Monday, September 21, 2020

Gates And Fans

Pretty good day yesterday starting with the fact that there was blue, smoke-free sky for the first time in a week or so, thanks to the pouring rain of the prior 30 hours. Probably should have taken a photo, as it's gone today. At least we got in a good bike ride.

Football was good. A little disappointing to watch the dwarves (49ers) curb-stomp the halflings (Jets), despite the former missing half a dozen starters (Kittle, Sherman, Mostert, Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Jimmy G) but they are hobbits, after all...I mean what was I expecting? If Durin's folk invaded the Shire the battle couldn't have been more lopsided. The J-E-T-S absolutely S-U-C-K.

Then there were the Seahawks. Oh, Seahawks. I've explained before why they're orks, but man O man did they play like orks. 14 year veteran pro-bowl tight ends butter-handing the dark elves a pick six to start the game. Blatant fouls on defenseless receivers (with a well-deserved ejection). Jumping off sides no less than FOUR TIMES...while playing AT HOME...with NO CROWD NOISE. How does that happen?! Orks. Plus giving up 400 yards through the air to ex-kroxigor Cam-freaking-Newton.

Yes, a win is a win is a win, and Russell Wilson is still spectacular, and it's downright ungracious to whine about a 2-0 start to the season when other teams would love to have our "problems."

Still, it's a fan's prerogative to complain, even when their team is doing well; it's all part of the entertainment package. And I've been a Seahawks fan since the family has had season tix since '77. When my parents divorced, they split the tickets (my mother eventually selling her set), and I've managed to go to at least a handful of games every season since...till now. 

[yes, even during the "dry" years of the 90s when I had to suffer through Kelly Stouffer and Dan Maguire and Stan Gelbaugh. Talk about orks. Oh, yeah...Rick Mirer, too. Oh the humanity!]

It's strange to watch games with empty stadiums and phantom crowd noise though, perhaps, no more stranger than anything else in this strangely awful, challenging year. But, of course, it leads my mind to yet another discussion of advanced Blood Bowl and another dive into the 2nd edition Blood Bowl Companion rules.

Modern Blood Bowlers (folks who started playing in the 90s or later) should be familiar with the term Fan Factor and its importance both to determining "gate" (i.e. attendance) for a match and - indirectly - its influence on the match itself. Each team has a fan factor score, purchased at the time of roster creation for 10,000 gold pieces per point. In 3rd edition, gate was calculated by rolling a number of dice equal to the team's FF and multiplying the result by 1000; in the 5th edition you simply roll 2d6 and add the FF to the result before multiplying by 1000. Regardless of the particular edition, having a greater number of fans in attendance than one's opponent results in bonuses to certain results on the kick-off table (generally leading to a bonus re-roll). Regardless of the particular edition, fan factor can only be increased or decreased based by actual results (as one might imagine, your fan factor has a chance to go up with a win and down with a loss).

Things are a little different in "old" Blood Bowl (i.e. 2nd Edition). For one thing, a team's FAME, representing its popularity based on performance, is different from a team's fan factor. For another thing, fan factor is broken down into three distinct categories describing a fan base's characteristics: chanting, hooliganism, and loyalty

Do I have to gush about how cool such distinctions are? Sure I do! While I understand that having a single FF score is easy, quick, and streamlined (which might be what you want...more power to you), for a richer campaign experience, adding this complexity gives you some depth. Again: consider the NFL, the professional sports league that BB is trying to model (and, yes, parody). Clearly, most fan bases are passionate about their teams, but that passion manifests in different ways. Some crowds are REALLY loud (*ahem*), some intimidate by throwing batteries and beer bottles, some bleed their team colors even after decades of living in a different city or exhibit a willingness to travel cross-country in order to cheer their tea. In 2E Blood Bowl, each of these aspects of fandom is given its own score (rated from 1 to 4) and affects different parts of the game: for example, loyalty is added to a D6 roll and the result cross-referenced on a table to see how many fans of the team show up at the gate. 

[winning three games in a row entitles a coach to increase one fan characteristic by one point; conversely losing three games in a row requires a coach to remove a characteristic point. Each fan characteristic has a maximum of 5 and a minimum of 1]

Gate in 2E (unlike later editions) has no effect on the appearance fee paid to a team; instead it provides a number called "fan factor" (unrelated to the later edition term) that is modified by the team's Fame and is used to influence crowd noise (along with chanting) and fan riots (along with hooliganism). While the results of the gate roll determines attendance in terms of an actual number (from 15-40 thousand fans), you might think that number is simply color, i.e. "fluff" of no importance next to the actual system modifying fan factor. Au contraire mon frere! In the 2E game, both pitch invasions AND riots can result in fan casualties...yes, the players fight back in old school Blood Bowl. And for every 50 fans killed in a game the team's fan factor goes down by a point (that's one way to quiet down a crowd).

Which I love (duh)...that was always part of the "lore" of old Blood Bowl: star players kept stats that included player casualties inflicted, referee casualties inflicted, and fan casualties inflicted. Record for referee casualties appears to have been held by Zug (31); record for spectator casualties is claimed by star mummy blitzer Ramtut III: 1,851,900. However, there is a note that his record is under official review.

Causes fan stampeding panic...and tomb rot.

Just about the only thing I DON'T love here is that 2E doesn't take into account home field advantage with regard to the gate (and, thus, with regard to fan factor influence). Yes, loyal fans travel, but the majority of spectators in any given stadium should be for the home team, (well, in years where there ARE spectators allowed). I don't think it's necessary to worry too much about alternate "stadium upgrade" rules like you find in later editions: most NFL team stadiums ended up being financed in some sort of unholy public/private "partnership" (i.e. the taxpayers get fleeced for the cost of the stadium), and that's really outside the purview of the coach: have a random roll based on a team's Fame, sponsorship, and bribes (yes, there's a heavy set of rules in the Companion specific to bribery). But hometown fans? Yeah, they should never be the minority in their own stadium, even in Arizona.

[there are rules, by the way, for fans to switch sides DURING the match...which is a good model of how NFL games go down in Arizona in real life]

[also there are rules for fans leaving the stadium, mid-game, in disgust...damn I love this book!]

I know, I know...I should start posting actual rules (or rule changes) rather than just write about them. I will, I promise...I've just been, well, busy lately ("Yeah, busy sitting on your ass watching football, JB..." *sigh*). Plus wouldn't you rather something written up all nice and organized? Maybe in a downloadable PDF?

I'll try to have something concrete in the next day or two. Really.

[all right...let's go check Monday Night Football]

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