Monday, April 08, 2013

Blood Bowl: Dodge Mechanics

By popular demand (one person asked for it) I'm going to take a look at how exactly dodging works in Blood Bowl. Dodging is similar to the way assisting works in that there are a couple of very logical ways in which it could work but only one of them is actually right. This makes the mechanic fairly confusing since for many people the intuitive way the rules should work isn't the way the rules actually work. With assists the complicated park is figuring out where you need to stand to give assists (standing beside your friend doesn't help; you need to stand beside the enemy). With dodging the issues comes with who makes it harder to dodge.

(As an aside, I am always more than happy to receive topic ideas. Restriction breeds creativity, or so I've been told. I wouldn't expect much if you ask for Shakespeare reviews, though. After all, I haven't even read King Leer.)

There are two components to how dodging works. When do you have to make a dodge roll at all, which is based on your current square and the style of movement, and what modifiers you have when you make the dodge roll, which is based on the destination square.

When do you have to make a dodge roll? You have to make a dodge roll when you're currently standing in an enemy tackle zone and voluntarily move to an adjacent square, with five exceptions. If you're using the leap skill, you don't have to make a dodge roll. If you're using the shadowing skill, you don't have to make a dodge roll. Note in both of those cases you have to make a different kind of roll instead, but neither of those rolls have extra modifiers based on the positioning of enemy units. If you just made a block or blitz, and you pushed the enemy back, and they don't use the fend skill then you get the option to follow up into the newly vacated space. This move is free and does not require a dodge roll. If you happen to have the ball & chain skill then you move randomly and don't need to make dodges at all. The last exception is when your opponent has tentacles and you fail the tentacles roll. Then your action ends, you can't move, and you don't need to make a dodge roll.

Ok, you're moving and have to make a dodge roll. What do you need to succeed? The most frequent dodge is going to be into the open field, with no nearby enemy units. Doing this requires a successful agility roll, with a free +1 for making a dodge. So if you have 3 agility this type of dodge requires you to roll a 3+ on the d6. If you have 4 agility you only need a 2+. 2 agility needs a 4+, which actually isn't super unlikely. It's not something you want to count on by any means, but it's not impossible either.

The typical extra modifier on a dodge roll is going to be for dodging into one or more enemy tackle zones. For every tackle zone into which you dodge you get -1 to your die roll. The key here is that it's how many tackle zones you're dodging INTO, not how many you're leaving. It just took one tackle zone on the initial square to force the dodge, any extra tackle zones on the initial square are irrelevant.

Compare the two set-ups in the above picture. Your moving unit is marked by the M. The enemy units are marked with the Es. You're trying to move into the target square marked T. On the left you start off in 5 tackle zones, but the target square has no tackle zones on it at all. So if you have 4 agility you're looking at needing to roll a 2+ to dodge away. Pretty good odds! On the right you start off in a single tackle zone, but the target square is in 5 enemy tackle zones. This means your dodge will get -5. So even with 2 agility you'd need to roll a 7! Fortunately you auto-succeed on a 6 so there is a chance you'll succeed, but it's really not very good at all.

There are also a ton of skills which can modify the way dodging works, both positive on you and negative on enemy units. And to make things really wonky, the negative skills on the enemies actually count on the enemies around the initial square, not the destination square!

First, what are the positive skills you can have yourself to make dodging easier?

  • Two Heads - This mutation gives you +1 on every dodge roll.
  • Dodge - This agility skill lets you reroll a failed dodge roll without using a team reroll.
  • Break Tackle - This strength skill lets you substitute your strength for your agility on a dodge roll. On someone like an Ogre who has 3 more strength than agility this will give you +3 to your dodge roll! Note you can only use break tackle once per turn, but you get to wait to use it until you need it. So if you roll a 6 on your first dodge in a turn you can use break tackle on a second dodge.
  • Stunty - This exceptional skill (only people who start with it can have it) means you actually ignore all enemy tackle zones around the target square. So a 3 agility guy with stunty always needs a 3+ to dodge. (Well, unless one of the negative skills below comes into play...)
  • Titchy - This exceptional skill (only found on snotlings) means you get +1 to dodge rolls. (It also means enemies ignore your tackle zones around target squares!)

How about negative skills the enemy can have? Remember, these skills have to be on the guys around the initial square, not the target square.

  • Tackle - This general skill turns off the dodge skill. So you don't get that free reroll on a failed dodge if you're trying to dodge away from an enemy with tackle.
  • Prehensile Tail - This mutation gives the dodger -1 to his roll when he dodges away from you.
  • Diving Tackle - This agility skill is interesting. When someone dodges away from someone with diving tackle they can choose to fall down in the initial square in order to give the dodger -2 to his dodge roll.  Note that you get to see the result of the roll before choosing if you want to fall down or not. Also note that even if they then choose to reroll they have to take the -2 on the new roll as well.

When it comes right down to it there are three things you need to look at before making a dodge roll. Are you currently in at least one enemy tackle zone? Do those enemies have anti-dodge skills? (Tackle, prehensile tail, diving tackle, tentacles, maybe shadowing.) How many non-titchy enemies have tackle zones around the destination square?

Often I'll see people throw extra guys around a ball carrier, for example. Sometimes they'd be better off putting those guys a little further away to force them to dodge into more tackle zones. Making them dodge out of more tackle zones doesn't do anything useful! On the other hand, putting only one guy on the ball carrier means the enemy team can just blitz them away. So there's no simple rule and often you will want multiple guys on the ball carrier. You just want to also think about blocking the dodge routes too!

One final situation worth considering...

You're the M, and you really want to stand in square T. Maybe you have guard and want to stand beside the bottom E so someone else can blitz him. I sometimes see people move straight from M to T. The problem there is you're dodging into 3 tackle zones and therefore knocking 3 off of your die roll. Instead, you should dodge into square T2. That dodge will have no negative modifiers. And now that you're not standing in any enemy tackle zones you can move safely from T2 to T without having to roll any dice at all! Woo!

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