A year or so ago, I blogged about my debut into Table Top Blood Bowl:
As part of a team: UKTC IV
And then alone: Ronin Style
If you follow the FUMBBL PodCast
you have probably gathered that my exploits have continued. Last year I attended 2 more London based Tournaments. I captained Team FUMBBL at this years UKTC V, and have been to another London Tourney since. So for my seventh(!), now no longer feeling such a noob, I attended the NAF Championship. The Wimbledon of Blood Bowl. Here's how that went:
I travelled up to the Midlands from glorious London, armed with clean pants, copious medicine to deal with a somewhat self inflicted Chest infection and a boss level Tan from my recent Jaunt in Costa Rica. the wife was placated with theatre tickets Monday night after my return, the children had promised not to be too evil and my heart was light.
I stopped at Newark Newgate, frankly one shudders to imagine the state of the old gate and Newark in general from the bleak vista that greeted me. But soon Throweck, my host for the week end, showed up in a bright red learner driver car, and we set off like Noddy and Big Ears in search of shenanigans. i was clasped firmly to the bosom of a midlands family and was regaled with 'oh my days' and similar. i secured his wife's permission to take him out to play, and we headed of to Warhammer World, just because we could.
I had never seen Warhammer world. It's quite impressive. the shop is big, and has bewilderingly expensive things in it that no sane human should want to own, or ever attempt to paint. Forge world is a shop within the shop, as is befitting. The Library is 'black' and takes itself very very seriously. You do sense there is probably a 2 or 3 teen boy per week death count to 'spontaneous total body orgasm explosion'. this is Nerdvanna for some, to me is was cute but a litte beside the point, and trying just a tad too hard. A half at Bugmans bar felt like something one ought to do, so we did. there was a little BB action on the main tables, with a cheeky sevens tournament being run, but I had had no idea this was happening, nor what the hell was going on, it didnt hold our attention too long. But i did recognise one or two people, and said a cheery hello.
And there were 'them', the '40kers'. Mostly arguing about whether firing a pistol is a firing action or a close combat action, and occasionally, just occasionally, rolling 74 dice. I don't get it. Really. But good luck to them.
Or course there were one or two of 'the others' too. the lost ones. Playing 'Warhammer Age Of Abandoned Lives'. I know, i know,those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. But i can carry all i need in a cheeky TackleZone rolling tray. If your hobby needs you to carry a wardrobe, and 75,000 Dice, and the cost of the contents of said wardrobe massively outweigh the car you drive and your personal clothing for the last ten years added, then i reserve the right to question your life choices.
But 'they' have to be somewhere. I am glad 'they' have Warhammer world. Blood Bowl doesnt. We needed to be at the East Midlands Conference Centre early, so we retired to bed. Its all glamour.
the morning bloomed bright and sunny. Throweck and I were in good spirits. There was time to source a Sausage McNasty each, and we somewhat randomly picked up Pete Nifton, orginal BB artist and legend, and headed into the centre.
Look, it's a conference centre, i could describe it, but i don't hate you that much. It did the job. Its three minutes walk from the hotel a lot of coaches stayed at, but has lumpy tables with annoyingly amateur tablecloth deployment.
Registration, and in general all the adminning, was smooth as a Politicians lies and the hall was buzzing with stalls selling metal and resin, and painters, tourney admins and other recruiting, chatting and hawking. teams were being displayed for the paint nerds to gawp at and hands were being shook as old acquaintances were renewed. Its a nice warm vibe. Everyone is chatty and even a perfect stranger will happily tell you what they are coaching and how they hope to go. A lot of chat centres on the ruleset. 1100 and 3 skills day one, 3 more day two, for the top tier teams, a first day double for tier 2 and 2 first day doubles for tier three. Most seem to think competitive coaches will go for DE or Woodies, the Tier one perennials hurt least by the low first day skills. There are also a lot of Dwarves, again not needing skills to be effective and Goblins run deep. 191 Coaches entered, including about 20 under 18's. So many that an item in high demand was the 'BBC, Beaten By Children' T-shirt sported by one past victim of the coming tide.
The draw weirdly goes up on bits of paper pinned to the side walls, perfectly usable but a bit of a scrum as 120 middle aged, balding, bearded, tubby men scramble to look at the two lists. One of the cool young London set (in their natty on trend shirts with little collar visible, impossibly straight jeans and tidy stubble beards) smiles and points to his phone, it seems the NAF have cranked their steam powered site into displaying the draw. Paper is dead to me, I now have the e-draw at my own convenience. I think hard about buying a collarless jacket in retro mod stylings, but I feel real London youth cool is lost to me. Im just not as pretty as the ECBBL and DBL set.
Game 1: PurpleChest vs MetalMalta
Dwarf vs Dark Elf
The draw has not been kind. My dreams of watching an 11 year old cry as i decimate his team are in tatters. I think its a fairly solid rule that if someone has travelled over the seas to play Blood Bowl, they can probably play Blood Bowl. Also it's Dark Elves, super strong in this ruleset, but hopefully they have leaned into Dodge and will not be pleased to see My Dorfs. Day one with 2 Guards and a Mighty Blow leaves me fearing Woodies and their leaping nonsense, less so DE. But the AV8 is a worry.
Metal Malta turns out to be a lovely Bloke. Like Leo Sayer on major Male hormones, hes small, smiley and chatty, with an accent that says 'lets take the Guns at Navarone' and a round curly bouffant hair do that scream 'Disco Stu + Jet Black Hair Dye'. He couldn't appear more Malt-geezer if I was landing an aeroplane on his head as he shot at a Nazi.
I drive, and we both toy with the sidelines and our frenzy players. I push a linelf out to reserves and he only doesn't off a beard because the first 2 dice were both pows. But the drive is moving forward and i manage to refocus up the centre, a turn of fine dodging and he pulls back to wall off the endzone, but in doing so leaves me too free and I create multiple scoring threats, his defence isnt perfect, though again every dodge is fine with rerolls gone, but leaves me a 3+ hand off and 2 GFI to score, with reroll cover. It all works for once with a cheeky KO for bonus and he sets up to return a OTTD attempt but pulls a riot. After some moves he notices that he has set a DE that should be in the KO box, after it failed its KO roll. We talk about randomly removing a DE, but one of them would mean 0 cover on his ballcarrier, and the others would be meaningless. It's not a solution either of us like. But Gentlemen that he was, he offers as it's his mistake to restart the drive. the restart sees a Quick Snap and the tetris attempt fail. 1-0 at the half.
Second half my positional play worked well, sucking the DE rerolls, taking out the witches and leaving him to push through without much support and in reach, but with a reroll going on the GFI for 2 die on the Ball Carrier, a push left him trapped between my dorfs and the TD line, either dodge to score on 2+(leaving me 4 turns) or 3+2+ to run away and maybe stall another turn. He went for the score and the long overdue 1 finally came. Ball secured and in a nice cage, he dodged in, -2die the ball carrier, got pows and ran it away again. We managed to halt it and retrieve but the cage was less strong and it went to DE hands for the final time. But the rerolls were long gone and fail finally came leaving it fairly simple to sweep up and finally make safe, but without the turns to score. But a victory. 1-0. There were 2 DE casualties very late on in the second half, but really this one was down to positioning and forcing Elves to dodge.
Game 2: maverick vs PurpleChest
Goblins vs Dwarves
Now that's more like it. While there is a swiss system in place, apparently the 'on the same scores' draw is random. And it threw me Goblins. Some times good things happen to nice people. Well, maverick was a very nice person, but bad things happened to him. Goblins had been quite the team of choice at the NAFC, outnumbering flings and coming 4th in total behind only Dark Elf, Wood Elf and Dwarf. They do get some fun toys, a big day one advantage of 2 doubles, and the Doom Diver in particular was drawing a lot of noise as possibly a bit too easy to TTM OTTD and in general very effective. As legendary curmudgeon Heff pointed out, the rules state Doom Divers do not get dodge as they have a bloody great kite strapped to them. But as they have AG access, adding Dodge seems like a choice only complicated by maybe wanting catch too.
maverick brought a Doom Diver, and a Pogo, and Ripper. But as he sat down he stated that the draw looked awful for him, vs Dwarves, and then he saw it was vs PurpleChest and apparently that was also bleak form him. I don't know his FUMBBL coach name but apparently we have played here and despite him winning hre in B, he felt this game was going to be hard. Yet, he had the Doom Diver. So i killed that first, and then the pogo. And then a lot of others. He held Fungus back for the second half and had a bribe and Fink Da Fixer so Fungus made the second half despite only 7 Goblins lining up. Here it went briefly bad, as Fungus rolled godlike dice, stunned 2 dwarves and killed a third, letting a Goblin run with the ball into my backfield and scant resources to stop it. A slayer could hit on one GFI but I snaked it and he scored. The 2-1 was incredibly straight forward but there was a brief moment of doubt or two. he tried some of the silly things he ought to have tried, like dodging Ripper into cages, but the 2-1 was nailed on and with 8 casualties done I was 2/0/0 with a handy cas difference.
Game 3: BadStorm vs PurpleChest
Wood Elves vs Dwarves
This was table 8, but chosen to be streamed, so moved to the lone table under the lights and streamed by the lovely WolfyDan of TackleZone. I am sure the stream is out there and if i can find it and link i will. I had played a game under the lights on top table at the UKTC V and looked forward to doing so again. I do feel the pressure of it can limit you, and still does me a little. It tends to be where coaches that finished early congregate, it tends to draw the interest, there is chatter and noise and pointing. The game was a huge clash of styles: Tight positional Dwarves vs loose aggressive Woodies. I received and drove through the Elves, causing a little damage and dominating the position. Some early elf fails (he played quite an aggressive style) had opened the pitch up for me, and I was secure up near the line. So of course he leaped in, did a 2 die my choice and rolled both pows. The ball spewed out and despite the mob handed dwarves landed in a single tackle zone, an Elf stood and dodged out, picked it up on a 3, dodged out, did 2 GFI and passed it on a 4. No rerolls. Gone. I could bemoan the luck, but in truth, as was pointed out to me by Joemanji and geggster, 2 awesome TT coaches: As all i had left him was to try to be that lucky, i should and could have done to mitigate him being so. Lesson hopefully learned. before the tournament i had been chatting about how i do seem to lose a lot of key games on -2die rolls. I aware they are more likely than a lot of people realise, but still, i was of the view that if my main TT weakness seemed to be losing to -2die rolls, there at least clearly wasn't gaping holes in my TT game. But the lesson seems clear. If that is what i am leaving my opponents, then i need to figure they will do it and sometimes its going to work. Like 90% sometimes.
It was gone. 1-0 at the half. But I did make him pay, killing the Dancer that came for the ball and a catcher or two. in general the Elves were starting to look thin. So i fouled another dead and took comfort from that.
Second half he came at me taking chances and pushing for the early TD, which he got but lost another elf. I felt he took chances here that if downed could have seen me in a very good position, but they went good. 2-0. I received a deep kick and ran blitzers, slayer and the spare runner into position for the TD and starting hunting elves, scoring with four turns left. When 2 Elves rolled 4+ Ko's i faced five with time very short. I hunted the ball down and trapped it in a corner, but he was able to leap out, dodge through 4 or 5 TZ's and punt it away on a 4+, no rerolling. I couldn't 5+ it back with reroll, and even after that there would have been some 4+'s needed. I felt i had done enough for the draw second half. I got 6 cas, fouled another and an 8th failed a dodge and broke, but elves be elves and of they can avoid a 1, and certainly if they avoid 1's and 2's they can do anything. In hind sight i could have maybe moved more tackle aggressively forward, and maybe left the punt retrieving runner further back, but in the end he elfed it, and they always can. Badstorm went on to finish third. He was fun to play, not very chatty and very Italian.
2-1 loss. 2/0/1 Day one. the challenge is over. It will take 5/0/0 or 4/1/0 to make it to the final game, and that won't be me. I didnt arrive expecting it would, and in many ways enjoyed day 2 more, when that was never a question, but until its not possible it is always possible, and missing the draw here meany my 'challenge' ended day one. Maybe a key goal for next time will be to be 'in it' on day 2.
Game 4: PurpleChest vs Dapiranha
Dwarves vs Wood Elves
Woodies again. And Dapiranha is part of Team Wales. I have a working theory that BB has replaced 'mining' and 'bothering sheep' as a key pastime in the valleys, as Wales does seem to churn out quality Blood Bowl players by the choirfull. Maybe BB is part of the eisteddfod scene? whatever it is Wales is doing something (one thing, one lone thing) right when it comes to producing top quality TT BB play. They should add it to the brochures, Wales needs more than Rugby and Portmeirion.
This time I didnt manage to hurt many Woodies, but I drove home fairly routinely and then the elves ran through me for the score after a Riot lost us a turn. then my kick off was another Riot, and another turn went. This left me way too short or time and despite creatively making a dash to the opposite sideline and threatening the win, all elves had fled backwards, ceding the draw and with a gfi and 2 die, without rerolls, he pulled the needed pow and hurt the dwarf for a bonus. there were some vague chances for a dramatic turn 8 but it took too many dice and a early failed 5+ with reroll meant the draw. 1-1. Without the riots i think it would have been a win, but it wanst. My consolation was it never looked like a woody win, but also few elves were hurt, and having been the overnight cas leader, that prize looked gone too.
Game 5: AGingerGoblin vs PurpleChest
Slann vs Dwarves
Sprightly, slightly manic, and very very ginger, AGingerGoblin was fun to play. his 4 rerolls Slann had been using the guard catcher to great effect and kicking me the ball he proceed to push forwards and surround the cage looking for where he could leap in. But day 2 sees me with a Block Runner and 4 guards, making my cage mighty solid and with my MB beard roaming and causing damage, and my Slayer also loose and providing threat I wondered where the -2 Die was coming from. then we had an interesting moment. you could see, and almost hear, the THUD as the penny dropped. 'Ah, you've got a 4 guard cage, i cant get 2 dice'. there was a pause. 'Or even ONE!'. Clearly he hadnt adjusted the successful tactics of games 1-4 for the challenge he faced game 5. he had made no attempt to tie guards down, or fray the cage and mess my position, just ceded central field in order to surround me and come for the ball. By turn 5 he was running the few frogs left away. We noticed on turn 6 that he'd set up all 12 frogs for the defense, but as I'd got 6 off pitch and it clearly hadnt helped, we just shrugged and carried on. Mental note to really start counting that sort of thing as twice in one tournament is 'notable'.
Second half it still proved impossible to stop Frogs unafraid to leap every player with 4 rerolls for cover, but he never had the numbers or position to stall and we drove back for a 2-1 in the face of ever decreasing frogs. 2-1.
Game 6: Hawca vs PurpleChest
Wood Elf vs Dwarf
Hawca is another Team Wales stalwart, known for his Wood Elf play. He is also captain of team PS4 in the Cross Platform Cup, where I captain Team FUMBBL. He confessed to more or less dodging me in the CPC, where his Wood Elves would have faced my Dwarves, and i felt that augured well for the game. He took the ball and I ran an offensive defence, getting up in his face, and leaving space in behind. the hope is an early fail, or that only a partial screen gets through. He broke the line and sadly plenty of elves came with the ball and he had reversed the field, but a decent turn from the Dwarves cut through the line, pressured the ball and pressured every elf. When a good Elf turn secured a brief stall i was able to pressure everything everywhere again. even cutting off the option to switch sides and stall out a turn at the other corner, so the score came early leaving me 4 to reply. The elves proved too few to stop everything and while the main drive was mudded my Slayer got free on the far side and created scoring options, this pulled elves away and allowed me to create options all round. The wall was dropped but like a Buffalo Girl i went round the outside and a cheeky 3+2+2+ with reroll cover saw it go 1-1 at the half. you could see Hawca deflate, the second half had its moments, and he did try and come for the ball, but elves started breaking, the dwarf cage stood firm and we rolled forwards for a 2-1. Tetris attempts were tried, and Hawca was kind enough to mock my OTTD defense and teach me a little better options vs woodies, but the game had been won in the first half drives. 2-1.
4/1/1 for the Tournament. 1/1/1 vs Bloody Woodies. 18th place of 191 participants. Top placed Dwarf coach, of 18. I guess that will do. I feel pretty good about it, as my first NAFC. I don't feel quite at the level of the very top guys, yet, and maybe for 7 Tournaments as my total TT experience I shouldn't expect to be. But i hope no one would draw me and think they'd get an easy game, and that's enough to keep me feeling good about my BB.
Having been the overnight leader on 16 casualties, i finished on 25. The most cas prize went to 27. i was second. i only suffered 3, while he suffered 8, but i was on Cas done, so no complaints. Cas caused is a total lottery of dice rolling and low AV opponents, but it was fun to have it possible, until it wasnt.
Top under 18 was ThomasW, son of PeteW, scoring 4/0/2 with Lizzards, including a win against Wood Elves. ThomasW is 9. Fear him, for he was born to rule us all. My 10 year old has some hard questions to answer, being 'mildly dangerous' at Fortnite doesn't seem quite so impressive. that boy of mine needs to roll him some dice.
The NAFC was good fun. It you have considered going and havn't yet, you should. My game 3 was against unpainted metal, and the atmosphere was chilled and fun. Everyone talks to anyone, well I do anyway, as we all have at least one key thing in common. Even if that thing is social awkwardness. You could make a convincing argument that the NHS should fund it all, such is the benefit to the mental health of the attendees, for many its clearly nice for them to get out, and talk other humans. You should come next year, i might.