Wood Elf Strategy Guide, Part 1
When I first started to write out this series, I thought I could fit it all in one single article. How did I fool myself! It had to be divided into three parts. This one focuses on team building. The others will be a tactics article on how to use the players once you have them, and another piece on how to fine-tune the team and play for reaching high Team Rating, beating bashing teams and winning tourneys.
Upon deciding to become a Wood Elf coach, you get yourself a team with great opportunities. Wood Elves (WE) are a rather nice team to play since they are fairly easy to win games with. They also gain SPP very quickly, as they score a lot. However, you have also got yourself into playing one of the teams that lose most players to injuries and aging of all Blood Bowl teams. On top of it all, WE are expensive. You will need a lot of money to keep your roster from shrinking. A high Fan Factor is, in the long run, the single most important feature of your team. Start with nine, keep it high, and keep it rising.
There isn't that much room for choosing different team set-ups on a new WE team. There is cash for two re rolls and one of the following:
- 11 Linemen, FF8 and apothecary
- 10 Linemen, 1 Wardancer and FF8
- 9 Linemen, 2 Throwers and FF9
- 10 Linemen, 1 Thrower, FF9 and 20K cash
Other set-ups with less Fan Factor or a Treeman are not even worth mentioning. Of these four, I prefer the last one. When you have won your first game, buy the apothecary and then save up for the dancers. It is a good thing that the Linemen can get a skill or two before getting the dancers. That keeps a good balance in the team and you can lose a Lineman or two and replace them with Wardancers.
Building a wood elf team
As you get lots of skills you will get a few very good players. Any ST4 player, AG5 Wardancer, AG5/Guard/Leaper or one-turner is a tremendous asset. These guys are also one of the most dangerous traps for a WE coach. If you are not very very careful when picking your skills, especially the doubles, you will end up with a rather useless WE team once the great player is lost. In some cases, it can take a whole generation of players to repair the damage and get the team working as a group again. This is avoidable by picking the right skills. There is a single sentence that comes to my mind when selecting skills for WE. Think: ”What skill do I need to pick the ball from a strong opponent if my key players are out?” Always think defence. The only exception to this rule is one or two Throwers.The Linemen, Catchers and Wardancers always have to be built to contribute to the defence. Never even consider such a skill as Nerves of Steel. Your offence will work anyway. What you need to be able to do is to get to the ball, strip it from your opponent and pick it up. You also need to be able to stop a passing game, either by taking out, covering and pass blocking the receivers or by harassing the opposition thrower - preferably both! So, what skills do you need? Let's look at the different players.
A Lineman without Block isn't much of a Blood Bowl player. Get him Block. One of them should get Kick too, perhaps even before he gets Block. The kicker is essential. When you get a blitz, you need to have the ball on the spot you picked, not the one Nuffle chose or somewhere off the pitch. Second skill for most linos is Tackle, and I usually pick one Dirty Player. On doubles, pick Mighty Blow if they have Tackle and Guard if they do not. As third skill it gets a little trickier. Don't expect to have three skills on that many linemen at the same time, they usually die off before that, but a few of them will get it, and some even a fourth once in a while. Pass Block is usually a nice one, so is Side Step and Diving Tackle. Don't go for Shadowing, you have faster guys for that, if you like the skill. Don't even bother thinking about Dodge. It works only on lower levels and versus the coaches that are not good enough to give you a good fight for the victory anyway. Good coaches have quite a few tacklers and you'd better pick the skills that are better for beating them. Save Leap for those that get AG5, two AG4 leapers is enough as it is.
The dancers are your winning machines. They are quick, they have Blodge and they can jump for starters. They might even be the best players on any FUMBBL roster. If you place your Wardancers well they can probably reach the ball on a running game. The first thing they need is a skill to get the ball from a dodgy ballcarrier. Give Tackle to one of them and Strip Ball to the other. As these guys are dodgers, Side Step might be a good second skill. On doubles, pick Guard or Jump Up. If one happens to get +AG, Guard is definitely the way to go. Jumping in to Guard anywhere you like and only fail on a roll of 1 is powerful. Pass Block is a nice skill on a dancer too, since Leap makes it ever so hard to stop him from reaching the receivers. But remember, unless you roll something really nice, Tackle or Strip Ball is your first pick. After that, choose with care to balance the rest of the team.
Catchers are very good at catching balls and scoring. However, you don't need Catchers to score, since Linemen do it well enough. Their great speed brings up the Team Strength a lot, so you need to find a way to make these guys useful. If you can't do that, don't buy them. One thing they are good at is scoring in extreme situations. They can do pushing one-turners if they have Sprint, and they are good when you need to score with only six or even fewer elves. That doesn't quite justify getting more than one of them, though. If you want to have several Catchers, you have to turn them into blitzers. With only ST2, they will need Diving Tackle or Dauntless to be really useful. Shadowing works too, but from my experience DT is better, especially if they get Tackle too. A Catcher with Diving Tackle or Dauntless can force an opponent to put his thrower a very long way back to keep him safe. A Catcher with Block, Side Step, Sprint and DT plus Tackle or Dauntless might even force the opponent to protect the thrower as far backfield as his own end zone. That way, Catchers can be of great use. They can even force passing teams to switch to running games. On the other hand, if the opposing team has tacklers they usually can't stand being put on the line and then their use diminishes quite a bit. On doubles, don't go for NoS, it's good for scoring. Guard and Dauntless are so much better. Remember, think defence.
Keep these guys picking throwing skills just as long as there are good throwing skills to pick. Accurate, Strong Arm on doubles and Safe Throw are priority one. Sure Hands and Sure Feet are good too, since they do a lot of pick-ups, sometimes in tackle zones and it's nice to be able to GFI into a shorter passing range. Block for safety later on. If you already have Sure Feet, Sprint is very nice. Once you get a thrower with extra movement, you will notice the wonderful benefits. But, as soon as you have a thrower you feel safe with, it's time to make him useful in defence too. Pass Block is a nice skill for that.
If you have one, he will need Block as soon as possible. Then Guard, Tackle and Multiple Block in any order desired. Double rolls are best used for Pro, Frenzy or Dodge. Why Dodge? Even though I don't think picking Dodge is a good idea on a Lineman, the tree might make good use of it. First, you really don't want him to fall over, but if he has to, wouldn't it be very nice if one of those precious tacklers of the opposing team would be used on the tree rather than your Side Stepping, Blodging Catchers or Wardancers?
Most people would say: ”If you get a stat increase, take it.” I don't quite agree. On a Catcher or a Thrower, take them all, always. On Linemen and Wardancers, I'd prefer the double to the +MA on a 5-5.
The guys with extraordinary stats will need some extraordinary thinking. Here are some good combinations I have had myself or seen on teams of other coaches.
- player with AG5, Leap and Guard.
Happens from time to time on dancers, but it's when the linos get this you should consider yourself really lucky.
- Treeman with MA4.
A tree can't have too much MA.
- Thrower with MA8/9.
Makes passing much easier. More important than one can imagine.
- Catcher with MA10, Sprint and Sure Feet.
The one-turner. Watch out so that he doesn't get too many SPPs and give him skills so that he can be used as blitzer on defence too, otherwise he will boost your Team Strength by a lot more than what he is worth.
- Wardancer with ST4/5.
The superb cage breaker. Don't give him Mighty Blow, he will just age very soon.
Players such as these bring lots of quality to your team, and they sometimes win games all on their own. But since their armour is low and they attract lots of bashing from the opponents, they spend much of their time stunned, KO'd or injured. You will always have to live with that, and if you can to turn that into something good for you, you are much better off. Build your team and your players so that you can defend and score with your regular players. Then, when an opponent coach focuses on your stars, he will not destroy your game and the loss of the star doesn't interfere with the team building. Try to use them only when there is not a satisfactory way of reaching a good result with the rest of the team. Using them often leads to SPPs and they eventually lead to old age. Better letting the rest of the team develop to equally good players.