The Marquis’ Road to Athel Loren: Three Kingdoms Challenge, Part 1

The Year of the Elf

Do you hear that? The rustle of wind in the leaves, the sharp snap of a branch, distant cries of “elf bullshit….” That’s right, everyone, it’s the Year of the Wood Elf!

I’ve been playing Blood Bowl for close to a decade now, and I have never been able to figure out how to elf effectively. I coached Norse teams for a long time because the math of throwing blocks, even with Frenzy, is relatively simple. It’s fun to conduct a symphony of destruction and walk through the ashes to score. 2023 was the Year of the Halfling, where I learned how to get the most out of a weak roster propped up by star players. 

However, the finer points of agility play have always been a weak point in my toolkit. I’ve committed myself to playing the most fragile of the elf teams for a full year to try and reshape my brain into one that can count squares, plan passing plays, and maybe even stop sleepwalking into scrums.

In the two tournaments I’ve played so far this year, I’ve learned a few things. Wood Elves need to keep space open on the pitch. They can exploit space better than almost any other team, and a few open squares can quickly turn into a headache for your opponent.

With this in mind, I packed up my team and headed to my first weekender of the year, the Three Kingdoms Challenge. This is one of Florida’s big annual tournaments, and 34 coaches showed up to throw down in the Norse Incursion of Lustria. 


The team-building section of this tournament pack was pretty standard, with 1200K gold and from 6 to 11 skills for each team to build their roster. This event was a dry run for the Chaos Cup, North America’s biggest Blood Bowl tournament – the same venue, the same TO, and many of the same rules. There were special star players available to any team, which included CiCi, the Amazon Blitzer/Lizardmen “Lustrian Lycanthrope” from last year, and Losteriksson the Norse Hero and Bjarnhildr the War Bear, available as a duo for this year’s Chaos Cup.

Unfortunately, with my Wood Elf team, I didn’t have anything like enough Team Value spare to splash out on any stars, so my roster was pretty much the same as I would have brought to any other tournament. It consisted of:

  • Wardancer with Strip Ball
  • Wardancer with Tackle
  • 2x Catcher with Block
  • Thrower with Leader
  • Lineman with Kick
  • Lineman with Wrestle
  • 4x Rookie Lineman
  • Loren Forest Treeman
  • 2 Rerolls

The Peach Grove. Credit: Marquis_of_Peaches

It’s a wide toolkit that can always threaten to sack or score. The only repeated skill is Block on both Catchers, which really need the survivability of Block and Dodge because they’re both Strength 2 and often left isolated from the rest of the team on long passing plays. The ruleset discouraged stacking multiple skills on any single player, so I chose to bring a Wrestle Lineman instead of giving my Thrower Sure Hands as well as Leader. Wrestle is a good utility skill that protects my player, can be a sacking threat, and still gives my lineman 4 squares of movement from the ground in my turn. 


I made my way down to the Wyndham Conference Center & Resort in sunny Orlando Celebration, Florida. According to Wikipedia, Celebration is a “master-planned community.”

Pictured: active hostility to pedestrian life. Credit: Google Maps, retrieved 2024

This is the street just outside of the weekend’s venue, which is loaded with restaurants across the full spectrum of classy. To get to any of them, though, you have to deal with 10 lanes of divided highway, a parking lot frontage road, and the possibility of being hit by a retiree in a golf cart on either side of the road. You may not like it, but this is what peak community planning looks like.

Instead of dealing with this nightmare all weekend to keep myself fueled, I stopped at the local Wally World to purchase food for the weekend: three pounds of oranges, a head of lettuce, three pounds of lunch meat, a bottle of mustard, a loaf of bread, and a case of beer. All of this, I crammed into a big cooler that also serves as a display board for the oodles of stickers that seem to spawn at gaming events. If there is ever a tournament within driving distance of your home, this is the way to go. It’s incredible how cheaply you can eat if you just buy groceries for the weekend instead of eating out every meal.

Friday Night Dungeonbowl

Traditionally, Florida Blood Bowl weekend tournaments include a Friday night “icebreaker” event. This weekend’s was a homebrew “Community College” version of Dungeonbowl, where each coach could bring players from any two teams, with the following limits:

  • Minimum of 7 players
  • 600 gold
  • No more than 4 positionals (non-linemen) 
  • Rerolls cost the average of the two teams’ normal rostered rerolls

This was intended to be a streamlined roster-building experience, which was very lucky for me because I didn’t know I was going to play Dungeonbowl until I arrived! It just so happened that my roommate for the weekend was running the event. When he asked if I was playing, I couldn’t very well say no. 

My roster (written in about 45 seconds between matchups posting) ended up being:

  • 5 Norse Linemen
  • 2 Wood Elf Wardancers
  • 2 Norse Beer Boars
  • 1 Reroll

This was my first time ever playing Dungeonbowl, and I had a blast with it! It was just the right amount of gaming to be a nice warmup for the weekend, without seriously taxing my mental capacity. The highlight of the event happened during my match against Andrew’s Norse/Chaos team.

He had found the ball in his very first chest, and slowly marched his team through the dungeon until he was 3 squares from the end zone. All that was left was a wall of my very lightly-armored players stretched across the hallway, and with no time pressure in Dungeonbowl, he could bash his way through them pretty easily… Except that I had a Wardancer inside his cage. He decided to blitz free with his ball carrier, rolled double skulls, and the ball bounced into my Wardancer’s hands. Regardless of the system, elf bullshit is eternal.

A (borrowed) Norse Lineman runs past a dungeon full of Stunned Snotlings to score. Credit: Marquis_of_Peaches

I ended up going 3-1, and taking second place in the Dungeonbowl tournament. Not a bad showing for my first games of Dungeonbowl!

Game 1: Dan’s Lizardmen

Every tournament attracts a pretty diverse range of coaches, some of whom are aiming for secondary prizes like Best Defense, Most Touchdowns, or the prestigious Stunty Cup. Dan’s particular white whale this weekend was Most Casualties, awarded to the bloodiest coach.

Dan’s Roster:

  • 4x Saurus with Mighty Blow
  • Saurus with Kick
  • Rookie Saurus
  • 2x Rookie Skink
  • Rookie Chameleon Skink
  • Glotl Stop, a beefed-up Kroxigor star player

His plan was very, very clear from the moment we exchanged rosters – he wanted to murderize my entire team, and walk past our corpses to the win.

Dan won the toss and elected to receive, to guarantee himself some hits on the line of scrimmage before I could dodge away. With the first block of the game, Glotl Stop punched my Treeman and Knocked her Out, and things were looking dire for me. By the time his first turn was done, he had removed 4 of my players from the pitch, but didn’t pick up the ball. He moved two Skinks next to it, thinking that their tackle zones would keep it safe.

They did not.

My Wardancers ran around the mess on the line of scrimmage, knocked a Skink over onto the ball, and screened to protect the Catcher that picked up the ball. I managed to stall for a couple turns, and scored on Turn 4. I managed to score again in the first half, dodging away from the attempts to kill my players and focusing on the ball.

The second half started with Dan kicking to me and rolling a Blitz! Kickoff Event. The kick had scattered deep into my half, and he overcommitted to chasing it. My Thrower, alone deep in my half, scooped up the ball and pitched it forwards to a Catcher, who ran it downfield and hung out near the end zone while I hunted Skinks, trying to impact Dan’s ball play by leaving him with only Agility 4+ (or worse) players on the field. 

My Elves see the Sauruses coming and dash into an empty backfield. Credit: Marquis_of_Peaches

Result: 4-0, Win

Game 2: Matt’s Humans Griff Oberwald Mules

With a massive win under my belt, I was catapulted straight to the top table to play Matt. We’ve been at several of the same tournaments, but this was the first time we actually played each other. He had won his first game 4-1, leaning heavily on Griff to do Griff things. Humans were Tier 2 for this tournament, so Matt had enough skill points left over to support Griff with a pretty decent team.

Matt’s roster (from memory):

  • Ogre with Block
  • Blitzer with Guard
  • Blitzer with Mighty Blow
  • 2x Rookie Blitzer
  • Rookie Thrower
  • Catcher with Block
  • Rookie Halfling Hopeful
  • 4x Rookie Linemen

I won the toss and elected to receive the ball. I managed to immediately forget all of the lessons I’ve learned playing Wood Elves, and let Matt force my entire team into a narrow corridor to one side of the pitch. I left the back side of my screen open, and Matt worked his way in to sack the ball, recovering with Griff and running him alone up the pitch. This was my saving grace, because it let me pull some elves out of the scrum that had developed and sack Griff with my Tackle Wardancer, stunning him and recovering the ball. I threw together a second attempt at an offensive drive, and ended up scoring on Turn 6. This was my high water mark.

I attempt a standard two-turn elf touchdown. See the hole in my lines? Credit: Marquis_of_Peaches

With the three turns he had left in the half, Matt executed a near-perfect offense, getting the ball to Griff and putting himself exactly in range of the extra, reliable movement that Sprint and Sure Feet provide. For my part, I threw elves at his cage like there was no tomorrow. This would come back to bite me, as the removals started to mount up. Matt scored on Turn 8, and set up to receive the kickoff to start the second half.

The second half was a perfect 8-turn touchdown for the wrong team. I attempted more and more desperate sacks, but the dodges and leaps weren’t there for me. More and more of my team gathered on the sidelines to watch as Griff strolled casually into the end zone.

With only one turn left, I didn’t have much of a chance. We had about 20 minutes left in the round, so Matt and I talked out the pushes for a one-turn touchdown, and concluded that I almost certainly didn’t have it. He was a great sport about this, even letting me move his models around as I wargamed it out and suggesting lines that I hadn’t thought of. 

Result: 1-2, Loss

Game 3: Chaos Chosen

Unfortunately, my next opponent was something less of a good sport about our game. My first clue was that he was playing games on his phone when I got to the table after lunch, and didn’t even look up as I sat down. Traditionally, Blood Bowl coaches will go over their rosters with their opponent before the match begins, pointing out which model is which and what skills they have. This is a best practice, no matter what game you’re playing. After I went over my team, my opponent… went back to playing on his phone.

The roster leaned more towards control than bash, but still had plenty of bash in the mix:

  • 2x Chaos Warriors with Block
  • 2x Chaos Warriors with Mighty Blow
  • Minotaur with Block
  • Beastman with Sure Hands
  • 5x Rookie Beastmen
  • Skitter Stab-Stab, a star player Gutter Runner with a knife

His plan would be to dictate where the scrum happened, and (relatively) slowly let the attrition tell. My plan would be to avoid the scrum like hell, and try to neutralize Skitter. Luckily, my Wardancers were both built to get the ball off of Skitter, with both Strip Ball and Tackle coming in handy.

I lost the toss, and kicked the ball to my opponent. The mere presence of my Strip Ball Wardancer forced him to use his Sure Hands Beastman to carry the ball. This meant that his offense had to be a slow grind up the pitch, because I was almost certain to get the ball from Skitter if he tried to dash out ahead. Unfortunately for my opponent, I was able to get the ball out of his cage anyway with a well-timed cage dive, and pull the ol’ “Run Like Hell” plan to score on my defense. 

My opponent’s second offensive drive. That cage looks awful open… Credit: Marquis_of_Peaches

Although I executed my plan as best as I could, Mighty Blow and the low armor of my elves meant that there were still removals galore. When my opponent got his third casualty of the match early in the second half, he grunted and said “About time!” It was just that kind of a game. I understand that it can be frustrating to be on the receiving end of elf bullshit, but leaving openings and then complaining about the dice is not the move. 

Result: 4-0, Win

Saturday Debrief

Overall, a pretty good day for the Peach Grove! 2-0-1 is a pretty good record for me in tough competition, and 9 touchdowns put me in the lead for the Most Touchdowns award. With two games left to play on Sunday and pairings posted already, I knew I had a shootout with a Skaven team to look forward to. With that in store for me, I headed to bed…

For a quick nap! Warhammer UnderpantsWorlds has taken the Florida Blood Bowl community by storm in the past few months, and there was a three-round Nemesis Clash scheduled for Saturday night. We had about an hour to rest, then it was back to the ham mines.

Next time, we’ll go over the Underworlds tournament, my final two games of Blood Bowl, the results, and any lessons I may have massaged into my bowling ball of a brain.