The RPS Cup: The Green Mist

Bloody Elves

Now things get tricky.

The Green Mist are Wood Elves controlled by Jolima. This is tricky on two points. Firstly, Wood Elves are the best finesse team in Cyanide’s Blood Bowl (You could make arguments about other teams which Cyanide haven’t put in the game, I suspect). As a running team, their fastest players – their Catchers – match my Gutter Runners. Add to that serious throwing abilities. Even their lines-elves are phenomenally agile, and the Wardancers are simply the most cursed players in the game. They’re able to block like blitzers, dodge like catchers and leap over the heads of the opposition. And that’s out the box, before they’ve had a chance to train at all. As a team, if you’re into scoring more than straight hurting, they offer a fascinating array of options.

Secondly, Jolima’s a good coach. He’s solid, methodical, good at blocking and getting the most from the elves. Like Janek – who we’ll come to soon enough – he also quietly winds me up by playing them in a slightly different way than I would. Jolima’s also a pretty quiet player, with little of the chat at the table, thus making it tricky to read in play. Before we go into the match, he’s sitting third in the league and faces less of the top league members in his final matches than anyone else. In other words, if he wins this, he’s in a good position to move to win the league.

Also, playing on Sunday morning, as aficionados of the Sunday Papers will give testament to, means that I’m pretty hungover. The basic maths to calculate odds is beyond me. Keeping my eyes open is, in fact, somewhat beyond me. I have a bad feeling about this.

As the next hour and a half proves, it’s both justified and unjustified.

Before going in, I scan the Green Mist. Thankfully, not choosing tackle last game isn’t as disasterous as it could be. Jolima’s developed a large number of his players, with only Catcher Elvananfel having obviously many more skills than anyone else, picking up Block, Sidestep and Fend, a set of skills which mean he’ll be difficult to actually counter. The other catcher Nimund has Block and Nerves of Steel, meaning he’ll be able to ignore my Skaven trying to annoy him while plucking the ball from the air. The two throwers Aethbane and Trielyth both have picked up Accurate, increasing their already-impressive throwing skills. The pair of Wardancers – Thatyth and Mylmanwe have Strip Ball and Mighty Blow respectively. I’ll expect to see the former try and hunt my ball-carrier and the latter just hunt people. There’s also some trained linesman, with fighting skills, and he’s carrying a couple of star-player casualties meaning the dodging-skilled Linesman will be sitting out the match. That said, I’m also suffering heavily from Casualties, including John Walker having a nice sit down. That means I’ve no-one to counter the towering Treeman who’ll almost certainly make up the centre of the Green Mist’s offensive line.

Oh – this is also the first game which I’ve got a lower Team Value than the opposition, meaning I get free gold to spend. Alas, I don’t get to spend any of it because I’m in another window talking to Jim about the mess of the adverts launching over the weekend and the game doesn’t give sound effects to tell you when it’s up to stuff. Minor Sigh.

(Which occasionally leads to, when setting up team members, a player not noticing he’s meant to be kicking off until the timer runs down. Also, any sound effect on the timer running down would have been useful. And… oh, I’m getting distracted).

Bastard Elves

I win the toss, and horned stormvermin Lhykit recieves the ball from a short kick, bashing through the thin eleven line to push to the right touchline. A small cage forms up around him, which costs a lot of Go-for-it (GFI) rolls, which is terribly greedy for this early stage in the game. The tacklers move in, and one of them fails their own GFI line, allowing Lhykit to just impale anyone in the way and run through for the first touchdown. 1-0.

The Elves receive the kick, dressing their line heavily on the left. The ball is placed right in the far corner – I’m increasingly appreciating having a specialist kicker – which he retrieves, and forms a cage inside the Elves’ half. While most of my team form a defensive line in front, Lhykit – fresh from the touchdown – goes in and blocks the ball free. Alec Meer goes and annoys people. I can’t get to the ball, but I’m pleased.

I shouldn’t be. A few blocks allows a catcher to grab the ball and heads to the far right of the pitch. Since I’d moved my skilled-gutter-runner Safety to the left to fill a hole in the line, it means that he can’t actually reach him. A linesman manages to go in, but barely knocks the catcher back. Mylmanwe comes in, punches the uppity rat out the way, and the catcher runs in. 1-1.

My turn to kick off, and the Skaven show their tiny, pointed teeth. Both Elf linesmen have to be taken from the pitch, leaving the Treeman standing alone. I see a rare chance to actually hurt the big guy, and gang up brutally on him, allowing Stromvermin Kreeite Wing to take the actual skin. He rolls a skull. A re-roll. Another skull, before failing his injury roll and knocking himself out. Skaven really shouldn’t get ideas above their station.

Still – I’d moved the ball up the half-way point, and have an acceptable defensive line by that point. He manages to hammer the thrower out of the way, but a Wardancer KOs himself trying to retrieve the ball. Stricut picks it up, runs it forward, hands off to Alec Meer who runs in for his first touchdown. 2-1.

Kick off. Yet again, the Green Mist dress left. Yet again, I kick deep. Yet again – though I didn’t mention it before – the Wardancer hammers Lhuit, who’s Strength-1 is proving a terribly temptation to everyone. Unfortunately, another elf fails a block, meaning the ball is still loose from the kick and no-one’s picked it up. Alec takes it as his cue to rush forward and retrieve it. Problem is, he’s by himself, with no support. He’s beaten up, and the thrower retrieves the ball. There’s a pause as Jolima plays the maths. Does he throw to the Wardancer who can score from where he is, or play it safe and give it to the catcher on the half-way line? He ends up throwing short, and the Catcher runs to near the Rat’s goal.

Safety-Gutterrunner Stricut comes in and punches the catcher down, sending the ball bouncing off the pitch. It’s thrown on near the half-way line, by my catcher who tries to pick up the ball. Tries. Despite his sure-hands skill, it falls through his fingers. I realise this is bad. I could have afforded to move more men to support him before picking up – I didn’t want to move them all, because my plan was to get the ball, just hand off to Alec and then run in for another one, but I could have afforded a few. As it is, the ball’s free and it’s a perfect position for a mobile team like an elf to retrieve and run in. They do exactly that. 2-2 and half-time.

Fucking Elves

The character of the game’s clear. It’s a penalty shoot out. We each take 2 turns to score. The first person to miss a chance of scoring is the person who’s almost certainly going to lose the game. I’m thinking this as I kick off, forming a defence on the left while a catcher runs to the far right – meaning that I’m going to split my defenses to cover them all.

Stricut goes in, hammers Nimund, hurting him badly, and the ball lands in his furry hands. Sadly, he double-ones on the dodge away, dropping the ball. I’d been more cautious this time round, bringing up people to support in advance, but it’s still one which is retrievable by a team like the elves. At least I’m winning the casualty war, I think, exactly as hefty linesrat Rhiite wing fails an injury roll, and is only kept from the grave by spending my apothecary. The elves get the ball, and a run-hand-off-run takes it directly to the endzone for a 3-2.

I’m beginning to get annoyed at this point. I feel that I’ve managed to break his offence each time, and a terrible roll has stopped me taking advantage of it – the dodge away by Stricut being the most obvious. I’d just need one of these fuckers to pull off, and I’d be winning. Conversely, Jolima’s having bad luck with the injuries, which are thinning out his team. But still – for my money, he’s in a strong position here. He kicks to me now, and if all stays the same, I get a two turn goal. He recieves the kick, and only has to dawdle a single turn to force me to try and score in one turn – which really requires a lot of luck to make happen. He’s in control, unless something changes.

I receive the kick, and form a square towards the centre – he’s playing a pretty symmetrical defence, and I’m playing an equally symmetrical offence. He punches through my line beautifully, getting the ball. Stricut comes in and retrieves it with a blitz – which ends in his hands. Since he’s blitzed, he can’t hand off to anyone else. Immediately it’s clear this will be the first longer-than-2-turn drive. Stricut heads to the right touchline, forming an improvised huddle. The Wardancer isn’t having that, stripping the ball, which flies off the pitch.

It’s thrown back on deep in his half. It’s retrieved by a lines-elf who short-passes forward – the ability of all elves to be decent passers is another boon for them. We’re pushing on the left again, and he’s a couple of squares from my touchline. Ouch. I decide to send a linesrat with wrestle over and do a one dice block. I figure I have a re-roll, and it’s abstractly a 50% chance even without it. I think about bringing a thrower forward to help out would be worth the expense of a few dodge rolls, but my brain hurts whenever I try and work out the probabilities. Let’s get this over with.

It pulls off. At the cost of a re-roll, the ball flies free. We cage deep in my half as best as we can. It’s a shit cage, and the wardancer is still standing. It’s turn 13, but he’s got no re-rolls. One! He moves in! Two! He punches the rat’s face, sending the ball flying! Three! He gets tackled trying to retrieve the ball.

Thank the horned rat, shall we say.

Bleeding Elves

After a little more violence – hurting the other elf catcher – the ball is moved forward at hyper speed. This is actually Skaven at their best. The turn starts with the ball 2 squares from my endzone. With a pass and a hand-off, I get it to his endzone. Or rather… I could, if I sprinted the remaining two squares. I decide to dawdle a turn, playing the odds.

Now, if I was clever and/or mean, I’d dawdle some more turns stomping on all the elves. Settle for the draw and hurt him. Because if I score, with 2 turns on the clock, all I’m really doing is giving him the chance to win. Up until this point, two turns has equalled a goal for whoever’s been kicked at.

I score anyway. This sort of tactical play simply isn’t my style. And besides… yeah, it gives him the chance to score. But it also gives me the chance to blitz the ball away from him. That’s abstractly the Blighter’s specialty, and despite their total failure to do it so far. I have to have some faith in the little rats.

He dresses left again – which is probably a set up for some kind of elf-undergarment gag, I fear – and pushes forward. His turn ends early when a Wardancer tries to leap over my line and ends up performing an elegant face-first landing. His defence is in disarray, allowing my Skaven to rush upfield, not really caring about my half of the pitch. Since he hasn’t got anyone within striking distance of the goal, and with only one turn left, can’t score. Things have become understandably tense as tiny tumours of Skaven fill the Green Mist’s pristine pitch.

He’s caged on the half-way point, in an improvised defensive position – but nowhere near good enough to stop Stricut punching the ball free. The ball falls in an empty space. The Skaven are all upfield, ready to be handed off to. And my sure-hand Skaven Thrower is there to retrieve the ball, the man most able to pick the thing up, ready to step forward and…

Yeah, he fails his pick up again. “Sure Hands” clearly means something different in the Skaven tongue.

The whistle blows. 3-3.

Oooh, those Elves.

Jolima notes dryly afterwards that we probably should be both grateful for that. As much as I’m bitching about how it went earlier, he’s probably right. It just always cuts more when it’s the last move of a game where it all could have switched around rather than earlier. It’s worth noting that in both halves, Jolima had no re-rolls by the close. Then again, it’s also worth noting that I always had re-rolls left – because all the rolls I failed were ones which I couldn’t use any of my re-rolls on.

Still – a draw leaves the league all open. Things are interesting, with any of the top 5 possible winners. I advance Deamute Squeak, a linesman, giving him dirty player, thinking I need a designated fucker-over-of-wardancers. The second I do it I realise my mistake. I’ve done it again. I wanted to buy tackle, remember. I realise that I can get around it. When you leave the team management, you get the option to confirm changes or leave without confirming changes. I choose the latter, and go back to see if I can re-take the pick.

It seems that Cyanide have a definition as unusual for “Not Confirming Changes” as skaven have for “Sure Hands”. As in, it actually confirms the changes. I’m stuck with a dirty player.

Sighing, I go and see what I get to pick for rat-of-match Stricut. I’m planning on Wrestle. But the dice actually take me a different way, as he rolls an 11, giving him an Agility bonus. That means he’s an Agility 5, Strength 3 Gutter Runner, complete with Strip Ball. In other words, he dodges like the guys with two heads, if he’s got re-rolls on the table tosses the ball like the Elven throwers we’ve just faced and is the go-to guy for picking up the bloody ball. Fuck you, Skaven Thrower. He’s pretty monstrous now. It seems that I was saving up all my game’s luck for that roll. And – y’know – right now, it doesn’t seem a bad trad-off.

Of course, all this has really done is created a really big target for the next match: the league’s premier head-hunter. It’s A Skull’s murderous orcs.


  1. Ian says:

    Another enjoyable write-up, but I’m beginning to fear even more for my chances once I play an actual person.

    • Ian says:

      Holy crap, where’d that weird avatar come from? O_o

    • Ian says:

      Oh, seen the post about avatars on the forum now. Does this mean I’ll have to sign up to Gravatar to get rid of… erm… whatever the hell my avatar’s of?

    • Railick says:

      Yes it does. Just sign up for Gravatar and make it something you know what it is. :P

  2. BobbyBob says:

    Dear lord, Stricut is absolutely terrifying now. I’m glad I played you earlier in the season, Kieron. I would not want to have to deal with an agility 5, strength 3, ball-stripping Gutter Runner.

    Also, I find it incredibly unfair that I have never managed to roll a skill-up for any of my orcs. I like the way that they’ve developed, but still. I would have expected to get at least one by now.

  3. TotalBiscuit says:

    We are running a league of our own and a couple of our players, myself included, are already sick of it. The problem is, Blood Bowl can be absolutely brutal if the dice don’t go your way, not only affecting the results of the game you’re playing, but many games afterwards. While a runner failing a Go for It! roll and dying as a result can be funny when you’re playing the board game with friends in a social context, it can be absolutely infuriating and demoralising in the video-game version. Gaming is just naturally more competitive online with playing to win being a much bigger factor in many player’s minds. As a result, this excessive reliance on a probability-based system is a really bad idea for an online game, particularly one with persistant league play where injuries and failures carry over in a very tangible way. Oh and add to that the blatant imbalance of certain teams (dwarves) in early-game and you have a recipe for nerd-rage most furious.

    • Benjamin_Barker says:

      I can see how playing online could enhance the frustration level. I have only played online, but I miss being able to vent to somebody out loud. (I guess a voice server is possible if you want to go to the trouble.) I was never used to that though, and I’m handling my nerd ANGER. The danger makes the game a blast, but it’s strong stuff. Just one match a week is about right I think, so that I don’t get too invested in my players. After all, they’re all hanging over the abyss when they’re on the pitch. I happen to play Skaven but it’s true to some degree for everybody.

      My relevant story of tragedy on the pitch: my last match I had a great victory 5-1… only I blocked a Black Orc at the end of the first half to possibly take him out, when already ahead 3-0 and superfluous to any scoring. Textbook cocky move. This killed my Stormvermin with double skulls, death on the injury roll, and death on the Apothecary roll. The dice gods thus took their sacrifice for my victory when I showed hubris, wiping out my winnings for the match. “Skaven really shouldn’t get ideas above their station” = correct.

    • Vinraith says:

      One of the interesting things about this has been watching how non-tabletop players respond to the game as a video game. Totalbiscuits reaction is not uncommon, and the amount of howling on the BB forums about the dice being “rigged” and the random number generator needing to be “fixed” is overwhelming.

      I wonder, is it really just that anonymous competition makes people more uptight than playing games in person? Having played Blood Bowl for years in a league with friends it never occurred to me to “nerd rage” about my losses, it was the nature of the game. Sooner or later the bad luck fairy lands on everybody, how you handle it is part of playing the game.

      I’m glad Cyanide made a true translation of the board game, so that I can have that old experience with new people. It’s a shame some folks don’t enjoy it, but I suppose that just means it’s not the game for them.

    • Railick says:

      I don’t think it really has much to do with it being a video game vs a board game. It just has to do with the person playing it. One person might be more apt to get angry at random people on the internet than his friends in person (Maybe he’s shy in person and doesn’t want to confront people but has no problem doing that on the internet, many people are like this)

      As far as I’m concerned I just take my losses with a smile and normally only get angry if I did something stupid to lose the game or if the game itself did something stupid to me. (3 skulls rerolled to 3 skulls bases me pretty miffed but that is the nature of the game) No reason to actually get angry at the other person playing against you or the game itself for long term.

      link to

      Here are some Blood Bowl Maxiums to remember on this subject.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, it’s clearly a product of personality, I hadn’t noticed TB’s discussion further down the page about having played in person and being fine with it there. I guess that kind of proves my point that online players tend to be more uptight about playing anonymous folks than they would be playing with friends.
      I don’t really understand that, but I sometimes think my tolerance for losing is unusual in the online community. I spent so much of my time gaming as a kid getting beaten by people that knew a given game better than me, I have a hard time seeing losses as anything other than fun learning experiences. Games that aren’t fun when you lose aren’t good games IMO. Personally, I have all kinds of fun losing in Blood Bowl, and it can (almost) always be traced to a risk-management failure on my part, so there you go. I’ve taken to playing the single player campaign with the “Big Boyz” mod which significantly amps up the AI teams, and have been getting thoroughly pounded in my current game. When I do win, it’s a hell of a rush, and when I don’t it’s virtually always an education.

    • Railick says:

      The first time I read your comment I thought you said you got beat up a lot as a kid ;P lol I’m glad it wasn’t quiet such a brutal childhood.

      I have a pretty high tolerance for losing too. Maybe from years of losing board games like risk or maybe from years of getting pwned on FPS games online like CS and DoD at a certain point you just don’t care what happens any more :P Even losing a star player ect doesn’t really phase me it just gives you a chance to come back from behind and win big and then you can say (I beat you even though my level 5 minotaur got killed last match, BOOYAAAAA!)

    • Kester says:

      I noticed the same thing on FUMBBL when I tried it out a few years ago. I was used to playing real life people, where trying to kick your opponents’ teeth in was a valid secondary aim to scoring. Good lord did I get a tongue-lashing when I fouled someone’s favourite player: my protests that that was what goblins do didn’t seem to hold much weight. Apparently there is a vocal contingent on there who think fouling is only acceptable if it provides clear tactical advantage or somesuch because it has a chance of ruining someone’s team. If you get upset about brutal dice rolls, why on Earth would you play Blood Bowl?

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s funny, I find myself feeling bad about fouling when I play online (something that never happens in person). I guess it’s because I don’t know how the other player feels about the issue. Still, it’s part of the game, so I never let that hesitation stop me from doing it. I can’t imagine getting angry at someone else about it, either. If I’ve got a star player, who can blame you for trying to take him out of the game?

    • Railick says:

      I found myself getting a little angry when an ELF team stopped short of scoring and started stopping my lizard team for no reason fouling every turn they could. (it was a rookie team but the player had played hundreds of games it was like he was just trying to hurt me for no reason with a team he’d probably never play)

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, that’s a little harder to take. It’s certainly fair, and in a league where you’re going to be playing that opponent again it’s even good strategy, in a one-off it just feels like they’re being a jerk. Mind you, I do it to the AI all the time, but I’d definitely only do that to another player if I was going to be meeting that team again and felt it necessary to weaken them. Even then, I’d feel bad about it. :)

    • Railick says:

      Well instead of feeling bad for myself or getting angry at the other player I just got even. I surrounded his tree man, knocked him down and fouled the F@$@# out of him with my Krox no less :P That 8 on 1 (I felt I had to get all 8 around him with that 10 AV Treemen have in LRB 4) He said “You foul with your big guy?” at which point I said “I don’t normally foul at all but you’ve forced me and I figure if I get my big guy thrown out of the game at least you won’t be able to foul him back.

    • Vinraith says:

      Tit for tat is only fair. :)

      My problem with fouling, more than anything else, is that I have a knack for failing ref calls.

  4. Arathain says:

    Cursed elves.

  5. drewski says:

    Any chance they’ll put High Elves into a future expansion? I have no interest in playing minor races such as all the others.

  6. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    Gahh I have to buy this. So many wonderful memories.

  7. Thermal Ions says:

    I’ve been wondering, does BB actually make sense or be enjoyable to play if you know absolutely nothing about (and no interest in) grid iron?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      It’s made by Games Workshop (the board-game was anyway) and is distinctly British. The only similarities it has to Gridiron are it’s violence and the need to score touchdowns.

    • Arathain says:

      Yes, it’s a lot of fun without prior knowledge. Part of its charm is how easy it is to pick up the rules (particularly with the AI handling the dice for you). Read the rulebook, play a game or two, and you’ll have it.

    • Railick says:

      As Total Biscuit says it has nothing to do with American football (other than there being a football in the game) IT seems a lot more like Rugby to me. (I don’t really understand Rugby so I could be wrong) For example they call the field a pitch (In US football it is a field!) They call the locker room a dugout (like in baseball ?WTF ) It goes on and on. You don’t need to know ANYTHING about US football to play Bloodbowl.

    • Whiskey Jak says:

      Although I must admit that I have strong interest for both American Football (and many other sports than play on a field/pitch) and dwarfs/orcs/chaos thingies, I had not prior experience with Blood Bowl and bought it a week ago and I am able to play it and more importantly understand most of the major stuff (at least I think that I do).

      I have to admit though that I still don’t take much time to do the math to guess when a risky strategy is a good option or not (because I’m not sure of what to add/subtract) and that I don’t always recall what skill overpower another, so basically I don’t know/use all the finer details of the game to my advantage but I still enjoy it a lot.

      Now, if only I knew what strategy to use for my Mighty Smithies (dwarf team) that involves something else than knocking down every players who are not on my team… Dwarfs can’t throw shit. I actually feel like Kieron could win 16-0 against me with his super-fast Skavens…

    • Railick says:

      Dwarves are really hard to play against for me. It is seems to be impossible to knock them out or even stun them most of the time because of their 9 armor. You might use that to your advantage and just try to get rid of as many of his skaven as possible (still dwarves don’t have much in the way of strength or mv either so it makes it hard to do)

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s not just you, Railick. Dwarves are a real pain in the ass. They’re slow and hard to score with, but every one of them having block (except the runners) and all the blockers having tackle means they knock you down a lot, and you can barely knock them down at all. It’s infuriating, even when it doesn’t actually translate into a win on the score table.

      And mind you I say all that as someone playing a dwarf team in one of the proving leagues. :)

  8. Andy says:

    It’s interesting, and I’m not entirely sure if I believe it’s the case, but there’s a thread over on the official game forum about the frequency in which you fail rolls.
    I think there is a small consensus that (possibly as a means of making the AI better than a human) all player rolls are negatively weighted. That is, any action made by a human player is less likely to come off.
    One poster has gone so far as to write a little program to analyse the game logs (which he is requesting people send to him) to get average results of all rolls.

    I know that both Elves and Skaven have lower armour values but in that particular game it seems like an astronomical number of injuries piled in!

  9. Ben Abraham says:

    Another highly agreeable read. Good luck on the next match! May the best Rat/Orc win.

  10. Bursar says:

    Not sure if it’s already been asked, but any chance of making the replays available for download?

  11. Dude says:

    Nice write up, can’t wait to join a league, but I have to wait because of a stupid travel that would freeze any league for a week.
    TotalBiscuit: Honestly if you can’t play blood bowl as blood bowl is intend to play I am sad for you and your friend. Player will die stupidely, star player included, it is just part of the game.
    And you know some people will get upset even in the board game version. I have this story, I think it was back in third edition, with the expension with the crazy cards. Second game of the league my oponent was playing orcs, I was playing chaos. He had a card allowing him to taunt one of my guys, obviously he choose one of his black orcs to taunt one of my chaos warrior, the one with claws he said. This let me do one block before kick off and then my player is off. Well I knock him down, pass the armor and killed him outright. My guy was off, but his orc as well. He was so upset by this that he kept making silly mistake.
    Next game my chaos warrior got killed… by an elf, yeah that’s blood bowl ok!

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I played real Blood Bowl for years, I also played Necromunda and Gorkamorka in full-on campaign settings, where you could get absolutely boned. That is entirely acceptable in a real, social environment, you can laugh off the misfortunes and enjoy playing the underdog. It does not work on a computer screen. I’m trying to think of any other games that punish you with permanent disadvantages (as well as reward the opposing player with real, lasting benefits) purely as the result of a dice-roll.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Mmo’s say “Hi”, that is a genre which not only worships the dice gods (like rpg and strategy) but offers long term effects. EVE for example, I’m sure billions of isk(read as thousands of pounds/dollars) has been lost to a single number generator roll.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      There’s very little RNG involved in EvE, much less in anything where massive loss can occur.

  12. shon says:

    All Games Workshop games are cruel and unfair, it is part of the charm. Both sides can suffer horrible luck which just make for good stories. It is what you do with your bad luck that makes you a good player.

    All of my Wood Elf-Skaven games turn into blood baths. That 7 armor is just asking for it. What is infuriating is that even a failed GFI roll stands a good chance of knocking you out.

  13. Bravedave says:

    I can understand the fustration people feel when things go wrong that never should (eg. failed ball pick-ups on a 2+ with sure hands) but I think the ridiculously good things far outweigh them such as winning the injury count against orcs with skaven (4-0) and KO’ing Varag Ghoul-Chewer with a linerat in the process.

    One of my favourite moments has always been scoring jammy turn one touchdowns. Eg. I kick, get a free turn due to kick-off event, gutter runner runs to where the ball will land, catches, opponent falls over whilst blitzing, gutter runner scores.

    My highlight from the game so far though has to be against dwarfs with two linerats and four dwarves around the ball watching it scatter hillariously (love the dice sound effect too!) from player to player as everyone failed to pick it up (nine attempts in total).

  14. Railick says:

    My norse team on fumbbl suffered pretty heavily at the hands of the dice gods. Lost a level 3 minotaur with block and claw, a level 2 catcher, and level 2 blitzer, and a level 1 (with some sP) line man all in one game against a skaven’s rat ogre (he was just an all our murderous guy)

  15. Aphotique says:

    Another awesome writeup. Loved it.

    Had my own impromptu tournament this weekend via hotseat. My friends and I all made teams and exported them to the editor to beef them up a bit, (basically increasing each player to level 3, with one designated our ‘star’ player at level 5 which wasn’t allowed to be our ‘big guys’) then saved them for play in one off matches. Its less realistic then a normal tournament of course as any injuries and spp don’t carry over to your next game, but it didn’t make it any less intense.

    I have to say, no game in recent memory has been able to both frustrate and exhilarate me to the levels that this game can. I can’t remember the last time I felt so ecstatic as the last match of this weekend. My goblins versus my friend’s orcs. All of my secret weapons players got thrown into an offensive pitch because his orcs had destroyed most of my linemen and I had no one left in reserve. Still, my pogo managed to dodge his way up the field and into his endzone while my chainsaw wielding goblins rampaged through his center defenses. On the next two drives, he managed a hail mary pass to one of his own goblins and scored. The game remained a 1-1 stalemate as he continued to pummel my goblins while I hampered his ball carriers with stray blitzes. It came down to the last play of the game. My troll picked up my star ball carrier who narrowly passed his save to avoid being eaten and was tossed head first over their front line deep into their backfield. Numerous stunty-fed dodges later, each sound of the dice causing me to cringe, and a sprinted GFI pushed me to a 2-1 victory, something even my neighbors were probably aware of given my cries of joy. Needless to say, my friend spent the rest of the day cursing the stunty skill.

    I love this game.

  16. Railick says:

    Yah Eve is more about kitting out your ships and using proper tactics/methods for destroying your enemy from what I understand. There is no point in which you failing a dice roll would cause your ship to explode like in Blood Bowl :P (where even walking can be dangerous sometimeS)

  17. MonkeyMonster says:

    Brilliant piece! +1 on the makes we want to play it, but given my heinous lack of mathematical brain I would die a slow painful death. Too much of the inner chaos pyro for me to play this.

  18. Dante says:

    Man, now I’m missing the Elven throwing game, it’s a sad thing their innate wimpiness has trashed my team beyond repair.

    I’ll be very tempted by Dark Elves when they come out, all the agility of Wood Elves with more armour? Yes please!

  19. Railick says:

    I like high elves as well, with good armor and str and ag they're a pretty strong team.

  20. Dante says:

    Oh, quick question, how does one use the leap skill? I never managed to figure it out during the whole last league.

    • Railick says:

      It is an agility skill. You have to have a character that gets picks from the agility skill list .If your players don’t normally get agility skills they have to roll a double to get skills from another list I believe (and sometimes they still don’t have access to certian skills)

      In short the best way to get leap is to get a wood elf team ;)

    • Ian says:

      I think you’ve answered how to GET it rather than how to USE it. :-P

    • Jolima says:

      Once you have the leap skill, there is a button in the lower part of the GUI to use it. (Next to the pass and hand-off buttons no one probably ever uses.) Or you can press L I believe.

      And thanks for the writeup Kieron, always interesting to read about a match from the opponents viewpoint.

    • Railick says:


  21. Alexey Romanov says:

    Is the AI still horrible or have the patches fixed it?

    • Vinraith says:

      It was never horrible. It’s not great, but modding like stw402’s Big Boyz mod has certainly been sufficient to create a fun and challenging single player experience. I still hope they completely open up the AI to mods (as it stands it’s adjustable, but not fully modable) but the community has made very good use of what they have access to to amp up the SP challenge.

  22. Pijama says:

    Great as always, mr. Kieron. I s’pose the RPS leagues will always be on classic mode? *planning for future online insanity*

  23. Anonymousity says:

    Yeah dwarves are ridiculously frustrating to play as, especially if your game has any kind of agressive element, they’re nigh on impossible to injure and getting the ball off them always seems like a huge fluke.

  24. Anonymousity says:

    Yeah dwarves are ridiculously frustrating to play against, especially if your game has any kind of agressive element, they’re nigh on impossible to injure and getting the ball off them always seems like a huge fluke.

  25. Bigfoot_King says:

    This game looks good and I’ve always been intrested in anything based on warhammer but is there some tutorial in game since i’ve never played it before

  26. Vinraith says:


    There’s a tutorial, but it’s not nearly as comprehensive as it needs to be. Your best bet is just to look at the current rules for the board game version, since this is exactly that game on a digital board. A digital copy comes with the game, but it’s also freely available here:

    link to

  27. Skeleton Key says:

    “Then again, it’s also worth noting that I always had re-rolls left – because all the rolls I failed were ones which I couldn’t use any of my re-rolls on.”
    Kieron, were these armour rolls or rolls that you had already re-rolled using a skill?
    I ask because I was playing against the computer last night and I was allowed to use a team re-roll to try and pick up a ball that my Orc thrower had failed to retrieve even with his Sure Hands re-roll. I checked in the text log in the bottom-left of the screen and it definitely happened that way.

  28. GriddleOctopus says:

    I’m still missing the halflings – access to Treemen like Elves, but with stunty and dodge meaning they can sneak through lines easily, and so cheap they’re disposable. And you can throw them for single-turn touchdowns. Sigh.

  29. Kieron Gillen says:

    Skeleton: "Kieron, were these armour rolls or rolls that you had already re-rolled using a skill?"

    The latter. And yeah, what happened with your Sure Hands roll is either a bug or somehow something being misread.


  30. Sigmar says:

    Brilliant, thanks for the link Vinraith.

    my Fantasy Bat Reps

  31. Wisq says:

    Playing single player right now, getting used to the various races. My favourite so far are the dwarves. Bash, bash, bash… I feel a bit silly getting an apothecary so early on, since I’ve used them exactly once while playing two different SP campaign leagues.

    Dwarves versus Skaven is utter murder. In my last game against Skaven, there were two deaths in the first half — and there would have been three, if not for the apothecary!

    Although they got a sneaky TD against me in the first three turns, I owned the entire rest of the game — which went extra long, since a riot set the clock back a turn or two. By the 16th turn, they had two dead, three badly injured, five or six KOed, and only three left on the field, despite their horde of replacements at the start. (I believe the rules say that if I had taken out one more player, I would have won by default. But I just walked in the TD I had sitting at the end line, and it was over 2-1 anyway.)

    If you thought orcs were bad, pray you never deal with dwarves. They may not be the hardest hitting team by the numbers, but in my experience, their insane durability means they’re the team that can afford to hit the hardest.

    • Wisq says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention:

      My dwarves killed Griff Oberwald.

      I didn’t even order them to. He tried a dodge through two tackle zones. Failed and flopped down, dead. I don’t know if they tried an apothecary roll or not — probably not, since he’s not a permanent member of the team. But jeez.

    • Wisq says:

      And I just played against Griff Oberwald again. So, either there’s a rule in the book that says star players are immortal (in the literal sense), or more likely, Cyanide just never thought to deal with this situation. Ah well.

      Speaking of bugs… holy jeez the post-match commentary is broken. They say the exact opposite of what happened, like saying the more bash-y team lost (when they won), or the team with the most ball possession couldn’t turn it into touchdowns (when they won), etc etc. About the only thing they get right is that nobody is using doping … and yet, I’m playing in classic mode, where I don’t think doping is even an option.

    • Vinraith says:

      Since there’s only the one star player per race (excepting Mor n”Thorg), it would be terribly game-breaking to allow them to die permanently. I suspect that’s not a bug, but a design decision, and the correct one IMO.

    • Wisq says:

      I agree that they shouldn’t actually be removed from the game, but for the sake of logic, it would be nice if they at least prevented death. Since you’re hiring these people for a single match, limiting their wounds to “badly hurt” would be the sensible thing to do, since no other injury is going to affect the player, and death is impossible.

    • Vinraith says:

      Clearly the solution is to rename them in the event of death.

      And here, coming on to the pitch, is the late Griff Oberwald’s second cousin, Graff Uberweld

  32. Backov says:

    I’ve been waiting for this to come out on Steam, but apparently according to a dev posting on their forums on Sept 21st, they haven’t actually heard back from Valve yet. Grr.

    Oh RPS – Use your awesome powers to make this available on Steam!

  33. Railick says:

    From what I can tell Orcs are the worst starting team for bashing (read, the BEST, worst to play AGAINST) Chaos may be able to get a lot better at bashing over time though since they can get claw and mighty blow and frenzy making that character very deadly.

    • Wisq says:

      I dunno, I still think the dwarves are the better bashing team, and even moreso at the very start.

      It comes down to every blocker (lineman) blocking as well as an orc blitzer, of which the orc team can have four maximum. Yeah, the black orcs might have 4 ST and get two dice versus one if they go one-on-one with a dwarf blocker, but that’s why you don’t go one-on-one — with everyone being ultra-durable, you can just mob them, without fear of putting so many players in harm’s way.

      Once your blockers get level 2 and get “guard”, it gets even better, since they can mob without worry of TZs. Better still, they can afford to get guard first, since the more important skills are already present.

      Meanwhile, the dwarven troll-slayers not only get a chance of negating any strength advantage the enemy has over them, but they also turn two of the possible six die sides (“push back”) into “push back and roll again”. Particularly fun if you blitz someone who’s two squares away from the sidelines and push them right into the crowd for guaranteed removal and probable injury. It also means that if I put a second player on a 3 ST opponent, I get upwards of four dice with which to roll something I can take them down with. More with rerolls, which dwarves also get 20% cheaper.

      Whenever my dwarves get into bashing matches with orcs, the orcs always come out the losers, with multiple casualties and KOs, versus maybe one KO for me, if even that. But then, I haven’t played actual human opponents, let alone skilled ones. It’s certainly possible that orc teams could win the bashing game if played with finesse rather than just a brawl on the field. But dwarf stats being what they are, I would expect the dwarves could still play it better in return, given the same degree of finesse.

  34. Railick says:

    I think dwarvess and orcs are two sides of the same coin. Dwarves will get more succesful blocks but Orcs will get more succesful armor breaks. Dwarves will survive more armor rolls than orcs for the most part as well (since I think only the black orcs have armor 9 and the rest have 8, I'm not sure :P) ORcs are faster though and better at handling the ball so it is a toss up. They're both good teams for bashing the heck out of the other team though :) I think orcs just end up removing more players (unless they're playing dwarves in which case it is VERY hard to get rid of those suckers)

    • Wisq says:

      Did some more reading, more playing, more messing with stats. IMO, dwarves are still the best starter team in terms of eliminating the enemy soonest, although a well-developed chaos team can outdo an equally-developed dwarf team.

      Dwarves have ready access to “mighty blow”, and they can afford to pick it a lot sooner, because they already have the all-essential “block” skill. However, all chaos players have access to “claw” (even on normal non-doubles picks), which gives you a guaranteed armour break on a roll of 8 or higher. Combine that with “mighty blow” (for upright people) or “dirty player” (for kicking them when they’re down), and you’ve got breaks on 7 or higher. And considering that 7 is the most likely number to roll on 2D6, it’s a pretty nasty combo.

      Apparently, “claw” used to be unbalanced because it was a blanket +2 to all armour-break rolls, meaning someone with AV 7 would risk injury if you rolled 5 or higher. (Yikes!) As of LRB5, it’s just a sort of AV “cap”, so you’re no better at taking down squishies. However, it also stacks with “mighty blow” now, for the effect described above.

      The above LRB5 change also means that while chaos teams can be developed to be better dwarf-squishers (due to “claw”), both dwarves and chaos will be equally good elf- or skaven-squishers, and dwarves will be that good much sooner due to their starting skills.

      That’s why I worry most about pitting a skaven team against a dwarf team, moreso than I might worry about going up against orcs or chaos. The latter will be too busy trying to get “block” and “tackle” and stuff on their linesmen to be worrying about things that could cripple you like “mighty blow”.

      Dwarves already start with those, meaning that even a brand new dwarf linesman is going to hit your gutter runner with two dice (3 ST vs. 2 ST), each with 50% chance of taking you down — defender down, defender stumbles (“tackle” counters “dodge”), or both down (“block”). And by second or third level, said linesman could already have “mighty blow”, meaning the most likely roll (7) is going to hurt you.

      BTW, I’m not sure what you mean by orcs getting more armour breaks. The only things that affect that are a) putting more people on someone while fouling them, and b) the three injury skills (mighty blow, claw mutation, piling on). I realise that orcs are better at (a) due to their extra speed. However, you can still only do one foul per turn, and you’ve got the risk of losing a player of your own. If you can maximise your ability to injure standing people, you’ll do a lot more damage a lot faster than fouling one player per turn.

  35. Railick says:

    Uberweld is obviously the name of a famous dwarven welder, not a blood bowl player, duh ;P

    • Vinraith says:

      There may have been some interspecies mingling in that particular branch of Griff’s family tree, but both he (before his untimely death) and Graff really prefer not to talk about it.

  36. Sprint says:

    Actually no, in his free time Graff Uberweld is an overly zelous Killing Floor player, so much so that he had his name officially changed from Uberwald after reaching lvl 5 as an engineer.
    edit: I shouldn't have taken the time to look up the name of the class ><

  37. Wisq says:

    I think the single biggest revelation I had, from my initial playing of the game to actually understanding the rules, was that dodge isn’t about how many tackle zones you’re getting out of, but how many zones you’re dodging in to.

    That sole fact — gleaned from someone saying “remember, it’s not about …” in a document on I’m pretty sure — was the key to understanding why I shouldn’t fear simple 0 TZ dodging as an agile team with re-rolls to spare and/or the “dodge” skill (so long as I do more important stuff first) … and conversely, why human catchers or Skaven gutter runners could slip through my lines, and why sending a single player to try to cover them seemed so utterly futile.

    (And of course, this ties directly back into the “why don’t they show us the dodge roll?” issue, because I could have figured this out a lot faster by mousing around and seeing the rolls.)

    At first, I assumed that the game’s complete unwillingness to explain any of the underlying rules was because they were under some kind of agreement not to actually give out enough info to allow people to play a makeshift tabletop version of BB. You know, proprietary ruleset and all that. But after a week or so, I stumbled across that free and apparently legal link to an LRB5 PDF online, which raises the question: WTF?

    Honestly, I learned more from Kieron’s write-ups than from anything in the game tutorial, and had I not gone into the game forearmed with that knowledge, I might not still be playing it. Granted, I haven’t read the game’s PDF manual from virtual cover to virtual cover as a result, but from the glancing I’ve done, it doesn’t even explain its own rule modifications or interfaces very well.

    (For example: Why does my team value have an arrow pointing to a higher number next to it? Manual, web searches: Nothing. Correct guess: Because my team is undermanned and the value will be modified to include automatic mercenary replacements.)

    So yeah, the current BB computer game incarnation is both missing some handy shortcuts for people who understand the rules, and potentially utterly baffling for people who don’t. It’s like trying to play a computer game of chess when nobody knows how to play it and the manual only explains how to move your pieces. … No, scratch that, you’d probably still learn chess faster.

    • Wisq says:

      Oops, I was in the wrong tab. Guess I have to go repost that on the correct article. (Feel free to delete this post and reply.)