Contest: Create a Captain!

In honor of our new captain overlords, as well as upcoming errata, let’s hold a little contest shall we?

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Some of you may know I like to dabble in Guild Ball character design. In fact Chris Schlegel and I designed an entire “Miner’s guild” about a year before that was a real thing!

So in order to get your juices flowing I’m asking each of you to design your own captain! It can be from any guild and have any abilities you like. Maybe it is even from a previously unplayable guild? Maybe it’s a rework of an existing captain? Let your imagination run wild!

How to play:

  • Download this template.
  • Create your Captain.
  • Send to mometack@gmail.com before next Tuesday 2/19/18.
  • I will select my favorite 3. I’ll put those to a vote to determine the winner! (format tbd, probably on a poll on gubs will be easiest.)

What’s at stake you say? Besides prestige, it’d only be fitting for a special captain to be on the line. I have a pretty unique resin sculpt who has been dying (ha) to find a home outside my closet for some time… It could be yours!

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So send me your best! I’d hate to see what’d become of you should to miss out on this…

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Into the Record Books: January 2019

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Yeah. January was… Interesting. Perhaps between holiday recovery or cold weather we only saw 1029 games. That’s actually the lowest number of recorded tournament games since, well, last January.

Sometimes I question the tea leaves, but let’s see how I can spin this shall we?

Played Rate:

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Butchers continue to be eternally popular at 11.1%. That number has been pretty stable. This was true even when the team was subpar in season 3, so I doubt we see a slow down now that they’re perceived to be among the strongest teams you can play. Hunters also continue to be a solid pick at 9.0%. Turns out it is still fun to play with bears and shotguns. Blacksmiths round us out at 8.4%, which as we’ll discuss later, might be higher than they deserve.

I believe the most interest developments here are Farmers and Navigators. For Farmers a lot of folks considered them a little on the boring side on the onset of the season, but now they make up a good 9.1% of the field and their results seem pretty solid. The good ol Navigators have shot up to an incredible 8.6%. This is the highest played rate for a minor guild in quite some time, maybe ever. I think a part of that is due to their very high early success rate, but even more so might be simple pent up demand. Folks have been dying to get these models on the pitch for what… like almost 6 months now? I know I wrote my navigator article in August. I think has held up pretty well.

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There’s not a whole lot of change from last month in the mid field. Perhaps the most interesting story is the rise in Brewers, which may be directly tied to the previous month’s success? Folks are finally starting to realize the drunks might not be so bad. Also of note is the heavy decline in mortician play rate since the start of S4. Personally I still feel like scalpel might be one of the strongest captains in the game, but I do believe they’re likely hard to pilot. Maybe that is keeping folks away. Fish and Alchemists end fairly stable at 8.3% and 7.8% respectively. Masons continue to ping pong back and forth ending at 5.7% of the field this month.

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On the low end of the spectrum we also don’t see a whole ton of movement. Almost all of these teams ending within less than one percent of where they were in the previous month. As mentioned before, I believe we can expect a solid shot in the arm for at least the minors come errata season.

Win Rate:

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Fish Represent! Topping the chart at 55.9% this month. Everyone was underselling you at the start of the season, but I knew you’d stay strong. Way to go boys. Way to go. From here we see navigators dip slightly, as expected, down to 55.1%. Beyond this I start to get confused.

First of all, morticians are the only “big 3” still remaining in the top tiers of win rates. As mentioned above I think lesser skilled players stay away which is allowing them to remain above 500 at 53.0%.

Second, Engineers and Union coming in at 53.8% and 54.5%?? What the hell? Cogs have been suffering for like six months or more and all the sudden decide to sky rocket past everyone? With barely any Season 4 changes mind you? And Union continues their epic rollercoaster ride with a staggering 13% increase over December? It makes me wonder if some high level players up and decided they wanted a challenge. I’m all ears if you’re able to point out the reason for this. Maybe the low play rate lets good players impact their wins more? Who is championing these dudes anyway?

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Hunters and Butchers both decline in January to 52.4% and 50.9%. I’m not really sure what to make of this, particularly given butchers are barely over 50%. I’d say gaining lesser skilled players? But their play rates are decreasing as well. Maybe higher skilled players, feeling confident in their mastery, have moved to other guilds? I know of anecdotal evidence where that is specifically true. For instance my good friend Mike Klein was rocking hunters and then switched to brewers. I know Alex Botts ran Farmers in an event this month. Beyond that I don’t have much proving such an interaction. Again it could just be lower than usual numbers making things wonky.

Order and Alchemists see a pretty decent spike in wins. Order gained almost 10% and alchemists gain 5% up to 51.6%, about in line with initial projections. Order continues to confuse me. It seems they shouldn’t be very good, and they aren’t, but sometimes they’ve had some nice little peaks. Farmers continue their steady climb as well, matching their play rate. They’re up to 52.9%.

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NEW RECORD – RING THE BELL! Piper said he would not be out done by Devana! He crashes to a brand new all-time lowest win record of 25%! Incredible. I am about tired of adjusting the lower end of this axis guys. What’s even more surprising is the long lamented falconers took flight to a whopping 18% increase in wins to land at 47.2%. Fly Eagles fly!

Blacksmiths continue to trudge along at 42.4%. It always feels to me like Blacksmiths just have some fundamental design issues (positional, activation order) which skilled players understand how to exploit.

We do see Masons and Brewers, who were both riding pretty high in December, take pretty substantial dives this month. They each lost about 10% to end at 39.8% and 46.9%.

 

Victory Index:

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The good ol Victory index looks really really nice this month. Much more equitable than early Season 4. As a reminder this is raw wins determined by games played times win rate. It kind of gives you a feel of how top tables are likely to shake out.

Butchers, although they lost 2% of the pie, are still king here gobbling up 11% of the total wins for the month. Farmers were more than happy to pick it up. Fish remain unchanged while hunters and morticians both give up ground to Navigators storming their way to 9% of the global wins. With their reasonably strong play and win rate it would seem to me you might want to start practicing some games against good ol Winfinder. You’re pretty likely to run into her in later rounds. It kind of seems like you need to have a solid game plan into most things these days. This is probably better for the game overall.

 

Special Feature – Correlation:

This month I wanted to take some time to see if there is truly any correlation between played rate and win rate. This is a bit harder math so hopefully I do a reasonable job explaining this. The idea is to figure out if you all are really a bunch of power gamers after. Maybe we can see which teams have an opportunity for growth in their player base. I harvested the entire Season 4 data, from 10/17/18 forward, and plotted each guild.

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There is a clear trend here. The regression isn’t incredibly strong, given an R-Square of only .3612, but if you remove the navigators it actually doubles to .6698. That’s pretty impressive actually. It would seem there is a reasonable correlation between how strong a guild is and how much it gets played. Now you might think this is a no brainer, but it goes to show you a lot of people really will gravitate towards what they consider strong. Perhaps game balance really is more important to people than aesthetic and price point…

To interpret a little further, everything below the trend line could be considered “overrepresented” or “underperforming”. That is to say for the number of people piloting the guild, you’d think their win rate would be stronger. I think the poster child of this is blacksmiths. It would seem a whole lot more people are dropping these guys than they ought to. Some theorize their high-fantasy aesthetic and low buy-in make them an attractive choice for new players. It’s actually funny Falconers and Rat catchers also fall into this category. For as little as they get played, if win rate is a predictor, they really should be played even less. Hilarious.

On the other side of the line we see the teams which might be considered underplayed or maybe have an opportunity to pick up some more players. Hunters and Morticians still outperform butchers in this way, which could be chalked up to ease of play I suppose. Maybe some of you meat heads need to make the jump to something a little more mentally taxing? I do feel early season 4 predictions vastly undersold fish and farmers too.

It is pretty amazing though to see the majority of the teams so close to that line. I think it proves how sensitive people can be to results and opinions of top local and international players. I also know that SFG pays attention to played rate, so I wonder if this is proof enough Guilds which see a disproportionate amount of play may need to be toned down a little. Ultimately though, as interesting as this is, it doesn’t predict everything. I know it is easy in this game to own multiple teams, but at the end of the day there is a barrier of entry which can suppress change. There’s also personal preference and playstyle to consider.

One thing I think we can all take away from this is to be willing to branch out and try new things. It’s always good to see a match from the other team’s perspective. While drilling your own guild is important, having a deeper understanding of the rest of the game can benefit your decision making and reaction time as well. My early 2019 goal is to get better at the fighting game. I’ve been suffering through learning Butchers. I’ve not found myself enjoying them all that much. I dig Fillet but have had some personal disagreements with Ox. I’ve been able to win with good fundamentals, but when I lose it’s because I wasn’t patient enough with the team. However! The good news is I’ve learned that lesson and the value it brings with it! I’ve started to learn how to approach the game in a different manner, and as such, how to break that manner apart.

So try something new! Even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy it there are always new lessons to learn. Plus you can always jump back to fish in the end.

Oh. By the way. Errata is supposedly coming in March so make the best out of February guys. This might be your last chance before Perkins smashes your guild to bits.

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Until next time folks!

 

 

Bucket-O-Balls – The (un)official ball-marker of SCUS 2018!

2/4/19 Edit: Thank you to everyone who made a purchase! 68 buckets found a permanent home. I hope you all are gentle when you play with my balls! All orders made through last night (Feb 3rd) will be filled. Any and all future orders will be returned.

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Hello Guild Ball enthusiasts. Special news for you today! I’ve finally got a big batch of the “Bucket-O-Balls” ball-markers ready to make their way out into the world!

For those of you who did not attend SteamCon US – The Gaylord Opryland in Nashville was selected by Steamforged’s Sean Dooley. The reason for this location was solely due to the perk of having a bucket of golf balls delivered to your room every morning. This ball was crafted in order to properly commemorate the fantastic experience and amenities of SCUS as well as the world-class organizer who brought such a venue to the masses.

With the help of SFG sculptor Ben Charles I’ve meticulously sculpted this masterpiece. To my knowledge this was the only ball crafted at SCUS, thus making it the (un)official event ball! It was then brought to life by budding 3d artist Stevan Meisoll. These balls are now ready to grace your pitch with an elegancy that can only be matched by a Nashville driving range.

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Why play with one ball when you could play with a whole bucket!?

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Prices:

I am selling these ball-markers essentially the cost to make/distribute them. The main factor here is shipping.

  • US Domestic – $6/ball (includes shipping)
  • International – $16/ball (includes shipping)
  • Just like Sean Dooley brings communities together, it is more valuable for you to participate as a group. As such you may add on additional balls to your purchase for an extra $2/ball (limit 5).
    • If you wish to order more than 5 ball-markers, please reach out to me directly prior to placing your order.

 

Additional Details:

  • Supplies are limited.
  • Please send the appropriate amount of money via paypal.me/mometack or to mometack@gmail.com.
    • In the notes please indicate your name and *ENTIRE* shipping address including country code if you are not in the US.
    • Please use the SEND TO FRIEND feature as this is not a for profit venture. The paypal fee confuses me.
  • The ball-markers *DO NOT* come with a 30mm base and are unpainted.
  • The balls are made of “rapid resin” 3d printing material.
    • Although the balls are precision crafted, and I have taken care to remove as much flash as possible, some balls may require additional cleaning of mold lines.
  • Please feel free to reach out if there are any additional questions at all!

 

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(In case you’re still scratching your head: this is entirely a work of satire. SCUS was a truly a fantastic memorable experience at a great location. Props to Dooley on a job well done. Our bathrooms were immaculate.)

Special Guest Feature – Guild Ball Gods (volume 1)

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Hey everyone! Trying something a little different today. We’ll take a quick departure from the hard data analysis for a softer approach. I’ve decided to call this segment Guild Ball Gods! Not necessarily because these are the most highly rated folks in the game, but more so because these people are the ones who make our community flourish. In future volumes we might learn a thing or two from some top players. We also could bring in other media members or some fantastic pundits. Let me know if you have an idea of someone who you’d like to highlight!

This week we have two legendary tournament organizers: Jake Smith and Bill Anderson. Both of these guys are known for hosting incredible events in the South Eastern U.S. and both have large, almost convention style, events coming up soon!

Jake Smith:

 

Lon: Hey Jake, So just for those out there who might not be aware of who you are, could you give us a quick rundown of your (and The Dojo’s) Guild Ball history?

Jake: About six years ago I got into miniature games playing X-wing when it was in some of its earlier stages. I played a lot of casual games with friends and then got hooked on competitive play for about two years until in my opinion the game got very stale.

Looking for a new game I had seen Guild Ball on the shelf at our LGS and really fell in love with the artwork, lore, and idea of murder soccer. Myself, Patrick, and another friend of mine, John, all bought in with a guild and we went from there. Fast forward about a year and I started looking for a more competitive scene to which I found at Borderlands in Mike and Josh.

From there the Dojo was born and we currently have 10-15 players in our meta. Over the last three years we’ve been traveling playing Guild Ball competitively on top of other miniature games, card games, and board games. While the Dojo is simply a two-car garage converted into a gaming space, I’d like to think of it as more of a mindset we take it to gaming. We make it a point to have fun at events while still keeping a competitive edge.

Lon: What else do you like to get in to other than Guild Ball?

Jake: Typically, if I’m not playing Guild Ball I’m usually with the family. My wife and little girl, she’s three, take up most of my time outside of work. If I’m not spending time with them you can usually find me at our local cigar bar (our Dojo brethren Patrick runs it) or just in the Dojo chilling playing games, hobby-ing, or watching the Pittsburgh Penguins (I love hockey).

Lon: So Greenville SC has always been kind of the big brother of the South East. You’ve got a good centralized location between some major metas as well as high quality and quantity of players. But I gotta ask, where’ve you guys been lately?

Jake: With attendance I feel like we travel a LOT compared to other metas. We missed Steamcon this year due to a family vacation and Mike also welcomed his first child into the world. In addition, we are currently registered for Bourbon Trail and Adepticon this year. That being said we’ve already attended two events this year in Anderson, SC and Columbia, SC. As I write this we are planning a trip to Atlanta tomorrow taking eight players down to their event (Let’s see another meta travel with eight).

If it comes to overall rankings on Longshanks I think a lot of it has to do with the competitive scene rising. Two years ago, players like Pete Kain, John Stokes, and Glenwood Morris didn’t exist. Present day this area is loaded with top tier talent making even smaller events around us a gauntlet of great players. That being said, I love it. Even in conversations with you I’ve tried my express how much I love seeing the Southeast meta grow with not only quality of players but quantity of players.

And one last thing…back to back STC champions!

Lon: So what Guilds are you running/focusing on right now? What’s most exciting to you in Season 4?

Jake: So, I started off Season 4 playing Alchemists again which was my first true love when I got into Guild Ball. I really think they did a great job adjusting them after Season 3 to make them more competitive but in my mind, I still think they have a lot of issues if you want to play them at a high level. I tried to force them last year after they caught they nerf bat and it just wasn’t fun, so I didn’t want to try to do that again this season. I really enjoy playing teams with a lot of jank to them and typically aim for a 2-2 victory condition. To answer your question, I’m currently playing Morts. They give a lot of options for win conditions and I feel like I really enjoy the way they play.

Most exciting thing about Season 4 has been the updated rules changes and addition of more Minor Guilds. I have a feeling that Miners will be something I look into but I’m still unsure if minor guilds can be competitive or just for funsies.

Lon: If there was one thing you could change about Guild Ball right now what would it be?

Jake: Plot cards. I’m not a fan of the current system. I could most certainly be wrong but a player that starts a game without either 7 or 6 initiative I feel is at a huge disadvantage from the start. I would love to see some form of draft system for cards or maybe just lowering the spread down on the numbers. For example, the max influence number is 5 and they are grouped closer together. I also think Minor Guilds need more player options. They all have their individual play style which I think works well into some matchups, but they also have some very “brick wall” type match ups as well.

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Lon: I personally am really excited to return to Triskelion brewery for Old Jakes. I think the thing that really sold me was the fact we have the entire space to ourselves for 2 days, including more casual entertainment. It doesn’t quite feel like a Con, but almost a “players retreat”. What are you most looking forward to? Any news to add on the event? What should people do if they’re interested?

Jake: Really glad that’s the impression you got because it’s exactly what we’re aiming for.

In all honestly once everyone is registered I could legitimately bet on maybe five players to win the entire thing, so I thought…what will this be like for everyone else? One of the things I really aimed for last year was an attempt to bring metas together and I think we did an OK job. This year is already off to a great start as we already have players from eight different states registered. We will ensure the competitive scene is there for those who want it but also aiming for side events/tasks for players to win swag and awards as well. We will have some alternate formats after the competitive rounds are complete on day one as well as some other cool things like other games and live music. I am probably looking forward to what transpires between rounds 4 and 5 the most.

I currently do not have anything new to report other than I’ve been contacted by several sponsors already to get their name on some swag bag items. I am truly thankful but more to come on that. If you would like to sign up all you need to do is PayPal $35 to jakesmith0114@gmail.com with your name, meta, and intended guild to be played. Once I receive payment I will register you on Longshanks.

Lon: Really appreciate talking to you as always man. I am thinking of doing an old jakes/spring fling “warm up” in Raleigh kind of like what we did last year. Hope to see ya then. Any parting words/shout outs/smack talk?

Jake: Definitely looking forward to another Raleigh tournament! As mentioned before we do our best to travel to as many events as we can to support and build ties between metas. As always if anyone has any questions about the HOWZAT event feel free to reach out to me on FB messenger, I’m always glad to assist any way possible.

Final thoughts… Couldn’t’ do this without the Dojo crew. Shout outs: Mike Rhodes, Josh White, Patrick Adams, Alex Veinberg, Bryce Martin, Stuart King, Jess Hodges, Ron Vonderbecke, Jason Jansante and all of other brothers to the North in Asheville and to the South in Charleston and Georgia. Maybe Chris Yuen just needs a hug??? Will John Stokes ever register another guild on Longshanks??? Will Jared McGraw finally defect to the Southeast meta??? Love you guys! I look forward to seeing everyone on the pitch!

Bill Anderson:

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Lon: How’s it goin Bill? I’m sure most people reading this are aware of who you are, but just in case, tell us a little about yourself and your relation to Guild Ball?

Bill: Hey Lon, things are going well now that my work has backed off the crazy travel schedule, I had last year. The biggest downside is I’m missing my Guild Ball crew out in the Denver area!

Tell you a little about myself and my relation to Guild Ball you ask, hrm… Well, I’ve been playing games of all sorts effectively my whole life, playing games like Chess, Uno, Stratego, Cribbage, and others from as 10 years old. Considering that, I am personally surprised that I didn’t move to tabletop miniature games or had even heard of Games Workshop until I was in my 30’s. Related to Guild Ball specifically, I was between primary games when Guild Ball launched on kickstarter and there was a number of things about it that caught my interest. I even have the distinct privilege to be the second “person” to publicly interview Mat on a podcast, episode 99 of the Gamers Lounge (http://gamerslounge.coda.net/2014/10/21/gamers-lounge-ep-99-guild-ball/).

Lon: So what’s the deal with Guild Ball Tonight lately? Seems the case has been a little slow to release. Life conflicts? I always thought GBT provided a nice, more casual listening, experience versus the other casts. You guys done? Will I ever get to see you entirely too far reclined in your chair again on twitch?

Bill: That is true, GBT has been a bit slow on the releases toward the last half of 2018. There are a number of reasons for that, not the least of which was a combination of my travel (during 2018 I spent 125 nights in hotels and flew over 100K US miles for work) and some personal challenges both Phil and I faced during the year. Adding to that, Phil’s local playgroups in Florida have drastically dropped off and we have struggled to keep things as positive as possible about Guild Ball through the end of the year. I realize long term listeners (and new for that matter) believe we’ve become the two crusty old-guys from the Muppet show, but we do regularly discuss how to keep a somewhat positive spin on the show.

GBT is not done, or if it is no one has told me yet. I actually had a couple times through November and December where I found I was anxious to get something recorded. As far as video casting and twitch, I’m a bit of a luddite and have not fully embraced video casting as a medium yet. On the podcasting front, trust that if I’m in front of my microphone in my office, I’m very literally laid back in my chair. It’s such a comfortable position and my mic is set up perfectly to accommodate me.

Lon: How are things going for you in Season 4? I missed you at SCUS. What are you playing these days? Having any success?

Bill: I’ve not gotten as many games as I’d like, but overall, I’m very happy with Season 4. SCUS fell at such a poor time for me personally and I was unable to make it down. Hopefully that will be different in 2019 and I’ll make it out, as I had a great time in the 2 previous Steamcon’s I attended (UK in 2016 & US in 2017).

I’ve been primarily playing Alchemists so far this year. I’ve had the alchemists since the kickstarter, and even had them commission painted by one of the best painters I know (Shout out to Mario aka Mars of Mats by Mars!). Season 4 is the first time I’ve spent dedicating time to learning the team and really getting them on the table regularly. The changes to the team just looked so much fun and I’m finding they are living up to my expectations. As for success, I’m not getting in nearly enough competitive games to really judge how well I’m doing. Overall, I win more than I lose, so that’s a good sign.

Lon: Ashburn is so nice because it seems like such a reasonable drive for so many folks. You’re able to pull from down South, the Midwesterners, as well as a good chunk of guys from up North. But what’s happening locally? Any Virginians we should be keeping an eye on this year?

Bill: We have a solid group of players locally, although keep in mind that the “local” area is fairly large around me. To be fair, my “local” community covers northern Baltimore Maryland, through Washington DC, and into Northern VA down as far south as Springfield VA. This is an easy 45-60 minute drive from any one side of the area to another. Collectively this is known as the “Capital Guild Ball” area, and there’s several excellent players here. As for anyone to specifically watch, that will all depend on who’s up for travelling this year! I’d surely offend someone if I started naming off the players I think are challenging and visible to keep an eye on because I’m sure I’d miss one (old age and all) or you’d edit my list and get me in trouble!

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Lon: If there was one thing you could change about Guild Ball right now what would it be? Gonna throw the OPD in the harbor again?

Bill: I have to admit that meme is one of my favorites. Partly because of the thought behind it, partly because I grew up in New England! I review and weigh the OPD every year as the Spring Fling gets close, and also weigh the impact on using it or not. Last year is a great example, where there was a possibility if I didn’t follow the OPD we might not have been able to give the tournament winner a SCUS ticket. There’d have to be something fairly egregious for me to risk that.

At this point there’s nothing really leaping out at me in the OPD to be concerned with. It’s likely we’ll stick with it for the Spring Fling. That said, any deviations or changes will be published on the website and Facebook page before the event.

Lon: I’m a little bummed I won’t be able to make Spring Fling this year due to some personal life stuff, but I’d highly encourage everyone to go. I had such a terrific time last year! Huzzah was a great venue and you always do an excellent job running things. The prize support was huge and well distributed across all levels of play, but I think my favorite part was simply getting the chance to spar against some of the top players in the country. What should folks look forward to this year Bill? Anything new to tease us with?

Bill: Oh, so much to look forward to, I really took on a challenge this year for planning. The Spring Fling 2019 is like a “Spring Fling Con”, with not only the 64-person Guild Ball tournament but also a full series of Board Game events, a Developers Dinner, a pre-release RPG event, and game companies attending with a booth!

I’m excited to see how things progress this year as it will set the foundation for coming years. My goal is to feature some of the smaller games that may not be as “Main Stream” as GW 40K, GW Fantasy (Age of Sigmar), Warmachine & Hoards, or X-Wing. I’m aiming for that to be the focus for a growing convention that makes it onto peoples calendars this year and for years to come. And let’s not forget a Donut Food Truck, how can you say no to that?

Lon: And I know the event is technically “Sold Out” but as I recall last year a ton of waitlisters were able to get in. If anyone is interested in being waitlisted, or attending some of the other Spring Fling events, how should they get in touch?

Bill: There’s still plenty of room at the Spring Fling for board games, and I think people will really enjoy themselves on that side of the house. That said, the waitlist for the Guild Ball tournament will go live Monday January 14th. I’ve been able to track down a couple reserved tickets which will be made available before the waitlist, I’m just waiting on a couple more confirmations before releasing them. Check out the Spring Fling website (springfling.coda.net) for more details.

Lon: Thanks for taking the time to talk today Bill. Maybe I’ll see you in Raleigh sometime soon? Any parting words/Shout outs/Smack talk?

Bill: Who? Me? Smack Talk? Nah….. I’m not controversial ever!

Pending schedule, it’d be cool to get back to Raleigh for a GB event. I miss my trips down there and really miss grabbing some donuts or biscuits from Rise!.

More Information:

Howzat will be on May 18th and 19th at Triskelion Brewing Company in Henderson, North Carolina. Entry fee is $35.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/2196582500620078/?ti=as

Longshanks: https://www.longshanks.org/events/?event=1861

Spring Fling will be on April 27th and 28th at Huzzah Hobbies in Ashburn, Virginia. Entry fee is for the Guild Ball tournament is $45. There are also two side events, a board game event and developer dinner, which cost $25 and $40 respectively.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/366809950556535/?ti=as

Longshanks: https://www.longshanks.org/events/?event=1710

Website: http://springfling.coda.net/

Into the Record Books: December 2018

Happy New Year Guild Ballers! 2019 is sure to bring great things, well, it can’t get much worse than the cluster that was 2018 right? At least Guild ball had a solid year. I really feel like our game coalesced into a bit more of a tangible force. We might not be the biggest kid on the block, but we’re scrappy and easy to get along with! Well…

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Yes, I’m roasting the page that gives me the most views.

Anyway, Cheers to a brighter tomorrow and a great competitive scene in 2019!

Played Rates:

PR High

It appears the new hotness factor is still in effect. The Guilds which received the largest and most exciting season 4 changes still take up most of the oxygen in the room.

Everyone loves to punch things. Butchers are still leading the way in played rate at a solid 11.2% of the global Meta. They are being patiently stalked with the strong (?) hunters right behind them at 10.8%. From here we see a bit of a drop with Fish, Morticians, and Alchemists being in the mid to high 8s. As always, these high played rate guilds are the teams you really want to look out for if you’re planning on going to a sizable event in the near future. Always good to have reps in against the popular teams.

PR Medium

It’s worth noting, with the inclusion of navigators in the data, the expected played rate has dropped to 6.6%. Blacksmiths lead the way in the midfield with 8.2% of the meta, followed by Farmers and Masons at 7.9% and 7.7% respectively. Brewers also have a respectable showing in December at 6.9%. Here you’ll want to have a game plan, but don’t expect to see them so frequently you need a ton of reps.

PR Low

From here we start to see the dregs. Blackheart and Rage long for s3 as they start to collect dust on the shelves at a 4.4% played rate. As tends to be the case we see the poor minor Guilds, Rats, Order, and Falconers all down here as well.

Now Navigators are a bit of a special case. For whatever reason it seems the UK received their models nearly a month sooner than the US market. I know most of the east coast was disappointed to have a navigator sized hole under our collective Christmas tree. And I know most stores still don’t have product in stock. However, despite more than half the world not having access, Navs still beat out engineers in played rate 4.2% to 3.9%! What’s holding engineers back so much they get beat by a largely unreleased team? You have to laugh and scratch your head a little.

 

 

Win Rates:

WR High

Avast! Navigators found their way out of the storm and skyrocketed to an opening win rate of 58.4%! Do we have another Spooky Lady on our hands?! And it’s not exactly a small amount of games either. We do have to wait and see what non-UK has to say when our boxes start to drop. Minor Guilds have historically come out of the gate with a little bit of a higher win rate at first, then they settle down. If I had to guess I’d go with the “power of the unknown” makes them a little harder to beat. Most people who play the new team have a better understanding of their proactive strategy than the opponent who hasn’t had time to develop the skills necessary to counter. I expect in the next month or so Navigators will drop to around 50%. There is also a chance they lose a solid 5% or so into the 40% based on unlucky pairings into hyper-polarized matchups. This happens in theory to every team, but I feel like it is particularly extreme for Windfinder. For instance, if blacksmiths, morticians, and maybe masons make up 20% of the meta, and Navs only beat those teams 30% of the time, that’s a 6% reduction right out of the gate.

Next we start to see the standard big dogs solidifying their stance on the top. Butchers come in at 57.6% and morticians at 56.9%. Although still near the top, Hunters did drop a pretty hard 5.4% from November to December to land at 54.7%… Wait… Brewers are at 56.5%?!? Flabbergasted. Maybe the old Brewer players finally got tired of new stuff and figured out how to play with the new cards they were so down on? Maybe they’re getting a little bit of that new-car boost as mentioned above? Honestly just guessing here. I really have no idea what explains this.

WR Medium

Midfield we see Fishermen, Farmers, and Masons with respectable low 50%s finishes. After that there is a bit of a drop to Alchemists at 44.6%. Maybe folks are finally figuring out how to deal with Smoke. Maybe Smoke players are accidentally crossing the center line? Engineers continue to struggle in the low 40s. It’s weird they continue to struggle. I have the feeling some of the stronger engineers players haven’t been running them in events. I suppose I could go look at that. Maybe cogs just can’t keep up with the razzle dazzle some of the stronger teams are throwing out.

WR Low

Down here in the slums we see union basically unchanged from November. Blacksmiths however do take a bit of a hit. They’re down 6.2% to 40.6%. What’s wrong smiths? Those momentous 8s aren’t good enough for you? After that is what can only be described as “minor tier” with Order plummeting down to where they likely belong, 38.8%. Rats are at 38.5%.

Last month I wrote about how Falconers had the lowest win rate of all time. Well… turns out Devanna said “hold my beer” and dropped another 3 points to a staggering 29.2%. How low can she go? I am fully anticipating these teams are going to get some kind of sort of shot in the arm come errata time, particularly the falconers. After all these are some of the newest products in the line and it is a bit sad to see them a) barely played and b) performing badly when they are.

 

Victory Index:

I liked the victory index last month so I am bringing it back. As a reminder I take the number of games played in the month and multiply it by the win rate. This is essentially a picture of raw wins. This month I’ve also noted the change in percentile from November. For example, blacksmiths are at -2% because they carried 9% of the wins in November.

Victory Index

Last month we saw 4 guilds gobbling up literally half of the wins in the game. In December it seems things are a bit more equitable. 3 of the 4 November big dogs, Hunters, Morticians, and Alchemists all gave up space at the table. Navigators commanded a fair chomp of the pie with their first bite. Masons also capitalized followed by Brewers. Butchers picked up a point.

I think the best use of the victory index is to be used as kind of an approximation of top tables. You might want to consider this when hitting your event prep. It seems reasonable to me to expect most final round tables will see a Butcher, Hunter or Mortician. Perhaps sometimes 2 of the three. As always nothing can really replace knowing your local field, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to consider extra prep into these teams.

 

Closing:

It looks like things might be starting to settle in Season 4. It appears the talking heads may be mostly right, but there are certainly some surprises in this month’s data.

I know I for one and looking forward to 2 things specifically in early 2019:

First, I’m eager to see which way cooks will fall. While I am hopeful they’ll come out screaming like the Navigator’s, I’m a bit worried they’ll be too synergy dependent and fall on the Rat/Bird side of things.

Second, I’m thinking we’ll see some sort of errata in early Q2 focused on the suffering minors. I am hoping the dev team gets a little crazy and starts throwing stuff out into the wider community and seeing what sticks. At some point you have to realize no amount of playtesting will ever come close to the number of games of Guild Ball that are played in even a month. Hey, we didn’t switch to apps and print on demand for nothing right? If they break something they can always hot fix it back. Frequent changes are good for everyone and prevent staleness. Even when your Guild doesn’t get the changes, there’s always a ripple effect in the Meta when folks need to figure out how to deal with the new hotness. And unless someone acts quick it seems like Falconers are going to have some company in the dust bin.

Dec Shelf

Into the Record Books: November 2018

Holy crap we have data. Feels like forever since we did a proper month end recap! Hopefully now post SCUS/SCUK we’ll start settling in to a nice groove. For comparison purposes I’ve left the last 3 months of season 3 on the graphs. October was also a transitional period of mixed Season 3 and Season 4 data, so that’s grouped by itself.

There are a couple of major US events coming up in December, but let’s go ahead and take a look at where we’ve been this November. Introducing Meta period 4.1 – Spooky Ladies!

 

Played Rates:

Played High

Surprising absolutely no one: Morticians, Butchers, and Hunters lead the pack in played rate at 11.9%, 11.5%, and 11.5% respectively. As I’ve mentioned on a couple recent episodes of Anatomical Precision, these are the teams you’re gonna wanna have reps into prior to any large events.

Played Medium

What is a little surprising is the jump to the next highest team, blacksmiths, is more than 1.5% below hunters at 9.9%. There is a nice little grouping of teams in this slightly above average category ranging from 9.9% to 8.3%.

Played Low

After this we see a pretty steep drop off. Brewers look to remain relevant at 6.5%, but everyone else is in the 4s or less. Minor guilds are suffering especially hard at the start of season 4 with falconers at a shocking 2.3%. Normally numbers that bad are reserved for the month immediately surrounding release. In fact, we’ve never seen an established product with a rate this low. Poor falconers don’t even make it past the bottom of the graph.

 

Win Rates:

Win High 1

Skatha and Theron scream past the competition in our opening month with a staggering (Hi Sherwin) win rate of 60.1%. This win rate is the 8th highest of recorded history and more than 6 points higher than the second place front runner morticians. After this, despite all the underrating, my slippery friends find their way into the third place slot for the season opener.

Fish Uh

Win High 2

Order is a bit of a surprise clocking in at 52.6%. Although they only had 77 games, those folks must know something the rest of the world doesn’t. The much more popular butchers and alchemists are nipping at their heels though with 51.3% and 51.1% respectively.

Win Medium

Another surprise is farmers holding their own in the midfield (heh). Farmers had suffered significantly throughout the end of season 3, but perhaps their slightly simplified style and souped up playbooks are allowing them to approach 500. Masons, Blacksmiths, and Brewers hold unexciting finishes.

Win Low

Look at that mighty union rollercoaster dive. Despite some notable tournament finishes, we do see Union, Engineers, and Ratcatchers slinking around the bottom of the pack around 41%s. Can’t get much worse than that… unless you’re a bird… 32.1% is literally the lowest win rate in recorded longshanks history. If they stay down here for another few months I really think the devs are gonna have to consider a hotfix; especially considering I can’t be bothered to change the axis minimum.

 

Victory Index:

I was going to do a joke here about tier shelves, because it sure does seem like the played and win rates sort themselves into nice little buckets, but then an actually useful idea emerged from the wank dungeon. What would it look like if we mapped raw wins?

To arrive at the raw win # I simply multiplied the # of games played by the % win rate. Pretty basic, but I don’t know that anyone else has really looked at this before. By merging the two measure we arrive at kind of gives a… uniquely holistic view of the scene? I’m going to Coin this idea “the victory index” and guess what? It’s terrifying.

Victory Index

4 Guilds, (Hunters, Morticians, Butchers, and Alchemists) account for HALF the wins in Guild Ball competitive play. The next 3 (Blacksmiths, Fishermen, and Farmers) account for the next 25%. That leaves the remaining 7 Guilds splitting the last 25%.

In my opinion this doesn’t strike me as particularly surprising, but is somewhat revealing. It wasn’t a bold prediction for these top 4 guilds to see a lot of play and do well; after all they largely had the most exciting changes as well as generally felt powerful on paper. Granted the index does face some slight problems especially at the lower end of the spectrum. To illustrate the problem we need look no further than our friend Henry Kay, winner of the SCUK LCQ. Henry’s success with Union adds 8 games to the union bucket. Essentially, due to the team potentially being underplayed, it is easier to affect that win rate, and thus the union’s index.

I do think the top end here is potentially concerning. We all know Gamers tend to gravitate towards the strong, but to see things in this stark contrast is eye opening. The top 2 Guilds have as many wins as the bottom 7. Yikes. Has Season 4 really saved us all? It’s certainly invigorating, but I wonder if the November victory index is an early sign intervention being necessary, specifically tied to too many folks piloting hunters to success.

I do think as the “Spooky Ladies” meta matures we will see some evening out, but really only time will tell. Thanks as always for reading folks and stay tuned!

Screenshot_20181124-103821_Discord(meme credit: Ric Fernandez @cosmicfuture)

So you wanna start a Guild Ball scene?

Hi everyone! Today is a bit of a different take. Seems like we’ve been doing a lot of different takes lately huh? Well this one is for the aspiring community leader looking to grow their local guild ball scene.

A question I hear pop up from time to time is “How do I start/grow a Guild Ball community?” or “how do I generate interest in the game?” No, become a pundit, is not the best answer. Sure it’s a good thing to do down the line, but there is so much more you can do from the get go!

Personally, I’ve helped to grow a fairly healthy Guild Ball community in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Players come and players go, but the game has been running strong now in our community for about 3 years. I am blessed to work with a couple of really great game stores, but there are things you can do personally to kick things off. Here we go!

Gaffer

Tip #1 Be Consistently Present.

80% of success is showing up.

Speak with your local play space and figure out which day of the week works best for them. Think about what works best for your personal schedule. I find it is best to try to avoid a night which draws a lot of another war game. Fridays can also be rough at most stores because of Magic. The biggest thing is to find a day which you can make happen every single week and stick to it! We all have busy lives, but if you yourself cannot make time to grow the community, don’t expect anyone to do it for you, especially not your local store.

There will be times, especially in the beginning, where you are all alone in the shop. Even if no one is there to play with you make sure your pitch is rolled out on the table and models set up. This brings me to my next point –

 

Tip #2 Be Professional and Welcoming.

Have two fully painted teams, a pitch, and all the necessary items and instruments to play the game. You don’t need to be Michelangelo but your models need to look presentable. Place terrain on the pitch along with your models. A nice scene draws eyes which draws interest. If at all possible try to recruit a friend who is also interested in a game. Actually playing the game will draw more attention than a pretty set up table. In the early days just remember you’ll always want to be willing to stop the game to answer questions for passersby.

Be prepared to answer questions. A lot of times folks will ask you “what game is this?” or “what are you playing?” More often than not these folks are not war gamers. Don’t use war gamer lingo. Honestly most times when a new face asks me this question I say “it’s called Guild Ball. Imagine soccer with swords. We’re trying to score goals while killing each other!” after this if they want to know more I will offer them a demo. If an individual turns down a demo that’s fine. Shake their hand, ask them their name, and let them know you’re here if they have any questions at all. Think of yourself as the dude at the grocery store doing the wine tastings. Not everyone is going to be interested and certainly not everyone is going to want to buy something. You’ll have to overcome any social anxieties and honestly be a bit of a salesman at times.

Finally, know the game. You don’t need to be our Will Wijnveld. In fact it’s probably better that you have more of a translative understanding than a mechanical one. You need to understand how to teach folks the basics in a way they will understand. You’re not looking to teach them hot strats. You’ll want to think about how you would explain the aspects of the game to someone who has played a handful of euro board games, not a mini gamer. The Warmachine guy will catch on quickly. The Settlers of Catan kid might not. You want to attract both.

 

Tip #3 Partner with your store.

This one seems like a no brainer but you’d be amazed how many folks I see get this wrong. Yes some stores are easier to deal with than others, but if you show genuine interest and *gasp* spend money most stores are going to want to accommodate you. Even if the store does not sell Guild Ball product it is likely they have a distributor who can special order it. Buy something. Whenever you want something new buy it from the store even if it means it’s a little more expensive or delays your gratification. Generally, a store needs to know there is interest before they will blindly stock a product which requires a decent chunk of shelf space. Generally a store will also be willing to grant more space to a game which sells well.

Communication with your store is key. Make sure they know you are ultimately there as not only an ambassador for the game, but as a representative for them as well. Game night drives business and gets traffic in the store.

Use their communication platform. Does the store have a facebook? A meetup? Use that page to announce demos and weekly game night. Heck, even if all they have is a bulletin board at least throw a flier up there with your name, phone number, and planned game night. You’ll reach a broader audience than what you’d be able to hit on your own.

Finally, Don’t fight with a store. If you give it a solid effort and they just aren’t into carrying the game, don’t pressure them to do so. If they’ll allow you to use their space that’s great. If not cut your losses. I introduced guild ball to at least 6 stores locally. Really only 1 had the enthusiasm to match my needs. I grew out of that store and then eventually gained another late adopter.

 

Tip #4 ABD. Always be Demoing.

Guild Ball Pundits all seem to have their own way of running a demo. Many swear by the kick off, others let folks bring whatever. Personally, I’ve never seen anything I like more than the good ol season one 3v3 Demo.

GuildBall-QuickStart

Ultimately figure out what works best for you. Personally I am such a big fan of the 3v3 demo because it is very short, quick, and easy to walk through. You can get through the rules of the game in about 10 minutes, then execute the demo in about 20. Have this stuff printed out ahead of time and make sure you read it a couple times. Understand you’re not going to be teaching the entire rule set. Just the appetizer portion. Yes, the cards are weird and in the terrible season 1 format.

Walk the individual through the rules. I find it is helpful to have a model or two physically handy to demonstrate things like a successful pass, scatter, or melee attack. Gauge the individual’s understanding and then tailor the game accordingly. If they’re a war gamer you might want to give them a bit more agency in the match. Always let them choose what team they want to play. Prepare the 2’x2’ pitch and deploy the three models in the demo book. You’re playing to 8 points.

Don’t aim to win or lose, just let them experiment inside the system. Coach them through decisions, but the decisions don’t have to be right. If they decide to do something silly, let them do something silly. You should also do silly things. Making mistakes is learning. I try to make sure the following things happen at some point during the game:

  • Several passes, some are used to ‘pass and move’
  • A handful of character plays.
  • The ball is tackled.
  • Push and Dodge results are selected.
  • A model is taken out.
  • Goals are scored. (I like to literally yell goal in the Hispanic soccer style when this happens. Builds hype. I know it’s not everyone’s style to be so bombastic, but I’ve had people come up to the table to ask about the game, and eventually buy in, because of this)
  • Bonus time is used.

If you hit all of those items the individual will get a taste of the core concepts of the game. If time (and their attention) allows I like to offer a second demo with the team’s swapped. The second time around I coach much less.

After this if an individual really took the game and seems excited I will generally walk them over to the product shelf or bring up my Guild Ball app and show them a few examples of different teams. This helps to get their juices flowing about what aesthetic they like or what style they might like to play.

 

Tip #5 Run ‘for fun’ events.

Once you’ve got a small hand full of players, throw together something organized, but simple. Something like a slow growth league where you move from 3 models up to the full 6 is great. Keep um engaged and keep um learning. At the end of the day they’re here to have fun. Yes playing the game weekly is fun, but doing something a little more memorable is as well. If you can afford to have a small prize do so. Even if it is something as small as a $10 store credit or single model these things help build bonding, memories, and especially bragging rights!

 

 

I’m sure I could write tons more on this topic, but I think that will do it today. If you want to know more, or need extra ideas please feel free to reach out! I am all about fostering new seedling communities. Take it easy guys!