Interview with “Cinderella man” David Pettigrew, MuseOn Con champ

David, congratulations again on winning the Muse On Con regional tournament! For some people, the big news this past weekend was the big reveal on the lamplighter models, but for us in the Midwest the news was your Cinderella story. Out of a nowhere a one-legged man with only 3 games recorded on Longshanks came and crushed the cream of the crop.

Is it a Cinderella story because she only has one shoe?  Because if so I’m in! 

1. Since most people don’t know you yet, can you start off by introducing yourself a little. How long have you been playing Guild Ball? Where’s your local meta? And what guilds do you play?

Well.  My name is David Pettigrew and I’m a 41 year old retiree (medically, Army, 2004).  I guess I’ve been playing Guild Ball for a bit under two years, having gotten started just as Hunters initially released.  I went to my local game store, Gamer’s Haven in Colorado Springs, CO, to play a Warmachine game and my opponent was a no show.  So instead I watched the last 15 minutes of a game of Guild Ball and was pretty hooked at that point. 
I own Alchemists, Brewers, Engineers, Farmers, Hunters, and Union (and just completed Masons at the con).  I’d say overall I’m reasonably decent with all the guilds, but none of them click for me, play style and mechanically, the way Union and Engineers do.  Both these teams can flex for their win condition to be more goal or more take out oriented—I’ve played 3 goal veteran Rage games and 6 take out Ballista ones. This flexibility in win condition is a big thing for me because I tend to look to what my opponents’ win conditions most likely are and try to flex the other way (football around the brawlers and take out the footballers).

2. Engineers were the vehicle you rode to victory on. Can you share your tournament ten and any insight into why you picked these players?

The final version of the tournament 10 was Ballista, Pin Vice, Mother, Colossus, Compound, Harriet ‘the Hat,’ Hoist, Locus, Ratchet, and original Velocity.

David’s awesome Engineers

Ballista is my main engineer captain.  He’s resilient and can play a control game but does so without sacrificing football.  Randomly with a tiny bit of set up he can just delete players albeit usually non-momentously.  I have way way more games with him than Pin Vice (probably 30+ vs 5 or 6).
Pin Vice was there in all honesty because the few times I’ve played her (back before Harry the Hat was nerfed) she was extremely fun.  Her legendary is very cool to execute (as long as you don’t miss the first pass) and Controller is a weird play which while mechanically simple can have a very high reward when used at the right time for the right reason.  I really thought I’d probably scrub out of the tournament in an early round because I really hadn’t prepared the way I would have liked and then play her the rest of the day for fun.

 

Mother is my favorite mascot in the game.  She scores.  She gets the ball.  She has a momentous <>.  And she enables Hoist to teleport.

 

The core of my team is Hoist, Ratchet, and Velocity.  These three are in almost every game I play with engineers.  Hoist is just ludicrously flexible from turn to turn in addition to being one of the hardest models to take out in the game.  Velocity isn’t flashy, but she is a great striker who reliably sinks goals and can get the ball and be reasonably resilient thanks to reanimate.  I love to score a goal with her and then have her run the length towards the center of the pitch (ideally into tap in range) to turret in snap shots later on.  Both these players are mechanica baseline so they work for Pin Vice tricks and Ratchet buffs and being gender-less is very valuable.  Ratchet, brings tooled up and a very long range character play which works well with Ballista’s Momentous Inspiration and gives Hoist another option.  He also lets mechanica sprint or charge for free as a Heroic Play and clears conditions for free on mechanica.  All that adds up to a super valuable support piece who just happens to still have an excellent kick stat, reasonable speed, and a workable playbook with a KD.

 

Colossus, Compound, and Harriet are my flex players and I like them all situationally.  Compound is a great goal keeper and battery (he usually can donate his influence to other players) and he and Colossus both have 2″ melee which is valuable all on its own.  If Velocity is an unreliable place to hide the ball vs teams I think can outscore me, his Gluttonous Mass can be clutch.  Colossus is fast, tough, with a couple of strong character plays and a reasonably accessible knockdown.  Stoic is randomly the most useful ability on his card.  Harriet is quickly becoming a favorite for me as yet another method to dislodge the ball and with Ballista can generate a momentum for no influence which can be a great way to start a turn.  The Hat aura is always useful for re-positioning with the ball.  Also, Jayden painted her up the morning of the tournament so she was in!

 

Locus is simply my favorite of the conversions in the engineer team.  He looks pretty on the sidelines (my mat has score and momentum trackers so he usually gets to hang out there).  Vincent Curkoff mentioned that the slot might be better occupied by Salvo and I don’t really disagree but the places I would play either of them are very few I think.  That said, Salvo has some extra appeal on the opposite side of the pitch from Mother now that Harriet is in the game.

 

3. Let’s talk about Harriet. For everyone at Muse On Con, this was our first chance to play with our new exile models. What role did Harriet fill for you and how did she perform in your games?

 

I’m very quickly coming to the idea that Harriet might be an auto include for me and in corner cases even replacing Velocity so I can have her and another of my flex picks.  In the game vs the Fillet butchers (ie my first game ever with her as I hadn’t even proxied her) all she did was die to Shank over several turns.  I didn’t even remember she had the Hat aura when passing the ball around on turn one.  Game two vs Alchemists I dropped her for Compound but could easily see a place for her if I had to kick as a ball retrieval tool.  She really came alive for me in round three vs Scalpel mostly because Ballista got taken out in turn two after getting a goal and take out and so she actually was near my captain for her free play to be used more than just at deployment.  I think once or twice she scattered the ball this game and neither time went well for me but it was interesting to see and forced me to look for similar opportunities in rounds 4 and 5 vs the Strictly the Worst podcasters.  In round 4, my game vs farmers, she managed to pop the ball loose a couple of times which seemed super strong to me.  A ball on the pitch is Mother’s ball in the vast majority of cases and so when it scatters and can’t be snapped back up the opponent has to stop working whatever setup plan they were doing and go retrieve the ball or risk ceding 4 points to the engineers. This can delay or stop a take out and can lead to influence being spent to pass that was intended for something else.  Regardless, its a disruption and requires adaption which usually means clock time.

 

Arguably Harriet won me the final game vs Pat.  It was the perfect storm of circumstances for her.  She was fully loaded because I expected Ballista to die and felt I needed influence all over the pitch to threaten the ball.  She was able to throw her Sucker Punch before she moved and the ball scattered 6″ directly to her meaning she was able to snap it up.  This let her walk and punt the ball wide to the right and downfield where I was later able to retrieve it and slot in a winning snap shot.
All in all I think she’s a super interesting player.  She’s resilient, has excellent plays (which Hoist can copy), brings the Hat aura which Engineers love to have, and brings a ball removal tool.  

 

4. At Vengeance (120 person tournament) Engineers were the least played guild. Here in the Midwest, Engineers also also tend to be less represented however most people still agree that they are near the top of the competitive rankings. Why is it that you think people both respect Engineers but also avoid picking them up?
 

I know for me, I was intrigued in them because they looked super fun and rewarding but also very challenging to play.  All of that appealed to me because I think the mental puzzles of the game keep me interested.  

 

Maybe the mental gymnastics are not that appealing to players.  Maybe they don’t like the way the models look (several in my local meta severely dislike the Colossus model) or don’t like the idea of sentient robot soccer players.  But I think every game someone plays either with or against engineers they very likely will see something new or unusual because I think every player brings a different idea of what they want to try and accomplish with the team.  The first time I loaned my team to a friend and had Hoist slam off three Unexpected Arrivals in a single activation I laughed because my whole scrum had just spread all over the pitch.  Its something I never would have done myself but now I look for it because it can knock someone off the pitch or destroy a heavily position dependent team (farmers and engineers both come to mind). To me Engineers are a team that consistently rewards the repetitions (games) you put in with them.  Every game you’ll see or look for one new thing to try that’s fun or weird and until you are several hundred games in you won’t even have scratched the surface of what all a given turn can look like from the moment you allocate influence to the end of the round.  And I think that very flexibility and variance is why Engineers are both respected and avoided.
 

5. Now that you’ve played with and against multiple exile models and have also seen the spoilers for falconers, how would you rank the guilds?

 

Wow.  That’s a loaded question.  And so rather than make a specific declaration of tiers and who is in what one I’m going to take a politician’s path and give you a non-answer answer.  I think the exiles box has given a noticeable boost to both Brewers and Hunters.  While not flashy, I think veteran Gutter is a tool Butcher players needed but I also don’t think she is quite the power bump that say veteran Decimate was for her team.  I’ve only managed one game against Ratcatchers and it went completely sideways when Theron missed all his character plays on turn one.  Despite that, I think this minor guild will have some extremely uphill games, but I also think that Pelage in particular is a welcome addition to the Morticians.  Falconers look fairly balanced to me.  They have interesting scoring and take out options that for the most part require a bit of set up.  And they have relatively low HP pools meaning surgical strikes on their players will likely succeed and it will be important for them to manage threat ranges and for their opponent to prioritize targets.  Minerva is a huge boon to Hunters along with veteran Minx (though losing regular Minx will still hurt).  

 

So, taking all of that, I’d say that overall I think that almost all the guilds are in a pretty decent place competitively.  But I also think that almost all the guilds could use some player tweaks here and there to make their least played options more interesting choices (off the top of my head, Venin, Stave, Egret, Ploughman, Fangtooth all could use some degree of rework of the teams I own).  I do think that Engineers and Masons both have very few if any disadvantaged matchups while Ratcatchers, Blacksmiths, and Butchers have several teams they just do not want to see across from them.

 

6. In rounds four and five you were paired against a couple of Guild Ball celebrities, Vincent Curkoff and Patrick Van Valzah. What was going through your head during these games and can you share any strategies you used to pull off victories against both?

 

Round 4 opponent, Vincent Vinsanity Curkov

I’ve listened to Strictly the Worst since (I think) its inception (I’ve at least listened to all the episodes including that awful Wild Wild West one) and have always enjoyed the podcast so it was both exciting and a little nerve-wracking to play against these guys who I listen to for strategy advice.  They have an extremely strong pool of players to play against and that leads to them being very good as well.  All of this was in my head on some level.  On another was the idea that I needed to simply relax and play the game before me.  Johnny Pastrami who came in third at the event looked over at me as he squared off vs Pat and I vs Vincent and said we should just knock them both out and play each other in the finals.  It made me laugh and put me at ease.  

 

Vincent was playing Grange farmers and I had to kick to him and on top of that didn’t have any game plans higher than a 5 initiative modifier so right out the gate I felt I was on the back foot.  But farmers have almost no armor and most of my team has Tackle on one hit, and I have burrow and acrobatic for getting into them without triggering Tater counter charges and at that point I was also actively looking for ways to Sucker Punch the ball with Harriet.  I think my initial plan was to bomb (deadbolts and blast earths) whoever retrieved the ball and hopefully that could lead to a turn 2 take out while Velocity went wide left through fast ground to get behind the scrum and nab the ball and set up for snap shots.  After that I’d look for another goal from Breach! and another opportunistic take out on the returning player if possible or an overextended one.  I knew deadbolt was good for the push but not the knock down thanks to Millstone, Peck, and Grange and wouldn’t likely be able to free a ball for me.  At least that was the initial thoughts I had.  

 

I did drop everything on Harrow but between his aura and healing the take out never materialized.  Vincent played conservatively turn one and then had me go first in turn two and he had the ball in the middle of a mass of farmers I wanted no part of.  When Grange went on the offensive, I’d use someone to <> him out of his target so he’d have to push them back in later or do without Honest Labor.  Turn three or four I felt the game dragging with the potential to slip away from me very quickly but had Harriet dislodge the ball from Tater, and then Millstone, where it scattered thanks to her free play and it bounced back towards his goal and my waiting Velocity.  He scooped it up and sent it back to Tater with Peck, but I had a line in with Velocity and he had no momentum so she was able to tackle the ball and slot in a goal.  He put the kick out back in the middle of the scrum and Mother had a shot to tackle via burrow and pass to Velocity (still engaged) on two dice with a bonus time.  Mother landed the five and Velocity made the 4 dice snap shot (again with bonus time).  All of a sudden I had 8 points to I think 2 or 4 from Hoist and Harriet being taken out (I didn’t take notes on my games to paper until the next morning so some of these specifics are sketchy).  He got a second player on Velocity and had 2 of 3 corners of a triangle to stop her moving but Ballista got the ball and was able to Breach! it over to her needing a 6 on the pass and she went for a 3rd snap shot (with bonus time) which missed but the ball died in front of his goal.  (This in retrospect probably should have ended the game as both players were b2b with Velocity on Ballista side so they should have been KD by the Breach! pass making the snap shot almost trivial at 5d)  Vincent finished boxing in Velocity with Grange and brought her to half or so HP after knocking her down.  

 

At this point, I think between us we had 4 or 5 minutes combined on clocks and so I was less clear than I should have been but Velocity cleared the KD from grange and used bonus time for 3 dice to <> grange back.  He counter pushed her back into B2B with his friends because he thought I had forfeited movement when I stood up.  Regardless, she acrobatic and nimble to walk away from harrow whose parting blow did not KD and scooped the ball staying in Grange melee and dropped it in for my third goal.  It was a shame to end the game with the confusion but I think the result is the same even without it.  If Grange takes the KD, then acrobatic clears her of both crowd outs and 4 dice (5 with bonus time) needing two 3’s would have double dodged her into the ball anyways.

 

So take away; its better to be lucky than good!  On a more serious note, I remember back when Jordan Nach was on the cast after losing worlds for season one, they did an episode talking about how when you think you are out-skilled by your opponent you should look for the high risk high reward plays to try and close out the game quicker.  This is not a situation I usually think I am in (though that’s likely just my own conceit) which is why I tend for a slow control game to allow my opponent to make mistakes I can capitalize on.  However, as time was winding down on my clock and the farmer HP pools just were not moving, I decided to go for the ball no matter the risks.  So really, they taught me how to win this game.  The other take away for me for this game specifically was that I had a (from my point of view) terrible game plan hand which was definitely not going to win me initiative ever.  So I spent the vast majority of my momentum every turn.  I think I used more bonus times this game than my previous 3 combined simply because it shored up the odds a tiny bit and that felt required since I never really felt I had good control of this game.

Round 5 opponent, Patrick Van Value Valzah

Game five vs Pat I actually took about 2 or 3 minutes prior to kick off to settle myself and take some deep breaths.  We were already 9 or so hours into the tournament and while I’d done a decent job drinking water all day and had a couple Kind protein bars I hadn’t eaten since breakfast 12 hours ago and was very meaningfully experiencing the physicality of the 4 previous games all going very close to time (usually sub 10 minutes combined on clocks).  

I want to pause here for just a minute and say thank you to all my opponents all weekend for helping me with things like conditions token management and widget placements on far side of the pitch.  These things take their toll due to my missing leg more than I like to admit to myself or anyone else and I really truly am grateful for the accommodation shown by everyone all weekend long!
In any case, I think my plan going into the game was to try and simply get three goals where ever they presented themselves.  With no counter charge or goal keepers and relatively linear if long (thanks to Esters and Spigot buffs) threat ranges I felt pretty good just going for the ball where possible and trying to score.  Harriet was route one if Pat parked the ball on Mash or Esters (since she can trigger gluttonous mass with the free play and dislodge the ball with a paid one).  Velocity or Hoist or Mother can all get into Mash and reliably tackle the ball as long as he’s not near Esters and/or def buffed.  Ballista can KD anyone but Esters at range for ball scatters.  The price I pay is the blood of my players but the thought was if I get a goal for each take out or pair, we’re at least staying even—though I tried to be mindful of potential 6 point activations from Decimate.  Again, that was the pre-game thought.

 

I kicked off and Quaff picked up the ball but then dropped it on the pitch.  It was just within Mother’s range to snap it up and we both groaned a little thinking things just went to an extremely uphill game for him.  But as I sent up Ballista to scoop the ball, deadbolt decimate (effectively ending his turn 1 outside of a couple Ester’s AOEs) and second wind back with it to safety, I rolled snake eyes on the Deadbolt and now all of a sudden the game was wide open again. Ballista had had to sprint so I couldn’t second wind back with the ball which meant I was inside Decimate’s walk and attack range.  I had no plan for this but eventually decided to Breach! the ball back to Ratchet on my deployment line and dodge him back so Decimate at least had to sprint or charge.

 

This game saw Pat dismantling my players while I <> Spigot back behind his goal line to separate him from Friday and make it harder to hit multiple players with Time’s Called.  I had converged my whole team to the right and center while Mash was wide out left so I didn’t think I could score without losing the ball for at least two turns which didn’t feel like the right answer to me.  So I waited for Pat to take out Velocity so I could bring her back on before lobbing in my first goal. At this point I think the game was tied, he had 4 points from Harriet and Ratchet take outs. Unfortunately, after my score he counter goals easily with Friday.  I don’t see a good way out of this game with him at 8 to my 4 and was tired both physically and mentally so decided to do something I’ve literally never done in an engineer game.  I scored a goal with Ratchet.  It was my first activation of the turn.  I left Ballista in the middle of a storm of Brewers with no influence and fully loaded Hoist and Mother and Harriet and Ratchet.  I gave nothing to the returning Velocity who I had brought back to threaten Mash cause I’m dumb and forgot that’s what she was doing.  I had the +1 kick card so Ratchet like a champ charged Quaff for a momentous push and slotted in a 5d goal.  8-8.  Pat then kicked it out but rather than kick it far as I expected him to so Friday could just go counter score and we call it a game he dropped it up short and it scattered to Mash.  Mash scooped it and passed to Friday who dodged outside Harriet’s walking threat but stayed inside 8″.  As I said above this was a game ending mistake because after Harriet dislodged the ball she got a perfect scatter and was able to put the ball just outside mother’s grab range on the far right side of the pitch but avoided having it hit an obstruction which would have left it for the brewers.  Quaff could have walked to grab it next activation but did not since I had no immediate threats on the ball.  Instead he had Esters finish off Ballista taking him to 10.  I used Mother to burrow behind Quaff so he couldn’t reach the ball this turn.  My plan was to just not lose any more players before I could score next turn.  But he walked Quaff to engage both Mother and Hoist.  This was all the opportunity my favorite mechanica needed and he <> twice to be able to sprint to the ball and pass to ratchet for a (with bonus time) 6d snap shot and the game.

 

This game went very sideways from the first activation for each of us.  I really ought to know by now to have a plan for when pivotal character plays miss. Pat played a very solid game from my point of view on the other side of the table right until the very end when he made two small mistakes which let me have a third goal before his 4th take out.  I think the biggest take away for me from this game was a reinforcement of one of my core fundamental attitudes about this game.  It uses dice and people are all different so you should never concede.  I really saw no way out, no way to win this game.  But it is anathema to who I am as a person and as a player to give up at anything and so I did what to me looked like the dumbest possible action I could do in a turn; score a goal with the first activation while my opponent is at 8 points.  Its a game losing move the vast majority of the time.  But it wasn’t this time.  Always play, always have fun, never quit.

 
7. Lastly, what’s next for David Pettigrew? Will Muse On Con be your fifteen minutes of fame or do you intend on practicing and crushing more conventions after this? If so, what’s the next big event you’ll be at and also how can people contact you if they have more specific questions about your engineer ingenuity?

Haha!  I have no idea.  Fading back into obscurity seems fine.  To be perfectly honest, I’d love to travel more but the logistics and cost of doing so just never seem to line up right, and I really do prefer to travel with someone else (when driving or flying) just because it makes everything just a tiny bit less of a headache for me.  Most all my other friends have work or children or other commitments which don’t often allow us to do these things as much as we’d like.  I’m going to try and make it out to SteamCon USA if I can make it work financially but I honestly don’t know about that right now.  We are also (all the Colorado Pundits) trying to work out the logistics of expanding Brew Ball (that’s where my previous 3 recorded Longshanks games came from) which we hold at a brewery in Monument, CO, so perhaps I can get more games publicly by incentivizing people to travel to me!  As to how to reach me, I’m technically on Facebook in that I have an account to follow Guild Ball Supporters and Colorado Guild Ball groups so that works.  My forum handle on the Steamforged forums is missing1leg and that is a decent way to get hold of me as well.  No Twitter or Instagram or whatever else kids use these days though.  

 

Thank you for the interest and inviting me to participate in this article series.  I really do enjoy reading these so I hope someone somewhere enjoys what I had to say also!

David Pettigrew 1st (middle) Patrick Van Value 2nd (right) Johnny Pastrami 3rd (left)

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