Here in the SFG Development Team, we’re constantly watching for ways in which we can further fine tune the balance of our games in order to give you the best possible experience. In previous years for Guild Ball, we’ve released an erratum sometime during the year following SteamCon to implement this fine tuning, and this year is no different.
The main thrust of this errata is aimed at the Farmer’s Guild, and we’d like to speak for a minute on why some of these changes are necessary. During the development of the Farmer’s Guild, we had a few key design points we wanted to hit. Namely, these were 1) The Farmers should have a unique core mechanic which focusses on using Planter & Reaper models using harvest-markers to fuel their most powerful abilities. 2) While bringing new rules and mechanics to Guild Ball, the Farmers should be as simple to play as possible, and 3) The Guild had to be competitively viable alongside the existing Guilds in the game. This final goal is true of all new Guilds we make, of course, but it’s worth mentioning.
Looking at the Farmers since their release, it became obvious that we managed to hit all three of these key design points. The Farmers playstyle does focus on the placement and use of harvest-markers, while the Farmers are not simplest Guild to play with they certainly aren’t the most complex, and the Guild is very popular in tournament play.
However, it also became obvious that we had perhaps hit some of these points a little ‘too well’. In terms of using harvest-markers, the Farmers often felt like they had just as many powerful abilities as everyone else, but also had a ‘free’ extra resource that they get to use where no-one else in the game does. Harvest-markers could also lead to the Farmers having an abnormally high amount of Influence. The Farmers were also a little too simple to play with, their power combinations were easy to set up and a little too hard to stop for the opponent. When developing a new Guild, the ideal is always to create a team that is both simple and powerful, but Farmers could often feel like they were too simple to use for the power that you got out of them.
We’re aware the community have been having some problems with the Farmers Guild for a little while, but we’ve never made a rushed change before and we had no intention to start now. We’ve been carefully looking at this team and analysing exactly which changes we wanted to make to streamline the team to make them truer to their initial design goals, and of course, reduce their power level. So, let’s start looking at individual models.
As you can see, Thresher has gone through a number of changes. This model was simple and direct to use and could do a large amount of damage. While being a singularly powerful model is part of Thresher’s design intent, he was just a little too good at it. As a result, Thresher’s Playbook has been lengthened and changed; his momentous 4 DMG result is now on column 7, and the combined 2 DMG and knockdown result on his fourth column has been removed. However, his momentous KD result on column 3 has gained a single Dodge.
His damage with this new Playbook is still high (as befits a Reaper captain!) but he has a harder time taking out enemies from full health, particularly other Captains, without some prior set up.
To move onto the changes to his other abilities, Scything March has changed. Scything March used to grant a [1”] Dodge when Thresher inflicted the knock-down condition on an enemy model, but we felt we could represent that better by putting a single Dodge on the existing knock-down result on his third Playbook column.
Scything March is now how Thresher gains access to his [3”] melee zone. Specifically, requiring Thresher to remove a harvest-marker from the Pitch in order to gain a [3”] melee range for one activation. In addition, we’ve removed Extended Reach, since it’s no longer needed. Having a [3”] melee zone is incredibly versatile and powerful, but also a core part of Thresher’s design. This is why we have made Thresher have to ‘pay’ for his [3”] melee zone rather than remove his [3”] melee zone completely. Additionally, Thresher needing to spend harvest-markers to gain access to his most powerful abilities certainly fits with the first key design point of the Farmer’s Guild.
The final thing to note is that for Don’t Fear The…, Crow Scarer, and now Scything March, Thresher needs to be within [2”] of a harvest-marker to use these abilities, rather than [4”]. This is a small but effective way to make the Farmer’s power combinations a little bit harder to set up and easier for the opponent to prevent. This will often mean that harvest-markers need to be placed closer to the opposing team than before which will allow the opponent more chances to remove them by sprinting or charging over the harvest-markers before they can be spent.
Millstone is in a lot of ways the ‘classic’ Planter, with low TAC, high Influence, and a host of supportive abilities. This was always her core design, to be a backline, encouraging model who could help push her team to do what they needed to do. However, the last few months have shown that Millstone is not particularly easy to take out, even if she does take conditions for other friendly models, which means she has no real weaknesses that opponents can exploit.
Reducing Millstone’s ARM to  is a very easy way to reduce her survivability and make her that bit more vulnerable to enemy Attacks. In this vein, reducing the range of her Take One For The Team aura to [4”] means she has to be closer to the action in order to make use of it, further increasing her vulnerability. Farmer coaches can still make use of this fantastic ability, but a common theme you’ll have noticed in this errata is that it’s going to be slightly harder for them to get the most out of it.
The final change to Millstone is that we reduced her INF attribute to [2/3]. Bringing  Influence while also providing the team with a free harvest-marker was too much. All of these changes combined mean she’s still a strong support piece worthy of coaches’ consideration in their line-up.
Tater was intended from the start to be a ‘burst’ damage dealer with reliable  DMG on his Playbook, but apart from that needing to Charge in order to trigger his Sweeping Charge rule to achieve his maximum damage potential. This aspect was amplified by his Fork Off! ability, which effectively allowed him gain Counter Charge if he was within [4”] of a harvest-marker.
We like Tater’s ability to cause damage when he activates, but Fork Off! (Counter Charge) is a powerful addition to this and can tip the scales when weighing up how much damage a model is capable of. As a result, the first change we made was to change Sweeping Charge to only take effect during Tater’s activation, meaning that Tater will not trigger Sweeping Charge when using Fork Off! (outside of a couple of rare corner cases).
The second change we made was Fork Off! now requires a harvest-marker within [2”] instead of [4”] and requires Tater to remove the harvest-marker to make the Counter Charge. Previously, this ability was very easy to trigger, [4”] is a reasonably big distance, especially when a typical Farmers team can have two or three harvest-markers floating around without too much effort. Reducing the range to [2”] forces the Farmer coach to play more carefully and position more precisely. Just as with Thresher, making Tater have to spend a harvest-marker to use this ability is in keeping with the Farmer’s key design points as well as a way to slightly reduce his overall power.
There’s only one last point to talk about in this errata, and that’s the Fishermen’s Guild. We’ve noticed that Corsair is popular right now, with a higher tournament win percentage than we like to see. We didn’t want to tweak Corsair himself at this time, but we still wanted to reduce his access to momentous damage. Momentous damage is not intended to be a strong point of the Fishermen, so it feels odd that Avarisse & Greede, models with some of the highest momentous damage in the game, can play for them.
We knew we wanted to navigate this issue carefully, and we know that when the Fishermen’s Minor Guild is released, they will lose access to all Union models anyway, but after a lot of thought we felt it was best for the health of the game to take action now. As a result, from today, Avarisse & Greede are no longer legal Union options for a Fishermen’s Guild team.
Well there we have it. We hope you’ll agree that these are strong, valuable changes which are good for the health of the game. Join us again later this week to see the reveal of the character card for Piper, the Ratcatcher’s Guild captain, as well as the highly anticipated Game Plan deck!