by Andy Meechan (www.blood-bowl.net)
You’ve played against the same Coaches with their same teams and their same tactics for a lot of games. You’ve no doubt sussed their favourite plays and have, hopefully, developed some nasty counter-plays of your own. You’ve also noticed that they use similar tactics no matter what race they Coach. No doubt they know the same about you.
What you need is to ‘throw them a curve’ in your plays, let them think and react and not respond like automata. Put some interest into your games again – this is, of course, where lateral thinking comes in.
Letting them score
“Confidence in your team and Coaching abilities is key to this play. Your opponent’s overconfidence in the situation you will present to him will ultimately be their downfall.”
It’s the start of the second, you’re 1-0 up against a power team and you have to kick. You need two clear turns to score, call it four to be safe. There is no way that you can stop them from scoring in eight turns. What do you do? You let them score.
Giving away touchdowns sits uneasy on any Coach, just ask around and you’ll find out that nobody likes losing a touchdown. It’s a mark against their defensive ability. Well, ignore them as they are merely misguided and will ultimately be the ones who suffer from your use of lateral play.
Allowing your opponent to score gives you a threefold return – and a job to do. Firstly you will be receiving the ball, so there’s no need to ‘spring’ it from a cage. Secondly it presents an opportunity for players to recover from K.O.s. Finally by setting yourself up for a last-ditch game winner, you’re gaining SPP’s. The downside is that you are setting yourself up for a last-ditch game winner, it’s a high pressure situation. You’ll have to think on your feet; this is what makes the game enjoyable.
You don’t want to make the touchdown look to easy or the Coach might realise that he’s no longer laying to his game plan, but to yours. Set up a solid defence as normal and play as hard as you would in other circumstances with only one exception – make a mistake. This ‘mistake’ should allow your opponent to capitalise and move the ball closer to your endzone. He will no doubt be able to ‘take advantage’ of you and consolidate the safety of the ball. By turn 4 (turn 5 at worst) he will have scored. More fool him.
It is now turn 4 or 5 and you are receiving with a team who’s star is now conscious and on-pitch again. You can score in two turns, but have three or four – use them. The game is yours.
Or is it? Things to bear in mind here are that the score is now 1-1 and your opponent only scored in turn 4 because he needs time to retrieve the ball from you and score the winner. Nobody plays for a draw. Think fast and play faster as you have the advantages. The only thing that can stop you is a run of bad luck. Fortunately for you ‘fate’ smiles upon those who play for the game and produce last-ditch winners.
Congratulations, you’ve just won 2-1.
Predicting Ball Position
“If you know where your opponent is going to move the ball before he does, then you must make full use of your advantage.”
Firstly I will expand on the term ‘passing lane’ as it will be used this frequently in the following narration. The passing lane is the path along which the ball will be thrown. There can be several lanes open to a thrower be they open-field lanes or high risk long-bombs over the heads of the opposing team. In general the thrower will choose the lane with the safest throw, failing that he will choose the lane which leads to a receiver in an advantageous (or safe) position.
One way to predict where your opponent will throw the ball is to restrict his target options. If you leave more than one passing lane free then your opponent has the advantage. On the other hand, if you restrict the number of lanes to only one reasonable choice then if he chooses to pass you can be one step ahead.
How do you restrict the number of passing lanes? This is where your player’s individual skills come in; players who are catchers or pass-blockers are particularly valuable, as are those who are naturally agile. Placing such players around the pitch means that the thrower will rank a lane which crosses them (or near them in the case of the pass-blocker) lower than another, safer, lane.
This works for you twofold. Firstly – and most obviously – if the thrower chooses the passing lane above your ‘skilled’ players, then you can execute interceptions as usual. But your opponent will soon learn to spot these players and the thrower will choose lanes to negate the skills they have.
So our lateral play steps in to show that these players have not wasted their talents learning short-lived skills. Instead of hoping the thrower chooses a lane over your players, make sure your players are placed in as demonstrative manner as possible – now the thrower knows where your dangerous players are he is sure to go out of his way to avoid them. This means that with careful placing of your ‘danger’ players you can ‘present’ the thrower with only one safe passing lane. If he chooses to pass, you can be certain that the ball will travel along this lane.
Now that you know where he will pass you can position your ‘ball capture squad’ with certainty. Such players will be able to strip balls, tackle with easy or just be generally quite violent (or frenzied!) – they will make short work of a receiver.
So what if he chooses not to pass? Well we can call this a mission accomplished. Not only have you delayed his touchdown by a turn, but by using your skills – or the lateral use of your skills – you have thrown his plans into confusion and he will have to run the ball.
You do know how to stop the run don’t you?
Published in Blood Bowl Compendium #3