Before the NAFC 2015 becomes a distant memory it is probably worth me writing down a quick summary of the games and my thoughts on the event.
First a quick recap. I decided a long time ago to take Humans and to bring along the greatest human Blood Bowl player – nay the greatest Blood Bowl player of all time, Griff Oberwald. As I was told several times over the weekend he’s getting on a bit and isn’t what he used to be, but at MA7 ST4 AG4 AV8 Loner, Block, Dodge, Fend, Sprint and Sure Feet he’s still pretty darn good to me! Yes, he wants a cart full of gold before he’ll turn up but my team was willing to make sacrifices.
My build was therefore 1 Thrower, 4 Blitzers, 6 Linemen, 1 Reroll and Griff. My Day 1 skills were Leader on the Thrower (for the extra RR), Guard on a Blitzer and Kick on a Lineman. Day 2 I was very creative and took Guard on the other three Blitzers. Not the most dynamic lineup and the phrase ‘all your eggs in one basket’ was used more than once in the build up. It was all built around Griff. His people insisted on it. He was to be the star of the show and everyone else was there to make him look good.
Griff’s team talk
So how did it work out…?
Game 1 – Dark Elves
There were a lot of Dark Elves in the room. A lot. Not a great match up and it was going to be a challenge. I received and Griff immediately took control of the situation, picking up the ball and shimmying left before breaking right and making a dash for open space. He dashed…but the thought of spending all that gold and the weary old legs resulted in him falling over and dropping the ball when there was nothing but grass near him. Dark Elves being Elves duly picked up the ball and scored, much to the annoyance of Griff who didn’t even have a chance to stand up. He did redeem himself by running in a first half equaliser, which was cancelled out at the start of the second half when the Dark Elves ran in another score to go 2-1 up. With both teams electing to go with 1 reroll and the Leader skill dice eventually caught up with the Elves and Griff’s experience and expertise shone through and he was able to level it on his own to make it 2-2.
Game 2 – Lizards
Lizards. Eurgh! I hate facing tournament Lizards. They’ve got all the questions and I don’t have any of the answers. To make things worse, these were French Lizards. The French are exceptional Blood Bowl players and there was a large group of strong French players at the NAFC…and this was one of them. The Lizards received and expertly maneuvered the cage downfield for the whole half scoring on Turn 8. Griff received in the second half and ducked and dived but didn’t get anywhere. He got bogged down on the left and so charged to the right catching the Lizards off guard. His joy at the way in which he wrong footed an entire team was short-lived as he again tripped over whilst trying to get away from all possible attackers. By this stage the kit-man was being ushered up to the team owner’s office. Something was clearly wrong with Griff’s boots. The Lizards reacted and covered the ball and seeking to kill off the game an eager Skink attempted to pickup the ball. The glare of the sun shining on Griff’s magnificent headpiece distracted the Skink and he bobbled it. Griff stood up knocking the skink down in the process and picked the ball up at the feet of a shocked Saurus before running away and eventually pulling free to score down the left. The Lizards had three turns in which to get the winner but Griff engineered a good defence and made it hard for the Lizards. One Skink did break free and with the winning touchdown in his grasp, a sudden glare of bright sunlight blinded him and he fell over. Griff put his helmet back on and smiled. Ol’ Chicken ‘Ead had done it again.
Game 3 – Humans
We called this game before the tournament. Two Griff’s enter, one Griff leaves! The Griff-off. Mirror match. Same builds with the exception of one skill. I received and it was very cagey for the first few turns. Each coach trying to find an opening or closing gaps that could be exploited. As time was running out my Griff sensed that he needed to take control of the situation and ran free down the right. The opposing Griff (created by the probability wizards just for this game) attempted to catch up but fell over and stunned himself, which allowed Griff (my Griff, the real Griff) to walk in for the score. At the start of the second half the opposing team advanced the ball with the Thrower and Griff leading the way upfront. I managed to get a player free to knock over the ball carrier and send the ball scattering. It came the way of Griff who caught it in three tackle zones. Unfortunately for me, it was the wrong Griff and he ran free with the ball. My Griff gave chase but fell over and stunned himself, allowing the (fake) Griff to make the easy score. No time to mess about now. Griff took the kickoff and charged down the left into open space. Griff knocked him over but on turn 16 Griff (my one) stood up dusted himself down then dodged out, picked up the ball and sprinted over the line for the winning touchdown.
Game 4 – Norse
The start of Day 2 and the team’s coaches were hard at work over night and the three previously unskilled Blitzers all gained Guard – it’s not spamming if it’s not Dwarves ;-). That win at the end of the first day meant that I was on Table 14 for this game. 2pts for a win and 1pt for a draw meant that I was in the realms of players with 2 wins. Good players. And this player was another very good player – he was French. When a French coach tells you that another French coach is very good, you know that you’re facing a good player. Griff got the ball but just couldn’t get through. The four Guarders were causing problems but the Norse are good blockers. Griff was forced to make his move into space with those that could follow. With no tacklers on the Norse team only something special could take Griff down. And it did. He was grappled down and lost the ball. He got up and tried again but was again POWd to the ground. He couldn’t recover for a third time and the Norse gathered up the ball and looked in position to score but the lone scoring threat was taken down by Griff’s teammates and the half ended 0-0. In the second half the numbers were down on both sides 9 vs 9 and then 8 vs 8. Unfortunately one of those was Griff who KO’d himself when he mistook an Ulf for a Beserker and found that he was evenly matched in strength when trying to blitz. The rest of the team rallied in Griff’s absence but couldn’t hold off the Norse who scored on their last turn of the match. Griff didn’t recover from seeing stars and the crowd rioted having paid good money to see him play. The humans made a go of it but ultimately came up short of pulling off the miracle and the game ended in defeat.
Game 5 – High Elves
From table 14 to table 41. There was a sense that this game was going to be different. That Griff was different. The media speculation before the game was that Griff had been seen chatting and laughing with some of the High Elf players before game. The team owners released a statement saying that Griff is a superstar of the game and that he knows lots of players on lots of teams. The Elves kicked off and caught the Humans on the back foot and got the Blitz. Griff went to gather the ball..and failed. The Elves pounced on the ball but it was one back and Griff charged off with it to the right of the pitch before somehow falling over and spilling the ball in the process. The Elves passed their way to the opening touchdown. From the kickoff Griff again spilled the pick up from the short kick and the Elves took the ball. They attempted to pass the ball around the field but the ball was intercepted by a Human Blitzer who broke free…and fell over going for the touchdown. The Elves themselves failed to get the ball and the Blitzer redeemed himself by getting up and picking up the ball to level the score. It didn’t last long though and despite a pretty decent defence managed to get another score before the end of the half. The second half was a similar story with Griff failing at every opportunity. His teammates were dumbstruck and it finished 4-1 to the Elves. Griff posed for a team photo with the High Elves at the end of the game.
Game 6 – Wood Elves
The reward for getting beaten by Elves was more Elves. Griff was wrestled away form the previous team and joined the Humans for the match. The coach instructed the other players to keep an eye on him and when he received the kick off they quickly caged around him and followed him as he moved to the left. The team wanted to make up for the previous result and started to take it out on the Woof Elf lineman, removing a couple of the from the pitch. All was looking good. Then a Tackle Wardancer leaps in and hits Griff (two dice Griff chooses). Defender Stumbles. Defender Stumbles. Griff was down. And he was down hard! Out for the game on turn 3. Plan A gone. The eggs had left the basket. It just got worse from there. The Wood Elves now had a massive advantage and proceeded to make hay. I think the game ended 4-0, but it was a blur towards the end as the players were given the hurry up by the refs and the second half was played at a pace that would make SpeedBowl look ponderous and considered.
So I finished 1-2-3 for the weekend. But, and this is the key I LOVED IT!!! Everyone (I hope) will say that they had great opponents and fun games. I really did. The Griff mirror match was fantastic and David_Hamlin and I had a lot of fun throughout the game as each Griff tried to out-Griff the other. The game with the High Elves was a real highlight. Coach Eldritchfox fully getting on board with the High Elves paying off Griff (even giving him a team talk). I loved the challenge of facing the two French guys – Miyata (Lizards) and Bud_wiser (Norse). Touchdown (Dark Elves) and Thedukester (Wood Elves) played really well and got into the spirit.
The venue is really good and when combined with the stay at the hotel is a fantastic and fitting venue for the NAFC. There were some gripes: the tables were a bit too wide and some of the tables had big ridges in the middle where they’d been joined, the lunch bag was terrible, and the lack of projector for results and draw was a bit lo-fi for me.
I really enjoyed putting faces to the Twitter and TFF names that I’d shared so many conversations with. That was brilliant. Although there were still so many people who I know were there that I didn’t get a chance to see (another minor gripe – name tags would be useful).
Before the tournament I’d fallen out of love with playing a little bit. I just wasn’t feeling it. I enjoyed all aspects of the game and the hobby…except the games. This weekend reinvigorated me though. I want to play with silly teams. Strange builds, Star Players, unusual skills. I want to build my teams and my play around a story and to keep writing that story with the games that I play. A chapter in the story of one of those teams will be the next NAFC.
Thanks to the organisers and players for making it so much fun.