It was a friendly between the Bite'em'all Ravens and Craig's human team the Tsun Tsu Slammers. Starting value teams. Craig won the roll off and decided to receive. I set up 3 Thralls on the line of scrimmage and left my vampires in relative safety mid field. I didn't want to give Craig the chance to block one of them with his Ogre, even if it would probably cost me a Thrall or two.
I kicked off, and got lucky being able to setup my team again. I moved the unlucky Thrall out of the Ogres tackle zone and moved the vampires forward to apply some pressure near the mid line on the sides. It was a touch back though and Craig placed the ball on one of his Blitzers on my right side. Straight away he blitzed (with the Ogre) a hole in my side defence and ran several players through caging the ball in the process.
It was time to show Craig how good Vampires are at cage breaking. A few blocks and an Hypnotic gazes later a vampire blitzed the ball carrier and retreated to relative safety between another vampire and a Thrall:
Or so I thought. After standing up the Blitzer and marking a few more players Craig manged to pull of a brilliant Blitz from the Ogre on the vampire holding the ball. The ball bounced into a space between 3 of his players allowing him to run in a catcher and be within striking distance of the line. I was starting to feel the pressure and it was only turn 2.
But all was not lost. Those Ninja catchers are only strength 2, all I had to do was blitz with a Thrall. That Thrall would be number 10 above. I stood up the vampire (near the midline) I forgot about last turn and hypnotised the nearby lineman. I got another assist on the Blitzer marking the vampire and the Thrall blocked. This freed the vampire up to hypnotise the Ogre. Without the Ogre tackle zone I was able to stand the vampire next to the ogre and hypnotised the Blitzer marking the Thrall. The Blitz was successful and I had the ball again. Another Thrall came in to support.
Craig attempted to block the vampire with is ogre but only managed to knock both of us down for a quick turnover. This enable me to move the all up the field to the vampress waiting on the line of scrimmage.
Craig tried his hardest to stop me by bringing back a few linemen to take out the Thralls and so pressurise the vampire:
But an easy blitz later and the vampress was free to slowly bring it home for the Ravens in turn 7. The drive was broken. This was looking promising. For Craig's final turn of the half 3 Thralls were used as punch bags, everyone else stayed away cowering in the corner (I did offer to play like a gent but Craig insisted I play to win the friendly).
2nd Half and me to receive. Another touch back allows me to give it to a vampire waiting on my left wing. Kick off grants us both an extra re-roll. The Ravens were heavy weighted for a drive down the left side. I started to push forward on turn 1. Craig reacted exactly how I expected and most of his team (bar the weak catchers and a few linemen) moved in to try and stop me. That's when I sprung the trap. A hand-off to a vampire 6 squares away allowed him to run deep into the Human half away from the left side and the nasty fight that was brewing. Two unmarked Thralls moved in to support and it looked like an easy second touchdown was on the cards.
Then my luck changed. Craig's Blitzer managed to pull off the unthinkable. A 2 dice blitz against my vampire. I would choose. Sorted! He rolled 2 defender stumbles. Great. Without any dodge skill my vampire fell and dropped the ball. This allowed a lineman to pick up the ball and throw it to an unmarked catcher in my half. With a movement of 8 and 2 GFI rolls he scored the equaliser. Ergh!
Time to try again. No luck with another touch back I had to pick up the ball with a vampire, hand off to another and pass the ball to a vampire waiting to blitz his way through the Human line. It all worked. Again Thralls and the remaining vampire were moved in to support.
After an easy block from the Ogre against the Thrall, Craig moves in his other players to surround my players. But he can't get that all important assist in against the ball Carrier. Knowing that I can easily dodge out of this situation Craig's left with no alternative but to Blitz the ball carrier with the unmarked Blitzer (above). Another 2 dice block in my favour. And guess what. Another 2 defender downs are rolled. History repeating itself. The catcher picks up the ball and runs it to the thrower. With the other catcher in my half I was again sweating. My only saving grace was that the Thrower had already moved. So I had 1 turn before that inevitable long pass to the waiting catcher.
With so many human players now between my vampires and the ball carrier this was going to be difficult. The easy things to do were to move in a Thrall to mark the waiting catcher. But a Blitzer was also available for Craig and I just couldn't get to him. So what to do. Just out of shot above is a Thrall next to that human lineman. He was to be our saviour. I couldn't risk the dodge out so moved a vampire in to hypnotise the linemen. I could then Blitz the ball carrier. It worked. What I wasn't expected though was for the Thrall to catch the dropped ball in 2 tackle zones. Doh! You can just see him in the distance below.
I still had my other players to move though and tried to reinforce the position. Craig attempted to block but again found himself on the floor and it was a quick turnover. The Thrall scored. It was 2-1.
Craig had 3 turns left to try and equalise. It started well for him. He gained another re-roll. He held the ball back in his half with his thrower while his Blitzers and catchers made a dash for the touchdown line.
I quickly moved in to Blitz one of the catchers and hypnotise the other. Craig was feeling the pressure. Some of my vampires were homing in on the thrower. He moved him to the safety of the Blitzers. My vampress moved in to mark the Blitzers. With the only catcher within striking distance hypnotise Craig wold have to move him before the pass could be attempted. In the next turn he did this. But I had enough players close by to ensure that Craig would either need a long bomb or a long pass in a tackle zone. So basically a 6. Here he is working it all out...
It was however his only option. And lady luck was shining on him. My iterception attempt failed, the long bomb was accurate. My face dropped. Until this happened:
Rescued b GIMP dice. The catcher failed the easy 3+ catch and the ball ends up n the crowd and into the safety of my vampire countess' arms.
I blitzed that catcher pushing him into the crowd. I didn't want to have to worry about the same thing happening again. Craig had one turn left and the only player close enough to score was his Ogre. He attempted one final 2 dice block in my favour on the ball carrier (it was his only choice). But as odds would dictate this tie he wasn't so lucky. With an attacker down roll the match was won!
2-1 to the Ravens.
A brilliant game of blood bowl. One of the most tactical I have played in a long time. Lots of drives were broken, several times. We were both lucky to some extent. Craig with his massive number of 2 dice blocks in my favour that went his way. Me only having to cope with 3 blood lust rolls (that I couldn't re-roll). I didn't really mention them in the report as with Thralls close-by they never caused me trouble. Only on one occasion did I KO a Thrall.
Not much in the way of blood-shed for either side. KO's for each side but that's about it. I'm guessing each team was embracing that this was a friendly match before the 2012 season starts.
But with all this considered. I still kicked ass and am looking forward to changing the current 3-0 warhammer lead Craig has on me. Roll on Thursday. The Elves will return!