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.

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.