Monday, February 8, 2016

Guild Ball - Learning Morticians

This may not be among the best tactics articles on DTP, but its a glimpse into tactics nonetheless. I prefer to write tactics articles that help players do better with their teams, or to discuss a particularly misunderstood portion of a game. I prefer to provide a small tidbit or insight that lets someone maximize the return on playing a model or using a group of models. One example would be a recent discussion I had with a friend about my view on the brute squad acting as a single "unit of models" opposed to three separate models. I may do an article on that in the future, but for today I want to write a bit about my Morticians.

My very first actual game of Guild Ball was played using the Morticians. I was on one of my semi-annual trips to New Hampshire and my friend Mat convinced me to try out the game. This was after the kickstarter campaign had ended, but before the final rules were released. He brought along some of the playtest cards and I played Morticians while he played Masons. I faintly remember the team being the "core 6" players, Obulus, Dirge, Cosset, Graves, Ghast, Silence.  During the game Obulus manipulated the board a bit, Graves punched some people, and Cosset went crazy and smashed apart his Masons team in a killing spree. It was a fairly short demo and I don't believe we finished the game.

Jumping ahead a bit to the final rules, I expected I would enjoy playing the morticians. It was one of the teams I specifically looked forward to playing, along with Union and Brewers. Morticians brought a control and manipulation element to the game that I expected would "click" for me. A variety of circumstances and decisions pushed the Morticians models back in my painting queue, making them the second to last team I'm ending up painting from the original set. I've only recently painted enough to get a full team on the table and start playing.

I've played 2 full games with a Morticians team, along with 3 partial games which ended early for a variety of reasons. My initial lineup has been Obulus, Dirge, Silence, Bonesaw, Cosset, and either Casket or Ghast. I've not painted my Casket yet, but for one game a friend of mine loaned me his. I've not played against Morticians much at this point, so my handful of games have not given me the best ideas on how to use the individual models.

My initial expectations have been that the team plays heavily to denial and control, with a fairly even focus between being able to score goals and take-outs for points. I realize that Morticians did not have a native striker until Bonesaw, and that Mist was likely to be my competitive choice for the team. I expected Bonesaw to be decent as a striker, Ghast to be a tarpit, Cosset to be a glass cannon, and the Combo of Silence and Obulus to lock down the opponent team. I anticipated that Obulus would be critical to the team, but also be my switch hitter as a goal scoring threat and as a surprise damage dealer.

At this point the team has not operated as expected nor has it clicked with me, yet. Yet. Obulus has been a terror using Puppet Master, and that play delivers everything I want from it. I've used it to get the ball from my opponent along with positioning key opposing players for advantageous attacks and take-outs during the turn. I've also used the play to have one of my own players make an out of activation attack on a target, although I misplayed that and it ended up as a poor delivery. I did not think to confidence my own player before using puppet master to have them attack. Had I done so I may have delivered an out-of-activation take-out instead of a jump start on damage. Overall, Obulus has truly delivered the greatest effectiveness (so far) by passing out confidence to other players. The Confidence character play is amazing and very effective in the team.

I've been finding that the Morticians are more effective as a damage dealing team than they have been as a goal scoring or balanced team. I'm gaining more points through targeting and taking out opposing players than I am from trying to move the ball around. I'm also finding that I am playing much of the game on my side of the field. This is not something I like, and it's something I'll be keeping an eye on moving forward. I seem to be more effective in pulling target opponents into the maw of my own team then taking them out than I am at moving onto an aggressive footing and pushing the opponent back. Considering my opponents so far have been Alchemists, Fish, and scoring Brewers this is a dangerous place to be playing the game.

On the take-out side of the house, I am also concerned about making a choice between Ghast and Casket. Currently my core Morticians team seems to be shaping up to Obulus, Dirge, Cosset, Silence, with 2 spots left open. I can easily see swapping Mist in for Bonesaw, and I fully understand how Mist works overall. This leaves me with 1 remaining spot which should be some sort of beater to help Cosset finish the job. She is only reliable delivering 10 points of damage an activation which is a bit low for taking out models. Using a knockdown and crowding out on the target before she attacks brings her damage up to 13 which is much closer to necessary to take out most models. Ghast delivers a reliable 2 success knockdown and 2 inch reach for gaining up. Casket needs 3 successes for his knockdown, only has a 1 inch melee, and doesn't have Rising Anger or Fear. He does bring Casket Time as his legendary play however, which could raise that single take-out to 4 victory points instead of 2.

Overall I need to get more games in with the team. I feel like they will finally click quicker than the Brewers did, but they already are slower than the Union and Masons. Union and Masons both clicked in their first two games and I was then exploring the most effective build for the teams. I am looking forward to learning them more.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Guild Ball - Damage Dealing Captains

A little while ago I read an article on another Guild Ball blog, Parting Blow, that was handing out "awards" for different models performance in Season 1. One of those awards was specific to Captains and damage dealing. I responded (you can see my response by following the link above) and that started a big of a discussion. I decided to take some of the analysis I did in that discussion and expand it out into a complete article here on DTP. This article is going to look closely at how much of a beat down each of the Season 1 Captains can dish out in a single turn. I'm going to go through each of the captains to describe how I'm performing the analysis and the data I'm using. I'll then rank each captain by the "total expected damage" at the end of the article. Please comment with your thoughts at the end.

The Basic Assumptions 

We need to start out making a few basic assumptions for our analysis to follow. First off, let's constrain ourselves to only the Season 1 Captains in Guild Ball. This makes sense since we only know what 2 of the Season 2 captains look like at this point. We can also safely assume that each captain is joined by their mascot. Mascots are a mandatory player in the full size game and there is only information on the single Season 1 mascot for each guild.

Beyond that we should also make some assumptions on ability to hit. The overall average model in Guild Ball has a defense of 4 and an armor value of 1. If we take a jaunt over to the lovely OzBall resource site we'll find the following chart:


This chart will help us determine expected successes for each captains playbook, thus determining the expected damage each captain can dish out.

The Captains

Butchers - Ox

 I think starting with Ox makes sense to start with since the Butchers are considered the "beat down" guild. It would be reasonable to expect that Ox has the ability to deliver the worst beat down of all the captains, bringing in the highest damage totals. Let's take a look at what he can do.

Let's start looking at Ox without his Legendary play in effect. Ox brings a TAC of 7 and 5 influence with him along with The Owner adding +1 to his damage. His damage maxes out by assuming he starts in combat, and he'll have Princess nearby also engaging the target. This has him rolling 8 dice (TAC 7, +1 ganging up) on the target, averaging 3 successes. We need 4 average successes to reach the next damage threshold, so it's worthwhile to use They Ain't Tough on the first swing to remove a point of armor. This means no momentum on the first swing, so we need to swing again with 8 dice to deal 3 damage to the target (playbook 2 + Owner 1). After this we can bonus time for an extra dice, looking at an average 5 successes but that's the same damage amount plus a dodge. It will help us spike higher on occasion though, so it's worthwhile to do most time. That ends up giving us:
  • 1 swing @ no damage
  • 4 swings @ 3 damage
Total w/o Legendary = 12 damage

Ox using his Legendary play adds an extra damage and removes an armor from out target. This means we can reliably reach 4 success from the first swing. That gives us:
  • 5 swings @ 4 damage 
Total w/ Legendary = 20 damage

Fishermen - Shark

Since we started with Ox we should swing over to Shark on the Fishermen next. They work together so nicely as a pair and I'm sure we're all expecting Shark to come in lowest on damage dealing. Shark doesn't have any traits or Legendary plays which bump up damage, nor does Salt bump up damage. Shark brings a TAC of 6 and 6 influence. Since being knocked down will not really make a difference on Shark's damage, we'll assume he is starting in combat to get an extra attack. Additionally, Shark's damage is non-momentous so no bonus time in the attacks. This leaves Shark swinging with 7 on his attacks, netting 3 expected success for 2 damage a swing.
  • 6 swings @ 2 damage
Total = 12 damage

Brewers - Tapper

Brewers Captain Tapper is the player who received the award which started my whole thought process leading to this article.  Tapper and Scum together have a fair bit of variation we need to look at so let's dive right in. First we have the basics, Tapper has a TAC of 6 and 4 influence, plus 2 more influence from his Heroic play, plus 1 more dice to Scum ganging up and 1 more influence from Scum's tactical advice. This puts us at TAC 6 + 1 dice and 7 influence but we must spend our first momentum. Next we need to look at Tapper's Commanding Aura play. This is important to have but the question is how to activate it. Tapper can expect 3 success on a standing attack, 5 success on a charge attack, or spend 2 influence to just activate the play. 3 successes is not enough to activate CA, and although 5 successes is the cost of a charge is the same as just using the play. If Tapper can walk to range on a target that means it's more reliable to just spend the 2 influence to activate CA.

So, Tapper has 7 influence and is activating Commanding Aura before attacking. This means he's entering the fray with 5 influence, 8 dice on the attack, and +1 damage to playbook results. There is a full additional success difference of Df3/Arm1 and Df4/1Arm so Tapper should use his knockdown play on his first swing, earning a momentum for his Heroic. He should also bonus time for the potential wrap on a spike in rolling when he can.  With this Tapper can expect:
  • 1 swing @ knockdown
  • 4 swings @ 4 damage
Total  = 16 damage 

Engineers - Ballista

Good ol' Engineers are not really known as a damaging team when it comes to putting a pure beatdown on someone. Ballista is fully in the engineers camp on this, not really beating people to deal damage. There are lots of ways for his to dish out some damage, using two of his character plays and/or his legendary play. If he hits the same model with both damage dealing legendary plays he'll deal 5 points of damage to them. He also has easy access to pushes in his playbook, letting his dish out 6 points of damage by pushing the target around while his legendary play is up. In lieu of those two methods and looking at a straight beat-down, Ballista is much sadder overall. Ballista will have a TAC of 6 plus the 1 dice from crowding out and 6 influence to attack with. He should choose knockdown on his first attack to increase his expected successes to 4 for each of the others. In the event he does not do that he cannot expect any damage at all. The knockdown first leaves him as follows:
  • 1 swing @ knockdown
  • 5 swings @ 1 damage
Total  = 5 damage  

Alchemists - Midas

Midas is one of those captains who has a wide swing in what they can do. This is almost entirely due to his True Replication ability and heavily dependent on what the opponent brings to the table. We'll look at Midas two ways, without True Replicating a combat ability and True Replicating Scything Blow. I pick Scything Blow because it's the nightmare situation most discussed in relation to Midas.

Midas has some basics which we'll jump right into. Midas brings a TAC of 6 + 1 dice for Flask and 7 influence. We will assume he is not starting with a momentum as we have for the other captains, so he'll have to earn a momentum to trigger his heroic play for +1 damage to playbook damage. Midas can only expect 3 successes on a normal attack meaning he only triggers the 1 damage and will need to burn an attack on a dodge for 1 momentum. On a charge he is only expecting 5 successes, which still missing his knockdown result. We'll parse his damage an additional way without True Replication. We also assume as soon as he gets momentum he'll trigger his heroic play for +1 damage.

Midas w/o knockdown
  • 1 swing @ momentum
  • 6 swings @ 2 damage
Total  w/o knockdown = 12 damage

Midas w/ Knockdown
  • 1 charge @ knockdown
  • 1 swing @ momentum
  • 4 swings @ 3 damage
Total w/ Knockdown = 12 damage  

Interesting to see Midas does just as much damage knocking someone down as not. The alternative we will look at is the nightmare situation where Midas is attacking after grabbing Scything Blow from the opponent. We'll look at the straight damage, but keep in mind this damage is dealt to every model within an inch of Midas during the attack round. Midas only needs a single success to trigger Scything Blow, and it earns momentum. Scything blow does not benefit from his Heroic play damage boost, so it's not really necessary.

Midas w/ Scything Blow
  • 7 swings @ Scything blow (3 damage)
Total w/ scything blow = 21 damage 

Masons - Honour

I suspect Honour will be one of the two surprises for readers of this article. Honour is surprisingly punchy when she puts her mind to things, which is only exacerbated by that damn Monkey. Honour starts our with a TAC 6 and 6 influence. She adds 1 dice to her TAC for Marbles ganging up, an additional 1 dice to her TAC and +1 to her playbook damage results when Marbles engages the same model she's attacking. She has a legendary play which can add an influence on a single turn, but we'll not consider that at this point. Marbles can also tool her up, which we'll consider in a second chart. Honour is now rolling in with 8 dice, 6 influence, and +1 damage (+2 with Tooled Up) on her attack.  Based on her results every other hit can generate momentum, which she'll use to reach 4 successes on Odd attacks. Let's look:

Honour w/o Tooled up
  • 3 swings (1, 3, 5) @ 3 damage
  • 3 swings (2, 4, 6) @ 4 damage
Total  = 21 damage  

Honour w/ Tooled Up
  • 3 swings (1, 3, 5) @ 4 damage
  • 3 swings (2, 4, 6) @ 5 damage
 Total  = 27 damage 

Union - Blackheart

Blackheart is considered a punchy player who can deal out a fair bit of damage. His mascot, Coin, cannot use the Bag of Coffers ability on Blackheart, so will only be contributing ganging up bonuses in this analysis. Blackheart brings a TAC of 6 + 1 dice for ganging up and 6 influence. He can reliable raise Commanding Aura on a charge, which earns him a momentum as well so that's what we'll do. After that it makes sense for Blackheart to bonus time his attacks, especially if he get's the knockdown on the charge. We'll look at Blackheart not getting the Knockdown on charge, and getting the knockdown on charge.

Blackheart w/o knockdown
  • 1 swing (charge) @ commanding aura
  • 4 swings @ 3 damage
 Total w/o knockdown = 12 damage 

Blackheart w/ Knockdown on charge
  •  1 swing (charge) @ 3 damage + Knockdown
  • 1 swing @ commanding aura
  • 3 swings @ 4 damage
Total  w/ Knockdown = 15 damage  

Morticians - Obulus 

Obulus is a captain where half the readers will be surprised he even does damage, and the other half will be surprised he is used for anything else. Obulus brings so much influence to the table that he can deal small amounts of damage on a single hit and it adds up over time. Obulus is showing up with a TAC 6 + 1 dice ganging up and 8 influence. If Dirge get's singled out onto the target this makes a fair difference because Obulus has so much influence, so we'll calculate that in as well. Obulus with singled out is swinging with 9 dice per attack.

Obulus w/o Singled out
  • 8 swings @ 2 damage
Total w/o Singled Out  = 16 damage   

Obulus w/ Singled Out
  • 1 swing @ knockdown
  • 7 swings @ 3 damage
Total w/ Singled Out = 21 damage  

Final Results

Thats a long read but let's sum everything up and put them in order:
  1. Honour w/ Tooled Up = 27 damage
  2. Obulus w/ Singled out = 21 damage
  3. Honour = 21 damage
  4. Midas w/ Scything Blow = 21 damage
  5. Ox w/ Legendary = 20
  6. Tapper = 16 damage
  7. Obulus = 16 damage
  8. Blackheart w/ Knockdown = 15 damage
  9. Blackheart = 12 damage
  10. Midas = 12 damage
  11. Shark = 12 damage
  12. Ox = 12 damage
  13. Ballista = 5 damage
That's a fairly interested spread of damage, with the bulk of the unmodified Captains coming in at 12 damage. Considering that Morticians also have access to Tooled Up via Rage, a morticians team dedicated to Obulus killing someone can be pretty scary. (Obulus w/ Singled out w/ Tooled up = 28 damage on a target.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tournament Report - Guild Ball Snow Ball

on the weekend of January 16th I attended a Guild Ball tournament in the Philadelphia area, Snow Ball. I was able to pull out 4 wins during the tournament, grabbing first place overall for the day. Overall results and round by round pairings can be found on the Snow Ball Tiebreak page.

I thought I'd take a different approach to writing up a tournament report, I'd love your feedback after reading this article. Please leave me some comments about how this format works for you. I'm going to start with a quick overview of my matches along with some of my thoughts for handling the pairing. Following that I'll go through my tournament 8 list and how each model performed during the day.

Matches

I didn't capture the specific lists that each of my opponents used during my games. It was a pretty long day of games, with an additional 3 hours of driving before and after the tournament. Due to that I'm not going to try and remember the specific teams or plays as I'll likely get them wrong. I want to talk about my thoughts going into the match, knowing only the team I'd be facing, along with any key moments that come to mind. 

Round 1 - David's Fishermen

I've faced some pretty darn good Fishermen players in the past, with local player Maurice among the top of those I've faced. Fish are one of the teams which I worry about facing, they are fast enough to score and win the game before I can gather up my own collection of goals and take-outs.  If they are not ready for the raw brutality Union can dish out then the games will fall in my favor. I decided to go with a fairly classic Union set-up taking Blackheart, Coin, Gutter, Rage, Mist, and Decimate. My thinking was to come on strong and keep the damage dealing up as long as possible. Mist would run as my striker, grabbing goals where possible and looking to use his/her low tackle to regain the ball when the Fish were holding it. Decimate was a swing player, able to move quickly and grab a free ball while being equally effective at tackling other players or dishing out a bucket of damage where needed.

As my first game of the day I don't remember much of the play-by-play at this point. I remember my opponent was a fantastic sport and we had a fun game.

Round 2 - Dixon's Alchemists

I did not want to play this game and, after driving 3 hours together to the tournament, Dixon and I entered ourselves as the same club trying to avoid a match-up. That worked well round 1 but our similar differential round 2 paired us up. We had played two practice games Friday night, and I'm thankful we did. Common Guild Ball thinking is to NEVER NEVER NEVER take Gutter or Fangtooth when facing Midas. I know this but had never experienced it in a game. Friday evening we played 2 games, the first with me taking Gutter and the second with Fangtooth. Each game was a complete mess and illustrated to me why you never take those two when facing Midas.

We headed into our game and I knew what I needed to do. Blackheart, Coin, Hemlocke, Decimate, Rage, Mist was the team I fielded. Dixon flew down the field on turn 1 with Vitriol, scoring early in the turn and popping up to 4 points. I sent the ball over to Mist and then retaliated with Blackheart and Decimate (fueled up by Coin) destroying Vitriol for 2 points and a take out. Dixon began to group up a bit with Midas, Calculus, and Mercury, creating a tempting target for Rage to charge and go crazy. I dropped a poison cloud into that mess with Hemlocke then Dixon chose to move Flask forward and not use his smoke cloud. This put the robot in range of Rage, who took that opportunity to launch himself into the mascot and take him down to bleeding 3 health remaining. Dixons Hemlocke spent time healing Flask and Mist activated last, firing down the field and scoring to bring the score to 6/4 in my favor. Turn 2 had Dixon bringing Vitriol back onto the board and in range of Rage, if he were to become disengaged. We jockeyed on the board a bit giving Dixon the chance to score with Midas and me the opportunity to take out one of his other players. Rage then did his thing, hitting and killing Flask, clearing his burning, then charging Vitriol who was in the cover of a wall. I rolled 9 dice needing at least 4 rolls of 5 and ended up rolling 7 rolls of 6 to deal enough damage and take her out. That ended the game 12/8 in my favor.

This was possibly the quickest game of the tournament, completing the entire game in ~20 minutes combined. Dixon scored the most points during the day against me, a very tight match overall.

Round 3 - Matt's Engineers

Round three had me facing one of the Engineers teams at the tournament. Matt was an excellent player although I feel like he became very frustrated toward the end of the game. I'm hoping he was frustrated with how the game was progressing, not frustrated with me as a player.

Matt fielded Ballista, Mainspring, Salvo, Ratchet, Velocity,  and Compound against my Blackheart, Coin, Rage, Gutter, Fangtooth, and Mist. I chose Fangtooth for this match-up because I know that Engineers hate to face a team who can knock them down. I thought Fangtooth's easy access to knockdown combined with his Gluttonous Mass would give me an edge in this game. I also from experience that the Engineers have a very tough time dealing with a super aggressive damage team being pushed into their lines. That's exactly what I planned to do and what happened during the game. We played the majority of the game within 4 inches of his goal starting on turn 2. This put Matt under a tremendous amount of pressure as my players were a constant damage threat to some significant portion of his team until the final take-down.

A key moment in this game was Velocity breaking free from Mist after 2 rounds of dancing, using second wind from Salvo to make it close to my goal. She was met near my goal by Coin, who proceeded to stay engaged with her for harassment sake. Matt rolled a 3 dice bonus timed kick on the goal and ended up missing, which essentially put him at 0 points for the game. I had enough pressure on him it was unlikely he would win, but this left him with no score at all. Throughout the game Blackheart, Gutter, and Rage were punishing the Engineers for even being on the field. I also used efficient use of engagement from Mist, Gutter, and Rage to tie down Compound and stop any thought of his Rush Keeper counter-charging ability. The final 2 points of the game ended up with Rage charging and killing Compound, who proceeded to blow up and deal the final damage to Ballista to score me 4 points and the win. Overall game 12/0 my favor.

Round 4 - Matt's Butchers   

I headed into the 4th round knowing there were 3 undefeated players in the round. I was one, Maurice with his Fish, and Matt who I'd not played with his Butchers. Matt and I were paired up on table 1 with Maurice facing Dixon on table 2. Matt was a really nice guy and let me know at the start of the game that this was his 10th game of Guild Ball. I have a lot of respect for him making it to the top table in the finals being so new to the game. The field was pretty damn competitive and he had navigated his way through very successfully. I didn't know it until we started, he was using Ox, Princess, Boiler, Shank, Gutter, and Rage.

I have faced Butchers a fair amount and am comfortable playing across the pitch from them. I know they can deal out a disturbing amount of damage, but I also know that I can out-fight them with Union if I need to. That match up is a pretty rough one and I was on the top table, so I decided to go in another direction. I put in Blackheart and Coin then followed up with Mist, Decimate, and Hemlocke. This gave me a strong goal scoring core to my team with Hemlocke available to toss out Blind. Blind can be a real hurdle for Butchers to deal with and I wanted that tool available to me. Gutter rounded out my team as she can act as a quick goal-scoring model when needed along with bringing some real pain and board control to the board.

Matt chose not to commit to the pain-fest and tried to start the first turn avoiding Gutters 14 inch threat range. This let me do some positioning and draw out key models during the turn to gain a position advantage. Butchers playing against Union need to be aggressive without crossing over to being too-aggressive and that can be a tough line to walk. I was able to jump onto the ball fairly quickly, passing and generating momentum to get myself initiative on turn 2. A quick turn 1 score with Mist followed by some turn 2 attacks put me strongly in the game. Matt grouped up a bit with Ox, Princess, and Boiler and gave me a chance to run Gutter forward and deal some scything blow damage to his team. The overall game started to tip over the edge through round 3, ending on turn 4 with Blackheart holding 5 influence choosing to shift to the ball and kick in for a goal. Mist missing a turn 3 goal opened up the opportunity for Matt to clean up 3 heavily wounded players with Shank, bringing in 6 points before the end of the game.

Tournament 8

A typical tournament of Guild Ball has you pick 8 models for your team, of which you end up fielding 6 in each game. This gives some flexibility to deal with opposing teams and change your overall strategy a bit. I really feel Union has an advantage in this area with interchangeable players who bring their own strength to the table. The Union operating as a group of strong individuals opposed to stacking abilities across multiple players means swapping out 1 or 2 players can drastically change the feel of the team. Here are my thoughts on how each of my 8 players performed during the day.

Black heart

As the only Captain until Season 2 models are released, Blackheart was in every lineup during the day. He is one of my 2 mandatory model choices for the Union. Luckily he is very effective at what he does. Blackheart performed as expected for me during the tournament, filling his role on the Union Brute Squad when necessary and otherwise providing a constant damage threat. He even brought in the winning goal for the day, using his surprising 9 inches of movement and a damn decent 3/6" kick to score a goal. I do not typically pay influence to activate Commanding Aura, preferring to pick it up from an attack on an opponent in combat. During the tournament I found myself paying for it more than not, aiming for a more reliable commanding aura buff than risking not grabbing it on an attack.

Coin

Coin is arguably the best mascot in the game, handing out Bag of Coffers and threatening people with his 2 inch reach. I found myself giving BoC to a different set of players than normal during the day, and even using it on himself more often than expected. I had a number of times during the day, namely in my Engineers game, where Coin dropped back toward my goal to harass an opposing striker or goal scorer.  I was given more opportunities to use Follow-up in these 4 games than I have in the previous 3 months of playing guild ball. Although I'm not positive his presence directly stopped any goals, Coin certainly contributed to some extra brain cycles burned by my opponents. Coin found himself granting coffers most often to Gutter and Fangtooth in these games, opposed to my typical use targeting Gutter, Hemlocke, and Mist.

Gutter

Gutter fills a very specific role for me in the majority of games where I play her. First turn she grabs Coffers from Coin then moves up the table and pull some victim into range of Rage and Blackheart to kill. On a good day she is able to put one or two hits onto the victim to soften them up.  Following that she acts as a threat on the board although rarely a threat that delivers. During this tournament she was the exact opposite of normal. I experienced today why so many people hate Gutter and felt she needed an errata. Gutter did more charging and use Scything Blow more today than I think I've ever done so. Gutter earned me, in 3 games, an easy third of the victory points I earned overall. She was very much my MVP of the day without even showing up for one game at all. I'm only sad there were not any tricks or inside thoughts I can share about using her. She performed every function I needed her to, from combat to board control, to retrieving the ball.

Rage

Rage is my favorite character in Guild Ball and putting him on the table for 4 games today just reinforced that fact. He might as well be considered a mandatory player for me, although I did leave him off in my Butchers game. Considering that and despite the value Gutter brought, I'm wondering if I should have swapped him in instead of her for the final game. Rage was an unholy threat to my opponents in the 3 games where he took the field. He effectively won me the Engineers game, taking advantage of Vitriol's poor positioning.  I even found opportunities in a couple games where Rage sacrificed his influence for a timely tooled up on Gutter and Fangtooth, increasing the scare factor of both those models. Yup, I'm looking forward to Captain Rage. I think the biggest area of under-utilization I saw in Rage was on his Bleed effect. I often killed off my target before Bleed could truly come into play at all. I can only think of 2 times where an opponent survived to the maintenance phase and actually took the bleed damage.

Decimate

Decimate is such a versatile player she earned a solid "must take" role in the Union team. Despite my choice to leave her off the table on round 3 vs the Engineers, I'm wondering if that was the best choice. Decimate works amazingly in conjunction with Commanding Aura and Tooled Up. She is one of the easiest ways to convert Influence into Momentum for the Union team. She also has some of the fastest movement on the team by using Second Wind for 2 influence. This is nice for her to use on herself  but becomes unexpected when you place it on Mist. Mist with Second Wind can start in a cloud (granting him more movement), move down the board, shoot a goal, then re-position 8 inches without needing a guild plot or the "run the length" momentum spend. This is a particularly threatening play and quickly positioning him to grab the ball and score again in the subsequent turn. Decimate brings a desired tool kit to the game and is valuable in all Union lineups.

Hemlocke

Hemlocke makes it into my Union tournament 8 for a very specific reason, which is Butchers. Blind is very effective when used against the fight oriented Butchers, and can often come in handy when facing some other teams who also want to start a brawl. I'll occasionally throw her in when facing Brewers and other Union teams as well, but primarily she is my counter to Ox and Boar. In this tournament she made the field twice, once in my game vs Alchemists and once in my final game versus Butchers. In both games she pulled her own weight but did not really perform above the line or deliver anything spectacular. I do think she is a solid choice when building out my Union 8, but I've been often considering swapping her out for another player such as Mynx or Snakeskin who would strengthen my goal scoring game.

Mist

Mist is a must take in the Union 8 as far as I am concerned. He is not only the only Union striker, but is arguably the second best striker in the game. I cannot see fielding a team that does not have an option to go for scoring goals and there is few better to do so than Mist. My Alchemists game was a prime example of where he plays, loading him up with 4 influence after winning the roll to recieve the ball and then scoring on my final activation. His 22 inch threat means he can score from the deployment line unless you mess up where he deploys, and even then he can be readjusted through a "Pass and Move" play. Although Mist did not score in my game vs Engineers, he still played a valuable role threatening Velocity for a couple turns then engaging Compound to stop the Rush Keeper counter charge. I have to admit that missing half his shots on goal through the tournament really frustrated me overall.

Fangtooth 

Big, Lumbering, Knocking Down, Gluttonous Mass Fangtooth. I will admit that I've been carrying Fangtooth in my tournament 8 line up for a while now and I can't explain exactly why. He has never truly performed in any of my games, nor has he clearly earned his place on the team.  I think I place him in my lineup for easy access to knockdowns and as a defensive threat with his health and gluttonous mass. If there was an opportunity to launch him into a group of opposing models and use Unmasking multiple times I can see my opponent being punished. I already have Gutter in my list though, and she fills a similar role. I'm hesitant to remove him from my lineup because of the threat and defense he brings along in his playbook. I also am unsure who I would add and what they would bring along. Overall, I suspect Fangtooth will continue in my lineup.