In the weekend of 28 and 29 September, the biggest team tournament in the world of Guild Ball was held in Blankenberge, Belgium. 23 countries sent their best players to fight for the cup, and for the honour of representing their nation in this prestigious event. The event was massive – 150 players came together to compete, but most of all have fun and enjoy the game that is Guild Ball.
The Longshanks page for the event is https://www.longshanks.org/events/?event=2662.
A week before the event, Mike ‘the dog’ Klein asked if he could interview me for the Anatomical Precision podcast, as I was a team captain from one of the lesser known countries ánd up and coming within the media scene. Listen to it here:
Be sure to tune into Anatomical Precision for more quality content on Guild Ball at https://anatomicalprecision.podbean.com/.
Since the distance between home and the tournament was a “measly” ~240km, the Dutch teams could just come by car. After a nice 3 hour drive around Antwerpen and through the maze that is the Zeebrugge harbour area, me and my team finally arrived at the hotel in Blankenberge, at around 21:45. We picked up the keys to our hotel rooms, unpacked, and went to the bar to socialize. It was amazing seeing everyone that I’ve been speaking with over Facebook and Discord, and it seems that my Hat is quite the beacon to make new friends. (Hey, it’s that guy with the hat!)
During breakfast, there was an anxious vibe across the room. The event was finally starting, and people were set on showing the world how good they were. The best of the best were present, which meant that this was thé event to measure yourself to the rest of the world. Germany 1 were the reigning champions – Timmy and Christian the original members, while Christopher filled the third slot for this year. This year seemed to be one of the hardest ones to win yet – a shark tank with very strong players in many teams, many with Nationals winners (or runner-ups).
For the Dutch teams, we only had one real goal in mind: performing better than last year. Both squads only had a single round win in 2018, so this goal didn’t feel that far out of reach. Our squads were Jeroen on Farmers, Rick on Hunters and Mark on Fishermen for team 1, and Guy on Brewers, Leon on Blacksmiths and myself on Morticians for team 2.
In our first round, we drew the Czech squad of Jakub Matejka on Order, Stepan Slavik on Fishermen and Michael Charvát on Navigators. A very goal-focused team, which we felt decently matched up against. Blacksmiths are strong into all three of those teams, Morticians also have the tools to fight these squads, and basically only our Brewer would have some problems. Because we didn’t have any preferences, we placed Guy down first, and the our opponents put down the Navigator player, Michael. We chose to put Leon against the Navigator, and I expected to fight Order, which was correct.
So here I am, paired against Jakub – the #1 Czech player, and also someone that went 5-1 on the Polish Nationals, French Nationals and 3-1 at the Austrian Nationals. It also was the first round of the tournament, and I felt the pressure build. This immediately showed in the draft, as I mistakenly drafted Bonesaw instead of Ghast… I lost the roll and Jakub decided he would kick to me.
Order: Seasoned Brisket, Pride, Veteran Fangtooth, Harry ‘the Hat’, Mist, Seasoned Spigot
Morticians: Scalpel, Dirge, Graves, Veteran Hemlocke, Silence, Bonesaw
The first turn started of quite nicely. He kicked with Mist, whom I was able to Shutout with Silence, giving me the ability to set up the take-out on the striker. To counter this, Jakub used the Ball of Light to set Fangtooth up very far forward to threaten Scalpel. I popped his Resilience with Hemlocke’s Blind, and then jogged Scalpel in range of both Mist and Fangtooth via the Power of Voodoo. I now make my first mistake by getting scared of Fangers for round two, and do not go into Mist to kill off Jakub’s last activation and protect the ball. Scalpel goes into Fangers and puts him on 1 HP, whereafter Mist scores a goal. I punt the ball towards the left side of the pitch, where Silence and Dirge are waiting. 0-4
In turn two I was able to claw myself back by taking out Fangtooth and dealing some nice damage to Mist. But then I learned about how fast Spigot can be – using the Ball of Light, he was able to traverse across the entire pitch to get in position to threaten the ball. Dirge and Silence moved in to stop him in turn 3. The rest of the turn, I wailed some more onto Mist, who ended the turn on 2 health. 2-4
Turn three started off with Jakub getting Fangtooth into my encirclement of Mist by using a patch of fast ground and bought a Ground Pound. As I recognized that Spigot was the actual threat, I used Tenacity to put Shutout on him… which was a huge mistake, as Seasoned Spigot has Close Control. Using 2 of my 4 influence on Shutout meant that I would not be able to tackle the ball away ánd pass it to Dirge to run away with it after. As Jakub went first and bought a Ground Pound, he didn’t have any momentum to counter… Luckily, he wasn’t able to disengage Mist, which meant that I was able to take out both the striker ánd Fangtooth again. But then Spigot activated and he just scored the Order’s second goal. With Brisket waiting in the wings on the right flank, I punted the ball back towards the left flank. 6-8
But then Mist and Fangtooth come back onto the left flank, and I only have Dirge and Silence there to try and stop the goal. They do all they can, and Scalpel tries desperately to come close to the ball, but fails to do so due to an expertly placed Molotov by Harry. Jakub just bides his time and scores with Mist on the last activation. 6-12
It’s amazing how nervous one can be in the first round of a tournament. I made so many rookie mistakes (not going for the kill on Mist turn 1, forgetting about Spigot’s Close Control in turn 3, not drafting Ghast into a goal-centric squad). I think that if I’d been more calm and collected, I’d have stood a chance, but Jakub expertly recognized my errors and punished me for them. Well played, Kuba!
Leon obliterated Michael 15-0, but sadly Guy forgot about the Midfield General card and misplaced his Mash, forgetting about the +1″ MOV bonus, which meant that his opponent could get their second goal in and snowball the game from there, 4-12. We lost the round 1-2.
After the sad defeat of round one, we were placed against the Belarussian squad, which consisted of Simon Sharapov on Cooks, Dzmitry Kanstantsinau on Alchemists and Kanstantsin Rusinau on Ratcatchers. As I was confident to play against any of those teams, we drafted my Morticians first, while the Belarussians placed Alchemists first. The Ratcatchers were placed against me, while our Blacksmiths went on to fight the Alchemists, leaving the Brewers and Cooks to fight each other on the middle table.
I quickly found out that Kanstantsin didn’t have much experience, so I didn’t go full ham into him and made it a match we both would enjoy.
Ratcatchers: Piper, Squeak, Miasma, Scourge, Veteran Graves, Pelage
Morticians: Scalpel, Dirge, Graves, Veteran Hemlocke, Silence, Ghast
The Rats decided to kick with Pelage, and again Silence was able to recover the ball, place a Fire Blast in front of Pelage and then hit the Tucked. Kanstantsin basically just let Pelage stand where she was, which I explained to be a mistake, as I would be able to get her with Scalpel at the end of the round. He didn’t really care about that, though, as he used Piper’s legendary to move the entire team up, and at the end of the turn his whole team was within Scalpel’s range. I decided to go for Scourge, recognizing him as the main damage potential and believing in my ability to protect the ball from Piper in turn 2. Scourge ended the turn at 1 HP. 0-0
At the start of turn two, I took Scourge out with Graves and put Tooled Up onto Scalpel. The Rats were trying to deal damage through Rataclysms, but were only able to really hit Silence and Dirge. Scalpel went into Piper, but my rolls weren’t great and he survived, although he was almost entirely caged in by my team. Veteran Graves was finally able to peel off the ball. 2-0
In turn three, I was able to take out Miasma and Pelage, and afterwards Piper, but not before he Reverie’d Veteran Graves to make a goal. He also killed Dirge with the returned Scourge and Silence took a beating from Veteran Graves. 8-5
In turn 4, he took out Silence, but I scored my final points by scoring a goal with Hemlocke and the Power of Voodoo. 12-7
Kanstantsin’s stormtrooper strategy took me by surprise, but good positioning and careful planning of my take-outs put me at 8 VP and in control of the ball. I basically let him perform the Reverie, as that gave me the time to kill off both Pelage and Miasma and fully cage in Piper. In turn 4, I allowed him to kill Silence, as that gave me the time to set up the goal run with Veteran Hemlocke. All of the points Kanstantsin got were those that I gave him to set up VP’s of my own. I could’ve also completely shut him out of the game, but that wouldn’t have been a nice experience. This way, we both had fun, and I still got my first victory of the weekend.
We won the round 3-0, as Guy defeated Simon 12-2 and Leon defeated their Alchemists 12-8. The squad is 1-1 now.
On the last round of the day, we were paired against Belgium’s first squad of Tom Vananderoye on Ratcatchers, Koen Vliegen on Union and Mattias Vriens on Morticians. We were very excited for this match, as we basically saw these guys as our ‘mentors’. The first time we went to tournaments, they were there as well, and they SCHOOLED us. Now, we were able to see if we’d grown and were able to beat them. As we wanted to protect our Blacksmith from their Union and Morticians, we decided to put down our Brewers first. They chose to place their Ratcatchers down, which was perfect, as now our Blacksmith was totally protected from the match-ups he didn’t want to play. Mattias chose to play against our Brewer, which meant I had to play Belgium’s current #1, Koen Vliegen and his Union. Two country #1’s on one day – NICE!
Union: Veteran Rage, Strongbox, Minx, Gutter, Grace, Snakeskin
Morticians: Scalpel, Dirge, Graves, Veteran Hemlocke, Silence, Bonesaw
Koen said he was scared of my kicking tactic, so decided to kick himself with Minx. I didn’t really mind, as this would set me up to score my first goal with Bonesaw. He put up a line of models, but wasn’t able to stop me taking out Minx at the end of the turn and Second Winding away from Rage’s threat. I had the ball on Bonesaw, ready for the goal run. 2-0
In turn two, Koen brought Minx on far too close to Scalpel and didn’t recognize this. He went first and buffed up Rage to threaten multiple targets. I was able to Shutout Rage, and afterwards take out Minx before she had activated. I was also able to score the goal, and the ball sailed towards Grace from the goal kick. Sadly, I wasn’t able to stop Rage from targeting anyone and he deleted both Dirge and Silence at the end of the turn. (8-3)
Being in a convincing lead, I still wasn’t too sure of the game. Koen now had the ball, and I knew that he would be able to grind out 5 VP while keeping the ball safe, so I knew I had to be quick. I brought on Silence and Dirge on the right side of the pitch, trying to be a pain in Rage’s ass, but this was a MAJOR mistake… The entire left side of the pitch was now unmanned, and that’s where Grace punted the ball towards. I quickly realized my mistake and my head started panicking – I can’t throw away this huge lead! I punished Koen for this first activation by taking out Gutter with Scalpel, but forgot to Second Wind away from Rage and the turtle… And instead of trying to get everybody I had towards the ball, I started trying to take out the just returned Minx with Bonesaw and Veteran Hemlocke, two players that aren’t that known for their melee prowess… It was clear that my mind was in panic mode, and my clock was ticking down. Koen was able to take out Graves and set up for a kill onto Scalpel on turn 4. 10-5
Turn four indeed started off with Rage taking out Scalpel, therefore killing my chance of a take-out to seal the game. But I had placed Dirge in such a way, that it was now able to bring the ball back into the game. He couldn’t pass the ball towards one of my models, but the ball scattered in such a way that Koen had to do something about it. He activated Grace and passed the ball back towards Rage. I now go with Bonesaw and am able to disengage with my Stamina jog and Slippery. I move into Rage, hitting the tackle and Rage misses the knockdown on his counter. I now am within 10″ of the goal, so I only need two dodge results to get in range and score to win. I roll the first one… but miss the second one. On 9″ of the Union goalpost and only having 1 influence left, I felt quite defeated. My only chance was to pass the ball towards Veteran Hemlocke and hoping that Koen wouldn’t be able to get the ball off of her. Sadly, Minx just deleted Hemlocke from the pitch and that was all she wrote, as I was already in overtime, handing out clock points. 10-12
I didn’t know how to feel after this match. I was 100% gutted that I wasn’t able to close out the match, and that I let the pressure get the better of me, and that last Bonesaw activation was just sad, but I was also incredibly proud. I know that if I would’ve played Koen a year ago, he would’ve handily beaten me without breaking a sweat. And now here I was, handing him his ass, but only just unable to close it out. Then I spoke with Leon – he also just lost by a hair, 10-12, and I was back to being gutted. Luckily, Guy was able to save some of our honour, winning his match from Mattias and putting us at 1-2, which was also our team score after day one. It was time for dinner. It was time for beer.
DAY ONE – CONCLUSION
I made some rookie mistakes due to nervousness in match one, I played against a mostly casual player in match two, and I let the panic of making a mistake get to me in match three. I can’t say anything about match one, as I made too many mistakes to state if I could’ve won this one, but I could’ve been 2-1 after today, and my team as well.
I myself was 1-2, Guy was 1-2 and Leon was 2-1. We were doing fine as what we set out to be – a middle of the pack squad.
After a nice night of Godtear demo-games and marveling at Steve Easton’s ability to hold his liquor, we woke up with quite the headache. At least it was a great night! We powered back up during breakfast and headed towards the tables and saw we had to face… Germany 3!
Oh jeez, a German team. This team consisted of Dominik Khaleg on Brewers, Matthias Kuhlmann on Miners and Florian Tamm on Order. This team was quite harsh for us in the draft, but I had a sneaking suspicion that they’d not first-place Order or Miners, so we chose to place down Blacksmiths to counter that. And indeed, they put down Dominik, whom I faced. In retrospect, it would’ve been better to not let our Brewer have to face Order and play the mirror, but I wanted to face my boy ‘Nik. I played together with him in my previous team tournament, so I had some thoughts on how he would play. At the moment, Dominik is placed #3 on the German list, just under Timmy and Koch, so I would have a real match on my hands.
Brewers: Corker, Quaff, Veteran Decimate, Friday, Spigot, Hooper
Morticians: Scalpel, Dirge, Graves, Veteran Hemlocke, Silence, Bonesaw
For the fourth time in a row, I lost my roll-off, but Dominik allowed me to kick, which I was waiting for. I have this tactic of kicking with Bonesaw and keeping Scalpel behind with Hemlocke’s legendary to have two threats for VP on turn 1. As expected, Dominik tried to protect the ball as fast as possible, but didn’t immediately put it on Friday, but on Decimate with Whiskey Chaser. I knew that if the ball reached Friday, my goal run would be off, so I had to go now and hope for the T<<. After my Stamina jog, I was able to charge into his team and wrap against Decimate, getting the momentous tackle and the Unexpected Arrival, throwing his entire team position into disarray. I used Meditation and scored my first couple of VP, knowing that Bonesaw would now be beaten upon. Dominik now put it onto Friday and cleverly started beating on Bonesaw to just create momentum, but not taking him out. I chose to go in onto Quaff with Scalpel after being Power of Voodoo’d and took it out to further increase my lead. 5-0
In turn two, Dominik went onto Scalpel with Corker, but was unable to take her out within that activation, leaving her at around 4 HP. I had a full stack of influence on her and knew that I had to activate her now or lose that influence, so I decided to go on a goal run. I was able to disengage from Corker, move into Friday and bait the counter, dodging my way into Spigot, on who I hit the Spirit Bomb. I now pushed Spigot out of 4″ of Friday and Friday into melee with myself. I tackled the ball, dodged away from her and scored my second goal, putting myself 9-0 in the lead, knowing that I would now lose Scalpel, but this was basically a 5 vs 2 VP trade, so I was OK with that. He put Scalpel down to 3 HP and Poisoned via Dirty Knives, but decided to not kill her, but leave her for a kill on the next turn. I wasn’t having that, so I charged into Corker with Silence to buy a Fire Blast and target Scalpel, putting her on 1 and Poisoned, ensuring the take-out and making sure that I could use her on turn 3. In the meantime, Dominik made loads of momentum, hitting on Bonesaw and finally taking him out at the end of the turn. 9-4
Turn three came around the corner and Dominik saw Scalpel return to the pitch close to a surrounded and battered Decimate and Hooper. He decided to retreat with Decimate after hitting Hemlocke some, but I was OK with that. I moved into Hooper, hit the KD, and deleted him from the pitch, putting myself on 11 points. I also hit Quaff with a Spirit Bomb, putting the pooch at 1 HP. Here I make a huge mistake… I could’ve Second Winded into Quaff to make sure that the mongrel wouldn’t be able to just run away and heal, but I don’t. Now he just runs away and heals back up to 5. I charge into it with Dirge to try and get some final points of damage, and maybe Singled Out for further attacks, but I only get 2 damage and Singled Out, leaving it at 3 HP. All the while, I’ve been giving up clock points. No one can reach the dog anymore, and the ball is also out of reach. I lose on clock. 11-12
You thought the match against Koen was sad? This was even worse. I had Dominik backed into a corner, but made a single mistake which cost me the game. That, and taking too long during my activations, as this was the first time I’ve ever been death-clocked (it was 11-7 when I reached 5 minutes overtime). GUTTED!
Sadly, my teammates also lost their games pretty convincingly, so we went down 0-3 against the German squad (that ended up 9th out of 50 squads). There was no chance for us to win the round, but again I was so close to getting my second win. Next round, maybe…
With the team being 1-3, we felt that we would be facing one of the weaker teams this time, hoping for a win, but the opposite was true. We were paired up against Wales 1, consisting of Dan Best’s Alchemists, Chris Challacombe’s Butchers and Richard Alderson’s Farmers. Knowing we wanted to save our Blacksmith from the Butchers match-up, and the rest of us feeling confident in our ability to play against their squads, we chose to put our Brewer forward first. They decided to place their Farmer first, which left us in a pickle, as Richard was known to only play Grange, and the Grange cage is something that Blacksmiths struggle with quite a bit if they are kicking. We still decided that it’d be better than facing Butchers, so Leon faced Richard, while Dan faced Guy, leaving myself and Chris on the middle table. Seeing as Chris is Wales’ #1 player, it was my third encounter with a #1. Awesome!
Butchers: Veteran Boar, Princess, Shank, Cinnamon, Tenderiser, Veteran Brisket
Morticians: Obulus, Dirge, Veteran Hemlocke, Silence, Bonesaw, Casket
Losing the initiative roll again, Chris elected to kick. When I saw him choosing Boar to be the kicker, I knew what I wanted to do to immediately ruin his activations. Boar kicked, Silence received, put down a Fire Blast in front of Boar, rolled a Tenacity Tucked and… missed. Well then. I passed the ball backwards and used Pass’n’Move to dodge Silence backwards. While Chris was putting his buffs onto Boar and Shank, I was trying to pass the ball around, but constantly missing my passes. Finally, I put Bonesaw with the ball in goal threat range, but know that I can’t go on that turn. Suddenly, Chris lets Cinnamon come forward her entire 7″, which meant I could make a cage with Dirge and Casket and try to Puppet Master her in for a Casket Time early in turn 2. I make the cage and throw the dice for Puppet Master… and miss. Great, I’ve missed all of my dice on turn one. Now Boar comes in and kills Silence to end the turn. 0-2
Turn two starts with Boar also destroying Bonesaw, which leads to the ball scattering towards his own squad. I now see that Shank is within jogging range of my entire cage, so I try to Tenacity Shutout him with Silence… missing again. Chris’ face is turning red and he’s holding his hands in front of his face, mumbling “what is going on???”. I basically just try to laugh it off, knowing that this game is lost already. I try to at least get some points on the board by using Rigor Mortis to steal 10 (!) momentum, using Confidence on Obulus himself and trying another Puppet Master onto Cinnamon, this time Bonus Timed. The first roll misses… but luckily the second roll hits. I Confidence hit Cinnamon again, but don’t hit the KD. Cinnamon lives through turn 2, unable to get the Casket Time off. To top it all off, Shank deletes Hemlocke and scores a goal, after which the ball scatters right on top of him… 0-10
I am fully set on getting points on the board, so I put Bonesaw near the ball, let him steal the ball from Shank (and receiving some damage for it), running away and hoping that Chris doesn’t get three 6’s, which he doesn’t, I use Meditation, and I take the shot at tap-in range. The first roll misses… but I score on the second roll. Sadly, Tenderiser is there, so Bonesaw gets 4 damage and is put on 1. I just offer my hand in resignation, ending the score on 4-12.
This game opened my eyes that it’s still a dice game, and dice can be brutally harsh. Luckily, I knew that I didn’t make any real misplays, and that at least provided me with some comfort. Leon beat Richard, and at the time of my loss, Dan and Guy were playing a very close game. We were even sent away, as we were getting on their nerves. Sadly, Dan was the winner of the game, dropping us down to 1-4, the same score I myself had.
Throughout the tournament, I basically just shrugged off any defeats quite quickly, and just went on to get a beer and socialize, but after this fifth game, something broke. After games three and four being só close, and now a game like this… it took me some time (and some beers) to get my mental back up to snuff for game 6.
This time, we were facing Finland 3, consisting of Henri-Pekka Henttonen’s Falconers, Juho Törmä’s Brewers and mercenary Martin Rockenfeller’s Alchemists. We knew Martin had won 4 of his 5 matches, so our wins would have to come against the other two. We decided to put Leon down first, him feeling confident in his ability to win his match-up, and the Fins put down Martin. We expected Juho’s Brewers to be put against Leon, so I asked Guy about his feeling about playing into Falconers. He hadn’t played them before, so we chose to put me down against H.P., while Guy faced down Martin.
Falconers: Devana, Frelsi, Ikaros, Egret, Rundaas, Minerva
Morticians: Scalpel, Dirge, Veteran Hemlocke, Silence, Graves, Bonesaw
So after a full tournament of losing the roll-off, H.P. elected that I kicked into him, so I chose to kick with Bonesaw again. Henri started off by collecting the ball and putting it onto Egret, while also placing down loads of Harriers. I postured for my standard start of a round, but chose to go with Scalpel first instead of Bonesaw, deleting Rundaas from the field and Second Winding back into safety from Devana’s clutches. Devana did the same and deleted Bonesaw in just three attacks, holy ****! 2-2
Now I knew that I had to stop Devana from doing that trick again, so I let Silence go into Devana to get some momentum and Bonus Time a Shutout on her, knowing that Scalpel could still get into range to take her out. But Egret came forward and passed the ball to Devana, hitting the 5+ and dodging her away. This for me meant that I would have to go and take out somebody as well, as I knew that I couldn’t stop Devana this turn. I took out Ikaros, removing a possible Harrier, but Devana was still able to delete Silence with use of her legendary and Frelsi. 4-4
I knew that I was in a losing position, as the Falconers had possession of the ball, so I knew that I would have to go and threaten it as soon as possible. Devana passed the ball to Frelsi and started to work on Graves, taking him out. I took out Egret, and used Scalpel’s massive movement to get close to Devana. Frelsi scores and the ball is kicked back out to Bonesaw. 6-10
I am able to win the momentum and remove Devana off the pitch with Scalpel, knowing that I now need that goal. H.P. also knows this and moves into Bonesaw with Egret, tackling the ball away, and wanting to pass it to Rundaas to dodge away, but he misses the pass and it scatters badly for him. Graves can now get the free ball and pass it towards Dirge, who dodges backwards, away from Rundaas. Now H.P.’s only chance is to try and kill Bonesaw, but he puts him on 2 HP. Dirge places the ball close to Bonesaw. Still engaged by both Egret and Rundaas, Bonesaw moves backwards with his Stamina move and receives 1 damage and Poison from the parting blow from Egret. He stays inside the melee zone of Rundaas, collects the ball, and heals. I now clock out. He then attacks for momentum, misses… and luckily Rundaas’ counter doesn’t hit the tackle. I attack once more, this time getting the momentous push-dodge, run and shoot for goal… and win! 12-10
What a super close match! I think H.P. went for the goal too soon, but also had some bad luck on his pass from Egret to Rundaas and it missing, leaving it for me to collect. This was an absolute 50/50 – a very exciting match! Henri, you made me excited for Falconers! Thank you! Leon also won his match, winning us the round: endscore 2-4.
I’d like to thank Jakub, Kanstantsin, Koen, Dominik, Chris and Henri-Pekka for an awesome set of matches. I’ve learned a lot, and had loads of fun.
The tournament ended with Poland 1 getting third place, Scotland 2 getting second place, and – obviously – Germany 1 winning the whole thing again. Three time winners now. A magnificent display of skill! Congrats to Timmy, Christian and Christopher!
Thanks to Kim Pipers and Steve Herck for organizing the event once more. It was a blast! Well done, gentlemen! Also great thanks to Sven Bex for being the head judge of the event. Well done!
So yeah, we ended up 2-4, 37th team out of 50. Better than last year at least, but I feel that we could’ve been higher. One thing is sure: we need practice. Mostly match-ups and clock practice. I’m already excited for next year. If we keep this up, we’ll take the grand prize in… 4 years? 😉
For now, I’m going to try something different. I’ve been playing Morticians since season 4 started, and I feel it’s time for something new… Engineers, Order, Falconers, maybe even Farmers… I’m not sure yet. What would you guys like to see me play?