This weekend I went to my very first ever NAFC. I won’t go into the history of the event, but basically it’s the largest singles (as in, non-team) event in the UK. This year saw just shy of 200 attendees, though it has been bigger.
My running joke is that whenever my friend Andy (that’s Hawca to you plebs) runs a tournament, some huge life event happens to me, meaning I can’t go. I was moving house a few years back, so had to miss the NAFC. Then I got married when the Eurobowl was happening. I’ve decided that if I ever want to have a baby, I’ll ask Andy to host an event scheduled for about nine months time.
Back on topic, let’s have a write up, as they’re always
an excuse for me to write about myself fun.
I have a tendency to force myself to acquire and paint a team in a short amount of time before a tournament. That added time pressure is perfect for getting me into gear. I’ve done it with Chorfs, Norse, and now: Undead! I decided to bring Undead for two reasons: Firstly, having now completed the 26 as of my last event, I needed to start seriously thinking about which teams I want to play.
Secondly, my next goal is to get on the vaunted NAF legends list be having 24 races (or is it 26 now?) at 150 ranked or higher. Undead was my lowest ranking (snarf) as I played them when TOing Gert a few years back, using them as a terrible but hilarious full Zombie roster with two mummies and Ramtut. Unsurprisingly, I went 0-1-5 with them, tanking my NAF ranking to a measly 127. So, if I wanted to crank that ranking up again, what better event to take them to?
Thirdly, I’m a closet powergamer, but don’t tell anyone I told you.
With that in mind I gave myself two weeks to buy, build and paint the undead, and I’m happy with how they came out:
So, for a roster, I did the following.
- Mummy with Guard day one
- Mummy with Guard day two
- Wight with Tackle day one
- Wight with Guard day two
- Ghoul with Block day one
- Ghoul with Block day two
I had an interesting conversation with 20Phoenix the night before about the skills for Undead. He thinks it’s important to skill up the ghouls and wights first, as they do almost all the hard work. I think that the more guard the better, so favoured the mummies. We had similar rosters at the end of the day, but a different skill allocation. He also placed higher than me, so maybe he was right!
First casualty of the day.
The night before there was a mini 7s tournament held at Warhammer World. It was the ‘orrible North versus the noble South. I partook, but sadly was not able to provide a decent amount of points, shouldering a loss and a win. My opponent and I in game one managed five pairs of double skulls between us. Not bad for a 7 a side, 6 turn game!
The fetid North were victorious for the second year running, and after a few (dozen) pints, it was bed time…
This was by far the largest tournament I had ever been to before. The venue is gorgeous and spacious, the surroundings are divine, the lunch is bipolar. Day one lunch was awful, day two lunch was amazing. The atmosphere is buzzing, and it’s so nice to see so many familiar faces and names bobbing up all over the place.
I also got to finally meet the lads over at Two Drunk Flings podcast, including fellow vegan blood bowl podcaster Longstride (how often can you say that?) and his out-of-this-world beautiful halfling team. After briefly comparing sausage rolls, we went inside.
Note to self: ease up on the sausage rolls!
The venue was visited by both Pete Knifton, who did some of the most iconic BB artwork over the years, and JT-Y, one of the current writers of the game. Nice to see these figures engaging with the current community!
Some of Peter Knifton’s characterful artwork
Enough fannying around taking in the sights, lets get on to some bloody Blood Bowl!
GAME ONE – DEETEE (Pro Elves)
My first opponent was Deetee, who at a glance is exactly the same person as Ceetee. Except he’s not. He’s his younger brother, and he was rocking Pro Elves.
I always respect a man who plays Pro Elves, as I think they’re entirely underrated. That being said, I’m also a man who plays Pro Elves, so I had the advantage of knowing how to stop them!
I got a Blitz! turn one, which was always helpful, but being the coward I am I had set up too far back to do much with it. Still, a few ghouls got a bit closer.
CeeteeDeetee was doing it right, he was keeping back and not engaging. Unfortunately for him, he was getting hemmed in up against a sideline. I’ve found that at low-skill tournaments Elves tend to struggle with a lack of dodge. Once you blodge up the blitzers, most of the other guys have nothing to keep them alive, so what do you do?
You squish them!
Once his ball carrier was near the edge, I was able to get a jammy double-chain push to get a block on a cage corner, leaving my mummy free for a GFI blitz. I took the thrower down and the ball was thrown in eight squares towards his end zone, right next to my unactivated ghoul. How lovely! As you can imagine, he scampered off. After a big of desperate handbags between some lineelves and some ghouls, I ran it in on turn 6.
Deetee was unable to equalise in the half, so I was going into the second half 1-0 and receiving, always a good position!
After giving my opponent a Blitz! kickoff (well, he did graciously give me one first), luckily the ball was not in the hands of an elf. I think it might have been different, but I think it didn’t emerge until later that Deetee was 100% certain you could catch the kickoff, so instead he stood next to it. I just about recovered it and then I did the standard thing of taking the breaks off the undead-pain train, shunting my way down the centre of the pitch. As I was okay for time, I had no issue scoring on turn 6. Deetee got himself a TD on turn 16, but sadly it was too late for him by then.
RESULT: 2-1 WIN
GAME TWO: ROLEX (Amazons)
Roxanna was in tow for the wonderful Italian Rolex and his ‘zons. Three guard (more than me!), lots of ladies, standard zon stuff.
He received, hit a few zombies, but double BD’d with a linewoman. I was in a position to 3DB blitz a blitzer, which I did, but didn’t knock her down. I proceeded to throw five more blocks against her, pushing her deeper into my defensive setup, before finally getting the knockdown and the Cas (which was APO’d – boo!).
I was in the driving seat for a while, removing and marking Amazons, but Rolex is a great player and Roxanna is a stunning star, so it was hard to pin him down. I managed to get a 2DB on her with my Tackle wight, but snake eye’d the GFI to hit her! Curses!
Nuffle gave me another chance though and a riot gave me two turns to equalise. I couldn’t break through the line though, so went into half two with a 0-1 against.
I tried, oh how I tried. There was cage diving, double skulling, all sorts. I told myself if I could remove Roxy by any means, I would go for the early TD. I never got a sniff of her. She eventually left the pitch by failing a dodge into two TZs (serves her right), but by then it was too late. After some more high-pressure Amazon defence, the end zone was in sight. All I needed was a GFI after being pushed back one square (after some insane amazon dodgy-dodgy-blitzy). I had a Reroll, I just needed to make the single GFI to equalise.
RESULT: 1-0 LOSS
GAME THREE: KAIOWAS (Humans)
After winding myself down after the last match (to be honest, it wasn’t that bad. It’s just a game, and losses like that are a perfect reminder of how to be a gracious loser. Besides, I’ve won games on similar odds, so who am I to complain?), I was matched against Kaiowas. He was bringing Humans. He had a block ogre, two guarding Blitzers and a Tackle blitzer.
Perhaps I was not playing my best after the last game, but despite that it was a great match against a lovely opponent, and said opponent played spectacularly. He prevented me from scoring in my drive (note to self, count the number of squares you have progressed to make sure you can actually score), and surfed the jesus out of my as well. Thankfully, the crowd were kind to me!
In the second half, he again played very well, never letting me get near the ball. The MVP was surely a single human lineman, who sat on a mummy literally all game until he was KO’d in about turn 14. What a hero. We know it was the same one each drive has he had a leg up in a little jaunty dance.
This jaunty little sunnova…
I was able to force him to score, giving me two turns to equalise, which I did (thank Nuffle). It all was fair in love and blood bowl, it should have been a loss, but that’s the game we play!
RESULT: 1-1 DRAW
Ending day one on 1-1-1 was, I must be honest, a little disappointing, following my last two tournaments (combined going 6-0-1). But, as they say, the day is young… What was nice was the pressure being taken off. Sometimes you start doing well, and you think “Oh god, there’s a chance I could place, so now every game is going to be hard, aaaah”. Now I knew I was not going to be up there, it was nice to just have a bit of fun with it.
GAME FOUR: MYRMIDON (Norse)
Almost everyone I spoke to told me of at least one game they had versus stunty of one of the many children inhabiting the arena (or both!). I was starting to think I was not going to get any of the ‘easy’ games as I set up opposite another adult playing another strong team!
He had Norse, but no Yeti (thank God). I always find the Yeti is more of a psychological threat than a real one. He petrifies the like of Undead or Khemri, or Orcs, often failing to deliver on those threats (but there’s always that maybe…) He was rocking two block Ulfs, a Tackle Blitzer, MB blitzer and two Dodge runners.
I chose to receive and try to cause some damage, but it didn’t really stick. In fact, I only did one casualty all game (boo! hiss!). I did however manage to score in relative comfort on turn 8, mostly thanks to a tactic I re-learnt last match (namely, shove a zombie in the way. In this case, on each of the Ulfs). Also, my fouling boot was still going strong, removing a few linemen and even an Ulf before getting sent off (for the first time this weekend!)
On his turn 8, thanks to some nice KO rolls, he was back up to 11 men, with a bench of 1. I was actually down two zombies, so I had to stick a positional on the line. I opted for a mummy (AV9, amirite?), but my opponent saw through this cunning strategy and promptly knocked him down, fouling him to death on a 2+2 with six assists, and used his voodoo magic to make me fail my regen. That’ll learn me!
The second half was a hard fought battle. Defending with only 9 players and 1 mummy is no easy feat. Although I almost had him once or twice, he was always savvy enough to stop my advances (not those kind of advances, that was for the bar the night before). He scored on turn 15, giving me once again two turns to equalise. I successfully got the ball up, stopped the sack, and just needed a single GFI to score. I had a reroll. So, my turn began, and….
RESULT: 1-1 DRAW
ROUND FIVE : ELDRITCHFOX (Wood Elves)
After winding down again (which to be fair took a little longer this time!) I set up opposite yet another adult with a tier one team. What is nice about this tourney is that with this many people you’re almost always playing someone on the same record as you, so it’s nice to commiserate and be against someone with the same experience.
He had a Strip Ball dancer, a frenzy dancer, two block catchers, a leader thrower, kick lineelf (TAR) and a treeman. Also, no APO. That last bit made my ghoulish ears prick up.
I chose to kick. Also, this is the only game in which my 3 FF I bought didn’t play a part in the fans roll. People, take FF. It’s awesome.
He openly admitted he enjoys defending more with elves than attacking, so he went for the two turn score. It’s hard to stop a full Welf team doing the two turn score when they want to, so, predictably, I didn’t!
Kick made a nuisance of itself, so I had to set up all spread out and feeble, but thankfully was able to cage up without issue. Cue many turns of punches and beatings. I had an interesting moment around turn 5 or 6 where I could have surfed a wardancer with a few blocks, but it would mean not moving forward for a turn. Obviously, I surfed the dancer (because it’s almost a legal obligation). It meant by turn 8 I was having to make a few difficult blocks and dodges to score, but thankfully I made it, going 1-1 into the second drive.
I’ll note here how I never once actually hit his tree. He rooted both times quite early but my advice is, if at all possible, to ignore the treeman. Shove a lineman if you have to onto him, but don’t get tempted. Before you know it, he’s tying up both mummies and a wight…
I was facing 10 elves by this point (well, 9 and the tree), which was not ideal. Still, what can you do? If you don’t get the armour breaks, you don’t get the armour breaks. The key is to plan well enough that you can succeed even with 0 removals. Easier said than done.
Having played lots of elves, I understood the importance of the anti-elf cage. I was fastidious in making sure every TZ around my ball carrier was covered with Guard every turn, so when the inevitable Strip Ball leap came (and came it did), it was at least a -2DB. Unluckily for me, it didn’t matter, and the ball plopped away regardless. Luckily for me, after it landed in an empty space (and after two more players were pushed onto it) it finally settled in the hands… of another ghoul.
I was able to remove both dancers through prodigious fouling and blocks, and was able to run it in turn 16. I did the standard anti-OTTD setup, which meant he had to attempt the OTTD by hitting mummies. As expected, it failed (though only just), granting me the victory.
RESULT: 2-1 WIN
GAME SIX: PETERD (Lizardmen)
If you’re going to play against Lizardmen, don’t play them on day two. On day one they only have a few block pieces. Pushovers. By day two they’re as mean as they get. Horrible creatures. PeterD is the entire opposite, a thoroughly charming German-born man who is both very talented and the game and a total delight to play against.
As you can guess, he had six block (you don’t say?), five skinks, kroxi and no apo (I likes it when dey sez dat last part)
I chose to receive. My logic is thus: When lizards get going, you get out of the way. They’re bigger than you, meaner than you, faster than you, and they’ve got more block. So, if I can get lucky and get some removals in the first half, I might be able to disrupt him enough in the second half.
I received, and made a tight cage, with the mummies up front (flanked by zombies and wights to stop any brave Saurus having a go at them). I was able to knock a Saurus down and gang foul it to a KO on turn one, which was very helpful. After some more grindy punching action, I was able to foul a second one to death (not death-death, but near enough). I got sent off, but I think it was a fair trade. I was marking most of his saurus by this point, but had squashed myself up too close to the sidelines. This meant it was getting harder to progress and to keep the ball safe… Thankfully Peter’s Krox was the stoopidest Krox in all of Nottingham, and must have failed at least 5 Bonehead rolls, which helped. Peter at one point did manage to knock the ball loose, but to do so he had to stand a saurus and a skink on the sidelines. I was able to surf them both, injuring the skink, then recover the ball, charging in for a TD on turn 8. He failed the KO roll, so was down to 4 saurus and 4 skinks in total (and Kroxy).
A flubbed one turner meant I was 1-0 in the second half. What began then was one of the most tactically enjoyable games of BB I’ve ever had. It was such a to-and-fro half, with his forming desperate screens only to retreat, with me chasing him and pinning him down, then him slipping past, for me to recover – it was so exciting! It’s exactly the sort of game you play for.
I was able to get the ball free after a second blitz on the BC, having consumed a total of two rerolls on it. It was in two TZs, so on turn 16 Peter needed the 5+ pickup, then the dodge, then the GFI to score. Nuffle said no, so I was then able to release the breath I’d been holding for 45 minutes and get the win. Apart from the final (which went into extra time!) we were the last game to finish… Oops.
RESULT 1-0 WIN
OVERALL RESULT – 3W 2D 1L – 38/191
Just about in the top 20%, so I’m happy with that. Undead are a fascinating team to play, they really do have a lot going for them, but can easily be pulled into pieces with a few good rolls and some good positioning. I’d definitely take them again.
At time of writing I’m still waiting for the NAF button to be pressed, so I don’t know if I managed to get them about 150… We will see, dear readers.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all at the next NAFC!