Blood Bowl Tournament Report – Blood Bowl at NOVA Open 2022

Welcome back, Sports Fans, to more competitive Blood Bowl content! This time, Dan attended 2 Blood Bowl events at the 2022 NOVA Open. It’s been 3 years since the last one, and we’re very excited to have the East Coast’s biggest Tabletop gaming convention back! Let’s check in and see how it all went down!

This year’s NOVA Open was host to 3 Blood Bowl events. A veritable plethora of Blood Bowl! We’ve got the Rookie Rumble (a 3-round 7s tournament), Slaughterday (a 3-round 11s tournament), and Darkness Fouls (a two-night Blood Bowl “classic” tournament). I took part in both the Rookie Rumble and Slaughterday. While Darkness Fouls sounded like a ton of fun, my pathetic brain only has room for one edition of Blood Bowl at a time, so I chose to abstain. Before we continue, the TOs for all 3 events did a fantastic job, and this was easily some of the most fun I’ve had playing Blood Bowl all year!

Preparation

Rookie Rumble

600k, no skill pack, just like last month’s 4 Diamonds Cup. Since that event was fresh in my mind and I was planning to use them for Slaughterday, I decided to leave my elves on their shelves for the Rookie Rumble. That means my Orc team, Da Red Fangz, got the call-up! I haven’t played any organized Blood Bowl with them since 2019, so I was keen to get them back out and see how they did.

Interestingly enough, Orcs have a ton of options for 7s! It’s wild when your positionals don’t all cost 100k gp or more. I decided against the troll early on, because of their extremely slow movement and the Really Stupid trait necessitationg the use of a troll-sitter. I also made the controversial choice to bring along a thrower. A lot of people deride them because of the Animosity trait, but I liked the utility one would bring to the roster. After that, I knew I’d need at least 2 blitzers, which left my last spot open for a Big ‘Un Blocker (BUB). I even managed to squeeze in a re-roll! Orcs, y’all. They’re great! Let’s see the final roster:

  • 3 Orc Linemen
  • 1 Orc Thrower
  • 1 Big ‘Un Blocker
  • 2 Orc Blitzers
  • 1 Re-roll
  • Total: 585k gp

Slaughterday

For grown-up Blood Bowl, it was always going to be my pro elf squad, the Baja Blasters. It’s still Pro Elf Summer, after all, and will continue to be until after the Chaos Cup at the end of this month. We were given 1,100,000 gp to build a roster, and since Elven Union was considered to be tier 2, I was able to apply 4 bonus skills to the team: 2 Primaries and 2 Secondaries. It’s a light skill pack, for sure, but that’s fine. Just means that there’s less to think about, which is always good for me!

So, after my experience at the ACCC, I think I’ve settled on the idea that apothecaries aren’t worth it. With only a 60% success rate to keep your player in the game, I think having an extra player instead is a better choice. After all, a warm body on the bench is 100% effective. With that in mind, there’s really only one roster for Elven Union in this case:

  • 2 Throwers
  • 2 Blitzers
  • 2 Catchers
  • 7 Linemen
  • 2 Re-rolls
  • Total: 1100k gp

For skills, I’m getting 4: 2 Primaries and 2 Secondaries. Thing is, there’s really only one skill that truly opens up the Elven Union roster: Dodge. Catchers need it to break free and score with impunity, and when Blitzers get it, they become the most annoying player in the game, save for the Wood Elf Wardancer. Though I’m starting to think Slann Blitzers might be creeping upwards in annoying-ness. More on that later! So, for our final roster with skill-ups we have:

  • 2 Throwers
  • 2 Blitzers (both with Dodge)
  • 2 Catchers (both with Dodge)
  • 7 Linemen
  • 2 Re-rolls
  • Total: 1100k gp

The Rookie Rumble

The NOVA Open is an event that spans from Wednesday to Sunday, and the Rookie Rumble is held on Friday, making it the first Blood Bowl event of the convention. The scheduling for this event is excellent. It started at 11 which was dope because the night before I was up late playing 40k and drinking IPAs and this meant I didn’t have to get up too early! Perfect! It was also only 3 rounds, so even with an hour for lunch, the event would end around 3 PM. 3 games of 7s is such a fun and easy time. Kudos to the TOs for keeping it light on Blood Bowl’s day one.

I get down to the Blood Bowl area, check in, and catch up with friends while we await pairings. There were a ton of friendly faces at the Rookie Rumble, including multiple Goonhammer patrons and contributors. Most notably, Garrett “John Condit” Serverson took a break from Adeptus Titanicus to put his brand new Khorne team through their paces. He’ll give you the scoop in his write-up, but I hear he did all right!

Game 1: Da Red Fangz vs. Kelly’s Bones (Shambling Undead)

Matthew’s Roster:

  • 2 Mummies
  • 2 Wight Blitzers
  • 4 Zombies
Da Red Fangz line up against the dusty old Undead!

After a short delay, round one pairings are up! I’m up against a Shambling Undead team called “Kelly’s Bones” coached by a nice fella named Matthew. Orcs are one of the bashiest teams in Blood Bowl, but the hard truth is that Shambling Undead are bashier. So, first game, and I’m already dealing with a bad matchup! Perfect! We sit down, say hi, and immediately roll up a “Pouring Rain” result on the weather table, guaranteeing a chaotic game as all pick-up attempts will suffer a -1 to the roll. Good thing I brought a Thrower! I’m receiving in the 1st half, though, so I quickly pull it together and get ready to play.

I get the ball, set up my cage to begin my march down the field, and then one of my Blitzers is immediately killed by a mummy. Sigh. This is going well. I begin to stretch things out upfield, but my ball carrier is knocked down, and the ball flies off the field into the crowd! The crowd generously throws it back to the corner of the end zone I’m defending, making my chances at scoring virtually zero. I have to spend a turn running my thrower back to pick it up, while my orcs upfield continue to get pummeled. He grabs the ball to end my turn 5. On my turn 6 I have one chance to score: My thrower needs to execute a Long Pass to an open Linemen who is in scoring range. It’s a 2+ Animosity roll. A 6+ Pass (with the Pass skill), and a 4+ catch attempt (pouring rain, remember?). I have no re-rolls. Let’s do this.

Not great field position.

I pass the Animosity check and roll for the pass. A 4. It’s ok! I have the Pass skill! An inherent re-roll! I make the roll, and roll a…6! It’s an accurate pass! All I need is for my fat idiot Lineorc to haul it in and we’re headed to halftime with a 1-0 lead! I need a 4+ and I roll a…4! It’s a catch! The lineorc rumbles and stumbles his way to a Touchdown! Incredible! I’m so glad I brought a Thrower! I’m a genius!

Matthew, however, doesn’t immediately concede in the face of my magnificence and we set up for the 2nd half. I set up for defense, kick it to the boney bois, and begin to try and keep them out of the end zone. Naturally, the Sure Hands-less Wights have no trouble picking up the ball and he begins his march down the field. My plan here is simple: feed his mummies each a lineman per turn (thanks AV10+!) and let my Blitzer and BUB bully his zombies and Wights. A sort of column- and man-defense. And it’s working! The undead are unable to break through a seam until his turn 5, when one of his mummies finally Stuns the orc that was guarding it. That mummy is set to execute a Blitz that will free up his ball carrier for a TD. He rolls it up and…DOUBLE SKULLS! A turnover! The game’s over! I manage to eke out a 1-0 win in a game that I 100% should have tied. I can tell Matthew is somewhat nonplussed about the result, but I’m currently on cloud nine.

Result: 1-0 Win

Game 2: Da Red Fangz vs Dead Meat (Human)

Mike’s Roster:

  • 4 Linemen
  • 2 Blitzers
  • 2 Catchers
  • 1 Re-roll

Mike’s got a bright orange Human team for me in round 2. Humans vs. Orcs is the classic starter set match-up from last edition, and I’m well-acquainted with their type of shenanigans. They’re fast, reasonably well-armored, but don’t pack much of a punch. He’s going to rely on his Catchers to pull off any stretch plays, so I better hit them when I can. I’m kicking in the first half, so we set up and let it rip!

He gets the ball and sets up his cage, and then he, curiously, ends the turn marking my upright players. Ok. I oblige and immediately start blocking the shit out of most of his team. I end up knocking his ball carrier down and running the ball in for an easy score. This was the timbre of this game. For whatever reason, Mike kept marking my orcs meaning that I could just bully his players up and down the field. Humans can’t really stand up to Orcs in a battle of attrition (few teams can, in fact), so ultimately I cruised to a 2-1 victory.

Result: 2-1 Win

Game 3: Da Red Fangz vs. Block Hard Abs (Norse)

Nancy’s roster:

  • 1 Ulfwerener
  • 2 Berserkers
  • 1 Valkyrie
  • 4 Linemen
It’s a scrum!

Round 3 rolls around, and with 2 wins, I’m up around top table. I’m matched up against Nancy, who is a local player and friend. She’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but she’s viciously good at Blood Bowl. I know I’m in for a hard-fought game, and if I make any mistakes she’ll 100% make me pay. I’m kicking in the 1st half, so we set up and get down to it.

Remember when I said she’d make me pay for my mistakes? Well, I forgot I wasn’t playing Elven Union for a second and set up one of my Blitzers in range to get crowd surfed by her Ulwerener immediately. I forget about Frenzy at least once in every game I play. It’s like I have a mental block or something. Fortunately for me, her dice are too hot and she rolls a double pow, saving my poor Blitzer from getting beat up by the crowd. However, she knows what she’s about and takes the entirety of her 6 turns to run in for the score, leaving me no chance to even it up before the half. We’re headed into halftime 0-1.

I’m receiving the kick in the 2nd half, and I’m feeling pretty good. I know I can march it down the field, especially if I can exploit her crappo armor and knock a player or two out of the game. But first, I need to receive the kick. We set up and she goes ahead and rolls on the kick-off table. Boxcars. Two sixes. A twelve. Ok, what’s that? The TOs have a special kickoff table to refer to, which is a mix of classic and modern kick-off results. It turns out, a 12 is a Pitch Invasion! We have to roll for the other teams players to see if they’re stunned for the first turn. Since I have the greater Fan Factor, I need a 3+ for any of her players to be stunned on turn 1. I roll through it and 3 of her players are missing the first turn. For my guys, Nancy needs a 4+ to knock my jerks down. Reader, she knocked down six out of my seven players to start the 2nd half. On top of that, her kick scatters all the way back to land right in front of her Ulfwerener and 2 linemen. I have my thrower left standing, and she’s basically kicked the ball to herself. I’m flabbergasted.

Cool way to start off a half.

If you remember back to my 4 Diamonds report, something similar happened in my game with her husband, Joe. But that time, I had 7 players standing on the field to attempt to stop him from recovering his own kick. This time, I have one thrower who’s dinky-ass MA5 means he can’t even put a tackle zone on the ball. This is easily the worst kick-off I’ve ever suffered. Nancy’s Norse easily snag the ball and once again march in for a 6-turn score. It’s over, and in the worst possible way: I never even got to touch the ball.

Result: 0-2 Loss

Even though it was a crushing loss, Nancy’s a warm and wonderful person, so it wasn’t the worst game of Blood Bowl I’ve ever played by a long shot. She would go on to win the Rookie Rumble, and I suppose I’m happy to have been a stepping stone to her eventual victory. After the event, my buddy Patrick and I hit the local Italian Deli where they were selling build-your-own-four-packs of craft beer for $15. Let’s just say we split several of those. Eventually Nancy and I managed to meet up once again later for a Chaos Cup practice match where my elves performed a damn sight better than my orcs did. After that, things were kind of a blur since the gang and I continued to drink craft beers until late into the night. I think I met some dudes from Maine or something? Hard to say. On to Slaughterday!

Slaughterday!

Saturday morning! Games start at 10 AM for this event, so I don’t get to sleep in as much as I had the day before. Which is too bad because, dear reader, I was feelin’ it that morning. I hit the brekky buffet to fortify myself for the Blood Bowl action that day, and made it in time to check in and get my team ready. This time it’s not only 11s, but it’s elves, too, so I’ve got to be at the top of my game. I hork down some tea and grab a bottle of water and before I know it, round 1 pairings are up! Let’s get to the action!

Game 1: Baja Blasters vs. Game, Blouses (Khemri)

Sean’s roster:

  • 4 Tomb Guardians (Bonus Skills: 2 with Block, 2 with Guard)
  • 2 Anointed Blitzers
  • 2 Anointed Throwers
  • 4 Skeletons
  • 3 Re-rolls
Scary!

My hangover immediately evaporates when I learn I’m matched up against Sean. He’s one of the most decorated players at the event, and I need to be on point in this game or else I’ll look like a tourist. Weather’s nice and I’m receiving in the first half, so away we go!

My team is built for quick touchdowns, and the Khemri team is built to beat the hell out of their opponents, so I figure I’ve got to get my first TD out of the way quick, before I run out of players. I get the ball and execute a picture-perfect 2-turn TD. Then it’s time for defense. Sean sets up, pummels my linemen, sets up his cage and…fails to pick up the ball. But that’s ok! He plays Khemri, and he knows coming into it that Khemri throwers have a paltry AG4+. Not picking up the ball is a time-honored tradition for Khemri coaches. But here’s the thing: he wasn’t prepared for flubbing the pickup roll for the next two turns. What was originally a “fun” quirk of the Khemri team has quickly become an actual problem for Sean. I manage to swarm the ball and cause enough chaos that, by the end of the half, he’s barely been able to move the ball into my half of the field. The Baja Blasters head into the half with a 1-0 lead.

Cool scoreboard.

Sean’s getting the ball in the 2nd half, and he immediately gets over the first hurdle: picking up the ball. No easy defensive stand for me this time. I set up the column defense and send a Blitzer into his backfield as he begins his grind down the field. Things go pretty well for a turn or two, but then he starts breaking my team’s armor. I’m hemorrhaging players. On his turn 12, he’s in range to score but decides to stall to give me no time to get back on top. Remember, my team is built for the quick score, so if he gives me two turns with possession of the ball, I’ll be in a good place to score the go-ahead TD. Turn 13 and turn 14 go by, and I realize that he’s going to try and go until his turn 16 to score to give me no chance to answer. At this point I advise him that he should go ahead and score, since it’s not guaranteed at all that I’ll be able to pull off another 2-turn TD. Additionally, I still have two blodge-stepping Blitzers mucking around. He declines to do so, so it’s up to me to have my Blitzers live up to their reputation as the most annoying players in Blood Bowl.

Promptly, one of my Blitzers tears off a multi-dodge Blitz to knock the ball to the ground with a 1-dice block. It’s a lucky hit, but such is the way of the Elf Union Blitzer. We both try to get as many tackle zones on the ball on the final turns. We get down to his turn 16. The ball is on the ground, about 3 squares away from the end zone. He’s got a Thrower in range to score, but first he has to clear me off the ball. His blocks end up pushing one of my players onto the ball, scattering it away, and it lands in the square of a nearby skeleton who has already activated and needs a 6+ to pick it up. So all Sean needs to do is not roll a 6 and he’ll more than likely score. Naturally, he rolls a 6 and his skeleton picks up the ball with no chance for him to score. Game’s over, I’ve won.

Result: 1-0 Win

This was one of the most rewarding and intense games of Blood Bowl I’ve ever played, right up there with game 3 of the ACCC in July. Sean was obviously frustrated with his “good” rolling at the end there, but he’s a good sport anyways. I run off to get some lunch and decompress a bit after the intense match, with an eye to return before round 2 starts. However, I get back about 15 minutes early, and most people are already playing their games. The TOs had posted matchups early and people had already sat down to play. Unfortunately, the players who were at the table I just vacated kinda scattered my stuff around so I had to run around and gather everything up while my game 2 opponent waited for me. Honestly, it was a bit frustrating. Because of that, I didn’t get a picture of my game 2 opponent’s roster and I started the game a little bit flustered. I’ll recreate his list as best as I can, but I might not get it 100% right.

Game 2: Baja Blasters vs. Da Zoggin’ Nutters (Black Orcs)

Joe’s roster:

  • 1 Troll (Bonus skill: Block)
  • 6 Black Orcs
  • 6 Goblins (Bonus skill: 2 w/ Sprint)
  • 3 Re-rolls
Trolls are big.

Due to showing up “late”, I didn’t take detailed notes for this game. Joe’s an excellent player with a somewhat off-meta team, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m receiving the kick in the 1st half and I, once again, opt to score quickly before I lose all of my players. For the rest of the first half, he took the ball and marched it down the field, which is fine if I can stop him before he gets it in the end zone. And honestly, I thought I had him, there. However, I forget about Sprint on his ball carrier, and I stop him at what I think is out of range for an equalizing TD. Well, dear reader, I was wrong, and after two 3+ dodge rolls and 3 2+ rushes (with no re-rolls!), Joe’s got a speedy goblin celebrating in the end zone. We’re going into the half tied up.

2nd half starts and he’s receiving the kick. He sets up to march the ball down the field again, and my dice suddenly go ice cold. On two separate occasions this half I re-roll a 1 into a 1. I end up needing to burn my re-rolls early. I roll double skulls. Whatever bad shit could happen, did happen. So Joe manages to waltz in for a score a bit easier this time. However, he scored on his turn 15, giving me 2 turns to score the equalizer. And at this point, reader, I think you know what’s about to happen next. That’s right, my cold dice suddenly heat up and I once again execute the picture-perfect 2-turn TD to close out the game with a 2-2 tie.

Result: 2-2 Draw

It felt like I was losing this game for most of the 2nd half. But when Joe gave me two turns to score, I knew it was on. This was definitely a tie that felt like a win, so I’m riding high moving into round 3. The tie, though, does mean that I’m not going to end up in the winner’s circle at the end of the event, but that’s ok! I’m hoping for one more great game, to make it 3 on the day.

Game 3: Baja Blasters vs. Slannta Barbara Battletoads (Slann)

Joe’s (I know, another Joe, sheesh) roster:

  • 2 Catchers (Bonus skills: 2 w/ Guard)
  • 2 Blitzers (Bonus skills: 2 w/ Block)
  • 7 Linefrogs (Bonus skills: 2 w/ Wrestle)
  • 1 Kroxigor (Bonus skill: Block)
  • 3 Re-rolls

Seems like a lot of bonus skills, right? Yeah, so the TOs decided that Slann were a tier 4 team, on par with the stunties, so Joe was playing tier-list arbitrage with a team that is definitely better than what its tier-rating would otherwise say. Joe’s another local player and Street Bowl enthusiast who I played in my first game at the 4 Diamonds Cup last month. He had Wood Elves then. But thanks to my 3rd game at the ACCC, I was well-versed in what kind of silly bullshit Slann teams can do. I’m kicking to him to start the game, so we set up and away we go!

Early in the half we manage to trade TDs without too much happening. However, I manage to knock the ball out late for a potential score on my turn 7 or 8. But I snake-eyes the pick-up roll and re-roll, and then immediately after that his Kroxigor kills one of my Blitzers. That’s not good! We head into the half tied 1-1, but I’m getting the ball. I receive the kick, and, for once, take a little time to score. Slann can score pretty quickly, so I need to start thinking about clock management. We’re at about 6 turns left in the game when I score to make the game 2-1. Unfortunately, I’m 1 Blitzer and a couple of guys down, and he’s getting the ball. I know he’s gonna score, but I need him to score quickly so I can get the ball back and seal the game away with one last TD. And reader, that’s exactly what happens. He gets down the field, but my remaining Blitzer is dogging his ball-carrier, and Joe needs to get the ball in the end zone before I end up mugging his Catcher with the ball. He leaves me two turns to score, and once again, I execute the 2-turn TD to make it 3-2. Joe tries for a one-turn TD on his remaining turn, but he can’t convert. I win the game and go undefeated on the day!

Result: 3-2 Win

Joe’s a great opponent and player, and I even had the pleasure of playing him once more over the weekend in the Necromunda event we both participated in! This event was fantastic. All 3 games were fun, intense, and against really strong opponents. I’ve rarely had more fun at a gaming event before, and I can’t wait for next year’s NOVA to return and try once more for a trophy!

Final Thoughts

Overall, I finished 11th out of 50 or so players on Saturday. It was an absolute blast. These two events were undoubtedly the highlight of the NOVA Open for me this year. However, there are two things I want to touch on before I bid you adieu.

First, the Tier Lists for Slaughterday were questionable. Black orcs were somehow lumped into tier 1, and they have one of the lowest overall win rates of any team. Slann’s win rates are always gonna be wonky because they’re so rare, but they definitely don’t deserve to be lumped in with the stunties. I hope next time the TOs take a look at these tiers and make some better judgements regarding where teams should be placed.

Second, the kick-off tables for both events were pretty wonky. They had “classic” Blood Bowl language throughout, and didn’t even interact with Assistant Coaches or Cheerleaders. I hope no one brought any for that reason. Hopefully the TOs will look to update these for next year.

I would like to stress, however, that neither of these two issues reduced the amount of fun I had at either event. Things were run well, and I’m pretty sure everyone had a great time. Once again, I can’t wait for next Labor Day to once again take part in both the Rookie Rumble and Slaughterday!

That’s it for now, Sports Fans! Dan will be back later this month with a preview and report for the Chaos Cup held at the end of September. Until then, remember: if you see an elf on the ground, foul them. Repeatedly. Thanks for reading, and be well!