Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Blood Bowl: Interesting League Rules

I've recently joined two leagues on FumBBL to go with Duncan's league (NWFL) I joined earlier this year. All three leagues run with very different rules and two of them are going to have some interesting decisions coming my way in the near future.

The most basic league is the 3DB Highlander league. It has the interesting twist of only allowing one of each team to exist in the league. There is one copy of each of the 24 races in the league and new players get assigned a race completely at random from one of the available races. You then have to start a team from scratch and get thrown into games. They divide the 24 teams into 3 pods of 8 based on the success of the races from previous seasons with some sort of relegation involved. I was randomly dealt the High Elf team which happened to be in the highest division. So I get to play against races that did well in previous seasons, many of which are established teams. I've already played one game and it pitted my 1000TV team against a 2060TV team. He had more cash in his treasury than my team was worth! I ended up winning 1-0 thanks solely to star player Morg 'n Thorg. I won the game, which was nice, but I didn't earn a single star player point other than the MVP which thankfully didn't go to Morg or Moranian. I also suffered two injuries but thankfully they were only miss next game results. I may well be able to win a bunch of games with this team because elves can make plays and inducements are pretty valuable but I don't know how fun the games are going to be. Such a huge team value difference right from the start is plain silly. On the plus side that was the harshest difference scheduled this season and there are 2 other fresh teams as well so there will be some balanced games too. I like playing Blood Bowl but this setup feels wonky. At the end of the season I can throw High Elves back into the pot and get a new race at random from the races other people threw away. I don't think I'll be doing that since that would involve starting over again, but if my team gets ruined and is worse than a starting team I could see doing it for kicks.

Next is the NWFL. Teams in this league also start off from scratch and can get thrown to the wolves in much the same way as above. My first team in this league joined mid season and it was a disaster. I got smushed every game. On the plus side finishing so poorly ended up giving me first pick in picking a new race. NWFL restricts races, but not as much as the 3DB league does. I was able to get Chaos Dwarves which have been awesome for me. The perfect team for my style of stacking guard, punching a lot, and scoring with a low agility dude. Starting at the start of the season was also very good because I got to play 3 games against other fresh teams to get a little building done and then get thrown in with the wolves. But the wolves are slightly defanged because NWFL has a salary cap and all established teams need to fire down to fit under the cap.

I have one game left in the regular season then somewhere between 1 and 4 playoff games. After that I'm going to have to do said cutting. The cap for next season is going to be 1750 but I'll get a 20TV bonus for winning my division and could earn another 30TV if I win my conference and 50TV more for winning the title. My team is at 1910TV right now and I'll need to cut down to 1770, 1800, or 1850 depending on how things shake out. I suspect I'll end up getting rid of most of my dirty players and probably replacing some of my dwarves with rookies. I haven't rolled doubles on any of them and losing my 8th guard in the short term is probably worth it to get another chance at claw. Not that I'd do that in a vacuum, but it's a fine way to shave off 20TV if I need to. Oddly it feels like keeping my guard hobgoblins is probably right even though they pay 30TV for guard instead of 20TV. It's harder to earn back on them because they'd need to roll doubles again and hobgoblins are really terrible in general. At least with guard they fit into my playstyle. Dirty player does too, to be fair, but I don't expect to get many bribes next season so they won't be nearly as good. Of course someone may well die in the next 2-5 games and make this decision for me!

The last league is the NBFL which is a league designed to feature higher team value teams. They have a unique setup where they run a sister league modeled after US College football and then they draft the best players from those teams into the NBFL. They then use a system of fake games where someone plays a team of snotlings against you to feed star player points onto the right players in order to let you build the drafted players for your team. It's not clear to me yet how they ensure you get the right skillups to make sure you get the double skills and stat ups and such. Maybe you just fire and rehire guys until you get the right rolls? Maybe they have some admin access to change skills? But you still have to play the feeder games so they don't have full access to edit teams so I'm not sure. I've also been told not to worry about cash because they'll funnel enough into the team to buy all the players and rerolls and stuff that I want after the draft. And every undrafted player gets to farm 6 experience so they get at least one skill.

Most teams in this league get one draft pick and they draft in reverse order of finish. New teams also get to draft 2 more players after the first draft round, and they also get to draft a bonus player from the teams that quit the league. This seems like a really cool idea. It means no team is stuck in a terrible starting position against a team worth more than twice their team value. It lets slow to start and expensive teams get rolling by getting a free skill (probably block) on every player. I've decided to give Chaos Pact a try in this league. They've always interested me but have a bit of a bad reputation because they're so abusive at low team values. (Most of the players on the team are 6/3/3/8 dudes with regular access to S/M/G/P.) On top of those linemen they also have 6 different positionals with a max of 1 per. They get a dark elf lineman, a skaven lineman, a goblin lineman, a troll, a minotaur, and an ogre. The three special linemen all get mutation access on regular rolls along with their normal stuff and the three big guys get mutations on doubles. Three big guys is a good way to have your plans go awry but it's also a good way to be huge! I like that I can get guard on most of the team with regular skills and then I can use the three special linemen to do crazy things. A 4 agility dude, a 7 movement dude, and a stunty dude! The goblin getting mutations on a regular roll is a huge deal because it'll let him get things like two heads or horns and be a real problem.

The draft will be happening in the next couple weeks and I have the 9, 34, and 43 picks in the main draft and the 2 pick in the expansion draft. So I get to build a team with 4 established players and up to 12 more guys with a single skill. What should I be looking to do? I suspect the dark elf will be easy to skill up under normal conditions anyway. I think the big thing is getting block on as many people as possible. 4 of my guys don't have general skill access on regular skills so the best way to get block on them is going to be drafting a block player for those positions. Well, the goblin probably doesn't need block? Wrestle could be interesting if I'm going to use him as a cage buster with stunty and two heads to make a 2+ dodge into a cage. But the big thing is going to be getting block on my big guys...

Unfortunately the big guy position isn't very deep. There are only 4 of them total in the main draft and not all of those 4 are interesting to me. There's a guy with block, guard, and movement who would be awesome as any of my guys. There's a guy with block, guard, and tackle who would be even better. One with guard, piling on, and multiple block who seems a little smelly. Three regular rolls (and not even good ones) is not very appealing. The last guy is break tackle, movement, and juggernaut. 2 regular skills and movement is not exciting, but on a minotaur actually isn't so bad. Juggernaut combos well with frenzy and may let me do interesting things. I'd prefer block but I can see blitzing a lot with the minotaur due to wild animal and horns so juggernaut is reasonable. I'm pretty sure taking one of the block guys for my ogre is a no-brainer with the #9 pick if they're still available. Using #34 or #43 on the juggernaut minotaur might be a reasonable thing to do too. I don't know if much is going to be on the board at #43 anyway? There are only 66 players on the board total.

The expansion draft features me in the 2 slot, but the 1 slot is a Nurgle team. He might well want a big guy with the 1 pick. There are some very sweet other players available too, so he might go a different way. There are 3 big guys in the expansion draft. A terrible one with three regular skills (guard, grab, mighty blow) but two very good ones (block, guard, movement, piling on) and (block, mighty blow, guard). Beast of Nurgle and all three of my big guys have might blow so I think we just get a SPP discount and only two skills off that last one. Block and guard is still a pretty good set of skills for a troll though! I don't know if I like the piling on guy? But to get block, guard, and a movement for a troll or a minotaur is still pretty spectacular. Putting my guy with guard on the ground makes me sad for sure but if it kills someone it may well be worth it. Though I will probably build a kill stack marauder at some point to do my piling on. Skipping the big guy here could net me something like agility, block, dodge, sure hands, and accurate or agility, block, dodge, and sidestep. Either would be fantastic on the dark elf, the skaven, or the goblin! Or a strength/agility for a marauder. Maybe strength/block/guard for a marauder instead?

Getting a 4th agility on the goblin feels like it could be really, really good. Maybe even better than blocking up a big guy. I do have three big guys and I'm probably not going to need to punch with all of them... Just getting guard on my free skill on the troll and using him as a road block is probably going to be decent enough. Goblins start with dodge so I'd get a refund of some kind too I think. I'll need to figure out how that works before I need to make that decision.

I also note that not a single player in the draft has a mutation. I guess because most teams can't make use of them? But it is rough for a team like mine that gets mutations on regular rolls. Getting a ton of skills on a player through the draft is probably going to be a worse player than one I could build on my own. The exception being big guys with block and stat boosts I guess.

Wait... Goblins count as linemen! Holy cow. I could draft the strength/agility lineman and make him a goblin. Having a 3 strength/4 agility/stunty player could be insane. He'd need to skill up again to get horns or strip ball or something but no cage would ever be safe! And I'm sure I can feed SPP to him. Ooh, that could be spicy...

I'll have to see how it actually shakes out but this whole drafting and ramping up thing is really piquing my interest. All the leagues I'm in are, actually. Blood Bowl is just really awesome!

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