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.