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The RPS Cup: Kermit's Wonder Brigade

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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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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