If you are fairly new to Blood Bowl you may see the term “cage” used a lot in tactics terminology. At a basic level a Blood Bowl cage is protective formation used by the offensive team to protect their player who is carrying the ball. There are slight variations on what a cage looks like but I’m going to cover here the most standard and typically used version. By the end of this you should have a better idea on not only what a cage is, but why you should be using them and the strengths they have. It is a staple tactics used by pretty much every team in the game and is something you will need to get to grips with. Not doing so will not only hurt your chances on offence but not knowing how and why they work will also hinder your chances of stopping them when defending as well.
A Basic Blood Bowl Cage:
The diagram shows a match between an Elf side on defence (in yellow) against a Dwarf team on offence (in blue). The Dwarfs have formed a basic cage around their ball carrier and the Elves are in place to defend against it advancing. As you can see a basic cage looks very much like the “5” on a standard six sided die, the ball carrier sat in the middle and four team mates one at each diagonal corner from him. Cages are quite a complex part of Blood Bowl and I’m just going to deal with the basic cage in this article. If I covered advancing a cage, preventing a cage, stalling a cage and how to deal with everything that flows from those subjects this would get rather long. Those subjects I’ll cover separately as they will start getting into more advanced situations.
The Anatomy of a Cage:
I covered what a cage looks like above, so you now know what a cage actually is, but now I’ll explain why they are so commonly used and effective. The reason you are using a cage is to protect your ball carrier, you can probably see by looking at the diagram that there is no way for the opposing team to just run up and hit the player with the ball. If they can’t easily hit the ball carrier then they can’t easily get the ball off him. The opposing team instead will either just have to try and stop him getting into the end zone to score, try and force the ball carrier out of the cage next turn, or hope that the other team loses possession during their own turn.
The key reason the opposition can’t just run up and hit the ball carrier is because they will have to do a dodge to get at him. It doesn’t matter which side the blitzing player comes from, they are going to have to try and do a dodge into three tacklezones. This isn’t something that is easy as I’m sure you are aware, players with AG3 or less needing a 6, whilst AG4 players require a 5 for success. There are a couple of exceptions though, a player with the Leap skill can try and jump into the cage rather than dodge. The other way is a player with Stunty who ignores the tacklezones due to being small, though they will be low strength so less of a threat for the actual hit. If your cage is more spread out than this, then that may make it easier for an opposing player to dodge through the tacklezones and get at the player with the ball. A looser cage with the corner players further away requires more of your team mates to create a larger field of tackle zones to dodge through. As that requires more players it may mean you have less player to hit the other team with, or to tie their players up.
The last and very important factor of a basic cage is that none of your five players end the turn in the tacklezone of an opposing player. If you check the diagram you can see that the Dwarf cage is full separated from the opposing team. This it a vital attribute to a good cage and if you don’t follow that rule then the cage is at risk of getting broken fairly easily. The reason for this is that the player you have left in a tacklezone can just be blocked by the opposing player in their upcoming turn. If they manage to just get a push on your player then that opens up an easier route for them to blitz the ball carrier with another player. This is a mistake I see quite a few beginner players making and wondering why their cages seem to get busted so easily. If none of your players are in a tacklezone then for the opposing team to move one of the corner players out the way, they would need to blitz one of them. As you know a team can only make one blitz during a turn, so if they do that, they can’t then go ahead and blitz the ball carrier in the same turn as well.