Half Time CH3: Kill it with Shire

By Rutskarn Posted Tuesday Oct 13, 2015

Filed under: Lets Play 37 comments

The locker room before the big whoops-the-jerseys-were-the-wrong-size rematch against the High Seas Surfilletes. I get a glimpse of my own eyes in the medicine cabinet mirror. They look like they belong to another manâ€"another dead manâ€"a dead squidâ€"a dead squid whose whole life slipped off the road down a gully of misery and substance abuse stemming from having really gross eyes.

“Howdy, friend.”

It’s the opposing team’s coach leaning in our doorway, picking his fingernails. He’s got a big fat stupid elf grin on his slender handsome brilliant elf face. “Ready for the big match?” he coos.

“Yup,” I say.

“Halflings, huh? How’d you get stuck with these guys? I mean, it’s cute that you think you can win and all, but let’s be honest with ourselves. Your little fat halflings? Against my trained, professional elves? You’re just going to get walloped again and you know it.”

“Yeah. That’s what’ll happen.”

“Tell you whatâ€"how about a friendly wager? If your little fatboys win out there today, somehow, I’ll…”

“Nah.”

“…I’ll…sorry? Did you just say…”

“No.”

“Oh. Okay.”

He looks puzzled and leaves the locker room. I finish shaving and slowlyâ€"almost inaudiblyâ€"I begin to hum.

“What’s the plan, coach?” pipes Polo Broccoli as the team gathers breathlessly–they had to climb some stairs to the field.

“Well,” I say, “as far as tactics go, try not to let the elves get past you this time.”

“Okay! What if they do?”

“I dunno. Do whatever seems appropriate. Maybe you picked up a rock in your shoe. Maybe your leg’s starting to cramp so you need to do some stretches. Maybe you’ve been meaning to write a letter home.”

“Are you okay?”

“Let’s play some Blood Bowl, guys.”

The elves will receive the first kickoff. My boys punt the ball right past their line and into the hands of somebody who evidently has trained to play this game and has hands correctly shaped to hold a ballâ€"I checked the rules and it’s not only legal, but encouraged. My boys swarm up on their line in a loose scramble, but the elves hop effortlessly by them. It’s like trying to catch a handful of sand in a butterfly net.

Huh.

A pass happens. The details aren’t important, but my boys are left stumbing after a windmilling collection of cleats and a wake of victorious sod. The elves have scored again. Okay.

“Okay,” I say.

Okay.

Our turn. Elves kick the ball past our lines, and on an impulse, I throw out a few quick gestures to such teammates as are paying attention. The gestures mean “we’re screwed,” but that’s just the physics of language and connotation at work there; every gesture and phrase I’ve used more than once this past month has meant that. These gestures also mean, “tighten up.”

Pervince goes for the ball, because of course he does, and scoops it off the turf with a grunt of exertion. He looks around for the elves that have not, just yet, materialized to kill him. Small victory there, which Polo Broccoli takes advantage of to backtrack-waddle to support his flank. Meanwhile, I’m seeing that keeping my boys scattered around would have definitely been the wrong tactical call; I’m seeing that because some of them did stay scattered around, and the elves are finally punching through them to go kill Pervince.

Death clears his throat, tries to figure out where he's seen Pervince before.
Death clears his throat, tries to figure out where he's seen Pervince before.

Pervince yelps as four bruisers rip furrows in the grass toward himâ€"and shunts the ball over his shoulder to the startled Polo. Nobody’s tagged Polo yet–he books it for the treemen. He’ll go down in three seconds if I can’t keep that zone clear–and I know I can’t.

The treemen start battering away at the more eager elf linemen. I see one elf try to dart past a branchâ€"and launch backwards at high speed as a huge length of oak catches him under the chin. All the way under. My treeman killed a guy.

It’s amazing; field a team of halflings and treemen and suddenly nobody wins.

Especially not me yet, because Polo is looking pretty lonely with the ball in his mitts and the elves who aren’t hung up on the treemen are pouncing in for the kill. I can’t keep them all at bayâ€"one sprints up from behind Polo and launches into a flying kick that knocks the ball out of Polo’s hands into the grip of an elf thrower, are you kidding me? Is that a move they practiced? Was that even practical? How high does “winning” rank on their priorities list against “instilling deep-seated racial self-loathing in halflings worldwide”?

“Treeman!” I yell suddenly. “Branch him!”

My treeman clocks the offending lineman on the jaw and the ball pops up into the grip of another elf. But suddenly this elf is not having a party with all of his elf buddies. Suddenly this elf has the ball and he has a bunch of winded halflings in front of him, and granted, they are blinking because this has never happened beforeâ€"shit, this moment is only going to last about five secondsâ€"

“GET THEM, YOU LARDBAGS!”

And when that gets through the sourdough breadbowls they’ve got for skulls, my boys raise an uneasy cry and blitz. Their fat legs scramble. Their bellies heave with sudden effort. There are a couple elves standing nearby, but the low-centered onrushing mob of blubber keeps them from aiding their ball carrier friend, who’s starting to look a little lonely himself. The thrower’s eyes dart across the field looking for a clear pass, and at the last minute his arm blurs and the ball slides left into the hand of one of his blitzersâ€"who is also on the wrong side of my halfling wall. Who haven’t stopped running.

It’s a suicide charge. Everyone knows that. That’s why the elves don’t have their footing and can’t stop Polo, careening like a meatball meteor, from stripping the ball from a suddenly concussed blitzer. The elves are popping with outrage. They scream onto Polo’s heels and block him from running, but Polo hands the ball…

“BOTH HANDS!” I yell.

…successfully to his teammate Sancho, who zags out of the melee and starts huffing into enemy lines. He has a clear run to the end zoneâ€"but he has little legs. And the elves are really, really mad now.

(heavier breathing)
(heavier breathing)

One elf plunges out of nowhere. Another elf plunges out of nowhere. There’s ten seconds left on the clock. Sancho looks up to see one of his pursuers about to leap when Polo sacks him from behind. Sancho tucks his little head down…

And the other elf drags his ass down to the pitch in a howling tumble.

Half time.

Muddy, bloody, hungry, miserable halflings sitting on splintered benches. Elf vendors passing ale flagons to the thin, but not totally grouchy, crowd. Elves on the other side tactfully determining who gets the dead player’s orange slice.

“Okay,” I say aloud. “Speech time.”

Hands go on ears.

“No, not swear words. Not exclusively. Guys, I want to talk about what happened out there.”

“I saw a brain!” squeals Milo.

“I saw my brain,” mumbles Sancho.

“You almost scored.”

The halflings look at each other.

“I’ve been watching this match from the sidelines,” I say. “I think I’ve seen a few things you haven’t. On that side there’s the elvesâ€"they’re bullies. They’re bruisers. They’ve been playing like you’re a bunch of butterball pushovers worth as much consideration as a patch of wet grass, and where they run into any obstacle, they blow through itâ€"no second thoughts. And when I look on my side, I see men playing with heart. I see men playing earnest. I see men focusing not on breaking noses, but on settling down and playing Blood Bowl.

“Well, knock it off. You guys like pizza?”

There’s a cheer.

“Alright,” I said. “If you win…sure. But I’ll take you out to pizza if you manage to kill one more elf.”

Whistle blows, halflings assemble. Ball sails overâ€"he’s kicked it just behind my front line, not far from the center. Pervince lunges into motion. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I could swear he lags a little less this time. The elves surgeâ€"but there’s no butterfly net waiting for them. Just lardy walls. There’s nowhere for his blockers to hop over, so they start knocking halflings back insteadâ€"only a couple elves fight through the mass. Pervince is squealing, but he has the ball. One, two elves dive after himâ€"one, two elves find halflings covering Pervince. And I get desperate enough to yell:

“Treeman! Throw!”

My treeman grabs Pervince by the helmet. Elves lunge to snatch the ball from him, but the stunned halfling is zipping up, up over the treetopâ€"he’s whipped back and launched down the field sharp and heavy as a catapult stone. He skips over the elf line and lands midway to the goal, burrowing headfirst into the grass. His feet twitch.

And he gets up. And he starts running, running towards the goal line. Howling elves break after himâ€"he’s only got once chance to make it. He’s got to sprint harder and faster than halflings are meant to. He’s got to risk stumbling and breaking his neck on a dive. In practice, this hasn’t worked once. I clamp my hands over my eyes.

There’s a sickening thud of heavy flesh against grass.

The crowd goes wild.

He scored.

And he needs the attention of a caterer immediately.
And he needs the attention of a caterer immediately.

The elf coach finds me that evening.

“Not bad,” he said, “for a bunch of halflings. Too bad you couldn’t stop me from scoring again.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Too bad.”

“I guess this just proves…”

“Would you like some pizza?”

My halflings are gorging themselves on stuffed crusts. The treeman they have to thank for their feast chews thoughtfully on the corner of a sack of fertilizer. The elf coach looks at my team, starts to say something. Walks away with reporters swarming him.

...
...

Yes, we lost. 2-1, in fact. We saw two touchdowns foiled at the goal line and managed one only through a lucky tree lob. And yes, maybe Milo Weatherbee had a slight fatal heart attack trying to jog across the width of the pitch during that last play. But you know something?

The crowd didn’t hate it. There was barely any booing. When I looked out thereâ€"they were talking to each other. Not shouting.

“Let’s see,” I say aloud, “if we can’t…win a game.” And this time, the word didn’t make me cry or throw up.

 


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37 thoughts on “Half Time CH3: Kill it with Shire

  1. Ilseroth says:

    If you can’t win, try to take down as many cocky elves as you can.

    1. Ravens Cry says:

      A good rule in life in general, yes?

    2. I’ll drink to that.

      For the longest time, I couldn’t square my intense dislike of elves with the fact that I own several elf forces for assorted rule-systems. And then I realised. I am totally fine with elves if I’m sending them forth to be brutally slaughtered.

    3. SharpeRifle says:

      You know what they say about elves….if you can’t beat’em…. Beat’Em!

  2. shiroax says:

    It’s posted in the wrong category, the previous button leads to Esther vs. DRM, rather than the previous installment. (Good article btw, might be worth bottom bar rotation if it’s not already in.)

  3. Christopher says:

    Well Bob, I feel a tad embarrassed

    You know what Jim? So do I.

    I mean, they might be little bags of fat and blood that have trouble climbing slight inclines…

    Who can field a sandwich but couldn’t pick up a ball if they had Nurgle Snot all over their hands…

    And have a tendency, when faced with danger, to squeal and fall over before wetting themselves.

    But that, Jim, that was some bloodbowl right there. Did you see the way that elfs head just sort of came apart?

    I did Bob, I did.

    It reminded me of a beautiful sunset. Where someones head explodes because it was hit by three feet worth of solid walnut.

    I believe that’s Oak, Bob

    Tune in next week, viewers, for a chance to win a free pair of tickets too this years Chaos Cup championship!

    Where we will definitely NOT be seeing this team!

    1. Spammy says:

      I know this has been said but it’s easy to read this in Jim and Bob’s voice. Especially since I’ve been known to provide Jim and Bob impressions when playing Blood Bowl Team Manager.

      1. Christopher says:

        I try. It’s all about the tone. They have their own character.

        That and it was ordained, seeing as how my avatar is pretty much bob in cube form.

  4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    That was hilarious. Almost enough to get me to by Bloodbowl myself.

    Almost.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    On the subject of BLOOD FOR THE BOWL GOD,TotalBiscuit and Crendor play some bloodbowl 2.What will interest some of you the most is that TotalBiscuits team has elves that are all named after wwe fighters.Gander a take:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OLnS42pO8I

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      And TB has the luck of … of a really unlucky person. And I think he is still in the Dwarf mindset so he goes too much for fighting and not a lot for Elf positional bullshit. I might be terribly wrong on the last one.

      1. James says:

        Pyrion is also in this league and playing Orks, and there is also a Chaos team so im hoping for a good few deaths this year

        1. Valthek says:

          The chaos team’s captain (Jesse Cox) has specifically stated that all he wants is to murder a few players. And Lil Skittles (Crendor’s #1 Skink) has a target the size of a croxigor painted on him. Should be a fun season!

          1. Mr Compassionate says:

            Yeah after last season it’s an achievement more important than winning. Biscuit’s already fruitlessly fouled him once and Skittles has already proven himself to be just as much a key player now as before. I’m already enjoying it even more than the first season, probably because BB2 is easier to understand so I’m not constantly trying to figure out the rules.

          2. 4th Dimension says:

            I watched Jessie’s game vs Elves and it was pain to watch him play, what with him screaming “Murderate him” while at the same time being waaaay too timid and mostly not following the silly elves once he hits them.
            We did see one prime example of Elf bullshit though, tossing and catching the ball half across the pitch and then scoring on a single turn.

      2. RCN says:

        Well, he was using Dark Elves, who rely more on shiving a couple enemy players with assassins to perform that well, since they don’t have the same professional roles of other elf teams.

        Which begs the question, why didn’t he take any assassins with him.

        1. 4th Dimension says:

          In a stream video, in which he played some games with them as a sort of preparation for the cup, he said he didn’t like the assassins since they are a one trick pony or something along those lines. I guess they can do char assassination but are otherwise crap? This begs the question if these assassins are the main draw of this faction why did he choose them?!?

          1. guy says:

            Assassins basically get to stand next to a player and roll to break armor and injure them instead of using the standard block mechanics. I don’t think they’re particularly interesting beyond that, but not particularly bad.

            1. RCN says:

              This means they can stand alone next to big guys with bad(-ish) armor and take them out more or less effortlessly, making the lives of their team much easier.

              Without the assassins, the Dark Elves are just Agility 4 guys with bad armor and no specialists outside the Blitzers. And the Assassins are not really worse than linemen, anyway. There’s no real reason to ignore them for more linemen. And heck, they’re basically the Dark Elves gimmick and I thought TB liked to use gimmicks.

              (The Dark Elves do have better armor than the other elves, though…)

              1. Grudgeal says:

                Dark elves get witch elves and runners (with Passing access), you know. They also have twice the blitzers of the other elf teams, which combined with 8 AV lineelfs makes them the bashiest elves. They play closest to humies of all the elves, although they lack some speed and strength access in return for that agility.

                Assassins to me are gimmick players, not a regular staple in the DE running/blitzing/shortpass game. If you use assassins you’re willing to spend more TV on a lower AV lineman whose ‘special ability’ has a >50% fail rate against anything fiercer than a halfling.

                1. guy says:

                  On the other hand, when it works at all it goes to an injury roll, and when it fails it doesn’t end your turn. There’s a lot to be said for a ~33% chance at a stun or more that only costs a block attempt that was probably a 1db or worse.

                2. RCN says:

                  Runners whose ability is to lose the ball efficiently, so not exactly a “regular” role.

                  And if you’re using Assassins stab people where a block would be just as good, you’re using them wrong. You’re supposed to use them against well-protected players or big guys you need a lot of support to be able to take down, which the Assassins get the take down by themselves. They’re good because they offer the Dark Elves the ability to do something elves in general are really bad at: taking out big guys and blocking threats. Heck, it is basically a foul you can perform without the danger of being penalized… and you perform it against active players. And a >50% fail rate is not that bad when you can try it every turn without consequence (a block can always give you skulls). It only needs to work once per target.

                  And since they have AGI 4 they’re just as prone to perform the usual elf bullshit…

                  1. Grudgeal says:

                    And that’s my point. When I’m man-marking with someone, which is the job of both the assassin and the lineelf, I’d take +1 AV and 20K value over MV6 shadowing and a free 73% chance to do nothing against every single big guy (which is the same chance of rolling a defender down on a 1db, or slightly less than the ~66% odds of rolling no red skulls on a -2db block, where every result where one of the dice is not a 1 will do something more useful). Especially since that 20K is better spent at team creation at, well, almost everything else.

                    Assassins are a low priority purchase for dark elves, way below the fourth blitzer, the witch elves and a runner for passing access. If you do buy an assassin, it’s at the stage you’ve already filled out your roster and your team is well-established. Dark elves play a running/blitzing game and the assassin doesn’t help with that strat in any way that a lineelf doesn’t.

                    Any stabbings your assassin do are freebies, none of your plays should in any way depend on them, and no, the ability to roll a 17% chance for a single player if he has nothing else better to do (which odds are good he does) does not help the dark elves bash any more than the treeman does for the wood elves (the treeman is a roadblock, not a casualty machine), the six movement 7 blodge pieces, two of whom have jump-up/frenzy and the other four of whom started with block do.

                    Incidentally, the purpose of the runner is for your opponent to waste his blitz if he goes for your ball carrier. Run a loose cage, your opponent has to man-mark every single elf in the cage before blitzing or risk that the ball just ends up in the hands of another ag 4 piece. Once a skill-up gives you nerves of steel (or you can just go for blodge), that runner is going to be a pest to deal with. Also, hey, another MV 7 piece and passing access for just 10K. Bargain in my book.

    2. Spammy says:

      TB and Crendor are probably the two people not from the cKnoor group that I’d trust the most on Blood Bowl. Although Crendor has lent his name to the phrase “Crendoring” which means thinking you have more turns to score than you do. So, hypothetically, not saying that this happens to everyone even though it does, you don’t move a guy in to scoring position on turn 15 out of 16 because you’re not looking at the clock and are sure you’ve got like three turns left.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        The problem with this league is that there are like only two guys in it that played BB2 extensively, while the rest have little to no experience. TB knows BB1 but is rusty as fuck. So it becomes not cheering for someone to win but cheering for the two “stars” to loose, ie. Little Skittles to become a Little Smudge.

  6. Bropocalypse says:

    Half time chapter 3 confirmed

  7. Shinan says:

    I remember an old article, maybe in a Citadel Journal about basic halfling tactics. The basic idea was that if you play halflings you are expected to lose. So if you lose it’s no big deal. But if you win your opponent is completely humiliated because halflings are supposed to lose.

    That’s how I got started with halflings. My first win came in game 16.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      So they’re hobbitual losers, then?

      1. RCN says:

        And I thought I’d never have to suffer another Hobbit pun after that webcomic with the lego figures was over.

        Guess I was wrong. And what was the name of the webcomic again?

        1. MichaelGC says:

          Dunno! Ent seen that one…

          1. RCN says:

            “Irregular Webcomics”, it seems.

  8. Grudgeal says:

    …And even as linemen for the cheapest elf team, those two elfs will cost as much to replace as six halflings. Let it never be said the little munchkins can’t play at attrition warfare under the right conditions.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      So can you get some sort of a bounty from other teams in tournaments?Because that would be an interesting way to earn cash.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        Money no, but your players earn XP for causing injuries. Basically, a player gains a level at 6, 16, 31, 51, 76, 126 and 176 XP. You’re awarded 2 XP for each injury you cause by blocking (‘death’ is an injury for this purpose), 3 XP for a touchdown, 2 XP for an interception and 1 XP for a successful pass. For some players like treemen, killing people is the only reliable way you have of levelling up.

        Also in a tournament, permanently crippling another team’s players can hurt a lot. If you can’t field 11 players, you’re forced to use untrained journeymen who can’t use rerolls properly. For some teams (especially ‘specialist’ teams like lizardmen) that can hurt. Other teams, like skaven and pro elves, are designed so they can basically field a team of positionals only and win handily, so their entire strategy is based around feeding the opponent your linemen and keeping your actually valuable players safe.

  9. MichaelGC says:

    He's got a big fat stupid elf grin on his slender handsome brilliant elf face.

    :D

  10. Sleeping Dragon says:

    “Hope… is the first step on the road to disappointment”, an old W40k wisdom I expect to be perfectly illustrated soon…

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