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THE TAOUCH! OF BLOOD BOWL!!!



METARULE ZERO: MAKE AS FEW ROLLS AS POSSIBLE.

An optimist will say "every dice roll is a chance to succeed!" A pessimist will say "every dice roll is a chance to fail!" In Blood Bowl, the pessimists have it. If you look at great Blood Bowl play, one theme will become constant: NO UNNECESSARY ROLLS. A great BB coach is like a surgeon: never cuts more than he has to, and never takes any unnecessary risks.

You will, of course, have to roll dice in the course of the game. It's how it's played. If you want to play a no-dice game for the intellectual thrill, take up Go. If you want to play a no-dice game for tactical kicks and to foster lifelong hatreds that burn with the fury of a thousand suns, go play Diplomacy.

  • With Blood Bowl, you roll dice. But: every dice roll is a potential failure, a potential turnover, and a potential disruption of your brilliant plans.
  • The fewer dice you roll, the less you will fail.
  • The less you fail, the more you win.
  • The secret to winning: roll the dice less.



METARULE ONE: MINIMIZE RISK.

If you fail a roll, it's a turnover. If you fail fewer rolls, you suffer fewer turnovers. If you suffer fewer turnovers, your plans will go as planned. Do everything you can to avoid failing the rolls you must make:

Make all non-dice moves first

  • If defending and you can move a player to pressure the ball or ballcarrier, do that first-first.
  • When doing non-dice moves close to an opposing player you intend to block, try to figure out where that player will wind up on a pushback.
  • Assume every roll will fail. Before you do any action, ask yourself: "is there some lower-risk option I can take care of before I fail this action? Because I'm going to fail this action. I just know it." If you fail, you've prepared as best you can. If you succeed, hey -- a pleasant surprise!

Block from highest dice to least dice

  • Usually that's two-die blocks followed by one-die blocks. Sometimes you might get a three-die block.
  • Block using players with the Block or Wrestle skill (1/6 chance of failure per die) before blocking using players without the Block or Wrestle skill (1/3 chance of failure per die).
  • A two-die Block without Block/Wrestle is better odds than a one-die block with Block/Wrestle
  • The Blitz is the most important move of every turn. While your opponent takes his turn, use that time to figure out the best way you can use your Blitz to gain an advantage.
  • Always Blitz with players who have the Block/Wrestle skill when possible.

Cover the ball

  • If on the offence, figure out the worst possible result of a pick-up (assume you might drop the ball) and place a man or two to cover the area if there's any chance the opposing team could reach it.
  • Ditto for catching: if there's any chance the opposing team could snag the ball on a failed catch (and turnover), try to ensure there'll be more men in the receivers area. You should be doing this anyway to protect him from Blitzes.

Use the right players for ballhandling

  • Always use higher AG players for ballhandling. If you need to get a ball to a low-AG player, try for a hand-off (fewer dice to roll).
  • Clear opposing players out of the ball's tackle-zones before trying any ballhandling moves.
  • If a player has Pass, use him to Pass. If a character has Catch, use him to catch.
  • You don't get SPP for Hand-offs, but you're reducing the number of dice you need to roll.

Never Go For It

  • Don't GFI unless it is utterly, absolutely, essential. Do it last, and expect it to fail everytime. Once you have had your best player fall over, break armour and die on a GFI, you will learn. Until then, you probably won't.

Never depend on a Big Guy

  • Big Guys negatraits will screw you in the worst possible way at the worst possible time.
  • Never forget that Big Guys only have a 50% chance of using a Re-roll, not only might they negatrait on you, they might also screw up a Block and you won't be able to Re-roll it reliably (therefor should not waste your Re-roll even attempting it, unless absolutely vital). Big Guys are great walls and awesome at exerting tackle-zones, but more useful on defence than offence a lot of the time.

Maximize Their Risk

  • Harry the ballcarrier. Even if you're covering a Bull Centaur with a puny Halfling, they need to Dodge or Block to get away from it -- which is another chance for them to roll skulls, or fail a dodge. There's also a chance your Halfling will bite it, but that's life.
  • Cover the ball. Every tackle zone exerted on a ball by you reduces their chances of picking that ball up -- either they have to attempt a pick up with you in the ball's tackle-zones, or knock you away from the ball first... more dice rolls, more potential to fail.



METARULE TWO: CONTROL THE PITCH

Ruling the turf means generating space for your ballcarrier to move through, and denying your opponents that same space. Therefore, being undermanned is a recipe for disaster.

  • Failing a superfluous 1d block isn't just a failed block, it's a turnover, and it takes a player off the field. That's tackle-zones you're not exerting, holes being opened, players unavailable later on. Don't do risky blocks unless there's a significant tactical advantage and that player can be spared.
  • Ditto for fouling. If there's a tactical advantage, then consider it. But if you fail and your player gets sent off, you're a man down. Might be worth losing a Zombie to get your opposing coach's blodging monster off the field... but risking a blitzer to try to get rid of a regular Lineman is just daft.
  • Remember that while most players take up one square on the pitch, they exert 8 squares of influence around them. Try to picture their tackle-zones when you move them.
  • Three players in a line create 12 tackle-zone squares... three players staggered out one space apart create 18. The staggered players create more spaces where opposing players are threatened. This isn't always the best strategy, but remember that mass does not always equal strength.
  • Sidelines = bad. Any player on the sideline is almost guaranteed to go crowd-surfing and get injured.
  • Conversely, if your opponent puts a player on the sidelines, and you can thwack him into the crowd, DO IT. After your non-dice moves, of course.
  • Conversely II, don't lose an opportunity to hit the ballcarrier just to push someone into the crowd. At the end of the day, your job is to score more touchdowns than the other guy.



METARULE THREE: YOU WIN THE GAME BY SCORING TOUCHDOWNS

Beating the crap out of Skinks is fun and all, but the goal is to win. Never forget that.

  • If you're coaching a speed team that only needs 2-3 turns to score, letting a slow team score quickly in the first half isn't always a bad thing. It gives you several turns in the first half to equalize the score, and you'll probably score again if you're receiving at the top of the second half.
  • Stalling is a legitimate tactic.
  • While the game is won on scoring (and not fouling, and not blocking), it's a lot easier to score if you're fielding 11 players and your opponent is fielding 4. There are some tactical advantages to being brutal if (a) you have no chance of scoring anyway, and (b) you want a man-up advantage later.



METARULE 4: METARULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN.

More than anything else, what separates a solid, consistent coach from a really great one is their choices of when to throw caution to the winds and try something risky, yet rewarding. How a coach weighs the potential risk of an action versus the potential reward is really what defines a coach's unique style.

Understand the risk/reward ratio

  • You must know the risk. Know what your odds are and what the consequences of failure are.
  • By "knowing the odds", I mean roughly. 1/3 will suffice, even if it's actually 73/216. No need to go overboard.
  • You must know the rewards. You've got to be able to see how this will alter or affect the game, should you succeed.

Take risks to exploit advantages Once you've got the previous rules down you can look for. . .

  • Opportunities which can arise by taking riskier actions first, such as freeing up more people to make moves without rolling.
  • Moments where the risk is particularly low.
  • The threat of turnover is removed when moving the last player of your turn.
  • The potential loss of tackle-zones and assists can be mitigated in a tightly-packed area.



METARULE FIVE: SUCK IT UP AND HAVE FUN, DAMN IT.

This game will bite you in the butt. Frequently. You might say "what are the odds?" when you roll your sixth "1" in a row, but given that there have been well over 1,000,000 games played on FUMBBL, the odds of just about ANYTHING happening within that set of 1,000,000 games is... pretty good. (The odds of rolling six 1s in a row is actually about 0.002%, or 1/50,000. So at this point your six 1s in a row are in pretty good company -- and as statistically probable, don't forget, as six 6s!)

Your best, most beloved player is going to die. Period. There is a Zen parable about assuming that everything is created broken, so when you break a glass, for instance, that is merely the completion of the glass' cycle: it was made to exist for as long as it existed, and it was made to inevitably be destroyed. So it is with your 180 SPP Werewolf. He was born to die. Accept it and move on.

The next time you're playing against an opponent who won't shut up about his lousy luck, cherish that experience. It is showing you how miserable it is to play against an opponent who won't shut up about their lousy luck. So -- hopefully -- you will never yourself become a miserable player who won't shut up about your lousy luck. Or crow about your good luck, for that matter.

To quote Paul Hicks (and possibly the wisest words ever spoken about the online version of this noble sport): "...you know, if the worst thing that happens to you is you roll a bunch of 1s and your computer pixels die, then you should consider it a damn good day."

Amen to that.


Last update: February 26, 2013