Here we are again, its that time of year for one of my favourite events in the Blood Bowl Calender, UKTC in York. The UKTC event is the biggest team tournament in the UK and one of the biggest in the world, if you havent already seen the post from last year have a look here. This post will be similar with a recap on our experience this time around and what differences/improvements there were.
So once again we attended the event representing the blog as team OTT consisting of the same 4 coaches as last year, myself and Chris from the blog, Ewan (an honourary member of OTT) and Sam, a close friend who only plays Blood Bowl once a year at this event and primarily comes for the social aspect of the weekend. The main difference being as where as last year we took strong competitive teams (except you Ewan you Goblin power gamer) to this year where we bravely decided to all take Stunty teams. Check out our post about Stunty teams and the joy of taking them here
Putting aside the fact that I enjoy playing stunty teams despite the likeliness of getting humiliated in every game, the reason we decided to do this was to remove the expectation and to some extent pressure when playing. We wanted to make this years trip a more ‘enjoyable’ social event without the frustrations of potentially having a bad weekend with teams you ‘should’ be winning with. Dont get me wrong I enjoy talking Blood Bowl (hence why I write a blog about the game) but when you attend an event with a strong team you have that expectation that you should be winning certain games and when you dont, as we all know it can be a cruel game, the frustrations and pressure can run into the ‘off the pitch’ time in the evenings and this is something we decided we did not want this year, we wanted to go for a weekend away with some Blood Bowl added for good measure.
So this years team choices looked like this
Me – Goblins
Chris – Undergobs
Ewan – Halflings
Sam – Ogres
Before we knew it the excitement was upon us, that indescribable feeling a week before an event of this scale sitting in the pit of the stomach all throughout a week of work that seems to go on forever, sitting at my desk trying to concentrate on what I am paid to do yet find myself running over scenarios in my head (‘If i win the toin coss do i kick or recieve? but what about the secret weapons and bribes? should I attempt a OTT for the fun or try and maximise their potential and go for the win?’) shhhh dont tell my boss.
As with every other year we have attented the UKTC we decided to travel by train, a convinient, fairly resonably priced and social way to get there and back. The biggest selling point for me here was the social side, being one of the only people on the team who drives that task would have most likely fallen to me which restricts what ‘fun’ I could have on the journey there and back. Taking the train meant I could spend the 3 hours (5 if we drove) as an extension to weekend away.
Each year we bring some small board games along mainly for the train up but also for the evenings which is one of the highlights of the weekend with last years game of choice being Exploding Kittens, an extremely fun and compact card game for 4 players which never fails to entertain but also brought a new game (something we try to do and will continue to do to add a bit of variety). This years new venture was a game call ‘Skulls’ again another compact quick game of trickery and deception, I had never heard of it before but it was great fun and had some great laugh out loud moments (apologies to others on the train).
Once again the train journeys were reliable and comfortable (well the return journey not so much for myself but will get into that later)
So lets talk about accomodation for the event, something I talked a lot about in last years post but will touch on it again here. There are a few options you have for accomodation when attending events like this, Hotels in town, Rent a house or sometimes events have a deal with places connected to or on site to where it is held, this year being rooms in the University.
The first year we attended the UKTC we stayed in a Premier Inn, a reliable and consitent chain of hotels with a fairly competitive rate if you book far enough in advanced. The benefits of this being the peace of mind of not having to be responsible for someone elses house and cleaning but are restricted to sociable communal areas and are forced to venture out in order to find place like that (I have never been a fan of sitting in a hotel room playing games etc). The last 2 years we have attended we have opted for renting a house between the four of us and can honestly say I belive this to be best all round option.
The house we rented this year was in an even better location than last, right at the end of the highstreet, next door to a nice bar and 5 minute walk to the station, what more could we ask for? well a nice house of course and that is exactly what we got, built right under the city walls and next to the river it was a pleasant place to come back to after a long day of Bowling.
After dropping our bag off, picking up some groceries for the weekend and having a quick pint at quiet pub on the city walls we liked from last year we headed into town to the yearly friday night meetup point, ‘Brewdog’
If you’ve not been to a Brewdog bar before or not tried any of their lagers/ales then I suggest you give them go, they have a great range to pick from depending on the night. Its always good fun meeting here for a few drinks the night before the event as you get to meet new people or even people you only get to see at events like this with the excitement of the event at its peak and the whole weekend ahead of you. The problem I have run into over the last few years is that getting a train up early in the afternoon you tend to start drinking a lot earlier and by the time the night is in full swing im normally done. But never the less its always a great evening.
The Main Event
So here it was, the day we had all been waiting for, the first day of the mighty UKTC 2020! All the of the prep, organisation and deliberating as to what teams to take not to mention what build with the available rulespack has come down to this weekend. The alcohol inspired thought of all taking stunty teams that occured a few months before in a bar in London had suddenly dawned on us and the realisation that we were about to embark on a 6 game journey with goblins and halflings in one of the most competitive tournaments in the UK no longer seemed ‘a bit of a laugh’. I exxagerate a bit, we were all still in good spirits and looking forward to having a more relaxed than normal weekend with the intention of having a laugh a meeting some great people who love the hobby.
So lets get stuck in with my games
Game 1 – DocMaxx – Slann – Team NRW
To kick of the 6 rounds Team OTT were drawn against a very formidable German team, not knowing how experienced they were we went into the round with hearts full of joy and our minds deluded with the idea of throwing team mates. After some pre game chat with our extremely friendly opponents we soon came to realise what were up against. My opponent for instance, DocMaxx, is the organisor of one of the 4 majors, the German Dungeonbowl, and also had the most games across the NAF with Slaan under his belt. On the other end of the table, Sams opponent had the record for the most number of NAF tournaments played in year, I cant remember the exact amount but it was in ball park of 60-70 events (more than 1 a week on average). TIME TO GET SCHOOLED!
The game was very enjoyable and a lot closer than I expected it to be. It started with the Slaan leaping into my defense and sacking the ball carrier, getting the ball and scoring in my drive, on the plus side I was able to do some damage and killed the Kroxiger along with another frog or two. In the second half the Slaan were able to score quickly putting them 2 nil up after turn 9. The Goblins werent going to take it lying down and scored back quickly making it 2-1 after turn 11. With 5 turns to go and a good start to the defensive drive for the Goblins, the Slann were forced to sit deep and protect the ball in their own endzone leaving me one last ditch attempt to throw a goblin to knock him down which ended in an unfavorable scatter ending the game there.
Overall a very enjoyable game against a great coach and was happy with a 2-1 loss in the circumstances.
Team result – 0-0-4 loss (Ouch)
Game 2 – Kokopelli – Chaos Pact – Who Pears Win
After a very convincing defeat in round 1 we were literally on the bottom table playing against another very good spirited friendly team. This is the idea right when your playing stunties, lose your first round convincingly to hopefully play someone with a similar tiered team and level as you?
My opponent Kokopelli had taken a Chaos Pact team, my heart dropped when I thought of all that mighty blow againt my poor little Goblins.
This game is where the Goblin shenanigans really started to work, an early knock out of one of his big guys (cant remember which one) put them on the back foot on their drive followed by a succesful bomb throw knocking down his ball carrier and a corner of the cage allowed my doom diver to be thrown, pick up the ball and scutter off down the pitch out of distance scoring late in the first half.
In the second half I was able to score fairly quick putting the Goblins up 2-0 with 6 turns left. The Pact were able to score in 3 turns after the casualties start to flow leaving me 3 turns to either attempt a score or protect the ball. With not very successful line of scrimmage blocks and being outnumbered I went for the latter. It was a tense 3 turns of manouvering 4 goblins deep in my own half leaving him an against odds blitz with his dark elf faling on the 1 dice block.
Team result- 2-1-1 WIN
Game 3 – Teza25 – Orcs – The Feral YOBBS
In our 3 round we had moved up the rankings but not by far, we were still fairly low down the tables, not a bad thing when that end is next to the bar. We came up against a local group of players who play in a league in York, always nice to meet the locals.
My opponent Teza25 had taken an Orc team, something I was dreading and with them being the most taken team in the event I knew there was a high chance of coming up against them.
This was almost an identical situation to the previous, some shifty goings on by the Goblins allowed me to score on his drive followed by a quick score on mine allowing Teza to score with a few turns left. Being 2-1 receiving the ball with 3 turns left and being outumbered, the strategy of protecting my ball deep in my own half came into play again allowing me to close off another 2-1 win
Team Result 1-2-1 Team DRAW
After day 1 I couldnt complain, I had done a lot better than I had expected to be doing with goblins and as a team we were ecstatic with 1win, a draw and a loss, something were never expecting and were in the mindset that even if we lost all 3 games on day 2 we would still be happy with our result, a nice position to be in.
So lets talk about the saturday evening…
Half Time ‘Oranges’
Its funny how after visiting a City a few times you start to become familiar with the local restaurants, pubs and directions with York now becoming somewhere I can comfortably navigate knowing where we can always find somewhere to quench our thirst so much so that I would love to come and visit sometime when im not playing Blood Bowl.
Like previous years the friday night always seems to be the time to go out an socialise with some teams going very hard impacting their ability to function on the saturday causing it to be the more chilled evening of the two. This year I wasnt particularly feeling up for it on the saturday so we ended up ordering a pizza to the flat and heading out for a couple pints at a bar in town, well the only bar in town showing the NFL games going on and ended it at a reasonable time ready for the second day of Bowl followed by a long journey home.
Day 2 – Make or break
With the second days sun rising over the remains of a saturday night in a city like York, the idea of glory had not completley left my head. With 2 wins and a loss under my belt from day 1, a good win in the first game could really create some oppurtunity for a potential stunty cup, something I had never even considered chasing up until that point as I had never expected to be where I was at the end of the first day.
Game 4 – SkraggyDave – Orcs – Freebooters
As it was with previous years the organisers post the round 4 match up at the end of day 1 allowing you to know who your playing in game 4 in advance. As soon as I saw my match up I knew I recognised the NAF name but couldnt quite put a face to it but all I did know was that I was coming up against another Orc team, Ugh not again.
Arriving at the table and meeting SkraggyDave I instantly remebered, I had played him at the NAFC the year before. I was instantly relieved as I remeber it to be a very enjoyable game, despite losing, and Dave being a great coach who has the right attitude for the game always making it enjoyable no matter how its going, a proper gent.
Well this was definitely a game to forget, not taking anything away from Dave, he played very well but everything that you need to come off for Goblins to be competitive didnt. The secret weapons didnt work and the Goblins armour didnt hold up making it a very quick 3 – 0 loss. I think I had 4 or 5 players left at the end but as I said when you play a coach like this no matter the outcome it is always a bit of a laugh and good fun.
Team Result – 2-0-2 DRAW
Game 5 – The_Joker – Dwarfs – Granite City Cutters
In our 5th game we came up against the Granite City Cutters, a team we played the year before at UKTC and some familiar faces. I know ive been moaning in this post about having to play Orcs (well most teams actually, I was using Goblins) but the moment I saw Dwarfs the realisation that I had it fairly ok up until now hit me. All that tackle really scuppers a lot of the Goblins tactics and I wasnt quite sure how to overcome that really.
Well one way is to Kill 3 dwarves in the first 3 turns! What a start! I thought I may have a chance and continued to try and out manouvre the stunties (yes i know) but with no luck, the number advantage didnt seem to help and the dwarves were able to go 1-0 up in turn eight with a failed OTT attempt keeping it there at the end of the half.
In the second half things were looking promising, the Gobbos were moving up the pitch successfully with another dwarf or two removed the draw was on! Well Nuffle was not on my side and that feeling was soon shortlived with a failed handoff with a reroll to get through the line and able to stall for a turn landing unfavourably and a failed 2 dice block by the troll on the ball carrier after they recovered it meant they were able to get the ball back up the pitch and score ending the game at 2-0 the dwarfs, a score line that doesnt really reflect the game. A tight one though and overall good performance.
Team Result – 0 – 1 – 3 Team Loss
Game 6 – i_done_goofd – Norse – Dopebowl Rats
The last game of the event we had the pleasure of playing against the Dopebowl rats, a team who mainly play BB online but have come to give tabletop a go. At this point in any 2 day tournament your mind starts to turn to mush and the thought of my bed was the only thing going through my head, well that and the dread of the 3 and a half hour train journey home. I think my oppponent had the same ailment so then we commenced the most stereotypical (well to people who dont play the game a lot) game of Blood Bowl. There were 2 die blocks uphill on a regular basis, fouls being commited when there shouldnt have been, passes whizzing through the air when there was no need and all mixed the Goblin playbook that people come to love.
It was great fun, so much fun I couldnt even tell you how the game panned out, and something that was needed as a game 6 in an event like this.
Team Result – 1-2-1 Draw
So there we have it a great six games coming to an end with a much better result that we came in thinking we could acheive. An overall personal result of 2 wins 1 draw and a 3 losses with Goblins and team result of 1 win 3 draws and 2 losses. Its unforutnate as I believe at least one of thos draws could have easily been a team win but thats Blood Bowl at the end of the day and were still content with our placing.
The Journey Back
So this is where the benefits of taking the train start to dwindle away in the back of my mind with the daunting thought of having a 3 and half hour train back to London, then another hour from there. After a weekend like this, by the end your mind is frazzled, your body is aching and all you want to do is get back to your own bed but with feat like this journey can be a depressing thought.
Personally my weekend took a turn on this trip home, I managed to pick up some sort of bug, I dont know where I picked it up but its always a risk you take when you spend a weekend in a rooms with 300 other people surrounded by not the healthiest diet of eating out and alcohol. Without a doubt the worst train journey I have ever had compromised of most the time with my head over a not so clean train toilet followed by attempting to drag my completely energy drained body from Kings Cross home. This is my 3rd trip to the UKTC and my second time coming home with a bug, maybe its a thing, The UKTC Bug and not in the good sense.
So to sum up it was once again a great weekend and spectacle for a game that I love and a yearly event that merges the best parts of this hobby in to a great 2/3 days. Besides the great competitive games with coaches who love the game as much as you do, the best painted competiton highlighting some great hobbying accomplishments and some welcoming social meetups in the evenings it still holds up as my favourite event of the year and am extremely excited to attend next year and see what that brings.
I know I bang on about this but if you have not attended yet I seriously suggest you give it a go, if your not sure its for you give it a go once and Im sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
I would like to thank the organisors as every year they do a great job in bringing something of this scale together perfectly, I cant ephasize how well it is run and in my 3 years of attending this is the first year they had any major technical issue but the way they handled it efficient and proffesional.
So until next year I will be counting down the days until UKTC starts again………………..