Hey folks, this will be the first of a new series of articles from Diceotfirstdegree and published on MidwestWargaming. If you've been following DotFD since the Warmachine days, you've already seen a lot of my batreps since that was most of my content. Guildball takes a bit more to write up though, and a lot more pictures, so I've really avoided doing them since I just really hadn't had the time. Things have settled out now though and I've missed the batreps. I find they're a great way to explore the game for myself, and for others too. Warmachine was ripe with batreps, but Guildball really seems to be pretty devoid of them. If anything they're streamed more than written and that's a great format, but I miss the written ones. So let's start those back up again.
Instead of just any opponent I can find though, I'm introducing Adam, or Zarodis on the forums. This is Adam's first miniatures game, but he's picked it up in leaps and bounds and has been dominating the local scene for most of the time he's been playing. He's primarily a Mason player, and even more specifically a fan of Hammer. However, he owns Alchemists and Blacksmiths as well and it's undecided yet if we'll see him transition to Blacksmiths completely or not.
If you don't know me, I'm JD Haigler, or Jedianakinsolo on the forums, originally from Omaha and having just recently moved towards the Southern Missouri/Northern Arkansas area. This is not my first miniature game, and I've owned armies in 40k, 30k, several in Warmachine and I dabbled in Xwing for a bit. Guildball's my only one right now though (Until my Shadespire gets here). I started in Brewers, have been playing Union most of a year, and then transitioned to Farmers when the first box released. I've spent most of my life in the plains of Kansas and Nebraska, so I have a hard time not relating really well with the Farmers and it helps a lot that they're a blast to play. I do own every Guild but the Butchers and Engineers, so between Adam and I, we should have pretty solid variety. If we have to import a friend to play Engineers or Butchers, we may do that. I've been eyeing Butchers for a bit, but I don't know that either of us wants Engineers. We'll see.
JD's lineup plan - Today's matchup is my Farmers into Adam's Blacksmiths. I've got Grange, Thresher (Tapper), Peck, Buckwheat (Quaff), Tater, Millstone (Friday), Fallow (Hag), Harrow, Bushel and of course, Jackstraw. I'm tempted to trade out one of these characters for Grace or Benediction but with the Union drop announcement, I've been hesitant to add them. That said, the Farmers aren't potentially getting their minor guild for a few years so who knows. Into Blacksmiths, my drop will most certainly be Thresher. He can kill any apprentice in a single turn nearly, especially with a Tooled Up from Harrow. Tater can follow up and do nearly the same thing. My Thresher team is almost always Thresher, Peck (Buckwheat is too INF hungry in a Thresher team), Tater and Jackstraw (Two Harvest Markers are desperately needed in a Thresher team). Millstone is pretty common, but I've held back on her against some teams with next to no KD (like Butchers). Against Blacksmiths, I'll probably bring her. The last spot is Harrow or Bushel. Because Iron, the close control double push ball holding nightmare is probably coming, I'm likely picking Bushel for Ball's Gone. Otherwise, it's probably Harrow. Harrow isn't my favorite choice because it's not often he's close enough to Thresher for me to get his free Harvest Marker. On top of that, Thresher likes to go first so it's rare I get Tooled Up onto him. Bushel, I actually like because of I'm open, but I really don't expect to play much ball against Blacksmiths.
Adam's lineup plan - Playing Into the Farmers, I know I want to avoid trying to fight with them.
Thresher is a monster and I don't want any part of fighting him while trying to figure out the
Blacksmiths. So my Line up is built around trying to play more around playing the ball. I end up taking Ferrite, Iron, Furnace, Cinder, Anvil, Sledge, Hearth (Granite), and Alloy (Hammer). I should have included Burnish and Cast here, just to round out the ten. Blacksmiths are very unique in the fact that they have a Master and Apprentice Mechanic. Each pair are made to work together, with one master setting up an apprentice. I don't have a mascot, and if I pick one Master, you'll probably be able to guess my next pick. Playing into the Farmers I definitely want Hearth and Alloy. The main reason I take the two here, is because of Thresher and millstone. If I want to fight his captain, Hearth can hang in a fight with him, avoid a knockdown with Sturdy, and put him into the dirt with a solid KD on one. Hearth also can set up any other player, by allowing them to immediately get two results on their playbook. This leads to Furnace and Cinder being a powerful combo as well. Cinder can kill free balls, and tackled from 6 inches away. If you're set up with Hearth, she only needs one success to get the ball. To me these 4 are auto included, it's to solid of a combo to pass up. The other unique characteristic to this guild, is that any master can be your captain. This allows you to build different teams in different scenarios. I personally don’t thing the Blacksmiths really have a bad model, all models seem viable to me in various situations, and compliment others well, so the last 6 spots are very interchangeable, depending on how you want to play the game.
JD - Standing by my Thresher decision, I took him and Peck since I appreciate Peck's ability to donate an INF to the cause and provide some more anti KD. He picked Ferrite as a Captain, which I expected. I'm also taking the GIC that grants me two Harvest Markers at the beginning.
Adam - At this point my choice becomes Ferrite for my captain, and Iron as her apprentice. With her legendary play Tong in Cheek, giving all friendly guild models +2/+2 mov, and Hobble (which slows down enemies by -2/-2 mov if damaged), this is great for my ball playing team. Iron is an auto include here since he is her apprentice. I choose the GIC Tough as Nails, which allows me 5 healing, and extra armor if a model is knocked down for this activation. I also forget about this all game, so yeah, great job me.
JD - I won it with a 3 to his 2. I debated kicking off since I really think Thresher is one of the best kick off models in the game, and I also am concerned about my ability to hold the ball against the Blacksmiths. I ended up choosing to Receive though.
JD - I ended up drafting my standard Tater, Millstone and Jackstraw. The flex at the end was either Bushel or Harrow and I chose Bushel since he was bringing Iron. I also didn't get amazing plot cards. I got Composure, Good Marker and Who Are Ya?
Adam - I end up drafting Heart, and Alloy, because of Thresher. My final two here becomes, Furnace and Cinder just so I have a lot of ball pressure. My plot cards were Knee Slider, Wingback, and Match Fixings.
Adam chooses to kick with Ferrite. She moves towards the center and tries to punt the ball into the edge but even with a successful kick, can't get the deviation she wants. The ball ends up four inches from Jackstraw.
I allocate max of five to Thresher, three to Jackstraw, two to Bushel, just one to Tater, and I think one or two to Millstone
Adam gives Ferrite three, Cinder two, Iron two, Alloy three, Hearth two and... Furnace just one.
JD - I do the math and the only way to retrieve I can see is either Cinder somehow gets within 14'' with a sprint and her "Kill the Ball" ability, but either Iron has to push her or Ferrite has to legendary. The other option is for Ferrite to move forward, call Iron to her and activate him to go get it. Either option will require a turn of setup though, at which point Jackstraw will simply retrieve the ball. So I'm not worried there.
Because Ferrite kicked the ball, I'm pretty comfortable hanging onto it. She's somewhat INF intensive or has to use her legendary, or both, to really get within range of a character that would have it, so I'm able to plan around it. If Alloy or Cinder had kicked, it would be a different story and I'd be considerably more concerned. Hearth is in the list, and can hand out "Instruction" or 2 net hits on the next attack. So if Cinder or Alloy were closer, both, with instruction, could be really threatening. Cinder just needs one success to tackle at range if she's got Instruction. Alloy can pick up 2'' melee for free, Instruction gives him an auto Tackle, and 3 hits would get him the tackle double dodge. He also threatens 13'' if he uses acrobatics. Quite a danger zone if he or Cinder had kicked.
But because Ferrite kicked, I'm not super worried. So I don't retrieve the ball. I sprint Tater up to one of the GIC Harvest Markers and set up counter charges with my first activation.
JD - I'm not used to taking pictures every activation yet, so there's a gap here. Hearth (Granite) scooted way to the left to get Instruction on Cinder. My chicken moved up. Furnace tooled up Cinder and moved forward, dropping his AOE for free. Jackstraw Crop Dusts the woods, moves up to the ball and kicks it to Millstone and misses. The ball scatters and Bushel is able to snap it. Ferrite flees to the right, staying out of Counter Charge range. Millstone (Friday) uses "Get Out!" to push Thresher (Tapper) 2'' and then moves to within 4'' of Tater, dropping a Harvest Marker down by Bushel. Iron does the same shenanigans and pushes Alloy (Hammer) up a little. Bushel pulls the Harvest Marker Millstone put down, picks up the ball, punts it to Thresher successfully and then sprints up near Peck. Thresher uses the momentum to Dodge forward. He's now 6'' up, and positioned behind the woods so that even though he's within easy tackle range of Cinder, she can't see him to pull it off.
Alloy acrobatics, sprints over (Sledge was a proxy) to within 6'' of Hearth and Dirty Knives Thresher successfully. However, he forgets to dodge with "Back to the Shadows"
Thresher does Thresher things. He charges into Alloy, to his left and within 4'' of the Harvest Marker at the far end of the woods. Thresher whiffs the charge horribly, only gets a Momentous 2 damage. Next, he does "Don't fear the reaper", pulling the Harvest Marker and dealing 3 damage to Alloy. Next hit is a KD and he dodges into range of goal. Then a momentous 3, a shot at goal with a bonus time and gets it. He takes the momentum and dodges back to the other side of Alloy. The goal kick puts the ball over by Cinder, who leaves it. Score is 4-0.
Cinder sprints up and shoots Thresher for 3 damage.
And then I don't take pictures. I fail to win initiative, and Iron goes first. He charges Thresher and contacts him at 90 degrees, pushing him back out of Millstone's aura, and away from the Harvest Marker, while simultaneously engaging Tater. He beats on Thresher a bit, and between Dirty Knives from Alloy and the poison, he takes Thresher down to 7 health.
Thresher activates. He heals 4 with the one momentum I still have, legendaries for the +2 TAC and life drinker. He hits Iron with a wrap, momentous 4 and momentous 2. He hits him again and takes the non momentous 3 and a KD, then dodges back into melee with Alloy, and within 4'' of the Harvest Marker between Tater and Millstone. He pulls "Don't fear the Reaper", leaving Alloy on 4 health whom he then hits and kills. With the last two INF, he wraps again on Iron, and boosts the last one for another wrap, killing Iron as well. With the wraps and Life Drinker, Thresher is back to 18-19 boxes of health. He jogs 5'' over to cover. Score is 8-0.
Furnace activates, picks up the ball and kicks it to Cinder who dodges into cover on the left.
Jackstraw moves to the right and puts Crop Dusting and 2 Harvest Markers near Tater and Thresher.
Ferrite charges into Tater, disarms him. His counter attack shoves her back, and she acrobats in and gets another couple points of damage on him. At this point, Adam clocks out, but we keep playing. It's only his second game with the Blacksmiths, and he's going into the tank every activation.
I ignore Ferrite for a moment and jog Bushel around behind her.
Cinder sprints up, shoots Tater I think for a double dodge out of the woods and boosts a shot on goal which whiffs, sucking the life out of Adam. The ball scatters behind goal and to the left a little. Neither of us have a way to retrieve it currently.
Peck blocks Ferrite in. Hearth meanders to the left aimlessly. Millstone walks into Ferrite and takes 10-12 health out of her. Tater activates, hits her once and leaves her on one health. He walks away into Cinder and leaves her on 8. I have all the momentum in the world, so I go first into the next turn.
I've pretty much blocked Thresher in, which will hurt. I want Tater to finish Cinder, but he's at TAC4 with her in cover, and can't get it done. He gets her pushed out and into Jackstraw's melee and leaves her on 5 health. She hits him and tries to dodge out to run and get the ball, but crowded out and swinging at DEF4, she doesn't get the double dodge until her 3rd INF and she has to walk away and try to stay alive.
Millstone kills Ferrite, putting me at 10-0, walks back and drops a Harvest Marker near Tater. The rest of his team meanders forward, staying out of Thresher's range who is pretty much useless at this point. He'll sprint forward towards the end, and Jackstraw lands "Crop Dusting" on Cinder for another 2 damage. Nobody has retrieved the ball though. Adam spends 2 momentum to heal Cinder, and I win initiative.
Thresher walks into Cinder's melee. She unpredictable movements out, but it's not far enough. He pulls a Harvest Marker for 3 damage, and hits her to finish her. That's game at 12-0.
There was some confusion at the end because he declared a counter attack on Cinder, and then she unpredictable movemented away, and we wondered if she could use her ranged attack for the counter which would be really cool. It doesn't work that way as the rules forum has shown and so we played it out correctly.
Thoughts on the Game JD - Adam has faced my Thresher team... twice or three times. I've played him several times, including Blacksmiths twice. I feel like this game was lost more on Adam's unfamiliarity with his newest Guild, compared to my relative comfort of playing Farmers, which are really just better Brewers whom I have played for over a year now.
That said, the game should have been 12-4 at least, possibly 12-6 if he could have closed the gap on Thresher. Cinder blew the kick, so I really feel like there should have been at least 4 for the Blacksmiths but that would have resulted in an immediate Bushel Counterscore who was waiting for it with 2 INF.
Thresher could have gone down I think if there'd been any time for setup. "Instruction" from Hearth concerns me quite a bit, and it makes the apprentices very dangerous IMO. However, I feel like any chance of catching me went away when he gave me both Alloy and Iron to kill and in an ok crowdout situation on legendary turn no less. It sucks, but I probably would have gone for a Master activation first to get some setup and help on Iron or maybe an early activation with Alloy and get him out of there with Acrobatics. Instead, he put Iron in there to get him out of Millstone's aura, engaged Tater, and then Thresher killed them both, and healed up doing it too.
The other thing was the Kick Off strategy. It concerns me a lot more if Alloy or Cinder kick off. That may or may not be correct, but I feel like Cinder, with Instruction from Hearth, recovers the ball easier than almost any other model in the game. Actually, I think she does do it the easiest. Even Corsair needs a success on 3 dice and Cinder only needs 1 success on 5 dice if she has Instruction. Barring her, Alloy is nearly Mist or Vitriol like if he activates near Hearth. He's guaranteed that Tackle with Instruction, and a few hits gets him the double dodge. Either of those models makes it very difficult for me to retain the ball. On the other hand, I'll probably kill whichever one gets close. I think that's a tradeoff of 2VP instead of 4-6VP though. The advantage of an Alloy recovery is that he's capable of scoring after he gets that tackle too so there's also that. I have to play a lot more cagey into that I think.
Adam - So this game was riddled with stupid mistakes from me. I have quite a few mistakes that put me in just stupid situations, starting with deployment. When I started this game, Cinder should have been closer to Hearth for instruction. Because I didn't put her in the right spot, it keeps Alloy from getting his bonus, because cinder needs instruction. If I positioned right, I would had more flexibility, and two models that could have threatened the ball, changing up the flow of activations. The Kickoff was another thing, I'm not sure why I thought Ferrite was my best option here. Cinder can yank a ball of someone from 14" away, and Alloy can run all over the place as well. Cinder would almost certainly kick off next time. These easily mess with my Turn one activations. Another big mistake was my dirty knives hit on Thresher, I fail to take my free 4 inch dodge, which just leaves Alloy as the next Thresher harvest. I want to get Thresher away from his support bubble, and saying, please kill Alloy and position yourself advantageously is not how you do that. I also forget to give myself the extra armor on all of the beatdowns I receive, which is really important, considering it negates an entire result. These little mistakes dictate a lot of things as the game continues. I use Iron to try and save Alloy and fail, which could have been entirely avoided. I should have run out with the ball and tried to force a fight more on my terms, with some actual set up.
The soul crushing failed goal was another big issue for me as well. Having Knee slider here was supposed to be my get out of jail free card. I should have kicked a goal, and slid back to safety and never given up Cinder but, alas, I'm heading to jail, and not passing Go, as Tater comes in to ruin my day.
Looking back at my line up, I think I may have also gone with Burnish, and Cast instead of Ferrite and Iron. They would be able to slow down Threshers advance some, with flame belch, and can ignore Threshers Character play if I have MP. Cast here gets extra damage on burning enemies, and Cinder applies burning from 6 inches away easily. If I tooled up Cast, and set Thresher on fire, I have a solid chance of getting 8-12 damage off on a charge, and then hitting for 4-6 more damage on two more attacks. The other big utility here is shield throw, which allows me make an enemy lose possession of the ball marker and cause it to scatter. Since Cinder can kill a ball from 14 inches and Alloy can move 11 inches, I have a lot of options to play the ball game here.
Thresher is a model I have been really challenged by. I've never struggled against a model quite like this one. I've been working on figuring him out for a while now, and will continue to do so. I haven't really reached a point yet to where I feel like he's just too good. I would say he's quite strong, but I plan to figure some more stuff out with my new guild, and try some new stuff with the Masons before I make my final judgement call on it. I do expect to see him getting changed a little bit after his exceptional performance at nationals though.
The Blacksmiths are a really cool guild to me as a Mason player however, and I'm really looking forward to playing more with them, they've got a lot of awesome mechanics, and I don’t think they have a bad model. So I really can't wait to invest more time into them.
JD - I think we might switch it up next time. I don't know. Let Adam have a chance to pilot the Farmers and I might run my new Morticians, or try my hand with Union into them. I've only had one chance to put Union into them and I did really well, but it was another really new player and I was able to get away with some Brisket3 shenanigans I don't think Adam would let me get away with.
That's a wrap folks. This might be the first of many, or it will be the only one ever. Nobody knows. Hopefully there was something to be learned in there and some ideas. Even better, Adam and I are both happy to be on the learning end, and if you have any suggestions, questions, ideas or angry rants, feel encouraged to comment. Enjoy your week!