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Wood Elf Strategy

Summary

Wood Elves are without doubt the finest ball-players of Blood Bowl, with unmatched ability in scoring touchdowns. However, they are a fragile bunch, and are expensive to replace - many a Wood Elf team has retired before it even got going. Wood Elves, when coached well, are very hard to stop, and their fearless Leaping Wardancers are fearsome ball-winners too; however, in the hands of a novice coach, they often get crushed beyond hope of recovery. Wood Elves play a lightning fast offensive game, scoring in two turns as often as possible; drives that take longer are bad for their health.

Commentary: You can't avoid 'longer drives'. You are going to have to play 16 turns (and want to face as few LoS blocks as possible). If you score fast, it just means that your opponent gets longer drives instead. In fact, it is much easier to minimise damage to your team on turns when you have the ball on offence than when the opposition has the ball, forcing you to take risks to go after it (*if* you go after it).

Being able to score in two turns (or one turn) is a very powerful tool which you should know how to use. Doing it unthinkingly, however, will damage your team and your chances of winning.

Strengths

The Wood Elves rely heavily on their positional players, particularly their almost Star Player-like Wardancers for defensive play. Every player has Ma 7 at least, and with Ag 4 all-round, scoring is not a problem. They also all have access to Agility skills and thus the magic Block and Dodge combination, which they really need to survive, plus all the other useful skills in that category. Of all the elven team, only Wood Elves get a Big Guy - the Treeman; primarily, they are useful for making the initial hole to flood players through versus teams with a strong LoS presence, and can take punishment on the LoS themselves on defense. Sometimes they will Take Root, but it's not like they move fast even when they don't.

Weaknesses

The 70k linemen means that Wood Elves cannot start out with many positional players, and Av 7 means that player losses are a fact of life. Wood Elves are only ever one bad game from retirement, or at the least having to start games heavily outnumbered, so planning for the worst is necessary. Starting with an Apothecary is not a bad idea.

In-game Tactics

As with all Elves, the focus must be on the ball. You will often find that a team you force to worry about possession will be less concerned with mincing your team! Try to prevent cages from forming; once the ball is in one, it's a lot harder to get at. Kick is priceless for this against muscle teams- kicking deep into a corner will force good coaches to start their cages deep, and bad ones to require a difficult pass to make the ball safe as your players rush forward.

I find that using Catchers, especially those developed as safeties, to pressure the ball retriever on defense is effective this way. Safeties often start out wide, to avoid getting caught up in mid-pitch brawls, but close enough to the LoS so that they can advance into the opposition half to apply pressure. Don't waste team rerolls on GFIs unless your players can apply a tackle zone on the ball carrier, or better yet, blitz them. Catchers also make good sweepers; I like to keep one deep in my own half on defense, should the opposition make a break for the endzone. Sometimes this player will have to advance towards the play, in which case I try to drop back another player.

With Av 7, a Wood Elf team cannot usually afford to employ man-marking in defense; rather, they should be dodging away most of the time, certainly versus hard-hitting teams, after all the important stuff for the turn is finished, . Against cages, the best defense is to stay one square away from it, allowing only one blitz on a player per turn to minimise casualties and cage advancement, until your Wardancers are ready to Leap in to strike the ball-carrier, even if it is not a favourable block; hold back rerolls for this event. Strip Ball is priceless for this maneuvere to work.

Leaving players prone can be a valid tactic - standing them up only to get hit again should be reserved only when you want to hold up certain opposition players, or to prevent assists elsewhere. Alternatively, leave them down until the end of the turn, then stand them up and dodge them away. Remember that team rerolls, especially early in the team's life, are precious, so these failed dodges should not necessarily warrant the use of them. This is an excellent argument for taking Dodge ahead of Block on many of the Linemen, though is by no means the only way to develop them.

Always try to keep one player in scoring range when defending; if the ball pops free, you can get the ball to him and score before the other team can recover. The exception would be in last-ditch defending late in the second half, especially if you have a 1 TD lead, in which case scoring again is not as important as preventing the equaliser.

Wardancers, more than almost any other positional player, will attract a lot of attention from the other team, especially their Dirty Players! Keep them out of harm's way until they do something important.


FischerKing's thoughts on Wood Elves in FUMBBL (link to original thread on Talkbloodbowl):

Basically your team needs a Strip Ball player, and a Wardancer is a very good bet. I would give him Strip Ball on a normal skill roll and Mighty Blow or Frenzy on a double.

Reasoning: Strip Ball is very useful on a Wardancer, even though you will be facing a lot of opponents with Sure Hands players. What you are aiming for with Wood Elves is to create tactical situations that can be exploited by you: You are forcing a caging team to pass the ball or suffer a 2-dice blitz on the ball by their turn two, you are splitting their team in two halves or you stall and give them 3 turns to score, so the normal sure hands ball-carrier cannot run it all the way etc. Lack of Strip Ball leaves you vulnerable to certain strategies: Elfball stalling on a Blodger, elfball two turns touchdowns by caging (teams with a weak thrower and a weak bashing game can often pass the ball in their first turn and make a cage on your field, from were its easy to score by turn 2) and Strong ball-carriers (mostly without Sure Hands)

On FUMBBL, Mighty Blow on elves is particularly useful, as a lot of elfbowling is going on, and having a Mighty Blow blitz every turn makes a real difference (most big-ass elven teams plays a bashy strategy against other elves, I don't do it as much but I do respect it as a very potent strat). In LRB 4 you need a high Fan Factor to keep your Woodies going, and for that you need 2 casualties per game. Having a Mighty Blow guy to blitz something every turn you don't have an important tactical blitz is very useful here. My FUMBBL Woodies have FF 29, and have survived for more than 400 games for a reason. Having someone to blitz with MB against bashers can also be useful, as you give Nuffle a chance to buy you little presents such as a casualty on that Block, Claw, MB, Tackle Beastman he blitzes you with every turn.

On Side Step: Take it when you have nothing better to take, and learn to play so your Wardancers takes a low number of blitzes per game (if he can blitz one, you should be in a position were he has a more important blitz)


Development

Linemen: Block and Dodge are useful skills on every lineman. Kick is extremely valuable on at least one, too - it WILL win you games - , and after that, it is very much up to personal preference. Some go for the Side Step/ Tackle route, others will select whatever skills are most required by the team at the time, like Strip Ball, Tackle/Diving Tackle or whatever. Any double on a regular lineman should be used for Guard or Dauntless, to help out against stronger teams.

Wardancers: You only have two, so consider carefully what role they should play; typically, they are the spearheads of the team. They will probably be the first players on the team to get Tackle and/or Strip Ball. Side Step/Tackle/Shadowing/Pass Block is an irritating combination, and Strip Ball/Side Step for cage-busting. Jump Up is particularly effective with Side Step and Strip Ball, as they can better threaten a ball carrier in a cage even if they are knocked down. Dauntless is a better choice on doubles than Guard, as Guards tend to take a lot of punishment - not what you want happening to the stars of your team! Stat bonuses on Wardancers are priceless.

Catchers: Catchers can fill a number of different roles in the team, and with a maximum of 4, you have some leeway in moulding them in diverse ways. Block, and Side Step are useful to all of them, after that, you can develop them accordingly; as dedicated scorers with Sure Feet, Sprint, Leap and NoS or Jump Up on doubles; as auxiliary blitzers if they get Dauntless on doubles early on; or as safeties, for harassing ball-carriers, throwers and catchers, with Side Step, Pass Block, Shadowing, Tackle and NoS on doubles, for the interceptions while in tackle zones. Stat bonuses are good on Catchers; +Str makes them blitzers, +Ag makes them Leapers, and +Ma makes them potential one-turn scorers in combination with Sprint. The use of Dauntless on Str 2 catchers has become increasingly popular; a Dauntless Catcher can potentially become like a third Wardancer on the Roster, using the same skills and tactics as the regular ones.

Throwers: The usual combination of Accurate and Safe Throw applies; also Sure Hands or Catch, depending on where he is positioned at the start of a drive. Strong Arm or Nerves of Steel are the primary skills chosen on doubles. Some coaches develop an offensive thrower (lines up only when receiving the kick-off) and a defensive one (used either when kicking only, or both receiving and kicking), with different skill combinations. An agility bonus is nice, and partially negates the need for Accurate too (just remember that high Ag does not protect you from fumbles).

Treemen: Guard and Break Tackle on normal rolls (MA 2 may not take you far, and you will Take Root sometimes when you try, but ST 6 BT can get you into annoying spots if opposing players don't stay clear of the Tree - Stand Firm also means that this is a safe action). Block, then Dodge, on doubles.

General: Players with Strength bonuses are prized - Block/Dodge/Tackle are good choices on normal rolls for these players, Mighty Blow or Guard on a double. Players with Agility bonuses are also good - Block/Dodge and Block/Strip Ball/Leap are good, Sure Hands has potential for gathering the ball in multiple tackle zones, probably best if you already have Strip Ball players in the team, Pass Block/Leap make for dangerous interceptors, and Leap/Guard(dbl) gives you a an assist anywhere you need it.

Link to GLN article by pac Part 1

Link to GLN article by pac Part 2

Link to WoodElf starting lineups

Last update: December 4, 2009