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.