Braised Cooks with Meme Sauce

ego

So you know when you’re sitting at a restaurant and you realize your food has been under the heat lamp for like 20 minutes? Everyone else’s dish looks nice and fresh but you’re stuck with this dried up steak approaching well done? That’s what this blog post is about to be… and funny enough… that’s kinda how I feel about cooks.

Folks are just cracking their boxes open. There is a little bit of excitement out there. But let’s get real – These cards were written and tested last summer. We’ve seen a season change, an errata, and new major guild captains. Don’t forget Miners. Cooks were even served a pre-release nerf with Tenderizer’s change. It feels like cooks are debuting into a crowd they weren’t prepared to face. Everything’s all fast, goal leaning, and vegan.

But let’s jump into it shall we? Let’s stay positive. If there are any tasty morsels here I’ll find um. And yes, this post is going to be 75% puns and Gordan Ramsay memes. The other 25% is the ramblings of a mad man.

Guild Rule: Intimidation

guild rule

inti chart

That’s probably the only valuable #Lontent in this article. Intimidation is reasonably equivalent to Tac^1.16. Don’t worry. I can’t do that math either. Basically Tac 4 models are about Tac 5. Tac 5 models are kinda like Tac 6.5. Tac 6 models are basically Tac 8.

Intimidation has a neat skewing effect too where the bottoms of the playbooks get super consistent and the tops are a bit harder (if not impossible) to reach. They’re kinda like navigator rerolls in this way except for the fact the cooks actually have momentum at the bottom of their books. You’re basically going to want to assume the first 3 columns of any of these books are perfectly reasonable on most attacks. That’s nothing to laugh at.

 

Wellington:

wel1

Seems useful to me to look at Wellington first here. As is usually the case the captain dictates the overall game plan for the team.

There first thing that struck me about the boss man here is his 1” reach and KD on 4 seems especially vulnerable to counter attacks. His KD is only 13.2% on a normal attack vs a 4+/1. Yuck. A 9” threat is pretty average too. He is going to have to charge anyone with a 2” disengage or even a 1” disengage if he can’t base um. 2 influence for a non-momentous KD is sad days. It’s even sadder than when ox has to do it. So this leads me to believe wellington should be treated as more of an early activation support captain more than a personal damage dealer. Let him get in there and throw up a singled out, maybe a chef’s special. Scathing rebuke someone who is out of position or maybe KD’d from last turn. Essentially we want to set up for our squaddies to do the hurting.

ram

I do believe legendary turn might be a little different though, which is again very ox like. Even if you have to spend 3 inf on charge KD singled out You’re getting 3 pretty juicy attacks at the end of it. Against a 4+/1 you’re looking at 12 damage. Don’t forgo the singled out for the extra attack though, you’d still be looking at 12 damage regardless. 12 damage kills a lot of models. You can also hit a few 3 damage push dodges in there to bring the target back to your team a little. It’s worth noting a single gang up can really skyrocket Wellington. 8 dice puts you in reliable wrap territory which nets you 6 damage swings. 18 damage kills most things in Guild Ball so using scathing rebuke to get a free crowd is pretty tempting on legendary turn.

So I am thinking you kind of play Wellington like a poor man’s Ox. Issue is to get the most out of him he really needs to be up in there for a singled out. I am worried a 4+/1 15hp model with no defensive tech is a lot more vulnerable up front than old Ox hanging back giving out free auras and chucking out 6” character plays.

 

Pepper:

pep1

So there is a reason folks aren’t playing Salt right now. He just doesn’t add a whole lot to the team. Yeah she is fast and can give you some crowd outs, nullify a furious model here and there, but that’s about it. Pepper strikes me as basically the same. Pepper doesn’t have loved creature though. So for him being up in the mix he is much easier to punish than Salt or Princess. Less HP too.

pep meme

But he goes where he needs to go. He kinda makes Spice a pseudo Tac 6 model which is pretty ok. He’ll bite the crap out of you if you walk away from him. He’s wrapping into 5 damage on a 4+/1 57%!

 

Cinnamon:

cin1

First of all – I don’t exactly understand cinnamon’s role in the kitchen. She’s got the paddle for the wood fired oven but her outfit really looks more like a hostess. Maybe it’s like one of those pizzerias where the dining room can see the oven so she needs to look presentable? Then again those things tend to put out a lot of smoke, I’m not so sure that’s gonna be tasty with sweet treats. Maybe it’s a British thing? IDK.

Cinnamon is obviously amazing. She certainly opens up a lot of models on the butchers. That TAC 4 is suuuuper deceptive as well. Against a 4+/1 she’s actually comparable to a TAC 7 model on base swings. She’ll mess your world up. Honestly it is a little sad they capped her off at max 3 influence. Her mobility and 2” reach could have made her a fantastic beater.

But I guess the point is to assist the team in being faster with BAKE! It’s an extremely valuable trait and helps the cooks attempt to out threaten the opposition. Opponents always need to respect abilities like this, even before they’re active, by just staying back a little further than otherwise.

She’s also a super reasonable goal threat in her own right. 17” with 3 dice is nothing to laugh at in what’s framed as a beater team. If she starts with the free character play she’s up to 19”. Not too shabby

Cinnamon goes to show you can make a really cool card without needing to bleed ink all over the dang thing. She strikes me as pretty good at everything and extremely hard to drop from your list.

 

Roast:

roa1

Yeah the other cross over has already been making waves in Butchers for a bit. He might actually be one of my favorite new Guild Ball model designs in some time. He really pushes the envelope in a lot of neat ways. His move stat is wacky, his playbook and TAC are fantastic, and he actually has reasonable interesting defensive tech for a 2+/0. Some damaging models simply can’t deal with him.

It feels like he is another one who is perhaps hard to drop. His great offensive capacity makes him a prime target for Wellington and other buffs. And look, it is really important for 1” melee models to have options to stop a counter attack and he’s basically the only one who can do it. I don’t know that Roast brings quite as much to his own team as he does the Butchers. Really it’s just him and Spice who get the output. He can turn her on pretty hard.

He’s a fantastic model just feels odd to me SFG chose the stronger of the bunch to cross over into butchers. Can you imagine if Azimuth crossed over into a Corsair team? Heck even Ebb would probably be pretty insane. Maybe that’s why cooks fall flat for me personally? You can roll the cool stuff in an even stronger guild.

 

Spice:

spi1

You can’t play Spice in butchers so let’s muse on her for a sec. She’s supposed to be the big pay out model so let’s see if that’s worth it.

Again 2” reach and reasonably mobile. 10” threat is above average. She’s very influence efficient and even brings her own crowd out. 6 dice with intimidation is easily hitting the intensify if she wants it and it is super nice that she can even start her own fire. Unfortunately the fire does not proc Berserk. So if she is setting herself up she’s losing out on some of her efficiency. She also really does not want to charge if she can help it, at least without a roast buff. Thankfully, in addition to her own natural 8” threat, she has a lot of options to extend her distance even further.

Spice is basically the OGutter of this team. You should be actively looking to set her up to maximize as much intensify damage as possible. Sadly Chef’s special is damage results only. If it had been damage results and character plays that would have been pretty dope.

On the other side of that coin she’s one of the easier models to kill as well. If the opponent can get a key take out on Spice they’ll probably turn the tide in their favor. So just make sure you protect her and let her scream on in late in the turn. Maybe even try to keep her unexposed all together until a scrum forms. If you win it’s going to be because Spice did something insane.

 

Sugar:

sug1

Most people are either Bakers or Cooks. The reason for this is because Cooking is… usually more freeform. If you understand some basics when it comes to flavor profiles you can usually improvise and make some very tasty stuff. Short an ingredient? No problem. Substitute something or just don’t worry about it. Baking on the other hand, you can’t really do that when you bake. Baking is… essentially chemistry.

So hear me out here. Sugar failed out of school. She should have been an alchemist.

sandwhich

Don’t get me wrong. I like Sugar a lot. I just don’t know that she makes the list. Icing is super cute but is that what we really want to be aiming for as a Cook player? Wouldn’t we rather be stabbing stuff? 10” is 2” in front of the center line btw. I don’t think a fragile punching guild wants to be across that line early. If you aren’t in it for the snapshot potential you leave her at home, and I don’t even think a 5/10” snap shot turret is even something you aim for in a team like this.

Maybe I miss the point though. Maybe that truly is the Icing. Take Sugar for beat um up reasons? She’s got good momentous results and max 4 influence. Tac 4 hurts a little bit there when Roast and Spice are around, but sturdy is certainly a thing. Sadly she’s got the weakness of not being able to deal with counter attacks literally at all. Even worse than Wellington. Just seems to me like Roast, Spice, Shank, Heck even Cinnamon punch things better than Sugar. Like dang, she has a big ass cast iron pan, can she not get a low KD? Like if she had a KD on 2 I think I’d bite.

Sorry Shug. Maybe you worked for Smoke/Midas I’d be interested.

 

What dat hat do?

hat bois

So what do these hat bois have to bring to the cooks?

First I think Shank is just a great squaddie. You’d be happy to have him wherever. 2” reach, highly mobile, very consistent damage. Wellington gives him a free 3 cost character play which is pretty nuts as well. You could also load him up with the various buffs like speed, damage, and discounted charge. You’ve got yourself a nice little missile going. Shank, Spice, and Roast make a pretty solid output trio.

As far as Tenderizer is concerned his Nerf might have seen him ousted from Butcher line ups but I still think he has a pretty solid home with the Cooks. I feel like he covers a lot of their weaknesses with his solid KD and double push. 2” reach Tac 6 is pretty reasonable and hey, who doesn’t want a free ground pound? It’s a lot harder to counter attack when they’re on their butt.

 

Final thoughts:

They are cool and have a very interesting play style. Maybe they’re your casual night for fun guild. The aesthetic is **chef’s kiss** as well. MVP Goal Token. If I pick um up I am going to mod it slightly to be a Kamado grill.

I hope we found a few chicken nuggets of wisdom in here. As far as the Cook’s competitive hopes – I just really don’t see a compelling reason to take them over Butchers right now. Maybe they’re a little better versus fast, high def, scoring teams? That’s about all I got. But even then Fillet can cover those matches pretty well. Seems the most fun toys cross over. So unless you really wanna blow stuff up with big spice activations stick with Boar and crew? It’s like Cooks is the new joint in town. They’ve got hipster toppings on their burgers and wacky crap on the walls. You’ll try it, but at the end of the day you’re really just going to wish you had hit up your local mainstay.

As stated in the beginning it really feels like Cooks would have been very viable in a Season 3.4 world. But in Season 4.1 when you’ve got your Shafts, Corbellis, and Rivets to think about? Feels like we’re short staffed during a Saturday night dinner rush.

Too Late

 

Video!! Momentous Inspiration #5

Hi everyone!

With all the captain releases followed by a very busy week at work… this is SUPER LATE! Sorry Bryan! No excuses though!

Bryan Will’s video series/blog spin off, Momentous Inspiration, recorded 5 rounds at the recent Raleigh Warm upToday we’ve got for you the final round of the recent “Raleigh Warm Up”. Due to new product releases we decided to go ahead and get the final match out first.

Today you’ll see legendary NC Mason Glenwood Morris vs Virginia’s own shooting star Dixon Tiru. It was an absolutely fantastic game. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Wave 2 captains with Bryce!! Part 4 – Culverin & Cutlass

Alright guys! We’re at the last one! Cutlass got spoiled a little early but that’s ok. Let’s hear Bryce’s thoughts on the new Master and Apprentice.

Part 1 – Corker

Part 2 – Corbelli

Part 3 – Rivet

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Culverin/Cutlass:

Lon: Ok. First of all. How many pirates are there in this word and who is the true pirate guild? When Can I expect a Blackheart, Corsair, Windfinder, Culverin over the top thematic box set?

Bryce: You forgot Sakana! Maybe one day we’ll do an uber pirate box and do mad rules for playing with all of those models at the same time, who knows. Or maybe the true pirate guild was the friends we made along the way.

pirate

Lon: The first thing that immediately jumped out to me about this pair is it seems like there is really no way to not use them together. Like with the other apprentice/master combos you could sometime drop one of the models. You could do Burnish/Vcinder or Furnace/Cast; but with these two you kind of don’t have that potential flex. What’s going on there? Was that deliberate? Would it have been ok for Broadside/Chain shot to say “may be measured from” so cutlass could measure from herself?

Bryce: Yeah, this was a deliberate choice. We basically wanted to push the risk/reward element of Cutlass, so her character plays are slightly better than ‘normal’ character plays should really be, but the trade off is they’re useless if Culverin is not on the table. It’s worth mentioning that I think it’s perfectly possible to run Culverin without Cutlass, the tools she brings are still useful without Cutlass on the pitch.

Lon: As a farmers player, how often do you actually use “get in the goal”? I think it is becoming clear a “goalie” in guild ball doesn’t really equate to a “goalie” in any earth sports. What is it about these two, or maybe the position in general, that actually defines a model as goalkeeper?

Bryce: I pretty much always put up Get In the Goal! on the first turn if I kick, and usually the second turn too. After that it depends pretty heavily on spacing and how the game has ended up. If I’m holding the ball pretty safely, then I don’t bother. If the opposing team has the ball I usually try and get it up providing it doesn’t mess my positioning up too much. These two have Get In the Goal! and Cutlass’s dodge when the opponent declares a shot, the combo of which can often be +1 TN and a dropped die from the opposing kick.

Goalkeepers more generally are a funny one, the one universal across them all is that they make scoring a goal more difficult for the opponent, but of course they can’t make it impossible. Guild Ball is still a game based on football, so scoring goal should always be an important part of the game. We also have to be careful, since basically what happened with Cutlass is that often goalkeepers can end up ‘tethered’ to the goalpost, and that simply can’t happen with Blacksmith apprentices, because those are your models that go out and score you VPs. Goalkeepers are definitely something on which our position is evolving, which I think you can see with models like Skulk, for instance, who’s much more of an outfield keeper.

Lon: With these two now in the mix, do you think there is a legitimate gun line list that can be run in Blacksmiths?

Bryce: Probably, yeah. Blacksmiths are the ‘options’ Guild, like they can do absolutely anything with the right set up and pieces in place. That said, I’m not sure how good ‘gunlines’ are in general in GB. Most Guilds have the options to either weather the storm or get into you quickly and start taking out those key pieces.

gru
Apparently I’m in a four panel mood today.

Lon: Do you think Culverin will ever see use as the Captain? She doesn’t seem to benefit as much as say Ferrite or Anvil.

Bryce: I think so, there are certain match ups where they rely on chip damage to lower your HP to a point where they can come in and mess you up, and healing basically your entire team for 3 can be a super relevant tool in those match ups.

Lon: What do you think will be the biggest surprise on these two?

Bryce: Any time someone uses Quick Off the Line on Cutlass to dodge around. Even if she can’t get in and engage the kicking model, she sure can make some unexpected moves on this one.

 

Alright folks! That does it for our interview! Thanks to all of you for keeping up with me this week and a special thanks for Bryce for taking the time to answer the questions! Bryce Answer = Best Answer. Make sure you tune in to all the other media outlets tomorrow who are releasing their interviews! Here are a few I’m aware of:

The Firm

Tap In

The Rookie

 

Wave 2 captains with Bryce!! Part 3 – Rivet!

Good morning everyone! The hype train is chugging hard this week. It’s Wednesday and that means I’ve got another Captain for ya! This time we talk to Bryce about Rivet!

Oh and make sure you check out the previous installments as well:

Part 1 – Corker

Part 2 – Corbelli

Card_Rivet.jpg

Rivet:

Lon: I’m not an engineer player, but I love how the Guild has always kind of been the kind of “middle of the road” team but in a less explicit way than say Masons. They’ve got good ball handling, good control tools, and historically had a decent beat um up plan. Even though they picked up two really cool miner cross overs, it seemed like they were about to tip towards scoring. I love that Rivet seems to give back some of that fighting prowess. In fact I like that it feels like all three engineer captains have a solid role to fill. What are your initial thoughts there?

Bryce: I agree, I am good at my job.

Lon: She seems a little on the slow side. In fact all of these captains do. 7” sprint with a 1” reach. Was there a concerted effort here, like with the first batch of Captains, to lean towards more of a supporting role?

Bryce: Yep, absolutely. That’s a very deliberate thing we did with a lot of these captains, to push them into more of a support role than a work role. That said, Rivet can absolutely put out some hurt if need be.

Lon: I’m so Jealous of Elbow Grease, and frankly, take it personally. #MomentousDamageFish. It seems especially good with Colossus. On a similar note Use This seems pretty cool with maybe Velocity or Salvo. When else do you imagine her buffs, including her heroic, will be used?

Bryce: It’s real good on Colossus and Locus, actually, especially if you use those two as a pair. Locus also loves a 2” melee zone, so does Salvo, Harriet…I mean really is there any 1” melee zone model that doesn’t want a 2” melee zone? Elbow Grease will make you realize how many Engineer models have 2 damage on three hits and 3 on their top ends, which is much more achievable when combed with Singled Out and a bunch of Gang Ups from Tow. Her Heroic is mostly used when she can go first, get in, beat someone down, and then throw up the Heroic to blunt the opponent coming back at you. Engineer models are already relatively tanky, they get nuts with Sturdy.

ZwZ031554298120

Lon: Tow seems like it is probably most useful in bringing a crowd out along with her before she punches someone with that (likely tooled up) momentous 2 push. Also maybe bringing a model like Colossus from charge threat into walking threat range. Am I on the right track here?

Bryce: Yep, that’s basically right. Using it to bring some gang ups along before hitting someone is the usual use, but it’s a threat range extension for a lot of other Engineer models. Like obviously it’s best for building a scrum, but even on a model like Velocity or Spade, it’s just solid to give them more threat range.

Lon: The big show stopper here is absolutely follow my lead. This seems mind blowing to me in a good way. Colossus, Compound, maybe Salvo all seem to adore this. Heck a Tac 6 Spade or Velocity is pretty scary too. Does this level of consistency put a Rivet lead team into a legit fighting force?

Bryce: Follow My Lead is so cool! Yeah, knowing that you’re gonna be TAC 6 base with your whole team is really very solid, especially with Singled Out on top of that. I think a Rivet led team can absolutely stand toe to toe with most of the fighting teams out there. And if not, hey, Velocity and Spade with TAC 6, and a 2” melee on Velocity probably gets the job done pretty fiercely. Since this is the final question, I also just wanna say I love that Rivet is pretty clearly based on Rosie the Riveter, and she’s great in the story too. She almost makes me want to play Engineers!

Wave 2 captains with Bryce!! Part 2 – Corbelli!

Now that you’ve digested all the facts and figures, along with my bad opinions, let’s see what Bryce has to say about Corbelli! Mr. Guild Ball himself!

Card_Corbelli

Corbelli:

3

Lon: Corbelli is certainly my favorite of all of these. It’s almost enough to make me want to pick up Masons. I also want you to know I take personal credit for this glorious Afro. I can finally climb down off my hill of hair.

Bryce: I think you’d be amazed at how much of our time in the office is spent sitting around just chatting about your opinions.

1
Actual Footage of me the first time I looked at this “striker”

Lon: I feel like there is so much to unpack with this model. First, what’s up with the 2” reach here? And talk to me about this playbook man. It’s real good. It seems like he puts all the other TAC 5 captains to shame.

Bryce: The 2” reach was a deliberate choice to push his footballing ability. Corbelli is really intended to be as footbally as Shark, almost, and a 2” reach is important there. His playbook is solid, but yeah, TAC 5 is a touch unreliable, especially when dealing with crowd outs or cover.

Lon: This guy has dodges. And then when he dodges they dodge. And then when those dodges happen other people dodge too. Was Ball of Light just a way to secretly train all the order players who are about to jump ship to Corbelli?

Bryce: Hahaha, nah, actually, that was entirely separate, but yeah, he’s intended to boost the mobility of the team pretty dramatically. I think it’s essential if you want to make him a football captain with much lower damage than the other two Mason captains, one of the things football teams generally need is speed.

Lon: Dummy pass makes me so jealous. What’s the most Galaxy brain thing you could do with Corbelli’s dodges? I feel like there is something completely asinine just waiting to be discovered.

Bryce: Ohhhh there’s so many. Making Space is the real kicker, like the potential there for a hundred billion movements is incredible. Pro tip: Make him kick if you get the choice. More seriously, yes, Corbelli’s team has incredible dodging potential if they have control of the ball, but their primary win condition is also 3 goals, so they have to give away their most powerful resource in order to win. That’s a really interesting push/pull at the heart of a Corbelli team’s playstyle.

Lon: Playing the game seems to be a combo Rough Seas / Fair Wind. It really feels like you guys are making a concerted effort to make ball killing harder by giving scoring teams access to more retrieval tools than just the good ol Tackle. Any truth to that?

Bryce: Yeah, basically. I mean things like Puppet Master and Seduced have been part of the game since day 1, so ways of pulling the ball off of enemy models aren’t exactly unprecedented, but it’s something we’ve been exploring more recently. Killing the ball in a corner is a time honoured part of Guild Ball, but we try and reduce how much that’s a viable option against pure goal scoring teams. For basically any team that’s intended to go for 3 goals, they need some way of grabbing the ball that isn’t just a Tackle.

2

Lon: Channeling my inner Glenwood Morris here. Does Corbelli totally eliminate Honour from rosters? Seems to me he is clearly the better striking choice, and honestly, has a pretty good fighting shtick too. Use all those dodges to get models like Vchisel into a crowd, maybe tool him up, and start swinging for the fences. Honour has been suffering on the wins lately too. Does Corbelli oust her off the roster?

Bryce: Honour’s a weird one. I’ve been playing her a bit recently, and 7 activations is real good, but I understand she hasn’t had the highest win rate recently. It’s always hard to make an ‘all rounder’ captain, and Honour is the middle point of the trinity of Hammer/Honour/Corbelli, since she’s ideally meant to flex into whatever is available out of scoring or takeouts. Basically, I don’t think so, since her Legendary and Superior Strategy are very unique, and also her damage output is way higher than Corbelli. We’ll see how things shake out, I think Honour’s still viable, but if it turns out Corbelli starts pushing her out of rosters, we’ll take another look at her.

And that’s that folks! visit back tomorrow for the next one! and if you didn’t check out the March stats, make sure you check um out!

Into the Record Books: March 2019

Man, what a way to start the new meta period. Lots going on here this month everyone. We got the first wave of new captains splashing in. We’ve got miners. We’ve got errata. Let’s see how this whole thing shakes out!

Played Rates:

History

First, Congratulations everyone! We’ve got a new record high for the most games played in a single month! 1996 games! #HYPE it is always good to be growing. The highest number we had before this was October 2018 which was heavily inflated by Steam Con US.

March tends to mark the kick-off of our annual competitive scene. This last month we saw Vengeance, Adepticon, as well as a slew of smaller competitive events. Hey, even I ran a solid 24 player event with folks from across the south eastern United States. For comparison sake last March had 1286 games, so this year we’re looking at a roughly 55% increase in competitive games played. It feels like events are getting larger and more frequent. Keep supporting your local scenes everyone, show your organizers some love and get out there on the road!

Moving forward I see the west coast of the US being a huge untapped market for competitive gameplay (not to mention sales). There are already a ton of great players out there. All it takes is a little SFG support and a few dedicated folks to start building larger events.

On to the Guilds!

PR High

On the top of this hill this month… Surprise! It’s Butchers at 12.4%. Butchers continue to be a fan favorite and the addition of a cool and powerful captain kept them up there. Oddly, they actually lost market share from last month though. This is likely due to Miners eating up 7.9% of the player base in their first month. Pretty significant given a ton of folks who bought them still don’t even possess them yet. Morticians and Hunters, with their new captains, show solid numbers as well at 8.4% and 7.3% respectively. Farmers took home 7.8% which is fairly flat for them overall.

PR Med

We do need to remember the theoretical “average” play rate fell from 6.6% to 6.3% due to the inclusion of Miners, so a flat play rate is in reality growth or at least resilience.

Alchs and Fish come in just below the top at 7.3% and 7.1%. I’m actually surprised to see fish lose ground given Yukai’s release. Blacksmith’s lost a good deal of ground falling from 9.3% to 6.4%, but Brewers gain a few points to 6.6%. Odd given neither really changed much in March. Perhaps brewer fans are just more dedicated? Blacksmith Fans fed up with trying to chase that Scottish gold?

PR Low

On the low end Masons and Navigators, seeing no change, aren’t terribly surprising at 4.9% and 4.3% of the field. Falconers and Rats both gain followers, but still are pretty down there in the ranks. Seems to me Miners probably ate up the players who were looking to buy something new. Why buy Piper’s box when you can buy Shaft?! Engineers and Union both stay near the bottom at 3.2% and 2.0%.

Win Rates:

Going to talk about Miners at the end so bear with their absence from the charts for a minute.

Aside from our subterranean friends can we please just take a moment to appreciate how insanely well balanced the rest of this is? It’s kind of astounding. 10.6% is all that separates the top from the bottom. Incredible. Look at that cluster. Look how much Bryce loves it.

cluster one
Tell your dog I’m sorry I turned him into a graph.

WR High

Aside from Miners we see Butchers, Morticians and Farmers earning the top spots (53.4%, 52.2%, and 51.4%). I don’t think Thresher or Vboar is a surprise, but it is good to see Morticians still hanging up there. This is mainly Scalpel and Obulus. Mourn is kinda down there in the middle of the pack for captains. We’ve also got Order showing off their ball of light, but due to Miner’s skewing apparently you can have a sub 50% win rate and still make the top graph. Nuts. Finally… What are you doing here Union? Go home, you’re drunk.

WR Med

The middle of the pack is pretty equitable floating between 46%-48%. Seems like some of that Scottish blacksmith tech might be wearing off. Fish are sub 50% which makes me wonder if Yukai failed to launch (she has a 38.5% captain WR). Engineers take a hit as well. Navigators continue to show they’ve flatted out and hey look! Rats are playable again!

WR Low

On the low end we’ve got Brewers and Masons, but hey 42.8% and 43.3% are respectable enough. Glad to see we are kind of back within normal distributions of play. Nerfed hunters took a pretty significant hit. They’re down over 12% from February. I think most folks kind of anticipated it though. They’re still a reasonable choice. Also look at falconers rising up a bit! Good to see them get a reasonable amount of games with a reasonable degree of success. Overall, even these Guilds in the low bracket will always come down to player skill. This month pretty much shows you’re never really out of a game due to your Guild selection. Guild Ball is more balanced than Chess after all.

Victory Index:

Victory Index

On the raw wins side this month, everyone’s favorite butchers lead the way. They’ve earned 13% of the wins for this month. Miners carve out a huge chunk of the pie at 11%.

A few other highlights include Blacksmiths and Hunters eating pretty significant losses. Ball of Light tripled orders wins from 2% to 6% so that’s pretty impressive as well.

Special Feature: Digging Holes –

The Canary died ok? The dev team has realized this quickly and is already working on an evacuation. Everyone is talking about it, but you know what, I am going to throw my hat into this ring as well. Get ready for a long form, highly speculative, opinion piece!

Real Quick, I do want people to really appreciate the situation. I don’t post it often, but I do keep a running histogram of the ENTIRE win rate history of Longshanks. Here you’ll see every single guild’s monthly win rate bucketed. Shaft and crew absolutely Shattered Thresher’s December 2017 record. Dude is above 3 standard deviations. Nuts.

Histogram

Thankfully the Dev team is willing to jump on this quickly. Normally I would have said give it another month, Every guild kinda storms onto the scene at first then tampers down. I am sure some of that is the case here with Miners as well. However it is simply too hard to ignore such an astoundingly out of place rate of success in an otherwise very finely tuned game.

I want to kind of muse a little on what happened here because I think this is a learning opportunity for everyone. Those of us in the media program had pretty advanced knowledge of these models and no one really seemed alarmed. Yeah, we all thought they were very solid. Probably the best Minor guild printed. Many of us even predicted they’d be amongst the top in the game. Heck, look at my tier list at the bottom of last month’s article. We knew they’d be good, but we didn’t know they’d be 70% win rate good across all levels of play.

So why is that?

First, I think these guys simply didn’t seem that crazy on paper. It was very hard to evaluate the strength of the 2” place. That’s not really been in the game in a significant way and the team’s ability to pure-t slip out of a situation was unprecedented. I think a lot of us heavily underestimated a few key pieces of this team as well, specifically Mule and Fissure. I recall reading from time to time many folks thought Fissure might be a drop. Mule’s character plays along with Fissure’s “you’re coming with me” really had to be seen on the pitch before one really understood their efficacy. Miners also have a very reasonable take out plan which I honestly feel was unintended. The way Mule can throw people around and the way the team can generate crowd outs reminds me of Season 3 Corsair, A&G, and Vet Siren. Probably stronger. Maybe we were shell shocked by Vet Boar and Yukai, but all in all, Miners, on paper, didn’t seem so above the power curve. I am willing to bet the Dev team felt very similar.

Minor Guild History

Second, perhaps there needs to be some brief reflection on the concept of Minor Guilds as a whole. It was mentioned to me that this isn’t the first time the Dev team has missed the mark on a Minor, but people don’t really complain as much when something is weak. We all had a good time pointing and laughing at Falconers and Ratcatchers struggles in Season 4.0, however an absence doesn’t speak as strongly as a national championship flooded with a new team. Rats and Falcs were the other side of the Minor coin right? Dramatically too underpowered to Miner’s insane success? Well the history actually looks a little different. Ratcatchers followed a pretty reasonable trend line in Season 3.4. Falconers look like they might have followed a similar pattern as well. However, Season 4.0 saw them crash hard. Season 4.0 saw most of the majors get stronger and Falcs/Rats were overlooked. While it was certainly a rough patch, that wasn’t a failure of initial design. They were simply forged for an older form of the game. In fact, navigators, designed explicitly with Season 4.0 in mind turned out very well. To summarize here, it seems Minor guilds are more difficult to balance when the game is changing around them. I think we’d do well to keep that in mind. To be honest, I am a little worried about Cooks. Designed well over 6 months ago, their production delays may cause a debut into a world they’re ill-equipped to handle.

Finally, I’ve seen a couple folks question the playtest group. How could they let something like this happen? My gut instinct is Guild Ball is largely balanced around just that – Gut Instinct. Those of you who know me know I am not one to make excuses to steam forged, but they do not have million dollar play test budgets. This game takes 2 hours to play, not 10 minutes. Blaming the play test group feels to me like taking pot shots at an easy target. Of course it could be stronger, but I don’t know that such a solution is grounded in reality. Purely speculative, but I’d be willing to guess each model gets around 50-60 playtest games across all of its rules iterations. The final version probably sees a couple dozen followed by small regional playtest events? I guarantee a new product sees more games in the first week or so of retail release than could have ever been possible in playtest. Simply put I don’t know the playtest group can physically play enough games fast enough to satisfy the demand for such a fine-tuned game. Perhaps the more practical solution is to accept the fact new releases have some chance at being at the far end of the spectrum, allow the public to demonstrate, and make the adjustment as needed. Accept that Guild Ball is a breathing, always evolving, game.

So anyway, now that we know where we’ve been, where do I think we’ll go? Let me pull out my Tarot deck real fast.

Miner Design Goals

The dev team, even when they make changes, tend to like their design goals. These were what was originally pitched at SteamCon US. If you think Miners are going to stray too far from these goals… well you’re probably mistaken. So what does this tell us about potential changes? Let’s take them by bullet point.

  • High Resilience – Don’t look for major decreases in defensive tech. Maybe a health point here or there but I don’t expect tough hide to disappear or even reanimate. Maybe Mule loses an armor or something? But they’re still intended to be reasonably tough to kill for a goal scoring team.
  • High Goal Scoring Focus – If Fish and Rats have taught me anything it’s that the devs don’t like a team which is supposed to score goals to be overly fighty. I think that’s a pretty big sign of things to come here as well. Simply put, Mule and Shaft just manufacture a scrum a little too well. I’d look here for some tone downs. Perhaps small playbook changes. Perhaps we lose some momentous damage results or see some other offensive handicaps. It’s not that 2-2 shouldn’t be possible, but it should probably be much more difficult against all but the squishiest of teams.
  • Highest number of Place effects – I’ve seen a common call to reduce the secret tunnel to 1”. Honestly I wouldn’t count on that. Secret tunnel is the marquee ability. Rather than change that…
  • Medium to Low MOV stats – Look to MOV stats to be adjusted slightly downward. Although the MOV stats aren’t astounding alone, secret tunnel just put the mobility through the roof. I think the 2” place was evaluated at about 2” when it really should have been looked at in the 3.5”-4” range. I mean look at Fuse and Space for Solthecius’ sake. Even at 5”/7” and 4”/6” they’re moving for days. Mule and Fissure’s 50mm place is 4 whole inches. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a global -1/-1 MOV decrease across the board.

Please know I have absolutely zero advanced knowledge of anything. This is just my own personal reading of the tea leaves. I will say I don’t expect an insane amount of changes. To be fair I don’t think they need it. I’d venture to guess +/-5% of this win rate is exactly what Jamie says here:

perkins

I believe that is true and I believe the dev team will take a measured approach. Just as Print on Demand will allow for swifter changes it would also make sense for those changes to be more careful and deliberate. Basically, tweak something a little, watch if it falls in line, and if not tweak it again. We’re already seeing top level players are already coming into ways to combat these guys. Vince had some good thoughts regarding morticians. I’ve seen other top level players in discord talk about ways to combat them as well. The theory crafting is there and I suggest you join in. You’re going to need to figure out a way to play against them for the next month anyway. More than likely they’re still going to be strong even after April. Don’t be looking for a total cave in.

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Anywho, Overall I think this is a great time to play the game. Excitement is in the air. Competition is rising. New products are on the way. If you get discouraged, again, just look at Bryce holding the March win rate cluster. It’s really a thing of beauty. Be well and take care everyone! Oh! and Stay tuned for Corbelli!