Khemris – Playbook

Khemris push the one-trick poney concept to Blood Bowl’s furthest extreme. Yes, it is true that they are very muscular with up to 41 strength points on the pitch. However, this extreme has its polar opposite because their deficient agility complicates an action as easy as picking up the ball. Moreover, once the ball is finally in their hands, accidentally dropping it often leads to defeat due to their geriatric reactivity… Especially when playing in the rain because there is nothing more clumsy than a rehydrated Khemri!

With a roster devoid of agility greater than 2, Khemris are not Undeads. As proof, they ooze far less and do not employ necromancers to raise the dead and hire them. Most strangely, they are far more like some poor man’s Dwarves because when something goes wrong, they find it extremely difficult to straighten up the situation. They are also like some poor man’s Elves because they are not really cut for wide frontal offensives or even hermetic scrums. Instead, they must patiently control the pitch, wisely choose their battles, and surgically hit where it is the most helpful.

TEAM

The strength 5 Tomb Guardians are Khemris’ flagship players. Unlike any typical Big Guy, they do not have a negative trait decreasing their usefulness, and there are four of them! This muscular multiplicity excels at controlling the pitch and skills such as Guard and Stand Firm reinforce this natural ability. Unfortunately, these great players gain skills as quickly as an Alzheimer-ridden Troll and, when they finally are competent, a bad Decay casualty roll reverts them back to square one.

“In a laid-back league where four fully developed Tomb Guardians can ruin the fun, a recycled behemot is a relief. Conversely, in a violently competitive league, a retired Tomb Guardian is a tragedy that prevents Khemris from strongly competing.”

THE OTHER POSITIONALS

As their main blitzers, the Khemris employ two overpaid Blitz-Ras possessing the Block skill and an armor of 8. Sadly, the rest of the team mostly consists of lightly armored and incompetent dry wood. This overall lack of stabilizing skills such as Block and Dodge coupled with a fragile armor is harmful when you live and die by the numerical advantage. It also increases the team’s reliance on rerolls – which are abominably expensive! This prohibitive cost combined with a subscription to a minimum of three rerolls prevents Khemris from hiring all their positionals when creating the team at a budget of $1,000,000.

Speaking of positionals, the two Thro-Ras are a bad joke as they are the worst dedicated throwers in the game. Their meager agility of 2 also makes them slightly overpaid when compared to their peers. At least their movement is correct and can simultaneously cover both wings when positioned mid-field. One Thro-Ra can develop as a Sweeper to grapple ball carriers with the Wrestle and Strip Ball skills. His twin can concentrate on carrying the ball where his Sure Hands skill is very useful to preserve rerolls during pickups and to discourage roaming strip ballers.

For their part, Skeletons are lowly paid and there is no remorse to duplicate them on the reserve bench. They sport an armor of 7 as well as the Thick Skull and Regeneration skills. Even though it is not very trendy at Blood Bowl, it is not that bad. While there is not much to praise, they are still more resistant than a Wood Elf linemen, and far less expensive! Talking about resistance, the Regeneration skill wholly covers the roster. This is unique at Blood Bowl.

PLAY STYLE

On paper, Khemris look like a team of lumberjacks. However, it would be a mistake to coach them as such because, out of the box, they only have two Block skills in stock. This weakness generates an allergy to scrums and explains why a Khemri coach should rather patiently enforce a muscular pitch control.

To complicate the coach’s task, Khemri offensives are far from explosive and finesse is unheard of. They almost always score their touchdowns after long ball control sessions in low points games. Defensively, their game plan relies on shutouts and enforced touchdowns.

Written like that, it all looks very flowery, but controlling the pitch and the tempo is difficult for Khemris. Factually, they are not particularly violent and have difficulties ejecting players off the pitch. Skilling up players does not really solve this problem because Tomb Guardians only develop using Strength skills, which excludes the reliable Block skill. Nevertheless, it is through development that they acquire skills such as Stand Firm and Guard that radicalize their ability to control the pitch.

THE ARTIFICIAL NUMERICAL ADVANTAGE

Khemris live and die by the numerical advantage. When you hear about numerical advantage, you may think of the traditional one consisting of having more players on the pitch than your opponent. Sometimes this is exactly it but, more often, a Khemri coach must instead work with an artificial numerical advantage. The idea is to use the Tomb Guardian’s massive strength to paralyze players in their tackle zones. For example, if each Tomb Guardian paralyzes two opposing players (4 Tomb Guardians X 2 opposing players = 8 paralyzed players), it leaves 3 free players to counter your own 7 remaining ones. This is, of course, a theoretical basis.

The task is more complicated than it seems. Since your Tomb Guardians do not have the Block skill, you must first tag players as naked as yours. After all, tagging a Blockless player is almost like having it yourself. Conversely, tagging a player with the Block skill is an invitation to test the lawn’s quality. Worse still, seasoned coaches know that blocking a Tomb Guardians at -2 block dice with Block and a reroll has 1 in 10 chances of turnover versus 1 in 4 chances of laying down your Big Guy. This is to say the fragility of a player without the Block skill, regardless of his strength.

On the pitch’s other end, if your opponent is a tiny bit experienced, he will try to counter you by scotching a single stupidly resistant player to each of your Tomb Guardians. The logic is obvious; your behemoth will not dodge away with his agility of 1. This is why a lot of the Khemri art of coaching lies in the wise preservation of the Tomb Guardians’ mobility until their decisive involvement or, failing, their reinstatement in the game.

“A rule of thumb to evaluate if you are doing a great job with your Tomb Guardians is to compare their salaries ($100,000) to that of the players they are paralyzing. For example, immobilizing a $130,000 Bull Centaur with a Tomb Guardian is an excellent deal. You are doing fine if he immobilizes two $40,000 Zombies. At the other end of the spectrum, a $180,000 Block, Dodge and Stand Firm star paralyzing a single Zombie is a disaster.”

SOME ESSENTIAL SKELETONS

Simply put, do not coach Skeletons as consumables! Yes, it is the four Tomb Guardians and not the Skeletons that excel at controlling the pitch. However, these Big Guys can not do their job properly without their skeletal teammates. Some passively well-positioned old bones apply tackle zones that negate supports and avoid gifting easy blocks and blitzes. They also help to keep opponents tagged, and maintain the screen’s tightness when a Tomb Guardian bites the dust. Yes, all this at once.

Remember that a single block die can easily down a lone Tomb Guardian. The subsequent armor roll can be disastrous and losing one or two big guys this way is catastrophic. Wasting Skeletons gifts more of these freebies. This is why a Khemri coach must minimize the frequency of these disasters by keeping his Skeletons on the pitch. In fact, the only Skeletons worth wasting are those tagging high-strength Big Guys or clawed terrors. It always makes sense to sacrifice a Skeleton to save a Tomb Guardian.

“Each Skeleton is very important to the Khemri synergy. Always work to extract as much juice as possible from your bones.”

Some coaches wrongly suggest to aggressively foul with Skeletons. Admittedly, they should eagerly foul targets of opportunity, especially if the armor can be lowered to 5 without sacrificing the team’s positioning. However, Khemris work well only under a numerical advantage obtained by a methodical and risk-free coaching. Sadly, fouls are gambles adding volatility to a team that really does not need it! In short, there are few good reasons to foul more frequently with Khemris than with any other team in the game.

OFFENSIVE

Up until now, it has only been implied. But here it is, coaching Khemris is to score really few touchdowns and to grant even less. The only way to succeed is to seize control of the game’s tempo, and it is the Grind strategy that offers the best chances to achieve this goal.

THE STRESS of PICKing UP THE BALL

An agility of two is the best you have on your roster. Picking up the ball on a 4+ rightly scares a lot of coaches. It is exactly like playing heads or tails! Fortunately, the attempt succeeds three times out of four with a reroll and those, somehow, are respectable odds. Nevertheless, you will realize that this fateful die roll often succeeds in one or two game turns but that it sometimes stretches to three or four. Waiting longer is not even unheard of! This reality requires to carefully cover the ball with at least half the team before attempting to pick it up.

Once the ball is in your hands, you must protect it flawlessly until it crosses the touchdown line. And this is where it is complex because the Khemri ball carrier is neither fast, strong nor agile. This means that you can not handoff, pass or dodge at the risk of dropping the ball and being unable to recover it. This explains why the Khemri offensive does not like to be hurried. Rather, it scores touchdowns by being patient, methodical and disciplined.

RUNNING AND NOT CAGING

Typical cages do not suit Khemris well. The reason is that when a blitz tags the ball carrier, it is obvious that he will not dodge away on a 4+. Khemris then have to waste their own precious blitz to free their ball carrier. Successive similar game turns quickly lead nowhere near the touchdown line. Khemris fare better when running the ball behind two screens so that their ball carrier can not be tagged so easily.

Blood Bowl Diagram - Using two screens
Example of a Thro-Ra ball carrier kept warm under two blankets (1) (2)!

When there are no other options than a cage, a large iteration may incorporate one or two additional players inside it. The idea is to first discourage cocky pests from tagging the ball carrier or, failing, to free the carrier with a block to preserve the precious blitz.

(A) presents a glorious but fragile basic cage (up). A blitzed cage corner is enough to tag the ball carrier (bottom). The (B) cage incorporates a second player in it (up). Better than a basic cage, it is vulnerable to a blitz only on one side (bottom). The (C) cage incorporates a third player and is secured on both sides from a blitz. It is either symmetrical (up) or asymmetrical (bottom). Note that the best coaches use cages only to secure the ball carrier in an open space. At any other time, they prefer to run the ball behind screens as it uses fewer resources.

When running the ball, remember that the biggest mistake you can make is to move forward at all costs. If the urge to make some progress seems irresistible, it may be the sign of a lack of confidence in your abilities. It is then good to rationalize the situation. A drive lasts up to eight game turns and there is urgency only at the seventh. In the meantime, optimize your blocks while progressing as safely as you can. Logically, if you optimize your blocks and leverage everything in sight, the chances that you will benefit from a numerical advantage will grow as the time left to the drive shortens. It will then be easier to move forward and score your touchdown.

MOVING FORWARD

When facing a Khemri offensive, many seasoned coaches will try to deflect it on a wing by firmly holding the center. This gifted running corridor may seem like a godsend, but it is not. If you bite the hook too hard, you will step into a trap that will bottle you up. Moreover, this eagerness will not help your slow Tomb Guardians to keep up with your offensive, which will weaken your screen’s quality. This lack of cohesion can let your opponent apply a tackle zone on your ball carrier, siphoning a precious game turn while sending your offensive on its way to nowhere. Khemris have few strong options on offense and you should not waste them carelessly.

The best option after picking up the ball is to consolidate at the center. Then, develop a patient and measured run as in the graphs below. Note that, to facilitate the understanding of the concept, the example is squeaky clean. Contrary to this example, you will certainly need to invest all your wits – and some more – in your Khemri offensives.

EXAMPLE OF A KHEMRI OFFENSIVE

(1) After picking up the ball, Whites consolidate their carrier at the center. This has the merit of opening two wing options. (2) Whites advance on a wing while maintaining a solid foothold at the center in order to eventually re-consolidate there (A). At this point, Blacks probably still have the resources to defend the (B) opening. (3) A patient consolidation at the center opens the two wings again. (4) Whites advance on a wing while maintaining a solid foothold at the center in order to eventually re-consolidate there. If White screens have been adroitly deployed, Blacks may have difficulty defending the (B) opening properly. If it happens, Whites proceed in that direction. (5) Otherwise, Whites consolidate patiently at the center to open up their options. (6) An advance on a wing puts the ball carrier within touchdown reach. Depending on Black’s reaction and the remaining time to the drive, Whites can consider consolidating at the center (A) to open up new options.

During a Khemri offensive, small gains are perfectly fine. Also, depending on the drive’s tempo, it may be okay to stall the ball carrier mid-pitch for a few game turns in order to let your Tomb Guardians roll some additional three dice blocks and armors.

Please do not send any “catchers” deep in the opposite half. Between you, me, and your opponent, you will not use them. However, when catastrophically stranded, a ballsy Thro-Ras can unstuck a situation with a pass or, more realistically, a handoff. Some coaches are convinced that 4+ rolls automatically fail. Do not turn a blind eye on this possibility when in dire need because a 4+ roll with a reroll works 75% of the time. Please keep in mind, though, that this statistic is butt ugly and that it is unwise to regularly lean on it.

DEFENSIVE

When on defense, apply the Grind strategy. When this strategy no longer fits with the game’s tempo, deploy your team to stop dead the offensive. Remember that your low agility and anemic movement leads to reduced maneuverability. If you are not careful, your opponent will easily bypass or paralyze your players.

THE TOMB GUARDIANS

The first thing to consider is where to install your Tomb Guardians in your kickoff formation. It is true that three (or even four) Tomb Guardians on the line of scrimmage is intimidating, but it is also immobilizing a lot of arguments and gifting armor rolls on your most important players. In short, it could cost you the game. Obviously, this is an unacceptable risk that leaves no choice but to send your Skeletons populate the line of scrimmage. At least, with their Thick Skull skill, they can take hits almost like a champ. They also handicap less your game when they leave the pitch.

Tomb Guardians often do better on the second line where some teams may have trouble handling them without an indecent investment in players. In addition, a central positioning eventually leaves them the option to move on the wing of their choice. Doing so, just remember that, like many other Big Guys, a Tomb Guardian on the wrong wing at the wrong time will eat cabbage for the rest of the drive.

SWEEPERS

As with all the other Blood Bowl teams, a Khemri coach must wisely preserve his Sweepers’ mobility. Here, it is either a Blitz-Ras with the Frenzy or Tackle skill, or a Thro-Ras with the Wrestle and Strip Ball skills. It is even better if you develop both! These players, when positioned mid-pitch, have the movement to cover both wings. You must jealously preserve their mobility until they get the opportunity to grapple an imperfectly covered or freewheeling ball carrier.

CONTROLLING THE OFFENSIVE’S FLOW

The boat kickoff formation helps to control the offensive flow during a Grind. The idea is to hold the center while opening the wings to invite your opponent to settle there. Once he compromises himself on a wing, the entire Khemri weight moves in to enforce an error or, failing, a quick touchdown. Be careful, however, to keep a sufficient mobile reserve in the center to discourage a possible feint.

BOAT KICKOFF FORMATION

Blood Bowl Khemri Boat kickoff setup
The Boat kickoff formation is perfect to set up a Grind and to preserve your top 5 players from an early blitz. The two Sweepers (SW) each cover both wings. The (X) are your two other important players, typically Blitz-Ras or Thro-Ras. The three less-developed Tomb Guardians (TG) occupy the second line of defense. Skeletons (S) collect hits on the line of scrimmage.

AGILITY TEAMS

Khemris struggle against well-coached Elven teams. Against them, it may be advisable to securely lock the wings and instead offer the center using a Ziggurat kickoff formation. Their low strength preventing them from challenging the Tomb Guardians on the wings will encourage them to attack the center. Your wings can then sandwich the center where your strength advantage will complicate their deal and where well-placed tackle zones will multiply their dodge rolls – and the possibilities of failure. In the event that little wily ones then successfully dodge to the wings, your centered players are in an excellent position to pursue them. In doing so, wisely preserve your best Sweeper’s mobility to discourage breakaways on the opposite wing.

ZIGGURAT KICKOFF FORMATION

Blood Bowl Khemri Ziggurat kickoff setup
The Ziggurat is one of the best kickoff formations to shut down the game and Khemris are tooled to make good use of it. Tomb Guardians (TG) lock the wings with their strength 5 and, ideally, the Stand Firm skill. Any team with a maximum strength of 4 in their lineup may have difficulty dislodging them. The other two Tomb Guardians (TG) complicate the access to the center with their hard to move tackle zones. As a bonus, the offense can be delayed by one turn if the Skeletons (S) on the line of scrimmage undermine opposite resources by stubbornly refusing to fall… And if it goes wrong, the Sweepers (S) are well-positioned to take care of imperfectly covered ball carriers. The (X) are semi-secure positions because rarely blitzed on the first turn of a drive. As such, it is appropriate to position there your semi-precious players.

STRENGTH TEAMS

Strength teams are also a challenge for Khemris because of their easy access to the Block skill which increases their hitting reliability and therefore the number of armors they roll. Unlike them, the Tomb Guardians do not have this luxury and must imperatively roll 3 block dice to avoid burning rerolls and to increase the number of POWs! – including the subsequent armor rolls.

When the opposition is brutal, even Khemris must avoid contact with violent players while patiently scattering their positioning. Scattering reduces the effectiveness of the Guard skill, which helps you keep your strength advantage.

One last thing; if you manage to steal the ball, take a look at the remaining game time. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to stick to this feat until the drive’s end. Gluttony often exceeds what Khemris can achieve on average … and it is a great way to waste an excellent game situation.

COACHES

Khemris reward patient and methodical coaches who have an aversion to risks. They are a good fit for champion coaches.

FROM ROOKIES TO LEGENDS

Rookies and experienced coaches would be better off looking elsewhere. Just picking up the ball can be frustrating, so imagine when a drive goes to hell! Moreover, Khemris’ innate awkwardness forbids them all the spectacular plays appreciated by inexperienced coaches. Lighthearted passes and heavy scrums are not in their playbook. Yes, their outrageous strength is enticing, but it can only be leveraged by some clever positioning backed by solid coaching abilities.

For veterans and champions, it is a real pleasure to muscle and muzzle with Khemris. Coaching a strength 5 wall is fun, especially when Stand Firm skilled Tomb Guardians leveled up with double skills such as Block and Dodge. Though, be warned that this unresponsive team will severely test your coaching skills and add new swears to your repertoire.

If you outrageously dominate your local league, remember that expertly grinding Khemris disgusted many coaches of playing Blood Bowl. If you still want to pick this team in this context, you will have to adapt to your ecosystem by adopting a relaxed coaching style. After all, the Thro-Ras have the Pass skill and it may be the perfect opportunity to test its limits. Likewise, a game based on the Hail Mary Pass skill may be wonderfully therapeutic.

CONCLUSION

Legends say that Khemris should not win. There is a bit of truth, here. However, exactly like many other Blood Bowl teams, they have what it takes to win a league championship… if their coach is more skilled, perseverant and lucky than his peers. But when it comes to winning a big NAF championship, do not be fooled, coaching magic will not be enough. You will need a miracle.

You might also like