Welcome back to Voracious Gamer we’re going to step outside the Bushido Box today and start a new Learnin’ series. This time Guild Ball is on the plate. Made by Steamforged games it’s a skirmish level wargame played on a ‘pitch’ like soccer or rugby. Teams seem fairly small and concise. The scene around the game is blowing up in my city. I’ve always steered clear of sports\wargames but I saw the Mother mascot miniature a month or so back before I had really gotten my mini gaming feet back under me and I decided then and there to play the engineers. The starter sat gathering dust under empty Malifaux boxes for a few weeks until my buddy and fellow blogger at MurderSports convinced me to pull the trigger and grab the rest of my team. Well everything that is except Mother because she comes out at the end of this month! Other than that I really don’t know anything about Guild Ball. I understand that games are quick and that folks say the Morticians are OP and the Engineers are bad. Ha so with that let’s begin my career as an Engineer player and crack open this rulebook. I don’t have the physical copy so we’ll go through the free download. I’m going to try to keep things informative yet conversational as we learn the game together. Prepare yourself for long wordy posts dripping in the bits and bytes that make up the mechanics of Guild Ball!
Like many games now models in GB have a profile card we’ll use Mother’s as a learning tool. It all starts with a card am I right? The first stat on the line is MOV the first is the base movement and the second 7″ is the max. Next we have TAC which represents the number dice mother will add to the dice pool when attacking, she’s TAC 3. Let’s hope that’s amazing? KICK is the next stat the first number in the ration is the base number of dice the model adds to the pool when kicking and the second is the distance of the kick. DEF in this case 4+ is the number an enemy has to roll against when attacking Mother. ARM is the armor value and the number deducted from a successful attack. INF or Influence is the last stat on the main line. The first number is the base INF which is generated every turn and the second number is the max INF which is the max the model may have. We’re going to spend this influence by performing actions and the like. In the top right hand corner of the card we have the base size and a melee zone. Looks like Mother is on a 40mm base with a 1″ melee. Standard.
Character Traits on the second card are special abilities. Passives are always active and Actives must be used. These seem to be distinguished by the text alone. So the first one for Mother ‘Spider Nests’ is Active and ‘Proximity Mine’ is passive. Let’s see what they do shall we? Spider Nests allows the engineer player to place a 30mm nest marker within 6″ a player may have up to 3 of them on the field. Sweet. On to the passive character trait. When an enemy ends within an inch of a nest the model suffers the ‘burning’ condition and the nest is removed. We’ll define burning later but cool right? It looks like she creates little mines for free and she can cover a good area with three of them. The next stat we’ll check out is HP represented by the spheres on the bottom of the first card. DMG (damage) is marked from right to left. The rules state there may be recovery levels in the spheres but Mother doesn’t have them so let’s worry about that later. Character Plays are next, they are special skills and there are three types Character, Heroic and Legendary. Mother only has one and it’s a character play. Looks like a cost (influence?) with a range of 4 inches it’s called Burrow. Burrow allows Mother to move to BtB with a next marker within 4 inches discarding the marker. When Mother gets there she can make an attack without spending influence. (once per turn). So it sounds like she can close in on folks if they decide to avoid the proximity mines. That’s a neat effect, reminds me of a spider on a web and such going out to get prey. Not sure how useful any of it is of course. Now we come to base size in the rules 30,40, 50mm and melee zones are 1 or 2 inches forgive me for going in my own order earlier. The model type is next and it’s on the second card on the bottom left. Mother is Indar, Mechanica, Mascot. Many keywords there I’m sure we’ll find abilities and effects for them down the road. That’s the whole card or at least everything they explain now. I’m still curious about the little sphere’s and symbols directly under the main stat line but onward to the next section ‘Preparing for a game’.
12 VP means you’re a winner and a game normally takes 2 hours (average). Adjust the pitch/team size and VP for shorter/longer games. Goals grant 4VP and killing a model or giving them the ‘taken out’ condition grants 2VP. A team in guild ball is 6 models. A captain with a mascot from their guild (Mother!) and four models from those available to the Captain’s guild. The game plays out on a 3×3 pitch. Terrain is optional but a clear pitch is recommended for beginners. Before the game kicks off each player gets 5 guild plots dealt to them from a deck of cards that I do not own. (we’ll see what else gets added to the shopping list as we go here.) The cards can be kept secret but each player must discard two. The discarded cards do remain a secret and are not revealed.so you can share them all but only after you discard two. Players roll a d6 the winner decides who kicks first. Goals are goal post markers at the center of the deployment zone. The kicking player decides which table will be their board edge and deploys within 10″ declaring one of the team as the kicker and giving him possession of the ball marker. Next the receiving player deploys in the same way.
The kick off is a free (influence cost) kick. No idea how to kick yet so we’ll leave it at that. We do know that Mother will add 2 dice to kick ant he ball would go 4 inches if she were the kicker though. The kicker still activates like normal in the first turn and the receiving player has initiative for the first turn. Before we define the game sequence and influence use there is some terminology to cover. I’m not going to include the terminology that I consider ‘obvious’ if you’ve played any miniatures game you should be fine. If guild ball is your first then kindly read every last one of my blog posts then go read the rules you lazy. 🙂 These are terms like ‘towards’, ‘directly away’, ‘controlling player’ some common sense stuff for us old grizzled gamers. Like malifaux aura’s are constantly active and pulses go off once. The half-way line is the line in the middle of the board. A ‘target spot’ is a place on the board where the ball may be legally placed.
Other than the three guild plots all info is shared between players. Buffs and things don’t stack if they have the same name and effects and abilities are not cumulative if they have the same name. Rules on the cards override rules in the book. Measuring is done in inches as we’ve seen from the card and LoS (line of sight) is determined by having at least one un-obstructed line between the origin and the targets bases. Tokens are for tracking and resource purposes while markers actually represent things on the table like Mother’s nest markers and the goal post marker. Marker bases cannot overlap. Conditions suffered by a model cause condition-damage during the maintenance phase and last until removed. I don’t know if these are examples or all of the possible conditions but Bleed (x) causes x damage then the bleed condition is removed at the end of the maintenance phase. Knocked Down(x) if you’re knocked down you don’t block LoS, can’t engage enemies, cannot possess the ball or use character plays. You can be pushed and dodge but you can’t move otherwise. If that’s not enough you also suffer -1 DEF. If you’re knocked down while in possession of the ball it scatters using some scatter rules we’ve yet to discuss. You must forfeit your ‘Standard-Advance’ to remove the condition.
**Now it may seem like we’re getting real jargon heavy and technical right away. We totally are which is good but I want to explain it in a way you understand. When reading rulebooks or manuals or anything in life it helps to just read through it first then go back and assess the issues you didn’t understand. Many times questions are answered as you go. So some bits may be confusing to you because their confusing to me but we’ll get it figured out.**
Poison(x) has no specific rules so it does x damage every maintenance phase until removed by some other means. Burning (x), a model that is burning suffers -2/-2 MOV. I’m surprised you don’t have to scatter your movement for stop, drop and roll instead. Snared(x) is next, the snared condition deals -1 DEF and -2/-2 MOV (rough). The last game condition is Taken-out(x), when a model reaches 0 HP the taken-out condition applies. The model is removed from the pitch and the player that applied the condition or reduced the model down to zero wounds scores 2VP.
Influence is the main resource mechanic, remember it’s generated at the beginning of the turn and based on the stat INF. During the maintenance phase to be exact is when INF is generated, each team gets an extra +1 for each goal they’ve scored. The total number of INF is then allocated to models on the pitch like Warmachine focus. Models can’t be allocated INF over their max stat (the second on the stat line value, so Mother can only ever get three allocated). The max INF is a hard carp despite other trickster ways to increase INF for a model. Actions are performed with influence and unless stated otherwise they may be performed multiple times or in any order as long as the necessary influence is spent. We’ll go over available actions in the next post.
During a GB turn there are four phases. Initiative, Maintenance, Activation and End phase. During the Initiative phase players roll off with a d6 but add +1 to their roll for each unspent momentum (we’ll figure that out next time) from the previous turn. The higher roll decides who has the initiative, re-roll ties. Then set current MP to zero for both players. The second phase is the Maintenance phase the player with initiative does the following before his opponent does as well. Resolve current conditions on friendlies. Give icy sponges to friendlies with recovery levels. Return friendlies to play with the Icy Sponge rule. Generate the teams ING and allocate it. Then your opponent does the same thing. That’s interesting because the player without initiative will be able to see how all the INF is allocated and plan ahead a little better for the turn but they’re on the back foot from the beginning.
The third phase during a turn is the activation phase. The player with initiative selects a model on the pitch and takes its activation. Each model may only activate once per turn. Models activate until they want to stop or they run out INF to pay for actions. The last phase is the End Phase and it happens when both teams have completed all possible activations. On-going effects and sustained effects are removed and remaining INF is discarded.
Now since Mother doesn’t have any recovery levels on her HP I grabbed a pic from the rules. Let’s figure out this ‘Icy Sponge’ deal next. Each model with recovery levels currently suffering the taken-out condition gain a single icy sponge token. They may be returned to play with at least one token on them?! Cool, when you send the model out to the pitch you remove the Icy sponges each grants you HP up to the symbols on the HP track so in the above scenario if that lady had one icey sponge when you decide to send her back in she’d be back at 4 HP but if you left her with the taken-out condition for two rounds she could go back in with two icey sponges and be up to 8 HP. Really interesting mechanic here to keep the team in. I wonder if there are line changes or some kind of sub rules too? Returned models are placed in base contact with an edge of the pitch and may then make a ‘jog’ action. A legendary play doesn’t recharge for taken-out models. I’m assuming legendary plays are once per game type things.
That’s all we’ll cover in this post. We’ve got a clear understanding of the stat cards except for the little symbol covered line that is the turn sequence and the main resource mechanic of influence figured out as well as conditions. I used (x) for all the conditions but most had different number in them in the rules I don’t know if those were standard but other than that GB seems fairly straight forward so far. I like the resource allocation aspect and the icy sponge bit. Excited to round out the rules in this series and dive into the Engineers to see what kind of synergies they’ve got.
Thanks for reading as always and please do follow me @vorgames for more news and bits.