by Stephan Babbage (Paradigm Central)
So you’re interested in our secrets eh? Well, come and meet a nice female dark elf I know. She’s just dying to meet you. :)
In all seriousness, Dark elves aren’t the easiest team to play. Some days they have the habit of just dying by ‘the sword’. In Blood Bowl, the sword is the block dice and the die 6 you roll. Dark elves live by the sword more than most teams. And if you live by the sword, you die by the sword – as the saying goes.
That being said the dark elves are a lot of fun. They are stubborn and cruel enough to hit some teams hard. They won’t last long in a big brawl, but they’ll make casualties as fast as a lot of teams. They also have enough skill and speed to race the fastest of the Blood Bowl teams.
But don’t get the idea that they’re the perfect team. Long term, you’re in for a fight – and will have to use more than your stat line to win a game.
Let’s look at the team makeup:
2 Witch Elves
That’s your maxed out team. Sure you may get other types available – but let’s look at the opposition.
4 Black Orcs
You can see that in a blow by blow situation – the elves lost out by four players. Not to mention the differential of armour value.
So how do you start? Well, by comparing the linelves with the linorcs. Sure they cost more – but lineorcs normally do one of very few things. Elves on the other hand have a whole range of useful tricks up their sleeve.
So to start the linelves are the key. Huh? You might well ask.
Well, elves as you know aren’t cheap. So the best way to start is figure out what’s essential, what’s very nice and what’s icing on the cake.
I’ll tell you rerolls are on the essential list. You may not think so – but with them coasting double later, that puts them right up there. Fan factor (not being able to be purchased at any other time) is also essential. Four Fan factor normally pays itself off within 4 matches – and afterward is only making money for you.
An apoth is also on my essential list. You may differ here and buy one after one match – but I know so many woe stories about doing it that way that I don’t.
So that leaves us something like:
1 Witch elf
8 Fan factor
Now this is very flexible. The blitzer and witch elf are simply niceties. You could dich one or both of them. The thrower I’d leave in , not really as an essential item, but simply that you want to be gettting your thrower Star Player Points from day one. Get sure hands first for the guy – they don’t come with it.
Whatever you do for the startup, don’t go for this:
2 witch elves
No rerolls will get you killed. No apoth with all those position players is also a no no. Believe me I’ve started this way before. More than once.
Obviously purchasing your other blitzer and witch elf are the key to the max out. The Random Event That Boy’s Got Talent or Special Offer will appease the 100k+ price tag considerably – so take at least one RE each match.
A wizard will also go a long way to helping out your defense.
This is where the real cunning lies as if you get it right you win games (dice barring) and if you don’t you lose. You can start a dark elf team any way – but playing a dark elf team is the key.
When you have the ball, keep it. That’s a large part of it. There are two ways to make sure you keep the ball.
1. Keep it out of range of a blitz.
2. Keep it very well protected.
The second method is more risky. You need to tie up other players tacklezones too so that they can’t get to you. This way of play normally results in your players being toast if you do this for long. So the key is to only do it for a turn or two at the most. I might make an exception if you were playing an all halfling team, or a team which you outnumbered by more than one player on the pitch.
So obviously when these two things are being put into play this doesn’t leave you with much room to move does it? Well it does – just make sure that at the end of each turn that the ball is in one of these two situations. You can protect the ball carrier simply with one man if you have plenty of players tying up all the other players nearby – if you’re not playing an elven team or a team with lots of AG4 (the dodge to get free).
When playing a team – always play to their weakness. There will be some teams faster and better at throwing than you. Don’t fight them for that title as they’ll whip you at it. Run the ball instead and beat up their key players so then you can whip them at their own game. Remember with a couple of blitzers moving the ball (move handoff move) you can shift the ball 18 squares along the board without having the ball in the air for a single moment. That’s a pretty darn fast run!
Also try to make sure one of your players can get to the endzone if the ball comes loose ever. The opposition may pick on that player if they’re alone – so send a team of two if you can afford the players. They’ll learn to hate these players quickly – so make sure they aren’t sitting ducks. I often get block/dodge/diving tackle on my players who do this job – it makes them last a lot longer.
Also don’t forget your linelves are as capable with the ball as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to use them. It will keep the opposition guessing.
Some points to remember:
- Keep the defense guessing as to what you’re doing. Send your catcher types up, then pass to a blitzer near the line of scrimmage on the other side of the board the following turn. After the blitzer streaks away – there’ll be noone to catch him. Then next offense run the ball if you can . Then actually use your catchers. Have some trick plays up your sleeve.
- Remember the wizard. If the opposition has one – guarantee a lightning bolt as you’re strutting in for the score. Keep a pal closeby for the recovery until the annoying git’s used (the wiz). Play a more closed game (with pals nearby the ball carrier).
- Keep spare players near the points of most risk (like a handoff pr a pass). A reroll saved for such occasions will also help. That way if you screw up royally then you at least have players exerting tacklezones on the ball.
- Do the key things first. Don’t leave moving players (or standing up players) having done no action unless you need them later. The number of times I’ve forgotten this and regretted it later doesn’t bear remembering.
- Take out any one turn scorers – target your heavy hitters on their scoring threats (normally a catcher, runner or passer). (see defense)
Obviously, this is just some tips. Try to make sure that if the next roll fails, then you’ll still have a good shot at being the playmaker.
Also – a lot of my strategies rely on the maneuverability of my players. Dodge on a lot of guys sure helps. Just makes dwarf teams a pain to play (with all that tackle)
Defense is a little harder. Remember that your opposition is going to hit you first. I almost always put only three on the line on defense. If you like – space them out one space each then it takes more effort by the opposition to hit them down. I have guard on my current dark elves – so I don’t.
The key as I see it is to force an error. Play against their technique to score.
If they are a cage making team, don’t get sucked into a beat up brawl. You’ll lose. Instead pick a couple of players each turn and tie them up or hit them down , and slowly erode the cage. Dodge who you can back a square or two they can only hit with the blitz, and wait for your opportunity at the ball carrier (who is the key to defense). Keep a sledghammer handy – like a player with tackle if the player with the ball has dodge – or a player with dauntless and a player with guard if the player with the ball as more than ST 3
If they are like you on offense – that is sends a couple of guys for the end zone – don’t waste much time taking out the symptoms – Deal with the cause – namely you don’t have the ball. Sure I’d put tacklezones on the guy and hit any I could. Keep most of your players back to stop them strutting for the score. send a couple of players after the ball carriers. If you can keep the scorers out for one turn – your real threat (the guys headed deep) can smash that ball carrier. Then get that ball and strut for the score!
Of course – it helps to cover your bases
and defense isn’t very easy. It takes practice learning the best way to take down the traditional ways of scoring. If you’re not too experienced get a wizard early and use that if theings get a little out of hand. Remember to use the Wizard’s Lightning bolt where you can retrieve the ball when it pops loose.
Keep the same mentality on offense as defense. While making life hard for the offense you want to be in a position that when the ball is loose and it’s your turn – it’s score time for you. This requires a player in scoring range at all times – but I double up – and my thrower sackers end up being my scoring threats.
Also remember not to send too many players back deep. After all the opposition won’t care if you send the whole team back there – they’ll just strut into your end zone. I’ve made the mistake of sending too many players after the ball carrier more than once.
Diversify. I’m not going to go into each player and skills to get – but I recommend dodge before block. It’s just more useful for the way I play. Every Joe in town gets block. Be above that. Get block second. Dodge allows everyone to be a scoring threat. 3 SPP’s for a TD allow a player to be a lot closer to their second (and third, and fourth etc.) skill.
Diving Tackle is also a very potent skill – and elves don’t need doubles for it. Lack of strength means dauntless is a useful skill too.
Customise your skills to your individual playing style. Mighty Blow on doubles works for some. Piling on I love for my Witch elves (works great with Frenzy). Guard is another skill useful for countering the lack of strength players on double rolls.
Catch is just something I don’t use. You might. No hard and fast rules here.
You might come upon a combination that works great for you – but then again I have a few I like.
Making your witch elves hard hitting scorers is a no brainer. The old ‘frenzy out of bounds’ trick works well with them . Maximise their capabilities.
There are a great deal of rules to supplement the basics. Big Guy Rookies, Star Players, allies etc.
I’m not going to cover all this. However the things to remember are:
Don’t underestimate the power of elimianting key players for the opposition. The Assasin does this just fine. So does a well placed boot to the head.
Strength is a major weakness – if you can boost your strength then do so with allies, or rookie big guys etc. Do it any way you can. Any penalty is likely to be offset by the advantage you gain. Don’t necessarily put them on the line – they’re much more valuable as blitzer types and scabs on the butts of those players you want to remove.
Don’t go for something you already have lots of. Agility is your department. So is speed.
Well, time to fly. Hope this little chat helps you to win – at least on the scoreboard. I’m often happy to make the loss on the casualty count by several if I win the scoreboard by several. You might be the other way around. Make sure you do at least one of the two :)
And after all – a casualty count 5-3 against me isn’t too bad punishment to dish out (my last match) when you walk away with the win.