Side Step (Agility)
A player with this skill is an expert at stepping neatly out of the way of an attacker. To represent this ability, his coach may choose which square the player is moved to when he is pushed back, rather than the opposing coach. Furthermore, the coach may choose to move the player to any adjacent square, not just the three squares shown on the Push Back diagram. Note that the player may not use this skill if there are no open squares on the pitch adjacent to this player. Note that the coach may choose which square the player is moved to even if the player is Knocked Down after the push back.
Side Step used to be the agility teams alternative to Stand Firm, though now Stand Firm isn’t as good as it previously was, Side Step has edged ahead into being the better of the two skills. While strength teams can now easily get Stand Firm, Side Step is now a more desirable choice for double rolls. The main benefit of Side Step is that you get to control the position of your players more and take away the option to dictate your player placement from blocks off the opposition. Good positioning of players is one of the vital keys to success in a game of Blood Bowl, so anything you can do to aid you in making that easier is a god send.
Perhaps the most obvious use is that you can prevent your opposing coach from pushing your players from one block into another block by another of his players in the same turn. This means your own players are going to get hit less which has obvious benefits. You can also use this to set up easier return blocks to your opponents team in your following turn. The third thing to be aware of is that you can position your players in a way that they will be able to dodge out into the open as well and avoid getting tangled up in a brawl against stronger, more dangerous players. This can let you hem the opposing players in, as well as letting you dodge away easier and stay out of trouble.
Side Step will also make it a lot harder to push your player off the pitch into the crowd, which means you don’t have to be as fearful of opposing players with Frenzy and it makes the pitch a bit wider as you can stand on the side line. Now the opposing coach could surround you and push you off the pitch, but this would take a lot of his players and leave his team out of position. Another use against Frenzy players is to lead them where you want them as well as they have to follow up and hit you twice if the first one is just a push. You can either lead their players away from the action where they would be more useful to the opposing team, or perhaps force them to do a second block that is in your favour instead.
It is also useful for protecting the sideline as well making it hard for your opponent to get past your team on the first turn after a kick off. Even if he knocks your Side Step player over, depending on how you set up you can still place your player prone in such a square that his players will still have to dodge to progress further down the pitch. This is also useful in other turns or other areas of the pitch, consider where your opponent is going to want to try and move his players and if you can block a route off by going to a certain square, then you should do so. This will happen more often if they don’t knock you over so you still have a tackle zone on the player being blocked, though some occasions will crop up where you can still do this even if they do knock your player down as well. This ability can even cause an opponent not to hit the player if they are currently in a position where they aren’t blocking where they want to go.
Another defensive ability is when you use it to mark an opposing player, if you have Side Step then they need to knock your player over, or fill up the squares you could move to that are still next to the player they are trying to free up. Usually this will be on ball carriers or perhaps more commonly used for receivers. If you are still standing next to them they will have to dodge to get away and if they are the target of a pass, your player will make catching the ball harder for them. This combines really well with skills that make dodging away harder.
The last benefits is that is practically eliminates the ability for teams to score a one turn touchdown by using pushbacks to manipulate to push their own players forward. Alternatively it makes doing one turn touchdowns with your own team easier as you can Side Step forward instead of needing more players to fill up squares.
- Less blocks on your players
- Set up easier retailiation blocks
- Harder to crowd push
- Can block paths through your defence
- Stay next to players you are marking
- Lead Frenzy players around
I don’t think there is a single player that Side Step isn’t useful to, however I wouldn’t take it on a player who has Stand Firm as their abilitys overlap for certain things. Also there are quite a lot of players where Side Step would require a double roll for the skill and often there will be other alternatives you would prefer.
Frenzy players will make good use of it (or Stand Firm) as there will be times that they end up next to the sideline after pushing an opponent off the pitch. Any player that you are planning on building into someone to mark receivers or ball carriers to prevent them moving is a good choice. Lots of elves, Stunty players etc.
It is also good for other players who want to remain in contact with opponents, Assassins spring to mind so they can use their Stab ability more. For bashing players who would need a double it is great foragain staying in contact, especially if you have Guard as well. You may decide to pass it up as they will usually be able to get Stand Firm on a normal roll which can be just as good.
That pretty much covers any player type that you will find in the game, like Guard you can never really make a mistake by taking Side Step. It is just a case of deciding if there are any other skills that may be more useful to either that individual player, or the team as a whole.
For some inspiration on how effective Side Step can be and to also test yourself take a look at these Blood Bowl Challenges and be sure to read through the comments as well.