Monday, November 18, 2019

National Blood Bowl League

This should be my last Blood Bowl post for a while...everyone can heave a sigh of relief.

I've been blogging about Blood Bowl since 2009...basically since I began this blog. Not terribly surprising since I've been playing the game since the second edition (published 1989) and been a ravenous fan of my hometown team since pretty much its inception.

[okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration...I wasn't a "ravenous fan" at age three (though my parents perhaps were) love for the team started circa 1983 with the inaugural season of Chuck Knox. I would have been nine years old at the time. I was already playing Dungeons & Dragons back then]

I've written before how I enjoy slipping on my gamer glasses and viewing the National Football League through a Blood Bowl continues a snarky tradition of the "fluff" that I first encountered in 2E BB when the designers took the time to file off the NFL serial numbers for their own fictional Blood Bowl league, with teams like the "Darkside Cowboys" and the "Kichargo Werebears." It's all meant to be done in good fun; as I explained in this earlier post (from 2012):

The humorous fantasy world of Blood Bowl isn’t built on the standard, “logical” fantasy tropes. We’re talking about a fantasy world that imagines fans of many disparate cultures (Chaos mutants and high elves and orks and hobbits) rubbing shoulders in the stands and waiting in queue together for half-time refreshments. It’s not a RATIONAL fantasy world; it’s a silly and entertaining one. Sure the orkish team might eat any fallen opponents that aren’t carted off the field fast enough…but I don’t think that reflects necessarily on any real life pro-football team associated with the orks. Just as an orkish Blood Bowl team doesn’t really reflect the nature of ork tribes found in “standard” fantasy games and fiction (i.e. bloody awful, genocidal maniacs championing the cause of Chaos and evil by their very nature). In a standard fantasy world, one wouldn’t deal with an ork tribe in any way except at the end of a sword…in the Blood Bowl universe, one might trade them a high draft pick in exchange for a star blocker and a guarantee they won’t snack on the Halfling cheerleaders in the 3rd quarter.

Choosing the proper fantasy "team type" for the various NFL franchises is a mental exercises that I find amusing, engaging, and nicely intersects my love of both the sport and the game. Also, it's great for helping with color schemes for my painting (I must have enough BB minis these days to field 20+ teams). Generally, I base my decisions on a team's history and tendencies and overall "character" though I try to keep a particular proportion of species to the league (rarer team types show up in fewer numbers than, say, human or orcish ones), and this has been further influenced by the teams offered in various editions of the game, now in its 7th (?) edition.

While some teams are easy to pigeonhole as a particular type (the Seahawks have always been orcs, for example), others have been a lot harder to figure out, and many have shifted conceptually in my mind, generally due to rising and falling fortunes. For example, for the longest time I pegged the Buffalo Bills as a "human" team, generally based on my memory of them as a powerhouse in the 90s with an all-around slate of stars (Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Don Beebe, etc.). However, their two decades of missing the playoffs (only one playoff 2017!...since 1999), and a general failure to hit on draft picks, free agent trades, and coaching hires, has caused me to revise my opinion of them to a "halfling" team (nothing says futility like a team of halflings). A consistent lack of "team identity" contributes to this. Plus, of course, Buffalo wings.

[halflings in the Blood Bowl setting, are more known for their chef skills than their play]

The solid Bills' teams of the 90's are more the outlier...they show the potential of the team (yes, halfling teams can be competitive...I've seen them win tournaments in my home games. They're just a challenging team to use). Anyway, as I'm using the current 32 team league as currently constructed, I generally give more weight to team histories since the realignment in 2002. Generally.

With that being said, here's how I see the NFL currently; there are quite a few differences from my thoughts back in 2010, when I first went through this exercise:

AFC East

Bills: Halfling
As explained above.

Dolphins: Wood Elf
They thrived for years on a good passing attack, but they've just had a tough time (in recent decades) in putting it together. Wood elves are notorious for being very expensive and very fragile and running them for long term success is a tricky bit. The 'Fins miss Don Shula.

Jets: Halfling
Like Buffalo, I had these guys down as "human" for a long time, but despite a handful of playoff appearances the J-E-T-S have been a mess for a long time. Joe Namath's famous bravado I chalk up to that of a precocious (and slightly skewed) Hobbit, who somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a decent suite of passing skills. The antics of these guys (name me a Jets QB of the last 15 years and I'll name you a ridiculous incident or scandal associated with him) borders on the comical, and halflings are the court fools of the Blood Bowl circuit. Prove me wrong Adam Gase.

Patriots: Dark Elf
I've held the Patriots to be elves for a long time, but I long ago changed my mind to think of them as the Dark variety, rather than High Elves. Sure there's the whole cheating thing, but more than that is the fashion in which they thrive in the passing game without the use of star wide receivers. Dark elves don't have true "catchers" (haven't since 2nd edition anyway) instead making use of a running game and dangerous "bashy" types (witch elves, assassins, etc.). For a while in 4E they were allowed to field a minotaur, and I'd be willing to stat one out as Rob Gronkowski. Anyway, they always seem to be playing cold night games in December (and January) and that's says "Dark Elf" to me far more than the sunny goody two-shoe variety of point-ears.

AFC North

Bengals: Wood Elf
Best as a fast, passing attack, but prone too breakage and expensive.

Browns: Chaos Dwarf
Mostly hobgoblins.

Ravens: Chaos Renegade
I had these guys as Norse for a while. They're not. They're a bashy group of miscreants that sometimes get the combination right. Lamar Jackson is a skaven...we'll see how long he lasts before his leg gets broken a la Randall Cunningham (yes, I know he's compared a lot to Michael Vick, but his physical profile is much more like Cunningham, and Vick was a far better passer). "Chaos Renegade" is a new team type for the latest BB edition, a throw-back to the original Chaos All-Stars of 2E that features neither Beastmen nor Chaos Warriors, just cast offs from various team types (generally of the evil variety) and a bunch of Big Guys (trolls, ogres, minotaurs). Tough to reign in, but Harbaugh's proven to be a solid coach.

Steelers: Orc
I kind of hate this pick because I hate the Steelers, but it fits, and Pittsburgh's wa-agh is nearly as good as Seattle's. Also, I dislike it because "Big Ben" Roethlisberger is far easier to model as a chaos warrior than an orc thrower...I guess you just have to give him a couple "+s" to strength (he's still tough to bring down). On the other hand, Roethlisberger's been more injury prone in recent years which fits with an orc thrower's lesser AV (armor value) score. Yeah, orc.

AFC South

Colts: High Elf
Is there anything more High Elf than a team that sported Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning, and Andrew Luck? Come on. Plus those Royal Blue jerseys and shining white helmets? Really?

Jaguars: Amazon
I'm relying a bit on fluff here, but the Jags have had such a difficult time finding consistency over the years that it's tough to go on anything else. Besides the jaguar is found in the same region of the world from whence come the warlike Amazons (in the Warhammer world). And Gardner Minshew's headbands and cut-off shorts would certainly fit with normal Amazon attire.

Texans: Undead
See this post.

Titans: Goblin
I held these guys as orcs for a long time, but they're not. Just a bunch of goblins with the occasional troll or goblin looney/fanatic/bomma/pogoer thrown into the mix.

AFC West

Broncos: Dwarf
Nothing changed from 2010. Manning had to fall down to dwarf levels of effectiveness to wind up on this team.

Chargers: Elf Union
I'm convinced. The chargers are elves, not orcs as I wrote nine years ago. They're not quite Wood Elves, but they are much more of the "traditional" (2E) elf team that the latest Elf Union type seems to model. From Fouts to Rivers these guys can sling the rock...and face all the usual downfalls of that team type. LaDainian Tomlinson was one of those rare (and expensive) elf blitzers that thrived in both the running and passing game.

Chiefs: Human
I have gone back and forth on this one. How do you classify a team that had both Christian Okoye and Priest Holmes? Tony Gonzalez and Derrick Thomas? Trent Green and Patrick Mahomes? Marty Schottenheimer and Andy Reid? Though they haven't had a Super Bowl championship since 1969, they've had success and consistency, but in vastly different ways. As such, I'm most inclined to make them "humans" with the occasional ogre ally, rather than a pure ogre team as I wrote previously...comparing them to the Oldheim Ogres (hardly a successful franchise) is grossly unfair. They've showed versatility and the ability to thrive in multiple strategies, even as ultimate victory has often eluded their grasp...that's part and parcel of a human team in Blood Bowl.

Raiders: Goblin
I don't know what I was smoking before. The Raiders are a goblin team, just for their pure goblin mayhem. There are no Chaos Warriors or Beastmen on this team...just goblins (they traded their troll to Chicago last year). Jon Gruden is a goblin. Raider Nation are goblins. The Oakland Colisseum (don't give me this "RingCentral" BS) is as goblin a stadium as they come. And Las Vegas is a city packed to the brim with goblins and their ilk. Goblin goblin goblin.

NFC East

Cowboys: Dark Elf
Any team that chooses Pepsi over Coke is evil. 'Nuff said.

Eagles: Human
Ugh...this one is so hard. I keep wanting to make them skaven or "underworld" (skaven-goblin) but mainly due to the city's rather notorious fanbase. But they're humans. Hooligans, sure...these ain't the Bright Crusaders (maybe if "Saint Nick" was still starting for the team?), but that's not reflective of the team on the field. The Eagles have been at their best when they've been an all around, versatile team. Balanced is the proper term...which is another trait indicative of the humans in Blood Bowl.

Giants: Dwarf
Nothing's changed here.

'Skins: Orc
Ditto these guys. Amazing the difference that ownership and coaching makes...just like in Blood Bowl.

NFC North

Bears: Chaos
Still an easy pick.

Lions: Underworld Denizens
I've upped my opinion of the Lions. With the addition of the Underworld Denizens team to BB (a combo of goblins and skaven based on the famous Underworld Creepers), I'm inclined to upgrade them from a pure goblin team...they've just had too many stars that fail as "goblins." Matthew, Detroit is going to miss him when he's I'm sure they miss Calvin Johnson.

Packers: Human
The prototypical "human" team.

Vikings: Norse
Ha ha very funny. But this is another tough one. Fran Tarkenton versus Daunte Culpepper versus Kirk Cousins? Plus throw in Adrian Peterson, Chris Carter, and Randy Moss. The one constant seems to be a very tough defense, on both good teams and bad. Give me the slow-footed Norsemen who all carry the "block" skill.

NFC South

Buccaneers: Chaos Dwarf

Falcons: Skaven

Panthers: ???
I'm at an absolute loss. I have "lizard man" written in my notes, but that's one Blood Bowl team I've never owned, used, or played against so I really don't know how they handle. I mean, Steve Smith was small and speedy like a skink, but he was also a mean SOB who didn't shy away from contact. Is Cam Newton a kroxigor? What about Kerry Collins or Jake Dehomme? And how do you classify Kuechly, Peppers, and Olsen...let alone Christian McCaffrey (Kyle Allen is just "Collins 2.0"). The Panthers have had success, but not fantastic success (a couple Super Bowl appearances but no trophies). They fling it around a little too much to be called a serious running team, but they run too much to leave that out of the a feisty, tough defense that (for me) takes human teams off the table. Plus there's "River Boat" Ron Rivera, willing to gamble on crazy schemes and unorthodox coaching decisions. They're a little too coherent to be called a Chaos Renegade, but maybe straight Chaos? Maybe...Newton could definitely be a solid Chaos Warrior out of the Carolina wasteland.

Saints: Nurgle
See this post.

NFC West

Cardinals: Undead
I know I've referred to the Cards as halflings many times over the years. But two things have changed my mind on them in the last decade+ besides they're changing fortunes. One is the continued presence of the immortal Larry Fitzgerald; apparently, the star is a vampire who sleeps away the off-season in a restful torpor, only to be revived in August by whichever necromancer has taken the helm of the franchise. The other reason is that Arizona is where old players go to resurrect their careers.

Forty-Niners: Dwarf 
The running game is imperative, but it seems to be back, as is the violent defensive front. Dwarves are a pain in the ass...just like the Niners. They have all the tools they need to become a new force in the west, if they can get competent play out of "Jimmy G."

Rams: Skaven 
Nothing's changed here. Steve Jackson's been replaced by Todd Gurley. Aaron Donald provides a lot of destruction in a small (for a defensive lineman) package. And Sean McVey is doing what he can to recreate his own "greatest show on turf" with an elaborate offensive attack. Moving the team from the subterranean caverns of the St. Louis "Dome" to the glitter and sleaze of Los Angeles means nothing: the rats are still the rats.

Seahawks: Orc 
And the orcs are still the orcs.

All right...that's waaaay more than enough. Sheesh! In between actually watching football and doing the usual family stuff (including multiple games of Blood Bowl with the kids), this post took nearly three days to write. As I wrote at the top, this should be my last BB post for the foreseeable future...and probably my last post period for a bit. I'm heading out of town at the end of the week for an early vacation and we won't be back till after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Later Gators. : ) 

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