In any game of Guild Ball, there will eventually come a point where the game has potential to end in the near future. This is often when a player reaches eight points, but it varies depending on the teams being played and the board state. As soon as this point is reached, both players’ priorities change dramatically. For any player with the potential to win, influence efficiency and trading up in resources fall in priority heavily, while sheer VP scoring potential becomes the most powerful tool available. Similarly for their opponent, if it prevents the end of the game then any investment of resources is worth giving up. If both players are at this point, the game becomes a frantic back and forth as players try to claw the last few VPs together from wherever they can be found.
In a lot of games of Guild Ball, the mid game is about whoever has the advantage already trying to press it further, and whoever is behind trying to sneak their way back into the game. Unlike the parts of the game I’ve discussed in previous articles, the mid game doesn’t start out from an uninteractive position. If teams haven’t yet connected with each other and disrupted each other’s plans, you are still in the early game. Once any single activation from the enemy team is likely to have impact on your own lines, ‘set piece’ plans become a lot less usable, compared to on the first turn. Some team aim to stay out of engagement for as long as possible, while others want to accelerate through the early game as fast as they can because they’re better in a fight than in a standoff, but whether or not spending a lot of time in the midgame is your plan, it’s a good idea to know what you’re doing once you get there.
Turn one is probably the most important part of a game of Guild Ball. It’s where the choices that were made in the pregame sequence start to actually manifest into advantages or disadvantages, and it often determines the pace of the rest of the game. In previous seasons and for slower teams, it’s tempting to think of the turn primarily as a time to move up and position for the action to properly start on turn two. However a lot of teams can do a lot of work on the first turn, and taking that into account is important for avoiding falling behind. Turn one is also the last point in a game of Guild Ball where you can really have an actual plan – since it’s the first point where your opponent gets to properly interact with you and your options stop being fully under your control.
The pregame sequence has a lot of decisions to be made in it, but often gets moved through on ‘autopilot’ since there is usually a default choice for each decision which gets taken. It’s important to consider each of these choices being made, not just because the correct option may not be the usual one, but also because thinking about the decisions you’re making and the factors which influence it can make it easier to make the correct decisions in other areas later in the game. The pregame sequence has a series of clearly separated decision points, each of which influences the way the following choices play out.
Guild Ball is not an easy game to pick up and learn. There are a variety of reasons behind this, but I think one of the main issues is how much of its complexity lies in in-game decisions. In most other miniatures games, each individual model has a primary role that it fulfils on the tabletop, and the important decision is whether or not to put it in your list. List building, being an out-of-game exercise, is much easier to get (and to write) advice on. While Guild Ball also has list building and pregame preparation, a large percentage of the decisions you make are in-game ones and all the models have a large number of options available to them each activation, while only rarely is the correct decision obvious.
This means that making good decisions inside a game of Guild Ball is both relatively difficult to do, and difficult to teach short of just playing a bunch of games. In this series of articles I’m going to try and go through how games play out and what to be thinking about as the game progresses. The early turns of the game are generally about trying to get a positional advantage or set up for an engagement that favours your team, and later on things move more towards a scramble to acquire VPs faster than the opponent. In future articles I’m going to go over the important decisions to be made at each stage, but before going into more detail there are some important points to be considering across the entire match.
The Cooks’ guild are the final guild (as of current releases) in this line of reviews! They have some fun players and an interesting highly aggressive style. As the Butchers’ associated minor guild, they focus primarily on damage and a takeout plan, and have similar weaknesses also, in low durability and a focus on melee range action.
It’s time to continue with some Minor Guild reviews, and next on our list are the appropriately named Miner’s Guild. These are the guild tied to the Engineers, and maintain a heavy goal scoring focus along with a lot of durability, and some very effective movement options which make them very hard to pin down.