Hemlocke – Wanted: Dead or Alive?

Hemlocke

So this year’s Guild Ball Community event is looking at the schism in the Union team caused by Rage slipping his leash and the Solthecian Church coming in to take over the running of the team.

Details can be found here: https://steamforged.com/union-in-chains

Eight of the original Guild’s have been paired up and are fighting to gain a member of the Union as a Guild member. The pairings are:

 

  • The Fisherman’s Guild & Butcher’s Guild will be competing for Gutter.
  • The Brewer’s Guild & Mason’s Guild will be competing for Decimate.
  • The Mortician’s Guild & Hunter’s Guild will be competing for Hemlocke.
  • The Alchemist’s Guild & Engineer’s Guild will be competing for Harry the Hat.

Each of the Union members will get an alternative sculpt depending on which Guild they finally settle in.

Hemlocke is being fought over by the Mortician’s and Hunter’s Guilds (Go Morticians!) and her alternative sculpts are:

 

Her back story is:

A fate unknown

Light flooded into the empty chamber, coloured in faint hues of red and green from the faded staining in the glass dome above. Motes of dust fluttered through the air like tiny fireflies, tumbling ever downwards in lazy spirals. A peaceful stillness had taken hold of this place and refused to relinquish it, entirely at odds with the sinister darkness lurking in the catacombs below.
Grace stood in quiet contemplation of the scene, light reflecting from her pristine robes in a blinding glare. Her lip curled. She cared little for this place. A long-abandoned chapel built atop an ancient temple ruined some centuries past, the neglect of this sacred ground was an offence against Solthecius himself.
The Inquisitor’s dilapidated surroundings offered little to placate to her condemnation. The elements had not been kind to a building standing unattended for so many years, her eye picking out places where walls had crumbled and fallen in, and dark metalwork was spotted with orange. Tall windows, once proud and vibrant, had grown dull in their frames; the panes from several others shattered over the floor in pointed shards of multicoloured glass.
This remote shrine would be impure forevermore, sins of the past having rendered it far beyond the limits of mortal sanctification. The order had allowed the lonely site to be quietly forgotten over the years as the trail of attendant worshippers had slowly reduced to a trickle, content that the pious should never know of its existence. It was probable the dusty flagstones had known neither foot nor knee for decades until the arrival of the Inquisition, the carpets once covering them having rotted away long since.
But, Grace was not here to kneel in supplication.
A warren of tunnels hid underfoot, a sprawling dungeon first created for the primitive temple a thousand years ago, made into a labyrinthian maze by the architects of the chapel erected in the time since. They had not been alone in their attentions. Nature too had touched the confusing hive of forgotten cells and foetid cellars just as it had the land above, shuddering tremors and flooding causing irreversible destruction in the depths. Fraught with collapsed ceilings and impassable corridors, even the most recent map was hopelessly obsolete.
It was the perfect prison for as vile a fraternity as the Union.
Despite the length of leash allowed him by the new Bacchus, Rage had quickly proven too wild a dog to be left to his own devices, his rebellious instinct too fractious to be of use. Grand plans for the treacherous cadre spoiled, Pious VI had not sat idle in retaliation. His Inquisitors’ mission of stewardship soon become one of hunter and prey, Grace and Benediction ordered to entomb each member of the Union underground, far from the eyes of man.
Their first quarry had been Rage himself, the vicious thug now imprisoned in a cell as bleak as his blackened heart. His capture in particular had been a dark enough deed to cost of the lives of three initiates, each bloodied by his wicked cleaver until their bodies moved no more. Pursuit of the other wolves in his ruthless pack had been less barbaric, yet none had come easily.
The Saint would have lied if she did not admit to a sense of satisfaction in persecuting such reprehensible scum. She had readily paid penance each night, quickly reaching forgiveness for her behaviour in service of the August Lord. Her conscience remained as pure as her unbroken innocence.
Footsteps cut through the silence and from the corner of her vision, Benediction’s immense frame appeared. Unlike Grace, he wore his armour and faceplate, his robes dirtied from travelling through the depths below. Behind him he dragged a long chain, metal links clinking together as they writhed, the final malefactor struggling in vain against the hard iron.
The witch had arrived.
The woman had been a dishevelled mess even before she had been dragged from her den, clothes a tattered collection of unwashed rags, her hair matted into thick dreadlocks. She reeked as only an individual with an aversion to bathing could, a musky stench of dried sweat and mould.
Grace’s eyes narrowed, a sadistic smile creeping across her features. Hemlocke deserved cleansing in more ways than one. Amongst all of her miserable brethren the witch offended the order most, by defying the very word of Solthecius with her sacrilegious profanity. She belonged in the dark ages past, a slave to the pagan beliefs of man when he had paid fealty to the elements and the stars above.
Sensing the contemptuous stare, the witch turned her head towards Grace, only to wilt and avert her tortured eyes as she shrank away again. The brief glimpse revealed pupils dilated to monstrous proportions, all trace of colour replaced by heavy black orbs. Doubtless, Hemlocke had been sampling her own stock.
A vicious yank of her collar dragged the witch under the light of the grand dome, painting her in dappled hues. She reacted by clawing at the chain and shrieking at her tormentor.
‘No blind man should see as you, giant. You are unnatural, an abomination!’ The sudden outburst was the first collection of legible words the woman had offered since her capture, the rest only gnashing of teeth and forlorn wailing.
Hemlocke’s spite earned her a backhanded slap across the mouth, the impact whipping her delicate neck backwards. When her head swung back again she glared murderously, bloated eyes unblinking.
A thin trail of red trickled over her chin, and the witch defiantly spat a mouthful of bloody phlegm onto the floor, crimson covering a cross carved into the stone.
She grinned, teeth stained pink. ‘The Old Ones care little for your pretend lord, or the misguided fools who follow him. You are as powerless as the lies your kind peddle, and these worthless icons crumbling under my heel.’
Benediction punished her blasphemy again, a huge hand seizing Hemlocke by the throat and roughly hauling her into the air. His head swung around to Grace as the witch’s hands scrabbled at his grip, blank mask somehow conveying his silent question.
Grace took a moment to savour the undiluted panic over Hemlocke’s features. Her face was turning a painful shade of purple, her legs frantically kicking on tiptoes. The witch was clearly running out of breath, her sullen tongue silenced but for a strangled gasp.
The Saint shook her head.
Benediction gave one last cruel squeeze before hurling the Union scum away, her body tumbling through the air until she landed amongst the rotting remnants of a row of pews. The witch struck the wood with a sickening thud, an agonised scream torn from her lungs on impact. Her voice trailed into a rasp as she slipped to the floor like a child’s discarded ragdoll.

Hemlocke lay still amongst the splintered wood, only movement a tremble as she sobbed
pathetically. The line of red across her chin had become a wide river, pooling on the old stone beneath her.
‘I will not pretend you do not deserve death for your sins, witch. You are barely a trial in our holy mission, a trivial distraction at most. Perhaps death would provide the best form of censure for one such as you, rather than imprisonment.’ Hemlocke didn’t react to the words, her eyes still closed.
Grace glanced at her companion. His mask hid any hint of expression, but Grace knew his judgement would match hers regardless. The heathen woman’s fate was sealed in a moment of unspoken communion.
‘Illuminate her.’ With the slightest nod, the Virgin Sister signalled her guardian into action once more. An armoured boot stepped forward from under his robes, catching the light in spite of a thin layer of grime.
Hemlocke lurched up into the air, a marionette with her strings suddenly pulled taught. Her hands scratched at the air, nails clawing like talons clutching invisible rungs. Back straight as a rod, the witch’s head snapped towards Grace, eyes rolled back to become milky orbs. She bared her teeth in a feral grin.
Benediction broke into a run, hands reaching for her, but the witch slipped away as though possessed by a devil, her nimble agility at odds with how erratically her limbs moved. She reached the nearest window in moments, the tall glass pane already shattered inwards. Without breaking her unnatural gait Hemlocke launched herself through the opening, disappearing but for a bloody scrap of cloth.
Benediction roared in frustration, punching an armoured fist into the wall. He looked back towards Grace, tilting his head downwards in self condemnation.
The Saint’s smile returned. It was time to persecute the hunt once more.

Hemlocke’s eyelids slowly parted, her vision blurry and indistinct. Whatever spirits had aided her escape had scattered, leaving her entirely mortal once more, a broken shell stretched over weak and bruised flesh.
As her senses returned she became slowly aware she lay at the bottom of a shallow ditch, muddy water soaking through her clothes, icy cold against her clammy skin. It seemed some time had elapsed since her flight, the avatar of the Father fallen from the blank skies to usher in the dominion of the  Goddess. The landscape was coloured a pale hue, the faint and ethereal light birthing a deep shadow in the recess where she now  languished.
Her ears detected nary a hint of pursuit, but Hemlocke knew the accursed holy men would still be searching for her. She was the last of the Union to have evaded them, and their kind did not rest easily.
They would hunt for her until her last breath, the chase as relentless as their passion for their falsehood god.
She groaned, knowing she was poor game presently.
Her forehead was warm and fevered; from her short breath and a dull ache in her flank she was likely wounded inside, the taste of coppery blood painted over her lips. Two of the fingers on her left hand were broken, pointing in unnatural directions. With her frenetic scramble apparently ceased some hours before, Hemlocke feared that if she tried to move her body would not obey.
She was a shattered figure, collapsed in a bolthole and awaiting death.
Hemlocke closed her eyes once again. If the gods wanted to take her, she would gladly relinquish her life to them. Even in this state, she was their servant, and she dared not betray the ancient oaths of her order. In a faltering mumble, she began to mouth ancient words from the rite of ending.
An image appeared in her mind, her voice faltering as the words inexplicably caught in her throat.
She felt herself frown outwardly as the vision expanded and a fine lunar mist eclipsed all, covering every surface and leaving her numb. Somewhere in the distance faint silhouettes moved, their forms indistinct and wreathed by billowing clouds. Whenever she would strain her eyes to concentrate on one it would become intangible, only to maddeningly reappear some distance away.
Their voices echoed through the murky gloom, words illuminating each spirit momentarily with sparks of colour against the grey background.
‘What do you want for this one’s release?’ Even distorted the first voice was deep enough to be undeniably male, strong and powerful, the speaker glowing bright amber.
‘A gesture, support in coming trials.’ The second voice was a sinister hiss, the slither of a serpent baring its fangs.
‘Very well.’ Hemlocke felt uncertainty creep into the first speakers tone, and saw a shard of cold ice break through his aura, a jagged line of canker, twisted and bitter. He reluctantly spoke again after a pause. ‘We shall enter into agreement with you.’
The second spirit did not reply, instead sweeping around to face her as the mists surrounding them whipped up into a storm. His eyes bored into hers for a moment through the turmoil, and a cold sweat dripped down her spine. The vortex span faster, accompanied by the shrieking of a thousand crows, swirling forward to envelop her within a cloak of charcoal feathers.
His face coalesced inches before her own, the spirit become a horrific visage of a cloaked devil, a skull with sharpened teeth leering from the folds of blackened sackcloth.
‘You are not supposed to be here, witch. Why have you transgressed into this past?’ His dark words were the chill of the grave, morbid and flat, bereft of any trace of warmth.
Hemlocke found herself unable to answer, terror seizing her breath and suffocating her.

Her knees buckled as her essence ebbed away, drawn on strings leading to his skeletal fingers.
The devil’s hold was broken in a howl of agony, a spear of light skewering the enveloping darkness, warmth flooding through the rent to return life to the world once again. On the other side, she could see the first speaker, his golden aura strong and restored. He shielded another figure, a bestial creature which snarled furiously, and clacked her slavering jaws.
‘Come, Hemlocke! Quickly!’ This voice was female, the animalistic snarl familiar somehow.
‘Salvation!’
Hemlocke’s reply was drowned out by the murder of crows, a jagged cacophony which lashed at the golden figure and reopened the rent in his soul, allowing the ice to pour in.
She felt herself slipping away, the vision pulling itself to the edge of her consciousness. She desperately tried to reach her hands outwards, still unable to wrest meaning.
‘Run! Run, Hemlocke! Whilst you can, come to us!’ The urgent voice broke through once more, faint and quickly fading, swallowed by a tide of rolling mists, retreating away into the aether.
Hemlocke’s head recoiled, a great breath forcing itself into her lungs with a violent shudder. Her eyes open, she saw that day had come once more. Somewhere nearby, she could hear footfall in the undergrowth, dried leaves cracking under booted heel.
It was time to flee her hiding place. The gods had seen fit to send her portents once more, and where they beckoned she would follow without question. She scrambled to her feet, forcing herself to ignore a sharp spike of pain in her chest. Her role in the machinations of the Old Ones was far from over, her future undecided, a path untraveled.
And her side yet to be chosen.

Some exciting times ahead. Both sculpts are great – I really like the snake that the mortician version has.

Time to play some games and head on over to the Forums and get Hemlocke in the Mortician’s!

Until next time sports fans!

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Solthecius!

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Given the recent teasers of Benediction and Grace as well as ‘Union Captain’ there is a bit of a buzz around the community about Solthecius and the Solthecians so I though I would recap what we know so far:

The Solthecian Cult/Church is one of (probably the) biggest organised religions in the Empire of the Free Cities and is built around the worship of Solthecius (presumably montheistically) and draws a lot of parallels with the historic catholic church.

Solthecius was originally just a sun deity (hence the symbol) but seems to have developed into something more.

The Solthecian Cult is widely regarded as being heavily involved in the creation of Guild Ball as a sport.

Although Skald and it’s people are known to have their own style in all things; from fashion to eating habits, they are extremely resistant to outside influences from the other Sovereign States. The only element that appears to have been able to permeate this cultural ideal is religion. Skald is almost exclusively given to the worship of the Solthecian faith, robust churches standing proud in most villages and towns. In the cities, the walls and roads are lined with spectacular stonework and artistry of saints and blessed angels, spectacular cathedrals dominate the skyline.

Piervo is the holy city of the Solthecian Order, which has offered the Sovereign State a great deal of protection.

The head of state of both Piervo and the Solthecian spiritual faith is known as the Bacchus and is elected by mandate of the god Solthecius; his divine will manifested by the archbishops and cardinals.

The role is unlike any other clerical or royal position throughout the Empire of the Free Cities; the Bacchus is able to influence several Sovereign States where the faith has any sort of foothold and even more so where it is the predominant religion.

During the Century Wars, Bacchus Alexandria IV and his successor, Bacchus Galbratii, were able to successfully negotiate with any Sovereign State that turned her sights to Piervo. They spared its people from the horror of the conflict beyond the walls and saved the city and its ancient religious landmarks from ruin time and time again.

Although to believers this leader is the chosen of Solthecius, in reality, any election of a Bacchus is a process of shrewd manoeuvring, underlying threats, and careful alliance. Thus, the head of state is often possessed of a considered political mind. Many followers would likely be surprised to learn how deep corruption runs within Solthecian faith and how self interested its leaders tend to be.

The Holy City is home to spectacular architecture and beautiful gardens; high domed cathedrals compete against monasteries with spires that point into the skies like crooked fingers. Statues old and new line every boulevard and street. Every hour, bells ring out and the scent of incense is thick in the air. Wherever an individual might stand in Piervo, there is at very least a low hum of penitent followers deep in prayer and every day the city is flooded with pilgrims come to demonstrate their faith.

This is not to say that industry does not exist within the walls, far from it. The Butcher’s Guild’s ruling house is in Piervo and has existed as the sole purveyor of sacred meat to the Bacchus for generations; something which its many Magisters and Chamberlains are keen to remind both visiting officials and those of other guilds. The Mortician’s Guild also holds significant influence amongst the clergy in Piervo; the two bodies frequently working hand in hand in the day to day lives of the population.

The symbolism of the Solthecian faith draws a lot of parallels with the Christian church and images of Angels (such as Angels of Conflagration) and devils are rife. The Church also denounces Mechanica constructs as devils.

The Churches of Solthecius are organised by Sovereign State and have their own military orders, as demonstrated by Michele Cesare de Corella, Knight Paladin of Divine Solthecius, praise be to his name and noble legacy, First High Priest and august Lord of the Valentian Church of the Solthecian Cult who captured Ox in Season 1.

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Spigot is a reformed character, now sober he is a devout (but secret) follower of Solthecius.

Bonesaw

Bonesaw was once a priest in the Solthecian Cult but has been exiled. He still offers prayers to Solthecius during the funerary rites when working with the Mortician’s Guild. Solthecian priests and monks are known to participate in calisthenics as a way of purifying the body.

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Mist also has an as yet unexplained link to the Solthecian Church. There also appears to be a strong but as yet unexplained link between the Union and the Solthecian Church.

Until next time sports fans!

 

Guild Ball GenCon 2016 Roundup

GB-Teams-MorticiansSo GenCon 2016 is over and the first US Guild Ball Championships where held.  The event was won by  Jordan Nach with the Mortician’s Guild.

In second was Brian White (Morticians), third Alex Botts (Morticians) and fourth Patrick Van Valzah (Morticians)…

The final was between Jordan and Brian and was a complete mirror match with both taking Obulus, Dirge, Silence, Ghast, Rage and Avarisse & Greede.  There tournament added Cosset, Casket and Mist (I’m surprised Mist wasn’t in the final).

The ‘meta’ game in the US certainly seems different from what I’ve experienced in the UK, but I don’t know whether it’s a case of Mortician’s being better or better players using Mortician’s.  Control archetypes are always difficult to play against and in the hands of a good player that’s just exacerbated.

There were some interesting spoilers and titbits that came out of GenCon:

Starter Set

A Guild Ball Starter Set will be released in November with two full 6- player teams. The figures will be one piece plastic to make initial set up easy.  Nothing confirmed as to who the two Guild would be but some possibilities:

  • Butcher’s and Fishermen
    • Seen as the two archetypal guilds (Beating vs Footballing) and the basis of the current demo set
  • Mason’s
    • It’ s been said before that some of the models  are in need of a resculpt as they are on the small side of the scale compared ot teh Season 2 models and the show exclusive Flint. Would seem like a good time to do this
  • The Union
    • A flexible team that could go a number of ways. Would also be attractive for existing players.
  • Brewer’s
    • A fairly straightforward play style that would lend themselves to an introduction. they haven’t really been touched on that much in the fluff yet either.

I would say that the Mortician’s, Alchemist’s, Engineers and Hunter’s are unlikely due to there playstyles as are the Farmer’s and the as yet unnamed team for Season 3 as the starter set seem due around SteamCon in November but Season 3 isn’t due until April 2017.

We also don’t know if they will be pure guild or include Union choices (assuming that Union aren’t one of them).

Rookies

A new player type will be added, the Rookies.  These will be a seventh player on the pitch with a powerlevel similar to Mascots. The suggestion was they attach to a ‘mentor’ and give them a specific buff (presumably if in close proximity as he mentioned following them around).

New Guilds

There will be two new Guilds in Season 3 (available at Salute 2017). One we know (The Farmer’s Guild), the other we don’t.

Tater was released at GenCon and we have also seen the first sight of another Farmer. He appears to be some sort of scarecrow with a a skeletal face.

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New players

An existing Guild will be getting a new Captain in Season 3, which I woudl assume would be the Hunter’s to add parity.

We have seem the first images of Veteran Katalyst and he looks huge!

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Russ Charles (Steamforged’s go-to sculptor) was also at GenCon doing what he does and this was one thing on show?

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Looks a lot like Brick to me so whether he is getting the Veteran treatment or whether it’s an indication that Mason’s are in the Starter Set is unknown.

An interview with Mat and Rich from Beasts of War:

What’s in a name? – Season 2 Mascots

It’s been a while and as the Season 2 Mascot models are due to be released shortly, I thought I would round off the ‘What’s in a name?’ for Season 2. Some of these are fairly obvious, but others have more depth to them.

Alchemist’s Guild

Naja, Venomous Viper

Naja

So Naja is Venin’s ‘pet’ snake and ties in well with his poison theme.

Naja is the taxonomic game for the genus of snakes more commonly known as cobras and derives from the Sanskrit for snake, Naga.

 

Brewer’s Guild

Quaff, Faithful

Quaff

Quaff is modelled on a St Bernard, a breed of working dog common to the Alps and bred for mountain rescue. They are famous for carrying a barrel of brandy around their necks.

The verb quaff means to drink ( a usually an alcholic drink) heartily.

 

Butcher’s Guild

Truffles, Cantankerous Swine

Truffles

Truffles is a pig and the name is likely to arise from the domestic pigs (also known as truffle hogs) used for locating and extracting truffles from forests in Europe.

 

Engineer’s Guild

Mother, Arachnid Queen

Mother

A mechanica created by the Engineer’s Guild that resembles a spider (although the art work has 9 legs) and it’s brood. The name is a possible reference to Broodmother from DOTA 2. She is possibly modelled after Wolf Spiders which carry their spiderlings on their backs.

 

Fisherman’s Guild

Tentacles, Eastern Mystery

Tentacles

Modelled on an octopus and named after the flexible, mobile, elongated organs the species is famous for.

 

Mason’s Guild

Wrecker, Giant Shrew

Wrecker

Although described as a shrew, it doesn’t really resemble one and is modelled after an armadillo, a small armoured mammal. The name probably follows the Mason convention of names deriving form tools and is a possible reference to a wrecking ball.  There is also a link to Rammus from League of Legends due to the game being a favourite of many at Steamforged games.

The Rolando is in homage to the Guild Ball Tonight desire to have a baby elephant Mascot.

 

Mortician’s Guild

Vileswarm, Fearful Tide

Vileswarm

Vileswarm is a swarm of rats, which are often reviled. Not much more to say…

 

The Union

Strongbox, Tribute to the Pirate-King

Strongbox

Strongbox is a tortoise carrying a chest on it’s back. A strongbox is a small lockable box, typically made of metal, in which valuables may be kept.

Strongbox is ‘Rage’s idea of a tribute to the Pirate King apparently, one last piss-take. Strap a treasure chest to the top of it, fill it with Blackheart’s gold, and parade it around’

 

What’s in a name? – The Union

Next up, The Union

Union

Blackheart

Bheart

Blackheart was the ruthless Pirate King of the sea, terrorising every Sovereign State of the Empire of the Free Cities. The day he gave up the life at sea was a bloody one indeed, slaughtering the entire crew of his ship to ensure its safe location remained a secret until he needed her again. He now makes his fortune through Guild Ball, murdering anybody who becomes between him and more wealth, or getting one of his crew to do the deed for him.

There are a number of possible reasons for Blackheart’s name. It could be based upon the pirate Blackbeard as he was previously a pirate before joining The Union. It’s also possible that it is a description of his personality as someone who is black hearted is cruel, wicked or evil.

Coin

Coin

Coin is a huge snake that Blackheart feeds his fortune to. There is no love for his unorthodox bank, which he daily subjects to the suffering of being forced to swallow indigestible gold. The alien eyes of the snake show no comprehension of Blackheart as anything other than the source of its torment, as he has been for so many years now.

A coin is a piece of hard material used primarily as a medium of exchange or legal tender.  This has strong connections with the mercenary ethos of The Union.

Decimate

Dec

The woman known as Decimate is properly known as Svetlana Leonid Volstov III, a princess of Erskirii nobility. Born late in to a wealthy and influential family with no hope of succession, she quickly found a far more exciting life for herself in an organised and well-funded Brewer’s Guild gang. Ever ambitious, she quickly rose to a place on the Guild Ball team, becoming Decimate the duelist to her roaring fans. This all came to an end when a coup was staged within the guild by a rival gang, and Decimate was forced to flee following a failed assassination attempt. She now plays as a free agent for the Union, her flashing blades swirling in a dance of destruction.

Decimate means to kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of something, usually a body of people. The term derives from a form of military discipline used by the Roman Army to kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group.

Gutter

Gut

Once a princess from the far north, Gutter’s life soon took a dark turn when she was captured by Blackheart. When he realised there was no profit to be made in ransoming her, she became a slave on his ship, living a miserable life below deck. In a strange twist, she fell in love for the ruthless captain, an opportunity he soon exploited by making her first mate, completely loyal in her insane devotion for him. She now plays the game at his side, using her deadly skills with hook and chain to ensnare her victims.

Again there are a number of different possibilities with this name it could derive from the description of one who guts (disembowels), or from the word to make channels or furrows in something (again a description of her usual method of attack) or something that flickers or burns unsteadily as a reflection of her personality after her ordeal on the ship.

Harry ‘The Hat’ Hallahan

Harry

A crossover model from Infamy. He has a big hat. Rumour has it that the Hat has powers and has taken possession of Harry (inspired by  the Buffy episode ‘Him’ where a jacket makes whoever wears it irresistible to women).

Hemlocke

Hem

Hemlocke pays fealty to an ancient and primordial divinities, those with shrines overgrown by weeds, and ancient monoliths long since toppled. To most that have dealings with her, she is an eccentric hermit, a deluded outcast that seems an odd fit for the shadowy and sinister Union. She is unusually popular for a Union player, due to the gentle manner with which she administers herbs and potions. This hasn’t stopped her killing dozens of people that have crossed her path, influencing the fate of the universe at the will of her gods.

Hemlock is a highly poisonous flowering plant, previously used as a method of execution. It also is strongly associated with witchcraft in folklore.

Minx

Minx

Minx is a savage, undomesticated animal. She is kept chained like a dog in the depths of some dungeon by her master, starved and beaten until she bites any soul foolish enough approach her. When a particularly brutal match is scheduled, she will be lead from her hole, blinded by the unfamiliar sunlight and disorientated by the loud cheers of the crowd. Once she is truly rabid, she is unchained, stalking the opposition; no thoughts of the sport, but only an opportunity to hunt, becoming a lethal predator once again, her ample scalps testament to her skill.

A minx is an impudent, cunning, or boldly flirtatious girl or young woman. Minx is a cross over model from Ax Faction where she is a Lycan Hunter.

Mist

Mist

An elusive and shadowy individual, the only clue about Mist’s origins is his otherworldly link with Siren. His talent lies in deception, disappearing from plain sight, vaulting with acrobatic grace to strike from an exposed flank. Before his victim can react, they have lost the ball, their clumsy strikes no match for his agility.

Mist is a cloud of tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth’s surface that limits visibility, it’s amorphous and impossible to catch.  The aesthetics of Mist are based on Vin (who is female) from the Mistborn Trilogy which might explain some of the gender confusion.

Rage

Rage

Some call him dirty scum, others a vile murderer, but this does not do justice to the man known as Rage. He is a thug for hire, willing to get his hands dirty if it earns him some gold and reinforces his brutal reputation. Underhanded guilds often use this to their advantage, using his fearsome skills with knife and cleaver to settle old grudges on, and off the pitch.

Violent uncontrollable anger. A perfect way to describe him.

Snakeskin

Snake

Known as The Chameleon by her fans, Snakeskin is a master of disguise. A sinewy and powerfully built young woman, she is the master of the hidden kill, using poisons and venoms to compliment the viperous bite of her blades. She is an invaluable tool in the eternal war between the guilds, her ability to silence a target quietly being put to regular use, all for a price of course…

Snakes shed their skin when they outgrow it, so her name is representative of her constantly changing appearance.

Fangtooth

Fang

Nobody is quite sure if the ponderous hulk known as Fangtooth is man or monster. He is a hideous sight to behold, covered in pus-filled boils and pox scars, but this is nothing compared to his horrific stench which has people retching if they stray too close…

A fangtooth is a type of deep sea fish. A fang is also a type of tooth so his name is actually toothtooth – weird.

Avarisse

AG

Avarisse & Greede make for an unusual sight on the pitch. Don’t let their comical appearance fool you though…these two are hardened criminals, performing the most underhanded deeds if the right coin is on offer. Greede can be considered the brains behind the operation, but Avarisse is far from just being muscle, his ruthless cunning proving invaluable in their chosen line of work.

Avarisse is a homophone (word that sounds like another) of avarice, meaning an extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

Greede

From greed meaning an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

 

Kick-off!

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This is the first in a series of articles where I am going to look at a few situations that look simple enough at face value but caused me a few headaches when I started playing, which seems to be a feeling shared by other members of the community. Those situations being, tactics to use at the kick off,  how to generate momentum in the early game (particularly turn 1) and how to deal with going first vs second.

The Mortician’s Guild is my usual team, but I have some experience of most of the current teams.  I will aim to look at general tactics as well as some in depth discussion of each of the Guild’s, giving suggestions, but please feel free to comment below.

Kick-off

At face value the kick off seems a fairly straight forward occurrence (you kick the ball forward), but as with much with this game there is a lot more to it. You need to consider; who is going to kick-off, which area of the pitch will they kick too and how far you want the kick to go.

As a reminder the rules for Kick-off are:

p.21 “After both players have deployed their teams, the kicking player activates the kicker. The kicker may move up to their base-move followed by a kick-off action.

The kick-off action does not require Influence but otherwise uses the normal rules for kicking the ball.

After resolving the kick-off, if the ball-token went out of play, or finished within the kicking player’s half of the pitch, then the receiving player may give possession of the balltoken to any model of his choosing on his team.

After the kick-off has been resolved, the receiving player automatically wins the initiative roll for the first turn.”

Who?

gb_guild-ball-teaser-2

Initially, you need to think who your kicker is going to be. Will you give it to a striker? They tend to be faster, have longer kick distances but fairly average defence stats.

Will you give it to someone who wants to boss the mid-field? They tend to be slightly slower, have shorter kick distances than the strikers but are slightly more resilient and have plays that will affect the opposition more than themselves.

Will you give it to a defender? They tend to be slower, with shorter kick distances but are more resilient but have some sort of area control, which they would be able to use sooner than if they hang back.

You do need to consider that the player that goes forward may be isolated from their team mates and that does play into the hands of some teams who like to pick off isolated models quickly.

If I am playing with a team I want to brawl against, I would typically give the kick-off to a defender/ defensive midfielder to get them into the action quicker so they can control the board. If I am looking to score more than take out, I’d be looking at strikers or more attacking midfielders to get into positions where they can do the most damage quickly.

I would typically not give the kick-off to a captain as the risk of them being isolated early is too great, but I would be happy to hear others thoughts on this.

Guild                       Brawling                               Balling
Alchemist’s          Calculus/Mercury              Vitriol
Brewer’s                Stave/Stoker                       Mash/Friday
Butcher’s              Boar/Meathook                  Brisket
Engineer’s            Colossus                              Velocity/Hoist
Fisherman’s         Jac / Kraken                        Sakana / Greyscales*
Mason’s                 Mallet / Brick                     Flint
Mortician’s           Casket / Ghast                   Bonesaw
Union                     Fangtooth/ Hemlocke     Mist

*I think there is a possible argument to allow Shark to kick-off for the Fisherman’s Guild, but they are one of the team I’ve used the least.

Where?

Once you have chosen who is going to kick-off you need to think where on the pitch will they kick off from.

When you think of a Guild Ball (or Football – not Gridiron) pitch you can split the area into 5 (shown below). These are the left and right wings, left and right channels and the centre of the pitch.

Pitch**

Different player want to act in different areas of the pitch. You don’t want Hemlocke out wide, wasting a lot of her potential. Similarly, Mist is going to act more effectively out on the wing rather than the more congested midfield.

As a general rule, the combat will mainly occur in the centre of the pitch with bits spilling out into the channels. With this in mind, you will want players of the ‘brawling’ type to mainly kick off from the centre section, particularly if you want them to control wide areas of the pitch that your opponent also wants to control.

Conversely, your ‘balling’ players will want to make more use of the wings and channels so this is where they will kick off from. Players like Mist really want to stay wide as much as possible, whereas players like Greyscales and Bonesaw will act more out of the channels. Mash may even want to act more centrally to mitigate his slower movement.

That isn’t to say that you’ll use these players to kick-off into the same area of the pitch they are based. You may want one of your central players to kick the ball out towards a wing to either force your opponent to activate one of their wider players early than they would have wanted (preventing them gaining an upper hand in the centre of the pitch) or risk ignoring the ball and activating a central player for one of your wide players to pick it up in the next activation.

Similarly, a wide player may want the ball to be played into the centre to allow them more space to run into unopposed with a more direct route on goal in subsequent activations (Flint and Mist I am looking at you).

Obligatory Flint picture:

sfgbmas01-005_flint

How far?

Once you have decided who is going to kick-off and where they are going to kick from and to you need to decide how far the ball will travel. As a kick-off follows the normal rules for a kick, you can re-roll the kick-scatter (both distance and direction) on a success.

There seems to be two schools of thought on kick-off distance. Those that want the ball as far away from their goal as possible, who move the maximum possible, followed by their max kick or those that will look to regain possession early who move but only kick so the ball just crosses into the opponents half, meaning an opponent has further to collect the ball and it’s as close to your lines as possible to regain.

These tactics largely tie in with whether you are aiming for a predominantly take out  based win or goal based win respectively.

I have also seen a few players who will give the ball to a mascot or slow player, to get them further up the pitch, but kick the ball into their own half or off the pitch so opponent is given the ball so that it is as far away from their goal as possible.

Comparison of maximum kick-off distances (before scatter):

Guild Max kick-off (“; before scatter)
Alchemist’s
Calculus 11
Compound 11
Flask 9
Katalyst 11
Mercury 11
Midas 13
Vitriol 14
Brewer’s
Friday 14
Hooper 10
Mash 10
Scum 10
Spigot 11
Stave 10
Stoker 10
Tapper 10
Butcher’s
Boar 10
Boiler 12
Brisket 14
Meathook 12
Ox 11
Princess 10
Shank 11
Tenderiser 12
Engineer’s
Ballista 11
Colossus 12
Compound 11
Mainspring 10
Ratchet 11
Salvo 12
Velocity 14
Fisherman’s
Angel 14
Greyscales 11
Jac 11
Kraken 10
Sakana 14
Salt 11
Shark 15
Siren 13
Mason’s
Brick 10
Chisel 12
Flint 13
Harmony 12
Honour 12
Mallet 10
Marbles 10
Tower 11
Mortician’s
Bonesaw 14
Casket 11
Cosset 13
Dirge 12
Ghast 10
Graves 11
Obulus 10
Silence 11
Union
Avarisse 10
Blackheart 11
Coin 9
Decimate 12
Fangtooth 10
Gutter 12
Harry the Hat  11
Hemlocke 12
Minx 13
Mist 14
Rage 11
Snakeskin 12

 

My view

Casket

I will typically look to kick off with either Casket, Ghast or Fangtooth from the centre of the pitch, moving them as far as possible and kick the ball so it just crosses into the opponents half, forcing them towards me whilst controlling the space with their various plays and traits – Foul Odour is great for restricting enemy movement in a fairly wide area. However, if I am facing the Butcher’s or a beat down Union team, I would probably kick to wider areas to avoid getting bogged down in a ruck that would be difficult to win.

I have also started experimenting with kicking off with Bonesaw straight down a channel for him to get him closer to where he needs to be.

I hope the above has been useful and I’ll continue next time with looking at how to generate momentum early in the game, particularly in turn 1.

If you have any comments or suggestions please leave them below.

Until next time sports fans!

**Plug for the pitch image used:  https://thepaintingmonkey.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/custom-guild-ball-mat/