Monday, 25 March 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Match 6

Eagles Wing (human) v The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me)

OK, so a bit of luck for me right away being that my opponent's best player - a 130 SPP piling on monster blitzer, who had 7 casualties in a single game earlier in the season, was fouled to death by some dark elves in the previous match. Due to the bug caused by the switch to the new servers where the league matches are not seeded randomly, I have been following the Sigil Torments around this season - they always play my next opponent every week. Thus in a division with three terrifying chaos and nurgle teams (my opponents in the next three games), I have always been playing against relatively unscathed teams. Thus and with great respect to the feelings of my opponent I was really bloody happy to see that blitzer die.

My opponent still has the makings of an excellent human team though - a block ogre, two ST4 guard blitzers, an AG 4 catcher and a ST 4 thrower are all in there, and none of those guys was the star. The opposing team captain was a blitzer with MV8, AG4, mighty blow and tackle (this was the only tackler on the team).

Before the match I had taken the plunge and fired my niggled backup thrower Hurin. In his place I bought two new linemen - Celeborn and Maedhros - since I was missing three linemen after my mauling at the hands of FOAD last week. This left me just enough inducements for a wizard.

The humans won the toss and chose to kick. The kick was short and wide, and Maedhros picked the ball up and threw it back to Cirdan in the backfield. Meanwhile I punched a few linemen. My opponent had set up very narrowly, and made the odd decision of putting one of his better players (an AG4 wrestle lino) on the LOS. I had made a note of this guy before the match, particularly since he was carrying a niggle, so Vanval set up opposite this chap on the LOS and smacked him into the KO box.

My opponent kept his narrow shape and stood off, using his captain to blitz. He ran one of the ST4 blitzers round the left hand side of my line to threaten Cirdan. I therefore decided to push right, and made a pocket on the right side for Gil-Galad about 5 squares into his half, with Cirdan sprinting forward and throwing the ball to him.

The humans looked to close off my route to the line, with their ST4 thrower and captain moving to the right, and the rest of their players moving into contact, but I blitzed back and pushed the cage a little further into his half. Finally on turn 4 there was a route for Gil-Galad to dash to the line if I could open the way with a couple of blocks. First through, there was an opportunity to hit their AG4 catcher with Vanval and I could not pass this up, but I rolled a push. Stupidly I decided to reroll the block, getting a knockdown this time but not breaking armour, but then I realised that not only did I need a dodge to get Gil-Galad out of the cage (he *still* does not have dodge) but also I would need a GFI. The sensible play would have been to wait an extra turn, but I went for it and was rewarded with the sight of Gil-Galad crashing to the ground in the end zone and badly hurting himself in the process.

Arrghh! Idiotic! Why in God's name did I reroll that block? Never reroll a push unless it is absolutely critical (and not to get injuries)!

So anyway, I thought for a very long time, and decided to use the apo on Gil-Galad. It was a must-win game, and I decided that I just had to have the ST4 on the pitch. The human team moved towards the ball but couldn't get anyone there in 1 turn. They managed to block me off though, and so I dropped a few players deep and ran four players towards the ball. Some risk-averse play from my opponent however meant that the ball was held by a lone human catcher near his end zone, and I was able to zap the catcher with the wizard, blitz Glorfindel's marker away and then Glorfindel scooped up the ball and ran in the touchdown.

So 1-0 on turn 7, and it had only cost me the apo and a wizard. Sigh.

My opponent lined up for a two turner, but opted to try to blitz his way through Tananmyr, who has sidestep. This failed, meaning that only his captain was in range to score, and it was a simple matter for me to surf him with two blocks, needing only pushes with each. Quad skulls (well, skull-and-both-downs, but still 1/81 chance!) on the first block however meant that my opponent had a chance to equalise - he needed an AG3 pass, an AG4 hand off, a 2+ dodge and 2 GFIs with a reroll to score. He burned a reroll on the pass, but with a sinking heart I watched the annoying bastard sprint down the touchline until, incredibly, he also fell over on the line and injured himself!

The injury was a broken neck, which the apo was able, somehow, to turn into broken ribs and the human's captain was out of the game by half time!

My opponent was feeling pretty glum at the break, and said that he wasn't sure what to do on offence without his star. I commiserated with him and rubbed my hands with glee. On the kick off my opponent handed the ball to his AG4 linemen in a loose cage by the left hand side of the pitch. Straight away however I saw that Werelenial would be able to dodge round the side of the cage and 1D block the ball carrier, and he duly knocked him over and spilled the ball. The ball was loose next to a human blitzer, and Cirdan swooped in to grab it but fumbled the pickup (with a reroll used). This gave the humans the chance to recover the ball, and although they did so they couldn't keep it safe and after taking a couple of hits but staying on his feet the human coach chose to score on turn 12 rather than risk stalling any further.

So 1-1, and 5 turns left for me to score the winner. It wasn't all good news however, and I'd taken some damage during the human drive including a serious concussion for Celeborn in his first (and probably last) match. I had only 9 players for the drive therefore.

My opponent lined up strongly, trying to prevent me getting past and since I was very worried about a blitz on the kickoff I wanted to make sure that I covered the whole width of the pitch. As a result I wasn't really able to take full advantage of the hole I knocked in the centre, but I did get 5 guys through the gap to threaten to score. Cirdan picked up the ball in the centre of the pitch and I thought long and hard about whether to GFI one square back out of range of the human players. I couldn't be hit either way but decided to risk it to prevent a nasty dodge next turn. Double 1 on the GFI, eating my last reroll.

This time, thank God, armour was not broken otherwise I would definitely have lost the game. As it was the humans tried to surround my cage in the centre of the pitch and ran about 5 players towards Cirdan, screening him off from help.

So, a very tense moment on my turn 13 as I first smashed all the markers away from Glorfindel. Cirdan then leapt to his feet, made a 2+ roll to pick up the ball (phew!), made a long pass (4+, with a reroll, failed interception attempt but had safe throw anyway) to Glorfindel who caught it by the centre of the pitch. Glorfindel then ran around the scrum and handed the ball to Vanval who hared off towards the end zone!

Elves can be so frustrating to play, but when it works it's absolutely beautiful...

I stalled for one turn, but screening was very difficult and so I scored on turn 14 rather than take the risk of giving away a hit on Vanval.

This left the human player 2 turns to score with no rerolls. The kick was a good one - nice and deep, and the humans dodged two catchers through my lines. Vanval, fresh from his triumph, was having none of that and fractured the skull of the AG4 catcher. I marked the AG 3 catcher with about 5 guys and waited to see what my opponent would do.

At this point although I had heavily marked the only player in range of the end zone I noticed to my absolute horror that it was possible (indeed very easy) for my opponent to chain push one of his blitzers to within range too. As a true sportsman though I didn't want to distract my opponent by telling him this, and indeed fortunately he didn't spot it, and so his last turn fizzled out with a failed dodge.

All there was time for was for Alawe to blitz an unskilled lineman, getting a flukey casualty and taking him to 31 SPP - he becomes a guard blodger at last and thus will probably die in his next game...

2-1 to the Guard!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Match 5

Nothing to report this week except an appalling defeat against the orcs of FOAD, who had previously lost all their matches this season.

Some absolutely terrible dice, nothing I tried worked. Double 1s all over the place.

The match started with me kicking off and a touchback (4% chance) and it just went downhill from there. When I did get the ball loose the bouncing ball was caught first try on a natural 6 by a black orc. Got it loose again, had a 3+ throw for a TD, fumbled it. Went in at half time 1-0 down after I just could not knock his players over the third time it was caged.

It wasn't a particularly scary team - not much guard or MB - but all his blocks seemed to cart my guys off the pitch, while my MB blitzes on his niggled AV8 black orc just bounced off his armour.

In the second half I was 2 players down, and of course the weather changed to bright sunshine, turning a 2+ throw to get a good chance of a TD into a 3+. I rolled 2 rerolled to 1. Game over.

I'll be missing 3 linemen for next week's match against a really brutal nurgle team (including -1AG on my ST4 lineman), so will be going with valuable players or rookies. on the LOS, which means I'll need to be lucky. I haven't been lucky at all this season, and I've no chance of promotion now. God knows what'll happen next week.

EDIT - Opponents are human not Nurgle, which is even worse given the amount of tackle and MB they are rocking, plus a piling on blitzer who got 7 casualties in his previous match vs some elves. At least they haven't got claw, and I might even get a wizard and an apo in inducements. Also the Ectothermic Scutes (the lizards who beat me last week) lost to Another Bad Idea (the orcs where I gifted them a draw), meaning that it's actually pretty tight at the top.

I then have nurgle-chaos-chaos for the last three matches of the season. Gulp.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Match 4

Ectothermic Scutes (lizardmen) v The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me)

I lost.


Report to come when I pick my self-esteem up out of the gutter.


And here it is!

My opponent's lizard team didn't look too bad on paper. They had three diving tackle/sidestep skinks and an AG4 diving tackle skink which were their best players. Aside from that there was a level 5 Krox with block and multiple block, a frenzy saurus and a couple of guard sauri.

What gave me pause however was that this team had won its division in both its previous OCC seasons. I was therefore expecting the coach to be really good (and was not disappointed in that respect).

As I mentioned in last week's post I retired my ST2 kicker before the match, so that my opponent would not get a wizard in inducements. There was the possibility that he would cut two rookie skinks to get the wizard, and so I delayed updating my roster until just before the match in an effort to outfox him. In the end though he got the last laugh - he kept the skinks but also bought some coaches and cheerleaders, so wouldn’t have got a wizard anyway.

He won the toss and decided to kick and as soon as I saw his formation I knew I was in trouble. He set up with a perfect anti-elf defence - two sauri and a Krox close together in the centre, and then four columns consisting of a saurus in front of a DT skink. In order to break through I either needed to dodge through 2TZs to blitz a skink, or brave a dodge away from a DT skink. It was incredibly difficult to get anyone into his backfield. I satisfied myself with Cirdan collecting the ball and my blitzers knocking over a couple of sauri by the half way line, and he returned the favour by keeping his shape and hospitalising a lineman.

I moved the ball from one side of the field to the other over the next few turns, but the breakthrough eventually came through Tananmyr's sidestep. He was blitzed by the frenzy saurus and pushed twice. He sidestepped neatly through the lines, meaning that next turn he was able to hit the covering skink, the frenzy saurus was knocked over (Tananmyr's guard skill coming into play) and Werelenial was able to creep around the left hand side of the lizards' line into the backfield and knock out one of the other skinks.

I had three players through the lizards' line finally, and the Scutes had to respond, pulling players out of the centre including the Krox. I ran Vanval through the gap and he badly hurt a second diving tackle skink. It was at this point I made my only major mistake in the game - with the centre field wide open, I ran Cirdan and an X-shaped cage through the centre, within reach of the end zone. On the left hand side, despite being surrounded, the players I had first run into the lizards' backfield were faring ok in the fight, knocking over a couple of sauri and keeping clear of the Krox.

My opponent responded perfectly however, flooding my cage with players. The sides of the cage were marked with lizards, and two sauri knocked over Vanval on the corner and got into contact with the ball carrier. I was now in a terrible situation. The only way of getting free in the cage was to make a 1D block (or worse) at the corners, and all my players were covered. Nevertheless I had a plan. I blitzed all the covering defenders away from Werelenial on the left hand side, and all I needed to do was to dodge Cirdan away from his markers, into 1TZ, then I would be able to make a short pass over the Krox to him and score. So I needed a 3+ dodge (with a team reroll), and then a 3+ throw (with pass skill) and a 2+ catch (with catch) to score. About 75% probability of success. I rolled double 2 on the first dodge. Sigh. The ball bounced into the open, and the lizards smashed a space in my cage, while a skink scooped up the ball, handed it off to the AG4 chap, and said sneaky little bastard was off like a rat up a drainpipe. I couldn't catch him - I'd dropped a guy back as a sweeper in case the pass went wrong, but the skink was too fast. The lizards scored on turn 6.

What I should have done was left Cirdan deep with the ball rather than try the cage.  Against a team this strong if I'm going to cage then I need a screen too. Still, learning experience etc. Bugger.

So. Two turns to score to salvage something from the half. Right then.

The lizards set up again in the same impenetrable formation, although this time they were on DT/sidestepper down. Having thought about it, I had come up with a way to get through which relied on dodging through the Krox's TZ (3+ with a reroll). The dice didn't let me down and I made a hole and put about 6 players through it. The Scutes got players back as best they could, but didn’t mark everyone, and Cirdan dashed forwards, made a short pass to Werelenial, who sprinted home on turn 8.

Now things got silly. I was concerned about the possibility of a one turner, and so set up carefully to make it as difficult as I could. What actually occurred was one of the most ridiculous plays I've ever seen, which started with a quick snap, continued with I think 7 (seven) blocks and blitzes to set up the one turner, and ended with the AG4 skink not even having to dodge. No rerolls were harmed in the scoring of this one turner as the lizards ended the half with 5 (five) unused rerolls. Utterly ridiculous play. Nothing I could do.

2-1 to the Scutes at half time and it was looking grim.

Matters continued grim in the second half as the Scutes had a pretty golden few turns to start things off - the ball landing from the kickoff by the end zone, way out of reach of my marauding catchers. A couple of elves were carted off the pitch, Vanval KO'd himself failing a dodge, and in about three turns the ball was in a saurus/krox cage by the halfway line near the right touchline. I had 8 players left against 11 from the lizards.

I'd been chatting to a former opponent in the comments to an earlier match report about the fact that I don't have anyone who can crack a cage. I'd said at the time that I prefer to defend and force my opponent to take risks than to take the risk of cracking a cage myself. I've also been waiting for an AG5 player to come along (and not die shortly afterwards to a lightning bolt) before taking leap. Looking at the pitch at this point I *really* wished I had a strip ball/leap catcher. Even with AG4. I resolved there and then to make such a player.

Failing that, however, I said a prayer to Nuffle and started rolling the dice. I pushed my players into contact with the cage and blitzed a cage corner with Werelenial, only getting a push. Drat. On the lizard's next turn they tried to bash clear with the krox, getting double skulls! ...and then passing the loner roll to use a reroll. Double drat. The cage was shifted to the left deeper into my half, and I thought fuck it and went for it. The only player in range was Cirdan, who dodged into three TZs and put a 1D block onto the blodge ball carrier, rolling a natural pow and killing him outright! What a player that is! I love that guy! Sadly the lizard's apothecary was able to save the life of the miserable skink, at the cost of broken ribs, and the ball bounced into the hands of the AG4 skink. Triple drat!

The lizards caged up again, and again I went for it, with Werelenial dodging in, smashing over the skink with a 1D block, and this time the ball bounced away to the side and into the hands of my ST4 lineman. He'd already moved that turn sadly, and with both teams having 1 turn each left, at last I had the ball in my hands and the chance for a last ditch play.

I ran Tananmyr into the lizard's half, and already had Gil-Galad there (he'd been bopping a DT skink on the head every turn for the past three turns).

On the lizard's last turn they were unfortunately able to roll the pow they needed to knock over my ball carrier. Then they knocked over pretty much everyone else on my team (with the exception of Tananmyr and Cirdan and crucially including Gil-Galad who failed his armour roll and would otherwise have been critical next turn), picked up the loose ball with a blodge skink. They they screened the skink. So I was pretty much fucked going into my turn. My best chance was a blitz with Cirdan and then if the ball fell safely I would need to dodge through a DT skink and past the krox, make an unskilled long pass to Tananmyr, who would need to dodge past a DT player to score. So some sixes needed then. In the end it was a step too far even for Cirdan, who rolled double push rerolled to double push, and the game ended with a first defeat of the season for the Guard.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Match 3

The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me) v Another Bad Idea! (orc)

So after all the agonising over what to do with my injured kicker, I decided to keep him on. With only ST2 he can't do much more than be annoying on defence, but I thought that the ability to kick accurately might enable me to take better advantage of good results on the kick off table.

It meant that the orcs had 360k of inducements to play with (or thereabouts), which they spent on hiring Varag Ghoul-Chewer (ST4 blitzer with MB, thick skull, but no dodge or tackle) and a babe. I had been worried about a wizard, a bribe and a dirty player lineman, so this was to my mind at least a bit of a result. As it happened Varag was fairly anonymous, as he so often is - there was always someone better to blitz with, whether it was the MB-tackle blitzer or the MB-frenzy black orc, and so he was used as an extra black orc mainly. I mainly ran round him, which since he didn't have tackle was fairly straightforward.

I went into the game at full strength after the win against the pro-elves last week. By contrast my opponent was missing his ST4 blitzer (which I guess was why he'd hired Varag).

I won the toss and decided to kick. Having learned my lesson against bash teams I don't use the ziggurat formation any more, I play as if I am up against an elf team and want to prevent a TD. So it was columns all the way.

For the second match in a row I had a player seriously injured on the first turn - this time -1ST on my ST4 lineman. Fortunately the apothecary did his job, but this left me on a knife edge for the rest of the match.

The kick, after all that palaver, was pretty easy for the orc coach to get to, and he black orc'd my LOS over and formed a cage in his own half. I responded by blitzing off one of the cage corners with Vanval, and he inched the cage forward until it was in the centre of the pitch by the LOS. I noticed that the orc coach was not concerned about leaving his cage corners in contact with my players. Sure they were ST4 and 5, but it gave me chances to get the ball. I rolled a double 1 the first time and the chance was gone, but the second time I managed to down his troll on a 1D block, and Gil-Galad rushed in to deck the orc thrower. The ball bounced safe, but the orcs made the same mistake a turn later, and Gil-Galad did the same thing. Again the ball bounced safely for the orcs.

I was starting to run out of players now, as the orc blitzers and black orcs were whittling down my numbers. All the risky "get the ball" plays had exhausted my rerolls too, and so I made the decision that with just 3 turns left in the half and the ball still on the LOS I would concentrate on preventing the score rather than trying to score myself. On turn 8 therefore I'd made sure that only two orc players were in range of my line - the killer blitzer (on the left of the field) and the AG5 blitzer (on the right). The killer was heavily marked, and so I tried to blitz down the AG5 receiver, but had to dodge a player clear to make the hit and failed the 2+ roll for the dodge. The orcs were therefore able to score a passing touchdown on turn 8.

Any thoughts I might have had of a 1 turn touchdown were thwarted by a perfect defence result on the kickoff table, and so I went in at halftime 1 goal down and in big trouble.

I went into the second half somewhat unsure of how to approach matters. By inclination I am a running coach, but the orc's strength advantage, as well as their 3 tackle blitzers, were somewhat intimidating. I just wasn't sure I'd be able to score a running TD. I began bly running three players up the right hand side and blitzing a black orc over. The kick was short and left, and so Hurin (who had been assisting a badly-thought-out series of LOS blocks) picked up the ball and dropped deep. The orcs predictably shut down their right hand side - moving blitzers over. I respondend by running left instead - I left three players to make a screen and moved Hurin up the the LOS right on the left hand touchline.

I didn't have anyone on the left in scoring range however, and again the orcs moved to cover. As I shifted them from side to side holes began to appear in their defence however, and Hurin was able to pass the ball to Tananmyr to score a touchdown on turn 12.

Five turns to hold out then.

Another deep kick from me, and all of a sudden my opponent made a critical error. His turn had started so well for him - I made a mistake and left Tananmyr within frenzy range of the sideline on a blitz, and he was duly surfed. I also had a lineman badly hurt on the LOS. Crucially, however, the orc coach misjudged how far back to leave his thrower. He hadn't caged up this time, and without having to dodge at all Gil-Galad was able to run around the right hand edge of the orc line, make 2 GFIs and blitz the orc thrower, sacking him and causing him to be carried off!

The rest of my team pushed into contact, and the orcs were unable to extricate themselves easily. They did get two players back, but could only roll a push on a 1D block. Cirdan was able to blitz the marker away and Gil-Galad picked up the loose ball and scored on turn 14. I had thought about stalling for another turn, and with hindsight I should probably have tried something along those lines.

So three turns to defend for the win.

Finally the much-derided goblin scampered onto the field, which excited me. The kick was poor, which was somewhat unfortunate. The orc coach was more careful about Gil-Galad this time, making sure to block off any blitzing lanes, while I contented myself with trying to hold the line and bash any blitzers who tried to get through. In my opponent's turn 15 he managed to get two receivers into my backfield - his killer blitzer (block, dodge, sidestep, tackle, MB) and a goblin. The goblin was already marked, and couldn't reach the line anyway, so I ignored it and knocked over the blitzer. Without thinking I then blocked the goblin, and only rolled a push, and thinking the game was won I tried to foul the blitzer with Cirdan, and I just ran Tananmyr away from his marker.

I then looked at the goblin. To my horror the little bastard's sidestep skill had allowed him to move within range of the end zone, and I had virtually no moves left. I did what I could to tie him up with a second marker, but the third marker failed a dodge, the orcs blitzed the markers away with a nice chain push, and the goblin caught the resulting pass (using a reroll) and then made 2 GFIs to tie the game at the whistle 2-2!

Some thoughts:

Noooooooooooooooo! I can't believe that! After my opponent gifted me a touchdown I can't believe I threw that win away! So cross with myself. I should have left the fucking goblin alone. Sigh. So my 8 game winning streak comes to an end. Never mind.

I was pretty pleased with how I played the first half, but my opponent's dice were very good (he still had 1 reroll unused at half time and had used 2 rerolls on push results on non-critical blocks to try and injure my players) and mine were not. I could have been braver at trying to get the ball - but the fact I didn't have an apo available made me worry for my players. I lost players at a regular clip in that first half and frankly I'm really pleased to have again taken no permanent damage.

In the second half my drive was all over the place and the orc coach's defence was very good, but AG4 saved the day in the end. I wasn't under much pressure because he never sent anyone to harrass my thrower (a perfect job for Varag!) and so I could always just drop back when things were too hot at the LOS.

The last quarter of the game was amateur hour from both coaches as we both made elementary positioning errors, so maybe a draw was a fair result. Still though, if only I'd left that goblin alone (or rerolled the push!).

My next game is against some lizards. Not played against lizards much but nuffle permitting I have a good chance. They have very little tackle or break tackle. Lots of diving tackle skinks though, and I think a lot will depend on how brave my opponent is with them. Here is my team right now:

Tananmyr levelled and I took side step. I thought it would mesh nicely with guard, but I don't have much experience with it tbh. Werelenial also levelled and finally I have 2 tacklers on the team. I think wrackle will be a good complement for his role as diving in for hits on the ball carrier. Also some redundancy there will be good against skinks.

I think that a kicker is probably less important against a team like this (with lots of fast ball handling skinks), and currently I am giving away 160k in inducements, so I think Hadilinas will retire now as I would prefer not to give away a wizard this week.