These days, a coach can't enjoy his favourite podcast or troll on discord without encountering hot takes about the new edition. On one thing, most commentators seem to agree, be they wide-eyed enthusiasts (call them corporate shills
if you will) or harsh critics of the new ruleset (conversely, you might want to define them as whiners
Of course, I'm referring to Animal Savagery
, the best rule to ever grace our blessed Nuffle-sent game.
In the following repackaging of previous forum posts and comments, I am going to prove that in most cases this rule is actually an improvement over Wild Animal/Unchannelled Fury, where applicable, and certainly over Bloodlust.
The Rule and its implications
Animal Savagery basically mean that in order to Block or Blitz, you have to roll a 2+, and in order to activate for any other action (mainly Move) you have to roll a 4+. This rule is the new negatrait for Rat Ogres, Chaos Dwarf Minotaurs, and Vampires.
The fail state for AS is twofold: if you have one or more teammates adiacent to the player that failed their AS roll, you knock one of them down and roll for armour (and possibly injury), and then you can complete the action you wanted to do in the first place anyway. If you have no teammates adiacent, the fail state is the same as bonehead. Neither have turnovers as consequences.
This means that you have basically a babysitting need similar to the one that happens with Trolls, with a slight twist. If you'd rather have the bonehead-style fail state, you need to get the babysitters out of contact before activating your Animal, or risk them being hit. Order of actions is still quite important for a Vampire team, for example. On the other hand, if you want your rat ogre to surf somebody, that rat ogre will never again drop a 1 and scream at the sky instead, provided you can spare a potential snack. This heavily hints at the fact that from now on when using AS players we will have to differentiate between vital activations and not strictly necessary ones. Moving on a 4+ is no longer a "let's try it, can't hurt" kind of move.
For the rest of the essay I will assume Mighty Blow applies to AS knockdowns, even though I know some have objected to this already. If it does not, it makes the trait even better.
"But it will destroy my team!"
Come hither, pixel huggers, for the gospel of Pascal shall be revealead imminently.
Four teams have access to an AS big guy: Chaos Dwarves, Chaos Renegades, Skaven and Underworld. Let's leave Vampires aside for a bit, and also questions about the effectiveness of chosing the AS big guy in these teams.
- Chaos Dwarves can let their Minotaur snack on a chorf (which is what I would suggest, seeing that you'll always have at least one or two rookies), or an hobgoblin. I would strongly advise against snacking on a bull centaur, they cost twice as much as a chorf and take hits the same way.
- Chaos Renegades can let their Rat Ogre take a bite off the 50k Orc, or if not available, one of the linemen.
- Skaven will have to rely on clanrats. They are soft compared to the options for the teams above, and nowhere near as cheap as what UW can rely on.
- Underworld sets up its own snacks at kickoff, due to 0-6 swarming snotlings, that don't impact TV and cost a pittance. The downside is that they won't act as snacks forever.
Therefore, the damage cause by a failed activation is as follows.
- A minotaur hitting a Chaos Dwarf will remove him 10% of the time, and a Hobgoblin 31.3% of the time.
- A rat ogre failing AS will remove the renegade Orc 14.3% of the time, and a Renegade Human 22% of the time
- Skaven linemen have the same odds as Hobgoblins. Roughly half of those removals are casualties, by the way.
- Underworld Snotlings will leave the pitch a whopping 58.6% of the time if a rat ogre lashes out at them.
When you work out the cumulative removal risk, you have to take into account the probability of failure (1/6 or 50%, depending on the action) and how many times you are activating. For example, if you activate your rat ogre to blitz every single turn for 16 turns, that will result in an average of 0.38 casualties and 0.45 KOs over the course of the entire game
. Hardly team destroying, but it could potentially spiral out of control and snowball along with higher than average attrition from the opponent. On the other hand, it has the potential of a frenzy blitz threat every turn.
This of course leaves us with the question "is it worth the risk?" every time we are deciding to activate an AS big guy. Or if it's worth even having that player on at all.
Vampires: are they really dead?
Difficult question. After all, the apo works on them. But they do have Regen, so we might never know. Anyway, here's some objective truths.
- 2+ gaze is better than 3+ gaze (duh)
- As long as there's a snack, the action takes place exactly as intended
- If you lack snacks, a vamp can now be snacked upon, same as a thrall, or lacking even that, a vamp that boneheads is better than a vamp that disappears for the rest of the drive (and causes a turnover)
- Having a thrall next to a vamp before you start your final dash to the end zone is easier than having to move that thrall by the end zone, with potential dodges, GFI etc
- Just in general, for most crucial moves it's easier to have a thrall next to a vamp when the vamp starts, rather than where the action will bring the vamp (past some screen, near a cage, etc)
- You can follow up after blocks or go for pickups after sacks because you don't have to stay close to the previously placed snack
The way to coach vamps will definitely change, they can no longer multi-feed on stunned thralls, and mighty blow is probably a skill to avoid now, but those above are clear improvements.
So now let's talk about the price tag on them.
"But it will destroy my team!" (part 2)
Here's a handy colour coded chart
The only time when AS leaves you worse off (in terms of injury rolls per turn) than Bloodlust is when you have 4+ vampires on the pitch and none of them is blocking an opponent, which is frankly a ridiculous proposition.
Blanket pro (new 3+ pro btw) is more of a mixed bag but there are certainly positives in there as well.
You also have to consider that your team will be limited by seasons so having more than 4 vampires is a bit of a stretch.
The thralls being knocked down more often is a trade off for them being stunned less often, and if just prone they can get up and move 3 (and be snacked upon again). The positioning is easier and less costly, because you don't have to stretch out your thralls to the spot where you want your vampire to end, and if you're cage breaking, once the often-forgotten 2+ gaze has opened the way, you don't need a thrall touching the cage for the blitzing vamp to feed on. By the way, the fact that thralls can now be injured and not simply badly hurt is counterbalanced by higher earnings.
The bottom line is, Animal Savagery thrall attrition is actually lower than Bloodlust thrall attrition, apart from a few edge cases. Blood Bowl didn't have space for 2.5mil teams in CRP, due to spiralling expenses, didn't allow for them in BB16 either because that had seasons as well, and certainly does not contemplate them in the current redrafting mechanic. Complaining that the new rules do not work well with teams that the new rules aren't designed for, is frankly pointless.
Is this all by design? Maybe not. Is this better than before? Can't argue otherwise, guv.
If you made it this far congratulations, because it's a barely edited hodgepodge of rambling copypastas.
If your argument against the change to Vampires is based on flair and fluff, no argument from me. A vampire is generally not supposed to punch their victims in the face, but gently bleed the half-willing thrall dry. You can probably exercise a little bit of abstraction in this case, because the end result, in game, is quite similar.
If you're instead expousing the thesis that Vampires are now completely uncoachable, I hope to have put forward some complelling arguments to the contrary. Yes, it is possible that it's all a placeholder, and that Bloodlust will come back in a Spike! But why stop playing the team in the meantime?
Gazing on a 2+ basically for free, less thrall attrition, easier positioning, no more disappearing vamps. That's not a nerf in my book. Don't give up on them yet.