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…?
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
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.
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.
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 🙂