Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Rookie's Corner 5 - Mistakes Were Made
Perhaps only days away from the release of the Season Two rulebook I do wonder how relevant some of this stuff will shortly be, but let me regale you now with the ongoing face-palm that is my legendary gameplay (and that of my guests) off the back of a whole day of Guild Ball action. "Champion for Life" Darren managed to snag some time away from the girlfriend for a day of painful learning experiences having just picked up Masons, and we got in three games before Nick turned up and threw down in a final Brewers v Masons matchup.
I believe it's worth highlighting where things DON'T go well (i.e. where you screw up) and documenting such atrocities - readers are likely to follow along and nod sagely in agreement, or just as likely to scoff in abject scorn at our constant failure to remember even the most basic of rules and interactions. Or a little bit of both.
Either way - it's entertainment, right? I'm going to highlight the issues, then attempt to counter with a contrary success.
FAIL - Morticians into Masons and I'm sitting on 9 Momentum Points, opponent is on zero. Silence activates and I heal Cosset for 4 hit points. Then I ship the clock. Then I remember I need to bring back Dirge.
I do this twice (two turns in a row)...
WIN - Absolutely the best spend of Momentum I made over three games (and yes, I spent it more than once - cheers) was receiving a pass with Obulus and Dodging off the receive 4". He was the last activation of note in the turn and it allowed a fully-charged ball-carrying Obulus to fly across the table, smash the stupid Monkey off the pitch (at a point in the turn where it wouldn't get me killed in response), Legendary Play to take the Loved Creature Momentum, get the first activation in the next turn, Take Out another damaged player (Decimate), and shoot successfully for the goal. And I'll tell you for free - that felt pretty damn good!
I'm still not sure what it is with the mental blocks around using Momentum. Over the course of the three games that day I lost count of the number of times both myself and Darren (mostly me, it has to be said) neglected to Counter Attack when it would have been super useful. I forgot to heal and clear conditions numerous times but I'm most frustrated at forgetting the bird so often given it's one of the (debatably only) real benefits to taking it.
FAIL - Positioning players "correctly" (i.e. as part of the grand master plan that will almost inevitably be ruined by your opponent doing something incredibly unsporting... like moving his own guys around) remains a major challenge of the game. Case in point - Brick. Give him no Momentum and he's a happy lad threatening a clutch Counter-Charge in a 6" bubble. But give him no Momentum and end up having him easily engaged, preventing the free Counter-Charge? Sad panda. The Masons were further confounded in a later game against Brewers when Brick, returning to play after tanking the entire Brewers line-up, came in too close to save his friends and was engaged once again (and Taken Out again shortly after!).
WIN - Picture if you will Decimate, standing next to Chisel (on 3 hit points), standing next to an Icy Sponged Honour (on 6 hit points). The Masons are eying up a possible charge from Rage but what they didn't see was Ghast lurking on the wing next to a Knocked Down Brick. That's right boys and girls - I totally got to live the dream. Ghast's charge triggered an Unmasking that killed Chisel and a follow-up fire dice roll dealt 3 more damage to Honour, Taking Out two players in a single activation! And both of them had INF allocated and ready to spend. Awesome!
Both players need to be extra live to models returning to the pitch as it's a dangerous game whichever way you look at it. Chisel returning to the table can go Crazy! and already has Painful Rage up. And holy crap can she dish it out under those circumstances (albeit with a massive lead up the table from coming back on). If you're going first and you think you have everything under control when you've allocated your INF, don't be too surprised when an Icy Sponged player that you'd completely forgotten about comes back on in just the wrong place to really stick the boot in.
FAIL - Focusing down your playbook to only aim for one thing. Some playbooks contain seriously sexy results and I was mired in the aforementioned Unmasking in a game later in the day against Masons when Ghast caught Honour napping within 4" of the board edge. I charged in to Unmasking her off but the dice decided it was not to be so I took the Knockdown result instead. Literally the second after I had applied the Knockdown token I remembered Ghast has a non-Momentous double Push on two hits. Two of those would have done it (I did choose to Push her with the second attack). As it was I was able to collect her in the first activation of the next turn.
WIN - Same game, two turns later and combination of some of my previous points. Honour comes back on the board to find Ghast looking a little too confident and still a little too close to the edge. Momentous Push/Dodge on three hits x 4 for lots of Momentum (after Decimate had INF-tanked Fear and contributed a Gang bonus) made for a relatively easy Take Out. Le sigh...
Have a thorough knowledge of ALL of your playbook. In the heat of battle I find that it's very much a case of "easy to say, hard to do". You're fine going into combat with a plan and a goal in mind, but make sure you scan the book carefully for those hidden gems. I keep hearing Ghast is one of the best Counter-Attacking models in the game and I might finally be starting to understand why!
FAIL - Feeling pressured to respond in kind. Last game of the day saw the Masons pick apart a lone Esters on the approach thanks to the very handy work of Mallet and friends, and some solid focus from Darren. The Masons would sort out their activation order nicely and finish the turn disengaged from the Brewers and well at arms length. Nick was getting a little frustrated with this somewhat guerrilla warfare approach so he gapped it across the field with the whole team to force the issue. What he possibly could have done however is Tool Up Esters, bide his time, and lob 3-damage AoE fire and rough-ground death (and Dirty Knives!) into the Masons lines, force Darren to spend MP on healing and clearing conditions, and encourage him enter the fray and risk the ball.
FAIL - With most of his team engaged by Brewers in his deployment zone, instead of bringing Taken Out players back on the field in safe zones and out of threat ranges, Darren fed meat into the Hooper/Spigot grinder. He could have flanked hard instead of returning to the centre, burned Nick's clock (both players clocked multiple times in this game), forced heals into a concentrated area (or just let them die quicker and recycled/redeployed on return). To be fair to Darren, he was mentally and emotionally shattered after three games against Morticians and had he enquired at one crucial point about Friday's current health he would have smashed her dead instead of needlessly Pushing her around. Still, I think we learned a lot from watching it all go down.
You have a game plan and the nature of the game means this has to be flexible. But... you have a game plan. From watching this I learned that you should really evaluate carefully when it's time to change gears.
Just some things to keep us all thinking. I assume there are plenty more coming over the following weeks; probably more so with refreshed rules to misunderstand and misinterpret. Woot!