Blood Bowl PlayBook :: High Elves :: High Elves and tactics

High Elves and tactics

by Stephan Babbage (


Now getting into a debate over this is pointless, as there is no ‘right way’ to play High Elves. Let’s face it (speaking from a High Elf pointy eared view [point of view]) If you’re playing High elves then you ARE playing right. :)

But What ‘D’ has suggested is not the only ‘two ways’ of setting up a High elf team. So here’s my reply as a kind of ‘second opinion’. I don’t find Doug’s version offensive, but there’s more than one way to skin an opponent :)

How to spend 1,000,000 gold pieces:

Well, simply put, start with the most important thing and work backwards.

Well, That’s obvious. Because High elves are expensive and invaluable you can’t afford to lose one. So buy insurance in an apothecary. One game without the healer and you could end up down many gold pieces and valuable players.

So, 950,000 and no players bought.

To me, the most important players on a High Elf team are the Catchers. (Lion Warriors) They are the best money can buy. They’re fast. They’re agile. And you already have your apothecary to make up for their lack of armour. Buy two. they’ll earn Star Player Points (SPP’s) faster than anyone else on the team so it’s good to buy them early and make them an embarrassment to any other team as quickly as possible. Then you’ll need A Phoenix Warrior. Otherwise, who passes the ball to them? It’s a cheap pass skill and access to other passing skills for only 10,000, so get one.

In your league, if Prince Moranion counts as a dragon warrior, then only buy one dragon warrior and leave a slot for him. Otherwise buy two. Their block skill and extra movement is more than worth the measly 30,000 extra you are paying to ‘upgrade’ a linelf to a blocking blitzing type.

So we look like (with 11 players)

2 Dragon Warriors
2 Lion Warriors
1 Phoenix Warrior
6 Linelves
1 apoth.

Total: 930,000

What now? Well, a reserve would help – but that would jeopardise the amazing skills your team starts with. So – we have two choices…

  • 1 reroll and 2 FF. Now Fan factor money can’t buy after the initial purchase – but Elves don’t need fans to tell them how good they are – everyone knows already! O.k. start but many on this list believe in the power of the fan factor. I let other teams win kickoffs and simply win on the pitch.
  • no rerolls and 7 FF. With AG 4 live on the edge and go without RR’s. People can’t understand why elves can cope – but I do all the time when starting. Far better than starting without an apothecary. You can always pick them up later with special ‘extra training’ cards no matter which deck you get. In the first few games you can choose a leader. (after they have block). I never use more than 3 rerolls a half anyway.

So you’re set…...

General tactics…..

Well, a fair amount has to do with having low rerolls. Make sure that you do all the ‘important’ stuff first. Move first as it’s free, then do what counts. That way if something does fail then you can cope because the important stuff should already be done.

Keep a game plan. If you are afraid (and don’t ask me why – elves are the best so shouldn’t be afraid of anything) of a player – use any ‘anti-player’ cards on them and target them for the first half whenever possible. Take them out by any means necessary without disturbing the game plan. Other game plans should be to score as often and as regularly as possible, unless playing faster teams (who you crunch and stay level with on the score) or really wimpy teams (such as halfling) which you should use your speed to lend assists and pound them.

Don’t get sucked into playing the same game as the opposition. My game plan is normally the opposite to my oppositions. If they are beefy don’t get sucked into the beat-em-up game. Score often and stay away from opponents when convenient. If they are sppedy (Skaven, Wood elves) then pound them and especially take out their faster players to keep their speed on par with yours (you’ll find the faster players are normally easy to take out anyway).

Specific tactics:

Certainly exert tackle zones on players who could inlfict pain on those who have the ball with players who aren’t critical to the play. But equally keep those players whom you can away from those who are the biggest risk. I’ve seen too many hihg elf coaches with eyes bigger than their fists. Stay away from treemen. Don’t bother with them Same with trolls. Both are so slow they won’t bother you much and if they have to waddle everywhere they aren’t doing what they do well, which is hit. So keep players moving when possible.

Take any two dice blocks in your favour fairly regulalry, as players on the pitch aren’t hitting you, holding the ball, or chasing you. One dice blocks less regularly as the chance of success is less (especially with few rerolls). Weigh up the importance of the dodge, block or whatever with the risk of failure and do those of relatively equal importance but less probability of failure first. So your blitzers should block/blitz before anyone else.

Get your position players to do their respective jobs. Throw with your passer and catch with your catcher where convenient, as it helps your probability, but elves are flexible in this department, and are good with the ball.

Against the cage:
If you see an opening – punch through to the ball – but if you don’t, wait. Dodge your players back one square each turn. that way they only advance one square each turn and make one block (the blitz). Form a wall with you players so they can’t get through. You’ll get an opportunity to hit the player who blitzed back and your blitz if you set up correctly and then all step back one square again. You may lose a few players this way – but it will stop the opponent from scoring.

The other tactic, which can be used in simultaneous action, is to tie up players in blocks and whittle the players around the ball as they can’t advance and have to hit you to get away. When the cage has lost players all up the pitch involved in minor skirmishes ans there are only three or four players around the ball, then hit the cage. Cards can help – and
tacklezones on the ballcarrier can really freak your opponent out. Don’t leave lots of players around the cage where he can hit you all day and keep your team playing cards in the dugout – you just have been sucked into playing the beat-em-up game.

The Line of Scrimmage:
Stay away unless you have dominance. Sure hit and skirt away – but make them come to YOU. Never give them free shots when you can avoid it. With planty of players around you can have dominace and do ther ‘domino maneuver’. Two dice (with one assist), push or knock down, don’t follow up and be the assist for the next block, two dice (with one assist) etc. right across the line from left to right or right to left.

The ball:
Develop radar. Pick it up and keep it away from the opponents. Don’t be afraid to get in the action to get it, but get it ‘out of there’, even at the expense of a turnover, as soon as possible. Run the ball if you have lots of linelfs near the ball carrier against really speedy teams, pass over crunchy ones. Use a wide zone as help to create a miniature pocket with a few players placed wisely to protect the ball carrier rather than biff straight down the middle where the really strong players are. (watch for players with frenzy – they can make a mess of this tactic). Remember to make players come to you.

Use a mini cage around the ball until you can throw to a guy who can score in the same turn. Don’t leave a lion warrior (or anyone else) alone with the ball in a backfield, unless NOONE from the opposition can get to them. There are exceptions to the rule. I normally work my ‘pocket’ down the field until I get caught up in enemy players I can’t knock down – then I pass to an open guy and score. You can set up a pocket in the oppositions backfield to pass to as well – it gives protection for the ballcatcher if they get it and it can mean you can offload the ball earlier and wait a turn before dodging away to score. It also gives you other people to catch the ball if it isn’t accurate. If your pocket isn’t facing opposition, run all the way while he chases your lion warriors all over the pitch. Running the Phoenix warrior in to score normally is a suprise to coaches – they expect a pass. I would discourage sending lone lion warriors into the backfield by themselves, they normally end up dead. Instead, move into the wings where they don’t look like a threat – then short pass to them and streak out of danger – tying taklezones up with any other player possible.

There – that’s about ten plays right there…..

Focus on the ball – early. Before the cage. Get your dragon warriors to the ball pronto – especially if they fumble the football trying to pick it up – it can allow you to score. If you get the football from such an eventuallity, don’t stay deep in the backfield all alone with the ball – send it back to your passer. Strange – passing backwards, but it keeps you with possession of the ball a lot longer. It’s another suprise trick. Rather than focus on potential threats to score and keeping all opposition out of your half (forthose speed teams) hit them, sure – but remove the threat in taking out the thrower. I’ve seen many an orc team crumble without their beloved thrower. He’s their weak link.

Remember to make the oposition come to you and dodge to convenient locations to assist where it matters – you may be outnumbered (and expect to be about 7 player in the second half sometimes) but make the players you have outnumber
them where it matters.

Skill development.

Block is very useful and is great for keeping your players on the pitch. Grab some strength skills on doubles only if you can use them. I find some skills like mighty blow are not that useful even on dragon warriors… Guard can be a great one as can Stand firm on Lion wariors (with dodge never knocking the player down or a turnover ever eventuating). Throwers should grab sure hands as it helps getting the ball when it’s raining and when it’s in trackle zones. Dodge before block for the lion warriors only – as they need it and it still helps them stay on their feet (I don’t block with my lion warriors much). Dauntless is great – but Prince Moranion has it.

Strip ball is overrated – I feel – but Diving Tackle, Dodge and Block on the Lion warriors makes them pretty nice.

Frenzy on anyone with block can also be a good idea to make the players blocks count.

And don’t forget leader on a ‘block’ player for a free reroll.

As to Stat upgrades – the only ones I’d be happy with would be +1 ST. You don’t need MA or AV.

Team Development:

Save for the 140,000 gold piece twelfth player. He’s worth it. You should get random events (at least one per match) to help out with the financial side of things. While saving – buy a reroll if you get that ‘extra training’. Prince Moranion is not only really helpful with his ST4, but also makes a great player to run with the ball. Keep him as a ‘blitzer’ type – not on the line where he can be pounded and his MA 7 is wasted.

In fact if you can have 4 of him – get them.

Look to pad out the roster with reserves fairly quickly. Don’t pay the twice price for rerolls – extra training will pay for that if you have money in the treasury. Only look to a wizard when you are having 11 players on the pitch all game long.


Choose your first opponents very wisely. Choose the teams which won’t easily beat you to a pulp, are unlikley to pose a threat to a win, and has high fan factor (in that order). The first few games can make or break a team – so if you can play those halflings early – do. Also less experienced coaches can make easy starting opponents if you are sneaky – but don’t underplay the first few games. You should look to win (get points on the board early), and develop your team as quickly as possible.

And Finally

If you end up starting with 10 or even 9 players for a few games early on because of serious injuries – don’t give in. Jervis himself said: “Finally, don’t get disheartened if your team rating gets worse after your first couple of games. This happens quite frequently with starting teams, and more often than not the team manages to bounce back later on.”

Just choose your opponents while you are ‘vulnerable’ especially carefully and don’t compromise your game plans or league strategy because of a few players missing matches.