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!
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.