Coach’s Report : Eshin Academy (Skaven) vs Elves

So game three for the Eshin Academy was against those side-stepping, catchy elves. I took my usual lineup of 4 gutter runners, 2 blitzers, 1 thrower, 5 linerats and 3 rerolls. The elf coach went for 2 catchers, 2 throwers(I think, could have been a lineman), 2 blitzers, 5 linemen, 2 rerolls and an apothecary.

Now before we start some of this is a little sketchy. It was such an action packed game compared to the last two that the details escaped me when I came to write this down (thus a coach’s report and not a match report per say).

I won the toss and elected to kick. Things didn’t start off so well and the elves got the ball and moved it up their right side, having blitzed a hole to run into. Uh oh. The screen was setup to protect the ball carrier and a quick score looked inevitable. I’m not sure how, but in a couple of turns I managed to pop the ball out down in the corner and retrieve it with one of the runners. The elves had committed to the attack but not overly; there were still some skirmishes on the half way line. The more I play with skaven though, the more that I learn to see the gaps and not to be afraid. On my turn 4 I got the ball up using a runner to runner exchange and that was that…touchdown 1-0 to the Eshin Academy.

So I kicked off again and the elves were a little more cautious with the ball but were still menacing. I was doing my best to take on the blocks that I had and to put pressure on the ball carrier whenever I could. Again, I managed to get the ball out and I think it was on the floor. Turn 8, last turn of the half. Could I do it? It needed a dodge, pickup, throw into tackle zones and a dodge to score…but I had 2 gutter runners and a reroll to execute the play. The reroll was needed on the throw, but it worked. 2-0 at the end of the first half and I was still to receive the ball in the second half. The second touchdown was a risky play – how many times do you KO yourself making a dodge? – but it was the kind of play that I’m becoming less afraid of making with the skaven. They are made for the dramatic play and you just have to go with it.

Second half began and I got a two turn score with a classic move, handoff, move, pass, move, score. A hole was created in the middle on the left of the line of scrimmage. It was an opportunity that the skaven are uniquely positioned to exploit and I’m more likely to just go for it now. So that was 3-0. By now we were both starting with 9 players for most drives. I had knocked an elf catcher into the crowd and seriously injured him fairly early on. An elf blitzer was also KOd. For my part I finished with 3 in the seriously injured box, maybe league play would temper my riskiness? We’ll have to see.

It was then the elves turn to score. Quickly moving the ball down towards my endzone in the corner; a position that I have found myself in on several occasions. Again I managed to get back and make a play but once again it wasn’t enough to prevent the eventual touchdown. There were too few players that I could get to make a truly effective play. 3-1.

That wasn’t the end of the scoring though with the Eshin thrower and gutters runners combining for another score. Final score 4-1 to the Eshin Academy.

I’m really pleased to get my first win and to do it in such a skaven-like way too. I’m happy too that I am progressing. I am learning things from every game that I play and am learning so much from every coach that I play. I’m finding that using the gutter runners to make risky plays and to also use them to pressure the ball carrier really pays off. At one point I managed to get three of them on the ball carrier. Which leads me to my next point, blitzing with the ball carrier. It’s easier with higher strength players of course but it’s a good way of getting out of trouble. With a gutter runner, I’d always dodge out, but with a blitzer for example this is a better choice. Three times now I’ve also been caught out and conceded when the ball has ended up deep in one corner by my endzone. I think I need to look at how I commit defensive players positionally. I did learn from last week, in that I thought to move a covering runner as a catcher upfield so I could at least get rid of the ball. But didn’t get the chance to throw it away. I did over commit a couple of times when blocking the ball carrier. I had the assist for a two dice block already but added the third man. My thinking at the time was to be around the ball when it bounced out. Problem was that I then had nobody to pick up the ball after it came out! It didn’t matter on this occasion but that’s not to say it won’t next time.

I also learned that side-step is a brilliantly annoying skill. I didn’t understand the rule properly to start with and thought that the opposing coach could only choose which of the three squares the player could be pushed to and not any square as per the skill definition. At least twice I blocked thinking a push would be enough to clear the space and or covering defender, only to make it worse! It’s a skill that will be added to a couple of gutter runners when we get the league up and running 🙂

After three games, I must say that I’m loving playing skaven. I’ve not come up against a bash team yet, so I’ll reserve judgement as to their full effectiveness. Being confident enough to score in two turns makes a real difference to the flow of the game and it can quickly give the coach an upper hand just by changing the approach that the opposing coach has to take.

Not sure if I’m playing Blood Bowl next week as I could be having a taster game of Necromunda.

Eshin Academy P3 W1 D1 L1 F6 A6

Match Report : Eshin Academy (Skaven) vs Humans

“The Eshin Academy step out into the Blood Bowl arena for the second time and I must say Jim they are looking more confident. No need for the extra portable latrines this week. Bob, let’s hope they’ve spent a lot of time on the practice turf as they made a lot of rookie mistakes last week…”

“…the humans have made good progress down the middle, pushing the Academy’s line back and punching a hole through the middle..and yes, it looks like they’re about to make play the catcher has broken free and the thrower is advancing into the space created in the middle by the smashing blitzer. Here we go..and oh he’s made a mess of that the ball is wobbling through the air and lands next to the catcher…it bounces..but nobody gets a chance to pick it up. Bob, that’s unlucky. They would have been closing in on the endzone had that landed. Yes, Jim and now the Academy have a chance to make the most of the turnover. It’s the thrower, Gareek Shade, who’s making the move on the ball he grabs it and moves into some space but he’s still in the rat’s half. He’s going to need some help and he it comes as the free Academy players rush to support him. The humans are trying to put pressure on the ball Jim but they need to be careful, we know how quickly the ball can move. Bob, it looks like the Eshin Academy are going for it, Gareek sprints left and gives it to runner Hythe Throttle, who charges down the left…and scores. 1-0 to the Eshin Academy and that’s the teams first score Jim…”

So what happened. I lost the toss and kicked off. The humans made a hole in the middle of the line. Nothing too bad though; not like last week. The skaven were being pushed around rather than knocked over and when they did go down the armour held and when it didn’t they were only stunned. This held all the way up to turn 5 or 6 in the 2nd half. The missed pass got me off the hook a little bit, as it was looking like a quick score against. I was pleased to be able to capitalise on the drop though; sure hands on the thrower helped and then the runner burning it with the help of two GFIs was fantastic to perform and see. A sweeping zig-zag across the pitch for 1-0.

The second possession for the humans went very similar to the first – hole created through the middle followed by a pass to a free man. This time it was to a blitzer. I had left him open to allow me to put more pressure on the ball, but didn’t bank on him being able to catch the ball. He did and ran into the corner needing 2 GFIs to get the score. He made the first but fell over on the second and the ball bounced inbounds. This is where I could have done a bit better I think. I managed to get back to the ball but was then isolated with the ball. The opposition coach is very good at getting multiple players free when he needs to and he did just that, knocking the ball carrier over. The ball bounced again and the blitzer was able to stand up and pickup for the score. 1-1 at half time. Getting the ball was one thing but leaving one player in the corner on his own was not solving the problem of having the ball and several of their players near my endzone.

I received first in the second half and set up more aggressively. I managed to blitz a path down the right and with another gutter runner charge got rat and ball a few squares short of the end zone. I knew I had the covering human blitzer to deal with and was lucky that after some rerolled block dice still only ended up being pushed against the sideline. I still thought one dodge out and 9 moves round the blitzer to score would be the plan. But again, the experienced human coach was able to get another two players to put tackle zones around me. Suddenly this became a much tougher challenge. I thought about having the runner pass the ball to a near by runner, but thought with 2 tackle zones on me that the short pass was too risky. So I went for it, straight down the side line and the grasping arms of the humans. Started with a 1 but used the Dodge skill to reroll that, then needed to burn a team reroll..but made it. 2-1.

The human’s possession was familiar and the ball and ball carrier were deep in the corner near the end zone with only a couple of turns left. The skaven armour was feeling the pains of the game by this stage and the players closest to the action were lying stunned. I dodged out with a runner, blitzed the ball carrier and the ball was left on the ground with the humans having 1 turn left. Familiar? Well the same thing happened. The human catcher managed to stand up, dodge to the ball, pickup the ball and score. Final score 2-2.

In hindsight I think I would have at least tried the pass with the runner at the end. There was another runner up the pitch available to catch. Even if the ball was fumbled, or missed then the ball would have either been further up the pitch out of harms way or it would have been no worse than it already was. I’ll remember that for next time. I did attempt to force more dice rolls from the opposition coach this game and wasn’t afraid to use the runners more this game. Both things I learned from last week. I do need to think about blocking assists more carefully and need to spend a little time trying to stop holes being punched through the middle of the line as easily. I may have owned the wide areas but the humans owned the middle and made the most of it. The skaven were much tougher this game and I made more of the risky dodges than I did last week. That’s the luck of the rolls though. I also managed to think about what I was going to do more and apply some sort of strategy to each turn. It was a very enjoyable game and it was nice to see some improvement.

Now to organise a game for next week 🙂

Eshin Academy P2 W0 D1 L1

Match Report: Eshin Academy (Skaven) vs High Elves

“So here we are Jim, the Eshin Academy’s first run out into the Blood Bowl arena since they were formed and is it just me or do they look nervous? No, Bob you’re right. We could be in for a short and bloody game tonight…just the way I like it. The coach is trying to get them focused but is spending a fair bit of time in the latrine himself, Jim. Yes, Bob and tonight’s latrines are brought to you by ‘Mandrex Latrine Wipes: Human skin to clean your hole with’.

The elves win the toss and decide to kick and it looks like we’re set for a blizzard. The Academy will at least get a chance to touch the ball tonight. And here we go…

The ball goes high, really high Bob. Yes Jim, and it looks like it landed right on the linerat on the line of scrimmage in the middle…he…catches it. The rats move to get the ball to rookie thrower Gareek Shade, he takes the ball and retreats towards his own endzone. Interesting move there Bob, he seems a little disoriented. The rest of his team though seem intent on trying to punch a hole down the left hand side of the pitch, probably looking to release one of the runners deep into the elves half. Yes, Jim that’s exactly what’s happening. The elves are bunching up in the middle near the line and are looking to hold as many rats in tackle zones as they can. They’ve spotted the runner moving into the backfield and move to cover.

What’s this? The Academy coach seems to be calling a play onto the field. Yes, Jim. It looks like, yes, they are, they’re going for the score. Gareek runs forward down the left and hands off to runner Toxide the Sneak who himself runs forward and looks to pass. The release is perfect it’s only the catch to make. Sneek Creep is the runner with the task of making it. And let me cut in there Bob. Looking at Sneek’s Combine tape he has some lovely claws on him. You’re right Jim, but the catch is made more difficult by the elf blitzer within arms reach ou don’t don’t get that in practise…and…and…he’s dropped it. I can’t believe it Bob. The touchdown would have been his…”

That moment on Turn 3 shaped the game a little bit. The elves pick the ball up, after it bobbled to their player and they moved up the field and finished the first half 1-0 up. The second half didn’t start well for the skaven, losing 3 casualties. The elves got a quick score to go 2-0 up. At that point Coach Cameron took pity (rarely seen in Blood Bowl) and helped me with tactics and approach. With the elves looking very likely to make it 3-0 the game petered out and a lesson in coaching took over.

All in all I loved getting a game under my belt. It’s a big step to getting back into playing BB as well as the collecting and painting part of the hobby. The drop early on was typical in that when big plays were needed I came up short. The basic 7 AV is also very light. It didn’t take too many blocks for me to have players taken off the board in groups of 2s and 3s. Funnily enough when lining up after the second score I had 8 players left, and 4 of them were gutter runners. We agreed that I was too afraid of losing the runners to use them effectively. I’d over commit one of them in the elves half leaving me a rat down from the start. And with the others I’d not make enough plays to positively affect the play i.e. make the elves role the dice. As soon as I lost rats, it gave the elves Coach a chance to be super agressive on the line and my lack of numbers meant punching a hole through was always going to be uphill for me. When I did try to make something happen the number of times 1 Dodge reroll 1 came up was astonishing. What else? Well My brain wasn’t really engaged properly as I was spending too much time looking at what my opponent was doing rather than plotting my own route through the game. This meant that I often spent the first 2 minutes of each 4 minute turn, just looking at the board and looking at what I could do. This will come with time. Also playing against an agility team meant that there were too many players moving all over the place for my noobs brain to cope with.

I am happy I played. I’m looking forward to my next game with the skaven. Whether I play any better or not remains to be seen. I think when I’m more comfortable with the risk/reward it could be a different game 🙂 I am already thinking that playing humans and finding my style and approach again may be a good thing. It was also to have another week were BB was played at the club. Hopefully we can see a BB game or two being played every week 🙂

So it’s in the books.

Eshin Academy     P1 W0 D0 L1

Completed Eshin Academy Miniatures

My first painting project for 20 years has finally ended, and I am very very pleased with them. I am no painter. I don’t have the patience or the steady hand required, but I think I’ve done enough to make them an above average paint job and they should look very impressive when they take to the Blood Bowl arena next week.

So here they are….

Gutter Runner

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Blitzer

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Thrower

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Linerat

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I’m really pleased with them and I’ve learned a few lessons for the next team (to be started this week). Firstly, I think I was a little heavy handed with the base paint. I’ll water down the base coat a little and if necessary to another coat rather than one thick one. I repainted the bases many times but in the end I think the black edge plus the grass base looks very nice. It’s also easy to add new pieces to the roster without worrying about what colour to paint the base. Finally, use a different varnish. I used the Citadel Purity Seal spray and it left some of the models with white patches which I don’t like.

So there we go. My first team. I can’t tell you how happy I am with them and I can’t wait to play with them and I’m really excited about creating the next team. I’m definitely back in this hobby 🙂

My next painting project is..

My skaven Blood Bowl team – the Eshin Academy – is nearly finished (only basing and numbers to do tomorrow) so I have been thinking about what to do for my next painting project.

I want to make teams out of the 2nd edition miniatures before I buy anything new. I can make several teams of metal minis, with only a few auction site purchases needed where I don’t have enough positions for the LRB6 rosters. My four choices, based on models, are :- humans, chaos pact, orcs and elves. My elf team needs a few extra models and is a bit to similar to the skaven team in terms of playing style, orcs just aren’t doing it for me at the moment and chaos pact is too advanced in terms of actually playing with them. So the winner is humans. I’ve never played as humans before and am looking forward to their versatility.

Given the NFL Draft is tonight and the upsurge in my interest in the NFL over the last few years, I’m going to style them on my favourite team the Miami Dolphins. I’m a Marino era fan and I’d like to base them on the uniform of the era and the Dolphin’s all-time best players for the rest of the fluff. Need to pick up a few more paints but the undercoat is on and I’m ready to make a start this weekend.

Dan Marino

P.s. Pictures of the completed Eshin Academy will follow soon and they are due to make their competitive debut in the next week or two. 

Hey Rat Fans!

Having been through my old miniatures I have enough players for Orc, Human and Elf teams and am only a few short of a Dwarf team. For when I am more experienced I could put together Halfling and Ogre teams too. There are also several Chaos players and I’m not sure where they sit in the new rules yet, other than as Star Players.

When I was younger I took control of the Orcs and my brother went for the Humans. In the early days, I quite enjoyed the ‘bash’ but as I got more experienced (and more into American Football and Dan Marino’s Dolphins) I loved the passing play of the Elves. In the end the glory of scoring was too much for me to avoid.

When it came to picking a new team I wanted to stick to more ‘dash’ than ‘bash’ and wanted to stick to a race / roster from the golden oldie days of Blood Bowl. So I plucked for Skaven. The Gutter Runners seem to be fantastic players and the speedy, tactical style may fit with my personality and I’m reading up on fluff and playbooks at the moment.

My team will be called ‘Eshin Academy’ and it’s the team of Clan Eshin’s assassin training academy. Players join the team as part of their training with the linemen being new recruits and the gutter runners being those closest to assassin status. I’m going to paint them red and yellow to fit in with the eastern background to the Eshin Clan. I don’t think I’ll be using a rat ogre so I have enough miniatures for a decent squad to represent most situations. I’ll work on the star players and mutants later on.