So last weekend was time for Powtown 2015 in Calgary. I had really been looking forward to this and was delighted to see the attendance had swelled to 23 coaches. Dave and Lair's organization was brilliant before and during this grand event. Again the venue was the very suitable Sentry Box store, a huge games and book store with gaming areas.
I was in no way expecting to be close to winning the tournament again as you need a bit of fortune (especially with bonus points) as well as some decent coaching, and I couldn't see the dice falling my way 2 years in a row. Though I hoped to challenge and have some fun even if not.
Last year I used Humans with Griff for both Powtown and Spike. This time I went for the solid (even if somewhat rotten) form of the Undead (The Forgotten Villains!). They have their hitters, their meat shields, and their runners. The plan was simply to churn forward steadily and carefully and hopefully get up on player numbers on offence. Then put on the pressure in defence, and listen to the wails of the dying and the lamentations of their women as we conquer the field. Though I was a bit concerned with the skill pack rule changes as Undead are tier 1 and there was no block (double) option for a mummy. Still a strong roster.
First up was a grudge match! Last year I faced Lair in the final match on the top table and I surely had some blessings from Nuffle that time. This time we were both using Undead, his being the Styx River Shamblers. A real tough matchup to start with, a strong coach and team. They kicked a touchback to start. I was still shaking off the rust in the morning and my Villains early positioning weren't great, so I soon needed a Ghoul Dodge or two to get things going. Then as we ko'd a zombie and a skeleton we made a good advance without leaving the mummies behind. It was going well but the Shamblers didn't give up easily and forced another Ghoul dodge in T7. And he fell just a few steps from the endzone! There was still a moment to pick up the ball and score but a Ghoul again failed us. So at half-time it was 0-0. After kicking we ko'd a zombie and then put the pressure on them. Their carrier handed off and another then rushed through to our side. They also caused a couple of casualties. But we just got players back to grab at him and it was the turn of one of their Ghouls to fail a dodge! This meant we could blitz their carrier down who then dropped the ball off the pitch and our delighted fans hurled it forward for us where we could gather it and break away for the 1-0 victory. Not many bonus points with just 1 casualty caused against 2, but a great result. (Lair still ended the tournament in 2nd place, showing again that you can sometimes rise up from a bad start in this format.)
Second match we faced another bashy side. Da Black Crag Boog'rz. The Orcs of Michael from Regina. We were again asked to receive first. With Black Orcs with Block and another 2 with Guard this took plenty of thought to keep the 2D blocks and forward movement going. We advanced up one side and Mumm-Ra caused a crucial cas on a Black Orc in turn 3 (they tried the apo on the injury but to no avail). When another was ko'd the following turn we moved back in to the middle and looked solid. However my pre-tournament fear surfaced when a mummy got 2 double both downs. With some considerable thought required we made it through though, just, and the Villains make a brief stall before a T8 score. Second half the ko'd Black Orc was back but we were definitely helped with the other one missing. In the Orc drive their blitzer makes a poor effort and double skulls a hit. Their thrower is exposed and a Mummy cackles as it takes him down. Another Black Orc is cas'd, a Ghoul steals the ball and we stomp onward for a 2-0 win. Our best performance of the tournament, though again it could have gone differently. Michael took it well. As a side note Michael mentioned he had been told that people who contribute to FUMBBL get better dice rolls generated on the site. How does this ridiculous myth keep going? Surely perpetuated by players who take too many risky actions.
Next we faced the Slaan side Croakatoa Crush, coached by Josh from Lethbridge. The team looked great and he has some cool homemade fly RR counters too. I have faced a few Slaan teams in FUMBBL but it is still a real rarity to play them. They are hard to use but also hard to defend against if coached well and leaps get working. They got +2 Fame as the fans went wild and the match started with a riot. It didn't take long before our Ghoul ball carrier was leapt at and wrestled down, but the ball squirmed out to our Blodge Ghoul. We nervously then managed to run the ball forward and score after a brief stall in turn 6. The nuts crowd then did a pitch invasion. 7 of our players were brought down and stunned! The way was clear. But our few clever fans took out both of their catchers who were behind the LOS. They still had a chance to score but the pass is missed and a following block fail left us 1-0 up at half time. At this point of two and a half matches so far played it was looking great for me in the tournament with no TDs conceded so far. The Slaan then do great work in racing down the flank to score a quick TD. That left us with time to score but also time for them to steal. This was a great match but we were playing slow. The Villains advanced into their half but full time was called with 3 turns left! The Slann did one desperate leap in to our cage in their last allowed turn which failed. The match ends prematurely 1-1. It could have gone either way so fair enough.
My fourth match of the day was against Michael (Spike organiser) and his eccentric Human side Silly English Kannigits. He has some excellent Monty Python and the Holy Grail inspired conversions. Their side had a Block Ogre, no reserves and a couple of Catchers. Things didn't go well though as their Ogre and Blitzers were hitting brilliantly. A mummy was cas'd (regen failed) and a Wight was ko'd. They left their thrower deep in their half, always tricky to decide how to deal with when using a slowish team, until he decided to get it forward to a Blodge catcher who burst past us. They did try one hit too many though and left the catcher exposed. Our tackle Wight couldn't bring him down though. Surprisingly the Kannigits bravely stalled. The Wight dodged out and had another 2D Tackle hit on the catcher but again failed to bring him down. Another chance failed too and they finally scored. We had a couple of turns left but a handoff failed. The Humans had an excellent 1-0 lead at half-time. A mummy was out and the ko'd Wight didn't return. I still felt confident we could at least make a comfortable drive forward. The ball went to our Ghoul but there was a perfect defence and they went all mens LOS! With their guards and Ogre this caused us problems. I took several of their players down or pushed back, even making two casualties from all the hits. The Ghoul carrier also went forward. However with a skeleton knocked aside by one of the standing Humans a Blitzer got through with a dodge and sacked the Ghoul! I so should have left him outside of hitting range. It seemed like we had a good chance to get the Blitzer down and then be able to make use of our numbers advantage but a zombie double both down'd and again with rr just before I could do a 2D blitz. The Blitzer then raced away for 2-0! I think we were 11 v 7 now and had an outside chance of getting 2 in the turns remaining. We got them down to 6 players (though had suffered casualties ourselves too) and went quickly up a flank thinking the first TD would be easy. But the Frenzy blitzer charged in against the carrier and an assist and with 2 successful -2db hits surfed him! What a blitz. The ball was then thrown back down towards our end. Our draw chance was gone. Still we could get a consolation. Or could we? No, a handoff failed. Then when we finally picked up a Ghoul did an absolutely classic GFI endzone fail. A 2-0 defeat! But a fun one. We were out of tournament running but maybe could still get Best Defence if we got back on track.
Next day we faced Duff's Dark Elves the Black Lanterns. There was a blizzard which looked bad considering we were the slower side. So I kicked hoping the weather would change, it didn’t. There was some excitement early on when an Elf had a bad trip up. We had only moved a skeleton into their half so that took the chance to blitz their exposed Assassin ball carrier. 1 in 3 to take it down. But no, a push. I didn't rr as a skull or both down would mean they could get away easily. Still they pulled off a lovely passing move and the receiver then handed off too and the ball was away. We tried to give chase but the TD was a formality. They briefly stalled. We still had some time but a double skulls put paid to our short drive and a rather grim first half. All 11 Elves returned for the 2nd half. We soon made a KO and two casualties and for a moment it seemed an equalizer would be coming. But as with the previous match there were more horrors to come. Somehow they got an Assassin, a diving tackler and a tackler behind our carrier in their all or nothing effort. A Wight blocked the Tackler away, and the Diving Tackler was blitzed away. But I forgot the third player was an Assassin as the Ghoul dodged out. Despite the Ghoul's higher move the Assassin shadowed him, not once, but twice! The Assassin was surrounded but then stabbed the Ghoul successfully! What a play, and to rub salt in to the wound the ball scattered towards Elf players. Some were tied up though so the Elf who picked up couldn't get far. We blitzed him down and the ball was left in 1 tzone. With a pickup we would be ok. But a drop! Then another Dark Elf scooped up the ball in 3 tackle zones (Elves gonna Elf) and handed off the ball for another to race away. Shocker. We still could get 2 players in contact to recover. A Ghoul just needed a GFI for a 2D Blitz, but…1, 2! He fell in the blizzard and left a straightforward dodge for the Elves to win 2-0. There was no mistake then. This one was frustrating at times but again was an exciting match.
Last match we were against Dan's Halflings, The Darkshire Raiders. At last year's Spike my Humans had decimated these and managed a 2-1 win. But it seemed the Halflings this weekend were pretty tough in comparison. Zara’s stakes and Dauntless also came in handy here. A couple of our RRs also went as the Undead seem to love Hotpot. We kicked and it started fine when the Grab Treemen roots on the LOS and we ko a sidestepping Halfling. By the time we had ko’d 3 Halflings we were able to put a load of pressure on their carrier. He was surrounded and other players, including Zara, were also marked up. But there was one space to get through. Stunty to the rescue! The Halfling made three dodges through the crowd and got next to a Tree which hurled him forward. The landing is always tricky but the little fella made it! He scored. What an escape. In our following drive we could not outhit the Halflings and ended up rushing to their corner. Once we got there though we could try a little stall. After taking down Zara a skeleton and co made a gang foul but she was just stunned. A Halfling tried to get through but tripped up. We did another gang foul but Zara was unscathed, jumped up and blocked a skeleton back. Then the heroics. A Halfing burst through and took on the stronger Ghoul and pushed him in to the endzone! It was a score but effectively meant we lost a turn of hitting. So left with 3 turns I decided to settle for a draw. We put 5 players back while the mummies and remaining players hassled the Treemen as we expected a throw. The players in front of one Tree were removed and it hurled the Halfing forward. He landed well again! Just at the limit of his running distance to score. But we avoid embarrassment as he couldn’t break through our line and a Ghoul trips him up. Phew, we manage 1-1. Dan needed the win for best Stunty team but still brilliantly took the Best Defence of all teams. Again a fun game against a strong coach.
I had great fun in the tournament. In every match I had a friendly opponent and the coaching was very good, with every match hard fought until at least the latter stages of the second half. There were no high scoring crushes either for or against so I needed to concentrate throughout. Despite a strong start I end at 2/2/2, and with few bonus points dropped down to 17th. 5 of my 6 played opponents ended above me. A negative cas rating with only 10 casualties scored for an Undead team that had matches including Dark Elves, Halflings, Slaan and Humans showed where one of our problems lied. Defensively we were one of the better sides but in scoring and hitting we just didn’t deliver in finishing off drives. I think in both my wins I had overall better luck than my opponent and in my losses worse. But no doubt mistakes were made, in hindsight I definitely made several (probably a lot more) clear ones in positioning and order of actions. The margins are often narrow with solid coaches playing. That’s one thing I saw with the best coaches at Spike last year (or the best coaches on FUMBBL), they rarely make those mistakes.
In Spike last year three of the top four sides were Wood Elves. Here in Powtown this year Michael's Wood Elves won the title, again showing how effective they are in the hands of a top coach with their leaping shenanigans and speed. 3 Orc sides were in the bottom 6 while Underworld had a couple of impressive high placings (6th and 9th).
In summary, a Great tournament! I recommend any Blood Bowl fans to attend tournaments, especially Powtown 2016.