Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Match Report - OCC Division 7A Match 3

Happy Hardcore (underworld, me) v Ironforge Vikings (dwarf, TheGreatEye)

The slightly battered dwarves chose to replace a dead blitzer rather than buy an apo, and came in 70TV lower than me. I therefore decided to buy another goblin, sure in the belief that my opponent would use the 100 inducements for an apothecary.

Nope, a bribe.

Right then, at least I knew what to expect here!

To make things either better or worse (I can’t quite decide), we were each given a further bribe on the kickoff and the dwarf coach elected to receive. I set up with the troll on the LOS (no MB to face here, and I was trying to keep the attrition rate on the gobbos down. The kick was very deep, landing in the middle of the dwarven end zone and both runners and blitzers waddled back to surround it. In the meantime the fight around the LOS began, with fouls coming in from both sides every turn.

I blitzed on turn 1 with claw on a troll slayer, but otherwise tried to take advantage of the fact that half my opponent’s team was out of the picture to do some early damage. Neither of us was able to depitch any players though, and on turn 2 I took the chance to dart away from the LOS and put a line of players between the four dwarves shepherding the ball and the fight at the LOS.

The dwarf coach tried to break this line but only rolled pushes, and then made the absolute cardinal error of any bash coach – he pushed his cage into contact with my players. This allowed me (admittedly with some above average dice) to crack the cage fairly easily and knock the ball loose. The dwarves scrambled back and recovered it, but couldn’t cover the ball handler and my new thrower “Four to the Floor” (in a promising beginning to his career) was able to cripple the dwarven thrower – no apo of course – and grab the ball. The dwarves couldn’t get to him and he sprinted clear for the opening score!

The dwarves lined up again for their next drive, but suffered a catastrophic collapse in their dice rolls as firstly I rolled a blitz (but couldn’t get to the ball), secondly they failed the pickup with their runner, and thirdly failed a GFI with a reroll in an to get a block on Four to the Floor who was charging into their backfield. Four to the Floor scored his sixth, seventh and eighth SPP of his 8 turn career (1 SPP per turn!) by running the ball in on the stroke of half time. The only issue here was that Gabber the troll had been fouled by the dastardly dwarves and will miss the next match of the season while he recovers.

In the second half I received, and it was quite simple from here as my dice luck continued strong. A pitch invasion took down a bunch of players, but mainly dwarves, and allowed me to take up an advanced position in the left wide zone of the dwarven half, and from there it was a straightforward matter to score with a hand off on turn 9.

The dwarves received and this time the kick was out of bounds, so the ball was handed to a troll slayer. He started to remove goblins at this stage, and I was content to keep out of the way of his cage and not make too much effort to stop the score, and the game petered out to a 3-1 win for the Core!

Three level ups - two rookie throwers and a rookie lineman. Wrestle for the lino and block for the first thrower. 6+4 for the other thrower and I'll take the armour. I am a big believer in +AV.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Match Report: OCC Division 7A Match 2

Happy Hardcore (underworld, me) v The Hardwoods (wood elf, mrSox)

The Hardwoods came into the game having had a terrible matchday 1 and a much better second game. The coach went for a high risk “all positionals” build, taking 2 wardancers, a treeman, a thrower and two catchers, but zero rerolls and no apo. He was then rewarded with the death of both wardancers in the first game…!

Matchday 2 had been a 3-0 win over some dwarves, with the treeman proving his worth in the centre and some red hot injury dice. He was still coming into the game with a TV of 700 though, and three journeymen gave him a babe as inducements. I was missing a claw blitzer with a fractured leg, but was sure that Rave (MB blitzer) was going to be a key player in thinning the elven numbers down.

I won the toss and elected to receive. What I’m finding on the kick off is that electing to receive is a very defensive play, and tends to produce a draw as a result. Electing to kick tends to give a better chance of a win but is riskier. Receiving was therefore an error, probably (I need a win or two!), and I knew this straight away but was seduced by the idea of getting early casualties and a numbers advantage.

My (bad) plan seemed to pay off straight away, as Breakbeat killed an elven lineman with the first blitz of the game.

The kick was very short and centre-left and I had planned to make some positional moves around the ball and pick it up with a thrower, but a pathing error saw Jungle (lineman) pick up the ball and stand in a space which made it impossible to get entirely safe. Gah! I also marked the treeman with a goblin to keep him out of the way.

The wood elves declined to try a 1d sack on the ball carrier, but hit back against the remainder of my team, smashing the ankle of Bonkers (thrower) despite the attentions of the apo, an injury which will probably end the rat’s career.

I’ve had a lot of success in recent matches in taking the play to the sidelines and trusting in my positional play to gain opportunities for crowdsurfs, and so it proved here, as I was able to grind up the sideline, surfing two elves (1 KO and 1 stun) and KOing 4 more elves. My only mistake as I saw it was a gangfoul on the elven quarterback which produced only a stun and saw a goblin sent off, reducing me to 10 players for the rest of the match. I finally scored on turn 8, leading 1-0 at half time.

The two kickoffs after my touchdown saw the game change wildly however as all the KO’d elves came back and I lost 4 goblins to KOs and injuries on the LOS with no KO recovery rolls at all. This left me 6 v 10 for most of the game, reduced further to 5 v 10 early in the second half.

The Hardwoods tried to score quickly at the start of the second half, but failed the catch from a hand off deep in my half. My few remaining players clustered around the ball and indeed managed to get a rat hand on it at one stage, but an elven touchdown was pretty inevitable and having stalled for a turn near my end zone they scored on turn 14.

With three turns to go, but still only 5 players vs 9 elves (one had been sent off for fouling one of my goblins! A great exchange for me!), my prospects were bleak. They got worse when I failed a (rerolled) catch in trying to pass the ball to safety – after high elves I’m finding the underworld passing game somewhat binary! Two interceptions on MD1, followed by an amazing touchdown pass last week, and now a routine pass failed to stall my drive. That said, I made things worse with a positional mistake to let the elves swarm all over me. The match then changed from trying to win the game to trying to save it, and Rave did his part by killing another elven lineman and rushing back to double mark the ball carrier. The elves chose to take the draw rather than a 1D blitz for the victory (an odd decision I thought), and the game ended 1-1.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

On block

I believe that people take skills such as guard, tackle and particularly block without thinking whether or not they are right for their team. I think all three of these skills are great skills to take, don't get me wrong, but too often people just grab them without thinking. 

This is what the bbtactics website says about block:

The article is actually focusses on three things: block reduces the chance of failing the block action, block makes knocking down players easier if that player does not have block, and block protects the player from both down results. All of these things are, frankly, pretty damn obvious, but nevertheless it’s worth saying them because they are absolutely right.

Coach then recommends block for

- players who block a lot
- ball carriers (as protection from knockdowns) and
- linemen (no reason given)

I think to illustrate the point I want to make, it’s worth considering the second point that Coach makes in more detail – block makes knocking down players easier if that player does not have block. This begs the question – what if the player has block or wrestle? The answer is, of course, that block is completely ineffective at knocking the opposing player over. It does not help at all.

Where the opposing player has block the only benefits to having block yourself are that it makes you less likely to fall over with a both down result - reducing the failure rate from 11% to about 3% - and  that if the player hits you back you are more likely to stay up.

So we come to 

Everblue’s First Rule of BlockIf your team is in an environment where most of the opposition have block, and you are looking to level a player by getting casualties, block is not a great skill for that player. 

A better skill might be mighty blow or claw if your player has access to that. Tackle is an acceptable alternative if push comes to shove.

But what, you might say, about the failure rate of an unskilled block? I agree that this might be a concern if none of your team have block, and you are throwing four or five unskilled blocks a turn. But perhaps you have several block players already (say you are an orc team looking to replace an injured black orc, for example). Then your black orc might only throw one block every two or three turns – say six total in the game. All of a sudden the chances of a failure in the game are looking much slimmer. You could also manage your risk – blocking later in your turn with this player wherever possible. Your black orc should skill up faster. Yes he is more vulnerable to being hit, but he’s ST4 and AV9, and since most turns you will probably not leave him in base contact anyway then it should not be a significant additional risk.

Taking this point a little further, we get to: 

Everblue's Second Rule of Block – Block is a bad skill for blitzers

This might seem utterly counter intuitive, since pretty much all blitzers in the game come with block out of the box, but what I mean by “blitzer” is not necessarily an orc blitzer, or an elf blitzer, but actually “a player who takes a blitz action”. You only get 16 blitz actions in the game. Some of those blitz actions will be tactical – ie you make a specific blitz with a specific player in order to achieve a tactical objective. The player who makes that blitz action could realistically be almost anyone in your team. The point should be made again though - if the point of that blitz action is to put the opposing player on the deck, most of the time the best player to make the blitz will be one with wrestle, not block. 

Some blitzes, however, are simply there to hurt, and most teams will find they have one or more players who do most of the blitzing, simply because they hit the hardest – a killer-build beastman is a good example of this, but I built my beloved high elf catcher the same way and khorne heralds or nordic werewolves could also take a hitting skill before block. Such a player might make five or six blitzes a game, simply to maximise your chances of getting casualties.

Again – if that blitzer is mainly targeting players with block or wrestle (as will normally be the case at high TV) then having block is no help to him in his role. Better skills are mighty blow, piling on, tackle, frenzy (underrated for bash – increases the chance of a casualty by about 50%), claw, etc. As before, arguments about chance of failure miss the point – with five or six blitz actions in a game you have a fair chance of not seeing a failure in any given game, and against the risk must be set the fact that you are more likely to win the game if you maximise your chances of casualties from these key hard-hitting blocks.

Protecting your key killer blitzer is a key issue since they don’t have block, and you need to be careful about launching them into the fray unsupported.

Finally, we come to linemen. Those brave, useless souls whose job is to stand there and get punched by chaos warriors.  

Everblue’s Third Rule of Block - wrestle is normally a far better skill for linemen than block

The simple reason is that if your guy gets punched and the result comes up both down, if he has block he will just stand there and often get hit again. If he has wrestle then he’s safe on the ground for the rest of the turn and in many cases will be able to stand up and move away next turn. Taking wrestle makes your players far more resilient. Yes, if they took block instead they might ride the punch and be able to hit back next turn, but lineman will probably be outstrengthed and outguarded on your turn without appropriate support and will probably be unable to hit back.

In addition, a wrestle lineman can fill in as a safety if needed, since he has a 55% chance to knock over a blodger on a 2D block – often a better chance than a specialist sweeper who has block. 

So when is block good? 

I can think of five scenarios. 

Firstly, block is good for what I call throwaway blocks - blocks which you really don't want to fail, but which are not the main goal of your turn. Blocks to set up a big hit with your blitzer, or to bash away your opponent's players if he has gone full contact. Blocks where you have pretty much scored already but you want to farm some hits and try to get a cas or two. Mundane blocks where safety is more important than hurting the other guy. That said, such mundane blocks are also fine with wrestle, so this is not a great argument for block over wrestle.

Secondly, block is good for players who will take a lot of hits, but expect to hit hard in return if not put on the deck - chaos warriors, black orcs and other strength access players for example. Blockers! 

Thirdly, block is good for controlling space on the pitch. If you have a blodgestep elf blitzer, that guy can hold a sideline on his own, especially if he has diving tackle. The disadvantage of wrestle is that even if you survive the hit you are on the ground. Players with stand firm, side step and diving tackle need to be standing up to do their job.

Fourthly, block is good when no one else has it. It's not just good then, it's brilliant - hitting power, safety and defence in one skill. With a young team then taking block early on linemen or blitzers is probably fine, since it will make them hit harder. It's later on when difficult decisions are necessary as to how to build players.

Finally, ball carriers, throwers and catchers. They again need to be upright to hold onto the ball or to be in a position to receive or make a pass. Block is good to keep those guys upright.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Match Report: OCC Division 7A Match 2

Plague of Fear (necro, Juniooor7) v Happy Hardcore (underworld, me) 
The necro came into the game having drawn match 1 0-0 against some nurgle in a dour and boring affair enlivened only by the werewolf killing a pestigor.

I’m not sure about necro builds but they had two wights, two golems, two ghouls and one wolf, with only two rerolls. This seemed fine to me, although I think I would have taken a second werewolf at all costs if it could be managed. They had bought a FF on team creation though, which seemed very strange, and for that reason alone I thought that my opponent might be a relatively new player, or at least one who does things his own way. Throughout the game though he played very solidly – he made some positional mistakes and his offence was a little uninspired, but he defended very well and had some bad block dice in the game.

He won the toss and elected to receive. I set up with three goblins on the line and the rest of my team in a “Christmas tree” formation to protect five of my precious skaven. The necro coach pushed the LOS goblins around a little, and then charged in with his werewolf on the only exposed skaven lineman (Breakbeat). He got quad pushes however and I was able to bash him back next turn but didn’t break anything. He cut to one side and screened off his ghoul ball carrier, but made the mistake of letting his golems get separated from the ball, and when I was able to halt his advance down the flank with Techno clawing a zombie off the pitch, he got pushed further and further towards the sideline. Eventually Rave was able to get close to the ghoul and knocked him over, and a goblin weaved through traffic to try to get a hand on the ball but fumbled the pickup. The ghoul shrugged off the MB hit and grabbed the ball again, but was again sacked and this time the ball bounced into the crowd and was thrown deep into the necro half.

Juniooor fought back with a flesh golem killing Rave on a random block (saved by the apo, phew!), before resecuring the ball with a ghoul, the only player anywhere near the ball. I was able to get a 2D hit on the ball carrier with Dancemania and a supporting goblin but only rolled pushes, and the ghoul dodged into space. I marked up the ghoul on my turn 7 and ran a goblin deep as a receiver, and the necro coach rolled double skulls on a zombie block on turn 8 allowing me the chance to score. I took the chance with a 1D (skilled) block and 2D (unskilled) block clearing away the markers from Dancemania who picked up the ball in a TZ, made a short pass in a TZ to the goblin, and the little fellow caught the ball and scampered home for a score. 1-0 at half time.

In the second half I lined up hoping for a quick score. He put both golems on the line and I marked one with the troll and clustered round the second with Techno (claw blitzer). My plans were altered slightly when a rock thrown by the crowd hit a gobbo in the head, but it was only a stun. I downed the unfortunate golem but failed to break his AV7, and could only push the rest of the necro LOS around. A MB blitz on a wight failed to break armour. Juniooor7 surprised me here by going full contact, pushing everyone up against my LOS and wide zones, and I struggled to get players free. I was scuppered however when the first two d6 I rolled on turn 10 came up 1s (as did the first two d6 I rolled on both subsequent turns).

So for three turns I was stuck next to the necro while they slowly shambled forward and bashed my team into the dirt. Bonkers was overwhelmed and sacked on a both down, and the necro stole the ball and scored on turn 12.

I lined up with 4 turns to snatch the win, and this time I packed the left side, hoping to overwhelm the necro with a quick dash. Again a goblin went down with a rock to the head, and this time it was quite annoying because he was in the wide zone I hoped to attack and since my troll failed to knock over the nearby golem I was forced to run all the way around the goblin’s body to attack the sideline.

Again a MB blitz on the lurking wight failed to break armour, and Dancemania passed the ball to Breakbeat who ran into the necro half. The necro were able to get back and block me off and an early double skulls ended my next turn before it had really begun, leaving the necro the chance to get a 2D blitz on the ball carrier with their wolf. The wolf also double-skulled however and on turn 15 I had the chance to score with a reroll-less 1D block, needing only a push. Obviously this failed however, and the game fizzled out into a 1-1 draw, with virtually the last move of the game being a MNG injury inflicted on Techno by a flesh golem.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

How to play high elves (AKA winning with the clock)

Disclaimer - I'm not holding myself out as a great high elf coach here. I have my own way of playing them which is based on the running game and short passing. You will not find long bombs here (unless the shit has hit the fan!). This is just how I like to do it. I'm sure there are better ways. 

The key to my way of playing high elves was clock management. I rarely put together the big scores of the other high elf coaches and would normally look to win via a 2-1 grind.

I normally like to receive on turn 1. This is good for two reasons – firstly you get a go at hurting their dudes on the LOS, and secondly you only need to win the first half and will likely have most of your players available to do that. That is critical – if you win the first half then you very rarely lose the game. To win the first half you have to score on turn 5 or 6 and then defend like mad. This first half defence is where the game is won or lost and you need to throw all you can at it.

The game therefore breaks down into four drives – you receive and go first, then two offensive drives for your opponent, then you receive last.

Your first drive

The most important thing is that you should not score a 2 turner! (except against elves sometimes where you might go for a 3-2 grind – see my report of the game against Hawca in tier 1 where we exchanged 2 turners as I faked the shootout then switched to a grinding style, scoring on turns 2, 8 and 16 – I only drew because he rolled a quick snap on turn 8 allowing his MV9 sprint catcher to pull a 1 turner).

The plan for your drive would be to knock over his LOS and then make a gap to run a receiver (usually a rookie lineman) into his half through the gap. A receiver will probably eat his blitz from whatever tackle MB horror he has and possibly a foul too (which is why you want the AV8 rookie). He may choose to just mark up the receiver, but will probably do so with 2 players and the more players he diverts to dealing with that rookie the fewer he will have for the fight at the LOS. Keep the ball deep, which may tempt him to run players into your half to chase your thrower – more players that will not be available to him for the key fight to come.

I usually like to put my thrower in a space which allows the opponent to put a TZ on him if he makes two GFIs. My thrower can easily dodge away, and I want my opponent to roll unnecessary dice for the GFIs and possibly burn a reroll or even take an armour roll on a failed GFI. It also encourages an overcommitment to chasing the thrower which will help me stall later. All the time the goal you have is to stay strong in the centre of the pitch while doing all you can to disrupt his defensive line – making him pull players back to deal with your potential receivers and push players forward to menace your thrower. You don't want to be facing an upright LOS with high strength players and then columns alongside of that, you want his team spread out around the length of the pitch.

Once his team are pulled out of position, make your move – pass the ball short to a receiver in the centre and dash forwards with all of your central players making a cage deep in his half – keep a loose cage against a bash team and a tight cage against elves. This should leave him badly out of position – his players in your half chasing the thrower can’t get back to defend and again the players marking your receiver(s) should find it hard to get back to keep you from the line. Once you have strong field position for the cage he will find it hard to keep you out – stall as long as you can but a TD on turns 5-6 is fine. 7-8 is perfect.

You now must prevent your opponent from scoring in response before half time. If you do this then you probably win.

Make sure your setup covers the full width of the pitch with columns or chevrons and put your sidestep players in the vulnerable areas. Clobber your opponent’s receivers as a priority over other players and make sure you count squares as to which of them can get to your line. Do everything you can to delay – now is the time to mark up those orc blitzers and black orcs by the LOS and take the hard hits to stop them supporting the push for the line. Make sure you get columns in front of his cage and force him to take risks.

The second half

OK, so hopefully you delayed your score and then defended until half time. In the second half the important thing to remember is that you do not need to stop your opponent from scoring – you need to either force them to score on or before turn 15, or hold out for the full 16 turns. He can only get a draw by beating you up so badly that you can’t score on your drive, or by scoring on turn 16. The key here therefore is to stay out of contact.

Give him only the blitz every turn, and make it hard for him to get fouls off by pairing up your players into columns. You can hurry him up by splitting up his team – if a necro coach gets his ball carrier isolated from his flesh golems and zombies because you have used your blitz to put a screen between them, then he will find it hard to break that screen and reunite his team. Be patient and wait for him to overextend – always keep a strong presence in the centre of the field and don’t worry too much about the wide zones, wait for him to pick a flank, and then strike to isolate the ball carrier and his cage from the rest of the team. Your mobility makes you excellent at moving to cover flanks as long as you maintain a "square" of players in the middle.

Another good way of forcing the score is to suddenly flood the cage. Again the key is not to rush. Don’t flood it straight away, but wait until he overextends with his tackle pieces or his killers and they are away from the cage. Then charge in and force him to make a decision. Sometimes it’s worth leaving a receiver unmarked in order to entice your opponent to take the easy TD and give you the ball back for your superior offence to score the winning TD.

Judging the moment is a really important skill, and one that I was only starting to develop but a good rule of thumb is that if your opponent gives you 2 turns to score the winning TD and your team is still in reasonable shape then you have played the clock to perfection and probably deserve a win on the balance of your good play.

Another important issue to understand when to switch tactics and go for the shutout. You must, at all costs, avoid conceding on turn 16 because a 1 turn TD is a risky business and hard to pull off, and if by turn 13 or 14 your opponent has not made much progress into your half, then now may be the time to throw down the columns in front of him and get all your players behind the ball. Just in general watch out getting too many players on the wrong side of the ball – it can make defence much more difficult if you need to switch tactics.

If you kick first

This is not ideal, but basically the reverse is true of my advice above.

His first drive is all about keeping your team safe and either forcing the score on turn 7 or earlier, or shutting him out. Anything other than (i) your team getting smashed off the pitch, and (ii) you conceding on turn 8, is a good result. 

You then look to score a 2 turner before half time and then do a 5 turn drive to win.

OCC Season 21 Division 7A

The division lineup looks like this:
underworld.png Everblue - Happy Hardcore - Underworld 
nurgle.png Aguelo - Sons of Nuffle - Nurgle 
amazon.png magfa - Voluptuous Vixen - Amazon 
pelf.png Zephire79 - Dellirium - Elf 
welf.png mrs0x - The Hardwoods - Wood Elf
chaos.png Blackcat75 - Mutation Z - Chaos
dwarf.png TheGreatEye - IronForge Vikings - Dwarf - 
welf.png Evander Clintonious - Glam's Dancers - Wood Elf

undead.png Sir Mewash - sweaty slippers - Undead

necro.png juniooor7 - Plague of fear - Necromantic

Not a bad start for me. What I didn't want early on was high armour teams heavy on block and tackle, and so only the dwarf team is really nasty. Here is my roster.

And so, without further ado - on to the report of the first game!

Happy Hardcore (underworld, me) vs Dellirium (elf, Zephire)

Zephire is one of the founders of the OCC, who devotes a huge amount of time, energy and money to the league, and I was determined to meet him with the appropriate amount of respect. And also to kill all his dudes.

He won the toss and elected to receive, and straight away I rolled a blitz! A good start. I couldn't make much of it though as my setup had been defensive and most of my players were deep. I blitzed with a blitzer against a catcher but didn't break armour. In return he picked the ball up with his thrower and dropped deep. We exchanged punches along the line, and he made it clear he expected to win the bash war despite my dodge on my goblins and his lacking an apo.

As it was I was able to get in an early casualty, smashing the ankle of one of his catchers with my blitzer Rave. I tried to throw a goblin to menace his thrower but was only able to fumble the goblin, breaking his back in the process. After 4 turns the elves were ready to strike, and passed the ball to a catcher who stalled near my end zone. I was able to badly hurt a lineman with Gabber the troll and run some players close to the ball carrier, and Zephire elected to score on turn 5.

I was feeling fairly confident at this stage, being a player up, and the next drive started well with me smashing the ankle of yet another catcher - this time the one who had just scored! I ran players through his line and made a tight cage in the centre. Everything started to go wrong from here though, and goblins began to leave the field - I lost four over the course of the game.

The elves flooded my cage, ignoring the receivers downfield. With the sidestep elf blitzers marking my goblins it was very tough to get clear of the cage, and I was forced to try to pass out of trouble, over a lineman. The lineman was covered by a goblin and needed a 6 to intercept, but the 6 duly appeared and my drive was halted by an interception! From here Zephire engineered a tricky escape from the scrum in centre field and was able to score on turn 8.

Despite a riot giving me two turns to score myself, and having 10 vs 8 by this time, I could not score and went in 2 down at the break.

In the second half the kick was very short and I had a bit of a brain melt and assumed it would be a touchback. I then had a further blond moment and decided to try to farm a pass on Techno, my other blitzer. This was fairly stupid and I rolled snake-eyes on the pass, which served me right. There was another massive fight around the ball and this time Dancemania the skaven thrower emerged with the ball, and again I needed to pass clear of the elves to two unmarked receivers. Again the same damn elf lineman was able to intercept however and in a heartbeat I was three down on turn 11.


Determined to recover some pride, I played a rushing drive, and finally the elves started to break again, with three more departing to the injury box for a total of six casualties - four for Rave (blitzer), one for Techno (blitzer) and one for Gabber (troll). I was able to run in a consolation touchdown on turn 15.

It wasn't over yet however, and despite me rolling 8 block dice against his catcher Zephire was able to score a 2 turn touchdown to score a fourth: 4-1 the final score and a heavy defeat for Hardcore in their opening game.

Still, it was brilliant fun and despite playing like a half wit I really enjoyed the removal power of the underworld. Both blitzers levelled - one taking MB and the other claw - and I got SPP on 3 other skaven. A good day.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Looking back

And so we come to the end of the road for The Grey Haven Guard.

The final tally is: W30 D9 L15

They rank 6th in the all-time list of high elf teams in the OCC, just behind Viajero. The seasonal breakdown is

Season 15 – 6A – W4 D4 L1 – 4th
Season 16 – 4D – W7 D1 L1 – 2nd
Season 17 – 3A – W5 D1 L3 – 4th
Season 18 – 2D – W6 D1 L2 – 2nd
Season 19 – 1 – W3 D1 L5 – 7th
Season 20 – 2C – W5 D1 L3 – 3rd

After a slow start I began to get the hang of them, and aside from that catastrophic Tier 1 run I think my results were pretty good. I do find it hard to get past my Tier 1 record though – I picked high elves which are a fairly joyless team simply because they had the best stats and I wanted to win the OCC. I didn’t particularly like the playstyle or the look and feel of the race, but I wanted to be successful. And so I think my time as a high elf coach has been a failure. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m a much better player than I was 18 months (or so) ago, but I picked the team to win the league and fell a long way short.

I had some great moments – the 4-0 win against Antonlunau, for example in season 18, or both my wins against Luiggi (who is a first rate coach), but I keep thinking back to that 2-1 defeat to Muffin – the eventual OCC champion that season and I gave him a really hard game – only a 2+ catch away from a win and it turned into a loss.

The worst thing about playing high elves was that winning became everything. Since I was playing such a soulless team it was imperative to win (otherwise why play high elves in the first place?). That made me very depressed when, as I saw it, I got unlucky and lost – I really hated those games because playing in such a conservative way means that you don’t make many rolls but the ones you do make are absolutely crucial – if you fail those then you tend to struggle badly.

I’ve started to rediscover the joy in BB with my human team in the UKBBL – I don’t win anything like as much, but playing with such an underpowered team (at least compared to the high elves) is much more satisfying to me – a draw is a great result against some nightmare high TV bash side, and it’s even better if I can foul the crap out of one of their stars. I hope that the same will be true of my underworld team in due course.

Now it comes to say goodbye to the high elves, I find I will miss them a bit – particularly the unsung heroes or the players I’ve lost on the way. I don’t feel much love for Gil-Galad, for example, the stat-freak monster, I feel some affection for Alawe, Kevatononel and Tananmyr, who were with the team from the start. Alawe in particular was injured more times than any other player I have ever seen on any time – 12, over his career.

Alawe – High Elf Lineman – 6 3 4 8 – Block, Dodge, Guard 
Kevatononel – High Elf Lineman – 6 3 4 8 – Block, Dodge, Sidestep 

Two rock solid linemen. Alawe is good in a scrum and Kevatononel can protect the edges of my defensive line to make it hard for an opposing coach to switch sides quickly, plus side step is a good passive bash skill.

Tananmyr – High Elf Blitzer – 7 3 4 8 – Block, Dodge, Guard, Sidestep, Fend 

This guy has been the rock around which my team is based since the start. Blodgestep plus fend (“flodgestep”?) is a wonderful combination to have on your “edge” players – you put most of your team in the centre of the pitch, with only two flodgesteppers in the wide zones, and it suddenly becomes very hard for a bash team to score – they need to run round you to do so and blitzing your edge players is incredibly frustrating because even if they knock the guy down you can usually force them to dodge to get past.

More than 50 games played as an elf, including 27 in the meat grinder of high tier OCC, is pretty good going for an elf, and Tananmyr in particular never missed a game.

I was sad to see the back of Vanval, useless pixel-hugger that I am, albeit I have described him elsewhere. My other big regret is that Cheradenine Xakalwe died before he could really achieve anything. My blodge AG5 blitzer was killed by a wizard towards the end of season 15 (apo failed). This was my only AG5 player and I was just learning how to use him for the best when he was killed. I never rolled another +AG and so my team lost much of its unpredictability.

So those guys will be much missed. What I’ll do over the next couple of weeks is put down my thoughts on how to play high elves, and how to build the players.