Promised one or two people I'd let them know how my second Real World Blood Bowl experience went, this seems the laziest way.
It's going to be long, and at least as dull as last time, but this time with reduced interest as less people are involved.
So. After the qualified success of Team Fantastic at the UK Team Championship IV I thought I might venture out alone into the world of beards, boards and pot bellies once more. Specifically To the Hard6 Superbowl IV
. This time alone, and a single day event, promising 4 games of Blood Bowl. The venue was a pub 'South Of the River'. As all Londoners know, anything south of the river is bandit country, but this was close enough to one of the 4 tube stops we allow them down there that I thought I could risk it unarmed. I'd never heard of Hard6, but then I havn't before been a Real World gamer, apparently they(?) do a podcast on the interwebz. Check them (him? her? (yeah right.)) out Here
Armed with my beautiful new Dwarf Team (2016 fully painted £40 including shipping, thanks ebay) which is of a surprisingly good paint level, half a pack of cigarettes and a pair of sunglasses I set off crossing London on the northern line. it takes a special kind of woman to wake up at 7 AM on a Saturday and drop me at the tube so I can get there in time to search for bacon pre kick off and have a smoke before registration. For that alone I can forgive her the withering contempt with which she wished me a good day. And as the car door closed if I heard a faint 'fu**ing nerd', who can argue? But I do think waiting until she is over 40 and has few choices left having wasted most of her life on me, before embarking on RL board gaming, is probably a sensible strategy.
I had gambled on bacon near the pub, and so it proved. A fact i would have stated in the advertising. Possibly first. In the greasy spoon cafe there were 2 types. Locals and an entire cave full of Nerds. I sat next to the nerds and crashed straight into their conversation, they were very nice and welcoming and some of my 'I'm alone and new and naked' fears subsided. And then there was bacon, and somehow I knew everything was going to be OK.
The pub looked good, people started to arrive and around 9:20 we were read out pairs and tables and began. The tourney freebie had been advertised as 'Hard6 scatter templates' but each pack had instead a Hard6 sheriffs badge (without pin) which I can only assume is a turn marker. I didn't really mind, it would be like going out for a posh meal and complaining about the table cloth. it's not really the point is it? There were free templates, but they were photocopies. they also gave everyone some sweets and a score sheet. It seemed fairly well run, for the time of day, and we all set down to some blood bowl. there was probably about 30 people, maybe 35.
My dwarf Squad was
1 x Slayer
2 x Runner
2 x Blitzer
7 x Beards
1 x Apoth
3 x Reroll.
Tier One teams were allowed only 4 skills. By mistake they had listed Dwarves as tier one, so I was only allowed 3 guards (both blitzers and a beard) and a block Runner. no room for innovation or options.
My first opponent was a chap named Chris, or 'Chinball' as he also introduced himself. A very sweet guy coaching Pro Elves (Elven Union you say? Pro Elves till I die say I!). I won the toss and received. He lined up 5 on the LOS and two others in contact with the central line but in wide zones. Those 2 had Side Step, but still. Dwarves, 7 hits and a blitz turn one? yes please. So we set to hitting elves. And they went down. And then got back up again. And again. And again. I liked Chris a lot, a lovely young man who clearly enjoys a variety of table top games, but is yet to learn as much about Blood Bowl as I have likely already forgotten. He gamely tried to help out by standing his little av7 guys up and moving them back into contact, but even with both of us seemingly united in aim, we couldn't get any of them off the pitch. Despite this I was able to secure ball and roll it down the field relatively unmolested. Second half the dice turned, the elves fled, the casualties finally came and on turn 8 I cleared the pitch before stepping the one step to score. 2-0 and 4 Cas. Ahh, bacon.
I thought a decent win would see me head towards the business end of the room, but my pairing came out as table 11. I did some quick math (fingers AND toes) and worked out that meant there were 20 people with better records than me. that didn't seem likely so I mentioned it to the organiser, who was a lovely guy, and was told 'well some guys won 5-0 and there wern't many draws'. I didn't push the point as he seemed very stressed and very much against the idea of there being any problem. Instead I sat down to face Matt, who had suffered a narrow defeat.
Matt was pleasant enough. he was coaching Humans and was clearly from a League or Club. My pleasant bacon fuelled stroll in Round 1 was behind me, this was some serious Blood Bowl. The humans nearly matched me with 2 guards, had frenzy and some other skills, but had a blodge catcher or two and no Ogre. HE chose to kick and after a tight first few turns he had an early turn fail allowing me to make a deal of ground and safely cage, he sprinted back and walled up the defence. i was able to steal few steps here and there and started turn 8 with the Ball Carrier 6 steps from the Touchdown. there were only 3 humans in the way, i had blocks on two and the blitz for the third, a catcher. They didnt need to be pows, just pushes. Each would be 2 die my choice without any GFI or need for risk. the perfect Dwarf situation. I had a reroll in hand. I was good. i was golden. it was already 1-0.
The first guy was powed. the second came up skulls. I flipped in my trusty third reroll and Matt quipped 'the perfect number of Rerolls then'. 2 more dice. 2 more skulls. Matt allows himself a faint smile, i go for a cigarette. The bacon was now a long time ago. It's my 8th game in Real Life, and I have just quad skulled.
The second half begins and he has control of the ball and the game, he drops the ball carrier back and tried to stretch the game. i need that ball so send a party of 2 downfield, the slayer and a Blitzer, while trying to control the LOS. He feints one side then sweeps to the other, just as he should. With a Catcher broken through and the ball stalled in a loose screen cage on the left I am able to pull the blitzer back and use him to fill a hole and assist in a chainpush that's then available, this moves a beard next to the ball carrier and pow, he's down. It took 4 dice though, so while the slayer can get by the ball the runners can't risk getting too near and it looks recoverable. His turn goes OK until the pick up on the sideline and when that 3+ goes bad and the reroll does too it bounces out and is thrown into a crowd of dwarves still hobbling across the field in pursuit of the changed attack side. We secure it and begin the long trudge downfield, but all is not well. having just been told that time is running short, my opponent whips out his phone and announces 3 minutes each. i felt he had been the slower of the two of us, but considering the game state thought better of mentioning it and contented myself with hurrying along. Matt assists with this by watching his phone like a hawk during my turns and calling out regular updates as to the time I had left. We managed the time and the board, making it just it time to pop over for a 1-0 in turn 16.
After the game Matt was nice enough to explain to me where I had gone wrong, the silly chances I had taken by blocking him, sometimes before moving the ball, and how lucky I had been. he did concede the chainpush was good, but thought I needed to bring that level of thought to every turn.
lunch is a very excellent pie, of which there were a decent variety. the chatter is all 'how was your morning'and 'you're coaching Dwarves, ugh' and even one apocryphal story of a guy that hates dwarves so much he has been thrown out of tourneys for being rude to Dwarf coaches. One chap has abandoned his wife to shopping as he interrupts his holiday from Norway to play, another recalls how as a trader he had the world offered to him, but it appeared he has given it up to play blood bowl and wear clothes from charity shops. No one minds when I crash into conversations with strangers, and everyone is very friendly and chatty. there is even another actor there who plays Blood Bowl, a first for me to find someone from my profession gaming. It's not bacon, but my Venison pie fills a hole and with a 2/0/0 record I look forward to seeing the higher table reaches.
Table 9. Maths says no, but the organisers say yes. Here I meet the lovely Martin, known in these fair lands as 'Gritter'. a fine coach i have played on FUMBBL 4 times, with 4 wins. I tell Him my name is David. He asks for my NAF name and I tell the truth. the look on his face changes, to me it looks like he's thinking 'Finally I have this guy in MY HOUSE Muhahhahhaa'. Afterwards he tells me he was thinking 'Oh God, I'll be lucky to draw this.' he is coaching Wood Elves. Maybe it's the pies, or the psychology, but he sets up to kick allowing me the choice of 2 guys to surf. I set up to surf but too excitedly and forgot that Nuffle mocks the plans of mere men. So it was a blitz, and suddenly my offence looks awful, the ball is reachable and his frenzy dancer can surf a beard. Do i need to type that he gets the ball, crosses the pitch and stalls out the half as easy as Easy McEasyface in an easy mood on 'the day of easiness'? Well, it was easier than that.
So, second half and playing for the draw is all there is. I had hurt no elves, he had the ball. I set to murdering. For once i remembered to forget the Tree and thus the Slayer was free to ground blitz some elves, which even the Ref agreed was the only language they understand. Somehow we force our way up the pitch over a pile of dead elves, take the ball and score. 1-1. Gritter was an absolute gent as the dice turned on him and provided me by far the most pleasurable game to play of the day
So I'm 2/1/0. I had always figured it would take a 4/0/0 with only 4 games, and while any thought of winning is gone, I know I will end the day ahead of the average, so my mood is good. And with 2/1/0 i should get a serious opponent next.
Table 7. My opponent opens with 'Hopefully I've gone the whole event without meeting Bloody Dwarves?' I reply 'Sadly no.' and his face falls. He is Bob and he is the chap mentioned at lunch. The Dwarf hater. If there is a single word of truth to anything I say you can trust this: Bob FU**ING HATES DWARVES, and will happily tell you so every turn. mentioning how they are for the special children, they are BB with training wheels, they are broken, they break the game, are boring to play and face and that people who coach Dwarves are no better than pond life. i found him hillarious, maybe years of being universally popular on FUMBBL, and with my Dwarves, and Dwarven play, especially so admired, have armoured me, but I took no offence and quite enjoyed my time with him.
He had humans, with a block Ogre. First half he chose to receive and, lead by the ogre, knocked me about while pushing into my half and took 2 Dwarves off field. Then he miss-fielded and I maybe over commited in trying to exploit it and secure the ball, He spirited it away and pushed past my advancing Dwarven mob .I knocked the ball down and recovered it as it went through, but I never looked like keeping it and under some pressure he went over in turn 6 with a cheery 'lets see you two turn then', followed by a chortle. So I two turned. he wasn't happy. I mean really quite a lot not happy. Of course there were dice that helped a great deal, in both his turn and mine, a 3+ that failed and a 3+ that didnt were both huge, but in the end it hadnt even been that difficult.
Second half we pushed forward early and fought all the way to the line. Bob was fairly gracious about it but the two turner had more or less taken the wind from his sails and while he had a gallant try at the one turn TD, getting the catcher in place, there were still a lot of dice to roll when the fail came. 2-1. Bob was kind enough to say that i was too good a coach for Dwarves and could, in his opinion, coach a proper team. He and I and some friends of his were chatting. He was describing how close he came to winning, I offered that he had indeed monstered me in the first half (being a little generous i thought), he replied that he had monstered me both halves. I conceded 'Yes, maybe. And yet i still won'. My only riposte of the match, but there was general amusement among his crowd.
So I had gone 3/1/0 on the day. I knew it wouldn't be enough, as expected 2 coaches with Woodies and Pro Elves had gone 4/0/0, but I felt it was a decent showing and wondered if I had a chance at third. i didn't. When i asked I was told i was 6th. Another chap asking at the same time was told his 2/2/0 was 5th and this lead me to ask how that was better than me, I was told my one loss took me lower than him and when I pointed out I was 3/1/0 the organiser said 'oh, you're 5th then and he's 6th'. the third place trophy went to someone with 3/1/0. To be honest I don't know my final score. It was 10 per win, and 5 for a draw, so that's 35 from the games. But there was also 3 points for either 3 cas or 2 TD's more than opponent, available up to twice and only in separate games. i scored a 2-0 with 4 cas, but while I think I had 3 casualties vs the wood elves I can't honestly recall, and only kept a record on my score card, which was retained by the Tournament. the Tournament organiser said I had only got one bonus, but then he also said I lost a game. Clearly it was a mistake to not keep my own records, I'll sort that. there were 3 more points for having a painted and based team (I did) and another single point for getting your roster in on time with food choice. i did get the roster in, but he emailed me for the food choice (i swear it got added later, but maybe I missed it) so it could be I lost that point. So minimum 41 points, possibly 45, out of 50.
But as i have no idea what anyone else scored, even the winners, the whole points thing is a little moot. If I had one big gripe for the day it was the total invisibility of the scores/table. it isnt all about winning (my most fun game was the draw) but If I am competing in something it is nice to know how its going and what it might be possible to achieve.
The trophies, and the trophy ceremony was dominated by the BBL (whose chanting of BBL sounded uncomfortably like EDL) in matching T shirts. Apparently they represent the BB wing of the London Gaming Guild, whoever they are. They were all terribly happy with each other and while no one was unpleasant it looked a little cliquey to stay, also the pub was getting ready for a music night and was filling tidy bearded hipsters and women. the spell broken and the pub no longer feeling a safe space for Nerddom I headed home.
I'd definitely go again to a Hard6 event. They have another in the Autumn. they also seem to be involved, or behind, the Blood Bowl GT, which is new and part of a larger gaming event at the Olympic site. Both sound fun and are London based, which helps.
Decent quality Blood Bowl in 3 games, and a nice guy for the other one. bacon next door. Nice people. Not feeling entirely new to all this, only mostly. Meeting a random Fumbbler, the lovely Gritter. The Hard6 guys, hearts clearly in the right places. Helge from Norway and his quest for a eurobowl spot. Meeting some ECBBL people. Bumping into some of the friendly Bromley guys from UKTC. Pies.
Invisibility of scoring. An app would be awesome. but a sheet, even a paper one, would be nice.
The pub instantly changing at 8pm into something completely different (a music event).
A slight feeling that some were more equal than others.
The awards felt a little like being the new invited partner at a family event, when the person that invited you isnt there. Everyone that won something seemed to be known to the dominant club and organisers. Where was Helge's furthest travelled mention/award?
Keep your own score record.
Trust your instincts in finding bacon.
Buy your own templates.
Use Frenzy to take people off pitch, don't chase cas.
Remember you have an apoth, if you have an apoth.
Elves win in short format tournaments.