Strong Fundamentals in Guild Ball

Hi everyone! I really wanted to write something today, but with the season 4 card reveals upon us I’m sure that’s going to get beat to death. Plus it’s hard to give great analysis with so much up in the air. One thing, however, will barely ever change about Guild Ball because it is common across all teams and cards. Let’s talk about Strong Fundamentals!

Fundamentals are common practices / skills you can learn and improve. Some a decision may seem very small, but when they matter they matter a lot! A win or a loss can be determined by one or two major decisions, but sometimes the most trivial micro decisions can add up and eek you out a critical W.

This list will be geared towards Newer to Intermediate players. Some of you veterans may consider this muscle memory by now, but perhaps there is a gem or two in here for you as well. Let’s do it to it!


Fundamental #1: Show up with a Plan!

No, I don’t believe you need to have an exact set up for every single Guild vs Guild situation. At least not as an intermediate player. The plan you need to develop is your win condition, and how your models go about achieving that win condition. Once you know who is kicking off take a minute or two to consider the following:

  • Reflect on your lineup and your opponent’s line up.
    • What are your model’s strengths and weaknesses? Do you know your character plays and traits? Do you know where your important/likely playbook results are?
    • You don’t need to know every single stat, but do you have a rough idea of what their models do? If not, take a moment and ask questions.
  • Try to imagine your initial strategy playing out.
    • How many goals do you think it is reasonable to score in the matchup?
    • How many of their players do you think you can kill? Which players are they? What models can make it happen most efficiently?
  • Be aware of the ball.
      • Deploy with the first turn or two of ball movement in your mind. If you are receiving, who is retrieving and where does the ball end up? Remember kicking off gives you the benefit of last activation as well as having a model up the pitch.


(Look at this silly season 2 lineup! 3 goals all day!)



Fundamental #2: Be cognizant of reactive traits!

  • Once deployment is over, go over what sort of character traits your opponent’s models have.
    • I’ve been playing this game for 3 years and still try to do it every game. For example if I am against Masons I will literally say out loud “Brick and the Monkey have counter charge. Flint is charmed male with close control. Honour has a free counter attack” and so on. Our brains are wired to remember things said out loud.
      • Sometimes I’ll even do this at the start of a turn.
  • Use widgets to your advantage.
    • Place a semi-permanent widget next to enemy models which represents the reactive threat. This could be like a 6” stick in front of Compound to remind you of Rush keeper. This could be a 2” melee zone marker on Greyscales to remember UPM.
      • Just remember to be respectful of your opponent. Don’t clutter things up too bad.


(here is an example of a permanent widget being used to remind myself of Ballista’s Minefield. Also skipping ahead sections – look how many of those models are in cover!)



Fundamental #3: Good Resource Management!

  • Influence:
    • This one is normally pretty easy but think about how much certain character plays cost and what your likelihood to use them might be. Can the opponent invalidate your influence?
      • Killing an activated player is good, but killing a player with influence is golden!
      • If you give a nearly dead player 0 influence, could the opponent ignore that model? If you give a nearly dead player 1 or 2 influence, could you force your opponent into a suboptimal activation?
    • Don’t forget your goal influence or extra influence from a game plan card! I find it handy to have a slightly different looking token for these.
  • Momentum:
    • Towards the 3rd or 4th activation of a given turn, review the current momentum pools against the influence left on the field. How likely is it you will be ahead on the race?
      • Towards the 5th and 6th activations, look at your game plan cards. Do you have a chance at winning initiative? If so, how important is it? If no, or not important *Spend that Momentum yo!*
    • Remember a model can heal 8HP a turn just from Momentum. It’s especially effective on models with tough hide. Obviously your opponent usually has an activation between yours. Consider they could heal their models. Don’t forget to heal yours.
    • Counter Attack! Often I see players decide not to counter attack because they think “oh I’ll just get Knocked Down anyway”, but realize that KD result *isn’t damage*. A counter-attack that you never intend to role is kind of like healing in a way.
      • This is especially true of certain models who can only easily access their KD via charge. Forcing that KD result might prevent a character play or high damage result!
  • The Ball:
    • The ball is for more than just scoring! It can be used to move your models around as well as dictate the pace of the game! If you have the ball your opponent will generally need to move towards you. When you give up the ball, you’re effectively turning off these abilities.
    • Think twice before scoring. I’ve instantly won so many games because my opponent took a goal shot when I was at 8 points. Be aware of the capacity of your opponent to score a snap back. If you are down on the score board late in the game, and have the ball, you typically don’t score until the last minute.
    • Recognize the pattern of the turn 1 goal.
      • Last activation turn 1 goal by the receiving team generally results in that model being very far up the pitch.
      • That model tends to get brutalized on the last activation of turn 1. This frequently loses you the momentum race.
      • That model then tends to get dead on the first activation of turn 2.
      • It’s frequently a great play, but you should recognize your 4 points cost you a movement resource, lost a player, and an activation.


(Mist might have scored, but I think he might be in a little trouble…)



Fundamental #3: Practice Deliberate Placement (This is one is probably the hardest to teach)

  • Don’t feed. One of the initial skills most players learn is how to measure threat distances. What I find they sometimes miss is sending a single player too far forward just to spend their allocation.
    • For example: Look at a model like Matagi. Sure if you move him up you can snap fire or hot shot, but is that incremental damage worth a 10hp model being that close to the enemy? Would you be better off wasting the influence, but saving the take out?
  • Be aware of terrain. All else equal if you can end your movement in cover, end it in cover.
    • Games will sometimes even naturally evolve to fight near a random barrier/obstruction because of cover bonus. Think about how you could be most effectively positioned around that terrain piece.
  • Where to stand when attacking.
    • Obvious example is a 2” melee model can avoid a counter attack from a 1” melee model.
    • What might be less obvious is when to stand base to base. If your model is 1” melee, and the opponent has a 1” push on 1 or 2 hits, you’ll need to be aware their counter attack could ruin your influence stack. However, if you stand base to base, you’ll still be in melee after they push you!
    • Even less obvious than that is the micro differences between 1”, 1.5”, and 2”.
      • Imagine you’re a 2” melee model attacking a 1” melee model. You stand outside of 1” so they can’t hit you back, but obviously within 2” so you can hit them. Doesn’t really matter right? WRONG!
      • If you place that model 1.2” away a 30mm base will fit between you! This may be important for future crowd outs or even charge lanes. 1.6” lets a 40mm get through. 2” exactly lets a 50mm through.
      • Understand these middle instances restrict where models can move and plan accordingly. Do you want to slip one of your models through a gap? Stand at 1.3”. Want to shut off a lane for your opponent? Stand at 1.1. Make sense? This essentially is free to do and you should be practicing it.


(Theron got a little too close and was pulled away from his team into the thunder dome!)

Anywho, thanks for reading everyone. Even for experienced players I think a lot of this bears repeating and remembering. As we move into the unknowns of season 4 we can still remember to practice these smaller skills which never really go out of style! Happy Balling!

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