Fantasy football miniatures game Guild Ball returns from retirement, kind of. Publisher Steamforged Games announced an officially sanctioned line of print-on-demand files and will release updated rules that support this new version for free.
Fans hoping for a full-throated rededication to the Blood Bowl-esque skirmish sport will need to temper their reservations. Steamforged co-founders Mat Hart and Rich Loxom said that the studio would love to eventually “actively support development” if “people rediscover [Guild Ball] again”. Translation: once it becomes financially viable.
In the meantime, Steamforged will release free STL files for Guild Ball’s Kickoff Set that players can use to print their own copies of the Masons and Brewers Guild teams, plus terrain, tokens and a measuring stick. This is essentially all of the components sold in Guild Ball’s original starter box, which is vanishingly rare to find since the game was initially cancelled back in 2020. The files aren't yet available but will hit Steamforged's website in the near future.
Based on European soccer, Guild Ball rose from a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014 and developed five seasons of expansions and lore before Steamforged ended development, burying plans for a range of minor guilds. Hart and Roxley blamed the COVID-19 pandemic at the time, while also pointing fingers at a competitive scene necessarily collapsing the creative space for wild and goofy elements.
““As the competitive scene began to dominate, the design space for wilder, more ‘fun’ elements began to shrink,” they wrote at the time. “The style of gameplay changed to low-risk, ultra-conservative play where the ball was often deliberately side-lined.”
Now, the two co-founders regret those words: “Obviously, Guild Ball is currently parked in terms of development for us, and that announcement did not go down terribly well. That’s on me - I wrote the announcement. The message I was trying to convey wasn’t the message that was heard,” Hart said.
“It’s on both,” Roxley rejoined. “We didn’t ever intend to blame the community, and that’s what was taken from it. And we’re sorry for that. We let people down.”
The intervening three years apparently fostered enough widespread availability of 3D printers and other print-on-demand services that Steamforged believes Guild Ball’s playerbase can jumpstart the scene without purchasing boxes directly from the publisher.
Every original model has been retouched to address common complaints - “thinness of ankles, contact points with bases, overall balance points,” Hart said - and he worked with senior project manager Jamie Perkins to synthesise balancing and updates created by the Guild Ball Community Project committees (a fan endeavour) into a new official engine that should feel like classic Guild Ball with modern sensibilities.
“We wanted to recognise the hard work they’ve done and the custodianship that they demonstrated the last two or three years,” Hart said. For now, Guild Ball lives again on Steamforged’s website instead of collecting dust in the equipment locker.