Sunday, April 26, 2009

Way of the Orc

I started trying to write a post on Orc strategy, and I realised it was getting a bit too complex, at least in my head if not elsewhere so I've decided to break this up into multiple blogs. At least then I might get some of them published! This is the first post so really designed to give a feel for an overall approach to Orcs. More will follow with detail on specific aspects of the game.

Orcs are an immensely popular team. They came in the 3rd edition boxed set, have a great, flavoursome background story, and are a good team too. All these combine to make them the most popular team among NAF coaches.

Orcs have a strong background in all fantasy genres, obviously within Tolkein and are present in all the core GW games. In Blood Bowl they have always been one of the main teams - from 1st ed all the way through to today. Thanks to their popularity in other systems there are plenty of choices for minatures to use - from GW's own BB range, Shadowforge's Female Orc team and conversions from WFB & 40k.

From a gaming perspective Orcs offer an unusual set of options. Sometimes Orcs are described as a more "balanced" bash team. IMO they aren't really - they are a 1st rate bash team with options. Very few teams have a clear strength advantage, and those who might be better at skilled blocking (e.g. Dwarves) often find it hard to keep up once the Orcs are skilled. However unlike a great many bash teams Orcs have dedicated throwers and can develop a reasonable passing game. To top it all off they have the option of using the Troll/Goblin combo for throw team mate plays.

All this means that there is a good variety of options for team building and development, meaning Orcs offer a bit more versatility than some other races. These strategies for Orcs I'd crudely break down into three core "bash" strategies: Guarders, Killers and Deniers. As well as at least one passing strategy.

Guarders emphasise guard on all the positionals - giving Black Orc Blockers (BOBs) and Blitzers guard as a first skill and relying on it to ensure winning the bash war.

Killers emphasise the destructive skills available - Block, Mighty Blow, Piling On - with an added flavouring of Frenzy & Tackle.

Deniers love the ability of Orcs to control position effectively. Stand Firm is the skill of choice here which means that a great many teams will find themselves unable to make the holes they need to penetrate the powerful Orc defences.

Passers tend to use the throwers Orcs have available to them to build a decent passing game - Accurate & Strong arm on doubles for the throwers, Blitzers taking Dodge & Catch, and maybe fielding a couple of goblins built as receivers.

Most Orc coaches take their own blend from these different strategies. combining them to make something unique. There is another level of sophistication which is that the different strategies are optimal for facing different opponents, so within a typical face to face league you might emphasise some more than others to help you beat the competition. An obvious one is that in a league with a high proportion of Elf teams you'll want more tackle than one full of Dwarves.

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