Wednesday, October 7, 2020


First things first: congrats to the Seattle Storm winning their fourth championship, and in truly dominating fashion (they could have been named the Seattle Brooms for the number of series sweeps they've had in the playoffs over the years). By the 3rd period of yesterday's final, it was clear that Vegas had all but tapped out, and the Storm just dropped the hammer, nearly doubling up the Aces 92-59. It's not really fair for one team to have as much talent as Seattle does: even with (finals MVP) Breanna Stewart on the bench for a good chunk with foul trouble, Jewell Loyd and Jordin Canada were absolute beasts, and the ageless Sue Bird kept her team rolling like a steamroller, despite Las Vegas possessing the league MVP A'ja Wilson. Very cool to bring another trophy home to Sea-town.

[and props to Megan Rapinoe for rocking a Def Lepard t-shirt as she cheered on girlfriend Bird]

Okay. Onto Blood Bowl. One of the many (small) annoyances with the Blood Bowl game is its appropriation of (American) football terms for unrelated game concepts. For the most part, it's not too bad (see? I wrote "small" annoyances), but one of the really egregious misuses is with the term "blitz" epitomized in the player position called the "blitzer."

Here's what the game says about blitzers (from 2nd edition Blood Bowl):

These highly-skilled players are usually the stars of the game, combining strength and skill with great speed flexibility. All the most glamorous Blood Bowl players are blitzers, since they are at the heart of the action and doing very impressive things! Their usual job is to burst a hole through the opponent's lines, and then run with the ball to score. Team captains are usually blitzers, and all of them without exception are bossy, big-headed show-offs.

"Blitz" is a mascot, not a blitzer.

Originally, most teams were limited to a maximum of two blitzers (dwarf teams were the exception with four), and many teams (undead, goblins, halflings, elves) had no blitzers at all! 

[ugh...that reminds me I still haven't published my post on team positions and rosters]

Despite the inclusion of "blitz" in the name of the star position, there was no actual "blitzing" in 2E (unless one played with the official NAF rules...more on that in a moment).  This changed in 3E with the addition of the "blitz action:" once per turn, a single player was allowed to both block (i.e. hit an opponent) AND move. When executing a blitz action, the player may make their block at any point during their normal can represent bursting through the defensive line, or stiff-arming a defensive back, or chasing down an opposing ball carrier to deliver a big hit. This blitz action (and its limitation of "one time per turn") has been a part of the game ever since.

Problem is, in terms of American football, this still isn't a blitz.

A "blitz" (from the German word for lightning) is the term used for the defensive tactic of bringing extra pressure again an opponent, hoping to make a big play (a sack or tackle for loss) the minimum...disrupt the timing and psychology of a passing quarterback. 

What is meant by "extra pressure?" Well, in an 11 on 11 game, the offense (generally) has five eligible receivers (yes, the QB is eligible, too, but only if someone else is handling the ball). Even if you get a hat on a hat with regard to the down linemen, that still gives the defense SIX players to defend those eligible receivers...which is often necessary because of the speed and talent of receivers and the inability of the defense to know what the offense's specific plan of attack is. Sending that extra player to try tackling the ball carrier in the backfield can be effective, but it leaves fewer players in coverage...and a QB that can make a quick decision and who anticipates the blitz can feast on blitzing defenses. 

On the other hand, if your offensive line is already overmatched, a blitzing defense can lead to a long, painful day for a team's quarterback.

All of which is to say: the blitz action in modern (3+ edition) Blood Bowl is completely unrelated to the defensive tactic called blitzing in American football. 

Now in modern Blood Bowl, there is one other application of the term: on the kick-off table (rolled randomly at the start of every drive) there exists the possibility of rolling a "Blitz!" in which case the defense (i.e. the team not starting with the ball) gets a bonus turn before the offense makes their first move. This is a callback to the "official NAF rules" found in the 2E Blood Bowl Companion, which offered the following, more-like-real-football rule:

THE BLITZ: Once per drive, the defence [sic] may declare a blitz which allows them to move first, before the offence [sic]. The blitz must be declared as soon as the defence sets up.

Since the NAF rules only allows four downs to score (and, also, because 2E Blood Bowl allows multiple moving block actions) the impact of the blitz rule can be devastating, even without players auto-fumbling when tackled. That being said, it is definitely closer to the spirit of gridiron football, both in terms of function and effect and we have been using a modified version of the NAF blitz in our games. Specifically:

  • We allow four downs to cross midfield (i.e. the 50 yard line) and a second set of downs to score
  • We require an offense to punt on 4th down if they fail to cross midfield unless they trail the other team in points and it is already the second half.
  • We allow the defense a second opportunity to blitz once a team crosses midfield.

What this does in play is create an interesting "chess match" between the two coaches. While we have introduced some "star player" skills that allow an offense to offset the effectiveness of a defensive blitz, generally speaking a blitz will be able to down the ball carrier for a loss unless the coach has some really poor luck with dice rolling. The real question is determining the best time to bring the blitz, based on situation and team set-up. If the kick-off pins the offensive coach near the goal line, a blitz can result in a safety for the defense. On the other hand, saving your blitz till 4th down (assuming you can hold the offense down) gives the defense a good chance to block a punt or field goal attempt!

It's worked quite well in practice, but it's still not really football. In football you can blitz every down...and be carved up by most any QB worth his salt. Of course, in real football, you only need to move the ball ten yards to get a fresh set of's a trade-off for playability that I'm willing to live with.

But I really, really can't stand the term "blitzer." Sorry, Griff Oberwald...a blitzer is a player who rushes the passer instead of dropping back in coverage. Your skill set says running back (tailback, halfback, whatever)...but even being the top scorer doesn't equal "the most glamorous" players on the pitch. That's the quarterback, man.

More on this (including position updates) later.

You can't fight a Storm; you
just try to weather it. 


  1. One of the quirks of being from Connecticut: whenever someone talks about their WNBA team, no matter where they're from, you invariably recognize the names of UConn alumni.

    1. UConn's program has had amazing success. Seattle's fortunate to have benefitted from the luck of the draft.