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Furnace

Some issues we're having starting out

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Hello all, 

I thought I'd ask you here for your opinion, we've just started playing Guild Ball and the game seems to be getting better as we play. Problem is the game is utterly infuriating for the first few games. Let me elaborate that a bit, I played a first few games and found myself just being thoroughly annoyed at not being able to do anything it seemed. Then I played a few more and it got a bit better, not sure if my dice were just on fire or what but a few games with the Butchers (games 2-4) felt like I was doing something at least. 

Then I swapped to Fish. And again, the first game was horrid, just plain horrid, I couldn't achieve anything and my models just went ahead and died. 

Now I see my friend struggling with the same, he played Morticians and he was just simply infuriated, his second game I believe. 

Thirdly, I believe at least one of us has a cool head about the game but he usually picks up games just reading the cards and/or the rulebook but even he is struggling a bit to understand the models etc. 

So my question is, does this game get better? And is the key in knowing yours and the opponents Guild? Is the ruleset something that takes a while to sink in? We all come from a variety of miniature games and we play quite some different systems, for example Malifaux we've played for years but don't remember us struggling this hard with other systems. 

And while this post might sound bleak, we are actually very excited about the game and see a lot of merit to it! I am probably looking for some reassurance that it's worth the struggle that the beginning seems to be. 

How was your starting out? Anything you wish to say to someone starting out? What would you suggest to focus on? 

Thanks, looking forward to your experiences. :)

 

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My brother and I started with the Kick off set and, sure, the first few games were confused messes. We thought, for instance, that you got to pick a result from every column you hit because we completely misread the rules. But a reread solved that. But the game finally clicked for us when we got pundits and more experienced players to help us. It clicked for my brother when he moved away from his initial choice of hunters (we quickly realized masons and brewers weren't for us).

Guild Ball is easy to learn how to play but the strategy is really deep. Some guilds have a lower skillgate than others, but all guilds have the same levels of decisions; how to get points, how to keep them from getting points.

I would suggest that you start with an Escalation league. If you can't find a Pundit in your area whose running one, then do it yourself.

  • No plot cards. Instead mini objectives (i.e. "Win without a single take out" or "Perform a counter attack" or "End a turn with more momentum than your opponent")
  • Start with captain plus two players for week one. (no mascots)
  • Every week add another mini-objective and add players in a specific order.

The escalation league rules give GREAT practice on the mechanics with the fun miniobjectives helping you learn momentum use and how to plan strategy or what a team can and cannot do well (my attempt at a no-goals fish game was dreadful. BUT fun)

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When I started, I had similar issues to you - I couldn't do anything I wanted to. I've found that the game plays completely differently to other wargames, and so, it takes a bit of getting used to that mindset. When you switch Guilds it's also quite hardto work out how to play them  (but it gets easier the more you play) , to the point where your first couple of games won't go so well. I found that reading about tactics and watching videos will help you get up to speed on the game. The main thing that helped me was reading tactics and then playing out a couple of turns on my own. The Kick-Off "Read this First" book helps a lot with this, as it walks you through the initial game. Having somebody who knows the game well, and can walk you through it will also help.

Where are you based, do you have a pundit (or experienced players) nearby? 

http://steamforged.com/pundits

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Guildball has a pretty steep curve, there's no avoiding that. It's a very mechanical game and pretty unforgiving, it sounds like you're all learning together at least? A new player learning with a experience bunched of people will lead to a lot of losses but as long it leads to player growth and understanding of the game that's the important thing. Here's a few general tips I found when learning the game - 

1) As stated above, the curve is a big one. There is ALOT going in a game of Guildball and a lot to manage, influence, momentum, getting goals, take outs, etc etc. I'd recommend asking your players to make mini goals. Next game maybe try to get 3 take outs, or 1 goal, or to try and remember to use momentum ect and grow these until they feel they're managing each aspect of the game. 

2) I'd recommend they stick with the same 6 for a while. Experimenting is good and when you've done the above and feel like you've got a good total grasp of the game it's really fun to try janky line ups, new players and downright stupid combinations. With that said familiarity while learning game really helps the experience, if you're not worrying about all the rules on your players cards it can help with decision making / managing the other aspects of the game.  

3) Lastly I think one thing to let them know is - it just takes time. Forall the reasons above Guildball can't be mastered in 10 games. The rules are pretty straight forward at face value - 2 Vps for a takeout, 4 VPs for a goal, 12 VPs to win you can spend influence and momentum, and use character plays to get here. There is a lot depth and nuance in the game and I really find 90% games vary in how they go. Player decision however I find is normally the most important factor to a game. Making the correct decisions why managing all the above resources only comes with time. 

I hope this helps, sometimes learning a new game can be a slippery slope (I had this chat with a lot of WMH players and more than a few Guildball players now) but from my own experience the persistence is very much worth it in the long run. 

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OP, T and G productions have a great intro video that guides you step by step from moving, to using Legendary Plays, and everything in between.

I'd also suggest not swapping your team so quickly/frequently. As someone that did is for the first year or more of playing playing, it had a big impact on my play style and generally hampered me in the long run... 

Also, watch game reports! T&G have a load, The Battle Hammer if you don't mind it being a bit more R rated, Beard Minis for very concise, 30 minute reports. 

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What were you having trouble doing? Getting takeouts and goals? That seems to me like an issue of tactics/efficiency as a result of being new and not yet having felt out the flow of the game. I'd love to help give tips to get efficient plays out for you guys if you want it and can give some more specific examples of what you're doing to make it go so slow.

In general though I do think newer players make inefficient moves that makes the game much slower. Ball focused teams played by new players often end up trying to fight futilely or spend too much time passing the ball and getting into back and forth tackle fights, or accidentally ending an activation while still holding the ball meaning they can't even use it until next turn. Fighting teams under new players often end up not allocating enough resources to score a takeout, or they try to 1v1 models in a trade like other games when they should be sending in set up pieces to give them a gangup bonus.

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I found the basics of Guild Ball pretty easy to get hold of, partly as the design intention of 'options' was a key draw for me to back the KS, so I knew how playbooks worked before I knew anything else. However, tactics and how my team play together took practice. I lost all my games for the first few months against the same opponent, but he was very good, discussing what I could have done differently and how he might have played out in different situations. Played in my first event, hoping to play against some different teams and players, ended up coming 4th. A couple of events later, I came incredibly close to beating my regular opponent to 1st place (he won on the tiebreaker by 2 points).

I stuck with the same team (Alchemists) for three years, so I really got to know them well, from release, when they were considered a difficult team to play and they had poor results, to Vengeance 2017, when they were a top tier team and I managed to place 12th of ~124, which I felt was a good place to move on after so long playing them. I haven't done so well with Masons, but I enjoy them and it's good to be learning a new team and a new playstyle.

So some points from my experience:

  • play against better opponents, so you can see good tricks and tactics and learn them (seeing people use the ball to get an extra 4" dodge when I thought I had moved my players out of range was a massive eye opener)
  • discuss your games with your opponents afterwards if you have time, it helps you learn about your opponent's team and share insights that will help both of you improve your game
  • stick with a team - the best players know all their playbooks by heart through repetition and so can work out the odds of getting the result they want against a target very quickly, which makes decision making easier (an app like Tooled-Up can tell you the odds on specific dice rolls as well)
  • have a target in mind: are you going for 3 goals? 2 TOs, 2 goals? 6 TOs? This helps you build your team and work to its strengths - trying to get 4 TO with a Shark Fishermen team is bloody hard, don't do it!

The other posters have great advice I'd follow as well: watch some good games (Hot Gates Gaming is probably the best presented I've seen, James is very easy to watch. T&G is also good, and Battlehammer are very entertaining and slower paced reports so you can see more of the game and have a think about what you would do it a situation then see what they do), join an Escalation League (I've almost finished one, it's great fun and lets you learn a new team in a friendly, relaxed and gradual way) and find a pundit who can organise events and leagues for you to play in and improve.

It's a great game, I hope you stick with it. Good luck!

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The first half dozen games I played felt more like cooperative matches... where each of us new guild ball players would actually talk each other through what the best moves were. HA! Damn those games were long.

Patience...patience is key.

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Thank you so much for you insight on the matter and taking the time to reply. Many good suggestions here. :)

I will check out those videos, try and find a 6 to stick with for a while, have more patience for starters. Is the escalation league playable with 3 people? Or what's the suggested minimum for that? 

Also what I seem to struggle is what the hell am I supposed to do, now I just make a team and then I try and do what I can, be it take out's or goals. I don't really put much at all thought into that pre-game. It does seem to me it's easier to go down the takedown route and score a goal with the Butchers when you can, that felt a lot easier than taking a Fish team and aiming for 3 goals. That was a disaster. :D Also how to spread around influence is giving me some headache and when and where to spend momemtum. 

And yeah I don't doubt for a second that it isn't lack of tactics/efficiency.

But it's good to hear that we're not alone in our struggles. :) 

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Butchers I think do click a bit faster for those used to other games. They do try to go for takeouts first and goals if they present themselves. With influence it's hard to say without knowing a 6 but for most teams, and for ease of learning I think it tends to work best when you load up a couple models that plan on doing work that turn. If you're playing Fillet she's a good player to just give maximum influence to every turn. Boar if you use him gets 2 attacks for the price of 1 effectively due to berserk, so if the fight is near him I'd give him 1. The others can be given what let's them support the team or given a lot if there's a target in range.

 

When it comes to momentum spending, heal often when your opponent is going for a damage game, but balance it out with trying to have more momentum than them. Counter attacks and defensive stances are the big things to do with momentum, and will likely be useful as often as possible, even if they're only forcing your opponent to dodge out or select a knock down to prevent your counter. With experience you'll learn when doing a counter attack is pointless. Bonus time very sparingly, except for goal attempts where you probably want to bonus time every time you can unless you're at about 5 dice. I play fish as my main competitive guild and can tell you, missing a goal because you got greedy and wouldn't spend the momentum is super painful.

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Right, well I do have to agree with that, first game with Butchers was frustrating mainly due to me not really realizing such things as counter attack dodges, knockdowns and their importance and unpredictable movement. After that I felt like they're sort of okay to click but as I always play the "Butchers" in majority of my games I've been more inclined to steer clear of that path, that is why I'm thinking of swapping them out for the Fish to learn a new playstyle. 

Very good points, I've mainly played against Hunters and I feel there's simply not enough momentum to do everything needed, I'd need to heal, counter attack, try and shoot a goal, try to get rid of Snared, Poisoned, need to rid of Knockdown, simply too many things on my models. Also I pretty much always forget Defensive Stance actually. 

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When I learnt, I largely ignored momentum. I didn't do all that well, but the team could basically do what they were supposed to do without it, so it was 1 less resource to worry about. (although my opponents weren't using conditions, if they are, you'll certainly need to use it for that). After I got the basics I started using it for things like take a breather and counter attack, and then I started looking at things like Gliding, give and go and defence stance. I found that let me us it gradually.

I started with a plan on the number of goals I wanted to score. I started off never having  enough influence, but decided on 2 or 3 players that I had a sure plan for, loaded them up fully, and saw what they could do with max influence, and what the rest of the team could do with none, and slowly got used to how much everyone could do with different amounts of influence. You then start to generate a plan for your whole team.

I started with only 6 players for a team, so I had no team choices. I think most of the team boxes out there should be playable as 6, and so you can spread the learning. Just work out what your 6 do, and get better with them. as soon as you feel comfortable you can start bringing in different players.

Finally some teams don't gel with some players. Each team does have its own style, so after you think you have the basicis of the rules and don't like the team, you might then want to try and find a team that does fit what you like.

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Thank you, solid points. 

I'm not entirely sure though what gliding or give and go mean though.. :D

But yeah, the pick a 6 sounds very solid to stick with. 

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20 minutes ago, Furnace said:

Thank you, solid points. 

I'm not entirely sure though what gliding or give and go mean though.. :D

But yeah, the pick a 6 sounds very solid to stick with. 

Give and go is one of the category of “things I forget far too often” - teamwork actions.

Being able to dodge someone 4” for a cost of 1MP after a successful pass (either the kicker or receiver) is remarkably useful!

Gliding is also a momentum cost generic ability, allowing a model to ignore rough ground.

The whole section on ways to spend momentum regularly slips my mind, and is hugely useful :D

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3 hours ago, Furnace said:

try to get rid of Snared, Poisoned, need to rid of Knockdown, simply too many things on my models.

Note that spending momentum to clear conditions removes ALL conditions currently on a model, not just one of them.

Think about it this way:

Your team probably is going to make about 8-12 momentum in a turn, since you generate ~12 influence and more than half of that influence is probably going to be spent making attacks, which will probably result in momentous damage on a butchers team. Sometimes you'll make more (wrapping playbooks, Furious/Berserk, and so on) but it's a reasonable guideline for what you should expect in a turn. Think about what you may need to use it on - making a shot, healing a model which you expect to get beaten down, dodging a model around if you have the ball and can get a lot of benefit out of moving them in some way. Try and keep 1-2 momentum in the bank for counter attacks and defensive stance.

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Oh right, the pass thing, sure, that one I am actually familiar with and have used it but Gliding, I wasn't even aware of such an action. :D

Except Pinned I believe which can't be removed and is quite annoying. But yeah, others, though when your entire crew has them + damage there isn't enough momemtum in the world to clear all of that and heal on top. :P

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1 hour ago, Furnace said:

Oh right, the pass thing, sure, that one I am actually familiar with and have used it but Gliding, I wasn't even aware of such an action. :D

Except Pinned I believe which can't be removed and is quite annoying. But yeah, others, though when your entire crew has them + damage there isn't enough momemtum in the world to clear all of that and heal on top. :P

Note that Pinned only prevents you from moving elsewhere during an advance - so you can still use the ball or buy dodges to get to other locations.

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5 months in... I think I have the basics down...but this is a challenging game to play very well. Time, patience, practice... and re-reading rules about 7 million times helps. These forums and the community here have been of immeasurable help to this old guy with no previous experience with this type of game at all.

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