Strip Ball (General)
When a player with this skill blocks an opponent with the ball, applying a ‘Pushed’ or ‘Defender Stumbles’ result will cause the opposing player to drop the ball in the square that they are pushed to, even if the opposing player is not Knocked Down.
Strip Ball isn’t really as popular now as it once was and that is mainly down to the fact that it is easily rendered useless by an opposition player with Sure Hands. The obvious benefits of Strip Ball though is that you can get the ball loose from an opposing player without actually knocking them over. Despite a lot of teams having Sure Hands they aren’t going to have it on every player, usually two at the most. Getting the ball loose from the opposition is good for two main reasons. The first one is that they then have to pick the ball up again, which you can make difficult by putting tackle zones on it and even make getting to the ball hard. The second reason is that you may be able to pick the ball up yourself, or even catch it with a nearby player.
The other reason for the decline in the popularity of Strip Ball is along with all the new skills in the game, coaches will tend to take skills that aid in knocking the other player over. This will also get the ball free from that player and can also hurt them as well. Tackle often being the usual selection instead of Strip Ball, as it negates a popular ball carrier skill in Dodge and doesn’t get negated like Strip Ball does. A lot of otherskills are also higher priority and it is rare for someone to take Strip Ball as their first skill. Due to that by the time the next skill advancement comes around for someone who may have taken Strip Ball, most opposition ball carriers will have Sure Hands at this point.
I still highly recommend having one player with Strip Ball on your team though. Early on in a league there are going to be more players without Sure Hands. The teams that can start with a player who comes with Sure Hands will also only typically have one rather than two players with it as well. So Strip Ball is most effective early on, the teams it is most effective against are the Elven teams and the ones who start with few skills like Chaos and Nurgle. Taking Strip Ball forces them to take Sure Hands sooner rather than later to avoid the problems that are caused by you easily being able to dislodge the ball. For Elves this means they will probably take it before Accurate which closes down their passing range, making defence against them easier. The slower teams will take it instead of Block, which means you can knock their ball carrier down easier than if they had.
Of course they can still opt to take Sure Hands later and play in a way that makes it hard for you to get your Strip Ball player in a position to be able to hit their ball carrier. What this does do though is create another player they have to be wary of and the more of those you have on your team, the harder it is for them to protect against them all.
As I alluded to already even on developed teams it is common for them to only have two Sure Hands players at most. This can mean some games they have to play without one (or sometimes both) due to injury, so it pays to have a Strip Ball player for these games. You can also look to target their Sure Hands player when they are on the pitch for defence. If you can injure them or at least get a KO, then they may have to play their next drive without him. Strip Ball will also come in useful if you manage to bog down their ball carrier with Diving Tackle players (preferably with Stand Firm or Side Step as well) and they are forced to hand the ball off to a team mate without Sure Hands. As I said they won’t have loads of Sure Hands players (it is a waste of team value after two or three) so if you can force them to carry the ball with someone else, you gain an advantage. Another way to do this is on the Kick Off, if they only have one Sure Hands player set up and he is more towards one side then aim to kick the ball the other side of the pitch from that player (you have taken Kick haven’t you!)
Strip Ball will also be handy to have even on your offence, as should the opposition manage to get the ball, usually it may not be with a Sure Hands player, so anything to make it easier for you to get the ball back again is worth having on the pitch. One issue with Strip Ball though is that when you manage to get the ball loose after just pushing their ball carrier back, most of the time their player will end up with their tackle zone on the ball. To counter this you can either get some of your players next to him before hitting, which you may be doing to get assists anyway, then the ball might scatter to one of your players for a free catch roll, rather than having to pick it up. Another option is to combo Strip Ball with Frenzy as you can then use the second hit to hopefully at least push their player away from the loose ball.
So while Strip Ball is easily countered, it is a great skill to have on your team for a few reasons, sometimes even the threat of Strip Ball can be helpful. Perceived threats can sometimes be worth just as much if not more than the actual threat they carry. There are a number of skills like that and Strip Ball is one of them.
- Can free the ball from the opposition without needing a knock down
- Can force the opponent into mistakes to cover the threat
- Creates another threat that the opposition has to consider
Strip Ball will be of most use to players you build to go after the opposition ball carriers. This will usually either be one of your Blitzers, or someone you built specially for the job to combine with Wrestle. Wrestle and Strip Ball will get the ball loose against a Block ball carrier player 83% of the time on a one die block. If you have Tackle as well the same rings true against Block and Dodge ball carriers. This is not a combo of skills to be sniffed at and not all ball carriers are going to have Block + Dodge + Sure Hands. On a two dice block with a reroll the odds of getting the ball off them is almost a sure thing!
Typical players then, Human Blitzers, Dark Elf Blitzers, Dwarf Blitzers from the players that start with Block. Players you have given Wrestle like Beastmen, Pestigors, Gutter Runners, Elf Catchers, Amazon Linemen, Norse Linemen. I think you get the idea, anyone who isn’t too slow to get away from or avoid easily, or isn’t agile enough to be able to get to the ball carrier if dodges are needed.
Take it early on in a newly established league or season with new teams for everyone, or in leagues where people seem to be ignoring Sure Hands (which can happen if no one takes Strip Ball). After that you should look to get it when you have players who can tie up the opposing ball carrier when they have it with a Sure Hands player. Sometimes just knocking the ball loose and surrounding it so they can’t get it back can win you the game, even if you can’t manage to pick it up yourself afterwards.