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Blood Bowl Blocking Article

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Cage Breaking

Attacking the Cage Rear:

Sometimes you may find that you end up with players behind the opposing team’s cage, usually after you perhaps ran players around after a deep kick off, or if you got a blitz turn on the kick off table. Usually it may be best to just run these players back to help with a eleven player defence, sometimes though you may see situations where you can create problems attacking the rear side of the cage.

The rear of a cage will usually have weaker players than the front and sometimes less supporting tackle zones. You might be able to blitz your way to marking the ball carrier from the rear, or just using corner marking for the rear players as I outlined on previous pages. If the rest of your team can cover the advance of the cage, then you might get a shot at the ball carrier in your next turn. It can also lead the other team to panic and they might try and run for it with a lone ball carrier, or with only a couple of players for support rather than a full cage.

You do need to be careful with this though as the opposing team might find an easier way to advance their cage through you lower number of defenders in front. They would be quite happy to leave their previous rear cage corners, now marking your rear defensive players and reforming their cage with alternative team mates. If they start overlapping your players then defending a cage from advancing becomes very tricky against a good coach. I think this is probably the biggest mistake that I see new players doing. I don’t often personally attack the rear of a cage, though the greater your speed advantage over the other team, the less of a risk this becomes.

Attacking Peripheral Offensive Players:

Attacking the exposed team mates of a team that is caging is another way to help defeat a cage without taking it on directly. If they are using five of their players to hold and cage the ball, that means you have eleven defenders against the other six players on their team. You will usually find that at least one of their team is left in an exposed situation not really contributing to their offence for that turn. You can look to pick on these players and hopefully get them off the pitch to get a numerical advantage.

Rather than looking to go on the all out defensive stall, look for opportunities where you can knock one of their players over and then gang foul them. If you have any fouling specialists then even better. Even if you just get a two player overlap this makes your life much easier. Do be careful about getting your players sent off though. This is especially important if you don’t have many reserves and/or if it is the first half of the game. Another way to get players off the pitch is to push them into the crowd. If you can segregate one of their players and get them off the pitch that way at the expense of them progressing the cage a bit, it might be worth it.

Once you have the numbers advantage, the opposing team will realise how hard it is to safely advance a cage when they have less players than the opposition. This can cause them to make mistakes, or just take risks leaving you with chance to get at their ball carrier. Should they have managed to get past your defence while you are picking on the peripheral players, they should realise that stalling with the cage is looking less likely and they may opt to score. If you manage to force them to do this, hopefully the players you removed don’t come back and even if they do, you may have enough turns to score yourself in the remaining turns of the half.

Maximising Blocks on Weaker / Fragile Players:

When facing the faster agile teams, they will usually have lower armour, if you can maximise your blocking opportunities you can start to outnumber their team if you get some off injured. If you look to mark up as many of their players as you can, you will then force them to do a lot more dodges. Doing this will either leave you plenty of blocks if they fail an early dodge, or hopefully just force them to use rerolls up.

It can be really hard to stop an agile team running rings around you, reforming their cage in another part of your half of the pitch. If they want to run the clock down against you then it really puts the pressure on you for your own drive. The best way to make this harder for them to to get a numerical advantage so you can better mark their players and cover more of the pitch. If they also use up their rerolls that can create an opening for you, or make their defence harder if you get them to score early enough.

If you can get get enough of their players off on their drive if they start to stall, then you can perhaps consider scoring earlier in the second half in order to go for the win. This is still risky as Elves can usually score even when down on players, but it is something to consider.

More on page 7…

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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