Following a debate on the RGMB forums I feel it necessary to defend my reasons for my continued use of the furry ones - Average Joes - in Bloodbowl while others are chopping and changing quicker than the chairman of Newcastle.
The Arguments Against
The arguments against were logical and fair - that it can be boring for both the user and the opposition to see the same team year-in, year-out in each tournament, and that this can give each competition a same-as-last-time quality. There is also the (possibly justified) fear that if I continue my use of Average Joes they would continue to dominate the finals of competitions along with their main rivals; the Hashut Hackers (Chaos Dwarfs - Alan), and Khaines Killers (Dark Elves - Alan also!).
The Defence - Game play
In my eyes Bloodbowl teams breakdown into three categories; Hitty Teams that block their way to 1-0 results over the oppositions unconscious bodies (e.g. Chaos Warriors and Orcs), Passing Teams that use their manoeuvrability to avoid the blocks and run in multiple touchdowns through passing and dodging (e.g. Skaven and Elves), and Comedy Teams who have little chance of winning and play just in the hope of making monkeys out of the opposition (snotlings & Halflings).
Out of these my preference is for the passing teams. The Hitty teams spend the whole game trying to bulldoze their ways through the opposition line, and it is tedious and boring (especially for the opposition who rarely see the ball). The Comedy teams are fun and entertaining, but mostly they are one-trick ponys (see the Goblin-long-bomb tactic!) who rarely win unless the opposition is having a very poor day. Onto Passing teams who are very entertaining and capable of winning games, and at this point it must be noted that Bloodbowl is a game in that I can actually win at regularly, and its nice to have that feeling after the constant Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, FOW and other debacles!
My skaven passing and dodging game leaves many grasping at shadows trying to man-mark (or is that rat-mark??) the gutter runners and block out the storm vermin and line rats. The sheer number of opportunities that a skaven team can create to score ensures it is rarely possibly to shut down all avenues completely. Then there is the potential to score for virtually anywhere on the field as long as a gutter runner is in the opposition half. This must be my favourite part of being a skaven coach - never being out of the game at 1-0 down until the last rat is battered and the final whistle goes! It prevents me getting bored, and I enjoy the “how the hell did that happen??” look on the opposing players face. There are really only two races that can pull off such a passing game (elves are the other of course, stinky pointy-eared gits….).
My other reason for liking the style of play my skaven produce relates to one of my other hobbies - football. Although I’m not an American Football fan, I do like proper football (but not the pathetic diving often seen in the premier league!), and for me Bloodbowl combines these two hobbies nicely; fantasy football if you like. And being a Liverpool fan I like my teams to pass the ball around and score spectacular touchdowns, and actually play using the ball rather than their fists/claws - ‘heretic!’ you may well cry but I care not!
The Defence - Background
Having gone on for a time about how I like the skaven game play aspect, the real main reason I stick with them is because of their history and background, ‘fluff’ if you like. And this does not revolve around the history of the skaven race, but around the history the team has built up over time.
A Brief History:
Average Joes were formed in 2006 when Bloodbowl first took the RGMB by storm. The first tournament included approximately 20 players who played in four groups to finish top/second of their group to qualify for the quarter finals. Despite having not played a competitive game before the tournament began, ‘Joes did not lose a single game on their way to the quarters. Sadly the ‘snotling fiasco’ (failure of the tournament organisers to see it through to the end) robbed them of the chance to appear.
A year later, 2007, they would defeat such greats as ’Morks Marauders’ to go all the way to the final, only to lose to their great rivals; ‘Khaines Killers‘, 3-1 in a 17-team tournament. They were also a millimetre from an appearance in the ’07 Spike Cup Final, which the ‘Talabheim Tornados’ won, and competed in the final of the only Dungeon Bowl tournament yet played - losing 1-0 to the ‘Orcy Splat Bashers’.
In 2008 they once again went close to the title. It was a much weaker tournament, with only 12 teams taking part, and several of the big names from the previous year missing; notably absentees were ‘Morks Marauders’, the ‘Middenheim 49ers’, the ’Skull Smashers’ and the ’Talabheim Tornados’, while the Hashut Hackers returned at the expense of Khaines Killers (who were on tour in Lustria apparently). A rocky path through to the quarter finals saw them drawn against the only team seemingly capable of confidently defeating the skaven, and sure enough the chaos dwarfs of the ‘Hashut Hackers’ pulled off a 3-1 victory to leave the Average Joes the also-rans of the RGMB Bloodbowl scene once more.
This leaves Average Joes as one of a handful of teams that are still playing three years on from the beginning of Bloodbowl at the RGMB. The only teams to claim even close to that much background and history are the Hashut Hackers, the Marianburg Mashers, the Talabheim Tornado’s and the Skull Smashers. However, ’Joes are the ONLY team to have played in all three seasons, although, despite the dissent against their apparent success, they have never won a trophy despite appearing in two cup finals and two quarter finals.
The point of spelling out the background is that they are one of the most recognised teams at the RGMB, down to the point where some of their opponents can probably name some of the key players! They have a proper history and background in the way football clubs do, and in a way that only playing so many games and seasons can give. They have star players and main rivals, and pedigree in each competition, as well as being founding members of the original RGMB Bloodbowl competition. All this gives the tournaments flavour and background, with grudge matches creeping in, and phrases like ’the team to beat’ appearing.
If Average Joes were a football team they would be Liverpool - living on past glories and trying to win by passing the opposition to death, full of history - and they would play the new teams of the world, the Chelsea’s - the upstarts with no history trying to batter their way to the top and victory.
The only thing they are lacking is their own stadium, and with my current interest in the W-romans I am rather tempted to look into building them their very own coliseum - they are one of the biggest, and most well-established teams, and they deserve it!