Last night I got home from my first ever Blood Bowl tournament and for the last 24 hours I’ve had a mass of new ideas, experiences and lessons swirling about in my mind. Time to share I think…
I arrived nice and early on a bright Saturday morning and waited for the doors to open and the other players to turn up. A short walk around the outside of the venue and when I got back the doors were open and there was another car in the car park. There was another player getting his stuff out of the car and I took that as my cue to walk in.
I nervously walked in to see 20 or so tables setup in lines with two chairs setup at each table chess style. At the front of the room were two guys chatting and when I introduced myself I was warmly welcomed with a (pre-arranged) hug from Liam (@MunkeyKungFu) the TO. The other guy was Mike (@sann0638) and we said hello and got chatting. The first little barrier into the tournament scene had been knocked down. The next would be the other players themselves.
I’d only experienced Blood Bowl players at the club league and through the odd photo that you see online from other events. I wasn’t sure what to expect really. Over the next 30 minutes or so the other players started arriving and spilling out of cars. Some, like me, were pacing around sticking to the sidelines. Others were clearly tournament regulars and got stuck in slapping backs and shaking hands with old friends from tournaments past. The Bristol Blood Bowlers in their coordinated blue polo shirts and the Welsh Team in their red finery; this was getting serious. Mike was kind enough to introduce me to some of the good and great of the community and I was soon able to put faces to forum names (partly because a lot of players had their names printed on their shirts). The time to play was fast approaching.
The draw was made and Liam read out the list of NAF Names who would be facing off against each other. Those that knew each other quickly paired up and found a table and the rest of us were sorted out with various points and nods between us all.
I was playing Elves and was the proud Elf player that had helped this tournament achieve the full complement of 24 races being played. I’d had a couple of practice games but hadn’t really settled in the perfect skills. In the end I took 2 Blitzers with Dodge, 1 Thrower with Kick, 1 Catcher with Dodge, 2 Catchers with Wrestle, 1 Catcher with nothing and 6 standard Linemen. 13 players total, 3 rerolls and no apothecary or anything else. Not the optimal roster but one that I would know how to play and one that I wouldn’t forget key parts of – like the appo.
So to my matches…
Game 1 vs Nurgle
I was playing a very good coach (I later found out) and he was playing Nurgle for the first time. As with all of the races I played at the event it was the first time that I’d ever faced them too. I received the kick and ran through to one side setting up the screen. The very first action against me was a double skulls block forcing the reroll and truth be told the dice were slightly in my favour initially. I ran through for the score around T5 an held out for the rest of the half to go in 1-0 up. Second half and it was going to be a test for me defensive skills. The elves slowly left the pitch as the Nurgle slowly moved forward the key turn for both sides was T4. If the Nurgle could score then the match would be open for either side to win, if not then it would be continue the grind to the very end. In the end the grind was needed and it looked certain at one point that the Nurgle would level the score, but somehow and I’m still not sure how, the Elves mounted a valiant defence and on T8 of the second half the opposition coach said he could see how it could be done with pushes – I looked at it and couldn’t see it but I’m a novice. Dice were rolled, chain pushes moved the ball carrier closer to the line but he still ended up needing a crucial dodge to get out for the touchdown. He made it and the match ended 1-1. I was elated with the result having spent 3/4s of the game in defence.
My trick here was to not pass (avoiding any potential Disturbing Presence) and to not block the high strength players. To get a 2DB I would need 3 players and would have to roll for Foul Appearance. It just wasn’t worth it. As a result I was able to keep just enough numbers on the pitch to mount a defence.
Record W0 T1 L0
Game 2 vs Norse
After a long wait during lunch we were all eager to get back to the tables and I was paired up with a Norse coach. I kicked off and the pace of the Catchers and the Blitzers caught the defence off guard and they rushed through to steal the ball and run it through for the score. The Frenzy of the Norse team was causing me all sorts of problems and I lost 4 players to injury on the first 4 turns of the game. I still managed to hold out for the rest of the half to go in 1-0. I received the ball in the second half and again managed to run through for the score. On the resulting kick off the Catchers managed to run through again and apply pressure eventually stealing the ball, but only being able to run into space. The unprotected Catcher was easy prey for the Norse who won the ball back and the two teams were now strung down the length of one side of the pitch, both trying to strike a balance between defence and attack. At the end the Elf defence came down to 2 Sidestepping Blitzers on the line and they did their job valiantly forcing the Norse into Dodging out for the consolation score which was failed as time expired.
Getting the early score after stealing the ball made all the difference here. I think it gave me a little bit more confidence and freedom in my play and of course made the opponent have to try and comeback against Elves. Sidestep is brilliant. It’s a skill that nobody expects as a basic skill and few remember it.
Record W1 T1 L0
Game 3 vs Ogres
Final match of the day and I was paired with Ogres. With no strength and no Tackle on my side this was a tougher matchup than it looks on paper. The Ogres had one goal – smashing Elves. The Elves kicked off and from the resulting Blitz rushed through only for the Catcher to fail to catch the ball. The Snotlings came in to get the ball and they were a nuisance to knock over – most of them staying on their feet. The Ogre team broke free and attempted to handoff to an Ogre in midfield who promptly dropped it. The Elves saw their opportunity, grabbed the ball and setup a well manned screen on the right hand side. Super screen take super plays to beat and a Break Tackle Ogre danced his way between several tackle zones to get 2 dice on the ball carrier and knock him down. The Elves were shocked but managed to recover their composure and take the ball in for the score to make it 1-0 at half time. The Elves received in the second half and looked set for the second half. The Thrower picked up the ball and with the confidence of an Elf stood there just within range of an Ogre. The Elf lineman declared “an important move” and promptly Dodged himself to the ground. Even an Ogre couldn’t miss that opportunity and one charged through knocking the ball free and a Snotling was thrown to recover the ball and rush towards the end zone. An Elf catcher saw the danger and moved to make the tackle only to fall over flat on his face at the start of the move. 1-1. It was still early and the Elves ran through for their second score to make it 2-1. The Ogres still had time to get a Snotling in scoring distance only for him to fall over when Going For It into the endzone. The nearby Elf Blitzer picked up the ball and himself fell over in the confusion. The Ogres somehow rallied and scored the equaliser on T8 to end the game.
I messed up my defence on the last turn. I had the ball. I had no rerolls. I would have been just as well to just stand where I was with it. I went for the GFI to handoff to a Catcher who would then runaway. It still meant rolling dice though.
Record W1 T2 L0
Game 4 vs Norse
I lost the toss and received. I scored a quick 2 turn touchdown, of the unstoppable Elf kind, down the right hand side. I was then able to just about hold out for the remainder of the first half with 2 injury causing fouls seeing player ejections too. I kicked off in the second half and went for a risky 2D blitz on the ball carrier on my first turn. No guts, no glory! The Elf dice failed me , blitz was over before it began and the Norse were able form a very solid cage. The Yeti was on form and was there to play this game. The Norse then started a half of frenzied destruction driven wild by the annoyance of the Blodging Sitestepping Elf Blitzers. How to you stop that? Well you create a tunnel with 6 players along the sideline and funnel players into it! For turn after turn the Elves left the pitch. There were always just enough Elves to mount a possible comeback should the Norse score so the pitch clear became the goal. On the final Elf turn of the game there was one player (a Wrestle Catcher) left on the pitch and he was on the floor. He did all he could. He stood up, Dodged away and Wrestled the ball carrier to the ground with a 1DB. With the ball on the floor and nothing else to do the Norse had to pick it up and walk it over the line for the score which they managed to do.
My opponent was very skilled at playing with Frenzy. I wasn’t very skilled at mounting a defence that could cope with it. Still after all that and with one player on the pitch I still managed to make him roll dice and that’s all I could do at that stage.
Record W1 T3 L0
Game 5 vs Halflings
I kicked off and the Halfings caged up with the ball and let Morg and the Trees smash-up everything in sight. And when an Elf went to ground the ‘Flings were there to give him a boot in the face. They slowly rolled down the pitch and my blocks just couldn’t knock the ball free. Somehow with the endzone in sight the ball was Wrestled free and then run upfield by the Elves for the touchdown. In the second half the Elves received and again the positioning of the ball carrying Thrower wasn’t good enough. Morg smashed through and knocked the ball free and took over the game. He picked up the ball himself and from there it was going to be very hard to get it back from him. One of the Wrestle Catchers twice tried to pull him down 2D against but twice he failed and Morg was able to charge down field with the ball. On the last turn of the game the Elf defence was set – badly – on the goalline and the Wrestle catcher foolishly tried to bring Morg down again. He ended up stunning himself on one of Morg’s biceps when he’d have helped his team more by just standing next to Morg shouting at him. Morg blitzed through with 3 dice for the equaliser. An incredibly tense game, mode more tense by both sides being out of rerolls for 6 turns in the second half.
Morg is a beast! I needed Tackle to deal with the ‘Flings. The Chef is a brilliant inducement. Again, right at the end my action wasn’t the best and I should have just stood the Catcher next to Morg and make him roll more dice. Instead I gave him an ‘easier’ option which succeeded.
Record W1 T4 L0
Game 6 vs Wood Elves
The final game and I was paired with Wood Elves. We setup, I kicked, and I’d conceded by turn 2. The first time I’d gone behind all tournament. It was a bit of a shock to the system. I’d been on defence for most of the tournament and now I needed to go on the attack. I managed to score my own quick touchdown before a Riot turned the clocks back. One more quick score each for the final kick off of the half resulted in a Blitz which I just about managed to capitalise on to go in 3-2 up at the half and receiving in the second half. The second half was a little more subdued in comparison. The Wood Elves stole the ball with the help of the dominant Edril to make it 3-3. The pace was quickening up as game time was running out. It was now the Wood Elves turn to get the Blitz and they came through to score another touchdown to make it 4-3; a Sidestepper did his best to stop the touchdown but AG4 did its stuff. One turn left. I don’t know how to do 1-Turners. Game over?
Not just yet! I said that I didn’t know how to do 1-Turners and my opponent offered to teach me. He setup his team as he normally did and helped me setup my team and coached the basic concept. The ball landed and it was on! The Blitzer came in from the side and one push. The Dodge Catcher made it forward one square. The second Blitzer got his block in and again the Catcher was pushed forward. A covering Catcher and Lineman were then brought in to provide some assistance. Another block and the Catcher was in range. The Thrower could just make it to the ball, picked it up and completed the Short Pass to the Catcher – Edril not being able to use his Pass Block. The Catcher dodged out 3+, 2+ ran to the line and made the 2 Go For Its to score the equaliser! 4-4. A stunning game and a stunning act from the opposing coach. Game 6, Turn 16 and my highlight of the tournament 🙂
Edril is a monster and Hypno-Gaze is brilliant. Playing against AG4 when it works is horrible 😉 Blood Bowl coaches are the best.
Record W1 T5 L0
So there you have it! I finished my first tournament with 1 win, 5 ties and 0 defeats. Not groundbreaking but undefeated in my first tournament. I’m over the moon. I really am. I’ve come back with some great memories, I’ve met some fantastic people who love the game and love playing the game. I picked up little things like the use of dice cups and miniature dugouts for effective use of table space. I’ve played against 6 great coaches and have learnt something in each game.
I’d like to thank Liam and everyone involved in organising a brilliant weekend, my 6 opponents over the two days and to everyone else there for making me feel so welcome and for making it a wonderful experience.
I’m up for the challenge of my next tournament. I want to see these people again. I want to experience the adrenaline rush of it all again. I’d recommend Gert Bowl to anyone and I’d recommend that every Blood Bowl player gets to at least one tournament. Try it out. You won’t be disappointed. I wasn’t! 🙂
P.s. I hope the match summaries are accurate. I’ve done my best to recreate the events but the weekend was pretty intense!
Edit to move Game 1 thoughts under the correct game and adding thoughts from Game 2. Pete