The Black Orifice

Tabletop gaming resources and events from grumpy old games designers, Ben Redmond and Nigel McClelland

Brisket is a meat better served fresh

With the release of Veteran Brisket around the corner, and with me being both a butchers fan and a data nerd, I thought I’d try and work out which Brisket was best.

Playbook

The one thing that stands out most about Veteran Brisket is that she’s TAC 5 and has a pretty full looking playbook but just how much better than original Brisket’s is it?

The number of raw hits achieved is just a matter of dice rolled (unless you’ve got Anatomical precision), and any analysis of that doesn’t really tell us much, other than TAC 5 is better than TAC 4. That said, Young-and-Pretty Brisket has a friendly little dog that she just loves showing off for, making her effectively TAC 6 some of the time. But raw TAC scores doesn’t tell us much. We need to know what we can do with those scores, depending on the situation.

Essentially, I think there’s three different things you might want to do with either Brisket model: Cause as much damage as possible, generate as much momentum as possible (probably whilst dealing damage), or try and tackle the ball and dodge away. Lets look at each of these in turn.

Raw Damage potential

These two images who us how similar the damage output between the two versions actually is. It’s only when we get to a charge against a soft target that Veteran Brisket starts to shine above spring-chicken Brisket. Otherwise it basically comes down to whether or not you can maximise the TAC bonus from Princess. If you can, you’re better off with the existing model, if you like to hide Princess at the back by the goal (I’m looking at you, Jack Newton!) then you’re probably better off switching to the veteran.

Momentum Generation

The first table seems to suggest that the momentum gained between the two is almost identical, but the second table shows us how important that lack of a universal momentous result in the first column is a big problem for the young whippersnapper. On a single attack this means that world-weary Brisket generates momentum even more reliably than her junior counterpart with Princess bonus. With the bonus dice from the charge, fresh-faced Brisket is better with dog-support than her veteran counterpart against all but the hardest to hit, but if you want someone to go in and generate momentum with a full stack of Influence, you’d have to say the timeworn version has the edge here.

All that said, the mk1 model actually has the edge over her hoary counterpart when looking at damage caused whilst trying to generate that momentum. Here we start to see that against some players the youthful and exuberant Brisket is actually better than the wear old version in some circumstances, even without the dog. The difference here is all down to column 2. Fledgling Brisket scores higher due to the chance of scoring 2 hits, and hence being able to pick her 2 momentous damage result. If withered old Brisket gets the same number of hits she’s picking between 1 DMG and a MP or 2 without.

Tackle and Escape

The thing I find I want Brisket to do most often is go in, get the ball off of the enemy, dodge out before they can counter attack, then shoot on goal. These tables let us see what the chances are of that going our way…

Here we have a mixed picture again. Teen-Queen Brisket is a much more reliable tackler, and (if you can get off both a charge and get the dog-bonus) at tackling and dodging 2 inches to escape even a Fisherman’s counter attack, yet elderly Brisket is better at escaping from 1 inch melee zones. In my mind, the dodge is only really important if you’re expecting a counter attack. If you’re not, juvenile Brisket is much more likely to get the big dodge on a second attack, whilst aged Brisket can Quick Time without even needing to roll dice. However, if it comes down to a counter attack, early Brisket has one significant advantage over her rival: Charmed [Male]. If the original ball carrier’s a bloke, she can tackle them easily, then brace for the counter attack at DEF 5 ARM 1. That’s a defensive combo that makes it difficult to get to higher playbook tackle results. Even Mist and Flint have only a 41% chance of getting it back! Another important consideration with a tackle is the momentum generation. Granny Brisket needs 3 hits to tackle momentously, so if you want to tackle and shoot, the original is still the best

Counter Attacks

A quick point on counter attacks: Cheeky Scamp Brisket has a 2 inch dodge on 2 hits, whilst old hag Brisket needs 4 for the same. This gives the original a further advantage, but perhaps one that is much less of an issue as given the unpredicatable movement means that either one will probably only be getting hit at reach and be unable to counter attack anyway.

Playbook Summary

So let’s summarise her playbook differences. They seem built for different purposes. Brisket works best as a ball retriever, more able to get the ball and then dodge out and shoot. Veteran Brisket is better at being stacked up with INF and going in to generate momentum. That said, in a Butchers team you have many much better options for maxing out with influence and generating momentous damage than v.Brisket – Shank, Boiler, Gutter, even Meathook probably has the edge on her overall in that regard. Overall if you take v.Brisket over the original version you’re balancing out the Attack Support bonus so that you’re better than without it, but not as good as you would be with it, but also losing out on tackling ability for a little bit more momentum generation from damage.

Overall playbook score: Advantage Original Brisket

Character Plays

I’m going to overview the play differences between the two versions, trying to pair them up for comparison. They both have two plays each, so there’s no obvious numerical advantage, so we just need to pair up Dirty Knives and Super Shot against Ball’s Gone and Quick Time. It seems to me that in a lot of circumstances Quick Time and Super Shot will be being used for similar things so I’ll keep them together, which leaves Dirty Knives and Ball’s Gone paired up too.

Quick Time vs Super Shot

Quick Time is obviously better than Super Shot – it gives you the same 2-inch extra range, but gives you this both to your combat range and to your kicking range, whilst Super Shot only affects your kicking range, and you can use it for anyone else in your team too. It’s obvious, right?

Well, No. There are a few important things to think about Quick Time before we can make a decision as to which we prefer.

Firstly, and most obviously, it costs 2 INF. For Honour and Rage it’s a 2 point insurance policy that costs them a third of their resources for the turn, but for Brisket it’s a full half. If she also needs to shoot or pass, she’s only got one INF left for whatever else she’s planning. Not only that, but using it too aggressively can end up backfiring on you badly by leaving her stranded too far up the field. Yes, it means that she’s got an 11 inch melee threat range, but at the expense of half her hitting power.

Secondly, using it on other players isn’t often useful as it gives them a chance to respond. If you use it to give another player 2 inches extra threat you’re giving the opponent change to move back out of range or move up someone else to block or support your intended target. It’s sign-posting your plans. I’m not saying it can’t be useful, but you’ll need to be very careful how you use it to avoid disappointment.

Another potential use for it is anti-unpredictable movement tech. But it’s not that great here either. If she’s using it on someone else, it gives them chance to respond in the next activation, and if you’re using it for yourself, you’re only getting 2 more INF to do the damage, so your activation will end up being a bit of a wash, and you’d probably have been better going for a different target. In contrast, normal brisket could walk up to them to trigger the dodge, then shank them with dirty knives if they move out, making them a ripe target for whoever goes next.

The main reasoning why I think Super Shot is better is how I reckon Quick Time will most often end up being used: to dodge out of melee zones for a shot. In this case, they both tend to provide exactly the same net result: they get you 2 inches extra goal threat and an extra dice on the shot. This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you’re in one melee zone with the ball, quick time will get you out of the melee zone, netting you an extra dice for the kick, and give you the extra range for the shot or pass. Similarly Super Shot just gives you the 2 inches extra range and the extra dice. If I’m using the new play for effectively the same thing as the old one, I certainly don’t want to be paying an extra influence to use it.

Ball’s Gone vs Dirty Knives

Ball’s gone is, in my opinion, one of the weakest plays in the game. Giving the ball to another player is essentially a pretty bad idea. It means that you can’t use it during your activation, and Brisket’s your best player with the ball. I can distinctly remember one of my early games with Obulus. Spigot had just used Ball’s gone to take the ball from Cosset and pass it to Friday. My turn next, so Obulus goes, puppet-masters Friday into passing the ball to Mist, who then makes a 4” dodge off the pass to get out of her threat range and into a perfect goal scoring position. Not only did it put the ball exactly where I wanted it to be a turn earlier, but gave Cosset an extra influence to chow down on Spigot with now that she didn’t have to pass it to Mist. If all you’re going to do with the play is tackle someone you might as well not have the play at all, it’s just using up space on the playbook that could have gone to something else.

Dirty knives, on the other hand, is one of the stronger plays in the game. You know it’s strong if it’s something Midas is trying to steal from you. It also helps make Brisket mk1 a valuable, and influence efficient, player at times when the ball is out of the equation. With a neutral 2 influence on her she can threaten (most importantly) a -1 DEF penalty to anyone within 12 inches. Personally I like Brisket with 3 INF on her a lot of the time, as this lets me momentously tackle and super shot, or charge for the tackle and (hopefully) dodge, and shoot on goal. If neither of those is on for her, then a sprint and dirty knives gives you a 14 inch threat. This one really is no contest.

Character Plays Summary

Super Shot is more limited than Quick Time, but in reality I think they’re going to be used mostly for the same effect, and the lower influence cost of Super Shot just about makes up for the loss of flexibility. Dirty Knives is great and Ball’s Gone is just bad.

Overall character plays score: Win Original Brisket

Character Traits and HP

I’ve lumped the extra HP that veteran Brisket gets in with Character Traits as it really ties in with her overall defensive package, most of which is tied into her traits. As both have unpredictable movement, I won’t bother discussing it, and I’ve investigated the effects of Attack Support in the playbook section above. So it just comes down to Charmed [Male] vs everything else.

Extra HP vs Charmed [Male]

I’m just going to compare these two as they’re the easiest to pair up. As with Dirty Knives vs Ball’s Gone, I just think there’s no comparison here. Charmed Male will undoubtedly save youth-Brisket more than 1 HP over the course of a game. Veteran Brisket’s Icy Sponge markers also move up the health track, so I guess it’s 1 HP each time she’s taken out, but I’m fairly certain it will save you more than this over the course of the game, even if it’s just from male players choosing not to avoid her, and that’s before you consider the utility it adds to prevent counter attacks.

Support from the Wings vs Charmed [Male]

Okay, so the section title’s a bit of a joke, as there’s no real direct comparison to make, but let me just say Support from the Wings is at best a mere mitigation of the problems with Quick Time and at worse a dangerous trap. There are far too many things that can threaten 8 inches of pushes in in activation. And even if your opponent is not sporting one of these threats, they can still easily switch play to a different side of the pitch and leave you stranded if you try to bring this trait to bear in the game. It’s just bad, and you’re better of forgetting it existed rather than trying to play into it. I can see as useful occasionally when she’s coming back on after being taken out, but other than that I think it will actively work against her effectiveness on the pitch.

Above and Beyond vs Charmed [Male]

Above and beyond is a genuinely good ability. Who can argue against generating effectively double INF bonus for scoring a goal? Even if you’re not able to trigger it, it’s potentially making her more of a threat and generating more space for other players to play the ball in her stead. That said, I think it’s something that card players often talk about as being a “win more” ability. If you’re scoring a goal you’re probably not under the cosh in the game, so getting the extra influence is just a good way to help you push for more VPs when you’re already doing alright. This is probably especially true for Butchers who will tend to fight their way out of trouble rather sneak a cheeky goal. Now, Guild Ball is not a card game and doesn’t have those terrible hand-jammed moments where you just can’t compete, and games can swing in tempo at any point, so a win-more ability is not such a big issue as it can be in a card game, but it’s still something to consider. Charmed [Male] on the other hand is a solid defensive ability that is always useful. With Unpredictable Movement and Charmed [Male] you need a female player with a 2 inch melee zone to really get to her (Gutter is your worst nightmare). Even if you’re up against players who can get you, it won’t be many of them, and you can use this fact to help predict your opponent’s actions or keep her safe from harm.

Character Traits Summary

Given that both have Unpredictable Movement, and that I’ve considered the effect of Attack Support in the playbook section, what we really need to decide here is whether Charmed [Male] is good enough to counter Above and Beyond, Support from the Wings and the healthier HP track?

I would say Charmed is clearly better then each individually, and I’d probably prefer it if Support from the Wings wasn’t actually on the card at all (I’m terrible for being tempted into these types of trap!). The +1 HP is such a minor charge as to hardly warrant a mention in comparison to Charmed [Male], and after that, I think you’re looking at one very situational, win-more ability versus one of the best defensive abilities (given her starting point) in the game.

Overall character plays score: Win Original Brisket

Overall Conclusion

Overall, I can’t find any strong reason to recommend Veteran Brisket over the original. The playbook creates some different options, but the original is probably better at most of what you want Brisket doing (i.e. getting the ball and trying to score). The original character plays are overall much better, and her new traits don’t even match up very well against just Charmed [Male].

The original Brisket is a reliable tackler, decent goal threat and one of the hardest models in the game to take out. The veteran sacrifices all of this to be less good at dealing momentous damage than all the other butchers players other than original Brisket and a little bit of tactical flexibility you’ll probably never use.

It’s no contest – the original is still the best!