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!

2 comments:

  1. I must say I am amazed at the lack of tackle in general on OCC teams. From the TT leagues I have played in tackle is a key skill to try and shut down (and hunt down) the flair teams. To the extent dodge on a double is a rare pick for say an Orc team. For the Orcs replacing my Undead I am sorely tempted to go for dodge on doubles as a general strategy.

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  2. There tends to be a lot of diving tackle though (albeit not on this team). I think you need only maybe 2 or 3 tacklers on the team, and then it's all about the diving tackle.

    I do think dodge on doubles in general is a good idea though.

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