Match Report: Norse v Dark Elves (Game 1)

The new Rygas Roughnecks table top Blood Bowl league season kicked off last night and my Norse were facing some Dark Elves in Game 1. It was my second Norse vs Dark Elves matchup in a week and I can’t say I was that confident going into it.

I’ve picked a different build for my tabletop season and have gone with 2 x Ulfs, 2 x Beserkers, 7 x Linemen, 3 x Rerolls and 1 x Apothecary. I like more certainty and control in my game and thought the Snow Troll would be too much of a distraction and that dealing with the Frenzy would be hard enough.

My opponent was new to our club league, having found himself in the same position that I had the year before and just missing the start of the league season. Anyway he had 2 x Witch Elves, 3 x Blitzers, 1 x Runner, 5 x Linemen and 1 x Reroll. We’d never played each other before and neither of us had played tabletop for a while so it was going to be an interesting game.

I won the toss and elected to kick. It’s one of my favourite tactics at the moment as I like knowing what I need to do in a game and getting a feel for how my opponent is going to play. As expected the Elves got the ball, caged up near the centre line just to one side and kept a free player within Dump Off range. The Norse’s starting Block proved useful and I was able to knock over the Dark Elf line and get some pressure on the ball carrier. It didn’t amount for much though as being Elves they were able to skip out of trouble and progress down the field. I was conscious of being surfed by a Witch Elf and likewise I was always looking for a surf opportunity. My recent experience with Norse has taught me that trying to surf with an AG2 to Ulf who HAS to follow up can be very dangerous and could end badly for me. I managed to control myself although there were numerous opportunities not to. I continued to knock players over but not hurt anything and my opponent moved the ball through quickly with a pass. The Blitzer that had broken free muffed the catch though and the ball was free about 3 spaces from my end zone. I pulled players back forcing the Dark Elves to roll dice at least but knowing all the while that a simple dodge and pickup was all that they needed – simple for an AG4 anyway. As you would expect they Blitzer redeemed himself and picked up the ball and ran in for the score.

At the kick off the weather changed and we had to play out the rest of the game in the Pouring Rain (Edit: I originally said Blizzard which would have modified my GFIs. No we were in the Pouring Rain which affects ball handling). This was not what a team with no ball handling skills wants and rerolls were going to have to be saved. The kick was deep and my designated ball carrier picked it up (first time) and I was able to cage up in my own half. My objective was simple but the challenge was difficult. I was still knocking players over but the best that I had done was KO a couple of Dark Elves. The Dark Elves would pick themselves up and reposition making my forward progression tough. One of the Witch Elves dodged her way – very aggressively – to get one dice on my ball carrier but it was one dodge too many and she Badly Hurt herself. I can’t say that I was disappointed as the Witches had been a pain so far. It helped me move forward but I would still need full movement (MA6) and 4 GFIs with the ball carrier to score. We got to the last turn of the half and the Elves had one last chance to get to the ball carrier. A failed dodge meant they couldn’t get to her though (I am using the Valkyries) and I made the two 2+ rolls to go in 1-1 at half time.

I received the ball in the second half and the numbers were in my favour; the Dark Elves being down to 7 players and me still at 11. Again in Blizzard conditions I was able to pickup the ball and cage up. The cage slowly made its way forward down the left had side and the Elves would base me and attack at every opportunity. The cage got stalled and swung round to the right but was loosing players as they got stuck in tackle zones or only managing Pushes. There were lots of Skulls being rolled by both coaches including quadruple skulls by the Dark Elf coach at a very inopportune moment. On Turn 8 the Norse ball carrier was in scoring range and again it was the turn of a Witch to save the day. A series of 3+ dodges to the ball carrier required the use of the Dodge reroll and the 5+ to get to the ball carrier proved too much and she was tackled to the ground leaving the Norse to run in for the winning score. The game ended 2-1.

Overall it was a very good match and despite lots of blocks thrown there were no (blocking) casualties on either side. I got a normal/single skills on a Lineman and will probably take Tackle. The reason being that there are 3 Human teams in the league and it would be nice to have safety player to take out the Catchers. If not Tackle then it will be Fend to give me that extra bit on movement flexibility.

It was amazing the difference that rolling dice and moving miniatures has on my game compared to the pixels of FUMBBL. I confirmed to myself that tabletop is my preferred format of the game (although the ability to replay online is fantastic!). My next two opponents are Humans and Khemri so two very different challenges ahead.

It was good to get back to the club and to tabletop Blood Bowl 🙂

 

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Match Report: Elves v Dark Elves (Game 7)

Second game of the league season against a Dark Elf team. In the last game against Dark Elves I spectacularly failed to master counting and conceded when I thought it was impossible. I paid more attention to the roster this time and the two AG5 players, including an AG5 blitzer definitely caught my attention.

Going into the game I had all 12 players fit a ready to go and had my newly Blodging to cause all kinds of merry ball getting mayhem.

So how did it go?

First Half

I won the toss and for the first time this season the Fan Factor roll giving me +1 FAME. I elected to receive and setup opposite the dark elves who spread out along the half way line. The fans though thought that this game wasn’t shaping up to be very violent and elected to throw a rock at both teams. The result was my ball getting thrower being stunned and a dark elf blitzer being KO’d. From the resulting touchback I gave the ball to my unskilled catcher in the centre of the pitch a few squares behind the line. The elves started the game in their normal fashion by trying to get players into the opposition backfield. The early blocks went the elves way and 2 dark elves were stunned, leaving a few gaps that 3 elves were able to exploit, managing to rush upfield without being touched. The ball carrier stayed in position watching the action unfold.

The dark elves had no option but to pull back and cover the players already threatening their end zone. They retreated and blitzed the elves star blodging catcher and surrounding the others. The elves responded by sliding to the right and pushing forward, trying to free the players that had been marked and make a passing lane whilst screening the ball carrier. The AG5 dark elf blitzer thought nothing of the elf screen blitzing his way in and knocking the ball carrier over sending the ball scattering. He couldn’t catch the ball through but it fell into the hands of one of his dark elf teammates on the line in the middle of the field. His teammates weren’t able to get there to support him though the elves blitzed him down knocking the ball free again before picking it up and handing off for the Turn 3 score.

The kick off was high and the AG5 dark elf blitzer placed him self under the ball, caught it and ran up to the line where a cage formed around him. The dark elf line blocked and followed up slowly advancing into the elf half. There was room for two elves to run in from the left wing and put a blitz on the back man of the cage and get the sidestepping blitzer attached to the ball carrier. The remaining elves gained confidence from this and faced up the dark elves breaking armour and Knocking Out another enemy player.

The dark elves responded and tried to push through down the right hand side where there was now a gap in the elf defence. The ball carrier went to move but tripped over spilling the ball, which luckily for the dark elves was caught by the nearby runner. The elves followed up, hoping to pounce on the mistake, and blitzed the runner who managed to dump off the ball to a nearby lineman before taking the hit. The lineman with the ball was swiftly surrounded by elves wanting to steal the ball while the other elves stayed strong in defence. It was the dark elves turn to counter now, dodging out and swinging to the right passing the ball around the elf defence before protecting the ball carrier a few squares inside the elf half to the right with a blitzer threatening further downfield.

The elves knew that their dark cousins could score next turn and attacked the ball carrier, knocking the ball free before one of the nimble elf catchers dodged through to pickup the ball and swiftly move it down the left hand side going for it twice to get some extra space between the ball and the defenders. A three man elf screen protected the ball carrier and they waited for the dark elf response. The response came from the AG5 blitzer, fresh from the embarrassment of his previous trip, who charged back to make amends. Sadly his brain and feet weren’t communicating very well and he fell over leaving the dark elves in a very bad position. The elves flooded forward, adding to the screen and knocking players free where needed. The final action of the turn saw lineman number 8 dodge out to try to join the screen, only to fall over and badly hurt himself, putting in the dugout for the rest of the game.

The dark elves pulled back in one last desperate attempt to prevent the score but they suffered their own dodging mishap, when lineman number 13 fell over and broke his ribs, putting him out of action for the next game. The elves then walked in for their second score of the half on Turn 8. With one turn left of the half the dark elves just wanted to get in and regroup at half time. The vanity pass would help them regain a little bit of that lost confidence but their spirit was broken and the pass was dropped. 2-0 to the elves at half time.

First Half Analysis

I choose to receive again as I like being ahead in the game; I think it frees up my play. The early KO and the two stuns helped to clear a path for me to run through untouched. I was really pleased with how my first touchdown went. I waited the extra turn and didn’t force it. I did forget the AG5 is brilliant though and the bold play to dodge through and blitz through the screen was very effective. It did keep me alert for it for the rest of the game though and I extended the next screens as a result. It’s always nice to get a touchdown when you’re kicking and I was pleased to do it here. An effective screen was protecting the ball carrier and forcing the opposing coach to roll dice and burn rerolls as a result. I felt in control going in 2-0 up at the half.

Second Half

The second half started with elves kicking off to the dark elves, and their Cheering Fans were hoping the elves could push on and add to the scoreline. The kick bounced right up behind the dark elf line where it was caught, allowing the dark elves to form their cage on the line whilst spreading the remaining players across the pitch trying to stretch the defence, allowing them to find the running gap that they wanted. The elves themselves defended the line and broke through to get a tackle zone onto the ball carrier. Blocks were exchanged, but the elf armour was proving tough and they weren’t down for long. Knowing that they had nothing to lose, the dark elves tried to push through on the left, with the ball carrier blitzing his way into space.

He had maybe found too much space for himself though and the elves were able to knock him down, steeling the ball and running away with it midway into the dark elf half. The ball carrier and two supporting players hoping to force a third touchdown. The dark elves again found themselves having to return to defence and ran back applying tackle zones on the ball carrier before again falling over when dodging out to apply more support. The ball carrier was still on his feet but needed a lot of help to be able to get out to safety. The elf blitzers combined to assist with key blocks to allowing the elves to get a blitz in on one of the dark elves who was pressuring the ball carrier. It wasn’t enough though and he was pushed back but remained stuck to the ball. The elf catcher had seen enough and dodged his way out 3+, 2+ for the touchdown on Turn 3.

3-0 and the elves to kick off again. A long kick took the ball into the endzone and the elf coach was matching his players for impact with his Perfect Defence call pushing all of the elf players up on the line engaging the dark elves before they had a chance to get the ball. The dark elves responded with a sense of calm, knowing the game was now beyond them. They were playing for pride! The ball was picked up and quickly moved forward, whilst the line managed to punch a hole in the centre of the elf defence. The elf line held in place while the wide players moved forward to try to position to interrupt the pass. It wasn’t enough though and the dark elves pushed through and moved the ball right down the middle of the pitch, with a clear run to the elf endzone.

It was now the elves turn to have to defend. There were three players in range and between them they teamed up knock over the ball carrier, scattering the ball in between 3 elves and 3 dark elves. While attention was focussed on the ball, an elf blitzer and the thrower teamed up to throw a couple of blocks and forcing a dark elf lineman into the crowed who took pity on him, stunning him before turning their attention to the action near the elf endzone.

The dark elves looked to position themselves to recover the ball but were well aware that the elves were in place to move the ball swiftly upfield should things not go to plan. Go to plan they didn’t, with another player tripping up while attempting to run into position. So, elf Turn 6 and the chance to get the ball and move it upfield, out of danger, and a possible fourth score. The dark elf players were pushed away from the ball and the covering blodge catcher moved into pickup the ball and hand it off to the thrower at the halfway line. Despite his crowd surfing heroics he stayed focused and took the hand off before moving it up the left with the screen already forming to protect him. The dark elves, shocked by the way the elves moved the ball from defence to attack, ran back to try to interfere with the screen and the AG5 blitzer again tried for redemption. It was hard, but not impossible 2+, 2+, 2+, 2+ followed by a 1DB. The dark elf supporters held their collective breath..and he fell over; unable to escape the grabbing arms of the defender standing next to him. The elf thrower walked in for the Turn 7 touchdown and the team’s fourth of the game.

The dark elf coach knew that his owners and the press would have harsh words for him in the morning and called for the vanity pass before hitting commenced. The dark elf morale was low and the pass was fumbled. The elf coached called it time and after one blitz called out to the ref and that was it.

Game over 4-0 to the elves.

Second Half Analysis

The second half was more of the same really. My armour was holding steady and being able to start the second half with 11 players on the pitch makes a real differences with the elves on defence. On attack you can cope with missing players, but defending, especially against agility teams is more difficult as you can’t cover all of the gaps. The final drive that the dark elves had been what they’d been trying to do all game. Pushing through my line and moving the ball upfield quickly and taking advantage of the extra point of armour. I was well positioned but maybe overcommitted by one player and was a little lucky that the bounce fell kindly. The speed of the catcher was essential in getting around to be able to bake the 2DB.

With the earlier opportunity I was pleased to be able to get in behind the dark elf line and attack the ball, dump off is a useful skill but in this case it just put the ball in a position where it became harder to control. When the dark elf coach moved the ball back across to the right with a short pass there was the opportunity to keep going right and hand off to another blitzer. It was either staying still with support and me getting a 1DB on the ball, or handing off and allowing me to get a 2DB on the ball. I think staying in place was the right call put I was still able to clear the assists away to allow me to get a 2DB on the ball.

I didn’t use a reroll in the second half and that was just the way it was going really; I was deliberately trying not to roll dice and playing a more considered game.

Game Summary

It was a really fun game. We both said that. It was just one of those games where the dice were slightly in my favour and against my opponent. But I’m not one to blame the dice. If you make the opponent roll dice and position your players well then the dice will seem to be in your favour. I think this was the most effective game that I have had playing the elves. The team’s skill levels are getting to a point where they are harder to knock down and they are better equipped to do what I want them to do. My linemen did their job of screening and holding up the opposition players, whilst my positional player were able to attack the ball and move it very effectively.

This game really highlighted the importance of skills that give you built-in rerolls. I’d love an AG5 player, but without Dodge there’s always that risk of rolling a 1 and falling over; that happened a lot in this game. It also gave me some reading to do about tactics and protecting the ball with a limited number of players. When the dark elves broke through at the end of the game, there were two supporting players in a half cage. But because I could get around the back they weren’t doing anything to protect the ball carrier. Different positioning there would have meant I either had a longer route round to make the blitz or I would only get a 1DB. I think I’m playing enough now to learn these intermediate positioning tricks.

So that’s that. A good game of Blood Bowl. I must say that my opponent was brilliant. He’s new to the game but has quickly got up to speed with the dark elves. Despite everything that was going against him, he never once complained or moaned. It was a good game played in good spirits.

Next up for me are some orcs and then a chaos team to finish off the season. I’ll be giving up quite a bit in team value so expect to be facing a chainsaw and a wizard…gulp!

It also looks like I’m not going to make the playoffs so after these games, plans for next year’s league assault can begin 🙂

So far I am PWDL3 and there’s a story to them all 🙂

Match Report: Elves v Dark Elves (Game 3)

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…

First Half

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.

Second Half

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?

Game Summary

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.