Ahzek is a regular player at the London based ECBBL league. He’s also a doctor currently on the front line fighting coronavirus, but describes playing Blood Bowl as a lot more stressful. Here is his tournament report for the UK Team Challenge back in January (posted super late because of me sorry!) – Wulfyn.
Ahzek’s UKTC 2020 Report
The UK Team Challenge is one of the biggest and most highly regarded events on the Blood Bowl calendar, with this year’s event seeing 68 teams of 4 players descending on York from all corners of Europe. This was my first time attending a team event and I have heard nothing but good things about team BB, so I thought I would share my experiences for anyone else still on the fence.
The rules pack consisted of 1100k for players and team goods, with the 26 races being divided into 7 tiers with a variable amount of gold to spend on skills (with a maximum of 1 double for every team except stunties). Any leftover skills gold could be used to buy extra players or goods, but not vice versa. This worked really well and led to an interesting mix of races – Orcs were the most popular team with 24 representatives among the 272 coaches, while usual powerhouses such as Undead and Dwarves only managed 9 and 7 teams respectively.
I was joined on Team Try Hard with a Vengeance by three excellent coaches from the ECBBL in London – Gritter (aka Martin), King_Ghidra (aka Phil) and Bartk (aka, err, Bart). This was to be the second outing for Team Try Hard after the three man BBALLS cup in November. The question of which of us was to miss out on that occasion was helpfully solved by my wife, who is herself in the early stages of a burgeoning BB addiction. We had originally decided to spend the weekend together as I was in the middle of a hectic A&E rotation and hadn’t had a lot of free time at home, however she suddenly decided to book me onto a training course on the weekend of the event, ostensibly to ‘improve my CV’. I suspect this is a similar euphemism to those deployed by early Bond villains hoping for Sean Connery to be ‘taken out of the picture’. Anyway, once I had been conveniently removed from this particular picture, she suddenly remembered the existence of the event and signed up to go without me. My club mates have since been using the tournament block dice against me with great delight at every possible opportunity, but I promise I’m totally over it by now. The rest of Team Try Hard unsurprisingly faired just fine without me, and I was excited to conduct a scientific experiment to see what (probably negative) effects my inclusion had on the team’s performance.
The process of choosing races was straightforward. Martin has a superb record with Lizardmen so this was the obvious choice for him – he took the 11 player, 3RR plus Apo build with 3 block and 2 break tackle Saurus (Sauri?). When the rosters came out we were quite surprised to see that there were only 8 break tackle Sauri (I’m going with it) in the whole event, with most Lizard coaches either opting for 5 block or 4 block and 1 tackle. I know this is a matter of some debate and I will leave it to much better lizard coaches than myself to decide, but the extra mobility afforded by break tackle can be invaluable for stopping a Saurus getting pinned down by an annoying zombie or two. Phil opted for Wood Elves, taking the standard Treeman, 2 wardancer, 3 catcher, thrower and 4 linemen build (2RR, no apo). As with most Woodie coaches in the event he opted for strip ball and tackle dancers with a leader thrower, but differed slightly from the pack with the inclusion of a kick lino with guard on the tree. Bart and I both initially considered taking Dark Elves, but with only 110k to spend on skills we felt they were likely to be a skill light relative to what some of the lower tier races were bringing to the party, and opted for Orcs and Necromantic respectively (both of which were languishing in the relative obscurity of tier 4). As mentioned already Orcs were hugely popular in this ruleset – Bart’s variety featured 4 BOBs (2 block), 4 blitzers (2 guard, 1 tackle), a thrower (block), a troll (block), a lino, a goblin and 3RR.
I have been playing Necromantic quite a lot recently and they have quickly developed into one of my favourite teams. For this tournament I shifted 10k of my 150k skills money into the team building pot, allowing me to take all 8 positionals, 3 zombies and 3 rerolls. This left enough to take 7 normal skills – two guard golems, guard and tackle wights, two block wolves and a block ghoul were the choices. I was slightly nervous about only having 11 players, but I felt that it was worth it to have a guaranteed third reroll without having to take leader, as well as giving me a blodger to carry the ball with. ‘In regen we trust’ would be the motto for the weekend at any rate.
We journeyed up from London on the Friday evening and ventured into York for a few drinks with our fellow coaches. Despite Joemanji’s insistence we managed to avoid the temptations of Popworld and its revolving dancefloor, and instead headed home for some rest before getting down to business in the morning. Our brains had other ideas however, and we all awoke feeling a lot groggier than we probably deserved after what can’t have been more than 4 pints each. I’m not sure whether this was due to Northern beer being too much for a group of weak Southerners or just the ravages of impending old age. We hopped in a taxi to the venue at York University and steeled ourselves for 6 games of (hopefully) high quality Blood Bowl.
Game 1 – Viking Raiding Party
Duckwing’s Chaos Pact
The draw for round 1 was done a few days before the event so we knew we were playing Viking Raiding Party, who had made the trip from Sweden. The (Norseless) Vikings were real gents and turned up feeling a lot more worse for wear than we were after the previous evening’s festivities (and probably with a lot more reason). I had drawn Duckwing, who arrived with a Chaos Pact team featuring a block Ogre, a guard Troll, a juggernaut Minotaur and a few other players with block/wrestle. He was also packing Lewdgrip Whiparm, who I had never encountered before and was revealed by a quick FUMBBL search to have a good number of annoying skills that I would probably forget at a crucial moment. I was however delighted that there would be at least one player with dodge for my tackle wight to try and justify his inclusion on.
Duckwing won the toss and chose to receive. Fearing the worst, I lined up my zombies but was immediately let off the hook when two of the big guys succumbed to their negatraits in the opening turn’s blocking (misbehaving big guys was to be a feature of the early turns of this game). Duckwing formed his other players into a cage and began to advance to the right of the scrum of big guys and zombies in the middle of the pitch. My rough plan was to blitz away a cage corner to base the ball-carrying Lewdgrip with my tackle wight, hopefully forcing a loner 3+ dodge away (rinse and repeat). The zombies did their job as meat shields well, tying up the big guys for a few crucial turns. The cage corner was removed as planned and my guard wight followed to prevent an easy counter-blitz to remove the annoying tackler. A hazardous situation for the Pact quickly became disastrous as the minotaur rolled a double both down early in the sequence of blocking Duckwing needed to free up Lewdgrip. After the mino (obviously) failed the loner roll, I had an easy 2 dice block on Lewdgrip with the tackler to get the ball free. I hadn’t reckoned on the heroics of a nearby marauder however, who promptly scooped up the bouncing ball on a 6+! Luckily for me I still had my blitz left, which put the erstwhile hero on his back and allowed my block ghoul to scoop up the loose ball.
I may have made a mistake here, as I chose to run the ghoul off towards Duckwing’s endzone with limited support instead of trying to retreat inside my own half and form a cage of my own. This decision was punished the following turn when the opposing dark elf was able to find a 1d pow after 2 GFIs to knock the blodge ghoul down. Happily the armour held and the elf was out of GFIs to collect the ball, but I will definitely think twice about being so aggressive again in similar circumstances. One of my wolves stunned the dark elf the following turn, allowing me to get my blodge ghoul back on the ball and out of range of the rest of the Pact. I was able to kill a few turns here with a rudimentary screen, but some good defensive play from Duckwing forced the score in turn 7. This left him with one turn to reply via throw team mate, or so I thought… Riot! Damn. The Pact advanced into my half, with Lewdgrip collecting the ball and looking threatening. In my following turn I opted to hit the goblin with my tackle wight to prevent the TTM attempt, but was otherwise left to base up players in scoring range and hope no shenanigans came off. Luckily for me Duckwing was out of rerolls at this point and wasn’t able to get the dice he needed to tie things up. My wolves were able to surf two players in the final turn of the half, but the crowd weren’t playing ball and returned them to the opposing team unscathed.
I was feeling good about my chances at this point, which is always a mistake… Blitz! Double damn. I was fortunate that the kick landed out of reach of the Pact, but Duckwing was able to get at least 3 players into my backfield to apply pressure. I hastily formed another rough screen deep in my half and grabbed the ball with my blodger, hoping I hadn’t missed an angle on a potential blitz. My memory of this bit of the game is a bit hazy (likely fear-induced), but I think after some semi-risky dice I was able to get a few of my players off down the sideline for a quick 2-0.
Feeling disaster had been averted, I kicked off again. Pitch invasion! Triple damn. Three of my players stunned, with another 2 zombies immediately stunned on the LOS. This pretty much ruined any chances I had of a sensible defence, and the Pact were able to put in an easy two turn passing score to make it 2-1. We still had a few turns left to play, and after receiving I opted for the courageous option of forming up a cage deep in my own half and trying to stall it out. I was conscious of the possibility of some throw team mate shenanigans, which eventually came in turn 8. After two scatters the goblin was still next to my carrier and I was starting to get concerned, but happily for me he came down in one of the empty spaces in my cage. He heroically stuck the 6+ landing, but it was a bridge too far for him to find the triple pow he needed on a 3 dice uphill block to get the ball out. Martin and Phil had also won their games and Bart’s ended in a draw, giving us the round win.
Final score – 2-1 win
Round result – 3/1/0 win
Game 2 – Tilea Little Ponies
Game 2 brought a matchup with Tilea Little Ponies, who had made the trip over from Italy. We later found out that all their team were ranked in the top 20 in the world with their respective races, which may go some way to explaining how the round turned out. I drew Owen86’s Lizardmen – I find Lizardmen incredibly difficult to play against at the best of times, so going up against one of the best Lizardmen players out there was always going to be a tough ask. Owen had opted for a 12th player instead of a 3rd reroll, and his skill choices were 3 block saurus, a tackle saurus and a sure hands skink (me neither). I won the toss and received, as I didn’t much fancy trying to drive against the lizards likely down players in the second half. I am always wary of putting wolves on the line of scrimmage to block in turn 1, as I find it leaves them far too vulnerable to being blitzed the following turn. Perhaps conscious of how challenging I find Lizardmen, I decided to make an exception to my usual rule, hoping to chip a few sauri (still going with it) off with my claw before Owen could really get going. I was most unhappy to be proved right almost immediately, as neither wolf was able to break armour before one of them was immediately cas’d on Owen’s turn 1 blitz (failed regen). Not exactly the start I was hoping for.
In my following turns I formed a loose cage and started trying to make some progress to the right of the pitch, however Owen clearly smelled blood and set about applying as much pressure as possible. It didn’t take long for him to get a saurus next to my ball carrier with most of the zombies and golems tied up with other players. This was definitely a tricky spot but I had an opening – a saurus was within two squares of the sideline and could be surfed on a 1 die blitz. This would have allowed my ball carrier and some of the faster positionals to leak down a sideline with only skinks able to immediately pursue. The wolf went in: first block – push. Second block – skull. Reroll – skull.
This was obviously not good – I certainly wouldn’t have been able to stall for 8 but would have had a reasonable chance at a score in 5 or 6 had this play worked (although with a coach of Owen’s quality he would very likely have been able to equalise before half time). As it was my ghoul was still stood next to a saurus, who found the pow he needed to pop the ball. The ghoul’s armour held and some pinball followed, with the ball loose at the end of Owen’s turn in two lizard tackle zones. I still had a shot at a recovery, needing a 2 dice blitz and a 1 die push to clear the tackle zones before (hopefully) running off with a ghoul. It wasn’t to be however, as the blitzing wight burned a reroll on a double skull before the 1 die block to clear the last tackle zone also came up with a skull. Owen promptly recovered the ball and make a break for my endzone with a skink. I only had my blodge ghoul in range of his carrier at this point, and although he managed to get 4 dice on the skink he wasn’t able to bring him down. He got exactly what he deserved for his miserable failure and was promptly despatched to the KO bin by a blitzing saurus. With the ghoul removed Owen was able to stall the rest of the half out to score in 8, adding another wight to the casualty pile in the process.
The second half started with the necro down to 8 players against 11 lizardmen, and against a coach of Owen’s quality there was never much chance of saving the game. Owen played excellent mistake-free blood bowl and was rightly rewarded with a turn 8 score to win the game 2-0 (I think by the end I only had 5 players on the pitch). While I had some bad dice at crucial moments in the first half, I was already in a difficult position – the much more significant problem was that Owen just played much better than I did.
My teammates had also had extremely tough games, and the round ended with the somewhat embarrassing result of 4 losses without any of us scoring a touchdown. Phil came closest to achieving that lofty goal, but sadly failed a 2+ to score against Spartako’s wood elves. Clearly it was not to be. We gathered to lick our wounds and regroup before the final game of the day.
Final score – 0-2 loss
Round result – 0/0/4 loss
Round 3 – DBL Debonairs
Round 3 saw us facing off against a team from a fellow London league, the DBL. As you can see from the photo they were dressed to impress, and even turned up wielding a fully stocked picnic hamper. I was matched against Oli’s Humans – he had Mighty Zug, a guard Ogre, and some blitzers with the usual selection of guard and tackle. One of the problems with this roster at 1100k is that you can’t quite fit everything you need in, and in Oli’s case this came in the form of only having 2 rerolls (including leader).
Oli received and I set about trying to put some pressure on as he advanced. As he rightly tried to conserve rerolls, some early bad dice left a golem in contact with a cage corner at the end of one his turns. This gave me the chance to open his cage with a push before blitzing the ball carrier – although this was successful, the ball bounced to another blitzer who was able to make the 5+ recovery. This left me with no option but to create lots of contact and hope the Humans weren’t able to reform the cage the following turn. With most of my team committed Oli had an opening down my right flank, and had he been able to get away with a few players I would have been in serious trouble. Unfortunately for him his ball carrier failed the 1/9 dodge to escape, burning a precious reroll in the process. Although this was thoroughly undeserved, I was able to recover the ball and escape with enough players to stall out the rest of the half to score in 8. Neither side had done much damage and we lined up for the second half relatively unscathed.
The second half kickoff went extremely shallow, and was (somehow) caught by a zombie I had screening off the wide area 1 square deep in my own half. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a zombie in possession of the ball before, and it was an unusual experience to say the least. With the zombie retreating back to the relative safety of a cage as fast as his decomposing legs would carry him, the rest of my team held the LOS and set up to try and make a push into the opposing half.
It was here that I made a mistake that nearly cost me the game. Wanting to get the ball in the hands of a ghoul, I moved my players slightly to the right of the pitch and attempted a handoff in turn 2. I had formed a loose cage and screened off the pitch in front of me well, but only had a few players to my left and underestimated the speed of the human team coming in from the side. The ghoul dropped the handoff (reroll used) and the ball scattered left, with only a few players between it and the opposing team’s blitzers. While this was perhaps the definition of small margins (I would have been fine had the ghoul caught the handoff), it was not a risk I should have taken without more cover for a failure. Kicking myself internally, I crossed my fingers and awaited Oli’s response. As expected, his blitzers flooded in and got tackle zones on the ball. I was able to clear his players out the following turn and recover the ball with a wolf, but from then on I was in a race against the clock as I formed ever more precarious cages while shuffling around deep in my own half. My luck ran out in turn 7 after Oli’s ogre had blitzed into my cage to base the ball carrier – an early double skull from a ghoul to try and clear some pressure burned my reroll, forcing the wolf to try and dodge away from the ogre with no reroll cover. 2, and the ball was on the ground. Mentally resigning myself to 1-1, I looked up just in time to see Oli’s dice bite him yet again – this time a double both down from a lineman ending the turn almost as soon as it started. This left the remaining necro players to surround the ball, and with no rerolls left Oli wasn’t able to dodge through to recover the ball and score. 1-0 then, and probably not a win I deserved after some bad play from myself and some horrendous dice from my opponent. Still, after our crushing defeat in round 2 I was in no position to be picky. Martin, Phil and Bart had also won their games, giving us an overall 2/0/1 record at the end of day 1.
Final score – 1-0 win
Round result – 4/0/0 win
After the games we ventured back into York with some other teams from the ECBBL for dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant called Valentino’s. This establishment even featured a singing waiter who we got to sing ‘TOUCCCHHHDDDOOOWWNNN’ and ‘CASUALTY, CASUALTY’ a few times for us in a lovely rich baritone. It’s the little things, really.
Game 4 – Italian Lame Stallions
Rolex’s Wood Elves
Sunday morning brought with it another match up against an excellent Italian team (spot the theme?), this time led by reigning NAF champion Jawa. I was to face off against Rolex, who had brought Wood Elves to the party. Strip ball/tackle/leader as expected, with block and wrestle linos to round out the skill choices. Rolex sat down at the table and by way of an icebreaker asked me to guess how many blood bowl teams he owned. Figuring I was dealing with your average blood bowling lunatic, I guessed 78.
‘…286’, came the reply.
Armed with the unsettling knowledge that my opponent probably owns more teams than I have played games of blood bowl, I downed my coffee to try and wake myself up and we got underway. I won the toss and made the easy decision to kick, hoping to force a quick score and not wanting to let the woodies do what they do best and defend with a full squad. Rolex had an early double skull on the line of scrimmage and, with the kick having gone very deep, opted not to reroll it. This allowed me to get both wolves and a ghoul in between the line of scrimmage and the thrower in the backfield, hoping to give the pointy ears a taste of their own medicine. The tackle wardancer had other ideas however, despatching my blodge ghoul to the casualty box in turn 2 with ruthless efficiency while the remaining elves flooded back to try and form a screen in front of the ball. Three or four turns of messy play deep in Rolex’s half followed, with the elves edging from side to side while I repeatedly got players in contact with the ball carrying thrower and marked up as many other elves as I could get my hands on. My tackle wight managed to KO the strip ball dancer, but otherwise the armour on both sides held up. Sadly for me the ball carrier managed to avoid rolling any 1s on his dodges away, and in turn 5 the woodies were finally able to make their speed advantage count and leak down the left sideline with the ball on a catcher. I was in trouble here, and after an early opportunity to put pressure on it was looking like the elves would be able to stall out the half by my endzone. Unsurprisingly Nuffle decided this was the right moment to intervene, with a horribly timed double 1 on a turn 7 elf dodge leaving an opening for a wolf to get around the rest of the screen and blitz the carrier. The ball went down, and with some GFIs I was able to get two tacklezones on the ball with everyone else in base contact (see the photo for a ‘plan your own’ elf turn 8). To quote Sir Alex Ferguson it was truly squeaky bum time, and I watched through my fingers to see if Rolex would be able to recover the situation. An early 1 on a dodge used his reroll, but otherwise he was able to find the 1/9 blocks he needed to clear the tackle zones on the ball before his unceremoniously upended catcher hopped back up to pick up the ball and score. Disappointing for me, but definitely not a sequence of dice I could complain about. 1-0 at the half then, with no damage being done in my turn 8 LOS blocking. Crucially the KO’d strip ball dancer was also back in the game.
I received, hoping to Vengabus my way down the pitch to pull out a 1-1 draw. The kick went shallow and, after some more ineffectual LOS blocking, my ghoul burned a reroll picking it up (the consequences of the woodies being able to get to the ball were too severe to let it go). I had expected Rolex to back off initially and play column defence, but he had clearly decided that attack was the best form of defence and went all in with contact straight away. This can be a really tricky situation for Necro, as with half of your team being Ag2 it is difficult to keep the ball protected for an extended period if you aren’t able to do some damage with your blocking. So it was here, and the strip ball dancer leapt into the Vengabus in turn 2 to pop the ball free. The scatter was friendly to me with the ball in two Necro tackle zones, but Rolex had a catcher remaining and rightly went for the recovery knowing that success would effectively end the game. He wasn’t able to make the 4+ dodge he needed however, and the ball scattered to a nearby wight who caught it on a 6 (easy mode).
We were fully into broken play here so I formed a rudimentary cage with my free players, expecting a repeat strip ball attempt the following turn. An early 1 on a lineelf dodge burned the turn’s reroll and aborted the strip attempt however, so I was able to escape down the sideline with my wight and two wolves in support. With the rest of Rolex’s team out of position I had a chance at a turn 5 score, but with only two supporting players I had to leave my carrier one square in from the sideline to form a cage at the end of turn 4. This is always a risky proposition against woodies, and Rolex chose that opportunity to unleash some vintage elven shenanigans. The strip ball dancer made his leap for glory, and after using a reroll on the landing I dared to hope I might survive. This was not to be however, and the 1 die blitz found a pow with the ball scattering off the field. I am not sure whether it would have been possible to have the carrier one square further in to prevent this, but if memory serves it would have given the dancer a route to the carrier without having to leap. Regardless, the crowd were clearly keen for some more touchdowns, and although the long throw in landed next to a zombie a catcher was able to recover it and pass downfield to one of his buddies who sprinted off towards the endzone with no Necro in range. I should note that Rolex carried out this whole sequence of play while singing a jaunty circus tune, so I couldn’t even be mad. A futile revenge surf of the offending wardancer resulted in a casualty, with the lords of the underworld clearly respecting his heroic efforts enough to raise him as a zombie. More importantly, Rolex wasted no time putting in the turn 6 score to seal the win. I had 2 turns left to reply, and after the tackle wardancer cas’d himself on a failed leap I was able to put in a consolation score in turn 8 to end a hugely enjoyable game 2-1. Rolex was a fantastic opponent throughout and I hope I will get another opportunity to face him in future. On the other tables Martin put in a great effort to beat Jawa, while Phil held his opponent to a draw. Sadly Bart also lost his game, so the Italians emerged victorious overall.
Final score – 1-2 loss
Round result – 1/1/2 loss
Game 5 – Team YOBBL
With both myself and the team entering round 5 on two wins and two losses I was keen to close the weekend out with a strong finish. My next opponent was NotSlimShady, who had brought Orcs with a block Troll, some block Black Orcs and a selection of guard and mighty blow on his blitzers. I was slightly wary as this can be a tough matchup for Necro if claw isn’t able to make much of an impression on the Orc armour. The Orcs won the toss and received, with the first few turns being relatively uneventful except for a Black Orc being KO’d by a werewolf. After a few turns I spotted a route to the ball carrier with some cage-opening pushes, and after rerolling the blitz my blodge ghoul was able to get the ball on the ground. The scatter was poor however, and NotSlimShady’s thrower was able to recover and form a new cage the following turn. The following turns were messy to say the least, and I think another Black Orc left the pitch as a KO. My opponent sent some players downfield as a potential receiving threat but I decided to ignore them in favour of putting more pressure on the dwindling Orc cage. This nearly came back to bite me as turn 7 rolled around as, with no team rerolls remaining to safely dodge away, the Orc thrower launched a desperation heave to a downfield blitzer. The thrower did his job admirably, making the 6+ pass with his pass skill, but unfortunately for NotSlimShady the blitzer couldn’t bring in the 3+ catch for a touchdown. Exhaling slightly at being let off the hook after the Orc thrower’s heroics, I swamped the ball to prevent the turn 8 Orc recovery. The disgraced blitzer was knocked down to end any chances of an Orc score, and I (deservedly) didn’t make the 3+, 5+, 3+ sequence I needed to score in my own turn 8.
Both Black Orcs were back for the second half but by this point NotSlimShady was unfortunately feeling quite unwell, and although he soldiered on bravely for a few turns I was able to force my way down a sideline to begin the process of stalling the half out, at which point he asked if we could call the game at 1-0 to the Necro. It was shame to have to end a very enjoyable game of Blood Bowl prematurely, but I very much hope to have a rematch in future when we are both at full fighting fitness. On the other tables Bart had won and Martin had drawn so we were already assured of the round win, and we settled in to watch Phil pull off a near carbon copy of the glorious shenanigans that Rolex had used against me in the previous game to win his match against Dark Elves 3-2 in the final turn. It was nice to be on the right end of it this time!
Final score – 1-0 win
Round result – 3/1/0 win
Game 6 – Beef Patty Conglomerate
Sean_M’s Elven Union
The final round of the weekend brought Elven Union featuring Eldril Sidewinder. Sean had skilled his blitzers with strip ball and tackle instead of dodge, sacrificing the annoyance of blodgestep for some significant additional sacking power. There were also some dodge catchers and wrestle linos, with just the two rerolls including leader on a thrower (it turns out Eldril is expensive). The prospect of two sidesteppers and hypnotic gaze trying to ruin my day was more than a little concerning, so I did my best to shake off the inevitable fatigue that comes with game 6 of any tournament. Sean won the toss and wisely kicked. The kick went shallow and after the bounce it was caught by my guard wight who was set up to block on the line of scrimmage. I set about blocking him free to make a cage in a hurry, and spotted that Sean had left Eldril exposed for a potential turn 1 blitz. This wasn’t an opportunity I was going to pass up and sent my tackle wight in with support from a zombie. Eldril down and armour broken… just a stun! I pushed a few players ahead of the ball to try and establish the drive and waited to see what the elves would throw at me.
The answer was a lot, as Sean did a good job of tying up my downfield players while using his blitzers to put pressure on the layered screen I was trying to construct. I had to ride my luck a bit and made a few 3+ dodges to get my tackle wight back in the game, but I was otherwise able to play keep away just inside the elf half. This was a real battle of concentration as I tried to fill in important squares the blitzers could sidestep to before making my blocks. After a few turns the screen was broken by a hypno gaze/blitz combo, and the ball carrying wight was marked by an elf blitzer. Not fancying more wight dodging I blitzed back at the marker and was rewarded with a knockdown. The blitzers not having dodge was actually very important in this sequence of play, as I was able to get them down more than I would otherwise have been able to while not giving them a chance to use their strip ball/tackle. I shuffled off down the left sideline and tried to keep as many players between my carrier and the elves as possible. Sean had committed a lot of players by this point and I was able to surf a few unlucky elves using frenzy. Things were getting pretty hairy and I strongly considered scoring in turn 7, but with the elf two turner lying in wait I forced myself to hold my nerve for one more turn. I had broken Eldril’s armour a few more times by this point but hadn’t been able to get a removal, and he nearly made me pay with a perfectly timed hypno gaze allowing a catcher to make a 1 die blitz on my carrier. Unluckily for the elves he only found a both down and was promptly lost to the casualty box for his troubles. This left me a relatively straightforward surf on Eldril (still no damage, argh!), before the wight was able to walk in for the turn 8 score.
Feeling elated after an extremely tough drive I obviously chose this moment to make a horrible mistake. Setting up on autopilot to prevent the elf one turner I placed my blodge ghoul in the first line of a chevron defence, leaving a zombie safely in the back row. I only realised I had made this mistake when the ghoul was promptly blitzed by the tackle blitzer, with Sean having opted not to go for the one turn attempt. The armour roll was obviously the 8 my idiocy deserved (behind the ghoul the zombie was laughing), and the ghoul was KO’d before declining to return for the second half. This mistake was compounded by a throw a rock killing the other ghoul on the second half kick-off, and I had almost immediately gone from being in a great position to being down two players with a whole half of elf ball to come.
The kick itself went deep and Sean sent his thrower back to retrieve it, with the other elves pushing into my half to try and set up a screen on the left flank for a quick score – clearly my opponent had no interest in a draw. I think he made a slight mistake at this point by leaving one of his players in contact at the end of turn 1, and I was able to KO this player while my tackle wight got a cas blitzing the remaining elf dodge catcher. This was a big swing and it left Sean without any players in scoring range at the start of his turn 2. I spent the next turn or two trying to hit elves in scoring range while sending my tackle wight downfield to threaten his thrower. I considered sending a wolf in support but didn’t want to overcommit with only 9 players left on the pitch. With the thrower in danger Sean tried to get the ball downfield but fumbled the pass on a double 1. This was disastrous as my wight was able to get the thrower down and recover the ball just inside the elf half. The lack of players with dodge really hurt Sean here, as a few 1s on dodges wrecked his ability to recover the situation and allowed my wight to escape to score in turn 6. Sean set up for a consolation score but Nuffle had truly forsaken him by this point, with his one remaining reroll being burnt on an early double skull. I sent a wolf after the thrower in the backfield, and after Sean’s downfield receiver failed a dodge to get free in turn 8 my wolf was able to smash the hapless thrower and recover the ball for a 3-0 final score that definitely flattered me. My team mates had all won their finals games as well, so we were able to close the weekend out on a high note.
Final score – 3-0 win
Round result – 4/0/0 win
The final standings saw four wins and two losses for both myself and the team overall, with both losses coming to two extremely good Italian teams. It was a fantastic weekend of blood bowl and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is considering the making the trip – we will definitely be back!
Team – 14th out of 68
Individual – 74th out of 272
After 2 days and 6 gruelling rounds of Blood Bowl (as this is how it should always feel), there was one team that elevated themselves above all others to be crowned the UK 2020 Champions – Team Alfea!!
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