Sunday, September 7, 2014

Seaside Slaughter III, Blood Bowl tournament report

Seaside Slaughter III, Blood Bowl tournament @ Pacifica, CA, USA. August 24th, 2014

The Seaside Slaughter Blood Bowl tournament was back! A little later in the year than previously held, but as BB tournaments are so far and few between in Northern California, I don’t care where it lands on the calendar,  I’d go ANY-time.  Blood Bowl is by far my favorite tabletop game and I’ll take any chance I get to play. I was attending along with friends David (Undead), Bill (Skaven) and Russ (Skaven). This was a 3-round tournament with 8 coaches participating.

I brought back my Chaos Dwarf team, the “Gorgoth Black Daggers” which I’d started using at Seaside Slaughter II. The team build was 1.1 million gold with a choice of skill packages to add to your players. If you’re interested, you can see the rules here:

My team consisted of 2x Bull Centaurs, 1x Minotaur, 6x Chaos Dwarfs, 3x Hobgoblins, 2x Re-rolls, 1x Fan Factor.

My skill choices were:
Bull Centaur w/Block
Bull Centaur w/Break Tackle
Chaos Dwarf with Guard
Chaos Dwarf with Leader*
Minotaur with Block*
Hobgoblin with +1 Move
* = doubles skill

Game One was vs. a Vampire team, the “Ottoburg Sinisters,” coached by a regular league coach, Lee T.  Lee brought a 6-Vampire roster with 7 Thralls and 2 re-rolls (and no “Leader” chosen in his skill package). I hadn’t played a game against Vampires before and as I had backed the recent Willy Miniatures Indiegogo campaign for their new Vamp team, I was happy to get the chance to see how they played.

11,000 fans turned up for the match, with Black Dagger fans slightly outnumbering the Sinister Supporters, so the Chaos Dwarfs had FAME +1. The weather was nice that day (and all tournament for me) and the Vampires chose to kick off after winning the coin toss.

I knew that focusing on taking out Thralls was the key to defeating a Vampire team, as once the Thralls were gone, the Bloodlust1 vulnerability of the Vampires would be their undoing.

I had a good first half, with three Thralls removed as casualties and two Vampires KO’d. I did benefit from Lee’s bad luck at key moments: after receiving, I had built my cage around the ball and moved up the left side, pushing deep into his half of the pitch.  Lee hypnotic-gazed two of the cage corners, blitzed my ball carrier with a 3rd Vampire and sent a 4th in to the steal the ball and dodge away.

With my Dwarfs so far into his half of the pitch, I would never be able to catch him before he scored.  Fortunately, he chose to dodge his ball carrier past my Minotaur on the line of scrimmage, tripped, stunned himself and dropped the ball. I was able to recover the ball with a Bull Centaur (Drago) and score on Turn 8.  Phew!

It also has to be said that Lee rolled a ‘1’ for his Hypnotic-Gaze attempts four times in a row during the first half and at least 1-2 more failed Gazes in the second half.  This, of course, was in addition to the occasional Bloodlust rolls that would come up and mess with his plans; sometimes at key moments. More than once he Bloodlusted on his Blitz! Action. Vampires are hard enough to play already, it doesn’t help to fail 2/3rds of your hypno-gaze rolls.

The two KO’d Vampires politely stayed Knocked Out following the Half-time show, so Lee had to set up with just 8 players (4 Vamps, 4 Thralls) for the second half. The aforementioned Bloodlust/Hypno-fail shenanigans continued.  I helped out by triple-skulling with my Minotaur (Kelgore the Bloodmad, who cried and flailed on the ground for a few turns) and a Hobgoblin got mauled by a Vampire late in the game, but ultimately I was able to get the ball away and score on Turn 16 with Barukh, my other Bull Centaur.

So, Game 1 ended in a 2-0 victory to the Black Daggers, and as I’d out-casualtied 3-1, I managed to pick up max tournament points (24).

1The Vampire team has two player types: Thralls, which are basically human linemen with AV7, and the Vampires who are excellent at everything, except for their “Bloodlust” weakness.  Each time a Vampire activates, they have to roll a d6: on a result of ‘1’ they are subject to Bloodlust which means at the end of their activation they have to be standing next to a Thrall and then roll for Injury on the Thrall (no armor roll, just see if they’re stunned/KO/killed).  If the Vampire DOESN’T end its move next to a Thrall, they run into the crowd to feed on someone, going to the Reserves box until the next Kick-off.

Game Two vs. Undead, the “Inglestot Immortals

This game was vs. my good friend David, aka “Laughing Ferret”, the commission painter with many years of BB experience.  I think he has painted all 24 teams at least once and some of them several times over now.  I was glad to get paired up with him as he lives 2-3 hours away and we rarely get to sit across the table from each other.  Plus, I’d get a closer look at his latest team: an Orc-themed Undead team.  His Ghouls were “goblin ghosts” while the Mummies were really imposing Black Orc Flesh Golems.  These come from a third-party manufacturer, although I can’t remember which. He also had converted an Orc star player version of, “Hack Enslash.”

Here’s a (blurry) shot of the team on their graveyard dugout:

And his skill choices:
2 Mummies with block
3 Ghouls with block, wrestle, sure hands
Wight with +1 move.

Following our win in Game One, the fans came out in droves and the Black Daggers enjoyed FAME +2.  We also won the coin toss and looking at the Mummies and chainsaw Star player, I chose to receive and hope that I could do some early damage to mitigate the beating I saw coming my way.

Fortunately, that’s exactly how it played out: I was able to get a casualty on one of his Mummies on Turn One with the Bull Drago, then send my cage up the left side, as in Game One.  The casualties continued in my favor throughout the first half, as Kelgore the Bloodmad crowd-surfed one Ghoul and smashed another into the astro-granite, while a Chaos Dwarf (Zhorgrath) casualtied a Wight (who regen-ed).
I scored in Turn 8 with a Hobgoblin, although David did make me work for it. I had a good stalling cage situation going, but he sent an annoying Ghoul dodging into my tackle zones and blitzing my ball carrier over 3 turns.  I think the Ghoul’s name must be, “Dodgy Dodgerson” as his ability to Dodge without needing rerolls into multiple tackle zones was flawless.

Following my TD, David would have to set up his chainsaw on his Turn 8 and with no Bribes, he’d be ejected after only one turn on the pitch. Totally worth his hiring fee.  ;-)  He did try to get max value out of that one turn, with a Foul attempt at something like +7?? It only resulted in a Stun, though, so lucky me.

After half-time, David set up with a heavy emphasis on his right side, leaving the left wide open… so naturally that’s where the Kick-off landed (a Blitz! result at this point would have been devastating):
Kelgore the Bloodmad continued his killing spree, taking out a Skeleton and a Wight. I was able to steal the ball away and score on my Turn 14 with a Hobgoblin. With only seven players to set up and two turns to score (with a single Ghoul on the pitch), it was Mission Impossible time for David. I’ve seen him do it before (first-hand. More than once.), but it didn’t happen for him this time and the game ended with another Black Dagger victory: 2-0.  I also picked up 5 Casualties to his 1, so I again got max tournament points.  Man of the match is tough to choose here, as Kelgore got 3 casualties and crowd-surfed for a 4th, but Drago took out the Mummy on Turn One, which was really instrumental in swinging the game in my favor.

Regardless, it was a fun game and David was a great opponent, as always.

Game Three vs. Undead, the “Dead Boys

This was the game that would decide the winner of Seaside Slaughter 3, as my opponent Stephen had also won both his previous games, although I’m not sure if he’d maxed the tourney points in each.

Detour: Rant ahead

I want to pause for a moment and say that his team roster was super-confusing as each player had a random 2-digit number… which I’ve just now realized is because all his players are named after NFL players and he used their real-life team numbers. When you’ve got player numbers like: 55, 58, 32, 20, 5, 66, 62, etc. you can’t expect your opponent to keep track of which guy is which and what skills they have. It’s not as if the miniature named after Ronnie Lott looks even remotely like the real man, so how am I supposed to associate that random number with anything? Many times during the game we would have to pause as I went down his roster print-out, find the players (that were listed in no discernable order) and then decipher his crossed-out and re-written skill choices. All the figures were painted identically, so the only thing he’d done that helped was color-coded the bases to player types (Ghouls had purple bases, Blitzers = orange, etc.); I’d know what type of player that was, but not what his skills were.

I found this annoying, as Blood Bowl is already a complicated game; playing to a time limit and/or in a tournament setting heightens the potential for confusion. Do what you can to make it clear to your opponent which players are which and what skills they have. It’s not hard.  Use skill rings, or paint skills on the base, or as I’ve done a few times, print out the skills and apply them to the base. Number your players 1-16.  If you really *must* go with two digits, then use a system an opponent can follow. Number your linemen sequentially: 21-26, your Blitzers 11-14, etc. Something logical. When you print out your roster, group your player types together, for example: all Blitzers at the top, then all linemen, then the next player-type, with Big Guys and Stars at the bottom.  Arrange them however you prefer, but just putting them in randomly doesn’t help anyone, including yourself. There were several moments in the game where he didn’t know his own skills.

Okay, with that said, I want to make it clear that Stephen is a very nice guy, enjoyable to play against and I’m not suggesting he did any of these things on purpose to obfuscate his players’ skills from his opponents. I suspect he just didn’t give it much thought beforehand.

Rant over.

Unfortunately, I took a break from writing this blog post and am now coming back to it over a week later (closer to two!) so my memory is somewhat less firm on this particular match.  Luckily, I take notes during games. :-)

The Dead Boys brought more fans to the championship match and gained FAME +1. The Weather was good and the Gorgoth Black Daggers won the coin toss, electing to receive.  Once again, looking at all the strength on that Undead team, I wanted to have my opportunity to whittle them down early, even if it meant kicking off in the second half.

No casualties were caused on Turn One, but “Kirgund” the Chaos Dwarf (#6) took out a Skeleton, “Baker” (#62) in Turn Three. I can’t remember the specifics of this drive, but “Hagla” the Hobgoblin (#9, +MV) scored his first touchdown of the tournament on Chaos Dwarf Turn Eight. The Dead Boys couldn’t score in one turn, so the whistle blew and we were at Halftime.

The Dead Boys’ Necromancer was racing back and forth in the Undead “Infirmary” as 5 players had been Knocked Out and the other Skeleton (“O’Dowd” # 66) had seriously injured himself on a Dodge attempt. The Black Daggers had taken 7 players off the field! The Necromancer was able to revive two in the Infirmary and get them back out on the pitch. The Dead Boys would have to receive with only 7 players in the second half. It hadn’t all gone the Daggers’ way however, as Durgal the Chaos Dwarf (#5) had also been Knocked Out and wasn’t able to stop his head from spinning. Groag One-Tooth (Hob #12) would sub in for Durgal.

The Dead Boys set up to receive in an unusual fashion, with the Mummies positioned in the wide zones, rather than in base contact with Dagger players on the line of scrimmage. You can see his halftime setup in the photo below, which also shows that one Zombie and two Ghouls are in the KO box, along with the two Skeletons in the Casualty/Dead box.

A shifty Ghoul was able to score on the Dead Boys Turn 11 and the game was tied 1-1. As the clock was winding down it was nervous times for both teams, but on the final Chaos Dwarf turn “Hagla” scored his second touchdown of the tournament and secured his spot as “Hobgoblin of the match.” The Gorgoth Black Daggers had won it, 2-1 with 1 Casualty for and none against.

Stephen was a nice opponent; we had a good time fighting it out and he made me work for the victory (with the exception of setting his Mummies up wide at the kickoff, which still puzzles me). I was sweating bullets those last several turns, knowing I had to score and hoping the dice wouldn’t betray me (all praise Lord Nuffle, God of Blood Bowl dice).

With this victory (20 points) I’d gone 3-0 for the tourney, picked up 68 points + 12 more for painting and sportsmanship.  I’d won! Huzzah! Not something I’m accustomed to by any stretch of the imagination. I won the Stunty Cup at the first Seaside Slaughter and I once won a super-small Streetbowl tournament, but never an actual overall Bloodbowl tournament. The trophy will sit proudly on my bookshelf at home.  Thanks very much to the tournament organizers.  My friends and I are discussing starting a tournament (or two) of our own to reciprocate, as we all had such a good time.

The cherry on top of such a fun day: there was a GW Nurgle’s Rotters team still on the store shelves available for sale! 2+ years out of print and at store with a dedicated Blood Bowl league? Amazing. I used my store gift certificate and nabbed that box asap! I’ve never played with or against a Nurgle team in over a decade and while I know they’re not one of the better teams, I’m up for the challenge. 

This turned out to be an epic blog post. Probably why I don’t update too often.  Every time I start writing, it turns into a novella.  ;-)  Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Fun report! Sorry I couldn't give you much of a challenge, but my players appreciated your assisting them back home, to the graveyard.

    Since you were the powerhouse, cake-walking your way to overall champion, it seems you have your team now for next tournament: Nurgle.

    But you clearly need to handicap yourself, so your team should be just what is in the set there: 2 Nurgle warriors only, 2 Beastmen, 8 Rotters: that's it. No Beast of Nurgle, no extra Beastmen or Nurgle Warriors.. I think you're ready for the challenge! ;)