Showing posts with label tx. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tx. Show all posts

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]

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Texas Rangers

I know it feels like this has been a light blogging week for the old Blackrazor…at least it’s felt that way to me. I know I have a tendency to throw up pages and pages of posts…I’m not trying to be “prolific” or compete with Grognardia or anything, I just happen to have diarrhea of the brain a lot. Plus I tend to be a pretty self-centered naval-gazing bastard, which leads to a lot “of reflection” and (ranty) blog posts. Got another of those latter types getting teed up in my brain as I type this little missive.

ANYway…while I haven’t been blogging, I HAVE been working/writing this week, though you won’t like what it’s about: more B/X Star Wars mischief. In fact, I’ve written two looong Star Wars/Experience Point posts and have published neither, because every time I read back over them they just read like whine-whine-whine. F that noise…you folks have better things to do with your time than read about my frigging lightsaber fetish.

On the other hand, I’m seriously considering just writing up the damn game as an actual Star Wars RPG and giving it away as a free download. My understanding is Lucas doesn’t have a gripe about “fan-based derivatives” unless one tries to make money off them? It would certainly save on production costs if I could go the West End Games route and stick film photos in the book (instead of illustrations).

All right, all right…I DID say “no Star Wars,” and I meant it…that’s a whole ‘nother week’s worth of posts. Instead, I wanted to talk about a different fetish of mine: Texas Rangers.

No, not the baseball team. I’m not a huge fan of baseball anyway (I enjoy it, but it ain’t the NFL), but if I was rooting for any team in the World Series it would have to be the Giants. How can you not love a team that has Kelly from the Bad News Bears?

No, no, I’m talking about the REAL (so to speak) Texas Rangers…you know, the law men with the six-shooters?

When I was a kid, long before I discovered D&D and knights and armor, I dug the Lone Ranger. “Long before” is, of course, extremely subjective but there’s a lot of growth and development occurring between the ages of, say, 5 and 8…enough that they seem like two different lifetimes.

Guys who are older than me probably have even better/stronger memories of the masked hero and his horse, Silver. I never saw the old black and white serial, but I most definitely watched the Saturday Morning Cartoon (where do you think I learned that you extinguish an oil derrick fire with dynamite? Lots of useful lessons back before they started adding “morals” to the epilogue!). I also had a large action figure or two that I believe was made in response to a feature film done in the early 80s (THAT I don’t remember at all).

The toy was only “okay” (if memory serves I actually had Tonto and my brother had the LR for some reason), due in large part to the limited number of supporting cast dolls. At least, with my Star Wars figures (sorry) I had Storm Troopers and Darth to “fight” with my Han Solo and Luke, etc.

What WAS cool was the little mini-comic that must have accompanied the toy (I don’t recall where else I would have acquired such a thing) detailing the origin of the Lone Ranger. How he and a huge posse got bushwhacked in a box canyon (was the bad guy’s name “Black Bart?” Maybe), and he alone survived…hence the moniker: The LONE Ranger.

Now, I have no idea why he decided to don a mask (shame at being out-smarted by such a low-down sidewinder? Maybe), nor why he decided to go it alone rather than put the badge back on (isn’t that kind of like desertion? And he probably didn’t get the Texas Ranger salary after turning vigilante).

We won’t bother to ask how he could be considered “lone” with his faithful (Apache?) companion.

Anyway, far from the current mythology of the tough as nails “One Riot, One Texas Ranger” kind of guy, the Lone Ranger was more of classic (ancient) hero paradigm. There’s a bit about him that calls to mind Roland, or perhaps Theseus…I don’t know.

I just liked the mask, myself.

When I picked up Deadlands (1st edition only…D20 Re-Loaded and Savage Worlds ain’t my thang), the first archetype to which I was immediately drawn was the Texas Ranger. THIS was “my dude,” mask or not. Some folks might be drawn to the more “fantasy-trope” characters (mad scientists, hucksters, shamans) and some want to base their character off of the typical western badass (Jonah Hex, the Two Gun Kid, the Outlaw Josey Wales or any of Eastwood’s “no name characters”). Me, I wanted a Texas Ranger…and if he could get dry gulched and left for dead and come back Harrowed…well, so much the better.

[and just by the way, I HATE “rangers” in D&D, every edition. They make me want to vomit]

I like Deadlands a lot but, to me, the game feels nearly un-playable and is problematic for all sorts of reasons, design-wise (probably a major impetus behind later editions moving to different game systems). The Weird West setting is probably the main thing I enjoy, though at times it does seem a bit “kitchen sink-ish” (especially with Lincoln as a superhero).

The western genre in general is NOT especially conducive to the “adventuring party.” Buddy pictures, sure. Solo gunmen, you bet. D&D-type crawls? No. And yet that’s what a DL game is apt to be like…take 3 to 5 players, make characters and then set off in a Wagon Train-like serial? That’s kind of dumb…for a role-playing game.

If single player role-playing wasn’t such an exercise in narcissism, the Deadlands world would be ideal for a Lone Texas Ranger (undead or not) to ride around exploring. But even if a 2nd player was down with playing 2nd fiddle Tonto, I’m not sure how long one could sustain a DL campaign.

Of course, the Wild Wild West serial lasted quite a few episodes before being cancelled.