Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blood Bowl: Break Tackle

A few weeks ago my chaos dwarf team had its second bull centaur, Mr Boddy, gain his first level. I rolled doubles and asked on Facebook what people thought I should take. I also looked up the bull centaur info on bbtactics. Duncan thought I should go with dodge because he'd be a better player with it in the long run and he can only get dodge when he rolls doubles. (And probably not on double 6s either, so there's only about a 14% chance of it happening. Better get it now when you have the option.) Steve thought I should skip the double and take break tackle. The bbtactics site had a few opinions but mostly seemed to think skipping the double and taking break tackle was the way to go with a couple options for block instead.

I ended up grabbing block because I like to punch people. He leveled again in short order (turns out he scores most of my touchdowns) and rolled doubles again. I looked ahead, saw not too much tackle, and took dodge. Ostensibly with the plan of taking break tackle next because it combos well with it on top of making him hard to take down. And by this point it was becoming clear he was going to be my ball carrier and making desperation blitzes on him work less often seemed like a good plan.

I just played a game yesterday and got yet another level. On both bull centaurs, actually! One has block and mighty blow and the other has block and dodge. I've skipped what most people seem to think is the obvious first skill on both of them thus far. Should I be taking it now? I rolled normal skills with both of them so there aren't any super fancy options.

The thing is, I just don't get break tackle. I mean, I know what it does. By letting the player use his strength instead of his agility on a dodge roll it turns the bull centaur into someone who needs a 2+ to dodge away instead of a 4+. 2+ is something that you can reasonably expect will work most of the time. 4+ is a disaster waiting to happen. So that seems like a pretty good upgrade. It opens up more options for what the players can do on their turn. They can take shorter paths on movement by dodging by one guy in the way. They can get out of contact with people standing beside them at the start of their turn. And because you choose to use it after you see the roll you can often chain together dodges if you start off with a high number. It certainly has a game effect...

But why am I doing those things? Taking a shorter path is an interesting idea, but bull centaurs can already move 9 spaces by rolling some dice while most of my team only moves 4. Squeezing out even more movement by going in a direct path feels like it's just going to spread my team out and let either the bull centaur or the remaining dwarves get beat up. Dodging away from someone who's marking me just feels wrong too. Why aren't I just punching that guy instead?

I think it may come down to me having a different idea of how to play Blood Bowl than most people. I like punching people, getting a man advantage, and then doing things with the ball. The idea that I might want to not hit someone because I want to go blitz someone else is one that feels like it's letting me hit one fewer guy this turn. I'd rather his the guy beside me and blitz somewhere else. Injuries are a numbers game and you simply need to throw lots of blocks in order to expect lots of injuries. Sure, I'm probably getting an extra hit on someone less valuable... But a hit is a hit! If I keep not hitting the least valuable guy he keeps existing on the field taking up space and forcing me to dodge away. I'd rather hurt him and get rid of the problem.

Now, sometimes hitting someone specific is critically important. The ball carrier took off down the field and will score next turn or something like that. I find that as long as I keep my team together I can probably free up a bull centaur to go blitz him down anyway. And if I have to dodge away... I'm still going to succeed 75% of the time without break tackle! That's not great, but it's not terrible. Besides, mostly I'm happy to let my opponent score if it means I get to hit more dudes. I'll just score twice myself!

That said, there is power in having the option to make that roll 97% of the time instead of 75% of the time. It's also quite useful to be able to easily threaten a score from mid field even if someone gets in the way. I like standing in a pile with the ball a little ways into the enemy territory while just punching people who come to try to take the ball away. A common tactic is to try to bog down movement so the 'cage' can't get close to the end zone, but having a guy who can move 9 spaces means I don't have to get very far before it's far enough.

What are the other options? Well, the mighty blow guy can make a case for wanting all of tackle, frenzy, guard, and piling on. I do have 6 guys with tackle, but they all move 4 spaces. Having one high movement guy with tackle and mighty blow feels like it can potentially do some real damage. I miss having a copy of frenzy on the team. I love being able to threaten the sideline push because it forces the enemy to play in a smaller area and my 4 movement guys like having less space to cover. Frenzy can be a little scary to use, but on a 4 strength guy it feels like it could be gold. Frenzy is also rough on positioning at times, but with just one copy of it I should be able to make it work. Guard is just a good thing to have. I have 7 copies of it already, and it really helps make with the punching. Piling on is something I'd rather have on a dwarf with claw but I have yet to roll doubles on any of those and they do all have guard now. I don't like having both piling on and guard on the same person, so this bull seems like the place to put it if I'm going to take it.

Dodge guy wants guard if he doesn't want break tackle. In my last game I was in a situation where dodge guy had the ball and was beside three enemies with guard. If he'd had guard it would have been trivial to break him free. As it was I had to put a lot of effort into pushing them all away and had to skip a good blitz elsewhere to do it. Of course break tackle probably would have solved the problem 97% of the time, too? Some people also think sure hands should go on the primary ball carrier but I have 4 rerolls and am more than happy to use them picking up the ball. Sure hands doesn't make you any better at picking up the ball it just conserves rerolls and I'm fine with my reroll usage most of the time. It does also protect against strip ball, which could be nice I guess.

My gut feeling for now is that I should take break tackle on the dodge guy. Maybe it will open some plays up that I'm not seeing now because I don't have it, and it will make the turn 8 final push for a score a little safer. I don't think I'm going to be dodging away much just for the sake of dodging away because I hate 1 in 6 chances of failure. Mighty blow guy I'm not sure about, but I think there are too many good options to take the second break tackle. Piling on is top of the list but I'm going to sleep on it and maybe take frenzy instead. I do like pushing people out of bounds... And once I see the order of my opponents in the second half of the season I might decide I really need tackle or guard right away?

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