As I said last time, here’s another post! This time it’s not strictly scientifically valid (as my posts usually are… *cough*), but I thought I’d chat about Guildball, the new “ooooh shiny” on the block. If you’re on twitter you will probably have seen tons of people tweeting pictures of their snazzy painted teams, and there are one or two little tournaments being mentioned already too. I’m definitely not jealous. I won’t talk about the mechanics of the game etc as others (such as docbungle) have done that extremely successfully already, and I would just be repeating them.
I also haven’t actually played the game yet… but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from mainstream media, it’s that you don’t need to know anything about a topic to make some highly opinionated discussion about it.
Around this time last year I backed the kickstarter for Guildball to the tune of 2 teams. After much debating I decided to go with the fishermen’s Guild, due to excellent artwork and renders, and the Masons’ Guild, because of snazzy artwork and their being described as a “jack of all trades” team (which I tend to like in games). To add to these teams I got both of their “extra” players: Jac (this model just looks all kinds of awesome), and Tower. Already though, I’m looking at the Minx artwork and thinking she’ll need to be added at some point. There’s also talk of a hunters’ guild being in season 2, so that might end up getting bought. Good to see my restraint is still as strong as ever.
So all of that was done with literally no idea of the rules at all. I knew it was a vaguely Malifaux-esque game using a football and dice, but that was it. I also had no idea of the story either. Indeed generally I think my backing of it was purely down to good publicity, general hype, and excellent artwork and renders. I justified it to myself by thinking “even if the game isn’t my cup of tea, this’ll make a snazzy bloodbowl team/mordheim gang/generic fantasy game group”.
Well now I have read the (free to download) rules, and I’ve read the story bits in the rulebook and… wowsers. I think my excitement to play Guildball and paint my teams equals the excitement I felt when first reading through the M2E Marcus rules and seeing his models. Just to clarify, that’s pretty darn excited.
The rules seem pretty straightforward, and easy enough to pick up. I like the fact that points are scored by scoring goals and/or killing models, and I particularly like the fact that goals get you more points than killing, therefore while it is of course beneficial to take out opposing models, similar effort could lead to a tackle and shot at the goal. On the face of it, this means that speedy squishy teams like the fishermen should have an equal chance against slower hitty teams like the butchers, though I guess only playing the game will show how equal that balance really is.
One thing which I find truly fascinating about Guildball is that it isn’t points based. A team consists of (normally) 6 models: a captain, a mascot, and 4 players. Players can either be from your chosen guild, or any union models available to that guild (think mercenaries in Malifaux). By this logic, any captain should be exactly as good as any other captain, the same for mascots, and the same for normal players. However, each team also needs to maintain its own unique feel. A brief scan through shows that broadly the stats of the various categories of players are fairly even across teams, so even the “hitty” teams aren’t ludicrously weighted towards smashing things and useless at the other aspects of the game (as sometimes happens in games). To me this is very very encouraging. I love games of small numbers of models, and it’s quite a novel approach to forsake the usual points method.
With a small number of models in mind, I’m really interested to see how the smaller 3 model game size functions too. On the face of it this seems like a very small game set up, but I think it could work very nicely for a day-long league rather than tournament. With three models per side, games should be pretty quick, and therefore you could get a lot done in a day. However whether the lack of models leads to a fairly one dimensional gameplay remains to be seen. Obviously the 3 model variant is designed mainly for intro games to get the hang of the mechanics etc, but I’m very interested to test it out.
In that vein, I think Guildball lends itself to some very very fun events. Of course it’ll work nicely for normal tournament stuff, and no doubt rankings will occur (if they aren’t already in action), but given the setting of politics being tightly interwoven with the sport (just check out the fluff in the rulebook for the players’/Guildmasters’/mysterious figures’ views of Guildball matches) there’s huge scope for events with extra occurrences. Below is one idea which I came up with for a doubles tournament, whilst I was getting devoured by leeches in the middle of some Australian rainforest (you need to keep your mind occupied or else those little invertebrates will drive you nuts).
A tournament has been arranged to encourage collaboration between the guilds. This new drive for collaboration stems back to a wealthy merchant who was furious when he ordered surf ‘n’ turf at a restaurant, only to find that the butchers and fishermen wouldn’t allow their respective produce to be polluted with that of their rivals.
Not wanting to be seen as regressive the guilds have all come to play in the tournament, though whether they’re there to promote collaboration or for their own purposes remains to be seen.
Unfortunately, our wealthy merchant has rather a short attention span, and if a game bores him, the guilds involved run the risk of losing his favour. As a result the guilds’ representatives try to gauge his whim and send messages to the teams to keep things engaging for him. This may also be a good opportunity to dish out a bit of vengeance on the rival guilds.
The gist of the setup
Each player chooses their guild in advance, but can swap players between games. Each game players are paired up with a new partner (randomly or by how they’re doing) and choose 3 players each (so there’re 6 players per side). The game then plays as normal, however after deployment each player is given a secret objective which none of the others (not even the ally) know.
The objectives would be a range of things which might get more extreme as the event progresses, along the lines:
Score more goals than your ally
Score more points by killing models than scoring goals
Kill a specific opposing model
(my favourite so far) Deal the killing blow to your ALLY’S captain (snigger snigger)
Scoring is along the lines of 1 point for a loss, 2 for a draw, 3 for a win, and 1 for achieving your secret objective. This means you’re trying to win the game with your ally, while simultaneously trying to score your own objectives, which might not benefit your ally. You might be doing some odd plays to achieve your own ends, and no one else will know why you’re doing what you’re doing, at the same time, is your ally just trying to make 12 passes, or are they about to turn on you?
Oh sure it’d be a bit complex to run, and not necessarily perfectly balanced, but that’s not the point. In fact, in Guildball fluff style, it would be fitting to throw in a few spanners on the fly if someone was doing a bit too well. After all, that merchant will get bored if it gets too predictable…
Until next time