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Humans are the great all-rounders of Blood Bowl; depending on their opposition, they can run the ball, pass it, or stomp some heads! This can even happen halfway through a drive, when a change of tactics is needed. They started off as the average Blood Bowl roster, but recently introduced new races have pushed them more towards the light-weight end of the spectrum.
Humans are often recommended to new coaches looking to start their first team. They have no real strengths, yet also no real weaknesses to exploit. To win with humans requires a higher reliance on the skill and patience of the coach, moreso than just about every other race. Conversely, this forces the coach to improve his own skill to compete, learning what tactics work and what don't, without relying on gifted players to make it all come together. Every tactic used by other races is used by humans as well, to varying degrees of success. Consequently, a human coach, once having learned the basics, can transition to any other race with minimal trouble.
Humans are the most adaptable race of them all; with ten positional players and an Ogre available, a Human team can be built in many different ways. Humans have cheap Linemen, relatively cheap Throwers and Catchers, and up to four Blitzers, along with cheap team rerolls. Their positional players have most of the skills required for ball handling, so the rerolls are mostly used for failed blocks and the occasional dodge.
Note that Humans can have four Ma 7 and four Ma 8 players, so they are one of the faster rosters around.
They possess neither great strength nor great agility, instead relying on skills, and so are not particularly good at any one playstyle. The linemen start with no skills, and have access only to General skills, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to the Linemen of many other races.
Humans, moreso than many races, must rely upon their linemen to succeed. Yes, with 10 positionals and an ogre, humans in theory need not even field a lineman every drive. However, in my experience it's often wiser to field only one or two catchers and one thrower at a time, keeping the others in reserve should the primary become injured. This means at least 3 linemen should be on the pitch at all times, and the strength/skills of these 3 can decide the outcome of a game. If they are rookies, they'll get pushed around/injured by their opponents early, leaving the rest of your squad at a disadvantage. However, give them a couple skills each, and they can hold their own, leaving your positionals to concentrate on winning the game.
For this reason, I like to start a human team with 4 blitzers (speed/hitting), 7 linemen and 4 rr's. Notice a lack of either catcher or thrower--those jobs are taken over by the linemen! This forces spp generation, which in turn speeds up gaining skills. The extra rr's are there to help, but you should still keep your passes to quick range, short if absolutely necessary. Score as often as possible with the linemen, especially if they're close to their next skill; blitzers and catchers, by virtue of their speed, will get their spps with minimal effort on your part, throwers by completions. So concentrate on the linemen, getting them all one skill each before 2 on any one, then working to get each of them a second skill before focusing on anybody's third. Spreading of spp's in this manner will mean losing any one player to ko or cas will not hinder you nearly as much as losing that one star player, leaving a bunch of rookies. Also, spreading will help to keep your TR low and TS high, keeping you playing easier opponents in winnable games.
After your first match, get your apo. Two more matches (on average) will allow you to purchase an ogre, who needs time to get more MVP's for skills. Another game or two gains the team its first thrower, who can take over the quarterbacking to free up all linemen to continue to score. Next get your fifth rr, then replace all injured players. NOW you're ready to start thinking about catchers. You could be a dozen games old by now, but all your linemen should have two (or three) skills, holding their own against the linemen of other races. Feel guilt-free when you let the catchers have free run of the pitch, scoring as often as they wish. You now have a competitive team, my friend! Good luck!
A good lineup on defense is to put 3 linemen on the LoS, a blitzer and lineman on the outside, staggered to deny frenzy crowdpushes and one step back from the LoS, ready to blitz into enemy territory to harrass the ball carrier. If you have an ogre, stand him four squares back-center, to move for assist wherever you need it. Keep two blitzers 5 or 6 squares deep to go after speedy enemy catchers breaking through your line, and fan the rest of your linemen around to fill gaps, forcing your opponent to blitz/dodge to get through, something requiring dice rolling. I find it more effective to set up to force your opponent into the center of your defense, where you can surround from all sides, rather than try to sideline him, which will require an extra turn before you can use players from the opposite side of the pitch.
On offense, the thrower and one bodyguard lineman start deep, while you stack the LoS on one side or the other with your blitzers leading the charge to form a fence behind which your linemen/catchers can sit. Set up remaining linemen as staggered fence between your opponent and where you plan your thrower to go before throwing downfield.
Blitzers: It's a toss-up whether to take Mighty Blow or Guard first, but I recommend Guard. From 6 to 16 spps is not long, easily gained quickly in just a couple games. Yet during those two games, you'll be better served having more 2d blocks than POSSIBLY causing an extra cas or two. MB makes a good second choice, but don't neglect Tackle to handle those pesky blodgers. Shadowing also works quite well. Doubles open a wide variety of tactics--if the team's still low TR, Dodge is good to make you harder to knock over. At higher TR's, more teams have Tackle to negate this, so you might be better served by Stand Firm (defensive), Frenzy (offensive), or Dauntless. Take all stat increases which come your way.
Linemen: Block is an absolute necessity for every lineman. Some coaches take kick first; I prefer it to be the second skill on my first 16 spp lineman. Another option for a second skill is Dirty Player--even if you don't foul regularly yourself, the mere presence of a DP can sometimes make your opponent think twice about fouling, and if not, at least draw attention which otherwise would go towards your more expensive players. After this, alternate between Strip Ball and Tackle, to give you a variety of options. Your first double should almost always be Guard. Strength and agility increases are gold, though another skill might serve you better than +ma.
Thrower: Your typical human thrower will almost always take Accurate first, barring a double to take Strong Arm. Safe Throw allows you to sit back and throw over your opponent with little fear of interceptions; this lets you take the ball, sit back deep in your territory, then only step forward to pass once you have a target in scoring range. Pro is less useful for throwers, as it is not usable in conjunction with sure hands or pass, which have their own built-in rr's. Block is a very common defensive skill taken. Stat raises are gold.
Catcher: For catchers planning on spending much time on-pitch, Block is a necessity. After this, skills come largely depending on the roll you plan to take. Deep safeties should take Strip Ball, Pro and Dauntless on doubles. Dedicated scorers take Sure Hands (to negate Strip Ball), Sprint, Sure Feet and Side Step (letting you stay along the sidelines safely), with Nerves of Steel on doubles. When you get a chance to blitz a single player into the enemy backfield to harrass the thrower, few things can be more irritating than a Blodge/Sidestep/Diving Tackle or Shadowing combination, taking Jump Up on a double. Pass Block/Shadowing/Nerves of Steel (dbl) makes for a good pass disruption machine. Remember to thank Nuffle when you're lucky enough to get a stat increase.
Ogre: Since the removal of General Skill access for Big Guys, he's here more as a space filler and shock absorber. Guard should be your first choice, after that personal preference. Doubles are up to you--want pro for a rr your big guy can use? Block, for more security in blocking? The options abound...
Link to Human Starting Lineups