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!