Monday, January 20, 2020

Caught Short

"I have two games left to play and I hope I can still get one win before the season ends. Let's see."

That's what I said after my last game. Oh dear.

My next match was against an experienced dwarf team. The other coach was lovely and we got on well as we played.

In many ways, the game was a pleasure to play.

The first half was something of a disaster, with so many injuries that I had no one left to stop the dwarfs jogging in for a more-or-less unopposed touchdown. Even my opponent felt sorry for me at that point, which sort of helped.

The second half went better. I was able to push back and put some dwarfs down, managed to hold on to the ball for most of the half, and when I did lose possession, I regained it soon after. Alas, I was not able to convert any of that into an equaliser, and a winning score was well beyond me. Still, my opponent was an excellent player -- 9th overall in the league in comparison to me at 31st! -- so keeping him to one touchdown isn't too bad. Or so I tell myself, anyway.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 0 - Fun Vacuums 1

One of my vampires will miss the next game because of injury, and I have four thralls out with serious injuries, forcing me to bring in journeymen to make up the numbers for my last game of the season.

Regarding that final game...

I was set to play a human team that was not doing so well so I thought I had a chance at a win, although I was well aware that I had thought something similar before. As it turned out, that coach has now withdrawn from the league so I've been drawn against a good Norse team with considerably better league statistics than my own.

I am not expecting things to go well.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Chrimble!

This will probably be my last post of 2019. I hope you have a good end to your year, however you celebrate it, and I will see you in 2020.

I mean, I won't see you because that's not how this works, and I'm neither a Californian AI or a Russian hacker hijacking your webcam, but you get what I mean.

(If you want, you can still buy my new book.)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Stuck in the Middle

I have written and drawn a brand new Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure and it is released just in time for the festive season!

You can probably guess the inspiration, although -- whisper it -- I haven't seen the film!

You can get the adventure in print here or in pdf here. The physical book is a limited and numbered edition and -- as far as I know -- will not be printed in this form again.

(Now I've said that, watch it get a second printing in a couple of weeks. No one tells me anything.)

Oh! And there are also t-shirts. Two of them! If you buy at least one t-shirt and use the discount code EDWINA then the entire order will have free postage; this offer ends at 23:59 Finnish time on the 26th of December.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Double Dark

Out of my ten scheduled Blood Bowl matches this season, four have been against elves, three of those against dark elves. Back when I started playing the game in 1994ish I did quite well with my own dark elf team, and although Blood Bowl has changed quite a bit since then, I knew that the pointy eared braggarts would be difficult to beat.

So it proved in my first and second games, so I wasn't expecting too much...

First up were the Vaggaroth Villains, a somewhat experienced team currently sitting in the top half of the overall rankings. My vampires got smashed in the first half by the dominant elves, suffering a bunch of casualties and conceding an early touchdown.

"There's still the second half," I thought to myself, "So there's plenty of time to turn this around." I am nothing if not optimistic.

As the ball was kicked off for the second half there was a pitch invasion, and rampaging Villains fans knocked down and stunned all but three of my players.

Oh. Good start.

Even so, I somehow managed to prevent another elvish touchdown and almost scored an equaliser, but ran out of turns.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 0 - Vaggaroth Villains 1

Match eight was versus The Tigers, a rookie dark elf team. Going into the match I was emboldened by the Tigers' lack of reserves and a complete dearth of rerolls, but I knew how good dark elves could be and as my opponent had little in the way of previous form, I had no idea what his play style was like.

Things looked iffy from the start as I lost a vampire at the end of an assassin's blade, and although I tend to take the swinginess of Blood Bowl to be part of the fun -- otherwise I wouldn't have picked a team as unreliable as vampires! -- I must admit that I thought this calamity would set the tone for the whole match.

One good thing about vampires is that they tend to recover from their injuries, even death, so Chris was back in action almost straight away.

I scored an early touchdown and although the dark elves equalised just before half time, I was feeling content, if not confident.

One of my players caught the ball from the second half kick off, the vampires formed a loose cage, and began to rumble down the pitch. While vampires have the agility of elves, they are not as fast and I didn't want my ball carrier to be exposed, so I felt the cage was the best strategy. The dark elves threw everything into defence and forced me to change direction a couple of times but the cage held, I managed to maintain forward momentum, and in my last turn, my ball carrier made a break for the line.

In Blood Bowl, players have a standard move allowance, but can Go For It to gain a couple of extra squares, although they have to roll 1d6 for each square and on a 1 they trip and fall. My player had six squares of movement and the end zone was seven squares away. Can you guess what happened?

If you said "You rolled a 1" you would be half correct because I did indeed roll a 1, but I had a reroll!

Which also came up a 1.

Oh well.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 1 - The Tigers 1

I am disappointed that I missed out on winning the match, but I know it was down to bad luck rather than poor play, so I'm happy(ish) with the result. I picked up a fair few star player points as a result of some lucky casualties so the team as a whole is looking stronger, and I do feel like I'm getting the hang of the vampire style of play now.

I have two games left to play and I hope I can still get one win before the season ends. Let's see.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

More Barbarians

I've been working on something I can't talk about for eighteen days, so instead here are some other bits I have done for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, which should be out in 2020.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Wilhelm Chaney Is A Liability

I lost, of course, but let's talk about Wilhelm Chaney, so-called "star player".

I was 2-1 down to the Black Mountain Mad Dogs, an experienced orc team, albeit one rather down on its luck, coming off a nine game losing streak. With three turns left in the game I had punched a hole in the left flank and Chaney was through to a scoring position, out of range of any of the orcish defence, with a gaggle of vampires in support

One of my vampires throws the ball. It's good! All Chaney has to do is roll a 3 or more on a d6, and he has the Catch skill to try again if he misses.

He rolls a 2.

Then another 2.

That's not good, but it's okay. Two turns left, the ball is loose in the end zone, and the orcs are miles away.

Next turn, Chaney steps into the end zone and goes to pick up the ball. It's a 3+ again.

He fluffs it.

Right then.

There's no need to worry. The orcs are getting closer but there's still a turn left and the ball is just sitting there. All Chaney needs to do is pick it up, he scores and I tie the game. On a 3 or more. That's all I need.


The werewolf fumbles the ball into the crowd, which lobs it back into the arms of an orc who then hoofs it up the field and that's the game.

In all fairness, my opponent did score two touchdowns, both of which were somewhat soft, so I can only blame my poor defensive tactics for letting those happen. Failing to score an equalising touchdown after three very easy attempts? That's all down to the dice failing me.

But that's Blood Bowl for you.

Elsewhere it was quite a balanced game. My opponent suffered some poor luck of his own with two of his players -- including his troll! -- injuring themselves -- one fatally! -- when attempting to tackle mine. After a cagey, defensive start from both teams, the game opened up, there was quite a bit of movement  up and down the pitch, and it made for a fun and exciting game. A long one too, after three riots delayed the game to the extent that we ended up playing turn seven three times in the first half.

But that's Blood Bowl for you.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 1 - Black Mountain Mad Dogs 2

I have four games left in the regular season. My hope is to still walk away with at least one win, but I am running out of time.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Oh, What's the Bloody (Bowl) Point?

I played two league games of Blood Bowl last week, and alas, I lost both.

First up was the Chaotic Warps, a mixed team of goblins and skaven. It was a brutal match with plenty of casualties on both sides, but the only touchdowns were scored by the Warps, and it's touchdowns that count.

(Well, until you get to end-of-season tiebreaks, then casualties count, but I doubt that will be relevant for me.)

I'm not sure where I went wrong with this one. Perhaps it was getting drawn into a brawl rather than trying to score, but then again I'm not certain I had many opportunities to score.

I do know that once again I had a vampire taken off and refusing to come back on -- and I think it was again my number 11, Bella, who doesn't seem committed to the cause -- so I resolved to hire a fourth vampire for my next match to give me some more options.

One of my thralls somehow avoided being killed and picked up enough experience points to develop a new skill, so I gave him Kick, which again should give me some options in future matches.

All in all, it wasn't a win, but the match did generate plenty of experience points to help develop my team so it could have been worse, I suppose.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 0 - Chaotic Warps 2
(Casualties 2 - 2!)

The very next day I played the Vanaheim Valkyries, an experienced amazon team that as of writing sits at third overall in the league, separated only from second place by touchdown difference. The Valkyries are in their third season, have lots of skills and special abilities, and an excellent win/draw/loss record. I wasn't expecting to get even close to a win.

The vast difference in team value -- Blood Bowl's rough indicator of team quality -- between the Valkyries and the vampires allowed me to pick up some special benefits to -- in theory -- balance things a bit. The difference was so vast that I was able to hire the most expensive star player, Morg'n'Thorg in the game, and I couldn't turn that opportunity down.

The Valkyries, despite the strength of the individual players, was short on numbers, so my plan was to strike at the relatively weak linewomen, take them out of the game, and then exploit the numeric advantage to maybe, just maybe, scrape a draw. Morg, or in this case his sister, Marge, was key in that strategy.

As you can probably imagine, it was not to be.

Aside from the match against the Chaotic Warps, I seem to have had awful luck in taking out opposing players, while at the same time mine crumple like paper. Even the soft halflings seemed to bounce when they should break. Marge'n'Thorg was of little help and despite smashing amazons all over the pitch, couldn't put one down for longer than a turn. One of the Valkyrie linewomen was killed but it was as the result of an opportunistic foul, so the player didn't even pick up experience for it.

Meanwhile the skilled Valkyries players carved my defensive lines to pieces. They seemed to be everywhere at once and I had no response. My vampires managed to get the ball a couple of times but were unable to get it further forward than the halfway line.

My attempt to outnumber the amazons failed, and I had no further strategy beyond that, so I can't blame anyone but myself for the loss. Yes, my luck is sometimes terrible and yes, the opposing coach is very good at the game, but the truth is I had no idea what to do and it showed.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 0 - Vanaheim Valkyries 3

Worry not! Despite the title of the post, I haven't lost my enthusiasm for Blood Bowl. It's one of my favourite games and I enjoy playing even when I'm losing, which is good, as I lose most of the time. I have five more games to play this season and I hope I can get some better results; I will be happy if I can win at least one game.

Next up is an orc team that is again much more experienced than mine, but has lost their last nine games. They look to be a tough, bashy team, so my plan is to make use of the vampires' greater agility and try to out-manoeuvre the orcs and maybe score a touchdown. Stranger things have happened. Apparently.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Chubby Little Maniacs

Earlier this week I played the third game of the local Blood Bowl season and I managed to scrape another draw, but this time I also managed to score a touchdown, so I'm considering that to be an improvement.

I played against a halfling team. Halflings are considered one of the worst teams in the game -- even worse than vampires! -- but the coach had a couple of years of experience over me, so I wasn't expecting any sort of significant advantage.

I scored early, which I feared might be a problem as it would give my opponent plenty of time to score in return, and that did indeed happen although a few of his plays failed to come together because of bad luck, so it could have been worse.

My luck failed in the blocking and tackling. Halflings are weak and soft and I should have smashed lots of them but while I knocked plenty down, I wasn't able to injure any. I think the only proper injury to afflict my opponent's team came about when his own treeman dropped its halfling team-mate on his head, killing him! That's Blood Bowl.

My players are in theory made of much tougher stuff but once again I ended the game short on personnel as all the injury rolls favoured my opponent. The thralls are cheap and are designed to die, but one of my vampires spent about two-thirds of the game unconscious in his coffin, refusing to get back into the game. Flakey Anne Rice bastards.

Two of my thralls will miss the next match, which doesn't give me much wiggle room in terms of numbers. I am saving up for a fourth vampire but I am tempted to get another thrall in the interim, just to give me more people on the pitch.

My number 13, Gary, scored the only touchdown for the People Eaters and was named MVP for the third match running, so is now staggering under the weight of all his experience points; this is good as he now has a fine array of special skills, but it has left the other vampires undeveloped, and makes him a bit of a target. I need to weigh up keeping him in the game, and making use of those skills, against protecting him and allowing the other two vampires to get involved and earn experience. It's a tough balance.

Anyway, I'm happy with how the game went and I feel most of what went wrong was bad luck rather than bad play. I hope.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 1 - Lamb Shank Redemption 1

I have organised my first inter-conference games, and will be playing them in the next couple of weeks. I was reluctant to do so at first because I'd been drawn against teams with much more experience than my own and I feared the mismatch would be too much, but I have decided to embrace the inevitable.

One of the teams is an Underworld squad, a loose alliance of skaven and goblins, and I am expecting a big loss there as they have a couple of high-level players, including at least one that can score in one turn. The other has a much higher team value than my own, and lots of dangerous-looking players, but has lost nine games out of eleven, so I'm not sure what will happen there.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Book of Dreams

I have fond memories of sitting on the sitting room floor and leafing through the back section -- always the last few pages, with the toys and games -- of the Argos catalogue and making a list of all the wonderful things I wanted for Chrimble that year. I imagine that, wherever you are, you have a local equivalent.

Someone has done a wonderful, nostalgic, thing and scanned and uploaded the Argos catalogues of years past. Look at this page from 1993's catalogue:

Battle Masters! Dungeons and Dragons! The Legend of Zagor! Warhammer Fantasy Battle! Games Workshop, Fighting Fantasy, and D&D all in one festive season!

It's interesting that Battle Masters was more expensive than its "grown up" cousin Warhammer; I suppose that's because it had more miniatures in the box, even if they weren't quite as good as the proper ones.

(By 1994's catalogue Battle Masters is gone, Warhammer has gone up by £5, and is joined by the second edition of Warhammer 40,000.)

The big surprise is that D&D is only a tenner, not least because this is the Big Black Box edition that came in a, um, big black box, with the rules, a big dungeon map, a GM screen, cardboard miniatures, and probably a bunch of other stuff too. This version of the game only covered up to fifth level -- the Rules Cyclopedia took you the rest of the way -- but that's still a bargain.

Was 1993 the geekiest Chrimble ever?