You could get a bus through there!

I’ve not done individual match reports for my last three Blood Bowl games because they would all read the same and come to the same conclusion – room for improvement. Not a little bit of room either. As the title suggests there is quite a lot of room there. Enough to drive a bus through in fact.

The last three games – two in the RTTNAFC on FUMBBL and one tabletop – have highlighted that my game lacks in two key areas – 1) Positioning and 2) Scoring.

When I first got back into the game I went back to my favourite team, the Elves and to my top want-to-play team, the Skaven. Both teams give you a lot of flexibility and cover up deficiencies in your play; a couple of Elves or a couple of Gutter Runners can pickup, dodge, move, throw, hand off and score at will. An unskilled Chaos beastman or a frenzied Norse Berserker isn’t quite as forgiving.

I’ve been doing quite well in our little online league with Humans and Underworld but again there the MA7 and built in Dodge skills can get you out of sticky situations. Most recently I’ve been playing Norse and Chaos and am making silly mistakes that are turning Wins into Draws and Draws into Losses (or at least the chance of getting the better of the outcomes).

I’m going to leave the management of the Frenzy skill out of it at the moment as that just adds to the problem!

I find that I don’t move a loose or tight cage effectively (unless my opponent is down on numbers). I’m moving without protecting the ball carrier well enough, but also not making the best use of the space.  I’m not fully accounting for what my opponent’s players are capable of. On top of that I’m doing silly things like not counting spaces left to score properly, or getting within 2 GFIs of scoring and allowing myself to be pushed back and out of range. In my last game, I thought I was safe but allowed a Wardancer to get a 1DB on a 5+ Dodge on my ball carrier on the sideline. Chance to score gone and Sure Hands ball carrier KO’d too. It has been the same pattern of play in all three games. I do well without the ball on defence, get myself in position to equalise but don’t think it through properly when the chips are down at the end of a half. In my last game I could have, no should have, levelled it on Turn 7 of the 2nd half on a GFI with a reroll in hand. I chose not to and the ball got knocked out. I had a chance to score again at the end of the game, but instead of a single 2+ roll, it was a sequence of rolls that I couldn’t and didn’t make. It’s not my overall decision making that it a problem, I don’t think. I perform the key actions in the correct order (again I think), trying to go from least risky to most risky. Of course in some situations the most risky thing may need doing first to maximise the reward. It’s the overall strategy that needs working on and knowing when to strike the hammer blow and score.

It’s nice to be able to sit here and understand what some of the problems are and to try and formulate a plan to get to the next level in my game. I’m pleased to be in this position. I see on some of the forums people asking questions like ‘how are some players continuously successful’, or ‘how do I get better at..’.

The only way to get better is to play more and to play against better players more. I spectate games and watch good players and try and guess what I think the next move will be by placing my cursor in the target square. What I don’t do is play enough to make those moves part of my natural game. FUMBBL is the answer and I’ve created some teams in the Ranked division with the intention of getting some games in. Another part of it is playing with and against more races; it’s not until you come up against a good Nurgle or a good Wood Elf coach that you see how how those teams play in anger.

I’m looking forward to this next phase in my game. It’s going to involve quite a lot of pain and suffering, I’m sure. The prize will me being a better player 🙂

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RTTNAFC : Game 2 (Norse v Dark Elves)

A quick post about my second game of the RTTNAFC tournament. After my first round win I was paired with a Dark Elf team (one of many Elf teams in the competition) and I was a little bit concerned. Like a lot of people I have a problem playing against Dark Elves. They can do so much and have so many weapons and yet are a bit tougher to knock out than most Elves.

To cut a long story short, I lost 1-0. My opponent elected to kick to me in the first half which meant that I was receiving; something that I don’t really like doing. I caged up straight away and initially thought I was doing quite well. My opponent knew what he/she was doing and kept the right amount of pressure and distance. I was more wary of my player’s Frenzy skill and probably too conservative as a result. In the end I didn’t manage to score in the half which was a disappointment and really put me on the backfoot.

Into the second half and my opponent was able to move the ball forward, I did get a 1DB on the ball carrier to try to stop him from scoring but rolled a Push and that was that. 1-0. I still had a few turns with which to equalise though and thought I got myself into a decent position. On Turn 8 I needed things to go my way but I had a reroll to help me. I tried a Blitz to push a marking Dark Elf out of the way but misclicked and messed up my plan. In the end I tried to Blitz down a Wrestle Witch elf with a Beserker and 1 Dice but could only Push again. Only thing left was a handoff, some dodges and some GFIs. I did the *hard* bit but failed the important final dodge and fell over. I lost 1-0.

It was a funny game. I’m not normally one to have a plan and to be thinking too far ahead, but in this game I felt as if I couldn’t see the plays very well. I think that this was partially my mindset and partially mu opponent’s play. I’m not taking anything away from the opposing coach as they deserved the win. I am disappointed in myself though for not making a better go of it.

The draw for Round 3 is made on Friday so we shall see what I am up against then.

For those that are interested, here is the position that I was in on the final turn of the game. As well as what I actually did (the misclick was that the Ulf was supposed to Blitz) and the full game replay.

I’d love to see your suggestions for what I *should* have done! 🙂

 

RTTNAFC - Game 2 H2T8

RTTNAFC – Game 2 H2T8

Update – 29th January

So I’ve been thinking about this some more! I also played a tabletop game last night and it made me think more about positioning and movement. I then watched the play again and even with the misclick I don’t understand why I pushed the Witch towards the sideline. I’m guessing that I was thinking only of knocking her over. Both blocks were 1 dice and two pushes were good enough – and that’s what I got! I could have pushed her inwards and left the sideline free. With the dice that I then had (assuming they would have been the same) I could have handed off, dodged out and GFId for the touchdown.

RTTNAFC : Game 1 (Norse v Skaven)

As Round 1 of the RTTNAFC tournament comes to an end, I thought I’d quickly summarise my first game. I was playing my 1100TV Norse team. I’ve taken a Snow Troll, one Ulfwerener, 1 Runner, 2 Beserkers, 7 Linemen, 1 Apothecary and 3 Rerolls. For my three normal skills that I can select for the first three rounds I have given Mighty Blow to the Troll, Block to the Ulf and Sure Hands to the Runner.

Hellspire Snowstorm

My reasoning behind the selections are based around never having played Norse and never having managed the blocking and positioning risks of Frenzy to this level. For that reason I only took one Ulf and have given him Block for the extra level of protection. I sacrificed the second Ulf for the third reroll. The rules don’t allow you to pick Double skills until Round 4 and I wanted the Troll to be useful early; he’s my riskiest piece but also a potential killer (ands therefore target) when the Mighty Blow is combined with his Claw.

So onto the match. The skaven that I was facing had 4 Gutter Runners, 2 Blitzers, 1 Thrower, 4 Linerats, 2 Rerolls and the Star Player Hakflem Skuttlespike. Hakflem is basically a stronger, mutated Gutter Runner with the skills to let him go anywhere and do anything. The coach had selected Guard on both of the Blitzers and Wrestle on one of the Gutter Runners. I suspected the tactic would be to get the ball to Skuttlespike, protect him with the Guard Blitzers and let him do the rest.

I’m not going to go into too much detail as the beauty of FUMBBL is that you can go and watch the replay for yourselves 🙂 Basically though, I kicked off to the Skaven who took the ball down their left and attempted to get it Hakflem. It took me a couple of turns to get used to my players, the prime example being surfing a Gutter Runner with my Ulf…and getting him stuck there to be surfed himself next turn. The first few turns played out as expected except that I was doing it without my Runner in Reserve. A FUMBBL bug triggered when I mis-marked the player at kickoff meant he was missing for a drive (the bug has been logged and didn’t affect the game). The first score took a little longer than expected after the Skaven’s handoff to Hakflem failed which gave me a chance to recover the ball. The Guard and my positioning didn’t give me the ball for long though and I was 1-0 down.

It did give me the chance to get the ball and attack the Skaven players though. I was able to get the ball, cage up and march downfield for the Turn 8 score causing quite a lot of destruction along the way. I received in the second half with a numbers advantage and this continued for another 8 turns as I made my way downfield with the Skaven valiantly trying to stop me. The Wrestle Gutter Runner was proving to be a real pain and when he did find himself on the floor my players rushed to him and made sure he didn’t get up!

So a 2-1 win in my first game and 4 casualties leaving me on +3 points. I’m very happy with that especially as I think I grew into the team and once I got used to them I was more successful.

Interestingly this was my opposing coach’s very first game on FUMBBL. It was therefore a great example of bring tabletop or Cyanide players to the FUMBBL environment. I hope that it works the other way too and brings online players to the tabletop game 🙂

Round 2 is sure to bring a new set of challenges for the Hellspire Snowstorm!

If you want to see the game then you can take a look at the replay here – https://fumbbl.com/FUMBBL.php?page=match&id=3643073

 

Road to the NAF Champs

After much umming and arring I decided to enter the Road to the NAF Championship tournament on FUMBBL. The RTTNACF is the first NAF-sanctioned online tournament and marks a new phase in the history of Blood Bowl.

Tabletop tournaments have been the traditional domain of the NAF but last year they ran an event on Cyanide (‘s version of Blood Bowl) which gave the winner entry to the NAF Championship in Nottingham. This year they have taken it one step further and actually created a sanctioned tournament with the good folks over on FUMBBL. The winner gets a ticket to the tabletop tournament in May.

As you may know I have a love-hate relationship with online Blood Bowl. I want to play more games but am not really a fan of computer games and I don’t really like being watched playing them*. Even when I spectate games I feel like a voyeur. It makes me uncomfortable. anyway, I’ve already got my NAF ticket and won’t win the RTTNAFC but thought it would be good to get a few games in and to try to work my way into enjoying online Blood Bowl more. I’ll be playing 1 game a week for the next 6 weeks. It is Swiss style and resurrection so as much like a tabletop tournament as you can do.

I’ve picked a Norse team (again). At the time of writing I have still never played them. Here’s my team – https://fumbbl.com/p/team?team_id=793157

I’ve taken a Yeti and want to try to use him. I’ve only taken one Ulf and have given him Block on Day 1 which means that other than the Yeti all of my players will have the Block skill. I’ve taken Mighty Blow on the Yeti and along with his Claw and Frenzy hope to do some damage.

Other than that I just want to have some fun and to be part of the first NAF sanctioned online tournament. If all goes well I’ll take part in more throughout the year and maybe get to the online and tabletop 24** over the next few years.

*my cunning solution to this is gaffer tape over the spectators section on the client and turn the sound off 🙂

**playing all of the 24 official races in NAF sanctioned events.

Twitter Beard League – Season 2

The Twitter Beard League or TBL has just finished Season 2 and I am pleased to say that I was crowned Champion. My rookie Underworld team the Cav’rn Creepers finished with 3 wins, 1 draw and 0 losses.

Now it is only four games but I’m really pleased with the win. I’ve not won anything (except Stunty Champion) before and it feels sweeter having done it with Underworld.

I took the troll, all the skaven, a bunch of goblins and 4 rerolls. I don’t normally take that many rerolls but I wanted to play this a little crazy and knew from the beginning that I wanted to push my luck a bit…which I did…a LOT!

My usual setup was to put the troll and two goblins on the line and see what happened. I got really lucky with the goblins and they very rarely got POWed. If they didn’t get knocked over then I was able to dodge them away next turn. They’re tricky little things to knock down at low TV when most teams don’t have Tackle pieces and there is usually limited Block.

I loved the movement of the goblins and Stunty lets you get to all sorts of places. I did get a Two Head goblin after the last game so will have to try him out in the future. The skaven are great fun too and are played differently than they would be in a normal skaven team. All of your skaven players are important positionals to an Underworld roster. I’ve now got one Blitzer with Claw and one with Mighty Blow. Good times 🙂

I managed to skill up the troll and took Tentacles since I had Lizards and Halflings next. My plan was to tie up the skinks and the ‘flings. I need a lot of practice with Big Guys. The ogre was a weak link in my Human team in Season 1; my play style is naturally conservative and I don’t really like throwing blocks with Loners. Silly I know but my big guys tend to be road blocks rather than machines of destruction. The Tentacles didn’t really work. I think they did once to good effect but my positioning isn’t good enough to be really effective. Claw and a bit more risk may have been a better bet.

Here is an extreme example of my luck during the little tournament. It wasn’t all like the but I think that a lot of the time things went my way and the fourth ‘extra’ reroll meant I pushed things more than I usually would. I think it was against the Orcs in game 2 that my team went on a murder spree for the first few turns and certainly in game 1 against the Amazons I did some silly things that meant I needed a dodge to score having made it hard for myself.

The TBL is the most fun that I’ve had playing Blood Bowl online. It’s a small group of friends playing for fun. No set schedule. No pressure. Perfect for me. We’ve just started season 3 and I’m trying Norse out for the first time. I’m really looking forward to it 🙂

 

Time for an update

In my head I don’t do many general update posts – but a quick look at the list of posts says that the last two posts have both been updates of sorts. Anyway, there are so many little bits and bobs that I am dipping in and out of at the moment that I thought I’d bring them all together in one post. I will then pick each item in turn and do a separate post on the best bits.

 

FUMBBL

I’m still by no means a FUMBBL expert and I’m not a regular, but I am taking part in a little Twitter league that has seen me playing a game a week. I’ve taken more of an interest in the regular 145 Rookie messages that I get as well and will probably get back into that. Time is a major factor at the moment though as I’m enjoying the other things that I’m working on too much to play lots. FUMBBL is still a little alien to me. Playing sideways is strange and I find that I am very easily distracted when playing which massively affects the end result.

 

ExeBowl Branding

When I started the ExeBowl tournament I pulled together a general look for the various documents that (felt) I needed to produce and came up with a quick and dirty logo based on the Exeter City F.C. emblem. I’m not a graphic designer though and my computer graphics skills have always been well behind my other IT skills. Recently though I have produced a simplified – and I think more striking – logo for the tournament and have been rebranding all of the materials that I’ve produced.  This has also included porting the website from WordPress over to its own domain (http://www.exebowl.co.uk) and giving it a quick spruce up along the way. I’m much happier with it all now and the change allows me to..

 

ExeBowl Prizes and Tokens

As a first time tournament keeping costs well-managed is very important to me. It would be in any year to be honest, but the first year especially is important in terms of gauging interest. I do want to run the best tournament that I can though and I have been getting in touch with manufacturers and vendors to see if I can get some prize support for those that do attend. With a simplified logo, I have also been investigating costs and lead times for custom dice and tokens that can be given away at the event. No promises but if enough people sign up and pay I’ll be in a better position to do something with this.

 

ExeBowl Roster

More ExeBowl and more IT now as I’ve been pulling together a customised Blood Bowl team creation spreadsheet that I am asking all attendees to use. I’ve taken the tournament version of the stalwart of the Blood Bowl roster creation – Halfling Scribe – and modified it to work with the ExeBowl tournament pack. The changes have been fairly simple and have basically involved splitting out the player skills into a new column to show which free skills have been selected and applying the tournament’s TV1100 limit and 6 normal skills restrictions. I published it on the ExeBowl website earlier this week and hopefully everyone will find it useful.

 

Score! Templates

Finally on the ExeBowl side of things I have been modifying the outputs of Score!. For those that don’t know Score! is a small piece of software that is used to run Blood Bowl tournaments. It lets you enter the teams, run the draw for each round and then based on your tournament tie-breakers creates the results for each round and the tournament itself. It’s very good at what it does but the outputs for it a not very pretty. I like things that not only function well but look nice when doing it, so it was important for me to have the outputs ExeBowl branded. The outputs themselves are easily customisable so I have been doing that as well. I will do a longer post on this soon as the changes I’ve made can easily be applied by other tournament organisers to their events.

 

Painting

The #WorldCupPaintingPact has really inspired me to paint and has been a roaring success for me. I have finished the chaos team that started as a primed set of models only two weeks ago. I’ll be taking some better photographs and posting on these later on. I’ve no stopped there though and I’ve started working on my orc thralls for my vampire team and have gone back to my ogre team. The five ogres that we already done have had eyes painted on and just need the bases finished and I’ve also got the snotlings into a similar position. I’ve also pinned and primed a sixth ogre and will start painting him in the next couple of days. I’m also going back over my elf team (the one that I finished at the end of last year for the league) and have been retouching them. I’ve been amazed at how my level of painting has improved (in my eyes) between the elves and the chaos and ogre teams.

 

Blood Bowl Pitches

I’ve not done much on these recently but they are always in the background. You may remember that I started a pirate pitch inspired by an article in an old Blood Bowl Magazine this hasn’t moved on at all really and the other ones that I eventually want to do are still just things to do. I have been trying to create a digital pitch with markings and dugouts as a friend has access to an A0 vinyl printer and there’s a chance we could print out own custom pitches at cost price. Too good an opportunity to miss. Trouble is – as you’ll know from earlier in this post – that my graphic skills are not great. I know what I want but doing it in a software package is easier said than done. The language and tools are all alien to me and the basic techniques that I need all need to be researched and tried out before I can apply them in anger. I’ll get there though!

I think that is quite enough for now. As you can can see Blood Bowl is very much the focus of all of my hobby attention now; collecting, painting, reading, running and hopefully attending tournaments.

Until next time 🙂

 

Adventures in FUMBBL

I’ve been playing a little bit of online Blood Bowl using FUMBBL and I thought that after 10 14 games I’d share a few thoughts and experiences.

For those that don’t know, FUMBBL is a free online version of the tabletop game Blood Bowl. Players from all over the world can sign up and create and play as many teams as they like. The games are played using a Java client that allows you to perform player actions as well as chat with your opponent. The site offers various types of gaming environment from private leagues to random matchups in the Blackbox.

The main thing that I like about FUMBBL is that it allows me to play Blood Bowl.

My record so far is W6 T3 L5. There are some nice stories with each of those games and a couple of the losses/ties could/should/would have been victories…aren’t they all? The last one was against Vampires and if I’d positioned my loose cage better I’d have scored next turn. As it happens the vamps got the ball off my gutter runner and with a bit of hypnotic gazing, some dodging and some passing moved the ball to the other end of the field. I managed to blitz the ball carrier on T8 but could only push him which meant two of my runners retreated to apply some tackle zones and make the thrall work for his TD. Once again though my positioning wasn’t perfect and I allowed him a 2DB on one runner who to his credit dodged out of the way but couldn’t stop the dodging thrall from scoring. It’s those little things that keep me wanting to play the next game. If I was getting smashed around every game and not learning then I’m not sure I’d be here writing this now.

Thanks to all of my opponents so far 🙂

On the whole the standard of play is very high. But please take this with a pinch handful of salt as I’ve been out of the game for so long I don’t know a chainpush from a chainsaw. I’ve joined the 145 Club Rookie league and played a couple of games that went quite badly for my squishy skaven, but I’ve also played a League game using game finder against what I presume is someone of my skill level and beaten them soundly. I will say though that all of the games and the opponents have been a lot of fun. I’ve not come across anyone blaming the dice etc or chat raging. We’ve all been enjoying the games in a good spirit and that’s what it is all about for me.

So what do I like about FUMBBL?

  • I like being able to play relatively quick games of Blood Bowl from the comfort of my PC; a couple of games a night is easily possible, even with life going on around me.
  • I like that I can setup as many teams of as many races as I like.
  • I like the community feel and chatting with my opponents (if they want). After a slow start in the rookie league we are now using the messaging system to arrange games and make friends of our foes.

What don’t I like?

  • Well to me as a novice, the whole site and experience is very closed and difficult to comprehend. The starter guides are missing key bits of information about selecting inducements, spectating and chatting etc. Knowing how to go about finding a game can be daunting (stopped me from playing until many months after I first signed up).
  • The client is very functional and could do with a little bit of spit and polish. Not too much as I like the simplicity of it, but it looks very dated.
  • The statistics shown on the site are really odd to a noob, seemingly only using games in Ranked for the calculations.

I’ve really enjoyed being in the rookie league and will probably try again with another team in the next season and will eventually join a bigger league (if they’ll have me). I’m also going to try a few more teams out. I’m not experienced enough for a lot of teams so will keep trying to learn with orcs, humans and elves. It has been really good for keeping me in Blood Bowl the game as well as the hobby. I will always enjoy collecting and painting models but it adds to the enjoyment if I can play too. My day-to-day life doesn’t allow me to get to play many tabletop games and attending tournaments is harder still.

FUMBBL lets me play and enjoy a game that I love 🙂