The thing with committing to write battle reports is that you have to take the bad with the good and roll with the punches like a champ. Locals may have heard a devastating crashing sound last night around 9:15pm. That wasn't an earthquake; just me falling off my high horse and returning rightfully to my well-earned status as "Shit at Guild Ball Dave". Yes, sadly the once lofty heights of "Decent at Guild Ball Dave" are once again beyond my feeble reach. And good grief if there was a more righteously, come-uppancey way to lose I'm not sure even I could have found it.
Spoiler alert: #HuntersOP
Sick of the brainpower and strategic vision required to bring Shark to full fruition and success on the table, Chris decided to not only ditch him from the team, but to ditch Fishermen entirely! On the off-chance that he could score a game with Nick he decided to roll out the Hunters, ably led as always by that stunning example of Guild Ball captaincy...
Matt Damon. I mean... Theron.
Chris chose from what must surely be the only 9-man team available - everything in Hunters + Minx. He ended up with Theron, The Furious Three (sounds like a bloody Tarantino movie...) - Fahad, Seenah, Minx - Herne, and Egret (who probably could/should have been Jaecar?).
Full of confidence and the bloat of ego that can only come from winning 2 games in succession (a new record!) I chose the same team again - Scalpel, Dirge, Minx, Cosset, Graves, and Ghast. We had a very interesting discussion about team selection after the game (more on this later) but I took this build largely in the interest of trying it against something that's not Fish. I'm currently suffering not only from a lack of games, but as has been the case for the life of the game itself so far, a lack of breadth of competition. My total games against Engineers, Alchemists, and Butchers can be counted on one hand (like, actually added all together) which I feel has really impacted my understanding of how to build teams for different match ups (that is, to ask or answer different questions).
Anyway, I lost the roll after choosing Plot Cards. Scalpel kicked up the pitch (as per tradition - this in itself requires a future article) looking for a risky punt near the table edge. The scatter was good, Chris played Match Fixing, I rerolled the kick, and the damn ball flew off the table like it was born for it. Theron took possession of the ball in the middle of his crew and it was game on.
1. Theron plonked a forest down near on half way that Herne would be able to access later (after a Give 'n Go Dodge) advanced to within 8" of Scalpel, used Sunstrike and shot her with Arrow to the Knee. He passed the ball to Egret to give himself another quick MP. As the receiving player I needed to build a Momentum bank to at least challenge the roll-off assuming Chris passed the ball around enough and possibly scored, so we got right to it. Cosset advanced and managed to successfully Lure Theron 5" forward and into walking/punching range of Scalpel. I was very wary of Minx's Marked Target interaction with Seenah and really needed to move Theron as far away as possible in order to keep Scalpel reasonably safe. Egret passed to Minx, advanced and Snap Shot Scalpel for light damage and the Poison condition before fading away with Back to the Shadows. Scalpel charged Theron using Wing Back (one less INF to charge if you start within 8" of a table edge) and he declared a counter-attack. I hopelessly failed to knock him down, taking the 1 damage Push/Dodge option. Theron cheerfully double-Dodged off his riposte and I was forced to pop Voodoo Strings to suck him back in for more deserved beatings. A combination of Pushes and Dodges brought him into range of Minx and Graves (both sitting on 2INF) and also engaged by both Cosset and Scalpel.
Minx passed the ball to Herne who as expected used the momentum gained to Dodge within 4" of the forest. She free charged towards Scalpel but not so far that I could get the drop on her with anyone. I had some options now but if I didn't charge with Minx she would likely end up engaged by Herne after he shot at the goal, so she fired up a charge into Theron putting him down to 5 boxes. Herne forest jumped around like a dork, lined up an easy shot at goal and slotted in a Screamer! to give Chris 4VPs. He spent a point of momentum to Dodge away from the very nearby (but influence-less) Ghast.
The next few activations were setups. Dirge advanced to engage Theron, Fahad charged up to get stuck in next turn, Seenah advanced into maximum options range. Graves advanced, picked up the loose ball from the Goal Kick, punched Theron hoping for non-momentous 2 damage and the double Push, but only got the momentous Push. He freed up Scalpel and with his last INF, now guaranteed to win initiative next turn, successfully passed the ball to her. She used this to Dodge up the field, lining up a charge onto the big bear next turn.
2. I didn't think about this as hard as I should have, but taking initiative and giving your opponent a free point of momentum, AND looking to score with your first activation... that's really asking for a quick goal in response if the Goal Kick works out ok-ish. Hmm...
Scalpel charged Seenah who took it on the chin. She variously knocked him down, used Tormented Agony removed an INF and put it on the INF-less Theron, and she eventually double Dodged into range to shoot for a goal. Success! and she played Knee Slider to get the hell out of there. Bad plays I think and a mistake on my part. I was so focused on getting away from Seenah (who obviously couldn't take her out with a free charge and 1INF) that I practically removed her from the game. What I should have done is Dodge her at least to decent Snap Shot range. Lessons...
If I was Dad-joking this one, I'd angle for something like rEgret.
Right? Right? Because Egret. Like, Reee(E)gret?
(Yes, my children are suffering horribly).
The ball went out and generously landed at the feet of Herne who did what comes naturally - he Skewered Minx and fired in another quick goal. Bloody hell. Sadly I was somewhat lacking in both foresight (Scalpel positioned to Snap Shot) and 8" range kicking players. The ball went out wide to at least make it a challenge for Chris to retrieve. My opponent sitting on 8VPs put me in "Sudden Death" mode and my players suddenly looked very squishy.
Unable to resist the temptation, Ghast charged into Seenah getting off a peach of an Unmasking and following this up with a second one to take out Theron. Seenah went down to 14HP and Chris's Minx went down to 6HP. Intimidating Roar Pushed Ghast away (good Character Traits are good!) allowing Seenah to then charge him, wrapping for the Knock Down and a Bear Hug. Seenah took a swipe at Dirge but DEF5 saved his feathered butt. Minx was healed for 4HP. Dirge flew over Ghast to engage Seenah and cleared the conditions on Ghast.
I thought that with Ghast standing back up he was engaging Minx. I was wrong. Minx and Graves ended up having a fun little exchange where she charged in to get a double Dodge in order to snap the loose ball and come back in for a second attack but Chris fluffed the roll. Instead she Dodged for 1" and Graves pushed her out of combat completely. Chris cleverly took the opportunity to knock off Fear by using his now otherwise useless two remaining influence to Mark Target Ghast before redeploying with Back to the Shadows, his Minx engaging mine.
This is where I made the next big mistake. I should have activated Cosset next and Furious-charged Seenah while I was still unengaged. Leaving Graves where he was helped keep Egret honest (sitting on 4INF near the Hunters deployment line. Instead I outsmarted myself, snapped up the loose ball and tried to slap Minx around. A pointless gesture. Fahad used the Marked Target bonus movement to position optimally against Ghast and my counter-attack was nullified by good dice and a solid wrap, allowing the cat to double Dodge away and engage Cosset (who had no influence). She walked out of combat to line up against Minx next turn, cheerfully taking 3 damage from another bonkers cat-wrap. Finally, Egret activated and a mix of Flurry, Snap Fire, and general dodging shenanigans put her on Graves' doorstep; massive amounts of Poison conditions for most of my team (and Seenah who was tagged by friendly fire).
Wishful thinking aside, this was likely the end of the game. Even with a Parting Blow from Minx inflicting the Snared condition, Egret was able to walk around Graves, tackle the ball (counter-attack missed completely), and double Dodge into shooting range. Despite still being engaged by Graves she easily rolled the desired '4' and that was game. GG - I just lost to Hunters entirely on goals. So...
Where did things go wrong?
Losing is surely better than winning when it comes to learning lessons, and aside from being well and truly humbled by the mighty Hunters (or rather, instead of bemoaning how obviously underpowered and radically nerf-batted Season Three Morticians are... obviously) I feel like some serious learning needs to happen as a result of this game:
- My activation order was at times pretty dire. The Cosset thing noted above. Not delaying the more significant activations for longer. Tool Up was a wasted resource in this game and I just couldn't seem to get my timing right with it's useful application.
- Some of the specific placement of models was terrible. On reflection, Ghast should have been making Herne's life more difficult and I should have been either removing or otherwise somehow disabling his immediate threat to the goal. With Theron out early the Hunters had Herne and Egret (initially too far away) to take reliable shots at the goal and Herne was stupidly well positioned for the crack-back after Scalpel scored.
- I consistently failed to plan ahead and position correctly for the following turn. Good grief, Scalpel using Knee Slider to remove herself from the game. Graves barely moved 7" out of the deployment zone for the whole game. Ghast did ok and Dirge was fine. Some discussion post-game about Furious models really needing the breathing room to take advantage of that Character Trait.
Once the tears had dried and sufficient amounts of tea and scorched almonds had been applied to soothe away the horror of the past hour or so of the misery that is my Guild Ball career, discussion turned to team builds and what might just be the most significant flaw in my thinking. I seem to be concreted into much of the build of my team, to the point where I see five players as a lock and one position the switch-in to account for different match ups. This was described to me as a very 'American' way of thinking.
What I'll be trying in the future is a total refresh of the team, built from the ground up for each game. I really need to push into the unfamiliar now - Graves2 is due for a run and yes, even Bonesaw needs to get his fat ass on the table. I've been delaying the return of Obulus but maybe even he deserves a look in now. Silence fell out of favour once he became another 2/4INF chump but in reality (almost) everything else about him is actually better now!
Time to break away from the set team ideal and move towards shakier ground. Clearly the correct play at this point is to totally destroy anything that currently works, right?
New team motto: "Be like Portugal".