Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Blood Bowl: Lambs to the Slaughter 1, The Tossing Of Gimli 1

Week Four of the Brighton Blood Bowl Season and the Lambs were heading to face the Tossing of Gimli, another dwarf team. This was our first interconference game, as the Tossing are playing in the Underworld division. Going into the game the Lambs were 0-3 and this time without the inducements to hire a star player to beef up the struggling squad.

However, the Tossing were 1-1 themselves, coming into their third match. The Lambs had enough coin to hire a couple of Bloodweiser Babes for the match, but in the end they didn't come in useful; 100k out the door.

Still, the Lambs had a full squad for this one. The coaching staff had put their heads together and come up with a more aggressive, less imaginative game plan which would focus on playing the man, not the ball. If we could inflict enough serious damage on the dwarves, possession of the football would come with it.

In glorious sunshine, which was going to make the passing game harder, the Tossing started the match kicking off to the Lambs. The Lambs' strategy was a simple one: use the Chaos Warriors as a hard core with Big Jim the minotaur at its leading edge, to smash a hole through the centre of the dwarves' line. If we ran the ball, if we created enough carnage, we'd burn up too much time for the dwarves to have a serious chance of scoring themselves in the first half.

You know what? It worked. Nothing fancy. No passing. No trick plays. The Lambs kept the Beastmen playing on the flanks while Big Jim and the Chaos Warriors did damage in the centre. The Tossing made the mistake of playing their linemen in defence in the centre, and Big Jim went through them like a hot claymore through a fat bar tender's stomach.

The Lambs moved the ball down the field, with #5 Gunther Goat Feet running behind a wall of Beastmen. Such was the carnage in the centre of the field that the Beastmen swept down the right hand side of the field unmolested and scored in turn 4.

With four turns left, we battled to hold the dwarves from scoring, although tragically Gunther strayed too close to the side line and was shoved into the crowd where he was brutally murdered by irate Tossing fans! He'd had only a few moments to celebrate his moment of glory.

The dwarves benefited from a very jammy kick off which saw the ball bounce back almost to the halfway line and almost into the hands of one of the Tossing players. This gave them the opportunity to blitz their way down the field to score just before the half time whistle.

In the second half the Lambs kicked to the dwarves, and this time the Tossing had further to march. The Lambs focused on breaking up their cage as quickly as possible - we'd learned our lessons from our experience against Bugman's Boyz. The Beastmen had been trained to make use of their Horn attacks on the blitz and #1 Gerhard the Grunter did sterling work with his Mighty Blow. At one stage there were five dwarves on the sidelines with various levels of injury.

It was also at this point that Big Jim got revenge for poor Gunther, goring dwarf lineman Candy Floss to death. The dwarves were running out of players, and the sheer ferocity of the Lambs began to take its toll, with a great blitz from the Grunter, which disrupted the dwarf drive and gained the ball for the Lambs. Speed 6 with Horns and Mighty Blow to a dwarf running down the sideline equates all kinds of carnage.

The Lambs were now within range of a score and a win, but foolishly the ball carrier Mikkel Iron Fist went for it and rolled a 1. The ball went wide, the dwarves recovered, but they were too far down the field to do anything with it before the clock ran out.

So the Lambs limp off with their first 'not a loss' of the season. With the earnings from the match they have been able to acquire a vital team re-roll, which they were missing. Big Jim was voted star player by the fans, and has been working out in the gym, so his Strength has gone up to 6.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Blood Bowl: Violent PreSkeletons 2, Lambs to the Slaughter 0

The third match in my Blood Bowl season was slightly better than the Lambs' previous rout at the hands of Citizen Change. I knew I had to rely on my inducements to get me some chance of at least a draw. Now I'm getting the hang of the rules again, I also realised that you only have 16 turns in a game of Blood Bowl, excluding possible extra blitz turns at kick off, so need to make the most of them.

The Lambs in all their glory - ready to be slaughtered...again!

In the case of this match, against the undead Violent Pre-Skeletons, there were two bonus blitz turns at the start of each half, but it didn't do me an awful lot of good. But inducements-wise I picked up a star player in advance, Lewdgrip Whiparm, who agreed to play for the Lambs for one fixture against the undead team. I had a misplaced idea about bringing a better passing game into the match than I might usually have.

Flesh golem to the fore!
Violent Pre-Skeletons are a diverse team, with a handful of zombies, a couple of flesh golems for the extra muscle, a brace of wights, a ghoul (Daddy Starbucks) and a pair of necromantic werewolves. These last proved particularly dangerous, as they are quick on their feet, although not extremely strong, so easy to knock down.

The Pre-Skeletons tried to play as open a game as possible, relying on the aforementioned Starbucks to provide the key full back role, as the ghoul was quick enough to pick up on any threatening beastmen break throughs, not that there were many. Although the werewolves were fast, it was the ghoul who was obviously designated the primary ball carrier for the undead.

I was quite pleased with the ability of the beastmen to defend in depth in this game - they are quick enough to cross the field to intercept even fast movers like werewolves. The undead did manage to score their first touchdown by building a 'cage' of sorts with the ghoul running with the ball down one side of the field, screened by the wights and a werewolf. But after this I began to get the hang of breaking up their drives by marking their key play makers like the werewolves more closely.

Necromantic werewolves - bands designate skills and injuries.

This was the first team I played that tried fouling some of my players. I did not retaliate because it was pointed out to me that it was not worth risking having a Chaos Warrior sent off for a foul on a zombie.

Beastmen break free of the line in an effort to get clear for a pass.

If the undead have a weak point, it is that the zombies and the flesh golems are very slow. I did not fully appreciate just how slow, and how much the undead would be relying on their ghoul and the lycanthropes. Once I did it became a bit easier to mess up their drives.

And the ball is loose! It happened a lot due to the rain.

This was also the first team to successfully push one of my players into the crowd. I quickly realised just how deadly a tactic this is in Blood Bowl. With the flesh golems dominating the centre of the field, the course of play naturally drifted towards the side lines. While I had a beastman shoved into the crowd (where he was violently assaulted) it was not long before a werewolf found itself in a similar position and a chaos warrior (Mikkel Ironfist) took the opportunity to shove it into the terraces. Sadly there are no player points to be earned for this.
Lambs' losses mount...

My strategy to set up a pass using Lewdgrip did not work sadly - I don't really have the receivers which would warrant this kind of approach at the moment, plus both teams were hampered by torrential rain sweeping the pitch, which made passing very hard. And then Lewdgrip was knocked out early in the second half, ending his participation. More consequentially, Big Jim was also taken out by a flesh golem, which was a first for the minotaur.

Towards the end of the game I was down to about eight men, including three chaos warriors, but that's just not enough. Numbers were starting to tell, even with one werewolf and a zombie in the dug out. The Pre-Skeletons were able to easily run the ball in for the second score on the last turn of the game.

Lessons learned? I think it is time to abandon the passing game entirely and perhaps take a look at the cage tactics we saw the dwarves execute in Week 1. With Big Jim and the chaos warriors, the Lambs will soon have a formidable front line. Big Jim now has a claw mutation which makes it easier for him to dish out the hurt. Gerhard Grunter has also just been promoted to star player status, as befits his #1 shirt and Rudiger the Cruel is not far off.

The fast movers - wights with Daddy Starbucks the ghoul.

So time to go away and reconsider the tactical situation. Sadly #6 Helmut Hooves has been badly injured with a broken leg and won't be able to perform to 100% of his ability going forward (AG 2). I've been advised to sell him, so will have to look into that. He's currently on injured reserve anyway.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Blood Bowl: Citizen Change 4, Lambs to the Slaughter 0

My second match of the Brighton Blood Bowl season took place against another Chaos team, this time conference rivals Citizen Change. Unlike the Lambs, Citizen had no Minotaur. This didn't help me much, although my Minotaur Big Jim did manage to put one of the Citizen Chaos Warriors out of the game entirely, and earned himself some Star Player Points (SPPs) as a result.

Citizen Change in blue - with a decidedly Tzeentchian aura about them.

I'm still learning the ropes, having not played Blood Bowl since at least 2006. Chaos is my chosen faction but I get the feeling that they start with a bit of a disadvantage early on and need to work hard to acquire skills. Having said that, like the Necrons I enjoy playing in Warhammer 40,000, it is tweaking the team and getting it operationally just...right...that can pay dividends.

This was not one of those times. There was one opportunity for the Lambs to score late in the first half, but we ran out of time (it was my eighth and final turn, and a Beastman ball carrier came up just short).

Sadly this is as close as the Lambs got to scoring all night!

I'm being handicapped a little by a lack of team re-rolls; my opponents regularly have 2-3 of them while I'm just picking them up as part of my inducement package. For this game I managed to acquire one, but it was not enough. I don't think I made the most of my inducements but my opponent was also relatively new to the game and we both spent quite some time consulting the rules.

Having said that, things just went wrong repeatedly for the Lambs in this one, largely in our own half, which then led to the opposition picking the ball up and running it in for a score. You don't want to mess up too deep in your own half in Blood Bowl.

Big Jim puts a journeyman Citizens Beastman into hospital.

I was also down two players, with Horns Herman and Gunther Goat Feet on injured reserve and I lost another player - Helmut Hooves - to a fractured leg  - which will permanently reduce his Agility. Gerhard the Grunter managed to complete quite an ambitious pass, but the Lambs were outnumbered, and gambling all the way. It could have been closer if their luck had not been so poor.

You might think getting routed so badly in the same week as a severe drubbing in Frostgrave would have left me miserable, but I have to say I'm quite enjoying the Blood Bowl league. It is the first proper league I've played in, and while I'm quite rusty, the players have been very sportsmanlike and unfailingly helpful with explaining the rules and tolerating my blunders.

Losses mounted in the second half - even Ivan Aike (11) was out.

Issues that need resolving? A lack of re-rolls is my key mistake here. This really killed the Lambs in this game. It will cost me 120,000 gold to rectify this and currently there is only 90,000 in the treasury. There is a lack of star players too and I'm wondering whether I should just ignore the passing game altogether and focus on running the ball, somehow making use of Big Jim as the anchor of my offense.

The Chaos Warriors are all doing sterling service and are able to wreak havoc all over the pitch - their armour and strength are excellent, and once some of them get a little more experience they will become really quite dangerous. Lack of experience is really costing the Lambs at the moment, however.

Size comparison of a 1991 Chaos Warrior and his 2017 counterpart.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Frostgrave: A Massacre At The Museum

Following an excursion underground into the depths of a lost library, our adventurers are again back on the surface, amid the frosty ruins of the lost city of Felstad. This time they have heard tell of a ruined museum or temple that is badly in need of looting...

Two of the orc archers which made my life miserable...

I could see this was going to be a tough game as there were six statues in the museum, all with the potential to come alive. On top of that, we had wandering monsters to contend with. Ragnar was going with a relatively full and healthy party, and managed to raise a zombie in advance of the expedition as well as cast Illusory Soldier (a newly learned spell), creating in this case a third war dog which would look like the other two until damage was inflicted upon it.

The museum and its ancient guardians awaits the adventurers.

The statues were in a ring, which would also make things difficult. I still decided to adopt an aggressive posture, although it was the trackers and the halfling treasure hunter Bagbo Biggins who reached the ruins first. Long range arrow fire took care of one of the trackers very early in the game, which should have been a warning, but I ignored it.

Skeggi Boozehound, Nordgrint and Bagbo with a zombie friend.

My plan was to get into the ruined building, grab 3-4 chests and high tail it as quickly as possible, leaving the orcs to deal with the statues. My knight Sir Bartle Fere and the dwarf man at arms, Skeggi Boozehound, could keep the orcs busy. The orcs, however, had other plans, hanging back and subjecting me to ranged fire, including the odd mud spell and grenade. Bagbo grabbed a chest successfully and retreated early, which is his job, so good on Bagbo.

Sir Bartle Frere and a tracker run into a muddy problem.

Skeggi ended up in toe to toe combat with a statue - as they came alive, both my zombie and Skeggi found themselves with more than they could handle, and both were eventually taken down. Ragnar was struck by an arrow but managed to cast heal on himself.

Bagbo takes cover from the orcs as he plans his dash for loot.

I tried to attack around the flank and cause havoc with the orcs using my dogs, but they were all shot down in quick succession, as the orcs had three archers with good fields of fire across the whole environs of the museum and its grounds. My dwarf crossbow sniper, Brekin Sharp Eye, also set up in a ruined building with a similar plan, but found he could not see much as the blasted ruins were blocking everything. Then a wandering ghoul entered the building he was hiding in and assaulted him, ending the game for Brekin.

The ruins from the perspective of the orcs.

It was not going well - Sir Bartle tried his best to get at the orcs but they had obviously decided to stay well clear of the museum building and harass my efforts with arrows - as ever. One goblin managed to grab a chest and under cover of an invisibility spell tried to escape, but Ragnar revealed him with...reveal invisibility...and he was then pounced on by a statue. IIRC he was taken down by the same statue, but another goblin stole off with the chest regardless.

Orc archer gets surprised by a wandering wild dog!

Some wild dogs also appeared and seemed to keep the orcs busy, including attacking one of their archers and forcing the witch - shocker - to move location. But it just wasn't enough.

Bagbo and Skeggi run into some statue trouble.

Nordgrint burned a telekinesis scroll to try to drag one of the chests out of the museum, but his efforts were hampered by the mud and the ice and then he too was attacked by the statues and eventually knobbled.

My dogs get attacked by a statue as they try to outflank the orcs.

I was running out of people. Sir Bartle was poisoned by the witch's apprentice, almost totally immobilised, and eventually defeated. It was turning into my biggest rout in Frostgrave. With one chest off the board, Ragnar himself tried a desperate attempt to steal a second, but that almost led to a one to one interview with the orc's barbarian champion, which would not have gone well.

Bagbo on his way to safety, passes Nordgrint.

Ragnar decided not to risk it as the orcs were starting to focus their shooting on him, so abandoned the museum to the greenskins. This left Kelvin with the field, and a thumping 5-1 victory. It wasn't quite a massacre but it wasn't far off it.

Nordgrint now has statue trouble of his own...

My error was  to charge in blindly - this is a tougher scenario and it didn't work once Kelvin decided to hang back and make use of the cover. I placed Brekin in the wrong place and this handicappped him from the off. I know I have to make more use of my spell casters to earn XP and this means putting them a little in harm's way. But I should have been a little more cautious and perhaps worked out how some of my spells and scrolls will function in my overall game plan.

Ragnar in an unequal contest with an orc barbarian.

I lost a couple of dogs this time around but everyone else seems okay. I now have some slots open on the roster as a consequence, and it really boils down to a choice between buying some more dogs and using them as before to focus on keeping the orc spell casters busy, or counter the orc shooters with some shooters of my own. It's an either / or scenario - no point having just the one dog in the party, in my view.

Next time - the Coming of the Worm!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Blood Bowl - Bugman's Boys 2, Lambs to the Slaughter 0

Yesterday evening I opened the batting on my 2019 Blood Bowl campaign. The Lambs to the Slaughter are a Chaos team, consisting of a squad of seven Beastmen, four Chaos Warriors, and a Minotaur.

In their opening match of the season, the team faced Bugman's Boys. This was their first conference match as well. The squad was very much untried and had not played before, and the dwarves of Bugman's Boys certainly looked intimidating.

Somewhere in there is a dwarf with the ball...

On the upside, the weather was fine, but on the downside, the pitch had been modified with a couple of trap doors, which was less than conducive to feelings of security as the team went into its pre-game huddle.

The dwarves won the toss, and expertly fielded the opening kick, forming what is popularly known as a 'cage' - a formation which sees the ball carrier screened by various tough blockers and troll slayers, marching down the field and smashing through anything that gets in its way.

The Lambs had to somehow break the cage - that was the challenge before them, and while, with the aid of Minotaur Big Jim, they succeeded in doing so, as the cage broke up, the dwarf with the ball scampered unhindered into the Chaos end zone for their first score.

It had been a tough scuffle for the Lambs, with no star players to speak of at this stage. The Chaos Warriors proved their worth, being heavily armoured but slow. There was only four of them, however, and most of the dwarves were similarly heavily armoured. Things were not helped when Horns Hermann broke his jaw and will be out for the next match.

Larry the Ram sets up for a pass, Rudiger the Cruel is blocking.

With only a few minutes left in the first half, the Lambs were unable to make it to the opposition end zone, and the half ended 1-0.

Into the second half then, and the Lambs received the ball from the Boys. This time the Chaos team tried to play a slightly more open game, with Big Jim causing havoc in the middle, and seemingly drawing in many of the dwarves, who got excited with a bit of gratuitous violence, especially the troll slayers.

While this was going on, the Beastmen tried to set up a long passing game, with a throw to one of the unmarked Beastmen. Sadly the pass was not completed, but it did move the ball up the field and forced the dwarves to retreat to corral it.

There was a brief moment of Lambs optimism as Big Jim staggered clear of the ruck and actually almost picked up the ball, but then the Boys recovered it and began their inexorable march back down the pitch.

The ball gets knocked loose late in the second half...

Again the infamous cage formed, but this time the Lambs were fewer in number, so it would be doubly difficult to stop the dwarven drive before the final whistle. This Lambs managed to do, with Big Jim thundering up behind the dwarves and breaking up their little cage from the rear, sending the ball flying (see above). The Lambs did their best to recover the pigskin, and even committed the only foul of the game (from Rudiger the Cruel), but alas to no avail, and the dwarves scored their second try just before the final whistle.

The Lambs lost another Beastman (#5 Gunther Goatfeet) who came off with a gouged eye, so it looks as if there will be a need to hire a journeyman Beastman for the next match of the season.

Larry the Ram was credited with a completed pass for the Lambs, while Rudiger the Cruel, a Chaos Warrior, picked up five star player points.

Here are the current standings in the Albion Conference at the time of writing (North American format - W/L/D) - bear in mind some inter-conference games are also being played:

  • Bugman's Boys (Dwarves) 4-0
  • Nippon Steelers (Elves) 1-0
  • Squig Sin City Bengals (Goblins) 0-0-2 (two matches drawn so far)
  • Citizen Change (Chaos) 0-0-2 (as Goblins above)
  • Violent Pre-Skeletons (Necromantic) 0-1-1
  • Lambs to Slaughter (Chaos) 0-1-0
  • Arboriophyles  (Elves) 0-0-0