Explosive Brew, getting the most “VanValue” out of your list

I think the most important thing to do when working through learning a new faction is to think about the captain matchups you both want and want to avoid and to do the draft at the beginning of each game if possible to get a better idea of which models you want to include in your 10 for different matchups.

— Pat "VanValue" Van Valzah

Up until now Mike White has been the author of Explosive Brew articles, but since he’s moved on to Blacksmiths I thought I’d take a swig and give the Brewers a try.

My goal with Brewers is to build a list that can play against Thresher. That’s right, I want to face the big-bad-boogie man of the meta head on. However, I don’t really want to out-fight Thresher (that seems stupid even for a drunk), but rather I want to avoid fighting all together and score goals until I achieve a 3-0 victory. And to do this, I’m going to need a team full of strikers that can spread out and score independently. I’ll also need some way to control or mitigate Thresher’s mobility because a savvy Thresher player will see what I’m up to, kill the ball and just pick me off one at a time. When looking at Brewer’s options there’s one player who stands out as someone who can both score goals and provide a small dose of Thresher-control. The man, the myth, the legend, Vet Spigot!

So, with the goal of building a “Brewers-Be-Ballers” team I quickly assembled a six man team with all the strikers and demanded a game vs my local Thresher player. My six man team was Esters, Quaff, Veteran Spigot, Friday, Lucky and Mash and I walloped Thresher 12-6.

Hurray! I solved the Thresher problem! Right??

Well, maybe, but how could I be sure? In my head I was convinced I had found the Rosetta Stone of rosters but I wanted validation. To get validation I went straight to the top Brewmaster himself, Mr. Patrick”VanValue” Van Valzah. Pat had some excellent advice for me, and only after talking to him did I realize that my Rosetta Stone Roster was nothing more than fool’s gold. Pat taught me the importance of critical thinking over making snap decisions from a single win and  I think sharing this conversation could be very helpful for others like me who are trying to build better Brewers lists.

Pat’s Longshank’s accreditation as the #1 ranked Brewer coach in the world.


 Hey Pat, out of curiosity have you ever tried this combo of Brewers: Esters, Quaff, Vet Spigot, Friday, Mash & Lucky? I played them into a Thresher opponent the other day and 12-6’d him with 3 goals. Obviously, small sample size but I felt like these pseudo-strikers played similar role to a Skaatha team and could be really good.

Thresher preys on clumps of models but this Brewers list plays all spread out and tries to only give Thresher 2pts a turn while the rest of my team focuses on scoring. Some aspects of my game which I really liked into Thresher were: Vet Spigot would often sacrifice  himself by using Goad on Thresher which allowed my ball scorers more freedom to go for a goal run. Esters ability to harass on turn one with AOE’s and then walk backwards with second wind from Quaff. Also, when Thresher would go in to take out a model Esters could farm some Momentum off Thresher and not have to worry at all about Tater’s countercharge because of her gluttonous mass. The one player which didn’t do much was Mash but How’Zat could be corner-case cute to push models out of place and mitigate the synergies Farmers get from crops or Millstone’s aura.

Pat Van Value

I’ve definitely never played that exactly lineup, in fact I think I’ve only played 1 or 2 vSpigot games total. Definitely see the value of goad into Thresher. I’m definitely open to the idea that 5/6s of that lineup is what I might choose over time if I only played against Thresher. I think my biggest problem with such a lineup is actually how it forces your 10 player roster in such a way that the 6 you can choose are worse for almost every other matchup. More concretely I guess, I just find really hard to justify playing a Brewers lineup that pretty much only wins through 3 goals when I could just play Shark Fishermen instead. I think if someone told me I had to beat Alex Botts while playing Brewers, I’d probably start from Esters, Quaff, Spigot1, Friday, Lucky, Harry and just pray to receive. Would play vSpigot instead of Harry if I could. Reasoning for Spigot over vSpigot currently is mostly that his speed buff is less conditional and significantly more useful to both safely taking a turn 1 goal and his is actually useful while chasing the ball down which I imagine is most of the game.


I appreciate the well thought out response. I did not consider the overall impact of my starting six on  the Brewers 10 player roster . And I also appreciate your question about why not just play Shark if the goal is to get 3 goals. You Chicagoans have a good way of cutting through the fat and getting to the meat of the issue. I like building janky lists but I don’t think I quite know how to judge thier quality. If you were me and you were excited about six random players where would you start? Would you be coming up with a specific purpose (for example score 3 goals) or would you be coming up with a specific matchup for the list (an anti-Thresh list) or would you rewind and first construct your tournament ten and then from there build a six man team? Also, is comparing guilds with what they do well in comparison to other guilds a trap or is it a necessary question to ask when building lists? Basically, any general guidance on list development would be super helpful so that in the future I don’t keep pestering top tier players like you with my random rosters.


Pat Van Value

There’s definitely a variety of ways to approach it depending the starting point. If you’re starting with a 6 model list you’re interested in playing I think the first thing to do is understand how that list usually wins games in terms of goals / takeouts. For instance the Esters team you mentioned pretty much has to go 3/0 or potentially 2/2 in certain matchups whereas a lineup of Tapper, Scum, Friday, Hooper, Spigot, Mash goes 1/4 90% of the time and 2/2 occasionally when receiving against a scoring team. After you’ve figured out how your list wins, from there you can look at how that plan has to change against different guilds who might be better at a certain plan like Shark Fish being better as scoring or Thresher Farmers being better at fighting and try to come up with a way to make those matchups better by using the 4 remaining slots in your tournament 10. Ignoring Farmers since they’re kinda just a nightmare for Brewers, if I were picking two places that Esters list would probably struggle to execute it’s plan I’d probably pick against both Fish captains. It’s easy to look at how more options can improve the matchup in my eyes at least. Faced with Shark I think the Esters list will struggle to score enough points while simultaneously keeping Shark from scoring his 3 goals. While the list does have Mash to help protect the ball and I’m not confident it can consistently remove a single Fish model per turn without some luck or comparatively poor Fish play. And against the second Fish captain, Corsair you have the opposite problem, Corsair + their union model can do enough damage in a turn to kill anyone other than Esters consistently AND they can bring 2 close control models + Greyscales, who might be the most problematic model in the game for the Esters list. in order to force the Esters team to attempt to fight, this is where the other 4 slots come in, being able to swap in Tapper, Scum, Spigot1, (Hooper or Gutter depending on preference) makes both captains significantly easier to deal with by increasing your ability to do enough damage to reasonably win before Shark scores 3 times or beat Corsair comfortably in a scrum. The tradeoffs in this step can depend pretty heavily on what you expect to run into since some models are not super broadly useful but situationally very strong. Like Stoker into Alchemists or Hunters or vSpigot into Farmers. I think the most important thing to do when working through learning a new faction is to think about the captain matchups you both want and want to avoid and to do the draft at the beginning of each game if possible to get a better idea of which models you want to include in your 10 for different matchups. The comparing to other guilds is mostly useful when you’re more interested in a play style or plan, or just overall power level. Hope there’s something useful in that wall of text. Always happy to chat about Brewers and GB in general 🙂

Applying Pat’s advice

I’m not abandoning Vet Spigot quite yet but his words of wisdom make a lot of sense. Since talking to Pat I’ve played my janky Esters lineup vs other goal-scoring teams (Ferrite Blacksmiths) and realized that I can not out score them. If I had spent more time thinking about my tournament ten I could have subbed in Tapper, Spigot and Hooper and tried to outfight the Blacksmiths but outscoring them with Esters was a fool’s quest. I can only imagine how awful a game would be with my Esters goal scoring list vs a Shark fish. Moving forward, when I build Brewers list I’m definitely going to prioritize having a strong tournament ten and drafting over just creating a six man lineup that is only good in specific matchups.
For more Van Value words of wisdom I recommend checking out Strictly the Worst. They do monthly podcasts and cover a wide spectrum of competitive Guild Ball discussion.

4 Responses

  1. Josh says:

    So is your current ten Tapper, Esther, Scum, Quaff, O.Spigot, V.Spigot, Hooper, Friday, Mash, and Lucky then?… No Stoker (sad), no Pint Pot (situational), no Stave (not an issue), and no Union choice… but you can do your Footballing Team and a Fighting Team that is decent… ?… so can this still work vs Alchemists and Hunters (when Pat recommends Stoker)?….

  2. midwestwargaming says:

    My Brewers ten is currently:
    Tapper, Esters, Scum, Quaff, O. Spigot, V.Spigot, Hooper, Friday, Mash & STAVE

    Stave is a regional decision not a “im going to steamcon” decision. My region has lots of Blacksmiths and lots of Farmers and Masons and zero alchemists. Stave’s barrels are actually quite useful vs the low defense teams that rely on starting within (x) inches of other players.

    I spend a lot more time contemplating my draft choices though and weighing the pros and cons of my captain choices. I really like the thought-out approach Pat introduced versus my old method of windmill-slamming my favorite 6-man lineup.

    • Josh says:

      So if you find yourself needing the footballing team are you likely to take Hooper as a 2″ reach model that can shed condition or are you going to take Stave to try to disrupt the opponents fight/ball manipulation? (vs say Lucky, who can either fight or play ball so seemed a good flex pick)…

      Hooper’s under-used Smashed Shin is a good counter to some of those other scoring teams… but you already said you probably aren’t taking the footballing Brewers into scoring teams… although even fighting teams have one striker usually.

      As for Stave… how “creative” are you getting with his AOE pushes on your own models… I keep hearing rumors of a few Brewers who use that AOE to shove their team forward (all be it, also knocking them down…) just to get that extra 4″ move and “surprise” their opponent… vs just using him to disrupt the opponents scrum and ideally shove one of their models into your lines or KD the ball carrier or a target before Spigot or Hooper lay into them.

  3. midwestwargaming says:

    I really like Lucky and I want to tweak my lineup and use him more but right now I’m pretty swooned with Stave.

    In general, I want to play football oriented Brewers when I think my opponent is going to try to outfight me. Brewers don’t out-football the football oriented teams (engineers, fishermen, blacksmiths) and there’s also some captains that I don’t want to out football (skaatha, smoke, sBrisket).

    Hooper is my go-to model when I want to fight with Tapper and also the first model I grab when I draft poorly and need to pivot back to a fighting team. So, for example, lets say I’m playing Hunters. We reveal captains the same time and I reveal Esters and Quaff hoping he goes with Theron and Snow but instead my opponent picks Skaatha. At this point my head is going ABORT ABORT ABORT.

    I’m not interested in outscoring Skaatha so my very first draft pick is going to be Hooper. The rest of my team will look like this: Esters, Quaff, Hooper, O.Spigot, Stave and Mash. Mash isn’t a fighter but does a great job at killing the ball vs Hunters. In this situation I almost would rather have Lucky than Stave so I think you are right about him being a much more versatile flex position. However, because my region is full of Blacksmiths and Farmers Stave is more useful to me where I am located.

    As far as using the barrels to project extra threat, I like where your head is at but no. I don’t usually find opportunities where I want to do that rather that hit a clump of 2-3 opposing models instead. If I was going all out on the Stave barrel push I’d include Stoker because he self clears knockdown so you extending his threat is easy.
    I could Kick with stoker. Tool up stoker, give tac to stoker, give strength from Esters and try to set someone on fire. Push with barrel then stoker stands up himself and is +3 damage and +1 tac on some poor fool.

    The tournament ten thought would be difficult because it would have to include Stoker and Stave.

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