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.