In tandem with @Mako excellent beginner player rundowns, this is a post for beginner tactics for the Blacksmith Guild to improve our new player resources. It is not intended to be a bible nor do I propose this is the only way to play Blacksmiths. Please feel free to suggest your own tactics that would be useful to a beginner here. I will outline a few strategies I have played myself which may or may not be helpful. Together we will try to make this a useful guide for beginner players - remember this is not designed for the 'expert' or top-level play.
If this works we will roll it out to the other guilds as well to help improve anyone looking to start playing the game.
The Blacksmths are capable of take outs and scoring but have strong leaning towards scoring goals. They have plenty of armour and it will weaken some attacks but do not think they are invulnerable – Blacksmiths are easy to hit and will suffer from Character Plays and Knockdowns much more than other teams. Their armour when used well can make them frustrating to attack for low TAC opponents, but high TAC teams will still crush them as many players have low health.
With many 8” Kicks and several 4 dice Kicks, Blacksmiths are one of the best football teams in the game. They should usually keep an eye on where the ball is and try to play for goals with opportunistic take outs.
1: Team Selection
Some key features - Blacksmiths are split into Masters and Apprentices. Unique to Guildball, this means that you are a little more restricted in your squad choices for two reasons:
1. You must have equal number of Masters and Apprentices (type is written at the bottom of the card).
2. Some apprentices do better with their specific master.
This means that when picking your team, unlike in other guilds you will want to pick 3 Masters and 3 Apprentices that complement each other. For example, if picking Alloy, you will want to pic Hearth as she unlocks his abilities. You do not HAVE to take the master/apprentice combos (and some work fine with other masters such as Cast & Furnace rather than Burnish) but when starting out it is recommended you take the couples together to learn what they can do.
However Blacksmiths have an ace in the hole – they can pick ANY master to be their captain. This means that you can vary your playstyle to match your opponent and potentially have up to 6 captains to choose from!
TIP: Remember that regardless of whether a master is a captain they can still fire their legendary – it just only triggers the top sentence that applies to the master only.
When picking captain the default choice is Ferrite. She provides a speed boost to the team as well as Hobble (crippling enemy movement on DMG), can do a lot of work with 5 INF, and is one of the Blacksmiths best strikers.
TIP: Hobble works on any DMG not just melee. Combine with Burnish to drop -4/-4 MOV on enemy players in an AOE (Hobble + Burning). This also works on Cinder’s Hot Shot, Alloy’s Dirty Knives and Cast’s Shield Throw.
Alternative captains are Furnace for Searing Strike to push through enemy ARM (useful into all teams except Farmers, especially Blacksmiths and Masons), Anvil for Tough Hide to reduce DMG vs beatdown teams, Burnish for the 3 AOE turn of fiery doom (Tool up from Furnace to do 4 DMG per hit).
Hearth and Farris captains are situationally good so not recommended unless you have tried them as players first.
Suggested Teams for beginners:
All Rounder: Ferrite (C), Iron, Alloy, Hearth, Furnace, Cinder
Scoring Team: Ferrite (C), Iron, Alloy, Hearth, Farris, Bolt
Fire Team: Burnish (C), Cast, Furnace, Cinder, Alloy, Hearth
Blacksmiths are very strong in both kicking and receiving. It is recommended that every team take Alloy and Hearth for this purpose. Together they can provide kick off pressure or threaten a first turn goal if they receive.
Possible kicking strategy
Alloy provides a lot of kick-off pressure when starting in 6” of Hearth. Able to move up 7”, take an accurate Kick and then first activation take 2” melee from Hearth and go for the ball and a goal. Enemy teams will have to be careful where they put the ball under this pressure.
TIP: Alloy is fragile and vulnerable to beatdown. This is not recommended into Morticians or Fishermen as both can pull Alloy easily into a beatdown situation and outside Hearth’s boosting aura. Be careful to know if your opponent has melee threats that can reach Alloy.
TIP: Ferrite can boost Alloy’s already large ball threat range with her Legendary.
Possible Receive Strategy
With most players able to successfully pass the ball, simply pass it along to Alloy to generate some momentum and then jump Alloy 4” forwards using Pass N Move. Then Alloy has 9” run, 2” Acrobatic, 8” shot – 19”+4” jump, 23” goal run. Ferrite can boost this to 25”.
TIP: Back to the Shadows and Run the Length can be combined into an 8” Dodge at the end of activation. So if Alloy can hit someone as well as score, he can retreat to relative safety.
There are alternative setups for this – Farris & Bolt also provide a similar Turn 1 score and Ferrite Kick Off can be combined with Get Over Here (Iron) to provide pressure.
2: All-Rounder Strategy
This block of players is a good place to start – 4 players have an 8” Kick and Iron is a special case (see below). Hearth shouldn’t really ever be trying to score – if she is, you’re probably getting desperate but even there she has a 3/6” Kick. But this team is also pretty good at beatdown.
The Beatdown Side
Look to weaken models with Ferrite (Disarm and Weak Point, KD if lucky), rip off their ARM with Furnace, KD with Hearth. Once the target is prepped, go in with Iron or Alloy. Furnace should be Tooling one of them up to go nuts if possible.
Iron should be hitting 4 DMG if prepped properly (and 7 DMG if the dice like you) for 12-16 DMG – enough to takeout many players. Even better use Hearth to give Iron 2” melee to avoid annoying counters AND +2 net Hits to potentially hit that sweet 7 DMG.
Alloy can similarly be boosted (Alloy can take Anatomical Precision if Hearth gives him 2” melee) and should ALWAYS pick Dirty Knives as the first result. This deceptive result can do 3 DMG if they don’t clear the poison, is momentous and crucially is -1 DEF. The next 3 attacks (because who isn’t within 9” of Alloy?) will then likely hit the 3 DMG – for 10-12 DMG. Not too shabby. All momentous.
However you shouldn’t discount the Masters from beatdown. Hearth and Ferrite both have 4 column playbooks with TAC 5. Both have a way to ‘boost’ the effectiveness of their attacks (Weak Point and KD). If you can hit that 3 DMG at the end of their playbooks or better yet, prep them with some crowd outs for wraps, both these ladies can do a lot of DMG (and one is probably your captain).
The Football Side
While punching people in the face is hilarious fun (*don’t try this at home kids), it should really be used to either close out the game with a take out or take out powerful pieces from the board (support models like Millstone or Ratchet are perfect targets as they weaken the whole team when gone). Meanwhile you should be chasing the ball.
Everyone other than Hearth is a ball threat (and Hearth is a great ball stripper with an easy KD). Alloy, Furnace, Iron and Ferrite all have very low Tackles, and Hearth can give Iron and Ferrite 2” melee to avoid counters.
TIP: Use This! works on ALL Blacksmith models, not just apprentices. Consider giving it to Ferrite if she is your captain for some janky goals as she is both fast, has a 2” Dodge and a low Tackle.
Once you have the ball, Alloy, Iron and Cinder are all great scorers. Alloy and Cinder are both 8” KICK threats – as long as they are up the field they should be able to pop it in the goal.
TIP: Cinder is a great target for Instruction. It works with her Hot Shot ability so that she has a good chance to Tackle the ball at 6” and then score. Alternatively, use it to get the Momentous Dodge so she has the momentum for a goal.
Iron deserves some discussion. Battering Ram can be used to simply push through 1” melee models as if they weren’t there (remember to hit them at a suitable angle to push them out of the way). If he can’t push people out the way, Close Control means that Iron can risk parting blows against models that don’t have KDs (his 2 ARM should prevent the wrap preventing double T). Impetus means that Iron has a native 10” run, Ferrite can not only potentially boost this to 12”, but also Get Over Here can boost it further. Combined with Battering Ram, this can allow Iron to race from one side of the field right up to the goal. Hence Try Hard. Iron should usually be in Snap Shot range when taking goals because of this.
TIP: Battering Ram can be used to move models into better positions to attack – e.g. out of cover, into a Gang Up ranges etc.
3: Scoring Team Strategy
These players are built to score goals. By taking Furnace and Cinder out and putting Farris and Bolt in, you lose access to Tooled Up and Cinder’s Hot Shot as well as Searing Strike. This weakens the Beatdown options. Instead you gain a super goal scoring threat and the ability to KD models without rolling a single die. Take the above tactics but adapt them – now you can pass the ball to Bolt and if he starts within 6” of Farris, he can walk 4”, pass the ball, jump 4”, I am Open for free back (Alloy or Ferrite are great targets for this), jump 4” and then run 6” and Kick 6” for a 24” goal threat. Farris can boost this to 28” for 2 INF, Ferrite can take this to 32”. It’s pretty long.
TIP: Be careful with Bolt – I am Open is only 6” so don’t jump him to far away from his target.
Bolt’s other ability – Shoemerang is a curious beast. It allows Bolt to target ANY model (including himself) to take 2 DMG. If you target a friendly, no dice are rolled. Then an enemy model in 4” gets KD. This can be very powerful into high defence model such as Fillet with Swift Stance up or simply to scatter the ball so Bolt can retrieve it.
TIP: Tutelage can be used at any point during the activation as long as you started within 6” of Farris. Stamina can always be used regardless of Farris.
Farris’s unique ability is not only can she place the ball (as long as not engaged) in front of her up to 1” away, she can then kick it. This gives Farris a sort of 8” KICK. It can also be used to place the ball such that the line of kick doesn’t cross any enemy models to avoid losing dice.
Farris can do Impact – basically a run/hit. This requires that she get base to base, so it does expose her to counter attacks, but it does give her a 12” threat range for 1 INF. Ride Off – her legendary, allows her to hit someone with Impact, push them, scatter the ball and then keep moving to grab the ball and maybe then pass/score (remembering she can use Give it a Whack to drop the ball closer to the goal). She will take parting blows from Impact, but with ARM 3, many models will not be able to KD her, so you can shrug these off.
TIP: Impact does not trigger Unpredictable Movement – use this on annoying 2” melee models like Obulus (Midas you can just sit outside 1”).
TIP: Be careful when moving Farris for an Impact – you should use steppers or something accurate as you need to know how much movement you have left after the attack.
4: Fire Team
The Fire Team tries to leverage all the synergy with Burning that the faction has. Using Burnish and Furnace, you can pump out a lot of 4 DMG AOEs, and Burnish, Furnace, Cinder can all put the burning condition out.
Cast can then do terrific beatdown – once Furnace has stripped armour and set the target burning, Cast should be hitting her high DMG slots and with Tooled Up and +1 from Burning, do 4 DMG easily. Shield Glare is also a must to cripple models.
Use Cinder and Alloy to score goals while the team controls the opponent by setting them on fire and threatening Cast.
5: Other Guilds
Other Guilds will vary in their threat angle, but the biggest threats come from control teams (such as Engineers and Morticians) and beatdown aggressive teams (Union and Butchers). But a special place is reserved for Alchemists. Smoke and her chums can shutdown Blacksmiths very quickly and with the vulnerability of Apprentices (low health, often low DEF), she can kill off models before they can reach and interact.
Speed. Blacksmiths are surprisingly fast. I suggest the Scoring team into Smoke. Go for speed and try to engage Vet Katalyst with Farris to tie him up. Once enagaed Smoke will be less likely to play games with AOEs and Smoke herself is very vulnerable as many models have 2” melee or can get it. Try to target the models producing the AOEs for beatdown such as Mercury or Calculus. Be very afraid of Blind – one of your models will be Blinded a turn (because low DEF) so taking Calculus off the board early is crucial. Try to repay the favour with Ferrite (remember Hobble).
The Fire Team also has some option – using Burnish to ‘clear’ conditions and potentially use his Legendary to shield the team for a turn.