Tuesday 27 March 2012

It's not easy being green...

Last Thursday saw my quarter final match in the club Blood Bowl match. I'd finished fourth in the league and so was drawn against the fifth place team, JP's Nurgle team, the Rottenham Tight 'Uns. To say that I was wary of this match would be an understatement. The Nurgle team seem to have everything that is required to really make a mess of the Slann. Not only can they pummel to frogs into the ground (like most teams) but the disturbing presence of the Nurgle Warriors prevents the Slann from moving the ball effectively, and as annoying as Leap is, it doesn't help put distance between squishy Slann Catchers and slow-moving crumpers. Being unable to move the ball, as I found out in our league game, means that the Slann have to get up close and personal much more than I'd like to.

Despite this, I was determined to try to play fast with the ball and aim to score quickly and avoid the worst of the pummelling. We'll see how that went...

The 49ers recieved the ball and began to head down the left flank. The Nurgle team moved to block and so the 49ers switched to the right and caged up only to be fireballed. A beastman came pummelling through to grab the ball, but his following cage trip on a go for it leaving him exposed. The subsequent block sent him flying and the Slann had the ball again and switched over to the left flank once more. The putrescent tide swept across the pitch again and the Slann were forced to go for a pass into the end zone. The pass was successful (despite the disturbing presence of two Nurgle Warriors) but the catch was dropped. The Nurgle players again surged towards the ball and managed to get two tackle zones on the ball, the the third player tripped, fell and injured himself. With the ball still sitting in the endzone, the Slann Can't-Catcher leapt over the intervening Nurgle players and scooped up the ball from beneath their noses. 1-0 to the 49ers, two turns left in the half and ominously, three Slann were already in the injured box...

The teams set up again and the Nurgle team realised that they'd have to go for something ostentatious to equalise. Beastmean rushed through the line, Rotters scurried back for the ball and Warriors smashed faces. The Slann were able to hop their blitzers through the lines to strip the ball away and spoil any chance of the Tight 'Uns equalising this half.

Once again the teams set up and the Slann were bracing themselves for a beating. However, their fans stormed the pitch, stunning all three Nurgle Warriors on the line. The 49ers had a window of opportunity. Realising that they were vulnerable, for the only time in the match, the Tight 'Uns elected not to hit frogs and moved to protect the ball.

This was the chance. Slann hopped in to removed assists an the Blitzer leapt into the cage to flatten the ball carrying Beastman. The ball went flying...straight into the arms of a rotter. The half then became predictable. The Nurgle Team moved slowly down the pitch, breaking things as they went, whilst the Slann threw increasingly desperate leaps into cages to go for one dice blocks and began to run out of players. By the time the Tight 'Uns ambled into the endzone there were only five Slann on the pitch, and another two in the injured box. 1-1 with two turns remaining.

It would be tricky, but it was possible. The Slann recieved deep in their own half and rushed two players into positions where they could score (the Tight 'Uns could only hit one). The Catcher was flattened which meant that victory required a Blitzer to run to the end zone and then a long bomb to be thrown. The Blitzer tripped on his first square of movement, was injured and the game was going to over time.

The ball was once again kicked to the Nurgle team. Vainly throwing leaping blocks at cages, the Slann were powerless to stop their opponents taking the lead. When they set up with four turns of over time to go, there were only five Slann remaining. There just weren't enough of them, and even though one lone lineman made a death or glory rush towards the end zone, he was flattened and injured and the Tight 'Uns trotted in another touchdown.

With most of their team injured, the 49ers go out of the tournament and into retirement. The Tight 'Uns go on to the semi-finals and potential glory.

Rottenham Tight 'Uns 3 - 1 Slann Frogcisco 49ers (Casualties: 7-1)


I took a beating and there's no denying it. I could complain about dice, but that would ignore the fact that JP took exactly the right approach to cause me as much trouble as he could. I also had a (slim) chance to win but couldn't bring it home. In the end, the mounting casualties meant that I just couldn't compete in overtime.

This is the second time I've used the Slann in a league and I have to admit that they are hard work. To get the most out of them, you have to take risks and risk-taking is always punished in Blood Bowl. Unless someone drops out of the inter-club Chumpions' League then the Slann Frogcisco 49ers will be put away for a long time. However, they will keep the honour of having the best team name I've ever thought of...

Next year, I'm going for a team that can hit folks. There's some payback to be had!!!

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Wot no painting?

I've just not been in the mood...

I go through these phases every so often, where I really can't find the motivation to paint. The reasons are many and varied, but often have something to do with fading fads. At the moment, I'm nearing the end of the lead pile for several projects, and with nothing new to start I'm struggling to finish things off.

As it stands I've got the following to do:
Bretonnians - 4 Knights Errant, 5 Questing Knights, Lord on Hippogriff
FoW Germans - Mortar Platoon, 4 extra bases of Panzergrenadiers
VBCW - 8 Gentlemen with Shotguns

However, I've no great reason to get motivated with any of them.

Nevertheless...I have a plan.

When I get into these ruts, I start to organise thing to give me a reason to get motivated. Hence the fact that this week I'll be playing Trev at Flames of War. This will be my first game with the new rules (not that I'll notice the difference) and I'm hoping that either I'll enjoy the game so much that I'll suddenly get the urge to paint the mortars or the lack of any artillery will hurt enough that I'll feel that I have to get them done before I play another game.

What's more, I've also been planning a Flames of War campaign for the club for after the summer. To enable everybody to use the armies that they have I've plumped for a 'what if' invasion of Scandinavia campaign in 1943, with the Russians attacking Finland and the Allies landing in Norway.

Here's the map I've been working on:

There will be some special rules to account for Scandinavian winters and Sweden's neutrality and I'm hoping that for campaign flavour somebody has a Finnish army tucked away somewhere and I might see if we can organise some kind of D-Day beach assault to kick things off.

The WFB stuff will get a boost as I begin to organise a tournament for the summer; expect some angst on the blog as I've never done something like that before. As for the VBCW stuff, I suspect that I need to arrange another game.

I've also been searching for inspiration by burying my nose in different periods such as the French-Indian War and the War of 1812. However, I've no burning desire to begin another large project yet, but my birthday (and another opportunity to spend money on my hobby) is round the corner, so there may be a sudden change of direction.

As it stands, there is every likelihood that March will see very little progress on the painting front unless I gat get myself moving. How do you motivate yourself to get painting?

They call it 'winning ugly'

The final game of the regular season. I was already guaranteed a place in the play offs, but I was playing for league position and (theoretically) an easier game in the quarter finals. Kelly, my opponent, was still struggling to secure qualification. After a rough start to the season, his Wood Elves had slowly shown improving form and he'd won his first game the previous week.

Slann Frogcisco 49ers 2 - 1 Barrowman's Ball Benders (Casualties 1-2)

In front of a packed house of their own fans (all Slann, no Elves) the game was delayed by a riot which began at the snack bar (they'd run out of flies). The 49ers, who'd elected to kick because they expected to have time to respond to the Benders' inevitable score, were suddenly very worried. Their worry deepened when a Treeman came crashing through their lines shortly followed by half the Wood Elf team and the ball.

A desperate defence began and ball was stripped from the Elf Catcher's hands, however it bounced to a Slann in the middle of the scrum and so the 49ers were forced to leap in to the ruck to even the odds. The Elves then uncharacteristically began to put the boot in. Three Slann were stretchered off but the ball stayed safe in the 49ers' grasp. However, up field a lone Slann Lineman was mobbed by a pack of Elves (I think the collective noun is a 'pretention of Elves') who proceeded to jump up an down on his head.

Realising that scoring was out of the question, the 49ers set about keeping the ball from the Benders. A series of extremely flimsy cages were formed, with the Blitzers forming the major impediment to agile elves. Wardancers twice leapt into cages but were unable to claw the ball from Slann flippers and the half ended as it began at 0-0.

The Elves found themselves a two player's short at the beginningof the second half and so were naturally concerned at their ability to hold back the 49ers. Ever conscious of the leaping Wardancers, the frogs took up a formation known as the 'safe' (it's a bit stronger than the cage) and began to barge their way slowly down field.

With the Treeman stranded away from the action the Benders were unable to offer any real threat to the safe as it scraped along and so busied themselves with ambushing lone catchers and fouling them. One of the elves was sent off for a particularly nasty foul and the normally cold-blooded Slann lost their cool and began to respond in kind. Stupidly, this enabled a plucky Wardancer to launch a desperate block to shove a Slann into the ball carrier and knock him off the pitch.

The ball was thrown into the centre and a mad scramble began infront of the Elf touchline. Elves and Slann scrabbled for the ball and twice the ball was knocked from Wood Elf hands. Eventually pass was fumbled and a Slann Catcher was able to grab the ball from under the nose of a Wardancer and jump into the end zone.

The Elves, even further depleted, set up to recieve the ball. Three went back for the ball, the Treeman and two others stayed in the centre and the Catcher and a Wardancer went long. The Slann Blitzers went for man marking on the Wood Elf recievers and the Kroxigor and Linemen traded blows with the Benders' centre. A Lineman and a Catcher went deep for the ball (which was still on the floor) but were unable to reach it and had to settle for putting tackle zones on it.

The Benders looks set to go for a big play, but the Treeman made a mess of a block and suddenly the Slann had an opportunity. The Catcher grabbed the ball (again under Elven noses) and hopped away to score and take the 49ers into a completely undeserved 2-0 lead.

One turn remaining and Barrowman's Ball Benders were feeling justifiably robbed. However an in depth coaching discussion came up with a strategy to restore some pride. The ball was recieved and passed to the catcher. A single Slann lineman was then pushed and shoved from pillar to post until hi bundeld the Catcher forwards. The lithe Elf then broke into a run, skipped through the Slann defensive line and danced into the end zone for a consolation touchdown.

The game ended a 2-1, but the Wood Elves were showing signs of developing into a bigger threat than everyone had previously had them marked as. The Slann we just happy they'd got away with daylight robbery.

Kelly was right to feel a touch robbed in this game. He'd taken advantage of mistake I made well and was unfortunate that bouncing balls and key blocks didn't work out for him. I was also aware that I wasn't burning my rerolls at my usual rate (partly because I was trying to avoid taking risks as dropping the ball against fast teams can hurt). The game felt like a draw, and it certainly wasn't a 2-0 win so the last turn touchdown was well deserved.

I've now done for the regular season and I'm guaranteed to finish at least fourth. However, as this will 'win' me another game against the Rottenham Tight 'Uns and their annoying disturbing presence, I'm hoping that my rivals (Matt's Chaos team and Tom's Dwarves) slip up in their last games so that I can avoid such a tricky game.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Double Cross at Dronfield

Following recent encounters, both the B.U.F. and the Handsworth Volunteers had found themselves with high-ranking prisoners from the other side. The Handsworth men still held the B.U.F. Recruitment Officer, Heather Brown, and had been pumping her for information. Meanwhile, Captain Lilley of the Handsworth Volunteers had been thoroughly probed by the Fascist interrogators.

Both sides now saw an opportunity to secure the return of their comrades and a prisoner exchange was tentatively negotiated, the location being a crossroads near Dronfield.

Obviously, both sides feared that their enemy would seek to turn the exchange into trap and so armed men lurked in the hills around the exchange point, nervously alert for any sign of treachery.

However, naturally both sides also saw this as a perfect opportunity to lure their opponents into a trap and so with reserves on the way, weapons were loaded and aimed at the exchange taking place.

However, unbeknownst to the warring factions, their chosen meeting place for the prisoner exchange, selected for being quiet and out-of-the-way, had also been chosen as a the location of a secret meeting of the Masons, who were hatching nefarious plots to break the peace treaty in Sheffield. The Worshipful Master (the Chief Constable of the Sheffield Constabulary) had assured the safety of the meeting and when armed men were seen gathering from the windows, he made a call to summon a section of uniformed officers to arrest anybody who sought to disturb the peace.

To further complicate matters, the Royal Navy Auxiliaries who had recently tangled with the Handsworth Volunteers were also on a 'foraging' mission in the areas. They were in need of spares to repair the armoured cars which had been damaged in the ambush. They were heading down the road straight towards the prisoner exchange...
The Sheffield Police arrived and immediately set up a perimeter around the building where the masonic Lodge were meeting. They were ready to spring into action should the meeting be threatened or, heaven forbid, someone began shooting.

With Heather Brown secured and being escorted away from the exchange, at speed, in a B.U.F. van, the Blackshirts began shooting. They managed to wound Captain Lilley and the sound of gunfire was also a signal for the trap to be sprung.

The Wortley Brigade, the Blackshirts' new allies from north of Sheffield, emerged behind the Handsworth position, capturing the Volunteers in a vice from which they surely could not escape.

However, the Handsworth Volunteers were about to receive unexpected aid in the form of the Sheffield Constabulary who, hearing gunfire, rushed to arrest those responsible.

Meanwhile, the Handsworth men sprung their own trap (you didn't think they were that naive did you?), and their own new allies, the Swallownest Socialist Brigade unleashed the High Altitude Marksman's Mount for Extended Range and bus load (literally) of Socialist Soldier on the rear of the Wortley Brigade, routing them in short order.

Meanwhile, the Navy's progress was halted when they saw a strange figure striding through the field towards their position. Nervous at the prospect of another ambush, the entire column dismounted and began firing at the armoured figure. The hail of bullets seemed to bounce off the figure, but the intensity of their fire seemed to drive it back and away from the area.

Having ascertained that it was the B.U.F. who had broken the conditions of the Sheffield peace treaty (and conveniently ignoring the fact that they weren't in Sheffield), the police took up positions on a building and began to fire down on the heavily armed Blackshirts, forcing them into cover.

The Handsworth Volunteers were also pouring fire at the B.U.F. and the van carrying Heather Brown was hit and exploded. Fortunatle, the fascist femme fatale was helped from the wreckage by the durable Private Milligan and he guided her to safety.

Having heard all the commotion, the Masons came out from their meeting and the Worshipful Master held and impromptu meeting with the Sergeant in charge. However, they came under fire from the enraged B.U.F. and sought cover amongst the vehicles parked outside the building.

Things seemed to get worse for the B.U.F. when more S.S.B. reinforcement arrived in the form of a fire engine towing and field gun! However, the tide was about to turn as two squads of Handsworth Volunteers were swept from their positions by the Blackshirt Assault Squad and the Wortley Brigade's improvised tank, 'The Dragon', came chugging along the road behind the S.S.B. and poured heavy machine gun fire into the crew of the artillery piece.

Unfortunately, this change in fortunes was only temporary as the main part of the B.U.F. force was caught in a sudden pincer movement and destroyed by the Masons and the Police.

Meanwhile, the S.S.B. were not faring much better as having mistakenly fired upon the Navy Auxiliaries, assuming them to be allies of the Blackshirts. The sheer volume of concentrated fire power from the Navy destroy both of the socialist vehicles and drove they men from Swallownest from the field.

However, an explosive round launched from the retreating metal figure had damaged one of the Navy vehicles in the middle of the column, preventing them from either advancing or retreating. The Scouse sailors, took up defensive positions whilst the van was hitched up for towing.

With the B.U.F. retreating, the Wortley Brigade long gone, the S.S.B badly mauled, the Handsworth Volunteers began to pull back too. They had no desire to engage either the Navy or the Police (especially since they were both in strong defensive positions), however, they were concerned about the Wortley tank to their rear. Suddenly, the turret of the tank turned away from them, and appeared to be following the progress of a young lady in a tight sweater cycling away from the battlefield.

The Handsworth men took their opportunity and rushed the improvised tank. The crew bolted and left the tank to the Volunteers, who (with no knowledge of engineering) stripped what they could from the vehicle for their own use.

The battle was over. It was not clear who had won. The B.U.F. had secured Miss Brown's release and given the Handsworth Volunteers a mauling, but at a high cost to themselves. The Handsworth Volunteers had been badly hurt again but had given as good as they got and managed to loot some very useful equipment from the abandoned tank. The S.S.B. and Wortley Brigade had both had a terrible first experience of combat and the Navy had once again failed to make progress towards home. Although the Sheffield Constabulary had achieved their objectives, they had worryingly gained a powerful enemy in the form of the B.U.F.