Earlier this week you all had the chance to see a sneak preview of the brand-new Game Plan card deck being used on the Steamforged Guild Ball livestream. If you missed that livestream you can watch the video HERE. Today is the first section of a 2-part blog about updates to our Regional Cup Organised Play document, as well as a day a lot of you have been waiting for. Today, we’re going to explain fully how Game Plan cards work as well as revealing the entire deck! Awesome!
The full release of our updated Regional Cup document will take place next week, however, from today you will be able to download and play games with the Game Plan deck. Tournament Organisers can, at their discretion, start using the Game Plan deck in their events from now!
Pick a Card, Any Card
So, what is the purpose of the Game Plan deck? The Game Plan deck has a number of functions; the primary one being a replacement of the Guild Plot cards. By now, the Guild Plots are several years old, and their weaknesses have become very clear. Guild Plots are easy to forget since they all have very different trigger points throughout a turn, and their effects can be uneven. Additionally, the initiative system within Guild Ball has been the same since the game’s original release. Rolling a die to determine who gets to go first feels rather dated. Even allowing coaches to improve their chances by adding unspent momentum points to the initiative roll still leaves occasions where the result of a game falls to a single die roll. All of this led to the creation of Game Plans.
The development team have been working on the Game Plan cards for quite some time. We knew years ago that replacing the old initiative mechanic was something we wanted to do, but we had to be absolutely certain that we were doing it in the best way for casual fans as well as more competitive ones. The Game Plan deck actually went through two distinct iterations prior to the version that we finally produced. Veteran fans of Guild Ball may remember that the Season 3 Guild Plots were not printed within the Kick Off! version of the Season 3 rulebook. That’s actually because we were strongly considering implementing one of the earlier versions of the Game Plan deck way back then. We eventually determined that the Game Plan deck wasn’t ready, but fortunately we’d already created the Season 3 Guild Plots as a fall back.
Anatomy of a Game Plan
Each Game Plan has three distinct elements, an initiative value, an influence value, and a text effect. We’ll dig into exactly how to use Game Plans later on, but for now just know that each coach selects a single Game Plan to use at the start of each turn after the first.
The initiative value is used to determine who will have the first activation of each turn. Each Game Plan’s initiative value is located in the blue shaded circle in the bottom left corner. The higher a Game Plan’s initiative value, the more likely it is to allow you to decide who gets to activate first during a turn. Game Plans have a range of initiative values from +1 to +7; there are a greater number of cards with a ‘middle’ initiative value such as +3, +4, or +5.
The influence value is located in the yellow shaded circle in the bottom right corner. Influence values are added (or subtracted) from a coach’s influence pool each time a Game Plan is used. For example, if I’m playing a team which generates 13 influence each turn, and I use a Game Plan which has an influence value of -1, my influence pool will be 12 for that turn. In the next turn, if I use a Game Plan which has an influence value of +0, my influence pool will be 13. Game Plan influence values range from -1, to +1, however, there are a greater number of cards which have an influence value of +0.
Text effects are a written description in the centre of each Game Plan and have a wide variety of different effects. Some will provide a bonus character trait to your whole team for the entire turn, some will allow you to immediately move a single player, some will grant an attribute buff or penalty to a single player. Each Game Plan has been written in a way which clearly explains how each effect works.
How to Use Game Plans
Game Plans initially function in a similar way to Guild Plots. Both coaches share a single deck of 18 cards, this deck is shuffled before the game starts and both coaches are dealt 7 random Game Plans. Each coach then looks at the Game Plans they were dealt, in secret, and chooses 5 to keep. These 5 cards then become that coach’s ‘hand’ of cards for the duration of the game.
Then make a die roll to determine the kicker and the receiver as normal. We considered having the Game Plans cover this as well, but through testing we discovered that we would need to rebalance a number of cards specifically because of how they could be used in the first turn. This skewed the cards quite a bit and would have eventually led to the cards having to be a lot less interesting overall. Therefore we decided that the kick and receive die roll would remain, and that Game Plan cards would come into effect from the second turn onwards.
At the start of the second turn, in the Initiative Phase, instead of rolling a die to determine the initiative, both players secretly select a Game Plan from their hand. Both coaches then reveal their selected card at the same time and compare the initiative values of their selected Game Plan. Each player adds their unspent momentum from the previous turn to their revealed initiative value, the player with the highest total initiative value chooses who will have the initiative (the first activation of the turn). If the total initiative values are tied, both coaches roll a 1D6, the coach who rolls higher chooses who will have the initiative, rerolling further ties. The coach that does not have the initiative still gains 1 momentum point as normal.
Once the initiative has been determined, Game Plan text effects will be resolved. The player with the initiative resolves their Game Plan text effect first. Any Game Plans which affect the entire turn take effect from this point onward.
Then we return to resolving the Maintenance Phase as normal, in initiative order. When each coach generates their influence pool, remember that they need to add or subtract the influence value of their revealed Game Plan before allocating their influence.
The Activation Phase then progresses as normal, remember to use your text effects! When playtesting, we found it a good idea to leave both coach’s revealed Game Plans somewhere clearly visible to both coaches. Or at least, easily within each if either coach needs to re-read one.
During the End Phase each coach discards their revealed Game Plan. Each coach should keep their own discard pile, which is important if a coach runs out of Game Plans in their hand. If a coach’s hand of Game Plans is empty, the coach simply picks up their discarded Game Plans to form a new hand and continues as normal.
How Do I Choose a Game Plan?
With so many aspects to each Game Plan, and how different each Game Plan is, it can be difficult to choose the ones you want. So let’s go through a few examples of where different types of Game Plan can be very useful.
Perhaps the most obvious one is the highest initiative value cards. These are great for when you really need to put everything you have into bidding for that first activation. Coaches do need to consider that a lot of the highest initiative value Game Plans also come with a negative influence value and/or a text effect which applies a penalty or even helps your opponent! A fantastic example of this is the Seize the Initiative Game Plan, which allows both coaches to Dodge one of their players [4”]. Grudge Match is another Game Plan which does something both for you, and for your opponent. There will be plenty of situations where these types of Game Plan could benefit your opponent just as much, or even more, than you. Use high initiative Game Plans when you really need to win initiative, and when you can afford any potentially negative effects that these Game Plans have.
Some of the strongest text effects, such as Kick ‘Em When They’re Down, which grants friendly Squaddies Shove the Boot In, and Hunker Down, which grants your whole team Resolute while within their own half of the pitch, also have some of the lowest initiative values. You could choose a low initiative Game Plan when the race for momentum in the previous turn has been quite close, but this will likely mean that your opponent will get to choose who has the initiative, since they have a lot of options for playing a higher initiative card. You need to consider whether going first in the turn is important to you or not, if it isn’t important to you, then you can almost choose a Game Plan without worrying about its initiative value at all. Similarly, if you have way more momentum than your opponent, it may not matter what Game Plan you choose because you’ll still very likely have a higher initiative total thanks to your momentum. Use Game Plans with a strong text effect when you don’t need to guarantee the first activation of the turn, when the initiative value doesn’t matter because one coach has a huge stack of momentum, or when you have a specific plan which requires a certain text effect.
While most Game Plans have an influence value of +0, about a quarter of the Game Plan deck has a +1 influence value and about another quarter has a -1 influence value. The choice of whether to use these Game Plans largely depends on how your team will be affected by gaining or losing influence. Guilds which are particularly tight on influence, such as the Blacksmiths or the Hunters, won’t want to see Game Plans with a -1 influence value very often. On the other hand, Guilds which can have above average amounts of influence, such as the Farmers or the Morticians, may not mind quite as much about using a Game Plan with a -1 influence value. This can also differ from team to team and captain to captain. However, cards with -1 influence values often have especially powerful text effects, which may be more valuable than 1 influence for one turn. When considering a Game Plan’s influence value, consider your chosen Guild, preferred team composition, and what the other effects of the card are. If your team does not want to see -1 influence values you may wish to discard these cards when choosing the 5 you wish to keep in your hand. Additionally, you may wish to keep Game Plans with an influence value of +1 because that bonus influence will have a huge impact on how your team plays.
That’s all we have for today! Go play some games of Guild Ball with your brand new Game Plan deck! Join us again next week to see the updated Regional Cup Organised Play document in full, where we will reveal the specific rules surrounding how Minor Guilds will operate in Guild Ball Organised Play. See below for a link to the digital files for the Game Plan deck.