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The dead are unquiet in the blighted necropolises of the land of Khemri, ruled by the Tomb Kings and driven by black arts and hatred of living things...
If you ranked all the Bloodbowl playing races in terms of brutality and death-dealing, most coaches would agreed Khemri are right at the top of the list. Some would say that they have little option but to butcher the opposition team, so poor are their ball-playing skills.
Access to four Tomb Guardians, and cheap, expendable (and regenerating) linemen. The Khemri team is good at keeping the ball safe until the end of the drive, and ripping the opponent apart at the same time. They are obviously suited for playing the running game.
AG2 or less all round, and rather low average MA make for poor manouverability, and make any ball handling a risky busness. If you aren't careful, your opponent will run rings around you.
4 Tomb Guardians can hold a line very well, but a couple of well placed skeletons can really help by reducing assists and keeping players pinned/cover the gap in the line if a Tomb Guardians gets knocked down.
With AG2, more so than any other team, you must protect the ball when you attempt to pick it up. Make sure there are plenty of players there in case things go wrong.
There are two basic offenses open to the Khemri. First of all you can pick up the ball with a Thro-Ra (or a Blitz-Ra with Sure Hands) and protect him as he takes it all the way for a TD (my prefered tactic), or you can advance with as many skeletons as possible and Hail Mary Pass it to a large group of them and get one of the to pick it up (I prefer this as a back up plan as descirbed below).
In either case you want to use your Tomb Guardians (with a few support players) as player magnets. Try to keep as many players in their tackle zones as possible, and keep them fairly spread out. The more players trying to deal with each Tomb Guardians, the less there are to deal with your advancing hord of skeletons.
Against bashy teams, it's best to keep your horde central. If one wing is getting low on opposing players (either because they are being removed from the pitch, or because they are pre-occupied by your Tomb Guardians else where), you have to take the initiative and advance as many players as you can (spearheaded by a Blitz-Ra to knock out of the way any annoying players) as far down that wing as possible. If done right, you should give yourself enough time to give your ball carrier a free run before your opponent is able to get through all those skeletons.
An alternative to this is to slowly easy your way down one of the wings, with your Tomb Guardians (once again with support) all on the wing on which you are advancing, but still fairly spread out, using your Blitz-Ras to clear players near the sidelines (either off the pitch, or away from the sidelines depending where they are), and just keep. Your skeletons should just act like moving shields and plug up any gaps in your line as and when they appear. Just keep forcing your way down the line and you should eventualy get there, especialy if your Tomb Guardians do a good job of pinning players down.
In all offensive drives, if your ball carrier starts to get bogged down (and has Hail Mary Pass), try and get as many skeletons as you can deep into the opponent's half (this shouldn't be too hard with most of your opponent's players trying to keep your ball carrier's group from advancing), form a fairly dispersed cluster, and simply throw the ball into the centre of them. Hopefuly next turn one of them will be able to pick up the ball and you will suddenly be right near the TD zone.
Despite beating quite a few agile teams with my Khemri, I can't think of any specific stratergy I use against them off the top of my head, so I will think about my plays a bit more next time I play an agile team with them (needless to say, caging, hitting people with Tomb Guardians, and fouling players who are a potential threat to your ball carrier all go a long way to helping you win)
On defence, I find it best to set up your Tomb Guardians (and one other player in the centre) 2 (or 3) squares back from the line of skrimmage, positioned so that they cover all squares in their line with TZs. They are no use on the line, as your opponent will likely be able to knock one (or if they are bashy, all of them) down, and then leave all the others so far behind that they will have no further effect on the drive. This way, not only will it be difficult for them to break the line if they have no ST4+ players, but it also means your Tomb Guardians will be in a better position should they do so.
Once it's your turn, keep a couple of safeties at the back, and move everyone else in close (making sure your opponent will have to try particuly hard to get past on the wing). With at least 2 Tomb Guardians at your opponent's main attack point (and usualy on either side of any formation he has formed), and safeties keeping the back field safe, your opponent will have to spend a lot of effort simply getting a player or 2 through, let alone in a safe position. Also, it's a good idea to send a skeleton or 2 into your opponent's backfield if he's left them open on the line of scrimmage to put pressure on the ball carrier.
If your opponent has attacked a wing, one of the Tomb Guardians on the other wing (the one closest to the centre) should try and get over there as fast as possible, while the other should just pick up any stray players on that wing.
If he has a mainly central attack, or even better, he hasn't attacked your second line at all, move all your Tomb Guardians in to their line (one at either end and the other two spaced so that the Tomb Guardians are roughly equidistant) and use a few skeletons to fill in gaps (and a couple more to get around their flanks). Don't forget to keep some safeties though. Once the line is secure, try and put as much pressure on their ball carrier as you can afford. And the rest is pretty standard stuff...if the opponent loses the ball, get as many skeletons to cover it as soon as possible.
Let's get right down to business. The biggest misconception about the Khemri team is that you should have no interest in winning games and only in causing casualties to play them. This is entirely false; Khemri can top the league just like any other team while causing a boatload of casualties to boot. Read on if you want to know how.
Khemri have one HUGE advantage: they can take 4 Tomb Guardians. And this is just about the only advantage they have. OK, they also have Regenerate for everyone and dirt cheap linemen, but these are only minor issues. Still, that one big advantage is all they need.
AG 2 or worse across the board makes any ball handling a serious risk. Speed: only 2 Blitz-ra's and Throw Ra's with Ma 6, the rest MA 5 and Tomb Guardians only MA 4. This makes positioning superimportant as just about every team can outmanoeuvre you without breaking a sweat. Expensive positionals: both Thro-Ra's and Blitz-Ra's seem overpriced when compared to similar players on other teams. Skeletons break easily: AV 7 lineman for a bashy team! These are some pretty harsh weaknesses but you can work around them and maximise your strengths.
Some general stuff applies to both offense and defense. Skeletons and Tomb Guardians should work together as a tag team: every Tomb Guardians should be accompanied with at least one Skeleton untill opposing numbers have seriously dwindled. Tag teams should also preferably work together setting up a chain of Tomb Guardians with Skeletons between them. This way if your opponent goes after your weak Skeletons he will face some Tomb Guardians retaliation. If your opponent tries to tie up your Tomb Guardians with cheap fodder like Zombies then the Skellie can make a block for the push on the Zombie to free up the Tomb Guardians so he can look up more worthwhile targets. Lastly it makes it very hard for your opponent to take out Tomb Guardians with players like Troll Slayers as nearby Skeletons will remove assists or give counter assists (thereby forcing him to commit multiple players). Finally, lone Tomb Guardians can be ganged up on and fouled: don't let this happen in any case! Losing just one Tomb Guardians early on will already hurt you a lot, losing 2 would be a disaster. Skeletons should at all times be considered 100% expendable, go ahead, throw them against that nasty Big Guy you want tied up for a little while. Also don't be afraid to lose a few to fouling, if you have a decent chance of breaking armour do it! Doesn't matter if the eye is on your team, you'll need to cut down their numbers if you want to achieve anything with Khemri. Most likely, with 4 Tomb Guardians on the pitch you'll be filling up the opponent's ko and injury boxes faster than the ref can fill yours with sent off players. Always try to set up 3 die blocks with your Tomb Guardians, your casualty rate not only depends on your armour and injury rolls but also on your knockdowns. You just need 2 assists to get a 3-die block on a STR 3 player. This gets maximum efficiency out of every Tomb Guardians block, not to mention it also reduces your turnover rate (especially when your Tomb Guardians haven't picked up the block skill on a double). All pushbacks made should be considered with care, against eg. Elves make pushbacks to places where they'll have a tough time dodging out of. Against Dwarfs, try to push them away from each other to minimise their likely Guard advantage. In general, all agility rolls besides picking up the ball must be avoided (one exception tough, I'll get to it later on). With AG 2 max I don't think this needs a lot of explaining. Most importantly: Khemri need the numbers advantage to win: any chance you get at taking an opponent off the field should not be overlooked! So consistent fouling is important.
Like it or not, clock management is part of the game and an essential part of the Khemri Playbook. Remember, as long as you hold the ball your opponent can't score. So when you have the ball keep hold of it as long as you can: typically untill you score in turn 8.
Defense ('Good offense wins fans, good defence wins championships.'): Basically there are two possible defensive strategies. First is forcing them to score as soon as possible. Yes, in the Khemri playbook conceding a quick TD is a defensive tactic. The theory is: let them score in the first two/three turns, receive the ball back and beat them up for the rest of the half, scoring in turn 8. Second half you receive again and score again in turn 8. 2-1, game won. Here again you can employ two different ways to entice your opponent to score. First is to surround a bunch of players with your bash crew, when your opponent sees that some of his best players are about to get the royal Tomb Guardians treatment (and if they survive that a boot to the head will surely follow) he will probably try to score asap. I usually make some comment like 'Oh yeah, that Werewolf will be dog food soon!' to convince any doubters. Second option is obvious: create a blitz threat on his ball carrier. Now here is where the exception on the "never dodge" rule applies. Many players will assume that putting a TZ on an AG 2 player will stop you from dodging away, and usually they're right. But if you have a shot at their ball carrier then make that 4+ dodge, if only for shock effect! (But be sure to bash with the Tomb Guardians first tough.) Even if you fail the dodge your opponent might think twice about stalling. In any case apply the pressure 'till they crack.
Second tactic is stopping their offence in its tracks and keeping the nil. Khemri are very, very good at stopping running plays. Especially tight cages can be grinded to a halt and smashed apart by your Tomb Guardians with ease. Against running teams I put 3 Skeletons on the line and all 4 Tomb Guardians 2-3 squares back. Putting Tomb Guardians on the LoS risks getting them bogged down by fodder while the play is developing somewhere else. Holding back at first gives you the possibilty to blitz right where you think your opponent will try to push through. Any attempt by your opponent to run a cage up the field should be stopped by simply putting as many tackle zones on the cage as possible, especially with Tomb Guardians, and overpower them. This works very well against low AG teams that can't dodge out easily. Against high AG teams keeping a tight defence will prove to be a lot harder. They can dodge out and move the play to the other side of the field leaving your Tomb Guardians twiddling their thumbs. Against teams that have no way to easily put down a Tomb Guardians (no Big guy or Dauntless) stacking the line of scrimmage might work, but if they do get through your line your backfield will be wide open. I prefer to make a very strong wide zone defence and leave the centre deliberately vulnerable. If the opponent takes the bait and tries to make his move through the middle (often he has no choice but to do that) then the players in your wide zones can fold back centrally and try to surround their breakthrough (leave them no way of dodging out easily). Added advantage now is that if your opponent does manage to redirect his drive towards the sidelines your players are positioned rather centrally and can probably still react to it. In general I always keep one Blitz-Ra as a deep safety, this discourages opponents to make a solo run with a quick player past your line into your backfield.
Most important part of Khemri offence is having a decent ball carrier. Speed is especially important as you'll need to get the ball out of your backfield and into your cage asap, and passing the ball isn't an option. On offense your goal should be to get the ball in the cage asap and then up the field slowly while getting as many opposing players off the pitch as possible. First part is getting the ball safe. Keep at least 3 players back, against fast, high AG teams preferably more. After kickoff immediately move 1 or two players next to the ball, if something goes wrong you'll have tackle zones nearby making it harder for your opponent to steal the ball. Then do your bashing. Try to make it hard for your opponent to rush the ball. Finally try to pick up the ball. Once you have it, keep it safe, this will most likely mean looking up the company of your Tomb Guardians. Although a cage cornered by 4 Tomb Guardians is rarely necesarry, it is often worth making just to see the look on your opponent's face. Never rush your offense, if all goes well and you keep fouling and hitting then by turn 7 there won't be anyone left to stop you from running in an easy TD. Biggest enemy to a Khemrian drive is the Kick skill. Having the ball kicked way back while being swarmed by Blodging/Side Stepping Gutter Runners is tough to get out of. So players with Kick should always be candidate #1 for a boot to the head. Luckily most teams only have one Kicker at most.
Most coaches choose to receive regardless of the team they are playing. After all it gives you the chance to draw first blood! With Khemri however it often pays to kick first. Why, you might ask. Well, a few reasons really.
1) Kickers; kicking first gives you a few turns to try to get rid of the opponent's kicker permanently before you get to receive (if he's not cowering in the reserves box that is). You might also be able to take out players that can rush your backfield when you receive. 2) KO rolls. If you choose to receive in the first half and if all goes according to plan you'll score in turn 8. This means your opponent still has his 8th turn to play, meaning there will another kick-off and thus also another chance to roll for KO's. After his 8th turn first half ends and he gets another chance on his ko rolls. If you however kick and either make them score quickly (probably not yet too many KO's by then) or manage to stop their drive completely they will only get 1 chance at half time to get KO's back (even if you score back in turn 8 ). If your opponent does manage to score in turn 6-8 then you're screwed of course. 3) Surprise factor. Some people can't understand the notion of kicking when you win the roll-off and might underestimate you or be confused. If I think I can outmuscle the opponent then I'll always kick. Against other Khemri, Ogres, Lizardmen which can match you in a fist fight first blood might make the difference so I choose to receive.
maximise bashing skills, first skill Mighty Blow because you should be throwing lots of blocks. Other good skills include Guard, Stand Firm and Break Tackle. Doubles are Block, Side Step and Frenzy.
Dirty Player is the most efficient skill to cause casualties, get a bunch of Dirty Players first, once you have a couple of them start investing in Block and Tackle. Doubles make an interesting choice: Guard is always usefull, Diving Tackle can be great when facing a lot of AG teams (just stick him next to a Guarding Tomb Guardians), Mighty Blow speeds up development and is particularly good when combined with Block and Tackle.
Sure Hands, Tackle, Mighty Blow, Guard, Break Tackle. Doubles: Stand Fim, Dodge, Sure Feet. I usually develop one as ball carrier and one as heavy hitter.
Never use these guys so can't really comment. NOTE: you'll need a lot of tackle in your team when you come near 200 TV to compete with the agility teams.
Always start with 4 Tomb Guardians. 4 Tomb Guardians is the definition of the team, take them from the start. Also at least 3 Re-rolls are needed.
Not good huh?!! To support all this, take a look at the FUMBBL win ratios- you will find that Khemri are almost the worst team at most TR levels.
However, I got news for you. Coaching Khemri, you can have a superb winning ratio. Many FUMBBL coaches have had great success with Khemri. I hope that Khemri coaches can get to work and rectify the terrible overall FUMBBL numbers!
Now let us consider how this could be, given the information above!
To be successful with Khemri you should:
In sum, with Khemri you can build a winning record with near-certainty, but will be prone to the odd loss, which is largely out of your control, being up to the fortunes of your opponent.
With Khemri you will play a consistent game, day in and day out. This can be done without the need for too many dice. Then, you will tie when your opponent is good, win if they make any error, and only lose when your opponent plays a genius cage-busting defense, or you get very unlucky with your endzone rush.
Every coach has opinion, which one is better. Let me share mine.
In most situations, I prefer to kick first (I will talk about exceptions at the end). Reasons:
1) Khemries are not afraid of snowballing opponent. 2) Khemries snowball better in defense than in offence. 3) Khemries are very bad at recovering from bad luck in offence. 4) In some situations, kick first is MUST.
Receive first has one clear advantage - you get initiative, and first 4 blocks. With some lucky armor/cas rolls, you remove one or few opponent players before they even have a chance to act, get numerical advantage, and snowball from there. There is a joke, that when 2 high TV Chaos teams play, the one that wins coin toss, wins a game. And it has some truth in it. But Khemries are not Chaos. IMHO Khemries is hardest team to snowball against: 1) Khemries always have a bench. 13-14 players is standart. 2) All players have regen. 3) Line folders (skelies) have Thick Skull + regen. That makes them best linefolder vs. CLAWPOMB army. 4) If everything went bad, you still have 2 KO rolls.
IMHO Khemries can snowball on offence, but only in some limited situations. Main problems with snowballing on offence are: 1) Picking the ball with Khemries is hard. And while ball is not in Thro-Ra hands, Khemries can't concentrate on bashing/fouling. You must leave some players in back field, you cannot foul before pick-up, blitzing target deep in opponent side is often bad idea (especially blitz/PO, learned it hard way). 2) When Thro-Ra has ball, you must protect him at all cost. Literally. When I play elves, sometimes I give opponent chance to to do 4+ dodge+ 2x GFI for 1D block on my ball carrier. It eats opponent rerolls, and even if he succeeds, I will just pick up the ball and run away next turn. With Khemries, story is different. Losing the ball often mean no scoring that half. So, you protect the ball. Often it means you don't take some blocks, and/or give opponent extra blocks.
On defense, Khemries doesn't have these limitations, and can bash/foul "from the heart".
Also, kick first gives "free" T8 foul. Rule is simple: If opponent scored, and you have 12+ players, foul.
Bad luck really hurts Khemries. Classical examples:
1) Kick-off events. Worst is Changing Weather into Pouring rain. Blitz! and Perfect Defense are super bad. Throw a Rock and Pitch Invasion are potentially dangerous. 2) No pick-up 2/3/4 turns in row. Happens surprisingly often for AG2 team. 3) Failure with RR on 2D block. Also happens surprisingly often, because TG's doesn't have easy access to block.
If some bad luck leads to defensive TD for opponent, it is pretty much impossible to recover and win a game. On top of that, opponent will get control of game clock, and can choose to score or T7 or T8 (depending from KOs).
Nobody can avoid bad luck. But it is much easier to recover from bad luck in 2nd half, when opponent has fewer players.
At least in these 2 situations kick first is must:
1) Opponent team has high chance for OTT. Why the hell should Khemries receive vs. them? If they want to try OTT, first they should survive till T16. 2) Opponent has wizard. Again, if Khemries receive, lucky wizard often means defensive TD for opponent, and Khemries are unlikely to recover from that. If kick first, opponent may be forced to waste wizard if he wants to score, or, with some luck, in 2nd half opponent wont have enough players to take advantage of wizard.
Sometimes receive first is great, too. Pretty much always when you have good chance to snowball. 1) Teams, against which Khemries has "natural" advantage. Norse, Humans, unskilled Chaos/Nurgles teams comes to mind. 2) 11 players apo teams. Receiving vs 11 players regen teams are also not bad.