Purplegoo Plays… The NAF Chamionship 2019

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    Purplegoo
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    NAFC 2019

    For those that have been living under a rock for the past sixteen years, let me quickly bring you up to speed with the important events as I remember them. The United States of America are now governed by benevolent dictator, prominent Buddhist and inventor of temperature, Taylor Swift. Racism is a thing of the past, thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize winning, life-changing autobiography by Nigel Farage, Come Live in my Back Yard, Friends, There’s Room Here for All. Last, but by no means least, the Blood Bowl, the UK NAF major tournament, moved from Warhammer World to the East Midlands Conference Centre and was rebranded as the NAF Championship. Annually, approximately 200 nerds descend on this astrogranite Mecca; eager to contest one of the most important individual prizes our great game has to offer.

    Now, I avoided blogging about the NAFC last year. As part of this TD gig, I wanted to illuminate a range of events and, quite frankly, there is no annual tournament more blogged about, dissected and discussed than the NAFC. People go so far as to write commentary on the chocolate bars in the food bags, for the love of God. Who needs my two penneth as well? All that said, I had a hole in my blogging schedule this year, so thought I may as well have a go. On the basis this is published a month after the event, you know most of what went on anyway, so go absorb the report over on thenaf.net, read the TFF thread and generally drink in the wider NAFC chat elsewhere. I’ll focus on me and my Blood Bowl here; primarily to not repeat too much of what you’ve already seen, but also because I’m a massive narcissist.

    This year, ‘Furious’ James Gradwell took the organisational reigns from retiring stalwart Hawca, and on the weekend of 4-5 May, the 2019 running of the NAFC took place. Kidding aside, it is always one of the stand-out weekends in my nerding calendar. Frankly, this is not because of the Blood Bowl, the game itself is secondary. The genius of the thing is getting 200 people in one (light, well ventilated) room rolling dice and rubbing shoulders. From hardened, 20 tournament a year addicts to a busload of school children, from foreign megastar to one tournament per year, local casual. The rulespack being hyper-vanilla helps keep the gap between the great and the lapsed tight (no-one can cock-up a three skill Undead roster), and this along with the huge size contributes to the tournament having an ‘anything can happen’, FA Cup sort of a feel. The Conference Centre is a proper venue, one of the few I wouldn’t be embarrassed about taking my mum to. Similarly, I wouldn’t feel embarrassed about taking your mum to the excellent adjoining hotel when I see her. Nottingham is a good night out and there is just that sprinkle of gold dust throughout the weekend that you only get once or twice per year. It’s just a super party.

    Deeferdan and JimJimany, here. I don’t know what has happened to the left of the shot, perhaps they’d heard the reviews of Madonna’s Eurovision set?

    Having spent the Friday evening relaxing in Bugmans and making my annual trip to nerd HQ (still don’t understand what a Slaneesh Generobber is and why a Space Marine wants to shoot it with his laser beam. In the grim distant future, can there not only be pals?), I paused before bed to survey my tools for the weekend. I would be breaking out my Goblin side, the Purplegooblins. I like to play a little bit of everything, and I was yet to attempt a Stunty Cup at a major tournament, much to my shame. Goblins are my favourites of the Stunty qualified; I find Halflings increda-dull, and while Ogres and their ever-shifting series of puzzles are really fun, Goblins have stolen my heart and now swing it about on a chain with abandon. I would line up with two Trolls (Block, Juggernaut), Fungus the Loon, a Fanatic (Mighty Blow), a Looney (Dodge), a Doom Diver and a bunch of Goblins to 15 (Leader day one, 3 x Side-step day two to be a maximum pain in the rear). 2 RR, 2 Bribes and an Apo completed the line-up. There are a few decisions to be made with this list; the Leader Goblin can be seen as a risk, but he is carrying the ball and not seeing contact on D, in a perfect world. The Chainsaw, for me, needs Dodge, he often needs to get to a place and eliminate an issue when shizzle gets real and you have to rip-chord that ‘defending properly’ mother. Otherwise, he’s all about the threat; overuse is an easy way to lose a game. The Apo is important to me over a third Bribe; a Troll off the field cannot be lived with, and often, saving a Goblin now saves a weapon later that you don’t have to field. Your mileage may vary, as they say, but I was happy with my line-up. I was yet to field the ever-dangerous Doom Diver, and some Friday morning maths had made me rather excited about his funky business.

    Strategically with Goblins, I follow the maxim of the great twentieth century philosopher and comedy actor, Mike Tyson. Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the mouth. It’s unusual you will see me writing about causing damage in this space. Good coaches are rarely about pressing for a numerical advantage, and I like to at least to pretend to be one of those. That said, going for the hurts increases variance. A bad thing if you think you’re a better coach with roughly equivalent teams, but a good thing when you’re using a statistically terribad roster. So, the plan is receive, keep the four lots of MB holding the middle of the pitch, getting through as many armour rolls as possible. Back-up with the ‘Saw, kill as much as possible and develop enough momentum and tempo to be able to use positioning. You probably need numbers first to play proper Blood Bowl second. I had no idea how this sort of thing would go at the NAFC. In terms of mean coaching ability, because of the size, the NAFC is decidedly average. You could hit a rich seam of winnable games and go super-well, or you could hit a cluster of the great and the good with tier 1 and be knocked into next week. I would have no confidence in a positive record at say, a Monkeybowl, but at a NAFC, I had delusions of grandeur. I mean, I’m a super competitive guy, I always hope for a win, even with the worst tools going. It’s a personality flaw to add to the otherwise infinitely long list.

    The ref team painted by DarkDan and the Purplegoo Catcher. Much better than my actual face.

    Saturday

    Yogi and Lycos on the ever-popular NAF renewal stand with the new gifts. Yogi rolled every one of those D6; that report formed the cornerstone of his seven hour speech during awards. Also shown: some nerds in progress.

    Gradwell and friends (Alex, Paul and Elliott Gegg and Dan, who did sterling jobs all weekend) set us up for a promptish beginning  and my first opponent was revealed. Goblin games were, as they say, afoot.

    Game 1 – JJ’s Dwarfs, 2-0 win

    Society has taught me that photos of children taken without permission of adults is bad, m’kay. Please enjoy what Google offered.

    Just what I didn’t want to see – Dwarfs. JJ was one of the infamous Caterham kids; super keen on Blood Bowl and too young to be traumatised by a million dice events past. The racial matchup alone would be a significant challenge, but the exuberance of youth and not a whiff of a hangover wouldn’t play into my hands either. Stupid well parented, sober kids.

    Anyway. JJ had three Guard beardy guys and a Boomer (tier 1 got three normal skills day one in their 1.1 m line-up, as opposed to my two double, three normal package). Those that read my nonsense regularly will know I have Boomer PTSD, so there was another thing that would get under my skin before a block was made in anger. I won the toss, chose to receive, and went about punching mouths (don’t worry, child / law fans, I’m talking Dwarf-mush).

    I was incredibly conscious throughout the weekend that I had to keep control of my Fanatical duo. If I lost either too many squares ahead of my offensive drive without backup, a -2D had a 1/4 shot of removal and problem solved. I was focussing hard on keeping a roughly 8 square, flat zone of terror with the Trolls and Fanatics; keeping downed opponents in the mixer, offering a screen to my squishy Goblins, protecting the wings of the Fanatics and rolling as many armour dice as possible. Yes, Dwarfs are AV9. But if you can get 50 % more than the average number of rolls as Fanatics trample over downed beards, you have a shot at putting them on the back foot.

    And so it was. The first couple of turns gave two stuns and a KO and the Goblin machine worked it’s way forwards. This worked well enough for a couple of turns as JJ only had 6-7 Dwarfs with which to properly position on D, but inevitably, even that reduced number is going to cause an issue for a mass of ST2 to punch through. Quickly, the early armour break momentum was lost. A Goblin was killed. A Troll was surrounded and Badly Hurt (Apo). Fungus went the wrong way all four times in one movement, leaving him dangerously vulnerable and acting as if he was deliberately cocking up my lovely offensive screen. Wheels were flying off, and come turn 4, I had to push my luck down a flank and hope what remained of my middle held enough Dwarfs for long enough to protect my ball-carrier and eventually let him score. I left my Chainsaw open as bait, and he was stunned allowing the ball to advance (phew, both on the injury and the bait acceptance). Fungus edged forward slightly more reasonably and found himself in contact with the ever-dangerous Boomer, which was pleasing. That guy can really ruin a push.

    Anyway. The stage was set for no-one’s favourite, stout Bomber. With the first action of turn 5, a fumble on the thrown bomb would have finished the drive as a contest, but instead, the explosive package looped over Fungus’ head, exploded and removed that issue. The Goblin breakaway progressed, now free of chasing Dwarfs (they had been taking care of the Looney), and now two free men marked Boomer. Clumps of hair were torn out as the trick was repeated; both guys went down, Boomer laughed loudly and remained upright, and the drive continued. Crucially at this point, Dwarf bloodlust took over and my now enlarged corner endzone camp wasn’t challenged. JJ Choosing to abandon the chase and instead pick off a straggling Troll gave me 8 turns, and we began the second half at 11 v 10 men in the Goblin favour (although neither Fanatic woke up, the swine. Swines? Whatever).

    The second half wasn’t a contest. JJ was so intent on not letting a Troll enter the corner of his cage that he made zero forward progress. A simple halfway wall was enough to put him off trying, and a long odds, no risk T16 ball shot when the game was up made it 2. A bullet dodged, here, and I’m sure JJ is going to be formidable in the not too distant.

    The tournament mini arrived, lunch was absorbed via my piehole and I looked to see what might be next.

    Game 2 – MARZIM’s Wood Elfs, 2-2 draw

    ‘Mazin’ MARZIM mid-plan

    Just what I didn’t want to see – Wood Elfs. Answers on a postcard as to how I was going to protect the ball or stop a quick score getting my weapons removed. MARZIM arrived with the usual roster and Tackle, Strip Ball and Leader (correct cubed, although one RR, Tree and an Apo is unusual). While I won the toss and received, the combination of a deep kick and a Perfect Defence left me in early trouble. A Troll became immediately glued to the Tree (to his great surprise, I’m sure) and Woodies flooded into my backfield in an incredibly menacing way; looking to separate ball from players. The ball tucked in a deep cage with both Trolls and the Fanatics too far away to assist, the worst was assumed as my team was unavoidably spread and vulnerable.

    As the Goblin cage survived a turn and edged forwards, a colossal couple of rolls ensued. First, the Looney decided it was over for the Tackle Wardancer and knocked it out (I’m sure we’re all making the VROOOM sound effect as we think about that glorious moment). Still reeling from this, the Woodies took a turn off pressuring me and focussed on ridding themselves of Fungus. While this was a success, it did leave the Strip Ball Wardancer exposed, and dutifully it was downed and fouled to death (Apo). With the two Leaping, drive-killing machines off the pitch, I sniffed an opportunity to really get into the Woodies and maybe even score. MARZIM clearly saw the glint in my eye, because on his turn three, he simply ran the rest of the Elves away from danger to wait out until the second half. I guess this was sensible enough, but it was a strange thing to see; Woodies ceding to Goblins after three turns of action!

    Come turn 8, there was a Woodie one-turner that I later worked out to be approximately a 2 % shot. As a coach with a Doom Diver forever looming on the bench to save the result at the last, to complain would be a bit flipping rich, so I didn’t. Well. At least not out loud. Until now. Complain.

    What had been a sedate moonwalk to the endzone had turned into a bit of a disaster. I thought at this point that the most likely end of the game was a Wood Elf 2-1 in T16 and reliance on Doom Diver magic to get back to parity, but instead, MARZIM decided to score in 2 with some moderate dice rolled (the DD sucked up an Apo save on a BH – good boy, Apo). This would more than likely be enough. Nine, weaponless Goblins would have six turns to survive against 10 Woodies including both Wardancers. Good luck, everyone.

    Following the kick, MARZIM pushed the button good and early, and a scrum broke out on halfway as the ball was leap-stripped to deck. There was nothing to be done; with 9 guys, a complicated anti-WD cage and screen isn’t really feasible for 6 turns with ST2 n00bs. Rookie Goblins are not quite as adept as Woodies at winning the massive pile-up, but on a POW in the middle of the carnage, the Strip WD went down. He was fouled to death (again), and a glint of light emerged. The Wood Elf T5 was massive; a pick-up of the still bouncing ball would all but end proceedings. Fail! Now a Goblin must scoop sans RR and then survive the Tackler… Success! During this melee, I think I got players up again as AV7 failed, and slowly, gradually, a chance at a tie emerged.

    The Tackler still loomed after seven Wood Elf turns, but with no re-rolls, the Block Troll locked on, found the 2+, POW, stun and the advanced cage was then enough to secure 2-2. Wow, phew and what a rollercoaster! An emotional wreck, I moved onto game 3 with my winning record just about intact.

    Game 3 – be4ch’s Undead, 1-0 win

    be4ch here, before a ball was kicked. He is one l33t son of a gun.

    Just what I didn’t want to see – another tier one big boy. be4ch featured a Tackle Wight and Sure Handed, Blocking Ghouls; standard roster. Again I was to receive, and again I set out to make with the hurts.

    The hurts didn’t come. The early momentum I was able to generate against JJ didn’t materialise in this case, and instead I blew a re-roll on a Fanatic 1/9 very early in the piece. Sensing a total lack of momentum in my drive, come his turn 2, be4ch pushed the pressure button and made the not unreasonable gambit that a raft of ST2 would not be able to fight off the Undead powerhouse in decent, well-planned contact. A dodge and a GFI left a man on the ball carrier and there was a whole bunch of contact and pressure behind my Troll / Fanatic line in the soft underbelly of the Goblin mass.

    My turn 3 was drive-altering. I backed the ball off a touch including a forced early dodge away from Tackle, but luckily, I was able to KO both Wights during repositioning! I couldn’t get too excited, however, as like an English batting lineup, with Goblins, it matters not how good things look, a collapse can come without warning at any time. In spite of getting two more men up as the half progressed and the Fanatics whirled, I was still fending off all sorts of pressure and contact. My Apo was used on a KO and a further stun gave be4ch some really good local momentum. I had to dodge the ball away from contact once again while in a pickle come turn 5 or 6, and a 3, 3, 2, 2 ball shot (albeit 1D and the scatter zones were not good for the Undead) was the best situation I could leave for be4ch’s turn. Luckily enough for me, the would be sacking Ghoul fell over and died on his way to glory. The numerical advantage grew still further.

    Now against five, my drive was finally secure and unstoppable. The Undead gave up and went hunting the Chainsaw, rather than the football.

    The second half was 10 Undead vs. 11 Goblins including Fungus and the Chainsaw, and importantly, the Doom Diver watched on from the reserve box ready for future deployment. The Undead were still probably favourites here; on a quick score I was out of Bribes and Goblins are still Goblins!

    I survived the LoS and immediately managed to KO the Tackler in return for a KO’d Goblin, so 9 v 10. be4ch was clearly pushing forwards early and left a shot at surfing a Ghoul in my turn 2; he had slightly over-extended in his eagerness. While this was a success, it left all sorts of contact and I feared the worst, however, to my great fortune, an early dodge fail and a Chainsaw to the ball carrier blew up be4ch’s position entirely, and his goose was cooked. I had the a two man advantage, position and the ball. Although…

    All be4ch had left to save the game was his Ghoul being a hero and dodging through my players to the all-but-unassailable ball carrier. The sequence to down the ball was 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 2, 2, 1D POW, ball into the crowd, thrown 10 squares the wrong way, Mummy picks up on a 5. Imposs… Holy moly, it all hit (he had the good grace to re-roll the pick-up). My amazement and now terrible position was compounded by an immediate snake, and I thought that was it, a certain win to a tie in one pretty hardcore sequence. Luckily for me, however, Mummies are slow and Fungus the Loon is an amalgamation of Tom Brady, Jonah Lomu and Emile Heskey. Fungus danced through the Undead and found a 1D POW on the Mummy, game saved. The lesson here, friends, is never mess with Fungus the Loon. Unless you are Boomer.

    So, day one over with and I was somehow 2/1/0. That is some mighty fine resultage, and any of the games could have gone south at any time. I retired to a local burger joint to absorb my yearly RDA of cow and prayed the morning would bring something beatable. Somehow. I’ll admit, the dream / delusion was still alive overnight. You can’t help but be unrealistic at 2/1/0 with Goblins!

    Sunday

    I took this photo of a best painted candidate team, so must have thought them good. Unfortunately, my lack of photography skill has come to the fore once again, and between this image and the other, blurry shot of what might be some refs, I have once again failed my iPhone.

    Game 4 – Whitey’s Orcs, 0-2 loss.

    Whitey here, I’m assuming that’s not a political point.

    Just what… Well, you get it by now. But in this case, Orcs really were going to cause me a proper issue. Fanatics don’t particularly like a wall of ST4+; when 3D blocks become 1/9 pitfalls, things can go awry quite quickly, and so it proved here. The big, green roadblock was not to be overcome. Whitey featured two Blocking BOBs, 2 Guard, a Tackle and a Mighty Blow. Not half bad.

    As is customary, I received, although I was put into bat this time in the rain. The implosion was immediate. My first turn was a series of pushes and missed pick-ups, Whitey’s was engaging all of the strength everywhere he could. Turn two, and for the first time, I switched off on my Fanatic positioning and lost Fungus. I half thought I’d let him wander down a side to protect a quick push forwards, I half thought it was a bad idea and should stay central, and in the end I did neither well by not thinking it through properly and just lost the position. Again, no ball scoop. Whitey then dispatched my poorly positioned Loon and KO’d another Goblin, and although I was able to scoop the ball this time, the weight of Orc pressure was just too much. I was reduced to trying to clear a path with the Chainsaw, and on a snaked kickback, the drive was over. Not because of a snake, because of a poorer than average blocking, a bad Fanatical manoeuvre, the rain, Kevin Spacey, global warming and just about everything else that could possibly go wrong in life. Glum central.

    From about turn 4, Goblins left the field in droves. 0-1 at halftime became 0-1 and only Trolls remaining by turn 11, so we shook at 0-2 there and then. A total disaster of a match, but surely it was about time I had one of those. Well done to Whitey; it’s often easy to stand off of Stunties and forget that they’re Stunties. Get it right up them and there is commonly not much to be done.

    My mood going into lunch was grim as the dream of an undefeated weekend was dead, but luckily for me, I was introduced to the majesty of a white chocolate Twix, and suddenly, all was again right with the world.

    Game 5 – Max_Horseman’s Undead, 1-1 draw

    Max, here. He was on the first Team England Eurobowl winning team. I think that was in 1978, we’ll have to cut Paul Gegg in half and count the rings to work it out properly.

    Still no 16 Snotling roster, eh? Early Team England Undead, you say? Bah!

    This would turn into quite the crazy contest. Max’s Undead roster was a little unorthodox; Guard Mummy, Guard Wight and four Block Ghouls. Backing up the Blodge was Sinnedbad, the Side-Stepping Stab machine. Interesting!

    I would again begin the argument. My first turn was a little awkward, but I made the breakthrough in turn two as Fungus (who would eventually prove himself to be the MVP here once again) KO’d a Zombie and killed the non-Guard Mummy (Regen!). Max responded by trying to throw everything into contact, but this backfired as the move generated more successful blocks for me, and by the end of turn 3, the Undead were down to 7 men and 1 re-roll. More so than any other game on the weekend; the line of four MB in my advancing screen were able to get armour roll after armour roll on Zombies and positionals that couldn’t escape effectively, and it led to an early, somewhat embarrassing numerical advantage. I say embarrassing because we had an audience of observers ribbing me that I was removing plenty of Undead with lowly Goblins. Don’t get me wrong, getting a nudge on like this was lucky, of course it was. But when you are generating extra armour rolls via Fanatics, blitzing with MB every turn and applying the occasional Chainsaw, the lower-than-you-think average Undead armour doesn’t always hold up.

    Still, these are Goblins. When Max pressed the contact button even harder, I decided I needed a key Chainsaw removal of a Blodging Ghoul to make progress. On a kickback snake, it seemed that all of my good work had been undone. The ball survived four big dice here after the huge failure, and I was then able to lock the position up and score in 8. Max had not fielded Sinnedbad, so he came on for the Undead turn 8 only to get immediately sent off. Tidy.

    I went into the second half with a single player advantage at 11 v 10 in the rain It could have been better, but Max’s Regen and KO rolls had been fabulous. Again, being Goblins, the risk of a fast score and an Undead win was real; my Bribes were gone and AV7 could fail en masse at any time. I had to keep concentrating and pressing hard with momentum whenever I got any.

    Max began to push down my left flank. An early handoff (remember it was raining) told me all I needed to know; he was pushing to win. With that in mind, following a stun early in turn two, Max moved the regenerated Mummy into the face of the Chainsaw, perhaps challenging me to put focus there or lose the weapon next turn. The Chainsaw noted the Mummy, shrugged, and killed it. For the second time, the Mummy regenerated, willing to come back for yet more carnage, probably noting I was out of bribes and there would be no more weapons to hurt it. Now down to 9, Max’s position began to unravel. The Mummy killing had left the Chainsaw exposed, but I considered that not a disaster, as pushing down my left was probably going to get Max into trouble. Instead, a second handoff switched the play to my less defended right.

    The combination of a Troll, Fungus and two Side-Steppers, however, left my right flank well enough defended after 4 turns. Or so I thought. Max pushed the button and made six or seven absolutely critical 8/9 dodge rolls and multiple GFIs with his Ghouls, pushing the ball carrier and a screen deep into scoring range. This was a bit of a sickener as I thought I’d done enough and a single fail would have ended the game, but I guess two down, Max had to push.

    The screen defended the Blodging ball carrier against my one blitzing threat, the Dodge Chainsaw. Up stepped Fungus. What I needed was one push on one of three Ghouls in four movements. What I got was Fungus hitting the ball twice, and while no POW, he pushed the Ghoul over to the right side-line. With the position developed, I was then able to surf the carrier, reduce Max to 8 and get the ball to a very probably much better position. Hooray! I say hooray, on a missed pick-up, some bingo happened, and a Wight caught the ball on a 5. A 1D push would have gotten the Wight into the zone of Chainsaw terror, but alas, Skull. A better than expected turn turned into a worse than expected outcome, and on another handoff, it was 1-1 in 6.

    Gutted that a likely win had probably ebbed away, my 9 Goblins lined up to try and score in three against 10 Undead. I say score, more likely not lose. However, I got a decent kickoff roll, as a touchback gave me a decision to make. 

    The Doom Diver was in the game, and this was potentially his one chance all weekend to shine. Option a was to attempt the TTM now. I would score a TD on a 2, 2, 3, 3. 51 % with a re-roll, considering Loner on three of those rolls. Max probably wouldn’t be able to respond in two turns in the rain. Option b was to put it into the hands of a Side-stepper and push my whole active team (6 guys, more or less the way I’d set up) down the right flank. I wouldn’t be able to score in 7, but I had calculated that with a couple of 8/9 dodges and maybe a couple of 1D blocks, 8 was likely possible if Stunty did it’s thing. As a second prize, on a fail it would be miles away from my own endzone.

    I picked option b and second guessed myself for the entire remainder of the weekend. Max jammed everything in and made it incredibly difficult, but on some tough rolls and with a bit of luck, I had the ball screened and looking good for a T16 score. Up steps the 5+ Ghoul dodge, 1D POW, and the dream was dead.

    1-1, then, and I was sick as the proverbial parrot. I had clearly had some luck to get men up early, but both Max’s TD and my lack of winner felt tough to take. Such is Blood Bowl, however, and I was perhaps paying the price for my terrific first day!

    Game 6 – Miserable’s Chaos Dwarfs, 1-0 win

    Clearly, Miserable takes his nickname from the Little John school of nicknames. Nottingham, innit?

    I’ll remember this game for one spectacular moment and a lot of backside clenching. Chaos Dwarfs are, clearly, not what you want to see with Stunties. I could feel an average 2/2/2 overall result beckoning, but having won the toss, I crossed my fingers and hoped for anything I could jam. The CDs were the standard, no Mino 3RR and Apo roster, 3 Guard, MB, Block and BT Bulls. Perfect build, if you ask me.

    With no early momentum generated this time from my initial couple of turns (bloody Thick Skull), my drive felt like it was grinding to a halt early. On turn 2, I felt like I had to at least show a left hand flank push to try and find a weak point in a shifting defence. With no weak point found and Dwarfs increasingly marking errant Trolls out of the game, my push became more urgent. The Break Tackle Bull was around the back of my position and probing. The Block guy was exerting a 9 square zone of terror. Hobgoblins were looking mean and being well hidden. I made an attempt to use the Fanatics to suck up 2-3 CDBs. This was risky, as the 1/4 removal was not unlikely, but with a bit of luck, it could generate me some much needed relief near the ball and open some space into which to push.

    Luck did not follow, and Fungus bit down on the 1/4. I dived right, hoping to out-flank Dwarfs, but things looked problematic. I managed to generate just enough forward momentum to score, but turn 5 is bloody early, and I didn’t fancy my chances of holding out for the half and maintaining my weaponry. Both Fanatics were gone already, and losing my Chainsaw as well would finish my gimmicks (well, bar the DD. But he was very much a bench threat rather than an every turn issue to deal with).

    The Block Bull scooped the kick-off around halfway, and I was now struggling to see how ST2 kept him out of my endzone. I couldn’t maintain a LoS (my Trolls decided not to bother playing), and my final play to box the ball in sufficiently was undone by a 1/9 fail on a block. The gig was up. Through went the Bull, and he looked unstoppable. Unless, that is, a Goblin could dodge twice, hit him -2D, knock him over (1/9) and then the local Hobgoblin then failed a 3+ pickup, 3+ pass, 4+ Bull catch with RR. Seemed unlikely, that. But sometimes, unlikely happens, and somehow, 1-0 was maintained. Miserable was, well, miserable, and I can appreciate why as that must have been a sickening blow. What a moment.

    I had expected that manoeuvre had only saved a tie at best. My numbers were dwindling (my final 11 faced 11) and lightning was unlikely to strike twice. Miserable clearly fancied winning, and continued his policy of handing off to Bulls for the incoming big push. Knowing my chances would only get worse as the half wore on, I took an early opportunity to dodge with a Goblin and accept -2D on the ball, looking for pushes into a waiting Troll’s zone of terror. I got the pushes, got the Bull down and suddenly, we were into a bouncing ball scrum and in the game. As the half wore on, possession would transfer to my Troll (!), then to a Hobgoblin. A Chainsaw ended his participation, but his Hobgob buddy gratefully sucked up the bouncing ball between two Trolls. He would attempt a handoff into trouble to break away and look unassailable… Fail! The Chainsaw would solve problems for three turns running as the mega-contact was beginning to tell in the Chaos Dwarf favour. Without his crucial 2+, 6+ rolls, I think the gig would very likely have been up. Finally come T6 or so, a Hobgoblin scooped the ball, failed a dodge and I could get to safety to wait out the rest of the game. I think we recorded two early lots of turn ending double skulls each in this sequence of harem scarem turns, and we likely both thought we were going to get away with the ball multiple times, only for a Troll to stupid, a dodge to fail or a Chainsaw to come to the rescue. A crazy half and a creditable result.

    Miserable was a gent about all of this. It must have been a real bugger to suck up the 1/9 Bull hit at the end of the first half, and losing the mega-scrum against Goblins is unlikely. Phew.

    I abused my position as ref to watch the first ever NAFC overtime from the stage over the pitch. You can watch the game on theTacklezone You Tube! Well done Jawa, what a result against serial winner KFoged. Grats!

    Final reckoning, 3/2/1 – 42nd(I think?) out of 190-odd.

    In the end, I think I am pretty bloody happy with 3/2/1. I played 6 tier one teams, I was lucky enough to receive six times (kicking first can go pretty badly against some of these races, I think) and had my fair share of hugely lucky moments. I felt a little hard done to in each of the ties, but then I remember that with Goblins, you need a bit of luck to look good enough to feel hard done to when bad things eventually happen. Plus, I’m sure Miserable will remember that super-Goblin for a long time.

    I missed out to the beautiful Wilf for the Stunty Cup on tie-breakers; no argument as he only lost in game 6 and was up in amongst it all weekend. Well done, sir.

    For those yet to make the pilgrimage to the NAF Championship, you should. You will probably have better ‘Blood Bowl game’ weekends, but it’s unlikely you’ll have too many better ‘Blood Bowl gathering’ times. It’s a genuine pleasure to meet up with so many friends both old and new in a terrific venue, and the organisation of so many nerds remains consistently excellent. Tell you what though, more than all of that, they gave me a white chocolate Twix. For that, I will be forever grateful.

    I’m not actually playing again until September. So with that in mind, this blog now goes on hiatus. Until then, have a boss summer, enjoy your Blood Bowl and get hold of that Farage autobiography. It changed my life.

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