For my first real content post I’d like to talk about something I call…
ALL-STAR TUNNEL VISION
As even the newest guild ball players are aware, the captain of your team almost always has the biggest impact on your overall strategy, as well as how your game unfolds. This is particularly the case with some of the newer “all-star” season 2 captains such as Fillet and Hammer. There are also some good season 1 examples such as Obulus and Shark. Not only do these captains dictate the ebb and flow of the match, they also tend to drain a significant amount of influence. Tunnel-vision occurs when you are so incredibly focused on what your (or the opponent’s) captain is able to accomplish it diminishes other players on the pitch. As you can imagine this can be a huge disaster as Guild Ball matches frequently do not go exactly according to your best laid plans.
A great example of this is a recent match I played as fishermen versus morticians. The fish list was a scoring team lead by Shark and the morticians brought a killing list lead by Obulus. I was able to plan for, and prevent, most of the significant Obulus traps throughout the game. I kept my momentum low, planned around who could be puppet mastered, and counter-attacked in all the right places. However I was so focused on Obulus and his stacks of influence I totally forgot about the unassuming Rage with his 1 influence. Not only did I forget about Rage once… but THREE TIMES. The first time Sakana was lured in with puppet master after retrieving the ball. I was fine with this because I had planned for it. As soon as Obulus took a swing I simply counterattacked and moved backwards wasting the rest of Obs stack of 1 or 2 influence. I felt so proud of my play I didn’t even realize Sakana was about to get hit by the Rage-Train. I also moved Angel off the line far enough to allow Rage the opportunity to charge her on the second turn. As the pace of the game continued, I made some tricky shark plays and lead him in a spot to score and be somewhat immune from Obs, but again, not immune from a Rage charge! Reflecting back on this game I realize the huge stack of influence is what lead me to totally ignore the possibility of devastating plays coming from another direction.
On the same level, I feel a lot of new fishermen players bring a team and simply make it out to be “The Shark Show”. His mobility and threat on the ball is so excellent many tend to simply let him do all the work. This mindset often places Shark in some very dangerous positions after he’s completed his task. I think a lot of this revolves around Tidal Surge simply being used as an expensive Where’d They Go. I’ve pointed out to several new players that Tidal Surge is often much more useful as a set up play. Quick Foot is criminally under-utilized as well. This is especially true on turn 1. Yes, Shark is an all-star. And yes, he can net you the majority of your VPs (Ha! Net.). But when you disregard his capacity to support you are simply spending extra influence which may in fact not be necessary. You can generate increased threat range, and therefore board presence, on beaters such as Jac or Fangtooth. You can also turn already reasonable strikers to legends. Personally, I find Greyscales to be a great Tidal Surge/Quick Foot candidate since has natural goal threat is low for fish. The same can be said about Fillet. Quick Foot on Brisket is a game changer in my opinion.
How to catch yourself / prevent tunnel vision:
Your captain: If you allocate your influence and notice you’ve allocated your captain near his/her max, take a step back and reconsider. Do you really need x amount to accomplish the goal? Is there another player in a better position who can threaten more efficiently? Is it absolutely necessary your captain take first/key activation? What could you do right now if your captain was dead or knocked down? Does giving another player, even one close to death, a single extra influence open up a whole new branch of possibilities your opponent must consider? Sure, a lot of times loading up to max is most certainly the right thing to do, but it is smart to take a small amount of extra time to consider other options. Frequently your opponent will anticipate a fully loaded captain. Giving another player the reins can really throw someone off guard.
Enemy Captain: if you notice your opponent’s allocation and see a hefty sum of influence on his all-star attempt to assess when in the turn that character will activate. If he is activating first is there anything you can do about it? If not, give yourself a backup plan. If you anticipate the all-star is going to activate near the end of the turn, what can you do to make that influence as minimally impactful as possible? Does the all-star need some sort of setup you can interrupt? If all else fails, accept you are going to get wrecked in a particular exchange and apply pressure elsewhere. Make special care to look at where the rest of the influence is located. Is there a furious character on the board whose 1 influence is actually more like 3 or 4?
To some of us this may sound overly simple, and often if you are on a timer you may not have the luxury of staring at the board for 5 minutes, but use your opponents time against him. I almost always plan 2 separate lines plays instead of 1 during my allocation. Sometimes the extra 60 seconds you take to analyze the board state can prevent an atrocity!
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget your peripherals!