Completed – Blood Bowl Underworld Team

Ok, so this is a massive cheat! I recently completed my Goblin team but for a long time have had an urge to play Underworld a bit more. I nearly played them in my league last year and nearly took them to the NAFC. My Goblin team is mainly made up of GW 2nd Edition models and I’ve been collecting Skaven from the same period so the logical thing to do was to paint up the 6 Skaven that are needed to create an Underworld team. So I finished stripping these models and have painted them in the same colour scheme as my Goblins. I may well end up painting the rest of the 2nd Edition Skaven that I have in the same scheme further down the line.

Blitzers

Throwers

Linerats

Match Report: Elves v Skaven (Game 6)

My first tabletop game against skaven. I’d played with skaven, with a degree of success, and I love the gutter runners and the blitzers. My opponent, like me, was sitting just under mid-table in the mainly bash league and was new to skaven and just getting to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

How would this game help us both…?

First Half

The skaven won the toss and elected to kick off and use their Kicker to place the ball deep into the elves half. The High Kick allowed the me to reposition my thrower under the ball to receive, but in what I hoped would not be a bad omen for the game he fumbled the catch and the all landed at his feet. He quickly pulled himself together though when the sight of catchers and blitzers flooding into the skaven backfield jolted his memory. Faced with several threats the skaven coach retreated his players to cover as much as possible while the Mighty Blow blitzer set about his task for the game and started hitting. The elves were not to be out done though targeting any gutter runner that dared to stand alone and KO’d one early doors. All the hitting was making the elves nervous though and the thrower initiated the 2-Turn touchdown score using the catcher – making only his second start – as the link man to move the ball upfield. 1-0 to the elves.

The elves turn to kick of and the skaven’s turn to get in a quick score on their Turn 3. Not much hitting, but what little hitting there was, was effective with both the skaven and the elves suffering stuns and KOs. 1-1.

The fans were clearly enjoying this game, and wanting more, Rioted, turning the clock back one turn. Both coaches looked at each other across the field and gave each other a knowing glance – ‘oh it’s going to be one of those games’.

It was rinse and repeat for the elves, with another 2-Turn touchdown. This time the scorer of the first turning providing as he passed the ball down field to his catcher compatriot. The catchers showing the value of their Nerves of Steel and Dodge to negate the skaven defence. 2-1 to the elves.

The skaven received and for the second time in the half and looked to tie up the score before the half. With a considerable amount of time left in the half the elf coach was hoping for a quick skaven score to allow for enough time for another score of his own to end the half. For the first time in the game the Mighty Blow came into effect Badly Hurting an elf lineman and putting the elves down to 10 players for the rest of the game. The skaven also managed to score on the turn to level the score 2-2 on after 6 turns.

More of the same then for the elves. The thrower couldn’t reach the ball as it bounced right up to the sideline deep in the elf half and he chose to cover instead to give his players time to work their way downfield. The star elf catcher started his downfield move and tripped on the outstretched tail of a rat and fell over before any of his team mates had a chance to advance. The skaven coach ran two of his gutter runners towards the ball sniffing the chance to get another score. The elves ended their half retreating to cover the ball and knock down the two gutter runners. One of the runners the stood up and did what gutter runners do. Dodging into tackle zones, picking up the ball and then dodging out for the score to end the half 3-2 to the skaven.

First Half Analysis

I love gutter runners. I’ve done that final ‘what the hell’ play myself and when it works it feels great and terrible at the same time. I thought I’d done enough by putting them on the ground and applying two tackle zones to the ball. I don’t recall if I was out of rerolls or not, but in hindsight it would have been better for the thrower to do the GRI and pickup the ball himself. Maybe? The ball was against the sideline and I didn’t want it to scatter out. Risk/Reward. 28.4% chance of him scoring with the reroll according to Samba Action Calculator

The Gutter Runner's odds

The Gutter Runner’s odds

We both had players KOd between touchdowns but my Babe was not earning her money and I was losing the numbers battle against the skaven. Although I was taking players out on a pretty even level, my player weren’t coming back and the skaven had a deeper bench to keep them always on top on the pitch. 3-2 down and kicking off was not a good position to be in going into the second half.

Second Half

The second half started with the elves kicking and getting a good bounce to bring the ball a few squares away from the line of scrimmage in the open on the skaven left. The skaven covered the ball with one gutter runner but didn’t pick it up electing instead to block the elves on the line; the elves already down in numbers. The elf coach knew the importance of the next score and threatened the side of the pitch with the ball managing to blitz the covering gutter runner, and having a lineman run in to pickup the ball and have two catchers next to him for support. The skaven coach quickly reorganised his team to take out the threat and with the two teams exchanging Badly Hurt players the skaven had the ball back where it had originally landed, but with more support and fewer elves to contend with.

On Turn 5 the gutter runner sensed the returning pressure and helped a lineman knock down the elves star Blodging catcher and ran into the space in the middle of the pitch, created by the elves having five players off the pitch, and on Turn 6 ran in for the deciding score. 4-2 to the skaven. The elves Babe again failed to inspire the dizzy players to come back and the elves would start their attempt to get another consolation score with reduced numbers.

The players lined up. Blitz! Two gutter runners came charging into the elf back field, causing the elf thrower to have a flashback to the first kick off of the game and fumbled the pickup. The elves were again on the back foot and had to apply as much pressure as they could on the threats to their endzone. Both runners were knocked down, but again one got up and had the simple job this time of picking up in one tackle zone and then dodging out for the score. 5-2 to the skaven and the elves were truly dejected. They lined up to take vengeance on the Mighty Blow blitzer in the last turn of the game, but the skaven coach’s Perfect Defence didn’t give them the chance and the game fizzled out after the earlier fireworks, ending 5-2 to the skaven.

Second Half Analysis

The key play sequence here was the first couple of turns. I managed to get through and get onto the ball but became risk averse at the wrong time and rather than do a GFI then a pickup with my Blodging catcher chose to leave him where he was and do the pickup with an unskilled yet free lineman. I can’t remember if I’d used a reroll that turn or not so that may have affected my thinking. Had the Blodger been holding the ball there was a very real chance that we could have stolen the score and make it 3-3. We’ll never know. After that the numbers really made the game. I’m used to playing with reduced numbers, but against skaven that is never going to end well.

Game Summary

This was the type of game that I love and is why I prefer high agility, high-speed teams. The 3rd and 5th touchdowns were classic gutter runner touchdowns and the type that I like to score myself. One or two gutter runners on their own near the ball, seemingly insurmountable odds with the endzone in sight.

As I said, I think the big mistake was not trying harder to get the Blodger on the ball at the start of the second half. I had a couple of no move turns, but that’s what happens in a dice game and it evens out for both coaches. But that was all on me. The other mistake was again not trying harder to pick the ball up at the end of the first half. The gutter runner (with a reroll, with no assists) would be blitzing -2DB which would be about a 21% chance to do that alone, with the pickup and dodges to go.

On the plus side, both my blitzers levelled up (normal) and I’ve got a full 12 man roster to take into the next game. I’ve not picked the skills yet so any suggestions are welcome. I think I have Dark Elves, Chaos and Orcs to come.

So far I am P6 W2 D1 L3 and there’s a story to them all 🙂

Playing as Skaven in Blood Bowl – Lessons picked up after 3 games

I’ve only played three games in 20 years and I’ve never played skaven before, so I am no expert(!)…but here are the few tips that I’ve picked up so far.

  1. Gutter Runners are brilliant. This may sound obvious, but it needs saying again and again. Gutter Runners are brilliant. Now of course they have weaknesses ST and AV but with MA9 and AG2 they can really fly.
  2. Use Gutter Runners to pressure the ball. As you skill up and progress players this gets easier but even having a Runner in position to assist or blitz makes a difference. I’d rather make the opposing coach make a play than just let him walk through me.
  3. Tackle zone management is essential when defending. As skaven you are not built for hitting or being hit so you need to cover the gaps with tackle zones. Again the principle is to make the other coach play a good game rather than expose your team.
  4. Kicking off to start the game is an acceptable strategy. As a skaven coach you need to assume that you are going to score on if not every then most possessions. By kicking off in the first half you are forcing the other coach to score when you have a full strength team…you probably won’t be so lucky in the second half.
  5. AV7 is weak and you will lose players. Don’t get attached to your Linerats, they are there to let your positional players do their stuff. They need to absorb blocks that would otherwise be directed at your Blitzers or the Runners.
  6. Always know where your ball movers are and keep an imaginary line/triangle between them all. Linking together your main ball movers (Thrower if you have one and the Gutter Runners) is the key to success so always know how they can get and then move the ball.
  7. Move – Handoff – Move – Pass – Move. This is the play that will move the ball quickest and furthest and with some good dice rolls will mean you can score in two or three turns. The throw is best done as a Quick Pass from a rick perspective but don’t be afraid to make the longer pass if the game demands it. The Thrower gets a reroll for his Pass skill and the Runners can dodge out of tackle zones with a Dodge reroll too. If you line it up properly the ball will move very quickly.
  8. Don’t forget the workhorses. Let’s face it the Gutter Runners are going to score and they are going to make quick passes. In league play this will mean Star Player Points and lots of them. But you’re not going to want to put Kick on your star Gutter Runner. Where possible try and involve your other players, who doesn’t want the chance to get Guard or Claw on a Blitzer, or Kick and Wrestle on a Linerat? If you supercharge the Gutter Runners and ignore the supporting cast you may not keep scoring as other teams skill up around you and kill your four best players.

Do you guys have any tips for playing Blood Bowl with skaven? I’d love to hear them and learn from you guys.

Do you disagree with any of the tips that I’ve picked up so far?

Let me know. I’ll revisit this post as I find new ways of playing with skaven 🙂

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

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

IMG_0889

IMG_0890

 

Blitzer

IMG_0891IMG_0892

Thrower

IMG_0893IMG_0894

Linerat

IMG_0895IMG_0896

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 🙂