Friday, February 28, 2014

Guild Ball - Demo game?!?!

Yes.. Ok.. I have stated in previous posts and articles that I was not going to back any more kickstarters until the ones that I have done are finished and delivered. And possibly even have some paint on them.

But this is different.. promise!!! And in actual fact it really is.

This is another post about my experience at Smogcon last weekend.. and a chance encounter with one of the creators of Guild Ball! Top chap named Mat Hart who was running demos of his game throughout the weekend in Guildford, UK.

Now looking at the premise of the game from their website you can see that it is based in form from fantasy football. You have 2 teams, there are goal posts ( literally.. look above.. they are just posts! ), and you have a ball ( like a European Football ) to kick and pass around the board.

Immediately you think.. ok.. I play ( insert any of the football games out there now ) and this should be simple enough.. he goes, I go.. blah blah.. whats so special about this?

Ok.. stop.. halt.. go no further.. we will be having none of that comparing to other systems non-sense right now. Instead Guild Ball picks up said ball, and runs with it in their own way and direction. And when I mean in their own direction I mean, zig, zagging around the genre in such a way that not even Shark or Siren could catch them...

How are they going at it differently.. well they are leaning on other games in other mediums to put to the table. And the end result creates one heck of a fluid game play that is very simple to get going, but can get understandably more difficult as you become more familiar with the dynamics.

Thankfully you only need a limited amount of models to get going. 6 to start, and you pretty much have everything you need to go.

Extras that you need will be dice, influence tokens, a bigger dice to hold your momentum points, wound markers, and your stat sheets. Sounds like a lot, but honestly not too bad. For game play you only need 3x3 foot of space ( heck this is starting to look like it can be done on a coffee table! ) and the goal posts. And that last piece can pretty much be anything really.. though the current kickstarter has some resin versions available with some of its pledges.

But Mr Lee.. I can hear you ask... how is the game play??? Get on with it already!!!!

Ok.. right.. gameplay.. quite important for the gamers there even if the models are perfectly suited to just painters alone!

Right.. so lucky me I had Adam nearby when being asked if we wanted to do a demo of the game. And so we got stuck right in. Me with the fishermen, and he with the butchers. Both of us completely overwhelmed by Mat's explanation of the rules but I chalk mine up to being tired more than anything else.

We sort out who is who on the cardboard cut outs that we were using here. And try to understand the stats a bit better.

Even this was quite easy, with the only mix up for my side was between the 2 ladies on the team. Once that was all sorted, we got to set up and begin to understand the game more.

First thing that we learn is that each player generates influence automatically that allows you to take actions within the game itself. And that once a player takes an action, regardless of what it is, he is finished for that turn, and the opponent gets a chance to take an action. This goes back and forth through out the "turn" before you re-roll to see who goes first and continue on.

But it while performing actions that you then can also generate momentum points as well which can be used for extra dice, passive moves and most importantly... Scoring on the goal!!! Oh and if you have any left when the turn ends.. then it gets added to your roll for who goes first! Momentum points are created when doing things like special moves, kicking, some special tackles from within players cards, etc...

The other things that we learned, which I think is pretty awesome, is that you don't have to roll to pick up the ball.. nope.. it just kinda goes to you when your within 1" of it! Makes the game a bit faster and easier to play as well. Lets you focus more on the real things in the game like strategy and tackling ( killing? ) the opponents instead.

During our game, we had no idea about a lot of the finer details of the game. Such as the combos that exist within the team for when players are near certain other players. For me.. I put the combo players on the opposite sides of the table and then continually moved them further apart from each other. Yay go me!!!! Something that after a game or 2 I think would be quick to pick out and use more effectively.

Though Mat was cool enough to give me one simple trick that I believe kind of won me the game.

My main big guy for the fishermen was Kraken who has a 2" reach for hitting. So it was suggested to put him in the middle between 2 of the opponents. And using 1 INF tackles on each, I basically laid them out flat on their backs :) Oh, wait, did I forget to say that if I get at least 1 tackle through that it can be a Knock Down effect.. I didn't.. oh well.. he does, and he did.. often. Actually those poor guys laying down up there were basically on their back the entire game. I am sure they could have gotten out, but it was still funny to see that happen, over and over and over again. Sorry Adam, but it was :)

Actually.. at this point I think it is safe to just link up their YouTube live stream that literally JUST finished as I am writing this.. this YouTube video of theirs basically goes through all the different characters in the main 2 teams, Masons and Fishermen ( Go Fishermen!!! ), and what all the different stats are. Really.. it was quite in depth. And they even answered questions from the pundits that were in attendance ( yeah.. am using it Mat.. I think it has staying power! ). They can explain a lot more about the characters and such than I can at this point.

The overall game just continues until one side scores 3 times. For us, that was Shark. Who basically camped out near Adam's goal post, and just waited for someone to kick the ball to him. Fairly straightforward, and with his kick dice and range he makes for an excellent scorer here!

Main things I can say though on the game overall is that it was quite easy to play. Even when Mat took off to grab some water and do an interview ( which we kinda crashed at the end.. hope I didn't come off as a muppet there! ) we were able to continue playing with minimal problems. A few minor questions came up, but they were answered by others who had played the demo just before us. How cool is that! Seriously!

I think if we were to do a rematch ( which I think is very much needed Adam! ) then the game would play out a lot differently and be a bit more entertaining :) I foresee many more casualties on the Fishermen if the Butchers can get their steam going and just smash them for a turn or 2.

So yeah.. good little demo.. great little game.. something that as much as I should not be backing another kickstarter what with 4 or 5 still outstanding.. I think this is something that will be getting my monies. And with them just under the 50k line.. they could use a bit more community love here for their project! Heck they even have a competition on right now on their facebook page. It is so basic such as promoting their game and KS via banners they made, and you could win the chance to have a special character made to your spec! Wowzers! Now to see how I can support that better!

Anyways.. will leave you with the art for the 2 starter teams.. both of which I will probably, already, maybe, will do get from this KS!

Check them out, and enjoy the weekend. I am on the fence currently with regards to if I should go to another miniature convention just an hour away or not... will see what happens and report back next week! Enjoys!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dropzone Commander... Demos and starter box..

One of the first demos that I was able to find at Smogcon was Dropzone Commander. Honestly, I have seen this online a lot over the past couple of years. Since there was a demo table up and running, I figured why not give it a go?!?!

So under the guidance of Louis, I got to try out the starter boxset and see what all the fuss about this game was about.

Taking the Scourge as my army ( not that I had a choice! ) I was able to get to grips to the game. I found these guys to be like Dark Elves. Hitting hard, and moving fast, but very fragile. While my opponent took the UCM which are more like Dwarfs. Slow, but heavily armored.

Mission for the game was to grab or hold the objectives within the 3 middle buildings. All of which had to be searched by infantry units.

It is interesting to see that it is not all about killing the opponent ( though that doesn't mean you can't :) ), but that it is pretty objective based overall.

Things that I found really interesting were the dynamics of the units and how they activate in groups. Each group activate as one unit, but can act independently from there. Even models within a unit can split up their fire and shoot at different targets. The hardest part of all of this though was trying to remember which pieces belong to which unit for activation. As the game gets into it more and more, it begins to get harder and harder to remember who is with what transport etc. More so when the default boxset painting jobs for the demo are all identical. Something I need to be wary of when painting these up.

In the end I lucked out a lot in this game. My anti-air units were able to take out his transports quickly, while my infantry in the middle tower was able to hold off against his own units. Though all my transports were chasing after his APC which held an objective in the end.. trying to kill everyone carrying the objective. This failed of course, but I was able to get back into the game in other ways.

While we did focus fully on the one objective that had been found, I did have both my infantry units within the other 2 buildings still searching. And with a last turn find, I was able to capture, and transfer the items away before he was able to react. Thank you super tall and large buildings against units that can only move 4 inches.. woot woot!!

From here, well I was pretty much hooked! Call me a sucker or take it as winners remorse, but yeah. After all the convention items were finished, demos played, conversations had, I went back to the booth and picked up the starter box and Ruinscape boxes. Heck the guy even threw in a bow of resin objective markers for free along with the order! Super Cool!!!

Yay more things to wait for the brush.... but on the bright side my son is looking forward to making cities from the Ruinscape and playing with his lego cars around them! I think they might get more use that way also ;)

Unboxing the starter box shows me the main sprues and rulebooks. Pretty cool that it comes with the full softback regular sized all color rulebook! I know a few other game systems that would charge you more than this starter box just for the rules.. let alone providing 2 teams, scenery, and a battle mat.

One of the buildings with a 28mm model in front of it for scale :) Nice cardboard buildings, though will be not as much fun to put them all together.

And the sprues... yes.. those are the models.. the infantry models... dammmmmn they are small... This is going to be quite interesting to paint them.. especially after seeing the pieces that we played with and how well they were painted!

The Scourge infantry above, and the other pieces that were around and on display...

I definitely have my work cut out for me here ( oh and those last buildings are all resin casted ones. Sooooo cooooolll! ).

Yeah.. let's see when I get a chance to paint these, let alone play it. But I am really into the rulebook at the moment an pouring over the colors schemes!

Yay for new addictions... one more Smogcon article forthcoming before the weekend! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Surprise gift!

As stated yesterday, I received a very cool gift from Adam Parkhouse while at Smogcon!

Salute 2013's model painted up by Adam himself! Quite the surprise actually as I was not expecting this at all.

Apparently he has seen the posts from where I have begun to collect models from other artists, and thus thought of this as being a good addition to my collection. And um.. he was right!!!!

And while packing up to leave, he also provided me with a second unexpected gift in the form of a sci-fi base pre-made and painted by him.

Originally this was for a Sedition Wars model, but he lost steam on it. So now I can take a crack at it.. though it will be interesting to see what I can put on it to fit in with this unique style! Will have a nice look around the boxes and see what I can throw onto it.

Any ideas out there in blogger land?!?!?!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Smogcon 2014

Smogcon... never heard of it before... really was surprised to hear of this and let alone that it was so close to where I live here in the UK.

So a quick drive down the M3 and I made it into Guildford with minimal problems. And while driving down the main road, I saw a pack of people with gaming cases. Rolling down the window, and a quick shout of "Smogcon?". I was pointed into the direction of the Mandolay hotel where everyone was set up.

I have to say that it was quite impressive to see all the gamers gathered in the hall to play games...

With people playing Warmachines, Hordes, Bushido, and Dropzone Commander. Quite interesting to see all the different games being played, just wish that I saw more fully painted armies being played instead of the bare metal or primed versions.

Though there was also a small painting competition within the event. Quite impressive entries were shown off here..

Quite impressive in a lot of areas and with models that I have not seen outside of the traditional box art color schemes. I have to begin to look out for more of these have quite a bit of character in them!

But why or how did I end up at this event? It honestly came down to a really random conversation with a certain person... some might be able to recognize him.. Mr Adam Parkhouse of Poral Editor fame!

Adam was nice enough to inform me of it, and suggested that I check out the gaming/convention scene. We had quite a few chats and even played a demo game of Guild Ball's recently released kickstarter. But I will post about that later.

I was also surprised by a special gift from Adam, but again I will share that in the future ;)

Oh and as a last surprise.. although many asked about my t-shirt ( Massive Voodoo! ) there were a few people sporting Painting Buddha Shirts! So we did a quick shot all together after the painting award ceremony!

Great guys all! And it was great to see what the convention scene looks like in UK here as well. Expect more convention news and reviews to come up.. as this is just the beginning for 2014 here!!!!!
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