In my previous article I explained why I drifted away from Warmachine and Malifaux, my pimary and secondary miniatures games respectively. Now I want to explain why I got hooked on Guild Ball and how I jumped in with both feet without even playing a demo game (a first for me). I had seen talk of Guild Ball on Facebook and sites like Beasts of War but not until long after the Kickstarter project had ended. I liked the idea of a sports game like Blood Bowl and liked the low model count so I read the GB forums and found a lot of things I liked.
- Skirmish level game. With only six models on the pitch at a time (two more on a tournament roster to allow substitutions between games) and all of them being characters it was the smaller scale I had wanted. Malifauxe started off the same way but there ended up being multi-model “units” and some forces had larger numbers of cheap (points-wise) models so it broke down a bit on that front. Not having units in GB means no repetitive painting of the same model (more or less) ten times.
- Scoring. One thing that drew me to Malifaux was the use of strategies and schemes. Both players used the same strategy which was worth some victory points (VP) and each player also selected a couple of hidden schemes independently (also worth VP). This provided for much more variability of play compared to Warmachine which was basically kill the opposing warcaster. Yes WM had scenarios for tournament play but they were only there to encourage players to engage and prevent them from turtling. I don’t know that I ever saw anyone win by scenario points. Guild Ball allows teams to score VP by scoring goals or beating face and any combination of the two.
- Simple rules. The basic rules are really quite simple: moving, kicking (passing or shooting on goal), attacking and character plays are about it. Influence is used to perform those actions and momentum is generated and spent by various actions.
- Complex tactics. While the basic rules are easy enough to pick up there is enough complexity in how your players interact to provide plenty of food for thought on the various ways to score VP and prevent your opponent from doing so.
- Lots of factions. With eight factions (guilds) available by the time I jumped in there was plenty of variety. Each guild has a different play style and visual theme. Even better the designers are aware that beyond a certain point (15 models in their opinion) a guild can’t continue to grow without bleeding into what other guilds do. Their plan is to meep adding new guilds instead of just adding models to the initial eight guilds indefinitely.
- Playbooks. Instead of just looking at the results of an attack roll to determine how many points of damage were inflicted each model has a playbook. Selecting which result you want is a very tactical choice and a lot more interesting than just dealing straight damage all the time.
- Alternating activations. I learned to like alternating activations in Malifaux, it was a nice break from activating my entire Warmachine army and then watching the other player do the same for 20 minutes. I came to love it in GB since it not only keeps both players engaged but also makes the tactics more interesting as each player must constantly adjust on the fly.
I can’t be the only one who sees things this way as Guild Ball is spreading like wildfire in my area. There are quite a lot of former and current Warmachine/Hordes players among the converts as well.