Guild Ball: First Tournament Reactions
Over the weekend I had the chance to play in my first Guild Ball tournament. While I'm still extremely novice to the game, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet some of the people in the local scene. Before this tournament, I've never actually finished a complete game of Guild Ball, and have only played 3 games previously, so needless to say, I was expecting to get my face stuffed in. The venue was familiar, though I had never been there. It was your classic FLGS gaming room, complete with south facing walls and west facing windows, making it a veritable oven for the players who were stationed near them. Located in an aged strip mall in south Salem, it reminded me of my earlier days in gaming, nostalgia filled the air, as well as the aroma of fresh donuts and less-than-fresh gamers.
There were about a dozen Guild Ballers there, not including myself and father-in-law, who has taken an interest in the game. Overall the crowd was very familiar and jovial, most having met before in the Warmachine scene. As the painters of the crowd set up their massive collections (some had every team) for judgement, I had the chance to talk with a few players, and overhear other conversations. One phrase I heard people talking was "tilting," which I had never heard before in the context of a miniature game. At first I was wondering if this was reference to some sort of maneuver that was common in Warmachine, which made sense, because as I listened on, I put it together that they actually meant getting angry and irate while playing... Fortunately they were talking about how this game makes them tilt less than Warmachine, but the idea that I could be playing against some nerd who is going to throw a tantrum just kind of shocked me. It was about the time of this realization that the TO started calling out pairings.
My first game was against a really nice guy named Brandon, he was skilled at the game (and ended up winning), and also incredibly patient in helping me with getting a better grasp on the rules. We both had a fun time and I even managed to kick a goal. He was playing the Masons, which I quickly learned was synonymous with "really damn hard to kill." Most of the game was played in the middle of the board, with us taking turns bashing each other to pieces, and it wasn't terribly long before I lost 12-6.
In my second game, I was matched against another Masons player named Eric, who was also using Avarisse & Greede, which is a hilariously massive ogre of a man, with a tiny straight razor wielding midget strapped to his chest. What's not to love? He was also fairly new with the rules, and we spent much of the time again, beating each other up. When the game was near the end, we were at 10-10, having each scored a goal and taken out 3 players, though during the last activation of his turn, he managed to finish off one of my cat for the victory. It was a close game, and a very entertaining one at that, giving me my second loss, 12-10.
My third game was against Union, though I forgot to write down the players name. He had a nicely painted team and seemed to have a very background in Warmachine. Of my three opponents, he was the least pleasant, by far not an awful person to play with, but he wasn't terribly understanding of how new to the game I was. Some things seemed to irritate him which I found a bit absurd, like saying bending my tape measure was cheating and that I needed to move in at least 1" increments, neither of which seem to be based on any actual rule that I can find. Additionally, probably due to having a background in Warmachine, he was conflating abilities that you can use in that game with Guild Ball, and using Warmachine terminology that I was not at all familiar with, which ended up causing a lot of confusion. All that aside, I was pretty sure I was expecting to lose from the beginning, I didn't mind, instead I focused on trying to figure out strategy in the game. The highlight for me was executing a 3-model play to pull off kicking a goal, by far the most advanced maneuver I had accomplished during the day, and it felt incredibly gratifying. This was the only game I played which went to time, and we finished 10-4.
(Update: the rules do say to move in straight lines, but also says I can make any number of free turns in any direction, so really, I can totally move in a curved line, why argue about it, especially in a small tournament at a FLGS?)
Overall I had a very enjoyable time and met some fantastic people. There are some shocking culture differences I've noticed between WMH players and those of other games (especially Infinity), which I think stems from the amount of control you have during any given situation, but that's a psychoanalysis for another day (I think I'll probably get stoned and make an infographic). I would highly recommend that everyone at least try Guild Ball, the buy-in is literally $0, as you can print out paper dolls of the players online, and all the rules are available free to download. Even if you do want to get into it, a whole team only has about 9 miniatures, so building a team is very inexpensive.
Now that I've played a bit of Guild Ball, it's time to hop back into Infinity! I'll start playing in a league tomorrow with my Onyx, and on Tuesday I'll be giving demo games to half a dozen or so new players at my FLGS. I can't wait!
For those who are curious about this tilting phenomena, there is even an article about it on BOLS: Warmachine: Tilting and You.