Season 4 - Welcome to the Pitch...

Did you notice that? No? It was a pretty big moment. We just stepped onto the road to Guild Ball Season 4, and there’s a lot to talk about while we travel. For anyone that remembers the weeks leading up to the release of Season 3, the run up to a new Season is a pretty awesome time to be a Guild Ball fan. Over the next few months we’ll be giving you regular sneak peeks into what’s coming with the new Season, including showing off core rules and organised play changes, as well as a selection of updated character cards. All of this leads up to the final reveal of Season 4 at SteamCon USA in October.

So Much to See, So Little Time

So, let’s go over what’s to come. Today we’re kicking things off with a look at some of the general ideas that have gone into Season 4 as well as some of the core rules changes (spoilers, they’re quite small changes). Later this week, you’ll be treated to your first look at a Navigator’s Guild character card, and the Navigators will continue to be shown once per week until all six have been revealed. Towards the end of those reveals, we’ll also start looking at some of the already existing character cards that are changing going into Season 4. Pretty exciting!

Spring Cleaning… But in Summer

One of the first things we decided to do with Season 4 was to take a look at the rules language of our character cards and give it a good clean. Previously, Guild Ball has been guilty of falling into a trap that miniatures games can often fall into, which is miniature game rules language written by miniature gamers for miniature gamers. This can result in ‘gamer slang’, where certain words or phrases are very difficult to understand for those that are not already fluent in this type of language. We have made a concerted effort to use more plain English in our traits and plays and have a lot more that ‘just say what they do’. Close Control is a good example of a Character Trait that we have cleaned up a little:

  The Season 3 wording was okay...

The Season 3 wording was okay...

  ...but the Season 4 style is much cleaner.

...but the Season 4 style is much cleaner.

The second image is Close Control as it appears on a Season 4 character card. There are a few things to notice, firstly that we removed ‘once per turn’. Since the rule already states that Close Control can only trigger ‘the first time’ a tackle result is used, also stating that it is a ‘once per turn’ ability is not necessary.

Additionally, you will notice that the word ‘tackle’ is no longer capitalised or bolded. The original intention of using bolding and capitalisation for a lot of our key words was to help them to stand out and be noticed as important. But since a number of abilities within Guild Ball use a number of key words, we weren’t really helping anything stand out since there was so much of it! Also, for a brand-new player reading Guild Ball rules, seeing a lot of bolded and capitalised words can be quite intimidating, since this effectively tells them ‘hmm, I need to know all of these definitions to know how this rule works!?’ When actually, a lot of the time knowing the exact definition of a few key words isn’t necessary to understanding how a rule functions on the pitch.

Precisely Measured Cleanliness

One of the issues with the Season 3 rules that we heard about the most was the method of measuring two things, ball and area of effect (AOE) placements. In Season 3 players were required to measure to the centre of the ball marker or an AOE template when placing these on the pitch. In Season 4 measuring to place a ball or an AOE template will just be ‘within’. This means that any part of the ball marker or the AOE template can be within placement range.

  Measuring to the centre worked...

Measuring to the centre worked...

  ...but this is FAR cleaner!

...but this is FAR cleaner!

To keep the range of AOE placements as reasonable as possible, the range of almost all AOE plays and traits have been reduced by 2” due to this new method of measuring.

Tap In… Passes?

Tap in has an interesting history, in Season 2 it was trialled as a Guild Plot card that could be used once per game, allowing someone to lower the target number (TN) of a shot on goal from a 4+ to a 3+, thus making the shot easier to hit. The tap in Guild Plot’s popularity allowed us to make tap in a core rule for Season 3, meaning that all shots on goal that took place within 4” of the goal post would be easier to hit.

Over the course of Season 3 we started to notice an inconsistency that we weren’t happy with. Why should it be easier to score a goal when you’re close to the enemy goal post, when it isn’t easier to pass the ball to a friendly model when they’re close by? To solve this problem and add another level of consistency to our kicking mechanics, any kick of the ball (both passes and shots) when the target of the kick is within half range of the kicking model will reduce the TN by 1. So, if Ox who has a 6” kick range is passing the ball to a friendly model that’s within 3” or less, Ox needs to roll a TN of 3+ rather than 4+, pretty neat!

Aggressive Kick Offs

Some of you may remember when we held our Pitch Formations rules preview during the summer of 2017. We let you guys play around with some test rules for an alternative way to set up a game of Guild Ball. While we eventually decided not to put Pitch Formations into our core rules, we did learn some very interesting things from that experiment. One of the aims of Pitch Formations was to encourage people to engage the enemy team in melee during turn 1. This is because we’ve seen a habit in some Season 3 standard games of teams being very ‘standoffish’ and reluctant to engage the enemy team, which isn’t super fun.

Through watching the Pitch Formations rules preview, and through our own research, it became clear that one of the main reasons for people to standoff each other was to prevent the kicking team from generating any momentum. If a team can’t generate any momentum from having possession of the ball or attacking enemies, then they will have a harder time contesting the initiative for the following turn and will often lose access to some of their abilities such as heroic plays or momentous actions, which require momentum to use.

Just as the player going second on most turns will start the turn with 1 momentum, in Season 4 the kicking team will also start the first turn with 1 momentum. We expect this will cause an increase in the number of ‘aggressive kick offs’ that take place. This should mean that the action can start sooner in a Season 4 game of Guild Ball and cause a little less standoffish play.

That’s all we have for you today, we hope you enjoyed this sneak preview of what’s to come with Season 4. Join us again later this week to see the reveal of the Navigator Horizon, Rogue Smuggler.