Monday, 29 April 2013

A funny thing happened to me in matchmaking #1

I might do some of these.

So anyway, I was in Nagg looking for a game with my 1400 TV norse team. They are quite bashy. I think the roster is

Ulf - mighty blow
Ulf - guard
Zerker - mighty blow, piling on
Zerker - mighty blow, tackle
Yhetee -
Runner - +1MV, dodge
Lineman - dirty player
Lineman - fend
Lineman - guard
+some other linemen

I was matched against a min-maxed killer chaos team with 1700 TV. It was a really brutal side - lots of mighty blow, claw and piling on amongst the chaos warriors, one beastman with AG4, sure hands and extra arms, one brutal 250SPP killer beastman, and the rest of the beastmen were dross. He was also running only 10 players to cheat the matchmaker (which matches your TV before journeymen are added).

A sort of red mist descended on me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was me snapping after so many games being bullied by killer teams as elves. Perhaps it was the irritation that this guy had built a team specifically to kill my players via matchmaking. In any event, I decided to play the game completely differently than any game I think I've ever played before - I ignored the ball.

I don't mean I literally ignored it - at least towards the start of the game I made a token effort to pick it up - but I never tried to score, and later in the game I just concentrated on peeling his players away from the scrum to isolate and kill.

The second half in particular was lovely. He was caging up properly on the left hand side, while I kept frenzy pushing the nearest chaos warrior away from the safety of his team mates towards a knot of my guys in the middle of the pitch whereupon I stuck the boot in. He tried the tactic of staying down, but took some nasty fouls in the process.

He had just 2 players on the pitch by turn 16, and I'd given stat injuries to two of his chaos warriors (-1AV and -1AG, and those two warriors were previously uninjured and had over 200 SPP between them), and a niggling injury to the AG4 ball carrier. All of this came at the cost of 1 dead lineman and 1 lineman with a broken neck (both linemen were rookies).

I lost 2-0, but felt for the first time the cathartic nihilism that pure bash coaches must feel all the time. The urge to simply destroy. A seductive drug.

I think when the Guard drag themselves bleeding from the field and into retirement I might try AV7 bash for a while - with either norse or underworld probably.

The fixture list is out...

...and I've got AndyDavo's dark elves first, followed by (gulp) the orcs of Despized and then undead of Ghouls Gone Wild!

My first game is therefore definitely winnable, against an opponent with a team that looks worse that mine on paper. The coach quality is very high, however (I talked to him on vent, and he's very confident). It should be a very close game.

Games 2 and 3 will define my season - being my most bashy opponents by far. If I come out of those with say a win and a draw and without much damage to my team, then I'll be happy. What could happen though is that I lose one or both games and get my players massacred. I guess we'll see.

First game should be Wednesday.

Monday, 22 April 2013

OCC Season 18 Division 2C

The divisions are up! I am in division 2C - let’s have a look at the teams, first in overview:

AndyDavo - I Just Blitzed Your Mum - Dark Elf
Zunk - Despized - Orc
TheMuffinThief - Long Gone and Reprosper - Necromantic
Everblue - The Grey Haven Guard - High Elf
Antonlunau - Ghouls Gone Wild - Undead
frubeng - Khorne Flakes Browl - Chaos
Aguelo - Neverending Rest - Khemri
Hobnail - Black Widows. - Amazon
Youleaf - Lesser Horned Ones - Chaos
Crunky Chops - Ecothermic Scutes – Lizardman

First thing’s first – only one orc team. That’s really good given my recent history with orcs and the fact that they tend to be skilled up to squash elves. The bad news is the coach is Zunk and the team is Despized. Despized are I believe the oldest team in the league and have an unbelievable roster. Otherwise in terms of racial mix it could have been a lot worse – division 2B, for example, is 50% orc. 5 out of 10 teams are orcs.
Looking at the teams themselves

1) AndyDavo – I Just Blitzed Your Mum – Dark Elf – 1900TV

Andy is a stalwart at the UKBBL league, where he also plays dark elves. This team has come second twice and has been in tier 1 several times, while Andy has won the UKBBL and is looking good there this season too. Clearly therefore this guy knows how to coach dark elves.

This team is looking a bit battered, and with a fresh crop of blitzers it is lacking a really solid core. There are signs that the coach is particularly bashy, with a fouler lineman and a mighty blow/piling on witch elf. There is also a ST5 lineman with blodge and side step, and presumably this player can win games on his own!
That said, there is precisely zero tackle on the team (presumably because it has all been killed off) and no diving tackle either. I will therefore say that on paper I have an advantage over this team, but the coach’s experience and ability will be a formidable obstacle.

2) Zunk – Despized – Orc – 2330TV (!)
Ugh. Really. I’ll just spell it out.
Three legendary blitzers on the team who have 50% more SPP between them than my entire team, two of whom are ST4, all of whom have tackle/mighty blow and two of whom have piling on? Check.
A full rack of skilled-up black orcs? Check.
A thrower with KOR to get the ball into the cage and passing skills to threaten an offensive play? Check.
This team looks brutal. The team’s been to division 1 before but never won the thing. My consolation is the lack of an explosive offence, and so it strikes me that if I can score then I might be able to get a draw and hope that the wizard comes through for me. Hey ho.
3) TheMuffinThief - Long Gone and Reprosper - Necromantic – 1790TV
A team that I don’t know much about really – it’s quite a young team and has come up through the ranks (5 seasons old so far I believe). Its fan factor is high and I see that it won five games in this division last season, so it seems to me that this could be a team which got promoted to tier2 quite quickly and then just failed to get promotion to tier 1 in its first season.
The best player by far on the team is a killer werewolf with CPOMB and tackle, as well as blodge. An absolute bastard of a player and a big target. Taking him out then there is a ST5 flesh golem but otherwise this team could be relatively fresh.
My record against necro teams is abysmal, so we’ll see whether I’ve learned anything in the meantime I guess.
4) Antonlunau - Ghouls Gone Wild - Undead – 2000TV
A really nasty undead team, and one that could mean a very bloody match for my elves. Anton is another player who’s active in the UKBBL, and again he plays undead there too and has won the league with that undead team.
Added to all that undead coaching experience (and his team’s stellar rise through the divisions) is a bastard of a team. There’s a blodge mummy, two diving tackle ghouls and also the most vicious killer that the OCC has ever seen – a wight called Ulric the Maimer, who is skilled to take on wrodgers with tackle and juggernaught and then kill them with POMB.
Unusually, the zombie roster is very strong. There is a special snowflake level 5 zombie with ST4, block, tackle and mighty blow who will be especially difficult to take on. A really tough prospect here and without even a TV deficit to get me a wizard (yet!) then any sort of result will be difficult. There’s not even much claw in the league to thin them out before I play them. Oh dear.

5) frubeng- Khorne Flakes Browl - Chaos - 1990TV (+80 from injured players, +2 skillups)

A somewhat battered looking chaos team that was in tier 1 last season.

I don't know too much about the coach, except that he must be pretty good to have been in tier 1. The team itself has a very new set of chaos warriors and has obviously had some bad injuries along the line somewhere.

The stand out player is a level 6 mino with block, claw, tentacles, guard and break tackle - I guess this guy does most of the heavy lifting on the team. There is also a MV8 blodger goat with 3 arms who looks a really good ball carrier. Other than that though, what good players there are appear to be carrying injuries, and there's no tackle on the team at all.

This match should therefore definitely be winnable - hopefully I'll play them early in the season before the killer teams thin out my numbers too much.

6) Aguelo - Neverending Rest - Khemri  - 1860TV

I last saw these guys in tier 4 where I sneaked a 2-1 win in a very close match. The team is looking a little different - one of the blitz-ras is no longer there (the niggled one!), and they've lost one of their AG3 skeletons and the dirty player.

That said, the Tomb Guardian lineup is still very strong, including the ST6 block guy, and there's still Imoteph the hard-as-nails killer.

The coach knows what he's doing, but I do wonder how these guys will get on this season. There isn't much claw around, which is good for them, but I can see their games against the orcs and undead being quite bloody.

7) Hobnail- Black Widows. - Amazon - 1900 TV

BBTactics regular, self-styled grumpy sod and the winner of the OCC way back in Season 1, when men were men and Blood Bowl was played in black and white - Hobnail brings his amazons into the meat grinder.

I have never played Hobnail but I watched some of his games last season. He's a wicked fouler and more dedicated to the fight than the ball, which I guess is fine as a zon coach.

The team is quite tough looking - there are two ST4 blitzers, one of whom also has tackle and mighty blow. There are also a couple of dirty players and a nice sidestep / diving tackle catcher. Other than that, and perhaps an honourable mention should also go to the wrackle linewoman, there isn't much here. The ST4 killer is clearly a player to treat with respect, but my team have almost as much dodge, handle the ball better, have better armour, have our own ST4 players and are faster - so, umm, easy right?

I suspect not! This will be my first match against amazons with this team (and only my third ever) so really I don't know what I'm up against or how to beat them, all of which will be music to the ears of my opponent no doubt!

8) Youleaf - Lesser Horned Ones - Chaos - 1940TV (+180 from injured players)

Another team promoted from tier 3, and the one perhaps I know the least about. I had *thought* that this team were more focussed on ball handling than most chaos teams and were all about the AG4, but there's no AG4 on the team so I must have been mistaken.

The only real killer is again the mino, and there are some brawling chaos warriors with mighty blow, but no more claw.

The stand out player would have been a MV8 beastman, but he took a smashed ankle on the last game of last season and is now down to MV7. He may possibly be cut before the season starts therefore. There is also a tackle/mighty blow/wrestle elf killer. Otherwise though, this team is much less scary for me than the division killers.

9) Crunky Chops - Ecothermic Scutes – Lizardman (+140 from injured players, +1 skillup)

A team that finished 3rd ahead of me in division 3A last season, and who beat me in a brutal 2-1 encounter.

The Saurus line is still a work in progress, but the coach has managed to keep them alive thus far and so they are only likely to improve. There are two really good high level ball carrying skinks - one of whom with the critical AG4 - and a couple of annoying markers with diving tackle. Add that to the skilled up krox and the coach who has excellent game sense and knows how to beat elves, and you have a difficult match indeed.

Hopefully before we meet Despized can kill off a couple of skinks...!

Friday, 19 April 2013

End of season

So I signed off with a big win, but it was all for nought as both Another Bad Idea! and Ectothermic Scutes also both won, leaving me in fourth. Damn...

Here's the final table

As you can see, my season pretty much came down to, well, all sorts of things, but the draw against Another Bad Idea! which should have been a win but for my stupidity stopped me from getting second place.

Fortunately however it looks like there will be one extra promotion spot this season due to players in the top two tiers rerolling, and if that's right then I'll be in tier 2 (aka "the meatgrinder") for season 18. My record for this team is now:

Season 16 - Division 6A - 4 wins / 3 draws / 2 defeats - 4th place
Season 17 - Division 4D - 7 wins / 1 draw / 1 defeat - 2nd place
Season 18 - Division 3A - 5 wins / 1 draw / 3 defeats - 4th place

Next season will be really tough however, and probably a division full of bash. There are some horrible teams in that tier, and since promotion to tier 1 is very difficult (top 2 go up only) then there are lots of very well developed teams. Divisions should be posted over the weekend sometime.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Final Match

Star Spanners (chaos) v The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me)

My opponent won the toss and elected to receive.

I set up with a flat formation - 3 on the LOS tight in the centre and the rest of the team to protect thw widezones and make it hard to run AG4 beastment around the side. He put all four horrible warriors on the LOS and the kickoff came up with a perfect defence, immediately allowing me to pull away from his killer. Kevatononel was knocked out, but this was the only damage on the first turn (result!). The kick was short and central and the chaos player formed a loose cage around his ball carrying beastman.

My first turn went very well. Firstly my oppnent had blitzed Glorfindel with his killer but only got a push. Glorfindel elected to stay in contact and then on my turn he knocked over the warrior, stunning him. Meanwhile Gil-Galad dashed around the end of the chaos line into one of the cage corners, knocking out the unfortunate beastman. He and Tananmyr marked the carrier. Suddenly, and very quickly, the position began to look bad for the chaos coach - having pushed most of his high strength players into contact the previous turn, and with the killer on the floor, it was hard to make the ball safe. Tananmyr was blitzed over by the ST6 monster warrior, but that left Gil-Galad free and next to the ball carrier. The beastman dodged left to get away from trouble, but the chaos team couldn't keep him safe from the marauding elves.

Alawe put an assist on the ball carrier using his guard, and Vanval dodged through the centre of the chaos line and knocked down the ball carrier. The ball came loose and Vanval looked to dodge away and pick it up but rolled double 1s for the dodge, stunning himself in the process! I winced when this came up - because I had taken this critical action first, half my team was in contact and although the ball was relatively hard for the chaos team to make safe it was going to be a critical turn.

The chaos coach began with an odd move - using his killer blitzer to take a whack at Glorfindel. Yes it was a good opportunity, but Glorfindel was in the centre - miles from the ball. The chaos team then basically took a swing at any elf within reach, hitting a couple but not doing worse than a stun. The ball carrier got to his feet, picked up the ball and went to put an assist on Alawe to allow on of the star beastmen to get a single dice block. Alawe was taking no prisoners however, and punched the AG4 wrestle stand firm beastman into the casualty box!

This left the ball carrier next to Alawe. I thought hard about what to do - I had an easy chance of a 2D block by moving in Cirdan for an assist, but without tackle (Vanval was stunned) or wrestle nearby, my odds of a knockdown were not great. So I decided to use the wizard to make sure, but clearly the useless bugger had blown a fuse somewhere as the lightning bolt fizzled out! Bollocks. So I took the block with Alawe instead who made a mockery of my misgivings by popping the ball loose at the first attempt. I couldn't quite get the ball safe, however, and although Gil-Galad was covering, the killer warrior was able to dodge past the screen and knock him over. The agile beastman then got up once again, dodged away from trouble, picked the ball up and launched a soaring diagonal pass to the ST6 warrior in the centre of the pitch, who promptly dropped the catch!


It was then the work of a moment for Kiendan to dodge away from his marker and clear the marker away from Tananmyr. Felagund then dodge clear, picked the ball up from under the nose of the chaos team captain and hand it off to Tanamyr who ran in the touchdown! 1-0 to the Guard!

We lined up identically, although in my case since Kivatononel was still unconscious Lord Celeborn made his dainty AV7 way onto the field to the LOS. Hungry for more points the elves blitzed from the kick off. Again, the lack of a kicker was painful as the ball landed centrally. I was able to get Felagund under the ball, and he caught it, but the chaos team quickly recovered it and some passing between their AG4 beastmen allowed them to screen the ball off again on the left hand side near the LOS.

Gil-Galad knocked a hole through the screen and Glorfindel marked the ball carrier, while the rest of the high elves remade their defensive line, and in response the chaos team blitzed Glorfindel down. The beastman with the ball cut right and handed the ball off to their ST6 warrior, who lumbered into the right hand wide zone. The bloke was huge, but clearly my opponent was expecting me to be unable to knock him down, Undaunted by the horrific beast however I managed to cobble together four assists for a blitz by a wrestle lineman to make a 2D block, only to see double push rerolled to double push! I pushed him next to the sideline though.

The chaos team responded as they know best, by concentrating on hurting my players - Gil-Galad suffered a fractured leg and had to be carried off. The ST6 warrior bashed his way clear of the sideline though, and supporting beastmen arrived.

Not really expecting much, I get a 2D against block on the ST6 warrior and only pushed him back against the sideline, but suddenly I saw a chance to surf him. I 1D blocked a beastman behind him and then blitzed in with Felagund for a second 2D against block and pushed the huge warrior into the crowd! Enraged fans swarmed all over the massive armoured form, killing him outright!

The chaos team apothecary hurried forward, and offered to save the life of the warrior at the cost of a smashed collar bone. Despite the fact that this warrior would still be one of the most powerful players in the league, the coach decided that carrying such an injury, being a shadow of what he once was, would be too much, and let him die!

After the shock of killing perhaps the rarest and most valuable player I have ever met in my time in the game, what happened to the ball seemed almost secondary. Nevertheless it was thrown back in near the chaos end zone. Legolas dodged away from his marker and set off after it. He was punched by the killer warrior but stayed upright, then dodged away again, pushed a chaos safety away from the ball in a 1D block, picked it up and made 2 GFIs to score. 2-0 to the Guard at half time!

At this point my plan was not to do anything clever - 1 more TD for me would result in a win, so I decided to score a 2 turner at the start of the second half. It was pretty straightforward - I bashed a hole with Vanval, ran several players through it, my opponent made the mistake of trying to put pressure on Cirdan who just stepped around the threat, ran up the left sideline and fired in a pass to Legolas. Vanval again smashed a hole in the makeshift screen to let Legolas jog home on turn 10 to make the score 3-0.

And frankly, there isn't much else to say. My opponent received again and I didn't do much to try to stop him scoring. I concentrated on keeping my players safe and tried to prevent easy hits. He started to be very aggressive with his killer, piling on all over the place. I fouled him a few times but couldn't break armour and soon the chaos coach had 3 KOs and had badly hurt Legolas. That was as bad as it got though - the chaos team scored on turn 14, which gave me the chance for an identical 2 turner, which I took, scoring with Vanval to end the game 4-1 winners!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Before the last match of the season...

OK, so the last match of the season. The top of the table looked like this before the game:

A Can of WHAT (chaos) - 21 pts
Another Bad Idea (orc) - 16 pts
Ectothermic Scutes (lizard) - 15 pts
The Grey Haven Guard - 13 pts
Itsmellsliketeamspirit (nurgle) - 11 pts
FAST BUNNY UTD (elf) - 10 pts

The top three are assured of promotion, with a possible promotion for fourth place if players above me drop out of the league or reroll. At present it looks like there is unlikely to be a fourth place promotion spot available, but only about two thirds of coaches have posted their intentions for next season.

It's also worth noting that in the event of two teams being equal on points then the team with the best TD difference will finish higher. My TD difference is better than all the teams around me.

I therefore needed to win, and hope that either Ectothermic Scutes fail to win, or that Another Bad Idea lose. Ectothermic Scutes are playing A Can of WHAT, which will be a really tough game for them and gives me hope that something may happen for me. I look at the table though and remember that draw against Another Bad Idea where I should have won - had I resisted the urge to batter that sidestepping gobbo and then in fact won that game I would have had an extra two points and simply needed to beat Star Spanners to clinch promotion to "the meat grinder", as tier 2 is affectionately known.

The opposition

Star Spanners (a chaos team) were no pushover though. Their assets were basically twofold - firstly they had an awesome line of chaos warriors. Secondly they had an awesome line of beastmen.

Their chaos warriors included their captain (ST6, block, claw, mighty blow), vice captain (ST5 blodge, claw, guard, mighty blow, but AV8), their killer (block, tackle, mighty blow, claw, piling on), and their other one (blodge, claw, mighty blow). The one I was most worried about was the killer, and indeed he proved to be a terror all game. I hoped to avoid the ST6 guy as much as possible.

Their beastman lineup included three AG4 beasts, including the first legendary player I had met this season who was a combination of killer and finesse player. Critically however there was no wrestle and no tackle aside from the killer warrior. As long as my opponent didn't roll 6s on his blocks he would find it difficult to hurt me.

I had 200k of inducements for the match, and spent them on a wizard and a babe.

This was my team prior to the match

My lineman roster was my biggest concern - I've introduced three new lineman this season, Maedhros, Haldir and Celeborn, and none of them have levelled, with two of them taking serious injuries. I have been toying with the idea of replacing the injured pair, but frankly I don't care if they die and so I'm tempted to let nature take its course. Kiendan is a much better player and is a key part of my LOS strategy. Kevatononel also ends up on the LOS when he's fit, usually with Haldir making up the three. Celeborn plays if one of the other three LOS players is off the field.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Match 8

The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me) v Itsmellsliketeamspirit (nurgle)

I was reunited in MD8 against some old friends from last season. I’d beaten Coach Jakerbeef’s nurgle side 3-0 in our fixture last season, largely thanks to the fact that his horrible killer/fouler team were adequately kitted out in mighty blow and claw, but were lacking block and tackle.

In the intervening matches they had managed to obtain some block (and also jump up on their killer warrior, giving him mighty blow, claw, piling on, block and jump up) but still no tackle. My plan was therefore to stay out of contact as much as possible, but to be brave with my two sidestepping blitzers and use them to disrupt his running game as much as possible.

I won the toss and elected to receive. After the match last week I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The choice of whether to kick or not is an odd one, with the beginner normally choosing to receive and the received wisdom for the experienced player being that kicking is often better (it ensures that finesse teams have all 11 players available to try to defend against the opposing offensive drive, for example, gives 2 chances for KOs to come back before the second half if your opponent scores, and means that you only need to face 1 lot of LOS blocks before you get your second offensive drive).

My feeling though is that receiving first with a finesse team against a slow bashy opponent  puts pressure on them. If you get the ball and score in say 5 or 6 turns then the opponent has to decide whether or not to rush to equalise before half time (which may give me a chance to score a second). If I go in at half time leading, the bash coach then has to decide whether to settle for a draw (in which case I need to defend an 8 turn drive, which is what he would have tried to do in the first half if I’d kicked to him), or go for a win with the odds favouring me as I’ll be getting the ball back.

So I decided to receive.

The nurgle team put rotters and a pestigor on the LOS (including their dirty player/kicker) and strung their warriors and beast across the width of the pitch three squares back. The crowd threw a rock, stunning the rookie warrior on the  extreme right. I think the nurgle coach had not realised that his kicker was on the LOS, and the ball landed off the pitch. I had made the pre-match decision to purchase a new catcher – Legolas the Archer – and had put him 4 squares back from the LOS in the centre to use as a runner.

I gave him the ball from the touchback, knocked over the LOS and blitzed the right hand side with Gil-Galad and Glorfindel, pushing back a killer warrior and running players through the gap that the crowd had so helpfully made.

The nurgle team had been caught out of position, with half their team off to the left and unable to get back. I also ran Tananmyr into the centre to further hinder their movement.

The nurgle coach showed his priorities straight away by marking up my screen on the right hand side but then using his killer warrior to blitz a rookie lineman who was not really part of the action. Fortunately he only got a push, and on my second turn I consolidated the breakthrough by running Legolas deep into the nurgle half up the right touchline and screening him off.

The beast of nurgle wasn’t having this, and blundered into the cage, pushing into contact with the ball handler and with nurgle warriors marking up the cage edges. I responded by blitzing the beast away with Gil-Galad, meaning that I could score on turn 3 if I chose. I decided not to score, however, and spent three turns camped right on the line using my sidestep blitzers and blodge catchers to screen off the ball carrier. A couple of times I had to shift the cage left, and by turn 6 I was hard up against the left touchline.

At this point I had started to lose players though – with three KOs from blocks and a MNG on a lineman from a foul. The nurgle team pretty much ignored the ball and instead concentrated on beating up my players. So on turn 6 although I could probably have stalled longer I decided to score. 1-0 to the Guard.

The nurgle team set up with a very strong line and only their AV7 extra arms diving tackle pestigor back to receive the ball (I had been hitting this guy whenever the chance arose on my drive and Vanval had managed to fracture his skull again, but he regenerated).

For the second match in a row I rolled a blitz, but this time the kick was very deep. I set about unpeeling the nurgle defence using the left hand side of my defence with Alawe providing the guard assist and Glorfindel the muscle. Vanval sprinted forwards and managed to get into contact with the ball carrier, with Cirdan just behind him. The nurgle team began by beating up the LOS, and then on of their pestigors ran back and stunned Vanval. Clearly nervous about the number of elves in the vicinity though, and with the ball so near their line, the three-armed pestigor grabbed the ball and then made a short pass to a colleague by the LOS.

There was no cage though, and Gil-Galad charged in and smashed the ball loose. For the first time in several matches the ball fell kindly, and Maedhros dodged away from his marker, picked up the ball, ran over the right side and handed the ball off to Legolas. Several elves, including Legolas, ran within range of the line.

The nurgle team responded aggressively and marked up the elves. They then used their st4 rotter to dodge into the loose cage I had set up and get in a 2D hit on Legolas. The dice came up attacker down, both down, and forgetting that the rotter had block the nurgle coach rerolled, getting a push!

This gave me a chance to score a second. I could see no way to run the ball to the line with the close nurgle marking, and I could see no way to make a safe short pass due to disturbing presence. I blitzed the rotter away from Legolas, moved Cirdan into the end zone and Legolas wound back his arm and launched a long pass (4+, used a TRR) into the hands of Cirdan to make the score 2-0 on turn 8!

Second half to come when I have time over the weekend…

...I kicked off in the second half, with the nurgle team again leaving only 1 beastman back. The kick was quite easy for him to get, however and he knocked over my LOS (still no permanent damage!) before pushing a screen up against my left hand wide zone players and running the ball behind it.

Because his screen was in base contact with my players though I could move up a couple of assists and knock over the nurgle warrior who was anchoring his line on the left, and blitz round with Gil-Galad who smashed the three armed beastman into the ground, picked up the ball and ran off towards the nurgle line. It wasn't possible to get any support close to him however and so he was quickly hauled down and the ball was recovered by the three armed beastman. He jumped to his feet however and knocked the beast straight back down!

There then followed three turns of a very tense, closed in fight right on the left hand touchline. The ball was generally right on the sideline, and neither side could quite get it safe. The nurgle team managed to pick it up a couple of times, but it was bashed loose on each occasion. I was hoping for it to bounce into the crowd but it never did.

More and more of the nurgle players were lured into the scrum, and how no one was surfed I'll never know. Certainly my two sidestep blitzers were in the thick of the action and were incredibly annoying for my opponent to deal with. Finally, unable to get the ball safe the nurgle coach tried to break out, only to see his ball carrier fail a dodge and come crashing to the ground. This time I was able to recover the ball and screen it off up the right hand side.

The nurgle coach decided that if he couldn't score then by cracky he'd dish out the pain, and pretty much let me go. Felagund ran off with a couple of players in support to screen him off, while I concentrated on extricating my important and/or vulnerable players. By turn 15 I had most of them lying down on the basis that only one of them would get fouled a turn and I had my apo saved. I took a couple of badly hurt players and a couple of KOs over the last few turns, but ran in the final score on turn 16 for a 3-0 win!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 3A Match 7

A Can of WHAT? (chaos) v The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me)

The match I had been dreading all season – against the brutal killers coached by Netsmurf, a very experienced and successful player. These guys had two Claw-Piling On-Mighty Blow (CPOMB) beastman who lead the division in terms of casualties, plus a wrestle-tackle-mighty blow beastman, and a very solid lineup of block-mighty blow chaos warriors and an extremely annoying diving tackle chaos warrior. There was also a dirty player – the pleasantly named Torture Kittens – and my opponent has some history of liking the foul.

Aside from being just killers though, they can play a bit – they were 5-0-1 in the league prior to the match.

My plan was to try to thin his numbers down a bit by targeting the two niggled beastmen with Vanval and do whatever I could to get rid of his only tackler. I had planned to keep my blodgers at the front, and prevent his CPOMBers getting to my valuable players such as Gil-Galad since anyone without both block and dodge was quite likely to get carted off in short order if hit.

I won the toss and elected to kick. I think this was a mistake with hindsight, and I’m going to make a post about kicking strategy in due course, but my decision was based on the fact that I know Netsmurf always likes to kick and so, well, fuck him eh?

I set up with my skilled linemen on the LOS (one with wrodge, one with wrestle, one with block) and protected the sidelines (again, is this right? More thoughts to follow another time). I was immediately rewarded with a blitz, but since I lack a kicker the ball was quite a long way back. I managed to get a player under the ball, and he caught it,  but there was no protection nearby.

The chaos team immediately showed their savagery by badly hurting one lineman and knocking out another, and the wrackle beast blitzed down the ball carrier in the backfield. A three armed beast picked up the ball and ran into a loose cage in the centre. The chaos team couldn’t cage up tightly though and I managed to get Glorfindel into position to pull a 1D blitz on the ball carrier. I couldn’t knock him over though despite using a reroll, and the chaos team again formed a cage. Getting Glorfindel into position had required me to commit three players to the left side, however, and the chaos team moved a diving tackle chaos warrior over there, and over the next couple of turns pushed my three players closer and closer to the sideline.

Meanwhile, I was again able to bust the central cage and get a blitz on the ball carrier, but again I was able to get no better than a skull and the opportunity passed once again. I was, however able to free up my players on the left with some strategic blocks and some lucky dodges through the diving tackle. I was hitting the wrackler at every opportunity but couldn’t get him off the pitch. I survived a couple of big hits from his CPOMBers on my more vulnerable pieces too.

Nevertheless, the cage ground closer to my line. Netsmurf played it very patiently, clearly very unwilling to score before turn 8, which was exactly right on his part. By turn 8 though my 9 guys were arrayed in front of the cage, and Netsmurf blitzed a small hole – for a wonderful moment I thought he’d miscounted and couldn’t get to the line, but it was me that had miscounted – with a dodge and 2 GFIs the chaos team scored.

I was left the opportunity to score a 1 turner but with no rerolls. Netsmurf set up in a way I’d never seen before – an asymmetric setup that left the right side open but it was almost impossible to push anyone over that way. It was so improbable that I didn’t even bother to try. I tried to hurt some of his guys, didn’t, and went in trailing at half time.

In the second half my plan was to score in 4 or 5 turns, and give my opponent the *possibility* of a winner, which might give me a chance to steal the ball back.

The chaos setup left plenty of players deep and I contented myself with knocking over the LOS (I broke armour for I think the first time in the game at this point, but only a stun) and blitzing a beastman. I didn’t even try to push players forwards into his half. Netsmurf responded with five columns, four of which were headed by a chaos warrior and the fifth which was two beastmen. I know from my game against the lizards how to beat this though – blitz the front of one of the columns and then put three guys into contact with the back of the column, one of whom is a sidestepper. This means that he can’t knock all your guys away, and defending properly opens up gaps elsewhere.

So the chaos coach defending my attack, but left a lane covered by only a single chaos warrior. Gil-Galad smashed the way clear and six guys charged into the chaos half, making a triangular pocket for Vanval. I had deliberately left Cirdan 7 squares away from one of the chaos warriors, tempting him to use rerolls to get next to me. Netsmurf took this bait but didn’t require a reroll and also took a beastman with him to make a small screen. The beastman couldn’t get next to Vanval though.

I now made another small (but potentially crucial) mistake – I didn’t stand up one of my linemen in the centre before I tried my pass. Cirdan dodged away from his marker and hurled a long pass towards Vanval.

Who dropped it.

Bloody double 1s on the catch.

The ball fell relatively safely, but a chaos warrior who should have been marked by my lineman bashed a little hole and the three armed beastman dashed in, picked up the ball in a TZ, dodged away and threw a short pass to a waiting beastman who ran off towards the end zone. To add injury to insult, a chaos warrior then killed Werelenial with a block and the useless apothecary could only agree that, yep, he’s dead.

Netsmurf couldn’t cage up the ball carrier though, so Cirdan swooped in with a 1D blitz, but only rolled pushes despite using a reroll. The chaos team pushed Cirdan away and ran the ball in (including a couple of GFIs) for a 2-0 lead.

With three turns left Netsmurf lined up in the same way, and this time I did not allow him to form columns but instead blocked a beastman out of the way (getting a KO! At last!) and made a small pocket for Gil-Galad. Netsmurf couldn’t close the pocket off and I then had the decision as to whether to score a touchdown, giving him three free hits on my LOS, or settle for the 2-0 defeat.

Fuck it, I thought, and scored the TD on my turn 15 with Cirdan finally getting one right and firing in a pass to Gil-Galad who loped home to make the score 2-1. I pushed everyone forward for the kick off, gambling on a blitz to give me a possibility of an unlikely tie, but there was no blitz and the game finished with a 2-1 defeat.

Another really frustrating game which takes me to 3-1-3 for the season. Perhaps I should have gambled more in the first half to take better advantage of the blitz? In the end my blitz was quite weak, with only a single player around the ball, but I’d failed my first GFI and was unwilling to risk another GFI with no reroll available.

I rolled six dice against his ball carrier all game and didn’t get a knockdown, and then my double 1 catch followed by his amazing turn of everything going right was enough to get him the win.

I just am having one of those seasons I think – failing crucial rolls (and rolls which ostensibly should be strongly in my favour) at the wrong time, together with mistakes of positioning and tempo, are causing me to lose or draw close games.

The death of Werelenial is a bad blow, although he was one of my non-Tolkien themed players which is a bonus. I have Felagund on 14 SPP so hopefully I can score with him in one of my remaining games to get a new wrodge catcher. Glorfindel levelled and so took side step. I therefore have two blodge sidesteppers now which might certainly help my defence.

This week it’s nurgle, and we play tomorrow night. It’ll be a tough game against a very bashy opponent. He’s lacking tackle though and so with decent dice I should be ok. At some point I’m going to start causing some casualties though – in the last couple of games I’ve been pretty unlucky and somebody sometime is going to get a beating.