Sure Hands (General)
A player with the Sure Hands skill is allowed to re-roll the D6 if he fails to pick up the ball. In addition, the Strip Ball skill will not work against a player with this skill.
Sure Hands is one of the skills that you will usually end up seeing on every team, of course it helps that quite a lot of teams have players that start with it as well. Clearly its application is rather obvious in helping with picking up the ball and also saving you from using a team reroll from doing so. It will also make the ball harder to remove from a Sure Hands equipped player, by negating the Strip Ball skill.
The first two points usually mean any team that has access to a Sure Hands player to start with (usually a Thrower) will get one on their initial starting line up. The teams that don’t have players with Sure Hands will often take it as first or second skill on any player they want to build up into a ball carrier (usually in running plays to sit in a cage or behind a screen). The harder the ball is to get off a player and the easier it is for that player to pick the ball up, the more problems this will cause of the other team.
With a greater success rate in picking up the ball, the other team will have less opportunities to pin the ball deep in your own half. Usually if you fail to pick the ball up, not only can you not move it closer to the safety of your team mates around the middle of the pitch, but you will usually also find that the other team has got players either between the ball and the majority of your team. Perhaps against some of the faster teams you may find that they have got players towards the ball and maybe even picked it up themselves.
When you do get the ball in a cage or screened off and your ball carrier has Sure Hands (usually then combined with Block as the next skill or previous skill), then the other team will have a hard time either knocking them over or just stripping the ball loose (Dodge protects them even more). Obviously it is easier to move the ball around the pitch if you start the turn already holding it and not have to try and pick it up first.
Against teams that do have Strip Ball though it will really point to using your Sure Hands player as the ball carrier. This may have gone against your plans to try and use another player (who perhaps just has Block) to carry the ball, as you wanted to try and score with them to get them some more SPP. It can also dictate other plays that happen during the game. If they tie up your ball carrier, you may want to look at freeing them up to move, or perhaps risking a dodge, rather than handing the ball off to a team mate to run with it. That may give the chance to the other team to strip the ball loose, especially against elves who have Leap and Strip Ball.
- Greater success with picking the ball up
- Less turnovers from failed pick ups
- Saves team rerolls
- Negates Strip Ball
The main players that would be taking it as a priority are running based teams that usually have someone pick the ball up, sit in a cage and then run it in for a touchdown. Some players as mentioned already start with it, Human Throwers are a good example. So Ghouls, Hobgoblins, Beastmen, Pestigors are the kind of player who may take it as their first skill. These teams also have expensive rerolls so the bonus of not using up a reroll is also great for those teams.
As an AG3 player picking the ball up with a reroll (either a team one or from Sure Hands) has a greater chance of success than an AG4 player without a reroll. Typically this will be Elven players but some other AG4 players may be picking the ball up, like Gutter Runners or one of your players who has gained an agility increase. It is debatable about giving these players Sure Hands, as Elves have a whole team of players who can handle the ball, often you may be picking the ball up with one player who passes it to another for a completion. Due to this perhaps you don’t want to give one specific player Sure Hands and look to giving them skills that aid them in other ways, for example Throwers will probably prefer Accurate. Also if you are doing passing players, the player set up to do the pass will often be kept well out of harms way and not have to worry about being blitzed by someone with Strip Ball.
However if you do use a higher agility player as someone to go and pick the ball up if it has been knocked loose around an area with players from both teams, then Sure Hands could be useful. If you can’t get all the opposing tackle zones off the square containing the ball, then getting in there with your higher agility and Sure Hands you still have a fair chance of picking the ball up. This will also save a reroll for perhaps dodging out, or off loading the ball to a team mate to move to safety, or perhaps even scoring.
Sure Hands is a really useful skill to have somewhere on your team, its value also goes up if you end up playing in the rain which makes picking the ball up even harder. Unless a player has started with it though, there may be a trade off between selecting Sure Hands, or taking a skill that offers them more protection (usually Block). I would suggest that two players with the skill is more than enough for pretty much every team, Skaven might be the exception, with two Throwers coming with it and perhaps opting to give it as a later skill to a Gutter Runner. This kind of thing is very coach dependant though. It will also change the impact of how useful Strip Ball is in your league. If there are lots of teams who don’t start with Sure Hands then the value of Strip Ball will go up. On the flip side if loads of teams start with Sure Hands then you perhaps won’t see many players selecting Strip Ball. This fact may dictate if you decide to take it early on or not on your own team if you don’t start with Sure Hands on anyone.