Masons, the Missile Edition

Now that the king of Australian Guild Ball has fallen, this is a special shout out to the ex-best Guild Ball player in Australia Simon Hall #fuckupnips #nipslove #nipsfan6969. I wanted to break down the absurb, bullshit tactics that you will find Masons players doing to you on a regular basis. Fuck this noise, but more importantly you will be better prepared while a foot is being firmly placed in your rectal cavity. Luckily now most people have learned this tactic so they aren’t too suprised by it anymore, but read on…

I bring you, the Mason Missle.

If you’ve played with or against Honour you’ve probably come to notice her defining opening play is bum rushing a player across the field absurd distances and breaking faces on the first turn. This is commonly known as the Mason Missile, as a faction they have the longest threat ranges in the game given sufficient time to wind up and there’s no better turn for this than turn 1.

The opening moves for the deluxe (best) version of the Mason Missile go like this for the kicking side:

  • Decimate uses Second Wind on Chisel/Mallet
  • Honour uses Topping Out and Superior Strategy on Chisel/Mallet. Other players are positioned to grab Influence from the Legendary Play as well.
  • Marbles uses Tooled up on Chisel/Mallet
  • Chisel/Mallet use the last activations of the turn to activate twice in a row unopposed and destroy a target of choice.

 

Now before we go any further I’ll just address Topping Out on the first turn, I’ve seen new players in my local meta hesitant to do this, and I’ve heard other people exclaim online that it seems like a huge waste. It can appear like that initially, but that’s only because you’re living a pipe dream where Honour pops Topping Out and 5 players use that Influence to full efficiency.

The reality is that rarely happens, a mixture of models being too far apart, models getting taken out, order of activation issues, and models being too wounded or positioning is too risky to put that Influence to work.

Realisticaly speaking not including Honour, in your average game you’re only going to get any work out of one, maybe two other players. If I could point your attention to a recent battle report between Trent Denison and Nips, what happens when Nips uses Topping Out on turn 2? Why, only 2 players benefit from it, including Honour. Only Marbles and Mallet are in range, and Marbles has already activated. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2NNNkIiQnU

So going back to Topping Out on turn 1 to set up your Missile. Assuming you allocated 3 to Honour and 0 to Marbles, you’re already coming out ahead in efficiency! Honour utilises hers to get Superior Strategy off, Marbles uses his for Tooled Up, and your Missile is going to use theirs to plant a hammer in someone’s face. That’s all without considering the other two Masons you may have caught in the pulse, and it’s likely you did thanks to it being so early in the game, most of your stuff is still in the deployment zone.

The final advantage to popping your legendary play turn 1 is it frees up your order of activations on  turn 2. By getting work out of your legendary play on turn 1 it takes the pressure off Honour to go earlier in the turn, and allows her and Marbles to take the back end of turn 2 if you want them to.

Now let’s go back to that Missile. There is often debate over whether Chisel or Mallet is more suited to the task. The answer is simple, Chisel is superior. That’s not to say Mallet is bad, he’s not. He’s a brilliant player and brings a wealth of options to the team and in fact mathematically their damage outputs are basically identical. However in pure terms of delivering an unstoppable missile into your opponent on the first turn Chisel is the superior option.

 

Reliable Threat Ranges

 

If we’re Topping Out on turn 1 we need this Missile to connect, even if you’re not Topping Out you still need this to connect. Explosive starts to the game are Honour’s signature trait, you need turn 1 to go off with a bang for her. If your opponent prevents this from happening he has won a huge part of the battle on turn 1. Don’t. Fuck up. Turn 1. I cannot stress that enough, by securing an successful Missile or goal on turn 1 you create a rock solid foundation to build your game upon.

With that in mind here’s Chisel’s basic threat range with Second Wind and Superior Strategy. 20”

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Yeah, that’s fucking monstrous. Now remember, that’s her basic threat range. Her maximum threat range looks like this. 26”

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It’s so big there isn’t an option for it on Vassal, you have to manually add the extra 6” from sprinting twice and Quick Time.

 

Ok, so suffice to say you can’t hide from Chisel. Bitch be crazy. Now next thing I’m going to hear is “Yeah but Mallet’s got a pretty long range with all these tricks too.” That’s definitely true, but remember Mallet’s not bad at this, he’s great in fact. Chisel just happens to be better.

Now some things are going to come into play. First is your opponent, they will do things to try and stop this. Throwing down terrain, conditions, movement impairing effects, character plays like Tucked and Shutout. In short, Missile isn’t infallible and if you commit to it and fail to connect with it, you’re put in a tough position. Chisel stands a better chance of riding out a wider variety of attempted shenanigans from your opponent because she threatens farther and can be positioned initially further away from the front line if you need to avoid certain character plays.

The next thing you want to watch out for is Counter Attacks. Now, it’s true that Mallet on paper seems to be a guaranteed safer bet against Counter Attacks with his 3” melee. However it’s a little more complex than that. Mallet’s maximum threat range is 21”, this includes sprinting twice and Quick Time (his basic range is 17”). Chisel’s ranges where she can nullify a counter attack from with a momentous Damage+Dodge into base to base contact off her first attack is a 19” basic range, 21” with a charge, 23” with Quick Time, and 25” with an additional sprint in her first activation.

25”. Wait a minute, that’s only 1” less than her maximum threat range anyway! So as you can see even with 2” displacing counter attacks to consider, Chisel’s effective threat range is still higher than Mallet’s. For a similar reason Chisel also handles Don’t Touch the Hair very easily, but I won’t go in depth on that as the Guild Plot is obsolete in a couple of weeks anyway.

The last point to consider when we’re talking about the reliability of the Missile is manoeuvring. Chisel is faster, she is clearly the more mobile option. This gives you greater options to strike optimal targets.

Mallet, especially if he gets hit by movement impairing effects, is more likely to be stuck settling for a target of opportunity instead of a target of choice. What do I mean by that? Chisel, with her superior mobility, can use her extended threat ranges to circumnavigate terrain and other models that might be getting in her way.
For example; slamming your missile into Hooper is not optimal. The guy’s got Tough Hide, may have even given himself Tough Skin as well for some extra ARM. Chisel is much more likely to be able to bypass Hooper and scalpel out soft targets like Friday, Spigot, and Scum. Being able to kill a target in one activation vs two is preferable, for reasons we’ll go over in a moment with variations of the missile play.

I’ll end this section with one exception to the rule, Obulus. Mallet is better than Chisel at taking out Obulus assuming your opponent gives you a line on him. However, anybody that gives you a free line on Obulus with Mallet is either retarded or has Don’t Touch the Hair in his hand. Realistically that should never happen.

 

Ending Variations

The Missile isn’t a fire and forget play, it’s a little more complex than that. A big part of the Missile is how you end the turn because you’re going to have a stack of momentum once you’re done, and will hopefully take the initiative on the subsequent roll off for turn 2. There’s 3 main ending variations you can choose to take: The Yo-Yo, Centre Bait, and the Triple Crazy All In. Each are just as viable as the other in the right situation, it’s up to you to figure out what you want to do going into turn 2.

The Yo-Yo

This one is pretty simple. Chisel uses her first activation to move 12” into threat range of a model up to 14” away then ends her activation. She then uses her second activation to kill the target and then move up to 12” back to safety. The Yo-Yo is suited for opponents that you don’t want to commit to, or if your opponent gives you the opportunity to take something for nothing, perhaps the model they sent forwards to recover the ball you kicked off.

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Centre Bait

 

Little more complex. With this one you go after a model your opponent is being cagey with. Using Chisel’s melee range, a Damage+Dodge result on her final hit, and Second Wind you can end this by moving Chisel back 7” to relative safety, creating a 9” gap between Chisel and the position the now taken out model was in. You can have models like Brick to back her up, or simply threaten to counter attack and trade using another model if your opponent commits to taking out Chisel. If you brought both Chisel and Mallet, this is a great opportunity to wind up Mallet to destroy whoever goes after Chisel.

I know Nips says he prefers to use Mallet as his Missile and Chisel as his backup. In reality doing it the other way around is much better. Chisel is more likely to bring down targets of value due to her speed, then she can jog further back into a defensive position to bait people into Mallet’s threat range. It’s a better 1-2 punch combo using Chisel to lead the charge.

Remember, even if Chisel goes down it’s a valuable trade, and Chisel getting taken out isn’t necessarily a bad thing. She comes back with Painful Rage turned on and can be a hell of a surprise hit, able to threaten 17” from any board edge in your deployment zone. That includes the 10” of the left and right sides, a lot of people forget about that and will give Chisel the opportunity to destroy squishy winger models when she comes back on. Mallet is much slower to get back into position, and his continued presence on the board is more valuable because he actually has good parting blows and passive effects like football legend.

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The Triple Crazy All In

The Triple Crazy All In relies on you securing a decent momentum advantage, if you can get it to go off right it can be totally devastating. The idea behind this play is you use Crazy in both of Chisel’s first turn activations and don’t heal her, let the 6 damage sit. Then when you take initiative on turn 2 you go Crazy again, and have now suffered enough damage to turn on Painful Rage.

Don’t forget at the end of turn 1 you got an additional 6” Second Wind jog for the end of Chisel’s second activation. Combine this with Chisel’s natural threat range you can get models up to 16” away, pictured above. Yeah, that’s a huge deal. Fully loaded with Painful Rage and Crazy, Chisel can reliably kill 12 HP models with average defensive stats like 4+/1 without outside buffs. The Triple Crazy All In is particularly good at hunting down squishy high value targets that tend to hide in the backline. Mascots like Scum in the example above are a prime target. This is also another area of the Missile where Chisel is far superior to Mallet, it’s way easier for her to hunt down targets in the second turn than it is for Mallet.

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Concluding thoughts on the Missile

With all this said, I would only utilise the Missile if you’re kicking off. When receiving, I normally prefer to set up a first turn goal with Flint utilising the same basic principles behind the activation sequence manipulation the missile uses. That’s not to say you can’t do it on receiving, but ball control is a vital part of the game and I don’t like to neglect it. How to do it as a receiver involves using Superior Strategy twice in one turn, but I’ll save that for another day if I get around to covering countering Avarisse and Greed, or a Mason mirror match.

One final thing. You might have heard that Crazy can’t be used mid charge, and if you forget to do it before your charge you’re shit out of luck. Wrong. Character Traits were ruled as an anytime ability, this includes during movement or after moving but before attacking on a Charge. It’s perfectly legitimate to Charge, see if your opponent declares a counter attack, then use Crazy after he decides not to. This is particularly important if Chisel is choosing to attack a model when she’s low on HP and going Crazy first might give the opportunity for a counter attack to kill her before she can heal.

Next time we’ll go over Tower and Harmony. One of them is viable, one isn’t.

-nipsfan6969