Another Bristol tournament! The last one was really fun, and seems to have introduced the ‘league-in-a-day’ format to a few local tournaments (the previous one in Carmarthen, the upcoming one in Cwmbran) and even the DreadHeads tournament coming up at the next Mantic Open Day (November 2014).
Having just finished a league season with my Zees, I’m feeling a little bit cloned out. I need to pick up a different team altogether. The ‘league’ format makes it possible for the less-competitive teams to compete (for example: in the last Megalofunotron tournament, I was in 2nd or 3rd place with the Zees…), so I might revisit something like the Z’zor that I played last year and did terribly with. This tournament would also see our biggest personal group going – with regulars like Jen, Oli and Dan; and more new players: Gareth, Dai, and Stuart. The pagan-gerbil DreadBall team is coming together nicely!
Given all the new players, and veteran players who’ve not played in a while, we hosted a weekend of DreadBall the week before to teach the game, practice the game and go over some of the quirks of this tournament format. We got in a few games, and an Ultimate one (Dai’s first, and only, game of DreadBall before the tournament!)
In the end, it was down to either the Z’zor, the Judwan or the Veer-myn. Since the Judwan are too easy to shut down completely without their Speed boost, and I wanted more practice with the Z’zor that there just wasn’t time for, I went for the Veer-myn.
This time round, there are four regular games with decreasing credits to spend after each one – Game one starts with a 130mc team, game two adds 15mc to that, game three another 8mc… and so on. Finally, there is an Ultimate game to finish the day off.
An interesting quirk in this tournament is that skills rolled are kept for the remainder of the day – so my normal Veer-myn tactic could be scuppered by a bad roll in game one. The upgrades available after each game are also limited – although you have 8mc available after game two, you can’t buy a coach with it.
Game One – Gareth’s Teratons (The Blue Suns)
I felt a little bad about this game – Gareth is one of our new players, and I beat him by a landslide. Two of my Veer-myn had skill increases, and were able to run rings around him to get the points. We were over in about 15-20 minutes, giving us time to plan our next few games upgrades.
Game Two – Oli’s Void Sirens (Saltford Slappers)
Oli and I have been playing against each other for over a year, so we were a little disappointed not to have anyone new to play against, but we knew it would be a close match. I said near the beginning that since we would end with a low score or a draw, the chances of one of us winning was pretty low.
In the game, it worked out that way. Oli knows how to use Running Interference perfectly, and it’s very difficult to get around it. We had a fairly high-scoring game with both of us getting more than six points before turn 12, but the score being zero.
In the final rushes, I scored three points to get ahead and Oli failed to match it – I had broken a slim win out of it.
Game Three – Chris’ Nameless
One of the neat things about this tournament is that MVPs and Giants were permitted. They could only be bought in the first round, and all MVPs had a flat cost of 20mc, all Giants cost 30mc. Chris had bought the Nameless Spawn and worked out that with it’s large base and Gotcha, it was able to single-handedly (tentacley?) reduce any strike attempt in the 3pt zone by two dice. This had to be rectified.
It was a really tough game and even closer than against Oli. I expect that’s because I know Oli’s tactics well, but had to constantly think about what Chris might do next. Having the Giant made him play different to most Nameless players I’ve seen and he had upgraded a Striker (who now had 3+ Skill, naturally) making all of his strike attempts pretty golden.
One of my Guards spent a good deal of time attempting to hit the Giant in the back – fouling where necessary – to attempt to turn it around and free up a hex to score from. This worked a little, but I missed some of the possible consequences and ended up wasting a slam to turn it around and not open the strike zone. Then his Hard Guard came out to knock my Guard over and stand watching him, not wanting to risk getting sent off to remove the poor rat.
The other Guard had been more successful – tag-teamed by a Sticky and a Hard guard, he opted to Slamback and managed to roll two sixes, followed by another two successes. He was pushed back, still tag-teamed, and another action was spent to Slam again. I said “Well, he won’t get that sort of luck again” and then rolled two sixes. And then two more. And two more successes just to cap it off, sending off the hard Guard injured for a turn. That was a roar of triumph that brought Liam over to see. At first commiserated because of my jammy luck, then realised it was a Nameless team and gave me a high-five.
It was another high-scoring game and eventually the score was 1pt in my favour. Liam called time, and since Chris had just started his (Away) rush I suggested that we call it at the end of the rush since we wouldn’t have time to get through another rush each before the end. He was happy with that arrangement and went on to throw a 2pt Strike on 3+ Skill… and missed it. That was the second time I roared in that game! A few minutes later as we recounted it to his clubmates, he remembered that he had a coaching dice. I very un-sportsmanlike didn’t want to accept it at that point, although in most tournaments, a 1pt win wasn’t going to put me near the running for the top. The tension of the match had got to me and my heart was pounding. Two very close games, and I needed a break. There’s still round four to go though…
Game Four – James’s Teratons
James is another player from Chris’ club, and was fairly new to the game but had picked it up quickly. Playing against each other a lot, they clearly have developed strong skills as both are great players.
Teratons are a hard team to face, I’ve normally only met them in their ‘smash face’ guise and not this high scoring team. He made it almost impossible to get three-pointers, while he managed to get a couple of four-pointers in my zone. I felt very pleased with myself using a guard to Slam his defenders in the back, forcing them to teleport away (and having blocked the other hexes, opened up the four-point lane) but then realised I didn’t quite have the actions to get the rats out of the way. That being said, the four-pointer was left open but with two Teratons threatening the bonus hex. I went for it with a single coaching dice and managed to pull it off, and the final roll of the game tried the same thing (that would have brought it down to a single point loss or a draw). It failed.
There were a few things in that game I should have done differently – moving around for the easier 3-pt strike (would have had at least an extra dice, possibly two) would have been a smarter thing to do, and the first few rushes I attempted to score while running (taking the penalty) instead of using the ‘Striker – Throw’ card I had in my hand. Maybe it would have gone differently if I had, maybe it would have gone worse!
In the end I lost by 5 points – Chris N (who had been watching from a polite distance) came over and told me he had found it agonisingly tense too! I was ready for a lie-down in a dark room to calm my nerves. There’s still an Ultimate game to go though.
Ultimate – James’ Teratons, Chris’ Nameless, Craigs’s Veer-myn, Chris’ Zees and Byron’s S1 Corporation
This was it, one of four Ultimate games and I was there at the top. For most of the game, with all the cross-scoring, most players were averaging 1 or 2 points before getting dragged down quickly.
In one memorable moment, I attempted to Steal from a Teraton – the ball was stripped, bounced and scattered around before ending up in a different Teraton’s claws. In his next rush (a sort while later), the first Teraton was moved to a strike zone and attempted to throw… “With what?” asked five players together. Facepalms have never been so hilarious.
I managed to get four points late in the game, and was followed by the Nameless player sharing my arm who fouled to bring on his Giant (all the foul rolls were sixes, naturally) and clear out my scoring zone. Time was called, and there were three players left to go – leaving me as a spectator.
Byron performed some magic to bring his Striker to my bonus hex and score – putting us equal on 3 points each. Then the Zee player flubbed the ball and passed his turn. Finally, Craig’s Veer-myn were in the position to score against either me or Byron – not enough to win themselves, but to choose the winner between us. There were no other eligible targets. If I thought the previous two games were tough, I think I nearly passed out here. It was worse because there was nothing I could do – at least I could have flubbed a roll and gone out easy in the other games.
Thank goodness for petty vengeance, as Craig announced Byron had been ticking him off all day! I won by 3 points, to Byron’s 2.
After this Ultimate game, I milled around helping to tidy up and waiting for the rest of my gang to finish up their games so we could see how they did. A few other people came up to me to chat, and some tried to work out how well I’d done. Knowing that I hadn’t gotten more landslide wins, I figured that it was unlikely that I’d won but I kept hearing how close it was. The results would be announced shortly, and I would know then.
The more I heard how close everyone thought it was though, especially those who’d found out other scores, the more I wondered…
When the results came out, I was pleasantly surprised that none of our group got the Wooden Spoon – although it wouldn’t have damaged anyone’s enjoyment of the day, and it would probably have been a nice start to a tournament career for them to take home a trophy. James, who beat me in round four, got the runner-up trophy leaving me to take home first place. I was absolutely over the moon – this was a large tournament (22 players) and the competition was very tough (I had to wait to calm down before I drove home), and it was absolutely amazing that I had won considering that most tournaments I have been to have an outright winner after three rounds as the only one with three landslides and no-one else can catch up. Part of that is down to Liam’s decision to treat landslides as regular wins – 2 tournament points, since the strike difference also favours landslides used a tie-breaker.
In the end, it came down to the Ultimate game being worth one tournament point more than a regular win so my three wins and Ultimate win were a single point better than James’ four wins. If it wasn’t, the first tie-breaker was on strike difference and we both had +8… The next tie-breaker was cheers, and we both had 16… Then we’d essentially be rolling a dice to see who took the trophy home! I don’t think it’s possible to et much closer than that.
And huge congratulations to James – this was his first tournament, he’s not been playing for long, and many players deem Teratons to be under-powered unless you are aiming for the ‘Most Bloody’ award. To have come so close to the top is incredible – it took me a lot of time to get that close, and it’s still a fair dollop of luck when I do (see above, being slammed by the Nameless…)
As for the rest of our group? Oli came 8th, fairly respectably and Jen got 12th – almost exactly halfway through the pack. Dan, Stu and Dai picked up 14th, 15th and 16th and Gareth came out at 20th out of 22 players. All have resolved to get more practice and go along to Cwmbran, and possibly even pick up additional teams. I’m going to try and arrange some more practice days before the next tournament to raise our average score just like a real coach would.
Personally, I’ll be moving to a different team for the rest of the year. It’ll be nice to win with something other than the Veer-myn, so they’re going to retire for another six months or so.
Thoughts on Format
I liked that, for a change, four landslides weren’t required to win. There must have been no-one there with four landslides anyway, even James can’t have done that well if he ended up with only +8 strike difference. I think squeezing the Ultimate game in makes it a long, tough day and Liam is considering making the next tournament just five straight games. This might have to depend on the number of players, as I don’t know if less than 15 players could support those games.
It was nice to see MVPs and Giants even though I didn’t use them. The Nameless Spawn in particular is devastating – perhaps it will need to be specifically excluded like Buzzcut and Number 88 are, or perhaps that’s just a reflection of how helpless I felt against it! Other than that I didn’t see the other MVPs, it will be interesting to see if this format gets picked up in the future and I get a chance to play with or against them.
The venue was great – we’ve been to few parties there recently, and it worked as a tournament venue too. Not too cold (even in October), hot food and drinks available in the attached pub (oh, and it’s a pub) and loads of space. Each game had it’s own table to fill out, and the tables were nicely spaced so you didn’t bother people while moving around. It’s those little touches that make the difference.
All in all, we have about half a dozen players all heading to the tournaments in Cwmbran and Nottingham over the next couple of months!