Game 3 of the league saw my bruised pro-elves taking on an even more bruised dark elf team. I’d not played this coach before and had no knowledge of play style or experience. I knew that his team was 0/2 and had suffered some bad dice in the last game and came into this one beaten up. I was coming off my first league win and confidence was high…
I won the toss and chose to receive. Let’s get a score on the board early. I lined up in my usual formation with 1 catcher supported by 1 blitzer in each of the wide zones and the thrower and a lineman back deeper to retrieve the ball. I’d run them all down the flanks, pickup the ball and throw to the side that the ball had landed. Simple 2-turn score. And that’s exactly what happened. I wasn’t concerned with SPPs at this stage as this was elf on elf and TDs and completions would be plentiful, so the score went to my star catcher. Turn 2 and I was 1-0 up.
I kicked off and the ball scattered back deep and centre close to where the runner was there to collect it. The dark elves then proceeded to retreat back and form a cage whilst the players on the line started to – successfully – hit my linemen. A couple of dark elf players were isolated on my left but I had to pay them some attention, cautious of the pass. Meanwhile on my right the cage was forming and rumbling forward. Hitting everything in its way and breaking my armour early on. Players being stunned and KOd and making way for the cage. On the left I managed to surf a blitzer but the majority dark elf crowd only stunned him (shame!). That allowed me to focus my attention on the cage down the right and on turn 5 the runner made his move and blitzed free. My turn 6 was ineffective as after a few positioning moves one of my linemen fell over dodging, handing initiative back to the dark elves. The next dark elf turn saw the ball being passed out of trouble down the line and the ball carrier was able to break free and find support. The next two turns we ineffective for both sides as players from both sides fell over repositioning.
The end of the half was drawing in.
My turn 8 and it was about prevention. There was one dark elf player in scoring position and he had the ball. There were two players supporting him but not in scoring range. Take out the ball carrier, win the half. I had two players in range and the blitzer proved effective knocking over the ball carrier and dropping the ball to the floor. Job done. Nothing else I could do now.
The dark elf coach started throwing several 2 die blocks on players further down the field and then turned his attention to the players in the mini-scrum by the ball. Standing up the player that had been knocked down to provide an assist and then hitting my blitzer, followed by the lineman. Then he moved his blitzer that had been at the back of the scrum, picked up the ball, rolled 2 GFIs and scored. WHAT??!!! How the? I couldn’t believe it. I had counted. Counted. I was SURE that he could not score. I admit that my reaction wasn’t very good and I apologise for that. I was so certain. I kept trying to replay it trying to find how it was possible and every time in my head it wasn’t possible. 1-1 half time.
First Half Analysis
I was really happy with my score. I elected to receive, scored early and hoped that my opponent would score back so that I could go in 2-1 at the half. That plan failed after turn 3 when the dark elves retreated and formed a cage that any orc would be proud of. It rumbled down the pitch as I tried to pick away at it before the runner made his move. I was CERTAIN that I’d done enough to prevent the score and was shocked (still am) that the dark elves scored. I thought that I had played it perfectly and had a 1-0 lead to take into the half. As it was it was 1-1 and I was kicking off.
I kicked off short but the bounce took it right back towards the middle of the pitch close to the endzone. The sharp intake of breath from the crowd was audible as it allowed the dark elf runner to pick up the ball and would dictate the pattern of play for the half. Again the dark elves smashed through the line of scrimmage and ran back to support the runner. I pushed forward applying as much pressure as possible but by turn 3 the ball carrier was surrounded by several teammates making it hard for me to attack. The cage was again down my right but not hugging the sideline as much. I had enough space to attack and kept applying the pressure basing players much more than I normally would. I had to force something. And this time it was working. The cage was stalling and eventually my side-stepping blitzers could get to the ball carrier. A decisive turn 5 allowed me to get the ball out and form a cage of my own at midfield. My thrower had the ball, the four corners of the cage were in place and the only catcher left on the pitch was threatening in the opponents half. As decisive as my last turn had been for me, so the dark elves next turn proved for them. The cage was broken and tackle zones were placed all around meaning any move out would be very difficult, even for elves. I still had the ball and on turn 6 decided that with 1 in reserve (having successfully been apothecaried) and 4 in the KO box that my best option was to try to score. I cleared as many tackle zones as I could, got the got the catcher into the endzone and moved the thrower out. His path meant a 3+ dodge followed by a long pass. 1! No re-rolls. Fell over, dropped the ball. Turnover. Turn over! It was now the dark elves turn to try to see if they had a match winner amongst them. Fortunately for me they weren’t able to get into scoring position and instead protected the ball with the players that could and hit the few players that I had left with those that couldn’t. I started turn 8, the last of the game, knowing I couldn’t lose but that I had a chance to win it. I had a catcher a few squares from the endzone, a blitzer with a 1DB on the ball carrier, a linemen, a thrower in range to pick it up and two linemen on the floor. Part one was to stand up and get my blitzer and assist. It needed a dodge but worked. 2DB was there. The blitzer dodged out made the blitz and knocked down the ball carrier and the scatter went my way. Next it was the throwers turn. Dodge out on a 2+, pickup then pass. 1! Fell over. No options left. Game over! 1-1
Second Half Analysis
The second half started with me still in shock as to how I went in level at the half. Having received in the first half and having come in level at 1-1 the game plan was a little bit askew. The 6 turns spent defending against elves, dark through they were, was not in keeping with the shoot out that I expected. Therefore the plan from the kick off was to attack the ball, force a turnover and go for the win. I was expecting another grind from the opposing coach and that is how it turned out. I was lucky enough to get the ball out and twice had the chance to play a little elf-ball. Twice though I was let down by my dice. I know that isn’t true, but as an elf coach you never expect to roll 1s when you start an elf play. Normal play yes, but not game winning elf-ball 😉 I’m not sure if I would have preferred to fail at the end of the moves or not, as it was I didn’t get the chance to roll those dice. Again I spent most of the second half with 4 players in the KO box, this is something of a theme. I’m glad I went for the win. Maybe I was wrong to form a cage and I would have been better off creating a loose cage. This may have meant that I would have had fewer tackle zones to deal with, who knows?
I made a stupid mistake. A stupid stupid mistake and I am still sure it wasn’t possible to score! This is no slight on my opponent who was fun to play, it just says how sure I was that I’d covered everything. I was so sure that when the opposing coach started his last turn of the first half, I had the chance to side-step my blitzer onto the ball and give me slightly better odds. I didn’t. Fair enough there were still dodge, pickup and GFIs rolls to make so it wasn’t easy but I didn’t think that chance existed. Oh well. You live and learn. I need to learn counting.
All in all I was happy to be able to defend for so long and I gave myself the chance to win. It’s one of the things that I love being an elf coach. I think I had the ball for 4 maybe 5 turns and I could have come away with a 2-0 win. This in spite of having so few players on the pitch too. I don’t think I could be a dwarf coach!
I am making mistakes, which is to be expected for someone who doesn’t play much, but I’m pleased that the mistakes I am making are different ones. I am learning at least. I do find it frustrating that there is often so little I can do when I don’t have the ball especially when the opponent creates a mega-cage. I think this is a problem with rookie elves. Further down the line with some skills and maybe a stat increase or two and my play style may pay off.
Next up are some lizards with a good, experienced coach. I hope the bash doesn’t continue. I will be trying to spread the SPPs as I have several players in line for their first skill. I think this team is in need of some skills to make it more effective.
If you have any tips or experience of playing as elves without the ball then I’d be glad to hear them.
Until next time.