Greetings all - please excuse the lack of original posts recently, currently going through a less inspired patch.
Rest assured I'm working on a monster that I hope you'll all enjoy.
In the meantime you'll have to put up with me previewing my league bloodbowl game this week!
Following last week's victory over the Dark Elves, Kristo Hemsvart wasted no time arranging another match for the Asgard's Wrath, aware that in the game of Bloodbowl, momentum counted for much.
The team was buoyant, inspired by their victory despite the death of a colleague, with even Hrungir Ingolfsson eager to get back into the fray, though the bloodied bandage about his right eye would ensure he could not take part just yet.
Word was passed down to the players that the next match would be against 'Da Red Arrerz', a new Orc team that had been formed in the off season. Their team sheet looked fearsome, starting with a mighty 13 players, and everyone knew that Orcs came to a Bloodbowl match wearing every piece of scrap metal they could find. By contrast, with only 10 fit players, the Wrath looked every inch the underdogs on paper. Bloodbowl matches however, are not won on paper!
So, what could the Norse do to prepare for such a match?
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I'm starting to think that taking a team with an average AV of 7 into a league with 3 Orc teams, 2 Dark Elf teams, Lizardmen, Humans, Necromantic and Skaven may not have been such a great idea - I'm definitely going to be relying on my opponents rolling above average numbers of 'both down' results, and very bad armour rolls (mine are legendarily so).
If there's one thing I know for certain, it's that there will be no finesse in the team facing me, with 3 Blitzers and a pair of Black Orcs likely to form the line of scrimmage, so I'm going to have to play smart I reckon, especially with two throwers at the rear to give some reliability to them collecting the ball.
I'll have a journeyman for the game, which I think might actually be some kind of blessing - I can happily put him on the line of scrimmage and not worry about any injuries he might pick up, which is a definite positive.
I can't see me doing anything on defence therefore other than trying to stall them - staying a square away and forcing them to just use a single blitz on me each turn and maxmising the impact of their low movement and average agility to try and force them into a risky move. I've played Lee before in a teachy game (well, a refresher game) just before the league started, and won, but that was with a full team of 12. One tactic may be blitzing away at the corners of the inevitable cage, but by and large I think I will be avoiding contact and attempting to frenzy surf guys off the pitch using my Ulfwerener and Bezerkers.
My one saving grace is that my runner picked up a movement increase in the last game, so as long as I protect him reasonably well I can use him as a threat - he can either use that movement to steal into the opponent's half and threaten the ball carrier or if I'm lucky, maybe even steal away the ball for a runaway touchdown.
On offence, I'm going to have to be very canny. I know Lee likes to set his team up symmetrically, so I could certainly make use of that factor to my advantage, overloading one side of the pitch. Only his Blitzers can keep up with even my slowest players and with Frenzy on my side, I've got the necessary tools to open up his defence and allow my runner through the gap. If I do get the hit in first and see them knocked down early then stalling the score (pro-speak - managing the clock) is an option, but I don't like doing that, especially to nice people like Lee.
Given the likely casualty rate on my side for this match (I am under no illusions about that) then I think this may be one of the occasions when receiving the ball first (assuming I get the choice) might be prudent, making the most of having a full team on the pitch to get the score on the board, then trying to hold on.
My problem will be that this plan would require my opponent to fail to score, which is not something I'm particularly good at.
So, things to bear in mind during the game, in no particular order.
- Frenzy - I have it, my opponent doesn't, and is a relative novice so getting players off the pitch is my best chance of keeping the sides even. My Ulf is best placed to achieve this with his higher strength, but I need to be aware of assists if the first block doesn't knock them down, and my opponent trying the same thing if I end up next to the touchline.
- Defence. I may have block almost everywhere in my team but I'm outgunned on the Line of Scrimmage - my opponent has an extra S4 player and three guys with block, plus awesome armour everywhere so casualty points will be scarce (the odds of a casualty are 1/144 even after they're knocked down). The thrower may be a weaker target than the rest of the team, but his armour is still good.
- Re-roll strategy. When kicking first, the primary purpose of re-rolls will be to keep my players safe, so failed dodges and double skulls. If I'm receiving, the the crucial thing with any Norse team is ball handling, so they'll be saved to help me pick up the ball (or pass it, if things are going really well!)
- Placement. Unconventional setup will force my opponent into thinking on the fly. He doesn't have the speed to take advantage if things go wrong, and his relative inexperience may force a mistake if he has to adapt to something he's not expecting. Equally, placement of players on both defence and offence will be crucial, both to minimise the potential for permanent damage to my team and to maximise my chances of retrieving and threatening the ball. Equally, poor placement of his own defence may lead to opportunities for my Ulfwerener to pick up a cheeky blitz and maybe a crowd surf or casualty score.
- SPP totals. Always an important one to be aware of - my Runner has already received a skill upgrade thanks to a brace of touchdowns in the last game, and the Ulf is close. I therefore need to be very aware of opportunities to skill him up as once he's got block I can be a little less nervy with him. Ideal opportunities would be if the Orcs are mainly on the floor and I can afford to try a hand-off, or on a touchback the Ulf can easily be given the ball and allow the Beserkers to clear the way, or even use the blitz himself if there are enough re-rolls available.
- Cages. The best way to beat a cage is to stop it forming in the first place. I may not have a massive movement advantage over the Orcs, but it is an advantage and forcing him to make dodges can be a way to shorten his turns.