top

Blood Bowl Blocking Article

Tags:

Cage Basics

When to Use a Cage:

It may appear to be quite obvious when you should use a cage, you are playing a slow bashing team and need to protect the ball while you slowly grind down the pitch before scoring. You would be quite right in that assumption and is the most used method of such teams during games of Blood Bowl. For some one new to the game it can appear that is the only time that you would be using a cage. However a cage is merely a formation that is used to protect the ball carrier, agility teams it would seem just keep the ball in the hands of a Thrower deep out of range of the opposing players. After all if they can’t get to him, they can’t hit him and that is even safer than having the ball secure in a cage.

One of the important aspects of the game though is clock management as explained in the article on doing a 2-1 Grind. Using up turns before scoring is just as important for an agility based team as it is to a hitting based team and a basic cage comes in useful for both types of play style. A drive from an agility team will usually involve getting the ball safe in the hands of their Thrower and also breaking through some team mates to receive the ball in a following turn. A lot of coaches after getting the ball to their receiver in their second turn will then just run it in for the touchdown, giving plenty of turns to the other team to score themselves. Instead of doing that it may be wise for an agility team to try and use up a few turns (or as many as they can get away with)  by forming a cage with their players by the opposing team’s end zone.

With the ball secure in this position the opposing team will have trouble getting the ball out and if the cage gets broken (which it usually will), then you can just run a couple of squares into the end zone to score. If the worst happens and you do manage to lose the ball the other team still has to get it down the entire length of the pitch. This shouldn’t usually happen though if you are careful, barring miraculous dice from the opposition, so take advantage of opportunities to cage up yourself and give the bashing team their own medicine. Against another agile side though you may opt to still score early, as if they do the same you should still have enough turns left to score again in the same half.

Skills to Improve Cages:

You now know what a cage is, what they are used for, why they are used, how to properly form one and when you should use them. Moving on from that there are certain skills that you can take for your players to make a cage even more secure and harder to break. There are two main types of players you want to skill up for, the ball carrier to sit in the middle and the corner players to protect him on the outside.

The cage ball carrier ideally needs skills that help him stay on his feet, both when being hit and when moving and also for any ball handling he has to do, typically just picking it up. Some ball carriers may already start with some of these skills but I’ll list them and it can give you an idea which of your players are suited for the role. As picking the ball up is the starting point of getting the ball to the endzone Sure Hands is worth having, it also protects against players who have Strip Ball, which you will often find on high agility players who Leap into cages. They are a big threat so cancelling that ability out is a high priority. Block and Dodge are staple skills for staying on your feet, both can get cancelled but that does mean the opposing player needs the required skills to do so and protects you against the ones who don’t. Block can also help if you need to blitz with the ball carrier to free him up and is often a better option than dodging with a lot of AG3 or lower ball carriers. I don’t recommend hitting players with the ball carrier if you can avoid it though and sometimes you may have already used the blitz with a team mate and still have to dodge, making Dodge useful in those cases as well.

Fend also helps as it means you won’t have to dodge away from a player who hit you. Often though if your ball carrier is getting hit it is from someone blitzing who could use movement to follow up anyway. If they did leap, or dodge into your cage though, this will be a very hard dodge to do. They may also have run out of movement covering the distance to blitz you in the first place as well. Other skills are ones that increase either ball handling or movement, so Sure Feet gives you a bit more range to run in to score if a cage got stalled a bit further from the end zone than you wanted. There are some useful mutations as well like Extra Arms and Two Heads for those players able to take them. Obviously +MV and +AG are great to get as well and +ST shouldn’t get passed up either as it makes hitting him a lot harder as well as being useful if you need to hit yourself.

The cage corner players also have a few options to help them improve. Block is the standard first skill to make them harder to knock over and to also be able to hit any opposing players who get into the cage as well. Guard is perhaps the next most important skill, without it opposing teams can mark all the corner players to cancel out their assist and then try and get a player into the cage to hit the ball carrier. It is great if you have it on all four, but two can do almost as good a job, as long as they are on opposite diagonals so that between them they cover each of the four sides an attacker can hit from. Stand Firm is useful as well to keep the cage formed and stop the ball carrier getting swarmed, this doesn’t mean you can put them in opposing tacklezones though as they could still get knocked over by a block, breaking the cage integrity. Tackle is again useful for hitting anyone who comes into the cage, usually Block, Dodge, Side Step players try and get next to the ball carrier so you want a good chance of getting them down.

On strong but low agility players Break Tackle can be useful as well so you can keep the cage moving and not get tied up by the opposing team’s Linemen. With careful positioning of your players you can negate that somewhat though and reform cages using other players from your team. Grab is another handy skill so if they do swarm the cage you can create space easier and also negate Side Step. Another handy option to have on a cage corner is someone who you can hand the ball off too if your ball carrier does get stuck. Don’t just use your strongest players as they typically suck for ball handling, some teams may not have many options for this (Khemri and Chaos Dwarfs). This factor is what can make an Elf cage hard to deal with as they can just hand the ball off to a team mate who then can run away with it. Having a player (or players) that this is an option for will force the opposition to not only swarm the ball carrier but make sure they have one or two tackle zones on any outlet players as well. An AG4 player with Guard on a bashing team can provide this outlet option as well as still being really effective as a cage corner.

Summary:

For more experienced coaches a lot of that you probably already know, though hopefully there is useful information there for new players to digest. Cages are probably the single biggest tactical option in Blood Bowl so it pays to understand how they work from both sides of the ball. Having just read through that I’m sure you can see why I’ve opted to put the other aspects to cage play into separate articles but there should be enough there to get you started until those are published. Until then if you get stuck in a game note down the players positions and use the Play Creator site and the BBTactics Forum to get specific help.

27 Responses to Cage Basics

  1. Thanatos December 14, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Yeah, I have a ST4 Frenzy Wardancer that is the bane of cages everywhere, but when one or more of the Cage Corners has Guard, then even she is severely inconvenienced.
    So Guard is a top skill for a Cage Corner.

    Or if the ball carrier happens to be ST4, like a Chaos Warrior or a +1ST Dwarf Runner, than even Dodge/Leaping into a Cage gets really tricky. People probably won’t have Leap and Dauntless on the same player.

  2. Blackhandsaint December 14, 2009 at 6:53 pm #

    Definitely helpful, Coach, thanks. Although my experience is limited to one game and a lot of reading over the rules, it seems like a few players can form a pretty effective half-cage under the right circumstances. I found it worked pretty well when I was driving up the left sideline and had all of the opposing team to the right and behind my ball carrier. I formed a cage on the right hand side of the carrier and though I didn’t get the dimensions right (this ultimately got my carrier blitzed!) I could see it working pretty well in the future if I got the positions correct.

  3. andelars December 16, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Hi
    would be really cool to see an article on how to break cages as well… i see you have extensive Dark Elf advice, which brought me here! Im having a HARD time doing anything about Chaos and Dwarfs with Guard cages.. my flimpsy dark elves just jump harmlessly 🙂
    Thanks – and great work as always!
    /Lars

    • Coach December 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

      I’ve plans for them, hopefully with video but if not lots of diagrams. There are a lot of nuances to cage defence (and indeed offence) that can be hard to just explain in text or by telling someone.

  4. Blackhandsaint December 16, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    Yeah, cages seem very situational. The team, the turn, the positioning of everyone on the pitch, and (of course) Nuffle’s caprice all play a big role.
    @ Andelars:
    Sorry if this sounds douchey or obvious, but maybe you could try to tie up players who form the cage before they can make it to the carrier?  I know Dark Elves have pretty decent movement and Chaos warriors and most dwarves are slower, so you might be able to intercept a corner guard before he can make it to his position.

  5. DTQ December 16, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    Great article coach.
     
    + 1 for an anti-cage video.

  6. Thanatos December 17, 2009 at 9:48 am #

    Well the easiest defense against cages is to just form a wall infront of them.
    But actually breaking a cage can be tough.

  7. andelars December 17, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    @Blackhandsaint: not at all.. appreciate any input! The thing is,  with hard-hitting teams i thought that the strategy was NOT to get in close contact, thereby only allowing them one block each round.. i have tried a couple of times putting 4 players at each corner of the cage and leaping in with my witch elf. This strategy only works 1/4 times and gets 5 players “killed” afterwoods.
    @Thanatos: The wall in front of them seems futile as well.. with only an average of 6 players available for this they can still blitz and have their cage going 2-3 field pr. round. So i might as well let them score and save me some injury.. but that would be called “giving up”… im at a loss 🙂 Ive heard several DE players online say that at around TV 1700 Chaos shouldnt be much of a problem for DE.. but i dont get it!

  8. Coach December 17, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    Why do you only have an average of 6 players to form a defensive wall? If you check how the Elves are set up in the diagram of the article this is the kind of set up you are looking to make in your own turn. You should probably have at least 9 if not 11 players on the pitch to achieve this. Either way we are getting off topic, so any more questions about cage defence can you ask in the forum please.

  9. Konstantin December 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    My greatest weapon against cages is kick. (andI play DE). By placing the ball where I want, I can force my opponent to either use two turns to place his players or to make a throw (usually a long one). Either way the chances of me getting the ball are fare greater than trying to stop a cage from advancing.
    Kick-return is a skill that every cage depending team should have.

  10. boerk December 21, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Out of curiosity, what would the diagram look like during the next turn?

  11. Coach December 21, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    It was a made up situation to demonstrate placement of players to stop a cage advancing. To move the cage along the Dwarfs are probably best aiming at crossing the pitch as they aren’t going to be able to move it forward effectively and would also be in danger of getting stuck by the sideline.

    I’ll cover those situations in another article though.

  12. Bone Helm December 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    Great article, Coach, very informative.  I’m looking forward to your articles on advancing, stalling, and preventing a cage.
    I’m a brand new Blood Bowl player with only about a week’s experience, but thanks to finding bbtactics I already have a good enough understanding of Blood Bowl to beat the computer on Medium almost every game with my orcs.  However, I am not yet able to integrate the cage into my strategy effectively whether I’m playing against the AI or a human opponent, and it’s my understanding that orcs are supposed to be decent cagers.
    My problem is that if I use five guys to form a cage, this protects the ball carrier but allows my opponent to pretty much cover the rest of the pitch however he chooses.  The remaining six of my players cannot effectively keep the opponents out of my side or away from my cage, and there’s no way I can stop them from surrounding my cage and picking it apart at their leisure, finding an unprotected corner of the cage and attacking it with three players.  As you say in the last paragraph of the first page, “…none of your five players end the turn in the tacklezone of an opposing player”.  How can you ensure this against an opponent that knows what he’s doing?  My choices seem to be, “don’t let any of my cagers end the turn in a tacklezone” or “don’t move my cage up the field”, neither of which are good.
    Forming a cage seems to be synonymous with allowing my opponent the run of the field.  Is this normal, or am I missing something obvious?

    • Coach December 24, 2009 at 12:10 am #

      If doing a standard cage grinding play you have 5-8 turns typically do score in. You don’t have to be in a great hurry to advance the cage forward every turn. Moving laterally across the pitch and keeping the ball safe can often be the best move. If your cage is in the centre of the pitch then the opposing team has to cover the full width of the pitch which is hard for them to do. When you move your cage sideways instead of forward you need to use the rest of your team to advance down the pitch in order to aid making space to form a cage further up the pitch in your following turn.

  13. DirtyHarry December 26, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    Is it worth ever trying to form a cage with skaven?

  14. Coach December 26, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    Cages and screens are useful for every team for securing the ball. For agile teams when on offence if you can get players behind the other team’s defence then either caging the ball or screening the ball carrier off can aid you in using up the clock (stalling turns).

  15. DirtyHarry December 28, 2009 at 4:32 am #

    Thanks Coach

  16. Razzastuta December 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi Coach,
    Can I say what a great little article this is.  I used to play BB in it’s old “Astrogranite” (Polystyrene) days back in my teens, but I just got BB for my X360 – thanks to your article I’ve managed to use the Cage system for my human team and score a few victories too (as the console version is somewhat tough to get into)…although I was a bit surprised to see that the Human Blockers no longer exist in the game.  Whatever happened to The Mighty Zug?  Things sure have moved on since I played the game back in the late 80’s…!  I must be getting old.

    • Coach December 29, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

      I’ll allow you to say that yes!

      Blockers were removed from the Human team back when 3rd edition was released in 1994. The cyanide game is based on LRB5 though earlier this month LRB6 was finished and is now available from games workshop’s site under the guise of “competition rules” in a free pdf file (with the game background and images all removed though).

      I recommend that you download a copy of that and read through the rules if you haven’t done so already. Mighty Zug still is in the game, he just isn’t implemented yet, along with a lot of other rules. Welcome back to Blood Bowl!

  17. DirtyHarry January 26, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    With a dwarf cage, should I be using all  blockers for the cage corners, or with my blitzers.

  18. Coach January 26, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    There are no hard and fast rules, you use whoever is in the best position to do so. If you are against high agility players with leap, or anyone else who can get into the cage easily, then it helps to have at least two Guard players on opposite corners. Other than that though, it doesn’t really matter a great deal.

    It is more important to just have the cage secure and the rest of your team mates in a position to help advance the cage in the next turn. You have to be wary of  what the other team will attempt to break up the cage and also position to make that harder, or easy as possible to recover from if they succeed.

  19. shrike71 January 26, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    Super article Coach!
    Just to let you know, looks like the initial cage illustration has disappeared from the site/article. Any way this can be put back?
    Keep up the good, nay, great work!
    Cheers
    Shrike71

    • Coach January 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

      They are hosted on play-creator.com which is down. Should be up again within a week. If not I’ll have to look for an alternative.

  20. ThunderTodd March 3, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    Thank coach awesome article!!!

    RE: andelars Says:
    December 17th, 2009 at 10:28 am
    @Blackhandsaint: not at all.. appreciate any input! The thing is,  with hard-hitting teams i thought that the strategy was NOT to get in close contact, thereby only allowing them one block each round.. i have tried a couple of times putting 4 players at each corner of the cage and leaping in with my witch elf. This strategy only works 1/4 times and gets 5 players “killed” afterwoods.

    In my opinion it is not about breaking the cage persay!! it is about preventing the offence from running down the clock.. I have built my cage breaker(wardancer) with strip ball, and side step as extra skills… force the cage to the sidelines and keep pressuring the offence to move up to avoid a turn over. …do this and you should still have time to score before the end of the half/game..with an agile team there is no reason that you shouldnt be able to force the cage towards the end zone within 4 turns.. if they go slow, take the ball, even with assists against you (guard) with block/dodge/leap/sidestep, you can still on a failed block cause some serious trouble in moving the cage.

  21. Erik March 26, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    Thanks Coach.
    A lot of useful information!

  22. daniel August 20, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    hi coach and everyone just started playing blood bowl and can you please help me i started playing wood elevs and everyone in the league is a smashine team and its killing me how do you break a standed five cage like the pic you put up plz help

    • Coach August 20, 2010 at 9:49 am #

      Until I get the time to write up a proper cage breaking article, there is some advice on this on the forum.

Leave a Reply