Monday, 5 October 2015

Bloodbowl Player analysis - Dark Elves - Blitzer

Morning all and welcome to my new-look style of tactical analysis of bloodbowl players. All my analysis is done from a league point of view, so whilst I will touch briefly on the basic abilities of the players, it’ll mainly be looking at how they perform using the league rules. There’s going to be more of an influence of bloodbowl on the blog over the coming months as MAD League III kicks off at my club on a Thursday evening. I’m going to look at managing the league online as well so look out for plenty more content to come!


In the meantime though, you’ll have to make do with this! I’ve cut down the previous style of my player reviews so they’re hopefully not quite so lengthy, and give you a bit more of a strong direction as to how I see the player working within the game, and directions for development. As ever, these analyses will be solely my own work and my own opinion – feel free to disagree with me and comment in the section below, if it makes sense I may even agree with you!

So as I said, I’ve decided to cut down the length of the player analysis (mainly so I don’t get bogged down and can actually complete more of them) so from now on here’s my template.

·         Initial stats and skill set
·         Defensive abilities
·         Offensive abilities
·         Development paths (this will be limited to a maximum of three per player type)

Initial stats and skill set

Boy are these guys expensive! 0-4 in a team and 100k each, you’re not likely to be able to realistically start with 4 in a 1 million gp league. Their stats however make them probably one of the best players in the game to have in your roster to begin with – above average movement of 7, average strength of 3, above average agility of 4 and decent armour of 8.

As you’ll notice, I am of the opinion that much of bloodbowl revolves around one crucial statistic – agility. No other stat is used as often or is as fundamental to the actual winning of the game as this, so the blitzer having AG4 means they can do so much of the work that you need them to right from the start, and even if they’re forced into a role they’re not necessarily designed for they are more than capable.

In terms of skills they only come with block as standard, but that’s enough, it’s the one skill you’d choose to have on almost any player from the start.

Defensive abilities

The Dark Elves are a good defensive team overall, and the blitzer is one of the reasons for that. Good armour means you don’t have to be too scared of putting them on the Line of Scrimmage, so they can be great for anchoring that line. Defensively however, I’d advise saving them for making up your second screen – you have to assume that if your opponent gets first turn then your LoS is going to be partly on the floor, regardless of what skills they possess. As such, I want my blitzers behind them to mark up catchers or sack the ball carrier if my opponent has left them exposed. Their high movement also allows you to deploy them well away from any potential first turn carnage without compromising their ability to form a defensive screen in your first turn. They are also fast enough to adapt to multiple players breaking through your lines (I’m looking at you Wood Elves!).

Dark Elf Blitzers can become great defensive players with just their first couple of skills, such as Tackle, Diving Tackle and Strip Ball, and I’d certainly be tempted to create a couple of defensive specialists in my team (let’s not forget you’re playing the long game here, where Runners and Witch Elves will be your offensive players in the longer term) to add to a couple of more aggressive types.

Offensive abilities

As with any team playing the game, agility is a key statistic if you want to score (there’s almost no way you can score without it, unless you get a touchback) so the natural agility of 4 that the Blitzer has means you can use them to retrieve, carry, and pass the ball with reasonable reliability from day 1 and they can be used early on to get you touchdowns that accelerate their own development into specialists.

The Block skill is also very useful in an offensive capacity, and the Dark Elf Blitzer is one of the few I would advocate using as a ‘true’ blitzer, by which I mean a ball-carrying, line-breaking type of player who uses the blitz action each turn to free themselves of tackle zones or clear a path for others. Their basic strength of 3 means that they still need to be used carefully in this role, and support is essential for those 2-dice blocks. The downside to their offensive game is that they have no easy access to strength skills. We therefore need a bit of creativity in our approach to offense, and less focus on causing casualties. Skills that would support such an approach would be Frenzy (mainly looking for pushbacks to manoeuvre your opponent), Kick-Off Return, Sure Hands, Catch, Diving Catch, Dodge, Jump Up, Leap, Side Step, Sprint and Sure Feet. As you can see, the offense from a blitzer has to be mainly focussed on movement and skills that allow either increased movement or make that movement easier.

Development Paths

I’ve already touched on the idea of creating a defensive specialist, so that will be my first option here. I’ll then look at how I’d go about creating that facilitator type player who can unlock your opponent’s defence, and then finally we’ll look at the ball handling player. These skill lists are broadly in order of priority, but I’ll also throw in a single double option at the end that can be substituted in if you roll it.

Defender

1.       Strip Ball – primarily because your defence focuses on the ball carrier and strip ball helps you to relieve them of the ball, even making negative blocks a viable option in extremis.
2.       Tackle – receivers normally have dodge, or take it as their first skill so negating that is key for a defender.
3.       Wrestle – once receivers start to skill up, they take block, so wrestle still gives you the advantage in making them drop the ball.
4.       Diving Tackle – the flexibility you have in choosing whether or not to use the skill once the dodge roll is made means this skill is a no-brainer. It makes even other Elves think twice.
5.       Sprint – there will always be occasions when your defenders are just one square too far away. Sprint is a great skill from that point of view, just don’t use it too often or it’ll burn you.
6.       Let’s be honest, you’re not really going to get this far in most leagues. If you do however, shadowing or frenzy might be decent options.
Double – with the key thing being to get the ball off your opponent, none of the other skill sets really help here, but Grab stands out to me as the option of choice, letting you place the opposing player into a square of your choice.

Facilitator

1.       Frenzy – granted, Witch Elves start with it, but they’re less likely to be in your starting line-up and if you roll block dice like I do, another chance is only ever a good thing. Just be careful you don’t get into trouble with it!
2.       Leap – the natural agility of the Elves means this is always a viable option, though you might want to make sure you've got a re-roll handy before you try it.
3.       Dodge – you’ll be looking for this player to get to a key position so Dodge is important to let you get there without falling over, even with their high agility.
4.       Wrestle – you have block yourself so don’t need to fear the both down result, but if you need to make a hole, then wrestle is extremely useful.
5.       Sprint – as with the defender, sometimes you’ll just need that extra bit of movement
6.       Jump-up – yes, we’re back to the Witch Elf thing but you’d be surprised how many problems a player with jump up can cause when they’re on the floor – your opponent will not want to leave anyone standing next to them.
Double – I think I'll have to go with Mighty Blow, if only for the extra chance to make sure that player either stays down or is removed from the board.

Ball Handler

1.       Sure Hands – always the first option, you never know when that ‘1’ will turn up picking up the ball and stopping opponents with strip ball is always funny.
2.       Dodge – re-rolls with AG4? Yes please!
3.       Leap – watch your opponent look on with horror as you just jump straight over their defence.
4.       Sure Feet – your ball handling player will often want to use ‘Go For Its’ and this is another skill that cuts down on your re-roll use.
5.       Sprint – combination play with Sure Feet means the blitzer becomes a genuinely quick proposition.
6.       Kick-Off Return – some would advocate side step, yes, but the extra few squares of movement at the kick off can really throw your opponent off sometimes, particularly if they have the kick skill.
Double – For a ball handling player this has to be nerves of steel, because sometimes you just can’t get away from markers.

Conclusion

The Blitzer is a very important player to the Dark Elf team, particularly at the beginning of a league when the Witch Elves tend to be slightly beyond reach. It’s a player that can truly adapt to most roles you need them to perform, particularly at the start of a season. In time they can develop into good specialists, but will probably be eclipsed as the ‘star’ players on the team by Witch Elves (and possibly Runners depending on your style).


It’s not essential to start a Dark Elf team with Blitzers, but they certainly make your life easier, and their only real drawback is the lack of access to strength skills.