Half Time CH10: Ice Scream

By Rutskarn Posted Wednesday Dec 2, 2015

Filed under: Lets Play 37 comments

In cheap novels and really good ones, snow symbolizes new beginnings. It’s art imitating life; there’s a fresh snow on right now and I’m excited to see what kind of new start I’ll get without the use of any of my fingers and toes. Old people liked to talk about the sorts of snows you didn’t get anymore; well, this is the sort of snow you don’t get anymore. I’m proactively nostalgic for carping on about this blizzard for the last few decades of my life.

“And not only did it freeze my next two bowel movements solid, boy, you should have seen what it did to my team of halflings.”

“What’s a halfling, grandad?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t know about them. Half their species got wiped out when I tried to pit them against those amazons.”

An amazon team is built to the same basic dimensions as an elf team: thrower, catchers, linemen, heavy hitters. The difference is that to an amazon team, hitting heavy is less of a trade and more of a lifestyle. A shoulder check from a careless amazon grandmother has the same stopping power as a plummeting elevator full of halflings, and about the same halfling survival rate.

For once, I keep my reservations about this match vis-a-vis the average amazon physiology, the rude assembly that is a halfling, to myself. Because Pervince has been talking with my boys, and man, have they been trying lately. Training real hard. Eating strategically. Trying without shame, which is unfortunately more or less required. My boys haven’t lost their Eye of the Tiger, but that’s a lot less intimidating glowering six inches above the snow from either side of a set of Big Moot earmuffs. How was that going to work, anyhow?

“What do you figure,” I say to my assistant coach, “that’s about two feet of snow out there?”

“Oh, no, sir, not quite that much.”

“Well, anyway–“

“It’s technically more like 22 inches of snow and 2 inches of ice.”

“Is there any way we can use that to our advantage?”

“Oh, yes, absolutely. We take this as a sign from the Gods and resign immediately.”

I rub the thin strip of nose-bridge between my scarf and hat. “Look–I know I make cynicism look fashionable, but you are talking to the man currently using the Clean Cup to mix dirty martinis. You really think we just got lucky?”

“Well. Yeah.”

“…could you not?”

“But you do?”

“Yeah, but I’m allowed. I have to. After all, I’m the one who…”

The whistle blows. Oh, damn–I’m supposed to be watching this part.

They’ve just kicked off. Pervince thrashes through the snow to the ball and has it up in his arms, and his legs pumping, like pudgy panting clockwork–and like an arboreal valet outside a tiresome party, the treeman is waiting for him. The net of eager amazon warriors doesn’t get time to cinch before he’s up and over into the blizzard. And then he’s tumbled to a flaky landing–he rolls out of the snowdrift, jukes the startled midfielder, and barrels for the end zone. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the little fat bastard had something to prove. And he does–something dark and intuitive and bitterly hilarious. Pervince hits a patch of ice and puts all of his accumulated momentum into the serious business of eating shit. An amazon thrower snatches the ball out of his stunned grasp.

The rest of my team stuffs their lungs full of freezing air and starts trying to break around her defenders, but her tactics are changing up–now that she has the ball, a line of catches forms out of nowhere and presses through my sudden gaps. The thrower starts to run the ball–

Pervince is up like last night’s Big Moot and hacks the thrower down into the snow. He grabs the ball back before anyone can sort out the physics and hobbles back over the line. So it’s a touchdown after all, earned by the skin of his piestained teeth. He gets up from the snow and trots by me, wiping something from his shiny beet-red face that could be sweat or blood–I can’t even tell.

Well. That was a hell of a start, anyway–a halfling knocking an amazon on her ass. This was looking like it might be one of those surprising matches after all.

Surprise! It wasn’t.

“Halfling injury list?” The Anachronism Times reporter cracked his hoarfrosted notes apart. “Yeah, let me see. By the end there was…three of ’em. What? No. I mean three of ’em not carried off the field.”

I’m sitting on the bench with a mug of hot chocolate–whoops, now it’s warm chocolate–brisk chocolate–colder than papa winter’s ass hairs chocolate. Before me is an actual ice rink of halfling blood, and frozen onto and into it is the majority of my team. Sancho. Milo. Dudo. Halfred.

Pervince Potatoe.

All of them went into one side of the Amazon team as halflings. They’ve come out the other side miniature paincicles. They’re all coated in ice, which is good, because I didn’t see much they didn’t need to put ice on. It’s one big benumbed moaning halfling sculpture.

“If anyone can hear me,” I say, “we tied. Somehow.”

There’s a sussuration of faint cheers, whimpers, and demands for figgy puddings.

“Welcome to the bigger leagues, people. It’s going to get worse before it doesn’t get better. Just don’t learn to like it.”

“We’ll win next time,” says Pervince. And you know–I think he mostly believes it.


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37 thoughts on “Half Time CH10: Ice Scream

  1. Rutskarn says:

    Video of the match is uploading AS I WRITE THIS. Unless something went wrong, it should be available on my YouTube channel.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Surprise!Something went wrong?

      1. MichaelGC says:

        All good now – must have been rendering or whatever at the speed of a halfling blitz:


        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          So,you like to receive,eh?I guess that explains why Mumbles has nicknamed you Buttskarn.

        2. Grudgeal says:

          Oh my lord. The AI is just…

          Does anyone still want to argue that the AI can play this game? At all?

          1. Jonn says:

            If you count ‘cheating’ as ‘playing’, absolutely.

            Actually there are mods and instructions on how to change values to make the AI smarter. Good for game modes where they aren’t given infinite money and a bunch of starting SPP, also good if you are a skilled player with a built up team. Not so good if you are trying to get a slow growing team started.

            Thinking further, a question regarding (fake) difficulty and AI. How far should game mechanics be bent to let the AI pose a challenge?

            In blood bowl the AI either straight-up knows what each roll will be, or has a prediction system, letting it get away with absurdly risky plays by knowing upcoming dice rolls. It also seems to ignore smart plays because it functionally knows if it will roll a 1, and does something else.

            Assuming the latter, for the game to be skill level vs skill level you would need to be a statistician in addition to knowing how to play the game well.

            Do other people find that acceptable for a (potentially) challenging experience? Or would you just call that a cheating AI and look for multiplayer games instead?

            1. galacticplumber says:

              Look for multiplayer. In a supposedly fair fight the enemy should have access to the same or equivalent tools to me. Give it that smart AI mod that was just mentioned if it’s any good and remove its free SPP and roll predicting bullshit.

          2. Lachlan the Mad says:

            Bad though the AI is, I’ve never seen it play anywhere near this bad. Taking a very, very wild guess; I think that the AI chose to never pass because of the snowy weather increasing risk of dropping the ball. Of course, a human (or a good AI) would never outright not pass if the snowfall was stopping them; they’d just be more cautious about it.

    2. Ivellius says:

      Ruts, you have to have 3 people on the line of scrimmage at kickoff and no more than 2 in each of the side areas. I cringed a little when I saw you stacking the little lardbellies on the line after your first score.

      Is there a reason you don’t use the manual camera on the opponent’s turn?

      You only get the bonus “ringers,” as you call them, at the beginning of a game. Once it starts you don’t get more if, say, you’re playing halflings and you get 10 of them in the injury box.

    3. Jonn says:

      Some UI advice: while in-game, press g for grid of tackle-zones, and n to toggle through name, type, player number, SPP stuff. Second, you’ll get more of an idea what’s happening if you skip out of the auto-camera (press escape when it’s active).

      Bottom left, above the chat log, you can change to results to see what was rolled, selected, etc. including information on how high a roll was required to succeed. Easier to read if, from main menu, you go to options and change the transparency option.

      Some more general info follows, skip if you don’t want help.

      The way tackle zones work: you can move from a space with no tackle zones into one with tackle zones freely, but leaving a tackle zone triggers the dodge attempt. The attempt is 1 point harder per player whose tackle zone you will enter – that is, dodge from a tackle zone space into another tackle zone space – with exceptions. If the dodging player has stunty or titchy, additional tackling players do not modify the difficulty. If a titchy player is attempting to tackle, they do not contribute a -1 modifier to the difficulty.

      There are a bunch of skills that can affect tackle zones and dodging. You can read more on the mouse over description, or in the manual – for steam copies, base of the install directory.

      Inducements: just compare the team values, the difference is given to the lesser valued team as free petty cash for that match only. Other than adding enough to get the halfling master chef, it’s better value to not add to petty cash until you have max rerolls, players, gear, etc.

      1. Den Store Frelser says:

        Rules stuff:
        Regarding petty cash, the amount you spend here actually adds to your team value for the match. What happened here was that you went from 160k below them to 140k below them with 20k in cash, then got the 140k extra due to the difference. You have to spend more petty cash than you’d get for free to get anything extra, and when you do the other guy gets that much to spend in petty cash (You add 180k: You get 180k to spend, the other guy gets 20k). The game allows you to throw money away like you did without even a warning because Cyanide. Note that none of this is in the Cyanide manual, only in the table-top competition rules in the game folder.

        You get journeymen if you’re unable to field 11 players at the start of the match. These players all have Loner, but are otherwise identical to your team’s linemen (in your case, halflings) and add the same amount of TV to your team as a proper player would. If you’re unable to field even a single player at the start of a drive, the opponent gets a free touchdown and the clock is moved forward two (I think) turns. This repeats until either you can field a player (meaning a KOed player wakes up) or the game ends.

        Regarding the only valuable player:
        His skills make him more suited to standing near a tree, getting the ball handed to him and getting thrown down-field in one turn, rather than picking up the ball himself.

        Edit: Wall of text made slightly more tolerable.

  2. guy says:

    “Halfling injury list?” The Anachronism Times reporter cracked his hoarfrosted notes apart. “Yeah, let me see. By the end there was…three of 'em. What? No. I mean three of 'em not carried off the field.”

    Halflings dot txt.

  3. Aevylmar says:

    I just want to say at this point (a) that I bought Blood Bowl because of this Let’s Play, and (b) that it’s still hilarious.

    1. JAB says:

      Make that 2 people who bought Blood Bowl because of this Let’s Play. Mostly, anyway.

      1. Ivellius says:

        I mean, if someone would like to start a Twenty Sided league…

        1. Supahewok says:

          Make a thread over on the Forums. They could use some more multiplayer games being played in the community.

  4. Akuma says:

    “Is there any way we can use that to our advantage?”

    “Oh, yes, absolutely. We take this as a sign from the Gods and resign immediately.”

    That killed me.

  5. Christopher says:

    I’m Bob Bifford!

    And I’m Jim Johnson

    And we’re back for another exciting season of BLOODBOWL post match communt…commant…analsis…post match talking.

    To right Bob. So how about that match?

    Well Jim, the coach made one tactical error.

    Really Bob, what’s that?

    He decided to bring the Skeeters to another cup. I mean I have a soft spot for the little bags of wobbling meat but let’s be honest here, that’s because they beat elves. And I -really- dislike elves, Jim.

    You don’t say Bob.

    I do Jim, I really do.

    Well I’d personally like to see what the coach does. Of course the exact injury charts haven’t arrived in our hands but a halfling team unable to field it’s full complement is in dire straits

    Especially since this coach’s strategy seems to be to drown his oppenent in waves of flesh

    Reminds me of the old Nurgle Rotters team

    Oh yeah Jim, very similar strategy. Just throw as many bloated corpses on the field as possible.

    And there were always more bloated corpses by the end of the game!

    Well they don’t call them the Rotters for nothing.

    For our new viewers out there, why don’t you explain who the Amazons are?

    Oh I think they saw -plenty- of what the Amazons were in that game, Jim.

    I meant more who they are, where they come from. Not why they’re naked.


    Oh. Well the Amazons are actually just female Norse.

    Indeed Bob, specifically Valkyries, the female warriors of the tribes. They wanted to do a bit of raiding and pillaging themselves and -don’t- make the obvious joke, Bob, I beg you.


    But they settled in and around the river Amaxon, which their language turned to Amazon. The ones that formed the Amazons were from a Lustrian colony, in fact, of the vikings.

    So why the lack of clothes Jim?

    Well if your ancestors were from the freezing northlands wouldn’t you find the southern continents a little bit warm?

    Good point, Jim.

    And that’s all for now Bloodbowl Fans, don’t forget we want to hear YOUR thoughts via the official antisocial media of Blood Bowl, Face-tome, or via twerper @bobandjimshow.

    Join us next week for another exciting game of BLOOD BOWL!


    1. Metal C0Mmander says:

      Uh I’ve read they were engineered by the Slann.

      1. Christopher says:

        Bloodbowl Lore is slightly different then warhammer fantasy lore

        “Long ago, driven by a desire for adventure, the Valkyries of the Norse settlement in Lustria sailed away from their men-folk and founded a colony deep within the estuary of the river Amaxon. Now these ferocious warriors have taken to the Blood Bowl pitch ““ and Nuffle save those who dare play against them!”

        ^ This is the official blurb.

  6. Spammy says:

    Yeah, the Big Deal with the Amazons is that they all have Dodge, meaning they get free rerolls on dodge attempts and can treat Defender Stumbles results as Defender Pushed instead. In leagues against other humans, Amazons peak at the start of the game. Their blitzers already have the much-loved Block and Dodge combination (aka Blodge). And they have decent skill access, having everything but Mutations.

    But they all have the same 6/3/3/7 stats, meaning they’re only average in speed, strength, and agility. And 7 armor means “Don’t count on this player living.” Once teams start developing enough to get Block and Tackle (Negates Dodge) spread out among their players, teams that can bash harder or work the ball better will handily beat Amazons.

    Unless, y’know, you’re playing halflings.

    1. Tam O'Connor says:

      Specifically, Dwarf teams do horrible things to Amazons, because a large number of dwarf players come with tackle. And that means your gals get knocked down a lot more, which means lots more injuries. Of course, that also requires an opponent to play dwarfs, and DwarfBowl is WorstBowl. Unlike Halflings, who are Wurst-and-a-bit-of-schnitzel-and-are-you-going-to-finish that?-Bowl.

      DwarfBowl is when the dwarfs cage up (lunchbox up) and sloooooowly walk forward. They’re hard to knock down and even harder to injure, and because they have Tackle, it’s difficult to dodge someone in to steal the ball. It is not terribly entertaining.

      If you’re just starting out, Amazons are a good first team. They can’t pull off the insane elf plays, but they have a competent passing game. They’re not as bashy are orcs, but Dodge will keep them on their feet most of the time. As Spammy said, they start off strong, and they srop off as more teams get Tackle. But if you get an Amazon team about TV 1600 or so, you’ve got a good grounding in BloodBowl, and can try another team.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        Personally, I had a very good first experience with Lizardmen, simply because they have very few different types of players and they have extremely defined, easy to discern roles: you got tiny skins that handle the ball, you’ve got normal lizardmen to bash people and you’ve got a Kroxigor to eat people you don’t like.

        1. Spammy says:

          Lizardmen are sort of the anti-Amazons in that respect. The Lizards, particularly the Sauri, have great stat lines but no abilities. And the Sauri are almost never going to be holding the ball to get touchdowns with. But if you can start giving them Block, Tackle, Mighty Blow, and all those other bashy skills, you’ve got a really good team on your hand.

          It might just take one or two leagues (not games, leagues) to get to that point.

      2. guy says:

        I usually see humans and orcs recommended as first teams, because as the two teams in the original game they have a bit of everything.

        1. Lachlan the Mad says:

          I’m not a fan of Orcs as a starting team either, because at least to my mind they have the same problem that Mersadeon said about the Lizard teams above — they start with bugger-all by the way of starting skills and need a huge stack of SPP to become good. They do have the advantage of a fairly broad range of player types, although that isn’t necessarily an advantage for new players.

          Undead, though? That’s an amazing starting team.

  7. Cybron says:

    I’m curious, Ruts, have you ever played Dwarf Fortress? I’d love to see what kind of narrative would come out of that.

  8. Grudgeal says:

    Incidentally, if you want us to help you with Blood Bowl… You’re playing blitz mode and not classic. So none of us will be of any help at all with the pre-game stuff because we have no idea what any of it does.

    In-game is of course another matter, unless you’ve decided to play Real Time Mode. And if you do you are a horrible person and we all hate you.

    1. guy says:

      I’ve played with Blitz a bit and vaguely recall what the pre-game stuff does in general. But not enough to actually give advice.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        There really isn’t much added to it, mostly a few new inducements (the doping-potions for example).

        I don’t think Ruts really needs much advice on the pre-game stuff anyway, apart from: DON’T spend your real money on petty cash. use it to get more re-rolls, more apothecaries, more cheerleaders, more assistant coaches – permanent stuff. Only transfer to petty cash if you really need it.

        1. guy says:

          There’s some other stuff like the percentage chance stat boost training and gear.

  9. Steve C says:

    This entire series takes me back to the ’90s. I never played Blood Bowl myself but I’d hear about it a lot from a friend of mine who did. We’d go to a gaming club and on the 30min ride home he’d tell me all about his matches. He had a Dark Elf team that was apparently really good.

    His strategy was to murder the other team in the first half and then worry about scoring in the second half against an empty pitch. Is that still a viable strategy? Has the game changed since then? I could never understand the rules themselves. Obtuse isn’t a strong enough word.

    1. Mersadeon says:

      The rules change a bit (it is called “The Living Rulebook” afterall), but the basic strategies stay the same. Murdering the enemy team and then try to score in the second half is a common strategy for bashier teams – Dark Elves have some stuff that helps them with it.

      Personally, I could never play the boardgame myself. The videogames give a good way to learn the rules, though, since it does all the bookkeeping for you, which is really what makes the rules so bothersome.

    2. guy says:

      That’s a viable strategy, but not a reliable one. Some teams are designed to basically use it, but they need to hold onto the ball and generally against teams with a strong ball-moving game they need to score once in the first half and go for the 2-1 grind. There’s an ongoing lets play with elves in multiplayer, and the elf player’s catchphrase is “I can score from here”

      Then there are gutter runners. They can score from anywhere.

  10. Valthek says:

    Oh, Pervince, you lovable sack of lard. That guy’s the physical embodiment of the underdog. He should not be alive. I liked your screaming at the vid, but the writeups are better!

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