Monday, March 18, 2013

Blood Bowl: Team Value Efficiency

Three months ago I posted about old guidelines for creating Blood Bowl teams from scratch for budding team designers. The guy who did the analysis basically concluded that dwarves and norse in particular are undercosted because they pay less for block than the formula dictates. In a starting team on starting team brawl this is going to make a huge difference which makes both those teams excellent teams at 1000 TV. Duncan commented on an earlier post that dwarves and norse both tail off in power as they level up. A recent thread on Facebook for my Blood Bowl league resulted in people chiming in with the same thoughts. As the coach of a high level dwarf team I'm forced to agree. It feels like the problem is that every other team, when leveled up, can replicate the starting dwarf power (most characters can get block on a regular skill roll, and do) but dwarves have a really hard time replicating other team's initial power. Dwarves have low movement and low agility so they're always going to have a hard time scoring, and they have no level up path to really get there. I'd be happier with my scoring chances if I'd rolled +1 agility on multiple blitzers and runners but I haven't gotten it on any of them. One blitzer did get +1 movement, but even that just brings him up to 6 movement.

Looking at the numbers a bit more, dwarven linemen are considered undercosted because they only pay 20k for block while every other player who starts with block pays 30k. But practically every player in the game with a normal level up also pays only 20k for block! On the other hand during player creation you only pay 10k for an extra movement (20k for specifically movement 7), but when you level up you pay 30k for it. An extra agility will cost you 20k during player creation but 40k when you level up. The 4th strength is actually worth 60k during team creation and only 50k when you level up. Any other strength is worth 30k on team creation but they all cost 50k when you level up.

Some skills only cost 10k when you create the player while they cost 20k or 30k if you level into them. Those skills are frenzy, horns, leap (3 agility or less), pass (3 agility or less), right stuff, stunty, thick skull, and throw teammate. Many of these are things you'd never dream of taking when you leveled. Frenzy, horns, and pass on a low agility dude are the only ones that I really see people take.

On the other side some skills cost 30k when you create the player. These are big hand, block, claw, dauntless, foul appearance, guard, leader, multiple block, regeneration, stand firm, strong arm, tentacles, and titchy. A pretty powerful set of skills, and some of them you can't level into. Undead teams pay a lot for regeneration, but they actually can't get it on the cheap later. Block is the big one that people can actually start with, and they all end up paying through the nose for the early power. But if you're playing the team value game, it can be bad to start with it.

There is an exception here. If your player is so expensive that they should be costed over 100k then any things they buy over 100k are half price. High elf blitzers, for example, should cost 110k when they pay 30k for block. Instead they actually cost 100k. (I guess they rounded down after halving!) So a high elf blitzer essentially only pays 20k for block. (They cost 30k more than a lineman and get +1 movement and block. Definitely a good buy!)

What this means is if you're trying to optimize the team value game you actually want to avoid most characters that start with block. On the other hand players that cost more than 100k are actually really efficient in terms of team value, so getting lots of those can be good. If you want to have frenzy then finding a player that starts with it is better than picking it up later. If you're a non-elf team that wants to pass the ball then it's cost efficient to have someone that starts with pass skill on your team. Dauntless, on the other hand, is a bad plan. You only pay 20k to pick it up from the general skill list but you have to pay 30k to start with it. Nevermind the fact that I almost never see anyone willing to spend the level on it! I've been reasonably happy with it on my troll slayers, but when you look at it closer the troll slayer had to give up an agility and an armour compared to my blitzer in order to get dauntless. That's just a bad trade! I'd much rather have the agility and armour and then use my first skill up on dauntless if I really wanted it.

There are a few other things to keep in mind. One is skill category access. It's easy to say that block costs 20k, but for some people it actually doesn't. If you don't have general skill access then it costs you 30k and you actually need to roll doubles. Anyone without general skill access would love to pay 30k to start with block! Now, no such character actually exists. If you don't have general skill access you don't get to start with block. The point is that while it's easy for me to say that anyone can just pay 20k to get the block advantage of the dwarf team it isn't completely true. Big guys and stunty guys are going to have a hard time finding block. When you look at other skill categories than general it also gets tricky. Strength skill access lets you pick up things like guard, mighty blow, and stand firm. A high elf team doesn't have any strength skill access at all, so while they can level up block to catch up a little to the dwarves they're not getting nearly as much guard or mighty blow. High elves can't realistically become as bashy as dwarves as a result, just like dwarves can't realistically become high flyers.

Another is the increasing scale for levels. Sure, you can give all of your zombies block and tackle as their first two skills. Then they're 4/3/2/8 block/tackle/regeneration for 80k compared to 4/3/2/9 block/tackle/thick skull for 70k. That's at least comparable. But their next level is going to cost them 15 SPP and they can't get strength skill access while the dwarf lineman only needs 6 SPP to level and can get guard. While the initial comparison is fairly comparable the dwarf guy is going to get better, faster. This is a huge deal at low TV, but it's also a real thing during a league as well. Guys are going to die and need to get replaced. The dwarf lineman starts off in a better place and is a much better replacement.

Finally, rerolls actually cost a different amount depending on the team. Assuming you end up with 4 rerolls a team that gets them for 50k each is going to save a whopping 80k in team value over a team that pays 70k for them. If you have someone with passing skill access you probably want to get leader for 20k to cut that down a little?

Here's the thing... I like my dwarf team, and I have fun playing them, but I also like being powerful and actually having a chance to suddenly score. I try to make plays with my dwarves, and sometimes it works, but it doesn't feel like it should work. I feel like I want to have guys with more than 6 movement, or more than 3 agility, or both. But I do like making with the punching too...

At any rate... What teams look like they might be really good for team value efficiency? The keys I'm looking for are guys over 100k, not guys with block/dauntless/stand firm, and lots of movement/armour since that stuff is way cheaper when you're just starting. Having a 4 agility is pretty cost efficient, but I don't know that I need a whole team with it. Getting down to 1 or 2 agility on linemen type guys is actually pretty hot I think. Looking a little closer, it seems sure hands sometimes only costs 10k. Every time it does, it's on a guy with 3 agility and pass which seems like a pretty good combo. I'm on the fence with strength. The 4th strength does cost 10k more than earning it via a level, but you only get it every 36 levels and it is only an extra 10k. So I feel like 4 strength guys are still quite reasonable. 2 strength guys are actually not terrible either. You burn off 30k worth of team value for a stat you might not care so much about? I guess I probably care about it an awful lot, and having 14 guys with 2 strength is really unacceptable, but I don't know if having a couple of 2 strength dudes is going to be the end of the world.

Chaos - Only pays 50k for the 4th strength on chaos warriors due to the 100k rule. Beastmen all get horns for 10k which is a blessing and a curse. The whole team gets strength and mutation access which is awesome. They all have 14 combined move+armour which is above the curve. Minotaur is one of the better big guys since he can mutate on normal rolls and can really kill people with the frenzy+claw+mighty blow combo. 60k rerolls and no passing skill access for leader.

Chaos Dwarf - Get a big discount on the bull centaurs who realistically have 9 movement and 4 strength. Dirt cheap linemen who still have 3 strength and 3 agility seem like they could be useful. Their dwarf blockers are in the same situation as normal dwarves, but they do have mutation access on doubles so they can get claw. Their minotaur can mutate, but only on doubles, which is a lot worse than the chaos one. 70k rerolls and no passing skill access for leader.

Dark Elf - Overloaded with 100k+ dudes. They have 4 blitzers which actually only pay 10k for block! Witch elves essentially get dodge for 10k. Blitzers also have 15 combined mv+ac which is way above the curve. They do pay for having the whole team with 3 strength and 4 agility, though. 50k rerolls is a bonus, and they can get leader on a normal skill.

Elf - Actually have overcosted linemen. They do make it up a little with 6 cheap 100k+ players. They also have 50k rerolls and passing skill access. I feel like I prefer the dark elf skill mix. Elves seem to have a lot of dudes with only 13 combined mv+ac, but I guess they do have 6 with 15.

High Elf - Have the same undercosted blizters as dark elves, but can only get 2 of them. They do have 4 catchers which get catch for only 10k. Their throwers seem to get safe throw for free. They have 6 guys with 15 ac+mv, but the rest of the team has 14 instead of 13 for elves. Rerolls remain 50k with passing access. Note that none of the elf teams can get strength skills on a normal roll, so none of them really get to bash.

Human - Surprisingly, also have the entire team with at least 14 ac+mv. They have 8 guys who get up to 15, which makes them the best team in this aspect thus far. Unfortunately they have no one over 100k to get that discount. At least the blitzers pay fair price (20k) for block. The throwers do get the awesome pass+sure hands for 20k total. Catchers only have 2 strength, but that does make them fairly cheap for a 8 move dude with 2 skills. Rerolls are 50k, and they can get leader. Blitzers also have strength skill access, which means they can bash a lot better than elves can.

Lizardmen - Wow. Every single player on this team has 15 combined mv+ac. Including the big guy. 7 of their players only have 1 agility which seems pretty cost effective. Skinks only have 2 strength which is a bit of a bummer, but when compared to human catchers they cost 10k less and trade catch for stunty. And lose general skill access. That's a bit of a tossup, but when your worst player is basically equivalent to one of the better players on the best team thus far... That seems pretty hot. Rerolls do cost 60k and they have no passing skill access. They have no passing game at all, to be blunt, what with most of the guys having 1 agility and the rest having stunty.

Necromantic - They have 4 dudes over the 100k mark. Wights also seem to have a pretty significant discount, as they get both block and regeneration for only 20k each. Werewolves have a whopping 16 combined mv+ac which is off the charts insane. They do have very slow linemen, but I'm not sure having reasonable 40k linemen is such a downside. Their weakness is 70k rerolls and a lack of passing access.

Norse - Werewolves seem like they should get the 100k+ discount since they cost 110k, but they actually end up paying extra for frenzy and getting no discount at all. The team as a whole seems to get block for 20k which is pretty good, but they pay 20k for pass on their thrower. They do get dauntless for only 20k for whatever that's worth. On the other hand they pay 20k for frenzy on 4 dudes. The yeti is pretty sweet. Rerolls are 60k, but they do get pass skill access. Most of the team only has 13 mv+ac, but some do have 14.

Nurgle - Nurgle warriors get a big discount for costing over 100k. Pestigors get horns completely for free. Compared to chaos these guys just seem great. Well, except they get terrible linemen and lose their apothecary. How terrible? They don't have regeneration, they do have decay, and there's still no apothecary. Rotters are just going to fall to pieces. They are super cheap though, which can certainly be seen as an upside. They have one of the better big guys since he starts with tentacles. Most of the team only has 13 mv+ac, but some do have 14. Lots of strength and mutation access. 70k rerolls and no easy passing access.

Orc - Have 4 guys with 15 combined mv+ac, and those same guys get block for only 20k and have strength skill access. The throwers pay full price for sure hands, but do get pass at a discount. The rest of the team seems pretty baseline, actually. Rerolls are 60k, but they have passing skill access. They also have the throw teammate fallback plan to score which I do like.

Skaven - The entire team has at least 14 mv+ac. 2 guys have 15. 4 guys have 16! That's silly! Their blitzers only seem to pay 20k for block. Their passers get pass+sure hands for 10k each. Their 16 movement guys even get a 4th agility for fun and profit. Sure, they give up a strength, but you can't have everything. They have a couple guys with strength access. The whole team can mutate on doubles. Rerolls are 60k, but they do get passing skill access. If you want to selectively have 4 agility this really seems like the team to run.

Vampires - Wow. Vampires are costed out at 170k but only actually cost 110k. You can get 6 of them. They have agility and strength skill access. Their linemen are overcosted which is sad and probably makes up some of the difference. But overcosted is still only 40k, so you can get lots of them. Which is good, since vampires have a drawback which makes them eat their friends. Rerolls cost 70k and they don't have passing access. It feels like the numbers make these guys really efficient, but they require a whole other way to play. But that way to play could be pretty fun... Vampires have 14 mv+ac, thralls have 13, so they're pretty good there.

Wood Elf - 6 dudes with 15 mv+ac, the rest of the team has 14. Except the tree I guess, if you buy him. They have a bunch of undercosted dudes. Catchers seem to get sprint for free, but do only have 2 strength. Wardancers somehow get block, dodge, and leap for 40k total. Rerolls are only 50k and they get passing access.

Ok, what teams look like they could end up really cost efficient? Humans, dark elves, necromantic, and nurgle look pretty sweet. Lizardmen and vampires seem like they're really, really cost efficient but require completely different ways to play. I've already started a lizardman team and they seem awesome. I may try a vampire team out. Skaven actually look like they might be the best from a team value efficiency point of view.

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