Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Blood Bowl League at the Outpost - Part 2 - Skaven-a-go-go

I managed to get in another couple of league games down at the Outpost in Sheffield last week. Both of which were rematches. The league allows teams to play each other a maximum of twice to avoid people playing too many games against the same opponents and racking up a silly number of league points. Both of these games were also against Skaven who are quickly becoming my nemesis!

Game Six vs. Martin Collins' Skaven 
I hoping to get another game in before playing Martin again but the last game had been great fun so I didn't mind so much. The game couldn't really have started much better for me. The first half was almost a perfect half for a dwarf team. I managed injure two of his players, knock out three more and score an 8th turn touchdown even though I'd kicked off.

I did say "almost" perfect though. I got a little greedy on my final turn of the half and decided to try a foul which only managed to knock out his player and resulted in a sending off for me. Looking back I should've never bothered but I had a reserve and wanted the maximum numbers advantage in the second half. I then had a guy injured on Martin's final turn of the half and then to really top it off Martin managed to get all of his knocked out guys back (with help from the Bloodweiser Keg he'd got as a result of the stadium we were using). Turning what should've still been a decent numbers advantage into 10 players each. 

Nuffle was decidedly displeased with my foul play and punished me by making Martin's block dice red hot. I had a decent opportunity for a second touchdown with my blitzer but Martin sent one of his gutter runners in on a desperation (two-dice in my favour) blitz. He got a double defender stumbles and my hopes of scoring disintegrated quickly. He quickly turned this into a score for him to tie up the game.

Still, I was feeling pretty good about my chances of getting a game winning TD when my runner managed to break through his lines. Unfortunately for me his blitzing gutter runners were at it again scoring a "knocked down" on his single block dice. He managed to scoop up the ball but couldn't get it far. I therefore had a chance to try to steal it back but could only push his gutter runner.

This proved fatal as his gutter runner easily dodged out and ran up the field to hand of to another rat who legged it down the pitch out of my range. I at least managed to put his rat ogre out as a casualty only for him to use his apothecary to prevent his death and put him in the reserves box. The final insult came when I tried a two-dice block and it came up double skulls which I re-rolled to another double skull (1 in 1,296 chance or 0.08%). Unbelievably my next roll of the block dice (on my subsequent turn) was also a double skull which is a 1 in 46,656 chance or 0.002%! 

The game ended 1-2 to Martin with me scoring three casualties to his one. A massive blow to my play off hopes and a game I really felt like I threw away with some poor decision making.

Game Seven vs. Ashley Rodgers' Skaven
My first game in this league had been against Ash and I therefore felt reasonably confident. I wasn't thrilled that he now had an AV8 AG5 gutter runner and a recently purchased rat ogre though. Ash surprisingly elected to let me receive and set up asymmetrically to limit my punch early on. He rolled a "Blitz" on the kick off table too which saw him dash behind my lines and get pretty close to the ball.

What followed, thanks in no small part to the torrential rain, was a comedy of failed pick up attempts and knocked down ball carriers that burned all of Ash's re-rolls and ultimately resulted in me only managing to make a break for it by an incredibly risky pick-up and throw from my Troll Slayer to one of my Runners. That meant if everything went right I'd be in a position to score on the final turn of the half. Of course, it didn't all go right. Ash was able to use his Rat Ogre to blitz down one of my players to free him up to mark the runner. I then elected to make a risky dodge to get a Blitzer to Blitz the rat ogre out of the way to free up the runner. I'd still got a chance of scoring but only a turn to do it.

On the penultimate turn of the half Ash was able to stun my ball carrier and get players back to mark the ball. I knew I had no chance to score now as none of my players were in range so, knowing I was kicking to Ash to start the half I decided to do as much smashing as I could. That resulted in another couple of injuries and knockouts. Unfortunately there was still a gutter runner standing near the ball. 

Here's where I was a little foolish. Ash was convinced he couldn't now score a TD but I helpfully pointed out he could make a somewhat risky play that involved dodging through, picking up the ball then passing to a gutter runner who already have needed to dodge out from my players with Tackle to wait in the end zone for the long bomb from the half way line. He was just about to declare the pass action when my second bout of foolishness hit. I reminded Ash that he probably ought to stand up the gutter runner he intended to throw to and get him to the end zone before he declared his pass. I felt pretty confident that I was going to be punished for my generosity and sure enough Ash made all of his dodges and completed a 5+ pass and 3+ catch without any re-rolls to score a touchdown just before the half!

Whilst I felt gutted that it had worked out the way it did at least I'd probably earned some good karma for the second half right? When I managed to cage up and grab a pretty solid position for a touchdown I certainly felt like things were going right. I had two options at this point. Hold onto the ball and play for the draw or score straight away and hope to be able to capitalise on my numbers advantage and score again before time expired. At the point where I was about to score there were very few skaven still standing and I was pretty well covered. However, I know from bitter experience (and the first half of this game) that the rats' speed lets them quickly turn a loose ball into a touchdown the other way. I also knew that my best chance of making the playoffs was to win the game. I therefore decided to score straight away.

That gave me four turns (might've been three) to score a game winner. I was feeling pretty good about this when I managed to drive a kick quite far into the Skaven half of the field. I put another rat out of action and knocked all but the gutter runners down. That quickly proved to be my undoing though as the gutter runner with the ball handed off to another at the line of scrimmage who was able to make a 4+, 4+, 3+ and 2+ dodge roll (all of which had Tackle on them I think) and break free into my half. A further two GFI rolls (one of which needed a re-roll) and he'd managed to put a runner in a position where all I could hope to do was put a tackle zone on him (and one without the Tackle skill at that). I positioned myself in case something went drastically wrong but unsurprisingly the gutter runner easily dodged away for the score. My only hope now was for a riot that never came. I did a bit more smashing up but I was looking at another 1-2 loss to Skaven albeit with 5 casualties to his zero.

I certainly got greedy in the first game. The foul was completely pointless and ended up leaving my short-handed when Martin injured one of my players. I should've also burned a re-roll to try and take out his gutter runner with the ball rather than simply pushing him back. He wouldn't have had the movement to manage the play that lead to his winning TD and I might've even managed to get the ball back for my own score. Ultimately the odds balanced themselves out. My dice had been great in the first half and Martin's came hot in the second. Still, an enjoyable game against a great opponent. 

The second game was frustrating for different reasons. Sure, I felt good knowing I'd helped my opponent out and not just watched him make a significant mistake. Doesn't help me make the playoffs though. I think ultimately this has always been my problem with any table top game. If I'm playing anyone other than Matt I don't play ruthlessly. It's been between me and tournament success for a long time. I don't like the thought that you can't win without being a bit cut-throat but experience tells me otherwise. I'm not saying I'd have definitely won the game had I not done what I did but we'll never really know.

Still, there's potentially plenty more games to be had in the league so I still have a chance of making the playoffs with another couple of wins. I have mixed feelings about my Dwarves. I really enjoy bashing other teams up but their lack of mobility frustrates me. I think I'd rather be playing with a team that can cover ground better and score plenty of touchdowns. Maybe a little more fragile but more exciting when things go right. I suppose like Dark Eldar in 40K. They can be amazing when things fall right but incredibly brittle when they don't.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Board Game Nights - Star Wars Rebellion and Scythe

Another reason I've not blogged recently is that I've also been indulging in some board games, namely Star Wars: Rebellion and Scythe. Both of which are in the top 10 on Board Game Geek and it's pretty easy to see why.

Rebellion is a lopsided (or asymmetrical if you're being fancy) two player game where unsurprisingly one of you plays as the Rebels and the other plays as the Imperium. I've had it since my birthday in April but only recently managed to get some games in. It was definitely worth the wait. It's got a fantastic mechanism for assigning heroes to missions that really builds the tension and somehow they've made both factions feel exactly as you'd expect them to. The Empire have a massive advantage when it comes to materiel but the plucky Rebels hamper their plans with daring raids and subterfuge. The Empire is trying to find the hidden Rebel base before the Rebels gain enough support in the galaxy to make their search impossible. We've only played a handful of games so far but for an asymmetrical game the balance is just right which is a difficult thing to achieve. They're also releasing an expansion for the game in time for Christmas!

Not our game. It seems I didn't take photos even though I thought I had!
Scythe is a totally different animal. I think you can have up to seven players but for our game we had four. Matt had read through the rulebook but none of us had played before. In spite of this we picked up the game really quickly and I don't think we had to refer to the rules once. That's pretty impressive for a game which is actually pretty complex when you get into it. I'm sure people who've played more board games will draw parallels to other games but this is the first time we've played something like this and it was a great experience. It obviously helped that I won but there's again a well designed scoring system that keeps things close to the end and there's a lot of gambling to do to make sure you don't end the game too early and not actually win it!

It's tough to pick which of the games I prefer. I think the decision would be pretty easy if one of them wasn't set in the SW universe though. Ultimately they're very different games that I'll hopefully get to play a lot more of.

I'm hoping to get more BB games in soon but also trying to start an SW Armada campaign against Matt and I'm actually playing some 40K on Tuesday against Dan. That will also hopefully be a campaign game as my Orks take on his Death Guard and we figure out a narrative from then on.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Never Mind The Blog Wars Update - First Turn, Ob Sec, etc.

Apologies for not posting this sooner but I haven't posted much of anything for a while now. With NMTBW just over a month away I thought I ought to clarify how the Chapter Approved updates will work at the event. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about please take a look before reading on.

Boots On The Ground
First off, Boots On The Ground will definitely be in use. Granted with the limited duplicates we won't see many (if any) flyer heavy lists but it's worth bearing in mind.

Objective Secured
We'll also be using the Objective Secured rule as below:

However, this will be used with the caveat that every unit in the detachment has the same faction keyword from the following list: Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, Deathwatch, Astra Militarum, Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Ministorum, Asuryani, Drukhari, Harlequins, Chaos Daemons, Renegades & Heretics, Thousand Sons, Death Guard, Necrons, T’au Empire, Orks, <Hive Fleet>, and Genestealer Cults.

Also note: Codex: Grey Knights, Codex: Chaos Space Marines and Codex: Space Marines are explicitly not covered by Objective Secured because their Codexes provide a similar rule (i.e. Defenders of Humanity).

I haven't seen the Death Guard or Astra Militarum books yet but I'd assume they would also be exempt. Please can someone clarify for me if they have anything similar in there.

First Turn
I think at this stage it's better to stick with the original rulebook version of things. I think this is the right call for several reasons:

  1. First and foremost, NMTBW hopefully won't feature the standard tournament mentality of shooting people off the table as soon as possible. Partly because the core group of regulars are a decent group but also because of the way tabling works with the Maelstrom points.
  2. The new +1 to first turn roll-off doesn't make much sense to me when your opponent can still Seize. You've already deployed at this point so Seizing afterwards makes the roll off seem a bit daft. You've deployed not really knowing who's going first after all.
  3. It's pretty close to the event so people will have written their lists and (hopefully) already have a sizeable chunk of their force painted. Changing the mechanic now might require people to rethink and there isn't long left before the army submission deadline (28th Oct).
A Few Other Clarifications
Few quick questions from the Double Trouble/NMTBW Facebook page and emails:
  • Warlord Traits and Psychic Powers can be picked or rolled for. It's up to each player to decide how they want to generate them. Players can change these before each game if they like.
  • The Astra Militarum book will be legal at NMTBW but please try to keep filth to a minimum (same goes for all armies mind you!)
  • You can enter a model into the painting competition that doesn't feature in your tournament army. However, the Best Army Award entries must all be armies that are competing at the event.

If there's anything else you want clarifying, comment, email or ask on the FB page but do so soon so I can inform everyone of anything significant.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Blood Bowl League at the Outpost

It's been quite a while since I posted here. I'll be posting about NMTBW straight after this (although I'll schedule it for Monday probably) but I wanted to update you on what I've been up to during my absence. My enthusiasm for 40K is at a low ebb at the moment. I'll go into more detail in another post but it means I've directed my attention to other games for a bit of a break. Absence makes the heart grow fonder or so I'm told....

I've always put off joining a BB league because I didn't think I could commit to playing games regularly enough. However, the latest one at the Outpost is pretty laid back. You can play as many (or as few) games as you like with the only limits being a maximum of two friendlies and two league games against each other coach. It's a typical TV1000 league but using the rules for Stadiums and Sponsorships from DZ2.

I've had five games so far so here's a brief rundown of each. Oh and I'm using a pretty standard Dwarf team consisting of 2 troll slayers, 2 runners, 2 blitzers and 5 blockers. You'll notice from the pictures that these are the old metal models (3rd edition I think).

Game One vs. Ashley Rogers' Skaven
I fully expected a baptism of fire in my first ever league game but Ashley was great to play against and patient when I was taking my time to make sure I wasn't doing something stupid as a rookie. He was also kind enough to get a couple of his rats knocked out when trying to dodge out of my tackle zones. I'm pretty experienced against Skaven as Matt uses them most of the time so I knew my Blockers' Tackle skill was important. He scored pretty quickly though and I fully expected to end up in a hole pretty quickly. Quite a few rolls went my way though and I somehow managed to equalise before the half and add a second shortly after half time.

On the ensuing kick off it started raining too which made it difficult for Ashley's players to get their hands on the ball. My players were able to capitalise on this and score a third touchdown to give me a 3-1 lead. Oh and kill a linerat in the process! When a Riot happened on the kick off and cost us both a turn, Ashley had pretty much no chance of getting back into the game, especially when he had something like 5 players left on the field! The game ended 3-1 (I caused 3 casualties too).

I managed to give one of my Blitzers the Guard skill and collected 50K which allowed me to add an Apothecary too.

Game Two vs. Mitch Henson's Undead
Well, it's safe to say this was more like the kind of league game I was expecting. Mitch was just as friendly but clearly a competitive player. I've never played Undead before so I did a bit of research beforehand. He'd only played a single league game so I'd hoped he'd only have a couple of Ghouls at this point and no skills. What I didn't realise what he'd played 4-5 friendlies first and had gained a couple of sponsors too. That game him plenty of cash to have all four Ghouls with skills on them and Guard on one of his Mummies (he had one killed in a friendly though - ouch!).

I never really felt like I was a contender in this game. Mitch got right down to just outside the end zone in his first drive but held off scoring as I had no-one in range. He proceeded to bash my team into the ground. I ended up with 3 players injured (though thankfully just two Badly Hurts and a Miss Next Game). The game quickly got out of my reach and despite a well caged attempt at a touchdown I never quite made it and the game ended 0-3 with Mitch also scoring two casualties (one of my injured players was the result of a Throw A Rock! kick off). Still, the Stadium gave us an extra D6 winnings so at least I got 50K gold.

Game Three vs. Steve Ashton's Orcs
Well, I say his Orcs, they're actually mine. I'd invited Steve down to join the league and gave him his first game. It was a pretty close game with the expected low number of touchdowns from a pair of bashy teams. My biggest problem was that three times in this game my Troll Slayer rolled a 1 for his Dauntless against a Black Orc (which costed me a re-roll) I then rolled a double skull (which I couldn't now re-roll). This pretty quickly made me regret giving me Troll Slayer the Mighty Blow skill instead of Pro!

Still, I managed to keep Steve out of the end zone and squeaked out a 1-0 win despite Steve's Orcs causing two casualties, one of which was the death of my Guard Blitzer after I'd already used my Apothecary to prevent a Troll Slayer from losing AG. In hindsight I shouldn't have cared too much about the loss of AG as it isn't like they dodge or touch the ball much!

Game Four vs. Dan Tolley's Chaos
With a fresh Blitzer in the lineup I moved straight into the next game against Dan and his Chaos team made up of Horrors as proxies for Beastmen and Warriors. This game was the story of the S4 Blitz from his Beastmen (Blue Horrors). There were several times when I had a runner through into a good position with the ball but then regretted leaving him so exposed when the two-dice block came in. I did at least manage to keep the game close and very nearly tied it up.

My Blitzer getting blitzed by a Beastman (Blue Horror). I still scored when I got back up though!
I managed to get a touchdown but Dan scored twice giving him a 2-1 victory. However, I did manage to make his victory bittersweet as with pretty much the final block of the game I killed one of his Chaos Warriors.

Game Five vs. Martin Collins' Skaven
Another game against those pesky rats and the forever irritating Gutter Runners. Martin had played three league games to my four so he'd managed to get the full four Gutter Runners and give them all Wrestle. This proved to be a pain!

He elected to receive first and quickly made it down to near the end zone. I had a choice between either trying a risky Blitz to take out the ball carrier or use my numbers advantage to smash up his team to make my life easier later. What swung was the decision was the though of him holding onto the ball and not scoring to run down the clock. That gave me most of the first half to try and equalise which I did within a couple of turns.

The problem was that I simply wasn't getting anywhere with my blocking game. I'd gotten through the rats' armour with reasonable ease but kept stunning them. When I did manage a couple of knock outs it was just before my touchdown and they came straight back. I scored on T7 which gave us a T8 where I tried to massacre the only three rats on the line of scrimmage. That proved fruitless as again I could only stun. I even fouled since we'd been given a bribe each from Get The Ref! earlier in the game but another stun! Fortunately for me Martin was having similarly bad luck with a couple of 1s re-rolled to 1s on his dodges.

Still, Martin managed to score again pretty easily in the second half and again I had to find a way to equalise. I ended up in the situation you can see above but still broke my way out and used a couple of GFIs to get into the end zone. That tied the game up at 2-2 but with 4 turns left it was still anyone's game. I'd considered holding onto the ball near the end zone to run down the clock and hopefully put some more rats out of action but I decided it would be more fun to play for the win, no matter how slim my chances were.

On the ensuing kick off I suffered another Riot (there'd been one in the first half too) which gave us both just three turns to score. My kick off was fortunate to stay in bounds on the right side of the field and when Martin continued to have some awful luck and couldn't get to the ball I spied my opportunity for an unlikely game winning score (see below).

I managed a Push on a two dice block to free up the Blitzer on the right of the picture to go and grab the ball. He needed a re-roll to pick it up but successfully passed on a 4+ to the other Blitzer in the centre who succeeded on his 3+ catch. I could almost taste victory but having burned my re-roll I knew what was coming. He needed two GFIs to get into the end zone and fell down on the first and ended up a square from home! So near but yet, so far!

Still I'd managed to score twice and almost a third time which isn't easy with Dwarves. It was a great game but mainly because both of us had some rotten luck. I think it's probably the first draw in the league too.

I've now got a TV of 1,270 with a smattering of Guard, both runners with Block and Mighty Blow on a Troll Slayer. Not only that but I've got both an Apothecary and a 12th man to give me some resiliency.

I'm learning something about playing Dwarves with every game and experimenting with different setups and tactics. I'm glad I took the plunge into league play and I only hope I can keep managing to get down to the Outpost for some games.


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