Kicking or Receiving


For years when I first started playing Blood Bowl my friends and I would always choose to recieve the ball if we won the coin toss. As more games got played and more experience gained having to play after losing the coin toss, there are benefits to both kicking or receiving first.

Advantages to Receiving

To the beginner coach it seems obvious that you should receive the opening kick off if you are given the choice. Even against more experienced coaches I get quizical looks if I choose to kick against them. The most apparant reason is probably because you get the first turn of the match. During any kick off both teams have to set up at least three players on the Line Of Scrimmage. If you then get the first turn, that is usually three “free” blocks on the opposing team. They have no way of avoiding it (unless perfect defence is rolled on the kick off table) so you can perhaps get a numbers advantage straight away. Even knocking all 3 of them over means those players are more limited in what action they can take. The flip side of course is that you perhaps only get pushback, or on the rare occasion a turnover and your own guy dies! Though that is so unlikely you can pretty much discount that from any decision.

Following on from this, you can put the other team on the back foot for the whole game, get the numbers advantage early and you can really get a snowball effect going and KO or injure quite a lot of their players. This may result in them not having many players to set up for the next drive, allowing you to turn them over and score again, perhaps injuring even more of their team.

This perhaps is the way to go against teams that are short on players. If they only have 11 players at the start of the match any player you injure will leave them one less for the entire match. If they have some substitutes then this isn’t so bad for subsequent drives and you just get the benefit for the current drive. Obviously the lower armoured and more fragile the opponent the higher the likelyhood this will work, though watch out becuase they may be loaded up on lots of defencive skills like Dodge, Frend and Wrestle to counter their fragility.

Secret Weapon players are another reason to receive, either on your own team or the opponents. For when you have them on your team, you are holding the ball and are in control of how long you take to score. This means you get more control over how many turns you get to have your Secret Weapon player(s) on the field for. If your opponent has Secret Weapon players on the pitch than you may choose to score earlier to get them sent off. Again this is even better if they don’t have many players on their roster for the game, you can make them lose a player without even hitting them.

Read Page 2 for the advantage of Kicking…

27 thoughts on “Kicking or Receiving”

  1. I like to kick first, at least with some teams and if I have the kick skill. 
    The kick skill greatly enhances the benefits of kicking first.
    With some teams (wood elves, slann,…), kicking first with the kick skill has good chances of you turning over the ball and scoring.

  2. Quite an eye opener article as I play a lot with elves and always tend to receive if I have the choice!

    I understand the part about being able to defend with 11, and therefore start kicking. Elves can eventually score with team of 7, granted, but you are still taking a risk. Nevertheless it seems like a good counter to the usual 2-1 win strategy often used by bashy teams.

    The part I am unsure of is the KO’d roll control. The fact that you kick means that you have 3 main options:

    A) If I kick:
    1- Asuming opponent scores and I cant score or score just in turn 8 = 2 rolls
    2- Asuming my opponent scores well before turn 8 then eventually 3 rolls can be “possible” (1 at opponet TD, another at mine, then at half time)
    3- If my opponent loses the ball and a turnover is had before he can score then I have the “option” to score in turn 8 (1 reroll) or to score in turn 7 or before (2 rerolls)

    B) If I receive, I could eventually score in 2-3 turns and then spend the rest of the half defending, more often than not that means only 2 rolls (one at my TD, another at half time) as my opponent will try to stall their TD until turn 8, following the 2-1 bashy strategy.

    I guess regarding number of possible rolls it is down really to 2 most of the times, with 3 to be had maybe if I kick and my opponent scores early enough followed by my own TD, but that is rare.

    I guess the real power on KO’s rolls is situational. Depending on what team is having the most KO’s player numbers and when faced to one of the “options” above under A) then you maybe have the power to “decide” among a range from 1 to 3 rolls. I stress the quotation marks because typically is rare to be able to control the game in a way that lets you choose any of the 3 options in case A) above if you kick. More often than not a bashy team losing the ball early on for example is due to their own errors than due to the squishy team forcing it.

    In practical terms I guess kicking first simply lets you go that route should the unexpected happen.

    • I wouldn’t underestimate the value in defending with 11 players, it is much harder for the bashing teams to do a 2-1 game this way than if they also elect to kick and you score quickly against them. Also if you elect to receive and score early (2-3 turns) then the bashy team still has plenty of time to score back using a cage and will still get those hits in on those players on the Line Of Scrimmage.

      I will also disagree with you stating that a bashing team will only lose the ball cause of their own mistakes and can’t be forced into a turnover and a defencive score because of the agility teams. Eventually I’ll get some articles explaining the tactics involved in doing this and perhaps some examples from actual games as well. Defensive scores are massive in Blood Bowl, they basically give you a head start in the game.

      One other point I think I forgot from the article is that receiving the ball first in the second half can also be pivitol and again lets you control the clock. This is why bashing teams would also like to kick in the first half, I’ll see about updating the main article with my thoughts on this as well rather than explaining them all here in case people who ignore the comments miss it (though they really shouldn’t!)

      I started to edit but the extra discussion on this probably warrents it’s own post, so I’ll create that instead, thanks for bringing those points up!

  3. Excellent thoughts coach, but I see a possible flaw;
    You say that you want to receive if you are a bashy teams going up against a team that won’t hold up to punishment, but otherwise you want to kick.

    I would add that, following your logic, said wimpy team should also receive, knowing that the bashy team would prefer to receive.  The wimpy team should also try to play keep away to eat enough clock to not give the bashy team enough time to score.

    • Usually though in this situation the fragile team will either score quickly so the bashing team can still do the same thing, only this time you don’t get the two chances to recover KOs. You will be able to stall out though this means the bashing team would have likely hit a fair few of your players and then you have to defend with less. If they equalise before the half they just grind the second half, or if they don’t they can dictate if they want to go for the win or just take the draw in the second half. Thirdly you could try to stall but you mess up and either end up conceding or go into half time 0-0 and the bashing team grinds the second half. Or the fourth option is you managed to stall enough turns and take a lead into half time without taking too many losses. This is the least likely to happen of the four in my experience, so you still elect to kick and try and defend with a full team from the start or even better turn the bashing team over and score yourself. Maximising the chances of getting as many players as possibly (from KO recovery) for the second half.

  4. I actually prefer to kick 95% of the time.  With my wood elves the main reason being that I have the agility and the speed to get to the ball and put some real pressure on the opposition without endangering my players (he is going to get one blitz in, that is all).  Wardancers with strip ball and the fact that most coaches will form a cage near the side lines means that the WD leaps in and hits the ball carrier, generally pushing them closer to the line and increasing the chance of the ball bouncing out of play and getting thrown back into a position where my players can grab and run like hell.

    Since cyanide came out with their PC version of Blood Bowl I have been playing quite a bit more and there are very few games where I am not scoring in the first half, followed by receiving in the second half and normally I am up 2-0.

  5. I don’t think the defense argument works that well in a bashy vs bashy match: It is much harder to score with understrength bashy teams, than it is with elves (heh, even as few as 4 elves can score with a bit of luck…), but I agree it is usually better to kick in a bashy vs agile match, or an agile vs agile one.

    • It is much closer in a bash vs bash match up, but the fact that they still have to use more players to protect the ball applies. So you should be able to gang up on their players easier. They still have to remove a player when they hit first and you can do the same back to them. You only have to stop them scoring and then you get the ball in the second half to go for a 1-0 win. You will also likely be able to bring in reserves to get back up to full strength for the drive as well.

  6. Kicking has 2 more advantages, especially for bashing teams:
    1) kicking first means you can try to get rid of the opposition specialist defenders that you think will give you a hard time: strip ballers or kick players. Opponents usually make sure you can’t blitz those players when they are defending, but often forget when they are attacking as they already need to defend the ball.
    2) the game is usually decided in the 2nd half. Receiving at the start of 2nd gives you the power to dictate the pace in this vital part of the game. Stall it out if you can, but if you are behind you might want to score faster and put some pressure on your opponent.

  7. Oh yeah, weather plays a role as well. Especially on pouring rain I would always kick and hope the weather changes when I get to receive.
    Generally I always kick, unless it’s squishy vs squishy with 11 man rosters, or both my team and my opponent’s can do so much damage (eg high TV chaos vs high tv chaos) that those first 3 blocks can make the difference.

  8. I usually just receive, but that is more of a habit, I’ll probably try kicking a bit more often in the future. Kicking can also be a major advantage, if you have a one-turner (or a side step player and an according tactic). If you kick, you will always have the last turn and your opponent cannot deny it. So, if you kick, you will always be able to try the one-turner, effectively denying the 2-1 grind. However, you must of course still protect the one-turner, but keeping him off the pitch would be an efficient method for that!

  9. What about during playoffs? Kicking off first leaves you with a decent possibility of them scoring in the first half, you answering in the second half, and then your opponent having the ball when overtime starts ticking.

    I’m warming up to kicking off first, but am hesitant to do so in the playoffs…

    • You flip a coin/roll off again to see who receives in overtime, unless your league is using different rules. I’m not a fan of the standard overtime rules anyway. If possible I recommend playing a replay.

  10. I meant for Cyanide’s game, which apparently diverges from the LRB 6.0 on playoff overtime. Forgot to mention that key bit. 😉

    Basically, there isn’t a kick off, and the game just keeps going with the game checking to see if anyone won every 4 further turns.

    I’m not too fond of this, but that’s how the finals were decided in one of my Leagues recently — to the surprise of both players.

  11. I have to say I dissagree that kicking is useful, its gives you a mathematical disadvantage – simple. If you have 2 players of equal skill then maximusing your mathematical advantage is the best option so I allways elect to recieve.

    I mainly play High agi team, favouring skaven. With a high agi team its fairly easy to break a cage even if your using -2 dice, each turn as long as you have wrestle skill gives you a 15-20% chance of blitzing the ball carrier – including the leap or dodge into the cage. A running player will usually take 4 or more turns to score meaning its more than likely you will have broken his cage before he can score.

    Once the cage is broken all you need to do is fire the ball as far up the pitch as possible, HMP or just a decent pass and fast run and even if you dont score you will pretty much stop them from scoring.

    You can also pretty much stop them doing much damage to your players as you whack in a 1 or 2 Turn TD before he really gets much more than a blitz off.

    • You are welcome to disagree though from actual use kicking works, half the time you don’t get any choice anyway, it pays to learn how to be good at either.

      Most of your comment though is perhaps more related to the 2-1 Grind and scoring quickly or not rather than if you kick or receive. If you have a deep enough bench and you choose to kick, then when you do receive you should still have those numbers. When you are defending they have to use more of their player protecting the ball giving you more “active” players.

      If you receive and they hurt a couple of your players so you then kick to them with less than eleven. That makes it easier for them to score and then they can make that “mathematical disadvantage” worse when they take their first turn. Couple that with you losing players and burning rerolls trying to leap or dodge into a cage taking a two dice against hit with a fragile player and they can quickly assume dominance or the match.

      I maintain that kicking first if you get the choice so you can defend with as much strength as possible gives you more of an edge in more games than receiving first does. Though like I said you are more than welcome to disagree, I personally love it if the other coach elects to receive and puts me in to kick.

  12. I think the whole thing of KO rolls taking place after TDs needs to be fixed. It just leads to bashy teams gaming the rules to do cheezy crap, like kicking and not scoring unless its the final turn.

    The fact that KO rolls are made after every TD incentivises players not to try and score as much as possible (especially bashy teams). I think that needs to be changed to just make KO rolls every 4 turns, and possibly add a substitution mechanic (bringing players onto the field once per match when your below 11).

    Encouraging players to hold the ball 1sq from the endzone until turn 8 is just bad game design IMO.

  13. That isn’t strictly down to rolling for KOs though. It is more down to the fact that agile teams can score in fewer turns much easier than the slower, less agile teams.

    The KO rolling is just an extra side effect of something that is done due to the advantages of ball and clock control. These are more due to the fact you play two halves of eight turns than anything else. Older rules used to play until a certain score but then some games could go on for ages. There is likely a flaw in whatever method is used though, feel free to start a discussion on the forum about this to keep these comments on topic.

  14. I like to receive if there are Elves (any type), Skaven, Lizards, Goblins or Halflings on the pitch, regardless of who is playing them- with the exception of Lizards, I will only receive if playing against them. This is purely and simply to deny the opposition the last turn of the game. Too many times defeated or drawn by a last turn, one turn touchdown. However, with control of that last turn, my own fancy player can score one last TD if the opposition does actually score in their last turn, otherwise I set up for a last turn play.
    All other times I choose kick.

  15. I’ve played a lot of skaven and I’m happy when I get to receive against a bashy team especially at low TV or in tournaments. I usually just stall and make the first TD in my turn 5 or 6, so my opponent will be hard pressed to make a second TD in the same half, increasing the chances of my Gutter Runners scoring in his drive.
    The stalling also has the advantage that it limits the damage done to my vulnerable av7 players. You can easier pick your fights when stalling.

  16. As Skaven I much prefer to receive first. The possibility of going up 2-0 before the half with one offensive TD and one defensive TD makes it almost assured you’ll get a draw at the very least. Having the last turn in the 2nd makes it far more likely you will tie rather than lose those grinding games especially with a one turner.

    And I know people belly ache about one turners but the only teams that have access to them can have half their teams take off the pitch by half time. What would you have me do? Lay down and die?

  17. Against a good coach you will be far more likely to be 1-1 at the half than 2-0. Losing that extra change to get your KO players back can also mean you get dominated in the second half.

    I’d rather not rely on a one turner to try and get a tie, especially as I don’t build a specialist one (as I don’t think they are needed). I’d rather kick and try for the win, if things don’t go to plan then you can still play for a tie anyway.

  18. Would you say its a good idea to kick with the chaos dwarves? I’m sort of on the fence as to which I prefer as they are a pretty good defensive team so being bashed isn’t really much of an issue and now I have gaurd on 2 people its even less of an issue unless they have huge str5 people on the front line.

    However they are also a bashy team who like to hurt people so the idea of hitting first appeals.

    Would you say the correct plan is to receive against squishy teams (as while they wont hurt me I can easily hurt them as CDB have tackle as well as block) but kick against bashy teams as the CDBs high armour will keep them alive then give me a chance to counter after the initial push?

    Also another pro point for kicking I’ve found (and why I do it quite a bit) is you get the feel for the opponent, I always view receiving as the best option as you get the first go (though you did point out some reasons why it might not be) so I prefer to let the opponent have that while they have no idea how I might play then giving me the advantage in the second half as I get the go first AND have an idea of how the opposition will use his guys and whos important.

  19. I pretty much always elect to kick if I have the choice, especially with Chaos Dwarves. Being able to hit first isn’t the big advantage that people make out in my opinion, unless you guarantee to remove a couple of players.

    • Receiving has an advantage even if you don’t take players off the pitch – you should be able to position yourself such that three to four opponents are down on the ground covered by your players.

      So even if you don’t injure the opposition, you are in a position the next term to hit even more valuable players on their team and establish even better position, or to get to knock down the players they stand up.

      There, is however, a less obvious drawback as well. If you do your job well and score on your T8 with a number of their players injured/KO’d they will get the opportunity to hit your defensive line before the half and a 75% as opposed to 50% of getting their KOs back.

      My own calculus involves the risk of getting pummeled on that first drive and how elf-y my team is…

      Essentially, bash and hybrid teams generally want to receive against bash teams and bashier hybrid teams.

      The more violent the opposition though the more an elf-y team wants to kick – because elves win by turning the opposition over and it is easier to do that with your full roster then limping into the second half up 1-0 (or worse tied 1-1) and kicking.

  20. Hi, I know I’m somewhat (massively) late to the party here, but I wanted to add my perspective anyway.

    I recently returned to bloodbowl after almost 15 years away, and in stark contrast to how I remember playing as a teenager with my superspeedy woodelves (m9 catchers rocked, +1 MA, sure feet and sprint was an almost guaranteed 1 turn, or 0 turn technically, touchdown if I got a blitz on kick off), I am now finding that I prefer kicking.

    The simple reason for this is that I categorically disagree with the statement in one of the above comments that receiving gives you a mathematical advantage.

    I find it is actually easier to score on defence, because the attacking player has to commit a large portion of their players to doing nothing but shielding the ball carrier, while I can make every player on my team useful. I even like to take hail mary pass on my second thrower simply so that when I receive, I can stomp the other guy a bit, then pick the ball up and lob it into my opponents backfield.

    This forces my opponent to scramble his players into position to protect the ball carrier, and play attack when they had set up in formation for defence. I can use a couple of fast players to maintain a threat to the ball carrier from every angle, forcing my opponent to use at least 4 players to defend the sides and rear, while I concentrate my hitting power on the front of his cage, and ganging up on any players he’s left running loose.

    When my opponent has the ball, they have 3 basic options:

    1. Ignore the ball completely and concentrate on stomping me. Can go badly for me, but it isn’t usually hard to slip a fast player through to grab the ball and score in 2 turns, limiting the time they have to stomp me, and giving me more chances at KO recovery.

    2. Leave a thrower back with the ball, either unprotected or with minimal protection, while the rest of his team tries to stomp me or slip through to recieve a pass. This occasionally works, but it usually leads to me using my numerical advantage to stomp his recievers if he’s a squishy team, or running some fast players through to sack the ball carrier and score an easy 2-3 turn touchdown if he’s playing a bashy team.

    3. Most players will try to form a cage around the ball carrier, and either stomp forward or send runners through. It only takes a few players to stall a cage (which needs more players to form properly), giving me numerical advantage to stomp any players not in the cage, then line up and break the cage, usually leading to a 4-6 turn touchdown.

    Now, it is important to note that I use High Elves. I don’t think any other team is as good at this, for a few reasons.

    AV8 on most of my players isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either, and it keeps me in the fight most of the time.

    High elf thrower is perfect for front-line duties. I always develop my starting thrower for this job, concentrating on getting dodge, sure hands, and nerves of steel, in that order. Once he has those skills, plus his starting AG4, pass and safe throw, he excels at dodging into the remains of my opponents broken cage, picking up the ball and throwing it out to a waiting catcher. AG4 gives him good rolls on dodging, picking up and throwing, and his skills give him rerolls on all 3 actions. Safe throw means the pass won’t be intercepted (interceptions are rare enough already, and he cancels out 2/3 of them).

    While they are squishy, MA8 catchers are good for several roles. They naturally tend to become some of your most common scorers, which gives plenty of SPP, but mainly i use them for threatening the ball carrier, helping to encourage a nice, tight, player consuming cage, or as backfield markers allowing me to concentrate on breaking the cage if my opponent sends receivers forwards.

    Catch and AG4 give them a better than normal chance at interception, especially if they get a double for nerves of steel (ignoring the tackle zone of the player they mark means 5+ rerollable = marginally better than 50% chance of interception), but mainly they are all about MA8+shadowing. Even players with good AG and dodge will be hesitant to dodge away, as they are probably going to have to dodge several times from the same player. Plus, the more dicerolls they have to make, the better.

    Shadowing, dodge, strip ball and wrestle makes catchers a nightmare to play against. As markers, you can’t reliably dodge away from them, and you can’t reliably knock them down to free yourself up. As ball winners, they have a long reach, can dodge past intervening players, and will knock the ball loose on 5/6 possible block dice results,
    unless you have sure hands. Adding tackle means even with sure hands it’s 3/6, and neither the block nor dodge skills can help you.

    Finally, if you specialize in scoring when you recieve, scoring takes away your advantage, forcing you to kick instead.

    However, if you can get good at scoring on the defence, every success sets you up to do it again. 3-0 or 4-0 scorelines suddenly become quite common, and that also means all those KO’d players tend to come back on.

    Sorry for the extreme length, but there’s a lot to say on this subject.


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