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Tactics Need Help Being More Cagey

Discussion in 'League and Team Development Tactics' started by Cybermage100, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. Cybermage100

    Cybermage100 Member

    United States
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    Ok, it's me again, and I am still having just a few issues with utilizing cages effectively. I don't have any specific plays in question since I am so new and experimenting with multiple teams, but I will hope someone can help me out with a semi-broad question.

    I am getting to a point where I am more confident with my cage breaking ability, though I do tend to get overzealous and try to blitz open the cage prematurely, even with agile teams, and sometimes get myself in a no-win position. Still, its improving.

    My REAL issue is offense. I have read and understand the articles on Cages, building them, how they work and why, etc... However, no matter how well I try to build my cage, actually advancing the thing just never seems to work. If the opposition decides to close ranks with my cage, I can Block them away, but then there is no room to advance without leaving yourself touching one of their players on the next turn! I suppose if you are lucky enough to Block every player in front of you then they have to use their turn to stand back up and you can rinse and repeat, but the dice are rarely that kind.

    Ultimately, in every play, my cage stalls and I find myself blocked in, even being unable to escape laterally. In desperation I usually wind up searching for an opening and darting a player through to the other half for a pass, which when playing a bashy team is almost a guaranteed disaster.

    So... There is my conundrum. How do you really advance a cage with any degree of effectiveness? No matter how I juggle it in my head, without amazing karma with the dice, it just doesn't seem to ever really be possible to me. Anyone have any tips or suggestions on how this works? I would really appreciate it.

    And Coach, if you ever do get the time on your hands to write up an article on this, I would await it eagerly. Your other articles on strategy using the Play Generator have been a remarkable help. Thanks everyone.
  2. maxcarrion

    maxcarrion Active Member

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    I think the important things to remember when advancing a cage is.

    Only 5 players make a cage – 4 corners and the carrier. The rest of your team make advancing the cage possible.

    The players that started the turn as the cage don’t have to be the players that end the turn as the cage and don’t have to end up in the same positions on the cage.

    It’s hard to give hard and fast advice as so much depends on the specifics of the scenario so I’ll throw out an anecdote and hopefully you can extract some useful advice.

    Anecdote 1, dwarf team advancing into dark elves at TV1000

    The situation – the dwarves have a bash advantage and a massive toughness advantage but give up a lot on mobility. The cage is advanced by forcing the DE to stand and fight or to make a lot of rolls to escape, an early turn over can be developed into an overrun. It could play a little something like this.

    D1: 5 LOS dwarves throw 3 blocks at LOS lineelves and follow up. The 2 that didn’t block form front of cage on the now cleared LOS. 2 right wing dwarves form back of cage, runner gets ball and steps into cage, 2 left wing dwarves open a gap with a blitz and put the blitzer 4 deep into the opposing half, 2nd runner stands directly behind cage ready to react.

    DE1: DE blitz the deep blitzer down and out of the way so they can form 4 columns in front of the LOS dwarves with no players in contact. 3 LOS elves successfully stand and complete the columns. The deep blitzer is prone and marked

    D2: Deep blitzer stands, Spare runner puts tz on front of column 3, LOS Blocker blitzes front of column 3 and marks back of column 3 with follow up, other 2 LOS Blockers mark column 2 from the side, front right corner marks column 4 (front and back) from the side, cage steps forward so now clear spare runner is front right corner (2 square advance). Left wing assist dwarf moves around behind column 1 out of contact.

    DE2: Column 1 elves and 2 reserve elves quickly form 1 deep columns out of contact with the break through. 4 x 2+ dodges move column 2 and 4 out of contact and these 4 elves form the 2nd rank of columns. The prone elf stands and provides an assist so old column 3 rear can get 2D on his marker pushing him back between the front cage corners and not following up – DE have no contact and reformed columns again. Rows look like this – Rear Cage, LOS, Carrier, Front of Cage, LOS Blockers (shallow), LOS Blockers(deep) and old column 3 now sideways and not in contact, empty row, new columns front, new columns rear.

    D3: Similar play as D2 but moving to the left flank, LOS blockers blitz down column 1 front and 2 dwarves mark up the left side of column 2. Left wing assist dwarf screens just below column 2, cage forms using now cleared assist for blitz as a corner (4 square advance!). 1 reserve dwarf marks column 3 from side. Deep blitzer dodges! 66% chance to succeed and extends the screen down from left wing assist dwarf.

    DE3: DE are now badly out of position, with a screen blocking new columns from forming and only 2 elves in the cages corridor, the rest marked and/or screened out. At this point the elves will have to start making more difficult rolls and/or leaving elves in contact to be hit to stand any chance of stopping the cage. Column 1 stand and block away their marker without following, leaving 2 DE standing in front of the cage. Column 4 mark, then blitz left wing assist dwarf (currently screening) following up by marking deep blitzer. Column 3 blocks their 1 mark out of column 2’s dodge lane and the assister then runs through the gap created by column 4 and backup column 1. Deep blitzers old marker runs through the gap and puts a tz at the sideline, 1 reserve elf backs up column 2 allowing their markers to be blocked back and creating no contacts and a column stopping the cage going right, 2nd reserve elf also moves through gap making the sideline column 2 deep as well.

    This is starting to run on so I’ll end it there. As you can see, the dwarves can push the cage only a couple of squares a turn with a set of blockers but by screening and marking the weaker elves they force the elves to make a lot of rolls to reassemble the out of contact columns each turn, when the elves fail an early roll there will be multiple still in contact and/or columns only 1 deep where a cage can surge forward leaving the elves struggling even more for position. With enough pressure the elves may have to start resorting to blitzing into the cage, marking corners, even getting sucked into an all out brawl to try and stop the dwarves slowly pressing forward.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Pottsy

    Pottsy Member

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    What team are you using? There might be some skills you already have that can help.

    'Divide and Conquer' always helps. When you're pushing enemies away, try and push them towards the sidelines. Have some of your linemen mark them so the don't just run back to where they were.
  4. Etheric

    Etheric Well-Known Member

    Cyanide Username:
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    That is an interesting writeup Max, I am having big trouble translating your description into positions though.


    Is about as far as I got, but I think it is starting to go wrong there too. Picked semi random positionals for the DE, not enough linemen in the default team.

    Maybe you should make some diagaram? is a lot simpler to see what is going on then.

    I do like the first move though (needs a touchback or similar, but still nice).
  5. RogueThirteen

    RogueThirteen Member

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    I'm still a very rookie player, but here's some tips I've picked up from veterans I've been playing with and some things I've observed on my own.

    (1) Don't plan on advancing the cage all the way to the endzone. For new teams, it's nearly impossible to ever advance the ball carrier in a cage all the way to the endzone. It will grind to a halt somewhere along the way. So what you try to do is power the cage into about their midfield, and then wait for an opportunity to move the ball toward the endzone, even if it means the ball carrier spends a turn near the endzone with only one or two allies forming a 'mini-cage' for them.

    (2) Force the defense to split up. Even if you've only got average lineman (AG3) handling the ball, hand-offs and quick to short passes are still very viable options, especially with some Re-Rolls available. So don't pack your whole team into the cage. Rather, send some players along the flank(s) of the cage and into the enemy's midfield. You may have absolutely no intention of trying to get the ball to them, but the threat at least forces the defense to invest 1-2 players per 'threat' you've got running around. Once the defense has to spread thin like this, it makes pushing forward with the cage a little easier.

    (3) Never underestimate how well the ball can move with 'average' players (AG3). A move-->quick-pass, catch-->move-->hand-off, catch-->move play between three Move 5 AG3 players can advance the ball about 18 squares in a single turn with a reasonable chance of success (3+ for the pass, 3+ for the catch, 3+ for the hand-off - with a ReRoll available these are the kinds of risks you have to sometimes take in order to put points on the board). This is the secondary value of having multiple 'threats' running around away from the cage, in addition to its effect of spreading the defense. Timing this sort of maneuver means being patient and opportunistic.

    (4) Personally, I've found I have the best success advancing the cage up one of the sidelines. Trying to push through the middle of the field means you have a whole extra flank of the cage to protect, meaning you have fewer players that can run around doing (2) and (3) above. I've been playing primarily Lizardmen and always deploy off-balanced on offense with the intent of pushing the early cage up one of the sides. Sometimes this means I have to risk a pick-up-->hand-off between two skinks to get an unfavorable kick back towards the cage, but overall I think it is worthwhile.

    Hope this helps.
  6. Thanatos

    Thanatos Member

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    In addition to the cage, I would always try to have at least one player back in my own half incase a cage break occurs and you need to nail an escaping Gutter Runner.

    I would also try to advance one player, so that if worst comes to worst you can try a long pass and run the ball in. This player also has the advantage of distracting a few opposing players.

    But on the cage itself, I agree with one of Maxcarrions points, the players that form the cage at the end of turn don't necessarily have to be the same players that form cage at start of turn.

    And towards the end of the drive it can be okay to only have a half (or 3/4) cage formed as when the opposing team gets tied up with your other players they may not be able to get around the cage to attack the open side. You can use the edge of the pitch for this sometimes, but I would be wary of this as you may end up getting pinned to the edge of the pitch yourself with no escape.
  7. Cybermage100

    Cybermage100 Member

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    Thanks again for the tips everyone! Some really great advice, and it helps me understand the mechanics behind advancing a cage a little bit.

    Sorry I wasn't able to give specific scenarios but as I said, I am still trying to find my niche as far as the teams go. I am getting pretty good with agile, pass heavy teams, but those slow plodding bashy teams just seem to stump me. I am great at holding back the opposition and keeping them from scoring, but my inability to advance leaves most games hanging at a 0-0.
  8. Murkglow

    Murkglow Member

    If I was the dwarf team I'd have probably done this with your next turn:


    *Obviously this isn't perfect, just my off the cuff response.*

    Gets the ball on the other side of the pitch from the main elf body and near the edge where the elves need to be aware of your slayers crowd surfing them if they try and go around the edge. Then it depends on what the elves try and do. If they just move to this side and form another line in front of the dwarves I'd either see about breaking through along the edge or moving back to the other side if I can get room for it.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  9. maxcarrion

    maxcarrion Active Member

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    Hmm I wanted to avoid playmaker as 1, I’m at work and writing a wall of text in a text editor is fairly discrete compared to playing with gui’s 2, without the commentary the salient points aren’t highlighted and 3, I didn’t want to work out every single square of movement, just the gist of the play and 4, I didn’t want to post a play trying to give general ideas and watch as everyone tells me there are better responses to each manuever and sidetracking all the demonstrative points :p but most importantly, point 1

    DE default team is 6 lineelves, 4 blitzers and 1 runner, mixing that up does happen but that’s generally accepted as the way to build a DE team :p

    You’re forming your columns too close together, it should be sideline, space, column, space, space, column. Using the wider spacing means 4 columns can block a central cage and only 3 are required for a widezone cage leaving spare players to act as reserves/markers etc.

    Your next move as dwarf is either similar to what Murkglow posted, running into the deeper opening and blitzing back the most advanced local player to stay out of contact. Or as I posted, blitzing the most forward player on a column setting the cage up in that gap and using the spare dwarves to push forward into contact and force the opponent to dodge back multiple squares or stand and fight (this is specifically a good tactic against elves who dodge much better than they fight). This would leave local positioning something like this


    Where d is dwarf, b is ball carrier, e is elf and p is prone elf (blitz victim). They can fight if they want, but their retreat lanes are open, however they have to give up 2 squares to stay out of contact because of the forward dwarves and if they fail a dodge they could leave a gaping hole. I’d consider this a bash v agility tactic. Murks is a more general tactic, as an agility team I will often advance a cage by placing cage +1 blitzer in 1 place and remaining players at another point, as your opponent moves to block the cage the cage corners split and mark/screen the defence while the second pack blitz forward and form a cage and the ball carrier either runs, passes or hands off the ball to get it into the new cage, the idea being that with agility teams you are forcing the bashy team to spread out and then outmanoeuvring or pinning his slower players and pushing through the weaker spots. Of course all these things are easier said then done, if there was a sure fire way to move the ball to the end zone then BB wouldn’t be worth playing :p