Saturday, 18 January 2014
Building a Blood Bowl Team… part 5
I warn you now, this is a long match report so grab yourself a drink and visit the bathroom now before you start reading!
I had been looking forward to the Big Match today – my Daggeroth Darkblades versus Bull's Boomtown Rats. The rats didn't have the hitting power of the Orcs – in fact I would be the heavy hitters overall – but they were fast.
With the experience gained from my opening Dark Elf game, and the additional (podcast) studying I'd done in the meantime, I felt this game was an opportunity the rack up my first win and bag a lot of Star Player Points for my team. I was hoping to get at least another couple of skills added and enough cash to repair my roster.
Regular visitors will know that I don't feel that I've had the 'rub of the green' in any of my previous Blood Bowl games against Bull – I'm in danger of becoming a lamentable Victor Meldrew caricature with constant cries of "I don't believe it!". I was determined that this would be the game to break the cycle.
For the first time so far I managed to get the +1 FAME bonus thanks to my superior spectator numbers. That was a good start. I would be kicking to the Rats in the first half – the teams lined up and off we went.
The Kick-Off table gave Bull's team a free move before the game began proper, allowing them to reposition ready for the first turn. The Thrower picked up the ball and fell back, ensuring no Dark Elves could reach him.
My first turn, I move some models into position and rolled for my first 'routine' Block.
I did ponder using a team re-roll, but this early in the game and only having 2 for the entire half ruled this thought out as a nonsense. What it did mean, however, was that the Rats were all still on their feet. Bull took full advantage, and it wasn't long before I was in real trouble – Bull looked almost certain to score.
I had managed to inflict a casualty – a Line Rat sent to the Dead box. But there were Gutter Runners everywhere it seemed, their 9 Movement and Dodge making them impossible to pin down. Bull was winding up for a throw and there was nothing I could do to prevent the touchdown.
Then he did something rather odd. He attempted to foul a prone Elf Lineman.
He was punished for his rash actions – the newly painted Ref spotted the foul and the Rat was sent off for the rest of the game!
The Rats were now 2 players down for the rest of the game and, more importantly, I'd been given a window of opportunity to prevent the touchdown.
Up stepped the Darkblades hero, Adin Heartrender (still disguised as a Witch Elf), and blitzed the Skaven Thrower, who spilled the ball as he went down. Thanks to his 5 AG, the Blitzer picked up the ball and waited to be hit. It wasn't long before he was surrounded by Rats, but they couldn't knock him down, only Push him.
Thanks to support from his team mates, and an audacious blitz by Heartrender himself, the hero Blitzer skipped through the closing rodent noose and made for the end zone. He stepped over the line and the Darkblades were 1–0 up, but not before the rest of the team had pushed the Skaven Thrower into the crowd.
1–0 to the Dark Elves
(never been in the lead before, my hands were shaking)
We kicked to the Rats again, who were down 3 players after the Thrower decided he didn't want to return to the game just yet. The ball scattered a ridiculous distance back to the half-way line. Bull's lightning-fast rats rallied to surround it and one of the Gutter Runners took on Thrower duties, picking up and falling back to safety within the pocket.
Some brutal hitting by the Skaven put two of my Linemen in the Dead box and in no time Bull had carved out another certain touchdown opportunity. I just couldn't keep up with the Gutter Runners, and I couldn't knock them down.
With a clear view to the end zone the Gutter Runner only had to Dodge out of a single tackle zone to be home free – with a re-roll to boot it was a done deal.
…except it wasn't. Bull managed to fail his Dodge roll twice, the Runner hit the deck and the ball bounced away.
I had a real opportunity to go in at half time 2–0 up, but I had to plan my next two turns carefully. We were deep inside my half and I had to think this through. One of my Blitzers grabbed the ball and moved towards the half-way line. I had a Lineman in the Rats' half of the field but it was a Journeyman – I didn't want to give him the SPP for scoring plus he is afflicted with Loner which could limit his catching reliability.
I concentrated on protecting my ball carrier, creating something of a pocket, but then the realisation of utter newb-ness dawned on me. I no longer had a player that could make it into the end zone to score before the end of the half. I'd lost sight of the main goal, distracting on a secondary goal. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
With a touchdown now out of reach I sent half my team to surround a Skaven Blitzer to chain block him off the pitch. The first hit ended up knocking him out and he left the field of play.
So at half time I was still 1–0 up. I had missed the opportunity to double my lead thanks to lack of concentration, however, Bull had missed two dead-cert touchdown opportunities. I had lost two of my Linemen, but Bull had also lost two and he was missing a precious rat Blitzer for the beginning of the second half. I definitely felt in the ascendency and I would be receiving the ball.
It was then that I noticed the time. It had taken over 3 hours to play the first half and I had to leave in little over 90 minutes. This did not bode well as I wouldn't have the luxury thinking time I'd had so far.
We set up for the second half and Nuffle stepped in to rain on my parade in an unbelievably stunning fashion. I simply could not believe what was about to happen.
The kick scattered maximum distance to the very edge of my end zone. We then rolled on the Kick-Off table and the Skaven got a free turn. The Thrower blitzed one of my Blitzers (really?!!), injuring him in the process, and the Gutter Runners poured past my statuesque players towards the ball. This would be a straight up race and I didn't fancy my chances.
Adin Heartrender sprinted towards the end zone and recovered the ball, but could only get a single square outside the end zone. The rest of the team rallied, but with the speed and numbers of rats who had skipped into my half it wasn't going to be pretty – I couldn't cover them all.
As I had feared, the Thrower and two Gutter Runners ganged up on the Dark Elf ball carrier whilst a third Blitzed him, following the bouncing ball into the end zone and grabbing it to score.
1–1 Tied Game
"I don't believe it!"
The hard fought lead I had carved out in the first half was wiped out in a single turn thanks to a bizarre and almost unrepeatable set of circumstances.
To compound the situation, I had lost two more Linemen to the Dead box – that's more Casualties than the Orcs inflicted – and the Rat Blitzer returned to the pitch. I was now missing four players to Bull's two.
I was still in shock when we kicked off again, and time was ticking away. We had 7 turns to complete in an hour and my mind was distracted beyond belief.
The Kick-Off scattered wildly again, away from my two waiting Blitzers in the back field, straight into the arms of my Blitzer near the half-way line.
However, he was unsupported and vulnerable. The rest of the Dark Elves rallied towards him, creating a makeshift cage to try and protect him. The Rats jockeyed around, managing to fell all the Linemen on the half-way line, but couldn't get to the ball carrier.
The three Blitzers burst out along the touchline. They got past the Rats and had a clear view of the end zone. But, with only two comrades for protection the ball carrier was vulnerable to the speedy vermin.
The Skaven flooded back as best they could. The critical blitz came in from Bull – this would disperse the Blitzer protection and leave the ball carrier wide open. His first roll was no good so he opted for a re-roll…
I could and should have tried to run down the clock a little, but with half an hour before I had to pack up I ran my Blitzer, Nenil Spinescourge, into the end zone.
2–1 to the Dark Elves
I kicked off again to the Rats, and the Kick-Off table stitched me up again. Bull's Thrower was allowed to move underneath the incoming ball, which had scattered back to the half-way line once again.
Eventually he picked it up and fell back into centre field. A miscalculation allowed one of my Blitzers through, decking the Thrower and the ball falling to a supporting Elf Blitzer. He was wide open and was quickly knocked down in the following turn. A Gutter Runner picked up the ball and a throw to the end zone was on.
The game was now on a knife edge. I was in the lead, but trying to contain the Rats whilst having two less players on the field was like trying to bail water out of a leaky boat – I just had to hang on two more turns.
Quick as a flash the Rat ball carrier decided to run instead of pass and skipped down the flank, deep into my half of the field. Nobody could get to him to prevent the touchdown it seemed… except my Blitzer Torel Dragonclaw. I set up a block to free him from his marker, but only managed to push the Skaven away. If he could Dodge out of the tackle zone he could blitz the ball carrier, leaving Bull little chance of recovering sufficiently to score in his final turn.
Alas I had no team re-rolls left and so the inevitable happened. Despite only needing a 3+ to Dodge, I rolled a 2. Torel hit the deck, injuring himself and causing a turnover. With nobody standing in his way, the Skaven Gutter Runner strolled into the end zone to tie the game in the very last turn.
Final Score: 2–2 Tied Game
I was pretty distraught to be blunt. I had been in a reasonably commanding position going into the second half. A single turn later it was all square, despite me receiving the kick. Two turns after that I was on the back foot, despite grabbing a second touchdown, and Bull had racked up a bag full of SPPs. Aside from the two touchdowns I only managed a single Casualty and no completed passes.
The dead box was a grim sight to behold. Luckily, one of the casualties was a Journeyman and two others walked away. One Lineman suffered an injury and will miss the next game – lucky to be honest.
I rolled poorly for winnings so walked away from the game pretty bruised but with a new skill for the second half scorer Nenil Spinescourge.
It could have been so different.
Time to digest and prepare for the next game – onwards and upwards.
Thanks to Bull as always for being a superb opponent… I'll get you next time!
Posted by Mike Reynolds