Guildballing aficionados and apprentices: welcome to a segment where Moopsie is going to write about whatever pops into his head. Segment probably isn’t the correct word, as that implies some sort of regularity and ‘pops into his head’ could refer to anything within and not limited to the spectrum of:
- Gaming Math and Statistics
- How to score two goals in a turn
- How Fishermen actually manage to kill things
- Training for a Marathon
- Having a job that gets in the way of your Guild Ball Career
- Teaching Deno how to sing
- Probably some Warmachine and Guild Ball
- Music, all the way from Dvorjak’s New World Symphony to Chillys‘ unhealthy obsession with Taylor Swift.
Starting this game off, I was extremely fortunate and lucky. I was offered a demo game from the renown Andrew Haidon (Legendary Pressganger and tournament organiser of Cancon) who knows me quite well and suggested I give the Fishermen a go (Circle Orboros are my faction of choice in Warmachine and Hordes). He wasn’t off the mark.
Anyone who knows my Warmachine and Hordes background knows that I like to pride myself of the ability to pull off tricky combinations and explore the higher skill cap options available in games. Personally, I find nothing more rewarding in gaming than getting a Rube Goldberg machine humming or successfully unravelling a rubix cube. Some examples might include at the 2014 WTC, feating on the top of turn 1 with Epic Morvahna to bring back a single gallows grove outside the Cygnar deployment to kill 10 sword knights (including the Jack Marshalling Leader) Rhupert, Some Storm Blades and the squire…. You get the point and I digress.
After a handful of games I was starting to see some of the crazy threat ranges Fishermen could pull off. Shark, the one man show, could move practically any model on the table an additional 4 inches – this meant not only could I increase the threat ranges of my own models by 4 inches, but I could save them from being beaten up in combat, more likely to score a goal or simply put them in an incredible frustrating position. Furthermore, I could start to manipulate my opponents, put them out of threat range, to charge my guys, bring them closer so I can take the ball off them or use them as a punching bag (not to damage, but to do beautiful pirouettes off!). Wow, okay, this guy is the real deal… but after a few games, I started to see that the real value came in ‘out of activation’ movement. If my opponent was trying to set up a 2 or 3 piece play (such as tooled up, marked target and loading up a character with influence, the ability to save them was key. (Read: As they say in poker, tooled up is a massive ‘tell’)… and that is all just one character play!
This was the first breadcrumb that got the cogs turning. I started reading through the entire fishermen guild cards and piecing the puzzle together. Siren took a while to click… at first I thought she was terrible – “Why would I ever want to bring an enemy closer to me, they’ll just kill me! Maybe if I could advance them in any direction it would be better…” 10 games later she was my favourite player and is generally my favourite piece to kick off. Beautiful is an incredible ability, meaning she really is only susceptible to melee and character plays like blasted earth that doesn’t target her directly. Greyscales essentially has what I would compare to Warmachine “Admonition” every turn, for free… wow. Jac – Jac can only push people around, why on earth would I want him, he can’t score goals like Angel, Shark or Greyscales… oh wait, pushes combined with Sharks Legendary play, okay, it’s all coming together now. As my good friend Benny Leeper likes to market the game – Think Warmachine but its 6 ‘Juniors’ vying for the table!
My good friend Sean Benson not long ago described this game as having the ‘intensity of a game-long’ assassination run which gave me another comparison to Warmachine – Rubber Banding. Rubber Banding is a concept that keeps gamers invested in the outcome of a game if they start to fall behind in the ‘attrition’ of one element of the game. Mario Kart is actually a pretty good example – players who start to fall towards the back of the back are often given much more powerful items to allow them to catch up such as lightning bolts and blue turtle shells, however in Mario Kart there is only 1 singular objective – beat the other players across the finish line. Sure you could argue that Time Trials and other independent forms of competition exist, but in its purest form there is only one path to victory. Games like Warmachine and Guild Ball offer multiple paths to victory and the brilliance of Guild Ball is that whilst it offers multiple paths to victory, any sufficient combination of killing players or scoring goals will win you the game – that’s 2 ‘branches’ to travel with multiple smaller branches sprouting from each of those foundations.
Alternate Strategy Fish
This leads me to my next point and possibly even then central point of this article – the scoring versus killing spectrum. If we think of all guilds lying as somewhere on the spectrum, you’d probably put Fish on the goal scoring extreme and Butchers diametrically opposed. Does this mean the Fish can’t kill people? Well, sort of, it’s just via some different methods. Does this mean the Butchers are rubbish at scoring goals? Certainly not – Brisket is a fantastic striker that has an independent 18” threat on goal. I plan on going into this in a bit of detail in later articles, but after about 40 games, I’ve found that of the games I’ve won, 90% of them have been via scoring 3 goals and the other 10% getting 2 goals and 2 takeout’s. Of those takeout’s, 90% have actually been pushing people off the board, and 10% actually reducing a models HP to 0 (I think I’ve killed Cosset, Dirge and Blackheart in my Guild Balling career – his head is on a pike in my bedroom).
So, this brings me to where I’m currently at and a sound theory hypothesised and explored by Trent Denison – can Fish build a team that can reliable get at least 2 takeout’s via board manipulation (no, don’t try and reduce their HP to 0 unless you’re fighting someone who is on naturally low HP anyway like Cosset, Chisel or a Mascot) and reduce the goal scoring dependency down to only needing 2 goals to win.
First question that popped into my head is actually “why bother?” After a few games against Deno and Simon “Nips” Hall, it became apparent that truly experienced players are quite good at making your life retrieving the ball difficult. “Shank drops the Ball” is one of my least favourite phrases to hear just before I’m about to activate Siren. Sometimes scrambling over the line to get that 3rd goal can compromise the health of your players so much so as they lose significant contribution to the game after they’re taken out for the first time.
What would this team look like? Let’s have a look at what your line-up might look like.
- Shark – Currently compulsory and why wouldn’t you. Tidal surging your opponents 4” closer to the table edge, incredible goal scoring threat and a legendary play that cant totally dictate the pace of a turn, enough to buy you enough time to setup some deluxe plays. Gut and string can stop retaliation, quick foot can enable your duders to get into a better position more easily and he also has a momentous push+dodge on his 4th playbook result. Great.
- Salt, – because we’re forced to. Hope that he dies early in a turn so you’re able to ‘do your thang’ with more ease, otherwise use him to crowd out and get in the way or occasionally move the ball around.
- Jac – the king of the push. With just 2 influence, he can quite reliably move a model 7” in a turn (ramming speed, push, a TAC 6 attack (with Salt’s help) that momentously pushes a model an inch and then allows you to use his Heroic – Trident Tested – 4” push towards the table edge – beautiful. He also has Goad as icing on the cake to stop enemies from running away – a thing that is generally a bit counter intuitive for Fish but has deep application.
- Kraken – Bit of a tar pit, easy access to Momentous Knockdown and Harpoon make him a prime contender. His “Release the…” Ability can be difficult to reliably trigger, but if you can set him up for a good charge (maybe with the help of Shark) that can certainly net you a kill if you’re hovering down one of the ‘channels’ on the field.
- Siren – Unsure on this one honestly, Lure is great, can set up your other players, but she’ll need an ability to lock down your enemies once she pulls them over. Seduced loses a bit of value here as you’re trying to isolate models, however forcing an enemy to pass is always money.
- Sakana – Has a double push double dodge on his 5th result, unreliable but his weak point and anatomical can enable the rest of your team and is a decent backup strike.
- Angel – Backup striker, has a push dodge on 2, otherwise not really applicable.
- Greyscales – push dodge on 5, no thanks.
This gives us three auto picks and two likely contenders meaning we’re filling out our roster with Union.
- Avarisse and Greede – These guys might be the hidden Gems. Not only can you get an extra activation out of the duo but Avarisse’s playbook is littered with momentous pushes whilst also having singled out and a knockdown. Remember, the point is not actually to deal damage but push them off the board.
- Fangtooth – This is where things get interesting. Whilst he’s a little unintuitive with Foul Odour and Fangtooth unleashed, the unmasking gives you another pulse just like Jacs’. Again he only brings 1 influence to the table like Kraken, but again has a tonne of momentous results that aren’t difficult to trigger.
- Gutter – Gutter has been getting a bit of time in the press, a pretty versatile model with chain grab that obviously fits into the overarching strategy of the plan and a push on her second result.
- Hemlocke –
- Snakeskin –
Well, there you have it, an ‘alternate strategy’ fishermen team:
- Fangtooth or Avarisse and Greede
Now to put it to the test! Can fishermen ‘Kill’ players as effectively as they score goals! Will they compromise their underlying strengths of the guild or is Deno actually an idiot savant? Thanks for reading this far! You can always bug me over on Twitter @warcast if you want to talk about hot tech or how this team works for you.