Sunday 3 May 2015

CrumbBowl 2015

Way back in April, there was what might be my favourite BloodBowl tournament of the year (particularly as ARBBL Pick 'n' Mix won't be running): Crumb Bowl! It takes its name from the nearby Cake Bowl (where I came second last year), but is a one, rather than two, day event.

Crumb is intended to encourage new players into the tournament circuit, so there's an extra prizes for the person who places highest out of those who've been to fewer than 4 or fewer tournaments. In keeping with the friendly and sporting nature of the event, I like either to take a lower tier team or a team I know I'm not very good with. This year, I left it all to the last minute and arrived only knowing I wanted to use halflings, with no firm idea on the line-up. That's how I ended up with this:

Of course, I've played with no re-rolls before, but with halflings I've always taken the chef to deny my opponent theirs, so this was a little intimidating. I knew I wasn't going to do very well, but suspected I'd have a lot of fun nonetheless.

There's an unusual award that I'm only aware of at Crumb: SChWiNG - 'the Society of Chainsaw Wielding Naughty Goblins'. This is given for all casualties caused that wouldn't earn star player points and therefore don't count towards your casualty total: crowd surfs, fouls, secret weapons etc. Glowworm, who runs the tournament, is a big fan of goblins. He also awards the International Glowworm Award for fourth place (this was created independently and synchronously by Husbit (Lunchmoney) and Hudson after Glow came fourth at several consecutive tournaments).

Finally, Crumb is played indoors so there's no weather: a roll of seven on the kick off table instead indicates a D6+fame roll, the winning receiving a card based on the 50k deck but edited to ensure nothing generally considered game breaking.

Game One - JS1978's Darkside Cowboys (Old Boys) (Dark Elves)

Quick note on the name: for the first time I've come across, two coaches showed up with the exact same team name - Dark Elf teams both called Darkside Cowboys. The other coach was FFFS of Caterham School. I'm sure it's happened before and I've seen plenty of very similar team names in the past, but this was the first time I was aware of team names having to be amended slightly to avoid confusion.

Anyway, James was a new opponent for me and that's always a nice way to start a tournament. He won fame and I won kick-off, so elected to receive. A high kick gave me confidence for a one-turn and early score, but a failed GFI to hand off gave the dark elves an opportunity to grab the ball. Things got worse for the 'flings when the double-skilled player Mr Go failed his dodge and died on the next turn... A wrestling witch elf then put Deep Root on the floor when he tried to hit her - another fling came running in to kick her for a stun, but the ref saw and it was bye-bye to the halfling. Mr Kick, the sneeaky git, was killed the next turn but the 'flings knew they needed to take foul opportunities - and not just because they wanted to be in the running for the SChWiNG award! The next turn this paid off and the witch elf was killed. Bertha then attempted to terrify the ball carrier by blitzing the corner of the cage, but the dark elf managed to dodge away and score.

Another high kick caught by the 'fling who ran beneath again cheered up the little guys. A failed hand off meant things started to look bleak, but the ball was eventually caught by the fling who'd had it in the first place. The dark elves weren't best pleased so knocked it loose again. It bounced .... and bounced .... and bounced .... and was caught by a tree! This was not good news: the tree was too far from the end zone to get there himself, but the nearby halfling was so shocked he failed to catch the ball when it was handed to him. This meant the dark elves did what they do and managed to grab the ball from 2 tackle zones and score after a failed GFI kept the halflings from interfering.

The first turn of the second half, and the second casualty on the flings as Mr Slick was stretchered from the pitch. But now it's the dark elves who can't hand off and the 'flings worked hard - accepted both down results on blocks - to keep the maximum halfling and minimum dark elf tackle zones around the ball. The excitement was clearly starting to get to Bertha, as she failed repeated bonehead rolls to get up, having fallen on a GFI. Mr Elm and Deep Root worked together to finally kill a dark elf on a block, but the dark elves succeeded both GFI's needed to score again.

A weather result on the next kick off meant the halflings won an extra hand off or passing action - perfect for that one-turn TD I wanted. But of course I forgot that the halflings had failed to turn up to catching practice, and the second hand off failed. A lot of shoving and failing to pick up followed, with several double skulls from halflings and Bertha.

Final score: TD 0-3, CAS 2-2, SChWiNG 1-0

Game Two - Tank15 BDC (Beat Down Clan) (Norse)

I think I may have played Graeme once before, but I'm not certain (it gets like that after awhile...). He won both fame and kick off, but his first turn saw him skull into Bertha (a continuation of the luck that had plagued his first game). The 'flings took the opportunity to try to surf an unfortunately placed blitzer - but fell on a both down (bloody Norse with all their block!). Another fling was sent off for fouling a blitzer shortly afterwards - for nothing more than a stun - and it took until turn 3 before anyone managed to pick up the ball. This was a better turn for the Norse: they also managed to knock over Bertha and a few of the 'flings. In revenge, the 'flings knocked over several line guys and Mr Elm blitzed and killed the Ulf carrying the ball. The Norse managed to recover the ball but the star player was having none of it when they tried to get him to take the ball. Another 'fling stunned himself against the blocking team, which meant that the Norse were able to scoop up the ball - but ended the same turn skulling into a 'fling. Deep Root killed one of the line guys, but the 'fling who went after the ball carrier also scored a skull. All the same, it took until turn 6 before the Norse managed to KO a 'fling. Bertha responded by killing another line guy. The Norse managed to score on turn 8 after Deep Root fumbled the attempt to throw a 'fling in the way, so the 'flings used the final turn of the half to try and inflict some damage: more stuns and another sending off for stun.

The second half commenced with the ball out of range to allow a one-turn TD, so the 'flings killed two line guys and knocked out a third. The Norse sent their star player to mark the ball carrier - so Deep Root blitzed him out of the way. A successful hand off was followed by a failed dodge to give the new ball carrier sufficient protection (bloody tackle!), and (turn 10) the Norse finally managed to kill a 'fling and succeeded in getting the ball loose. The 'flings quickly grabbed it, but Bertha was in a world of her own so couldn't protect them... which meant it was soon knocked loose once more. Fortunately, the Norse don't have the ball collecting skills of the Dark Elves and it remained on the floor. Tree vs Ulf seemed a pretty safe bet, but a stunned tree later meant I was glad the following turn when the Norse still didn't have the ball, although another dead 'fling meant the relief was bitter. A weather card of custard pie meant the Norse tackle zone on the ball was negated and the little guys grabbed and ran - Bertha waking up long enough to follow. It was still a precarious position for them, so there was no surprise when the ball fell loose again. The dead tree, however, was more unexpected. The flings pounced on the loose ball, only to find it in the hands of the Norse the next turn. In an effort to recover it, a 'fling skulled himself to the dead box. The Norse ran with the ball, knocking Bertha over on the way. She wasn't best pleased and chased them down, but only managed to shove the ball carrier. She was knocked over in the dying moments of the game, giving the ball carrier the chance to throw the ball for a TD.

Final Score: TD 0-2, CAS 5-4, SChWiNG 0-0

Game Three - Frogboy Warped Rat (Skaven)

Rory was another new opponent - one of the things I love about Crumb. Again, I lost fame but won kick off and elected to receive. 

The first turn went well, with Deep Root killing a line rat and the ball feeling vaguely safe in a sort-of cage. The rat ogre then knocked Bertha down whilst the gutter runners started sprawling up the pitch. Bertha got straight back to her feet, and a startled 'fling killed the double-skilled (kick & wrestle) gutter runner. The rat ogre knocked Bertha back down and the gutter runners stunned three 'flings - including the ball carrier. The 'flings acted quickly to put as many tackle zones around the ball as possible, and Mr Elm ran off to assist Bertha, but failed his GFI. The rats blitzed one 'fling onto the ball, only for it to land in the hands of another. Deep Root came to help build the basket/cage to protect the ball carrier, and the team knocked out a line rat. The loose basket shape at the back of the cage confused the rats, so they knocked out one of the 'flings standing there to get some access. Bertha then tried to clear a bit of path, but ended up skull/both down into the gutter runner with block, meaning a blitzer was stood next to the ball carrier. The ball flew from his dead hands - Deep Root nearly caught it, but it landed in the square the 'fling had just been removed from. The rat ogre attempted to move one of the 'fling tackle zones from the ball, but failed, so a gutter runner showed him how it was done, killing the other. Another gutter runner grabbed the ball and threw it to the third. Bertha was enjoying her nap on the pitch too much to help out, and Deep Root got carried away when he saw his opportunity to blitz, meaning the 'fling flung at the ball carrier could only stand in front to force dice rolls - something the blitzer was more than happy to do, with another 'fling heading to the dead box whilst the rats put the first score on the board.

A blitz put all the gutter runners in my half of the pitch before the 'flings had time to blink. Deep Root killed another line rat, but Bertha rolled skull/both downs against the blocking gutter runner for the second time. Fortunately, the 'flings were able to capitalise on a gutter runner's failed pick up, snatching the ball out the air as it bounced over them. Bertha continued to nap on the pitch as Mr Kick skulled himself to the dead box against a gutter runner, meaning the rats could get the ball free and score as the half ended.

A quick snap as the second half began helped the rats get the ball and move it down the pitch with sufficient interference to cause problems for the 'flings. Deep Root attempted to throw someone into range, but again dropped them. Fortunately, a few flings were in range to get in the way of the ball carrier... One of these died as the blitzer struck again, and the gutter runner happily dodged the others to score once more.

When the ball sailed off the pitch for the next kick off, Bertha promised to pay attention and was handed the ball (Deep Root being just too slow to make it down the pitch in time). 'Flings ran in to support her, but placed themselves badly and Bertha found herself pushed into the crowd. The ball landed in his end zone, so a blitzer ran to stand next to it. A weather card meant the only 'fling in range lost his ability to hold a ball, so another 'fling was thrown in. A failed dodge ended the turn and enabled a gutter runner to get to the ball - freed up by the blitzer - and pass it to the second gutter runner. A hand off to the third and suddenly the ball's nearly in my end zone... A thrown 'fling knocked himself out and another skulled himself to death, allowing the gutter runner to score with no hindrance.

At this point, only 2 'flings were healthy enough to return to the pitch. Deep Root shoved the rat ogre, Mr Ash knocked out another rat and Mr Elm fell over - but at least took his line rat down with him. In the confusion, the 'flings forgot to cover the ball, so the gutter runners ran forward... Deep Root managed to knock the rat ogre over, but the 'flings couldn't dodge, so the gutter runners grabbed the ball and scored again.

Another weather card meant that a heckler in the crowd upset one of the gutter runners enough he wasn't paying attention when the halfling ran in to grab the ball that had landed by him. Deep Root again knocked the rat ogre over and Bertha finally managed to stun a gutter runner. The rats ran in to get as many tackle zones as they could. Deep Root happily killed the rat's thrower, but another 'fling copied Bertha by rolling skull/both down against the blocking gutter runner. The 'fling, however, was not as tough as the ogre and died to end the game.

Final score: TD 0-5, CAS 4-7, SChWiNG 0-0

As predicted, I did terribly but had great fun - with that score, I was a little surprised not to win the wooden spoon, but the recipient had done no casualties so deserved it more than I. I was a little disappointed not to have achieved more SChWiNG casualties, and at one point hoped I might get somewhere on the most casualties challenge - Husbit won that, with 18 (Chaos Pact against goblins, dwarves and chaos dwarves, so he was very pleased - both the goblin trolls are listed amongst the casualties caused, and he only took 7 casualties, giving him the best net score as well).

If you're interested in trying out a Blood Bowl tournament and live in or can get to the Wiltshire area, there's talk of it being a two-day event next year and I highly recommend it as a good introduction to the local circuit. We're a good bunch and love to have new players join us.

The next tournament on our circuit is Cake Bowl in Swindon in about 5 weeks. I may or may not be there, but it's an awful lot of fun if you like a skills-heavy game. The next Exiles event is SpeedBowl, the week after.

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