I sent an open invitation for Friday Guild Ball Dojo out on the national Facebook page and was delighted to have Little Dave respond in the positive. There's a fairly serious ancestry of Daveage in NZ and to differentiate between the might and power that is an individual Dave, appropriate nicknames must be fully utilised in all their majesty. So we have:
- Little Dave
- Evil Dave (aka Double D)
- Handsome Dave (aka That Imperialist Traitor Who Just Exported Himself Back To The Motherland After Ravaging And Pillaging The Beauty And Viginity Of Our Fair Maiden Land)
- and me, Average Dave (aka Shit At Guild Ball Dave)
Handsome Dave was not the first of the English line of Daves. That honour belongs to Pommy Dave back in the Warhammer days of yore (the bloody days of the Ji'Dave) when I was also known as Lucky Dave. It is indeed a somewhat curious and meandering geneology. One might call it a Daveology.
We even have our own Facebook page, so yeah... you could say it's pretty serious.
Anyway, Little Dave rocked over for his first Season Three game with Masons.
We drew Plot Cards and I introduced LD to the horrifying Season Three concept of only having one Union player in your 9-man roster. In the end, having not played a game with Hammer yet, he chose Honour, Marbles, Harmony1, Brick, Mallet, and Tower. This left Chisel, Minx and Flint on the bench.
I took the same thing as last time (Scalpel, Dirge, Ghast, Cosset, Minx, Graves1). I was doubting the impact that Cosset (and arguably Minx) might have on the game given all the natural armour Masons possess. Casket was going to get a look in but you're effectively (debatably) losing 3INF in the swap (1 influence on the card plus losing a Furious charge). Silence was another strong option and one I would try the future, especially as the game played out with Masons clumping together in bubbles of mutual support (Fire Blast hitting DEF3 is pretty good). Also SPD debuffing Brick is fine. More things to think about for team selection I guess.
I won the roll and Mallet kicked off with the ball scattering into a very awkward position.
1. Before the stupid errant ball did a crazy scatter I was all about Scalpel collecting, passing to Dodge, engaging Mallet, removing his INF with Tormented Agony, Push/Dodging him into range of the rest of the team for an early Take Out, and laughing all the way to the Momentum Bank. Truth be told I look for this in every game and it's something to be wary of when kicking off against Scalpel Morticians. Ideally you want to place your kicker so they're far enough away that she would have to use Voodoo Strings to pull them in (thereby removing her Legendary from the rest of the game). Geez... at this point I start to imagine what her LP would be like if it was Push 3" directly towards or away. Yikes... Anyway, that didn't happen. Instead, the ball was within collection range of Harmony so I was forced to activate Dirge first to collect and drop it next to Cosset. Brick immediately advanced to push out a Counter-charge bubble.
Graves Tooled Up Scalpel and Marbles moved to within 4" of Brick, giving Little Dave another Counter-charge option. This synergy's been getting a pretty bad rap on the forums but the reality is that a Counter-charging monkey is very likely to get to the second column on his playbook for a Momentous Push and that can easily be enough the screw you (spoiler alert). Cosset passed the ball to Ghast (success) and ran to point where Harmony could used Acrobatic to position after an advance in order to punch her once. This gained LD a point of Momentum because I'm awesome and just love to give the opposition more opportunities to win.
Ghast Bonus Timed his pass to Scalpel (success, thank goodness!) and sprinted up the board (though sadly not quite far enough it would turn out). Scalpel used the Momentum to Dodge up the board. Tower laid down Defend the Ground giving himself, Marbles and Mallet a free Defensive Stance. Good grief that suddenly looked like an awesome ability. I hear 4/2 dudes are nails. Minx wandered up looking for something to do next turn, and Mallet advanced forward a little, positioning himself so that I could engage him, Brick and Marbles with Scalpel.
Finally - Scalpel. What a disaster this was... She charged Brick, staying engaged by Mallet, and was Counter-charged by Marbles. He rather cheerfully Pushed her out of combat. So now she didn't get her charge attack.
But hey ho... Brick could still take his Counter-attack! He smashed some damage onto her and she felt rather stupid. Attempting to get something out of the turn I resigned myself to using Voodoo Strings to pull Mallet into melee range. I spent the next 4INF Push/Dodging him around. Couldn't use Tormented Agony because everything in range had either activated or was on a full stack (Honour). She did some reasonable damage, hopefully setting him up for death next turn.
What I'd completely forgotten about of course (and this is truly a sign of not playing Masons enough as well as just being bad at the game) was Superior Strategy. Honour advanced and used this on Mallet (oops) who punched Scalpel enough that she fell over and sat down, the ball scattering into a terrible position for both of us.
Fortunately for Scalpel, I won the initiative roll for the next turn!
2. A fully loaded Scalpel really needed to activate first. She sacrificed her movement and started punching Mallet. Some bang on averages took him down but this required selecting Tormented Agony and putting his two influence onto Marbles. My reading of the rule for Tormented Agony is that the reallocation of influence is not optional but I misplayed here and should have just allocated the influence back to Mallet instead! Sigh. Scalpel healed herself up and used Unnatural Stamina to Second Wind herself, pick up the ball and engage Brick. With the close angle achieved from last turns Counter-charge, Marbles was unable to launch another free charge in response.
Harmony launched into Cosset once again but was unable to put down as much damage as she'd hoped, needing Dodge into base contact after I declared a counter-attack (which I would have used to Dodge out of melee completely. Her activation did gain Little Dave a couple of Momentum though and she used Back to the Shadows to disengage (such an awesome Character Trait). Minx had her charge lined up against Brick and she went in, engaging Marbles at the same time because the Counter-charge gag was starting to get really old. She hit with pretty much everything putting down a couple of damage and gaining two Momentum with the wrap, and a total of 3" of Dodging. And Snared because why not? Brick's counter-attack did two points of damage, Crowded Out as he was by Scalpel and after Dodges no longer aided by Marbles. Minx then punched him again for some Momentum before using Back to the Shadows to disengage.
Now finding himself with two influence Marbles advanced and used this to Goad Ghast. Noooo! Accidentally equipping an opponent with fun and engaging opportunities is fast becoming my speciality! Graves charged Brick from downtown thanks to Damaged Target, engaging Marbles thanks to his 2" melee and once again taking the dreaded Counter-charge out of the equation. Rolling with TAC 12 (base + charge + one Gang + Snaring a big fat guy) he did fantastically, Pushing Brick 3", doing some damage, applying Bleed, and gaining two points of Momentum.
Tower moved to engage Scalpel and used his Heroic Play Protect Those Close to make most of the Masons team Sturdy. Ghast was not impressed! Cosset charged Marbles and Push/Dodged him across. I was trying to mitigate stupid Goad by repositioning the monkey so that Ghast could still charge Brick. Brick then activated and cleared his conditions, moving slightly to engage Scalpel, while still being engaged by Graves. The scrum was starting to get messy! Dirge flew over to engage Harmony on the other side of the pitch.
Time for the Honour show! She charged into Scalpel who opted to counter-attack. Little Dave's dice imploded and he managed a meagre Momentous 2 damage. Scalpel's counter-attack gave her just enough hits to Push/Dodge, not only getting out of Honour's melee range, but also Tower and Brick's! That's ok, Honour does all the things - a simple Quick Time re-engaged Scalpel and two more punches took off some hit points and tackled away the ball.
Finally Ghast - charged Brick moving in a line directly towards Marbles due to Goad. Wrapped like a champ taking two Knockdown results, blasting through Sturdy. His second attack put down some more damage.
3. I won the initiative roll again and really needed to activate Scalpel first before Honour smashed her face off. Already engaged, my first attack gave me the momentous Push/Dodge I needed to avoid Honour's Poised counter-attack. Scalpel spent the momentum Glide over the rough ground both players were standing in and engage Honour again. She variously tackled, Push/Dodged, and Tormented Agonied herself into a position where she could take a shot at the goal and thanks to Bonus Time (and after healing herself!), managed to slot one in. I played Knee Slider to reposition her next to the goal (thoughts of the last game spinning in my head), less than 1/4" too far away to engage Mallet who had just returned to the pitch. Little Dave played Super Fan which let him put the ball on a player within 6" of the goal (Mallet) instead of risking a goal kick.
Honour activated and the red mist descended. With Graves on 3 influence he looked like a prime target. Honour activated her Legendary Play Topping Out! giving herself, Marbles, Brick and Tower an additional point of influence. Dave's dice imploded horribly once again and he singularly failed to remove Graves from the pitch, taking him down to 3HP and also taking one damage and Bleed from the counter-attack. Dave played Field Dressing to clear Brick's conditions and also remove Honour's Bleed. I decided it was best to activate Graves now - he healed and punched Honour, bleeding her once again, before punching Brick and also Bleeding him. He then crucially put Tooled Up on Ghast. Brick used his one influence from Topping Out! to try to Knock Down Graves but the Crowd Out from Ghast and Minx proved too much and he only managed to put down another 2 Momentous damage.
Time for Ghast baby, oh yeah! He advanced, suckering Marbles into making a Parting Blow and triggering Rising Anger. Three glorious influence and some Bonus Time momentum spent punching Brick generated a momentous Knock Down and THREE momentous Unmaskings (I wrapped like an absolute champ with the first hit to get an Unmasking and the Knock Down). Dealing 4 damage with every Unmasking he blew the Monkey off the pitch, took Honour down to 1 box, half killed Tower, and thrashed Brick to within an inch of his life. Best. Ghast. Ever! He also used Come on, Mate! to heal Graves again.
Tower, now engaged by Ghast, advanced and used his influence to once again attempt to remove Graves from the table. Dave's dice decided it was a running gag and failed to cooperate once more. I've seen more joy in a Shakespearean tragedy than in Little Dave's horrendous cubes of backstabbery and betrayal.
Mallet Bonus Timed a pass to Harmony who Dodged towards the goal. Dirge flew to engage her again but she just used Acrobatic to Dodge once more and close on the goal. Took the shot... missed! The horror! The horror! Unbelievable!
4. The game was winding down now but LD was determined to not get fully downtrailed. Honour died to Bleed and put the score to 11-0! Scalpel took Tower down to 1HP before Harmony ran up to recollect the wayward ball that was sitting next to my goal. Taking advantage of the new Tap In she scored on her second attempt and Dave was on the scoreboard at last! The goal kick landed near Graves.
Graves activated and I widget-measured out the chance of a goal to close the game but he couldn't run far enough to collect the ball and finish in range of the shot. So, in the tradition of winning more and achieving maximum overkill, he unnecessarily used Tooled Up on himself and obliterated Tower in one glorious swing.
12-4, Morticians win.
Far out, what a game! Little Dave's dice fairly consistently shit the bed in that one - far from the statistical averages we are often led to believe exist as attribute of random number generation. I guess this is one of those statistical clumps that happen from time to time. Once again the strength of the game was demonstrated in the plays and counter-plays, questions requiring solutions and answers. Solving for two counter-charging dudes is tricky and the general Mascot changes again had an impact upon Marbles' expendability.
I was pleased with how the team played. Scalpel had a great game after an embarrassing start (all my fault of course). Ghast was exceptional. Everyone else except Dirge made significant contributions. Graves was absolutely brilliant with multiple use of Tooled Up and applying Bleed. He got a very good work out this time. Cosset did surprisingly well. Could definitely have traded Minx for Silence in hindsight. Good food for thought.
Dave learned a lot about some of the new card rules (Loved Creature change, Tower's new Character Plays and Traits, the power of Home Crowd every turn, Harmony's bigger Family range with Honour (which is awesome) and a few of the implications therein (models tied to other models). We wondered at the inclusion of Tower and whether the ball handling and independent operation of Flint might have been a better bet. Maybe.
We got some value out of the Plot Cards but nothing game breaking. Their use was timely and effective.
Post-game chat was focused on building a 9-man Masons team. That one Union model spot is tricky - we boiled it down to A&G or Minx. Decimate's strong attachment to the missile, Chisel's perceived lack of effectiveness (not fully sure why), Tower's odd spot as a support guy with a less than stellar playbook. We looked at pods and mini-groupings of players in synergy - Honour/Harmony, Brick/Marbles, Hammer/Tower (Tooled Up so good! Kill all the things!). Talked over the advantage of having multiple Furious models for INF-efficiency. We both bitched about Fishermen for a bit too (always nice to find a kindred spirit).
So here's cheer and Merry Christmas to everyone reading. A big shout out especially to all my fellow Daves. More games to come in the New Year or perhaps a bit earlier!