Thursday, April 18, 2013

Blood Bowl: Catch vs Diving Catch

There are two different agility skills that help one catch the ball. They do it in different ways, so I was wondering which you should get first. Well, and if you even want to get both of them or not. And in particular I wanted to look at which one a loner would want to have since my human team often passes the ball to an Ogre for fun and profit. So what do those two skills (catch and diving catch) do?

Catch seems really easy. If you try to catch the ball, and you fail, you can reroll it without using a team reroll. This actually has more play than it initially seems. When I look at the 'free reroll' skills I generally find myself thinking about how often I even make that roll and how often my team uses up their team rerolls. My dwarf team, for example, has sure hands by default. But if they didn't start with it, I don't know that I would take it. I may pick up the ball once or twice in the game, and most of my rolls are so consistent that I rarely need to reroll. Catch has some interactions above and beyond just saving a reroll, though. For one thing, you can't use a team reroll on the other player's turn. So if you're trying to intercept the ball and you have catch you get to roll twice. Sweet! Bouncing balls also count as catches, so if the ball comes loose from a cage and starts bouncing around your guy with catch gets 2 chances to get the ball. I don't use team rerolls on these if it happens on my turn because generally the guy is in a tackle zone and it isn't a turnover if it fails, but it's obviously awesome to get a second roll before bouncing it again. Catch also works on hand-offs, but I suspect hand-offs will often have a team reroll handy. Another corner case is going to be on dump-offs, if you happen to have that skill on your team. Dumping off to a guy with catch gives him two chances to catch the ball. Also in the loner case, you only get the team reroll half the time, but you get the catch reroll every time!

Diving catch has two pieces. The first piece is when a ball lands near you, but not in your square. Typically this will be on an inaccurate pass but it could also happen on a kick-off. It does not work on a bouncing ball. If the ball lands beside you then you can roll to catch it as if it had landed on you. So you use the enemy tackle zones on your current space, not on the space where the ball lands. This mechanic won't come up very often unless you happen to take the hail mary pass skill since most passes tend to result in either a fumble or an accurate pass. If it is an inaccurate pass then apparently you're looking at a 42.16% chance of diving catch working. That's not great, but it isn't terrible. And it gets better if you have a bunch of diving catch guys in the area. The second piece of diving catch is a flat +1 to your die roll if you're trying to catch an accurate pass. That's pretty sweet, but it only applies to a pass, not a hand-off or a bouncing ball or a kick.

So, which is better? I guess that's going to depend on which situation you often find yourself in.

Hand-off: Catch is the clear winner here, since it actually does something. On the other hand if you're doing a hand-off you're not rolling many dice, so maybe you'll have a team reroll to use. I guess you're probably only handing off under a time constraint and therefore might be making some go-for-its later in the turn too, or maybe you had to reroll to pick the ball up in the first place. I think I'd probably rather have sure feet than catch, or sure hands on the other guy, but on stunty guys that may not be a realistic option.

Bouncing Ball: Catch is the clear winner here too. Actually catching a bouncing ball when a cage goes down is quite strong. It actually seems like having the corners of your cage with catch could be useful. But for most teams I suspect you'd rather have the corners of your cage with diving tackle, or side step, or guard. Catch seems cool, and is better than diving catch in that it does something, but I don't want to take either one.

Actual Pass: Catch gives you the free reroll, and since you're also throwing at least pass dice this turn you may not actually have the team reroll available. Diving catch gives you +1 to your roll. If you have the team reroll available then diving catch is the winner. Your overall odds of catching the ball go up since you get two chances with +1 instead of two chances without +1. If you don't have a team reroll then you can either have two chances at even or one chance with +1. At 2 agility you have 75% with catch and 67% with diving catch. At 3 agility you have 89% chance to succeed with catch and 83% with diving catch. At 4 agility you get no benefit from the +1. With catch you have 97% chance with catch and 83% with diving catch. So with no team reroll around catch is between 6 and 14% better. With a team reroll around diving catch is 14, 8, or 0% better. If your thrower has sure hand and pass, as many do, then diving catch just seems right since you're likely to still have the team reroll around, at least if you have 2 or 3 agility on the catcher. With 4 agility, or if you don't really have a passer, then catch is better. But if you don't have a passer are you really going to be passing with any regularity? Probably you don't want either one in that situation.

Inaccurate Pass: Catch will only work around 4% of the time when you're targeted with an inaccurate pass. Diving catch will work 42% of the time. One of these numbers is way better than the other one! If you're often throwing inaccurate passes then diving catch is going to be way better than catch. Inaccurate passes are a function of how far you throw the ball and how high your agility is. Having a higher agility makes it less likely you'll throw an inaccurate pass. If you fail, it will likely be a fumble. Having passing skills (accurate, strong arm, or hail mary pass) will work to increase your inaccurate passes by reducing your fumbles. A team with a 3 agility passer and a passing game is going to see a number of inaccurate passes. (Throwing into the -1 band will have 2 fumbles, 2 inaccurate passes, and 2 accurate passes. The -2 band will have 3 fumbles, 2 inaccurate passes, and 1 accurate pass result.) An agility 4 thrower will have one more accurate pass and one fewer inaccurate pass. An agility 2 thrower will have one more inaccurate pass and one fewer accurate pass. So I can actually see a case for a Khemri team, for example, going the diving catch route instead of the catch route if it wanted a passing game. (HINT: It doesn't want a passing game, but sometimes people are crazy.) Hail mary pass turns every throw into 1 fumble and 5 inaccurate passes, at super long distance. I think this might be a legitimate game plan for teams like halflings, goblins, or maybe even lizardmen.

So, which would I want to have? I feel like I have decent reroll management skills (or maybe I just buy too many of them) so I like the way diving catch looks. Ok, I don't actually like the way either of them look. Even for my Ogre, if I get lucky and roll doubles, he will be taking block or dodge or pro. But my lizardman team is stuck with agility skills on the skinks and I feel like diving catch is a better choice there. I don't hand off very often (if I have time and space I'll hand off to a saurus) and if I'm going for a miracle play I'd want diving catch instead. Especially since my passer is apt to have 1 agility! Inaccurate passes ho!

I want to make a hail mary pass team. Maybe I should play goblins in some league and try to hook up the bomber with hail mary pass and pick up diving catch on the loser goblins!

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