Guildball for the New Guys – Surviving your Opponent’s Next Activation
by JD Haigler · Published · Updated
In the last New Guys article, we covered surviving your own activation. Getting through a charge or an attack without getting sidelined and wasting an activation. Today, we get to deal with the repercussions of your opponent’s next activation, and how you can be the one to sideline and waste their activation for a change.
We’ll rehash a couple of things, like Counter Attacks and Defensive stance and we’ll delve a bit more into when to use them, rather than planning against them. We’ll also start working on the next layer of the game, where you’re thinking an activation ahead hopefully. I’ll break it into two categories. Reactive Measures and Preventative Measures.
I’m straight up making these terms up as I go, so bear with me.
I’m defining Reactive Measures as what you can do during your opponent’s turn, and Preventative as things you do during your own activation. We’ll deal with Reactive first because it’s hard to do Preventative without understanding how to use your Reactive abilities, and therefore enhance their effectiveness.
For starters, most of this is dependent on you having Momentum. My first activation, I ideally want to either net 3 momentum or score a goal or both. Usually, netting 3 momentum is the best available option for a variety of reasons, most of them being I don’t have the ball. However, I’m a big fan of fighting teams, and a lot of times I can generate that momentum by killing a model so now I’m 2 VP up, 1-6 momentum in the bag, and I have nearly guaranteed last activation for myself unless I in turn lose a model.
Scoring a goal usually is better, especially if you have the ball. Otherwise you’re leaving yourself open to having it taken off of you and all sorts of things. I usually refrain from scoring only if I’m behind on points against a team that can immediately counterscore. Regardless, you need some momentum to score effectively and you’re going to have to farm some anyways.
I say 3 momentum as a goal for a few reasons. Right off the bat, it lets me do everything I want in the next two activations. It lets me Defensive Stance and/or Counter Attack during my opponent’s next activation, and lets me clear conditions on my next activation or use a heroic. 3 is a good goal. 2 is ok. 1 can hamstring you pretty badly, specifically in factions that are very Heroic dependent (Brewers) or against a condition team (Alchemists) where you can count on wanting to clear conditions at the start of an activation.
So if you’re not scoring, you need to generate momentum with the first activation. This is easy in teams where there’s momentous damage. You can kill a model and get momentum at the same time. Win/win. Masons struggle a bit more because their high damage is non-momentous, so they’ll have to weigh momentum vs. killing a model. If you kill a model and only gain 1 momentum out of it, does it mean you just handed a model to the opponent? That’s really the question you have to ask.
Defensive Stance is +1 DEF against charge attacks, or, if you’re already at DEF6, it’s -1 TAC on the charge. I personally feel like the value of Defstance goes way down after DEF6, so if I’m low on momentum it’s rare I’ll use it. +1 DEF affects every single dice, while -1 dice just affects one.
What does it change? Let’s pick an example. I like picking on Hammer, so we’ll use him. Regardless of the model, you know there’s +4 TAC extra because it has to be a charge in order for us to use Defensive Stance. So unless it’s a mascot, you’re looking at around a minimum of TAC8 on the charge. Hammer will be TAC11 on the charge. Since most of the time you charge, you’re looking for high playbook results, so we’re looking at 5 or 6 hits initially. On a DEF 4 model, there’s a 50% chance of 6 hits at Hammer’s TAC11, and 72.55% of 5 hits. If I defensive up to a 5, it drops to 12.20% for 6 hits, and 28.89% for 5 hits, and this is before ARM so you’re talking a 76.58% chance for 2 net hits after ARM if you want somewhat reliable results. DEF4 and DEF5 are, I think, the winners for using DEF stance.
DEF3 has 96.13% chance of 5 hits before ARM and 87.79% of 6 its. DEF stance gets us to the numbers we saw a minute ago, 73.55% for 5 hits and 50% for 6. DEF2 just gets worse from there.
Given the effectiveness of it, or lack thereof on models like Stave at 2/0, We start having to do things like math and knowing our opponents cards.
Why Defensive Stance?
1. Because you’re going to counter attack is a great reason. The best, even. It’s expensive at 2 momentum, but if this is a key model you need alive (Unactivated, has the ball, or is a really nice paintjob that looks bad on the sidelines) then the 2 momentum is worth it (1 for Defstance, 1 for Counter Attack). In order to counter attack though, you need to stay standing. Let’s talk Hammer again. Hammer is a problem here at a KD on 2. Defensive stancing from a 3 to a 4 still has a 96.72% chance of getting the 2 net hits after ARM for the KD. In fact, you have to get all the way up to DEF6 with 1 ARM (Or cover) before the chances are in your favor. So against Hammer, it’s not as good.
Ox, on the other hand, doesn’t see his KD until column 4. Deffing up from 3 to 4 with 1 ARM gets you down from 88.67% to 72.55%. Not great, but if I have the momentum, I’ll do it. From 4 to 5 though, he goes to a 28.89% to get the 5 hits he needs to hit his KD after removing a hit for ARM. Def up from 5 to 6 is just money in the bank. We’re seeing real value of defensive stance against Ox rather than Hammer.
This goes for a Tackle too. Hammer has a Tackle on 2, but against Mist, going from a 5 to a 6 takes him to 56.93% for that Tackle. We’re right at a coin flip here and asking our opponent some tough questions because as soon as this attack fails, we counter attack. Mist has a Push Dodge on 3 and a Dodge on 2. Against Hammer or Ox, if they’re not base to base, Mist is probably gone. Against a model like Stoker… Hey, let’s talk Stoker.
Stoker’s a 3/2. We’re kind of talking lousy def stats, but at 3/2, they need that extra hit. Ox’s KD on 4 needs 6 hits against Stoker to work, and at DEF 4, that’s exactly 50%. If Stoker doesn’t go down, he counter attacks with a double push on 1 and Ox is out of the fight. Hammer probably still gets it with an 88.67% chance of getting the four hits he needs for that Column 2 KD, but this is why we learn our opponent’s models. Ask for that card before you make a decision.
Speaking of Ox and knowing cards, I’m aware he has “They Ain’t Tough” for -1 ARM that he can either apply in combat or from 6″ away. This leads me to my next point.
2. To waste resources. We’ll cover this a bit more in the Counter Attack segment, but it’s a valid point here too. I might not counter attack with a lot of models, but still Defensive Stance against a kill. If I can prevent a wrap or a high playbook result like a momentous 7 damage from Sledge, it’s worth me defensive stancing if those odds put me into the “Likely to survive category”. Now he’s wasting resources on this kill. Same goes for a high Tackle. Spending more INF to kill me, or take the ball if he doesn’t get the hit he needs on the charge can hurt the dice math a lot. Especially since the Charge is usually the most important attack. It’s the most dice, the most resources. In many cases, it’s the best chance they have of getting the high result they need (Tapper’s column 4 Commanding Aura is a great example, as is Ox’s KD on 4) to finish out that model this activation. If Tapper fails to get CA, his dice math go downhill. He really wants CA and a wrap to the KD but that doesn’t happen often. If you have the Momentum, you can really ruin some otherwise good odds of killing your model.
The goal is to force them into a decision where is it better to walk in with lower TAC on lower DEF or charge in with higher TAC on higher DEF? Some models at TAC6 or 7 can do it on a walk but when you start looking at TAC5 and lower, it becomes a dilemma.
Why Counter Attack?
This one is easier to answer. In fact, some of the discussion here is Why wouldn’t you counter attack? We’ll do the Why first.
1. To Neutralize the Threat is the obvious answer. We talked a lot about this in the previous article, but from the perspective of what to watch for when they counter attack. Many models in the game are designed as strong counter attackers. Stoker, as we mentioned before, is a great example at 3/2 and a double push on 1. You absolutely have to KD that guy if you don’t have 2” melee, or you’re gone.
This also helps you position your models if you understand what makes a good counter attack. I can be fairly brave with Stoker and offer him up as the easiest model to get into (he’s slow, so I often need that anyways) because I’m fairly confident he can weather the attack from a 1” model. Mash is similar with 2” melee and unpredictable movement. With a low push, he can dodge out from a model, counter attack and be out of the problem.
So what are we looking for? Unpredictable Movement is nice defensive tech, but it’s not enough. Good counter attacks are going to be pushes, dodges, KDs, double pushes and double dodges and lastly, a few guildballs, within the first two columns. TAC6-7 can have good options up to column 3 but in most cases, you want no more than column 2. You’re also wanting a combined DEF stat of 5. So 3/2, 4/1, 5/0. 2/3 is…ok but a charge is probably going to get what it wants regardless against a 3/3 under defensive stance. This is before defensive tech and positioning. So, combined DEF of 5 and good options no later than column 3, but really, column 2.
Single Push/Dodge on one or two is the beginning, but it doesn’t make a good counter attack. If your opponent did not base to base you, great, awesome. If he did though, this is not going to disengage you. Use it to push them into melee with another model if possible. Single dodges are slightly more useful because you maybe can dodge into cover or out of a crowdout but these are still not amazing uses of a counter attack.
Knock Down. I use to think this was the peak of Counter Attacks and this is really not true at all. Knock Downs are cute, but all it does is force them to use a momentum to stand up, and they can quite likely get momentum on the charge. So they declare a charge, you declare a counter attack and instead of taking the non-momentous higher damage, they take a lower momentous option. A push maybe and push 0”. Then you KD them, and they spend that momentum to stand right back up. The upside to this is that you traded 1 momentum for their 2 INF. That is one nice thing about Brewers and their momentous KD. They can dodge the counter attack and get momentum for it anyways, but it’s still hard on the math when they’re trying to kill a model. The exception to this is if a model began it’s turn with conditions and had to clear them before attacking. Now, KD is the best thing on the market. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding your opponent’s next move. It might be worth getting a random KD on his loaded basher so you can have a good Counter Attack later.
Double Push, Double Dodge, or Push Dodge. These are probably the best, most accessible Counter Attack results. It completely negates 1” melee and requires a base to base 2” melee model to deal with. This means you can position just outside of their base to base range and even though they can get to you, you can push them out if you have a reliable counter attack. Or dodge out. Or push dodge out. Whatever gets the 2” distance you need. I find these to be the most consistently reliable options.
Lastly we have Guildball options. Specifically, the strong ones are Where’d they Go? (Flint, Greyscales, Ulfr, Shank, maybe some more), Ball’s Gone (Spigots, Greyscales, Brisket2, Bushel off the top of my head), or really anything that has a strong push like The Unmasking on Ghast and Fangtooth. Those will disengage abruptly. Ferrite has a sneaky one now too called “Disarm” which is -2 TAC. That’ll hurt your dice math pretty badly.
These options and the defensive stats we mentioned make a solid counter attack model. These are the guys you want to dare your opponent into because of their ability to neutralize the threat.
2. To waste resources. We have covered this a little bit, but I’ll counter attack to force the KD. I’m more than happy to make you KD me for little to no damage and dodge that column 6 high damage option on the charge. If you get the damage, I’m a few attacks from dead, but now I’m relatively safe in many cases. Less so against Captains but still. If you don’t KD me, I escape. This is a useless dare if you don’t have any good counter attack options. If I’m base to base and you’re unlikely to get above Column 2’s single push, meh. Do your best.
The pickle in all of this is tackles. You charge in for the ball and I declare a counter attack. You can’t KD me though because the ball scatters. Sucks to be you, this is a lose lose decision unless you have close control on your charging model. Then you just hope I don’t have an early KD or Ball’s Gone.
3. For Setup on future activations. Now we’re thinking ahead, but this is one of my favorite things to do. There’s three things here.
A. Incidental damage. Maybe I can get a couple damage on a model early on so my next activation is more assured of killing that model. This is a rare occasion but it has happened. Usually it’s someone that goes into my Captain knowing they can’t kill them, but knowing I can’t escape either. Either they waste INF on the KD, or I counter attack and apply some out of activation damage.
B. Playbook Guildball options. This is my favorite way to get Singled Out applied. If the model being attacked has a great debuff like Weak Point, or Thousand Cuts, or Dirty Knives, anything like that, it might be worth counter attacking because now, you’ve applied this debuff out of activation for one momentum. Clone is also a great option on Vitriol, Snakeskin and… that’s it I think. Clone’s actually really solid since they’ll do the charge or whatever, you counter attack and then the next attack is just wasted, and you get a 2” dodge away, and if they choose not to take another attack it’s still good for the rest of the turn.
C. Sturdy/Gluttonous Mass/Close Control, go away. This is my best anti-Corsair tech. Pop that Sturdy or Close Control, whichever is more important. Get it gone now. Sure, he’s going to beat you up and he knows you can’t push him away or dodge out with Tapper, so he just does damage because he needs all the damage he can get to finish you. So you counter attack, get the KD and it does nothing. Now, however, next activation, any single Brewer can KD Corsair. He’s pretty vulnerable now, or he has to spend an INF to gain sturdy again. This is great on models like Esters, Compound, Flint or really anyone with one of those three defensive techs. Get them gone while you can so the next activation doesn’t have to deal with it. Efficient use of resources, right here.
NOTE: In case you didn’t know, you can bonus time a Counter Attack. If you’re rich on momentum or desperately need the Counter Attack to work, this is an option.
Why wouldn’t I counter attack?
Now the tricky part.
1. Because there is no hope. Sure, Stave has a KD on 1 with TAC6. Seems ok except he’s 2/0. He can Defstance up to 3/0 but we’re still pissing in the wind. Even Harrow at a 3/0, Defstance up to 4/0. Hammer’s KD on 2 is still going to get there. Let’s not throw momentum away.
2. Because we need the Momentum. Counter attacks are great but sometimes you need that momentum really bad. I’ve made this mistake many times where I have a mediocre counter attack and one momentum. So I take the counter attack, down to 0 momentum and the counter attack doesn’t do anything decent and now, my model is KD and I could have really used that momentum to stand up and do something. That’s the normal scenario. Before you spend that 1 momentum you have on a Counter Attack that isn’t a sure bet, make sure that it isn’t more important to have it for a heroic or to clear conditions.
3. Because you have Close Control. Let them waste the tackle. Now they attack again. Counter attack now. They tackle the ball, you tackle it back. It takes 3 INF to finally keep the ball. This is if you don’t feel like you can get away on a dodge or a push. Spigot2, for example, has Close Control, but he doesn’t see a push dodge until column 3 and a double dodge till column 4. At TAC5, he’s better off waiting till they have the ball before swinging again and reliably tackling the ball back. Otherwise, if he counterattacks on the first swing, he’s liable to only do one damage, or the single push which is easily dealt with. Incidentally, he has Ball’s Gone on column 2, and that’s pretty hilarious for a counter attack.
4. Because you might counter attack on the second attack. Their KD is on column 4 or 5, so they need the charge to get it done, but you don’t declare a Counter Attack. So they do straight damage and then you declare a counter attack for the next swing. Surprise! This is also gambling and illegal in some states. On the plus side, it’s kind of a win win. If they KD you on the charge just to be safe, you cost them 2 INF for free.
5. Because you don’t want Knocked Down at all, actually. You’re pretty sure you can survive the activation and you’d rather start it standing than knocked down. So weather the storm and don’t give them any incentive to do otherwise. This does not work against factions that have KD in nearly every playbook and bonuses to KD models (Brewers, specifically, but Farmers have a lot of KD too). A lot of Season 2 models have playbook options with KD and Damage so they’ll KD you for kicks and giggles. Know the other cards.
6. It won’t accomplish anything for the goals of the game. They’re not going to kill you this activation. You can’t escape them if you did counter attack and you don’t have the momentum to just hand out freely. So buckle down and wait your turn. Don’t throw away Momentum you don’t need to.
When to Defstance and when to Counter because I’ve got all the momentum of an uphill-traveling slug.
In a lot of cases, Defensive Stance is really only useful if you can immediately Counter Attack. Without that follow up, Defstance starts losing it’s worth.
So when is it more valuable than a counter attack?
1. When the DEF is already high enough to really negate the charge results. Mist is a good example. At 5/0, he can go to 6 and +4 TAC on the charge is looking rough. The rest of the results are going to struggle to reach high enough into the playbook to do the job because you negated the best chance they had at doing work. In most cases, he’s trying to hang onto the ball. Against Close Control, do Defstance, attempting to prevent them from getting the ball in the first place.. Against low DEF stats, do counter attack since you can count on reliably getting it back. One note is that on someone holding the ball, it’s unlikely they’ll KD you so you have good chance of getting a Counter Attack off.
2. When a counter attack is pointless. Using Mist as an example again. At TAC4, there’s a lot of models he’s pretty much useless counter attacking against UNLESS they take the ball and you can retrieve it. Then it’s maybe ok. At TAC4 though, ARM starts hurting his results pretty quickly and it’s tough for him to dodge away. The other way it’s pointless is if they have Close Control. Mist can’t even get it back, and really, you’re better off staying in melee so they have to risk a Tackle to leave or spend INF on a dodge of some sort (Where’d they Go, Acrobatics, Quicktime). If you’re going to try to take the ball from that model later, it might be worth counter attacking just to pop close control but otherwise, meh.
3. When they’re not likely to stay there for more than one hit. A lot of times, I’ll charge someone, bounce off with a Momentous Dodge or Double Dodge, or my favorite, a Tackle Dodge like what Brisket3 has. So I hit once, take the ball an I’m gone. This kind of slides into a Pointless Counter Attack like in option 2, but if it’s not really the same. Especially if they already have the ball. Shark is a really good example here. Shark likes to charge into a model, get his double dodge and bounce into range of the goal with some momentum to spend on the kick. If you don’t have 2” melee, you can’t even reach him, and what you need to try to do is negate that Momentum. Defstance is the answer.
So now, onto Part II.
We understand the Counter Attack and Defensive Stance Basics now. Let’s back up an activation and see what we can do to further maximize their efficiency.
It’s inevitable that your models are going to be attacked. That’s the game. That’s how it works. The idea is to force the opponent into scenarios they don’t like. This isn’t always possible but you would be amazed at how much more efficient your defensive gameplay becomes when this is in the back of your mind.
By maximizing our defensive efficiency, we’re talking about several methods. There’s defensive tech like Character Plays and Passive Abilities. There’s terrain, and there’s positioning.
Let’s talk about the basics, the little things. When you pick a model up and you move it, you have to get away from the Point A to Point B mindset. If you have played another miniature game prior to this you’ve probably already got some idea of that but many, many people are new to this genre entirely so let’s talk about it.
Terrain is a big deal. There’s less in Guildball than say Flames of War or for sure Infinity. Games like the Batman Miniature Game and Infinity are both more invested in the terrain than the minis themselves. Yay, I got Batman and 5 henchmen for 60$. Now I need 300$ in terrain. GB doesn’t require that much investment in terrain, but if you’re not playing with any, you need to start. Terrain benefits many models in the game like Mist, Sakana and many others with passive abilities.
It also blocks charge lanes and grants cover. When you look at an 11 dice charge into Stoker at 3/2, Defstanced up to 4/2 and standing in cover and needing 4 net hits (6 before ARM) to reach the KD in Ox’s playbook, cover drops from 50% to 37.69%. Cover can be a big deal. I said before that minus one dice by Defstancing a 6/0 model is kind of a waste of resources, and I agree with that still, but doing it for free in cover is great. Cover is more efficient against the following normal attacks though too. TAC6 down to 5 against a 3/2? That sucks.
I mentioned charge lanes. This is some fine positioning, but make note of the models with INF allocated to them and what their jobs are. If Mist has 4 INF and is within a foot of you, moving to where there is terrain between you both negates it pretty considerably. An obstruction or a barrier stops the charge completely.
In the example below, Mist (technically Alloy in this particular game, but in this case it’s the same effect) is stuck up behind cover. Hooper has the ball and is well within range of Alloy/Mist but he can’t charge over terrain, which is an immediate 2” drop in threat range. Technically he could dodge out around cover and then charge, but that’s why Friday is right there, to block that. Friday’s a 4/1, in cover, and to engage her he has to be engaged by Tapper too. So now we’re talking being down 2 dice before swinging. And, if he breaks loose and gets into Hooper, Hooper is a 3/2 with Tough Skin and in cover, and will Defstance up to 4/2 and counter attack. It’s a tough nut to crack.
Everybody ignore Cinder, since she solves this problem. I dislike her immensely.
However, this is some ok positioning on my part, taking advantage of the available terrain and my opponent’s mistakes.
Forest and Barriers also block Line of Sight. No charge if you can’t see the model. Forests force a model to glide as well, so they’re sprinting through and attacking. You can’t defensive stance that but you’re definitely dodging a charge and you don’t have to deal with +4 TAC. Rough ground is ok defensive terrain but once the momentum starts accumulating, it’s benefits go way down.
Here, I’ve got Stoker, with the ball. He’s within kicking range of Friday, who could easily score at this point from where she’s at on the pitch. The problem is Mist. Friday could take the 4” dodge back but the large bubble is just Mist’s movement + acrobatics. He has another 2” melee after that. It’s doubtful the dodge will get her out of range, and if Mist has access to momentum and he likely does, he’ll glide. If Mist has no momentum, the pass to Friday is probably not a bad move. However, in the event that he does, Stoker’s going to sprint away to the trees so that he still moves forward. It’s not that he’s out of range of Mist at this point, but Mist will have to acrobatics forward, sprint and buy an attack because currently, he has no line of sight to Stoker in the right picture. That’s 3 INF, and Stoker will be at 3/2. It’s doable, but not great. And then Mist is stuck out there with the ball and Friday can come get it. The important thing to note is that while it’s tempting to get into cover with Stoker at the treeline and go to 3/2 w/ cover, if he does that, Mist gets line of sight and can charge. Right now though, tucked in like he is, Mist can’t see him. The other option is for Stoker to back up to the box and give up ground. This is probably the safest play, but if it fails, Mist will be in range for a goal. Keep in mind against Mist specifically, he gains a dice for models in cover.
If you’re hiding behind Fast Ground, I can’t help you. Please make better life decisions.
2. Positioning around models
While we’re on the positioning soap box and have that first picture, you can hide behind your own models. Heck, you can even use his models to block charge lanes. Friday is extremely safe because Tapper is there to crowd out. That means nearly any of those models have to deal with negative 1 TAC for Tapper, and another negative 1 TAC for cover, plus the resulting Counter Attack from Friday will have +1 TAC for her. This is before we factor in Commanding Aura being up on Tapper. Recognize the opportunities. Friday’s where she’s at because of a conscious decision. She could have been over a bit more to have better accessibility to the board but she is far safer where she’s at. Use your other melee ranges to cause problems for other models. Farmers are really solid at this with so much 2” melee, as are the Fishermen. I like to leave a ball on Jackstraw at 5/0 and tuck him in around Harrow or Grange or Tater. Anyone with 2” melee, if not two or three models. Come and get it. Negative dice for you, bonus dice for me.
Here, Mercury has the ball and Ballista wants it. Ballista can get to Mercury, but not without being engaged by Vitriol. This can be potentially solved by Ballista shooting Vitriol for the 2” push and KD but now we’re throwing 2 precious INF at a side target that’s got 5 DEF. I haven’t removed the possibility of him taking the ball from Mercury, but I’ve certainly discouraged it by simply positioning near Vitriol.
A small thing to remember too. The best workaround to most counter attacks is to base to base a model so even if they push you out, you can probably still reach them. So when you’re placing a model, consider leaving it in range so you’re farther up the board, but positioned in a place where they can’t base to base you. Either just back out of that range, or behind something slightly so that in order to charge in the required straight line, they have to leave a gap.
Here, Boar can reach Harry with that wonderful Furious charge, but he can’t get base to base. Heck, he can’t even get within an inch. Harry’s a 3/1, then he’ll Defstance up to 4/1 and have cover. This takes Boar’s 3rd column KD down to a 62% chance of success, and he’ll have to take it because if he doesn’t, Harry will only need 1 success to push Boar 1” away and waste his next 2 to 3 attacks. If Boar was closer, he could base to base and be pretty safe. Take the momentous damage, get pushed or get Knocked down and stand back up. He’d be within 2 either way and be fine for his next three attacks. Harry’s positioning alone prevents that though.
These are the little things, where positioning in the inches matters immensely.
3. Defensive Character Plays
Then we have Defensive Tech. I talked about Hooper’s Tough Skin, getting him up to a 3/2 before Defensive Stance. I like Hooper to go early on the first turn to run up and Tough Skin whatever model is farthest up, plus it lets me burn activations while accomplishing something. Friday also gains +1 DEF if Spigot is around, so between those two, Friday is at 5/2. She may look enticing at the halfway point on the board, but with a combined Defensive Stat of 7, you should think twice about it.
I keep using Brewer examples, but there’s so many. Mash gets +1 ARM near his wife, Esters, and she can also give him +1 DEF. Then Hooper gives him +1 ARM and he already has unpredictable movement. So he’s a 4/3 with UM. Good luck. This is also a very resource intensive strategy but Mash is really good at Snap Shots so people like to sprint him way up the board. With stats like that, it’s not an entirely terrible strategy.
There’s a lot of defensive tech out there. Nimble for +1 DEF. An Engineer player tucked Velocity into my lines, daring me to kill her turn 1. It didn’t happen. There’s Clone, which we’ve talked about. There’s Defend the Ground from Tower and Ploughman for the free Defensive Stance. There’s a lot of character plays out there that can really buff the survivability of players. The issue is when to do it.
I only do it first activation if it can really discourage my opponent’s plan. If I know my opponent’s first activation is to kill Velocity, then activate and use Nimble for the +1 DEF. Now you’ve activated and haven’t lost an activation if they kill that model, and they may not even kill that model.
I usually wait till second or third activation though. If the turn is building up for someone to go into a model towards the end and really go for the win on the momentum race, I can burn an activation getting some defensive tech onto that player.
Those are the simple things. Things like Defend the Ground, Tough Skin, things another model can put onto the model you’re trying to protect. Other ones like Nimble, Clone and Decoy are little trickier because you feel like you’re wasting INF when you want to do things but when it works, it works. These character plays are also normally players you want to hold a ball with too. Greyscales with Decoy and Unpredictable Movement can dodge out to max against a 2” melee player, probably get the dodge on column 1 and he’s gone. You only have to worry about 2” melee models too since with Unpredictable movement, 1” melee models have to catch him over multiple turns.
4. Offensive Character Plays.
Now we look at things you put on the enemy, or at least throw out there. Things like Gut and String, or Disarm. Stuff that Hamstrings (Also an option) the model that your opponent wants to use. Blind is getting really popular with that -2 TAC. Get that on Thresher or Hammer and you’ve really cut them down. Mist coming for your ball? Blind him. He’s pretty useless at TAC2, but that’s if you can get a 1 dice character play onto a DEF 5 model. But look at your character play options and see what shuts down an opponent. Jaecar is really good at this with Gut and String and Back to the Shadows. Dude charges in, knocks your MOV for 4/4 and takes you to -1 DEF. His next attack damages you and after he’s done he dodges away 4”.
Playbook Guildball results are great options sometimes too, especially if they’re ranged. You can get something like “Skewered” (Hearne1/2) onto a model by hitting it on the playbook rather than casting it for 2 INF. Sometimes this is better if Hearne is going into a model that’s already crowded out, set up for getting beat on but if it’s pretty fresh model, you might be better off just going for the 2 dice roll.
There’s also several AOEs out there. Poison and Bleed aren’t really dangerous but Fire is. -2/2 MOV is hard on threat ranges. The trick isn’t to hit the model with it and give them a chance to clear it, the trick is to place it front of them so they accrue it during the charge and can’t clear it before failing the charge. Blast Earth can do the same thing and cause Rough Ground but then you can glide over it. However, it’s pretty momentum intensive and if the other guy is low on momentum, you may be forcing him to choose between Glide or a Heroic.
Using the Harry and Boar example from earlier, Harry can prevent the charge entirely from Boar by dropping the Molotov AOE in the way. If Boar charges through it, he loses 2/2 MOV immediately, and he can’t clear it. If I had hit Boar with it and lit him on fire, he could clear it at the start of his turn and his threat range is restored. There’s no way for Boar to get to Harry right now without a speed buff.
Lastly, lets touch on Character Plays one more time. Control. There’s not many of these. There’s Lure (Siren1 and Cosset off the top of my head), Tucked and Shut Out (Silence), Puppet Master (Obulus), Pinned (Theron) and Goad (Spigot2, Marbles, Harry the Hat, Jac. Maybe a few more). These are more than debuffs, they control directions you can move, activations and can take over your model for a moment. This is a great way to shut the enemy down.
The Morticians player, Silence, is king here. Shutout and Tucked are amazing if you know the other team. Shutout the striker so he goes last, giving you time to get the ball, or Tuck Rage2 before he can get the 2/2 MOV buff from Grace to get to you. If you do it wrong and tuck a model that was going next anyways, you’ve wasted it.
Puppet Master is weird. You can use it walk them away from you or attack. It’s expensive but powerful. You can walk them into you as well but for defensive purposes that’s not great. Lure and Goad are both like that. If Siren is sitting at 4/1 near Kracken for that ARM, in cover, and this is a guy she’s targeting, she’s 5/1 with Cover. Lure that guy over so he’s either out of range of what he wants to attack or he’s engaged with a model that he doesn’t want to deal with.
Goad doesn’t force a walk, but it limits where you can go. Because of it’s range, that usually means they can get to you if you get the Goad, but if you can get it before you move (Good Marker is great for this) and then walk away, it’s pretty solid. You can do it from behind cover too, or from deep in a crowdout situation. Harry is awesome here. I like to use Goad to protect Brisket3, I don’t care if you go into Harry. He’s got Rising Anger even. Free 2 Momentum for me.
The example here has Decimate, instead of Brisket3. Decimate’s Knocked down and on 8 health. Boar will likely kill her within two attacks. However, Harry goads him at the start of his activation, then walks out of charge range and to cover. Boar is completely neutered here.
5. Take a Breather/Come on Mate
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget that you can heal in this game. If you’ve already been beat up a little bit, consider bringing that health up by four (More or less, depending on GIC) again. The GIC is likely to change this some, taking Engineers down to two in some cases or three and etc, but it’s worth considering. On models with health in the low teens, 4 health back can really help. Jackstraw is a really great example. At 5/0 plus Reanimate, he’s a pain to bring down even with only 10 boxes, which is why I love throwing him up there. All I want him to do is put down two harvest markers every turn anyways, which he can do from the edge of the pitch if necessary. So I toss him up there, leave him as ‘easy’ pickings except at 5/0, he doesn’t go down easy and a momentum or two, or three if I can spare it is an efficient and effective use of my resources to negate theirs. I’ve seen Hammer go after him, five, six attacks in and that 5/0 is slowing him down. Can’t quite get him but he’s close. So he activates, pops out two harvest markers, teleports away and heals. Now he’s out of the scrum Hammer built. He’s away from the crowdouts and he’s got 50-60% of his health again before reanimate. Is this 5/0 model really worth the three activations and 12 INF it takes to bring him down for 2VP? Probably not. But those are the situations you want to create for your opponent.
So remember to heal. I think it’s less valuable the lower your DEF is since the investment required for the necessary damage is so much lower. Sure, you can heal Stave, but I’m wrapping every time I hit him so… good job on not changing anything.
Condition removal is here too. Against teams like the Brewers and Hunters that like to apply those conditions that give them bonuses, keep the conditions off. Smoke is another story, she applies everything all the time. You just have to tank it out. However, you leave a model knocked down in a game where Spigot1 hasn’t activated yet and you have made a horrible mistake. Are you knocked down and snared? Seenah’s going to eat you alive. Get rid of those conditions if you want to make it. Trying to keep conditions off is always a good idea, but in particular situations it’s pretty crucial.
That’s about it. We can cook up all kinds of examples all day long and run the dice math, but this is the gist of the options available to you. Keep an eye on your momentum, make sure you have some available. It’s not all about going first next turn. There’s not a lot they can do sometimes if you’ve staged correctly and you always have that one momentum at the beginning.
Hopefully this has made some sense and helped out. It’s a bit more spread out than the previous article on getting through your own activation but that’s pretty cut and dried. You made the decision to go in, you know what you’re getting into and you make all the decisions about how you’re going to do it. Here, you have to anticipate the threat. You have to take your best guess and cover your angles. It’s a gamble a lot of times. The biggest thing is to focus on your positioning first. Use that cover. Deny the charge lanes. Hide near a 2” melee model for those crowdouts. Little things that aren’t important when you move the model, but could be very key here in an activation or two. It’s a mindset that you have to pick up. It’s also a really great thing to go back through a game you’ve won/lost, but usually lost and say “Yeah, if I’d gone back to cover” or “Yeah, rather than kneesliding as far away from the scrum as I could, I should have tucked into cover and my other model over there.”
The hardest part is recognizing when it’s a good time to quit while you’re ahead. Do you spend the INF on that Clone? Or try and get it off the playbook while you still have the INF for it? Does Mist charge and hit this model three times while he has the ball and go for momentum to win first turn rolloff, maaaaaybe, or should he just sprint away and hide where it’s difficult to get to him?
Esters is like that every turn. The +1 Damage or +2/2 MOV is really enticing, especially since it’s free. But a lot of times, it’s more efficient to put +1 DEF on someone. It’s hard to recognize when, and it’s no fun when you do, but it bears consideration.
That’s about all I’ve got on this topic. This was a requested topic from some local players as a follow up to the last article and it was a great suggestion. Really appreciated it. The next one looks like it’s going to cover various positions in Guildball. They’re listed on the cards as Midfielders and Backs and nonsense like that, but we’ll look at what makes a Striker a good Striker. What’s a Kickoff Model? What makes a model good at exerting control pressure? We’ll get into that next time.
Merry Christmas, and enjoy the holidays!
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