by unknown (FUMBBL)
Skaven are the undoubted speed merchants of the Bloodbowl arena; their play revolved around scoring fast, and using their speed to pressure the opponent when defending; their low armour generally doesn’t allow them to get into a protracted fight.
Although the Wood Elves are technically a faster team, in terms of possible Ma on all possible players, Skaven can start with most or all of their positional players, due to their very much cheaper players, and cheap rerolls. The Gutter Runners are the backbone of any successful Skaven team, not only because of their scoring ability, but also because their extremely high movement allows them to catch up with opposition players virtually anywhere on the pitch.
Skaven also have access to mutations, which can be used to increase their hitting power, produce a Gutter Runner with Very long legs who can score in one turn (generally known as one-turners, they are feared and targetted by most coaches), turn a Gutter Runner into a ball-winner with Dauntless/Horns, or defend passing play using Foul Appearance.
Skaven suffer from low armour, no Dodge on their linemen, and average agility; the linemen get injured and die in droves – high Fan Factor is vital to keep the money coming in for replacements. The Rat Ogre, formerly one of the most fearsome Big Guys, has become a rather incidental addition to the team, with the much-revised Wild Animal rules. Disregarding the Rat Ogre, only the two Storm Vermin can have Guard (or any other of the Strength skills), so making the initial break in the opposition line can be tricky.
Similar to Wood Elves in particular, the focus must be on the ball. You will often find that a team you force to worry about possession will be less concerned with mincing your team! Try to prevent cages from forming; once the ball is in one, it’s a lot harder to get at. Kick is priceless for this against muscle teams- kicking deep into a corner will force good coaches to start their cages deep, and bad ones to require a difficult pass to make the ball safe as your players rush forward.
I find that using Gutter Runners, especially those developed as safeties, to pressure the ball retriever on defense is effective this way. Safeties often start out wide, to avoid getting caught up in mid-pitch brawls, but close enough to the LoS so that they can advance into the opposition half to apply pressure. Don’t waste team rerolls on GFIs unless your players can apply a tackle zone on the ball carrier, or better yet, blitz them. Gutter Runners also make good sweepers; I like to keep one deep in my own half on defense, should the opposition make a break for the endzone. Sometimes this player will have to advance towards the play, in which case I try to drop back another player.
With Av 7, a Skaven team cannot usually afford to employ man-marking in defense; however, the Linemen aren’t great at dodging away – if you must dodge them, do it for a good reason, and keep a reroll handy. Leaving players prone can be a valid tactic – standing them up only to get hit again should be reserved only when you want to hold up certain opposition players, or to prevent assists elsewhere.
Against cages, the best defense is to stay one square away from it, allowing only one blitz on a player per turn to minimise casualties and cage advancement, until the opposition makes a mistake, either a handling error or leaving a gap for blitz – Strip Ball is priceless for this. Foul Appearance is great for causing handling errors, and the chance of no block can cause all sorts of frustration. Try to pick off players with your Storm Vermin or a Claw-equipped Lineman to weaken the cage.
Always try to keep one player in scoring range when defending; if the ball pops free, you can get the ball to him and score before the other team can recover. The exception would be in last-ditch defending late in the second half, especially if you have a 1 TD lead, in which case scoring again is not as important as preventing the equaliser.
Gutter Runners will attract a lot of attention from the other team, especially their Dirty Players! Keep them out of harm’s way until they do something important – beware of Tackle players.
Some Skaven teams revolve around a Rat Ogre spearhead, while others don’t risk them – they can cause a lot of damage on a good day, and give the team some muscle.
High player turnover is a fact of life for Skaven coaches; skills that can extend the life of a player are important – Block, Foul Appearance, Spikes (not a popular skill, but good on special players) and Side Step, for example. Skills that can be used to counter-attack are also useful; Claw, Mighty Blow, Tackle, Guard, Dauntless, and even Dirty Player for taking out the most dangerous opposition players. Strategic skills such as Strip Ball and Kick make the most of the Skaven’s pace, and puts the opposition under pressure.
Rat Ogres do well with Block first, then Guard, then it’s down to preference. Because of the Prehensile Tail, Shadowing and Pass Block can be nasty. Doubles can be Claw or RSC for pure damage, Pro to overcome Wild Animal and failed blocks, or Tentacles to keep the fresh meat from escaping!
Development of the Gutter Runners is a large, hotly-debated topic; skills such as Block (almost always the first skill), Side Step, Leap, Shadowing, Pass Block (especially with VLL, +Ag and Catch), Catch and Strip Ball are popular and effective. Doubles provides even more opportunities, such as Very Long Legs, Dauntless and Horns (both popular with Strip Ball), Guard, Prehensile Tail (especially with Side Step and Shadowing), Foul Appearance (especially with Pass Block and Leap), Spikes (for those precious +stat or multiple-double players). Any stat increase is highly valuable.