Saturday, August 5, 2017

July 2017 Errata - Analysis from our foremost experts


Howdy sports fans!  Today we bring you a special feature (at least as special as the 40 other features doing this exact same thing), rich with provocative analysis and spicy meme references.

Our commentators on this ride will be:

  • Peter Williamson, first and only winner of the Billy Wijnveld Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
  • David Stent, future Australasian Guild Ball champion and veteran scene analyst.
  • Handsome David Cameron, an average player in the NZ meta but a veritable god in the UK scene.
  • JS Imbeau, a man with no Guild Ball achievements of note but not bad with a pen and paper.
  • Billy Wijnveld, Football Legend. A man of few, but momentous, words.


Overall


PW: All aboard the Steamforged Errata Express! Choo Choo. The train has picked up a captains from both ends of the spectrum and moved them closer to the middle. Equality in action, under the "no captain left behind" policy. The changes for me are all positive, regardless of whether it is a reduction in power or an increase.
Whilst I feel that one captain change might have been slightly hit too strong with the nerf bat and will consequently have the adverse effect on Steamforged goal of increasing diversity,  Alchemists and Fish were slightly above the curve according to statistics, the changes should see more diversity in team selection, and this can only be good, right? On top of that I do feel like they have narrowed the gap between captain selection, on most of the captains changed.


HD: Come gather round people, wherever you roam - The 2017 errata has dropped. For some people, the sky is falling. For others, a mariachi band has been their heads since they read the news. So what do I think?


JS: A good shakeup to the game, that as usual I feel did not quite go far enough – there’s a small number of players in each guild that just aren’t really seriously considered for 10 man rosters and this likely will not change that. Alas, one step at a time.


Billy: *glares thoughtfully*



Midas


HD: The second big change is to Alchemists. This really made me do my happy dance. I don't disagree with the top brass who say that Alchemists are the top guild currently. You'll have seen my last blog post where I faced Midas, Naja, Mist, Vitriol, vKatalyst and Compound and really didn't have an answer. Well now the Steamforged gods have smiled upon poor old me.
Midas was too much. That's as simple as I can put it. Virtually unkillable at 5/1 and a 10" goal threat just put him in superhero territory. I've already heard alchemist players say that toning him down will make them consider Smoke on an equal footing, and that can only be a good thing.

JS: Perhaps a little too much in one go. I’d have gone with just the change to the heroic (the +1 ARM was basically free money) and removing Light Footed (both because it made no sense and was partially to blame in losing me a game to Stent). Losing Super Shot is probably fair in that it was very ‘win more’, but not a fan on making Lure of Gold once per turn on top of that.

Billy: Overnerfed.



Vitriol


HD: As for Vitriol, that's just gravy. Again, I don't think anyone would claim that nothing needed to be done. I don't think I've ever played against an Alchemist team that didn't include her. That's a bad sign in a player. Losing such easy access to high damage was a good start but removing 'Cover of darkness' was simply a stroke of genius. If she kicked off and moved into cover then her threat range was simply unfair. Alchemist players might just reconsider her status as an auto include, and that can only be good for the game in my opinion

JS: I must have been the only person that didn’t find her completely unreasonable before. She was however still a clear auto-include so a tweak was justified. She kept Clone, 2” melee and Skilled Within Shadow so she’s still pretty legit. Dunno if the health nerf was necessary but doesn’t seem too bad overall.



Ox

JS: Ox had a shit playbook (about half as bad as Jac's). Now he has a pretty decent playbook. Kept everything else that made him cool. Good stuff.

Billy: Still shit.



Hammer


PW: How do I call him the worst captain in the game now? I feel so hard done by with this change, although I feel he still doesn't touch Honour in terms of sheer awesomeness. He does provide a very different play style to her now. The Heroic changing to Legendary and the character play range increase, just allows for more of a big turn, rather than my feeling of before where popping his heroic just drained even more resources. Like I said, Honour still for me will be number 1, but I feel like I can at least play him now. Congratulations Hammer, your new title is "no longer the worst".

HD: Hammer is now categorically better. Again this balances the captains so he might get a look-in compared to Honour. Small enough tweaks that there doesn't feel anything specific to comment on, but big enough that he will certainly see more play. Good for the game, likely bad for Morticians.

JS: Verdict is out on the playbook changes (seems better to me), but that Legendary is very good. It’s basically choosing between Hammer being Ox, Spigod or Kicking Support activation by activation.

Billy: Might be alright.



Shark





PW: Yup he is the captain I feel that got hit overly hard with the changes. The changes to his legendary are certainly justified, but the changes to his third play book result are staggering (sorry). It just feels like a trash ability that you would only ever take if you just happen to roll 3 successes and don't need to do anything with that influence.  Stagger and a dodge would have been a better result in my opinion. With this change I just feel that Corsair will become everyone's default drop if they are not dealt Knee Slider and even then... why? The choice between the two was really close, but now it feels like Corsair is just a more all round solid drop.

HD: Shark had a minor range reduction on his legendary play, and Gut&String replaced with the less useful Stagger (arguably even less useful than a KD option). This was perhaps further than people expected them to go but it seems fair to me. Steamforged's reasoning that a combination of both plays led to a Haley2 level of "negative play experience" is something that rings true. No one needs that level of movement reduction. I empathise with those people saying it went too far - why not word the legendary play such that opposing players suffer "Gut&String"? That way it couldn't stack with his character play and a balance is still maintained. A further kick in the teeth is that Gut & String isn't gone from the game. Granite retains it as some sick taunt of what the Fisherman used to have.
My biggest fear regarding this nerf is that it will drive Fish players into the waiting nets of Corsair. My Morticians always seem to come up against Shark Fish, and I'm used to dealing with him (see earlier blog examples for my "Shark cage"). I'm far less used to dealing with Corsair, sad face.

JS: Most people thought Shark was weaker than Corsair before already (once you knew how to protect the ball) and this cements it. The Legendary range reduction is entirely justified, and -8/-8 (ie. not doing anything for an activation) was pretty traumatizing so don’t mind that being gone. I don’t think they hit the right lever in just removing G&S entirely though as that was a core part of the character and playstyle for me (moreso than the legendary).

Billy: Dead.


Siren1


PW: Totally legit change, what more needs to be said. I feel like she still does everything she needs to, just has that threat ever so slightly reduced. It's not a huge change, but reasonable. Although Siren1 could always punch pretty hard too, so i guess this a reduction in damage for her as well as the following.

Billy: Well I never liked Siren1 anyway.

JS: Fine. It limits her potential ceiling, which was extremely high before. Now I can just miss 3+ DEF models with Seduced and not have 1 useless INF sitting on her. Thanks SFG. Still a strong model.


Siren2


PW: It's a total blow to Corsairs main source of damage, The damage becoming non momentous is not that big a deal, but the extra column in the playbook, that's where the real sore point is. She just doesn't wrap as easily as she used to. So charging or having a lot of crowd outs her damage is severely reduced. All that said, you will still pick a Siren, they are both a mandatory pick, so dry your eyes petals, they are still way above most players in the game.

Billy: It's a fair change.

JS: Also fine, her momentous damage was very high with just a small amount of set up. Her damage output did go down the drain though as a result of the longer playbook, momentous or not. But she still does basically all the other cool stuff she did, so still has her place.Still in the roster.


Theron


PW: To be honest, I never felt that Theron was that bad, he had some real control elements to him and having snare on every attack makes him a good set up piece. His biggest weakness to me was that he wanted damage, rarely rolled the 3 hits on the first attack to get it. The momentous 1 now is unbelievably his biggest buff. After playing him he just feels like a strong captain now, he still sets up the rest of his team, but now he can hit people and influence the field with his heroic. My actual problem with the guy now is. Where the hell do i find the influence to put on him?

Billy: I didn't know what he did anyway.

JS: Things get pretty cool when you remove the Skornergy. Basically he’s the same as before except actually works efficiently – early activation, put out snares, get a bit more momentum doing his thing… enough to drag Hunters out of Hunter tier IMO.


Maybe this would have fit better under Midas than Hunters

Hearne1


PW: Hmm interesting. He's certainly a better piece, but I do wonder where he fits into the Hunters. I just have to experiment with the guy some more. He still makes a really terrible control piece. But I guess now you can fail that first roll and cry a little when you take singled out. I think his heroic change to allow himself a free skewer is a big deal. Does he replace others?  Not sure. Certainly will go in the 10 now.

JS: Similar to Theron, some Skornergy removed with the change to Blessing of the Sun Father and getting a momentous Singled Out. Now a valuable early activation that gets out debuffs and sets your team up.


A+G


HD: Avarisse & Greede. Wow. What to say. The best advice I've heard so far is from Jamie Perkins; forget the old A&G, we have new models. It's not a tweek. It's not truly an errata. It's a top down reboot, and it's welcome.
Removing their insane turn 1 goal threat is welcome, as it was rather predictable route that Steamforged seem determined to steer away from. Some people seem terrified now about Avarisse's ability to set up effective TAC8 with +1 DMG and whilst it does seem extremely powerful, it doesn't seem necessarily catastrophic. Expect to still see them. Expect to still fear them. But it'll be an easy 2 points for them, rather than an easy 4 points.

JS: A second radical rework for these two, their goal scoring ability was almost entirely removed in exchange for captain level damage. Walk up to someone, put Greede out in melee, Single Out or hit with Avarisse (in either order), then proceed to pump momentous damage into the target and have Greede jump back up. Easy.  Influence hungry but 5 INF for a bunch of momentum and a dead enemy player is usually a good trade. The flexibility of two simultaneous activations is still really strong as well.
Saying that, in my only post errata game, Greede got me the game winning goal, tapping in a goal following a teamwork dodge from an Avarisse pass. SeemsGood.


Harry


JS: Essentially removes Harry’s Crazy and equally stupid damage potential, thus refining him as a tank/brawler and set up piece. Still very good at that though.

*tumbleweed*


Closing: 


PW: Overall Predictions

Alchemists: You almost forget these guys can take Decimate...(take her, she's easily the best union choice). I see a shift to a more Vet Kat style of play. They don't really have 2 bruisers now, but still have so many set up pieces for Vet Kat. Will be interesting to see if Midas or Smoke wins out, but I think it will be Smoke. Though I foresee a lot of A&G being a straight swap for Harry.

Butchers: Still Fillet all day every day. Ox's play style is just too slow, compared to Fillet's. That said, think we actually see Ox now.

Fish: Corsairs reign of terror begins a new. Damn...

Masons: Still Honour... Hammer will at least see more play now though! Overall they are still a solid team, and probably the nerf to Alchemists and Fish is more of a boost, rather than the buff to Hammer.

Hunters:  Hard to say. I think they are certainly in the pack now. I don't think anyone can use the phrase "Hunters are shit" now. There are now only shit Hunter coaches :). I am not sure which captain will actually be played more, I believe some will still prefer Skatha, whilst others will prefer Theron. Your personal preference in playstyle will determine the captain choice.

Union: Roster is so deep, will see frequent amounts of A&G, Harry will probably disappear for a bit, but will come back.


HD: Rather drastically changing the most popular four models in the game less than a month before a major tournament? It's a bold move cotton. Ironically this will hamper both players and opponents as they struggle to remember new threat ranges and abilities! I can't pretend to be totally impartial but I judge these changes as balanced; nothing too extreme and all in the name of the overall health of the game.

Am I upset that Morticians didn't see a bump? Not really. I understand why, and wouldn't want every model to be errata every year. That doesn't mean they aren't being looked at, but does mean that nothing on the spooks roster has been inarguably "too much" and in need of toning down. I'm content for now.

Wish me luck at the British Nationals!


JS: Wish Handsome Dave luck at the British Nationals!


David Stent: Buff Vileswarm please.













Sunday, July 23, 2017

Field of Screams



I can hear your screams now. More, more, Morticians!


With my Engineers still sitting on the painting table it was again down to my Morticians to carry the day at Field of Screams way way down on the South coast of the UK.  With a good chunk of the 'top rated' GB players in attendance I had my work cut it for me again. Plus, 5 hours travelling for a tourney? NZ taught me well.


Round 1: James Reeves (Masons)


My last few games on (and off) here against Masons have almost universally been against Honour, Marbles, Brick, Flint, Mallet & Harmony1.




James took not a single one of these models.


Hammer, Tower and Granite meant I had a locomotive of pain heading my way. Accordingly I swapped Casket into Brainpan & Memory's slot (the only real variation in my team these days).


True to my predictions, Hammer came screaming out the gate by kicking off and rocketing into my sacrificial lamb (Casket). With Iron Fist and Tooled up, Hammer will easily put out 3-4 momentous damage per hit, and crucially his "Knockback" ability makes it almost impossible to cage him in.


Casket eventually succumbed but it took Granite and Tower too long to join the scrum. Mist slotted two into the goal in the meantime and the pic below is Obulus' successful run on goal for my twelve points. Ten points if you can work out the stages that the wooden tokens represent ;)




Final Score: 12-2


Lesson learned: When it comes to Masons, Oranges are not the only fruit. Though I'd still probably rate Honour over Hammer currently.


Round 2: Maria Wieland (Alchemists)




I've seen Maria around a few tournaments but haven't had the chance to play her until today. She took Midas, Naja, Vitriol, Mist, Compound and Katalyst. I haven't seen too many Alchemists players use Mist AND Vitriol in a while, and along with Midas this was a powerful football squad.


This was a masterclass in how to play the game. Vitriol push/dodged people into vKatalysts threat range when I thought they were safe. Memory strayed a little too far forward allowing Midas to catch him for push/dodges and a goal. I managed to swamp Midas and take him down and of course Katalyst exploded taking it to 4-8. What to do at that point with so many strikers and vKatalyst returning to the pitch? 


Just DIE!


I'd killed the ball to the best of my ability and just plain ran away from Katalyst. My best bet was to score with the puppet on the last activation and hope for a lucky kick-off but it was not to be and evil-timeline Mist skipped through the scrum to collect the ball and slot in the winner.




Final Score: 8-12


Lesson: Vitriol and Midas are pseudo threat-extenders for vKatalyst with their push/dodges. Brilliant play.


#Lunch #PressureOff #Submarine


Round 3: Barry Gingell (Alchemists)




Obviously. Alchemists again. He also took Midas and Vitriol but Avarisse & Greede and Katalyst1. In my mind this switched the dynamic such that even if I lost the goal race I could hold my own in a brawl without 'witness me' on the table. I switched in Casket again as that means Greede's turn1 ubergoal is pretty risky.


He snagged a goal with Vitriol, and in return I swamped her and stuffed her in the coffin. This starved him of Influence and activations for a couple of turns allowing me to set up a goal and 8-4. He isn't winning the brawl race so he too was forced to score and hope to retrieve the ball in time. Alas, Obulus jank meant I could move half the length of the pitch for the winner. Another ten points for describing this Obulus activation. Every one of those tokens is relevant.



Final Score: 12-8


Lesson: Do not, do not, do not forget that Midas has unpredictable movement and Light footed. I moved Casket up to engage him and slow him down and it actually essentially sped him up. Stupid Dave.


Round 4: Neil Bates (Masons)


DOES NOONE PLAY ANYTHING OTHER THAN MASONS OR ALCHEMISTS ANYMORE?




At least Mr Bates took a more familiar list. If I'm honest I think he misplayed his first turn, using Honour's legendary just to allow a "superior strategy'd" Mallet to put a few points of damage on Ghast. In return Mist scored and if I'm honest I probably, arrogantly, relaxed too much. We traded another goal apiece and I even took down Mallet. 10-4? Happy days.


Then things started to fall apart. Honour deletes a player a turn. 10-6. Fine. 10-8. Hmm. Mist made a run on goal but I completely forgot about Marbles' countercharge. Momentous tackle on 1? Ahh! I took the ball back for a tap-in. I missed. Aaaaah! No worries, Obulus can try another tap-in. He also missed. Aaaaaaaah! I'm not too proud to admit that I might have slightly been on tilt at this point.


He took out Dirge and even Obulus himself (thanks Mallet). 10-11. Aaaaaaaaaaaah!


The clouds finally break when Mist carefully retrieves the ball, avoids Marbles and bounces in a winner from 1" away with me pointing to the goal like I'm trying to housetrain a dog.


Final Score: 12-11


Lesson: 1.) MARBLES HAS COUNTERCHARGE 2.) Don't get cocky kid 3.) Never tell me the odds 


Round 5: Greg Day (Masons)


I have a bad feeling about this.




I've played Greg a couple of times on this blog. He's a lovely guy and currently ranked world '3rd' (I get these from theblackorifice.co.uk by the way. Don't worry, it's not NSFW). I've gotten lucky against him in the past so I don't think he was happy to see me.



These plots. Francine, these plot cards.


Again it's Masons, of course. Honour, Mallet, Tower, Harmony1, Marbles, Brick. Without Flint I thought I might have a chance of winning the goal race so I opted for Brainpan & Memory over Casket.



Honour kicked to me and in taunting her further forward I mistakenly walked Ghast right into Marbles' countercharge range. AGAIN!!!


'Tooled up' plus Assist [Marbles] meant that Honour put Ghast in the ground on turn1. This is a mental bodyslam, I messed up badly.


I did manage to slot in a Mist goal and use Obulus' legendary play early to gain first activation on turn 2. However Mist failed to get the ball from Brick (sigh). That, plus Memory AND Obulus getting their shins smashed meant that I was flapping in the breeze for a turn before getting another goal. Pretty tilting I can tell you.


Greg seems to prefer takeouts regardless of faction so to some extent he ignored the ball (once he'd smashed my team's shins in sufficiently to remove goal threats). He continued to ramp up the bloodshed with Honour dispatching Graves, Brainpan and Mist in quick succession. A linked activation from Harmony stole the ball from under Obulus' nose and booted it off the pitch just to get it away from him.


8-8


The ball scattered back on from the centre of the pitch (been a while since I've seen that) and only 1" to Mallet who after some thought elected to snap it to.


This did however leave him within puppet master range so Obulus did what Obulus does and the football legend obligingly returned the ball to the Spooks captain for a winning goal.


Final Score: 12-8


Lesson: MARBLES HAS COUNTERCHARGE!


Final thoughts




What a lovely day! 4-1 and a good SoS meant I came in third and picked up a bronze certificate/dice/patch to add to my silver and gold ones. Full set! I also picked up another set of measuring sticks, tokens and "Shadow Games" for coming third along with a Best Morticians patch.


I think I let myself down by forgetting Unpredictable movement and Countercharge TWICE (from the same model) but I got lucky that they didn't affect the outcome of the games.


Next time: British Nationals! 




Sunday, June 4, 2017

Irish National Championship 2017


 

 

The Irish National Guild Ball tournament was this weekend, and I thought I'd pop across. The winner is rewarded with a sweet trophy along with travel, accommodation and a spot at the World Championship in December at SteamCon US. So it was certainly worth a punt!


My hopes were slightly dashed when I found out that people were travelling from all over the UK and beyond to seek the top spot, including 'world number 2' Steve Easton.


 

My lineup remains unchanged: Obulus, Scalpel, Dirge, Graves1, Graves2, Ghast, Casket, Brainpan&Memory, Silence, Mist. So sorry Mr Stent, I just can't get off the Mist train.


The field seemed pretty different from what I'm used to. 0 Union players, 0 Hunters players and 25% Engineers. The times, they are a-changing.


Round 1: Koen Vliegen (Engineers)


 


No, I couldn't avoid them for even one round. Koen was a very pleasant Belgian who was fired up to use the team I am woefully inexperienced against. I can't even really differentiate Velocity from Hoist. All those wooden people look the same to me.


A lot of surprises come my way including Mother's 'webbing' to retrieve a free ball and Hoist's 'Sturdy' ability to essentially ignore a parting blow from Ghast. I also forget Compound's Gluttonous Mass, essentially wasting a 6 influence Obulus activation as I can't Puppet master him and have to flee into the corner to survive. Bugger.


Fortunately I score first (Mist I love you) and as we trade goals I manage to hit three first.


Final Score: 12-8


Lesson Learned: No amount of reading/theoryball will make up for playing against a team. Engineers have a lot of tricky character traits that you need to know about.


Round 2: Fraser Mcfetridge (Alchemists)


 


Fraser had also travelled quite a distance, coming down from Glasgow. Quite the EU we've got going here! 


He rates Alchemists as probably the strongest Guild in the game and takes what I consider a pretty strong lineup of Smoke, Flask, Vitriol, vKatalyst (I hate him so much), Calculus and Mercury. Flask I suppose is interchangeable with Naja and Mercury for Harry but otherwise it's a reliable 6.


In my opinion games against Smoke, rather like a forest fire, either snowball out of control or can be nipped in the bud if you're lucky/meticulous about clearing up conditions. Time is also rather on her side as she can tick you down with conditions until you're easy pickings for one or two 'Witness Me's.


After this game I asked Fraser how I could improve and I think he was speaking the truth when he said you can't really analyse a game where so much went wrong on both sides. 


Clustermess 


My initial kick ends up squarely in the corner of the pitch, inaccessible even to Vitriol starting in cover. Mist misses a goal. Obulus misses a goal. Multiple passes go astray for us both. Vitriol fails to tackle/escape from Graves through 3INF. vKatalyst doesn't get anyone to witness him do anything.


This all leaves me scratching my head and I'm sad to say that I clock out. I manage to scrape back 8 points worth of honour but Fraser had competently outplayed me and still had about 10 mins on his clock.


Final Score: 8-12


Lesson learned: Hard to judge. Admittedly Mist's miss was on one dice due to intervening models so maybe I shouldn't have risked it.


Round 3: Gary Green (Fishermen)


 


Mr Green (wish I was making it up) was the first Irishman I played. He brought Fisherman and a rather solid lineup of Shark, Siren1, Greyscales, Sakana, Hag and Salt. In return I decide to try out Graves2 to replace Graves1. This is exactly the kind of scenario where Graves1's lack of KD threat has burned me in the past.


I'm glad I did. Fish's relatively low TAC means that ARM2 really dents their ability to do much. Graves ended up facing off against Siren (TAC3) and Salt (TAC2) and to be honest didn't feel threatened.


 

I manage to wrangle the "Shark Cage" and subsequently take out Sakana too in the same manner. Fish do fish and manage to score but I tag two goals for the win.


Final Score: 12-4


Lesson learned: 


Morticians: Graves2 certainly does have the occasional justification.


Fishermen: Don't let Shark get trapped :(


Round 4: Gavin O'Reilly (Fishermen)


 


Gavin was another local who brought the Fish. His lineup is slightly unorthodox, favouring Kraken and Jac over Siren or Hag. I swap back to Graves1 just for the comparison.


He plays Shark very wide on the flank. This is surprising, given that I'm the one holding the Wingback plot card. I think that Puppet mastering Shark back in to beat on him would actually be correcting my opponent's mistake for him so I choose to target Jac instead for a beating. It turns out that he has tough hide and a mini unmasking as a Heroic play so that was not the best move. But he was a bit of a momentum farm whilst it lasted.


If I'm honest I think he spread both his players and his Influence too thin, with no single player able to pull off anything impressive. Kraken could have been a wonderful counter to Obulus but he gets distracted by Mist celebrating a goal behind his lines and chases the little guy down rather like Clegane vs the Red Viper.


I don't want to spoil the books but it ends rather differently with Mist flip dodging away and scoring a winning goal. 'Acrobatics' wins games, pure and simple.


Final Score: 12-4


Lesson Learned: Jac is a much, much harder target to take down than Shark. I should have known that.


Final Thoughts


 
 


A wonderful day of gaming in a wonderful city. The final was won by Fraser who had taken me down in round two so I can't complain at all about that. Although he's Scottish he takes Blackheart to America in December to represent Ireland with his strongest, fakest accent. Good luck!


 

The new strength of schedule placed me fourth overall, top Morticians player and in line for a handful of swag including another carry case and perhaps a hint at my next Guild? Who knows.


 



All that remained was a Guinness, a pub quiz with the stragglers and a late night half-cut game against the tournament organiser which ended with his Mist getting stuffed in Casket's casket. What a way to end the day.


 

And I quote, "Warmachine is the tabletop game invented, and subsequently run into the ground, by Privateer Press"




Until next time, look after yourselves. And each other.