Half Time CH13: High Tailing It

By Rutskarn Posted Wednesday Jan 6, 2016

Filed under: Lets Play 29 comments

I get the sense that whomever named the Arnheim Seahawks has never watched two seabirds buffet and flap each other’s brains out over a piece of hot dog a third vomited up, or else is accustomed to a nobler breed of bird than I. I also get the sense that none of their high elf players have been to the seaside, but that’s not an abstract judgment; it’s because they’re fishbelly-pale toffs who look as though when they need to relax from the rigors of land ownership and gala seasons, they simply loose crossbow bolts at the slower-moving servants. Watching their attendants manually warm up their joints and apply cream between their toes returns me to a problem I’ve been trying to crack since I first took this team over:

Why the hell do people play this game?

And why hasn't this tendency been bred out yet?
And why hasn't this tendency been bred out yet?

“Pervince is talking to the team again,” says an assistant coach. “He’s giving the pre-speech.”

“That’s fine.”

“It is? I was just…”

“So for a few days now I’ve had this mental image–more like a dream, honestly–where I’m going into the locker room in the dead of night to get the schedule for the next few matches. And then I hear this gentle scuffle, like a mouse, and when I turn I see a tuft of hair flash by along the bench, and some lockers behind me creak open, I hear the door shut, lock, and suddenly a candle bursts alight by the basin and when my eyes adjust there’s just this wall of silent halfling faces staring at me, and Pervince is standing behind them with a barbecue fork and carving knife, scraping, scraping, and a dozen little flashes sting my eyes and all of my players are holding forks too. Then I hear a scream–mine. Then the dream ends. So, just to run this by you–just to get an outside opinion–would you say this is likely to happen?”


“So yes. There’s no problem with Pervince giving the team speeches.” I turn back to the high elves and their butler-assisted calisthenics. “That’s a load off my mind, actually.”

A few minutes later and the players are staged, and the Seahawks deliver a tooth-grindingly graceful kickoff that pounces right into the center of my field, directly between Pervince’s eager palms. It’s his best catch of the season and he takes the skin of a second to admire it–and then him, and all of his designated lunchboxers, are loping up against the back of my treeman wall seconds before the elves have taken time out of their schedules to join in for a bash-up. Pervince hops right into the waiting hand of a treeman, swings out over the blue heavens…I know it’s going wrong before he does. Call it crosswinds–call it treeman joint fatigue–call it the caprices of the halfling-hating gods, which is all of them, especially the ones the halflings worship. Or call it the only sane and logical conclusion of a sausage skin full of blubber and pique flying fifty yards out and ten down in three seconds. Call it whatever you want. Pervince isn’t listening to semantics right now, because his ears are full of soil on account of his head just broke the pitch.

The high elves don’t seem to notice or acknowledge the small miracle of aerodynamics that got Pervince even this far. His thrower picks up the ball like it was practice, lobs it easily to a guy midfield–and I take this time to go have a bathroom break next to the bleachers, because once elves start passing in any rational timeline you know you’ve got a touchdown on your hands. I’m not wrong. 1-0, their favor. Pervince is knocking the dirt out of his helmet and glaring out from behind the muck and blood on his face like he’s going to kill somebody–coaches and treemen would be a nice start, but elves would be favorite.

Alright then. Blow the whistle, ref.

A hatefully elegant kickoff from the Seahawks streaks off–Pervince streaks on. The ball almost bounces out of his hands but he readjusts without losing a step, and he and his cronies are right up by the treemen again. Two elves hammer the outer ring as usual, bloodying noses and burying cleats in balletic fashion, but Pervince doesn’t even notice–he’s readying himself to fly again with a determination I have to admire. What would it be like to be that charmingly insensible to pain and danger? I couldn’t guess. Pervince swings up clutched by those branchy fingers, glides…hits the dirt…rolls. Lurches to his feet. Stumbles.



Our fans in the crowd, gods bless each one of their inscrutable heads, are kicking up a storm. The really hardcore Seahawks fans aren’t the sort to boo; they prefer to bear indignity in silence, then send their chosen coaches fruitbaskets and polite requests to have errant players horsewhipped. The result is that if I close my eyes, forget the scoreboard, and concuss myself badly enough to discard a lifetime of accumulated wisdom, I can tell myself things are going alright. Maybe this is how Pervince does it. I catch the little bastard’s eye as he returns to his whooping teammates–he’s not smiling. And now that I look at him, I really doubt he’s forgotten the scoreboard.

Now that we’re kicking off, the notion is to put it as close to the center as possible, because–this team’s elves. They don’t care if we send it far back. Their ideal scenario would be if the ball was shipped by cart forty leagues out of town so they could run out to get it in twelve seconds, lob it between three players who have meanwhile strategically placed themselves so that no halfling can possibly reach them, and score a touchdown that is mathematically unstoppable. I have traded a lot of halfling sweat, blood, and tears for the following strategic intel, so heed it well: put the ball close to the middle line if you value victory. Your only hope of stopping an elf touchdown is to put it in the hands of a player who can be physically prevented from letting loose the elven pain train. So when our kickoff sails over the line of blockers and past that desired area–lands instead practically in his thrower’s lap back at his end zone–I know it’s…

Whiz whiz whiz



There’s an uncomfortable little hiccup between now and halftime, and in theory–oh boy, do I love theories–it is enough time for either of us to score a goal. This consensus knowledge has spread like off mayo over the stands, and the anticipation is gaggingly palpable. I take a long pull of water–water? Who filled this thing? This team is coming apart on me, I swear it.

A smugly nimble kickoff from the Seahawks arcs over the line–over a handful of very briefly hopeful halfling faces–and lands on its tip, on its actual tip, an inch from out-of-bounds, before falling right inbounds. It’s the gavel on our execution warrant. The crowd, the players, and the chorus line of demon-possessed ulcers holding cackling court in my misused gut know keenly what this means, and it’s two things: firstly, that this ball is going to travel up the field to get lobbed by treemen at neatly half the standard halfling hustle rate, which is about one half the bipedal average, which, if you haven’t got your abacus yet, means that ball’s in for a real leisurely ride. Secondly, it means that elves are going to reach our treemen before any halfling does. And this isn’t a grim worst-case scenario, either. This is if I’m lucky and one of my boys actually manages to pick up the damn thing.

Milo does, already out of breath from having jogged over from center field. He shoots a glance at the crowd, knowing as we all do it might be his last, and runs–his boys at his front, pushing just a few yards ahead, ready to meet the high elf invading army that’s broken around the treemen with a bitter vengeance. Dudo Heathertoe takes point and digs his cleats in. Then an elf, flying up over his brothers’ shoulders, springs around to do the same. If Dudo’s not dead, he’s rehearsing for it; Milo takes stock of all the elves who are two breaths and zero halflings away from ending his ass and makes a split-second decision. He hands the ball off to Pervince, and Pervince tucks it under his chin–and then, before I can yell a warning, before anyone can react–both chin and ball are in the dirt. Elf feet work glib magic as Pervince spits blood like a fucked-up fountain cherub.

Dudo's fine, by the way. Cancel your tasteful mourning/wine tasting party.
Dudo's fine, by the way. Cancel your tasteful mourning/wine tasting party.

3-1. Half time.

“Everyone settle down,” I say to my players. They’re ragged, bloodstained, filthy–what else is new? Nothing has happened today that hasn’t happened a hundred times before. “You’re fighting like hell out there and don’t think we don’t know it. But this is what I’m talking about. When they beat you back like this, you got to realize, they’re elves. You’re halflings. You’re not built for this kind of…”

“We’re going to win,” says Pervince.

“Yeah? Alright. Maybe. But…”

“But what?” Pervince throws his helmet down. “That’s what we tell ourselves: we’re going to win.”

“Well, you do what you have to, but I’m saying if you don’t that’s…”

If that’s our attitude, we’re going to lose every damn time.

The whistle blows. Pervince doesn’t look back on his way off the field.

Our kickoff vanishes behind the Seahawk wall of elven gltiz, and his thrower bears it up right where we put it–near the middle line. This is more like it. Treemen block out huge quantities of elven graveyard with their fists, but their thrower’s keeping his grip on the ball, keeping a wary eye out, and it looks like he’s going to slip the net–and that’s when three or four halflings pop up through the gap and surround him. Pervince is going for it–he’s really going for it. The only trouble is, they’re going for him too. The last he sees of the match is an elbow-guard dropping from the heavens, and then it’s a nice cool lie-down in the shower/infirmary for the rest of the evening.

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow, because that description’s about a hundred blows short. They do not score again; the ball is mired in a morass of blood and broken helmets and may still be there for all I know. We don’t score either. We lose. Surprising–at a guess, one halfling.

It’s a good thing Pervince hasn’t woken up yet, because I don’t think I want to talk to him right now.



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29 thoughts on “Half Time CH13: High Tailing It

  1. Grudgeal says:

    Looks like we’re having a “situation” here, with a “troublesome element”.

    It would be a shame if he were to fall prey to an “accident”, especially if you were to take out some “life insurance” on what is assuredly your most “valuable” player beforehand.

  2. Akuma says:

    That dream part killed me.

  3. Merlin says:

    Not being very familiar with Blood Bowl, the games themselves seem like they’re getting pretty repetitive. Are Halflings uniquely one-note in their tree-chuck-or-bust shtick, or are all the teams pretty much like that? (Not a ding on the writing, just curious about the game itself.)

    1. Kylroy says:

      Halflings are a deliberately underpowered team whose *only* winning move is having a treeman chuck a halfling holding the ball. Other teams have some tactical flexibility, though they obviously lend themselves to certain strategies.

    2. PossiblyInsane says:

      Most of the other teams have at least some other tactics available to them. Elf teams are more oriented towards the passing/throwing game, dwarf teams are more oriented towards the blocking game, but they can usually change up their tactics if needed against a specific opponent.

    3. NoneCallMeTim says:

      A a balanced team has options to hit people, run with a ball, pass, and score.

      Halflings can’t really do any of those things.

      Look at how many times the description has shown them dropping things, and being described as a miracle when they actually catch something.

      Getting a halfling with ball to a treeman is the main way of scoring for the team.

      Treemen are one of the tougher things in the game, so any strategy tends to revolve around them.

      One of the reasons why it seems a bit repetitive is they keep coming up against elves. There are a lot of races in the game, all with different strategies.

      Edit: I was evidently typing at halfling speed, while elves were making comments.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        Also, offline single-player gets repetitive once you learn how the AI plays. Online gaming offers a little more variety in that you can end up battling a large number of coaches and the opportunity for playful banter.

        Well, you know, or having someone spamming the word “CYKA” at you over and over before conceding in round 4 because a player got killed. Not speaking from experience here at all.

    4. Rutskarn says:

      This is also the reason the series will be concluding pretty soon.

      1. Spammy says:

        Yeah. Now that I think on it, that’s probably one of the reasons that I think Blood Bowl works best in a league format, because odds are your league will be organized over a forum and you’ll be able to talk between matches, sharing stories, building rivalries, having someone else there for that time that you need to roll all sixes to get a touchdown and do so.

      2. guy says:

        Ooh, next do one where Pervince reincarnates as a Herald of Khorne!

    5. guy says:

      Depends on the team. Most of them score by either running upfield/passing or by pounding the opposing team into the dirt and strolling over their broken bodies. Halflings are slow, bad at passing, and can’t punch very effectively, so the treeman bomb is all they have going for them. Most teams outpunch, outrun, and outpass the halflings even when specializing in only two of those things.

      The other thing Halflings do is steal rerolls, so they can accomplish moderately difficult things with high reliability.

      1. Lachlan the Mad says:

        I would say that there are a total of five strategies to get the ball to the touchdown zone, with some degree of overlap:

        – Passing (like most elf teams)
        – Running (handing the ball between adjacent players — like dark elf teams)
        – Caging (using a lunchbox to march slowly up the field — like dwarf teams)
        – Slaughter (murdering everyone until there’s a clear route — like orc teams)
        – Team-mate throwing (like halfling and ogre teams)

        Throwing team-mates is a legit strategy, although only a few teams even have players which are capable of it. Halflings, Goblins, Ogres and Underworld are the only teams that can do it; out of those teams, Halflings and Ogres are terrible, Goblins are okay but janky, and Underworld are bad at TV1000 (the base team level) but get a lot better as team value increases.

        1. Ivellius says:

          Orcs can actually do Throw Teammate too; they have access to Trolls and Goblins as part of their roster.

          (It’s less reliable than their grinding game, but it’s a decent reason to keep a single Goblin around when you absolutely must score quickly.)

          1. Lachlan the Mad says:

            Oh right, I forgot them. I play as Orcs occasionally but never bring Trolls or Goblins along — Black Orcs are just too damn good, and Catchers can do ball handling just fine.

            1. Grudgeal says:

              Which is why it’s good fun having a goblin player as an orc team as a 12th player or as a lineork replacement. Almost nobody expects it and the opportunity to throw a gobbo or play a long bomb catch play between your gobbo and thrower can, on occasion, win or tie you game.

    6. ehlijen says:

      There are several reasons for that:
      For one: Halflings have no special or even passable skills other than being small (and throwable) and having treemen as their only funky player options. Throwing is the one thing they don’t terribly suck at.
      As explained, other teams have a greater variety of players and thus a greater variety of approaches to the game.

      That all said: The scenario of each BB game is the same and the terrain is always the same (ie none). Two teams set up, and try to touch down. For some people, such as me, that gets samey after a while no matter what teams are involved. There are only so many effective set ups given the setup and blocking rules, there are only so many different ways teams can try to counter each other’s strengths…etc.
      If you do not actually enjoy the things that get repeated a lot, you won’t like the game much. But that is true for any game (games of all new situations all the time are rare indeed).

      I for example like the odd game of BB (have a converted dwarf team in a box somewhere), but compared to many other tabletop miniature games I find it too boring to play a full campaign off it (while being fully aware that without a campaign, teams rarely get to the more diverse abilities; it’s a catch 22 for me).

  4. MichaelGC says:

    I'll spare you the blow-by-blow, because that description's about a hundred blows short. They do not score again; the ball is mired in a morass of blood and broken helmets and may still be there for all I know.

    Awesome stuff. So blimey – finally had to use an apothecary? I didn’t realise they were essentially demi-gods/Bones from New Trek and could basically cure death. No wonder you haven’t been using them for light injuries like puréed internal organs or having yer kneecaps on backwards.

    1. Mintskittle says:

      The apothecaries are basically miracle workers, but can only be used once per game, and you only get one, so you really don’t want to waste it on an injury just in case someone dies later.

      1. Decius says:

        Or waste them on a death of an unskilled handling that can be replaced if there’s still a risk of an experienced player getting hurt.

    2. Spammy says:

      The apothecaries are hilariously, notoriously famous in Blood Bowl for changing severe injuries to different severe injuries, giving you the option between a severe injury and death, or giving you the option between death and death. Because you see what the Apo does is give you a reroll on the injury and let you pick between the options. “Oh no, my player will get -1 movement. Apo, save him! Or… kill him. I guess he technically won’t suffer from the lowered stats if he’s dead.”

      1. guy says:

        There’s the legendary “elite player goes for it into the endzone, trips, fails the reroll, dead apoc’d to dead” outcome.

        1. Dirigible says:

          I have a better one. Goblins, the team’s very first game. My opponents kick to me, and I decide to start off with my Fanatic. Triple Attacker Down. I reroll. Triple Attacker Down. Injury roll? Death. Apothecary roll? Death. My very first roll of the game was effectively 10 1s in a row. Kinda glad that wasn’t in a league against people, it was too horrible to continue.

  5. Decius says:

    I want to see a write up of halflings vs khorne daemons. Because the way I play khorne is somewhere between “if the other team is out of commission we win by default” and “if we score some of their ko’s will have to come back onto the field and we can hit them again”.

    1. Metal C0Mmander says:

      Considering Pervince’s bloodthirsty atitude it definetly has to end that way.

      1. Decius says:

        Considering how the Daemons play if it happens it will certainly be the end.

    2. Narkis says:

      The way *you* play? You mean there’s another way to play Khorne?

      1. galacticplumber says:

        Do you consider SURF EVERYTHING different?

      2. Grudgeal says:

        Theoretically, due to the incredible flexibility of the daemon players (you can take 4 of them too), you *can* play Khorne as a running team, and you’ll probably have to on the higher TVs since your thirster is the only player who can reliably kill people.

  6. John says:

    Soooo. . . no video this week?

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