The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me) v Neverending Rest (khemri, Aguelo)
Some old friends from tier 4, but thankfully for me they were without their star players - both their killer blitz-ras and their ST4 throw-ra have been culled from the team, and even better for me their MB stand firm tomb guardian was missing due to injury.
I was short my wrodge catcher Felagund (whom I eventually cut from the team due to his niggling injury), but even so Aguelo was able to take Ramtut (?) and a babe as inducements.
It was a pretty routine victory to be honest, something I think Aguelo had accepted prior to the game as he was much more interested in killing my players than blocking me off from scoring.
I received and ran my two ST4 catchers up the right side, and pretty much the whole khemri team charged off after them. I then moved the ball left and Cirdan ran the ball home for a score on turn 3.
Aguelo received this time and the kickoff table came up with a blitz. I was able to get players under the kick and catch it, and was able to screen off the opposition and stall by the end zone for a few turns, before handing the ball to Glorfindel to score on turn 8 for a 2-0 lead.
In the second half I didn’t bother too much to stop the khemri drive, choosing instead to hit things. There were some fisticuffs but the khemri were able to regen their injuries and the skellies scored on turn 15. I then scored a 2 turner with Gil-Galad to win the game 3-1.
Two level ups from the game - Glorfindel hit 31 SPPs and took tackle, to make him blodge, sidestep, tackle.
Cirdan, excitingly, hit 76 SPPs, but disappointingly still failed to roll a double or AG increase. I thought long and hard about fend, catch, side step etc, but eventually went with nerves of steel. I’ve had several problems over the years with my screen getting out-maneuvered and tackle zones getting placed on the thrower. It cost me the game against the lizards last season, and nearly cost me against Hobnail this time around. Cirdan’s skill set is now - blodge, +1MV, accurate, NoS. He’s a scrambling quarterback for the running game in the mould of Steve Young rather than the Joe Montana-type long bomb specialists that most of the other HE teams at my level.
Ectothermic Scutes (lizards, Crunky Chops) v The Grey Haven Guard (high elves, me)
This team was one of three to beat me last season in an extremely hard-fought 2-1 defeat, and so it was a bit of a grudge match. I knew that a draw would be sufficient to ensure that I finished in the top 2 and would secure promotion to tier 1 for a title shot in season 19.
Crunky was missing a couple of key players for the game - his wrestle-frenzy saurus and one of his AG4 skinks - and so took Slibi and a wizard as inducements.
I won the toss and chose to kick, with Crunky receiving the ball in the middle of the pitch and forming a tight cage of sauri. I felt straight away though that he was making the same mistake that I’d made in our last game - giving up field control - and so I did what he’d done in that game and I immediately swamped the cage. Gil-Galad blitzed a corner down and Glorfindel marked the ball carrier. My other blodge players pushed into contact with the other corners.
There followed about 4 turns of a massive ruck in the centre. Crunky’s block, tackle, break tackle, mighty blow saurus was a key figure, rushing here and there to repel the elves, but I kept bashing back, with Vanval hospitalising the AG4 skink and Telthanthor (ST4 dodge lineman) being a roadblock in the centre. Eventually and with time running out Crunky cut to the sidelines on my right, making a tight cage by the edge of the field. I marked up this new cage and screened the rest of his team off, before a badly-timed double skulls for Crunky gave me the chance for Glorfindel to tackle down his ball carrier. The ball bounced into the crowd and was thrown back into the centre, whereupon Gil-Galad picked it up and handed it to Vanval who sprinted for the line with Telthanthor in support.
The krox managed to get close to Vanval but Telthanthor pushed him away and Vanval ran home the score on turn 7 for a 1-0 lead.
The lizards went for a one turner but failed, and I went in leading at half time.
As we lined up for the second half I knew that I had one foot in tier 1, and that so long as I didn’t muck things up I ought to be able to win this game. But these things never run smoothly…
I received the ball deep with Cirdan and pushed the right side slightly. Crunky repositioned to cover the right, and so I switched left and moved Cirdan up to the left side of the LOS, screened off by a few players. A highlight here was Telthanthor hospitalising Slibi with a block.
Surprisingly, the wizard called down lightning on turn 10, stunning Cirdan, but Crunky made no effort to get the ball (he said that he’d misclicked, and I’m not clear as to what the misclick actually was!). He then failed a dodge with a break tackle saurus, leaving a big gap on the left. I then made my big overextension for the match (usually there’s one). What I should have done was calmly recover the ball and move the cage closer to the line. What I actually did was pick up the ball with Kevatononel (block lineman) and pass it to Gil-Galad (which got Kevatononel to 16 SPPs).
Gil-Galad then ran off towards the line, but since I’d had to burn a reroll to make the pass I didn’t want to risk 2 GFIs to score. I knew I was just within range for Crunky to get back so I screened him off as best as I could, but it wasn’t enough and the MB-tackle saurus stunned him, allowing one of the remaining skinks to recover the ball.
I made Crunky work for it, and he had to roll a few dice, but my players were too far out of position to get back and cover and the skink eventually ran the length of the pitch to equalise on turn 14.
Things were not yet desperate, but I could not afford another mistake. I had to survive for 2 turns without conceding and the sensible route would have been to shield the ball somewhere and take the draw. I wanted to win though, and decided to go for a 2-turner on the right side. The kick was short and left though, and I recovered it with Gil-Galad and handed it off to Legolas who was screened off near the half way line. I then ran Vanval, Tananmyr and Anduril (rookie catcher) up the right side. Crunky ran two receivers into my backfield to threaten the win, and punched through the screen to put a TZ and a tackler on Legolas. I responded with a somewhat elaborate play whereby the ball was handed off to Cirdan in a tackle zone (he has nerves of steel!). Ignoring the DT skink next to him Cirdan put in a long pass to Vanval who ran home the score to take a turn 16 lead!
It wasn’t enough though, as the lizards pulled off a 1 turner to tie the game on turn 16 and the game ended 2-2, with the Guard gaining promotion to tier 1!