Monday, September 30, 2013

Escaping the Necromancer

In my vast collection of Blood Bowl figures, I have exactly one team of the undead. Their colors are black, red, and white, and I have them assigned as the Houston Texans.

Yes, I realize Houston is red, blue, and white (“deep steel blue” as a matter of fact), but my first couple seasons watching them in the league were on a non-“high def” television with questionable color. In my mind’s eye, they look black and red, and I tend to have a pretty stubborn mind’s eye. I have a similar problem with the Chicago Bears.

But why do I have my undead team assigned to the Texans? All my Blood Bowl teams are assigned to one NFL team or another (though the exact teams have changed over the years…I’ve been playing BB since 2nd edition after all – circa 1990 – and there have been three new franchises and a league realignment since then), because…well, because I’m weird and stuff. But why undead?

Well, a couple reasons. The original Blood Bowl game (which also based their fictional “fluff” on the NFL) has two teams one could say are (nominally) based on the Dallas Cowboys: the Darkside Cowboys (a flashy dark elf team owned by a Prince of Darkness type) and the Champions of Death, an undead team coached by “Tom O’Landry the Undying.” Well, if the Cowboys are still the Cowboys, then where do I put the necromantic TX team? How about in Houston where the NFL sought to resurrect a franchise after the Oilers moved to Tennessee?

Yeah, that works for me.

Of course, play-style is also a factor in team assignment, as I’ve blogged before. The Seahawks are orks because (historically) we’ve been a run-heavy, hard-hitting defense, with a really loud (“waa-agh”) crowd. We’ve also had an almost complete lack of stellar receivers the likes of Andre Johnson, Megatron, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Irving, etc. Our receivers have tended to be short and stunty, butter-fingered, or mediocre journeymen types (all apologies to Hall of Famer Steve Largent…one dude does not make for a history of high-flying receivers).

The undead are one of those teams that don’t have a real “specialty” type of play; instead they have a resilient team of “specialists.” Ghouls are speedy receivers and the vampire star player is a near unstoppable ball carrier, but they don’t have a real “passer” type player on the roster. A wight usually acts as the team’s QB, but it’s not a “natural” position (they don’t have any starting passing skills)…it’s just that you don’t want a zombie throwing the ball down the field to the ghouls.

But the real stand-out player on the roster (other than the exorbitantly priced vampire) is the mummy. The mummy is a real monster, and hands-down the toughest standard roster player on any 3rd edition Blood Bowl team. No, they’re not ball-handlers; they are simply engines of destruction wrecking lines and players, leaving the pitch wet with brains and blood. A well-played mummy against an incautious team will wrack up 4 or 5 casualties and knock-out another half dozen over the course of the match…and that’s against a standard strength team. Against the more “breakable” types (goblins, hobbits, etc.) the number of bodies in the dug-out can get really impressive. Having a starting Strength of 5 (more than any other non-star player), Mighty Blow, and a burning thirst for vengeance on the living…well, they tend to advance quickly by racking up star player points.

J.J. Watt is a mummy, and a goddamn wrecking ball.

My wife is not a gamer, but she has played Blood Bowl on a number of occasions. Why not...she’s a big football fan, after all. The undead are one of her preferred teams: they give her the resilience to withstand my onslaughts (I tend to play smashy teams like the orks) and hit back hard. Actually, hitting hard is usually a secondary consideration for her; she really doesn’t like it when her players die (she tends to become emotionally attached to pieces that perform well in a game), and the undead are notoriously hard-to-kill (being already dead)…so when she does inflict casualties with her mummies it’s almost a surprise to her. Like she doesn’t know her own strength (“Oh, I did that?”). She was just trying to get the ball to the vampire.

J.J. Watt knows his own strength and knows exactly how to use it. I haven’t seen such a dominating individual performance from a single player against the Seahawks since last year’s game against Peterson and the Vikings. We won that game, too, but AP was nigh-unstoppable and it was the Vikes’ other weaknesses that the ‘Hawks were able to exploit. The five sacks and numerous tackles for losses and QB hits delivered by the Texans were not all attributed to Watt’s stats, but they might as well have been…it was the Seahawks’ need to double and triple team him that allowed the rest of the defense to come free. The Texans were ferocious…and it started with Watts.

That’s a good team down in Houston and the Seahawks had to show some high caliber resiliency themselves to come back and wrest the victory away from the Texans…a Texans team that dominated our depleted offensive line and moved pretty well against the defense. We’ll see the resiliency of Houston next week when they go into San Francisco next week; can they pull it together and get up the emotion they need to take it to the Niners? Sitting at 2-2, losing at home, and falling behind the Colts and Titans in the division…can they muster their talent and blow up the defending NFC champs?

I have a feeling Watt will be out for blood. If he was a minotaur he’d probably eat which ever quarterback loses the match (“Yates! Get ready to suit up!”). Hell, minotaur or not, I’d be afraid to be in that locker room if the Texans lose three in a row. You let the mummy off the chain, and who knows what might happen!

Someone's going to die, and it ain't this guy

Next up for the Seahawks: at the High Elves of Indianapolis. Hoo-boy…can the “Legion of Boom” handle the Colts’ high flying offense, bolstered by new dragon warrior, Trent Richardson? Andre Luck was drafted way ahead of Russell Wilson…way ahead of everyone, really, being the #1 pick overall. Can the phoenix warrior out –duel our slippery star goblin? Can the Seahawks get a couple of our injured linemen back? Another frigging 10am start on the road...sheesh.

[J.J. Watt stats in Blood Bowl:

Mummy (M +2, S +1, add Block, Break Tackle, Pass Defense, Tackle)

For other players, call Johnson a strong, fast ghoul with Catch and use the vampire Count for Foster. Schaub is a wight with a handful of passing skills…or a zombie if you’re feeling uncharitable today]


  1. JB, sometimes . . . you're just weird.

    But I love you, man! ROFL

    Waiting for more. ;)

  2. I know I'm weird, but Blood Bowl players that saw that game will know exactly what I'm talking about. Watt was throwing around 3-bill offensive linemen like they were stuff-toys. It's a tribute to the Seahawks orky stubbornness that they refused to lay down and die.

    [in the Warhammer universe of Blood Bowl, orks aren't nearly the cowards of Tolkien or D&'s a slightly different paradigm]

    ANYway...I should be blogging about other things soon enough. I was just inspired (and impressed) by what I saw on Sunday.
    : )