Friday, 22 February 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Match 2

The Grey Haven Guard (high elf) v Fast Bunny United (pro elf)

A mere six Bunnies were fit to take part in this match, giving my opponent 590,000 GP in inducements and five journeyman linemen. Nevertheless the elves had a good thrower (accurate, safe throw) and two catchers - one of whom was the team's only remaining star, with AG5, block, dodge and leap.

After the match the Bunnies' coach said that he expected a high scoring shootout, which influenced his choice of inducements - he took Eldril Sidewinder, who was a real threat throughout the match, plus a strip ball catcher and a tackle blitzer as mercenaries. This actually gave him a personnel advantage over me, which kind of negated my initial plan of getting a numbers advantage by killing all the defenceless linemen. On the other hand he didn't have a wizard, which I thought at the time was a very odd decision (he could have taken a wizard instead of the strip ball catcher).

I was very worried going into this match - the opposing coach was much more experienced than me and although his team looked weak on paper I have a huge amount of respect for the pro elf offence, and its ability to score a lightning fast TD from out of nowhere - nerves of steel on those catchers is just so useful

The Bunnies won the toss and elected  to receive. The kick was deep (my kicker was injured), and the pro elves used Eldril's hypnotic gaze to open a small hole, which turned into a player-sized hole as the merc blitzer KO'd Werelenial on the very left hand side of my line (he remained out for the entire match). The Bunnies ran round the left hand side through that hole, and made a pocket around their AG5 catcher deep in my half, running 2 more catchers through the gap.

I then had to decide whether or not to try to stop the TD, and I chose not to. I blitzed Eldril with Vanval, hoping to eliminate one of my opponent's key weapons for breaking my lines, but didn't manage to break armour. I ran a player to threaten the elven thrower, but the elves threw the ball to a catcher and handed the ball off to their star to run in a score on turn 2. 0-1 to Fast Bunny Utd.

The ease that they did this was quite shocking to me, and straight away I realised that I could not let the pro elves have another offensive drive. I determined to do a "pure" 2-1 drive, scoring on turn 8 and turn 16 only.

The Bunnies kicked deep, and I knocked over the pro elf line, KOing a journeyman lineman, before Cirdan picked the ball up and passed it to Felagund in a cage by the centre of the pitch. The Bunnies stood off me, just forming a line, and I shifted the cage forward and right into the pro elf half. My opponent's key weapon was the ability to hypnotise a cage corner with Eldril, and follow that up with a blitz from the strip ball catcher, hopefully knocking the ball  somewhere that one of their other catchers could pick it up and make a throw out of TZs to a receiver downfield. With nerves of steel on their catchers I was paranoid about this, and had intended to keep players around my cage to form a second layer of defence. Straight away here though I exposed a cage corner to Eldril, who very fortunately failed the 3+ roll to hypnotise the cage corner. The pro elves blitzed the cage anyway and managed to get their sidestep blitzer and catcher next to Felagund, but I blocked and blitzed them away next turn and formed my two layer screen.

The rest of the half was a bit more of a procession - I removed a few more linemen to KOs and casualties, and bullied Eldril with Vanval whenever I could. There was a bit of a concern when the strip ball catcher dodged into 3 tackle zones to threaten the carrier, but he was tackled on the way in. By turn 8 the cage was about 4 squares from the line, and I had trapped some of his players on the wrong side of the ball. There was little to stop me brushing his defence aside to hand the ball off to Glorfindel for his second career touchdown, and 1-1 at half time.

The second half began with a blitz, and with a sinking feeling I waited for the Bunnies to flood my half, but at least the ball was due to land next to Hurin in midfield so any receiver they put in place would be marked. In the end they could only roll a push on their blitz and couldn't get through the line. They sent their AG5 leaper hurtling through the air on the right and he leaped over my defence, but he rolled a double 1 on the dodge and fell on his face!

I quickly scooped the ball up and made a cage by the LOS in the middle. The pro elves immediately signalled their intention to be more aggressive this half by pushing into contact and leaping in with his AG5 catcher to knock the ball loose. It was caught by Alawe, however, and I was able to cut right and set up a new cage halfway inside the pro elf half.

Keeping up the pressure, the Bunnies pushed almost their whole team into the cage, and although I was able to fight most of them off their AG5 catcher remained next to a cage corner. He knocked down the cage corner, Eldril swooped in to hypnotise one of the defending high elves, and suddenly they had a 2D block on the ball carrier with their strip ball catcher.

The block was no better than a push however (dodge on Felagund was golden in this match) and the ball was ripped loose but caught by Alawe for a second time! Most of the pro elves were on the right of the pitch, and so I cleared them away from the ball carrier and set up a new cage by the pro elf line on the left. There was still time for the leap catcher to jump into the cage, but again he could do no better than a push, and this was the last throw of the dice for the Bunnies. Eldril and the leap catcher were KO'd and Felagund ran in the TD on turn 16. 2-1 to the Guard.

 The pro elves tried the one turner, but the opening blitz was 2D against and they didn't get a push. The matched finished with a 2-1 win for the Guard!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Game 1

The Sigil Torments (dark elf) v The Grey Haven Guard (me, high elf)

So Season 17 kicked off with an all-elf affair - the posh ones against the goth ones, and it was an extremely hard game.

I faced a 15 player roster, including four distinctly average blitzers, two really good witch elves, and two assassins(!), one of whom had multiple block (!!). On paper it looked a bit bloated, with too many players and not enough development on the blitzers. There was lots of tackle though, and historically I've been poor against elves, so I was I guess confident but wary.

My opponent won the toss and elected to kick. He set up with only one assassin on the pitch (the star), and his AV7 pieces protected behind a screen. My gameplan was a slow running offence and a score on turn 6 or 7.

The kick was short and by the left touchline, so I knocked back his defensive line and made a central pocked. Vanval sat in the pocket while Cirdan dashed over to the ball, picked it up and passed the ball back into Vanval's hands. In response the Sigil witch elves knocked over the front of my screen and danced through the middle to mark Vanval.

Sensing that the dark elves had overcommitted to the centre I sent players up the left hand side, knocking players out of the way and putting two potential receivers (Gil-Galad and Hadilinas, my kicker) clear on the left side. Vanval dodged away from his markers and handed the ball back to Cirdan in the pocket. There was a chance here for one of the witches to get a 1D block on Cirdan here but my opponent declined to take the risk, preferring instead to shut down my adavance on the left and blitzer Hadilinas. He also gang-fouled one of my linemen with his sneaky git lino. That gang foul left a big gap in the centre and I simply ran through it and caged up in the centre, deep in the opposing half.

The score was looking pretty inevitable now, but there was still time for Hadilinas to be KO'd and Gil-Galad to be crowd surfed by one of the witches leading to a second KO. The gang fouls continued on poor, isolated Kevatononel, and he was injured and will be out for the next match. Nevertheless, with my guard players at the front it was a simple matter to bash a gap for Telthanthor, who made a break for the end zone. Cirdan chucked the ball to him and I scored on turn 4.

This was a bit sooner than I would have liked, but being 3 players down made me think I didn't want to stall.

With my kicker still KO'd I was forced to kick to the centre, and the dark elves' runner scooped up the ball and started to put together a cage on my left, but an eagle-eyed ref spotted a foul before the cage was complete, and I had a chance to get the ball. Glorfindel bashed open the cage, and Vanval and Felagund danced around the edge of the pitch to put a block on the runner. Amazingly, the runner dumped the ball off to a teammate before Vanval could grind him into a paste. The dump off meant that I was badly out of position and the dark elves were able to blitz through my lines, with the ball carrier being one of the Torments' blitzers.

They couldn't form a proper cage though, and I was able to take down the ball carrier deep in my half on the left hand side. A scrum ensued, with one of the witches eventually getting the ball. Meanwhile the Torments surrounded Gil-Galad with their players, knocking him to the ground before fouling and killing him! Fortunately the apothecary was on hand to save him.

The dark elves were unable to wriggle clear of the scrum with the ball, and the half eventually ended 1-0 to the Guard.

The second half started with a central kick, and some blocking and stabbing from the dark elves on the LOS which resulted only in a couple of stuns. The runner grabbed the ball and a loose cage was formed in the middle of the pitch, while the frenzying witch elves bashed a hole in my lines. Vanval finally made an impression and KO'd one of the witches, but I made a mistake and left a player in contact. Tananmyr was brushed aside and the remaining witch elf blitzed into the end zone, and meanwhile some elf-ball involving a hand off and a pass resulted in a quick tying score - 1-1.

I then had 7 turns to score a winner. Sendings off and KOs meant that my opponent had to field both assassins on this drive for the first time, and again he kicked short and wide. Felagund picked up the ball and passed it to Cirdan, deep in my half, but a double skulls rerolled to double skulls cut short my first turn with the ball. Sensing an opportunity, the Sigil players flooded mine, pushing into contact and running three players into my half to threaten Cirdan. This, I think, was a pretty big overcommitment on his behalf and Cirdan easily skirted around his players to hand the ball off to Werelenial. Meanwhile Vanval KO'd another dark elf and I formed up a loose cage hard by the left touchline a few squares inside the dark elf half.

My opponent was scrambling to get back now, with almost all of his players on the wrong side of the field. He did have one blitzer who could dodge and make two GFIs to get a one dice block on Werelenial, but my opponent had felt the need to make blocks earlier in the turn to do some damage to the players I'd been forced to leave in contact, and one of these had required a reroll. Consequently when his blitzer failed a GFI I was able to run for the line. I stalled for a turn, but another stupid positioning error (I am too careless with these loose cages!) gave him a chance to dodge and double-GFI for another 1D block. This also failed, but I took the hint and handed the ball to Glorfindel to score on turn 13.

So, three turns for the dark elves to grab a draw. I rolled a blitz on the kickoff too!

The dark elves had piled most of their players on my left, so I kicked right. Cirdan smashed the covering blitzer aside, breaking his jaw (another fine game this from Cirdan - this guy really is great), and so Glorfindel and Vanval rushed under the ball. Vanval fluffed the catch though, and so the dark elves' runner was able to pick it up from under Vanval's nose, using the Torments' final reroll in the process, and throw the ball to a witch elf. The other witch, supported by a blitzer and an assassin crashed into the left hand side of my line, not quite breaking through but doing significant damage.

I brought players back to cover then dodged Gil-Galad through the dark elf lines to knock over their ball carrier, but the ball landed safely and I couldn't recover it.

The witch elves leaped to their feet and crowdsurfed two of my players - Tananmyr (stunned) and Hadilinas (smashed collar bone). They knocked some space around the ball, but their assassin fumbled the pickup. They still had two players covering the ball, but Hurin reduced that to one with a chain-push, and Cirdan darted in, picked up the ball, dodged away and threw a long pass to Vanval over the covering defenders, and Vanval hared off to the end zone.

I had my eyes shut for the dark elves' last turn - my entire team was in contact, they had no chance of preventing the TD, and my apothecary had already been used. Fortunately there was nothing worse than a KO, and Vanval scored to make it 3-1 with the last action of the game.

Post-game thoughts:

I wasn't sure beforehand what to expect - there were some odd roster and skill choices on my opponent's players, and I wondered whether that would translate into bad play. In short - it didn't, he played impeccably throughout. My one criticism perhaps was that he'd have done better if he was less bloodthirsty and more interested in the ball, but given the fact that his fouling almost killed my best player and his aggressive play forced me to score early in the first half (I had to work so hard to keep him out), I can't really fault him too much.

He was bloody lucky not to lose a witch though! I targeted them so often with my MB-tackle catcher, and got nothing more than a KO.

Still - if this is the standard in tier 3 I am in for a really tough season.

Yet again my linemen bear the brunt of the attrition, and I have lost one of my best players to -1ST. Not sure what to do now. Telthanthor levelled up and I was going to make him my replacement kicker, only for him to roll +1ST!

It's going to be a while before any other lineman levels up, and so I am forced to choose between the bloat factor of fielding an ST2 kicker for a while, or just doing without any kicker at all. I have orcs in matchday 3, and so I think I will wait to see what it does to my TV. If I could fire the kicker and induce Eldril Sidewinder then I may do that.

Otherwise I think I need at least one new lineman, probably two. I'll buy one for now and see what happens. I don't want to have to put my guard lineman or my ST4 lineman on the LOS, but the guard lino may end up there.

Here's my team right now:

So 13 players, 12 if I cut the kicker, and only 4 decent linemen. I actually used Hurin on the line in the last game and he may end up there again if he's not careful. Useless bastard.

The only other player to level was Felagund who took dodge. I was toying with the idea of wrestle first, especially with two orc teams and a human team in my division, who'll have lots of tackle, but frankly I've been burned before with not having dodge on enough players that I went for it here.

If Telthanthor gets to 31 SPP he could become a brilliant player, but I always seem to have three or four players that I need to concentrate on levelling up at once!

Pro elves next. Depending on how much of a beating they take this week I may be giving away somewhere between 300-400 in inducements, so I guess a wizard and Eldril? Despite my TV advantage it will be a really hard game, and while I'll be disappointed with a draw I don't think it will be too bad a result. They have the humans this week though, so could lose a few more players.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Nearly there...

The new season starts tomorrow! Exciting times. First match is against the dark elves, and to celebrate I have bought a new blitzer - Glorfindel the Firstborn.

There isn't that much to be scared of on the team, so I figure that it should be ok to ease him in gently (nuffle permitting).

No inducements for either side, so a straight elf-off. I drew my only previous game against dark elves, back in division 6A, so it will be interesting to see how the game goes. We should play on Friday I think.

Monday, 4 February 2013

OCC Season 17 Division 3A

So, following a promotion for the Guard, we have been placed into division 3A. What awaits us I wonder...

Eagles Wing (human)

Ugh. A really nasty, well developed human team. Four excellent blitzers comprise two promising new players with ST4 and guard, and two stars. The first star is a stone cold killer - blodge, MB, tackle, grab, piling on - while the second is the heart of the team with AG4 and MV8, guard, MB, tackle.

There are a stat-boosted thrower and catcher.

Weaknesses? The lineman roster is largely unimpressive, there is no dedicated fouler, and the ogre is a rookie. For me, however, the main weakness is the fact the division contains two brutal killer teams, and either of those two teams has the potential to clear these guys off the park. See below.

Otherwise these boys look formidable, and it will be a tough and probably bloody game for my elves.

Another Bad Idea! (orc)

An orc team that's been around a while it seems like, and is recovering from a bit of a pasting. The presence of two level 6 blitzers and a level 5 black orc and troll indicate the team's age, but nevertheless there are three very new black orcs and only 4 guard on the whole team which suggests they won't be unstoppable in the bash game.

Also they have a goblin, which is nice as I like free SPP and only facing 10 players.

Another team with an excellent thrower, and with MV6, AG4 and accurate this guy is almost as good a quarterback as I have.

Weaknesses? I have mentioned the lack of guard, which leads me to think that the team will take casualties as the season goes on, particularly against the division's nurgle and chaos teams. Again there isn't a fouler, but this time there's also no-one on the team with piling on. I think these guys are actually less scary for my elves than the humans above.

Star Spanners (chaos)
2030TV (2090 fully fit)

Wow! A seriously impressive chaos team! No minotaur, which indicates that the coach likes to win rather than roll dice for fun, plus two of the best chaos warriors I've ever seen.

The first has ST6 (yes, 6!) plus block, MB and claw; while the second has ST5, block and claw. There are also three AG4 beasts.

So some amazing stats on this team, but looking at the team's record last season (2-3-4) you sense that something must be wrong. Firstly I note that only 1 of the chaos warriors has guard, and there are only 3 on the team. There's also only 1 tackler (a chaos warrior).

So weirdly, they will rely on their superior strength to get two dice blocks instead of a guard advantage, and so it might be possible to push them back in the bash game. They also don't have much answer to my blodgers.

FAST BUNNY UTD (pro elf)
1450TV (1570 including mercs)

Comfortably the weakest team in the division on paper, but the coach of FBU is a wily veteran of the top tiers and not to be underestimated.

FBU spent a long time at the top echelons of the league, finally having almost their while team killed off last season. Only 9 players on the team, with only two of any note being a much-injured superstar blitzer and an AG5 blodging catcher. The rest are pretty much rookies.

Nevertheless, this could be a good division for FBU - only two orc teams, and neither being set up as true killers, and with the real killer sides lacking tackle. I reckon they could consolidate this year and end up back near the top...

The Sigil Torments (dark elf)

My first (edit - second actually!) ever dark elf opposition, and blimey there are loads of them. 15 players on the team, including two assassins, makes for a certain amount of bloat.

Added to that is the fact that there aren't really any scary players here. There are a few blodgers, who will be tricky, and one of the assassins has multiple block, but other than that my greatest concern is simply the coach's good record. Looking back over last season's results there were some excellent wins in there and it's that really which makes me pause a bit.

ItSmellsLikeTeamSpirit (nurgle)

Some old friends from division 4D. And by "friends" I mean "murderous psychopaths", because the coach of this team cares not for winning or for touchdowns. He cares instead for death and the causing thereof.

Only two good players on the team - their killer warrior (block, MB, piling on, claw) and their fouler/kicker (who has MV3!). There's no guard on the team, nor is there any tackle, and so again it will be a game of running away from their killer and trying to stay alive long enough to score a touchdown or two.

F.O.A.D (orc)
1540TV (1750 when fit)

Ah FOAD - one of my greatest nemeses. I've played these guys every season so far, and each time have managed to do it after they've received some kind of appalling beating and have won both matches.

This coach prefers ball playing to ball breaking, and with his AG5 leaping blitzer and AG4 thrower he has the players to do it. His brutal thrashing by ItSmellsLikeTeamSpirit last season still affects the roster though, and we see a rookie troll and two new black orcs as a result.

Aside from the two agile stars, there are a couple of block/MB/guard blockers and a tackle/MB/guard/stand firm blitzer (who killed one of my linemen last season). So four really good players on the team, the rest pretty new. Not much guard, no designated fouler and no pace. That said, the coach knows what he's doing even if he does throw the ball around a bit too much for my liking. Looking forward to a tough rematch here.

A Can of WHAT? (chaos)
2000TV (2140 when fit)

OK, these are the boys. The ACoW coach is the ultimate in bash-only play, who feasts on the tears of his victims and occasionally scores the odd touchdown.

7 mighty blow players on the team, a dedicated fouler (who sees a lot of use), and 2 (two!) mighty blow/claw/piling on killers. At least there's not much tackle - only a single player has that - and no frenzy, which means that I'll need to be ultra disciplined at moving my players out of contact before any risky actions with the ball. There is however some diving tackle, and one unpleasant bastard with diving tackle and prehensile tail for -3 on dodge rolls!

These guys are built for killing orcs, lizards, nurgles and humans. They are ideal for it. They are not brilliant against elves right now, so I'll hope to play them late in the season after they have killed everyone else and I'll concentrate on keeping my players alive.

Ectothermic Scutes (lizards)

This team have won their division in the last two seasons, so my first thought is that these guys are going to be a nightmare this season.

That said, the team itself does not look too scary - two sauri have tackle, and two have break tackle, but there's not much guard or mighty blow. There's a level 4 krox with block, guard and multiple block (?), but it's the skinks who shine - particularly an AG4 bugger with sure feet. Several of the skinks have diving tackle.