Hey everyone! Trying something a little different today. We’ll take a quick departure from the hard data analysis for a softer approach. I’ve decided to call this segment Guild Ball Gods! Not necessarily because these are the most highly rated folks in the game, but more so because these people are the ones who make our community flourish. In future volumes we might learn a thing or two from some top players. We also could bring in other media members or some fantastic pundits. Let me know if you have an idea of someone who you’d like to highlight!
This week we have two legendary tournament organizers: Jake Smith and Bill Anderson. Both of these guys are known for hosting incredible events in the South Eastern U.S. and both have large, almost convention style, events coming up soon!
Lon: Hey Jake, So just for those out there who might not be aware of who you are, could you give us a quick rundown of your (and The Dojo’s) Guild Ball history?
Jake: About six years ago I got into miniature games playing X-wing when it was in some of its earlier stages. I played a lot of casual games with friends and then got hooked on competitive play for about two years until in my opinion the game got very stale.
Looking for a new game I had seen Guild Ball on the shelf at our LGS and really fell in love with the artwork, lore, and idea of murder soccer. Myself, Patrick, and another friend of mine, John, all bought in with a guild and we went from there. Fast forward about a year and I started looking for a more competitive scene to which I found at Borderlands in Mike and Josh.
From there the Dojo was born and we currently have 10-15 players in our meta. Over the last three years we’ve been traveling playing Guild Ball competitively on top of other miniature games, card games, and board games. While the Dojo is simply a two-car garage converted into a gaming space, I’d like to think of it as more of a mindset we take it to gaming. We make it a point to have fun at events while still keeping a competitive edge.
Lon: What else do you like to get in to other than Guild Ball?
Jake: Typically, if I’m not playing Guild Ball I’m usually with the family. My wife and little girl, she’s three, take up most of my time outside of work. If I’m not spending time with them you can usually find me at our local cigar bar (our Dojo brethren Patrick runs it) or just in the Dojo chilling playing games, hobby-ing, or watching the Pittsburgh Penguins (I love hockey).
Lon: So Greenville SC has always been kind of the big brother of the South East. You’ve got a good centralized location between some major metas as well as high quality and quantity of players. But I gotta ask, where’ve you guys been lately?
Jake: With attendance I feel like we travel a LOT compared to other metas. We missed Steamcon this year due to a family vacation and Mike also welcomed his first child into the world. In addition, we are currently registered for Bourbon Trail and Adepticon this year. That being said we’ve already attended two events this year in Anderson, SC and Columbia, SC. As I write this we are planning a trip to Atlanta tomorrow taking eight players down to their event (Let’s see another meta travel with eight).
If it comes to overall rankings on Longshanks I think a lot of it has to do with the competitive scene rising. Two years ago, players like Pete Kain, John Stokes, and Glenwood Morris didn’t exist. Present day this area is loaded with top tier talent making even smaller events around us a gauntlet of great players. That being said, I love it. Even in conversations with you I’ve tried my express how much I love seeing the Southeast meta grow with not only quality of players but quantity of players.
And one last thing…back to back STC champions!
Lon: So what Guilds are you running/focusing on right now? What’s most exciting to you in Season 4?
Jake: So, I started off Season 4 playing Alchemists again which was my first true love when I got into Guild Ball. I really think they did a great job adjusting them after Season 3 to make them more competitive but in my mind, I still think they have a lot of issues if you want to play them at a high level. I tried to force them last year after they caught they nerf bat and it just wasn’t fun, so I didn’t want to try to do that again this season. I really enjoy playing teams with a lot of jank to them and typically aim for a 2-2 victory condition. To answer your question, I’m currently playing Morts. They give a lot of options for win conditions and I feel like I really enjoy the way they play.
Most exciting thing about Season 4 has been the updated rules changes and addition of more Minor Guilds. I have a feeling that Miners will be something I look into but I’m still unsure if minor guilds can be competitive or just for funsies.
Lon: If there was one thing you could change about Guild Ball right now what would it be?
Jake: Plot cards. I’m not a fan of the current system. I could most certainly be wrong but a player that starts a game without either 7 or 6 initiative I feel is at a huge disadvantage from the start. I would love to see some form of draft system for cards or maybe just lowering the spread down on the numbers. For example, the max influence number is 5 and they are grouped closer together. I also think Minor Guilds need more player options. They all have their individual play style which I think works well into some matchups, but they also have some very “brick wall” type match ups as well.
Lon: I personally am really excited to return to Triskelion brewery for Old Jakes. I think the thing that really sold me was the fact we have the entire space to ourselves for 2 days, including more casual entertainment. It doesn’t quite feel like a Con, but almost a “players retreat”. What are you most looking forward to? Any news to add on the event? What should people do if they’re interested?
Jake: Really glad that’s the impression you got because it’s exactly what we’re aiming for.
In all honestly once everyone is registered I could legitimately bet on maybe five players to win the entire thing, so I thought…what will this be like for everyone else? One of the things I really aimed for last year was an attempt to bring metas together and I think we did an OK job. This year is already off to a great start as we already have players from eight different states registered. We will ensure the competitive scene is there for those who want it but also aiming for side events/tasks for players to win swag and awards as well. We will have some alternate formats after the competitive rounds are complete on day one as well as some other cool things like other games and live music. I am probably looking forward to what transpires between rounds 4 and 5 the most.
I currently do not have anything new to report other than I’ve been contacted by several sponsors already to get their name on some swag bag items. I am truly thankful but more to come on that. If you would like to sign up all you need to do is PayPal $35 to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, meta, and intended guild to be played. Once I receive payment I will register you on Longshanks.
Lon: Really appreciate talking to you as always man. I am thinking of doing an old jakes/spring fling “warm up” in Raleigh kind of like what we did last year. Hope to see ya then. Any parting words/shout outs/smack talk?
Jake: Definitely looking forward to another Raleigh tournament! As mentioned before we do our best to travel to as many events as we can to support and build ties between metas. As always if anyone has any questions about the HOWZAT event feel free to reach out to me on FB messenger, I’m always glad to assist any way possible.
Final thoughts… Couldn’t’ do this without the Dojo crew. Shout outs: Mike Rhodes, Josh White, Patrick Adams, Alex Veinberg, Bryce Martin, Stuart King, Jess Hodges, Ron Vonderbecke, Jason Jansante and all of other brothers to the North in Asheville and to the South in Charleston and Georgia. Maybe Chris Yuen just needs a hug??? Will John Stokes ever register another guild on Longshanks??? Will Jared McGraw finally defect to the Southeast meta??? Love you guys! I look forward to seeing everyone on the pitch!
Lon: How’s it goin Bill? I’m sure most people reading this are aware of who you are, but just in case, tell us a little about yourself and your relation to Guild Ball?
Bill: Hey Lon, things are going well now that my work has backed off the crazy travel schedule, I had last year. The biggest downside is I’m missing my Guild Ball crew out in the Denver area!
Tell you a little about myself and my relation to Guild Ball you ask, hrm… Well, I’ve been playing games of all sorts effectively my whole life, playing games like Chess, Uno, Stratego, Cribbage, and others from as 10 years old. Considering that, I am personally surprised that I didn’t move to tabletop miniature games or had even heard of Games Workshop until I was in my 30’s. Related to Guild Ball specifically, I was between primary games when Guild Ball launched on kickstarter and there was a number of things about it that caught my interest. I even have the distinct privilege to be the second “person” to publicly interview Mat on a podcast, episode 99 of the Gamers Lounge (http://gamerslounge.coda.net/2014/10/21/gamers-lounge-ep-99-guild-ball/).
Lon: So what’s the deal with Guild Ball Tonight lately? Seems the case has been a little slow to release. Life conflicts? I always thought GBT provided a nice, more casual listening, experience versus the other casts. You guys done? Will I ever get to see you entirely too far reclined in your chair again on twitch?
Bill: That is true, GBT has been a bit slow on the releases toward the last half of 2018. There are a number of reasons for that, not the least of which was a combination of my travel (during 2018 I spent 125 nights in hotels and flew over 100K US miles for work) and some personal challenges both Phil and I faced during the year. Adding to that, Phil’s local playgroups in Florida have drastically dropped off and we have struggled to keep things as positive as possible about Guild Ball through the end of the year. I realize long term listeners (and new for that matter) believe we’ve become the two crusty old-guys from the Muppet show, but we do regularly discuss how to keep a somewhat positive spin on the show.
GBT is not done, or if it is no one has told me yet. I actually had a couple times through November and December where I found I was anxious to get something recorded. As far as video casting and twitch, I’m a bit of a luddite and have not fully embraced video casting as a medium yet. On the podcasting front, trust that if I’m in front of my microphone in my office, I’m very literally laid back in my chair. It’s such a comfortable position and my mic is set up perfectly to accommodate me.
Lon: How are things going for you in Season 4? I missed you at SCUS. What are you playing these days? Having any success?
Bill: I’ve not gotten as many games as I’d like, but overall, I’m very happy with Season 4. SCUS fell at such a poor time for me personally and I was unable to make it down. Hopefully that will be different in 2019 and I’ll make it out, as I had a great time in the 2 previous Steamcon’s I attended (UK in 2016 & US in 2017).
I’ve been primarily playing Alchemists so far this year. I’ve had the alchemists since the kickstarter, and even had them commission painted by one of the best painters I know (Shout out to Mario aka Mars of Mats by Mars!). Season 4 is the first time I’ve spent dedicating time to learning the team and really getting them on the table regularly. The changes to the team just looked so much fun and I’m finding they are living up to my expectations. As for success, I’m not getting in nearly enough competitive games to really judge how well I’m doing. Overall, I win more than I lose, so that’s a good sign.
Lon: Ashburn is so nice because it seems like such a reasonable drive for so many folks. You’re able to pull from down South, the Midwesterners, as well as a good chunk of guys from up North. But what’s happening locally? Any Virginians we should be keeping an eye on this year?
Bill: We have a solid group of players locally, although keep in mind that the “local” area is fairly large around me. To be fair, my “local” community covers northern Baltimore Maryland, through Washington DC, and into Northern VA down as far south as Springfield VA. This is an easy 45-60 minute drive from any one side of the area to another. Collectively this is known as the “Capital Guild Ball” area, and there’s several excellent players here. As for anyone to specifically watch, that will all depend on who’s up for travelling this year! I’d surely offend someone if I started naming off the players I think are challenging and visible to keep an eye on because I’m sure I’d miss one (old age and all) or you’d edit my list and get me in trouble!
Lon: If there was one thing you could change about Guild Ball right now what would it be? Gonna throw the OPD in the harbor again?
Bill: I have to admit that meme is one of my favorites. Partly because of the thought behind it, partly because I grew up in New England! I review and weigh the OPD every year as the Spring Fling gets close, and also weigh the impact on using it or not. Last year is a great example, where there was a possibility if I didn’t follow the OPD we might not have been able to give the tournament winner a SCUS ticket. There’d have to be something fairly egregious for me to risk that.
At this point there’s nothing really leaping out at me in the OPD to be concerned with. It’s likely we’ll stick with it for the Spring Fling. That said, any deviations or changes will be published on the website and Facebook page before the event.
Lon: I’m a little bummed I won’t be able to make Spring Fling this year due to some personal life stuff, but I’d highly encourage everyone to go. I had such a terrific time last year! Huzzah was a great venue and you always do an excellent job running things. The prize support was huge and well distributed across all levels of play, but I think my favorite part was simply getting the chance to spar against some of the top players in the country. What should folks look forward to this year Bill? Anything new to tease us with?
Bill: Oh, so much to look forward to, I really took on a challenge this year for planning. The Spring Fling 2019 is like a “Spring Fling Con”, with not only the 64-person Guild Ball tournament but also a full series of Board Game events, a Developers Dinner, a pre-release RPG event, and game companies attending with a booth!
I’m excited to see how things progress this year as it will set the foundation for coming years. My goal is to feature some of the smaller games that may not be as “Main Stream” as GW 40K, GW Fantasy (Age of Sigmar), Warmachine & Hoards, or X-Wing. I’m aiming for that to be the focus for a growing convention that makes it onto peoples calendars this year and for years to come. And let’s not forget a Donut Food Truck, how can you say no to that?
Lon: And I know the event is technically “Sold Out” but as I recall last year a ton of waitlisters were able to get in. If anyone is interested in being waitlisted, or attending some of the other Spring Fling events, how should they get in touch?
Bill: There’s still plenty of room at the Spring Fling for board games, and I think people will really enjoy themselves on that side of the house. That said, the waitlist for the Guild Ball tournament will go live Monday January 14th. I’ve been able to track down a couple reserved tickets which will be made available before the waitlist, I’m just waiting on a couple more confirmations before releasing them. Check out the Spring Fling website (springfling.coda.net) for more details.
Lon: Thanks for taking the time to talk today Bill. Maybe I’ll see you in Raleigh sometime soon? Any parting words/Shout outs/Smack talk?
Bill: Who? Me? Smack Talk? Nah….. I’m not controversial ever!
Pending schedule, it’d be cool to get back to Raleigh for a GB event. I miss my trips down there and really miss grabbing some donuts or biscuits from Rise!.
Howzat will be on May 18th and 19th at Triskelion Brewing Company in Henderson, North Carolina. Entry fee is $35.
Spring Fling will be on April 27th and 28th at Huzzah Hobbies in Ashburn, Virginia. Entry fee is for the Guild Ball tournament is $45. There are also two side events, a board game event and developer dinner, which cost $25 and $40 respectively.