I came into this game not really knowing what to play or what I was going to be playing against. I was certain that I wasn’t going to play Elves and that I wanted to be a little more bashy in my approach. My opponent had played Chaos Dwarfs and Orcs in the last two club leagues.
This game though was a tester for ExeBowl and an opportunity really for my opponent to test out a build and to play a tournament style game in a 2 hour time limit; whereas I am often too quick to move and find that I’ve miscounted or not respected the abilities of a player (on the pitch not the opponent) during the next turn, my opponent for this game is one of Blood Bowl’s thinkers and often is up against the 4 minute time limit. It was also a chance for me to play something that wasn’t a squishy Elf.
In the end I decided to take Humans over Ogres. I am probably going to play Ogres at my second tournament, Exiles, in September, and want to try them out before that, but I’ve not played them before and didn’t want to add another variable to the game and not give the opponent the game that we planned. So I went for an Ogre with Block, one Blitzer with Frenzy, one with Guard, two with Mighty Blow, a Thrower with Block, one Catcher, some Linemen and an Apothecary for TV1100.
My opponent had a build more suited to moving the ball with a Diving Catch Catcher, an Accurate Thrower, a Juggernaut Blitzer, a Guard Blitzer, a Strip Ball Blitzer and a Tackle Blitzer. The roster was filled out with second Catchers and Throwers, an Apothecary and Linemen.
I won the toss and elected to Kick. As an inexperienced player, I would normally like to receive and give myself a chance to be in the lead, but this time I wanted to kick and change the challenge in front of me. The opposing coach ran through his Catchers and scored a very ‘Elfy’ two turn touchdown with Accurate and Diving Catch combining on a Long Pass to score. This took me by surprise to say the least! On the one turn that I did have though I managed to Frenzy a player off the pitch 🙂
I set up (keeping the Catcher in Reserve) and received the ball, forming a loose cage and working my way to the left hand side and trying to throw some blocks. My lack of caging experience and skills was evident and I got a bit caught up on the side line at half way and the opposing Guard Blitzer was able to get into the thick of the action and offer an assist to knock over my ball carrier and spilling the ball off the pitch. The ball was thrown in along the half way line and bounced on some prone players before landing pretty neatly for the opposing team. If I remember rightly my Ogre was Boneheaded at the time (no tackle zones) and that allowed the opponent to essentially walk through to got 2-0 up.
Again, I set up and again I moved to the left. This time the cage was more effective and I had a better selection of players and skills making up the cage. It was helped by a failed dodge by an opposing Blitzer that gave me more space to work with. My blocks were also proving very effective and I was knocking opponents over a fair bit. I moved down with in scoring distance and the only thing between me and a score was a speedy Catcher that had managed to get back to cover. There was only one thing for it and I blitzed out for the score (not before I forgot that I had Block on the Thrower and passed up a Both Down for a Push resulting in me having to roll an extra dodge!). The half ended with me 2-1 down.
I received the ball in the second half and the game started to swing in my favour. I got the ball setup a strong cage with support and marched it down the right hand side of the pitch wreaking havoc. The bash approach was gradually taking its toll on the opposition and the casualties and missing players were racking up. The Ogre accounted for a few as did the Mighty Blow Blitzers. The crowd surfs were helping on each drive but not doing any serious injuries. I walked down the pitch smashing opponents as I went and walking in for the equalising score on Turn 5.
The last couple of turns and the opponent was receiving the ball. He still had his Diving Catch Catcher and his Accurate Thrower. He picked up the ball but couldn’t protect the ball carrier as he was down on numbers – 7 on the pitch I think. He ran through a Blitzer and the Catcher to end his turn. My turn meant covering the two scoring threats knocking over the Catcher, and getting up to cover the ball carrier. One Blitzer ran through to mark the covering player and my Catcher – making his first appearance of the game – sprinted through and went for it twice to mark the ball carrier. The opposing Thrower went for the pass action and successfully dodged away and launched an accurate long pass towards the Catcher. The Catcher though was not able to bring it down under the cover of two of my players and spilt the ball. I moved a few players to cover and picked up the ball with a Blitzer and moved forward but just short of the half way line. My Catcher was still upfield and the Blitzer was still marking an opposing player but within scoring distance. Out of rerolls my opponent made some 1DBs to clear a patch for his Blitzer to make a block on the ball carrier. The path was cleared and the ball carrier was knocked to the floor and the ball landed at the feet of the attacking Blizter but he couldn’t pick it up. My Turn 8 and there was only one thing I could do but if successful it would give me the win. I moved a Lineman up to provide an assist and blitzed the opposing Blitzer away from the ball. My Thrower moved in and using picked up the ball and using his Pass skill launched a Long Pass upfield to the Catcher who caught it and ran in for the final score of the game. 3-2 to me and I won the casualty battle 5-1 as well.
It was nice to win and even nicer to win having been 2-0 down. The bashier approach was a nice change from the avoidance game of the Elves. My Ogre did a lot of damage and it was worth trying to block with him given that he had Block. Loosing his tackle zones on a couple of occasions was a pain but I got better at managing that. Frenzy was not a problem and I didn’t get trapped, but overall I didn’t find it as useful as I would have found a second Guard piece for example. Keeping the Catcher off the pitch until the end was a strategy going in. Being only ST2 he is a natural target and I didn’t want to lose him. I did miss his speed but having him there at the end was really valuable. We got the game done with the 2 hours and didn’t use a timer so it was a good result all round.
I like the difference in game play between tournament matches and league matches. In league play you are always thinking about the risk of death of injury and are looking to spread SPPs if possible. In tournament play injuries are less important as the player will be back next game and SPPs don’t (generally) matter. You can therefore give the ball to a designated ball carrier and move him and the ball upfield. It changes your mindset and although the general risks of the game stay the same their long term impacts are not. This makes for a different overall style of game and one that I am finding increasingly enjoyable.