The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me) v Grintoof All Stars (orc, Matt373)
So the new regime of me playing for team development rather than winning began with a match against one of the league’s longest-running bash franchises. Veterans of tier 1, this team included two ST5 black orcs, two AG4 blodge-tackle-stand firm blitzers and a frenzy-mb-piling on-tackle legendary blitzer.
On paper therefore it was a formidable prospect, but I was actually feeling ok going into the match. There was only one player with tackle-mb on the team, and with my new dirty player lino I resolved to foul the bugger at every opportunity. Of more concern were the two AG4 blitzers - with blodge and stand firm they were incredibly annoying throughout the game, offering solid marking and mobility. They did not however have mighty blow, and so there was not a lot of scary hitting power on the team.
Matt won the toss and elected to kick. I set up relatively conservatively, but perfect defence came up on the kick off, and Matt did what all orc coaches do and stacked the centre line with an unbreakable wall of terrifying green players. This is quite annoying because it robs you of early blocks, but it does commit all of the orc players to the centrefield, and if you can find a way around or through it you generally have a good chance of a rushing score.
Ecthelion, the new rookie thrower, picked up the ball and tossed it to Legolas who stayed deep. I noted that the right hand side was weaker than the left and tried a couple of blocks over there but only got pushes.
In response Matt made his first attempt to kill one of my ST4 catchers, a feat he generally attempted every turn, by shifting players over to the right and blitzing Vanval. He could not down the elf however, who was saved by his ST4, and I shifted over the left side and blasted a way through the solid line with Gil-Galad. Legolas ran forward, handed the ball off to Anduril, who ran into the orc half. I ran more players through the gap to form a loose screen.
Matt replied by blitzing Gil-Galad instead (sigh!), following that blitz with a gang-foul which resulted in (i) a stun and (ii) his dirty player lino being sent off. Going well so far!
I was able to get clear of the orc defence, and six or seven elves headed for the end zone where they stalled for three turns before Anduril scored on turn 6.
With three turns to hold out, matters started badly for me with a KO on the LOS and a smashed collar bone for Ecthelion on a blitz. Fortunately the wandering apothecary I had induced before the game was able to patch him up. Nevertheless 2 players down became 3 in short order as Gil-Galad suffered a fractured leg from the piling on blitzer, and the two AG4 blodge blitzers were free in my half and hard to put down.
By turn 8 I had managed to do so, but I couldn’t cover all the angles and the unheralded rookie orc blitzer rode a blitz from Vanval, and then caught a pass from the orcs’ star thrower (AG4 accurate) before making a lungbursting sprint for the line and equalising on the stroke of half time.
I lined up again in the second half and kicked deep and to one side. Matt cautiously kept his two AG4 blitzers back to cover the thrower and prevent any shenanigans.
Meanwhile I started fouling.
A seven man gang foul on a wrackler lino produced only a stun, but on the next turn when Matt used his legendary blitzer to nail Glorfindel in my half it was a simple matter to knock him over with Vanval, stick 4 player round him and foul the bugger with Elladan, smashing his hip in the process! The apo could only confirm the injury, and suddenly the orcs’ most dangerous player had gone.
The orcs advanced forward with a very loose cage, mindful of the wizard, but I saw an opportunity and called down the thunder, knocking over the orc thrower and spilling the ball. Vanval bashed over an orc who was blocking the way, while Ecthelion leapt to his feet, picked the ball up in two tackle zones (!) dodged away from his markers and passed the ball over the incredulous orcs to Anduril, who legged it away upfield.
I moved other players to screen him off, and the orcs tried a very ambitious play of dodging through the screen to put a two dice hit on him. This failed, and I was able to stall for several turns by the end zone and score on turn 15. A couple of turns of bad-tempered blocking (from the orcs) and fouling (from the elves) produced nothing but a KO’d orc blitzer, and the game ended with a 2-1 win for the Guard!