The summer saw an explosion of Blood Bowl events in the London area with several taking place over a couple of months. Earlier in the year we’d had the London Grand Tournament, but from June we had three of the more established events on the calendar.
First up was Pearly Kings and Queens XIII, 30th June-1st July.
Having recently started playing in the ECBBL, the best ‘Blood Bowl league in London’. So it says on the website. The annual Pearly Kings and Queens tournament run by the ECBBL fell onto my calendar. This was the 13th edition of this event so it certainly has a history. The event has a skill system which I had not come across before. This used points instead of a number of skills. The higher the points cost for the more popular skills. The higher tier teams having less points to use. Any duplication skills also would cost additional points. So taking just block on your players would mean you would have less skills to take.
Now going into a tournament you would typically review the ruleset and see what race would be the best fit. However as I continue to try and reach the fabled 26 Races for the NAF, this left me with only one painted team to choose from. This is not a race I particularly enjoy using but they have one of the coolest positions in the game… the mighty Deathroller!
So Dwarfs then. One of the most divisive races to play within the Blood Bowl community. I say that but the typical reaction from most coaches, as you put down your little bundles of joy on the pitch, is a slump of the shoulders with a muttered, grumbling comment.
“Oh great, Dwarfs!”
So it started with a glorious sunny day in south London. Luckily I was going to get out of all that nasty sunshine and headed into the Mad Hatter Hotel just south of the river Thames near Blackfriars Station. Despite the name, it was both a hotel and a pub. Which I have come to find means three things for Blood Bowl tournaments. Small tables, great food and lots of beer.
So I registered with Rob, TO on the day and a fellow ECBBL league member. After a bit of chat with a few familiar faces and we were into round 1.
First game was against Firebreather and his Goblins. Ok I thought. You have dodge, but I have lots of tackle. You have some high strength guys and Mighty Blow but I have high armour mostly. I got this!
So as we setup I was facing two Trolls, Ripper, a Chainsaw, a Pogoer, a Bomba, Fungus the Loon and a bunch of goblins. So lots of different positions to deal with, but this games standout player was the chaotic Fungus the Loon. This guy took out the caged ball carrier twice in the game. The goblin Pogoer took advantage in the first half by outrunning the Dwarfs to go up 1-0 at half time. I successfully made the Argue the call roll for my Deathroller (love that rule), so felt confident about causing some casualties and scoring in the second half. Unfortunately the reverse happened. With casualties piling up against the Dwarfs, I only just managed to squeeze out the turn 16 touchdown for that hard earned draw.
Not a great start but I could have easily lost that game so felt I had got away with one and looked forward to my second game.
I faced Wulfyn in the next game and his Underworld. Another ECBBL regular so a tough opponent but a favourable match-up I thought. His dodging Goblins against my tackle. A few secret weapons and lots of skills but take out a few players and things should go as planned. Kill a few Skaven, base the goblins and grind out my first victory.
Well I got the casualties in bucket loads. Ending up with a delightful 7 before the final whistle. But I was struggling to pop the ball loose and get clear with the limited movement. So I had to rely on another turn 16 scramble to eek out a 1-1 draw.
The draw was made and I found myself playing Geggster. If you are not aware, he is a regular player for Team England at the Eurobowl and has hundreds of NAF games to his name. But most of all he is a really nice guy. Having not played him before I was looking forward to it but did not expect much of a result. Although he was using Chaos Renegades, so a few untimely 1’s and I should be in with a chance.
The Koolbeards kicked to start the game. The Renegades got straight to work with the Minotaur getting lots of hits but not any injuries. Despite this the Renegades scored, after dominating the field for the half. My opponents then explained to me that as I had chosen not to field my Deathroller in defense and as I had only 12 players, he was desperately trying to get a casualty and then score in turn 8. This would then have forced me to play my Deathroller for my turn 8. Resulting in a likely early bath for the Deathroller. Luckily in this case I made a KO roll so that I could save him for the second half. This was something that I had not really considered before. One to remember for the future I thought!
So with the Deathroller in play, the plan was to bash a couple of big guys with the Deathroller and scored in turn 16 for a draw. This time the dwarfs couldn’t make it. Geggster did a great job of slowing me down and it ended 0-1. A fun game playing a great opponent.
Now during this game both my opponent and I were a little distracted by the French national football team playing on the big screen. In my case I had them in the office sweepstake so was keen to see them do well (Spoilers – France did quite well in the end!) But I have to stay the crowd noise from the TV actually made for a bit of a stadium atmosphere for the game which was great fun. I don’t think much of the cheering was for me but it sounded good.
So the end of day 1 and I was on a record of 0-2-1, Not great considering the races I had played. If you said Goblins, Underworld and Chaos Renegades would have been my opponents, I would have expected better by the days end. I had played some good coaches and I found out that with that last game I was only 1 or 2 behind on the Most Casualty award. Winning was out, so the plan for the remaining games was to get at least win and cause lots of casualties. Day 2 would surely bring better things I thought.
It finally happened! We all know it will at some point but today was that day. Spoiler alert – I lost to Ogres! Oh the shame.
Actually I have to say this was a really fun game despite the result. My opponent was Tom from the DBL. One of the largest leagues in the London area and a very vocal bunch wherever you find them.
Well once again armour 9 continued to fail and those pesky Snotlings just would not die. Suffering 5 casualties in the game got both us bogged down in the middle of the pitch for most of the game. The Ogres received first half and failed to pick up the ball 6 times in a row. I only committed one player initially to pressure the ball, which turned out to be a mistake as that Blitzer could not free himself and the ball from the Snotlings.
0-0 at halftime but the Koolbeards were receiving. Casualties started to mount and the Dwarfs got stuck in the middle of the pitch. With Dwarfs and the ball knocked around all over the place, a Snotling managed to pick up the ball in multiple tackle zones. A quick hand-off to another Snotling who is then thrown clear for a TD. A reroll wasn’t even needed. I looked on in disbelief as this unfolded but it was great fun to watch.
The most disappointing part was that I had managed only 2 casualties in this game. With those Snotlings on the pitch I was hoping for a real bounty of death to push for the Most Casualties award. But the injury rolls were not working in this one. But a really fun game despite the result.
Only my second ever game against Bretonnians for this one. After hearing a lot of talk about how good they could be, I was intrigued to see how it was going to go. My opponent was Ewuan who was down from Scotland for the event. Pretty cool!
The Brets received. And I didn’t choose to field my Deathroller again. Surely my Armour 9 will hold up this game so I was confident of keeping my players on the pitch. Early on I managed to pop the ball free, gathered it up and pushed right through a big crowd looking to roll up the Brets. Unfortunately I had forgotten about the Brets Frenzy blitzer, who proceeded to surf two of my players in his next turn. I was now players down. Crucially 1 was injured the other KO’d for the rest of the half. My opponent took advantage of the player advantage and scored in turn 8.
So came the KO roll for my 11th player. And I failed it! So my Deathroller had to come on, with only one turn (turn 8) to my his mark. Argue the Call did not come to my rescue so I lost him for the second half. That Frenzy blizter is now on the Grudge list!
The strategy for the second half switched to getting a draw and causing as many casualties as possible, but Nuffle decided not. My opponent rolled a pitch invasion and with his +2 FAME, I had only 4 players standing for the start of my 2nd half drive. Lucky all the stunned players made a screen behind which I could hide with the ball. Unfortunately this required a one die block to free my blitzer. A skull it was and the Brets did not need to be asked twice. The next 4-5 turns were my attempts to get out from a ring of Bret players and try to progress forward. Eventually I ran out of players to form a full cage and the Brets scoped up the loose ball. It ended with a comprehensive 0-2 loss. This game was a bit of struggle where little went my way, although I did make a couple of mistakes for which I was punished. Again causalities were not forthcoming so onto round 6 looking for maybe a win for a little bit of pride.
The final game of Pearly Kings and Queens had come. Would it be a final humiliation or perhaps I could salvage a bit of pride. I was drawn against Richy, again form the ECBBL and someone I had lost to before. Today he was using Dark Elves so I didn’t have too much hope. But any hope of prizes was gone so it was time to have some fun, and pound some elves.
Well I thumped them pointy-eared *****! Straight into the KO box. Ending on only 2 casualties by the end, but not suffering any for the first time. And another turn 16 TD, to claim my classic comeback 1-1 draw.
Finishing day two with a record of 0-1-2, which gave me an tournament record of 0-3-3. The 17 casualties being the main bright spot on an otherwise poor tournament, putting me 32nd overall.
The Champion was Stu (stu2) with Chaos Dwarfs, again from the ECBBL. Did I mention that they are the best Blood Bowl league in London!
In summary, I think my positioning was not great with the Koolbeards. I allowed myself to get bogged down by the opponents in the last third of the pitch. Tending to base and not leaving myself free players to push forward and progress. Thankfully this was 6 NAF games for the Dwarfs and so I will not need to use them again for 26. Maybe one day I will bring them out of the box but not quite sure when that would be.
I really enjoyed this event. The venue created a fun atmosphere with the World Cup games going on in the background. Maybe tournaments could start putting on some background crowd noise to add some of that atmosphere. Play a game while the football is on at your local and see what you think!
Lunch on both days was included in the ticket price and was excellent. And very much appreciated as I was looking to get into true character with my team by indulging in the food and drink throughout. Finishing early and living locally meant I was home in good time to enjoy the last of the warm weather.
A big thanks to Rob for running a great event, with everything going smoothly throughout. Definitely one for the 2019 Blood Bowl Tournament 2019.
OTT’s Achieved: 0 (not a surprise really)
Grudges to be settled:
- Fungus the Loon – A guided missile all game.
- Snotling TD scorer – Because…
- Bretonnian Frenzy Blitzer – Two player surf in one turn!