Plotting and Planning
This is going to be the last of my tournaments for the ‘Spring of DreadBall’ in 2013 – there may be something going on towards the end of the year, but it’s time to chill out for the summer and try some other teams out.
I think for Firestorm, I’m going to try something different. I’ve had acceptable results with the Marauders, but they suffer in that their Jacks are unable to get the full utility that a Striker can – both in losing dice and losing mobility. They have a maximum of one hex movement on a throw, and that one hex loses them a dice. A Striker on any other team can move up to four hexes (bare minimum, most teams are five or more) and that reduces their dice to that of a stationary Jack. The goblin Jack’s chances of slamming are significantly lower than of dodging, so I have been using them mostly as surrogate Strikers.
Looking at their disadvantages and considering the meta-game (Judwan and Corporation heavily in attendance in tournaments so far), I think it might be worth trying the Veer-myn. They have the same speed and distance of a Judwan, same bonuses (being Strikers) and both their Guards and Strikers can dodge well while defending the three-point strike zone. They have capable guards able to disrupt a defensive formation and open the opportunities for a 4-point strike.
I can’t work out the best combination of advances for them – extra ranks on the Strikers would be a good thing, to try and counteract their Skill of 5 (raise it to 4, get A Safe Pair of Hands, etc.) but they could also benefit heavily from coaching dice. I don’t think that cards or coaches are really too necessary, since they are accomplished dodgers (don’t need a defensive coach) and really fast (less need for the extra actions of an offensive coach or a card action). Maybe following Oli‘s pattern of four ranks on Strikers to make a copycat Judwan team, since at least one of them should get a Skill upgrade and one of them get A Safe Pair of Hands. With three players standing behind to guard the three-point strike zone, I think it might even pay to have two Strikers with two advances each – this almost guarantees that they will each get Skill 4+, and combine their upfront offense with a single Guard. Leaving three Strikers to defend the strike zone means there’ll be one Guard up front and one in reserve, so combining a Striker’s threat hex with a Sucker Punch slam won’t be as risky since if it works, I am forcing opposing Guards (the most dangerous on a non-Judwan team against this tactic) to dodge on 2 dice against a 5-dice slam. If the fouling Guard is sent off, the reserve Guard can come on and play it slightly safer for a turn or two.
Having played a couple of practice games with that setup, I think it is a winnable tactic. The three blockers at the back are not going to keep it closed forever – consistent, sustained Misdirect actions will move one of the blockers. In one practice game, it was open for a single turn and let two three-pointers through! On the other side of the board, my Guard was not performing well but I put that down to bad dice rolling. I think I need to react better to my opponent’s play style – if they are sitting on the DB1 hex, I need to keep the Guard there to put a threat hex on that spot. If they are blocking the strike zone bonus hexes, I need to get one of them open and try and get the Guard back to the DB1 hex. And if the Guard is trying to smash something that can dodge well, I need to use my forwards to threaten the target.
It was slightly disappointing, only four players turned up – Jen and myself, and Liam and Tom from the Bristol Blitz tournament at Vanguard. We were told that the top four players qualified for the nationals in Essex later this year, so congratulations to everyone just for turning up! There was plenty still to play for though…
Game 1 – Liam’s Z’zor
I was terrified – I’d never played Z’zor before, and Liam is a really strong player. I set up exactly to plan. Liam’s dice hate him though, and his players failed to score (despite trying) – I knew that Z’zor Strikers had poor skill, but I didn’t realise they had average speed (I thought they were slow). I managed to get a landslide win in about rush 11 or 12.
Game 2 – Tom’s Corporation
I hadn’t played Tom at the Bristol Blitz. but I knew that he had learned a lot from that game and to be on my guard. My skill increases were very useful, and I managed to (for the second time) get my three-pointer on the first rush. On the second, I got another one and (without realising it) had left a Veer-myn on the second ball launch hex on the off-chance of catching a launched ball on his turn. I did, and thought “oh, my best chances are for a single point, and every little helps”. I scored the point, looked up and Tom was offering me his hand. I checked the board and realised that was a landslide win in the fifth rush! I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself as we headed outside for a nice barbecue and long lunch.
Game 3 – Jen’s Corporation
Jen and I play each other all the time. On the one hand, I know everything that she will do but on the other, she knows everything I will do. And I explained my strategy in detail to her last week to try and get ideas on how people might beat it.
Once more, I got the first-turn three-pointer but Jen scored two points in her first rush – the first time I had been scored against. By rush eight, however, I got back the landslide win.
Game 4 – Liam’s Z’zor rematch
Liam had been learning how to use the Z’zor over the course of the tournament – he had beaten Jen in the second game, making great use of the powerful Z’zor Guard to keep the majority of her team on the injury shelf during the game. He took the same aggressive tactic against Tom in the third game, and me in the final game. My two powerful Strikers were put out quickly, and my Guard was killed in the first few turns. Thankfully he wasn’t any good at scoring again (the Striker’s low skill being a particular pain), and after losing one of my Striker’s to total death (and a lot of lucky Evade rolls around a Z’zor Guard with 360 vision) I pulled another landslide win in the last few rushes.
Four landslide victories and only four players – I won!
Tom came second (one landslide win, one win, one loss and one landslide loss), Liam came third (two wins, two landslide losses and Jen unfortunately came last again (two losses, two landslide losses). There’s additional report on the tournament from Pathfinder Pete who kept it all running and organised, with pictures of us all and a picture of me holding a picture of the pitch I will receive! All of our teams were photographed for the blogs – and I was ashamed that my Veer-myn weren’t finished yet. Some parts are clearly in need of some work. I’m feeling suitably guilt-tripped into getting at least one team finished this year, and I think the Veer-myn have earned the right to be it!
I was trying to work out the scores after the third game and I thought I had almost won, depending on who won Liam and Tom’s game. And I won! I get a free ticket to the nationals (as opposed to simply qualifying, it probably only saves £15) and a metal pitch with the event name and my name engraved on it. That’s going to be amazing, I was completely over the moon. There was a scaled down picture of the pitch that wasn’t terrifically clear, and be assured I will be swamping this blog with pictures as soon as it arrives.
So what’s next? Bristol Vanguard have a league starting soon and are planning another event in August, and I’ve obviously got the Nationals to look forward to November. If I’d only qualified I might have considered whether or not to go, but since I won a free ticket I’m really excited to actually go along and see how I do against more talented players than myself. Jen isn’t interested in this one – it’s a bit far to go and we’d then have to get babysitters for a whole weekend which makes things more complicated. Once the new pitch arrives, I might set up a private event too to show off and celebrate – I don’t know when yet, it’ll be nice to scale back and hit the painting/hobby side for a while. I’’l have to ramp up my practice before November though, I know that the competition will be tough!