Gert Bowl – 1st Tournament Experience

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.

Result  1-1

Record W0 T1 L0

 

Game 2 vs Norse

Result  2-0

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.

Result 2-0

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. 

Result  2-2

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.

Result  1-1

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.   

Result  1-1

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.

Result  4-4

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

Blood Bowl – Training Report (Elves v High Elves)

Last game before Gert Bowl and I tried a couple of skill changes. The wisdom of Twitter suggested Kick on a Thrower and keeping him as a utility piece. The thinking being that this piece would really be out of the major action and certainly less than the lineman that I was going to give Kick to. The move of Kick freed up a skill that I decided to add to a high value piece – a Catcher. I wanted something a little more defensive and went for Tackle.

So who was I facing…? High Elves. A little unexpected but an interesting battle. I’ve played High Elves a little bit on FUMBBL recently and found their AV8 much less fragile that I did the Elves AV7 in the tabletop league. Sounds obvious but it makes a big difference when you play the game as the Elves can disappear pretty quickly sometimes.

So I won the toss and elected to Kick. I’m not sure why I did this really because in my head I was thinking I’d get an early score (i.e. receive). Anyway. I kicked short knowing the opposition could handle the ball pretty quickly anyway and hoping to take advantage of an early mistake or Blitz result. In the end we had a Riot and a shortened first half that the High Elves started with a bashy game against me. I pretty much surrounded the High Elves at one point but this did leave me short in places and the High Elf Blitzer with Frenzy was useful in clearing the extra spaces. I”m not saying the dice were against me but it seemed that my players were always getting knocked over. The Thrower, with Kick, was injured in the first couple of turns and stuns and KOs were pretty frequent. The High Elves progressed slowly downfield and eventually scored on their Turn 8. It was a stalled drive and I nearly got back prevent the score but with AG4 and rerolls you can move pretty freely. 1-0 at half time.

Into the second half and I was down a couple of players and receiving. This half the blocks went my way a little more and I was able to control possession better and moved the ball down the right hand side. By Turn 5 I’d caused a casualty of my own and was in position to score. I decided though to test myself a bit and stall for an extra turn. Often in games I wanted to stall another turn to put things in my favour more but chickened out and it would cost me. I ran through stopped short of the line and ran through the supporting players to screen the ball carrier. As always with this kind of thing though I mis-positioned a player by a single square and allowed a blitz; there’s still so much to learn and have in my ‘game muscle memory’. So we had a massive scrum right in the corner. The High Elves made it in a took the ball back, I dodged in a knocked the ball free myself. Numbers were low. Space was short and players were failing rolls all over the place. So it came to Turn 8 the ball was on the ground with a High Elf guarding it. I stood a player up for the assist, blitzed a High Elf into the crowd and then ran back to pickup the ball, dodge out and score. Very Elfy and all completely unnecessary. The game ended 1-1.

It was a useful game as for a lot of it I only had 6 or 7 players. I also think that I am better off playing to my strengths in terms of skill selection rather than defending against the opposition. Wrestle is a good skill for me as it can be useful on attack and defence but other pure defensive skills require me to ‘think’ a bit too much. That will come in time but for now I just want to play my game, meet some new people and try and have fun.

So I am off to Gert Bowl in the morning with these things in mind. I’ll try and tweet some updates but may be to involved in the games to remember!

Blood Bowl – Training Report (Elves v Necro)

This last few weeks have been Blood Bowl this and Blood Bowl that; things have moved on at a quite a pace! I’ve signed up to play in my first Blood Bowl tournament – Gert Bowl – and players at the club are already thinking forwards to the ExeBowl tournament in October. My painting table has also been a churning out completed Blood Bowl teams at a rate of knots.

Last night I played in a little tournament training game to help with general tournament play preparations. We played 3 minute turns with a team build of TV1100 and 6 Normal skills – essentially replicating ExeBowl.

I took my Elves – freshly touched up and aesthetically improved since their league run out. I took 1 Thrower with Accurate, 2 Blitzers both with Dodge, 3 Catchers one with Block, one with Wrestle and one with nothing. The team was filled up with 6 Linemen one with Kick for a total of 12 players.

I won the toss and elected to receive; not normal tactics but one that I have found  makes me play with more freedom. I like to have a score on the board. I know it’s not going to work everytime but at my level of experience has a significant impact on my overall game. I managed to score on the 3rd of 4th turn. It was your usual Elf touchdown. Punch through, run threatening players through, hold back then move the ball quickly upfield for the score. Accurate was useful in this instance as it turns the Thrower into an AG5 player for the actual pass action. I know Leader may be a more TV min-max skill choice and that Sure Hands gives you a reroll for one of the Throwers two main actions (already having Pass for the other one). I just found that Accurate gives me a little bit more flexibility with the throwing distance and given that my positioning isn’t always the best, this flexibility suits my style.

At the kick off I setup with a central, narrow formation and kicked short. The Kick skill giving me more scope for an accurate kick. As it happened the ball scattered to a player who dropped it and it scattered for a touchback. The opposing coach elected to give the ball to a player setup right on the half way line. I was hoping to give away a quick score and give myself 2 turns to take the lead again. The Tackle Wight took the ball upfield with a couple of Zombies in tow. I was still able to get a 2DB on him with one mobile Catcher providing an assist and the Wrestle Catcher making the block. The player was knocked over and the ball scattered into the crowd who did me a massive favour and threw the ball right up the other end of the field where only my Elves where able to take advantage, running it in for a second score and making it 2-0 at half time.

The second half was much quicker than the first. I kicked long this time and the Werewolf setup to receive first failed the pickup with a reroll and on the next turn failed the handoff with a reroll. In that time I was able to position myself to take advantage and ran in a third score to finish the game 3-0.

I did lose two players to injuries but likewise caused two of my own. The substitute player that I had at this TV made a big difference and I was at least able to have 10 players in defence rather than the 7 or 8 that I had in some early league games. The threat of Tackle was also something new to deal with as I didn’t face it in the league. Makes an Elf coach think that’s for sure!

So what did I learn? Well a Kick Lineman is a must as are two Blodging Blitzers. Elf Blitzers with Dodge are one of my favourite positionals in the whole game. Their annoyance factor is immense! A few blocks where they aren’t brought to the ground and they can be basing a ball carrier in no time (of course Tackle, Wrestle and Grab make a difference). Personally I liked Accurate on the Thrower and Wrestle on one of the Catchers. I think I need to explore the other skilled Catcher. Block is always a good skill (max of 2 of any skill so no Dodge) so it’s not too bad for the more offensive Catcher. The 3 minute turns was also very useful. The pace of the game is that much quicker. Keeping up that pace for 3 games a day will be an experience, that’s for sure.

I should be able to get another practise game in before Gert and will be playing more over the summer with the club players to help get us all used to a faster paced game.

If you have any tips or suggestions for Elf tournament rosters and play styles then I’d love to hear them.

Season Report: Pro Elves

My first season of league Blood Bowl is finished and I thought it would be a good time to sit down and think about what I liked about the Elves, what I didn’t like about them and what I would do differently next time.

To recap my results were as follows:

Report Race Result Score
Match 1 Chaos Dwarfs L 1-2
Match 2 Humans W 3-1
Match 3 Dark Elves D 1-1
Match 4 Lizardmen L 1-2
Match 5 Undead W 3-1
Match 6 Skaven L 2-5
Match 7 Dark Elves W 4-0
Match 8 Chaos L 2-1
Match 9 Orcs W 4-0

The four teams that I lost to are all in the playoff hunt (along with the humans); the final games are this week and it’s between the skaven, chaos and humans for the last two places. There’s no shame in that then.

I made some silly mistakes along the way, the worst of which was probably miscounting the number of squares from the endzone in the first dark elf game and conceding a touchdown as a result. that really should have been a win. All in all though I am very pleased with my showing in the league and ended up taking the plate for top placed rookie coach.

What about the elves then, how did they do? Well I loved them 🙂 I’ve never been a bash coach and love the agility even though it comes with a major weakness in the AV7/8. Early on in the league they were very fragile. I think that during most of the first five games I had periods with up at  least four players off the pitch and although I don’t mind attacking with reduced numbers, defending becomes a challenge, especially when you don’t have any starting dodge and only two starting dodge. The player numbers were much less of a factor in the second half of the season and this has a lot to do with me getting dodge on the two blitzers and two of the three catchers.

It was only in the first game that I did the classic ‘elf defence’ (two rows of players two squares apart). In the other games I tried to be more aggressive and attack the ball more. This probably increased the number of players sitting in the dugout and it took me a little while to work out when to apply pressure and how much pressure to apply. Too little and I’m susceptible to the grind and too much and I’m leaving my players exposed. It’s a very fine line.

In the early games, nerves of steel was a really fantastic skill but as the season went on I was throwing the ball less and managing to score by moving the ball by handing off. I love the elf catchers and as soon as they get dodge and then block they become useful in attack and defence. In a longer season I’d try to build a catcher into a defending sacker player with dodge, wrestle and strip ball. Strength 3 on these players gives them a good chance against a lot of ball carriers and they can cover a lot of ground.

The blitzers are another fantastic positional piece. Starting with block and side step means they are great as disrupting cages, dodge as a first skill makes them harder to knock down and can result in them pinging all over the pitch as the opposing coach tries to knock them down, wasting blocks in the process. I probably took too long in skilling mine up. It was only in Match 5 that they managed to get enough SPPs to level up. The extra dodge made a difference in the next few matches.

I made a silly first skill choice on the thrower. He levelled up during the lizardman game and I took leader instead of accurate. It was a direct result of the T16 plays that against the chaos dwarfs, dark elves and then lizards when on each game I had a chance to score a touchdown that failed on a pickup or a GFI and an extra reroll (above the 3 on the roster) would have been useful. I did use the leader reroll in the games after that so it wasn’t a wasted skill, I just feel that accurate with +1 to throwing rolls would have meant my play style would change slightly and it would be easier to move the ball longer distances. When receiving I didn’t run backwards and then look upfield for the play to develop, I had to keep the thrower further forward so that he could make an easier pass. Accurate would have given me a little more protection.

Typically 5 of my MVP rolls were shared between 2 players. It hampered the development of the team early on but couldn’t be helped. The line elves remained unskilled except for one that was a useful wrestler. I would have loved a kick player, and maybe another wrestler. Kick made a big difference in the game vs the skaven and allowed the gutter runners to dominate the backfield. The line elves also spent the first few games suffering from MNGs. The first four or five games saw me having to take journeymen to get up to 11 players and it was a real struggle. I suffered a lot of casualties and was playing catch up for a long time. When I got up to a 12 player roster it gave me that extra player to help defend with and it made a difference at my skill level. I also didn’t throw many blocks which is why I didn’t cause many casualties myself; I saved my dice rolls for key blitzes and actions that moved the ball around.

I would definitely recommend elves to any coach. They are a super team to play with and when they’ve developed a little bit (1250TV) you see a significant jump in their capabilities. Early on they are a challenge but if you can get through the early stages then you’ll have a fun time.

What about me as a coach, what did I learn? I think that as the season went on I got more and more used to calculating odds and knowing the risks involved. It doesn’t mean that I took any notice of them though 😉 I feel much more confident playing the game now and am looking forward to playing more. I did become more aware of the intricacies of player positioning. I have to put in some work learning some more base formations and some specific situational player positioning. I’m generally quite good but tend to play by feel and touch rather than applying that bit more consideration that I think the better coaches do. The lizardmen and chaos games game were good examples of the opposing coaches imposing their style on me (forgetting the dice rolls and intercepting saurus sillyness). I need to learn how to play around this more. The only answer to this though is to play more games and gain experience. I did learn that I love the game and especially the tabletop version. There’s something about sitting opposite a coach in person, shaking hands and rolling some dice. I don’t get this online and I need that to get the most enjoyment out of it.

I’m already thinking about next year. I may go for dark elves but play them more like elves. The extra point of AV will make a difference in our league especially because the match points system includes TD difference + CAS. I need to be able to hurt more and get hurt less to get those extra few points per game going my way. There are several months between now and the next season though so plenty of time to think about it.

Thanks for reading my match reports. I will continue this series into the next season and any games I play between now and then. I have found them extremely useful as a tool for learning and will reread them myself to keep me focussed on getting better at this wonderfully simple and yet complex game.

Match Report: Elves v Orcs (Game 9)

The final game of the season and although neither team could make the playoffs, both coaches wanted to show that their style of play was the best. Bash or Agility? Who would win? The elves were coming into the came with 11 players, with their thrower missing this game through injury. The orcs came in with 12 players and induced the chainsaw to make up for the gap in TV.

With the elf coach, and players, nervously pacing the sidelines before the game, the chainsaw revved up putting the crowd into a frenzy…

First Half

The orc crowd was in a frenzy, but it was the elf supporters who threw a rock as the match kicked off; knocking out a black orc lined up on the line of scrimmage. The elves won the toss and elected to kick, hoping to steal the ball early. The chainsaw took up his position on the line and started hitting the stead fast elves on the line. The orc thrower, deep in the backfield, attempted the pickup but failed and the elf coach signalled the charge. elves flooded forward, exploiting gaps in the orc defence and stunned an orc blitzer on the side of the pitch with the ball. The orcs countered when the chainsaw KO’d a line elf and the rest of the team rallied around him using him as the point of their spear attach. The thrower managed to pickup the ball this time and passed it to the waiting goblin who ran behind the chainsaw for protection.The ball was in the centre of the pitch and the elves ran back to defend and blitzed the goblin carrying the ball who proved too nimble and managed to stay on his feet.

It was time for more saw action and the chainsaw again managed to KO an elf as the spear slowly advanced through the middle of the pitch. The second goblin player wanted something to do but only succeeded in stunning himself with a both down result. The Elves took over and this time did manage to knock the ball free and did their best to clear some space ahead of them. They were a little too keen through as one them tripped up whilst trying to dodge out of the grabbing arms of his opponent. The ball was now midway inside the elf half to the left of centre line. The ball was on the floor with elves and orcs vying for possession. The chainsaw was pushed aside as one of the black orcs rumbled forward to knock over the Elf blitzer. The blitzer was smashed to the ground put not before he fell onto the ball sending it bouncing around only for it to come to a stand still at the feet of four of his teammates. The orcs couldn’t get to the ball so proceeded to foul a prone elf killing him. The apothecary patched him up but he was still out for the rest of the game. The referee couldn’t miss this one and promptly sent off the offending player. The elves sensed the opportunity to score and end the chainsaw mayhem and swiftly picked up the ball and ran down the left wing, handing it off to the waiting catcher who ran in for the touchdown. 1-0 to the Elves on T4. 1 orc sent off and the chainsaw to follow. For the elves one player was seriously injured and one remained KO’d.

The elves kicked off again and this time the orcs came back with a renewed menace, seriously injuring another line elf and knocking down the rest of the elf defensive line. The ball was passed down the elf left flank and a half cage formed around the ball carrier. The elves pushed on surrounding the cage hoping to prevent players from joining the cage. The orcs countered by KOing an elf blitzer and stunning a catcher. The ball carrying goblin got excited and dodged away along the sideline. His excitement got the better of him though and he fell over spilling the ball. The elf players blocked away a couple of orc player before picking up the ball and running it up the sideline themselves. In an attempt to put more distance between him and the furious orcs, the coach signalled for two GFIs which were promptly failed, the ball again bouncing onto the ground; this time in open space. One of the goblins ran back to pickup the ball and threw it back upfield to the other goblin who ran down the sideline and waited nervously as the crowd urged ‘push, push’. The elves heard the cries and pushed him into the crowd who returned the favour by the chucking the ball into the orc half as far as they could. There were two elves who could get close to the ball and be in scoring range; a catcher and a blitzer. There wasn’t an orc player near the ball and all they could do was make it difficult for the elves. One black orc went for it to mark the blitzer who was closest to the ball while a lineorc blitzed the catcher but couldn’t knock him over. On the last turn of the half the elf blitzer dodged out, picked up the ball and made the GFI to end the half with the elves 2-0 up.

First Half Analysis

Overall the half went well. Too many players were leaving the pitch hurt but I had done what I wanted and got the chainsaw off the pitch and managed to score twice in the process. I probably shouldn’t have elected to kick but wanted to force the orcs to move the ball and at least think about scoring. A tackle piece would have been nice as trying to knock over a ball carrier with dodge is very annoying! The second touchdown was a little fortunate with the sideline throw in being perfect for me to make the most of.

Second Half

The orcs kicked off the second half with the elves down 4 players with only 2 blitzers, 3 catchers and 2 line elves taking to the field. The elf team only know one way to play though and immediately split to wide on each side of the pitch with one of the blitzers taking up the roll of ball carrier in the backfield. The orc team covered the attacking players and retreated to cover their endzone. The elves responded by waiting..and waiting..and waiting. Toying with the orc players by staying out of reach and dodging away from enemy players at every opportunity. This continued for three turns until the elf sandwich near the orc endzone became too dangerous for the sandwich filling and the orcs finally attempted to pressure the ball carrier. The elf coach didn’t want any more damage to be done and on T5 the blitzer ran forward and handed off to the waiting catcher to walk into the end zone unopposed for the 3rd elf touchdown.

The two teams setup again and again the orcs blocked down what was left of the elf line and the thrower passing the ball to a goblin on the right hand side of the pitch. Again the remaining elves managed to knock over the ball carrier and the ball landed at the at the feet of three players. the standing goblin ran towards the endzone ready to receive any pass that may come his way. The orcs attacked the elves near the ball but the agile blitzer managed to fall onto the ball which bounced into the open arms of the star elf catcher. The orcs, feeling the injustice of the bounce, fouled at face down elf who was unharmed. The referee though spotted the foul and sent the offender to the stands. The elves picked up the ball and ran forward with it, orcs and goblins chasing them to try to prevent the score. The last gasp blitz wasn’t enough though and the rookie catcher stayed on his feet before dodging away to make the score 4-0 on T8. With one turn left the orcs lined up and the fans took out their anger on the team’s performance by badly hurting a black orc with a rock.

The referee called time and the match ended 4-0 to the elves.

Second Half Analysis

I would have stalled for the whole half if I thought my players would survive. I would have run them out and back into my half but I’m not a big fan of stalling anyway and in the end the chance of serious injury was mounting and running in for the touchdown was the safest thing to do. I was a bit fortunate with the final score as I really didn’t expect the ball carrier to be so exposed again. I don’t block much in a game but running in to blitz a goblin just felt right 😉

Game Summary

The game was much more open that I expected. I was imagining a bashing, caging orc team but it was more of a screening, passing, bashing team. Once the chainsaw was off the pitch this gave me the upper hand as I was able to exploit the space and attack from all directions. Side step was very effective this game causing all sorts of problems with blocks and moving the ball around. In the end I think the movement was telling and I was never having to desperately chase anyone or feel stretched. Having only 7 players in the second half wasn’t as bad as it had been in the previous game as all of my skilled positional players were on the pitch and 4 dodge players against no tackle is very effective. I was very happy with the result. It feel good to get the first season under my belt, but I do feel that I am just getting started with this team.

So my season finished PWDL4.

I will be doing a season review in a future post and will put down my thoughts, highs and lows of playing a season with rookie elves.

Match Report: Elves v Chaos (Game 8)

Game 8 and it is crunch time. Both teams were outside of the playoffs going into the game but with two wins and other results going their way either team could scrape into 4th place and playoff contention. It was all to play for then. Going into the game my Elves were giving up quite a bit in TV, enough that the Chaos coach hired a mercenary Minotaur rather than his tried and tested Lewdgrip Whipwarm.

(I confess that I didn’t take notes during the match itself for this one, but I did write a quick summary when I got home. Hopefully I’ll be able to piece my notes together into a half decent report.)

So how would the must-win game play out…

First Half

The Elves won the toss and elected to receive, hoping for a pressure relieving quick score to start things off. Before the game started though the fans, feeling the pressure of the occasion, threw a rock at a player on each side with both teams having a stunned player to start the half.

The Elves looked for gaps but the Chaos setup was solid and didn’t offer any lanes for the Elf receivers to run into. The Elves tried though and the Chaos players responded by basing up and filling any gaps that were created. On T2 the Elf thrower failed to pickup the ball and the Chaos beastmen kept up the pressure using their horns all of the pitch where it benefitted them the most. The Elves were forced to dodge away and out of danger and at the second time of asking picked up the ball. The defensive cover wasn’t quite good enough though and one beastman blitzed through from the right knocking the ball carrier over and picking up the loose ball as teammates rushed through to provide support. The Elves, shocked by the early change of possession, fell back to cover and attempt to win the ball back. The Elves did manage to win the ball back out of the scrum with their rookie catcher spotting the loose ball in the middle of the Elves half and running it up the left flank where he was supported by screening teammates. It was now the Chaos teams turn to switch from attack to defence and they dropped back to cover their end zone. The Elves, fearing the charging horns and violence of the Warriors, blitzed a hole down the left side just inside the Chaos half before handing off and running in for the first score of the game on Turn 5.

The teams setup for the second time and the Chaos team were hoping for a quick score to go in level at the half. They charged forward and made a short pass upfield catching the Elves leaden-footed. A leaden-footed Elf is still a decent player though and the team covered well to halt the marauding beastmen. The horns were proving effective and the ball carrier and two companions charged through just short of the endzone. The Elves had one last chance to prevent the levelling score and flooded back to apply tackle zones where ever the could. The damage was mounting up though and the Elves lost their Thrower to a serious injury (his last game for the team) and star Blodging Catcher being KO’d (and not to return this game). On the last turn of the half the Chaos team blocked away as many tackle zones as possible but there was still one lone Elf which proved to be enough to put off the ball carrier as he couldn’t make the dodge into the endzone for the touchdown. The referee blew the whistle and the half ended with the Elves 1-0 up.

First Half Analysis

The Chaos coach is one of the more experienced in our league and you can see that in his positional play. There was no space for me to easily exploit. Of course, it was there but I had to roll a lot of dice and the law of averages says that I will fail them. As a result there was more base to base contact than I would normally like. The horns meant that my defensive lines could always be hit hard however I lined them up. I didn’t feel in control for much of the half but I was extremely pleased by the way that I defended at the end of the half. Sometimes all you can do is make the opponent roll as many dice as you can and let probability take over. Having gone in 1-0 at the half I was still confident in getting the result.

Second Half

The fans wanted their say again and rioted at the start of the half with one player from each side being stunned. The Chaos team received and picked up the ball and aggressively moved it forward. They were lucky enough to get a free turn when one of the Elves on the right flank tripped and fell over at the start of the turn. The Chaos team continued to throw blocks and make forward progress with the Elves only able to cover the ball and make one unsuccessful attempt to get the ball. Just as the Chaos looked like they would continue the bashing, they switched play over to the Elf left with another pass. The Elves changed the direction of their defence, but it was too little too late and the Chaos walked in for the score on T5 of the second half.

Down two players, including their still KO’d star Catcher, the Elves were however still confident of getting the game winning score. The Chaos team had other ideas though and managed to Blitz the Elves from the kick off. Knocking over the Elf line and running through to pressure the backfield. The Elves managed to get the ball when the ball came down, but danger was looming. The advanced Beastmen knocked the ball free and a mini scrum ensued with the ball eventually bouncing to the AG4 Beastman who had enough to be able to dodge in for the score. 2-1 ti the Chaos.

There was still time for the Elves to spoil the Chaos party and from the resulting kick off a lone blitzer charged through to provide a scoring threat. The Chaos team charged as one towards the only threat to their endzone and managed to knock him down and partially surround him. Game over? The Elves didn’t think so and a line elf charged forward to make a 1D blitz and chain pushed the prone blitzer closer to the end zone. The prone blitzer stood up and made a couple of difficult dodges and a couple of Go For Its to make the end zone – arms waving ready for the Long Bomb. His team-mate saw his waving arms and picked up the ball running it forward and handing off to another line elf who would attempt the throw. The thought of the throw was on his mind though and his fumbled the handoff hand the game and a potential playoff place to the victorious Chaos team. The game ended 2-1.

Second Half Analysis

The no-turn at the start of the half really didn’t help me and put me out of position and let the Chaos coach get another round of blocks in against me. I wasn’t unhappy with the timing of the Chaos team’s touchdown. There was plenty of time left for me to score. Blitz’s happen and this one was especially effective as I was already down on players and there was space and opportunity for the Chaos team to exploit. The hero play at the end would have been nice but was very unlikely; I was pleased that I was thinking about the chain push. It was another half of too much scrumming and rucking. The Chaos coach again managing to impose his style on me more than I would like. The horns really helped with that as I couldn’t avoid a big block or blitz against me each turn.

Game Summary

It was a brilliant game. Very tactical and tight; the Chaos coach managing to keep things tight and keep the Elves tied up more than I wanted. The end of each half ended with a nail-biter and it added to the must-win feeling of the game. The Blitz was a massive factor as it put me on the back foot when I was looking to push forward myself. These things happen. We both had fun. I’m now out of the playoff contention and face Orcs next in the last game of the season.

So far I am PWDL4 and there’s a story to them all 🙂

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 🙂