Monday, May 23, 2016

Guild Ball - Get Over Here! tournament report

Recently I attended "Get Over Here!", a small tournament in LaVale MD run by Duane. It was a 2 hour drive up for me but Duane has come out to many of our local tournaments and I wanted to support his first event. In addition to supporting him I was able to see some players from the WV Mountaineers guild ball group which was fun. Unfortunately things did not line up during the day and I ended up not being matched against Brad Mooreland. This is amusing as he and I have been to 4 tournaments together and not played each other, although we are often at close tables. One of these days I'll get a game against him and his Butchers.

Matches

Although I think I can remember the lists that my opponents played, I'm going to stick to my previous format for this article. I'll add the lists in the start of each round recap, but still plan to just write a synopsis of the key moments in each game. 

Round 1 - Michael's Morticians

Michael appeared to be a new player, mentioning that his local group brought him up and told him he was going to play in the tournament. He was a great sport and I had a lot of fun in our game.

He was running Obulus, Dirge, Bonesaw, Silence, Ghast, Casket. I won the roll and chose to receive the ball. Overall the game went well but it was fairly quick and went to my favor fairly heavily. Michael was not prepared for the damage that Rage and team can dish out, surprised when Ghast could not soak the incoming attacks from Capt. Rage and Gutter. Additionally his dice truly hated him in this game, with showcase being 5 rolls of 6 dice by Obulus, each rolling a single 4 and five 1's, 2's, and 3's. Michael was only able to pull 2 points out of the game with Obulus killing coin after 2 turns of attacks. The game ended 12 to 2 in my favor, moving me to the top table for round 2.

Round 2 - Jason's (Steve) Hunters

Jason has played in one of my tournaments previously and we had a great time playing against each other this game. He was a great opponent and we were joking with each other through the whole match. Strangely, I had it stuck in my head his name was Steve for the whole day and he kept (nicely) correcting me when I got his name wrong.

Jason brought the Hunters to the tournament, switching from Mason's to try the new team. He brought the starter box line-up of Theron, Fahad, Zarola, Egret, Hearne, Jaecar. He didn't have a bench at all, running those 6 all day. I was really looking forward to facing Hunters due to having a great time playing them in a couple games prior to their release. I was excited to see how much fun they were across the table.

There were a couple key plays in the game which stick out in my memory. The first was Egret moving up on turn 1 to take a flurry shot at coin. Jason was expecting to hit the shot and then dodge Egret back an inch, pulling her out of Gutter's range. He ended up missing the shot which let Gutter move up and pull Egret into the death zone, giving Capt. Rage the ability to kill a model turn 1. This set the tempo for the game with Capt. Rage, gutter, and Coin pushing into his team and unleashing a beating.

The second memorable point of the game was the final play. Unintentionally I had left Rage unengaged when Gutter pulled Zarola into a murder-ball position on the field. Gutter was engaging both Zarola and Jaecar and I won initiative on the turn. Rage, being unengaged, charged across to engage and attack Jaecar and put him down to 2 life remaining. He then used 2 influence to dodge onto Zarola, staying outside Gutter's 2 inch reach. He then attacked Zarola, hitting her and putting her down to 3 health. I then used Red Fury to get Gutter to attack, landing a scything blow on Jaecar and killing he and Zarola for 4 points to win the game.

This game put me on the top table going into round 3 with +20 on my differential.

Round 3 - Dutch's Brewers

Round 3 we had 3 undefeated players lined up for pairings. Based on differential I was sitting at 1st, Dutch was at 2nd, and Brad was at 3rd and facing a "play down" against an opponent who was only 1&1. The top ranked 1&1 was Dixon, who had already faced Brad, raising a pairings question for the TO. At the end of the day, Dixon and Sheridan were swapped (basically swapping the top 1&1 players) and the undefeated matches moved forward with the original pairings.

Dutch is a newer player to Guild Ball, having only played in 1 tournament prior to this one. He is one of my locals and we've played a couple casual games together. This was our first time facing each other competitively, and it was a fantastic game. He was running Esters, Scum, Friday, Spigot, Hooper, Gutter.I was happy to see Gutter in his line-up as I had not faced a player using union so far during the day. I was happy to finally get a chance to use Usurper on Rage's card.

Our game was a long and drawn out punch fest, trading blows on both sides of the table. I ended up landing 2 goals during the game then missing my 3 and game winning goal with Capt. Rage. Dutch landed 1 goal after the mid-point of the game and racked up 3 take-outs during the game. After Cap. Rage missed his goal we played 2 more turns, both dealing damage and looking for a take-out to close out a 10/10 game. I described it on Gamers Lounge as being similar to a Heavy Weight boxing match where both fighters are in round 8 and just throwing body blows until their opponent drops. It was a great match, with me winning initiative on a turn and closing out the game by Capt. Rage killing Spigot.

Brad lost his game to Sheridan on table 2, leaving me as the only undefeated player through the day and the tournament champion.

Tournament 8

I had a fairly straight forward lineup in mind for Capt. Rage. I'm a bit concerned that the Union team led by rage becomes very one dimensional and struggles to switch to a scoring game when necessary. There are core models that want to be played with Capt. Rage as he ramps up their utility and capabilities a great deal. Some models which are already considered good become drastically better when you can effectively give them an additional TAC and 4 additional influence. Here was my tournament 8 and my thoughts on why I had them in my list.

Captain Rage

Veteran Captain Rage is here and I slotted him into Blackhearts slot to lead my team. I decided on him for this tournament based on a couple reasons. First, it was a smaller tournament and a good place to bring him out for a trial run. I was not expecting the same level of competition I see at 4 and 5 round larger tournaments. Second, I feel Capt. Rage really "turns on" Gutter, and the chance to play her with him would be enjoyable, especially in the face of how much worse I feel she is with Blackheart. Lastly, I was expecting one of the other top-table competitors to also run Rage led Union, and the match-up would have been fun but he ended up not using them.

Capt. Rage is Rage ramped up to the next level. He still charges for free and hits really hard. He generates momentum on essentially every hit, and has lots of ways to wrap his playbook by adding in extra TAC. He's lost the ability to make people bleed, but adds a new ability to make his teammates attack on his turn. One of the tricks with Capt. Rage that needs to be adapted to is his need to attack models who are already engaged by other friendly models. This means most fights are being tied up 2 to 1 from your team. It ends with opposing models being taken out, but still ties up 2 of your players per fight.

I also found that Capt. Rage moves the team into a fairly singular fighting and take-out build. This is where they are most efficient and it almost feels like the team starts to fight you when you try to switch to a goal scoring tempo. It's much harder to get the ball back from the opposing team or even line up favorable goals with your team while maintaining efficient play and damage dealing tempo that Rage wants.

Coin

Coin is a trooper and I don't have much to add over what I've said previously about him. He's still our only mascot for the time being, but he is one of the best mascots in the game. I find that in a Capt. Rage led team I end up with a bit less use from Coin, but mostly due to positioning. He's giving Bag of Coffers to Mist in the early game, then opportunistically handing it out when Mist takes off to score goals. Where possible I drop it on Gutter, not as much for the free bonus time but more for an extra influence for her to attack with. I also see Coin moving to engage more often, especially considering how much Rage wants gang-up opportunities on the field.

Gutter

Post-nerf Gutters role in my game has changed drastically. No longer am I looking for her to be able to re-position models for others to kill. Now I'm simply looking to her as a damage dealer. Although I no longer see her as a valuable member of my Blackheart teams, she will always roll out with Capt. Rage. Gutter and Capt. Rage were made for each other, and she's critical to his play style. Gutter is now in a constant hunt for places where she can get 2 or 3 models into her range and manufacture excuses to Scything Blow. This becomes a bit easier when Rage can charge in late in the turn, after opponents have discounted Gutter doing anything else, and then use Red Fury to make Gutter attack out-of-sequence. Although the Bloody Coin on Rage's legendary play does not buff up Scything Blow, if you have multiple models in range it's the play to do.

Overall I'm disappointed that Gutter's control element has been heavily reduced and further disappointed that the team effectively centers on manufacturing favorable combats for her. It's going to get easier for opponents to realize what a lynch-pin player she is in a Rage led team and start to take her out early and often.

Avarisse & Greede

A&G bring two important things to the table for a Capt. Rage led union team. The most important of these is the 7th activation. Detaching Greede for the second influence and extra activation brings a tremendous benefit to Capt. Rage, giving him the ability to pick critical fights each turn. This is especially important when you consider how necessary it is to line up favorable combats for Gutter. Often these two do not even get influence, simply walking during their turn and hoping to engage opposing models to set up targets for Rage to attack.

On the rare situations Avarisse is given an influence or Rage uses Red Fury to make him attack, his second benefit to the team comes in. Singled Out being dropped onto a target opponent is a fantastic gift to building those key fights during the turn. Singled Out will almost guarantee Gutter her scything blows, and that starts to show where she'll be targeting on the turn. Additionally, Rage no longer has Maverick so can take advantage of the extra TAC as well.

Mist

Mist is still a core selection on my team, and has moved to a must-take in my core 6 since playing at Snowball earlier this year. Arguably the second best or best striker in the game, Mist is where we get goals from on Union. He fills the same role with Rage as he did with Blackheart.

I'm starting to set-up first turn goals with him and then hoping to either receive the ball or  find a way to get the ball through tackling it away or goal-kicking in return to an opponents first turn goal. A Rage led team can put that extra goal influence to use very effectively, necessitating landing a goal early in the game.

Decimate

Decimate continues to place among my favorite players in the game. She is incredibly versatile and simply loses out on the Capt. Rage team to Gutter. Decimate is an amazing damage dealer under Capt. Rage's legendary play but loses out on the consistent +Damage she gets with Blackheart. I tend to use her more for harassment, grabbing the ball, and second wind for when she's near Mist. Occasionally I'll use Coin to toss her an extra influence and she'll swoop in to finish off an opposing player who I might need to clean up with 1-3 more damage for the take out.

On the Rage led team she becomes one of my swap out positions on the team, being the easiest to replace among the primary line-up.

Hemlocke

I'm including Hemlocke into my union line-ups due to the increased condition play in Season 2. Her original role of bringing Blind to the game to combat Butchers and other heavy hitters is no longer as useful following the nerfs to blind. Hemlocke was also directly nerfed across the two errata's, making her easier to hit and reducing her reach overall. She dropped from my 8-player lineup for a while due to those changes, but has returned due to her healing abilities. Being able to drop a 3-inch AOE heal that also drops conditions has become very important with the new S2 players. Hemlocke only made my game versus Hunters in this tournament, and didn't actually do a lot during that game. I pushed so hard against the Hunters that my opponent didn't have many chances to put Snared out on the field. Regardless I still feel she has a spot on the team, especially facing Filet, Smoke, and Hunters.

Snakeskin

I want to like Snakeskin and have been regularly putting her in my 8-player lineups. Unfortunately she's just not leaving my tray for the table. Snakeskin is really good at getting and holdling onto the ball. She also has a good enough kick to work as a back-up striker. This role is not served well when facing Obulus, so taking her out in round 1 would not have served me well. Against Hunters it's more important to have Hemlocke on the field. Against Brewers I could have taken her, but instead chose Decimate for the Second Wind and armor piercing. I still think there's a play for her with Capt. Rage as a place to park the ball and potentially switch over to goal scoring. Perhaps in a future tournament she'll win the whole thing for me.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's getting Dusty around here!

Things have been quiet around here since February, it frustrates me to look at that. It's not that I haven't had idea for articles, it just life has piled up on lack of motivation.

A variety of reasons put me in a situation where I decided to jump into online college courses at the end of last year. The program I've decided to do requires I take some very basic level college classes. This is not a bad thing, especially for those students who've just completed seconday school (High School) and are entering college for the first time. These students have no real-world experience and are early in their lives.

I'm a fair journey away from those students, having worked in my career field for 24 years already, with the past 13 years as an executive for consulting firms. I'm also an autodidact who loves to read, lending to being very well-read across a wide span of material and subjects.

So.... one of the courses I just took was a Freshman level English Composition class. This is a basic university level writing class which I'm confident is supremely helpful to new students. It was completely frustrating to me, and really killed my motivation for casual writing on my blog and elsewhere. My professor acted determined to treat all students in the class as if they were at the same experience and skill level, and the level she chose was that of a recent high-school graduate. During the class my attempts to break out of this mold during discussions or in private correspondence was not effective. That ratcheted my frustration up to fairly high levels, which ended up being unleashed in my class assignments.

I ended up with high marks (A) in the class, which I'm happy with. At least it's now out of the way and I shouldn't need to take a similar class again. I was concerned about this course of study and if I would run into this type of instructor in my classes. Much of the coursework required for this program will be entirely review for me, and at a level that's below my current education and capability levels. I'm anxious about facing similarly frustrating instructors and classes moving forward and this class has only increased that anxiety.

Regardless, the blog is back and I have a series of articles about Guild Ball, Games, Book reviews, and all things DTP coming up. First full length hobby article back will be up Monday morning, talking about a recent Guild Ball tournament I attended.

Ciao!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Painting Update

It's going to be a lighter article today, nothing controversial like previous opinion pieces nor heavy on math like my analysis article last week. I've been pushing myself to carve out time to paint over the past couple weeks. I've not been the most successful, but have made sure to grab time here and there. I'm moving through my Morticians, having gotten all but 2 painted and some of the base coats down on those last 2 models. This is good because I'm looking forward to learning the Morticians and it's nice to play fully painted. I also got in an early release of one of the Season 2 captains, Esters, who needed paint before she could hit the table.

Before jumping into a showcase of those models I'll share a short story with you as well. I recently received the first portion of my Fireteam Zero kickstarter pledge which included a number of models. I decided I was going to hold out on playing the game with my copy and paint up the models in the set. Another person in my gaming group got the game as well, so we can play his copy while I'm painting. The group of enemy model's I'm painting are the Children of Typhon, a bug styled infesting monster who take over other creatures bodies at lower levels. FTZ is new enough that I've been stymied on finding examples of painted models. I asked my buddy John for his advice, as he is a painting machine and has completely painted most of his board game miniatures including complete sets of Zombicide.
  • Me - "Hey John, I'm stuck and would love your advice on what colors to use to paint these models. Check these out, how would you paint them up"
  • John - "These look good. You know lots of insects like beetles and ants have different markings and many different colors. You should look those up and use the colors from them"
  • Me - (thinking huh, I just wanted a color scheme) "Cool, that sound good. What color's would you use?"
  • John - "I'd go online and look up different insects until I found one that I liked then paint them that way. There's a whole lot of different colors you could use"
I realized a couple things at that point:
  • John was answering my question
  • It wasn't exactly the answer I wanted
  • It was most likely the answer I needed
 So now I'm off to dig up color schemes of beetles and ants and such to figure out how to paint up my children of typhon. I decided to start painting up the hero's first, as the browns, greens, and tan for WW2 military troops are a bit easier to figure out. I'll post pictures of the set's once I get them done.

Now let's take a look at the Guild Ball models. First up is Esters, the new Guild Ball Captain. I must admit that I have painted her twice now, and I'm still not as happy with her as I am with the rest of the team. I think she will look good on the table next to the team, but overall she is not among my best paint jobs. I'm unsure if I've just bee off in my painting or if it's the model overall that's not working for me. My first take on her had her dress as one color and then the leather apron painted with the tartan pastern. She looked ok but not fantastic, so I went back and decided to switch things up. I did not think this scheme would work out but after everything was done she looks better than she did originally. She also fits into the team a bit better than before.

Next up are my morticians. I'm going with a darker scheme, blacks, off-white, tan, and grey. I'm working on mimicking some of the other schemes which use green to yellow fading on the ribbons and other various bits in the team. I'm also grabbing any fabric edges and such as straight yellow. Overall I'm happy with how they look but they are not among my best painted models. They don't come together as nicely as the Brewers or Union models did, being a bit tougher to take on paint and color throughout the team. I'm hoping once I finish them up they'll look good on the table.