"So I have more of a modern football crowd, where you have more of a modern wrestling crowd." "Pretty much."SPIEL 2015 is currently happening at Messe Essen. My small family attended yesterday and we got a whole day's worth of enjoyment out of it, between buying a few games and bits, trolling BattleFoam, and a demo-game of Guildball (GB from here-on out).
A little bit of history here: I was a (not-so-uberly-active) Member of the Steamforged Community before GB came around, so I can safely say I've been aware of GB the whole time. I didn't back the Kickstarter because I didn't have the money to do so, but I've kept on monitoring the game. The game concept is really interesting (and refreshing to a Warmachine Player like me), the sports aspect is great, and I would've certainly bought into a faction already if a) there was one Guild that really really interested me and b) distribution in Germany was better... Especially the latter part made me giddy about Steamforged Games coming to the SPIEL, and getting a demo in.
So read on about my experiences and thoughts and plans that came from my visit to the Steamforged booth.
The Demo Game
I was already convinced that the GB game mechanics were good, but only now I know just how good they are. For the demo, having just witnessed a Butchers victory, I chose the fishermen (because they just lost and I wanted a look into the sports aspect of the game). I won't go into all the details - how the game works has been laid out by a lot of people. I will therefor focus on what stuck with me.
1.) Whilst players activate models in alternating order, Effects only stick around until the end of the turn. For some reason - and this was probably just my brain - I expected them to hang around for longer. I absolutely see why they don't, and this is not a critique (IIRC, it works the same way in Malifaux, and the only thing I can remember where it's handled differently is WM's Unbound rules, which I haven't played yet), it just stuck with me.
2.) Things that wouldn't work in WM #1: Engaging someone completely stops him from charging, therefor "robbing" him of four extra attack dice, and that's certainly a limiting factor, because players with lower TAC values (four or less, I feel) really want the extra dice. 2" melee range is therefor quite significant, especially with the fishermen who have quite a number of those.
3.) Even though damage isn't done in huge chunks - the stronger Butcher can one-round other player rather easily.
4.) Things that wouldn't work in WM #2: In the last activation of the game, I dodged 2", punched a player, chose a result that both allowed me to move and gave me a point of momentum, charged another, rolled so well that I could chose results which moved him, me, and gained me two momentum, punched another player, got to move again, took a shot at the goal, scored and won 8:4.
The last turn is which will, probably forever, stick with me. Because the Warmachine Player within me simply went
W? T? F?
The sheer amount of possibilities provided by this mechanical flexibility is both frightening and awesome, because while it instills me with the thought that I can make a game out of everything (I only had Siren left, who thankfully still had the ball), it also makes a hindsight analysis a lot harder - and I will likely often question my turns, whether I had played them to the best.
Also, while the Masons were originally a guild that was interesting - managing so many synergistic models on field full of moving models... makes my brain drip from my ears.
Ah, on the topic of Masons: As a WM player, I've grown accustomed to ARM not mattering (as much as you'd like). But in GB, it does, since every point of ARM takes away a successful hit. That doesn't sound like much, but if you can't charge, you're stuck with your basic TAC - and then, keeping misses in mind, ARM starts mattering, especially for players with lower TAC values, and even more so, if they're not in possession of the ball. If you have a TAC of 4, and the enemy model has an ARM of 2, the only results you'll ever get from the first and second column. And Tackle may be on the third.
So, what are my plans? Season 2 sees the arrival of the Hunters Guild, and I will, in all likelihood, grab those, since, as I explained to Rich Loxam, my Zodiac is Sagittarius (and one of my favourite D&D characters also was a Rogue/Scout/Archer). The Hunter's playstyle will generally be about short range ranged attacks and repositioning, so it's kind of like an amalgamation of the Engineers and the Masons styles (just with Fishermen ARM, I presume). There are also two existing Union models already which will work for them - Hemlocke and Minx - so they will end up with (about) the breadth of model options as the other guilds, which is nice to know.
Concluding this article, I'd say you can expect more Guildball related posts here - especially since a small scale calamity happened in the demo game: Siren tackled the ball away from Brisket, and then wanted to pass it to Angel (with the intent of getting a Pass'n'Move out of it)... and missed (the ball scattered and snapped to Angel, but JEEEEZ)...
But until then, farewell!