The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me) v Munch 'N' Crunch (orc, Luiggi)
The last orc team I have to face this season, thank heaven, but Luiggi has one of the highest coach ELO ratings in the OCC, and this team are certainly the best orc team in the league in terms of results. Luiggi is a really excellent coach who does not make many mistakes and this was
going to be a tough game.
On the other hand, with the death of two experienced blitzers at the end of last season the team was not as good on paper as the Grintooth All Stars, who I beat on MD5.
I had been expecting to get a wizard in inducements since Gil-Galad was out injured, but Luiggi wrong-footed me by sacking his -MV dirty player lineman. With 90k of inducements I didn't fancy dropping a player for a wizard, and losing a reroll would not have been enough, and so I took a
Luiggi won the toss and elected to kick. He set up his black orcs across the field a couple of squares back - all of them have block, mighty blow, guard and stand firm - a really imposing blocker roster. There was also a tackle black orc too, who was extremely annoying all game.
He left rookie linemen and blitzers on the LOS, who I bashed over, and Vanval darted through the centre to stun Luiggi's MB, tackle blitzer and retreat to safety behind the front line. Ecthelion picked up the ball and threw it back to Cirdan, who stayed deep. In response, Luiggi marked up my front line with his black orcs, and his tackle black orc loped forward to blitz Glorfindel, badly hurting him. With Luiggi having committed so strongly to the front line, including two black orcs who were somewhat out of position on my right side, the correct tactic would be to try to break through on the left and cage up. I decided to delay another turn however and set up some 2D blocks on his players left in contact. This worked very well for me as Kevatononel was able to kill the AG4 pass block lineorc, removing the greatest threat to my passing play. The apothecary was only able to confirm the kill.
Luiggi made some more hits in retaliation, to little effect, and committed his rookie blitzers to my backfield to try to hunt down Cirdan. Feeling that the time to sit back was over, I switched my central
players into the left wide zone, with Vanval and Elladan forming a wide zone cage around Legolas. Cirdan sprinted forwards, making a short pass into the cage. The orc team was able to recover better than I had expected however, with the black orcs KOing a couple of linemen and the MV7 ST4 tackle blitzer, supported by a thrower, blocking the way to the line. I wanted to stall but was only able to roll pushes against the thrower, and Legolas ran forward to score (which required a reroll-less GFI with my heart in my mouth). 1-0 on turn 4.
The orcs therefore had five turns to equalise before half time, and I set up protecting the wide zones to prevent them running players down the flanks too easily. Luiggi started exceptionally well with his KOR thrower catching the kick and then getting two casualties on his first four blocks. First Estel (dodge lineman) suffered a fractured skull on the LOS. I mulled this one over before telling the apothecary to sit down - Estel has had a fair run on the LOS and I guess he will now have to retire. My decision was immediately vindicated when a black orc (not the one with tackle) charged forward and killed Alawe (blodge guard lineman) with a blitz. The elvish apothecary did his job however and
made the save - phew! I struggled to readjust and form columns but lacking two players I couldn't cover the whole pitch, and matters got worse next turn when the same black orc blitzed Anduril (wrodge catcher) off the pitch too.
I managed to KO a couple of orcs in response to level matters up, and the orcs inched their cage down the left side to within striking distance of the line, but with me having columns ahead of it. Stupidly I used my penultimate reroll on a pointless block, meaning that when turn 8 came around and I needed to dodge Vanval away from a tackle player and blitz the only likely orc scorer, I failed the dodge. This left the orcs needing to blitz away a lineman to open a path for a blitzer to score,
and then the ball needed to be handed off to the blitzer without a reroll available. The blitz worked, but rather than hand off the ball Luiggi chose to go for a 2+ pass and farm an SPP, and the pass was
fumbled on a snake eyes. 1-0 to the Guard at half time.
No orcs or elves recovered from KOs, meaning that it was 10 orcs v 9 elves at the start of the second half. This quickly became 10 v 8 when a lineman was KO'd on the LOS. The kick was deep and was recovered by the orc throwers, while the black orcs and blitzers pushed me back. My strategy at this stage was that a draw was ok, and I wanted to put pressure on the orcs to roll dice and give me the chance of a win, but otherwise to delay the TD as long as I could. Seeing my centre disintegrate as the black orcs and blitzers marked me up, I decided to pressure the orc ball carrier at the expense of field position and see what happened. I ran two players through the orc lines and marked the ball carrier with Legolas (he was just too far back to blitz), and otherwise dropped back to cover space.
The orcs sent a rookie blitzer back to blitz Legolas, but only got a both down, meaning that the orc
thrower needed to dodge to safety. Luiggi failed the first 3+ roll but passed the reroll, and caged up in his own half and just to the right. I saw that three of Luiggi's players (including two black orcs) were out of position on my left and too far away to help, and so judged it was a good time to flood the cage. Vanval knocked over the MB tackle blitzer, and Tananmyr (guard, side step, fend, blodge blitzer) marked the ball carrier.
It took several moves to get Tananmyr away from the ball carrier, meaning that it was going to be difficult to keep the ball safe. Luiggi then decided, whether because his caging on the right had become too hard to protect, or because he was going for the win, decided to switch to a passing game and the orc thrower cut back into the centre and passed the ball to a rookie blitzer who had been lurking in my half and made two GFIs to score 1-1 on turn 12.
I had mixed feelings about this - on one hand this gave me a great chance to win myself, but on the other hand if I messed up my offensive drive the game would probably end in defeat. As it was I decided to try a 2-turner, blasting a hole through the wall of black orcs with Vanval and running him and Legolas into the left side of the orc half. I marked up the nearby black orcs. The orcs recovered by knocking over Vanval and stunning him (nothing more serious thank heaven), but only single-marked Legolas.
Not really sure what Luiggi was thinking here - a single marker still gave me a good chance for the TD, but given his initial setup there wasn't much else he could have done. I guess that means that his
defensive setup was too light on the wide zones but I would need to study the replay again to be certain - maybe there was nothing at all he could have done, in which case he should probably have played for the 1-1 with a slow grinding offence.
As it was Legolas caught a short pass from Cirdan in a tackle zone, dodged away and scored for a 2-1 lead on turn 13.
Three turns to survive then, and with KOs returning it was 11 orcs v 10 elves. The orcs set up heavily on the left side, but a lucky perfect defence roll enabled me to cover that side. Two orc blitzers ran around the right wide zone and the orcs again did damage on the LOS with a KO. Finally however I caught a potentially decisive break on a restart, with the orc thrower fumbling the pickup - my first fumble this season. I could only get two players back, who combined to push the thrower away, and Vanval made a lungbursting run with two dodges past tackle players and two GFIs to pick up the ball. I was deep in the orc half though, and although there were three elves in place, I could easily see Luiggi getting the ball loose with a 2D block, so Vanval went for a pass into the open by the right hand end zone - if it succeeded it would mean that it would take at least 2 turns for even the quickest orc to get back there and would mean that Luiggi would need to move the ball the length of the pitch in 1 turn. Essentially I would probably have won. As it was, with a breathtaking leap an orc thrower reached out and intercepted the ball!
I was badly out of position now, as the orcs began their turn 15 by punching every elf within range. Having done this the orcs made a cage near the half way line, but its position required a GFI from the ball carrier and a snake eyes duly appeared. This was again hugely unfortunate (although the GFI was needless as it would have been a simple matter to make a looser cage where no GFI was needed from the thrower and the scoring pass could have been made on turn 16 leaving me only the chance of a 1-turner to win), but it was the break I needed. I knocked over one potential receiver and marked up another. Luiggi's only chance to tie involved several dodges through tackle zones plus a long pass from an unskilled AG3 blitzer, and this failed, sealing the win for me.
All that was left on my own turn 16 was for Cirdan to pick up the ball in three tackle zones (using a reroll), pass it to Vanval, and for Vanval to run in the third score to make it a 3-1 win for the Guard!
Glad to get that game out of the way to be honest. Although I was pretty lucky in the second half, the game was essentially decided by two factors - firstly the orcs' inability to equalise before half time, and secondly Luiggi's inability to make good on his second half tactics (score early and then turn over my offence). I think in his place I would have played for the draw pretty much as I did against Hawca when the first half ended 2-2, but he was in with a good shout in the league if he won and no doubt felt pressured to roll some dice and try to make things happen.
There was also a bit of needle in the game. Luiggi was understandably unhappy about his dice, but there were one or two small disparaging comments about my play too. I couldn't tell whether he was joking or not, and even if not I guess that's fair enough as he is a better player and I was making mistakes, but it made me glad just to close out the win and move on.
So three games left and a full squad to face a high TV dark elf team. They have lots of blodge (10 on the team vs my 8) and a superstar MV8 AG5 witch, but no ST4 and MB and I have a guard advantage too. So it will be a tough battle, probably more physical than your typical elf vs elf game. I may have enough inducements for a wizard - it depends on level ups and whether or not I drop a reroll.