With Dusty out for the game with broken ribs my team value was down to 137, so against Jim's 150 I had 130,000 for inducements. Coincidentally that was just enough to buy a mercenary Tomb Guardian so it seemed it was just meant to be. 'Wither McTwist' was called in to fill the gap and then I got the team to the dressing room for the pre-game pep talk.
The weather was perfect for the game as 27,000 fans bustled into the stadium. The Goblin ref flipped the coin and the Stiffs won the toss. Team captain 'Brittle Bones' Brucie Knochen elected to kick for the first half and the Stiffs organised themselves into their positions.
I had three skeletons on the line and this proved to be a bit of a concern as after two blocks Jim landed both Skeletor and Bill Emik in the dead and injured bin as Badly Hurt. Two rolls of the dice and I was two players down. I was starting to get a little worried.
Skeletor and Bill.
The first half about two turns in.
Jim had no trouble retrieving the ball with his star Ogre who then blitzed his way up field. He formed a cage up on his left hand side and ran the sideline. I did my best to hold him back but in the end my best simply wasn't good enough and Jim scored in turn 6.
Jim's blitzing ball carrying Ogre breaking through my defence.
I was left with three turns to score before the end of the half which meant I would likely need to hand-off or pass; always a scary proposition for Khemri. Jim deployed his team in a checkerboard style so that I had no unobstructed corridors of movement through his team. I set up pretty flat in order to try and get my Blitz'Ras or Throw'Ra up field to receive a pass. I must have become a bit too immersed in the game at this point as I forgot to take any photos, but basically what happened was this: I retrieved the ball and knocked over a couple of Snotlings, Jim shifted his team to cover where he could leaving an Ogre as a sweeper, Jim got a couple of really unlucky Bonehead rolls which left me with a gap on either wing, with a string of Go For It rolls I raced my Blitz'Ras up field with my Throw'Ra carrying the ball a few squares behind ready for the hand-off in turn 8. The block dice didn't go Jim's way leaving Brucie Knochen in the open, Dodgy Dave off-loaded the ball and Brucie ran in a touchdown just before the end of the half.
I felt very lucky to score that one, my plan of letting the Ogres score early or stopping them dead in the first half did not work at all and I was scrambling to get an equaliser before the end of the first.
After a quick half-time chat and the consumption of a few oranges we wandered back onto the field to kick off the second half. This was our set up:
I did intend to score early in the second and try and put pressure on Jim to force a turnover so I could control the end of the game. Leaving Jim one turn at the end for the one turn touchdown was playing heavily at the back of my mind. In the end it didn't quite play out how I imagined. I foolishly left a gap that Jim blitzed an Ogre through and sacked my ball carrier. Fortunately Ronaldo retrieved the ball and found a gap to run it down field. After all of the scrimmage however the clock had run down quite substantially and I need to play for time so I delayed the touchdown till turn 8. Not all was bad though. I was 1 point up and after a very good half Jim had only one Snotling left on the field. Brucie had chalked up two casualties, Ronaldo a third and Liv'n Let'di had fouled two Ogres off the pitch (one of which had been apothecaried). The rest were sitting in the Knocked Out area of the dugout; 10 of them to be precise. I naively believed that Jim would only be getting back about half of these players. So 10 players divided by two equals 5 players back for a total of 7 players on the pitch. I think I can handle that. Well Jim had other ideas as he proceeded to roll for his knock outs and 9 of the 10 wandered out of the dugout to play for the last drive!
Ronaldo doing what he does best.
The Stiff's final turn of the second half.
In the end Jim's Snotling fumbled the ball on pick up and so the one turn scoring opportunity was lost. The Stiffs breathed a heavy sigh of relief and the mutual respect fist pumps and manly hugs indicated the end of the match. Final score 2-1 Cas 5-2.
This was a really tough game for me where I felt on the back foot a lot of the time. I'm so used to being able to out muscle people that when I came up against five strength 5 players I felt like I just couldn't spread my Tomb Guardians out far enough. Some very plucky Snotlings outright refused to go to the injured or knocked out dugout until the end of the first half which caused me all kinds of nightmares tripping over them to get to the Ogres. Jim also played with his typical dynamic Ogre brilliance forcing me to move my team all over the pitch while he blocked up all the lanes with Snotlings. Watching Jim play Ogres is an amazing experience. It's like a morbidly obese ballet where players just seem to roll over the top of each other without squashing anything or anyone. All in all a fantastic game against Jim and a game that could have gone either way had the dice been a bit different.
Just to help with some of the names and for anyone interested, here is how the Stiffs are looking after 12 games: