I’ve been watching Guild Ball for quite some time. I’ve seen their Facebook fan base grow exponentially, relished the updates they’ve provided and waited with baited breath for their Kickstarter to go live.
Finally the wait is over…
Guild Ball is a pseudo-medieval skirmish game with a difference. It’s primarily a 28mm scale five-a-side mob football match, in the style of Kaosball and Dreadball, though it sets itself apart from these by having an original and fast paced set of skirmish rules and is played on a 3′ by 3′ table, rather than a set board, allowing you to use any and all of your existing gaming terrain.
What initially caught my attention was the sumptuous artwork that the Guild Ball team have been teasing their Facebook fans with.
They very shrewdly partnered up with Doug Telford, an illustrator and concept artist who has worked on AAA video game titles such as Heavenly Sword and Killzone. For me it’s Doug’s work that has really helped bring the world of Guild Ball alive.
The game is set in a world known as the Empire of Free Cities, where the lands of the Empire are made up of a huge variety of climates, cultures and landscapes each controlled by a sovereign City. At its core, it sees players on opposing teams clash and struggle to control a leather wrapped inflated pig’s bladder, and attempt to kick it into their opponents’ goal.
The citizens of the Empire of Free Cities have gone crazy over the sport. The Guilds, never one to pass up an opportunity to make money, have taken advantage of this surge in popularity and invested vast amounts of cash. Games are now played out in front of huge crowds of fans, whilst behind the scenes the results can mean fortunes are won or lost on the kick of a ball.
The genius of Guild Ball hides within its rules system; an intuitive, easy to learn, modern set of game mechanics that provide ample opportunity for complex strategising, while being fast paced and incredibly fun to be a part of. Success comes with carefully constructed ‘plays’ and ‘counter plays’, with emphasis on anticipation, positioning and resource management.
As it’s played on a table, rather than a board, terrain can have a huge affect on play, something lacking from similar tabletop sports games. Using classic D6’s, with an intuitive dice pool system, hit resolution is lighting fast with minimal computations. Whilst the hit resolution system is fast and intuitive, the playbook allows for a huge variety of outcomes to each dice roll.
The most interesting aspects of game play, so far, seems to be the Influence and Momentum systems.
As players perform and achieve in-game actions they generate Momentum, which can in turn be spent on triggering special ‘plays’, shooting at goals or out-of-turn reaction moves. Any momentum left over at the end of the turn translates into a massive advantage on determining initiative the following turn.
Influence, representing an individual model’s effect on the game, can sway actions and movement each turn. This leads to an intense bluffing and counter-bluffing meta-game, as well as a need for deep risk management and turn planning.
The miniature renders look gorgeous too. They’re sculpted by Russ Charles of Clockwork Goblin and will be available in metal or 3D printed resin versions. Initially Guild Ball will showcase four different Guild teams; Butchers, Masons, Fishermen and Morticians, with each team specialising in a different area of play, and plenty of options for new Guild teams in the future.
The driving force behind Guild Ball are the game’s co-creators Mat Hart and Rich Loxam.
Mat Hart has been producing video games for the last decade or more, with full Senior/Executive Producer credits on titles such as Heavenly Sword, Enslaved and Remember Me.
Rich Loxam is a digital designer and teacher. He’s been teaching design principles for the best part of 7 years and has been involved in hobby gaming for most of his life. During the last 5-6 years he has achieved the status of UK Hardcore Champion, 1st in the RankingsHQ league tables and consistently played at the top tables of most events. Most recently he has been awarded best in faction (2013) at the UK Nationals and UK Masters.
All in all you could say I’m very eager to to see Guild Ball become another runaway Kickstarter success.
Having had access to an alpha set of the games rules, courtesy of Mat and Rich, I’ve played them through a couple of times and can’t wait to see the final product. If the miniature renders are anything to go by, there are going to be some epic figures added to my collection too.
The Guild Ball Kickstarter goes live today at 21:00 GMT, so be sure to head on over and bag an early bird offer.