A Coach's Journey
I was introduced to online Blood Bowl by a friend and found my way to FUMBBL via SkiJunkie's site, becoming a member in February 2002. Since this time, I have learned more about Blood Bowl than I have in all my 10 years of playing. I enjoyed learning new tactics, skill combinations and strategy. I did have a steep learning curve - learning about Wild Animal traps, team strength, et cetera - but quickly became proficient with online play and the new rules.
I became addicted to winning and rankings. I wanted to prove my superiority at Blood Bowl and set out to jump up in the rankings (the highest ranking I got was 17th) and become the "best" Canadian. I was obsessed with winning and I won my share of games. Often, I would go on ten-game-plus winning streaks. I became good at winning and looking for games.
I put my ranking and reputation on the line and entered FUMBBL Open and Div X Cup I Tourneys. I placed my Undead and Skaven team into a mix of teams with the Anarchists and other strong teams. I did very well in these tournaments, making the quarter- and semi-finals respectively. I had a blast, losing close games to good teams and coaches. I was proud how far my teams went, even under circumstances beyond my control.
I loved close games so much that I took my teams and went looking for games with stronger or more evenly matched teams. My winning streaks quickly stopped. I became frustrated with myself and my teams. Why was I losing? I took two weeks off to rest and deal with personal issues. My personal issues stopped, but my winning was not as consistent as before. I quickly realized my previous winning had nothing to do with skill or luck, but with my ability to pick a game. I was not in love with winning, but with the "thrill of the hunt". My winning streaks had more to do with finding vulnerable coaches, and finding games on my terms and on my time. I would lurk back and wait for coaches that just wanted to play and have fun and swoop in with a game for them I knew I could win.
I noticed when I played evenly matched teams, with evenly match rosters and on evenly matched terms, against evenly matched coaches, my scores would be 3-2 or 2-1 consistently. Unless a coach was out of favour with Nuffle, the games would be close. I would lose some, I would win some. I became more satisfied with my 2-1 wins and more satisfied with my close loses. I was also becoming a better coach and having more fun.
I noticed that in the rankings that some coaches with 200+ games had winning percentages of 80% and more. How could this be? If you are playing evenly matched teams, with evenly matched rosters and on evenly matched circumstances, you are NOT going to win 80% of your games. In fact, at best I could manage a 66% win percentage. What was going on in FUMBBL?
I confronted a few of these coaches about their winning percentages. I heard excuses like "I don't play bashy teams." "I don't play one turn teams." I also noticed that these coaches were good at finding games that looked even on paper, but used the ST and TR formulas to their advantage. Often these coaches came from Europe, but I won't go in that direction in this article. I played a few of these coaches and none of them did anything I never seen before. With a 75%+ win percentage, I became disappointed with the games and their mechanical approach. I envisioned these coaches as being the same types of people who used a Ranger with two long swords in AD&D 2nd edition (old school D&D reference for ya!).
If you are a coach with 200+ games and have a win percentage of 75%+, ask yourself this: "What role do I have in the FUMBBL community? What do I gain from picking games that are always in my favour to win? Am I a good coach or just good at finding games?"
I now look for games that I know I can win AND lose. I often take on matches with "bashy" teams (much to the displeasure of my high elves), I won't turn down a game because of a one turner and playing Halfling teams is a joke. I am more satisfied about my ranking and that it now truly reflects my skill and proficiency with the game, not at choosing a game. I am no longer infatuated with winning, but play the game I grew up playing and love for one reason: fun.