by fork (FUMBBL)
After the BBRC launched their rules updates making the Vampire team an official one it’s about time we figure out weather or not they actually can win games. At first glance, the Vampires look like the dream team; six players with the magic combination of Strength 4 and Agility 4, and access to just about any skill they want. They even have cheap linemen, to better allow you to buy more Vampires at the start.
But here is the first fatal mistake a vampire coach can make. If we start by a looking at the start-up that seem to be working for most people:
The reason behind buying only two vampires is that Vampire teams have a habit of consuming a lot of RR’s. And since you won’t have unlimited RR’s in the beginning, two vampires will be enough to win you some games and just few enough to keep the risk of you eating your own team by yourself.
A question of Re-Rolls
By now I hope you figured that RR’s are really the key to make a functional vampire team, without them you will crash, burn and die. So let’s throw some statistics into it: The chance of suffering from OFAB is P(OFAB)=1/6. Taking into consideration that a half is eight turns long, you would se that a vampire consumes at an average 1.33 3 RR’s per half. If we were to multiply this average consumption rate with the number of vampires on the rooster, and round it up, we would get a recommended minimum RR allocation. But then again this is the minimum level so you might as well try to keep ahead by one as long as you can.
Although it would take you forever to get six vampires on the team, since you would need to invest 1,000k into the project, you can see that they will consume an average of an RR/turn then. And since all Blood Bowl players are unlucky in critical situations we are realize that keeping six vampires on the pitch is probably a situation that one should not even try, unless…
The solution lies within the Pro skill. An extra 4+ RR per vampire and turn, wonderful! Let’s do our math : The chance of suffering from OFAB is still 1/6 but now you have a 1/2 chance to re roll that dice. Then the chance of failure will be P(Failure|Pro)=(1/6)*(3/6) + (1/6)*(3/6)*(1/6) = 0.097. A pro vampire will then consume at an average 0.77 7 RR’s per half. Wow, lots of numbers lets just make a table out of it.
Minimum RR’s/half any number of Vampires
without Pro\ with Pro
\ 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 0 1 2 3 4 4 5
1 2 3 3 4 5 6
2 3 4 5 5 6
3 4 5 6 7
4 6 7 7
5 7 8
I’m not saying that this should dictate your shopping list entirely but this table could give you a good estimate considering how many vampires to keep on the field at any one time.
Thralls are exceedingly bad. Their poor movement of six allows elves run circles around them and their low armour value ensures that any team that really know how to block will eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Consider on top of that an agility of three, no skills and only general access and you got a player in league with Halflings.
When everything is said and done they still have their uses but you need to use them wisely. The main assignment for the thrall is to help your vampire win the day. Put them in position to lay out some tackle zones, assist a block, foul and all the other tedious tasks that you have to do but don’t want to risk a OFAB roll to do. But the single most important task for the thralls is to act as a living target for the vampire’s blood lust. By moving a thrall ahead of a vampire at all times you ensure that even if you fail you OFAB you still get to move the vampire where you want it and you wont suffer a turn over. This is important I say it again, always keep a thrall nearby to make sure that it goes instead of the vampire.
Now it should be pretty obvious that the life expectancy for thralls is pretty short, but I guess they really don’t need that many skills to function and besides they are really inexpensive.
As for skill picks I would go for Block on most of them for a first skill, since it give them some kind of staying power and enable them to make an odd blitz now and then. I would say that about three Blocks are needed on the team and then it is absolutely necessary to pick Kick for one of them. A highly underrated skill, and since Vampire teams really are the masters of misery a good placement of the kick-off is vital if you want to have any chance of a rebound considering the very average speed of the team.
The second skill would be Dirty Player or Tackle or in a few rare cases Sure Hands. The reason for the last one is that although your vampires really are the better throwers you don’t want to put them alone in the backfield. Thralls make fair throwers, they usually don’t have to throw it very far anyway and your vampires need to focus on other things than throwing.
Third skill, even though you really can’t expect them to get this far you should aim at making them as annoying for the opposing player as possible. A few Pass Blocks usually fits nicely in. Noting is as annoying as seeing half of the opposing team form a box around the designated receiver.
If you roll doubles go for Guard, Leader or even Diving Tackle if you feel a bit crazy. The basic idea is to pick skills that will stop the opposing team, or at least slow them down because your vampires aren’t exactly fast.
Thralls die, that’s just the way the Vampire team works. One thing that you might even consider a pro of the team since you have a dedicated apothecary for your worst players. It happens pretty often that when one of your worst players get injured of die early on in a game you will just let it happen, because you want to save that apothecary for the big stars of the team, god forbid should anything happen to them. So, now and then you end up never using your apothecary and rather play outnumbered. Vampires don’t have that problem =). Ok, it would be a lot better if you were allowed to use the apothecary to heal you vampires. But that won’t happen so remember to look at it from the bright side and use it whenever a thrall picks up a mng or worse.
Vampires are the backbone, blood and soul of the team. With a strength rating of four and an agility to match that, the vampire really is a player to fear. Delivered out of the box with Regenerate and Hypnotic Gaze and with an exclusive access to general, agility and strength skill they have almost unlimited potential.
Unfortunately they also come with a complementary ‘Off for a Bite’ negatrait. Possibly the worst negatrait in the game since, not only does it cause you to loose the action; but it also force you to move next to a thrall and bite it or suffer the humiliation of ejection and turnover. The good thing about all this is that they are not loners so you are still able to RR their OFAB. So the way to cope with this is to have a lot of RR’s, the ‘Pro’ skill and just make sure that you have a few thralls accompanying your vampires at all time. But this is already handled earlier in the article, let’s focus on the strengths. The upside to the lack of apothecary on the vampires is more or less made up for with Regenerate. It’s a 3+ instead of a 2+ but you do get to roll for all injuries, even those Badly Hurt you normally wouldn’t waste an apothecary on.
Skill picks for the vampires can be hard as there are so many available, but these babies really need Block so don’t hesitate to give it to them as their first skill. Unless you roll a double or a stat increase I think Block is always the way to go.
The second skill makes is a bit trickier. Dodge is always a nice second choice for vampires, but there are so many things to take into consideration. If your team is gaining some team rating and therefore are facing some tougher opponents you probably need that Tackle or Strip Ball more then dodge for some defensive viability. On the other hand a ST4, AG4, Block and Dodge player is really a good ball carrier. You might even give it Sure Hands further down the road to really bug those elves out of their tight panties. And then we have Pro, you need it no excuses. It’s more of a question when to take it rather then if to take it. Pro got a 1001 uses – you can RR bad blocks, failed dodges, gfi’s, ball handling and foremost the feared OFAB roll… ok six uses, but you really need it to keep the team going. I would go for it as the second or third skill, depending a little if you have enough skills on the other vampires and if you have lots of RR’s.
I would accept all stat increases available to vampires without exceptions. Strength and agility is always good for obvious reasons, but movement increase could really be a blessing for this slow team.
Third skill for a vampire would be pretty much the skill it didn’t take as their second skill. Dodge, Pro, Strip Ball, Tackle or Sure Hands. Although Sure Hans would only make it’s worth on a Block, Dodge vampire designated as a ball carrier.
Playing with Positional Players
Vampire team is a team heavily tilted to the vampire side of the game so doesn’t be afraid to use them. In many teams if you rely heavily on your positional players the rest of the team will be suffering and get stuck with no spp’s. Guess what? Your thralls will be suffering even if you allow them to score. Sure, give them the opportunity to make a pass now and then, AG3 isn’t all that bad. Put some effort into letting the tralls into about six spp’s initially and leave the rest of the real work for your vampires. Face it, without vampires you are as good as dead anyway, so you may as well make them good.
A special notice on Hypnotic Gaze
Hypnotic Gaze can really be a wonderful skill. In some ways it really does compensate for the low movement. With a few vampires on the pitch it won’t be hard to gaze your way through the biggest and strongest box there is, or squeeze in that extra assist when you really need it. Gazing a single player exerting tackle zones in critical places can really lower the amount of squares you will have to move. Even though your vampire starts the turn prone it can really be of some use anyway, just stand it up and gaze away. Can save more dodges than anything. Get it, learn to use it and use it well.
h3, Advancing the Team
When you start picking up some cash your first purchase should be to get that tenth thrall since you need twelve players in the line-up. And ten is the magic number for thralls now on, always keep ten thralls on the rooster – no more no less. Then save the money to make some real investments alternating between buying RR’s and vampire, in that order. Again consult the minimum RR table above, try to keep your RR’s at least one above. Though I recommend you to disregard the Pro skills in this consideration to keep some extra RR’s, the thralls will need them too.
Is the vampire team any good? Well I think it is. Lots of people tend to shrug them off as yet another “fun” team as Halfling and Goblins. And they are fun to play, and they play really different from most teams, but a good vampire team takes some time to build. Expect to loose a lot during your stay at the lower team rating levels. Let’s look at a little statistics from FUMBBL. This table show average touch down and casualty rating and win percentage for Vampire teams at different team rating levels.