Thursday, October 15, 2020

Blank Show

I am sorry...deeply, deeply sorry...that I have been unable to offer anything interesting, intelligent, or entertaining to read this week. I have two cars and both were in the shop this week (different days) while I waited. One child has been working on the "getting-back-to-school" procedure. The other child had soccer practices (with social distancing). It's been a long week and I just...haven't...had...the...opportunity...to...write.

Plus, the Blood Bowl stuff got put away. I was going to post some pix, use them to illustrate the updated rules, etc. But I wanted my dining room back. And so did the wife. And I just haven't had the time to do any "staging" for blog posts. Not with cooking duties, too (tonight it's baby back ribs...$3 a pound means I can do a feast for the family for under $20, including sides).

So, I'm sorry. I can't offer my own distraction from the s*** show that is the current state of our "election season." The current state of our world. It's f***ing depressing is what it is. I'M depressed. And life is pretty good (pork ribs! de-lish!).

I've got a few things planned...mostly stuff about demons and necromancers (I'm in that kind of a mood). But the kids have tomorrow off school so it might take me a while to get it written up and posted. 

What I can do is offer my personal martini recipe. Drinking it myself tonight, and it goes like this:

  • 5 parts Bombay Saphire gin
  • 1 part Martini&Rossi extra dry vermouth
  • 3 "Spanish Queen" martini olives 
  • Skewer olives and place in martini glass. Pour gin and vermouth into a shaker of ice (half full). Shake vigorously. Pour through strainer into glass (no ice!). 

I have large martini glasses (they were a Christmas gift from my mom last year), so I double up on the booze. The extra olive is for my wife. Anyway, it works...especially if the object is to deal with the blankshow. Best to get blankfaced.

To be perfectly blunt, at this point I don't think we need any more "debates" or "town hall meetings." If you haven't made up your mind about who to vote for, you haven't been paying attention the last four years. You either like what's going on or you're beyond tired of it. Can we just vote before Halloween? Jeez. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find something for my children to watch on TV. They were hoping the new season of The Mandalorian was dropping, but that's not till the 30th. 

Cheers, people.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Friday Snark

High Elves: More than any other kind of Elf, the High Elves allow little to interfere with their lives of pleasure. They are the core of their race, living in the cities of the Elven Kingdoms and scorning travel. To these people, working for a living is regarded as a sign of personal failure. Few High Elves ever leave the Elven Kingdoms, though a few younger, more adventurous individuals might do so as a form of vacation, or for the 'experience.' These travelers cannot help but irritate the other races they encounter by their patronizing and overbearing attitude. Lynchings of such individuals are not uncommon.

One might think I'm quoting a passage from Blood Bowl, a game that both satirizes and parodies American football (and fantasy game species) with a snarky...if good spirited...attitude. But I'm not. Instead I'm quoting the "grimdark" RPG known as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, specifically the section of the game's bestiary dealing with elves. 

What I find especially amusing about this passage is setting it down next to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons PHB which states in no uncertain terms that

Elven player characters are always considered to be high elves, the most common sort of elf.

[emphasis added by yours truly]

Typical.

WFRP is a good game, and one that I never got to play enough of "back in the day." But that's (mainly) because I had D&D, as well as DragonQuest and Stormbringer (both of which filled particular needs not met by D&D). And for all its neat ideas, it's not much different from D&D in terms of system. But it's a great read and full of punchy attitude.

ANYway...just a little break from the Blood Bowl talk. Started a post about penalties, but I'll save that for tomorrow or something.

Happy Friday.

: )

Thursday, October 8, 2020

League Updates (BB)

We're a quarter done with the NFL season and despite the Tennessee Titans fiasco and the general state of our post-Covid world, things are progressing more-or-less "business as normal." Yeah, both scoring and injuries have proliferated throughout the League, but the usual suspects are still the usual suspects (as relates to Blood Bowl), and if reality starts to emulate fantasy more than ever...well, that's just par for the course in a surreal 2020.

In our own League (previously called the Beagles & Beers BB League), we have likewise adopted some "Covid protocols." Rather than reworking/rewriting the fan/gate/stadium rules, we've punted the issue: no fans allowed (this ain't no Florida). Likewise, our season has been shortened (8-10 games) and the lack of a "preseason" has resulted in an absence of team re-rolls (again punting on a sticky issue in the 2E rules). Will we have extra teams in the playoffs as the NFL has chosen to do? Maybe...but right now we're limiting inter-conference play to NIL, meaning we may not even worry about anything beyond the conference championship.

The kid set up this display the other day for
"show and share;" at least half
a dozen teams are still in their boxes. At least.

With regard to the NFL, I don't see many updates needed from my previous analysis. Adding dark elf Tom Brady to the Buccaneers doesn't make Tampa Bay any less of a chaos dwarf team. Yes, the Eagles have been breaking like skaven, but I'll not going back on my prior update: humans break, too. As do dwarves (sorry San Fran)...I found that out to my chagrin, as a string of bad rolls (well, good for my opponent) saw the wood elves put a third of my dwarf team in the casualty box. Here are the modifications to my team picks that I might consider:

Buffalo is FINALLY looking "human" again. They broke me down over 20+ years to make me change to hobbit...could a human team really be that bad for that long? No...but they could be exceptionally mediocre which, in the NFL, amounts to about the same thing. Took my son a while to learn how to win with a human team, but he's gotten much more competitive...I can see how a team with 10 coaches over 20 years might have similar "growing pains."

Jaguars as Amazons: not a modification, but rather a confirmation. Ever since (former WSU QB) Gardner Minshew was given the reins of the offense, I've been following the Jags and pulling for them in the AFC South. Unfortunately, they are suffering from the same frustratingly slow development one sees in the Amazons. Such great potential...but so slow and easily broken before they can get "geared up." Still, I have great hopes for Minshew down the line.

Hairy (and quick) feet.

Cardinals
they're halflings dammit, they just are. Larry Fitzgerald isn't a ghoul...he's a long-lived high elf that the hobbits somehow lucked into. The Cards are, in fact, a version of the traditional 2E "mixed teams:" an amalgamation of several disparate player types all looking for a land of eternal sunshine. Halfling is their "base" type...I don't know why I allow flash in the pan seasons to sway my long-held opinions developed over years of evidence. Yes, Kyler Murray is awesome. He is also smaller than Russell Wilson. That makes him a hobbit. Hobbit, hobbit, hobbit.

An immortal...with
great hair.

The Tennessee Titans
are still goblins...now more than ever. They're  just goblins with the 'Rona. In the fantasy world we'd probably substitute an outbreak of Nurgle's Rot due to a particularly nasty match with a Plague team. However, the Saints don't even play in the same conference...heck, the Titans aren't even playing the NFC South this year. Tennessee bumbled into its own pestilence here.  Bunch of diseased goblins.

Panthers: still at a loss for how to typecast this team. Still. Cam Newton's gone (as is Riverboat Ron) but they still have Bridgewater doing designed run plays? What is THAT all about? Strong running game, I guess...DeShaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Steward, Christian McCaffrey. But Steve Smith? Maybe he's the odd duck of the team. Dwarves? No, too big. Cam is too big. Orcs? Maybe. Yeah, maybe. Smith as a goblin. Newton as a blitzer with a great arm. Yeah, I'm strongly thinking orc at the moment, especially considering some of their past defenses. Greg Olsen (now a Seahawk) as a really fast lineorc; sure, it fits. All right...orc it is.

Everything else stays the same. 

; )

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Blitz

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 movement...it 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) or...at 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 downs...it'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. 


Friday, October 2, 2020

Blue Friday

Welp, it's "Blue Friday" again...the Friday before a Seahawks weekend, a day when all fans of the team are supposed to show their support by wearing team merch around town. 'Course I've been wearing the gear all week anyway, since that's most of what my closet is stuffed with: comfortable t-shirts with logos.

*sigh*  This isn't what I want to talk about.

Last night I stayed up in hopes of watching another episode or two of Lovecraft Country, a new television show that I find delightful in every way (I'm about four shows into the series). Yes, I mean that sincerely...delightful. Everything about it. Even as it makes me squirm and shake watching it. And I'm not a horror aficionado by any means.

[though, yes, I've been a Lovecraft fan since age 14 or 15. Had to give my wife an extensive crash course on HPL...his life, writings, and pulp fiction in general...halfway through the first episode as she was completely lost. She is entirely ignorant of...and unconcerned with...the kind of historical geekery that JB enjoys swimming in...]

But, of course, this didn't get to happen as the news came out about Trump and the Covid.

...

...

I've spent a lot of this week NOT writing about politics, despite several fiery rants rolling around in my brain. I know...well, I strongly suspect...that my words will do little to change anyone's political leanings or decisions, just as they undoubtably fail to sway people away from 5th edition D&D. Mainly, I'd just be belittling and abusing people which, as I've written before, ain't all that constructive.

So let me just say this: it doesn't make me happy that Trump and his cronies are passing around the 'Rona to each other like [pick your derogatory analogy]. It's not surprising (and shouldn't be surprising, unless you're an idiot that disregards science and believes Trump's lies about "fake news") given his behavior. But it doesn't make me happy. I think it likely there'll be severe (i.e. "disastrous") consequences to this turn of events. Yet another storm to weather in 2020.

I will continue to pray to God for both justice and solace. I will try to be a kinder, better human being.

With regard to Blood Bowl...I'm again down at halftime 7-6, after missing both an extra point attempt and a field goal attempt in the closing minutes of the 2nd quarter. Despite feeling like there's a problem with the rules (I should be dominating!) the simple fact is I've had a run of bad luck. My chaos renegades team, the Monks of Doom, have yet to inflict a single casualty, despite fielding two trolls and an ogre...that's just improbable. Though it doesn't help that I've been trying to use the ogre as a ball carrier; in retrospect, that wasn't a great decision.

I am currently writing up the basic NAF rules, but it's slow going. I was hoping to do something small, but it was up to ten pages when I knocked off yesterday...basically, it appears I'm going to end up rewriting the damn game from scratch. Not "delightful," and definitely not what I intended. Despite that, the rules really seem to work well in practice. I'll have to post some photos one of these days.

Ah, heck...here's a quick one:

Yeah, that's one dead mutant in the dugout.

The human Titan Eagles have 1st down at the 30, and have chosen to go with an empty backfield and a "spread" formation (you can't see him in the photo, but there's another catcher just off-camera to the left. Clearly the Monks are in trouble...especially as I now count they have an illegal formation with 12 men on the field (each of the large monsters count as two). That was my daughter's doing (she set-up the defense)...I'll have to correct that before the snap, so the ref doesn't blow his whistle!

Have a good weekend, people. Stay safe and healthy.

***EDIT: You know what? I am totally going to bum rush his center with my ogre nose tackle. Going to start this drive with a sack, baby!***

The QB is toast.



Monday, September 28, 2020

Monday Night Football

  *chirp*chirp*chirp*  (those are the crickets, excited for yet another Blood Bowl post)

[hey, folks! I know that I am constantly abusing my readership by writing about football and Blood Bowl instead of, say, B/X Dungeons & Dragons. I get it...that's not what y'all signed up for. But dammit, shouldn't SOMEone on the internet be blogging about the original "fantasy football" game? Until a different nerd comes along and starts doing it, I'm going to consider myself the designated blogger for all things Blood Bowl related]

[actually, even if someone else DID start a Blood Bowl blog it probably wouldn't stop me. Really, I just can't help myself!]

This is not the post about rosters and positions I have sitting on the draft board...it continues to sit like a third string rookie on the bench. But I wanted to give a couple updates before I got back to more "serious" and "studied" meanderings.

Our new Blood Bowl rules are pretty darn good. There are a couple tweaks that are needed...things like reacting to a hand-off in the backfield...but, generally they're working great. I am very, very pleased.

We made it through two full games this weekend (using the new kick-off rules), which is pretty good considering that our time was pretty limited (we're just a very busy household) and the "growing pains" learning a new system. The first match was an orcs-human match-up that went all the way down to the last play of the game: the orcs, down 12-9 had marched the length of the field but were stopped short of the goal line. Linking up to kick a chip shot field goal (to send the game to overtime) the humans crashed the line and tipped the kick, sending the greenskins down in defeat. Pretty glorious overall...and *I* was the one on the losing side!

Our second game also went right to the end but the teams are even more disparate: elves versus dwarves. I thought this one had the potential to be a massacre one way or another, but the dwarves were actually leading 7-0 at halftime. And while the casualties did pile up on the elven side (a total of six by the end), the dwarves weren't far behind (finishing the game with five). 

The dwarves' halftime elation was short-lived as the elves received the kickoff to start the 3rd quarter and proceeded to score a touchdown on their first play from scrimmage. THEN a normally sure-handed dwarf running back fumbled on the first play of the shorties' next possession, giving the elves a short field to score a go ahead touchdown. 

The dwarves then drove the length of the field, using a "hurry up offense" in the last quarter (and judicious use of time outs) to work the clock and score in the waning minutes of the game. Unfortunately, the extra point attempt was wide right and the dwarves ended up falling 14-13. Again...my team lost. But while I know a good coach shoulders the responsibility of defeat himself, in this case I have no choice but to throw my players under the bus for their poor execution. How do you miss an extra point?!??!

I'm going to guess the dark elves are having that exact conversation today in Dallas after blowing two such kicks against the Seahawks.

But how 'bout them dark elves, huh? Man, yesterday the orcs looked...well, pretty much like orcs trying to defend against an elvish passing game. Sunshine or no (I suppose the charitable could blame the Cowboys' turnovers and gaffes on a non-overcast sky), Dak sure can sling that rock, huh? Thank goodness our guy can, too.

Tonight, we've got the humans (Chiefs) versus chaos (Ravens) and, apologies but I'm still working out my rules for mutations, because otherwise I'd try running this game on my own tabletop to see how they stack up. As it is, I guess I'll just have to watch Monday Night Football like a normal person. Jeez.

; )

Friday, September 25, 2020

Times A-Wasting

AKA Fixin' Kickin' Part Un

[damn. That reminds me: I was dreaming I was speaking French. Weird]

Twenty years ago today I was married to my wife at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. While we count our "official anniversary" as our later wedding day in Mexico (in April), I will probably be a little busier than usual around the house today. Also, my kids are doing their Panther Spirit Sprint school pledge drive (remotely) this afternoon...somehow, in the pouring rain. Well, probably indoors.

As such, today's post will be short.

Fixed the kick-off rules for what I'm calling my "advanced Blood Bowl" system (ABB? maybe). The issue was just how loooooong it was taking: even forcing players to set up in specific areas, like the NFL (all players on the kicking team are required to lineup on the 35 yard line, for example, five on each side of the kicker), working out the kick was just too bleeping harry...two kick-offs added at least an hour and fifteen (or more) to the game time, and that was in one HALF.

So INSTEAD we are now going to be rolling dice:

When making a KICK-OFF, the kicking team coach rolls 2D6. The result is subtracted from 13 to determine the starting row in which the ball will be placed; ball placement always starts in the center file. For example, on a roll of 7, the ball will be placed on the center square of row six (the 25 yard line) counting the first row outside the endzone as "1" (the endzone would be "row zero"). If the final result is 2 or less, the receiving team runs back the kick-off or a touchdown. Kick-offs do not advance the time clock.

Modifiers:

  • Big boot skill allows the kicker to re-roll the kick-off table result.
  • An active player with kick return may subtract 1 from the final result.
  • Dwarves, halflings, chaos dwarves, and undead subtract 2 from their kick-off rolls.
  • Goblins, skaven, and lizard man teams subtract 1 from their kick-off rolls
  • Ogre kickers always kick beyond the field of play with no return possible. Make an AG check with a +1 bonus for the ogre: if successful, the ball is placed at the 25 yard line (row 6); otherwise the kick is "shanked" out-of-bounds and is placed at the 40 yard line (row 10). An ogre with the big boot skill may re-roll the failed agility roll when kicking off.
  • Mummies and other large monsters (trolls, minotaurs, bull centaurs, treemen) may never be used as kickers. If forced to kick (because of team attrition), the ball is given to the receiving team on the 40 yard line (row 10). 

An on-side kick is a desperate attempt by the kicking team to field the kick-off themselves, forcing a turnover and regaining possession. Roll a 1D6: a roll of "6" the kicking team has recovered the ball and becomes the offense. Whichever team recovers the ball sets up in the center square, just inside the 50 yard line (row 12 counting from the upfield endzone of the recovering team). Ogres may never attempt on-side kicks. Skills do not affect an on-side kick attempt.

Both regular and on-side kick-offs may be rerolled using a team or veteran (kicker) re-roll. As usual, a die roll may not be re-rolled more than once; the second result stands.

All right, that should serve to speed up game play; hopefully, our next play-test will see us get through an entire game (as opposed to one half...our record so far). I'm hopeful anyway.

By the way...these rules do not apply to 4th down punts. We haven't had a punt yet, but they work out of a normal snap. Maybe. I'm sure we'll find out soon!