A few weeks ago on the blog we announced that the Guild Ball Manager smartphone app has become the official app of Guild Ball, and is also now legal for use in tournaments. If you missed that announcement you can find it HERE. In related news, today we’re going to talk a little more about what Season 4 will physically and digitally look like.
So, Which Version Are We Playing Again?
Having character cards for each of your models has been a staple of Guild Ball since its creation, bringing with it a lot of benefits. Being able to reference almost any rule which is specific to each of your models by simply looking down at their card goes a long way to making Guild Ball so smooth to play. Not having to pause to look up various rules in a book for every question gives each game of Guild Ball a fairly constant flow. Incidentally, character cards are also just very nice to collect, particularly when alternative versions of them are available through launch parties, attending SteamCon, and so on.
However, because we like to make updates to Guild Ball roughly every six months through the medium of errata documents or new Seasons, it can be a bit of a pain keeping your character cards up to date. One of the most common complaints we see is from players returning to the game after a few months to find a lot of their favourite cards are wrong. On top of that, it’s a completely fair complaint that we get from retail stores that stock Guild Ball. Out of date cards within a Guild Ball set on their shelves means that they are selling an out of date product.
This problem is particularly acute when it comes for us to release a new Season which includes updated character cards, such as Season 4. In the past, we’ve mailed out thousands of cards to distributors and retailers, costing them and us quite a lot to get those products up to date with the new Season. Then only a few months later we continue with our regular errata release and the problem refreshes itself.
Don’t Give Me a Problem, Give Me a Solution!
We’ve spent a fair amount of time considering what to do about the problem with character cards. We don’t want to jeopardise our regular game updates, because they mean Guild Ball is a fresh and constantly revitalised game. We also still love character cards themselves, because they give Guild Ball such a solid foundation on which to build interesting and fun to play models. So, we decided to take a few steps:
1. No Retailer Cards – From Season 4 onwards, new boxed sets that retailers and distributors purchase will no longer contain character cards. This will start with the Cook’s Minor Guild. From this point onward, retailer store owners don’t need to worry about keeping their Guild Ball products up to date with the latest cards anymore.
2. Direct Only S4 Deck – For a limited time, when Season 4 releases we will offer a combined Season 4 character card deck for sale through the Steamforged Games webstore. We will also have these for sale at SteamCon US, SteamCon UK, and the early conventions & shows that we attend in early 2019.
3. Guild Ball Manager – As you know, we recently made Guild Ball Manager the official smartphone app for Guild Ball. This gives everyone a recommended alternative to using physical cards that can be used casually or in organised play. We will ensure that Guild Ball Manager has the most up to date character cards at all times.
4. Print on Demand – We’ve mentioned this a few times recently, and we are almost ready to show off this service, starting with anyone wishing to print any of the newly updated Big League cards. In a nutshell, Print on Demand will allow anyone wishing to purchase individual Guild Ball character cards to do so anytime they wish. Similar to Guild Ball Manager, we will ensure that our Print on Demand service always offers the most up to date character cards at all times.
5. Organised Play – We still intend to print alternative versions of Guild Ball character cards and feature them as prizes within our various organised play formats, including launch packs and tournament kits. Our recently announced Season 4 Launch Party pack features a number of Season 4 player cards as prizes. You can find more information about our Season 4 Launch Party pack HERE.
6. The Guild Ball Hub – We’ve been working on a brand new website for Guild Ball, as well as sites for all of our games. Through the Guild Ball Hub, we will of course continue to offer freely downloadable rules, character cards, organised play documents, and everything else you could need to play Guild Ball, as we always have.
But What About the Rulebook & Backstory?
Updating the Guild Ball core rules has a similar problem to updating character cards, as well as presenting a problem for new players wanting to read the story of Guild Ball from previous Seasons.
To complete our comprehensive digital support of Guild Ball Season 4, we have decided not to print a Season 4 rulebook. From Season 4 onwards the Guild Ball core rules will become a ‘living online document’ that can be easily updated if or when we ever need to make further amendments. The Season 4 core rules will be available via the Guild Ball Hub as well as being accessible through Guild Ball Manager.
One of the things we see a lot of requests for is more background, and we are happy to say this is something else we can make much easier. Lead Writer Sherwin Matthews has been working furiously on the Season 4 Guild Ball story, and this will be published in sections through this blog starting after SteamCon US in October. After the Guild Ball story has been published on the blog, those stories also be accessible through the Guild Ball Hub. No more hunting down previous Season’s rulebooks if you want to find a particular story section, it’ll all be available at the touch of a button!
Guild Ball has always had its rules available online, and we feel embracing this aspect more fully is the right move for us and our community. Having the cards available to freely download and print means that physical cards are always an option for those who prefer to have them, and the Print on Demand service is a nice way to back this up.
Keeping the rules document and the cards online means we can make changes much more easily, and our six monthly errata cycle will become easier for everyone. From your point of view, everything is still available for free, and rules updates can potentially become more regular, doing away with some of the need for things like the Collected Clarifications thread on the Rules Forum. For retailers, no physical cards in boxes means they’re never stuck with out of date products. And finally, from our point of view, it means updates to the game can go more smoothly. It also allows us to potentially make more smaller updates to wording. Previously, say if a question came up on the Rules Forum and we decided that an ability needed to have a word added or removed to it to make it more clear, we often had to wait until a Season update to change the physical card, because frankly, it’s a bit a pain to change one word on a card to clarify something, for the reasons previously discussed. Now we have the ability to easily make this type of change.
Be sure to check back tomorrow when we'll be revealing Anvil & Sledge!!