Two years ago I had my first match at the Chaos Cup against “Rodney Dangerfield”, with his Dwarfs vs my Skaven. It went 2-2 for my best result of the day. This time round he brought Chaos Dwarfs instead, and it rained.
I could have played better: more conservatively early on, and not burning rerolls, but also more aggressively trying to sack the carrier. On the positive side I smashed his team apart: 4 casualties to 2, and if I’d made a more considered marking of his remaining bull centaur when it was down, I could have eked out a 1-1 draw. But no such luck. Kick off rolls were definitely against me: pouring rain meant I never had better than a 5/9 chance of picking up the ball, and the timeout in the second half hardly helped. Still, not a disaster.
The second match was. A blizzard where the skinks started receiving the ball, and by halftime I’d equalised their score and hospitalised four skinks and KO’d even more. But sloppiness on my side let them go 2-1 up, and in short succession 3-1 for a second consecutive loss. I must have been distracted by something, because I failed to put Helmut on the field for the second half, wasting valuable chainsaw time on that third drive. Another time, I’d remember to keep more skeletons deeper to defend my half until I had the ball.
Then the third game: halflings! This was the first tournament for a new coach, and he kept throwing flings at my ball carrier with some success. He left the ball carrier open enough times that it was easy to kill halflings, but those Halfling grenades from Deeproot were too tough to deal with; I got the ball within range in the second half, but a 1d blitz from him put paid to that. I removed all his halflings by the end (five casualties!), but Helmut was a disappointment when he might have managed to murder Deeproot. But a draw is not a loss, and so I avoided the BBC (Beaten By Children) honour. Nice coach, will probably go far when he plays a team that’s not as hard as halflings…
For the fourth match, Black Orcs. I’ve had no success coaching them myself, but I had some punishing in wait for me, with exemplary fouling removing multiple players while I watched aghast. Fortunately, regen was on my side. After an eighth turn score, I wheeled Helmut on for one turn, and he killed a Block Black Orc, and we fouled another goblin to death with seven of the Hainan Chickens booting him at once. And a kill by a blitz on another goblin meant that I’d denuded him or speedy players by the second half, and I was safe from Sneaky Gits.
What I forgot within a day, until I reread my notes, was that I had two KO’d Tomb Guardians asleep through the second half, so I was also down in strength. I used my rerolls too fast (all gone in three turns, including a greed reroll on a push that turned out nice when I killed the target on the reroll, and didn’t doom myself). I stayed lucky for the remainder of the drive and stalled out to score turn 8, preventing anyone getting close. Set up to defend a one turner, and he skulled out with no reroll on a 1d block to finish.
So by the end of the first day I felt I was doing ok – in the chase for most cas, but a little bit behind. Somebody else was at 20+ with two games to go… I certainly wasn’t in contention for the top half of the leaderboard, but this wasn’t quite wooden spoon territory. Yet.
Sunday came, and with it an upset stomach and maybe a hangover, off a single glass of Montepulciano and staying up to shout at the TV when idiots appeared on a home improvement reality show. But still, match 5 was against goblins. Would this be another disaster?
No, it wouldn’t. Goblins, everyone says, are currently the worst team in the business. This one had no bombardier, which was the one thing that could really mess up my clumsy team. His fanatic bounced around and missed everyone on his first turn, and on the second one collided with a Tomb Guardian, rolled one dice and got a skull and died. So between that and my tackler blitzers killing most of the goblins, I’d removed all his secret weapons in short order, taken the ball off his pogoer and scored on turn 8, maximising Helmut. I felt bad to have one of his trolls snap an arm off – anything to add to the misery.
Still, as I assured him, I’d lost to skinks when I should have had a lock on the game, so who knew what would happen?
Again, failed to protect the ball when it kicked deep. He flung a goblin across the pitch who got the ball, and when I hit him with my thrower, we both went down but the goblin got up and scored in the next turn. On the plus side we both got a bribe as the kick off event, but Helmut was gone by then, and as with every other time I’ve rolled a bribe this year, I got a 1 anyway. Time for new dice?
But a quick score meant more time to hurt him again, and this time I did hard work. The trolls were stupid, I kept 3 dice blitzing them to the mortuary, and his pesky pogo got killed by a Tomb Guardian foul on my 7th turn. I scored, leaving him space for a one turner, but he rolled a 1 to pick up the ball and that was that. First win of the tournament.
In my last match the pain train hit the buffers. I was up against dwarfs, and although Helmut killed two important players (a runner and a blitzer) we couldn’t stop him scoring in 4 turns. For a change I was terribly fragile, with three dead players and two TGs KO’d again and not recovered for the rest of the match.
The coach was one of those very considered, slow players. I guess that might be a dwarfy thing, but we were 75 minutes in at the end of his fourth turn, so I was getting a bit antsy. However, I recalled getting tilted by this sort of thing last year, and with two of his fastest players out, I had speed on my side. I equalised in four turns (I still needed 2 GFIs without a reroll to make it, which was scary enough), and then failed twice to wake up my Tomb Guardians.
So for the second half I just went as slow as I could. I only had eight players left, so it wasn’t as if I could delay much, but I thought about every single block. My rubbish thrower failed to get the ball when he tried to pick it up, but it bounced onto a waiting skeleton who rolled a miraculous 6 to catch it, and then hid in our own end zone for the next three turns. An ignominious way to spend the game, failing to put a single casualty on the board, but again, a draw is better than a loss. Given I didn’t lose my mind at slow play, as I have in the past, surely that’s an improvement? I heard at least one person noisily raging at his dice in his final match – thanks to my wife for keeping me sane.
As in 2019, they gave us a special miniature for the game, this time a cute little squig. Mine was a drooling imbecile for most of the game, but then I don’t remember my animated Chaos Cup excelling much last year either.
And a final echo of 2019: they spelt my surname wrong again (although this time I don’t think they misspelt MrCushtie as well…) So everything is the same as it used to be, but different.
Did I do better or worse? I’d have to peruse the results; I got a draw, three consecutive losses and then 2 wins last time, I think (one win only because I made a fuss in a blizzard when we ran over time when I could have scored if I’d known that would happen); against that, three draws, 1 win and 2 losses might be better, or might be worse. I executed part of my game plan very well, which was to kill lots of stunty players, and I wasn’t expecting things to be glorious, but there’s room to improve too – something to think about for the rest of the year. (And it’s hard to compare performance year to year, because the worse you do in early games, the easier later pairings should get until you do stop losing, by virtue of how the matches work. Still, I conceded more than ten TDs last time (6 this time) and suffered more than ten casualties, whereas this time I was in the race for most casualties (eventually losing 23 to 35, but it would have been at least 4 more with chainsaws and fouls) and conceded far fewer injuries.)
Only 23 more races to play at the Chaos Cup until I’ve played every race there is. Hardly seems a long time 🙂