That went well … sort of

Entry 10
Transcribed by his goblin scribe, Ian H. McKinley

Good day.

Last time out, I shared my thoughts with you loyal readers on a good Bytown Maulers line-up for tournament play. Well, I saddled up a squig, loaded the Lads up into a few wagons, and took them to Lys Bowl, a tournament where the Humie language they speak is all elegant and stuff. Not as refined as our Orcish – certainly not as I use it – but posh-like all the same. I learnt some of it too! Krista tavern-ak! Mode-it marred! Elegant stuff like that.

So, it went freakin’ spectacular! Sort of. Let me explain …

OK, so another team from our league put together a special squad for the tourney, just like I did. It was those Humie morons, the Sherbrooke Sham-rock. Yeah, them, the ones we beat up to start the season. They’re not even a real rock. Well, as fate would have it, we got drawn against them for the first game. Figures, hey? You bust your balls ridin’ a squig for three days to get to Elegant-speaking Humie-land only to get drawn against morons you couldda squished right here at home!

So, they’re morons and all, but that don’t mean they’re useless. They had brought in ringers, obviously, because they weren’t the same pack of dolts we beat up in the league. I think most of their frickin’ Blitzers knew how to guard each-others’ flanks and they had a damned good Catcher we tried squishing repeatedly, without success. That fecker actually roughed us up some good. It shouldn’t a’ been that way, I know, I know: we got an opening kick-off Blitz!… but couldn’t take full advantage of it. And we were always under pressure; they was dodging like Elves and their Ogre was quick-witted whereas let’s just say that our Troll, Barfur Slovenly, wasn’t exactly the sharpest club in the weapon pile. We never had numbers around downed opponents in order to foul properly and we never even did it once! 

I hesitate to say it was a coaching error, ’cause I ain’t no moron, but let’s just say I mighta been too timid in ordering in Konvizz Yeux and his dirty boots. So … about having a sneaky git like Konvizz on the team and a bribe in hand and not even using them, well, I learnt, didn’t I? Nothing focuses the attention like a proper smackdown.

After losing that first game, we had to face the Sanguinaires. The Maulers had never played against Vampires before, but I had coached the ROUGE & Ork against a team of those creepy feckers so I knew how to deal with ’em. The Lads really listened to me thanks to some well-placed boots I planted on their arses after that first game. Everything went to plan … though it’s hardly a shock to figure out if you listen to my genius, it gets results. And by Gork’s Holy Snot did they ever perform! The Lads pulled the Vampires down in our backfield and Konvizz got stuck in. Barfur didn’t go stupid all the time and roughed up the Thralls. And Ad’aam Bigkill’s blitzing took down any Vampire that got in our way. We had two Vampires and three Thralls out of the game by the time we decided to wag some Gobbo ass in their end zone. On the ensuing kick-off, they had so few players left, they couldn’t protect the boarskin. We knocked everyone down, got the ball to Puss Jak’Zun, and Barfur threw Puss downfield for a second ass-wag before half-time. Things didn’t get any better for the blood-suckers in the second half: they were too few to mount any offence and they certainly didn’t put up much resistance being stuck on the ground with Konvizz’ cleats in their gobs! The Ultras went wild. We even threw them a bone by pushing a Vamp into their ranks and they took care of him for us by dishing out a full-blown casualty! It was the best game the Maulers have ever played! After scoring again, they could only field four players for the kick-off. It was brilliant!

Then the whole tourney went all dung-shaped.

In the last game, against a team of bearded gits, the Têtes de Fer, which I gather is Elegant-humie for Iron-brains or somethin’. Anyways, it started great. We got the ball. We had a decent cage formed up. The Lads were pulling the longbeards into the backfield for Konvizz to hurt – we’d already KO’ed one and stunned a couple of others. We had the ball deep in their half and had pulled another longbeard into the backfield when something really unexpected happened.

I mean, I’m still gob-smacked.

So, the longbeard’s on the ground with a couple of Gobbos around him. Konvizz, bein’ such a sneaky git and all, was aimin’ to stomp on him and then pop back to make the cage whole, when …

It still drives me freakin’ crazy to think of it!

… the ref blew his whistle and called a foul!

I tried arguin’ with ’im, but he was havin’ none of it. But, no worries, I keep a reserve of gold in a pouch for such occasions. So I slips it to ’im, and he turns up his stinkin’ nose at it and throws Konvizz out of the game!

That turned everything on its head. They blitzed Puss Jak’Zun, got the ball, and headed off downfield. They also hurt two of our Lads on the same play. We did our best, Barfur even throwing Neon Slanders into the backfield to tag the Runner, but they cleared ’im out and scored. Then, to start the second half, us down two Lads, they caged up and scored again. We got a consolation ass-wag when Barfur threw Puss downfield and he managed to run the boarskin into the end zone, but we couldn’t come back with such a weakened line-up.

So, here’re my take-aways from the tourney build:

One; don’t bother with taking a Lad who can tackle. As I said when I talked about buildin’ the team, I wanted someone who could bring down a dodger, but in two of the three games, we didn’t even face one of the buggers. His speciality was completely wasted. Yeah, I know, I know, there couldda been a pack of Elves or Stunties in the tourney, and that wouldda made his skill awesome, but even then, I don’t reckon it plays to the team’s strengths. Get another Lad with the wherewithal to lay down the most mighty of blows.

Next One; The foul-heavy tactics built around a fouling Gobbo are great. But make sure you have a protected ball-carrier before you unleash the vicious wee bugger. Sure, you can’t plan for a ref NOT taking your bribe – who’da thunk you’d come across an honest ref? – but that’s no excuse for not havin’ your offence set up properly.

Next, Next One: You need a Gobbo who can pick up the ball. If they mess around pickin’ their noses rather than actually securing the boarskin, your opponents’ll flood into your backfield and your team will lose its shape. That’s what happened against the Sham-rock.

Final One: If you can stack skills, diving tackle on a Gobbo’s only really useful if he also knows how to side-step. Otherwise he’s too easy to clear away from the guy you want to tackle.

We came in 7th out of 10 teams. It’s not really a great showing, but we played the top two teams during the tourney (yeah, the morons, the Sham-rock, won and the bearded gits game in second). But we’d managed to bring the Ultras into that match against the Vamps so’s they could get in some violence and they loved it. They also understand the injustice imposed upon us by the ref in that last game, so they still reckon we did them proud. Thinkin’ of that damned ref, wanna know what else you should save your gold pieces for? For findin’ out where a specific ref lives! Pass that little bit of information along to your Ultras after a performance like that one, and it’ll solve some problems in the long term.

So, to get this over with, I’ll admit that maybe there’s some things I need to learn for tournament play: it was my first, after all.

Whadd’re you snickering at, scribe? That cockatrice feather you’re using might just find its way under your fingernails if you ain’t careful!

Sorry, just reminding the scribe about who’s still the boss around here.

I’ll close with my contractually obligated reference to that Blood Bowl Bison, Taureau Amiral, and his Art of Coaching. In Part Four, thingy four, he says:

“You can be a great coach without actually winning the game.”

I reckon it’s the same for tournaments: I am a great coach even if I didn’t win Lys Bowl.

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