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Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Nov 07, 2023 - 20:33 Reply with quote Back to top

Blood Bowl is a complex game with a huge amount of potential moves your team can take each turn.
It can be difficult to evaluate all of those and decide what the best course of action is

Some of this is practice and experience, after all:
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
As you play more, you'll get better at discarding most of the available choices without even needing to really think about it

This is mostly basic stuff, but if you struggle sometimes to know how to approach your turn, or you do things in the wrong order, or you're making more mistakes than you'd like, then perhaps this could help you

You've probably heard loads of times about "stand your guys up first" and "do the safe moves first before you start rolling dice"
Those are definitely true, but also it's a bit deeper than that
One fundamental thing in the game is counter-intuitive: the player that you want to activate first, the most important one, the one screaming at you "me me me!!" - they're often the player you should activate last.

Say the most crucial action in a turn is going to be picking up the ball, and you are focused on the player who needs to do it, and you don't pay enough attention to the rest of your players, you could end up with all your hopes on a 3+ roll
If it fails, it's a turnover, and even worse your other players will still be in the wrong place or prone.
The turnover can be so bad that the game may fall apart because of it, you get upset about dice or your mistake (we all do sometimes), and it's a downward spiral of bad feels

Blood Bowl rewards careful and calculated play, because each little decision can give tiny advantages that add up over time
Each turn, or each situation in the game can be thought of as a puzzle with several solutions, some better some worse
In some other games you can fight out of a bad situation by playing faster, harder, more intensely. But in Blood Bowl you're probably just going to make more mistakes and overlook the little things and may not arrive at the best solution you could have found

So, ideally each turn is approached in a calm and cautious way

At the start of each your turns, the game-state can have changed drastically since your last turn.
So you can evaluate for each turn the most important things in the current match. Which is usually:

1) Where is the ball
2) What turn is it
3) What do I need to do in this turn

This sounds so simple it's almost silly right?

Rather than rushing into rolling those sweet block dice, if you instead start your turn by considering "what do I need to do in this turn" - as a strategic, high-level thought - then that leads you to making a plan that is also high-level and strategic

I include the very basic "1) Where is the ball" and "2) What turn is it" because they're so important. People can get wrapped up in block wars or whatever and forget what they're doing and end up outside of scoring range and things like that
The first 2 questions are the most important things that should drive the answer to the 3rd question

Despite the simplicity, it can take a lot of experience to think in this mindset, and then also to actually implement it on the pitch

Last edited by Sp00keh on %b %14, %2024 - %10:%Feb; edited 2 times in total

Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Nov 07, 2023 - 20:33 Reply with quote Back to top

Here's some sample answers to the 3rd question of what you actually need to do in a given turn when on offence:
A) Pickup and secure the ball
B) Move my drive forward towards scoring range
C) Defend my carrier and stall

The mirror of these when defending would be:
D) Attack the loose ball
E) Defend against their drive
F) Try and break their cage / end their stall

Other answers:
G) Deal some damage
H) Protect my team from damage

Answers A B C D E F are all focused towards winning the game, and bashing or fouling is just part of the action within the strategic goal
Answers G and H are valid too, but they lack a strategic goal

Hopefully you see the central point I'm trying to make here - too often coaches don't seem to have chosen an overall goal for their turn or even their drive, and so they revert to answer G, trying to bash, hoping that somehow the other goals will open up for them
Often this works! but if it doesn't, the bash battle may be won but the game will be lost

Before you start moving any players, make sure you've glanced over all of them
There'll often be a player on the floor on the other side of the pitch who has only 1 available thing they can do, which might be just standing up

If you take the start of the turn a bit slowly, look around at all the players, you'll see some easy safe moves you can do without rolling dice, and as you get better at the game you'll be better able to tell which dice-free moves are obviously a good idea, and then just do them automatically

If you've got 11 players on the field but 3 of them just need to stand up, 3 of them are gonna need to move into better positions, 3 of them are probably going to be doing blocks, it actually means you've only got 2 players to make decisions on, so it cuts down the amount of thinking you really need to do

Last edited by Sp00keh on %b %14, %2024 - %10:%Feb; edited 1 time in total

Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Nov 07, 2023 - 20:34 Reply with quote Back to top

To break these answers down and try to provide some examples of what it actually means:

A) Pickup and secure the ball
WHO - The team nearest the ball
WHEN - Kickoff, or any time the ball is loose near your team
HOW - Move a carrier over to collect the ball

Pickup is a single dice roll AG test. Free reroll with Sure Hands. -1 if it's raining. If you fail, it's a turnover.
If the ball is on the pitch edge, it may bounce into crowd if you fail pickup and then go anywhere
This makes it risky, so it's often the last move of your turn

If the opponent team is within range to threaten the carrier you'll want to screen or cage the pickup, so move those players first. The faster the opponents are the more they can threaten your ball, so the more players you'll want to use for this protection
If the opponent team has the speed to get between your carrier and the rest of your team, you'll want to screen this off
If you make the pickup, you'll want to move into a safe cage or screen
If you fail the pickup, you'll want that area to be safe and not threatened by opponent players
It can be safer to build your cage around the ball's pickup location, and then not move away until next turn

B) Move my drive forward towards scoring range
WHO - The team with the ball
WHEN - When you're not in easy range to score. The distance to the endzone and the turns remaining tells you how fast you need to move. (Hence why you always need to be aware of where the ball is, and what turn it is)
HOW - Probably involves punching or dodging past opponent's team and moving your carrier up the pitch.
This is a vague answer, but more detail on this topic is out of scope for this post - the 'how' of a successful drive one of the more difficult things in the game to master

Blocking fail = turnover. Dodge fail = turnover
If the carrier goes solo, then it could get sacked

Send a screen or cage with your carrier to protect it
Win the bash war
Tie up the opponent players with the rest of your team
Be out of range of opponent players

C) Defend my carrier and stall
WHO - A team whose carrier is within easy range of the opponent's endzone
WHEN - It's not your last turn of the half, and you want to reduce the number of turns the opponent gets on their drive
HOW - Carrier is near the endzone. Rest of team is either engaged in bashing, or caging / screening the carrier

Half of your team gets bashed because the other half is defending the carrier
An agile blitzer could try and dive into your cage and hit the carrier
If your carrier is on the sideline, they could get surfed
Your cage is eventually broken
See Java's post on the many ways of attacking cages: https://fumbbl.com/p/blog?c=Java&id=25039

If your team is suffering too much from stalling, or the cage starts to crack and become vulnerable, it may be time to score, rather than draw out the stall any further. Touchdowns on the board are the most important thing after all
To dissuade an attacker diving into your cage, consider making it a deep zonal screen, with 2 clear squares between each of your players in a kind of grid. This takes up the maximum amount of space, or rather you can think of it as filling the pitch with the maximum amount of tacklezones. So instead of one hard 6+ dodge, they may have to make several 4+ dodges, which is less likely to work

D) Attack the loose ball
WHO - Both teams really
WHEN - The ball is spilled somewhere in open space, or has enough chance to be stolen that makes it worth going for. Also on a Blitz! kickoff event
HOW - Send your fast agile players on the hunt. It'll probably involve dodges, bravery and luck. You may need to put your other players into contact with their blitzers to tie them up

You split your team for the attempt but fail, the opponent gets the ball and now you're out of position
Your agile players are vulnerable and get hunted themselves
Your players that you put into contact get bashed

No risk, no reward. If you charge for the ball, you're inherently risking your team and your on-field position for the potential glory of a stolen touchdown. The more you go in, the more you're risking
A Blitz! kickoff event can particularly be dangerous for the kicking team, don't over-commit

E) Defend against their drive
WHO - Team whose opponent has the ball
WHEN - If the opponent team has the range to score before the end of the half
HOW - Conducting a good defence is just as difficult as a good offence. A few basic ideas are:
Column defence - forming up in a screen in front of their drive with 2 clear squares between each of your players, with an additional player behind each of your screening players
Zonal defence - forming up in a grid, to present maximum tacklezones to prevent opponent's carrier from dodging through
Generally you'll just take your blitz action and fall back. You don't want to get into heavy contact, unless you're significantly bashier or outnumbering the opponent

Opponent is bashier and goes into heavy contact with you
Opponent is faster and out-manoeuvres you
Opponent out-numbers you and presents you too many options to stop

Have a sweeper or 2 back deep in your own half, to sack any carriers that break through
Win the bash war, or at least take out their carriers
Tie up the opponent players with your team

F) Try and break their cage / end their stall
WHO - Team whose opponent has the ball within easy scoring range of your endzone
WHEN - Any time the opponent is caged up and ready to score
HOW - Keep taking your blitz and hitting the cage, hoping to get some progress. Optionally leave players in contact with the defending players, hoping for blocks in the next turn
If you have an agile blitzer type, consider sending it in for a direct hit on the carrier. The percentages on this usually aren't good though

It's like a normal bash war but intensely territorial. You could be winning or losing this war
If your agile blitzer goes in, it could easily fail and then get surfed or fouled

If the opponent team is huddled in the corner, you may be able to find crowd surf opportunities
If you can isolate some of their players, you can get 3-dice blocks and nasty fouls to punish the stall and dissuade them from continuing it

G) Deal some damage
WHO - Any team, but usually the bashy / fouly ones
WHEN - If the ball is secured, there's plenty of time left in the half to still score later, but advancing the drive forward is not immediately required, or available
HOW - Do some bashing, do some fouling.

You get caught up in the bash war and forget that you need to move forwards
You lose the bash war and then can't move forwards

Don't spend too many turns doing this!
There's a reason why this option is described as lacking a strategic goal. It should be last on your list of plans for any given turn, and only do this once the other options aren't better

H) Protect my team from damage
WHO - A team who can't do any of the other plans
WHEN - Your team is suffering damage / is at risk of damage
HOW - Run away. Stay prone. Hide your better players behind your worse players. Try and prevent nasty fouls

You get blitzed and fouled anyway

Opponent can only do 1 blitz and 1 foul action per turn
Have an Apothecary

I) Score a touchdown
I missed this one but it should be on the list, ha
It doesn't need any specific detail, it's all been already covered above

Last edited by Sp00keh on %b %07, %2024 - %10:%Jun; edited 4 times in total

Joined: Mar 18, 2021

Post   Posted: Nov 07, 2023 - 20:58 Reply with quote Back to top

One that I commonly struggle with is moving the cage/screen vs the ball carrier when I would have to make dodges or blocks to accomplish either.
Hard to identify when to move the ball carrier vs when to move a tied up cage piece when a failed activation of that cage piece would allow 2 dice on the ball.

On one hand, moving the cage piece first means they still have to actually succeed the hit on the ball carrier. On the other hand, if you move the cage pieces first and far, then you fail the ball carrier activation, you won't have much chance of recovering the fumble.

Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Nov 07, 2023 - 21:03 Reply with quote Back to top

Yep that's tricky, progressing your drive when under that much pressure

Sometimes there's spare players available that you can send in to the location of the existing cage, to cover the cagers who are going to move forward
If so, you can kind of handover the responsbility and free the cager to move first, and then move the carrier after that

I tried not to get too much into that level of tactical detail though on this post, I wanted it to be a bit more high-level / strategic detail

Also I think the topic of a successful offensive drive is absolutely huge and I didn't want to tackle it Smile

Joined: Dec 19, 2005

Post   Posted: Nov 08, 2023 - 01:35 Reply with quote Back to top

love this line: "Each turn, or each situation in the game can be thought of as a puzzle with several solutions, some better some worse"

Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Nov 08, 2023 - 10:07 Reply with quote Back to top

Credit to AndyDavo really for that idea, if you ever watch his videos he often talks about finding 'the solve', and at the start of each turn he's got this sort of expression of quiet, intense thought

He doesn't seem to get salty because he's losing, or arrogant because he's winning or whatever.
And the dice involved don't seem to phase him. They're just part of the problem he's trying to solve. Instead, he's just treating the current gamestate as a logic puzzle that he's going to enjoy unpicking and doing his best with

It's an admirably zen approach. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it's great way to try and look at the game

Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Nov 08, 2023 - 10:57 Reply with quote Back to top

Once you've decided on what you need to do in a turn, and you've got an idea of what that involves
You can then look at the pitch and see what players you have available and what actions they can take

What to actually do?

You can rank your player's available actions by importance:
- Some of your players can directly contribute towards your plan (your carrier picking up the ball)
- Some of them are indirectly contributing (a player blocking an opponent)
- Some of them can't help (too far away)

You can also rank the actions by risk:
- Some players need to roll hard dice (your carrier picking up the ball)
- Some players need to roll easy dice (2-dice block with Block)
- Some of them don't need to roll any dice (freely moving, or standing up from prone)

Usually, the best way to sequence your turn is to do the most important and least risky moves first, and the least important and most risky moves last

Often risk and importance clash with each other, and you'll need to judge how to proceed. This just takes experience (and rerolls) but it also forms the basis of why this game is interesting, and how you operate in this uncertain area forms the basis of your own nature as a coach

Sometimes taking a big risk at the start to unlock a big reward is worth it. Eg taking a dodge to surf the opponent carrier, and having un-activated players left who can pick up a bouncing ball
Again, seeing these opportunities, and knowing if they're worth it, just takes experience to judge
Do still take the safe moves first if there are any

This ranking method is not always the best approach, but it's a good rule of thumb
If you're stuck with how to approach a turn, try and keep this in mind. It may not lead you to the most optimal elegant big-brain solution, but it's a safe solid baseline at least

I'm simplifying here to the point of ignoring the opponent, anticipating their intentions, thwarting their plans and so on.
Also ignoring that your plans will frequently need to change on the fly whilst a turn is happening, based on little things like did you get a pow or a push

The end of a half, needing to score, having no rerolls, really focuses the mind on "what I need to do" and "what unnecessary dice can I avoid"
But really, Blood Bowl should be played with that type of mindset *all the time* - strategically focused and risk averse

To summarise this whole concept, your play should be top-down in the following layers or steps:
1) Evaluate the current gamestate,
2) Decide on a strategic goal based on that state,
3) Form a plan for the current turn based on that goal,
4) Prioritise the actions of each player to best deliver your plan

Each of these layers gets more detailed, more zoomed in, and is informed by the layer above it

It's the opposite of bottom-up, which would be seeing a player in front of you and wanting to immediately take actions with them

Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Jun 06, 2024 - 13:11 Reply with quote Back to top

Our teams are locked in a big brawl

If lots of players from both teams are locked together a big central scrum, in your turn you may have the opportunity to take a lot of blocks

The amount of possibilities can seem overwhelming
The order you do each block, the direction you push, and whether you follow up or not will affect the next block and the overall outcome of the scrum

A few basic things:
- Do blocks with Block skill before blockless blocks
- Blocking away Guards will often unlock other blocks
- Prioritise fragile / dangerous / expensive players

Doing all that lets you maximise your blocking, which is often the only thing people do. But you need to also consider positioning
You want to be blocking/pushing opponents either:

- To free up your players so they can disengage from the scrum and do other stuff
- Away from the ball / away from your players
- Sometimes into your players for secondary blocks
- Sometimes towards the sideline as maybe you can surf them later
- Sometimes you can engineer chainpushes to also achieve the above

You could work out the ideal sequence to maximise blocking
You could also work out the ideal sequence to concentrate on field-position. For example reorganising the pitch such that your players get closer to the ball, and their players get further away

These 2 sequences will probably look quite different, they can be in conflict with each other
I think people tend to be better at blocking sequences, or its just easier to see them

Which route you go down depends what you need to do in the turn. There is a choice, and choosing one will neglect the other
Just blindly blocking away will be OK a lot of the time, but it's not the best use of the opportunity
The best coaches will do a good job at maximising both, they'll gain the positioning they want, while also getting a lot of good blocks in as well

Sometimes a bashy roster's main plan is to get a numbers advantage and then lean on that to escalate the pressure, but even they need to consider position. They can't afford to get tied up doing blocks but in the wrong half of the pitch

Last edited by Sp00keh on %b %03, %2024 - %18:%Jul; edited 4 times in total

Joined: Mar 18, 2021

Post   Posted: Jun 06, 2024 - 16:25 Reply with quote Back to top

Scrums are also the best time to find a creative chain push for an unexpected play. Downed players also create leaping opportunities for more surprises!

Joined: Apr 01, 2011

Post   Posted: Jun 06, 2024 - 18:23 Reply with quote Back to top

Shook_one did that to me! Super unexpected, awesome chain push play

Joined: Jun 25, 2010

Post   Posted: Jun 06, 2024 - 21:55
Reply with quote Back to top

This is impressive stuff and definitely a must-read for experienced players that hit that "skill plateau" we all eventually experience. Stickied.

Joined: Feb 26, 2011

Post   Posted: Jun 07, 2024 - 21:41 Reply with quote Back to top

I think bash is not about injuries, at least not primarily. Like, if you're blocking for blocking's sake, that usually means either things are going well already, or they're not and you're playing poorly. On the other spiked pad, if you're setting up so that the best thing you can do is turn off your opponent's TZ, move them a square, and limit their action profile in the following turn, well, the AV roll is a nice bonus you get on top of that, which will itself occasionally be decisive.

So really, it's fishing for damage that doesn't suggest a repeatable strategic aim. It definitely suggests a strategic aim, just not one you can control. But fishing for damage can be a byproduct of other aspects of the game, and you can totally lean into that as part of a larger positional plan. It can actually be really psychological, one of the most important bash skills is luring the opposition into places where they have to expose themselves to blocks.

Lude enixe, obliviscatur timor.

Joined: Dec 06, 2011

Post   Posted: Jun 13, 2024 - 18:35 Reply with quote Back to top

How To Win When The Situation Looks Bad

Matchups are never completely even. There can be mismatches in all factors, from the macro to the micro:
- Coaching skill, roster vs roster, team development, TV difference, inducements
- Touchdowns on the scoreboard, players off the pitch
- Kick rolloff, setup, kickoff event, weather, ball scatter
- Positioning, marking, claiming space, screening, etc
- Dice results, bashing, picking up the ball, passing, dodging, fouling etc

Side note:
Calling individual dice results the 'micro' level is correct. But they're also the most visible, people can get tilted by this smallest level of detail, without acknowledging the larger issues that have lead them into the bad situation

Anyway in any given gamestate, there'll be one team which is more likely to win, and the percentages for this change as the game unfolds
It often swings when CAS happen, but there's plenty of other events in a match that swing it too

Being able to judge if you're ahead, equal, or behind is a useful skill. People can be a bit pessimistic about how well they're doing

You can maximise your chances of a good result if you adjust your play according to if you're ahead, equal, or behind
(The TL;DR of this is, if you're ahead then play for stability. If you're behind, you need to gamble more)

So to get into some specifics

If the game is balanced, then just carry on with your primary plan. Stick to plan A, follow most of the normal advice, play a standard game

If you're behind you generally will need to take more risks. This can include:
- Fouling
- Diving into a cage to sack the carrier
- Throwing bombs, wizard, teammates at the problem
- Throwing your team into harm's way to hopefully draw skulls, force dodges
- Uphill blocks (opponent chooses the result)
- Breaking the normal 'rules' of sequencing. You may not have the luxury of doing safe actions first, you may need to leave player unactivated so they can pickup a spilled ball in case your desperate sack works
- Passing
- Pushing a carrier recklessly forward because you can't wait until it becomes safe
- Setting up in the hopes of kickoff events like Blitz! or Time-out

Don't forget that all of these things are risky, and that if you're in a bad situation taking risks it's often just going to get worse
Blood Bowl still needs risk management, you'll still need to carefully judge what you're doing, it's just the calculus changes when you're behind

There's also a difference between being behind and playing catchup, vs last ditch desperation.
If the only way to avoid losing is to try sacking the ball carrier in the cage, then you go for the attempt.
Or accept the loss to preserve your player

To contradict myself a bit, if you feel the game slipping away, and you know you're going to have to take big risks, it's often better to do it early rather than later. Earlier means you've still got more players available, more turns to try and recover the game

Another way to try to shake up the flow of the game is to change the amount of contact you're in. If it's stand-off, then go into heavier contact. If there's lots of contact, then try and disengage: block yourself free where you can and dodge out where you can't

If you're ahead, you want to seek safe, risk free stability. You want to protect the lead, the ball, the carrier, your team
Don't make mistakes, sequence things in the safest way first

Being in control of the blocking, or outnumbering the opponent lets you:
- Mark prone opponent players
- Mark a standing opponent player with 2 of yours etc.
- Force dodges
- Find crowd surfing opportunities
- Get more assists for blocking so you get better dice
- Get more assists for fouling

This all should pay off with more blocks in the future, escalating the pressure which hopefully leads to more control and more stability.
You want to find a small advantage and ensure you carefully nurture it into a larger snowballing advantage

How To Lose When The Situation Looks Good

- Attempting to score when you don't actually need to. It's sometimes better to stall it out and not score again, rather than push forward and risk losing the ball
- Getting greedy for blocks, fouls, crowd surfs and thereby sacrificing position or safety
- Farming SPP with vanity passes
- Forgetting about opponent's wizard
- Forgetting what turn it is
- Not being in scoring range in time
- Not securing the ball enough, or more generally not protecting against potential desperation plays from the opponent

Some skills are win-more, in that they help you win but only really when you’re already winning
Frenzy is the best example probably.. it often needs assists to get 2dice blocks and if you’re outnumbered then it can be detrimental rather than beneficial

Last edited by Sp00keh on %b %14, %2024 - %11:%Jun; edited 3 times in total

Joined: Apr 01, 2011

Post   Posted: Jun 13, 2024 - 19:25 Reply with quote Back to top

excellent post, thank you
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