Thursday, 28 June 2012

Piling On vs Mighty Blow

According to some maths I just scribbled down, Piling On is far superior as a first skill to Mighty Blow at removing opposing players from the pitch. Need to think about it a bit more to decide whether I've got my sums right.

1) Chance to break armour
Target AV5678910
2) Chance to remove from the pitch given armour break
*It is assumed here that the PO reroll is used on the injury roll and that KO s are not rerolled
3) Chance to remove from the pitch on knockdown
Target AV5678910

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Thoughts on SSC game 2

One of my favourite series of novels is the Aubrey-Maturin books, featuring the character "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, a British sea captain in the Napoleonic Wars. At one point in the series Jack is thinking about how luck always seems to spread itself out across a person's life, and a person who is lucky early in life will often be unlucky late on and vice versa, and the main thing about luck is that as long as it comes good in the end then all is well.

This was certainly the case last night, and the first half of the match produced some of the worst dice I have ever seen. My troll failed the 2+ really stupid roll on the first four turns, I rolled a double skulls during a block on every turn, and I just could not knock the Norse over.

So after four turns I was outnumbered, had lost the ball (and my best player to a MNG), and was surrounded by the Norse. I decided not to try to score but to hold the line only, and with the dice coming back into my favour I was able to do so.

The start of the second half involved me making the type of appalling positional mistake that I've criticised my opponents for making, and I basically gifted my opponent a TD. My opponent was a very strong positional player, didn't make many mistakes, and punished my error ruthlessly without having to roll many dice at all.

In the end however, the dice started to flow my way and I was able to score an epic TD to level the score. It was my opponent's only real mistake in the game and he was very unhappy about it (did not congratulate me on the TD, did not speak again except to show displeasure at my gleeful turn 16 gang-foul on his werewolf, did not reply to my "GG" at the end of the game).

It wasn't even *that* lucky - a 1D block with a blitzer and then 2 GFIs - about 30% chance if you factor in the likelihood of the block leading to a pushback which would then require a dodge.

The league table is currently as follows:

Posted Image
The Zombie Economics team were a late replacement for the Skaven. They look quite good and the coach comes across as a bright guy. I play them last and am a bit worried about it.

So the TD keeps me unbeaten, which I'll certainly take after my terrible start. The TD allowed my blitzer Ugluk to level up, and with an eye on my next opponents (the Women of Wrath - Amazons) I took tackle. Hopefully that makes him a player they'll be scared of.

I'll be missing a black orc blocker and my star thrower with MNG injuries, so I used my winnings to buy another thrower. I should be in decent shape for the game.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Snotling Soda Cup Division 2, Game 2

Angband Wolves (Orc, me) v Oden's Einherjar (Norse)

The Orc team won the toss and decided to receive, with the ball landing wide and near the centre line. Immediately things started to go wrong for the Orcs, with fluffed blocks and their troll, the Great Goblin, who sat sat down stupidly and remained stupid for most of the half.

The Orcs tried to carve out a defensive cage on the right hand side of the field, but were undone again and again by an opposition who bravely stepped into contact, inviting hits, and the Orcs were simply unable to knock their opponents down. Eventually the Norse team's star berserker Eiktymer made his presence felt, achieving the first of his three casualties for the game by crunching the Orc's quarterback and captain, Gothmog, who left the ball lying on the pitch.

The sight of Gothmog being carried off finally seemed to rouse the Great Goblin from his stupor, and he backhanded a Norse lineman into the casualty box. The badly outnumbered Orcs tore into the Norse as the game descended into an ugly scramble around the fallen ball, and now it was the Norse players being carried from the field as the first half ended 0-0.

The second half began with another short wide kick, and more incompetent blocking on the line of scrimmage, this time from one of the Norse werewolves whose frenzied hitting got him surrounded by Orcs. The Orc team, still outnumbered after the deeper Norse bench had allowed them to recover better from the attrition of the first half, flooded the right wide zone to try and surround the ball. The Norse ball carrier managed to dodge back and away, and handed the ball off to a runner team mate in a classic end-around running play. The runner hared off down the Norse right, while his fellow Norse players moved into the centre of the pitch to prevent the Orcs getting back in time.

Two Orc blitzers had been left unmarked on the far side of the pitch, and moved backwards to pressure the Norse screen, and one of them blitzed a way through and managed to get between the runner and the end zone. All was in vain however as the supporting Norse lineman pushed the defender out of the way to allow the Norse team to take the lead 0-1 to Oden's Einherjar.

The Orcs wearily took to the field again with 8 players against the 11 Norse, and with no thrower there seemed little chance of a comeback. Yet again they hit the Norse team on the line of scrimmage, and yet again they failed to break their opponents' armour. The star Orc blitzer Ugluk grabbed the ball and the rest of the team threw up a loose defensive ring around him.

Meanwhile Eiktymer continued his bloody work, taking two more Orcs off the field and leaving the Orcs with 6 players against the 11 Norse. With seconds to go, the troll having gone stupid again, the Orc line in tatters and the ball still in the Orc half, all seemed lost for the Angband team, but a sharp eyed lineman spotted that a small gap could be made in the Norse line with a well placed block, and Ugluk and his only remaining supporting player ran through the gap into the Norse half.

At this stage there seemed little threat, as the stupid troll mean that there were plenty of unmarked defenders, but the Norse team decided to go for the safer option of leaving Ugluk in place and knocking over his supporting player, meaning that there were three Norse surrounding Ugluk and the ball. Nevertheless with the clock ticking agonisingly down there was just time for the blitzer to haul himself to his feet, preventing two of the Norse players from assisting, while Ugluk blitzed the remaining defender, knocked him over, followed up, and then sprinted for the line in a lungbursting dash which resulted in the tying touchdown! 1-1 on turn 15

With the Orc fans bouncing in the stand, the teams lined up for the formality of the last couple of minutes. Both sides exchanged hits and there was a particularly cheering sight for the Orcs as a rather vindictive 5 man foul on one of the Norse werewolves finally resulted in one of them leaving the field, although fortunately for the Norse there was no permanent damage done.

Final score Angband Wolves 1 - 1 Oden's Einherjar

RPS Divisions of Death season 1 recap

So generally a good first season. Chaos teams are pretty difficult to win with until you get skills, and so I'm happy with my victories over the two Norse teams.

The division H table is currently as follows:

Doomdark's Revenge - 6 points
The Blades of the Dwarves - 3 points
Odin's Longboatmen - 3 points
Xenny's Berserkers - 3 points

There is one game left - The Blades of the Dwarves against Odin's Longboatmen. A draw would mean I win the league, and anything else will come down to TD difference plus Casualty difference. My TD difference is +3 from my two wins, and I think I have a strongly positive Casualty difference, so unless the game is particularly one-sided or particularly bloody then I have a good chance of winning the division.

Winning the division, however, might be a bit of a concern. The league structure is changing next season, from two conferences of eight divisions, to the following pyramidal model.

There's a reasonable chance that if I win the division I'll be put into the fourth tier of the new league (up from eighth). This means that I could reasonably be matched against a team from three tiers above me in the current season.

What's worse, my team has only managed to get a solitary level up this season (block on a chaos warrior), I still only have 11 players and no minotaur. If I come up against a particularly nasty bash team next season it could be quite a painful experience.

My second game in the SSC is tonight, my orcs against yet another Norse team (my last four competitive games have been against Norse). Ugh.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Match Report - RPS Divisions of Death, division H, match 3

Xennys Berserkers (Norse) vs Doomdark's Revenge (me, Chaos)
I had 90k of inducements and induced a babe.
The Norse team won the toss and decided to kick.

The match proceeded as expected between a rookie Norse team and a rookie Chaos team, with the Norse thrower immediately failing to pick up the ball despite the use of one of his team's two rerolls. The stage was set for, basically, a massive untidy fight in the centre of the pitch.

A key moment was the fact that the Yheti was dragged out of position by frenzy pushbacks and was quite a long way from the ball, so the Chaos warriors' high strength became more and more of a deciding factor.

The crowd gasped in excitement when Lord Doomdark himself picked up the ball and made for the line, only for him to be pulled to the ground by a squad of sweating Scandinavians. Finally the Beastman Ice Fear grabbed the ball and managed to cross the line for the score. 0-1 to Doomdark's Revenge
I kicked again, and the Norse team threw players forward in an attempt to get a quick passing TD. Unfortunately their receivers decided to fall over, and the half ended. 0-1 to Doomdark's Revenge at half time

In the second half the Chaos team receive the ball and began an orderly march through the outnumbered Norse to the line. All was going well until the Chaos coach (who was somewhat drunk on gin at that stage) moved the wrong damn beastman to provide an assist and finished the turn with the ball carrier easily blitzable by the cheery Norse, and with neither side having a reroll left.

Some rather cackhanded punching ensued on both sides, but the chaos warrior The Lord of Thrall managed to pick up the ball, his markers were chain-pushed away and he lumbered in for the touchdown on turn 16. 0-2 to Doomdark's Revenge

Xenny had one turn to beat up the 3 unfortunate beastmen on the LOS and the game finished 0-2 to Doomdark's Revenge.

Thoughts on SSC game 1

Though my opponent was a very nice chap, he complained a number of times during and after the game about his luck. He even referred to the game as the “worst Nuffling ever” on the SSC forums afterwards. This was, I think, a little harsh.

Looking at the stats on BB manager afterwards I can see that his block dice were better than me throughout the match, we were pretty even on dodges, and his armour held up amazingly well. That said, my Troll was some kind of frickin genius and never failed a Really Stupid roll (having said that I only used him 12 times throughout the match, and always at the end of the turn or in a way that failing the roll would have still been ok). Keeping his TZ was really helpful to me.

Turning to the main reasons for the win, I was very happy that I’d crushed the Norse attack down the right early on. I had four of his guys off the pitch and the rest packed in two deep by the touchline. Rolling quad skulls with my first action of my fourth turn was really unlucky (1/81), but he took good advantage of that to get a TD. So I think while he was lucky there, it still took quite a lot of skill to turn that into a TD (but that’s what Blood Bowl is all about isn’t it? Maximising the benefit of what luck you have).

That said, I lined up with four turns to score in the first half and it only took me three. I felt that even with a two man disadvantage it might have been possible for him to play defensively and compactly and to force me to attempt some unlikely turn 8 play. In my mind I was playing for the draw after his TD, but as it was I think he overcommitted to hitting my players when I faked right, and I made a 3+ handoff (no reroll available) and ran through the middle to score.

In the second half he did well to get round the sides of my line and get TZs on my ball-carrier, but again at the expense of fatally weakening his centre and again attacked the centre of the pitch to score.

I think his playing for the win made the game exciting, but I couldn’t help but feel that if he’d simply thrown up a screen, stayed in the centre and forced me to take the initiative he could have drawn the game after going ahead so early. But then I’m a player who loves a 1-0 win…!

After the game my thrower levelled up (he’s currently leading the league for passing and rushing!). Not sure what I’ll give him yet. I was tempted to take accurate, even though I won’t be passing much, just so that I can threaten a passing game. Another alternative is Leader, since I can’t afford many rerolls yet and it will help early on in development although not so much later on. Finally I’m thinking block, since that’s always a good shout on a ball-carrier. I’m leaning towards Leader at present, if only because I desperately need more rerolls.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Snotling Soda Cup Division 2, Game 1

Bavarian Blocktoberfest (Norse) vs Angband Wolves (me, Orc)

The Norse won the toss and elected to receive. The kick was deep and it took a couple of turns for the runner (no throwers in the Bavarian team) to retrieve the ball and cage up. In the meantime the Norse players pushed down the right hand side of the pitch.

Despite an early turnover due to a failed block, the Orcs pushed the Norse hard against the touchline, knocked over the ball carrier and had started to crowdsurf their players. In addition there were two early casualties (one due to a foul by the troll which was the result of a misclick) plus two KO'd players. Nevertheless another unlucky turnever (double skulls rerolled to double both down - 1/81 chance) meant that the Norse could expertly extract the ball and score in turn 4. 1-0 to Bavarian Blocktoberfest

The Norse team only had eight players for the next drive against 10 Orcs, and the disparity showed with a quick running touchdown for the Orcs. The Orcs feinted right, drew the Norse over there and then crashed through the centre with their thrower handing the ball off to a blitzer. The blitzer crossed the line in turn 7 to make the score 1-1.

Some inconclusive LOS hitting followed, but the halftime score was Bavarian Blocktoberfest 1 - 1 Angband Wolves.

The Norse lined up again the second half with a numbers disadvantage, and again the Orcs took advantage of this with a running touchdown. The Norse team threw players at the Orc thrower who was carrying the ball in the hope of a turnover, but the thrower's team-mates blocked them away leaving the Norse backfield wide open and the Orcs scored in turn 14 to make the score 1-2 to Angband Wolves.

The match finished with a touch of farce. The Norse again failed a ball pickup, but the Orcs (despite pouring into the Norse half and freeing the ball) did not realise how little time was left in the match and missed an easy chance to score.

Final score was 1-2 to Angband Wolves.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Snotling Soda Cup Division 2 overview

My rookie Orc team, Angband Wolves, has now been accepted into the OCC feeder league, the Snotling Soda Cup division 2.

There are eight teams in the league, and matches start this week. The teams are:
  • Posted Image RayXXX - Filthy Feckers 13 - Skaven -
  • Posted Image Diamond_Ten - Women Of Wrath - Amazon -
  • Posted Image grrc - Weathertop Warriors - Human -
  • Posted Image Rymdkerjsaren - Odins Einharjar - Norse -
  • Posted Image Everblue - Angband Wolves - Orc -
  • Posted Image Willy - D.Jone's Rum Runners - Human -
  • Posted Image Verbal_HM - The Counters - Vampire -
  • Posted Image Remora - Bavarian Blocktoberfest - Norse -
My immediate feeling on looking at that list is that I have a strength and armour advantage over everyone else, particularly with taking the troll early. That said, the Skaven and Amazon teams are quite likely to beat me.

All of the teams seem to be rookies, which is good, but the coaches are not. RayXXX is one of the league administrators and therefore probably very experienced, and Verbal_HM is also a name I recognise from various Blood Bowl forums. Looks like it will be a tough league.

EDIT - My first game is against Bavarian Blocktoberfest (Norse). Probably good to get the Norse chaps out of the way early before they sign a Snow Troll. I'll be missing a fair amount of block though.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Orca Cola Cup

Lots of the members of the Blood Bowl Tactics forum appear to be members of an competition called the Orca Cola Cup ("OCC"). Their website is here:

This appears to be a long-running, large online league with players from all over the world. This seems to be Where It's At, in terms of online Blood Bowl action. I've decided to have a crack at it.

I've decided that, much as I like the idea of the long pass and high scoring games, I don't like the idea of my team being carved up, so again I've gone for a bashy team - Orcs this time. I've created a new team in the Snotling Soda League, which is the feeder league for the OCC - the idea is you level up your team in that league, and then transfer into the main league structure in due course.

I've gone for the max-strength version of the team, with 4 Black Orcs, 4 Blitzers, a Troll, a Thrower, a Lineman and 2 rerolls. The idea is to give the hitting players the chance to get lots of early MVP points and hopefully level up by the end of the season.

The league rules are quite extensive, and it all seems a lot more serious than the RPS leagues (which are immaculately run, but seem to be more laid back). I'll have a crack and post the results here. The season starts in about a week.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Thoughts on match 2

Another very close game.

I felt that overall my unwillingness to roll unnecessary dice really paid off. I made two dodges in total all game (both at the end of a turn where it didn't matter if I fell over), and did not make any one die blocks.

There were actually very few rolls where I didn't have a reroll available and it would have mattered if I had failed. I can't think of a single one offhand. In contrast my opponent was let down badly by the dice, but these tended to be situations where either he didn't have a reroll (4+ pickup rolls in particular), or a particularly unlikely set of dice were required. There were only a couple of occasions I think when he was genuinely unlucky. I was tearing my hair out at one stage with the number of one die blocks that he was getting away with, but fortunately my armour held up.

The game started very well for me, with a short kick and the Norse player making his only real mistake by allowing me to blitz a hole through the middle. This gave me a dream start, basically, and put all the pressure on my opponent in the rest of the game - it allowed me to sit back and be patient for the following 12 turns. If I hadn't scored on my first drive I would have had to have been much more aggressive in the second half and taken many more risks.

Towards the end of the match my inexperience against human opponents began to show - the AI would never have taken the risks the Norse player took in switching the point of attack at the end of the game and by taking this risk the player gave himself a relatively unlikely chance to score an equaliser in turn 15 - 5+ pickup, 5+ pass (with reroll), 4+ catch, 2+ GFI with a team reroll available would have done the job. I have just worked this out using probability trees and it comes to a worryingly large 17.7% chance of success. I could have reduced this substantially by putting a tackle zone on the potential receiver, and it nearly cost me the win in the end.

I must be careful to stay patient and emphasis field position when defending even at the expense of getting casualties. I nearly lost position there at the end.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Match Report - Divisions of Death, Division H, Season 1, Game 2

Odin's Longboatmen (Norse) v Doomdark's Revenge (Chaos, me)

The game started with the Norse team winning the toss and electing to kick off. It was raining, and with both teams having AG3 at best and no player with Sure Hands skill, the rain was to play a key role in what was to follow.

My plan before the game was to try to negate the Norse team's block advantage by hitting first where the chance presented itself, but maintaining a defensive position and not allowing the Norse team many blocks against me. Perhaps due to these negative tactics it was a remarkably bloodless match - I think I inflicted one casualty in total in the match and achieved two KOs. None of my players were stretchered off the pitch at all.

By a stroke of luck the beastman entrusted with ball-carrying duties managed to pick the damn thing up without a reroll, and the stage was set for some hitting on the line of scrimmage. After a couple of turns Sketch moved some of his players out of the centre to threaten the left side of my line, which left his middle relatively weak. One of the chaos warriors, the Lord of Thrall, punched a hole for the ball-carrier to run through, and my remaining chaos warriors also charged through to mark up the nearby defenders. Although a couple of Norse managed to recover and mark the ball, the remaining team was caught out of position and I was able to continue the push and score on turn 5. 0-1 to Doomdark's Revenge

Sketch had used all of his rerolls in attempting to halt my drive, and Nuffle now laid a scaly hand on the dice for the following Norse drive, with Sketch failing his first action (a ball pickup and a double skulls block) in each of his next two turns. I used my two "free" turns to run two beastmen through his line and threaten the ball, but Sketch's luck reasserted itself however and he was able to recover the position to see out the half only one TD down. 0-1 to Doomdark's Revenge at half time

The second half began with a lovely deep kick close to the corner which Sketch (wary now of failing his pickup) took a couple of turns to collect with his thrower and run into the cage. I backed away from his lines and tried to cover the width of the pitch.

Sketch set up his cage on the right hand side of the pitch and tried to push through, but I got my chaos warriors back in time and, even worse for Sketch, the Norse werewolf (their best chance of smashing through the Chaos lines) got pushed into the Chaos backfield and isolated from his team mates. After four fairly inconclusive turns Sketch decided to go for it, and suddenly switched the point of attack to his left, moving his remaining pieces bravely into contact with the chaos players and inviting the hits. This tactic was risky and meant that Sketch was vulnerable to blitzes, and I managed to get a chaos warrior 1v1 against his ball-carrying thrower but without a knockdown. With time running out Sketch was forced to try to pass the ball wide and hope for Nuffle to intervene, but he fumbled the pass (presumably with a reroll, unfortunately) and then had issues picking the ball up on his penultimate turn, and so the match wound down with just time for the Lord of Whispers to smack one of the Norse into the BH box.

Final score 0-1 to Doomdark's Revenge.


OK, so I'm back from my holiday and can provide an update on the two teams.

Doomdark's Revenge

My second match is this evening, against the Norse team of Odin's Longboatmen. I'd never played a Norse team with a human coach before, so rolled up another Chaos team online and found a random Norse opponent. I felt that, as expected, despite the lack of block on my players I should be able to match the Norse in hitting so long as I can attack first. If they get the chance to hit my players then they will get knockdowns and do damage, so I have to minimise their opportunity to do that.

It's going to be quite an interesting tactical battle, and probably another very low-scoring game.

The Longboatmen have 10 players following the death of a lineman last week, no apothecary or Yheti, and only 1 werewolf. I have a very solid strength advantage so if Nuffle is with me I hope that I can give my opponent a decent game.

My one concern is that both of the Longboatmen berserkers managed to level up in their first game, which was a trifle fortunate, so I'm a little apprehensive about what I'm going to be facing here. Hopefully no strength or agi increases...

The current league standings are

Odin's Longboatmen                  1 win, +1 TD difference, 2 TD scored
The Blades of the Dwarves        1 win, +1 TD difference, 1 TD scored
Xenny's Berserkers                     0 wins, -1 TD difference, 1 TD scored
Doomdark's Revenge                 0 wins, -1 TD difference, 0 TD scored

Bitter and Stout

This team is now ready for the Open league, and so is on ice until the next season starts. The team is as follows (with extra skills in brackets):

Blitzer (+1AG, Mighty Blow, Guard)
Runner (Block, +1MV)
Troll Slayer (Mighty Blow)
Troll Slayer
Blocker (Guard, Mighty Blow)
3 Blockers (Guard)
4 Blockers

4 Re-rolls, 1 Apothecary

Weaknesses - The positional players are a bit unbalanced since half of them are rookies, and 8 Blockers is too many and makes my TV higher than it should really be. I thought about dropping one or more of them, but I think I'll just not replace the dead ones.

Strengths - The AG4 Blitzer and the MV7 Runner are both very good players. The Blitzer is just generally an all-round useful player - hard hitting, helpful on the front line with Guard, mobile, good with the ball - and the extra mobility of the Runner enables the running cage to form quickly and gives me extra range for scoring. My 4 skilled Blockers have the makings of a strong front line and are what I need to build the team around. If I can keep these guys alive then I should be ok.