Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Winner winner chicken dinner!!!

It’s been a while since I last posted about the Stillwater Stiffs; partly because of the collapse in productivity within this blog but also due to their rather average performance in the BCL last year when I played them as Necromantic.

However, very recently something has happened that has inspired me to get writing about them again; the Stiffs have won! And they’ve won not just a game but a championship!

Before I explain how this most unlikely of situations arose it would be best to start by explaining how we run our two leagues here in Christchurch. The most common league is the ‘Great Swinging Ball and Chain League’ otherwise known as the BCL. This league begins in February of each year and requires all coaches to enter a brand new team made up from 1 million gold. Coaches must play 2 games a month over a period of time predetermined by the league commish, usually 6 to 10 months. At the end of the season the team with the highest number of wins is the league champ. The teams are then all disbanded and in the new season all coaches start again with a brand new team. Lastly, while it’s not an official rule, it is frowned upon to play the same team for consecutive years in the BCL so each year we try to enter as a new race.

The other league run locally is the Interminable Perpetual League otherwise known as the IPL. In this league you can start multiple teams and carry them over from year to year, so it gives players an opportunity to develop their teams perpetually (hence the league name). There is no schedule for games you simply play when you want. In order to provide a means of determining an annual league champion a ‘King of the Hill’ style tournament is run around December/January with all coaches allowed to enter one of their IPL teams.

The BCL for 2014 has been and gone and the Necromantic version of the Stiffs performed averagely with a 4/1/3 (W/D/L) result for the season, placing 4th on the table. The BCL ran two separate seasons this year; one from Feb to Jun and one from Jul to Nov. I played in the first season but decided to sit the second one out due primarily to Blood Bowl fatigue. I was struggling to get my head around how to make the Necromantic team work and the frustration from this meant I really wasn’t enjoying my games much. So when it came time to register for the second season I though a break from Blood Bowl was in order. By the time the IPL cup rolled around in the New Year I felt I was ready to get back into it.

I don’t often have time to play IPL games so I’ve got only one team in the league and that’s the Stillwater Stiffs in their traditional Undead format. The Stiffs had a mighty total of 2 games under their belt before the announcement of the IPL cup so I thought the chance of them making it through the competition was unlikely, but I threw them into it just for the fun with no real expectations. Below is a run-down of their games:

Game 1 - Band of Bros

There were 8 teams entered in the IPL cup this year which meant this neatly fitted into three rounds. My first round was against Dave’s Ogre team ‘Band of Bros’; also a fledgling team of only two games. Both Dave and I struggled to find time to play but eventually we managed to take to the field at the Band of Bros home turf in Kaiapoi. There’s not much to say about the game; I won the first roll for fame and then pretty much every roll there after. Dave’s dice were completely unforgiving while mine could do no wrong. Two of my Ghouls scored the four touchdowns of the game; The Twitch scored 3 times and Randy the Reik scored once, while my Wights; Gerry the groper and brittle bones Brucie, both chalked up a casualty each. Dave was an extremely good sportsman and a fantastic host and I’m really sad the dice made the game such a one sided affair. None the less we both came out of it with a few laughs and considering neither of us had much ambition to win the competition there wasn’t much emotional investment in the game from either side.

I of course forgot to bring my camera for this game (nothing new there) so lets just pretend this was a mid-game snapshot of The Twitch running down field supported by team captain brittle bones Brucie and star Blocker Tinderbox. The background does actually look a bit like Dave’s scratch built pitch too.

Game 2 - Dread Machine of Industry

My second game was against Gil’s Chaos Dwarfs the ‘Dread Machine of Industry’. These guys were also pretty new on the scene with only three games under their stout belts. Thankfully Gil hadn’t saved up enough for a Minotaur yet so I only had the 2 Bull Centaurs and 6 Blockers to contend with along with obligitory Hobgoblins. This game was less one sided. While I lost the roll for fame I fortunately won the roll for kick off and decided to receive. I managed to punch brittle bones Brucie down the sideline to score in the 1st half and hold off Gil’s return drive until the end of the half. I also managed to Badly Hurt one of Gil’s Blockers just to rub salt into the wounds. My luck was not to last however as during the second half the dice swung the other way with a vengeance. The Twitch was blocked by a Hobgoblin and suffered an injury that put him out for the next game, Brucie failed a dodge roll (this was my eighth failed dodge in a row) and Badly Hurt himself tripping up so he was out for the game, and then Norbert, one of my Zombies, was knocked down by a Dwarf Blocker and Badly Hurt. Norbert however did regenerate so he would be back for the next drive. Gil ground me out for 7 turns before equalizing leaving me with 2 turns to score. Of course, as luck would have it, the kick off result for that drive was a Blitz! so Gil was able to cover the ball enough that I couldn’t move it down field and he could hold me out till the end of the second half.

Gil’s partner needed him home by a reasonable hour so we had agreed at the start of the game that if it were a draw at the end of regular time we would roll off to see who wins rather than playing over time. Fortunately I won that roll and moved on to the grand final. Given the state of Gil’s team compared with the state of mine I was certainly not confident I could have won it in overtime.

I did remember to bring my camera for this game but unfortunately the batteries ran out after only a couple of shots. Another camera fail but at least I got one good photo out of it.

Game 3 - Raging Ragheads

Well by some outlandish miracle I was in the final for the IPL Cup, and who was I facing? Well I guess it was to be expected; our resident Blood Bowl guru Paul Deacon sat opposite me. Paul had played his Khemri team ‘the Raging Ragheads’ in this year’s IPL cup and I wasn’t sure whether it was a good thing or a bad thing at this stage. The positive side of the situation was that I play Khemri quite a lot so I have a pretty good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The negative side was that Paul’s team were far more developed than mine with a 400 point difference in Team Value. Oh and FYI, I forgot my camera again so here's a picture of a Khemri Skeleton to fill the void:

Looking at his roster I saw a lot of Block and a lot of Mighty Blow so for my inducements I decided Wrestle would be first on the list to purchase. I took a mercenary Ghoul with Wrestle to replace The Twitch, I purchased a couple of Zombies to cover the inevitable casualties and I took the obligatory Wizard.

Paul and I did the pre-game rolling; I lost Fame but won the kick-off roll. I wasn’t sure if I would have much of a team to score with by the end of the first half so I decided to receive first and try and get a point or two on the board. Paul and I set up for the kick and the IPL final was underway.

Randy the Reik retrieved the ball and over 5 turns managed to put the ball in the opposite endzone with a pretty stock standard Undead running game. This left Paul with 4 turns to score, a big challenge for the slow and purposeful Khemri. On the upside Paul had managed to KO my Wrestle Ghoul who was not to wake up for the next drive. Paul did a very good job of pushing down one flank. He had an opportunity to score but needed to make the 50/50 dodge with one of his Blitz’Ras to get into the endzone. With no re-rolls left Paul threw the die and waited for Nuffle’s blessing. It seems Nuffle wasn’t quite in the mood as he delivered Paul a frustratingly close 3. The Blitz’Ra went tumbling to the ground and the half ended. All was not lost however as Paul still had an entire half to equalise and push us into overtime.

The 2nd half began and quickly turned into a slugfest. Cleo, one of my Mummies, sent one of Paul’s Skeletons to the injured dugout. Paul then promptly replied by sending my second Mummy, Tinderbox to the injured dugout. Paul bunched his guys up towards the centre and I saw my opportunity to unleash the Wizard’s Fireball. Seems it was a dud as once the smoke had cleared all of Paul’s players remained standing. Paul then pushed his team down my left flank and managed to form an almost impenetrable double cage around the ball carrier. There was a very small gap at the back where I could get a player to base the ball carrier with just one dodge roll. I managed to get two players through forcing Paul to either blitz them away or make a dodge roll, or both. As I handed the turn over to Paul it was about this time Nuffle decided to rain on Paul’s parade. Not to bury the lead but for the last 4 turns of the second half Paul’s dice didn’t just turn sour, they turned completely rotten. The best Paul could wish for in a block was a push and any attempt at rolling a normal die resulted in a 1 or a 2. I recovered the ball and raced downfield to try and make it 2-0 but while carrying the ball my mercenary Ghoul (who had finally woken up and stumbled out of the KO dugout) tripped dodging out of a tacklezone in a last turn sprint to the endzone. To rub salt into the wound he also managed to injure himself in the process.

Final score was 1-0 to the underdogs with a 1-2 cas differential. I have no idea how the Stiffs managed to overcome some pretty tough teams on their way to the championship but looking back luck had a fair bit to do with it. Most tournament winners will tell you that winning a tournament requires a lot of skill and a little bit of luck and the Stiffs certainly got their fair share in this one.

So the Stiffs can add another trophy to the cabinet next to their BCL Cup for 2512. I really enjoyed playing the Undead again and would love to play them some more, however with the BCL season having already started I fear I won’t get much of a chance as I unleash the AVONDALE DANDIES!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Bake Burger

Well I've already suffered my first set back in blogging for the new year. I was supposed to post this one up a couple of weeks ago with another blog (currently half written) shortly behind it. Nevermind though, I didn't believe for a moment that this new focus on blogging would be without it's challenges or failures. The reason I'm behind is because I've had so much on at work and my evenings are full to the brim with commission painting and landscaping to be done. Today is no different so for that reason I'll keep this blog brief.

A few weeks ago Sam and I cooked up the second burger in our Gourmet Burger cookbook; the Bake burger. This one was also a simple burger with the only real complicated part being the bacon and cheese relish. The rest was pretty much straight forward burger stuff; beef patties, buns, lettuce and tomato sauce. Getting the relish right was difficult as I followed the directions but it came out a bit watery. The relish had all sorts in it; bacon, cheese, gherkin, onion, oregano and tomato. The recipe said to melt the cheese in some water for three 20 second bursts in the microwave and this is where it became watery. Not sure what I did wrong here but we ploughed ahead anyway. We drained the excess water out of the relish, thickened it up and stacked the burgers for eating. The stacking order went like this:

Top Bun
Iceberg Lettuce
Bacon and Cheese Relish
Beef Pattie
Tom Sauce
Bottom Bun

I'll admit that I wasn't blown away by this one. It was all general burger goodness but the only exciting bit was the relish which just didn't taste that exciting. It might be down to my rather average cooking skills but I don't think this one will get a second chance for us to find out.

I give it two out of five pickles.

The Stillwater Stiffs have been busy in our local Blood Bowl league so I'll get a post up about them soon. In the meantime:

eat more burgers!!!