The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me) v The Sigil Torments (dark elf, Errant Saint)
A rematch against some old foes from tier 3. Last time we played I won 3-1, although that does not really tell the story of the game as my third TD was on turn 16.
The Torments came in at a formidable 2360TV, with their star player being the Lady of Pain (a witch with block, tackle, side step, +1MV and +1AG). Aside from her there is not much special on the team, it is just a really solid side with loads of blodge (10 blodgers in total) with plenty of side step and tackle too. Apart from the Lady their offence is pretty average, but they are just a really solid team with lots of passive bash with the side step and tackle.
I won the toss and elected to kick, with the ball landing centrally and being picked up by the block, pass, accurate runner. Vanval immediately darted out from my defensive line and clattered one of the two assassins, breaking his leg in the process, before retreating to safety.
The dark elves pushed players forward on the flanks, and I let them come but stayed strong in the centre. After a couple of fairly inconclusive turns, Saint (presumably deliberately) allowed me the chance to get a 2D block on his ball carrier. The carrier was sacked but the dump off proved not to be a fumble. The target (the Lady) managed to drop the catch however.
I couldn’t quite recover the ball and the dark elves stabilised, with the pocket around their ball carrier retreating back towards their own line. In a key moment the dark elves managed a clever chain push which allowed their remaining assassin the chance to get next to Vanval, and the ensuing stab knocked out the elven catcher. On or around turn 5 the dark elves again exposed the ball and this time I elected to use the wizard.
The ball again bounced badly for me however, and after I needed to reroll a 2+ dodge in getting my receiver to the end zone I was reduced to hoping for a 4+ pickup which would have given me an almost certain touchdown (2+ throw with Nerves of Steel and 2+ catch, both with rerolls). I failed the pickup though and the chance was gone, with Cirdan taking a MNG injury in the follow up. The dark elves managed a breakaway and although I got back enough players to force an early score, I couldn’t stop the TD on turn 7.
Two turns to score, and I set up my blitzers and catchers on the left with only two linemen to cover the right wide zone. The dark elves rolled a blitz and crashed into the left side, marking it heavily. Meanwhile their players on the right dodged past the right wide zone cover to menace my backfield. Ecthelion remained calm however and dodged away from his marker, picked up the ball and threw a pass up to a lineman near the right touchline, who all of a sudden had no dark elves anywhere near him. I caged up as far forward as I dared by the sideline, only for Saint to yell “YOLO” and dodge into the cage, surfing the ball carrier on a 2D against block!
With hindsight this was a pretty stupid play by me – the sideline cage I formed was quite likely to get cracked by the dark elf covering (the AV7 blodge kick lino) and even a push would have resulted in a surf (he rolled double pows, as it happened). The ball was thrown centrally by the crowd and was caught by a rookie dark elf lineman. On my turn I was able to knock over said lineman, I got a lucky bounce, and my own unskilled lineman Maedhros was able to score his maiden touchdown. 1-1 at half time.
In the second half I grabbed the ball with Ecthelion and formed a loose cage in the centre. With Vanval waking up I was taking every opportunity to blitz the AV7 pieces although to little effect, and Elladan (DP lineman) fouled off one of his blodge linemen with a badly hurt result. Finally however Saint committed his less-impressive-but-still-good wrodge, tackle, side step, fend witch into my half by the left wide zone. With her being relatively unprotected I knocked her over with Vanval and pulled most of my team back and left to gangfoul her with Elladan. I only got a stun, but was gearing up to surf the prone elf with a chainpush next turn when in a surprise move the Lady dodged through the cage to mark Ecthelion. Vanval again knocked her over, again only stunning her, and again I pulled the team back to gangfoul her but Elladan failed to dodge away from his marker and the chance was gone.
The dark elves swarmed into my half, marking up my players, but the left wide zone was relatively lightly defended. Vanval blasted the door open with a blitz, before most of my team dodged away from their markers and poured through the gap, with Ecthelion passing the ball to Glorfindel in another sideline cage (this time of course with side step I could not be surfed). The dark elves struggled to get back and on my turn 13 I had a choice to make. I could have handed the ball off to Legolas who could have scored with no further rolls necessary, or I could have stalled for one turn.
I chose the latter option and Glorfindel ran to within 2 squares of the line with three of my catchers including both ST4s around him and only 3 dark elves in their own half. One of those dark elves was the kicker, who Vanval killed with a blitz to teach him not to dodge into cages. I then screened off the dark elf side of the field, meaning that any other dark elves trying to get through would need to dodge through tackle zones.
Sadly it was all for naught. Again Saint typed “YOLO!” and this time the Lady dodged away from her marker, dodged into the cage and got a 1D block on Glorfindel, rolling a pow. She then, critically, got a lucky bounce (only 3 of the 8 squares were within her reach) and made a dodge and a GFI to pick up the ball in a TZ. She then rode a rerolled block from Vanval (19% chance of that on its own) and a 2D block from Glorfindel (70% chance) before just fucking running off and handing off to a blitzer who scored on turn 15.
I have just done some maths, and the chances of Saint getting the knockdown, and then being able to pick up the ball were about 38%, including team rerolls. The odds of the bounce putting the ball anywhere she could get were about 38%. The odds of surviving the his next turn with the Lady upright were 13%. So the odds of me losing from there were, what 1.9%? Jesus.
So anyway he put 3 sidesteppers on the LOS meaning that I had to try some bizarre frenzy shit to try to get a player from the backfield to pull my 1 turner but I knocked the guy over first go, then BH him with a bad tempered foul. I lost 2-1.
BAH! Another one that I really shouldn't have lost.
So two meaningless games left. I play two of the top four teams in an attempt to salvage a little pride. Yarat's lizards first, with Cirdan missing. I hired a new lineman to give him I think 40k of inducements and Ecthelion levelled and took +1MV.