OK, my previous two posts alluded to some jerk and also how I lost 2nd place based on sportsmanship… This all ties back to what I am now calling “The Worst Gaming Experience I Have Ever Had” and it goes something like this….
The typical Blood Bowl player is not a teenage kid. Most people think gaming is for little kids, but it is actually the realm of grown adults. The average age would be a guy in his thirties with a significant representation of 40+ yr olds. However, this tale relates to a guy who would easily be in his 60’s and perhaps late 60’s at that.
I had seen this guy around the tables and thought it was good that a guy at his age was still doing gaming and that it was great that his two sons (in there late 20’s) were playing with him. I had played one of his sons in Round 1 and had a very enjoyable game.
So when I got drawn against the “Old Man” in Round 5, I was happy enough.
Also, I should say that the etiquette of CanCon is that all coaches are here to win, but to do so in the spirit of sportsmanship. It is the primary tie breaker in splitting teams on the points table, so the most important thing is not to wrack up the score, but to win and lose gracefully and with dignity. However, anything in the rule book is fair game and winning is still the primary objective. So to reflect this, sportsmanship is scored after each round out of 10 and with the guidelines that were set; it is pretty hard to score below 8.
So the draw was made, and I got the “Old Man”. Now as I have mentioned I have a very nice board and all coaches are very happy to have a game on it rather than the stock standard cardboard board from the box. The Old Man however had made his own board as well, but it was a “large scale board” and he had made the squares easily 200% bigger than standard and also it was made from a sheet of Clark Rubber foam about 5cm thick. Because of the scale, he had had to make passing templates of a larger size and to be honest, it was not in great shape despite being “non standard scale”.
I politely debated that I would prefer to play on mine, not on basis of looks, but on the basis of that mine was “standard scale”. He grumbled, but came over to my board and one of his two sons played on theirs anyway.
The game was setting up and Niki and the Girls turned up to visit and to have a look around. I started to talk to them but he kept asking me to roll dice and basically ignored my family. Yes, I was at a game convention, but surely 5mins of chat to the family is OK… but no. “Whats your Fan Factor? …. Roll For Weather…. etc” and Niki got the vibe it was a bad time and they left… much to my disappointment.
The game starts and he gets the ball. He is playing Orcs, perhaps the only race capable of out grinding a Dwarf team and the general tactic most Orc coaches would apply would be to keep the ball out of the Dwarf team’s hands and grind out the entire first half. Given that Dwarves score so slowly and are so poor on defence, this would guarantee you virtually a draw at least. But he punches a hole, runs an Orc Blitzer through the gap and opens me up like a tin can. My lone Runner is at fullback and has no real hope of stopping the big Orc Blitzer but then I realised he had made a mistake. I saw that he had crept his thrower up too close to the line of scrimmage and with a great counter attack I could perhaps reach him. So I employed this tactic of kill or be killed and instead of focusing on the lone receiver, I went for the glory and counter punched a hole back and sent my thrower through to sack him. Sort of like an NFL blitz. So my runner moves his maximum 6 squares and gets next to the thrower. He says “excuse me, you moved 7” and I countered and showed him the square where he was and where he was going to and promptly re-countered for him the six squares. He grumbled and said something that I should be more careful. So I attempt to hit the thrower but luck eludes me and I fall over. Now I am well and truly stuffed. He throws the ball over the top to the Blitzer (who is now unopposed) and he strolls down the field. Now this is important for later context – he keeps the Blitzer on the goal line but decides to neglect to score on the basis I cannot reach him. In game terms, this is called “Stalling”. I accept this because I took the risk and lost… so I proceed to ignore the ball and beat on his team in frustration. If he is going to stand there looking pretty, then I will try to kill everyone else on his team. I did enough damage to make him think twice of stalling for a second turn and he scores to make it 1-0 after 3 turns. This is good for me as I have enough time to equalise before half time (which is after the 8th turn) and I consider in my mind he has made a major tactical blunder. I can now have the ball for the remaining 13 turns and hopefully score twice …
And I do just that – in five turns I work my way through the field and I outnumber him dramatically because he keeps players close to the sideline and my Troll Slayers are able to use their frenzy skill and push them off into the crowd – and out of the game. He repeatedly places players in such positions and I keep obliging. His attitude changes dramatically when I roll the two dice and I roll a “Push” and a “Knock Down” with which I elect to take the “Push” to push his player one square closer to the sideline. He says “Take the Knock Down!”. I think he is joking as my frenzy will surely push him back again and into the crowd. But he is serious. I roll the dice again, get another push result and the guy gets badly hurt in the crowd. The Old Man is now angry and says I am being very unsporting. “What?” is my reply; “You shouldn’t leave your guys in precarious positions against Troll Slayers”. He is silently fuming. I storm down the rest of the field and equalise on the half time bell.
Second half, he kicks the ball to me and it goes very deep. I pick it up and move my player towards a team mate and say “I will hand off the ball”. He says “Sorry, you should have said that before I moved the piece”. The letter of the law says that all actions must be declared prior to movement but game play etiquette says that handing off is so routine and because there is no game mechanic to stop it (such as interceptions or pass blocking) that nobody really does so. I point this out and say that it doesn’t matter plus the fact that his nearest player is a quarter of the field away. He is furious enough to attract the attention of the guys on the next table. They proceed to agree with me and that whilst he is technically correct; convention says that he is being incredibly pedantic. He allows play to go on after a heated debate with the guys on the next table and with his anger getting clearly more pronounced he calls me a cheat.
I let it pass.
The game goes on and I start to dominate more. I manage to remove some more players from the field again by frenzying them into the crowd and he is now clearly angry. We are sharing dice (as is convention) and he snatches them from me every time it’s his turn. He swears every time a dice roll goes my way and belittles me every time he gets a favourable roll.
It is really starting to get nasty.
I drive down the sideline, caging the ball up in a wall of Longbeards and Troll Slayers and soon enough I take out basically everything on his left flank. On turn 5 I get to a position where I can score unopposed, but he cannot reach me. Knowing he can score in only two turns and easily if he has three, I “stall” on his goal line. He goes ballistic. “You dirty little coward” he says. “You are very unsporting and I think you are the most selfish player I have met”. He then says “that there is more to life than winning you know” and I look at him incredulously. I snapped. “Mate, one you stalled when it suited you, two it’s a legitimate tactic, three it’s a standard tactic for dwarves and four you’re a prick”
He whines on some more and berates me and I said something along the lines that if was a better player he’d have not got into this situation. He is quietly yelling now – “I have played this game for 20 years mate” and the like but I ignore him and ask him to have his turn as I was not scoring.
He does so and perhaps anger made his dice work because he got a few decent hits on me and put me in a position that stalling one more turn would be very risky so I take the touchdown. Its now 2-1 and he has 2 turns to equalise.
Snatching up his men, we set up the board for the final two turns. He has a lone goblin and sets him on one flank and his two remaining Blitzers on the other. I, worried about the Blitzers, set my defence on my right flank and mark the lone goblin with one Longbeard.
I kick off and he collects the ball. I had ignored one of his Black Orcs (big brutes who are slow and poor ball handlers) and thinking of the next game decided to not mark him for fear of being needlessly pummelled. Fatal error, I forgot that and with the Black Orc lurches across the field and takes out my longbeard marking the Goblin. The ball then gets thrown to the goblin and the goblin scampers down my left flank with all my defence on the right.
It was a judgement error on my part and a poor one at that, but the Old Man leans over the table – “in my face” style – and says “That is the worst defence I have ever seen! You are pathetic!” It all comes down to one blitz move by me on that lone goblin. I have no rerolls left and its all or nothing. I roll badly and only manage to push the goblin, but he has the ball in his hands.
On the final turn, the Old Man dodges the goblin away. He needs to roll a 3 or better on one dice but has a reroll (dodge skill). He rolls the die and it comes up 2. He rerolls it, and again, it comes up 2. The goblin falls, drops the ball, end of game.
What happens next will stick with me forever. I look up, happy with the win, very flustered with the anger I have had come my way, but I reach up to shake hands. He slaps my hand away and says “You are the worst coach I have ever played”
Now I will cop all the anger and the venting and whining that a guy can throw at me. Its awful and its pathetic given it’s a game of luck and tactics and he being a man of his years, looked awfully childish. But what I wont cop is having a handshake slapped away. That is the ultimate sin.
He then proceeds to go through the after match paper work and goes through the checklist of “things to consider” in sportsmanship points. He says after putting a lot of crosses against those that he is giving me “a mere 5” (where 8’s and 9’s are the norm). I ignore him and write a zero on my paper. Slapping handshakes away is the ultimate in bad sportsmanship.