Halfling Treeman Overview:
The Big Guys on a Halfling team have changed over time and for a while nearly every Halfling team would have two Ogres. With nearly every team electing to take Ogres the options were changed and Treemen were the only option for Halflings but they were made more useful than their older counterparts. It is a rare Halfling team that doesn’t start with both Treemen on their starting roster. A Treeman on a Halfling team also has some extra benefits compared to one playing with a Wood Elf team.
A Treeman is a very strong basic player and it goes some way to help with the low strength of the Halflings. They have the highest possible armour and Thick Skull, combining these attributes makes them very resilient players and they are hard to remove from the pitch. For a Big Guy they are fairly cheap and with the low cost of Halflings as well affording the maximum of two is easy. The other useful skills they have is Stand Firm, making them great at marking players usually forcing a dodge if they want to get away. Mighty Blow like is typical for Big Guys to help remove opposing players. Treemen also have Strong Arm and Throw Team Mate making them very reliable at throwing Halflings around. The last great benefit that they got recently was that they lost the Loner skill meaning they can use rerolls as normal unlike all the other Big Guys in Blood Bowl, this is a huge benefit to a Halfling team.
That said as normal they still have weaknesses, they have very low agility and are the slowest players in the game. They can’t move very far and if they fall over you need to roll for them to stand up again. Despite not having Loner they still have a negative trait in the form of Take Root. If you fail this any time you take an action then you can’t move the Treeman for the rest of the drive, unless he gets knocked over. If they do Take Root though they still have their tackle zone, are able to hit players next to them and can also use Throw Team Mate. The last weakness as typical for a Big Guy is only normal access to strength skills, requiring doubles for anything else.
Treemen provide good cover around them as opposing players can be reluctant to get into contact with them, with Stand Firm even if they can get an even block, they aren’t able to just push them away. Alternatively they can draw a lot of attention tying up three or more opposing players. The first scenario means you have an area where you can keep your Halflings in cover while the second means there is more space and less opponents free.
You should utilise your Treemen as a barricade to hide behind while advancing the ball, or as a defensive one that is hard to get past. If you try and run the ball forward and overtake the Treemen leaving them behind, then it is going to be much easier for the other team to get at the ball.
When blocking with a Treeman you should be making the most of their high strength and look to get three dice blocks at every opportunity to maximise the damage they can do. You only need to get one assist against a strength three player to do this. It is harder to do against stronger opponents, though if you have the easy opportunity for a three dice block then you should take it. You should make it a habit and it will help cultivate the fear factor your Treemen have and perhaps lead to them being unmarked.
The last great weapon of a Treeman is being able to throw Halflings. As they start with Strong Arm, an unmarked Treeman can throw at the maximum short pass range on a 2+. This can greatly increase the range that a Halfling player can move, so if you can’t advance far enough behind the Treemen, then you always have the option of throwing the ball carrier instead. This is also a useful ploy to try in the last turn of a drive if the other team scored leaving you just one turn before the and of the half. Treemen can also throw Halflings at opposing players in order to try and knock them over. This can keep a rooted Treeman still useful to your team even if there are no opponents next to them. The fact opposing players don’t like to stand next to Treemen also means you are less likely to suffer a negative modifier due to their tackle zone when throwing a team mate. Or if they do then you can just hit them instead!
Halfling Treeman Roadblock:
This is the typical development for a Treeman and you can’t go wrong with this route for both your players. Break Tackle will help prevent them getting tied up and let you advance them up the pitch, albeit slowly. You also have the option of trying to dodge into a standard five point cage on a 3+ to hit the ball carrier directly. That may not always be a better option compared to just hitting a corner and parking next to the ball carrier though. Grab is a great second choice as it will let you tie up as many opponents as possible. This will let you still able to block them and not end up pushing one away, or following up away from another. Multiple Block is a good third choice as with ST6, you can block two separate ST3 players with two block dice without needing any assists. If you make it to a fourth skill then you are running out of options without doubles and Guard is probably your best option.
There are lots of useful options on doubles for a Treeman but I think going with the norm and selecting Block and then Pro are your best skills to consider. Block will make them far more reliable at blocking and this is even more key if you face plenty of ST4+ opponents. Pro will help save rerolls on both Take Root and standing up rolls and can be used in other situations as well.
Other doubles that you may see people take can be useful as well. Jump Up saves you from having to roll to stand up, though with such low agility you probably won’t be using it when blocking. Sure Feet can give them a bit more range when moving, especially if you have already used a team reroll that turn. Diving Tackle can really let you tie up opponents, though obviously you should consider if you want to place your own player prone when he has to roll to stand up. Tackle could also be useful if you play a lot of Dodge heavy teams, most blocks against them are likely to be three dice so the lack of Block isn’t so much of a big deal, especially as the other player is likely to have it. Being able to negate their Dodge skill though will get you more knock downs, I think Block is probably a safer first choice though. Frenzy may also be a consideration, six dice against a player has a high knock down rate, it does mean though that you won’t be able to take Grab and it can’t be used in conjunction with Multiple Block. The last skill you may see taken by some coaches is the Pass skill, this will let them reroll Throw Team Mate attempts, so if you do this a lot then you can consider it. As dropping the Halfling you are trying to throw is only a turnover if they were holding the ball, you may get more mileage from another choice.
As far as stat increases go the one you want the move would be a movement increase. Going to movement three means they no longer need to roll to stand up and it also gives them a nice boost in range of movement (not that three is exactly a lot). Agility wouldn’t be much use to them and they already have the maximum allowed armour value. That just leaves a strength increase but with so many useful double increases I would take a skill instead. This keeps the team value lower which will maximise your potential inducements as well. Treemen are already stronger than most opposing players as well so it isn’t like you need that boost to get two dice in a lone block against another teams Big Guy.
Halfling Treeman Summary:
It is a brave Halfling team that doesn’t have any Treemen on their team. They provide a lot of cover when used in tandem to sit safely behind. Their high strength makes them good at blocking and tying up players. Treemen are usually a fulcrum on the pitch which the play revolves around, learning to use them effectively in tandem with your Halflings is the key to success with a Halfling team. If the opponents are doing their best to avoid them, then don’t forget the useful options that come with being able to throw your little side kicks.