Guild Ball: Sowing the Seeds of Victory

With the Season 3 book a mere day away from release, today we get to roll up our sleeves and dig into the Farmer’s Guild! For today’s post, we’re going to unearth the mysterious origins behind the Farmers Guild and look at some of the new rules this brand-new Guild has sprouted! We'll also be giving away some titbits about how the Farmers play once you get them onto the Pitch.

Inspiration for a new Guild concept can come from a couple of different places such as a model the Development Team finds exciting. When this happens, we try to flesh out this concept model a little further to give ourselves a better idea of how to come up with other members of the team. Quickly, emerging concepts start to support each other as we pinpoint connecting themes and a shared visual impression. In the case of the Farmer’s Guild however, inspiration came from a a number of ideas for a strong central theme, that formed the roots for the honest Farmers.

One of the first ideas was the concept of sowing and reaping a harvest. The Farmers would be able to physically place resources on the Pitch and these resources would grow in strength over time. This kind of playstyle meant the Farmers would be a team of forward planners who would 'plant' in the early turns of the game and 'reap' the rewards of that planning in the later turns. After a number of conversations, we revised this idea and finally settled on the mechanics for Harvest Markers.

Harvest Markers have a physical presence on the Pitch, which sets them apart from tokens. Unlike tokens, Harvest Markers are a real thing on the Pitch! Just like tomatoes, cabbage, and turnips, Harvest Markers can be 'trampled' by enemies and careless Farmers who Sprint or Charge over them. (Not the cabbages!) That means all you Farmer coaches will need to be careful when choosing where to place your Harvest Markers each turn to make sure your bountiful harvest goes untrampled. Why? Well, if the Harvest Markers survive until the end of a turn, your Farmers can exchange them to gain additional Influence the following turn, reaping a potentially huge benefit! (For anyone new to the game, Influence is a resource that lets your players do everything from moving to attacking and kicking the ball. More Influence means your team gets to do more stuff.)

Now many of you may remember your first taste of the Farmers with good ol’ limited edition Tater [editor: what's taters precious? what's taters eh?], who premiered at GenCon 2016. Tater could choose to remove a friendly Harvest Marker from the Pitch to gain a benefit during his activation. Here’s the specific Character Play we’re mentioning:

Cropping:

In this case, the Character Play let Tater ‘spend’ a Harvest Marker to heal himself, this idea was the starting point of greater things. What else could happen when Farmer’s coaches can spend Harvest Markers instead of Influence or Momentum Points?

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF FARMERS IN THIS WORLD: REAPERS OR PLANTERS

There was something that had to change about Tater between GenCon and now though, and that’s because Tater was designed as a Reaper model. All the Farmers, including Captains and Mascots, have either the [Planter] or the [Reaper] model type. Planters and Reapers are a direct representation of the sowing and reaping concept that we mentioned earlier. Planters quite literally sow the seeds for the Reapers to, well, reap for a benefit later on. Reaper models are unable to place new Harvest Markers on the Pitch. Instead Reapers tend to have one or more ways of removing friendly Harvest Markers to gain a powerful effect. GenCon Tater had the capacity to plant Harvest Markers, which had to come off for his final version since he's a Reaper model. A few other small elements of Tater changed a little too, including the Character Play Cropping, but we'll dig into that in a future article.

The second type of Farmer model, the Planters, are responsible for placing new Harvest Markers on the Pitch each turn. They do this in all the ways you would expect from a Farmer, with some spit and grit, a trowel and sometimes even a big ol’ plough pulled by a donkey! On this Pitch we represent this with a variety of Plays and Character Traits such as the Character Trait Planting Season which allows the Farmer to place a Harvest Marker within [2"] of itself once per turn without any cost. The Character Play Crop Dusting is another such example. Crop Dusting is an offensive AOE character Play that causes [2] damage to models that it hits and then allows the Farmer to place [2] Harvest Markers anywhere within the AOE, all for a COST of 2 Influence! Placing Harvest Markers so close to the enemy may seem risky since they can be trampled on, but there are some Reapers that can make deadly use of Harvest Markers placed close to the enemy.

Once we had the basics down about how the Farmers Guild was going to be composed of Reapers and Planters we decided to see just how far we could push the limits for truly unique Guild Ball players.

One of the ways we did this was to try a whole range of Influence attributes that we don't normally see. Lets take the Reaper Windle for example. Windle has a [0/2] INF attribute, meaning that he doesn't generate any Influence for the team, and he can be allocated a maximum of [2]. (All you clever Hunters have noticed this INF attribute looks just like Seenah’s, the Great Bear. But that’s where the similarities end!) Because Windle is a Farmer, his team has access to Harvest Markers that not only makes up for his lack of Influence generation by potentially providing additional Influence for the team but also allows him to make big use of his Big Breakfast Character Trait.

Big Breakfast lets Windle remove a friendly Harvest Marker from the Pitch to gain an extra Influence point and [+2] TAC for the rest of the turn. A total of [3] Influence might not seem like a lot but Windle also has Berserk, meaning that even though he has an INF attribute of [0/2] he is capable of making six Attacks in a single activation! Reapers tend to follow Windle's trend of being quite low on Influence generation. Planters, on the other hand, tend to have quite high Influence generation, such as Jackstraw who has a [3/3] INF attribute.

The dichotomy between Planters and Reapers is meant to give the Farmers Guild coach a lot of interesting and difficult choices to make when constructing a team. How many Planters and Reapers will you choose? How many Harvest Markers do you think you will need to make each turn to get the most out of your Reapers? Tell us in the official Farmer’s thread on our Forums or on our Facebook page.

All the dirt on the Farmers will be available for you to digest in the Season 3 Book, available at Salute. Be sure to pick one up and post all the pictures on line to get those sweet, sweet Likes, Fav & RTs.

(Now, we know what you’re thinking: When do they come out! To be the first to find out, be sure to subscribe to the Steamforged newsletter and watch for announcements from your favourite local game stores!)