Thursday, June 27, 2013

O Fortuna!


Have you ever had one of those games where it all comes together?  I have.  Last night, against ChrisB.   Playing Bloodbowl.

Setting up.  It's a beautiful day for Bloodbowl, folks.

In my limited experience of BB so far, it's already become apparent that, dice notwithstanding, it is very much a game of skill.  Knowing how to position your players, what tactics to adopt, when to block, when to dodge, etc., depends on developed experience.  Given that, I went into last night's game with a fairly straightforward goal; I wanted to hold ChrisB's wood elf team (Chis is a much more experienced player) to a single touchdown each half.  If I did that, I'd walk away happy.

Opening play.

Instead, I won the game 3 to 1.

The shame.  Unpainted, and ejected for fouling.

A fair measure of this was luck.  While both of us I think rolled about average across the game, timing was key.  Pretty much any time I really needed something to go right, it did.  Pretty much any time ChrisB needed something not to go wrong it did.  The combo was pretty devastating.

Prelude to Om'bashi (the wood elves) scoring.  Between their high agility and abundant Dodge skill, it doesn't take much of a hole.

That said, this was the first game where I began to have a sense of what I needed to do, and at least a basic idea of how to do it.  While I know I made mistakes, and there's probably a lot of things I could have done better, it's the first time it felt like I was doing stuff right.  That, plus the blessing of Fortune, seems to have carried the day.

Scrum.  I'm learning that the goal isn't an impenetrable defense, it's one that forces lots of rolls.

My developing impression of the game is that it seems less about the moment, and more about flow.  On offense, the goal isn't the one perfect turn of breakout and domination, it's about making forward progress, and thinking ahead to create opportunities for the next turn.

A thrower was taken out early with a broken knee.  Lowers his movement, but not the end of the world.

On defense, it's not about "castellation", if you get my meaning, but about delaying the opponent and creating opportunities for them to make mistakes.  It's never about this turn, it's about how this turn is going to flow into next turn, and what you can do to maximize opportunities.  Unless you can score, or foul, in which case, you go all in.

My ball, cage set up.  Now I just have to move up field.

I also found that general tactics do apply.  Woodelves are generally faster and more agile.  Against a more mobile opponent, you need to defend in depth.  I found myself semi-consciously forming a "cone" of players out from ChrisB's ball carrier, looking to maximise both contact with his players (forcing him to throw block dice) and to cover field spaces (forcing him to roll dodge dice).

Stick and move, short passes.
While his mobility meant he was generally able to break away, or set up advantageous blocks, each turn I tried to force as many rolls as possible.  Even rolling 2-up on a d6, sooner or later you're going to fail.  Keep it up long enough, and things swing my way.

Get the ball to the Blitzer!
On offense, it was more about making him roll to attack the ball carrier, and taking whatever opportunities I could to advance.  Once across the line of scrimmage, all I'd need would be a decent gap, and I could try to break away and score.  The more he had to roll, the more chances I had to exploit a fumble or error.

I have no idea what was happening here.
It meant he had lots of opportunity to get hits on my players, but my armour is generally on the friendly side of the bell curve.  I ended up with one guy seriously injured, and two out for the next game, but given the number of hits I was taking, it's nothing that really impedes how the team functions.

Just before a key turnover.  He needed not to roll 1 twice.  Guess what happened?
I also had an advantage in re-rolls, both as a product of list design and from in-game events.  It meant I could take chances when I needed to, knowing I had the re-rolls in my pocket just in case.  ChrisB generally didn't have that luxury.

Turnover becomes a scoring opportunity.  Those are my guys, waaaaay down in his end.
Finally, except in a few instances, I made a point of doing things in the right order; complete the safe actions first, then the risky stuff.  This seems obvious, but in the heat of the game, it's really easy to focus on the "thing that has to happen" this turn, and forget all about the obvious stuff (like standing up your guys who were knocked down).

Another Om'bashi drive.  He was trying to complete a pass to the Wardancer at bottom.  Fumbled the throw, I picked it up.
I made a real effort to take opportunities to develop players, as well.  Lots of short, safe passes, for example.  I tried to make sure I had my guys supporting each other wherever possible (you know, teamwork), so it was harder for him to gang up.

Make them roll their dodges.
Generally speaking, I think it was the best game I've played.  Not that it means much, three games in, but like I wrote earlier, it's the first time I felt like I was playing, as opposed to playing along.  I also want to thank ChrisB.  I'm still having to consciously remember rules, and talk stuff out.  ChrisB has been a generous opponent in every game I've played against him, answering my questions, pointing out options, and generally making a fairly "deep" game relatively transparent to a new player.   Thanks, Chris.

Final kickoff.  True to form, I rolled the best possible result, that let me redeploy away from the now-vengeful wood elves.

Cub arrives Saturday, and things are likely to be hectic for the next couple of months.  I'm hoping to get at least a post a week up, mostly painting, maybe a bit of gaming, but the blog's now entering its formal summer slow-down.  I still have some Spartans to paint, and last night has me eyeing my Bloodbowl team, and digging through my boxes for ancillary models.  On that note, if anyone knows where to pick up the model on the left, below, I'd much appreciate it.

It used to be a crew member for both the 1990s era Empire volley gun, as pictured, and I think for the cannon, as well.  I've also seen it referenced as "Leonardo di Miragliano".  I want one for my team coach ;)

Have yourselves a fine summer, and I should be back in a week.



  1. Good AAR, I have never played BB 3rd Ed, but love the 2nd Edition of the game. I also have an Elf team waiting to be painted...

  2. Looked and sounded great FMB, nobody in my group will even consider the game:(

    1. You're missing out Fran. I'm still rather new, but it's hooked me long-term, I think. Perfect evening game, too, maybe 2.5 hours.


  3. There are several old volley guns featuring the model you want on ebay. search "warhammer empire volley gun". There are some as low as 9 USD.

    1. Thanks, Mikko! BTW, are you running a blog - Google/Blogger isn't helpful in finding it.

  4. Nice one! It took me ages to 'get' how to play Blood Bowl. The next step is picking a team to suit your playing style and working on their development. Enjoy!

  5. If you can't be good, being lucky is the 2nd best thing! Lord knows I could use some luck. ;-)