equally important. Hearth being within 6" of alloy and cinder, allowed both of them to get the benefits I wanted. Furnace, still is able to be by Cinder, and Ferrite by Iron. Depending on your line up, dictates how you deploy and where these models go. Positioning is key with this guild, and I can't stress enough how important it is for the deployment of this team. They all feed off each other. I should have changed Iron and Ferrites placement. So I could have gotten two inch melee on Iron, and not wasted an influence

  I left Hearth alone when the attack came and I really shouldn't have done that. I didn't expect that cat to hit like a truck, and he just evaporated my health. I was really confident in her large health and armor. Which comes back to hurt me in the second turn, especially since it took away instruction, and all of Alloys extra abilities. I felt really good about the second turn goal however. It went about as smoothly as it could. Match Fixings was terrible here though. I couldn't have had a more perfect roll, and I had to do it again. I also didn't expect to get the tackle off on Hooper with Cinder and put myself in position to score The roll was dicey, but I felt like I had to take the chance or else Cinder was going to get obliterated before she could take the ball. Which she does right after she finishes her pass. I also should have taken the full dodge after the pass to iron, to get him way out of Pintpots range. If he would have had the speed buff I would have been in a really rough spot.

  By the time the third turn rolls around I just load up Ferrite and Iron and stop caring about anyone else, Ferrite gets easy momentum, but I miss the clock time and don't get far up enough to make sure I can get Try hard off, which would have given me a goal, on 2 or higher dice roll.

   One of the things I was happiest about during this match was remembering a lot of my abilities I forgot about last time. Back to the shadows saved Alloy's life, and My Gic made a lot of my characters tough to kill for sure .

   All in all I've come to really enjoy what I've played with the team so far, and I'm definitely enjoying them. Until I play Thresher again anyways, and he just turns me into his personal harvest. The Blacksmiths feel like Masons in a way, but they seem much more ball focused to me.

JD - Again, I really enjoyed this game.  For all the issues I have with Brewers, this game was pretty close and could have gone either way at a few points.  I do feel that as Adam gains experience at the Blacksmiths, I won't see opportunities to exploit his mistakes with them nearly as often.  Things like Alloy being strung up behind cover, or over extending Hearth and allowing me to get both Tapper and Scum into her.  Or leaving Iron within range of a buffed Pintpot and I just didn't take the opportunity.  I don't see many great ways to hide the ball in Brewers though maybe just tucking it onto Scum and sending the cat into the far corner is an option.  I don't know.  Again, I don't think the Brewers hide the ball and kill players faster than any scoring team can score.  This is still true against the Blacksmiths who possess the widest array of ball retrieving tech in the game.  The Apprentices go down easier, but fast enough to stop them from scoring? It's sketchy. 

  The next question is if it's a Blacksmith problem or a Brewer problem.  I don't know that it's a Blacksmith problem.  It's very good, but I need to see it against Union or Farmers some more before I have an opinion there.  Brewers have always struggled to control the ball, and when Shark was running the roost was the period I put Brewers away because they just couldn't stop the scoring.  So you have a very, very good team in the Blacksmiths going against a low tier team like the Brewers.  There's no room for error.

  Adam's Butchers are in, and nearly assembled so I'll be surprised if I don't see them across the table next Batrep.  I will likely hold off on my Union or Thresher Farmers for that game.  After reading some of Vincent's ramblings, I might try a Smoke team for kicks and giggles, even though I detest Smoke's gameplay.  With the recent OPD change, I'm going to play Grange more, and may be up for playing that into Butchers.  Is there any matchup into Butchers that would interest you guys? Or any matchups in the future you'd like to see? Possibly not even Captain specific, but a certain player combo you would like to see into a matchup.  Curious about a Hunter team into Blacksmiths? Obulus into Thresher? Throw your suggestions our way and if something piques our interest we may pick it up and give it a shot. 

  Thanks for reading, and enjoy your week!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Guildball for the New Guys - Knowing enough about the other team to get through an activation

  There were a lot of rough moments for me in my early wargaming days, and still are some even now.  I had another round of them when I started playing Guildball.  It seemed like I had to take a "Gotcha" on the chin before I'd remember them.  Things like charging into Obulus with literally anything other than Mallet and remembering he has Unpredictable Movement, but only remembering it after he was safely away from my fully loaded Captain.

  I mentioned in a previous article (The Starting Lineup one, actually) that it's pretty useless to know your own models and what they're good at fighting when you don't know what they're fighting.  Decimate has Anatomical Precision, which ignores 1 ARM, but if you don't know that Farmers have very little ARM, then you won't know that you could probably bring Minx instead.  Or, in another example, Mash has Unpredictable Movement and 2'' melee.  These would theoretically make him a really, really good place to hide the ball against kicking teams except that the Fishermen have both 2'' melee almost everywhere, two to three different dodges that ignore UM, and Siren, who can just straight up force him to kick the ball.  I learned that one the hard way. 

  You have to know the other team before you start picking up the win ratio.  There's a few levels of this, and we won't tackle all of them today.  Based on my non-expert opinion, there's

 1. Knowing enough for This activation
 2. Knowing enough for the Next activation
 3. Knowing enough to understand the goal the other team has as they pick their players from the roster

 Guildball is very focused on individual activations.  This is a no-brainer with only 6 players on each team, but for many players, they're used to 6-10 different units of 3-10 models each.  When 10 models make attacks, you have a lot of chances to accomplish things, and the odds somewhat even out.  Rather than Honor missing that attack she had a 70% chance of hitting, it's more likely that 7 of your 10 models will do what you needed them to do.  Individual hits and misses are less critical in games based on units.  There's always some special individuals where it really counts but overall, it somewhat evens out, and you're able to focus fire and bring down the targets that really matter.

  In Guildball, a lot hinges on every activation, so it's in your best interest to ensure that you get the most out of them.  This is where point 1, Knowing enough for This activation, comes in.  Many new players fail to get through one key activation and it kills the entire round.  I watched in a tournament where a Butcher player sent their fully loaded Fillet into Shark.  She hit once, didn't KD him, and he counterattacked, resulting in a predictable doubledodge and he was gone while she sat on 3-4 INF.  That's a quarter of your team's total INF wasted. In this article, we're going to look at the basic things to assess when you activate a model, and specifically, attack.

  Secondly, we have Knowing enough for the Next activation.  If you've ever played Chess, they preach thinking ahead two or three or a dozen moves.  If you move X, what happens and how will you respond? Chess is far more linear than Guildball so the comparison begins to fall apart after that, but you definitely need to begin looking at the bigger picture. The ball game is a great example.  I will often let an enemy striker keep the ball when I'm up on points and I think that the opponent is going to try to score.  I will position a striker where they can receive, immediately counter score and close the game.  On the same token, I've been that other player where I'm behind on points, and that 4vp is really, really tempting but I know that as soon as I score, Flint will get the ball and counterscore. So rather than take the bait, I need to neutralize the striker before I do this thing.  Now we're thinking a few activations ahead of the game.

  Lastly, there's Knowing enough to understand the goal the other team has as they pick their players from the roster.  We talked a lot about this in the lineup article previous to this, and building a list in response to what they're playing.  I don't know that the topic really needs it's own article but maybe it does.  We'll see.  It really comes from experience and knowing their cards.  You can usually break each team down into categories and split them out from there.  Fishermen are a ball playing team. They have a lot of 2'' melee, dodges and ways to take the ball.  So you can expect not to be losing players to take outs and you need a way to hide the ball.  Etc.  After that, as you learn the other players you can understand more individual gameplans and how models contribute to the game, but if you master the first 2 topics here, the 3rd topic will be pretty much covered.  It's up to you to put it together.

  So, #1.  Knowing enough for This Activation

  By knowing enough, we're again referring to the enemy cards.  Let's talk about what ruins our day, shall we?  There's two categories; Passive  and Momentum Based defensive tech that you need to be concerned about.  What I want most from this article is for the reader to reduce the amount of times they leave a stack of INF on a model they moved into combat.  This is absolutely backbreaking and where not knowing your opponent's cards hurts the most.  Synergies between cards/players is one thing.  You may read the card a dozen times and not catch a synergy.  For example, you think your captain can survive Honor's activation, so you go ahead and load him up.  She activates, he makes it through, but then lo and behold, she chain activates into Harmony and you didn't know that was a thing.  And your Captain is now dead, him and his 6 INF.  Don't worry about those, take one on the chin.  You didn't know, and it sucks, and I've been there, and handled it both good and bad.  It's the wasted INF on a model just standing three sheets to the wind that really hurts though.  So let's look at this.

  Part I. Passive Defensive Tech doesn't require anything from the player.  They don't have to state anything ahead of time, use any character plays or make a choice.  It's on the back of the card and it just happens if they remember it.  The major ones are:

  Unpredictable Movement
  Gluttonous Mass
  Close Control

  The little ones are things like "Stoic" where they ignore the first push, "Tough Hide" where they take one less damage and such like that.  Those won't ruin your activations though. You may not kill that model completely but the dice could prevent that too.  Stoic rarely bothers me. If it does, it's usually when that model charges my model and I try to push them away that it actually catches me unawares.  Reanimate is frustrating, but it's the same thing mostly.  You'll still get the momentum and do damage.  You should be aware of it, but you're not going to be sitting there with a stack on INF you can't use.

  READ THE CARDS.  Even if you take notes, understand where these five specific traits are at.  Ask at the beginning of the game "Who has this crap?"  Note it down, remember.  Whatever you have to do.  Ask before you charge.  But better yet, read the cards because if you ask "Hey, does Velocity have Unpredictable Movement?", you've given your opponent more time to consider what is about to happen.

  A note towards Sportsmanship though.  Don't read the cards right there and take 15 minutes every turn.  If you're in the game, glance at their cards and ask more questions while you're playing.  One of Guildball's shining positives is that it's a 12 model game and theoretically shorter than most tabletop games but the amount of information to be found on the card makes new player games extremely long.  Even players that have played for awhile, but are facing a new player or faction can add a lot of time to the game.  Just ask.  "Defensive stats? Anything I should know about on the back?"  And go.  If nothing else, download their cards in Guildball Scrum and read them during their turn.  I highly encourage players to run through a different faction every week at some point.  Read the cards, make mental notes of the big 5 gotchas, get a feel for the stats. 

   Let's look at these five "Gotchas" closer though.

  Unpredictable Movement. 

  This one is a rough one at first for many players.  Models that have this make a 2'' dodge when you enter their melee range.  Most models that have this have 1'' melee, making 2'' melee basically cheating when you can stand outside of that zone and do what you want.  2'' melee ranges with Unpredictable Movement are a bit trickier.  You're going to trigger it no matter what (Thresher, Mallet, and during her legendary, Hearth, are the only exceptions).  This makes 2'' melee models pretty key with either version.  With 1'' and UM, you simply stay outside of it.  With 2'' and UM, you have to go base to base.  Base to base is going to be important in a lot of activations, so get used to it.  If they dodge out with Unpredictable Movement, they dodge 2'', which means they're still in your 2'' melee zone.  They can run, but they can't hide.  Mash from the Brewers, Greyscales from the Fishermen and Obulus from the Morticians are the two biggest offenders I can think of that have Unpredictable Movement and 2'' melee both.  Lots of models have it and 1'' melee, but 2'' melee models negate it.  So make a mental note of why 2'' melee models are important.  You always need a few to deal with this particular tech.  Also, be aware that this works while the model is KD.

  The other nifty trick is that dodging into the melee range doesn't trigger it.  So if you have a way to dodge into that zone, that's an option as well.  Maybe bounce off of another player, or just pay the INF for a dodge if it's an option, like on Mist with Acrobatics.

  The sad way to do it is to force him to use it earlier than your key activation.  If Stoker's going to for the kill, someone threatening enough to force the model to take the dodge needs to get in there.  Key thing to note is that unlike some of these other passive abilities, Unpredictable Movement is a choice.  So they may choose to weather one storm and wait for the hurricane.  You can use that to block escape routes but now we're trying to solve gunfights with knives.

  Sidenote.  A lot of Token sets, and specifically the Steamforged Season 3 sets have "Dodge Used" tokens to indicate a model has already used Unpredictable Movement.  There's nothing wrong with asking your opponent to mark it, or you marking it yourself with your own token.

  Another sidenote.  A good friend of mine played Brewers too and showed me a sweet trick with Friday.  He'd run Friday and 1INF, maaaaybe 2 into a model with UM and see if they went ahead and dodged. A lot of times, they wouldn't because what's a Friday with only a few INF and no buffs going to do?  So they'd hang out.  Then she'd call Scum over and Scum would dodge in and pin the model in.  Next activation, here comes whoever you want.  Stoker, Spigot, anyone because now the UM model is pinned in with Friday and Scum.  So, no UM and +2 TAC.  Obulus is gonna die.  "Get Over Here X" is on Friday/Scum, Ferrite/Iron, Jac/Salt... and I think that's it...  Just a neat trick.  It's a mean one too.  Lose/lose if it's set up correctly.

  Gluttonous Mass

 This was impressive when people first saw it.  Models ignore the first attack or character play.  The all encompassing absorption solution.  Charges, expensive character plays, all kinds of things.  Guaranteed Counter attack because nothing you did was going to affect them, even wraps.  There's just one problem.  Anything can trigger it and it's not a choice.  Throw 1 INF character plays at these models.  Specifically, it's Esters from the Brewers, Compound from Alchemists/Engineers and Fangtooth from the Union.  Esters and Fangtooth have 1'' melee, so just hitting them twice from 2'' is a decent option but it still doesn't feel good inside.  1 INF character plays are the way to do it.  If you have to do it in a prior activation, that's the best way, but even if you're playing someone like Tapper and you just throw a Marked Target at her for no effect, it's better than charging for 2 INF and 10 dice and whiffing it all because you forgot about Gluttonous Mass.  That's the worst case scenario.  And if you're in their melee like you would be with Compound, they counter attack and you can say goodbye to the 3-4 INF you have left.


  Sturdy is better than Gluttonous Mass, IMO.  It can't be popped by cheap character plays or even other attacks.  You have to actually waste a KD hit to trigger it, which sucks.  It means that you're wasting an INF, and if you're in melee range, I definitely get a counter attack, and that's where things go south.  Several models have Sturdy, and a few models have the ability to hand it out.  Corsair from the Fishermen and Benediction from the Union can both hand it out, and Corsair starts with it.  Grange from the Farmers has it for a legendary and can also hand it out.  All three of those models have 2'' melee.  I think there's a few more out there, but it's those three that really hamper your day with it.  Watch when you go into them, and pay attention to who it's on.  Tokens are important here again.  There's a few ways to handle it.  Lower DEF models, you can get the wrap on them with a charge (Brewers excel here) and hit KD twice to get it.  Models from Season 2 onwards sometimes have playbook results with KD and damage, so you can get the momentum even though the KD was wasted.  The biggest thing to look at is what we'll focus on here in a minute, the Counter attack.  Sturdy means the Counter attack is coming.  Unless you can get there when they don't have momentum, or you're going to dodge/push away, you need to expect a counter attack and have a plan for it.

  The other option is to pop KD with another model.  There's only a few ranged KDs out there, so you'll probably have to do it in melee which means committing another model.  Again, we'll expound more in the next segment, Counterattacking, but in many cases, I'll counterattack on a model I plan to charge later and I'll pop that Sturdy then so it's ready when I actually need to bring him down. 

Close Control

  I think Close Control is also better than Gluttonous Mass.  See, GM is cute, but easily popped.  For models with specific goals in life and things they want to do, function specific passive tech like this is far more ideal. Sturdy lets fighters stay standing and push back, maybe escape the attack.  Close Control lets models meant to use the ball or hide it do either one.  Flint can come in for the attack, tackle the ball momentously on column 1 and then weather the counter attack where you take it back.  Even if you get the Tackle, he ignores it.  Then he can push dodge out and be on his merry way. 

  Close Control usually means you just need to hit them twice.  Most models with Close Control are 1'' melee, and are relying on higher DEF or dodges to get out of a scrape.  I think Corsair in the Fishermen is the only 2'' melee model with Close Control so I could be wrong.  2'' melee models are winners here in most cases.

  There is a character play running around a lot now called "Ball's Gone".  Spigot1 and 2 from the Farmers has it, and so does Brisket2 (Butchers), Bushel (Farmers), Greyscales (Fishermen) and maaaaybe one or two others.  The character play, if successful, allows you to take the ball and either keep it, or kick it immediately to another player (Not on goal).  This is not a Tackle, and therefore does not get stopped by Close Control.  It's for this reason I drop Bushel into any Masons team with Flint, and really any team with 1'' Strikers. In the case of Flint, she ignores the "Charmed (Male)" trait, and has Ball's Gone.  So she's hitting 3/1 at TAC4 (TAC8 on the charge, which is probably required) and kicking the ball out.  Even if Flint counterattacks, the ball is already out of there and there's nothing he can do to get it back.

  Whatever you do, if you need the ball and you forget it's a Close Control model you're going into, you're likely to allocate the wrong amount of Influence and be completely flustered when they ignore your first attack or force you to do a different option.  Be aware of it.


  Where the other four options have been located on the target model, Countercharge sidelines you completely.  It's a very powerful ability that allows a model to charge an enemy model that has ended their advance within 6'', plus all normal qualifications of a charge (Line of site, not engaged, etc).  It sucks because you've gone through the check list, and we're sending Bushel into Flint and everything is going to work except we forgot about Brick who Countercharges into her and knocks her flying.  The other difference with countercharge is that because it's an activation, they'll get Momentum for the attack unlike a counterattack.  If you're trying to starve an opponent of Momentum, this is something to keep in mind. 

  There's five models with countercharge in the game, and four of them are conditional.  Brick, from the Masons, is the only dude to just have it, at all times.  Marbles, also from the Masons, recently attained it in the errata but only has it while within 4'' of Brick.  He's also the only model with Countercharge but not 2'' melee.  Tenderizer (Butchers) and Compound (Alchemist/Engineers) both have it but only while within 4'' of the goal.  Lastly, Tater (Farmers) has it, but only while within 6'' of a Harvest Marker. 

  The easiest way to handle Countercharge is to not go within 6''.  This is rarely an option though.  Because it only triggers on an advance (charges count), you can dodge into this aura safely.  If a model is Knocked down or Engaged (not Engaging.  Can still charge if engaging a model, but not if they themselves are engaged), they cannot charge.  However, every above model except Marbles has 2'' melee so if you engage them, you'll probably also be engaged by them and crowded out somewhat.  On a bad day, you'll want to charge a model, but Brick is around so you charge Brick instead and Marbles charges you, shoving you out of melee with Brick and now nothing you wanted to do can happen.  Hilariously enough, because Marbles has to be within 4'', I often charge in with a 2'' melee model and engage both of them to KD Brick.  And KDing Brick is usually pretty easy.  Whatever hits you need, you'll get them against a 2/2 model with the charge pretty generally.

  Tenderizer and Compound both lose it once they move up the board, so it's only on goal kicks you have to worry about them.  However, there's a lot of area they can't cover so it's often you can sneak in from one side or the other.  Striker Models with "Where'd they Go", so Flint (Masons), Ulfr (Hunters),  and Greyscales (Fishermen) can dodge in pretty easy and score, ignoring it.  Usually what happens though is that you just charge the goalkeeper himself, bounce out with your newfound momentum and score.  Compound also has Gluttonous Mass though too, so watch out for that double whammy as he's about the only legitimate goalie in the game.

  Tater's the difficult one since he's got ok DEF, and it's rare you can get rid of the Harvest Marker hid behind him.  His KD is really solid too, but if he wants to do damage, he can't do the KD.  Unless he wraps.  The other hilarious thing is that his KD isn't true KD, but an aura of his melee range.  If you force him to charge into a group of his own buddies he can't really take the KD option without bringing down his own players.  You're probably looking at a push or damage. 

  Your best bet is engaging him since knocking him down isn't really an option since the Farmers usually have Millhouse around him somewhere to take the KD instead of him. If you can hit him with a Goad or some sort of control character play, that helps a lot.

  The overall things that handle Countercharging is Knockdowns, engaging, and positioning.  Let's talk Positioning for a second.  Marbles really falls out here because he doesn't have 2'' melee.  This often means that he can't reach you if you think about positioning at all. 

  Sure, Tater would like to engage both Tower and Brick, and maybe if he'd had range, engage Marble too and get the Mow Down on all 3, but he doesn't have the range, and this position here leaves him wide open to a countercharge from Marbles who will deliver a momentous single push, at least.

  With this positioning, Tater doesn't get engagement on Tower, but he definitely gets to Brick and there's nothing Marbles can do about it.

  Players that play Countercharging models are posing a question to you.  Every turn, they're building a puzzle that their team requires to stay safe.  Farmers are the ultimate example of this.  Thresher is a very aggressive, fast, dangerous Captain that likes to stay up front.  He's got victim stats at 4/0 and a free counterattack but it's not very good.  Normally he'd go down every turn except Tater stands nearby ready to Countercharge.  You'd think you could knock either one down except Millhouse is 6'' away and she'll take the KD instead.  Every turn, this puzzle has to be solved and not only am I burning your clock while you figure this out (assuming you didn't fall for the trap), I'm getting more time to plan, and I'm frustrating you.  Brick and Marbles play something of the same game but not as well.

  Bear with me, there's a lot of things going on here, but this is typical Farmer formation right here.  Thresher is sitting pretty here, a little over two inches past the midline.  Should be easy prey for most teams but he's not.  We see that Millstone is within 6'' of both Tater and Thresher.  Tater's within 6'' of the Harvest Marker, and his 6'' countercharge aura is 2'' past Thresher.  You could KD Tater at range with something maybe, but no can do because Millstone is there.  In order to engage Thresher with any 2'' melee whatsoever, Tater can countercharge either direction with room for error and get there.  He's even capable of going further so as not to catch Thresher in his Mow Down aura.  He gets the KD, or a double push.  If he does a KD, your model stands up, hits Thresher and Thresher gets a free Counter Attack because he's within 4'' of the Harvest Marker, and your model is KD again. There's no coming back from that.  Then Thresher or Tater, or heck, even Millstone activates and murders your model with +2 TAC.  This is what makes Thresher good. 

  The weakpoint is positioning a model with countercharge in a way they can actually protect things and not be exploited.  It has to be very clean, open and well thought out.  Cover and other terrain that block Tater's charge lanes open up a hole in the wall here.  If I have models in the way, you can hide behind my own models when you attack and Tater can't get to you.  A player that plays or see countercharging models often should pick up a laser from Army Painter.  It drops a nice straight line on the table.  I often use this line to see what a charge lane looks like, and place a 2'' melee marker from it to where my charge would end to see if a countercharging model can get to me.

  How do you deal with this?  For starters, it's rarely as clean a setup as this.  Other models are in the game, going and moving.  I'm pretty sure I could engage both Tater and Thresher with a 2'' model.  If Tater and Thresher have both activated, you might get away with this.  A Goad is another option.  If Harry moves up to Goad Tater, he might get countercharged but now you've forced his hand.  Sure, he hits Harry really hard and now no Goad has happened, but that's the countercharge for the turn.  So he waits, he doesn't countercharge Harry.  Harry bonus times the goad and hits it and now Tater can't charge any direction but directly at Harry, and he wasted the opportunity to Countercharge too.  It's a lose-lose for the Farmer.  I might kill Harry later, maybe, but I can't save Thresher right now.

  The other option is to just straight up engage Tater with a sacrificial lamb.  Preferably one that has Loved Creature, Rising Anger or Reanimate.  Something meant to punish me for killing you.  Next activation I can clear Tater off, but now we're clogging the field and the charge lanes are much worse.  There's not many single activation solutions to this Farmer Defense triangle, but if you pay attention, there's opportunities later on for sure.  Forcing Tater to charge over his own Harvest Marker.  Attacking Thresher with a model that has Unpredictable Movement (Really only an Obulus thing there).  Clogging the field with other models.  Using the Countercharge to lure Tater out because he dies to a stiff breeze.  I think that's really the key.  Don't kill Thresher, kill Tater.  With Tater out of the picture, Thresher goes down much easier the next turn.

  Countercharge in general though, it's about positioning.  Use other models to block chargelanes, or engage the countercharge models themselves.  Also, surprise, you can DEF stance or Counterattack against countercharge. 
Part II.  Momenum Based Defensive Tech

  Momentum Based defensive tech is stuff that a player can choose to do in response to an attack and use Momentum to pay for it.  Specifically, we're talking about Counterattacks and Defensive Stance.

  Defensive Stance

  This is the easy one to talk about.  For one momentum you can up your DEF by one against a charge.  This applies to being knocked down as well.  If you're already at DEF 6, then it drops the opponent's dice pool by one.

  If the opponent has momentum, this is something to expect.  It's possible to do both Defensive Stance and a Counter Attack as well.  So if you're coming into my Mist model it is entirely possible that I will Defensive Stance, Counter Attack and Bonus Time the Counter Attack.  I'll hopefully survive the charge at DEF6 and reply with a TAC5 instead of TAC4 counter attack which may get a push dodge or double dodge that I need to get out of the situation.  When you're going into a critical attack (E.G., they have good counter attacks that let them get out of engagement, or you only have enough INF for so many attacks and you need to trigger a middle to high playbook result) you need to be aware that they will probably Defensive stance.  If my model is holding the ball, or can push/dodge you away easily, or I just want to reduce the number of hits you're going to get with the charge, I'll defensive stance.  If I don't have enough momentum to do both, you're forcing me to choose and I can't tell you which way I will go.  It depends on the location of the ball marker, my defensive stats and counter attack capabilities. 

  The workarounds are to either simply be prepared for it and take it into account when you're doing your dice math, or to walk into combat.  Some models can walk into combat and get the hit you need, like a KD on column 1 or 2, or maybe 3.  The reason to charge is if you're too far away and need the distance, or the playbook result you need is high enough that you can really only get it on the charge.  Ooor, you want the wrap.  Mist really likes to wrap.  He likes to get the Tackle on 1 and the Dodge or Push Dodge on 3 or 4, which needs 5 hits out of 8 on a charge.

  Counter Attacks

  This is the meat of defensive tech.  Almost all of the above is setup for a successful counter attack.  Sturdy, Gluttonous Mass, Close Control, Defensive Stance, everything gives you a better chance at actually getting a quality counter attack.  The easy solution to avoiding a Counter Attack is to KD the model you charge.  This is always preferable and it's what makes KD + Damage playbook results so nice since you get the best of both worlds by stopping a counterattack, and contributing to the death spiral.  However, we're going to continue this article like you probably can't get the KD, or you at least to have an idea of what to do if you don't get it.  Not everyone is the Brewers with 100% Momentous KDs on columns 1-3.  This is actually a problem for like, the Butchers.  Ox1 doesn't have a KD till column 4.  A good Defensive Stance and a Counter attack, or just bad dice and a counter attack and Ox just wasted 5 INF.

  After you have looked through the cards and read the backs of them, go through and look at the playbooks.  Look at them before you charge in or attack.  You're looking for double pushes, double dodges or KD on columns 1 and 2 in most cases, and up to column 3 and 4 when a model has TAC6 or higher.  Esters, for example, has Gluttonous Mass so she ignores the first attack, but if we look at her playbook:

  There's not actually much she can do at TAC5.  Her best hope is a KD on 3 but probably you're going to see a Push.  This is easily dealt with by any melee range by simply basing the model.  Against counter attacks, this is very key.  1'' Melee models should almost ALWAYS base a model during an attack so that they can't be pushed away far enough to disengage.  Esters will absorb the first attack and punch back but what's she really going to do? Nothing.  If you have 2'' melee, she can't even punch back.  Worst case scenario is 3 damage and a Double Push, against any ARM whatsoever, she needs all 5 dice to hit.

  Tapper on the other hand has

  There's a KD on 2 and a single Push on 3.  He's TAC 6 so the single push on 3 is more likely, but at TAC6 and Commanding Aura, he miiiggght could get the Double Push on a good day.  Probably not though.  More than likely, you're going to see a KD.  This, again, is easily avoidable if you A) Started the turn standing and B) Have a momentum to stand back up.  When charging in on 0 momentum, it's sometimes better to take a lesser result so that you can acquire the momentum needed to stand back up after a counter attack like this since Tapper is almost guaranteed that KD.  If you started the activation knocked down, you need to KD Tapper himself to prevent the counter attack.

 Then we have Stoker, who's got this amazing Counter Attack.  TAC5 needing the first result.

  He's DEF3, ARM2, and a Double Push on 1.  He's almost impervious to 1'' melee models.  Any cover, defensive stance, anything and he's pretty difficult to prevent getting his Counter Attack off against 1'' melee models that don't have decent access to KD.  Stoker is a beast unless you dedicate a 2'' melee model.  Then we have the master Counter Attack, Mash.

  Mash has sub par defensive stats on the front, but near Esters, he's ARM2.  None of that matters though because he has Unpredictable Movement and 2'' melee, plus the Double Push on column 2.  If he can stay standing, he's going to escape what ever you brought to bear since he'll UM to max melee, take the hit, hit back and push you out another 2''.  This is originally why I brought him against any kicking team whatsoever to hang onto the ball while I killed models.  The issue is that my opponent who was playing Fish always brought Greyscales who used Where'd the Go to retrieve the ball and not trigger Unpredictable Movement. 

  Let's look at some others.  Shark's a real beast because at DEF4 ARM1, he's going to Defensive Stance up to a 5/1 and Counter attack with a single dodge on 1 or more likely, the double dodge on 2 which at TAC6, he'll probably get.  If you're not a 2'' model, you can't catch him.  A 2'' model can try but if you don't Base to Base him, he'll still get away.

  Fish in general are tough to get the ball away from too because they almost always have low Tackle results so you usually have to hit them twice to actually retrieve the ball.  Be aware of this. 

  Honor is another good example.

  TAC6, double dodge on 2 if not the tackle on 1 or the push dodge on 3.  If you are 1'' melee model, good luck buttoning her down, and a 3/2 before defensive stance or legendary, she can be hard to get results against.  Plus, she has Poised so she gets a free counter attack.  Poised is one to watch out for in this regard if you've checked your opponent's Momentum and he's(or she's) dry, but Honor hits you anyways.  Honor, Thresher (Farmers and if 4'' from Harvest Marker), Sakana (Fishermen), Spigot2 (Brewers and within 8'' of the edge of the pitch) and a few other models all have Poised. 

  Just a few more.  Flint is another good one if you don't have 2'' melee.  He has Close Control and the Tackle on 1.  You can't KD him because you want the ball, but he doesn't declare a Counter Attack on the first attack.  So you hit him and trigger Close Control, declare another attack and then he counters.  So you tackle the ball, he tackles it back and now you have to hit this jerk a third time to get the ball.  This is assuming he doesn't just go for the push dodge on the first attack and run away, or hits the Guildball for "Where'd they Go" and is off and away 4''.

  Lastly, this one surprised me.  On the topic of triggering a Guildball on a counterattack (My favorite way to get Singled Out down, btw), Ferrite has a sneaky one.  

  So you get there, get the attack off, her KD is on column four but you're more worried about the doubledodge on two, so you've got her up against cover or another model so she can't dodge away far enough.  Except she doesn't, she hits the Guildball on one and Disarms you.

  And now your Captain with 4 INF on him is -2 TAC.  Congrats.  Hammer doesn't care, he can still do the work he needs to do on the low end of the playbook but the rest of us are a little frustrated, especially since she's ARM 2.  So, moving into the summary.

  The Counter Attack Summary.

  1.  LOOK.  Unless you know the Guild by heart, look at the card before you go if at all possible.  Look if they A) Have Momentum and can they DEF/Counterattack or both?, B) If I Have Momentum, C) What is my plan if they do Counterattack? Position, have momentum to stand up, or take the loss.  Don't get there and find out that Iron has a double Push on one, Close Control and you're attacking with Flint, so you get the tackle on the charge, but he has close control and keeps it, then double pushes you off and you're stuck.

  2.  The Momentum Gambit.  This used to be a major issue for first turn activations since only recently did teams that lost initiative get a Momentum for it.  It's still an issue for teams that lose first turn roll off and kick since they still don't get a momentum for it, and most teams struggle to build any on that first turn without the ball.  When you are Charging or Attacking another model, Check their momentum.  Are they going to Defensive Stance? Counter Attack?  Both?  If they have momentum for it, they probably will do one of them and you should guess at which.  Can this work in your favor? Sure.  If you both are relatively low on momentum towards the end of the turn, you can try to get them to spend some of it on important counters like trying to retain a ball, or keep a key player alive.  Look at their Momentum before you go because the best way to avoid a Counter Attack is to attack when they can't do one. 

 3.  Your momentum gambit.  If they do have Momentum, and you expect a counter attack, is it a KD that looks likely?  Then have momentum, and stand back up unless you've already done it this activation.  If you had to stand your model up to charge another model likely to KD you, then maybe you should use a different model.  If you don't have Momentum, and you attack, you will know by the time you finish rolling dice whether or not they're counter attacking.  If they take the counter attack, either KD them so you don't have to deal with it, or take an option with Momentum so you can stand back up.  You want momentum anyways, but Masons are a great example of wasting a charge for a lesser option.  Hammer might get enough for a five damage charge, but he needs to take a momentous option or a KD to avoid the counter attack knockdown, or to stand back up from it.

  4.  Spacing.  I've seen it a hundred times, and done it that many times myself.  A 1'' model charges in, gets counterattacked and gets pushed out 1''.  They had the range to get there all the way, but they just didn't think about it.  If you have 1'' melee and they have the ability to counter attack, go base to base if at all possible.  If you have 2'' melee and they only have 1'', pffft, stay outside of 1''.  Against melee ranges on models you expect counter attacks from, either get up close and personal, or stay out of the bubble entirely.  The in-between will get you hurt.

  But wait, there's more.

  There's a lot of things to do in an activation and you only have INF for so much.  We're not going to talk about the bajillion different options out there.  The focus of this article is a series of melee attacks because that's where things go wrong.  I do want to mention some things though, because while you're planning your activation, your opponent is planning on how to stop you.  I just want you to get through the next activation, but the overall game flow needs to earn it's place in the back of your head.  These are a few thoughts to tide you over to the next "For the New Guys" article.

  A.  Momentum Conversion

 Everyone's favorite resource.  The ideal scenario is where you generate 1 momentum per INF and then some.  This doesn't happen a lot and especially in teams that aren't the Brewers or Farmers who have playbooks shorter than their TAC.  However, you do need Momentum, and it should be a consideration every activation.  Yes, Stave's Lob Barrel is super awesome, but it nets you exactly 0 momentum for those two INF.  An expenditure of INF needs to be key to a strategy if it's not netting you straight Momentum.  Calculus, for example, can cast both "Noxious Blast" and "Blind".  Neither gains momentum in most scenarios.  However, Noxious Blast can set up conditions for VetKat or Smoke and result in a lot of damage, and Blind can prevent the opponent from netting that same needed Momentum.  Make sure your INF is contributing to the Momentum race, either for you or against them.  Honor's "Superior Strategy" is very strong, but after the first turn when the lines are engaged, it's hard to justify that 4 INF expenditure on a model when it may not result in the same or even close to the same amount of Momentum.  Letting your opponent go first every round because you're using cool character plays is a painful way to lose consistently.  Momentum isn't the name of the game, but it's a major factor.  Make sure your activations count towards it.

  One more note.  An early activation needs to gain Momentum for your defensive options like Counter Attacks and Defensive Stances, or even clearing conditions.  I try to avoid my first activation being something that won't create momentum. 

  B. Support roles
  Support roles are important, but they also telegraph.  Not much can stop you from tooling up a model, but your opponent now knows what model you're attacking with. A lot of times, they already know this, but it's something to keep in mind.  Other things you need to do with support roles are your passive support pieces.  Many models have auras that are very important.  Key activations involve simply moving them to where they need to be.  These are great activations to stall with while you're waiting for other pieces to get into place.  Millstone in Farmers is a really great example with her ability to take conditions.  I rarely give her INF.  She just walks to where she needs to be and hangs out.  This can do a lot to deter attacks on my stuff.  Sometimes it's just walking over to be near a weak model so that you crowd out whatever attacks.  Those are also quality activations. 

  C. Number of Activations
  You need to prevent back to back activations if at all possible.  In Seasons 1 and 2, Avarisse and Greede used to have individual activations and everyone took them because having 7 activations to your 6 meant they always went last even if they went first, giving them a better chance of having back to back activations.  If they lost initiative and went second, then they definitely had back to back activations.  The worst thing about most buffs in Guildball is that the enemy has a chance to respond to the move you just telegraphed.  If I'm giving a 2/2 MOV buff to my striker, I doubt you need 3 guesses to figure out what's next.  A back to back activation means there's nothing you can do to stop me.  Avarisse and Greede got nerfed for this.  It's one of the things that makes Honor so great with her "Superior Strategy" and it's also why it's so expensive.

  With that said, if you have a player that's facing a Take Out, you need to consider activating them, even if there is very little to do.  If activating them now so you get six activations this round will prevent them from getting a back to back activation where they put 6-8 pts together in the last two activations, you need to do it.  That's thinking a little farther ahead, but consider it for a moment at least.

The parting word.

  This has been something of a long article, but I hope it gives you a lot of food for thought.  I have been frustrated many times playing a game for reasons like I've listed above, and I know others have as well.  This is not to say that it isn't part of the game, it very, very much is.  Guildball has a give and go flow and you'll find that what we're talking about in this article isn't so much a negative play experience, but the fantastic depth of strategy available to a game with twelve models on the board.  You'll find that as much as it sucks to waste a model's stack of INF because you got counterattacked hard, it's very rewarding to be able to return the favor.  It's part of the give and take and gambling against the numbers that is Guildball. 

  The problem that exists is in that great depth of strategy, it's very difficult for a new player to grasp those intricacies early on and not just get stomped on every activation.  This is hard on a new player that's used to activating models and playing them until they're out of resources.  My goal here is to give you a window into what all is happening during that activation and the kind of things you should run through your head before you charge that model your opponent so oddly left out there all alone.

  Guildball, for all of it's flaws, is the best (imo) ruleset on the market today and I hope that newer players are able to see that early on, but it's a bit difficult when Brick just countercharged and ruined your day.  Hopefully this has helped steer you through that, and perhaps we'll see a few more of these New Guy articles.

  Thanks for reading, hope it helps!