Angry Man 4 - Zombieish
Greetings, children. Come suckle at my anger teats for another round of unhinged ranting, enjoy my milky goodness. Or something.
When I heard about the theme of this issue of the GLN, I wasn’t immediately angry. I found this feeling of calm serenity very odd. It’s unlike me not to be angry about anything in life. I find sunshine irksome. I’m not entirely sure who the cocky beggar thinks he is, all bright and hot. In the age of electricity, I can look after myself, thanks all the same. What am I, a caveman? Birdsong is annoying. I’d rather be subjected to a car alarm first thing in the morning, at least it would wake me up. I growled yesterday when I saw a baby lamb skipping through a pleasantly fenced field. Lucky so and so, get a job, then we’ll see how much time you have to look all cute and fluffy. However, the thing is, it’s nigh on impossible not to love a Zombie.
Pop culture has always smiled on our shambling, undead buddies. Talk someone’s ears off about some book you’re reading where an Orc army is storming some city or other, and it’s likely their eyes will glaze over whilst they don’t listen to you. They’re secretly gasping for something to explode and get them out of the conversation any which way is possible- death is preferable to your nerdom. However, even the jockiest jock is fine with the latest ‘Escape flesh eating Zombies by beating them about the head with a cricket bat’ movie / video game – it’s just cool, and perhaps always will be, even if the genre never really moves on. ‘Man falls over / is hit in groin’ is always going to be funny; perhaps endless remakes of Dawn of the Dead will always make money. Zombies, then, are an acceptable face of nerdom. A constant like death, taxes and Tom Cruise remaining in the closet.
They also represent excellent things in Blood Bowl. They represent the harm ‘balance’ mongers can do when people listen to them. As some sort of cure all, whacking 10k on a Zombie, messing about with Mummies and killing the power of fouling (some of which was to help fight against the ‘too good’ power of Undead – I know, hilarious) has unleashed varying degrees of bile from all corners of the internet, but it is just one example of where anger in reaction to LRB6 has been forged, at least in part, from the wreckage of ‘balance’ being applied. The Raise The Dead noise in the client and rule is super. Zombies represent good things like positioning slow players well, like the weak link on a team being important, like Regen!
So, in short, I was struggling to be angry this issue. It was going to be a short column and not the usual wall of text (TM) that none of you really read, you Generation Y short attention spanned fools. That was until I remembered my favourite ever player. A Zombie, Cacodemon.
Cacodemon began life simply enough, a 30k meatshield on a [L]eague Necro team. I was a n00b, more irked than angry in my younger days, and Doomed From the Start began life in Season One of the (then) fledgling White Isle League. I had no idea how much I‘d learn to love the division, the league and the player. Cacodemon went on to represent DFTS 135 times over 4 years. He was the constant face of a team that had more ups and downs than Paris Hilton when a night vision camera is in the building. When the team was a banged up 10 Zombies and a Wight, a Guard MB meatshield did a superb job as a cornerstone of a side grinding out vital draws against vastly superior opposition. He was one of those pixels who just always seemed to weigh in with a vital KO, always did a job, always had Nuffle’s coincidental love. And then, it ended.
In turn 16 of a dead rubber of a game, after 135 games of glorious service to the cause; a Pro Elf rookie Lineman took a –2D shot at him. A pointless manouvre in a game long since decided. Double POW, no Regen, dead as a doornail.
So I come to the subject of my anger (about seven thousand words in); casualties. Now, hold on, relax, before you can write ‘It’s BLOOD Bowl’, salivate over a good CAS like an averagely sized American wonders if a baby really does taste like chicken or label me some sort of girly girl; I like casualties and I recognise that in Blood Bowl, they are an important (nay vital) mechanic. CAS = good. Way we see CAS applied all too often? Bad.
Casualties, you see, I believe should be earned, not just awarded. Any two CAS aren’t alike. On the one hand, we have the CAS that come through coaching. Moving an opponent into a surfable area, should be auto CAS. Opponent leaving his guy on the sideline, ditto. Playing bash Vs. agile with a well built team, the occurrence of snap should be more frequent, if the game has it’s yin and yang in the right area, which it does, if you build a team properly. There are less obvious deserved CAS too – when you see a well coached, Guard heavy bash team defeat a not so well coached bash team, it’s likely what has happened is the good coach has controlled the position and the contact well enough to significantly out block his opponent, and this control deserves to yield tangible rewards. All of these circumstances speak of the well coached game gaining deserved CAS that you can point to and say ‘deserved’.
Un-deserved CAS lead to undeserved TDs which lead to undeserved losses. They are often the slippery slope from which the loss comes, be it today, be it tomorrow. When Pro Elves block a High Elf LOS for a KO and two CAS (three of the twelve blocks they’ll get in a half with no MB, no nothing), that half is all but over. When the Claw / MB / PO killer hunts out and dispatches a player a turn, it’s far from enjoyable, and whilst that mechanic might not win the game on the spot, it might lose the receiver the next three or four. I wonder how many games you’ve played recently that you’ve felt have been vastly undeserved losses have at least had a foundation stone in undeserved CAS. Has he out positioned and out blocked you? Or has he just pressed the jam button? When the winner of the X-Factor picks up their million pound record deal for essentially being a pretty face and being spoon fed fame, that kills one deal for the talented but underground band that may one day produce a latter day Sgt. Pepper. That drip feed of undeserved dross kills our society one stupid reality show at a time. I’m a big fan of deserving things, when people finally work out Apple’s horrendous gameplan of painting substandard kit white, marketing it well and upping the price by 150%, I will buy each of the angry mob that smashes their HQ to smithereens with i-products a bottle of bubbly and a Christmas hamper. Comeuppance like that is deserving of good deeds in return.
There’s another integral point about BB I hate, as it goes actually, just to prove I’m not just more questionable than a male cheerleader. And that’s touchdowns.
One day, I’d like to travel to America, for two reasons really. First, I’d like to beat into as many of them as possible that the word ‘Herbal’ has an aitch at the beginning of it (with the same bile I’d like to assault those this side of the pond that pronounce the letter ‘h-aitch’), and secondly, I’d like to visit Matt Groening. When I knock upon Matt’s door and he answers, I shall pick him up by the lapels, begin to shake him, and shout “DAMN YOU, YOU MONEY GRABBING FOX PUPPET! HOW COULD YOU TAKE SOMETHING SO PERFECT AND REDUCE IT TO THE UTTER POINTLESS SHAMBLES IT IS NOW? YOU’RE DEAD TO ME.”, stamp on a Bart Simpson toy, and go home. For this service to humanity, I’d require no trophy, no awards ceremony, no Miss World contestant as payment (although, I’d certainly deserve all of those things, someone had to say it); the mere rousing round of applause Mrs. Groening is sure to give would be enough. That, and the knowledge that later that evening, Groening will be crying into his $10,000 hankerchief, knowing that I was right – and that knowledge between two men is all that I require to validate a good deed.
And so it is with touchdowns. After I have conducted the perfect eight turn stall, the very fact that I have to fall over the white line irks me. Why do I need this flashy morsel to signify victory? Blood Bowl should be like boxing, the ref should step in and award me a points victory for my 16 turns of luscious ball control. My opponent and I know me to be the better man, and that’s all that should count. Quite apart from that; the significant anger when my turn eight perfectoscore leads to a TTM, a OTS or a Riot runs so white hot I’m surprised I don’t initiate nuclear fusion. Touchdowns are often there to signify poor coaching, not good. How many 2 turn TDs are actually the right move? Almost never is good coaching required to score; more often than not, scoring is simply the afterthought to a well played drive.
And so, perhaps, being angry at touchdowns and casualties, the very fabric of our beautiful game; you may think I’m in the wrong place. You may think that being angry with cornerstones of the experience may make me more cut out with Go, or with Chess, or with something fair, And you’d be wrong (naturally). This seething anger at the mere randomness of chance armour breaks, this annoyance at the insistence that score is needed where a man to man nod of acceptance is sufficient is strong, but anger is often a good thing. Anger comes from loving something enough to be emotionally engaged. It comes from how good the experience is most days.
Love and hate in equal measure is why we play the game. Well, that and trying to get a new Zombie.