An Introduction to Deceptions


I am often asked to write about deceptive tactics. Clearly, there are many coaches who think that they are the ultimate Blood Bowl means to achieve victory. Not that they are wrong, but it is very difficult to pull off a string of deceptions drive after drive. Occasionally, the situation on the pitch is not conductive. Sometimes, it is your opponent that is resistant. At other times, the only coach you wind up deceiving is yourself.

With that said, deceptive tactics can win you games where defeat would be certain. They can also win you crushing victories with fewer injuries than hard-fought games won through brute force alone. Still, nothing written here will make you an expert on the subject. In fact, there are very few coaches who I could say are true authorities on deceptive tactics. Instead, I hope to intrigue you enough so that you first practice some of these tactics and then add them to your coaching arsenal.

So, What Is A Deceptive Tactic?

A deceptive tactic is a play aiming to deliberately deceive your opponent as to your capabilities, or intents. This, in turn, causes him to make decisions beneficial to your goal. Remember that the decision to not make a decision is still a decision and can be just as fruitful! When successful, a deception decreases your opponent’s options while increasing your own. Obviously, at Blood Bowl, it is always a good thing!

One of the most well-known instances of a Blood Bowl deception was attempted by the Greeeks against the Trollians. The Greeeks had built a large wooden Bloodweiser barrel in their opponent’s dugout. Inside the barrel were hidden thirty snotlings each carrying a ball. At the game’s dawn, the Trollians pierced the barrel to celebrate their upcoming victory, flooding the pitch with tiny ball carriers. Just enough snotlings reached the end zone to secure a Greeeks victory.

Steps To A Successful Deception

Step 1: Define Your Goal

As in any use of a tactic, you must completely understand why you do it.

Perhaps you would like to disrupt the opposite team’s synchronism and prevent your counterpart from leveraging efficiently? Tie up more or less of the opposite team’s resources than needed? Clear up a running corridor for your ball carrier? Open up some space to cage securely? Maybe you feel like tempting your opponent’s eagerness or impulsiveness with a deceptive “golden opportunity”? Or you would rather let him think he is the best coach at the table to momentarily loosen up his guard? Or is it that you are using a timer and you plan to overload his good but very slow analytical capabilities?

A Blood Bowl game is not only a clever use of positioning and probabilities, but it is also a duel between two coaching minds.

Step 2: Define Your Deception

Great coaches plan ahead, even if they are prepared to alter their plan on the spot.

Plan the indicators you want your opponent to see. Keep your deception simple and secure. Many times, a sophisticated plan is just too complicated for a coach to pull off. At other times, simplicity may not be enough to mentally engage your opponent in your deception. Achieving the right balance can be as tough as standing up a fallen treeman. Also, what you want your opponent to believe must fit with the drive’s tempo as you will not sell your deception if it is executed too late.

Step 3: Assess Your Counterpart

A successful deception is a believable play focused at the right coach.

Now that you have a plan, it is time to evaluate if your counterpart is likely to fall for it. “Know your opponent” is not some sort of abstract elvish babbling. You must assess your opponent as he is and not as you wish him to be. Overestimating his comprehension of the game is a recipe for failure. If he can’t read the pitch or the metagaming at the level of your deception, you will just not drag him into it. At the opposite, a worthy opponent may see through a too obvious attempt and you could get more than what you bargained for.

Step 4: Synchronize Your Ressources

You feel your opponent will bite the hook? Now it is time to plunge and sell your deception.

It is always good to use a variety of players in your deception. Variety adds credibility to what you are trying to portray which can help convince your opponent that it is actually real. Chances are that pushing really hard with a bunch of rookie players will not achieve much. Put some heavyweights in and knit them tight with your other resources. Perhaps, nothing in the realm of coaching demands more attention to detail than a deception. If you play too fuzzily, you are at risk of being unable to recover if it fails.

Step 5: Open Your Mind To Feedback

Observe how your opponent reacts to your indicators.

Keep your eyes open for feedback as your deception progresses. You want to gather indicators as to if it is working or not. If you determine you will not reach your goal, then immediately terminate it and revert to striking at the path of least resistance with the force of a raging minotaur. One other point on feedback is to be sure that your opponent is not astutely playing what he believes you want to see. A crafty coach may very well turn the tables on you.

Now that we have established a firm foundation on the use of deceptive tactics, let’s dig into more details. In the next five articles to come, we will focus on long feints, short feints, small feints, ruses, and metagaming, all tactics commonly used to gain an edge. In the realm of deceptions, you will find a coach has much available to him.

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