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Is Guild Ball a tournament game or a casual game?

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We've tried to ask a couple of times here about some issues what me and my friends have run into with Guild Ball and they seem to have been largely dismissed as an impossibility. Which lead to me wondering, as all the suggestions have been "just tap one model and you're ahead, let the clock run out" and stuff like that. Is Guild Ball suited for a casual game? Because we usually play casually, mainly for fun and with Guild Ball we've run into quite a few issues which would be fixed by playing full on with a clock. 

Is Guild Ball a tournament game over a casual game is my question? A lot of the people here, reading posts, battle reports etc seem to play with a clock and with a full focus on winning. As to where we have usually liked to play other systems with sillier lists and try to have fun but Guild Ball seems very focused in taking good models, to achieve one of the two ways to win, kill or score. While other systems you can actually win by doing basically neither and build up to a more relaxed and fun gaming experience. 

Thought it'd be interesting in hearing your opinions on this. :)

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I'm of the opinion that casual Guild Ball where you're just messing around isn't a particularly good game, and that style is done better by other games. If you're not trying to actually win, the game tends to stall out for a long time - either in repeated tackling of the ball off the enemy, then them doing the same back again, or in damaging an opponent and healing yourself, then they hit you back and heal themselves, and so on. If neither player has an actual plan for ending the game it tends to stall out into a grind.

'Sillier lists' aren't really a thing in guild ball because there are not many list building decisions to be made. Sure, you can play all-goals Butchers or try to go 6-0 in takeouts with Shark fishermen or something, but there aren't that many options for that sort of thing and normally it's just trying to make a team do something it's naturally bad at, rather than something that is actually any more amusing or interesting than the meta teams. I guess you could play for ringouts if that's what you want?

The clock helps games not stall out so much. A lot of teams do have a split between takeouts and goals - many top teams get both goals and take outs.

I wouldn't call casual GB particularly relaxed or fun - there are still a lot of decisions to be made at every point in the game, and it tends to take a long time. Most other games have a natural end (since your models die and don't heal much / come back) and are less prone to getting into loops where players end up repeating the same actions. For casual gaming these are important things to consider. In a game like 40k, you can take whatever army you like, move towards the enemy and shoot whatever's in range and 1) you'll probably get something done and 2) what you 'should' be doing with your models is relatively obvious. That isn't really the case in GB.

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I enjoy playing guild ball casually, so it’s entirely possible - as long as everyone involved wants to play a relaxed game and doesn’t worry much about the result, it’s much like playing any other game. I don’t experience issues with games stalling out without a clock, as the people I’m playing are happy to try risky and potentially crazy things for the laugh. I’ve also never really experienced ball killing, which is common from what I've seen of tournaments. If people are worried about winning rather than there for a bit of social fun, that seems to be when the stall/ball kill type stuff occurs as no one wants to try anything risky that would break the deadlock in case it doesn’t work.

The community overall is very competitively focussed, so advice will usually be from that perspective (and I’m not saying that’s wrong, just that that's the focus). The game is written to work as a competitive tournament game, though it doesn’t have to be played that way. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground though - it’s either full on tournament scene (or aiming for it), or really casual (and avoiding competition).

Casual play also tends to be much more subdued on the forum and social media. Have you tried the mob football association variants? They might help shake things up to be more fun.

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I agree with Gauntlet and I've actually had the conversation a lot locally with people in the South of the U.K. Guildball doesn't really have a off mode, it's hard to draw an example from another game but let's use 40k. 

40k you can play narrative games, you can recreate hugely cinematic moments, you can forge your own characters, make your own scenarios and run campaigns. Guildball really lacks the capacity for a lot of what "Casual" games normally offer. Guildball is 1 scenario, 6 players with only 2 ways to "win" the game. For example say you're playing Age of Sigmar and you make crazy scenario where deamons are pouring out of realmgates and victory conditions aren't anything to do with achieving a points it's purely a narrative victory / loss. 

Guildball ultimately a mechanical game about achieving your 12 VPs to win the game. I think the toughest for me is trying to sell the game to newer players that are trying to break into a community of experienced players. There is no two ways about your first 3 months of Guildball against players that know the game mechanics just somewhat are either them letting you win the game, or them beating you and explaining the mistakes you made. It's not exactly a "enjoyable" learning curve losing over and over again.

I don't think Guildball can never be played casually but I think Guildball at it's core is a competitive game with a ultra tight ruleset that allows people to compete at high skill levels very well due to the nature of the rigid mechanics it has. 

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A lot of this thread seems to imply that playing "casual" isn't actually trying to win.  I'm not actually convinced that's the case.  Me and my tiny meta (there's like 3 of us, it's cute) keep guild ball as our 2nd/3rd string game that we can fall back on when other games end up with odd numbers.  Since we're pretty infrequent players, we don't normally run a clock since we'd spend a good deal of time pausing it to dig out rules, make sure cards are up to date, talking about that funny thing, answering rules questions for other games in the same space, etc.

Having said that we are still very much trying to win and our games are still absolutely headed toward a conclusion in timely fashion.  It's just that "timely" there is based on number of turns/actions rather then real time.

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The scene is rather leaned toward the competitive. I think the clock is a great way to play the game as I feel it helps you focus on what actually needs to happen this turn.

I do feel that the more casual side is heavily influence by the circles you play in. I had a lot of fun with the escalation kick off league that out meta held last year.

Even more excited for us to play the Rookie league in the near future. The other alternate game modes are again really dependent on your community. It has to voice that it wants to try it.

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Simply depends on the people playing. I gladly play competitively across a tournament table against far superior and serious players. I also play casually across a kitchen table with family and friends. Both are possible. I find the competitve more rewarding at times. I find the casual far more entertaining at times.

It is less the game, and more the players attitude toward it, that determines whether GB is best suited for casual or competitve.

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I have to admit that I spend much more hobby time on painting/podcasts/reading forums than actually playing. You can certainly play casually though, especially if you have opponents at a similar skill level. If you're playing casually you can just take any models you like, rather than needing a "good" list, and you can take risks with your game-plan and not be too worried if it collapses.

I haven't played properly on the clock yet, but having been learning or re-learning the rules for a couple of game systems recently I think aiming for 90 minutes/2 hour games (or less) in various systems seems a good target to me. Any longer than that and most games start to drag a bit and become frustrating. I went to a tournament for another game and found it great for properly learning the rules and learning how to play faster and enjoy the game more (even though I lost everything!)

When experienced players play newer players have you tried handicap systems ... eg. you could give the new player pre-errata Thresher and then try to beat them with a team of "bad" models that don't synergize well, or something like that?

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To be clear I'm not saying it can't be played casually, there's a few people local to me that I know would rather not play on clock and don't play every week. When one of those guys ask for a game I normally try a silly line up or play a different team to what I'm currently attending tournaments with. We don't use a clock and time isn't a issue as we kick back and roll dice. It works and we have fun but one thing that is apparent - purely due to the difference in games we played - is the skill level. It can lead to casuals not enjoying "Casual" games because of that. 

If you're local group never plans to attend events, you're all happy to play 3 hour games and the only objective of Guildball is to be a beer and pretzel sort of game no one can say that's not a casual game for your self. The only point I'd make is I feel that there are better games for that sort of local play group that can offer a much more cinematic and narrative driven experience then Guildball can. 

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Created/written by some pretty high placing WM/H tourney players so yeah, it's definitely Srs Bsnss. That said, I thoroughly enjoy my 2-3 hour casual games with friends. We've had some pretty cinematic games/moments! We've also had dull and depressing games drag on and on.

If you want something much more casual, and designed as such, check out DreadBall 2.0 from Mantic. That is fast and fun. 

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My main game is tournament Malifaux, so I can't help but view guild ball as a "casual" experience (No offense, but the scenario system in Malifaux has become incredibly dense). Not in saying it isn't as competitive or it isn't as well put together, but I can play to a medium level without hurting myself. There are several of us locally who like to pull out figures and screw around a couple times a month, and it works great for us.

Guild ball is a big step up from 40k or similar games, and I don't think that mindset would work as a casual baller. So I guess what I'm saying is your "casual" might not mean the same thing as the next fellow, and the folks most likely to be talking on the official forums are those who lean towards the competitive side of the game.

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Guild Ball was/is my first miniatures game, and I still can't wrap my brain around trying to paint hundreds of minis of the exact same model to create an army the way others do.

While I was getting into the game it felt a lot more casual than it does now. It's fun as hell to assemble and paint the models. Stand them beside each other, place them on the table and move them around, but I think the ability to deliver on a fantasy comes secondary to the tight mechanical play in GB and that's a little disheartening to me when I realize all the ephemeral concepts I don't fully grasp the importance of, positioning, momentum generation, influence allocation, sacrificing models, picking targets, surviving crackback... it all kinda takes the fantasy out of the mechanics to me. Especially when the mechanics suck. Hello 5/7 Mov on a "fast" model.

After moving away from my regular opponent, I haven't played in a while, and the few games I have have been very casually with my brother, we've settled into 1 Captain, 3 Models and I've found the games to be much less stressful and more enjoyable that way. The art, sculpts, and stories are phenomenal and the guilds are to date some of the most unique and cohesive factions I've seen in all of gaming. (Within my own stylistic preferences), so I certainly don't regret buying into the game as hard as I did, they're a nice conversation piece on the workdesk.

I've searched about other minis games, to see if maybe collecting/painting is my calling, but I find very few that have a stylistic appeal to me. 'Cept for the Dark Souls board game but that's just unfair because that was already my favorite game. *grumbles about the darkroot expansion*

So I guess the moral is to find your fun.

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On 3/16/2018 at 10:37 AM, Lee said:

Created/written by some pretty high placing WM/H tourney players so yeah, it's definitely Srs Bsnss. That said, I thoroughly enjoy my 2-3 hour casual games with friends. We've had some pretty cinematic games/moments! We've also had dull and depressing games drag on and on.

If you want something much more casual, and designed as such, check out DreadBall 2.0 from Mantic. That is fast and fun. 

Can you detail a bit about Dreadball? How does it compare with Guild Ball?

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I feel it is a competative game that can be played casually. 

Tournament has nothing to do with it, because anything can be set up to be used for a tournament. 

But I do believe that the game is more competitive at heart than some other games out there. 

That doesn't make it bad, or make being competitive bad, but it definitely affects your approach to playing.

Note: you can play competitively and not be an asshole. That's the player's flaw, not the game.

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Thank you everyone for your input. Would you all recommend embedding a clock to the game? Is it really so much a vital part of the game? We usually play without it. 

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I think the clock is largely needed if you have time constraints. So if you are trying to play 4 games in a day, you need some way to stop the games overrunning. Arbitrarily ending the game at time x is not a fair way to end a guildball game, as it ignores board state.

If you don't mind the game occasionally taking 2+ hours, then you don't need a clock.

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I do think the clock is important to keep the game moving.  It also helps to get accustomed to the pace of play if you might ever play in an event.  When my group plays casual games, we use the clock, but we don't hold to 1 minute activations once people clock out--just take full activations and then grant a point to the opponent afterwards.  Finishing games in a reasonable time means playing more games!  :)

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The clock isn't half as important as setting expectations for the game.

Are you and your opponent playing Guild Ball to hang out? Are you playing to try and understand the game better? Are you playing to win by any means? Are you playing to prep for a tournament?

If you can both understand and agree one why you're playing then you'll be much happier with the outcome of the game on any front. This includes agreeing on stuff like takebacks and the like.

With that said, if time is an issue, learn to play on the clock.

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1) You can also play a casual game and be an asshole. One of our players got out of 40k because several of the locals kept throwing cheese lists at him that countered his army.

2) 95% of the tournament p^layers I know are fun people who play hard within the rules but are perfect gentlemen. 

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On 3/28/2018 at 11:45 AM, Lena said:

Can you detail a bit about Dreadball? How does it compare with Guild Ball?

Guild Ball is more of a competitive miniatures game that's been pared down and cut back to a 6v6 format. Dreadball is more like Blood Bowl, except that a) it's been changed from a risk management game to one where you're fishing for more success, and b.) it has more influence from basketball / ice hockey in the nature of the end-to-end gameplay than the rugby/american football theme and gameplay of Blood Bowl.

As someone who finds Blood Bowl too punishing to enjoy, Dreadball was a breath of fresh air. Guild Ball scratches a completely different itch - Dreadball is far more of a boardgame than a miniatures game.

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