I’ve gone by many names. Purplegoo is the one that you may know me by, and to be honest it’s becoming increasingly embarrassing that you do as 40 approaches. Phil, sure. Philip, hello mum / Paul Gegg. Nicole! Yes, I saw that ad too, you’re the first person to make that joke. Idiot, of course. Pillock, moron… Oh, you get the idea. Many names. Before this past weekend, ‘Uncle Phil’ was an alias that I had only ever heard in the wild when James Earl Jones and his multiple award winning (I assume / expect) portrayal of Will Smith’s Bell Air relative had been mentioned. Remember when Will Smith was good? Showing your age there, gentle reader. Anyway, a few weeks back, PeteW dropped me a line and asked if I wanted to join the family, or TeamW (PeteW and son ThomasW) as it’s known in nerd land, for the three-man team tournament, COSH Team Tournament 1 in Colchester, England. How could I refuse? Well, obviously, I didn’t, otherwise this would be a very short and pointless blog. Even more pointless than usual (shut up at the back). I could see only one downside with this plan, and that was getting to Colchester.
Uncle Phil sporting an excellent £3 TeamW visor
Those of you that have driven in the East of England will know that getting anywhere quickly is impossible. If you aren’t drowned in a Fen because light drizzle puts the whole area under water, you’re on a beautiful, if inefficient, 30 mph B-road to (seemingly) nowhere fast. It is beyond my understanding why someone, anyone has not whacked a proper motorway through the middle of East Anglia, but they haven’t. As such, Colchester was a bit of a jaunt in spite of being bloody close to me on the map. I almost prefer going to Manchester; while double the journey in hours, it’s probably quadruple in actual distance, since they have actual roads up there, and you feel like progress is actually being made. I only mention this stuff so that when the NAF chopper Kickstarter goes live next year, you’ll feel moved to part with your hard-earned so I have to drive less to play. Please give generously, I deserve a ‘chopper and Santa isn’t playing ball. If you reach a certain level of backing, you get to stand with me and shout ‘Get to the ‘chopper’ with an actual ‘chopper in the background I can get to. Are you supposed to write ‘chopper, is that apostrophe appropriate? I’m locked in now, best not to check.
Anyway. Geographical laments apart, the field for this four game event was to be comprised of 12 x 3 man teams (or ‘squads’, as the Dornbirn fluent will forever know them), and the makeup of squad (see Torsten? I do listen) races was interesting. No restrictions of any kind (so three lots of Chaos Dwarfs were possible for example, as fellow blogger Wotfudboy details in his far better prose over here) were in effect, but the skill improvements were a bit fruity. Depending on the combined strength of your three rosters, each team had access to the same skill package of varying usefulness. Three lots of tier one? 4 normals each. In our case, we had two tier two teams and a tier three, so 6 normals, 2 doubles each. This could probably lead to some fascinating metagaming in the right hands, especially with the tiers that some powerhouse races had been listed in, but TeamW just took what they wanted to take and the chips fell where they fell. Because we are W-ballers. Start that hashtag, right now, someone. Full rules here, for the interested.
Captain, leader and father of the group PeteW manfully sucked up Ripper-inspired Goblins such that my other partner and I could profit from more skills. What a man. A global glicko avoiding man, some say. Son and child genius (it says on his lunchbox) ThomasW was running tier two Lizards. I know, right? COSH was a three tier system, and Lizards were in the middle. I don’t think I’ve seen that before, but Thomas welcomed being able to run 8 Block Lizardmen, and as such, probably had the strongest race in the room by a distance. Uncle Phil decided on Necro.
Now, I certainly have a love / hate relationship with the Necromantic Horror. More accurately, hate / hate, I suppose. To date, I had managed 5 NAF games with them, and frankly it felt like 5 too many. I think my issues with the race stem from a 100+ game league team I had online that were forever scratching around to replace Werewolves and Flesh Golems. Also, at 1.1 on a NAF weekend, you never get all you want. Lastly, and most importantly, it feels like no race benefits more from the fashion for tiering in BB at the moment, and as such, everyone uses Necro all the bloody time and it drives me mad as it defeats the object of the tiers thing. But anyway. As my joint least-used team, I decided it was about time, and I became part of the problem for a day. 12 men, all the positionals, 2 RR, AC / CL (usually 2 FF, but here every team started with 5 free FF, which I think is a great rule to reduce randomness). I had Block / Guard Fleshies, MB / Block Wolves, Leader / Wrestle Ghouls and Tackle / Guard Wights. Literally everything I could ever want, and probably the only time in the year I could have it all. Thanks to Pete and his Goblins, and Thomas and his tier two Lizards. Roflcopter. NAFlcopter, of course, will not be as funny as a Roflcopter, but it will be better for me.
Saturday – Game time
After a 6 am start and a TeamW car journey down the B3454367 to nowhere for what felt like days (I promise I’ll drop this now), we arrived. The venue was an increasingly common sight; a unit on an industrial estate kitted out to sell nerd toys with a playing area upstairs. I must confess that the leaking roof on a bitterly cold day didn’t fill me with enthusiasm, but when we warmed up and the drops stopped, all was well. Blood Bowl was joined.
Nerds nerding in Nerdtown
Game 1 – Tank15’s Chaos Dwarfs, 2-1 win
I didn’t ask his opinions on Jose, but I’m guessing Tank is pro-Mourinho for now
‘Chorfs’ as everyone in the room seemed to be calling them (is that big on the interweb megahighway with the Blood Bowl kids, or something?) were also tier two in this eccentric ruleset, so were popular. Tank was one of a lovely team of Tank, Touchdown and chucklehead, two of which are recurring Cam Dubbers, and as such, all right by me. He was sporting 12 men, 2 RRs with Blocking Bulls, a Claw Mino and 3 Guard CDBs. Bish, bash, bosh. We had recently tied in a ‘one for the purists’ game, 0-0 at Cam Dub, so I knew he could do some useful things with his toys.
I lost the toss and kicked, and immediately, the Mino was about his business. In the first two turns I received a CAS (Regenned Zombie) and two stuns, and I knew I would have to bide my time to rediscover some tempo before doing anything in a non-passive way. Since I had 1/9’d an early surf opportunity on my right that required a number of my players, Tank took the opportunity to jump down my more lightly defended left. Now, with slow teams, it is always tempting to extend too far and not be able to grind out 8 turns (it’s almost as if you have to win the drive twice), so I knew that if I could get back into the game somewhat, Tank’s ball carrier might be pressured into an early score. That’s exactly what happened, as a Wild Minotaur led to a dead Guarding CDB, which opened a hole and allowed a sweeping Werewolf to down the ball on two GFIs on my T4. While it wasn’t a good scatter and there was no scoop available, it completely upset any shot at stalling Tank had, and he had to score in 5. The pace of the Necro really got me out of a bind, here. I was immediately on my heels following the LoS and the stuns, the surf on my right sucked in men and I lost further position, and I was annoyed at my Flesh Golem placement. They were a little too far apart, they were easy to mark up and as such, they were not nearly as annoying as they should have been. Notes on FG use made for the rest of the day, here.
My reply wouldn’t be easy, only having 4 turns. On turn 7, I was able to push a cage and a little screen into range on my right. Tank went full contact here; marking the front of my formation with the Block Bulls, pinning everything else and throwing men in. Finally, the Mino would blitz the corner of the cage and leave me a fair few dice to score. Only, it found a 1/9 and made my life easier. I very probably made an error, here. I needed three 1/9’s (two of which had Block, the other Dodge) and a GFI to (hopefully) both surf a Bull and score in the same turn. The non-surf option required one fewer 1/9. I don’t know if I got infected by the bloodlust here, but I took on the surf. Re-roll used on a double skull, everything got squeaky bum, but I scored in the end. It was potentially such a big moment, I think my eyes got too wide. Probably because this felt like a tough fixture, and breaking the CDs down for a second time would be that much easier if the Bull was dead. A little risk for a big reward, but likely not the time.
Anyway, TD scored, and the second half was a procession. The Mino was KO’d early, and when a second Guard Dwarf bit it, Tank’s defence unravelled. I probably would have gotten away without scoring in the first half, but I’m glad I did, as scoring twice in a half is never ideal. Pete’s Goblins overcame chucklehead, and Thomas’ Lizards got a draw with Griff powered Humans for TeamW to go 2/1/0 through the first game.
The W’s debate a manoeuvre
Game 2 – paulwinter’s Skaven, 3-1 win
Paul was a bit confused as to why anyone would want a picture. Because blog, Paul! I hope you are either not confused now, or just overcome with confusion as to why anyone would do this. I am used to that feedback
It was lovely to see Paul again, as he represents a Chelmsford Bunker resurgence. A grand old English BB name, great to have them back and playing with a MrFrodo / howlinggriffon fronted league back up and running. Around Chelmsford? Look them up! Anyway, Paul’s squad had gone three tier one, which meant only four skills. In this case, that equated to four Block Gutter Runners, and the roster was filled out with Kreek Rustgouger.
I kicked to Paul, and Kreek was useless, spinning about my players. Paul actually left me a T1 blitz on the ball, but with Blodge it would be tough and the scatter likely crap, so I turned it down. As Paul’s drive wore on, I was able to KO two Gutters, but just when I was applying the squeeze, I lost a Zombie and a Wight. 9 v 9, and the pitch looked big, all of a sudden. Big enough for Gutters to escape and hide. I was able to surf the ball in T3 or 4, but the scatter was not kind, and it allowed Paul a scoop and a return surf in the same turn. 8 v 8. I got the ball down again, and considering the state of the pitch (all control was gone due to the nature of the surf, counter surf and the big throw-in), I went to score in my turn 5. Two GFIs needed.
I forgot it was snowing, and fell over the line rolling a 2. I was in this situation because Paul made 4 3+ rolls in the previous turn to push me out of range, but it’s a rookie error, forgetting the weather (especially since Pete had given us an ‘it’s a Blizzard’ token. D’oh). Fortuitously, I was able to move a Storm Vermin and scoop in the following turn, 1-0 against the head. I do hate weather. I mean, I like forgetting Sweltering Heat (who doesn’t?), but it is easy to forget the ones that impact dice rolls. I need to write it down when it happens, I suppose. In this case, I would have had to have tried to score anyway, but I could have done without the crushing disappointment of remembering I had failed after I thought I had scored!
Paul had two turns to equalise, and ended up throwing his ball carrying Gutter deep into my half on his own. I was able to find a POW on four dice, and eventually get 2-0 before the half with some jammy handoff action. That was effectively end of game, and we scored a TD each in the second half as the contest fizzled out as Skaven armour began to give. All three members of TeamW won here, so we were on a very handy 5/1/0 overall. A pleasure to see / play Paul again; I hope he’s back for the long haul! I was happy enough with my patience in this game, but less so my forgetting of the weather, which isn’t really good enough.
Game 3 – mark_b’s Lizards, 3-0 win
Here is Mark, preparing for battle. Maybe his nick is mark_battle, but shorter?
This would be tricky. Because of his squad’s racial choices (there were some ‘Flings in there, and they did for Thomas’ Lizards in this fixture), I was facing 6 normal skill, 2 double Lizards here. Mark had a Block Krox, a Wrestle Skink, and 2 Block, 3 Guard Saurus. He reasoned there would be a lot of Lizardmen in these rules and Guard was a good meta pick, and I think he had a point! I was worried about the fixture. Playing it in reverse, it feels like a cruise unless the Necro coach presses the randomise button (become over-reliant on Claw, or foul plenty, or both), and I’m not big into that. Not only am I not a fan of having to play in that manner to have a shot, it can go very wrong, very quickly!
Thomas battles the ‘Flings. they have a whole nation, you know?
I kicked, and rolled a Perfect Defence. This meant I could minimise opening turn damage and stay in the drive for a bit, which I liked. Mark hurt nothing and muffed the pickup. I smelled my chance.
This was probably my one shot at forcing a broken, stretched game and taking the tempo out of Mark’s hands. I marked the ball, threw zombies and Fleshies into contact, immobilising the Saurus and Krox, left the Tackle Wight looking mean and generally went all chips in in my turn 1. This could, of course, go awfully. Everything could die and I could have cost myself a shot at defending properly. But I think I was right in thinking it was my best shot at winning the game, and I’m happy I went at it. No Break Tacklers was a big deal; I’ve written how much I like them in this space before, so I won’t drone on. Stop laughing.
Anyway, the Lizards recovered the pigskin and scored a KO. The ball couldn’t get safe, so we had a couple of turns of the ball changing hands; one dice POWs here, Skink hit-squad multi-dodging there. A real rollercoaster. The longer this went on, the more it favoured Mark, as he was breaking armour and manoeuvring Saurus out of contact, ready to get stuck in and lock the position down. In the end, my turn 4 was he vital moment. I could either down the ball with my Wrestler, scoop and score on moderate dice, or my gamble had failed and the Skinks were probably away as Mark had all but engineered a recovery. Luckily for me, it all hit, and 1-0 Necro.
Mark knew he had to get back into it, but had plenty of time to do so. His Krox was absolutely useless throughout the fixture, and he managed to double skull at an awful time, leaving me the ball shot and an invitation to go maximum contact in T6. It looked very much as if it would be 1-0 at the half because I’d managed to cause Mark enough trouble to stop him scoring (a couple of Skinks had been removed to the KO box by this point, and neither of us fancied Saurus pickups), but I had a final, almost throwaway attempt at a 4+ handoff and a blitz through a Skink / 2 GFI for 2-0 with no re-rolls in turn 8. When all that hit, I exhaled pretty loudly.
Mark had played well. He’d had a bit of poor fortune, but I had been happy with how and when I’d identified my best shot of upsetting his momentum during both of his drives. This felt like a game that could have easily gone very wrong. In spite of a -2DB double POW, my 3-0 score was relatively sedate, and I got to watch the end of Pete’s game as a win became a tie in the dying moments. 1/1/1 for the round, and on we went to play for the marbles. Bad luck Mark, here, and the fixture from the day I am happiest to have won.
Game 4 – Goldfish’s Chaos Dwarfs, 3-0 win
He didn’t have this beard when last I saw him. Jack Jr, presumably part of the squadron of vultures, ready for action
Son of Vulturesquadron was back and leading his team after a four year hiatus from the beautiful game. Besters and Vulturesquadron are always a dangerous pairing, so young Jack was clearly showing no ring rust being on table one of the fixture! He was sporting 3 Guard, and Blocking Bulls and Mino. Solid.
It is rare that turn one / two totally decides a fixture, but it absolutely did here. I kicked, and rolled Perfect Defence. While Jack had stacked the line so I couldn’t stop him hitting my poor LoS trio, he had lined up his Mino wide to my right. I sniffed a baiting opportunity, and lined up a Fleshie within sniffing distance. However Jack attempted to hit the FG, I would have a shot at a fairly elaborate, 5 man surf, considering where I had positioned the rest of my team. I felt that Jack would want to be using the Mino, and it was worth pushing a FG wide to try and maximise the temptation.
The bait was taken, and in a flash, the Mino had been surfed. The crowd ripped him to bits, and he Casualty was a cruel blow. My gambit had, however, left a gap on my left, and with a GFI and a handoff to a central Bull, Jack could be away into my half, leaving only a 1D opportunity. I felt that this was a risk I was willing to take; the very worst I expected was the opportunity of a 6 turn drive for 1-1 at half time, the best was a dead Mino and the ball on a good 1D. It actually got better than that (so I suppose it wasn’t ‘the best, above. Whatever); Jack snaked the GFI, and the ball was basically free on halfway, ready for me to gratefully accept.
Bang, dead CDB. About 6 POWs in my T2. Another KO. Ball scoop and run away. By his own admission, Jack’s head went down here, and the game finished in triple quick time as the Claw / MB went wild and armour failed everywhere. A whirlwind later, and it was 3-0.
I shook hands and took up residence watching Pete. Thomas had been bested by Besters’ High Elfs (a line I should have used before!) and the table behind us featuring two potential tournament winning teams was dead level. A PeteW Goblin win over Jack Sr’s Necromantic would give TeamW the tournament win. Pete scored for 1-0 in T14, could he hold on, Jack holding no RRs..? He couldn’t, and the game finished 1-1. There were now 4 teams on an effective 2/2/0 record, and we’d have to wait until awards and see who had amassed the most bonus points. Yet more squeaky bum time. We could probably rename Blood Bowl to ‘Squeaky Bum Time’, but I suspect that would negatively impact sales. Sad really, as it’s almost as fair a description of what goes on.
Final reckoning – 4/0/0 (TeamW 2/2/0), first place twice!
TeamW brandishing the gold
Being the only coach on 4/0/0, I took the individual honours, and we found shortly afterwards that the team had also won having had the best weekend when considering pesky bonusses. I’ve always liked bonus points. It had been a fine, if extremely tiring day. 4/0/0 is great, of course, but it could have gone very differently. There were a couple of little things I didn’t do as well as I could have done, but as the day went on, I think my level improved significantly, and I got some good / lucky wins over good opposition. It was a pleasure to be Uncle Phil for a day, and I’ll be wearing my visor to weddings, funerals and the pub in future. My glow in the dark trophies fit right in with the Christmas decorations, so that’s a double win. Until next time, Colchester. Make sure you invest in a helipad, the generosity of the NAF membership is unmatched.
I’m taking a little hiatus from blogging over the Christmas break, so have a lovely time, and I hope Santa brings you everything you want. If he finds some helicopters, mind, me first. OK?
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