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)

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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!

 

Special Guest Feature – The Chicago Guild Ball Laboratory!

Hey folks! Alex Botts here, one of the hosts of Strictly the Worst Guild Ball Podcast. Since Season Four began I’ve been pretty candid in declaring The Order the least competitive guild in Guild Ball as it currently stands. Strictly the Worst has occasionally received criticism for heavily focusing our attention on guilds we believe to be the strongest contenders for tournament wins, so I’d like to change that today by writing up a little blog post about The Order and how Order coaches might be able to sneak in some wins against stronger guilds.

It should be clear to anyone who reads the Order’s cards that the guild will need to score at least one goal in pretty much any matchup to make a convincing run for 12 VPs. With that in mind, this blog post will walk you through the process of turning a very common early-game situation into a quick, practical goal for the Order, establishing a tempo advantage and setting the team up for success moving forward into the mid-game. Let’s get to it!

Picture 1

OK, here’s our typical early-game scenario in the Hunters matchup. Skatha has activated on Turn Two after being Singled Out by Harry, and is engaged by five models. Skatha hit herself with Cold Snap last turn, so she’s suffering the Snared condition. With her first INF Skatha used Snowball, but then realized she was out of 6” from Hearne. So now she uses Blessing of the Moon Goddess on herself, and declares an attack on Spigot.

Here’s where The Order player can do some work. Spigot declares a counter-attack. Skatha makes her attack, but because she’s at a total of -4 dice from crowd-outs, her attack misses.

 Picture 2.jpg

Now Spigot makes his counter. Order coaches, take note: make sure to Bonus Time this counter-attack. It’s crucial!

Picture 3

Naturally, Spigot rolls all hits, for a total of 12 successes. So far, the plan is going perfectly. To resolve this counter-attack, Spigot chooses the “trophy” icon three times, for three uses of the Ball’s Gone character play.

On the first resolution of Ball’s Gone, neither Spigot’s coach nor Skatha’s coach can remember who gets to choose which ball-marker is Tackled first, so they both agree to have Spigot take the Snowball. Spigot passes the Snowball to Harry, needing a single 4 on 3 dice.

Picture 4.jpg

Perfect! Spigot chooses to use Pass & Move to dodge 4” away from Skatha. Simple enough so far. Now it’s time for Spigot’s second resolution of Ball’s Gone. From 5” away, Spigot Tackles the real ball marker, and chooses to pass it to Veteran Fangtooth. Time to roll some more dice…

Picture 5

Another narrow success! Spigot will again use Pass & Move here to dodge a further 4” away from Skatha. Meanwhile, Fangtooth will choose to resolve Potbellied Pass to pass the ball to Brisket3, our premier striker.

Picture 6.jpg

Fangtooth of course misses his pass, and the ball scatters. You (and our opponent) might think our grand plan has gone awry, but the fun hasn’t stopped quite yet. We’ll resolve the scatter now, with the green die being direction.

Picture 7.jpg

The ball scatters to within range of Skatha, who of course will pick it up after we decline to contest the ball with Brisket. Who wouldn’t spring at the opportunity to regain control of the ball?

But it is at this exact moment that our trap is sprung! The Hunters player has forgotten our third and final Ball’s Gone resolution, and has failed to realize that Spigot is now within 8” of Pride, which had been cleverly positioned within 2” of the Hunters’ goal post during Turn One!

Picture 8.jpg

From 9” away, Spigot uses the third and final Ball’s Gone to Tackle the ball from Skatha once again, and declares a Pass to Pride. With Pride engaged by two models and the ball path crowded by Chaska and Fahad, Spigot will be rolling a base of 2 dice and looking for a single 6. Easy enough, and we’re on our last two Momentum, so we won’t be Bonus Timing this pass.

Picture 9.jpg

Made it with luck to spare! With three momentum comfortably in the bank, Pride declares a Snap Shot and bonus times the attempt, looking for 3s and needing 2 successes for the Shot to land.

Picture 10 Gif Alternate

Bam! With Spigot’s counter-attack complete we have 4 VPs in the bag. We didn’t even need the tap-in bonus from Pride’s positioning, but planning ahead and taking higher-odds plays when you have the option will always be the right call. Better safe than sorry!

So there you have it. This is just one example of the type of heads-up plays that The Order can utilize to make deep tournament runs and take games off of the best players in your local scene. Test this one out, and let me know what else you come up with to advance the guild’s gameplay.
Oh, and for those curious about the rest of the game: Unfortunately, you can’t win them all. Though that early 4 points did keep The Order competitive, Seenah and Chaska took over in the remainder of the game, and Hunters ultimately won 15-4. After getting to 11 points, Skatha made a 24” goal run that only cost 5 INF, was Momentum-neutral, had a >99%-chance to completely avoid counter-attack and any other interaction from the opponent, and had a total success rate of about 93%. But hey, results-oriented thinking will always be a trap, and it’s important to focus on what went right, not where you got unlucky. Until next time!

 

 

Big thank-you to Sam Bredeson and Pat Van Valzah for the original idea, Keith Golimowski and Zach Gray for letting me use their models, and Lon Sims for hosting this post.

 

Into the Record Books: October 2018

Hey everyone! We did it! October weekends are done and Season 4 is underway. Time for that sweet sweet Longshanks smack you crave!

Wait… we only had like 2 weeks so far… and SCUS is super mixed up w S3/S4 blend ugh. Well… I guess we’ll kick the charts out another month and rely on the anecdotal opinions of some random scrubs I found hanging around.

x

On to the questions!

 

#1) Name two Guilds you think will be early S4 successes:

Ian – Hunters and Butchers Both teams got massive damage buffs.  The hunters are the real winners of the general upwards shift in influence values.

Glenwood – Hunters and Morticians. Specifically Skatha and Scalpel both have new incarnations for which many are not prepared.

Pete – Butcher’s and alchemists because they got really nice changes. It will take some experience to adjust to their new power level

Frank – Hunters and Butchers, especially Hunters

Pat – Expect Hunters and Butchers to be strong early in season 4. Both teams bring strong stat lines and playbooks. They also have a proactive plan that is easily understood by newcomers to the guilds.

Jared – Butchers and Masons.  Both teams I consider to be easy to play and their core gameplay did not change much.

Mike – Hunters, Morticians.

Alex – Hunters and Morticians. Both got big upgrades and are at or near the top of power level. Hunters in particular will run the season I think.

 

#2) Name a Guild you think is being overhyped

Ian – Morticians. Scalpel is exciting and all and the team seems more solid than it’s ever been but I don’t think it’s going to be the team to beat once the hype dies down.

Glenwood – Alchemists. The team now has to get closer to do their thing, and the damage numbers for S4 in many guilds are quite a bit higher. I think the other S-tier guilds are going to be able to keep them in check, which will possibly make them a bad Meta pick.

Pete – Alchemists are over hyped. When I played games at Steamcon, everyone and their mom was playing alchemists.

Frank – Scalpel, she asks some strong questions but I feel like her weak counter attack and lack of answers are going to hold her down

Pat – While I think Blacksmiths are probably overall stronger than they were in season 3, the other guilds have gotten significantly stronger as well. They’re above average, but Hunters, Butchers and Alchemists will keep them suppressed at high levels.

Jared – Alchemists.  I believe they are tricky to play in that they will require accurate counter drafting and seem quite vulnerable at times.

Mike – Navigators. They are good, but will struggle into the top players and teams that can anticipate their plan and disrupt it.

Alex – Blacksmiths. I’m guilty of this as well, but while a lot of their pieces got better, their matchups against most of the best guilds in game look brutal. They got kind of unlucky in that way.

 

#3) Name a Guild you think folks are sleeping on:

Ian – Engineers These guys have been really good since midway through season 3. I don’t think they were hurt that badly by the season 4 changes. They got nothing all that new so most people will continue to sleep on them.

Glenwood – Union, specifically Blackheart Union. Blackheart was always unfairly slept on in S3 and he gained some good new toys for S4 in the form of Snakeskin, momentous tackle Mist, improved Marked Target, and cheaper Second Wind.

Pete – Brewers are not trash! Everyone is so down on them. They got some really interesting changes to vet spigot and tapper and mash. I want to try them out.

Frank – Engineers, I like their game into the top tier.

Pat – Alchemists. Smoke seems exceptionally strong, but very easy to play badly. When played well I think Smoke is a top tier captain that makes Alchemists competitive with Hunters, Butchers, and Morticians.

Jared – Ratcatchers.  I played them the other day and was surprised how well they scrum with momentum denial.  Piper is so dynamic!

Mike – Masons? People are rating them well, but they will be really strong in s4, probably stronger than some think.

Alex – Navigators. If there’s a team that has a legitimate shot of winning games on a 3-goal plan, it’s them. Most successful minor guild design so far.

 

#4) Say a player comes to you looking for one piece of advice in Season 4. They’re an intermediate level player hoping to break into the upper echelons of Guild Ball Godery. What would you tell them?

Ian – There’s no substitute for practice.  Reps against good players, ideally players better than you, are invaluable.  It will help you play faster and analyze the state of the board.  Having a plan is great but it’s not worth much if you can’t execute it or not grounded in experience.

Glenwood – Learn the threat ranges of your opponent’s models, which really means learning the threat ranges of every model in the game. If you can’t memorize them then at least learn about every threat extension each team has. Manage to control exactly who your opponent can engage, how they have to do it, and having the patience to commit to a turn 1/turn 2 standoff if needed.

Pete – Just play a ton of games, play people outside your meta, and soak up GB content. I started getting better at GB when I started travelling to national events as well as listening to and watching top players. Playing in tournaments like STC, Spring Fling, steamcon, howzat, and this year BTO have given me a lot of experience and knowledge to really improve as a GB player.

Frank – Borrow guilds from locals and play all the perceived strong teams, see what they struggle with, it’s fine to one trick but it’s a huge boon to get perspective.

Pat – Think a lot about how the lineup you’re playing actually wants to win against each specific guild and recognize that it will often vary dramatically. Standoffs seem more prevalent in S4. Understand positioning, and when to break or extend the standoff to your advantage.

Jared – Learn your team inside and out.  Experiment with everything even if you think its dog crap.  I feel with the increase in rosters to 12 it will be important to know how to counter draft your opponent.

Mike – Evaluate your decisions, the pros and cons to doing them. Both during the game as you are deciding, and afterwards. Try to ask yourself – what is the overall goal of what I am trying to do this activation/turn and what steps do I need to get there? What could get in my way?

Alex – Focus your game plans on how to pressure opponents. In a season where many guilds have gotten better at killing and the game is faster and possibly less interactive as a result, learning when you can dictate your opponent’s actions through the pressure of points conceded is more crucial than ever.

chart

Thanks as always for reading everyone! As always, leave us feedback on the content and let us know what you think!

 

(*note, some quotes contain grammatical editing)

More Collaborations! Curkov S4 in 4min.

Hey guys! Just wanted to take a quick moment today to let you guys know about another sweet collab I helped out with.

Vince Curkov has been putting together a pretty useful series called “Season 4 in 4 minutes” on his youtube channel. I had the pleasure of helping out with his Fishermen mini-sode. I take full credit for this being the first one which actually hit the 4 minute bench mark. Check it out!

More videos from Vince

Vince’s Twitter

Vince’s Patreon (subs can watch stuff early here!)

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Special Audio Feature!!! Lon on One w/ Bryce, Steve, and Jamie!

Hi Everyone! So I spent some time in Steamforged Jail for my crimes. What were they you say? Rescuing this beautiful piece of character art from the digital shredder. I’ll consider this my S4 exclusive! #Sexykana 4 lyfe. 10/10 would boost again.

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While in the clink I did manage to snag interviews with the Guild Ball development team. I really appreciate the guys giving me a moment of their time, and I hope you all will too! The format here is a quick snack-sized interview; it fits in great to your lunch break. I thought it would be interesting to get 3 different perspectives on the same set of questions.

 First up was the Spooky Boi himself Mr. Jamie Perkins. Jamie was even kind enough to smash my navigators 12-4. Click here for Jamie

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Second we caught up with Steve M. For those of you unfamiliar with Steve he is the main dude for God Tear, but also rocks a ton of Guild Ball design. Click here for Steve

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Finally, we round things out with my new buddy, and super-woke-scottsman, Bryce. Bless his heart. Click here for Bryce

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Special thanks to Pete from ‘Rage Quit Wire’ for doing the editing/hosting. If you aren’t already a listener, please check out their sites and patreon!

RQW Webpage

RQW Facebook

RQW Patreon

Thanks guys! Let me know if you liked this, if so maybe I will produce more of it in the future!

 

 

Video!! Momentous Inspiration #4

Hello Hello!

Just in time to be relevant we’ve got the final recorded game of the STC! This was the “top table” match of the event in round 4 featuring two extremely high skill players.

We’ve got Mr. Josh White straight from the Dojo in Greenville SC playing against the Allstar Mark Goodman from down in Alabama (playing for Nashville). Check out it!

This should be our last video of season 3 so Momentous Inspiration might be on a bit of a lull until we collect some good season 4 footage. But don’t fret! We’ll see you sooner than later! Happy Balling!