Monday, 28 October 2013

The Masters Series

If I can take a moment to promote "The Masters Series", a set of videos showcasing some of the better players from around the major private leagues being compiled by Viajero of BBTactics.

In this second video you can even hear my wise words as I fumble about as co-commentator trying desperately to find something interesting to say before I get hauled away to do the dishes.

Match Report: OCC Division 2D Game 3

The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me) v Nocturnals (dark elf, Tx)

I came into the game giving away 600k of inducements for the second time this season, against a dark elf team which had had its best player (ST5 blodge witch) killed by a 1 dice block from a player without tackle on MD1. Gosh. Suffice to say however not all was lost - still two exceptional players on the team in a POMB tackle witch and a +1MV +1ST blodge blitzer who had grabbed his ST boost after the previous game. There was also some guard and a ST4 lineman. So overall in terms of first team ability we were not all that badly matched - much of my TV advantage was in my deeper bench - but still my chances on paper were very good.

But then Nuffle intervened. Let me throw down a couple of numbers here. I took 8 (eight) casualties in the game. From a total of 40 blocks. So my opponent caused a casualty every 5 blocks. It was an absolute slaughter and far beyond anything I've experienced before - even against high TV chaos and orc teams, or even TheMuffinThief's killer necro werewolf in my four games against him in recent seasons.

Most of those casualties went to the killer witch.

On that basis there wasn't much I could do.

I won the toss and chose to kick, the plan being to force him to use the wizard to score and then to grind in 2-1. But, yeah, 6 cas and 2 KOs in the first half says no. I did what I could, and even knocked the ball loose at one stage, with 5 players on the field. Legolas ran forward and fractured the skull of his new ST4 blitzer on a 1D block (apo failed!), and Gil-Galad scooped up the ball. He failed a GFI trying to get some distance from that fucking witch elf ("TFWE") and stunned himself in the process. 1-0 to the Nocturnals on turn 8. I didn't have the manpower to get a 1 turner going and farmed a pass on Felastur, my new rookie lineman.

In the second half my KOs came back and I think I had 8 vs 10, and I kept the ball deep with Ecthelion and relatively compact in the centre, hoping for an overcommitment from Tx. This duly happened as the dark elves flooded forward, but unfortunately for me my players started to drop like flies again, and the wizard zapped Ecthelion, causing another casualty. The ball was picked up by a dark elf blitzer but Glorfindel knocked him over on a 1D block, and Cirdan continued his recent good form by dashing back, picking up the ball and hurling a long pass out to Tananmyr who scampered off towards the dark elf line.

He wasn't able to get completely safe, however, and was hauled down. TFWE ran back to pick up the ball and, with stars in her eyes, decided to try a long pass of her own but fumbled it (ha!). Tananmyr leaped to his feet and dodged into the end zone, leaving Felastur to complete a memorable match for him by picking the ball up at the feet of TFWE, dodging away and making a touchdown pass. 1-1 on turn 13.

I'd paid the price however and was down to five players to stop 11 dark elves for four remaining turns and, predictably, it was not enough. I got close - a 1D block on the ball carrier from my wrestle lineman knocked it loose, but I was hoping for a bounce off the pitch that never happened. Both my blitzers were thereabouts and being annoying, but I couldn't quite stop the cage. On turn 16 the dark elves sealed their win with TFWE performing a spectacular double surf (never seen that before - 2 of my players surfed from 1 blitz, brilliant play from Tx) and needing a 2+ from a hand off reroll, which duly appeared. 2-1 to the Nocturnals.

The one silver lining here was the lack of permanent damage. I took 4 MNG and 4 BH with an unused apo. I'll be missing Cirdan, Anduril (frenzy catcher), Elladan (DP lino) and Kevatononel (blodgestep lino) for my next game. All of those four have now had two MNG injuries or worse in the three games this season. It's been fairly brutal.

My next game is against Klauser - a really good bash coach with a very lean TV orc team. I will broadly match him on ST but he has a guard and armour advantage. He also has 5 tackle in the team and a vicious killer blitzer. I will only have 10 players and HE will have inducements! One of those games where at present I don't see how I can win - it will be very tough.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 2D Game 2

Mobile Blood Donations (vampires, JimmyC) v The Grey Haven Guard (high elf, me)

Remember those games last season where everything went wrong and I got completely nuffled. Well this game was like that.

Just the exact opposite.

With three linemen MNG I bought a new rookie lineman to get to 12 players, giving me enough inducements for a wizard. Jimmy's vamps are very well developed, with two AG5 vamps, one mighty blow tackle bruiser and a crop of sidesteppers and stand firm people.

I won the toss and, mindful of the wizard, elected to kick. The aim was to use the wizard to steal a TD and go in level or ahead at the break.

I got a perfect defence on the kickoff, which was good and saved me some pain from his MB vamp. He managed to KO a lineman with one of his LOS thralls, but, as was to become a theme in the first half, immediately afterwards one of his vampires bit a thrall slightly too hard, badly hurting him. 

So 10 vs 10 after the first turn with the ball in a tight cage in the centre of the pitch and I responded by pushing a few players around, making a solid enough defence in the centre and badly hurting one of his thralls with a block from Thingol (rookie lineman). Jimmy then ran a vamp around the right side of my line, and Vanval replied by charging over and punching him and I marked up the cage with my blodgestep-tackle blitzer Glorfindel.

Feeling the pressure, Jimmy pushed another vamp forward through my lines and shifted the cage to my right. Seeing an opportunity I called down the thunder on the ball carrier - zapping him. The ball bounced between a vamp and a thrall, and Vanval again opened the way, hitting the vamp and knocking him over. Gil-Galad sprinted his MV9 way around the edge of what was left of the vamp line, picked up the ball in a TZ, and flipped a quick pass to Glorfindel who dashed for the line. 

With no vamps able to get back, Jimmy repositioned to force the score and prevent stalling, but in doing so one of the vamps got peckish again which resulted in an injury to the AG5 thrall. Glorfindel took no chances and jogged home on turn 4 to make it 1-0 to the Guard. 

Another perfect defence on the kickoff blunted the vamps ability on the line once again, and again some ill-timed bloodthirsts (this time only resulting in stuns) meant there were gaps in the line. To make matters worse Jimmy rolled a 1 for the pickup, opting not to reroll. I think Jimmy had not expected how fast my players could move and I responded with a champagne play of top draw elvish bs.

First Vanval dashed forward again, pushing a vamp back to make a small gap. Cirdan (MV7 blodge accurage NoS thrower) hurtled forward, vaulting a despairing tackle, made 2 GFIs and picked up the ball from the feet of the vamp, then wound back his arm and, ignoring nearby markers passed the ball 25 yards backward into the waiting hands of Legolas in a pocket in the elvish half!

As if to punish Cirdan for his insolence, the enraged vampire tore into Cirdan in retaliation, killing him! Fortunately the elvish apothecary was on hand to patch up the brave elven thrower.

Legolas dropped back away from the vamps, who sent two vampires deep into my half to chase him down and players to either side. He also pushed his blodge, stand firm, DT blitzer into contact with my front line. I rolled 6 dice at this guy and could not get a pow, and so he stalled my advance on his own as I was forced to retreat into a tight cage. 

Jimmy gazed his way into the cage and managed to get a 1D hit on Legolas with his tackle vamp, but couldn't get a knockdown. He pushed him next to the DT vamp too, but again the (tackle-less) vamp only got a push. Vanval was having none of that, and dealt with the situation by killing the DT vamp (he was niggled, so Jimmy elected not to use the apo, regen then failed). Legolas was able to blitz free of the scrum and darted into the vamp half, supported by some rookie linemen. The vamps scrambled back and knocked the ball loose but the bouncing ball was caught by Thingol who made 2 dodges and 2 GFIs to score on turn 8. 2-0 to the Guard at half time. 

Receiving in the second half I knew the game would be over if I scored quickly and I was handed another slice of luck as one of the five remaining vamps was hit by a rock from the crowd and KO'd. I ran some players through the gap into the vamp half and tossed the ball back to Ecthelion. Jimmy was able to neutralise 3 of my receivers with gazes and a blitz, but Vanval was left standing and unmarked, so Ecthelion ran forward and passed the ball to Tananmyr, who handed it off to Vanval, who continued his good form with a TD. 3-0 to the Guard on turn 9. 

At this point in the game, mindful of the fact that the win was assured but that I had already used my apothecary, I offered Jimmy 3-1, with a few leisurely end turns and the opportunity for him to farm some passes by the end zone. He was having none of it though, and determinedly killed Earendil Brightwing (rookie lineman) on the LOS. Again he caged up on halfway and ran receivers round my line. I ignored them though and concentrated on pressuring the cage. Jimmy gazed his way clear and scored on turn 10. 3-1 to the Guard. 

I again received and dropped the ball deep to Ecthelion. I didn't run receivers forward but held a firm line. Jimmy sat back initially and we traded blitzes, Vanval capping an excellent game with another casualty - this time an MNG vamp. After a couple of turns though I realised I was out of rerolls - I'd been farming passes in the backfield and had forgotten to keep track. A stupid mistake but all of a sudden I had to play cautiously. I then needed to cage up as Jimmy had finally begun to put some pressure on Ecthelion. and I didn't cage securely enough and the vamps were able to gaze in and sack the ball carrier. 

Again I got lucky though and the ball scattered to Legolas. With no vamps able to stop him Legolas burst clear of the scrum and I scored on turn 16. 4-1 to the Guard at full time!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

New league – Old World Football League

I have joined another scheduled league – the Old World Football League, or the OFL. 

This is different to all the others in that it is a “direct IP” league – it does not run via the Cyanide servers but via direct communication between the players. The owners have developed software to allow all the participants and teams to be stored on their own servers. This allows full control of rosters (and also means that it is not necessary for Cyanide’s servers to even be running – if Cyanide cease to support the game the OFL can continue). 

It all seems fearsomely complex to a Luddite like me, but they were able to talk me through the setup via steamchat and I connected to a practice game. 

The league is primarily US-based, with a structure very much like the NFL (two conferences, multiple divisions, an end of season superbowl between the two conference winners) and access is on a one-in-one-out basis. Like the real NFL they are expanding into Europe though and I have just joined the new “Lothian Football Conference” which is made up of European coaches. 

One of the real draws of the league is that with full roster access they are able to implement the full star player list – so you can induce players like The Mighty Zug and Nobbla Blackwort who I remember from the tabletop game as a kid. In addition they have added two new races – Slann (who are rebranded as Goblin Circus and use goblin and hobgoblin models from the Cyanide game) and Chaos Pact. I had to try this out and will be running as Chaos Pact in the OFL. 

With 1150 TV to spend initially I went for the standard (!) build: 

1 Minotaur 
1 Chaos Ogre (uses the Rat Ogre model so that mutations show) 
1 Troll (uses the Warpstone Troll model so that mutations show) 
1 Dark Elf
1 Goblin 
1 Skaven 
6 Marauders (use the Rotter model so that mutations show) 
3 rerolls 
1 apo 

It looks absolutely insane and I’m really looking forward to trying it out – with 3 big guys I am basically expecting chaos and carnage in equal measure. Not expecting to win many games, at least initially. 

 The division draft is 

LFC North 
Bantha - Chaos Dwarf 
Everblue - Chaos Pact 
Netsmurf - Skaven 
Fastshark - High Elf 

LFC East 
Crimsonsun - Nurgle 
Zulu591 - Khemri 
20Phoenix - Amazon 
Dreamy - Wood Elf 

LFC West 
Barmution - Nurgle 
Matts373 - Dark Elf 
Dode74 - Pro Elf 
RTSD - Lizardmen 

LFC South 
ScottishDunc - Chaos 
Gusya - Chaos Pact 
CharlieBanks - Goblin Circus 
Gingerella - Goblin 

So it's rammed with some of the best European coaches including past league champions in Fastshark and Matts373, plus some of the OCC coaches with the highest ELO rankings around. It's going to be a great league, and I'll report here on how I get on.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Match Report: OCC Division 2D Game 1

Birds of Freedom (dark elves, Elfic) v The Grey Haven Guard (high elves, me)

I was giving away 590k of inducements which translated into a wizard, a bribe, Eldril and two babes. Facing an elf team with a wizard my plan was to kick first and hope to pressure them into scoring early, ideally using the wizard. I would then hope to go in 1-1 and grind out a 2-1 win.

I lost the toss but my opponent elected to receive anyway, and presumably he had his reasons for that but I can’t really see what they might have been.

He immediately removed two players on the first turn - my dirty player lineman having his leg broken on the second block, and then a blitz with his tackle-MB blitzer KOing my blodgestep lineman. I formed columns centrally and tried to hit his unskilled witch with my own tackle-MB player but only got a push. He responded by pushing players down my right flank and blitzing Cirdan over with his killer and sticking the boot in (only a stun though).

Having had enough of being pushed around I pushed most of my players into contact with the pocket, trusting in my guard superiority and ST4 players to make it hard for Elfic to extricate himself. I had deliberately left a dark elf blitzer unmarked downfield to give him the option of a T3 score, with a catcher kept back to prevent him from stalling by the end zone, and he took the chance to score. Eldril gazed a gap through my defence to allow his runner to dart through and make a pass to the rookie, who scored.

So not too bad a start - I had six turns to score myself, but had not forced the wizard.

I set up to protect myself against the blitz, and a blitz duly appeared with the ball landing in the wide zone only one square back from the sideline - basically in the worst possible place. Fortunately Glorfindel (blodgestep tackle blitzer) was on hand and his sidestep made sure that it was hard for the dark elves to swarm round the ball. Despite the two tackle zones the dark elves did manage to catch the ball (on a 5+), but Anduril (ST4 wrodge catcher) knocked it loose and Ecthelion darted in, grabbed the ball in a tackle zone and hurled it to Cirdan in the backfield. Glorfindel then tried to dodge away from his marker to put in a blitz to protect Anduril from being surfed, but was tackled down and stunned. Anduril was duly surfed and the dark elves swarmed around my right side.

I set up a loose screen in the centre left and Cirdan threw the ball to Gil-Galad, one of my ST4 catchers (I was expecting to take hits on the ball carrier from his AG5 leaping strip baller, and with no sure hands on the team I figured it would be better to try to ensure that he only got 1 dice at best), before yet another of my players was injured on an unskilled block - this was the blodgestep lineman who had recovered from his KO only to have his arm broken. At this point I had a good whine about my luck in the chat, and of course my luck changed immediately for the better. Firstly his AG5 leaper rolled a double 1 when leaping into the cage, stunning himself, and then Legolas killed a rookie lineman with his first ever block with frenzy.

I felt here that Elfic had overcommitted to my backfield and so I punched a hole in the centre of his defensive line and ran Gil-Galad blitzed forward, KOing Eldril, screening him off in the centre. It proved to be a somewhat overly optimistic position however as the wizard flashed out a lightning bolt and the ball flew loose. It was scooped up and thrown to a blodgestepping dark elf blitzer deep in their half.

The ball was not safe however and Vanval charged forward to bash the ball clear again. There was some back and forth fighting but the dark elves could not get it free and the half ended with the ball being handed off to Ecthelion (+1MV reserve thrower) to score on turn 8.  1-1 at half time.

I was receiving in the second half and Elfic again put his AG5 leaping stripballer on the line – presumably because he already has -1MV and a niggle and Elfic didn’t care what happened to him. I knocked out a lineman and then knocked over and fouled the stripballer (-1MV and sent off), giving me a significant man advantage.

At this stage Elfic seemed to give up, as half his team ran over to my left to knock over and foul Glorfindel. The fouls kept coming but I marched my cage virtually unopposed to the dark elf end zone by turn 12. There was a very unpleasant fight between what was left of Elfic’s team and my players who were not in the cage, and I took an MNG from a foul on Legolas. By turn 16 though I was able to smash the collar bone of his level 2 witch with a block from Vanval, and hand the ball to Ecthelion to run the ball in for the winner. 2-1 at full time.

In the post game sequence Ecthelion levelled and finally I rolled a double for a thrower. Ecthelion is therefore +1MV, strong arm at present, and has the potential to be a really excellent player if he stays alive. I think the progression has to be dodge, accurate, sure hands (if he lives that long) and Cirdan has now been firmly relegated to a defensive thrower role.