Tales from the Pitch

The Ball and Victory Points as Resources


Hi everybody! Since this is my first article with the Longshanks I want to take some time to introduce myself. I'm Jacob, a self-described competitive player and pundit from Long Island. In tournaments I almost exclusively play morticians but I play a very wide variety of guilds in casual games.

This new platform is perfect for something I've wanted to write about for a long time. Today I'm going to try to explain in depth the idea of thinking about the ball and victory points, both your own and your opponent's, as resources that can and ought to be “spent” and managed in a way that is not always about attempting to race up to 12 points as quickly as possible. This isn't a particularly new way of thinking about the game at a higher level, but I feel as though it hasn't been talked about much in a format where it won't get easily lost in a string of chat room messages or tucked away in an old podcast episode. All that being said, let's get into the meat of the concept.

Today I want to tackle these concepts and apply them to fighting teams - ones that optimally want to score one goal and kill four models - because I think this philosophy of play applies most cleanly to them. For the sake of this example it's helpful to consider points as a kind of "life total" rather than a score you'd have in a physical game of soccer. It's not about ending the game with the most points after a set time frame, it's about reaching 12 before your opponent. There's no penalty for your opponent being at 11 points aside from perhaps needing to play more defensively to keep them from getting up to 12. Those of you that have played card games like Magic: the Gathering will likely recognize this as a similar concept to life totals in those games.

If you look at Guild Ball in this way, it begins to make more sense why you often see higher level players that are planning on killing four models and scoring one goal allow their opponents to score an early goal. They are functionally trading four points for possession of the ball, two points, and a tempo advantage in the upcoming turns by killing the model that scored the goal at the top of the next turn. This is a very clean example of how your opponent's victory point total is a resource for you. You put yourself behind in the race to 12, at least in the short term, in exchange for an advantaged board position for the rest of the game. The player who scored the early goal may be ahead for now, but by maintaining possession of the ball the fighting team is able to dictate the pace of the game.

Fighting teams generally prefer a grindy marathon to a short sprint, preferring to use the ball for resource generation and movement rather than a way to bring the game closer to its end in large chunks. If we continue the card game analogy, it's helpful to compare this to using a damage dealing card being to remove your opponent's creatures rather than to strip away your opponent's life total directly.

Speaking of using the ball as a resource, it's important to note that the ball mainly does three things: generate momentum, allow you to move your models around, and of course score points. This isn't a new concept to anyone who has any amount of time put into this game, but it's important to recognize that one of these functions also always results in giving up control of the ball - scoring a goal. As such, it's important to realize that scoring a goal not only costs you an influence and a momentum, but also the resources of the ball itself.

By scoring a goal, you are not only removing your ability to use the ball to dodge around your models and generate momentum, you are also giving access to those abilities to your opponent. If you are a team that is good at retrieving the ball, this can be acceptable, but as a fighting team it's very likely you are not equipped to do this. It's usually better to hold onto the ball until you are able to end the game by giving it up. Your opponent can't use the ball as a resource against you if you're already at 12 points.

This concludes the discussion today. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and I hope you found it helpful. If you want to discuss this sort of thing with players much better than myself in real time, I'd recommend joining the Guild Ball Zone Discord server. A lot of my personal development as a tournament player came from talking through things there. I also want to thank RedSam for giving me a chance to write here. I hope to come back again soon!


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