The RPS Cup: Kermit’s Wonder Brigade

By Kieron Gillen on September 14th, 2009 at 1:46 pm.

This match report will be brought to you by the phrase “GFI fail”. But more on that later. Much more.

Several people picked up on this in the comments of the last match reports. Really, Star Players or no Star Players – and it seems that you can’t have Star Players in a classic blood bowl campaign, for some reason – the two teams, being relatively fresh without any developed characters, didn’t pose much of a threat. Well, I wasn’t going to write that, because i) you never know and ii) it doesn’t make much of a match report. My aim was less to win, and more to see how much I could win by.

(Because touchdowns equals experience and experience equals less rubbish Skaven)

BobbyBob’s Kermit’s Wonder Brigade are somewhat different. While they’re not as developed as the Blighters, they’ve got some genuinely skilled players to worry about – and some which are particularly good against a nimble-team like the Skaven. For example, the pair of Blitzers – Takhag and Srozla have picked up Tackle, negating any of my Gutter Runners dodge skill, so instantly reducing the two-headed boys chances of tripping as they zoom past from 1 in 36 to a much-more common 1 in 6. Another Takhag is their Star Thrower, with the sort of ball-skills which would shame an elf. The splendidly named Varag Bruis’zom is a really brutal Black Orc, with both blocking skills and guard – abilities which mean he’ll bolster the fighting abilities of the whole line. Finally, and most mysteriously, there’s Gutlob the Goblin. I can understand his catch skill, but Stand Firm confuses me. It just means he can’t be knocked back unless he wants to be. Whatever’s that for?

Then it strikes me. As a ball-carrier, if the cage is around him, it means he can’t be pushed out into the open. And even worse, it means if Stricut hits him, his ability to tear the ball from someone’s hands is based around the ability to push them back. If he doesn’t push back… well, that Goblin’s keeping the ball.

The teams line up. Bob spends all his extra gold on buying extra re-rolls, ending up with a hefty six per half. Since you can only use one a turn, that means he’s going to get to roll one almost every turn.

The Blighter wins the toss, and decide to receive the kick. It’s a good one, going right to the backfield. My thrower retrieves it, runs forward and makes an optimistic throw to the Gutter-runners, missing. The orcs tear into us, and Rat Ogre John Walker shows what a considerate lover he must be by going down immediately.

He doesn’t retrieve the ball, however. Looking downfield, I notice the odd thing about Bob’s set-up. He’s avoided a safety. That, I suspect, is foolish. Star Lhuit runs the ball diagonally across the pitch, taking it to the far right. My line, get back up and run around the back of his line, preventing most of his players running back. Lhuit gets beaten up by the few who can make it, but Nurgut recovers and runs in. Turn 3 and a goal.

This is the Skaven’s high point.

I’m expecting the slow grind tactics from the Orcs. That being, pushing down the pitch and scoring in the final turn, giving me no time to get another goal. Since he retrieves the kick-off in the next half, he’d get to try and do the same thing that turn and win 2-1. My plan, really, is to stop that happening. My secondary plan…

Well, punching goes so badly – with the goal-scorer Nurgut getting KOed as he gets tripped moving around the almost-instantly-formed cage around the soon-to-be-troublesome goblin Gutlob – I consider trying the secondary plan. Which is carrying on lying down and hoping they score quicker than they should, giving me a chance for a counter. Yes, the famous Skaven tactic of lying on the ground and whimpering. Sadly, I’m not just good at just quitting, and move my players in contact with the cage to prevent them assisting the block. This should allow my Gutter-Runner who’s still deep upfield to sweep in and give a block. Sadly, I actually select the end-game button instead.

This isn’t actually the first time it’s happened. Whoever was designing the UI thought it a bright idea to put the “End Turn” button floating around the top of the screen over the pitch, so easily accessible for an accidental click when selecting players down-field. This is most annoying when doing it before you even move anyone on your team – perhaps the game may realise you didn’t want to do that and have a Y/N? – but it’s also pretty annoying when you’ve moved all your men within punching range of several tons of orcish muscle.

The advance pushes steadily left towards the centre and the Skaven have another try at getting the ball free. Lhytzh, the lineskaven with Wrestle goes in and drags down the goblin, and the ball bounces free. The abstractly-hypers-skill Lhuit goes to pick up, but it fumbles through his fingers, allowing Bob to recover, doing a neat little pass over his lines to the catcher. Time for one desperate block – which KOs the Skaven – and the Goblin runs in.

One turn left, which leads to a bit punch-up at the centre line including a couple of desperate fouls – which I immediately regret, because I should have moved Sneek at hyperspeed to one-space from the endzone and hoped for a messed-up block to push him into the endzone.

You must have hope. I try to remember this in the second half.

My fear of the grind is coming. I need to break his attack, get hold of the ball and get it up field as quickly as I can. I kick short in hope that I get a Blitz and maybe one of the non-catchers try to pick up the ball. Ends up going long. A perfect solid cage forms on the half-way line and Gorrad – the secondary orcish thrower – lobs it to the Goblin…

And messes up. Ball flies to the right. A Gutter Runner streaks in, recovering the ball and zooms down the pitch towards the endzone. I decide to try and get as much space as possible, using a Go For It.

Yes, that’s the aforementioned “GFI”. Every player can move up to two extra squares a turn, with a 1 in 6 chance of falling over. Ball ends up loose near their endzone, and since my turns end, all my rats are down my end of the pitch. This is spectacularly foolhardy play on my part.

Star-Orc thrower Takhag steps in, takes the ball and does what his understudy couldn’t manage by throwing a beautiful pass into the square. Things are back before the fail thrown. I crash into the cage, with John Walker getting his first actual play. He bashes his way to right next to the goblin, but gets torn down by massed green hands before anything else can happen. The cage works its way down the pitch, every turn the Skaven trying a block and failing. Worst comes when Lhykit fails his attack, and then again on the re-roll – a 1 in 36 chance – and ends up KOed… though Bobby had a similarly messy block earlier.

Gutlob breaks for the pack, and runs from the endzone. His move can only take him to the touchline. I’m expcting him to stop and re-cage there. But then the Bobby does something which makes me love him. He makes a GFI to score the touchdown. This is great for two reasons. Firstly, by scoring with time left on the clock, there’s plenty of time for me to get an equaliser. Secondly, he’s risking a chance of falling over.

He falls over.

The Skaven scramble, desperately trying to secure the ball, working out a rough defensive line around him. A Blitzer manages to work in, and fails his block. I’m left with a problem of how to advance. Now, what I want to do is to simply hand off to a Gutter-runner who’s just a bit ahead of my ball-carrier, and then move him up pitch at the usual Skaven hyperspeed. Problem is, I haven’t got a clue what the odds are. It’s late, I’ve slept little the night before and even if I knew the formula, I wouldn’t trust my ability with the maths (Is it based off agility with -1 for every tackle zone?). The game doesn’t tell me – while it’ll show what your chances are to throw, it doesn’t show the catch. I end up not taking that chance, prefering to blitz a hole through and then just run. Stormvermin steps in, only succeeds in pushing one back, and then falls over trying to dodge away – which, swallows another re-roll (Failed a 3+ chance twice. Luck’s turning sour all over.

It’s turn 15 now. No-one has any re-rolls – and when Bob has six for the half, that’s saying a lot. The fact I ended up turn with my Blitzer failing means the Orc’s still standing by my ball carrier. He blocks, taking down the Skaven… and the ball lands in his hands. This is actually more really bad luck. Because he acted this turn, he can’t simply run it in or even hand off to someone who has. Stricut zooms in, taking the ball from him, and heads it up-field as fast as he can. It’s left to a Black Orc to come and try to hammer him and get the ball back towards my touchline… but he falls over on another GFI roll.

The whistle blows just as everyone is swearing they’d never move faster than a jog again in their whole lives. 1-1.

I feel I’ve been lucky here. Unlucky too, but my – er – unluck happened mostly in dangerous play and Bob’s happened mostly in fairly sensible play. My defence was scrapier than I like – I didn’t get a chance to set up my rolling-front-line for slowing down his cage due to those series of iffy-blocks, especially that accidental turn age – but it was persistent and I should have got the ball free more than I did. The lesson I’ll try and force myself to learn – and I’ve been trying to force myself to learn forever – is that occasionally a 1 in 6 chance to not really gain anything at all is a fucking stupid odds to chase.

Next match: a Skaven grudgematch versus Unlucky Number 13.

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54 Comments »

  1. vasagi says:

    do want but dont know if ill actually like it.

  2. nine says:

    These are really great, and I don’t even know what the rules are! Keep em coming

  3. Sunjammer says:

    I admire your ability to write complete summaries. I tried writing a series like this at my blog for the cup i joined, and it’s hard to recall all the individual moments, much less reproduce them with such care.

    Really entertaining reading, keep it up! Woo!

  4. Ian says:

    @ vasagi: As Fede posted to a few folk on the forum earlier, there’s a few of us trying to decide how much we’d like it and/or learn the game on FUMBBL. Join up and give it a shot. :) My username on there is “ianwelby” if you decide to do so.

    I think a combination of my (admittedly, mostly failed) attempts to learn how it all works on FUMBBL and these write-ups are pushing me toward ordering the game.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Sunjammer: I write some notes as I progress. If something seems important, I note it down.

    KG

  6. Lusc says:

    I am really enjoying reading these as well. I used to be JavaBB and this is getting me in the mood for buying this game when it comes out in the UK.

    Keep the reports coming they are awesome to read at work.

  7. JuJuCam says:

    I thought to myself that this would be even more enjoyable if I saw some gameplay footage to give myself a bit of a frame of reference for the descriptions I’m reading.

    All I can say is… bravo! It’s really not a great game to watch but by golly you make it fascinating to read about.

  8. Hentzau says:

    I like that you had the same unpleasant surprise I did upon encountering that goblin. I couldn’t figure out why he was in the lineup either until the first time I tried to take the cage apart. It’s a brilliant idea, and one that I might steal next time my SuperBlitzer levels up.

  9. BobbyBob says:

    Ah, what a brilliant game. The failed GFI for a touchdown was a bad moment for me. I didn’t have a whole lot of options, though. Most of my players had already moved, and I didn’t know how much of a cage I could set up. Ironically, Stand Firm would prevent an accidental shove into the endzone, so setting up a defense with what I could and hoping for that was out of the question. I decided to take the 5 in 6 odds on a touchdown. It didn’t work.

    Also, on my not having a safety in the first drive: Yeah, that was a little dumb. What it came down to was that I currently only have two players with tackle (many thanks to Markoff Chaney for allowing me to extract the last bit of XP I needed for my blitzers from his squishy gobbos!) I figured that it would be better to try to use those blitzers at the line to stop Kieron’s Gutter Runners from making it onto my side of the field. Obviously, that did not work as anticipated. Once I can get another blitzer with tackle, I’ll keep him back against dodgy teams.

    In conclusion, GFI rolls can go to hell.

    Also, Kieron, there’s a mistake in the name of my team. It’s actually Kermit’s WONDER Brigade. I feel that it gives them a 70′s early morning cartoon vibe that most Orcs are sorely missing.

  10. Sunjammer says:

    Notes! Ah! I suppose i was too busy biting nails and praying to blood bowl jesus for dodge successes.

    I actually sat down last night and tried to decipher the blood bowl replay format. I’ve got a .net app taking replays and pushing them out as XML, and i started puzzling around with a flash app for doing game replays with icons and dice roll logs for embedding into blogs and the like. The replays are chock full of obscure flags and numeric codes though :-( Seriously, replay formats should be standardized.

  11. [21CW] 2000AD says:

    Yeah, it is annoying that it doesn’t tell you what the odds of catching or dodging are when it tells you the ones for passing.
    Here’s the table for things related to agility for future reference if you want it:

    Characters Agility : Base roll needed
    1:6+
    2:5+
    3:4+
    4:3+
    5:2+
    6+:1+
    (Roll of 6 is allways success, 1 allways fail.)

    Modifiers by action:
    Dodging-
    +1 for making a dodge (yup, you get +1 just for attempting the dodge)
    -1 for every opposing tackle zone on the square you’re dodging into (Important, it’s the square you’re dodging into, not dodging out of)

    Catching-
    +1 if pass was accurate (a hand off counts as an accurate pass)
    -1 per opposing tackle zone catching player is in

    Passing-
    -1 per opposing tackle zone on passing player
    +1/0/-1/-2 depending on range

    Picking up ball
    +1 for attempting pick up
    -1 per opposing tackle zone on square

    *Legal postscript. This is copyright of Games Workshop, etc, etc. Given that you get a PDF copy of the ruebook with the compouter game and it’s free from their website too I’m guessing I’m not breaking any laws by posting part of the rules here.

  12. army of none says:

    “The orcs tear into us, and Rat Ogre John Walker shows what a considerate lover he must be by going down immediately. ”

    Hilarious. I’m really enjoying reading these Kieron, keep it up! :)

  13. bill says:

    hah… i remember from back in the day that GFI rolls NEVER work. It’s amazing that 1/6 chances happen 5/6 of the time.

    Gotta say, there seems to be a lot more thought, analysis and tactics going on in these games than when i used to play as a teenager… i mostly just blocked everyone in range, or tried for cool throws.

    Does the videogame include the ability to sneak on extra players as long as the other guy doesn’t notice? that was always fun…

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    Bill: Alas, not.

    I recall one game as a teenager when we let my brother’s ogres to go into the dugouts to finish off my Halflings.

    KG

  15. CJohnson03 says:

    Seems like brand new John Walker didn’t do a whole lot of good in this match? Does he just need more experience to be effective?

  16. Kieron Gillen says:

    John Walker did okay actually. About as good as I thought he would. That bashing through the cage was about as much as I’d have hoped for.

    KG

  17. Jacques says:

    These match reports remind me of the Battle Reports you’d find in White Dwarf, and those were always a fun read.

  18. Markoff Chaney says:

    Ah, Gobbos. Best for hiding in the middle of the cage and, if a full team, providing SPPs to other teams to help them progress. Sometimes they may be good for a chaotic distraction and are always good for a laugh. How I love thee so. It does seem like there were some excellent plays right at the goal line yesterday all around, as I had one in my earlier game with BobbyBob as well.

    Again you give us an excellent writeup. Thank you for doing these.

  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    Jacques: Oddly, I was thinking about that myself. The match reports in WD are, I suspect, one of the influences on my writing on games which I don’t often explicitly think of.

    KG

  20. Jacques says:

    I can think of quite a few worse things to be influenced by.

  21. DK says:

    He’s a Big Guy, which means he mostly stands around not being important until he gets his moment to shine and wins a match.

  22. DK says:

    The above is in response to Mr. CJohnson03.

  23. mouj says:

    GFI : that’s when the Balance skill comes in handy !
    Methinks that Orcs can be a pretty hard team to play against, and even harder to play with..

  24. Choca says:

    “Really, Star Players or no Star Players – and it seems that you can’t have Star Players in a classic blood bowl campaign, for some reason – the two teams,”

    Actually I think it depends on the settings you chose when you created the league, and well we all now how intuitive and clear the interface of the game is…

  25. Kieron Gillen says:

    Choca: A little chap actually went into the game and it’s apparently only an option in Blitz, not classic. Or maybe he missed it. As you say – that bloody interface.

    KG

  26. VHATI says:

    pick up sure feet. Rerolling your GFI is great when you gotta make that run. sure its just its just a 1/6 chance you need it. but as can be seen, it can be sorely needed.

    I appreciate these threads. they finally convinced me to buy this. Had been waiting for a demo, but these put me over the edge and i picked it up.

  27. Kieron Gillen says:

    VHATI: It’s on the shopping list. Just beneath a lot of other stuff.

    KG

  28. Nick says:

    The match reports were what I read White Dwarf for.. well mainly. I loved them, loved the unit representations, the movement arrows, the explosions.. all that stuff. I still remember the epic one where they had about 3 armies a side and could only confer if their general characters were in base to base contact or something. It was brilliant.

    Great writeup, enjoying the series a lot more than I was the game at the time.

  29. Nick says:

    sure feet + sprint are great on a 9 MA guy, if you get a lucky kick off you can actually score a 1 turn TD. Should you desire.

  30. Kieron Gillen says:

    (That’s how I’m trying to develop Sneek)

    KG

  31. Ian says:

    By the way, I’ve seen a few mentions of a safety. Is this specific to one of the races, or is it what I’d think of as a gridiron-ism for a deep-lying defensive player?

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    The latter.

    KG

  33. Serondal says:

    This is great to read. I attempted to convince the wife to play Blood Bowl with me by getting her to play a game of Java Blood Bowl and she wasn’t very impressed :P I told her the newer version is the same thing but with flashy graphics and she still didn’t bite.

    (I set up a game where it was humans vs Skaven and tried to show her how to play the game but she was so confused that I ended up playing both sides until the Skaven made a touch down and she was convinced I was cheating some how)

  34. Pundabaya says:

    Re: Star players… can’t you set up a Blitz league and turn off everything apart from Star Players?

  35. Gott says:

    You can get star players in classic on single player, so it may be a multiplayer issue, as little sense as it would make to work the restriction like that.

    At the risk of bing told off for not trawling the game’s forums, Anyone what the state of affairs is for the remaining races? There are Dark Elf images on the menus for example, and I’d like to have a “full” blood bowl game, if only for completism.

  36. Vinraith says:

    Others have said it but I’ll add another data point: my single player classic games always have star players active.

    A great read as always, Kieron. Thanks for these, and please keep them coming!

  37. Vinraith says:

    @Gott

    Dark Elves and Undead, last I read, are still on schedule to be released (free of charge) sometime this fall. Elements of both teams (especially DE) are already present in the code, as has been evidenced by hacks enabling the DE stuff.

  38. Aphotique says:

    I absolutely love these write-ups. The first one actually pushed me to purchase the game. I’d had my eye on it for awhile as I heard it was pretty faithful to tabletop (as one of my closest friends is a tabletop fiend), but I couldn’t bring myself to spend the full price on it with limited activations and such. Then I read the first piece and you pushed me over the edge with your tantalizing word play. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, and probably won’t be the last!

    I’m still trying to improve my knowledge of the game, playing out single player campaigns and such to help train my eye. Also, its proving to be an awesome hot seat game. Two of my friends come over on the weekends and we hot seat Blood Bowl on the computer while hot seating Dai Senryaku VII: Exceed on my PS2. It turns into a blissful weekend of comical commentary and frustrated trash talk.

    As for Star Players, in my single player classic campaigns they seem to be available (I never have the money for them, but my opponents use them frequently). As for GFI’s, I have learned to completely ignore them as Chaos. It doesn’t matter what the odds are, my luck almost guarantees my beastmen will fall flat on their faces every time. I just focus on my three B’s. Block, Blitz, Bludgeon.

  39. Kieron Gillen says:

    Vinraith: Yeah, mine too. Which makes the fact Classic Multiplayer Leagues not having them more bemusing.

    (Of course, I can’t check this personally, because you’re only able to make one league)

    Gott: Yeah, you probably could. But I’d have had to know that two weeks ago.

    KG

  40. drewski says:

    I always used to love the Battle and Match reports in White Dwarf, I was never a huge GW fan but even the games I didn’t play casually as part of the social contract with my far more obsessive friends were interesting in WD writeup form.

    Anyone read the review on Eurogamer? Missed the point by not giving multiplayer more of a run, methinks.

  41. Kieron Gillen says:

    I dunno. You can see the point. I’m not actually sure I’d give it a much higher score if I were actually reviewing it.

    KG

  42. Pijama says:

    Awesome! Now that was tense, sir Gillen.

    BTW, do you have the option to upgrade your players’ gear? I noticed some different helmets and pads…

  43. Blast Hardcheese says:

    This is far more entertaining than regular football. I don’t know that I’d buy it, but I sure do enjoy your writings.

  44. Janek says:

    Pijama – depends on the settings of the league. Basically it can either be player-bought, in which case the things have a chance of giving a stat boost for each match. Otherwise, it’ll be purely cosmetic, and automagically get more imposing as players level up. I think.

    (Personally I like how upgrading a Treeman’s armour consists of strapping some planks of wood to his body. Which is made of wood)

  45. BobbyBob says:

    @Pijama: The differing gear comes from leveling up your players. As the level increases, the gear becomes more elaborate and whatnot. Just an easy way to tell who the opposing star players are.

  46. Pijama says:

    Nice. Thanks :)

    I did notice that it seemed to automagically upgrade in a Blood Bowl Let’s Play, but never saw the guy buying anything… How anticlimatic :| haha

  47. veerus says:

    Kieron, loving the reports. I’d abandoned the game due to shoddy UI, AI and multiplayer but these posts have made me want to play again!

  48. ACS says:

    This is copyright of Games Workshop, etc, etc. Given that you get a PDF copy of the ruebook with the compouter game and it’s free from their website too I’m guessing I’m not breaking any laws by posting part of the rules here.

    And while I’m being all lawyery, don’t worry about it. See here:

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

    So long as you don’t copy great huge chunks of text, you’re normally fine.

  49. Whiskey Jak says:

    I don’t have much to add than say that I really dig these matches recaps too. I finally bought the game just because I found these posts so entertaining (I’m also an American Football and All-Dwarf-Things fan so I guess it helps). The game has a lot of issues (just loading the game is a drag) and I have nothing that I can call a “strategy” for my Dwarf team, but I kinda like the game anyways. I think I’d like to see somebody with more…resources? do something with this license: Better UI, better overall presentation, better loading times, better tutorial, etc. But like I said, this game can certainly provide some hours of solid fun.

  50. Flimgoblin says:

    I think even with Stand Firm a Strip Ball will knock the ball out of their hands on a pushback (they won’t move but the ball gets knocked loose).

    Must get arse in gear and join one of these leagues – it’s not a real goblin team unless its defensive tactics involve throwing goblins at the ball carrier.