Momentum is an interesting thing in Guild Ball, it plays the part of an active resource that ebbs and flows throughout every game. It is part of what makes every game of Guild Ball an interesting and unique experience. Sure there are plenty of other pieces that fall into place to make the game unique, and I’m sure I’ll cover those at some point, but right now it’s Momentum.
Momentum, for those that are new to Guild Ball or have never played the game, primarily comes from four places – Attacking, Take Down of an Opposing Player, Successful Passes and Scoring Goals. When Attacking, depending on the faction and player, different playbook results will result in a Momentous Play, which gains a Momentum for your team. The crowd goes wild, your team is getting pumped and it’s time to push the boundaries even further. Your striker is looking up to Caesar after the big tackle he just made and sees the gleaming ‘Thumbs Up’. Now it’s time to go hard in the paint and really send the opponent reeling as you pummel his face into the dirt harder then score that clutch goal right under their noses. It can also say to your team ‘okay, let’s slow this game down,’ this Momentum gives the team an ability to control the game a bit better and make smarter plays. It can be quite a conundrum for that reason. How do I best utilize this resource? What do I do if I don’t have it?
Uses for Momentum
Momentum has a lot of uses, but given to you in a way that it’s deceptively easy to use. For a simple list let’s see:
Shoot a Goal: Easy enough, spend 1 to Kick at the Goal token.
Counter-Attack: Once per combat, you can spend 1 to make an attack against the opposing model.
Defensive Stance: When a charge is declared, you can spend 1 to make your DEF stat +1 against the charge attack.
Bonus Time: Spend 1 to add 1 Additional Die to a specific TN test.
Take a Breather Lad: Spend 1 to Recover 4 HP or Remove all Conditions on the active model once per turn.
Come on Mate: Spend 2 to Recover 4 HP or Remove all Conditions for a friendly within 8” also once per turn, but on a separate restriction from Take a Breather.
Heroic Plays: An active model with a Heroic Play may Spend 1 to activate their Heroic Play.
Conditional on Successful Pass (Only 1 May Be selected Per Pass):
Give’n’Go: Spend 1 to allow active player to immediately Dodge 4” after the successful pass.
Pass’n’Move: Spend 1 to allow receiving model to immediately Dodge 4” after the successful pass.
Snap Shot: Spend 2 to allow receiving model to immediately take a Shot on Goal. Requires 2 successful hits for the goal to count.
Conditional on Scoring a Goal:
Run the Length: Spend 1 to allow the active model (that scored the goal) to immediately make a 4” Dodge before the end of their activation.
So, 11 Different uses that are split between anytime in the game, after passes specifically and after scoring goals specifically. Ah, but there’s one thing that I’m missing from this list of expenses and that is the remaining number of Momentum left on your side of the board at the end of the turn then becomes a bonus to your die roll for Initiative for the next turn. Now we’ve gone even deeper into the rabbit hole here on how/when/why to spend this Momentum.
Playstyles and Momentum
It is in my understanding of the game that there are pretty much 3 schools of thinking when it comes to gameplay, and some guilds can run a combination of them, and others skew hard in a specific direction. Playstyles come down to Physical Aggression, Football Aggression and Denial. Physical Aggression (PA) is probably best defined within the Butchers Guild, where outright damage is king and most other plays hinge off of a confirmed kill. Football Aggression (FA) is the stereotype of the Fisherman Guild, using speed and manoeuvrability to run circles around their opponents while scoring goals. Denial (DN) is the defining trait of the Morticians Guild, using abilities to manipulate their opponent’s positioning and synergy to gain advantage.
One thing to note about this is that every team HAS to contain a level of Physical Aggression to sustain in Guild Ball, because the highest volume of Momentum is gained from making Attacks. PA Teams will use players with constant (and high) levels of Momentous Damage to start accumulating Momentum. FA Teams will use players that have Momentous movement playbook entries to accumulate Momentum, with some of the best being Momentous Double Dodge or Dodge/Push. It’s also useful for FA Teams to have at least one member of the team with a Momentous Tackle to be able to make fast break Charge>Tackle>(Dodge?)>Shoot. DN Teams will utilize some level of PA or FA players, but backed up by players containing abilities that make it difficult for the other team to build Momentum in combat or completely remove Momentum away.
Making the Right Choices
Part of what makes Guild Ball a great game is that we have these resources like Influence and Momentum which play an active role in making the tactical depth of the game very deep. One of the most important things to understand after you get the basics of the game down is to learn your players and, most importantly, their Playbook, Character Plays, and any Heroic or Legendary Plays. Understand where to utilize that player to get the most out of what that character brings and know that every game will be slightly different. That’s why we write up articles about specific game models, to help build that resource for us all to use, and help us understand our opponents as well. After that it’s just playing the game and understanding how these things interact. It’s straightforward when to remove conditions, and relatively straightforward on when to heal, but as you play more you start to see more potential in different situations.
Here’s a bit of a rough breakdown of how most teams are going to want to make choices with Momentum and a start to that decision making. In each there is also a little bit about what to watch for out of the initial release sets of these factions.
Alchemists: Primarily an FA team, uses Character Plays that cause Status Effects to create long term vectors of denial during the game. Generally high DEF models in the faction (with exceptions) will gain benefit by spending Momentum on Defensive Stance to go up to 5+ and 6+ against charge attacks regularly. Counter Attacks are generally used in this faction to move away from Attackers. Don’t be surprised when they try to starve out their opponent from getting up on Momentum by spreading out effects that require Momentum to be able to clear it. Midas (current team Captain) has a Legendary Play that he can use to gain Momentum by spending Influence (up to 3) that will allow him to get Momentum without having to attack, which allows him to make attacks on goal early in a turn without much issue. This team will also be aiming to get up on Momentum to make going first in a turn a higher possibility, so they can get effects down and make strong attempts on goal.
Brewers: Primarily a PA team, heavy use of Knockdown mechanics and short playbooks allow lots of Momentum generation once they are engaged in combat. A lack of Legendary Plays but a prolific amount of Heroic Plays means that as things get more and more stuck in, the Brewers will be able to leverage their ability to take damage well with Tough Hide into an ability to keep their opponents knocked down and gaining more and more Momentum. They will be spending Momentum a lot, primarily on the Heroic Plays and Counter Attacking. Two of the heaviest hitters in the Brewers (Tapper and Hooper) have 2” Reach and all but Friday and Scum have Knockdown results within their first 3 Successes, so their aim will be to shut down the rest of your activation with a clutch Knockdown off a Counter Attack. Going first is not a requirement for the Brewers since they’d rather spend away with Momentum to make you start hurting.
Butchers: The textbook PA team, high levels of early Momentous Damage and lots of anti-Armor and +DMG synergy in the guild will send their opponent reeling after the combat closes in. While not as apt to taking a punch as they are giving it, the amount of damage output that this team can put out can be astounding and with each chip of damage they will gain a momentum. If anything, this team will primarily spend Momentum for Bonus Time, to push higher into their long playbooks in the hope of getting multiple damage results to stack extra buffs. Counter Attacks may come into play once their opponents start to get damaged, since that damage may be enough to seal the deal. They do like camping up a bit of Momentum to be able to get the advantage for the following turn, since they want to be on the giving end of the punches and don’t take kindly to strong control elements.
Engineers: Primarily a DN team, utilizing some FA tactics. An interesting faction considering the rest of the game requires some commitment in the form of a player to do Momentum, Engineers can generate Momentum with ranged Character Plays thanks to Ballista’s Momentous Inspiration Aura. Say whaaaat?! Okay, so it’s not the end of the world, it just keeps them from getting Momentum starved in the early game if they don’t receive the ball. They can toss out a bit of damage and start to get up on Momentum equal or ahead of the team in possession of the ball. What is a bit scarier to consider is the ranged pushes and knockdowns you’ll be facing on the way into combat. Once you get there, most of the team is not as apt to fisticuffs, but do have a decent amount of movement ability using Pushes and Dodges on Counter Strikes. They’ll use whatever movement abilities they can to get out of combat so they can get back to playing the range denial game. Then while their opponent is spending Momentum to get up from the ground, they utilize a quick striker like Velocity to go get the ball into the goal. This team does like saving up some Momentum for first turn to help set up their traps and denial before the other team can get the jump on them.
Fishermen: The most outright FA team, you will see more Momentous Dodges, Pushes and Tackles coming out of the Fishies than anyone else. They also have the benefit of having 2” melee on their most prolific players, so their ability to Counter Attack is pretty much always available to them, provided they have the Momentum ready to go. They also have a pretty high DEF stat across the board (other than Jac and Kraken) so they will also be seen utilizing Defensive Stance plenty to make them very hard to pin down. Their damage output is low overall, with very few Momentous Damage results (Sakana has 1), and so they will be pushing to end the game with a resounding 3 goal game or getting some luck Take Downs along the sideline with Siren and Kraken or Jac. They do have a bit of hit and run denial they can play with Shark’s Legendary Play reducing Movement and his Character Play also reducing movement, making it so your team (if bunched up) will not be going anywhere fast for at least a turn. If you aren’t fast enough to catch these Fishies, they will be able to dance around you while gaining Momentum and making it very difficult for you to get any in return. If they currently have the ball they will generally be pushing to go first, but if the opponent has possession they won’t be too fussed if they go second in hopes of creating a strong play for the goal.
Masons: This team can build with every game plan in mind, they have players in their stable that can do amazing work beating faces, scoring goals or breaking apart the enemy’s plans. They have a decent amount of things that outright break the rules that most other teams are forced to abide by. Honour and Harmony are able to activate in a row without the opponent having a response, Brick is able to charge the enemy before they even know what hit them and Honour is able to make a Counter Strike before the opponent even gets to swing. They will be spending Momentum to Defensive Stance and Counter Attack as much as possible, to make the most of their ability to deny their opponent the satisfaction of watching them bleed. They struggle in the fact that some of the strongest players on the team are limited to 1” melee, but it is made up by the fact they have a player (Mallet) boasting a 3” melee range during his activation. If you let them build up their defences, it will be very hard to crack them, so the important part about playing against this team is knowing what pieces are important and how to shut them down early. Their strongest aspect of the Momentum game is the fact that they are able to gain it reliably through all vectors: PA, FA and DN. Most matchups they will be spending Momentum regularly, but will still be able to maintain a coffer of them against most Guilds.
Morticians: When people think of Denial in Guild Ball, Morticians are the first Guild that comes to mind. Filled with some of the strongest opponent manipulation in the game, these dark visages bring fear and intimidation to the table above all. They rely on PA tactics to gain Momentum themselves, with Ghast and Cosset getting in the thick of things, but also doing whatever they can to stop Momentum gain for the other team. Obulus is the primary vector for Momentum disruption, being almost unable to be attacked with Unpredictable Movement and 2” melee range as well as a Legendary Play that strips the other team of all currently held Momentum and gives it to the Mortician team. Silence is another to watch out for, who will work towards messing up your team synergies by forcing order of activation issues. When they spend Momentum, it will be on Bonus time to get important Character Plays up to aid in denial vectors or Counter Attacking with specific Characters to get key Knockdowns, Pushes or Dodges. When they do get deep in the thick of things, they have plenty of Momentous Damage and Character Play options, so once they capture you in their web they will start to push their gains higher and higher while denying you the ability to reliably make equal gains yourself. What they lack is the ability to stay jammed into combat if the other team starts outmanoeuvring them. They don’t have high SPD stats across the entire faction which they make up for with their ability to slow everyone else down. They don’t always aim to get first turn on purpose, but it’s bound to happen if you don’t find a way to stay on top against them.
Union: This team is hard to pin down as one specific archetype, or even a defined combination of two because of the wide level of options that they have to use. I would say though, overall, that Union utilizes primarily PA and FA tactics to succeed rather than much reliance on DN. Black heart helps the team with both by offering Commanding Aura to increase damage output and a Legendary Play that can put strikers in key position to make strong plays on goal or increase threat ranges of the beaters on the team. Coin pumps up both sides (PA & FA) as well with Bag of Coffers. The primary beaters on a Union team are going to be Decimate, Gutter, Minx and Rage. Each of these all have great output and Momentous damage results to get that train rolling. Fangtooth and Avarice & Greede are both tanky brutes with forms of buffing/denial, Fangtooth has a Rough Ground aura and Unmasking to push the other team around and Avarice has the ability to gain the team an additional activation (Greede) and pump up combat with Singled Out. Mist and Snakeskin are the two primary goal scorers with a decent amount of mobility and Momentous Dodging, Pushing and Tackles. Hemlocke is a support/denial piece with strong Character Plays like Blind, Smelling Salts and Noxious Blast. She can also help get the ball with a Momentous Tackle on 1 and decent Kick Stat. Overall the Union team is most likely going to do what it can to play the best way to be able to make at least 2-4 strong Take Downs and 1-2 Goals. They do have a lot of manoeuvrability in all builds of the team, so expect to see Momentum come in for Bonus Times and Counter Attacks, but pay close attention to what their Playbooks look like so you know whether you expect to see the Dodges start to sneak around or if you have a fierce Knockdown headed your way. This team will happily take what it can get when given the opportunity and can be very flexible in playstyle, so regardless of first or second they will surely find a way to make it work.
The Momentum Game starts on kick-off and helps to drive the game in specific directions. Making the most of Momentum as a resource is an important part to gaining excellency as a Guild Ball player and as you continue to play you will see the opportunities to make the most of it. Learning how to play both ahead and behind on Momentum are both important skills to master and look forward to hearing how you all do in your games. Feel free to comment here or on Twitter @seanzorr / @Oz_Ball_Club to talk more about this.
-Sean ‘seanzorr’ Benson