Today we’re going to take a closer look at the new Union players Grace & Benediction. Sent by the Church to keep a closer eye on Rage & Brisket, Grace & Benediction strike fear into friends and enemies alike. In this article we will be going through the key abilities of Grace & Benediction and what they can be used for. We will also be taking a look at some potential team line ups for Grace & Benediction.
Grace, Saint of the Bacchal Throne
Both Grace and Benediction were designed to be supporting players for a Union team, although they go about doing this in very different ways. Grace specialises in supporting friendly models from a distance, she has a number of ways to help her team without getting bogged down in a brutal melee. In addition to supporting the team as a whole, Grace has a very good KICK range of [8”] which helps her to score occasional goals when the opportunity arises.
Firstly, lets dig into how Grace supports her team, particularly with her Character Plays. When developing Grace, we wanted to tap into the idea of spiritual healing. This brought us to the Healing Light Character Play. Healing Light is a short ranged AOE that allows any friendly player within it, including Grace herself, to recover  Health Points. A very useful Character Play if you have a couple of wounded players close together, since Grace can heal them all at once! There is also no limit on how many players Grace can heal with Healing Light; the only restriction is how many players you can fit into the AOE!
Grace’s second Character Play is one that has been around since the first days of Guild Ball. Veteran coaches will be no stranger to the Quick Foot Character Play, also seen on the Fishermen Captain Shark. Quick Foot allows Grace to increase the MOV attribute of any friendly player, including herself, by [+2”/+2”]. Quick Foot is hugely beneficial to literally any player in Guild Ball, with it you can increase the MOV of Seasoned Brisket to [8”/10”], Veteran Rage to [7”/9”], or Grace herself to [8”/10”]. The tactical implications of increasing a player’s MOV attribute are incredibly important, Quick Foot can allow a player to score a goal that they otherwise would have been out of range for, or to Charge an enemy player that had attempted to retreat to safety. To top it off, Quick Foot can be used multiple times per turn to increase the MOV attribute of several players.
Turning Grace’s card over to look at her Character Traits reveals even more about her supportive playstyle. The Impart Faith Character Trait cements Grace’s capacity to support her team from a distance. The RNG (range) of both Grace’s Character Plays are [4”], which isn’t very far; however, Impart Faith allows Grace to measure the range of her Character Plays from another friendly player within [6”] of her. For example, Grace is within [6”] of Mist, so Grace can use Quick Foot, measuring the [4”] range for Quick Foot from Mist instead of from herself. In this example, Grace could use Quick Foot on a player over [11”] away from herself!
The Blessed Character Trait gives Grace  extra Influence at the start of her activation. Even if you have allocated Grace  Influence at the start of a turn, she will still get this extra  Influence, meaning that she will be able to play an active role in every turn of a game. Furthermore, Grace’s two Character Plays both have a COST of  Influence. Because of Blessed, Grace will always be able to use one of her Character Plays to support her team. Additionally, Blessed states that Grace ‘gains’ the  Influence. Normally we ‘allocate’ Influence to our players and a player cannot be allocated more Influence than their maximum INF attribute. However, ‘gain’ means that Grace can have more Influence than her maximum INF attribute allows as a result of Blessed. Grace’s INF attribute is [1/3], this means that she generates  Influence for the team’s Influence-pool and she can be allocated  Influence at the start of a turn. If Grace has  Influence at the start of her activation, Blessed gives her another  meaning that she will activate with  Influence!
Finally, the Purity Character Trait allows Grace to do something completely new to Guild Ball, remove enemy ongoing-effect AOEs. If there is an annoying Fire Blast or Noxious Blast AOE on the Pitch, Grace can remove it for you. This makes Grace particularly effective when fielded against the Alchemists Guild, or any player that uses ongoing-effect AOEs.
Benediction, Shield of the Faith
Earlier we mentioned that both Grace and Benediction were designed to be supporting players for the Union. We’ve seen that Grace achieves this by supporting her team with useful Character Plays that she can use every turn from a safe distance, as well as acting as a secondary goal scorer. Benediction on the other hand, is an immovable object that the Union coach can place in the midst of an enemy team and expect him to hold his ground. Having singularly resilient players such as Benediction can be very useful for a Guild Ball coach, particularly against aggressive melee-focused Guilds like the Butchers. Against such teams it’s useful to have a player that can take a few hits and then Counter Attack, while simultaneously distracting the opponent from attacking your less resilient players.
When developing Benediction, we took inspiration from ideas like the Knights Templar or the Teutonic Order, paladins of religion that stand as watchful protectors of the faithful. To this end, we gave Benediction a [2”] melee zone and a Playbook with very easy access to Momentous Push Playbook results. Easy to access Push Playbook results mean Benediction has very strong Counter Attacks, particularly against enemy players with a [1”] melee zone. After a player has used its Standard Advance (a Jog, Sprint, or Charge) most players don’t have another method of moving around. If Benediction Counter Attacks an enemy player after it has moved, it is likely that he will be able to choose the double-Push Playbook result on his second column, and Push the enemy player out of melee, so the enemy can no longer Attack him! On top of this, Benediction has the Poised Character Trait, meaning that he can make  Counter Attack each turn without spending Momentum!
Added to his excellent Counter Attacking potential, Benediction has two Character Plays that increase his defensive capabilities even further. The first being Braced. Braced increases Benedictions ARM by  for the next Attack that targets him, meaning that for the first Attack he will be an incredible ARM ! Having a high ARM attribute is very useful for any player, but it is particularly useful on Benediction if he has declared a Counter Attack. The enemy’s Attack will be largely nullified by Benediction’s high ARM and he then has a good chance of Pushing the enemy player out of melee altogether.
Benediction’s second Character Play, Stand Firm, is similarly useful. Stand Firm allows Benediction, or another friendly player, to ignore the knocked-down condition the first time they suffer it. You may detect a theme here, but what is this useful for? You guessed it, Counter Attacks! Why? Well, when an enemy declares a Counter Attack, one of the most effective ways to deny it is to knock the Counter Attacking player down before they have chance to use it. If Benediction declares a Counter Attacks while benefiting from Stand Firm, the enemy player won’t be able to knock Benediction down to stop him from making his Counter Attack. Although, since the knocked-down condition is one of the most commonly used in Guild Ball, Stand Firm is useful in a lot of other situations too.
In contrast to Grace, Benediction has an inverted version of the Impart Faith Character Trait, called Impart Wisdom. Impart Wisdom allows other friendly players to measure the range of their Character Plays from Benediction, as long as they are within [6”] of Benediction. This is great for players that have effective but short ranged Character Plays such as Veteran Rage. If Veteran Rage is within [6”] of Benediction, he can use Red Fury, measuring the [4”] range for Red Fury from Benediction instead of from himself. In this example, Veteran Rage could use Red Fury on a player over [12”] away from himself!
Line Ups of the First Light of Solthecius
Now that we’ve explored what’s great about Grace and Benediction individually, let’s throw them into some team line ups and see what happens:
- Blackheart (C)
- Coin (M)
Blackheart is the utility Captain of the Union, He can apply himself and his team to scoring goals or taking out enemy players in equal measure, so both Grace & Benediction are excellent choices. Benediction will be incredibly useful here as a central defensive player, taking the brunt of enemy Charges where he can make the most of his excellent Counter Attacking potential. Additionally, Blackheart’s On My Mark Character Play benefits enormously from the increased range that Impart Wisdom provides. Grace’s capacity to improve the speed of friendly players with Quick Foot is fantastic in any team, but especially one that has strong goal scoring potential. Increasing the MOV of Blackheart, Snakeskin, or Grace herself turns any one of these players into a top notch goal scorer.
- Veteran Rage (C)
- Strongbox (M)
Veteran Rage cares much less for the finesse of Guild Ball, instead preferring to put enemies to the sword… or… the cleaver in his case. Benediction is an ideal choice in a Veteran Rage team for holding the line in the centre of the melee, pushing enemies out of Rage’s path so he can Charge into the fray again and again. Earlier in this article we mentioned how useful Impart Wisdom is to Veteran Rage, allowing him to dramatically increase the range of Red Fury. With Benediction on the table, Red Fury has the potential to target almost any player that you need it to!
- Seasoned Brisket (C)
- Coin (M)
- Avarisse & Greede
- Harry ‘The Hat’
Seasoned Brisket is almost the ideal Captain to lead Grace onto the Pitch. Both players are adept goal scorers and, in a Seasoned Brisket team, Quick Foot will have a use almost every turn. Seasoned Brisket loves to lead a team of goal scoring players at blistering pace, so an ‘on tap’ speed increase is exactly what she wants. Additionally, because Grace has the [Solthecian] model type, she is another player that can trigger the Motivated Character Trait on Mist which increases Mist’s speed without spending any Influence at all!