German Team Bowl 2018
For the second time in 2018, this September I visited lovely Germany to play lovely Blood Bowl. The destination was Cologne in the centre-west of the country, and this time, I was part of a four-man posse contesting the German Team Bowl. Coaches had come from far and wide to compete for the title of German Team Champions; ten countries were represented in a strong, multi-cultural field of almost 90. I do enjoy playing in Germany. I think the German BB culture is closest in character to the UK’s when compared to the other big European nations. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love an outpouring of emotion and a blur of expressive arm-waving at a failed 2 + in romantic (albeit rustic sounding) French or Italian, but playing in Germany is very similar to playing in England. A one? Jolly unlucky, old chap. Poor show. Well, probably ‘das poor show’, in this case.
As is tradition, we flew out a couple of days in advance to soak in the culture and ambience of the place (read: soak in as much pork and beer as we could). Being next door to Dusseldorf, it’s perhaps not a surprise to a serial Dungeonbowler that Cologne felt like a very familiar town. The city was somewhat industrial, but as you arrive in the main train station, the striking features of a huge cathedral and an impressive, padlock filled bridge catch you square between the eyes. We spent 48 hours on pleasant trips up and down the Rhine (thanks to ‘Captain Birdseye’ Dave Downes’ love of all things nautical), scaling the religious architecture and eating pig for three meals a day. The pleasing German tradition of immediately replacing your exhausted beer and marking a new purchase on a beermat thankfully didn’t lead to any embarrassing ‘Brits abroad’ type incidents (you have to almost threaten violence on the ninja-like waiting staff to stop drinking, but a furious ‘nein’ while crossing your arms repeatedly eventually communicates the never ending lager must end), and come the evening on the Friday, we relocated to the tournament venue. The German Team Bowl (GTB) was housed in a large, bright and spacious youth hostel, and eating, sleeping and playing under one roof at a tournament is always a positive. Cologne is a nice enough town, but 48 hours certainly felt enough to explore and take it all in. Probably not a repeat holiday destination when compared those in previous blog entries (Bilbao / San Sebastien), but paradise when compared with certain others (mentioning no names. Hartlepool). Luckily for repeat travellers, the airport to venue route is probably the quickest and most convenient going, so popping in and out is trivial if you so choose to do it that way. Top travel tip: I can heartily recommend the Craft Beer Corner if you need a change from the Pils and the Weissbeir.
Lads on tour. A tour of going up and down a river and eating pig. And one cathedral
From minute one, tip-top Tournament Organiser Arioso is straight on the case over the email, making sure you’re all set for the event. As a foreign traveller, his updates and advice are invaluable. If you travel to Cologne in future, rest assured you’re in good hands!
To business, then. I was piloting Dark Elfs, which I was surprised to learn I had not used in a six-game tournament since 2013. 2013! I like DE, but I think they suffer from always being my second choice in a rulespack, and also from being perhaps the most popular choice among decent English coaches when it comes to these kinds of team jaunts. I always seem to defer to a colleague and play something else. Anyway, I was looking forward to getting my DE on again in the the Eurobowl ’17-’18 ruleset, and I packed the traditional English competitive 1.1 roster accordingly. A Wrestle Witch, a Block one, three Dodge Blitzers and a Leader Thrower. 2 RR, Apo. This roster is debated among our Euro peers (and some of our English ones, to be honest), but I can’t see past it. Firstly, the split of 3 / 2 on Blitzers / Witches is about right. I’m not totally in love with Witch Elfs, but built-in Dodge and the threat of Frenzy is worth doubling up on. I like a hitty-one and a sack-y one. The Wrestle 5 + option always looms, even if you’re in trouble if it gets that far. Dodge on all three Blitzers is, for me, vital. Mobility and positioning, not to mention survivability, is more important than a Tackler, especially when playing good opposition. I have Wrestle, anyway (not that I fully subscribe to the ‘Wrestle is good enough as pseudo-Tackle’ argument). Finally, Leader over Dodge on the Runner all day, every day, and twice on Sundays. 2 RR is too limiting on how you have to play, constricts your options and is bleed-able. The Apo, as ever on agility teams, is a lifesaver. Tier one rosters are always hotly debated, and I think that’s because they’re excellent and they win a lot, even if you get it slightly wrong. Success means that your view is reinforced, and as such, division over skills and positionals is deeply entrenched. However, as ever, in a sea of ‘correct’ opinions, mine is correct-est. So there!
My compadres completed the ‘big four’ in terms of races. Captain and Leeds United ultra-fan Wilzif was packing Lizards. Perhaps a risk in a very vanilla ruleset, as you’d expect competitive opposition to pick the bogey Wood Elfs and threaten a tough gig 1 / 4 times. However, Lizards are probably favourites in any other fixture, so a fair shout. Joemanji piloted Undead for at least the five hundred and seventy-ninth time (his once-proud Ghoul miniatures have been worn down to white metal stumps following eons of use), and mubo took time away from his passion of gyrating, greased up at underground techno nightclubs to be our Woodie exponent. Four English Eurobowl winners on the big four races; we had come to party hard (and not just to watch mubo do so in his speedos, blinking through aggressive strobe lighting). One thing that was notable about this tournament was that everyone came to party at the very least moderately hard. In the current fashion of tiers, variety and maybe shunning this kind of thing, it was a refreshing delight to play in this kind of environment for a change. I really enjoyed knowing whoever I faced was going to be using big toys and was going to be a robust threat. Top stuff. Our team name was a masterclass in providential punnage; ‘Eintracht Mind’ was the brainchild of Wil, and what an effort that was. Should really be worth half a point in rulespacks, a good pun. I’ll add that to the Annual Review agenda when I’m finished here.
We’re caught in a (Frenzy) trap, I can’t Dodge out But I love you so much, Blood Bowl.
Why can’t you see What you’re doing to me When you don’t reward the way I play?
But we can’t go on together Without Eintracht Mind (Eintracht Mind) And we can’t build our dreams Sans Eintracht Mind.
Our primary opposition were mean. Well, nasty, in some cases. Traveling / rooming companions ‘Four Nasty Gits’ were captained by Belgian supremo Driesfield, and following him into battle were nerd galacticos KFoged, Lycos and Wulfyn. Nothing shabby there. We also had to navigate Alfea, the Italian side that took home the Bilbali Team Cup beating both English sides along the way, another very strong Italian / Maltese team and any number of tasty looking German foursomes. This was a big field, both numerically and in terms of talent. Also, we’re nerds, so in size too.
Let’s dwell for a moment on that team name. ‘Four Nasty Gits’. Not a cracking pun, not a moniker that strikes fear into the hearts of your foes. However, the birth of a Blood Bowling meme. And for that, 0.25 internet points.
The event underway and some quality swag. German Team Bowl branded M&Ms was quite the surprise! What next, a NAF Championship Twix?
Game 1 – Vito’s Humans, 1-0 win
Vito here. Not to be confused with Don_Vito, although the only discernible difference in appearance is that Don-less vito is without spectacles
In the Eurobowl rules, Humans are a really good shout for 8th spot. With an extra double and normal over the tier one powerhouses, you can build quite the formidable outfit, and so it proved here. Four Guard Blitzers, a Block Ogre, a Block Thrower and two Wrestle Linos (plus a Catcher, 3 RR, 2 FF and an Apo) is nothing to sniff at. I especially like these guys against the Guard reliant (e.g. Amazon) and agile (e.g. DE, sadly) teams; you can really attempt to bully the opposition and dictate play, as well as being bloody fast.
I kicked off, as I tend to do with agility. Defend with 11, attack with what remains. I survived the LoS unscathed (that commonly dictates whether you can play passively or are forced to go aggressive early) and set about sorting out a defence. I was doing my best to force the blitz somewhere that wasn’t accessible by the Ogre; stopping MB chewing through my Linemen, while blocking most of the field off from the Human advance. Come Turn 3, I spied a possible surf after manoeuvring a Blitzer into Witch Elf-able position. I thought it was worth taking this on despite it being quite resource-heavy but rolled a 1 / 9 and took a both down result on the Blocker. The Witch Elf dodged, snaked, and left me in a slight pickle. A subsequent Double Skull compounded the issue and opened a yawning chasm on my left flank, and my defence was suddenly looking really problematic. Humans are fast, have plenty of Guard and don’t need a second invitation to occupy an entire quarter of a field.
Through went the opposition, and as I went two players down (always how it goes on an early fail; players left in tackle zones suddenly develop a 4 + modifier on opposing armour rolls), I was in real trouble. Luckily for me, Vito parked the ball carrying Thrower on the side-line and forgot Jump Up on a Witch Elf 8 squares away was a thing. This error saved me, and following the surf, only a couple of ones saved Vito from 0-1 when 1-0 should really have been locked up.
My drive was tricky, still two men down. There isn’t much to report from the half, really; the ball went up the jumper of a Dodge Blitzer, and I was able to grind out 8 turns on a relatively sedate Elfstall. Stalling a half out with short-handed Elfs is a tricky business; you’re only ever one snake away from an utter disaster as every player must occupy a designated position with regularity, you’re working without the cover that 11 players affords. However, it’s a better plan than giving the opposition a shot at a leveller after an early strike. In spite of sucking up that snake along the way, disaster didn’t follow and I was able to keep the ball deep in my half before springing forward and just about keeping the ball safe. 1-0 then, and a really tricky opener that was mainly settled by a temporary brain freeze. Phew.
My colleagues had suffered similarly tough games. Joe and Nick got ties, and skipper Wilf was defeated in a Lizard mirror. Eintracht Mind had kicked off with a tie, then, and we knew we were in for a tough weekend as our first opponents were symptomatic of the standard we were to expect.
Game 2 – Iheytobb’s Lizardmen, 2-1 win.
Lizardman enthusiast Iheytobb, here. Looks like mubo’s Wood Elf roster has struck fear into Iheytobb’s colleague, although it may just be a photo of Nick in a nightclub enjoying ‘funkyzeit’
This is the game that Dark Elfs least want to see. Lizards are a real pain; yes, if your Witch sees a Skink, you have a lovely new pair of snakeskin boots as well as the football (at least in theory), but if you’re playing anyone any good, you are probably going to be presented with a wall of strength and armour that is really tricky to negotiate on either side of the ball. This was the 6 Block Saurus, 11 men, 3 RR, Apo roster, and I kicked off knowing I’d need to be right on top of my game.
LoS survived (I actually considered the three Blodge LoS set-up here to try and preserve numbers, but decided it was too risky in an already tough fixture), come turn two I spied a potential Saurus surf. While that didn’t work out, I did luckily kill the player on the blitz (Apo used, still dead). I had already seen enough to know that Iheytobb was a coach that wasn’t afraid to leave contact or put his Skinks into the fray, and a man up, I was feeling like I could probably dictate the play on D with a little luck and one or two turns more of iterative positioning. Blood Bowl has a way of slapping you around the chops when you’re feeling smug, and immediately, a Dodge Blitzer (Apo fail) and a Lineman were killed in the Lizzie T3, along with a further KO’d Lineman. This was an utter disaster; two of these players were only in contact for the surf attempt, and I felt that this was a drive (and potentially game) defining sequence of armour / injury rolls. This being where you earn your figurative money, I bit down on my metaphorical gumshield (enough analogies here?) and tried to stay in the game.
Knowing that defending ‘properly’ was now beyond me at 8 v 10, I focussed on crashing Elfs into the cage with as much regularity as possible. Chip a corner away, position Blodge on Saurus / the ball and Linos on Skinks, trying to force a fail, a half-advance that left the ball more available than a locked-up 5 / 6 + dodge cage, or a score. It’s high risk / high reward as a strategy; the Lizzies could just have killed more players with the extra blocks I was giving up. But I think you’ve got to know when to flip the switch with DE. Had I backed off slowly and carefully, I would have had no real chance at the ball and I was settling for a tough 8 / 9 maximum v 10 drive to tie. It was definitely time to push the button.
I was rewarded for the HR / HR policy when the Lizards had nothing a turn full of pushes come T6. Iheytobb was left with little choice but to score, which left me with 3 turns and 7 players (v 10) to equalise. Be careful what you wish for – this was a tricky equation to solve. A Riot granted an extra turn I didn’t really want (0-2 now felt as possible as 1-1), but I was able to kill a Skink immediately, reducing my disadvantage to 7 v 9. I couldn’t both protect the ball and get receivers open for the T 7 / 8 pass, and everything on the field ended up in one or two tackle zones every turn. Finally, come T8, the Krox failed a crucial Bonehead and gave me the opportunity for a 2, 3 (avoid INT), 3, 3, 2 score, all of which I happily hit. This was a nightmare of a drive I struggled to negotiate, so I needed my KO back to make life a tad easier…
…Back it came. Phew. 1-1, 8 v 9 in players, and 8 turns to negotiate. This was still going to be a tough assignment, but with the Lizards now at 9, I felt I’d get looks at Skinks, and perhaps there would be less pressure in my own half as I attempted to find an organised way forward. A deep kick was fielded by a Blodger, and I set about driving. A receiver went deep ahead of the ball to keep Iheytobb guessing, but otherwise, I edged backwards, preparing for 8 as best I could. Over the first two to three turns, I was attempting to bait the Lizards forwards to enact a classic ‘suck n’ go’ manoeuvre. Due to Frenzy, I’d probably always have a wing to leak down. If I could tempt the Lizzies deep into my half, the plan was to spring the trap and accelerate away, putting DE between Saurus in my half and the ball / their own endzone. Come T4, the trap was sprung, and away I went. Ball to halfway, two banks of three Elfs between the carrier and the Lizards, and another Skink whacked for good measure. Iheytobb noted later this is the first time he’d seen this move work so well (and used the knowledge to stop it happening again against Wulfyn later – sorry Dan!), With no Break Tacklers to worry about, I could fairly simply stall out for 8, marking Saurus as required. I think, with Dark Elfs, you have to play patiently until the opportunity comes along; but then you need to see that the opportunity has arrived and commit to taking it. The big ‘suck n’ go’ turn was just that opportunity in this instance, and it deserved full moderate risk and re-roll commitment. The back of the drive was broken in that sequence.
A huge bullet dodged considering the loss of players, I moved to 2 / 0 / 0 for the weekend. Phew. Eintracht Mind won the round 4-0, and we moved up to face some big names.
Game 3 – lauth81’s Norse, 1-1 tie.
lauth81. Some say he was born in 1981, but those in the know say it really refers to the number of wagon wheels he can devour in one minute
An international Blood Bowler of some repute, Lauth was going to be a tough nut to crack. He sported the obligatory MB Snow Troll, a Block Ulf, MB / Guard Blitzers, a Tackle and a Dodge Runner (I think). 13 men, 3 RR.
Again I kicked, and this time, my defence was somewhat conventional. Lauth was doing a decent job of pinning the LoS Linemen in prone positions where they’d need 3 + rolls to escape, but I was happy enough to leave them down while all of the Norse were ahead of me and I was keeping them tightly caged in their own half. To make progress, I didn’t feel that Lauth could risk the Snow Troll too often, so I wasn’t suffering too many Claw / MB shots, and I think the half was grinding towards a big T5 / 6 where Lauth had to make a decision about how to best progress, lest he run out of time.
Come T4, the Ulf came into my half, threatening to open a hole down my left flank. Needing to shut this option down, I moved in for the Block Witch Elf blitz and rolled a Skull / both down. It being T4 and one of those games where the ball was locked up in a super-cage; I felt my defence was going to be passive throughout. This generally requires fewer re-rolls, so I burned here, thinking I could continue matching Lauth’s moves and stemming progress if (and when) the Ulf went down. Double Skull, and my whole left flank was exposed. Two Elfs immediately exited the pitch KO’d as they were left in contact (always the way, following a big fail), and a further stun meant Lauth could produce an impenetrable mega-bunker on my goal line without too much hassle. The half was over the moment I had chosen to spend a re-roll. In hindsight, I could have chosen to not burn there, but 1 / 36 times, the Witch would have snaked the dodge away. I can’t remember if the Wrestler was in range to make the hit, perhaps this would have solved the issue. The Ulf was occupying a great position (as the push to score proved), and it is possible to play too conservatively in the hope of getting a better shot that never comes. I was happy enough with the choice to RR, even if the outcome was poor.
My one-turner was happily interrupted by a Riot, which I converted for 1-1 at the half following a big Snow Troll 1 / 9 block. A real gut punch for Lauth, this, as his 1-0 drive had been without incident following my headline fail. All the hard work of an hour undone by a three on the kick-off table and an errant big guy. Blood Bowl, eh? Riot is my least favourite kick-off roll by some margin.
The pressure on my drive was much reduced, it being to win rather than to tie. I could take my time and attempt to gradually out-manoeuvre the Norse, even perhaps gaining a numerical advantage, chipping AV 7 on the LoS and beyond. All was going quite nicely until Lauth marked some Blodge on the corner of my cage, prior to a right to left sweep. This was fine (screening was tough, and there was going to be someone marked, somewhere) as I was continually probing for my opportunity to lurch forward. Well, fine until in T5 when the snake came on the final, cage closing dodge of the turn. The dodging player died and the ball was exposed. My Dump Off failed on Lauth’s blitz and the Norse greedily collapsed on my exposed position, tight to the left side-line. Things looked bleak as DE armour broke; although in the resulting melee, the ball scattered to a Blitzer on the side-line who had already moved. I had a magic turn here where I was able to dodge in and surf the ball, recovering with a Witch yet to move and screening her off from Tackle. This took a number of rolls, and the final position I left the Witch in was designed to protect the ball 3-4 squares from Lauth’s endzone. Perfect was one square left, but if she had been blitzed following a screening player missing a 3 + dodge (no RR), that could have been ball into the crowd and a Norse win. So, I played this conservatively, expecting the Lineman fail that never arrived.
This conservatism allowed an Ulf a 4+ dodge, a POW and a game saving sequence where the Norse secured the ball and a 1-1 tie. I do wonder whether I could have gone for broke here and, in the perfect position, left the Ulf something more difficult. However at the time I was all about not losing, following a horrid positional shift. That’s often the way in team BB; just don’t lose. The unofficial Team England motto is written through me like a stick of rock.
All of my colleagues won, and overnight both Eintracht Mind and I were 2 / 1 / 0. It was a funny old feeling, really. That’s a good set of numbers, but I did feel like I’d had a tricky day, dice wise.
Saturday Night – Brewhouse
Just down the road from the venue / our beds was a fabulous, traditional German Brewhouse. It was great to see the whole tournament arrive to eat, drink and make merry, and yet more pork was imbibed. I don’t know how Germans can look a pig in the eye; it would appear that they are seen as the essential food group over there. Anyway, it was tasty and there was some super Weissbier, so no complaints. Well, apart from mubo’s constant noise about the lack of thumping techno and Vaseline. I got to spend time with Torsten and Jonas and talk German customs and the World Cup, so it was a pretty cool evening!
Septemberfest – we lacked an oompah band, sadly
Game 4 – Baki’s Lizardmen, 1-1 tie.
Baki sporting a most pleasing Team Germany top here, I think? Very stylish!
As we arrived for day two, the Eintracht Mind collective game face was on. We knew that we were now breathing rarefied air; Alfea, the Italian / Maltese combo and some top German teams were circling the top table or two and looking tasty with it, and the Nasty Gits could always stage a submarine with a couple of quick wins. It was business time. Well, after we checked the line-up for the Leeds game, Wil insisted on a rendition of United anthem ‘Marching on Together’, which was frankly quite tedious by the third verse.
Baki arrived with 6 Block, 2 RR and an Apo. Here we were again; a proper toughie and a good coach at the controls. We actually had a rum old draw here against a very good German team; Our Liz v WE, DE v Liz, WE v DE are all games we were behind in before a ball was kicked, with only Und v CD falling our way. There was hard work to be done, and as ever, Joemanji was the lucky one. His never-ending jam is something he incessantly mentions with a large, toothy grin on his face. Fortuitously, you can commonly distract him with a recent copy of Autotrader, he’s forever on the lookout for a bargain on a 1974 Citroen CX. No, me either.
For the fourth time, I kicked off. My first dice roll of the game was a snake, and immediately the Lizards pounced on the opportunity and locked the ball up in a tight cage. Unlike the previous Lizard game I’d played, Baki was running a much more traditional offence and I knew I was unlikely to get easy looks at Skinks. I would have to try and be clever about how I found a breakthrough. I’m always conscious that simply walling off isn’t good enough against MA8 Stunty, they will probably find a way through on turn 8, so at some point I was going to need to be disruptive and probably get the ball down, rather than rely on a failure.
My initial turn had allowed the Lizards to push into the middle of my half on my left flank. They had almost come too far; I was able to send a Blitzer around the back to at least threaten Skinks, and sure enough DE went on to mark areas of the cage and allowed me to try and chip away at the little ones. Come T4, Baki manoeuvred to a central position, but because of the way his beach head was slightly cut-off from the supporting players, a 4 + dodge shot at the ball was available. I greedily accepted the opportunity, knowing it may get no better. The big dodge / sack came off, but the scatter was woeful; generating a huge scrum. The strength of the Lizardmen was sufficient to hold the Elfs off, and my position had degenerated due to the amount of contact I had to leave for the ball and recovery attempts. The Krox was massive here; it kept making big Bonehead rolls and landing in extremely awkward positions late in turns. He really is a marvel when it comes to broken play situations. As the half ebbed away, there was one final (low odds) attempt available; if I could knock over a Saurus left in contact at the front of the Lizard cage on 1D, I could perhaps get one more ball shot. However, a snake to generate the final assist ended the half and my resistance. Baki played his drive well and I felt I’d done all I could. I don’t think you can play too passively defending as the DE in this fixture, you have to get in and break up the offence somehow. Or at least try.
My offence progressed similarly to the Iheytobb game. Again, the ‘suck n’ go’ came off, again the Frenzy leaving a side-line available to leak down was important. Quite an early Kroxigor 1 / 9 Block meant that this issue could be marked out of the game with a Lineman, and then the lack of Break Tackle meant that a really positive separation between Lizards and the ball was possible. I wouldn’t say this half was stress-free, but it certainly was less contested than the first. I think one of the reasons Dark Elfs are so popular with good coaches is the opportunity of enacting an evolving Elfstall. Finding places to hide in the whole field and then making a decisive move or two to out-manoeuvre stronger opposition is pretty satisfying. It’s not easy to do well, but great when it comes off.
Eintracht Mind overcame the tricky racial draw to win 2 / 2 / 0. Wil overcoming Wood Elfs was a super captain’s innings; the swing if the expected result occurs here from 2 / 2 / 0 to 1 / 2 / 1 is huge. Not only would we have lost the point for Wil winning the game, we would have lost a half for winning the fixture, as the GTB was using the old Eurobowl scoring rules (+1 for a round win, +0.5 for a tie). A good job. Somewhere around here, it became clear that the Nasty Gits were having a tough old weekend and would not compete for honours. The Italian / Maltese combo also lost big this round, so the top contenders were likely ourselves, Alfea and 1-2 of the German outfits.
Game 5 – ATP’s Dark Elfs, 2-0 win.
ATP with All The Powerful looks. Or All The Peanuts. After Ten Pints? We’ll never know
So then, to the inevitable meeting with Alfea. I had been looking forward to this one, so was quite excited to lock horns with a fabulous Italian dice-wrangler. Again, we felt that we got a sub-optimal racial draw: Our Und v Orc, WE v Ska, Liz v WE (again!) and this fixture, Dark Elf v Dark Elf. Could we overcome once again?
ATP fielded the same roster as me with two differences. His Runner had Dodge, and he had dispensed with the Apo in favour of a third re-roll. I felt this was a bold move, but perhaps this was a good fixture for the Apo-less gamble, as I wasn’t packing any kill skills.
Fifth game, fifth kick-off to my opponent. This time, a Lino took a KO on the LoS, and I chose to sit on the Apo, saving it for a positional later in the half. ATP set up a really interesting formation over the first couple of turns; the Dodge Runner scooped and hung deep, and the remaining 10 Elfs basically defended halfway, not venturing into my half. It was clear the plan here was to sit still for 4-5 turns, not let any of my Elfs through the defensive wall to harass the Runner, and then spring forward, knowing he had a numerical advantage. It was very low risk, it conserved dice rolls, and even if managed to find a formation to leave ATP dodges to score, they were only likely to be the odd 2 and 3, that sort of thing. I would need to find a way to upset the rhythm of the half if I was to stop him.
Come T3, ATP made what he later said was an error due to playing on the newer, larger squared pitches the previous game and not quite readjusting to the old, smaller field. There was a chink in his blanket halfway defence, allowing a possible 3 +, 2 +, 2 + Lino move for an assist, followed by a 3+, 2+, 2+ Blitzer Blitz at the ball. I didn’t expect that this would lead to me securing possession; it was tough to see how I could get to the ball even if it went down, but I did think that this was an ideal opportunity to mess up the offensive plan. Committing myself to re-rolling, through I went.
I got to the ball hit without re-rolling, and ATP Dump-Offed to an empty square close to the blanket screen. With my RR intact, I decided to attempt the 4 +, 2 + dodge through the screen, to the ball, to throw back over the screen to my Elfs where I could cage the ball up. The pass failed, but the ball was difficult for ATP to get to. Now it was his turn to find some 3 + rolls and secure the ball in my territory, but his similar pass back to the body of his players was successful, the ball now on Blodge. Not wanting the drive to settle down, I went all-in with my positioning, trying to leave as many 3 + dodges as possible and tricky areas into which ATP couldn’t cage. In the process of pushing an aggressive defence, a CAS was generated, and I was a lot happier with this disruption than I was with the turn 1-2 settled, controlled offence that was developing!
A huge 3 + handoff stuck, and ATP was able to re-cage the ball into relative safety. Until T8, a new pattern was set. ATP had to have receivers ahead of the ball, so a Blitzer and Witch were operating in my half, edging left and right. The ball was caged and inching laterally, looking for an opportunity to lurch forward and not leave a pass in T8, rather a run in. I was trying to stop the cage advancing, to mark players leaving 3 + dodges and continually providing pressure to the ‘open’ (rather than ‘blind’) side of the cage. Sure, a 2 + dodge with RR is 35 / 36. But 2-3 of those a turn plus a 3 + here and there soon mounts up, and any fail would have been huge at this point. By T7, I had pushed the cage back 3-4 squares into ATP’s half and continued to apply the pressure. With my Witches deployed deeply into my half marking receivers, ATP chose to leave a 4D ball shot on my T7. It was Blodge v no Tackle / Wrestle, so the rationale was that the carrier would survive and the receivers / forward players would be left un-molested to score come T8. The blitz at the ball failed, and all I could do was leave a bunch of 3 + rolls by positioning my net of Elfs as well as I could. The first of these was a 1D block, which failed Skull into both down by a rookie Lino, and through I went to sack the ball and score.
What a half! It was a huge tactical battle, and ATP felt a little hard done to that a few 3 + rolls had not gone his way in T8 to score. For my part, I really enjoyed the to and fro of a really terrific half of positioning; I felt I’d made good decisions and really had fun working out the best defence in the ongoing battle. Great.
10 v 10 in the second half, short kick and Blitz! Bugger. I was to defend again.
A familiar pattern to the first half broke out, and again I was aggressively defending, leaving decision and dice roll after decision and dice roll. Because of the Blitz! ATP was able to progress more deeply into my half than before, so this meant I had to commit more players to ‘negative’ contact (allowing blocks to stymie progress) than in the first half. Come T4 or 5, my chance arrived. A cage had not quite been closed (to do so would have required a GFI early in the turn when there were many more dice to be rolled – a case of settling rather than risking perfect as per the lauth game example), and a Wrestle Witch 4 + dodge was available to generate 1D / 1D on a Blodge carrier. On pushes, 2 / 4 D were then available outside of the cage. The Wrestle hit was successful, scoop, handoff, pass, game over.
What a contest! ATP felt hard done to, and I can see why. I felt I’d played about as well as I possibly can and needed to think very hard to do so, but of course, that doesn’t always translate to results. A really satisfying outcome, but it would have been fun even if it had gone the other way.
Throughout the game, mubo to my left and Wilf to my right were riding the rollercoaster. They were winning. They were losing. It was unclear. The entire fixture was in the balance the whole way, but again Eintracht Mind found a way to come out ahead, with a very creditable 2 / 2 / 0. A great result, including another captain Liz v WE win over a great team. This fixture once again highlighted why team BB is so great; the sense of emotion is really heightened as you’re not only living your own game, you’re feeling every dice roll in your peripheral vision as well.
Game 6 – Kithor’s Necromantic, 1-1 tie.
Kithor. A man so pleasant it’s a surprise every time he murders your entire team
And so, to the final contest against Total Re-roll. Another team of German big names, and I was perhaps facing the biggest, although he’s now sort-of Swiss. Kithor arrived at the table 20 minutes early, keen to extend his dominant 5 / 0 / 0 record. This was a closer round draw across the teams; Und v Dwarf favoured us, Liz v Liz was a wash and WE v DE fell slightly the way of TRR. DE v Necro is, I guess, level pegging? Alex had 2 RR, Block and Guard FGs, MB and Block Wolves, a Sure Hands Ghoul and MB and Guard Wights. None too shabby.
In a Blizzard, Alex elected to kick. The swine, I’d have to drive first! It actually worked for me this time, as I came to lose a lot of Dark Elfs in not a lot of time.
I think the Blizzard was really significant on my drive. I had a bad LoS and over the first few turns, a lot of early-in-turn Lineman fails as I tried to recover from a midfield scrum where 3-4 players were caught up, behind enemy lines and prone near the feet of Zombies. I was getting stuck and Alex was gradually marching forward, capitalising on my short turns. ‘Suck n’ go’ wasn’t available this time; sweeping Werewolves meant that side-lines were less my friend than usual, and the Blizzard meant that a decisive push was unlikely as I was only as fast as the Necro positionals anyway; they’re more mobile than Block Saurus. Grasping the nettle, I sent a Witch Elf receiver down my left flank, using a couple of 3 + ses. Partially to attract attention, partially just to give myself some sort of option if a sticky start later became a disaster.
The KOs began here. First a Zombie, then a DE Lineman. Alex used both Wolves to put down the Witch Elf right on the side-line, and I spied an opportunity. Although Alex was doing a really good job restricting my movement, I felt if I spent a turn marking both FGs, with a couple of 3 + rolls, I could dive right with enough Elfs that 2-3 turns later I could be free of the FGs I’d found troubling me in my own half and screening the Werewolves off, up-field. While the Fleshies dispensed of their markers to the KO box with brutal efficiency, the big move worked, and I was able to screen off and stall the half out. I was happy I’d identified the best chance I was likely to get, and I think the Blizzard stopped the Wolves coming back and cutting me off, as well as the Fleshies catching the play back up. Phew.
Over the halftime interval, I failed 5 / 5 KO rolls and went into the second stanza at 8 v 10. Alex had also failed a KO and had a Zombie sent off as he tried to stretch his advantage further. On turn 9, the Necro generated an immediate CAS and further KO, and at 10 v 6, Alex offered 1-1 on the spot so we could pack up and have a beer. I considered it for a moment, but with the Wrestle Witch still available, there was still the Hollywood option theoretically on the field. Perhaps one of us would need to win the game to take the team fixture?
Every block thereafter seemed to generate a KO. I was trying to do anything possible to halt the Necro advance lest Alex decide he had done enough damage to put it in and win, but with the majority of the removals being KOs, I guess he felt it was too risky to push for victory. What if 4-5 Elfs came back? By T16 I was down to two players, and the Hollywood Witch Elf option, unsurprisingly, did not succeed. I actually failed my first 12 KO rolls of the game, so would certainly have lost if Alex had scored early, but he wasn’t to know that would happen. 1-1 in record time, then, the second half probably took all of 15 minutes. Alex would go on to win the individual MVP award with a 5 / 1 / 0 record, so I was happy to be the 1!
Eintracht Mind again found a 2 / 2 / 0 round victory, and with Alfea going 4 / 0 / 0 on table 2, we nervously waited to see if we’d done enough.
Final reckoning (team) – 5 / 1 / 0 – 1st place.
We had. With individual records of 5 / 0 / 1 (Wilzlf), 3 / 3 / 0 (mubo and I, I was 10th/ 88 individually) and 2 / 4 / 0 (Joemanji), a superb collective effort of 13 / 10 / 1 saw us to victory. In a field of such talent, losing one game is a terrific return, especially considering some of our round draws. This is proper team Blood Bowl application too – don’t lose!
The German Team Bowl is a very well organised, tightly run ship. Arioso and team (most notably Mrs. Arioso) keep the thing ticking along to time, and the tournament is attended by a fine crop of coaches, both in terms of BB talent and attitude. Word is the venue will be slightly larger next year (a different room in the hostel), and that’ll be most welcome, I think. Fans of Euro team Blood Bowl should certainly get this one on their list, if it isn’t already; all of the ingredients of a fine tournament are present here, as well as lots of pork and pork products.
Eintracht Mind in the winner’s enclosure. A fine 3D printed trophy, which I’m sorry to say disintegrated on the Ryanair flight home. D’oh!
Speaking of Euro team Blood Bowl…
Eurobowl, Eurobowl, Eurobowl. Can England win a 7th star? It’s late in the month, so I suspect I’ll report come December. Cannot wait!
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