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.


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 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 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 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 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 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 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.


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.
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