SAWBBowl I – An Experiment In Goblins

I suck with goblins.

I don’t know how to play them. Like Undead or Dark Elves, I just don’t really get them.

Still, like the insane Blood Bowl fanatic I am (pun intended), a bunch of us Bristol peeps (including fellow podcaster Nazgob) decided that taking Goblins to the new and shiny SAWBBowl would be a good idea.

SAWBBowl is Glowworm’s new baby, rising from the ashes of Crumb-Bowl like some glorious phoenix, if the phoenix was northern and sounded like Joe Pasquale. It’s a non-tiered tournament. 1100tv, and you get 6 skills including a double, or you can swap the double for two normals on the same player – provided that player is numbered ‘4’ on your roster. Long story.

Anyhoo, here’s the roster I took:

  1. Ripper
  2. Troll with Guard
  3. Troll with Guard
  4. Bomma with Hail Mary Pass
  5. Looney with Leap
  6. Fungus the Loon
  7. Fanatic with Mighty Blow
  8. Pogo
  9. Goblin with Diving Tackle
  10. Goblin
  11. Goblin
  12. Goblin
  13. Goblin

1 Bribe, 1 Reroll

Experienced Goblin players will probably shake their head at this for many reasons:

  1. Too few goblins
  2. Too few bribes
  3. Too many weapons
  4. Ripper

What do they know, eh?!

I built this roster as a sort of bring-all-the-toys approach, hoping the general pandemonium would be conducive to startling victory.

How wrong I was.


My first game was against Darkson’s Vampire team. If there was ever a team I stood a chance against, it would be a vampire team. He had only three vampires, one with Block, one with Dodge, and one with Blodge. A smattering of Tackle and Wrestle rounded off the army of thralls, and five(!) rerolls meant he was well prepared for Vampire chicanery.

The game started pretty well, with my swathe of MB causing a decent level of pain. Hitting guys, KOing guys, even a Cas or two. It was all going well. The Bomma was a bit crap though, throwing bombs heartily into the audience.

Unfortunately for me, I forgot that Vampires can actually be pretty amazing. Before I could blink I had vampires all over the place, and my ball carrier was on the floor. The ball sailed beautifully over the heads of my silly goblins, and I was scored against on turn 6. Phooey.

All my weapons were sent off bar the Fanatic, who I was able to Argue the Call for. I brought on the Chainsaw, as I didn’t have enough bodies to sub for him. I didn’t use my bribe, as I thought it would make sense to keep it for the end of turn 8.

Not a lot happened for a turn, and the second drive began.

The chainsaw was sent off, but the Fanatic once again was saved by Argue the Call, so I kept my bribe again.

Cue a bit more Vampire nastiness, and once again they scored, leaving me 2-0 down but 2-0 up in Casualties. I did have two dead goblins, but I’d done that myself by throwing one and running one over with Fungus.

Deciding to up their games, my trolls suddenly went crazy in turn 14. Three thralls on the line, one was KOd by a rock. The other two were killed in one turn, and Troll number 3 blitzed another, took a Both Down and killed the 3rd. Nice!

By the end of the match, there was one thrall left on the pitch, but I was still 2-0 down. Maybe the next match will go different, thought I…


There are a few teams that are tough to play against as stunties. One of those is Dwarves. Thankfully, I wasn’t playing Dwarves, though Nazgob had managed an immensely respectable 1-1 draw against the beardy team last round. I instead was drawn against Gorgoroth and his Chaos Dwarves.

So that’s ok then.

He pounded me. Lots. At one point I was setting up with three trolls and a pogo. The HMP Bomma did a thing this game, only once though, taking down a ball carrying Hobgoblin. Cheerfully, despite losing 3-0, I inflicted 4 casualties. Two of those on Chorfs! I was feeling pumped, and turned to talk to Nightwing. My excited Most Casualties dream died away though when I saw he’d pitch cleared his opponent’s Norse with his own Norse team. Never mind then!


Two games, two losses, but I had learned that Goblins were hilarious fun. My last game was against Angry Hobbit, one of the best sports in Blood Bowl, returning without fail to tourney after tourney with Stunty after Stunty after Stunty. This time he’d brought his Ogres, with Brick’Farth and Grotty in tow.

My trolls decided that killing snotlings was so passé, and elected instead to KO as many as possible. The Cas count was pretty pathetic on both sides, with our guys killing themselves more than the enemy. My HMP wasted my only reroll on my first action of the game, snake-eyesing it and stunning himself.

Grotty took down Fungus in a display of immense bravery, before dying on a failed dodge. Snotling after Snotling flew through the air, ball in hand, only to fail the landing time after time. The Bomma did something useful at one point, picking up the ball and HMPing it to the other end of the pitch.

In the end, I scored 3 CAS (the lowest of my three games), but finally won 2-1.

When we were waiting for the awards to be given out, I had a chat to the Hugo. He had beaten a Wood Elf team with his Goblins! A hell of an achievement.

…However, as it turned out, the amount of CAS I’d been inflicting each game was boosting my tournament points, and it ended up that I was one point ahead of Hugo… nabbing me the Stunty Cup! I was certain there had been a mistake, but no!

This means I’ve now won a Stunty Cup with Ogres and Goblins. Halflings, here we come!

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Ripper and the Trolls, while disappointed with the Chainsaw and the Bomma. I can never get my head around chainsaws.

Maybe I’m just bad with Goblins.


The Elflympic Games – An Autopsy

Yesterday was the first Elflympic Games, a one-day four-game tournament run by myself. The rulespack can be found both on this blog and the dedicated website.

Here’s a quick summary though: 1,350k GP to build a team. Skills can be bought from the same budget, with no restrictions on doubles or spamming. Normal skills are 20k, doubles are 30k, with certain ‘luxury’ skills costing 40k and other ‘bargain bin’ skills costing 10k (regardless of being a double or not).

Win/Draw/Loss is worth 14/6/1 points, with 2 points per Touchdown, 1 per Completion, 2 per Long Bomb Completion, and 2 per Interception, with no caps on any of them.

This might cause some people – especially veteran tournament-goers – to double-take. Bonus points for completions and touchdowns, with no limits, with these Bonus Points being added to overall score? In fact, it generated so much controversy that it is has over 300 replies on the TFF thread since its creation in August, much higher than is typical of a British One-Dayer.

There were lots of concerns about a number of aspects of the Elflympics. Was it worthy of a NAF trophy? Does it undermine the sanctioning process? Does it invalidate the primacy of W/D/L? Was it competitive? Was it broken? Was it going to be fun? Was it fair?

I’m going to take a post-mortem look at the day, how it ran from my perspective, and analyse the results a bit too to see if we can answer some of these questions (from my own most-likely biased perspective!).

Firstly, I had twenty six coaches pay up, which was the limit of comfortable capacity for the venue. This suggests that either people wanted to come along to see whether the tournament was going to be as insane as people thought, or perhaps (and I hope this is the was the more common motivation!) people were intrigued by the alternative ruleset, and thought it could be fun.

(Just a quick aside – by ‘fun’ I mean the player enjoyed themself according to their own criteria. Different people come to Blood Bowl tournaments for different reasons, my idea of fun is likely different to yours. Some people enjoy the ultra-competitive side, some people enjoy the larks, most people are in the middle. When I say ‘fun’, I mean that the person walked away from the venue having gotten from the tournament whatever it is they wanted to get from it.)

It also helps that Yate (and by extension Bristol) is in prime Blood Bowl territory. It’s slap bang in the middle of the Welsh sides, Bristol sides, Swindon, Exeter, and to a further extent the Southampton/Midlands gaming groups. It has a train line that connects to Bristol/Gloucester, it’s fairly close to a junction from the M4. The Parish Hall itself is literally minutes walk from the train station and plenty of shops, chip shops, fast food, supermarkets etc. So I think that also helped get the numbers in.

One thing that became apparent is that many people rejected the idea of taking elves, despite the obvious bias in points. They went instead with anti-elf teams, with the expectation that they would face plenty of elves and so be perfectly prepared to take them down. What was interesting is that these people were originially in the majority!

I published a few rosters prior to the event, and there was concern from some people that with so many shutdown teams, chances are there would be matches between two shutdown teams that would boil down to a Metapod-off; two teams that are only good at stopping elves failing to impact each other significantly.

I published these rosters for a few reasons. The first was just for my own personal enjoyment! I had a great laugh writing some fluff for the event, and I couldn’t wait to get it out there. Secondly, it was meant as a gentle hint to the overall meta as it stood. Several people, inlcuding the overall winner (Wobert) alterted their rosters entirely when it became apparent the meta was going to Bash teams. Wobert saw there were actually relatively few elves, and changed to High Elves from Chaos Dwarves, and went on to win  the tourney!

People also saw this fairly open style of team buildling coupled with the skill set as an opportunity to build unusual, specialist teams, more-or-less disregarding the meta. At least I think so, can’t think of any other reason why there were so many ogres!

Here’s the race breakdown:










Why so many Ogres!?

Seriously though, lets take a further look. Six of the twenty four teams were pure Elf teams, with entire teams of Agi4. However, these weren’t the only agility teams. There were also three skaven and one slann teams, with a Vampire team too (however as Gorgoroth was taking them purely for the 24, he only brought one vampire – Count Luthor!).

So with Skaven and Slann, there were ten Agility-focussed teams that could reasonably expect to score decent Bonus Points either through passing or scoring.

There were six stunty teams, so lots of competition for the stunty cup. The remaining teams were comprised of Norse, Chaos Dwarf, Orcs and a Human team. The teams not present were Wood Elf(!), Dwarf, Lizardmen, Amazon, Chaos, Chaos Pact, Khemri, Necromantic, Nurgle, Undead and Underworld.

The Present column represents the amount of teams that this race made up. The Normal column is the percentage of a tournament normally made up by this race (based on these numbers), and the difference is (obviously) the difference between the two.


Obviously this was a tiny sample, but it was nice to see lots of normally under-represented races making up a decent chunk of available teams.

Anyway, onto the important stuff: the scoring.

The focus was obviously on scoring quickly and scoring often, with additional points for showing off. To this end most of the Spot prizes were also designed in such a way as to encourage these even more. For example, one prize was for the next coach to score. This meant that if someone was planning on stalling for a few turns, they might instead be tempted to push harder and score now. Another was to make ten Go For It rolls in one turn (which Merrick managed to make!). This was again to make people throw what might be considered good tactics out the window, and instead ride their luck, in the hopes of a glorious payoff.

As a point of comparison I’m going to use the scoring system from the upcoming Welsh Open (which I recommend you check out – they’re a lovely bunch of guys, and damn talented at the game!). Their scoring system is as follows:

3 points for a win
1 points for a draw
0 points for a loss
No Bonus Points available.

To make it easier, I’m going to multiply the scores by a factor of 5. This doesn’t affect anything, it just makes a straight comparion simpler. Meaning it would look like this:

15 points for a win
5 points for a draw
0 points for a loss
No Bonus Points available.

As a reminder, the scoring for The Elflympic Games was:

14 points for a win
6 points for a draw
1 point for a loss
2 points for a Touchdown
2 points for an Interception
1 point for a Completion
2 points for a Long Bomb-range Completion

The biggest win in terms of Touchdowns at the Elflympics was a 5-0 win with 6 completions and an interception. In a normal scoring system, this would net 15 points, the same as a 1-0 or 2-1 grind. In Elflympics, it granted the player 32 points, worth over double the value of a single win. It would have taken some incredible dice to purely place this on luck, though this is most likely a factor. But it would have still needed a coach to push that luck, and to know when to hold back. Undoubtedly he could have stalled for a 2-0 win, with little to no completions. But because the rules rewarded the crazy plays, he kept going and secured a significant lead going into round two.

There were many other games with similar stories too. The final on the top table was an immense 4 – 4 on Touchdowns and 6 – 7 on completion points, netting the two players an incredible 20 and 21 points respectfully for the overall winner and the runner up.

Interestingly, they knew how many points each other had going into the final, so each knew exactly what they needed to win. If the 2nd place coach wanted to win, he needed to either outscore his opponent or draw, but really rack up the bonus points – or prevent his opponent from doing so. The coach in 1st place just needed the draw – provided he didn’t rest on his laurels and let his opponent farm points. (In the end, it came down to a Perfect Defense roll on turn 16 that prevented a very likely one-turn-touchdown for the touchdown, the win, and the tournament!)

The question is: was this good playing, and did it deserve extra points? If so, how much is too much?

Going into the final the two teams were 8 points apart. The game itself was the last game still being played, and was one of the most tense matches I’ve ever watched!

But lets look at the broader picture. An important aspect that many people are concerned with when it comes to Bonus Points in BB tournaments is what is called the ‘primacy of W/D/L’. What this means basically is that regardless of what happens, the person that wins the most games should win the day, and should not place higher than someone that did not win as many games. If you have the same amount of wins, then the person with the most amount of draws etc.

How did The Elflympics handle the primacy of W/D/L?


These are the results after round four. Now, lets substitute the scoring system for the 15/5/0


There are obviously a few differences! Interestingly Wobert still comes out on top. The biggest casualty is HungDonkeyman’s Pro Elves that dropped a mighty fourteen places. They had managed to place 5th with a fairly unimpressive W/D/L of 1/1/2 because of his 23 passing points and 16 Touchdown points. On the flip side, Barney’s Norse rocket from 13th to 3rd. While they had a relatively decent 3/0/1, with 53 points in total, they had only scored 5 Touchdowns with 0 Passing Points at all. This meant that despite a great performance they didn’t place as high as they should have, were this a normal tournament. Barney’s Norse only conceded three touchdowns all day, less than one a game, which suggests a well-fought grind in several games. While this is good tactics in normal Blood Bowl, in the Elflympics it meant that they did not place in the top half, landing slap-bang centre table.

It shows that a team with a poor W/D/L can place well, if they score well in bonus points. Conversely, a team with a good W/D/L can place low if they play a more conservative game.

Ultimately, this is sort of what I was hoping for. I wanted a crazy no-holds-barred day where people would be rewarded for pulling off the risky plays.

Was it broken? The fact that it came down to the last turn of the last game suggests to me that there was never a clear advantage to one team.

Was it fair? People went in knowing the rules from the outset.

Does it undermine the NAF sactioning process? Hmm, I think people who have been to more tournaments than me will have to answer that. There are teams that placed low in the tourney but did well in terms NAF ranking.

Was it competitive? Every award was contested up to the last game, from Casualties to Completions to Touchdowns. I think next year more people will bring elf and agility 4 teams, seeing how nine of the top ten races were agi 4 teams.

Was it fun? I hope so!

Will it be running again? You betcha  🙂



p.s. if you want to play with the numbers yourself, here’s the Score file. I’m sure there are better analyses can be taken from the results.

Episode Seventeen: Moot (bonus) Point

We’re back after a few weeks away, and we thought we’d slide in with a nice, easy, no-controversial-in-any-way episode. That’s why we’re talking about Dungeonbowl, Crumb-Bowl, and, ah, oh yes, ahem, bonus points at tournaments.

We’ll also end it all on another episode of BloodBlusters, of course!

What could go wrong?

ABAO Episode 17: Moot (bonus) Point

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CSWTC Episode 3: Bubbaloody Bubbarilliant

Bubba Bowl III! Bristol’s very own one-day tournament was last week, and all four of us attended. In this feature-length (read: rambling) episode, we talk in depth about the high (elves), the low (elves), and the in-betweens (elves?).

Find out who won the Highest Elf trophy, and how we all fared by taking the haughtiest of the pointy-ears in the third episode of our Chronicle of the South-West Tournament Championship.

And, of course, we round off with another titillating round of Bloodblusters!

Bonus: come check out our profiles!

CSWTC Episode 3: Bubbaloody Bubbarilliant

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