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Blood Bowl Blocking Article

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Cage Breaking

Marking the Corners:

This method is more about slowing their cage down and causing them problems either moving and reforming, or just staying where they are and clearing the cage. This is a variation of blitzing one of the cage corners out of the way and marking their ball carrier. If you want to use your blitz elsewhere, for picking on an open target or going for a crowd push, then this method is a nice alternative.

You mark up their cage corners, or even just one of them, with your players in a bid to force them to block next turn. If they are blocking then they can’t move which obviously isn’t going to help them progress their cage further. If  they are looking to move the cage in a certain direction then you could perhaps just mark up that side of the cage as if they don’t knock your players down moving that way becomes a lot harder. There is clearly some inherent danger in doing this in that your players are likely to get hit, so please bear that in mind. Prolonged attempts of doing this will damage your team if you are not careful but it can make the difference between the opposing team scoring or not.

I would only really suggest doing this with players who have good defensive skills and that the opponents they are marking don’t have the counter skills to them. Block (or Wrestle) and Dodge are the critical combo for doing this, though try and avoid marking players who have Tackle for obvious reasons. If you have players with Side Step as well then you really can cause problems for the other team. They now have to consider the fact that if they block your player and don’t knock them over, you can just Side Step next to their ball carrier.

That would be bad news for them even if they can try and block you with another of their cage corners. You may end up doing the same again and using Side Step to move to another vacant square. If they move players into the empty square to stop you doing that, then you end up bunching their team up which hinders advancing a cage. Worse yet if their cage is all bunched up you may be able to chain push their ball carrier to a square where you can blitz them.

If they still go ahead and block your Side Step player then move next to one of their cage corners you have marked with a team mate. If they block your Side Step player with that cage corner, then you have a free block in return with your other marking player. They could perhaps blitz this guy away but I think you can see the trouble this is causing to the other team.

You can leave them a route to move the ball carrier away to reform the cage elsewhere as well, though if you place the rest of your team well this may mean they have to go backwards. They may opt to do that rather than risk hitting your players and bogging down their ball carrier. Stand Firm can also be used in a similar manner that if they don’t knock your players down you can block the corners of their cage out of the way next turn.

If your team has plenty of Guard and/or stronger players than the opposition, then you can really swamp their cage to force them to move the ball as blocking their way out is going to be tough. Again if doing this be careful to not leave them an easy escape route and finding out you over committed and then end up out of position and in trouble in your following turn. For the same reasons as when looking to mark the ball carrier directly it might not always be wise to try this turn after turn. If they have enough turns to just keep hitting you and aren’t in any urgency to advance their cage then they may be happy enough to sit there and do just that.

More on page 6…

15 Responses to Cage Breaking

  1. RedDevilCG August 22, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Great article Coach!  I really like how you went in depth on all the different cages and cage breaking style.
    Just a note on leaping, Pro could be considered a skill that could allow you to re-roll a failed leap; though it’s only a 4+ that you get the re-roll, of course.

  2. Alco Engineer August 23, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    Great in depth article. I’ve ben waiting to read your thoughts on cage defence, and you’ve gone over and above.

  3. Gio August 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Thanks Coach for yet another great article. Let us not forget the best anti-cage tactic: preventing the cage from forming. This might be easier for some teams; but, by and large, trying to isolate the ball handler (and perhaps those few players that want to form the cage) from the rest of the team may prove to be devastating for the offence. This won’t happen all the time (specially against experienced coaches), but once in a while it allows the defence to score during the opponents drive.

    • Coach August 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      Not letting it form is obviously a good point, though this article was about what do to when it has. I thought about putting that in but I’ll be covering it in another article and didn’t want to drift too far from the subject.

  4. danton September 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Just revisiting this article which is very comprehensive and good to read every now and again in order to remember to sometimes consider all of the defensive strategies available! I think one of the hardest parts of this game is knowing when to commit and knowing when to hold back on defence, especially as an agile team coach. Obviously the uncertainty of the dice rolls will never make it an exact science either.
    Anyway just wanted to point out one other way that you can attack a ball carrier in a cage, which I have not seen mentioned here. This applies mainly to dark elves and is not a strategy that I use personally, although I have had it used against me with a certain amount of success, so I think it merits consideration. An assassin with Leap can be a great cage breaker, especially against low armoured teams that have a ball carrier with Block, Dodge and Sure Hands protected in a cage. Leaping in and stabbing a ball carrier like that who has Av 7 can be a good way to get the ball loose and no amount of Guard on the cage corners can prevent it.
    Obviously the risk when making the leap is the same as usual, but at least re-rolling the leap successfully means that you don’t have to worry about the block result coming up skulls afterwards as the stab will either succeed or fail regardless. It also helps if the assassin has Block and Dodge in order to be able to withstand the retaliation blocks that will come afterwards.
    So, I would never make this a main strategy, but it is worth mentioning because it can be surprisingly effective. Also the dark elf star player Harkon Heartripper comes with Leap, although the fact he has Loner makes a riskier play to pull off with him.

  5. Altaem December 23, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    Always good to learn I am a new coach. Curse my weakness of attacking the rear of a cage.

    Most of the time I choose to slow the cage with around half my players. The other half I use to kill off any exposed opposition. Once I’ve secured a number advantage I’ll swamp the cage from all sides.

    Experienced coaches will then hand off the ball and run away leaving me looking stupid.

  6. Coach December 23, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    Yes that is a common mistake, the rear of the cage can look tempting though it can often just leave you out of position.

  7. GeneralKDI February 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    What would you do against a slann cage, where if you don’t circle the entire cage, they can always find a way out through leap.

    I love to play this team, and when I use a basic cage, most time the other player try to circle me using most of their players, leaving a catcher alone. I just leap out in the open and make a pass, diving catch makes it easy.

    • Coach February 8, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      Depends what team I’m playing, generally though mark their players up, if they want to keep trying to make leaps without a skill reroll that is fine. I try and put the pressure on to make them score quickly so I can dictate play on my own drives. Slann are such an unusual team to play with and against though, matches are much harder to predict and you have to adapt in game perhaps more than against any other team.

  8. Kaz April 22, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    Why I like Yhetees. Big strength with Frenzy and Disturbing Presence. Plow into the corner of the cage and mark the ball carrier. Then he’s hard to bring down and the Disturbing Presence bothers the hand-off.

  9. Malerun May 23, 2011 at 12:10 am #

    Great article!

    Two things “missing”:

    1 The sideline half cage. Using ball carrier and 2-4 players to guard the ball carrier. Often employed by faster teams if a number of players can run past the defense, but to few or too little space to make an ordinary cage. This most likely put them in scoring range and if defense is slower, you may not be able to get a screen between them and the end zone.

    2 If the offense’s remaining players are near the cage, marking them could give the opportunity to chain push you own player into the cage in your next turn. If that succeed, that player can block/stab the ball carrier. Or if he can be pushed next to a cage corner, he can block him and make space for the blitz.

    • Coach May 23, 2011 at 12:15 am #

      Thanks for your comment, that second point was certainly an option that was missed out thank you for that. I’m not sure what the first point has to do with cage breaking though?

  10. Fernando February 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    My tactics often involve preventing the cage to form or, if they do form a cage, hitting the ball carrier as fast as I can.
    I tend to mark isolated players as often as I can (to prevent them from joining the cage or getting ready to receive a pass) and to form a wall in front of the cage with slow players and hitting the ball carrier from the sides or rear with faster ones.
    Once, I did that and the ball was picked up by one of my mummies… It was fun caging that mummy to the EZ… It was the first time ever I scored with a Big Guy. (I just played Norse and Undead up until now and a Yehtee is even less likely a candidate for that feat =) )

    Thanks for the great article Coach. Made me rethink some of my strategies.

  11. Martin Eckhoff Andresen November 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Great article and great site. I can’t seem to find any coverage of the very simple tactic of just dodging into a cage. Using a ST4-player with break tackle, for example, yields a 55% chance of managing a 5+ dodge with a reroll into the cage. Once you’re there, you can probably also get a two-die block against the ball carrier, giving you a decent chance of getting the ball loose. Skills like wrestle, frenzy, strip ball and block can help you increase that chance, and frenzy might let you get the ball away from the cage altogether.

    Of course, this will leave your cage breaking player in the midst of a lot of opponents, but they’ll probably have a lot of other stuff to think about if you get the ball free. Don’t forget the move a lot of your team mates close to where you’ll be pushing the ball carrier. 🙂

    • Coach November 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      Thank you for the kind comments.

      As for just dodging straight into the cage, that is the most obvious and first thing a new coach will try. So I didn’t really cover it. I only really go that route if I am heavily down on players so I can’t use other tactics. It also gets a lot less attractive as teams develop as a good cage will also have Guard players on at least opposite corners. So the article really was aimed at providing more advanced alternative options, but when the chips are down the good old fashioned head on approach can still succeed!

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