Butcher’s impression on Guild Identity Cards
by midwestwargaming · Published · Updated
On September 1st Steamforged Games introduced a new layer of tactics to the game of Guild Ball by sharing with the community to Guild Identity Cards. Similar to plot cards, GIC’s are a new item that coaches will choose before each game to help give them an advantage. GIC’s differ from plot cards in a couple of ways, the biggest difference is the impact; plot cards are single-use and often require a condition to occur before the card can be played. Whereas GIC’s are global buffs that can occur from the start of the game without fulfilling any requirements. If that’s still confusing think of it like this: Plot cards are individual tactics. GIC’s are team tactics.
The second big difference that GIC’s bring is that they redefine the standard heal rate. Up until now, Take a Breather has always healed 4hp. Now the heal rate for your team is determined by whatever GIC you choose, the intention is that more powerful effects are balanced by a lower heal rate.
Jamie Perkins stated on Singled Out Radio – A Guild Ball Podcast that the intended design of these cards was not to offset any guilds weaknesses but to instead amplify each guild’s strengths. When referring to the Butchers, he stated that Butchers should be rewarded for playing kill ball and that’s why their cards encourage take outs by rewarding them with VP’s. As a Butcher player, I appreciate this design philosophy, if I wanted to score three goals I’d play Fish. With that said, I believe that these cards in their current state do not provide the Butchers with enough benefit to allow them to play kill ball and one card in particular, Tactical Elimination, is unplayable trash.
The first thing you’ll notice is that Butchers do not get a Heal 4 card. I believe this is meant to differentiate Butchers from other fighty teams. Unlike the Brewers, who rely on tough defensive stats and abilities, Butcher instead rely on all-out-offense. Not having a Heal 4 card fits the intended design of the team so I am actually 100% OK with this. After all, defined weaknesses are just as important for faction identity as defined strengths.
The first card we’ll look at is Blood Thirst. I think they were able to balance design integrity with gameplay efficacy very well with Blood Thirst. Every Butcher player knows that winning the momentum race consistently is the fastest path to victory. We deny our opponents influence by taking out players before they can activate. It’s a simple strategy but very effective when we repeatedly win the momentum race. Sadly, winning the momentum race means more often than not you let your players die because you can’t afford to spare the momentum. Blood Thirst allows you to now be a momentum-miser and still maintain some degree of first-aid for your team. Also, having Life Drinker on every model now means that you can use “Take a Breather” to remove conditions and still be able to heal that activation. This latter benefit is very practical when you need to remove a pesky snare or burning condition.
Rating: For assisting the Butchers with their primary goal, I have to rate this card a 3 out of 3 meat cleavers. Well done.
The next card I’m going to look at is Take it To ‘Em. Like Bloodthirst, this card punishes you with a pathetic Heal 2 but unlike Bloodthirst, there is no alternative healing benefit. Take It To ‘Em grants you an additional +1 VP each time you cause the take out condition on enemy players that are within 8″ of the enemy goal post. As a Butcher player I’ve always been a little sore that other factions have models (Seenah, Vet Katalyst, Casket) that grant extra VP’s for causing take-outs so I like having something that finally rewards us for inflicting take-outs. Another compliment to this card is that the conditional requirement (8″ within enemy goal post) is not a super difficult condition to meet, especially for Fillet who has insane threat ranges. However, I can’t help but feel like gaining +1 or maybe +2 VPs might not matter as much as I’d like it too. Or, that the tradeoff of never being able to heal (because who the hell is going to waste a momentum to heal 2?) is too big of an advantage for the opponent.
Rating: While I appreciate being rewarded to kill more models, I think the cost is currently outweighing the benefit. I award this card 2 cleavers and 1 mediocre Shank.
The last card I’ll talk about is Tactical Elimination. Similar to Take It To ‘Em, this card rewards Butchers for taking out players. One difference though is that the heal rate is increased to 3, which is nice, but the condition required to gain extra VP’s is unpractical. The Butcher player who most often charges the opposing ball carrier is Brisket. Brisket’s job is to tackle and shoot goals, not to take out players. I mean, I get that you want us to play kill ball, and I like that, but kill ball to me means going 4-1, not 6-0. I suppose if I lived in magical Christmas land I could “technically” get twelve points by going 4-0 or 3-1 if all my kills were against enemy players who had possession of the ball. And I’m all for playing a game that allows me to win like that but the Midwest is not magical Christmas land. The Midwest is cold, hard and brutal and the reality that my GIC is useless every time my opponent kills the ball or every time I have possession of the ball is the reason you should never pick this card. Ever.
Rating: If Take It To ‘Em is Arnold Schwatzengger from the 1988 movie Twins, Tactical Elimination is Danny DeVito, the ugly clone whose DNA is just leftover bits. I award this card 3 mediocre Shanks.
Guild Identity Cards are just another reason I love Steamforged. They created this cool tactical layer for us to combat stagnation when it would have been so much easier for the company (and profitable) to just crap out new models for us to buy. However, these guys have the intellectual foresight to recognize that design space is limited and if they just gave us new models every other month than eventually each guild’s identity would become diluted with overlapping models or models that don’t belong. GIC’s are an absolutely brilliant way to engage your player base without destroying the game in the process.
As a Butcher player I’m excited to get back to kill ball, especially since Ox is now new and improved. I will be happy fielding Blood Thirst most games but I think Take It To ‘Em is good enough to consider taking as well. If I could change it, I would either want the Heal increased to 3 or the requirement of 8″ increased to 10″. As for Tactical Elimination… cut it loose and replace it with something better. Butchers have no patience for weakness.
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