On September 11th 2019, with more than a little bit of goading from the Two Drunk Flings and Friends crew, I set out on a Blood Bowl challenge; One Year, Only Halflings in all variants of the game.
The challenge is set by the Fling Nation group of coaches. Often found bouncing around the lower to mid tables at virtually any tournament setting, the Fling Nation is dedicated to playing Halflings and encouraging others to do the same. Completing a full year of playing only Haflings gains the coach the “Chef’s Hat of Devotion”.
Other challenges include
|Meatball Missile||15 Opponents Injured by thrown ‘flings|
|Game of Scones||200 CAS and/or TDs vs Halflings|
|Warden of the Cutlery Draw||8 Wooden Spoons in Tournaments|
The road was going to be long and tough. But with the grace of the great Head Chefs before me, I was ready to go on an adventure.
At the time of the challenge, the Halflings were not too popular amongst the Stunty teams. They didn’t have the lovely toys of the Goblins, nor could they have up to six Big Guys like the Ogres. Halflings are comparatively dull.
However, there are three aspects of the team that make these little fellas shine.
Treemen have the highest basic strength of any rostered player in the game (Secret Weapons notwithstanding), the Throw Team-Mate skill is essential to any Halfling coach, and Stand Firm keeps the line solid while the Halflings scurry around after the ball.
The Halflings can utilise the Star Players Karla Von Kill and Rumbelow Sheepskin. Solo, these are valuable assets to the team, but in combination, the team gains a real threat on both offence and defence. Karla has a base strength of 4 and the Dodge skill, making her your primary ball carrier when you can use her. Rumbelow has double duty as your sweeper on defence and to help bulldoze through the lines when rushing with the ball.
But the jewel of the Halfling team is the Master Chef inducement. For 100k, the Chef gives the team the chance to steal the opposition’s re-rolls each half and add them to the Halfling player’s re-rolls. Often this causes the opponent to play the half with zero or a single re-roll. The lack of a re-roll safety net will make the opponent less likely to attempt above-average risk moves. The added re-rolls for the Halfling team, however, can help the high-risk playstyle that ever ‘Fling coach will eventually have to employ.
When first looking at the Halflings, one may assume that the Throw Team-Mate play would be the primary option. In reality, the Halflings are a running team, just a very slow one. Stunty and Dodge will get a player out of the odd predicament. No Halfling must end their turn in base contact with an opposition player lest your medical bills skyrocket. The ball carrier will run down the field with a loose cage of Halflings around them. Less a cage, more like an ankle-biting cloud of players.
Throw Team-Mate can be very useful in both defence and attack. On defence, it is useful to throw a Hopeful at the ball carrier in a cage. It is rare the ball carrier will be hit, but keep those fingers and toes crossed that the brave Halfling hero will hit someone.
On offence, the famous One Turn Touchdown is available. Ensure a Catcher is within a Treeman’s reach, hand the ball to the Catcher and watch that boy fly! An extremely High Risk, High Reward Play, but ultra-satisfying if it works.
The trick I found in league play was keeping an eye on the TV of your team. With the revolving door of players (besides the Treemen), this was relatively easy. Players were cut for any injury. Skill rolls that didn’t produce favourable results meant the player was often fired, with a plucky rookie quickly added to the team.
The aim was to be at least 100TV below my next opponent to hire the Chef for the next game. Ideally, I attempted to be 320TV or more below to hire Karla. Obviously, this would mean my opponent would have a few more skills than me, but what is a Halfling coach’s existence besides punching upwards?
For skills, I would split the Treemen between a “defender” and “attacker”. The “defender” Treeman would take Guard, Grab and Multiple Block, and try and stay as central as possible to tie up opposition players. The “attacker” would take Break Tackle and Guard. In both cases, I would hope for a MV boost or a double roll for Block (this being in Blood Bowl Season One rules).
Catchers would always take Sure Feet. Rarely would they survive much longer after the first skill. Those that did would take Side Step, with doubles for Block. Catchers will always have a target on their wee heads, so skills that increase their survivability became essential.
Hopefuls rarely made it to the first skill. Low armour and Stunty does not a long life make. Those that did make it to the first skill would inevitably get Diving Tackle and form the second line of defence. Side Step was a skill a tried on a few occasions; however, it didn’t work too well on the Hopefuls.
Hefties begin the game with Fend. This combines well with Side Step and their frankly huge armour value (in comparison to other Halflings). They can also take Passing skills but I never used this as the Treeman was the thrower on the team. (In Blood Bowl Season Two, I could see the On The Ball skill being very good for them to get to the ball quicker when receiving.
I managed a single tabletop tournament during the Year of the ‘Fling. Waterbowl 15 was a two-day event with various skill packages. I opted for the package of 5 skills and 1 double skill.
Going against my own advice given above, I did not use any Star Players, going instead for a pure Halfling team.
I finished the tournament with 2 Wins (Halflings and Necromantic), 2 Draws (Humans and Ogres), and 2 Losses (Dark Elfs and a 6-0 drubbing by Wood Elfs). This was good enough for 61st place overall, and the coveted Stunty Cup Championship!
Regardless of the team’s ability, the challenge of playing one team for a year is ultimately in your mental stamina. The repetition of playing the same team will make you skilled in that one team against a variety of opposing coaches and teams. But with Halflings being a low tier team, this will come at your losses racking up. You must learn from each loss, smile when Nuffle shines good luck on you, and keep your cool when both Treemen root and your Halflings can’t dodge!
Would I do it again?
Well, I am starting my Year of Nurgle challenge in February!