Welcome back, Sports Fans! We’re back this week with the first half of Dan’s coverage of the 20th annual Chaos Cup! We sent him (on his dime lol) to Chicago for the largest Blood Bowl event in North America. With some of the best players in the world in attendance, he really didn’t stand a chance! It’s been a week since the event, so maybe his bruises have faded. Let’s check in!
The Chaos Cup is the biggest and best Blood Bowl tournament in the United States. The best coaches in North America go to prove their worth every year. And also a bunch of other coaches go. I won’t reveal it until the finale of this 2-part series, but you can go ahead and write down which group you think I belong to and then send an email to email@example.com with a photograph of what you wrote and if any of you actually do this, I’ll be well chuffed, as many people in America say every day.
Jokes aside, this is an event I’ve always wanted to go to, and thankfully I had the chance to attend this year. It’s a 2-day, 6-game tournament held in (technically) Chicago, Illinois. A whopping 160 coaches showed up for the event. I had a ton of fun, and more importantly, learned a lot about the game and how the actually good coaches play it. So let’s dive into it, starting with prep!
We were given 1,120,000 gp to build our rosters, and a bunch of SPP with which to use for skill-ups based on what tier our chosen teams are in. As this event marks the official end of Pro Elf summer, I, once again, brought my Elven union team, the Baja Blasters. For Elves, at 1120 TV, star players are kinda out of the question, and the extra 20k gold doesn’t really do anything for me, so building the roster was pretty easy. As I’ve stated before, the Apothecary in a tournament setting isn’t worth it, so I went with an extra Lineman. Here’s what I brought:
- 2 Throwers
- 2 Blitzers
- 2 Catchers
- 7 Linemen
- 2 Rerolls
- 2 Assistant Coaches
- Total: 1,120,000 gp
As a tier 2 team, Elven Union were given 54 SPP to use to buy skills. Primary skills cost 6 SPP, with the second primary on a player costing 8. Secondaries cost 12, and you may not put a second skill on a player with a secondary skill. No stat increases, each skill can only be added 4 times. With that in mind, I knew I had a lot of obvious moves. First, Dodge on both Blitzers and both Catchers, which will max out my allowance for Dodge. Second, Leader on one of the Throwers to get that ever-important 3rd reroll. Then, since I’m a big fan of adding to my winners, I decided to put Block on one of my Catchers, and Wrestle on the other, giving me 3 Blodgers and a safety for the event. After that I had 8 SPP left over and a tough decision to make: do I take Kick on one of my Linemen, or do I add Strip Ball to one of my Blitzers?
The case for Kick is pretty cut-and-dry: Elves are one of the fastest teams in the game, and with Kick I can try to cut my opponent’s team in half on every kickoff. The ball should end up in one of the corners, and I can use my speed and agility to get my players behind my opponent’s line and screen out most of their team as my speedy players go after the ball. It’s an extremely useful tactic that can give slower teams a ton of trouble immediately. And if I can roll up a Blitz! on the kickoff table, I’ll be in an incredible position to wreak havoc or even recover my own kickoff.
However, Strip Ball is an extremely useful skill. If the opposing ball-carrier doesn’t have sure hands, then even a 1-die block has a 66.7% chance of knocking the ball away. This is obviously super useful. However, it’s somewhat easily counterable in that my opponent can do whatever it takes to put my ball-stripper on the ground and then keep him there. Historically, I’ve had very little luck in getting Strip Ball to work for me, but if I could, then I’d be at a huge advantage.
In the end, I went with what I deemed to be a more reliable skill in Kick. I also figured it was off-meta enough to potentially surprise some coaches out there. In hindsight, I’m glad I went with Kick. I do not think Strip Ball would have won me more games.
Here’s the final roster:
- 1 Thrower w/ Leader
- 1 Thrower
- 2 Blitzers w/ Dodge
- 1 Catcher w/ Dodge and Block
- 1 Catcher w/ Dodge and Wrestle
- 1 Lineman w/ Kick
- 6 Linemen
- 2 Rerolls
- 2 Assistant coaches
Total: 1,120,000 gp spent, and 52 out of 54 SPP used.
I live right outside of Washington, DC. The Chaos Cup is held in Rosemont, which is a neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. It is a 12-hour drive. Or I could get a 15-minute Lyft to the nearby airport, DCA, and take a 90-minute plane ride to O’Hare, which is a 10-minute, free shuttle ride away from the event hotel. So I did that. The travel was uneventful. The plane ride was short, the shuttle free, and I got to the hotel shortly before 1 PM.
Now, Rosemont is about a 40-minute drive outside of downtown Chicago. After lunch on a Friday, which is when I got there, the Lyft to Millenium Park would have taken in excess of an hour. That’s not ideal! My friends Joe and Nancy, who have graced this column with their presence in the past, suggested that we hit a museum or something downtown, but after looking at the travel times involved, we said hell no to that and instead went to go get an Italian Beef sandwich. We took a ten-minute ride to Frannie’s Beef, a local Italian sandwich joint. I had an Italian Beef sandwich with hot peppers and fries. It was transcendental. If you’re ever in Rosemont, hit up Frannie’s. You will not leave disappointed or hungry.
After our delicious sandwiches, we decided to walk it off a bit and hit a nearby brewery, Short Fuse Brewing Co. Once again, if you’re ever in the area. Take a detour to Short Fuse. The beer was excellent, the staff was super nice, and the murals were some of the best I’ve ever seen. We hung out at Short Fuse for entirely too long, got some dinner, and then I passed out before 10 PM.
Saturday morning came, and it was time to play. I grabbed a bite at the severely under-equipped hotel bar, snagged my registration packet from the desk, and waited for pairings. Once they were up, I headed on over to my table and began round 1 of the 2022 Chaos Cup.
Game 1: Baja Blasters vs. GobSmack (Goblins w/ Varag Ghoul-Chewer)
- 2 Trolls w/ Block
- 3 Goblin Linemen w/ Sidestep
- 5 Goblin Linemen
- 1 Looney (Chainsaw) w/ Sneaky Git
- 1 ‘Ooligan w/ Sneaky Git
- Varag Ghoul-Chewer
- 2 Rerolls
- 1 Assistant Coach
- 1 Bribe
Right off the bat, I’m thrilled for two reasons: first, my podcast partner SRM would love the Godsmack reference, and second, this is a near copy of my friend Joe’s team with whom I managed to get a practice game in before the tournament! Now, that practice game went horribly for me, but that’s ok because I knew what to expect. Chris was going to try to foul and bash his way to victory, while using his goblins’ inherent dodginess to get out of any trouble. Also, Chris was super nice, as befitting someone from Minnesota, and he gave me a set of 2d6 with little stylized Minnesotas on the 6s that I ended up using for the entire tournament! After we exchange rosters, we sit down and get to rolling. It’s nice weather and I’m receiving the opening kick. My plan is to score quickly before I lose too many players, but a wrench is immediately thrown in the works: the kickoff table result is changing weather, and a sudden rainstorm has erupted around the pitch, making it more difficult to pick up or catch the ball! Undaunted, we soldier on and begin the game.
I stick to my plan and immediately rip off a 2-turn TD despite the rain. I’m up 1-0, but it’s early going. I’m hopeful I can steal the ball away or force an early score, but Chris is an extremely competent Blood Bowl player and takes the entire rest of the half to score. He also sends 6 of my players to the KO box. But in a fleeting stroke of luck, I manage to bring all of them back into the game at the half. We’re tied 1-1 going into the half, but I still have a full squad.
Chris receives the 2nd half kickoff, and things start to go my way. After a couple of bad rolls on his part, I manage to knock the ball out and score a defensive TD! Incredible! I’m up 2-1 at the Chaos Cup! I can taste the ultimate victory! But then, reality comes crashing back. Chris once again takes the rest of the game, helped by a couple of snake eyes rolls on my part, to score the equalizer. After his last turn, it’s 2-2, and we’re out of time.
Result: 2-2 Tie
All in all, a great game. Chris is a super nice guy and an excellent Blood Bowl player. I sincerely couldn’t be happier with my first game at the Chaos Cup. Opening with a 2-2 tie, however, puts me in the upper middle of the pack, so I know I’ve got a tough row to hoe for round 2. Onwards!
Game 2: Baja Blasters vs. Jump for Joy! (Slann)
- 1 Blitzer w/ Tackle
- 1 Blitzer w/ Guard
- 2 Catchers w/ Dodge
- 1 Catcherw/ Wrestle
- 2 Linemen w/ Wrestle
- 1 Lineman w/ Block
- 3 Linemen
- 1 Kroxigor w/ Guard
- 3 Rerolls
- 1 Assistant coach
The first thing I did when I sat down was ask if Perrin was named after Perrin Aybara from the Wheel of Time and he confirmed that yes, his parents are that cool. Thrilling. Nice weather and I’m once again receiving in the first half. I set up, grab the kick, and then immediately start rolling 1s. The Minnesota dice have turned against me! 5 out of my 8 first half turns end prematurely with snake eyes. All failed 2+ dodges. Each one had a reroll in the form of a Dodge skill or a team re-roll. No Diving Tackle shenanigans were involved. Perrin scores on his turn 6 after stealing the ball and stalling for a bit, giving me turns 7 and 8 to equalize it. Turn 7 goes off fine, and I set up for a 2-turn TD. I keep the ball through his turn 7, and on turn 8, my thrower fumbles the quick pass. Another snake eyes. He gets the ball and scores on his turn 8 making it a 0-2 deficit going into the half.
Sports Fans, I’m doing my best to stay positive, but this game hurts. The 2nd half starts and he’s getting the ball. I’ve got to get a defensive score or force a quick TD if I’m gonna have any hope. Thankfully, Perrin moves down the field and scores relatively quickly, in 3 turns. It’s 3-0, but maybe I can work a little elf magic to claw my way back to a tie. I set up a 2-turn TD, and…blow a GFI with a reroll for a TD.
So it goes. Sometimes the dice are your friends, like in game 1 with all those KOs waking back up, and sometimes they go ice cold. Perrin, however, is a fantastic opponent, and I would gladly get stomped by him again at some point in the future.
Result: 0-3 Loss
Oof. Fortunately, we get to take a bit of a break for lunch. Unfortunately, the options at the hotel are dismal. There isn’t enough time to get something from the bar, as it’s slammed, and I didn’t trust in any of the food delivery apps to get food to me on time, so my only option was a little stand the hotel had set up selling $10 hot dogs. You read that right. $10 for one hot dog. I don’t care how much virulently blue-green relish (seriously, Chicago, what is with this stuff?) you put on it, a hot dog lunch is never worth $10. And I’m a fan of the hot dog lunch! To top it off, they wouldn’t accept credit or debit because of a computer malfunction, and coincidentally, the hotel’s ATM was broken. So I had to borrow $10 from Nancy to pay for my overpriced lunch. I head out to the patio to get a little bit of fresh air while I eat, and like 3 dudes immediately light up cigarettes, so I don’t even get to taste my $10 hot dog. Honestly, at this point, I was straight-up not having a good time. Maybe things will get better with game 3.
Game 3: Baja Blasters vs. Teenage Mutant Nurgle Turgles (Nurgle w/ Kreek Rustgouger)
- 5 Rotters
- 2 Bloaters w/ Block
- 2 Bloaters w/ Guard
- 1 Rotspawn
- 1 Pestigor w/ Block and Tackle
- Kreek “The Verminator” Rustgouger
So, before this round, I had set up my team for paint judging (I did not win anything). And as I was walking through, I had actually spied Paul’s team on their tricked-out TMNT display board. Paul had done a fantastic job with this team. I’m not sure what company or whatever had designed them, but they were mutated, Nurgle-fied, teenage turtles, and Paul had done a great job painting them and building the display board. I was honestly thrilled to line up against him, so we got down to it.
Nice weather again, and a rare opening kickoff where I actually end up kicking! Generally, If I win the coin toss I elect to receive because I’m worried about running out of players, and if my opponent wins, they elect to kick because they want the ball in the 2nd half. But Paul wanted the rock, so away we went! This game really underscored the importance of Kick. I was able to cut off the ball carrier from most of his team and on turn 2, the pestigor was knocked down and the ball flew into the hands of my waiting Blitzer, who eventually scored the defensive TD on turn 5. Things are already looking up from last game! I kick off once again, and then manage to score a second defensive TD on my turn 7. It’s 2-0 going into the half.
I’m receiving the kick in the second half and I pull off a picture-perfect 2-turn TD. No stalling, because I wanted to see if I could get to 5 TDs. As an interesting note, this drive went the entire length of the pitch because Paul’s kick had landed in my end zone. At this point, we’re both getting a little silly since the writing’s on the wall and neither of us are in line for any big wins or anything. Kreek is finally out of the game, after causing a ton of havoc for both teams, but we’re both playing pretty loosely. At one point I reroll a block into a double skulls, but I do eventually pick up another defensive TD. I’m not able to get to 5 TDs, though, but that’s ok.
Result: 4-0 Win
I’d rank this game as the most fun game of the weekend, for what probably looks like obvious reasons. Paul was a great opponent, and he had a beautiful team, which is always fun to play against.
To Be Continued…
At this point, there’s one game left on the day, but I’m going to pause here and pick back up next week with the last 3 games and my final thoughts on the Chaos Cup. I’m 1-1-1 on the day, and my win in round 3 has erased the bad feelings about my poor performance in round 2. Though I’m still a little bit sore about that $10 hot dog. Can I pull out a round 4 win to put me in the green for the day? Tune in next week to find out!
Thanks, for reading, Sports Fans! We hope you’re enjoying the continuing competitive Blood Bowl content here at Goonhammer, but if you have any suggestions for what you’d like for us to cover, don’t hesitate to drop us a line over at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’ll be back next week with part 2 of Dan’s voyage to the Chaos Cup!