For those of you who don't know what the Ausbowl State Championship is I'll give you a quick low-down. Two years ago Australia decided to hold it's first inter-state championships in Sydney. The scene was then set to hold the second round of this biennial tournament in Adelaide SA. The tournament is the opportunity for each Australian state to submit a team of six to compete with other states for the honour of State Champions. This year the Aussies also kindly allowed us to enter a Kiwi team and I was one of the fortunate six to attend.
Our team was made up of three people from Christchurch; Paul, Gil and I. Two people from Auckland; Nick Gyde and Dave Cleverley, and a ring-in ex-pat Kiwi who is currently living in Melbourne; Mark Brocas-Reti. We had to all take different races for our teams so respectively we took: Slann, Skaven, Undead, Wood Elfs, Dwarfs and Orcs.
Cut a long story short it was a fantastic weekend in Adelaide. The Blood Bowling was brilliant; the Aussies are such quality players, both in the game and away from it. The kiwi team was fantastic, we got 5th place out of eight teams in the end which we are pretty happy with. We went into the event with the slogan of "let us not disgrace ourselves" and we managed that ok. There are of course things we wish we had done differently now, with the benefit of hindsight, but those improvements will have to wait till 2015. Lastly the organisers were brilliant putting on a really good event and whoever came up with the idea of holding it in a German Club that serves copious amounts of German beer and stodgy German food deserves a medal.
All that aside here's a brief run down of the event. I apologise for not having pictures of the individual games but I was exceptionally unorganised with the camera.
The team format can be seen on the home site here:
I took a 14 man Undead roster with three re-rolls. I filled all the positionals and took six Zombies. For skills I took Block on both the Mummies and Guard on both the Wights, I then put Block and Wrestle on two different Ghouls and left two unskilled. After round four you could add one more skill to your team and this could be placed on a player who already had a skill. I chose to put Sure Hands on a third Ghoul to give me some ball handling abilities. Here's how the games went:
My first game was against Rod from NSW who I had talked to a little the previous night when we were all out drinking. He played Orcs but I don't remember exactly how his skills were laid out. It was a tight game; NSW and ACT were expected to be the best teams. Rod received first half and pounded me into submission. I blocked his ball carrier in turn six with two dice uphill and pushed him in for a touchdown just so I could wake up some of my team and try for a two turn touchdown before the half ended. It wasn't to be unfortunately. However the second half went very much my way as I injured three of his Black Orcs and took control of the pitch to tie the game before the final whistle. Score 1-1 and Cas 3-3.
My second game was against Andrew from ACT. He was playing Chaos Dwarfs and was a very meticulous and deliberate player. This was the only game I struggled to finish in time but we got there in the end. I don't remember too much about the game unfortunately other than it felt like a chess match more than a Blood Bowl game. He beat me in casualties 0-1 and we drew in score 2-2. We both played very well positionally and neither of us really gave ground. It was a hard fought draw and I was happy with that against a player of Andrew's calibre. He ended up placing second overall compared with my sixteenth.
Game three was against Duro from WA. He played Dwarfs and it was your pretty standard Dwarf layout; lots of Guard with a bit of Mighty Blow on the Troll Slayers and Block on one of his Runners. Duro's dice were awful for this game. He seemed to roll nothing but skulls and pushes on his Block dice so it seemed inevitable I would come out with the win. He almost got a draw out of it though when he tried to dodge his Blitzer into the endzone in the last turn. Unfortunately his dice abandoned him again and he rolled 1-re-roll-1. Final score 1-0 and Cas 1-1.
The last game on day one was against SA and I ended up playing Adam; one of the tournament organisers. Adam was playing Norse, which was a team he had borrowed from someone else. I wasn't sure what to make of his playing style at first, it seemed quite defensive for what is basically a kill or be killed team. He came up with some really good blitzes though that had me panicked for a while but I just kept focusing on keeping my Ghouls moving, my Mummies hitting anything with armour 7 and I tried to always have a Zombie chew-toy next to his Snow Troll so he couldn't get near my positional players. In the end I came out with a 2-1 win with Cas 2-1 also.
Second day and I was starting on a bit of a high not having lost a game. Oh how I hate the taste of humble pie. I was playing Paul from Queensland and he was playing Undead. His team build was mostly identical to mine except that he had taken Sinned Bad as a Star Player, so the game looked like it was going to come down to who played better or who got more casualties. We were 1-1 with about four turns in the second half and I thought I had him as I was pushing his cage into the sideline. I had a Ghoul and a Wight in the backfield to pick up his ball carrier if he tried to switch sides and there was no way he was getting through my defensive line...or so I thought...he shifted sides with his ball carrier and there was no way for him to get someone over to screen unless he rolled a string of 5's and 6's. He started moving a Ghoul through my defensive line to screen his ball carrier and I smiled thinking his Ghoul was about to face plant the turf leaving me to blitz the ball carrier in the open, turn over the ball and race in to score before the final whistle. To my surprise however Paul rolled a string of 5's dodging through my cage, screened his ball carrier, then rolled a string of armour breaks (including stabbing my Mummy with an 11!) leaving me with very little chance to stop his run to the line. My dice abandoned me in the last couple of turns and there was nothing I could do to stop Paul from grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat. Great game and a great player.
My second game did not go any better than the first. I was playing Liam from Vic who brought Wood Elfs. I actually wasn't too upset about how I played. We both had awful luck picking up the ball in the pouring rain. Liam received first and it took him three turns to pick up the ball...with Elfs! He eventually scored and I had about three or four turns to get an equaliser before the end of the half. It wasn't meant to be as I just couldn't pick up the ball to move it down field. I had the same problems in the second half, burning through Re-Rolls trying to pick up the ball. After my sixth failed attempt I had placed enough players around the ball that it scattered between them three times before I finally got a hold of it. I then shifted the ball down field but my inability to break Wood Elf armour meant he still had plenty of players to stall and disrupt my drive. Eventually I managed to get a few in the injured bin and was within range of scoring but in typical Elf fashion Liam dodged into my cage to block any assists before jumping his last remaining Wardancer through three dodges, leaping into my cage and knocking my Ghoul over. The ball then proceeded to bounce to the only place on the board that had three Wood Elf tackle zones on it. I did my best to retrieve the ball but it wasn't meant to be and Liam came up with the 1-0 victory. Cas however was 3-1 in my favour though I was pretty disappointed with this given the amount of Armour rolls I was making. Turns out the law of averages was going to even out in the following game.
Last game for the event. We were playing the Barbarian team for our final game and they were all a great bunch of people. They had come for the beer and were intending on playing a little Blood Bowl somewhere between the drinking. I was playing Andrew Godde who brought his Norse. He had the Valkyrie models from Shadow Forge so I kept getting confused thinking I was playing against Amazons but I just kept blaming the beer for my absent mindedness. The game was interesting; Andrew did a lot of damage to my Zombies but I kept passing my regen rolls. I had to get by for a few turns without a Blitzer and a Mummy while they were knocked out but my dice rolls for waking my team up at the end of each drive were pretty good too. Andrew on the other hand didn't have as much luck in that area. If one of his players got knocked out they seemed to stay out for a minimum of two drives...sometimes more. I decided to throw caution to the wind in this game and dodge my Ghouls and Wights in for some risky blitz moves to keep the pressure on. It really paid off as my rolling had improved immensely from the last game and I managed to knock the ball loose a few times and force Andrew onto the defensive when he was supposed to be attacking. This was also the only game in which I used my special play card to punt the ball downfield when Andrew was pressing me into my own half. He had left no one back so after dodging a couple of Ghouls behind his line they managed to run in the last touchdown of the game leaving the score 3-0. Cas was 2-3 to Andrew though I claimed the moral high ground because I managed to kill one of his players ;) Another fantastic opponent and a great way to finish the weekend.
Overall I really enjoyed the event, especially the level of competition which truly stretched my abilities. I'm keen as mustard to play again in 2015 but we will have to see how the finances look. The next Championships are in Perth so it's a long way to travel. I better start saving my pennies.
While I didn't take photos of each individual game I did get a few shots of the event once I had finished games so here they are for your perusal:
This was my only in-game shot I remembered to take. I am playing Paul from Queensland here. He had some fantastic models for his Undead team, all converted out of Warhammer Fantasy or The Hobbit figures.
The hall with games in full swing.
Proud to have our flag on display. Though I'm not sure why it's at half mast. I think it may be an indication of how this game is going for Paul.
A picture of us playing Queensland. Mark is out of shot to the right, Gil is on the right, Dave is in the grey T-Shirt, Nick is standing beside him and Paul is on the end.
The swag for the SA Open. The organisers did a great job, everyone who competed in the Open went home with a prize. Had I been eligible my pick would have been the painted Amazon team donated by the Three Die Block podcast.
So in summary it was an incredible event and if you're considering attending next time, or even considering attending any Blood Bowl event in Aussie, I would highly recommend it. The competition is fantastic, the company is outstanding (if a little inebriated) and the beer is...well...thank god for the German beer because Aussie beer is bloody awful. Still, two out of three ain't bad.