Thursday, January 19, 2017

Into the Wild Blue Yonder - Preamble

With the first Guild Ball tournament of 2017 coming up late February - SteamApe Con 2017 (second tournament ever in the country, if you ignore Ides of March 2016 as the true first), I've decided to write a little about my journey for this tournament. Partially to get thinking about it, and partially to give away all my strats so I have an excuse when I lose first round.

After some consideration, I've settled on taking my first love, the Fishermen Guild.

My other options were Butchers and Union (thanks to that sweet 40% off resin Steamcon web sale). The Union is still mostly unpainted, and I am missing a couple of models which would probably make my 9 man roster (Minx, Decimate). With being plenty busy with other things in life, I didn't really want to commit to rush painting 4-5 models to go into a tournament with only a few practice games.
As far as Butchers go, I think they are pretty strong in Season 3 and have arguably the best 2 captain combo in the game as far as the 9 man tournament rosters go. Alas after losing a quick test game with a suboptimal lineup to "S.A.G.B." Dave, I mentally retreated to the safety of pesco vegetarianism.

The boys and girls in blue

The Roster

My first run at a roster is the following:

vet Siren

Bench: Angel, Sakana

Let's break this down a bit, as I used to do with WM lists:

Shark is by a sizable margin my preferred captain. He's the reason I started the game with Fish, and the player I have used the most in all my games. He does have some significant weaknesses in the grind/damage dealing department, which is where Corsair comes in. I am not as good with Corsair as I am with Shark, but I feel having access to both as a mid to late roster selection process can be clutch.

Salt is my only mascot because he went from zero to hero in Season 3. Not so much because of the +1/0" to his KICK stat, but because the whole game rotated around him:
  • Slightly greater emphasis on goal scoring
  • Mascots only worth 1VP
  • Mascots have Icy Sponges
  • Tap In
He is one of the better strikers in Fish due to Tap In, and scoring with him gives up almost nothing. He is also reasonably difficult to take out in a game situation because he is usually off by himself away from the action with DEF 5+, meaning he doesn't die in one activation to any random scrub and usually doesn't get crowded out.
A turn 1 goal with Salt is not only quite reliable (88.89% chance with no modifiers, better than a 3 dice striker at distance), but at worst you only trade 1VP for it. Even if he is taken out, you can bring him right back on where you want him due to his high speed. What a mascot.

Avarisse & Greede are almost an auto-include Union choice because they are close to (if not actually) overpowered. Being able to Attach & Detach Greede in the same activation pushes them over the edge a bit IMO.
That aside, these guys are just money in almost any lineup. Avarisse has Tough Hide and a fantastic brawler playbook, which slots in great with the Corsair Attritiermen grind list. Greede's stat buffs in Season 3 (specifically baseline TAC 7 and 4/6" KICK) make him a better all-rounder utility model when you throw in Where'd They Go and access to momentous damage on his playbook. 
Combined they may be the single best selection in the game, with a ridiculous goal threat potential, good support, good resilience, flexibility, and sweet models!

Next we have the core Fish players: Siren(s), Kraken, Jac and Greyscales.

Greyscales is a model that I was actually not too crazy about in Season 2. He was good but often one of the first I'd drop in place of something else. In Season 3 he received three direct changes:
  1. Ball's Gone! now involves a free pass
  2. Lost 2 health
  3. Decoy now works against Character Plays
None of these changes make or break my decision to include him, although the two character play changes are good. He's a bit better of ball retriever with the new Ball's Gone!, since you can charge into a scrum, kick the ball out to someone or empty space, then use Where'd They Go to get out to a semi safe spot.
The biggest thing is Tap In, which gives makes Greyscales a legit goal scorer, making up for his shorter KICK distance with slippery dodges and speed. He fits in well with both Shark and Corsair, and Unpredictable Movement makes him a good pick or counter pick in roster drafting.

Kraken is a model I've always really liked and mostly got better in Season 3 thanks to the double push on his playbook. The change from 2+/1 to 3+/0  (Steamforged's justification - "He's not wearing any armour!" - unlike Brisket) is an overall slight improvement in most situations too, but the +1/0"
KICK is solid.
Kraken is more or less the anchor to the team - he buffs Siren (which I will almost always have in my lineup), he can tarpit like a boss, he has Tough Hide, he can Drag people, he is one of the best counter-attackers in the game. In a Corsair team, they are like those two enforcer guys from the Mighty Ducks movies that go around and beat the shit out of someone on the other team and high five each other.

Next we have Siren, both original and veteran versions. I was quite happy to see Steamforged reverse their stance that you can only take one version of a player in the roster. Sure, you can only have one version in the team, but it opens up a lot more interesting drafting options.
Siren is a great example of that because both her versions are probably the strongest two players in the Fishermen stable. Both are very fast, decent at football, difficult to kill if played correctly, and screw with your opponents.
Siren1 is a bit more focused on ball retrieval and repositioning the enemy via Lure, whereas Siren2 is a bit more focused on getting in the scrap - with a short playbook and momentous damage she could be considered the best damage dealer on the team, and her Dread Gaze aura ups the survivability of the team considerably. Straight up remove 2 dice from the equation!

Jac is last in line and the most likely to be subbed out at this stage. His primary strength is that he is another tough cookie that with 2" melee that can get in a scrap and pass the ball if needed. His main asset is the ability to break up scrums via a multitude of pushes, which is pretty useful against a team that wants to get multiple crowd outs and have short range buffs like Masons or Brewers. Tackle on 1 hit with 2" melee is also pretty legit ball retrieval. One of his biggest downsides is the lack of a reliable momentous result on 1 hit, unlike most Fish.

IMO his best trait at the moment is the ability to move Salt around even more, because that's exactly what Salt needs. More dodging.

The Bench

The two models sitting on the bench at present are Sakana and Angel.

Both strikers as you can see - if anything this probably reflects my tendency to push the game to be played out slightly more on my opponent's side of the field, sometimes going to the lengths of just dumping the ball in their corner and chasing it. A classic ice hockey tactic to boot.
What this means is that the extra striking distance is usually not that important, especially when combined with Tap In being a thing that the quick & slippery Fish benefit from immensely.

Sakana is probably the most well-rounded Fish player, in that he is reliable and resilient. Scores goals when you need him to, supports the team offensively and defensively if you need him to, has a cool goatee.
I think if I went all in with Corsair, Angel would be in my roster for sure, given that she excels with his legendary, is very survivable with Sturdy, and is overall an excellent snap shotting turret. Furthermore, she's probably a very solid opener in any roster draft because she doesn't really give away anything about your game plan other than "score goals".

If I were to make a change to the roster, it'd probably to put in Sakana for either Siren2 or Jac. One of the weaknesses of the roster is it only realistically has 7 players, since both Sirens are mutually exclusive and both captains are mutually exclusive. We shall see!

Next up in this exciting series, we will have summaries/mini batreps/reflections/rage from my test games.

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