Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Clomp! League : Season Two, Day Seven

As evening closed in on day seven of season two of the Clomp! tournament, crowds gathered in the stadium for what had been dubbed 'The Greenskin Bowl', as the two mighty orc teams of Division Two, Azh's Bashas and the Blood Fang Boyz, squared off for what was expected to be a brutal, dirty game. In other words, a perfect Blood Bowl match!

First Half:

Start of the game saw the opening kickoff going to the Blood Fang Boyz, but as the ball hits the ground, Spinesnapper from the Boyz, and Earguff from the Bashas meet in a tangle of gangly limbs and tusks. Both Trolls hit the ground, Spinesnapper landing face-first and breaking his jaw. But the Boyz Apothecary quickly applies a crude splint, getting the Troll ready to return to the game as soon as possible.

Grimskar, star Thrower for the Boyz fields the ball and advances up left side of field. Amid grunts and the dull thuds of green flesh colliding, the two teams slam together at midfield. Badhag jars the ball loose from Grimskar, Gazgul knocks down Badhag. ball slips from his hands. Blitzers from both teams scramble and fight for the squigskin, bodies fly backwards from the pile, but Greenskins are known for their resilience, and gets back into fight.

Gazgul emerges from the scrum with the ball, cutting over to right side of field. Marfak lurches out of the pile after him, but is horse-collared by one of the Boyz Black Orcs and nearly suffers a fatal neck injury. But the Bashas Apothecary scrambles onto the field, administering a foul-smelling potion and a few magic words before helping Marfak walk off the field, seemingly none the worse for the wear.

Despite a mostly open sideline, Gazgul doubles back in a surpise move, sprinting over to the left side of the field and handing the ball to the rookie Blitzer Vulg who dashes upfield, closely followed by Grimskar. Riknast, playing a deep defense, slows down the advancing Blizter. But after losing his momentum, Vulg plants both feet and lowers his shoulder into the defender, sending Riknast to the turf and opening a wide path to the endzone.

Heedless of the action downfield, most of the player from both teams remain engaged in a bloody brawl at the center. Ulgrot KOs Galnast while Gazgul forces his way into the battle. Morgul, veteran Black Orc for the Boyz, knocks down both Earguff and Varag. As a frenzy of blocks from the Blood Fang team leaves nine of the ten remaining Bashas players on the ground Vulg casually walks in unopposed for the first score of the game!

The ensuing kickoff comes at the very end of the half, with too little time for any meaningful action. But Earguff makes a quick revenge strike on Morgul, knocking the Black Orc out cold!

Second Half:

During halftime, Gugfak, thrower for the Bashas, and his Black Orc teammate Varag, get into a squabble about who gets the last squig bit. By the time Coach Azhog had bashed enough heads to get things sorted out, the young and eager linemen, Sorruk and Gramnast Jr. (in his debut game) had snuck onto the field. The ref, seeing that both teams had a full complement of players, blew the whistle to start the second half, leaving the two veteran orc players on the sidelines!

Planning a strong initial push, the Bashas send most of the team up to the line, leaving only Itsham and Sorruk in back to receive. But the plan backfires when the cheating Blood Fangs jump the kick, swarming the line to clog up any potential lanes. Meanwhile, on the right sideline, Gazgul slams into Riknast driving the Bashas blitzer backwards and pushing him off the field of play entirely!

The ball lands deep, right in front of Itsham the goblin, who picks it up and peels back to the left side of the field, away from the approaching Boyz Blitzers. Meanwhile, at midfield, the battle in the trenches continues from the first half. Morgul, having shaken off his earlier knockout, returns to again square off with Earguff. Determined to end this battle once and for all, Earguff summons all of his strength and speed to pick up the massive orc up over his head and slam him to the ground where he bounces twice before coming to a stop. The mighty Morgul twitches, then stops moving entirely; his career, and life, ended in one fell blow.

The Bashas roar in appreciation and drive into the left side of the Boyz line, opening a hole for Itsham. The little goblin scampers forward. But Vorag swoops around a blocker, filling the hole and barreling into the much smaller Greenskin. Itsham flies backwards, losing both the ball and conciousness and has to be pulled off the field. Badhag and Galth fend the Blood Fang Boyz away from the ball, allowing Sorruk to pick it up. But the lineman makes a crucial mistake, and attempts to hand the ball to Marfak on the sideline. But the Bashas blitzer wasn't expecting the ball, and it slides past him, landing near the sidelines.

Skabrak, rookie lineman for the Boyz, deviously foots the ball out of bounds, hoping that a fan manages to throw it back to his team. His plan works. Though instead of throwing it to a player, the fans chunk the ball halfway down the field, again putting it on the turf near the Bashas goal line!

Galth, the closest Bashas player swoops in to cover the ball but clumsily misses the pickup. Vorag and Gazbak charge in, but Galth stiffarms Vorag, and Marfak flies over to take down Gazbak, leaving the ball open on the field. But the accursed squigskin proves elusive, again popping away from Galth's grip. Gazbak from the Boyz crawls over and covers the ball as Vorag and Vulg try to provide some cover, knocking Galth to the ground. With steely determination, Galth pulls himself off the ground and KOs Gazbak with one punch. Unfortunately for the Bashas, Galth's ability to make a timely knockout does not translate into ball-handling skills.

The Boyz Blitzers, Gazgul and Vorag again clear space around the loose squigskin. But, in a comedy of errors and colliding Greenskins, first Vulg fails in his attempt to secure the ball. Galth has another chance, but he too misses, leaving it open for Gazgul, who also sees the ball slip through his hands. As Galth scrambles over and falls on the seemingly uncatchable object, it pops straight up in the air where Vulg has one final shot, but he too is unable to reel it in as the whistle blows to end the game.

Final Score: Azh's Bashas 0, Blood Fang Boyz 1

Monday, November 23, 2009

Clomp! League : Season Two, Day Six

Coming off their first and only loss, Azh's Bashas were looking to recover their place at the top of the division when they faced off against the potent offense of the Plaguebringaz, league leaders in pass attempts, catches, passing yards, rushing yards, touchdowns, and surprisingly, knockouts!

Embarrassed by the ease with which Orion the Titans had routed his team last week, Azh decided that he had better find out more about the Plaguebringaz roster before the game started. To this end he dispatched a couple of sneaky gobbos and they returned with three names, each accompanied by a crude drawing. The first name was Skreeluz, and below it stood an outline of a ratman with an extra arm sticking out from its side. The second name was Skreetz, and this figure bulged with distorted muscles. Finally there was the the name of Snutz, this one in a running pose with several horizontal lines trailing behind it. Scratching his head, Azh turned, showed the parchment to his Blizters and said:

"See deze rats?! Youz luuk fer dem an bash dem duwn. Ib dem git back up, youz bash dem agin!!"

The assembled Greenskins let out a resounding Hoowaaagh! for the brilliance of the tactical decisions made by their coach and charged out onto the field, ready to scrap with their opponent.

First Half:

Bashas receive the opening kickoff. Flying downfield before the ball even reaches the field, Galth sees the distinctive rat with the grotesque extra arm clearly visible. He slams into Skreezulz at full speed, grabbing the hapless rodent by two of its arms, swinging it over his head and slamming the Gutter Runner into the turf with spine-snapping thud. The Plaguebringaz sent their apothecary on the field, as the crowd erupts into frenzied cheering at the first sight of blood, but there was nothing he could do to save the unfortunate player.

Meanwhile, on the far end of the field, Gugfak cradles the ball, moving up the right side of the field behind a solid shield of black orcs and lineman. Skreetz, the second star Gutter Runner for the Plaguebringaz, enraged by the death of his litter mate, sprints past the line and tries to get a quick hit on Gugfak, but the attempt only results in the Orc Thrower falling back a step. The center of the rat defense is crushed and pushed to the right side of the field in front of the advancing orc offense. Chirkit the Kitteneater is badly hurt by Galnak during this push, putting the Plaguebringaz down by two players before the game has hardly begun.

Coming off the push on Gugfak, Skreetz bolts for the Bashas endzone. But Riknast remembers the words of his coach and chases the veteran Gutter Runner down from behind, snapping the rat's neck in a surprisingly brutal tackle, marking the second death for the Plaguebringaz in the game! Skreetz's mighty rat-strength proved to be no match for an enraged Orc Blitzer.

The Bashas methodically move up the right sidelines, driving the remaining rats before them. The Plaguebringaz fight tooth and claw, pushing back on the front line, but never able to break through. Badhag and Galth are pummeled by Snyykz the Gnawer as they try to find room downfield. With both Blitzters on the ground, one of them stunned, Snkyykz charges into the cage, trying to break a hole for his teammates. But as he pushes Varag backwards, Frenzy takes over and he follows the Black Orc into a crowd of Bashas players. Varag snarls and lunges back, causing a head-to-head collision that sends both players to the ground, leaving Snkyykz momentarily stunned. With noone downfield to throw to, Gugfak keeps the ball himself, stepping over the prone Rat Ogre and pushing ahead of his blockers. Badhag rockets off the ground, throwing Kriik One-paw backwards and sprinting for the endzone. But the rats are quick, and a young linerat named Kreeyz puts forth a heroic effort and makes a desperation tackle of Gugfak, freeing the ball. Waffyl the Lethal tries to step up and grab it, but he slips on the ball, falling to the ground. Varag, Galnak and Earguff clear space around the loose squigskin as Marfak slides in to pick it up, then swiftly hands it off to Itsham the Goblin, who dashes into the endzone for a touchdown!

Plaguebringaz receive the ensuing kickoff and strike hard on the right side of the field. Snyykz the Gnawer leading the charge as Snutz the Slippery, fastest player in the league, streaks down the sideline. The Basha Blizters, downfield as safeties, move to cutoff the open lane, pounding the Stormvermin Crytt, lead blocker for the Plaguebringaz offensive push, and putting pressure on Snutz.

Meanwhile, back in the middle of the field, another tragedy befalls the rats, as Whutuk the linerat, has his career prematurely ended by a mighty blow to the head from Earguff the troll, making him the third casualty of the night! The Plaguebringaz are unable to advance the ball further as first half ends.

Second half:

Plaguebringaz get the kickoff to start the second half, again pushing hard on the right side behind the broad, hairy back of their powerful Rat Ogre, who sallies forth and delivers a killing blow to Gramnast, up and coming lineman for the Bashas. The orc apothecary starts to run out onto the field, but before he can get there, Snyykz has dismembered the helpless orc, making any attempts at resuscitation a pointless endeavor.

Kutz the Sneek, second string receiver for the Plaguebringaz, fields the ball and makes short pass to put it in the hand of Kriik One Paw, primary Thrower for the rat team. The back blitzers for the Bashas again rumble over to stop the advance, throwing Waffyl into the path of the ultra-speedy Gutter runner. Undaunted, One Paw slides over to the sideline, launching a perfect strike to Snutz, who easily catches the ball. He turns upfield and tries to duck between the defending Blitzers, but the orcs slam the fragile Runner between them, sending him off the field for the rest of the game and completing their primary job of removing the three star Gutter Runners from the game.

Riknast knocks Waffyl the Lethal away from the ball, breaking his collarbone in the process. Spinning around, Riknast then picks up the ball, moving back to the middle of the field, inside the protection of the Bashas line. Snyykz tries to blitz in and recover the ball, but Marfak trips him up, giving Riknast time to run past midfield, following the hulking form of Varag, who delivers a crippling block on Lhykk the Claw, backup thrower for the Plaguebringaz, sending yet another rat off he field for the remainder of the match.

Kniim the Quick slips past the powerful grasp of Varag, lowers his horns and drives into the midriff of Riknast. But the Blizter holds strong, giving up a step but maintaining his footing and possession of the ball.

Galnast shoulders Kreeyz to the ground, inflaming a previous injury and crowding the Plaguebringaz injury box with an additional unconscious rat. Kniim again makes a play for the ball, but Badhag intercepts him, driving the rat to the ground and knocking him out cold. Riknast is able to walk into the endzone unopposed, the closest Plaguebringaz player over 40 yards away.

The rats can only field six for final kickoff. And just to rub salt in the wound, the Bashas get an early jump on the kick, allowing the Bashas to surround the ball as it lands. Kniim the Quick, again taking a chance to try and make something happen for his team, slams into Galth unexpectedly, knocking the Blitzer out of bounds where over-excited fans stun him. One Paw slides in past Sorruk, claiming the ball for his team. But as he tries to dodge away from the orcs, he slips on the blood of one of his teammates, falling hard and inadvertently launching the ball of the field. The fans eagerly throw it back, sending it downfield and just a few yards away from the Plaguebringaz goal line. Kniim the Quick dashes over but fumbles the pickup attempt. Thundering downfield, Galnast knocks him out making room for Badhag to recover ball and walk in for the third and final score as the whistle blows to end the game.

Final Score: Bashas 3, Plaguebringaz 0

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Clomp! League : Season Two, Day Five

Day Five dawned and Azh's Bashas were feeling cocky. Their next opponent was the human team of the Waterdeep Warriors, and the Bashas had always had success when playing humans in the past. Little did they know that the ominous signs in the shaman's mushroom tea that morning were not something to be ignored.

The teams faced off for the coin flip. Across from the Bashas stood one human in particular that they would know well by the end of the game. Orion the Titan, he of the Leo's Loincloths and Bloodweiser Light Ale advertisements. Heartthrob for every woman, young and old, this side of the Grey Mountains. With his broad shoulders, flowing hair and blindingly white smile, Orion dazzled the ladies while also serving as the heart and soul of the Warriors team, leading the team's stat sheet in scoring, running, and only second in passing by a few yards.

In an early sign that something might be wrong this day, the Bashas lose the toss and the Waterdeep Warriors elect to receive the opening kickoff.

First Half:

As the ball sails through the air, the Warriors hit the center, driving the entire Bashas front line backwards and opening a lane for Orion the Titan and Tresdon Lofthouse, rookie Catcher, to advance down the field on the lefthand side. Johnny Nebraska, star thrower for the Warriors, fields the ball deep and also shifts to the left side of the field, waiting for a clear throwing line. The Bashas move to cover, but fail to put enough pressure on the human Thrower. And as Orion dodges away from double coverage, finding his way to the corner of the Bashas endzone, Johnny Nebraska hits him with a perfect pass. The Titan juggles the ball momentarily, but manages to keep control, scoring a quick touchdown for the Warriors and stunning the home crowd!

The ensuing kickoff lands at the feet of Gugfak, Thrower for Azh's Bashas. He takes the ball and moves downfield as the rest of the team pounds on the Warrior line. But in an incredible display of athleticism, Orion the Titan slips between two black orcs, sprints as hard as he can upfield and delivers a swift and decisive knockout punch to Gugfak, sending the astonished Thrower to the sidelines for the rest of the game! The orcs respond as best they know how, knocking out one lineman, injuring another and stunning Tresdon. Sorruk manages to cover the loose ball for the Bashas, but the Waterdeep Warriors are not to be denied. Sir Conrad Draco shakes off his blocker and knocks Sorruk to the turf, freeing the ball so that Orion can make another magnificent play, dodging around Riknast, fielding the ball, slipping away from a tackle and prancing into the endzone for his second score of the game!

With Gugfak out, Riknast takes over kickoff receiving duty. Riknast brings the ball back up the middle, where the Black Orcs are making short work of the Human line. But again Orion makes a play. Pulling himself up off the ground, dodging a tackle and hitting Riknast as he stands surrounded by his teammates on all sides. Unsurprisingly, the ploy works, but an ever alert Gramnast tucks the ball away for the Bashas before the Titan can get his hands on it. Sorruk throws Titan down, as Gramnast tries to give the ball to Marfak. But a botched handoff sees the squigskin hit the turf once again. Both teams converge, and in the scrum Sorruk is injured and out for the rest of the game. Badhag scoops ball as Riknast streaks downfield. Badhag breaks free and attempts a pass, but as it slips from his hand, everyone realizes why his career as a Thrower never went anywhere. Embrassingly, that is the final play of the first half, and the Bashas try and regroup on the sidelines, down 2-0.

Second Half:

Bashas get kickoff to start the second half, though this time Badhag received the kick. In the manner of battles everywhere, the two teams collide. As the fighting rages in middle and left of the field. Badhag cuts back across his blockers, taking it up the right side to the midway point. With a screen of defenders, Badhag continues charging downfield, lowering a shoulder as he runs through pretty-boy Orion (who unfortunately, was uninjured on the play). Undaunted, the Titan quickly hops off the ground and tries to return the favor, but Badhag throws him down again. As Badhag trots in for a Bashas score, vicious blocks send both Baron Bedlam and Tresdon to the benches, though the human doctors manage to get both back in the game on the next series.

Emboldened by their score, the Bashas get away with an early jump on the kickoff. Moving quickly, Varag clears way for Galth to sneak downfield and be in position to catch his own team's kickoff! But as he does, Orion the Titan flies over from midfield and hits Galth hard. Amazingly, Galth stays on his feet, stiff-arming the Titan and holding his ground! Varag runs up and pushes Orion down, but the delay was enough for several other Warriors players to converge, gang-tackling Galth as he tries to break away from the pack. Sir Conrad Draco takes care of Varag, allowing Johnny Nebraska room to dash in and grab the ball. He falls back into pocket of blockers and hands it off to Tresdon who bolts downfield, into Bashas territory. Baron Bedlam is again Knocked Out at midfield as Itsham the Goblin jumps onto Tresdon's back while Badhag lunges from the ground, sending Tresdon flying backwards. The ball pops up and lands right in the paws of Itsham, but this was not a game to remember for the little Greenskin, as he drops his second catch of the day!

This event sent Coach Azhog into such a fit of rage, that he blacked out. When he awoke, the game was over, the score unchanged, and the Bashas had been handed their first loss ever!

Final Score: Azh's Bashas 1, Waterdeep Warriors 2

Clomp! League : Season Two, Day Four

In the closing hours of Day Four of Season Two of the Clomp! Cup, the proud Orcs of Azh's Bashas meet up with the Skaven team, SneakyVermin, one of the offensive powerhouses in Division Two.

First Half:

Opening kickoff sails out of bounds. SneakyVermin chooses to give the ball to Kriik, the veteran thrower for the Skaven team.

Quyuthc the Stormvermin, blitzes the left side, pushing back an Orc Blizter to make room for Knetform Cutter, the two-headed Gutter Runner to slip past. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the field, the other Runner, Lhire the Lethal, dodges past Marfak and finds open space deep in the Bashas backfield. The Bashas lay out Lhire the Lethal, throwing him to the ground in a daze while two defenders try and cover Knetform. The font line of the Bashas pound the linerats into the turf, but in doing so, they leave a wide gap in the front defenses. Kriik tries to take advantage of the hole, moving over to make a handoff to the rookie Runner Lhylk, who fumbles the ball! Varag Goug'liver rumbles downfield, knocking the rookie out and looming over the squigskin. The Bashas hurl most of the still-standing rats to the ground, but undaunted, Kriik slips past Varag and Earguff the Troll, snagging the ball with one hand as he moves up past midfield and makes a perfect throw into double coverage to his star receiver, Knetform. While the second head spits curses at the nearby orcs, Knetform easily spins away from his defenders and scrambles into the endzone for a quick touchdown and the first score of the game!

The following kickoff is deep, nearly to the Bashas goal line and perilously close to the sideline. Gugfak retrieves it as the Black Orcs again demolish the front line of the SneakyVermin. Two linerats pentrate the Bashas backfield, but Gugfak finds an open lane and passes to midfield where the Gobline Itsham, in his debut series of the game, makes a beautiful catch and dashes straight through the middle, hopping over the unconcious Rat Ogre. Earguff the Troll and Riknast the Blitzer follow the Goblin as support, but the ever quick Skaven respond rapidly, blocking access to the endzone and nearly tackling the goblin. But Itsham proves to be as wily as the rats, side-stepping one tackle, dodging from another and racing into the endzone to tie up the game!

With only a few minutes left in the half, the SneakyVermin need a quick strike to try and regain the lead. They load up the right-hand side of the field, forming a cage of squirming rodent bodies. Things take a turn in the wrong direction for the Bashas when Earguff tangles with Breakbang, the SneakyVermin Rat Ogre, and knocks himself out! The rats take advantage, pushing back the orc blockers as Lhire the Lethal carries the ball down the sideline and past midfield. Galnak Break'Zom nearly kills one of the linerats, but a hunched, hooded figure rushes from the sidelines, emits a guttering squeal in the strange Skaven tongue while waving the most foul-smelling incense over the immobile corpse. Amazingly, the injured lineman suddenly shakes his head groggily, stands up, and trots off to the sideline, no worse for the wear!

But the gap left in the defending cage by his departure is enough. Riknast dodges away from his coverage, stunning Lhire and sending the ball flying into the hairy paws of Pwyer, another one of the linerats (these beasts seem to be everywhere) and kickoff specialist for the SneakyVermin team. With the rat cage effectively bottled up and the clock winding down, Pwyer attempts a desperation heave to a wide-open Whutuk. But Badhag, coming in on a pressure blitz, jumps up and pulls the ball down, catching his second interception of the season to end the first half!

Second Half:

Still dazed and confused, Earguff remains on the sideline at the start of the second half as the Bashas receive the ball. And, as it turns out, he would never get a chance to return to the game. Enraged fans, unhappy that their favorite Troll isn't on the field, rush the pitch on the opening kickoff, stunning several players from both teams.

The Bashas try a repeat of their first half score, but the normally sure-handed Itsham misses the catch, dropping the ball onto the back of one of the rats and watching it bounce into the open field. The rats waste no time, as the Stormvermin Rhituk picks up the squigskin and advances downfield. Gugfak, with the help of a distraught Itsham, levels Rhituk, putting the ball back onto the turf. Riknast breaks away from double coverage on the far side of the field and sprints over to try and assist in retrieving the ball.

But Knetform the two-headed makes a brilliant play, dodging away from one orc, sliding in to recover the ball, and then spinning, twisting, diving and dodging to find his way through the Bashas defense, avoiding no less than three additional tackles! Riknast shrugs off his blocker, running downfield to make a touchdown-saving tackle on the elusive Gutter Runner. But one of the spikes on his boots catches the ball as as he tries to retrieve it, sending it skittering away from his grasp. Knetform again shows off his skills, dodging one tackle as he picks himself up off the ground and recovers the ball, but despite a heroic effort, the second head doesn't save him this time as Riknast grabs him by the extra neck and hurls the rat to the ground. Riknast makes up for his skills in brutality with a distinct lack of grace, colliding with the ball again, as it rolls to the very edge of the Bashas goal line! But the third time proves to be the charm, as Riknast finally recovers the squigskin and moves it back upfield, away from goal. Several teammates run over to provide assistance and it looks like the Bashas might have a chance to move the length of the field for the winning score.

But noone ever called the Skaven slow, and the rats swarm over the orcs while Breakbang slams into the cage, disrupting it enough to prevent any meaningful advancement. Resigned to a tie game, the Bashas decide to simply break a few heads. But, despite knocking out Knetform, no real injuries are sustained, and the game ends.

Final Score: Bashas 1, SneakyVermin 1

Friday, November 13, 2009

Clomp! League : Season Two, Day Three

On Day Three, the Bashas face off against the Wood Elves of the Tree Rats team, who oddly enough, are 'coached' by a frothing orc they keep in a cage! A bit confused by the situation, but eager to bash in some elf heads, Azh's Bashas crack their knuckles in anticipation of the upcoming carnage.

First Half:

Bashas get the kickoff. The ball sails deep, landing a few feet from the endzone. The violence starts early as Galnak strikes one of the Tree Rat Lineman in the neck, pinching a nerve and sending him off for an extended apothecary visit. But the great Treany Mightbud responds, delivering a knockout blow to one of the Black Orcs. Meanwhile Gugfak, Thrower for the Bashas team, grabs the ball as elven attackers begin to sprint for the backfield. Seeing a clear opening to the Goblin Itsham, he throws a perfect spiral which the goblin fails to catch. Muttering something about a new trophy for his belt, Gugfak quickly runs over and recovers the ball himself, only to be hit in the back with a jarring blow from the Wardancer Mahtalyth, knocking the ball loose. Thatalyth swoops in, grabbing the ball and dropping back before launching a pass over the heads of the defending orcs. But Badhag, star Blizter for the Bashas, makes an astounding leap, latching onto the ball with one grubby paw and ambling for the left sideline, away from the mass of elven players. And though elvish speed proves enough to threaten the Blitzer, they are unable to make a tackle, and he dodges his way into the endzone for the first score of the game.

The Rats receive the ball, loading the right-side of the field for their attack. The ball falls short and the elvish team makes a strong push up the right side, clearing the way for no less than three of their players to slip past the orc line and form a tight wedge. With a mighty scramble and perfectly placed pass, Elvananfel send the ball to the Wardancer Mahtalyth who finds herself with the ball and empty grass ahead. An easy score in the waiting. But the orcs move almost as quickly, swinging around in front of the elf while further upfield Marfak breaks the neck of their star Catcher, Heven. Undeterred, Mahtalyth nimbly dodges through the arms of two orcs and trots in for the tying score.

Second Half:

First possession of the second half goes to the Tree Rats who try a repeat of their previously successful offense. Things start off well as Mightybud sends another Black Orc to the sidelines, but a poor block by one of the elven lineman allows Marfak and Badhag to streak into the backfield and sack the ballcarrier. The squigskin lands in Marfak's hands and he scores without breaking a sweat.

At this point the Tree Rats seemed to become demoralized, cowering in the backfield, leaving only the Treant to bear the brunt of the Bashas defense. Expecting some sort of elvish trickery, the Bashas move tentatively forward. Badhag and Marfak lead the vanguard while Earguff and the Black Orcs swarm Mightybeard, pulling him to the ground and tearing off a few branches. Finally one elf steps forward to pick up the ball and makes a half-hearted throw towards the sideline, but the ball falls from the back of his hand. The Blizter's eyes light up at this sign of life from their opponent, and they rush forward, throwing the elf to the ground as Badhag gathers the ball and bolts right through the middle of the elven parade line for his second score of the day.

But when again the elves simply fall back after the kickoff, the orcs get confused. They seem uncertain as to whether the game had even restarted, and as they mill about in confusion the referee blows the whistle, signaling the end of the match.

Final Score: Bashas 3, Tree Rats 1

Clomp! League : Season Two, Day Two

The reformed Chaos team, Malal'z Marauders, marched into the Basha stadium, eager to meet their foe in an epic clash of strength. And speaking of strength, one Beastman bulged suspiciously with muscle. So much so that Azhog was convinced that some secret chaos mojo had been used to grant him extra power. But nonetheless, the orcs of Azh's Bashas were undaunted and ready for battle themselves.

First Half:
The Bashas win the coin toss and choose to receive. Gugfak fields the ball and pushes straight up the middle with a loose cage of orcs around him. Galnak the Black Orc breaks a hole in the Marauders line, but the Chaos team swiftly responds, hammering the orc defense and pressuring Gugfak. But with a few key blocks, Gugfak breaks free and hands off to Itsham who dodges away from the swinging arms of a snarling Beastman and runs as fast as his little gobo legs will go to reach the endzone, scoring the first (and what would turn out to be the last) touchdown of the game.

With that quick score, the Bashas feel confident as they kick deep. The ball is caught by Thor'nogors the Many-Armed as the front line of the Marauders pushes the orcs back and the hulking Minotaur seriously injures Earguff the Troll. A huge hole is opened in the line with the departure of the Troll, but the Marauders miss their chance to take advantage of it as the Orc Blizters rush over to fill the gaps. Seeing this, the ball carrier bounces out to the right sideline with a solid screen of blockers. But the Black Orcs again respond, slamming into the defending screen and jarring the ball loose. The fighting is fierce. Sorruk the Orc Lineman is KOed. A Beastman by the name of Mashky Pelt is killed by Varag, but a Marauder Shaman quickly runs onto the field and sews the injured player's head back on, though it ends up a being little crooked. The Marauders manage to recover the ball but a fumbled pass and subsequent KO of Crazy Hide by Varag prevents the score as the first half ends.

Second Half:
The second half kickoff begins much like the last. Earguff returns after a hefty dose of smelling salts and immediately gets into a wrestling match with Marauders Minotaur. But the Chaos team tries something different this time. Spikey Pelt catches the ball deep, his hooves on his own endzone. He quickly darts upfield, passing it to Thor'nogors in the middle of the field. Varag again earns his keep, making a key tackle on the ball carrier, but as luck would have it, the squigskin flies up and into the arms of an unsuspecting Bash'gors. The surprised Beastman, wanting nothing to do with the ball, quickly hands it off to Brother Ezekiel, the Chaos Warrior. By this time every player still standing from both teams is involved in the battle for the middle of the field. As the orcs hammer the outside blockers, bodies get thrown around, jostling Brother Ezekiel until he suddenly finds himself shoved from the pack and face to face with the grinning Black Orc line. As the Warrior goes down, the ball slips through the hands of another orc and the battle moves to follow as it rolls towards the sideline.

The Bashas have a chance to advance the ball, but Gugfak makes an ill-advised tackle, resulting in an injury that will keep him out of the rest of the game. Riknast the Orc Blizter picks up the ball, is knocked down, and then proceeds to jump right back up, delivering a game-ending blow to the gut to Bash'gors, sending the unfortunate beast off the field. But as Riknast turns to grab the ball, it slips through his fingers, leaving him vulnerable along the sideline. The Marauders quickly retaliate, sending both Riknast and Gramnast to the bench with injuries and recovering the ball. But in a repeat of the first half ending, Varag Goug'Liver again knocks down the ball carrier and then also breaks the jaw of a second Beastman by the name of Spikey Pelt who was making a desperate, last-ditch effort to gather the ball and attempt a score.

Final Score: Bashas 1, Marauders 0

Friday, October 09, 2009

Clomp! League : Season Two, Day One

The crowds roared for the opening day of Season Two of the Clomp! league. This would be one of the featured matchups of the day, pitting the Lizard team of Bufo Draconis against the Orcs of Azh's Bashas. The two teams had met in Season One, and both teams were eager to prove themselves in the rematch.

First Half:

The Bashas win the coin toss and choose to receive the ball, placing it in the hands of their veteran thrower, Gugfak, who moves upfield as as screen of orcs provide a loose buffer while also attempting to put some hurt on the cold-blooded killers they face. Things start off well when one of the Saurus on the line is knocked out just as the game begins. However, Gugfak underestimates the speed and power of the Saurus, as one of the scaly brutes slides in past a well-timed block and lays Gugfak out, spilling the ball onto the field. An awkward scrum ensues as the Bashas retrieve the ball and continue to advance it in short spurts as the lizards quickly pound Gugfak everytime he gets up. Finally, Ishtam the goblin sneaks into the pile, emerging with ball in hand as he spins away from a tackle. He swiftly cuts back across the field and hands the ball to the Riknast the Blitzer who easily trots in for the first score of the game, and the first of his career.

A riot breaks out in the stands before kickoff, forcing the refs to reset the clock back a few minutes, giving the Draconis team a little extra breathing room before the half ends. And they do their best to take advantage of it, pushing hard along the right side of the field, barely missing the tying score as a last-minute pass falls through the hands of the Skink waiting in the endzone, who ends up being pushed off the field as a result of his mistake and is badly injured by the visibly upset fans.

Second Half:

The second half began with the Bashas kicking off to Bufo Draconis. The Saurus again pile heavily onto the right-hand side of the field, blowing out the Orc Blizters and quickly passing the ball from Skink to Skink, pushing it perilously close to the Bashas goal line in a matter of seconds! The alarmed orcs run over to provide blocking and support as the Blitzer Galth breaks away from the cluthes of the lizards, knocks down the Skink carrier and picks up the ball himself. But the support proved to be too fragile as the Draconis team easily knocks Galth to the turf. The dimunitive Skink Itzi swoops in to grab it, and then cuts back around his blockers before making a short toss to a wide open Xlatilt in the endzone, tying the game at one score apiece in the early stages of the second half.

On the ensuing kickoff, Gugfak again fields the ball and moves up towards the center while the two Blitzers on the right, sprint downfield, rolling over a Skink along the way. Again the Saurus show their speed, though they are unable to get a block on the Gugfak, who nimbly dodges upfield, handing the ball off to Badhag, the leading scorer for the Basha. Badhag races for the left sideline, hoping to put some room between himself and the lizards. But the ever-speedy Skink respond, swarming to the ball like a pack of radbid pirhanas, knocking Badhag down and threatening to take the ball before Orcish reinforcements arrive and push them back. Badhag springs up from the turf and picks up the ball again, falling back behind a screen of orcs. But the Draconis team is short-handed at this point, and with all their heavy-hitters tied up in center field, a single punishing block along the sideline allows Badhag to slip through the gap and into the endzone, bringing the score to 2-1 in the Bashas favor.

As the game begins to wind down, the Draconis return to their tried and true formula, but an unexpected fumble slows them down just enough for the Bashas to respond, blocking that side of the field and forcing the lizards into a melee that they have trouble winning. Marfak puts the finishing touches on the game as he forces a fumble and then trips up another Skink who tries to recover it. A few uneventful fistfights break out as the whistle blows to end the game.

Final Score: Bashas 2, Draconis 1

Clomp! League: Season Two, Intro

After a short hiatus, the league reforms for Season Two. Several coaches decide to cut their losses and pick new teams to play with, while a number of new coaches flock to sign up, having heard of the potential glory waiting for them in the trenches of the Clomp! league!

It was decided that new teams could play up to five games before Season Two started, to catch up with the teams that were returning from Season One. Unfortunately had one sneaky coach who crossed the line, somehow filling up his dwarf team with all level 3 players who had somehow scored 29 (!?!) touchdowns over 5 games, with all of the Star Player Points being evenly spread through all of his dwarves! Needless to say, this coach was booted from the league and will not be allowed to join again!

Season Two saw an expansion of the league to 20 teams. Below is a list of the teams participating in Season Two.

Returning Teams:
Blood Fang Boyz (Orc)
Azh's Bashas (Orc)
Ground Round (Dwarf)
Plaguebringaz (Skaven)
Altdorf Avengers (Human)
Bufo Draconis (Lizard)

New Teams:
The Dance of Death (Chaos)
Rodentswarm (Skaven)
Doom-Sayers (Chaos)
Zerkr'z (Orc)
Earthweavers (Wood Elf)
Children of Sand (Lizard)
Black Blood Passers (Dwarf)
Da Mork-Muun Nite-Gobbo'z (Goblin)
Eight Arrows of Doom (Chaos)
Nurgle's Pathogens (Chaos)
Waterdeep Warriors (Human)
Tree Rats (Wood Elf)
Malal'z Marauders (Chaos)
SneakyVermin (Skaven)

Read the full post for links to individual match recaps.

Day One - Bufo Draconis
Day Two - Malal'z Marauders
Day Three - Tree Rats
Day Four - SneakyVermin
Day Five - Waterdeep Warriors
Day Six - Plaguebringaz
Day Seven - Blood Fang Boyz
Day Eight - Ground Round (No show by the Dwarf team, so no writeup)
Day Nine - The Altdorf Avengers

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two Things I Learned While Modding Civilization IV

I recently delved into the world of modding. To be more specific, I started designing and coding a minor mod for the Civ IV mod, Fall from Heaven II. It is a small, simple mod whose only purpose is to check the terrain around a city when a unit is built. There is a small chance that the unit will receive a special, bonus promotion that increases their strength in that terrain.

A couple of interesting things I found out while trying to get my mod to work.

1) Hills and Peaks are not terrain in Civ IV. They are actually considered Plot Types, a distinction they share with water and flat land. Then, on top of that, you have the Terrain (grass, plains, etc), and on top of that you have Features such as Forest. And then Resources and Improvements fit in there somehow as well! It's a much more complex system than I had expected and it took me a while to track down the simple fact that Hills and Peaks are Plots, not Terrain!

2) Most of the art files are hidden, packed away in a special format that requires you to use a special extracting program to access them. And then some of the art files are packed even further, put into large sheets of graphic images with dozens or hundreds of other images!

Despite this weirdness, all in all, Civ IV is a very mod-friendly program. Most of the game is controlled via a system of exposed xml and python files. Easy to edit for even a novice programmer such as myself. And the community on the Civ Fanatics forums are very helpful about answering questions.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Five

On the final day of the season, Azh's Bashas eagerly awaited the arrival of the elven team, Errandir's Earthweavers.

And waited.

And waited some more.

The Orcs, not overly known for their patience, began to get restless as the minutes ticked by and no sign of the elven team was seen. Coach Azhog tried to keep them focused on the upcoming game, but the Bashas began to brawl with each other. After a while, Azhog gave up and with a loud WAAAGH!, the entire team charged off to find some stunties to bash.

Battered and tired, the Bashas returned to the stadium to surprisingly find the elven team waiting for them. After some quick preparation on both sides, the game begins!

First Half:

Kickoff goes to the Bashas. Things look good at the start. Not only was the elven captain forced to pay several mercenary players to join his team, but in the opening minutes, Earguff the Troll lashes out and injures an elven lineman, sending him to the sidelines for the rest of the game.

Gugfak grabs the loose ball and dodging a pair of aggressive Wardancers, makes a beautiful throw to the goblin Ishtam.

But then a bad block by Badhag that results in him lying stunned on the turf, leaving a wide gap in the line that the elves quickly exploit. As their lineman converge on the goblin, Ulviir'nor, their star Wardancer, leaps over a defender and kicks Ishtam in the back, jarring the ball loose. The Wardancer smoothly snags the ball, dodges a tackle and sprints for the center of the field! The orcs quickly respond, taking the ball from Ulviir'nor and passing it to the Blitzer Galth. Leaving a swath of elven bodies on the turf, the Bashas push straight up the middle and score the first touchdown of the match.

On the ensuing kickoff, a riot in the stands spills over onto the field. By the time things get sorted out the half is over.

Second Half:

An even bigger riot breaks out at the start of the second half. This time, Marfak is sent to the turf, which leaves a wide-open lane down the sideline that the mercenary Wardancer takes advantage of, thanks in no small part to a short kick. In a burst of speed, he nearly reaches the endzone but a desperation charge by the Orc thrower Gugfak, breaks his jaw and sends the ball flying off the side of the field. Unfortunately, the throwback lands on the goal line and Ulviir'nor quickly scoops it up and scores, tying the game.

The Bashas are never able to recover from that bad luck, and as they try and push upfield for the winning score after the final kickoff, Badhag is knocked out and Ishtam badly hurt. Unable to get a solid advantage on the speedy elves, Gugfak makes a risky burst for the goal. But again the Wardancers respond, stunning him with a solid blow and covering the ball for the remainder of the half, content to leave the field with a tie game and most of their players intact.

Final Score: Bashas 1, Earthweavers 1

Around the League:
Season One closes out with a bang as three teams finish without a loss, garnering three wins and two draws each. The final match of the season turns out to be the deciding factor, as the Blood Fang Boyz chalk up their fourth win against the Facesmashaz to walk away with the trophy, despite having lost to the dwarves of Ground Round on day two (wins are worth three points while draws are only worth one)!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Four

In a clash of titans, two undefeated teams meet in what is sure to be a battle royale as Azh's Bashas take on the Stormvald Horde led by Anar the Terrible!


In a deep rugged canyon, covered in effigies of Gork and Mork, the two undefeated teams of Division Two squared off. The Chaos Warriors and Beastman of the Stormvald Horde gestured across the field at the Orcs of Azh's Bashas, who spurred the home crowd to newfound heights of enthusiasm, noise and carnage!

But the homefield advantage backfired when coach Azhog got distracted signing autographs before the game, resulting in the Bashas assuming a defensive formation when they were on the receiving end of the kickoff!

First Half:

With many players in less-than-ideal positions, Marfak the Blizter dashes over to grab the ball, only to have it taken from him by the orc thrower Gugfak. This initial confusion led to a quick push and blitz up the middle by the Chaos Warriors of Stormvald. One plucky young lineman by the name of Hysh not only gets the sack, but recovers the fumble and rumbles downfield towards the endzone, sure that he is going to score the first touchdown of what is sure to be an illustrious career. The orc blitzers double-time it back upfield, Badhag shadowing Hysh and catching one foot of the runner just before he crosses the goal line. It looks like things might be turning in the other direction, but as bodies fly and everyone scrambles for the ball, Gnar'nogor the Beastman, leading scorer for the Horde, easily snags it from the turf and slips into the endzone for the first score of the game!

The Bashas get the ball back with only a few minutes left in the half. This time they have the right formation in place, and as the lineman Gramnast clears the way, Badhag streaks down the field, catching a pass from Gugfak and sprinting into the endzone to tie things up. There is only enough time on the clock for the ensuing kickoff, so the Chaos Warriors take out some of their aggression on Gorfang, knocking the Black Orc out cold as the whistle blows to end the first half.

Second Half

The second half sees the Stormvald beastman fielding a short kick and forming a tight wedge on the left side of the field. The Bashas move to block, though an untimely knockout on the Black Orc Varag allows the Horde to move upfield and threaten to score again. But once again the blizters rally, laying several hard hits on the lead blockers, pushing the entire box backwards several yards. Marfak in particular earns his paycheck, seriously injuring one Beastman and killing another who was only saved by the timely (and successful) intervention of the team Apothecary!

The battle goes back and forth, injuries mounting on both sides as the Horde tries to surge forward and the Bashas repeatedly throw both themselves, and their unconcious opponents, in the way of the ball carrier. Even the Warriors and Black orcs get in on the action, leaving a befuddled Earguff standing in the middle of the field by himself. The ball switches hands several times, but for the most part, the beastman keep a tight grip on the squig-skin, frustrating the orc's attempts to recover it and clear a ball carrier from the scrum.

As the end of the game draws nigh, the beatings take their toll and the Stormvald Horde can only keep five men on the pitch to the Bashas eight. But nonetheless, they still have a chance to score up until the final moments, but an inspired tackle by one of the orc lineman again saves the day.

Exhausted and battered, both teams hobble to their respective locker rooms, feeling blessed to have come out of the meat grinder with a tie score without any permanent injuries.

Final Score: Bashas 1, Stormvald 1

Around the League:

Lord Malal's Marauders again have trouble holding onto the ball as the Orc Blizters from the Blood Fang Boyz rumble over them for a final score of 3-0.

The Avenger Ogre Borgrut again has an outstanding day, accumulating three casualties and two deaths against the battered Earthweavers. Final score is 3-1, with the lone elven touchdown coming courtesy of their star Wardancer, Ulviir'nor.

The Horned Herd battle the Plaguebringaz to a 1-1 tie game, while Ground Round and the Facesmashaz game ends with the same score.

The other elven team, the Timberland Treehuggers, also contending with numerous injuries, fight tooth and nail but lose to Bufo Draconis despite a last second touchdown run. Final Score: 2-1

In the final match of the season, the Bashas do battle with Errandir's Earthweavers.

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Three

In Day Three of Season One, the undefeated Bashas face off against the lizardmen of Bufo Draconis.

First Half:

The Bashas get the ball to begin the game. Their thrower, Gugfak, grabs the ball off the turf and moves up the center of the field, looking to the left side where the Black Orc Galnak Break'zom is busy knocking a little Skink to the ground. The Orcs rumble forward and with a sharp, angry hiss, the Lizards of Bufo Draconis move to meet them, swinging the bulk of their team towards the left. One lone Sauros charges the Orc Blizter Marfak who has slipped downfield on the right and is looking back over his shoulder for a pass. Spotting the charging Saurus, Badhag stiffarms the lizardman, just as Gugfak sees him open and makes a risky throw. But the gamble pays off, and Marfak catches the ball in stride, scoring the first touchdown of the game before either team has even begun to warm up.

The Orcs kick off and the Skinks grab the ball and make a move up the right sideline, with the beastly Kroxigor Krokquetli leading the way. The Bashas charge in, expecting to bulldoze over the defenders as they had against their previous opponents this season. But the Saurus are as tough and mean as the Black Orcs, and the Bashas find themselves on the losing end of a vicious melee. Falling back a bit to recover, the Orcs try and block all the open lanes to the endzone. But the Skinks slip through, dodging the arms and legs of the orcs. And with a quick handoff along the way, the Draconis waltz into the endzone, scoring a touchdown of their own to tie up the game!

The third kickoff of the first half sees the lizards in a defensive holding pattern. But the Bashas rip up their standard playbook, opting for some razzle-dazzle. Gugfak runs to midfield and makes a short toss to the goblin Itsham, who dashes farther upfield before handing the ball to Marfak, who streaks down the sideline, scoring a touchdown!

The first half closes out as a little Skink by the name of Uazshix slips on the blood-stained turf and knocks himself out. Score at halftime is 2-1 in the Bashas favor.

Second Half

Receiving the kickoff to begin the second half, the Draconis team opts for a different strategy, giving the ball to the brute, Krokquetli, as the Skinks and Saurus form a protective perimeter. Again an ugly brawl starts on the sideline, with several players from both sides hitting the turf.

Darting through the confusion, the sneaky Skinks repeatedly stab the legs and other exposed bodyparts of the Basha team in an attempt to distract them from the ball carrier! Fortunately for the Orcs, the Krokigor gets overly confused and spends several minutes staring at the ball in his hands.

Damage is dealt out to both teams. Both Sorruk and Gorfang from the Bashas are KOed. A Skink is thrown out of bounds into the waiting arms of the fans. Blood and sweat flies through the air as each team attempts to find some leverage in the chaos. Krokquetli finally wakes up and makes a cut back to the other side of the field while still holding the ball. The Orc Blitzers and Black Orcs swarm the beast and make a tackle as Badhag fractures the skull of a nearby Skink. Marfak slips in past the geat Krokigor, snags the ball, dodges the fleshy tail as it swipes at his head, and finds his way the endzone for his second score of the evening!

At this point, the game was decided. There was no time for Bufo Draconis to score two touchdowns. So what had been a very thinly disguised fight became all out war as the lizards swarmed over the Black Orcs and Troll, trying their best to find a weak point for their slender shivs and claws. Galnast Eat'Ch'Ya suffers a broken neck as he tries to throw the Skinks off his back, but despite several more stuns and knockouts, no other major injuries occur as the referee calls an end to the game.

Final Score: Bashas 3, Draconis 1

Around the League:

Borgrut Lucky continues his reign of terror, seriously injuring a Treeman and killing an elvish Thrower as the Altdorf Avengers end the game tied 2-2 against the Timberland Treehuggers.

Thanks to the fumble-fingered Chaos Warriors, the Facesmashaz pull off a 1-0 victory over Lord Malal's Marauders.

In a matchup of wounded teams, the Blood Fang Boyz recover from their beating of the previous day and win 2-0 versus the Horned Herd despite a groin injury to their troll in the latter part of the game.

Ground Round defeats the Plaguebringaz 3-1 and Stormvald Horde pummels the Earthweavers 2-0.

On Day Four, the Bashas collide with the Stormvald Horde.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Two

Matchup: Azh's Bashas (Orc) vs the Timerbland Treehuggers (Wood Elf)

In a suspicious set of coincidences, both an Orc Blizter and the sole Thrower for the elven team suffer training mishaps right before the start of the match. The Bashas calls heads (of course), but the Treehuggers win the toss, electing to receive the opening kickoff.

1st Half:

In a move that was to set the tone for the entire game, right as the whistle blew to start the game, Mightybud, the Treeant lineman for the Treehuggers, misunderstood his orders and attempted to make an ill-advised dodge through the line of scrimmage. This did not turn out well, as Eargruff, the Basha Troll, threw him to the ground, where he would remain for the entire first half.

Deprived of any sort of heavy defense in the middle, the Treehugger pocket, with Wardancer Mahtalyth carrying the ball, decided to move up the left side in a tight formation. They quickly found themselves beset by the Black Orcs and blocked by lineman and blitzers, but their cage held strong against the first assault. And with a nifty pass back to Heven, their up and coming catcher prodigy, they made a sudden and decisive strike for the endzone. Heven cut back across the field, passing several startled orcs along the way. Two teammates followed close behind him as the quickest orcs bolted down the field to try and prevent the score. One lone Orc lineman by the name of Surrock, playing a deep defense, sprints between the goal line and Heven, delivering a solid shoulder tackle at the speedy elf, which Heven neatly dodges. However, that dodge puts him in reach of several other orcs. One of the quicker elves shifts to the outside, sliding into the endzone behind the defense as Heven makes a desperation throw. Surrok, however, is not to be denied, and he reaches out and plucks the ball from the air before it has hardly left the elf's hand.

What proceeds after that is a running melee up the right sideline, with players on both sides going down left and right, and the ball switching hands several times, but steadily moving towards the Treehugger's goal. Earguff delivers the first casualty of the game, as he brings his oversized paws down on the head of the unfortunate lineman, Al 'Anur, who dies instantly as the Mighty Blow cracks his helmet apart in a burst of splinters!

But elvish hardiness is little match for orcish strength, and as the injuries mount for the Treehuggers, the ball bounces out of bounds and is thrown back to the other side of the scrum. The goblin Itsham, in his debut appearance, emerges from the chaos, ball in hand as he cuts across to the opposite side of the field, sprinting for the touchdown in the final seconds of the half.

2nd Half:

The elves had fought a tough and hard battle to try and stop the lone touchdown of the first half, and their team had paid the price. The Treehuggers already seemed defeated, for they could only field seven players. And even worse, they had to kickoff to the Bashas to get the half started.

The elves played a defensive setup, with five players deep. Gugfak picked up the ball and moved forward while the blitzers charged downfield and the Black Orcs surrounded Mightybud after knocking out the other linemen. But despite being outnumbered, alone and surrounded, the Treeant stood firm against several poundings. Perhaps his extended rest in the first half had given him renewed strength for the second.

Gugfak weaves back and forth for a few seconds, unsure of what the elves are planning. He knows that they are both sneaky and swift. He finally spots a sure opening and sprints forward, shoving the ball into the waiting hands of Ishtam who has an open lane at the goal and an assured second touchdown for the game. But the goblin fumbles the ball, allowing one of the Treehugger Wardancers to move forward and pick it up. He then tosses it back towards the other defenders, hoping for a little razzle-dazzle, but the catch is botched, leaving the ball sitting in the Treehugger endzone. With the help of a teammate, one of the Basha Blizters pushes the other Wardancer out of the way, and pounces on the ball, making the score 2 to 0 in favor of the Bashas with only a little time left on the clock.

In the waning moments of the game, the elf catcher Elvanhanfel makes a bold run up the middle, sprinting past several blockers, only to trip on his own shoelaces and break a collarbone. Gugfak makes a quick grab and a terrific downfield throw to one of the Blitzers, but time expires before he can score another touchdown for the Bashas.

Final Score: Bashas 2, Treehuggers 0

Around the League:

Strength prevails over quickness this week, as both Wood Elf teams and the lone Skaven team of the league suffer lost games and numerous injuries. Errandir's Earthweavers are only able to field four conscious players by the end of their game against the lizardmen of Bufo Draconis.

In a battle between the followers of Chaos, Lord Malals' Marauders bested the Horned Herd by a score of 1-0 and left one of the Herd's Beastmen lying broken on the pitch.

The Dwarven juggernaut of Ground Round rolls over the Blood Fang Boyz, winning by a score of 2-1 and leaving no less than four orcs out of action for their next game.

Borgrut Lucky, the oft-confused Ogre Lineman for the Altdorf Avengers, has a short moment of glory where he actually picks up the ball and hands it to a teammate, but such heroics were not enough as the Avengers lost to the Stormvald Horde with a final score of 1-0.

On Day Three, the Bashas meet up with the lizardmen of Bufo Draconis

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day One

Here is a recounting of the first game of rookie coach Azhog's career as he takes Azh's Bashas into a game against the human team of the Altdorf Avengers!

The night sweated with excitement as the crowd awaited the start of one of the most anticipated matches of the day.

Azh, coach of the Bashas, knew more about smashing stuntie heads than he did about the game of Blood Bowl, but he figured some of his bashing skills would come in handy. His team consisted of Earguff the Troll, four hulking Black Orcs, four swift and deadly Blitzers, one Orc with an oversized arm, Ishtam the Goblin, and several Orc Grunts to fill out the roster.

The human team marched into the converted dwarf fortress as the sound of the Greenskin drums filled the air. Their square jaws set tight, the torchlight glinting from their beady eyes, the humans were here for business. The humans themselves were hard to tell apart, but there was no mistaking the sight of the hulking Ogre brute in an Avengers uniform. He would make it tough for the Bashas to dominate the center.

The Bashas got to pick the coin flip, and Azh chose heads (heads are always good), winning the toss and choosing to receive.

First Half:

The Bashas set up a strong front line, bringing the Gugfak the Thrower up to handle the ball duties. But the humans were fast and wily. Several slipped through the line, easily sacking the hapless orc thrower and retrieving the ball. But the quarters were tight. There was an immediate fight for the ball as bodies flew in and out of the pile, the ball tumbling across the stone floor. Suddenly, one lineman bolted out of the scrum, ball in hand, preparing a throw to a lone blitzer who waited downfield, sure of the imminent touchdown. But in his excitement, he failed to hold on to the ball, and it slipped from the back of his hand, hitting the turf with a solid thud. But he quickly turned around as a Black Orc clotheslined a human blitzer who was rushing for the ball, scooped the ball from the ground, swung around to the blitzer and shoved the ball into his hands. The touchdown came moments later as the Greenskins burst into frenized cheers.

With a little less than half of the first half to play, the human team prepared to try and get a score of their own. After the kickoff, the humans gathered into a tight knot and pushed at the right side of the field.

The Bashas formed a protective pocket, seeking to prevent any sudden runs for the endzone while knocking down anyone they could. Taking a gamble, a lone orc blitzer swooped from the sidelines around the back of the human's formation, knocking the ball carrier to the ground. The ball popped loose, squirted between the tackler's legs and further backfield. Another blitzer rounded the corner and snagged up the ball, but there was not enough time to run for a score. The halftime whistle blew just as the Ogre and Troll headbutted each other and both fell unconscious to the turf.

Second Half:

Again a kickoff to the human team. This time they elected to charge up the left side. The ball carrier moving quickly to knock defenders out of the way as his entourage provided cover. But again, it was the Orc Blitzers who made the difference, putting on full steam to come around the front and put a solid shoulder into the carrier, knocking him to the ground and sending the ball into the stands. Unfortunately, an overzealous gobo in the crowd overthrew the nearby Orc Blitzer, the ball tumbling into the Bashas endzone! Letting out a Waaagh!, a lineman, the only Orc near the ball, ran as fast as his legs would carry him, reaching the ball after several agonizing seconds and turning back upfield, looking to dump the ball off to a speedy Blitzer as soon as he could.

Meanwhile, the Black Orcs, with support from Earguff the Troll, turned from the center of the field, hitting the knot of human players and driving them towards the sidelines. The fighting was brutal, with several KOs on both sides and more than one player thrown out of bounds to the not-so-tender mercies of the fans. But the Orcs held, preventing the humans from breaking free.

The Avenger Ogre, usually a stalwart in the center of the field, had first forgot what he was doing for a while, then proceeded to take on a lone Black Orc and perform a repeat of the finale of the first half, leaving both players stunned as the Basha ball carrier trotted unimpeded up the sideline. The Ogre somehow pulled his bulk off the gound and even started to make a dash for the surprised and alarmed orc! But, as players and coaches alike screamed curses and instructions, he stopped suddenly, picking at his belly to extract some bit of unidentifiable gunk, and then happily eat it as he looked around to see what all the noise was about.

The Bashas continued down the sideline, rejoicing in their second touchdown of the evening. Some time remained on the clock, but the the game was effectively over by that point. Though one of the goblin shaman did cast a last-minute curse during the kickoff, causing a fumble by the normally sure-handed human thrower. The Orc Blitzers salivated in anticipation of another quick score, but in the excitement of the moment, the little shaman forgot to remove the spell, and a series of fumbles by the orc players closed out the game.

Final Score: Bashas 2, Avengers 0

Around the League

In other non-Basha news, this week saw the two Wood Elf teams meet in a head-to-head match. The result was an embarrassing 3-0 loss by the Treehuggers as the wardancers of Errandir's Earthweavers ran around, through and over the more pass-oriented teams.

A beastman of the Stormvald Horde was killed in their match against the lizards of Bufo Draconis.

On Day Two, Azh's Bashas square off against the Wood Elves of the Timberland Treehuggers.

Clomp! Blood Bowl League - Inaugural Season

Shadowclan has been hosting a small Blood Bowl League for the past few weeks. The name of the league is Clomp! and I will be recounting the exploits of my team, Azh's Bashas with some additional commentary on results from the other teams in the league.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fallen Earth Beta - Initial Impressions: Part II

Follow the link below for my further thoughts and experiences in the Fallen Earth beta.

My Kingdom for a Horse

So here I was, still at Embry Crossroads. I had completed a good portion of the quests in the area, but my main focus was on crafting, and that semi-confusing, overly-complex system had taken most of my time and all of my chips (which is the currency used in Fallen Earth). But it was time to move on, and there was no way I was going to cross the barren, scarred wasteland on foot. I needed one of them horses that it seemed everyone else already owned. But the various parts needed to 'craft' a horse, as well as acquire the necessary training manual, would cost me several of the larger size chips.

Well I didn't have much cash, but I did have a ton of crafting materials in my various bank vaults. I figured that I would just see what I could make, and then sell the resulting product to an NPC vendor for a nice profit. What proceeded from there was an odd little dance I had with myself and the various merchants. I would look for items I could craft where I already had most of the ingredients, purchasing the missing parts, then selling the resulting end-product. Sometimes I netted a few chips, other times I lost some. I didn't seem to be getting anywhere closer to acquiring a horse. So I opened up my vault with all my food-type resources and took everything out. With only a few minor purchases, I soon had a good dozen items queued up for cooking. As these foodstuffs were busy percolating in my pack, I poked around to see if I could secure some other parts I needed. Luck was with me that day, for I found a rusty car outside of town that yielded no less than eight scarp fasteners (which are used often and are also relatively expensive to purchase from the NPC vendors).

While on these excursions, I was also trying to fill out some gaps in my crafting knowledge, namely ammo for my revolver! I finally located the ballistics trainer, and also figured out what skill book I needed to purchase. Aha! It turned out that actually crafting the ammo was an easy task, using fairly common materials, so I soon had enough ammo to last me for a while, especially since I had begun using a sword as my main weapon.

After much brewing, grilling and preserving, I managed to sell enough cooked goods to gather the necessary cash to purchase the horse materials. I completed the horse-training recipe, and voila, there she was! I hopped on and took her out for a spin. It was a sweet ride, one that I wish I had gotten much earlier. And even better, the horse comes with its own pack slots! My mission completed, it was time to move on. I had a couple of quests directing me to Oilville, which was just a short jaunt to the north, and so to Oilville I went!

The Bustling Metropolis of Oilville

I thought that Embry Crossroads was a happening place, but Oilville was even more active. More players, more quests, and a token system for acquiring gear. A number of quests around town gave out special 'gears' as reward. These gears could then be turned into an NPC just outside of town for various armor and weapons. I took a glance at what was offered and realized that what I already had was equivalent or slightly better than what they offered. I guess all of that time spent on crafting had paid off after all!

So I begun the great quest project, cleaning out sandworms, assaulting raider camps, and various other odd jobs around town. Not far from town I ran across a few foes on the road, so I jumped off my horse and waded into the slaughter, patting myself on the back for a job well done. But then I turned around and witnessed a horrifying sight! My horse lay dead on the ground!! I'm not sure what happened, but a CoG (one of the enemy factions) was wandering around nearby, whistling innocently. My vengeance was both swift and deadly. I took a look at my preciously acquired horse, hoping that there was some way to revive it but I quickly realized that I had no veterinary skills. Luckily, by this time, I had more than enough chips from completing quests. So I hoofed it back into town and went over to the stables area to see what my options were and to train a new horse if need be. But I noticed that the stable master had an option for 'towing' my horse. It only cost a single chip, so I gave it a shot. It seemed to work as I then had the option of removing the horse from the stable. Would it be whole and healthy? Unforunately not. Instead I was suddenly presented with the corpse of my equine companion being tossed at my feet. Hmmm... that wasn't quite what I had expected. On to the trainer, where I picked up a vet book. Sure enough, the repair skill worked and my faithful mount was soon back in action!

So I booked around the Oilville area for a while, completing numerous quests and shooting up through levels 7 and 8 very quickly. Focusing on the quests also rewarded me with lots of money as well as the experience gains. I was well on my way to level 10 when the closed beta ended, having gained 2 & 1/2 levels with only a few hours of gameplay after leaving Embry Crossroads.

At one point I had a number of fedex-type missions to a nearby town of Kingman, so I hopped on my trusty steed and rode over there, encountering a large camp of bandits who had taken over the main highway along the way, and spotting an imposing structure on a hill in the distance. As it turned out, this was the infamous Kingman Prison, and the local townspeople had plenty of killing that wanted me to take care of for them inside. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much more beyond riding around the outside, but it is a very impressive structure that can be seen from miles away. I believe this is the first major instance/dungeon in the game and it's domination of the local skyline really drew my attention and fostered a desire to see what was inside.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Horses are great! I like that they have a 'fuel' meter that needs to be replenished. But it seems to be a large enough pool that it wont be a constant maintenance chore. Their extra pack space is a nice addition, and the fact that they can be killed adds another point for realism (though it's absurdly easy to 'tow' and revive them afterwords). One side effect of the fuel meter for horses, is that players tend to park them in town rather than riding them everywhere, including inside buildings. This little touch of seeing several horses lined up outside of various buildings really helps to give Fallen Earth that feeling that it is something special. But of course, once the teeming masses hit the game, I suspect that people will be more than happy to ride their horses up and down the stairs rather than leaving them outside.

I am a little worried about buffs. It seems that there are quite a lot. Even with my newbie self I can eat, drink and take painkillers, all of which provide a 30-60 minute buff, and then on top of that, I have two mutation powers that provide more temporary buffs. I've heard that following a mutation path in character development will open up even more buff options. One player on the forums said that he generally has 17 buffs going at the same time! This is a bad trend for several reasons. 1) Reapplying multiple buffs is a pain, 2) When you start stacking buffs on buffs, at some point they become required in order to compete with other players, 3) its just confusing and hard to keep track of when you have a dozen little buff icons with various effects.

I've also heard rumor (though it should be taken with a grain of salt as I haven't experienced the clan or faction systems yet), that player clans have no faction restrictions. If true, this is a huge blow to the PvP potential of the game and kind of destroys the point of even having factions in the first place, especially if players can teach the faction-specific recipes to other players.

The game does have an auction house, but there was almost nothing for sale. But that's pretty typical for test/beta servers, so I not worried about the lack of auction activity. But given the crafting-oriented nature of the game it will be interesting to see how the economy develops once it goes live.

I never had a chance to experience any PvP in my time in the Fallen Earth world. At one point during my wanderings, I did have a message flash on my screen that I was entering a PvP area, but there was noone else around, and I wasn't even sure what it was that made this a PvP area, as there didn't seem to be anything interesting or useful in sight. But, from what I understand, there is no open PvP in the game. There are 'conflict' towns, but apparently not a whole lot of PvP actually happens there, though that might be due to the beta mentality. It sounds like this part of the game hasn't really been fleshed out. Hopefully that is something the devs will work on in the near future.


And that's pretty much it for my gametime in beta. Though I found the game difficult to get involved in initially, once I passed that first invisible hurdle, I began to enjoy it a lot more. I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'll make the purchase for launch. I have several other games awaiting my attention, including a Blood Bowl league and guild leadership in Warhammer Online.

I suspect that this is one of those games that will have a rocky launch and a lot of mediocre reviews, but given the chance, it has enough potential to develop into an engaging MMO with a unique niche. There does seem to be plenty to do in the starting zone, but those who prefer racing to the endgame will probably end up bitter and disappointed.

So, if you enjoy crafting and are willing to deal with various UI issues and a semi-clutzy combat system, then this is probably a game that you will enjoy. If you're a PvE-raider type, or someone looking for fun, meaningful PvP, then you probably won't find enough entertainment in Fallen Earth. If you're just looking for something different from the saturated fantasy market, then I recommend giving the beta a whirl to see if the game catches your attention, though I do suggest that you give it enough time to get out of the starter towns and into the wider world before passing judgment.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fallen Earth Beta - Initial Impressions: Part I

I have been in the Fallen Earth beta for about a month. Unfortunately, due to other distractions, my time in game was relatively limited. However, I have written up my initial impressions about the game, which you can find below. This is Part I, which covers levels 1-7. I'll have a 2nd post about my time after that (levels 7 - almost 10), as well as a general summary that will go up within a day or so.

Click the link to see my commentary and thoughts.

I decided to approach this game as a complete newbie (aside from my 10 years of general MMO experience). I knew it was a sci-fi post-apocalyptic setting. I knew that it was supposed to have factions that affected gameplay as well as an extensive crafting system. Other than that, it was a blank slate for me. I hadn't read any forums or guides or previews. I had been playing Fallout 3, however, so I figured I was in the right mood for this sort of fare. Commentary and direct recountings of my experiences from levels 1 to 7 are below.

Initial Experience

Right off the bat I ran into lots of issues with logging in and the weird, confusing NDA acceptance scheme (which has hopefully been fixed. Finally, I was able to create a character and enter the world, but alas, my first experiences in-game were not positive ones.

First off, the User Interface is very clunky. I had hoped that we were past the days of static, graphic-fluff heavy UIs that take up lots of screenspace. But apparently not. It's nice that the inventory and crafting windows are movable, but oddly, some of the basic UI elements are not only stuck in place, but also can't be resized. *sigh* Please don't rely on third-party mods to make your UI malleable.

Moving past that, I then found the opening tutorial to be extremely uninteresting. So much so, that I basically had to force myself to play the game. I can't really pinpoint what it was about the tutorial that left me with such a feeling of ennui, but I suggest that the devs take a long hard look at revamping it, because if its the first thing that players encounter, you will likely lose a lot before they even taste what this game is about. Of course, this was several months ago. I don't know if the newbie tutorial experience has been changed at all since I went through it, but this is a vital part of the game experience. Especially if you want to attract more than a niche, experienced MMO veteran crowd.

So I let my beta account languish for a couple of weeks, and the next time I logged in, my character was gone. I assumed that there had been a server wipe and I quickly threw together a new character, opting out of the tuorial this time around. Instead I went straight to the starter town of Mumford. I was going to try my hand at crafting! So I wandered into town and found a few quests waiting for me, including a crafting quest! But I ran into a roadblock as I was trying to make the two Ragged Black T-shirts to fulfill the job requirements. I didn't have enough cotton! (at the time, I wasn't aware that there were fields of it scattered around the countryside). So I spent a lot of time scavenging through garbage, hoping to find that random bit of fabric that would help me craft the shirt.

Scavenging is an interesting skill. You can get almost any item from scavenging. And there seems to be all sorts of rubbish lying around just waiting for me to come along and comb through it. I even dug through the pockets of an unburied corpse in the much too tiny graveyard right outside of town. Noone seemed to mind.

Finally, as I was searching through yet another rubbish pile, what did I see? It was a Ragged Black t-shirt! Sure it may have had a few soup stains on it, but it was still usable. Glancing around to make sure no one saw me, I quickly dusted it off and placed it in my pack. Hopefully they wouldn't be able to tell that I had just picked this one up from the garbage rather than making it myself? Sure enough, they didn't.

While that was a fun adventure, the thrill of collecting wore off and I wasn't really learning much in the ways of crafting. And then one day, I ran up against a quest that I just couldn't seem to complete. A fellow on a rooftop wanted me to deliver a bottle of booze to someone. After I spent 10 minutes running around (several different times), unable to find the person in question (and yes, I did have quest tracking turned on for this quest), I just said screw it, and left the starter town to head out for parts unknown, figuring I could at least see some scenery before I put this game down for good. I wandered the countryside, gathering resources and avoiding mobs until I stumbled across the town of Embry Crossroads. Suddenly, the entire game changed for me. There were lots of quests, crafting trainers and suppliers of all kinds, abundant resources around the town, a bank, an auction house and other players! NOW, I feel like I'm in an MMO. This was the turning point for me. I suddenly became interested and enamored of the game. If I hadn't forced myself to play to this point, and then made a sudden decision to wander away from the starter town without prompting, I probably would have put this game away and never looked at it again.


Anyway, finally out into the world, and feeling rejuvenated and more interested in the game overall, it was time for some serious work. I had wanted to focus on the crafting system first, and so I did. I made many trips around the outskirts of town, gathering anything and everything I could find. I picked up a couple of crafting quests from the locals, the first couple focusing on food preparation. I ended up learning the intricacies of grilling, stewing, preserving, as well as how to make butter and jars of grease. Armed with cheap booze and grilled chicken (prarie chicken that is), I set off for further adventures, finishing up a couple of nearby kill quests while pursuing scrap metals and fasteners (and I heard many a folk cursing about the lack of fasteners in global chat) so that I could make armor, knives, and eventually, my own zip gun.

I really like the detailed and complex crafting system, though it would definitely be nice to clean it up a bit. For one, why do we even have extra sections for additional tiers (IE Shoes 1, Shoes 2, Shoes 3). Can't we just put them all under one category: 'Shoes'? And then within the sections, the order that items are listed in makes little sense. Having the skill books clog up my Shoe list also detracts from the crafting experience.

I would suggest moving ALL the skill books into their own tab. That way if I want to create a skill book, I can go to the book section. If I want to craft an item, I can go to the appropriate section and not have it cluttered with books. It would also be nice to have subcategories of the same type merge together. So instead of having separate sections for Shoes 1, Shoes 2, Shoes 3, etc section, there would simply be Shoes, and as I learned more Shoe recipes, they would all fall under that same section, ordered by skill level (though a couple of different sort options would also be helpful). Makes for a much more streamlined, intuitive and easy-to-use system.

I do appreciate that part of the reason for all the crafting complexity is to force people to specialize. In my time focused on crafting I learned the arts of harvesting copper, plants, animals and mutants, crafting melee weapons (knives, tools, etc), ballistics (including guns, gun parts and ammo), armor (shoes, shirts, pants, hats, boots, jackets and more!), scientific items (acids, dyes and gunpowder), medical supplies (bandages and anti-venoms), food and drink, and finally, horse-taming. And within each of those categories, are six+ sub-categories (that I've learned. No telling how many more there are overall), each with 3-10 items. It's enough to make anyone's head spin! And I quickly discovered that it is nearly impossible to try and focus on that many crafting skills all alone (perhaps with a guild pooling their resources), so I haven't followed the Medical or Mutation paths, and have given up on cooking as well, except to make use of all the various food components I find as loot.

I like the fact that your crafting times can be decreased by standing in an appropriate workshop, and I love that you are still considered to be actively crafting while offline. Combine the two for easy crafting while you sleep! But you can also just go wander around and do whatever else you want in the game, and your crafting counter will still be ticking away.

Everytime I login I see someone complaining about having to wait in real-time for crafting to complete. But please ignore these folks. The real-time aspect is an important part of a functioning economy, and the fact that your crafting timer is ALWAYS counting down, even while you're adventuring, standing around or offline more than makes up for the inconvenience experienced when you feel that you need that new item RIGHT NOW (which has the added bonus of forcing players to think ahead!) The components for an item will sometimes be made by a different specialty, which helps to keep the economic system flowing while making it useful (though not required) for crafters to work together.

My main disappointment with crafting in Fallen Earth is that it's recipe-based rather than component based. So FE crafting falls a bit short of what I would consider the ultimate MMO crafting system. However, there are a plethora of different items, many of which seem to have functionally similar stats, leaving it up to the player to decide which one they want based on personal preferences or item appearance, which is simply wonderful.

I find it very awkward that I can't tell what I will learn from purchasing or creating a new skill book. This has led to some guesswork and a few wrong choices, which can be expensive. If I'm writing a book for myself to learn new patterns, you would think I would know what those patterns are ahead of time!


Coming straight off of playing Fallout 3, I was hoping for a similar sort of combat experience (without the VATS system of course), though I wasn't sure how well it would work in an MMO. It mostly works, but combat does feel a little clunky. Especially going in and out of combat mode. Sometimes I'll hit tab, and see my guy hunker down as if he's ready for combat, but I wont have a targeting reticule.

I also find it very difficult to hit a moving mob, particularly in 3rd person mode, which forces me to 1st person mode when shooting (though this can still be difficult due to mobs tendency to make sudden, jerky movements). This would be fine and dandy except that I have lots of issues trying to engage in melee combat while in 1st person (my secondary swing attack just doesnt seem to work at all in 1st person mode). So, combat becomes the following multi-step dance. Move within range of my target, switch to 1st person, switch to attack mode, pull out my gun, make sure its reloaded, fire 2-4 shots at my target who rushes at me with the first hit, pull out a melee weapon, switch back to 3rd person mode, swing until my target is dead. Whew! And then, I have to tab out of combat so I can loot my kill. Rinse and repeat for the next victim!

This has resulted in a switch in focus to melee weapons. Perhaps things will change at later levels, but at the moment, I mainly have a sidearm just for show (and also because I made it myself). I've gotten better at the weapon-switching dance, but it's still a pain in the butt and kind of awkward. I find it much easier to just wade in with the sword and chop my opponents up. I don't really have any suggestions here, but having your combat feel fluid is an important design element.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I like that items tell you in their mouseover text when they're used for tradeskills, but I don't understand why we still have 'useless' items around. Why on earth is the ballistics merchant buying gooey chitinous legs from me?! Can't we just remove this crap from the game entirely?

We can sit! And crouch! And lay down! This may seem like a very minor feature for many players, but for roleplayers and those who enjoy being immersed into the game world, this sort of 'fluff' is invaluable!

A better explanation of combat skills and mutations is definitely needed early on. These seem to be the standard attacks, buff and debuff type skills that you find in any other MMO, but it feels a little strange in Fallen Earth since the combat aspect is quite different from the standard WoW model. I still haven't really looked into these skills yet.


Overall, I've found Fallen Earth to be different and interesting enough to keep my attention so far, though it came VERY close to losing me entirely in the beginning. Perhaps my expectations were set too high after playing Fallout 3 right before being accepted into the beta?

This post ends with my character at level 7. I have a sword and a set of clothes that I created myself. I have a revolver with no ammo and two vaults full of various resources of all kinds. It's time to see some more of the world, so I plan to gather enough chips to buy a horse and head out on the open range!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Isolation and Industry: Take Two - A Civ IV Roleplaying Story

As a followup to my attempt to roleplay the Khazad civilization in Fall from Heaven II as a reclusive people focused and acquiring and maintaining enough gold to fill their vaults (the story of which can be read here), I decided to try it again, only this time I was going to use Fall Further, a mod of the Fall from Heaven mod (so a modmod, I guess).

Fall Further is interesting. He basically took Fall from Heaven II, and threw everything he could think of, as well as a number of concepts from other mods, into the game to see what would stick. This mod features expanded mana types, several new civilizations, new terrain types and a host of other features, game mechanics and tweaks. Having some experience at playing the Khazad civilization, I thought I would give it a try with this mod and see how things would turn out.

Follow the link for the rest of the tale!

The Setup:

Fall Further (patch N). Khazad civilization. Objective: gather gold until the vaults are overflowing and then never let them dip below that threshold.

I decided to use the Perfect World 2 map script which created interesting setups, including large sections of hills and mountains. However, I discovered in my first game, that this script generates large maps. With Large as the selection for map size, I was probably a good 20+ turns away from my nearest neighbor with a scout. I had also chosen the End of Winter option, but it had the side effect of also altering resources,
so by the time I had finished researching hunting (since there were no less than 4 deer near my starting city), the world had warmed and the deer were gone. Interesting idea, but it seems to warm up too quickly. Perhaps there should be a much longer cold period in the beginning before the warming actually starts? Otherwise it just seems kind of pointless.

I also noticed in this game that I was near no less four unique features, each of which had their very own barbarian town! I don't know if this was an accident, part of the map script or part of the mod, but I thought it was brilliant. If this is not coded as part of the game, it should be! After all, it makes perfect sense that people would tend to settle near these features, especially if they give a harvesting bonus of some sort.

But, it turned out that this world was just too large for me to deal with, and the barbarians were out of control (with so much elbow room to start with, they were everywhere!). So I restarted with a standard-sized map. And then again. Finally I turned off the option for Orcish Swarms, which seemed to solve my barbarian problem.

The Setup, Redux:

Fall Further (patch N). Khazad civilization. Objective: gather gold until the vaults are overflowing and then never let them dip below that threshold.

I ended up settling on the following settings: Advanced Start, No Tech Brokering, Barbarian World, Living World, Wildlands, Aggressive AI, Epic speed, Perfect World 2 mapscript (Start Anywhere and Allow Panageas), Standard size.

Year 0 AG (Above Ground): Our first city was founded on a hill by the sea overlooking a marshy area between two small rivers and fields of poppies (reagents). A line of tall, strong mountains hugged the coast the south. More rugged mountains and hills swept northward. Fish and crabs were abundant in the nearby waters.

The Early Years:

As we explored our lands, we discovered that we had pierced the roof on a wide peninsula near the northern, icebound regions. To the north lay pine forests amongst a set of ruined, jumbled mountains. Not much there to interest anyone. To the south lay a wide valley with a small river running though it. And south of that, a thick line of hills formed a pass through an imposing mountain range, with a small pass to the east.

Atop one of the northernmost hills sat an Ancient Tower, built by unknown peoples. Aye, this looked to be a good spot to make our own. Some of the more adventurous dwarves fashioned small boats and learned the secrets of harvesting food from the bountiful coastal waters, becoming knowledgeable fisherman, and even building the Heron Throne to gaze out over the waves into the distance.

Development and expansion of the Great Halls of Khazad continues. In the year 77 AG, The Runes of Klimorph is founded and regiments of Soldiers of Kilmorph are prepared for our inevitable expansion which comes in the year 131 when Halowell, our second city is founded on a hill overlooking a river just to the south of Khazad.

In the ensuing years as we explored the lands, we discovered that we were not alone. Through the mountains to the south and on the western coast of the peninsula lay the Austrin peoples. Hailing from some unknown land to the far south were a strange lizard-folk. We didn't have much contact with the reptiles, but the Austrin quickly spread along our southern border, building cities in a lush valley just beyond the barrier hills.

The First Great War:

In the year 141 AG, the Austrin foolishly declare war on us for reasons we were never able to understand. Perhaps they coveted our renowned Dwarven Ale! An army of Austrin Hunters and Assassins occupy the Ancient Tower which lies just to the south of Halowell. However, they seem content to simply stay there, occasionally sending out a unit or two to try and hit exposed workers.

The Austrin had a significant stack of hunters and assassins who did nothing the whole war except sit in this Ancient Tower. I simply went around them and destroyed all their towns!

Year 152 - A third volcano bursts forth near Khazak. Clearly we have been blessed by Kilmorph, for this abundance of magma will surely help with our extraction and smelting of precious metals!

Year 155 - Mines of Gal-dur are completed, the greatest single mining operation ever created, tapping into no less than three extensive veins of iron ore.

Year 159 - A Dwarven Hero by the name of Bambur emerges from the shops. His skill at repairing machinery is unmatched

Year 174 - A Great Engineer is born

Year 176- Though it took a while to get the dwarves properly equipped for a war, once they were ready, there was no stopping the onslaught. An Austrin settlement by the name of Matanuska is captured, providing us with a seaport on the west coast of our spit of land.

Year 201 - Kolsehvahn of the Cualli declares war on the Khazad

Years 238 - 286: Three more settlements are founded, known by the names of Riylod, Kadar and Glulynn. Two occupy the now empty valley where the Austrin once frolicked, and the third was placed on the hills in a mountain pass on our eastern border to guard against Cualli incursions.

Year 287 AG: The Austrin capitol of Telynohn is taken and claimed as a dwarven settlement, consigning the Austrin to a mere footnote in the history books.

The Austrin proved to be little match. While they did have lots of troops, they were mostly hunters and scouts, great for skirmishing, but not able to stand up to a phalanx of stout dwarven axes! As I demolished the Austrin peoples, my empire expanded as rapidly as I could manage it, running no more than 20% science. I started losing money and had lower my science to 0% and eventually use the Motherlode worldspell, but by this time I had 8 cities, a nice size chunk of land, a defensible border with the lizards and the spell gave me a much needed infusion of gold (plus the extra hills are always nice for us dwarves). And now since I could more easily contain and control enemy incursions, my hard-working dwarves could get back to improving the land. Miraculously, despite the fact that the Austrin were heavily invested in recon troops, including numerous Assassins, none of my trebuchets were killed. Tragically however, the great Dwarven Hero Bambur did fall to the blades of one of those sneaky bastards!

Over the next forty years we dutifully pushed our Trebuchets back across the continent in the other direction while our armies trained and re-equipped for a push into Cualli lands. Beyond the mountains, across a stretch of desert we came upon the city of Aucheauthli. Our scouts waited atop a nearby hill as the first the trebuchets, then a sizable force of sturdy Axedwarves arrived. The city fell soon after and was claimed as a Khazad outpost in the year 331.

Another Cualli city, just a short distance to the east fell also and was burned to the ground at which point an emissary from the brutes offered us a kingly ransom for the simple signing of a peace treaty. They crawled into the throne room, debasing themselves as they planted their scaled bellies face-down on the floor. Would the great Dwarven Empire kindly accept two new technologies, all their gold, plus a small
city near our lands that was conveniently built on top of a hill? Of course we would.

By the year 348 AG, peace had fallen across the lands. Thus began the time of the Great Building. Rivers were tamed, hills tapped, every possible resource harvested and markets built to facilitate the delivery of said goods. Our coffers filled rapidly with gold and two more settlements were founded, one in a scenic mountain region and the other on the edge of the marshes to the east as a deterrent to Cualli expansionism.

The dwarves grew strong and prosperous, branching out to found other settlements. Our engineering skills were unmatched and we were regularly blessed with dwarves of genius who led us to the founding of a Master Fletcher and Smith who were able to equip our troops with quality weapons, though the price was steep.

I've played a few partial games of FF, but I had never set up a 'Master' building. I knew they were founded by Great Engineers, so I figured the Khazad would be a good choice. With Agrarianism and the bountiful fields of reagents, I was able to pile on the Engineer specialists (especially once I built the Mines of Gal Dur), and I had no lack of Great People to do my bidding. I ended up setting up a Master Fletcher and a Master Smith. The Mater Fletcher allowed me to upgrade my archers with 'Fine Bows' which gave them +1 defense strength (though we never were able to figure out how to throw our rocks with these things) for 15 gold each. A reasonable price, and I was already using the Dwarven Slingers as my main defense, giving them promotions that increased their strength on hills. The Master Smith provided no less than 3 equipment upgrade options for my melee troops. Unfortunately, they were all quite expensive. But what was probably the biggest bonus from establishing these Master buildings was the ability to build them in all my cities after that. Seeing as how they not only allowed equipment purchase but also gave a bonus to hammers, gold and culture, I spread them to every city that I could.

Then to our horror we met yet another peoples (these blasted non-dwarves seemed to be everywhere). These called themselves the Bannor and had the audacity to found a settlement on our doorstep in the former Austrin lands. This was completely unacceptable. War was declared and the city was burned. The Bannor empire lay across a rocky, shallow sea but they chose to stay on their side rather than tempt our wrath again. At around this same time, we received word that one named Buboes, the second horseman had appeared. But seeing as how no dwarf ever saw hide nor hair of
him or of Stephanos, these tales of evil juggernauts invading the lands were discounted as Old Maids' Tales, designed to keep the soft-brained people of the Sun Dwelling nations in check. There's no such thing as true evil, lad, only choices.

The Second Great War:

In year 398 AG: The blasted Cualli again declared war. At that point it became apparent that all of the "barbarian" hunters and assassins that had been haunting the Untamed Hills to the north were actually agents of our neighbors. Well if it was war these beasts wanted, then it was war they would have. Patrols were called back and sent to the front, as well as a reserve army from the capitol and an assortment of Stonewardens who had been scattered throughout the empire.

Year 404 AG: Rangers, Priests and Blowpipe-wielding lizardmen boil forth from the marshes and swamps near Stoville. The defensive trebuchets fling rocks endlessly, though several fall to assassins. And the stalwart Dwarven Slingers slaughter them by the hundreds as the Cualli try to storm the hill. But our folly was revealed. We had not yet built proper fortifications in this town, believing that it was safe from attack for a while. Our army was but a few miles out when the city finally fell and they quickly closed the distance, retaking the settlement before too much damage could be done. Three of the great beasts we called Greytrunks were sent to refortify the hilltop. They had been found wandering the deserts after the first Great War, and some of our more industrious hunters had tamed the great beasts, thinking they could be used in open field battles. But alas, we had not the skill to properly teach them in the ways of offense. Our industrious smiths discovered the secrets of the working of Iron, and so began the gathering of our first Champion level units, but it would be a while before any of them were battle ready and at the front lines.

And yet still more lizards poured out of the marshes. Their numbers were astounding. It took years for the Greytrunks to arrive due to the poor quality of the roads in the area. Our workers had not yet reached this newest outpost, and the only trails were horrid, narrow affairs left by the lizard people. Completely unusable for any sort of real commerce! The losses mounted on both sides.

"Twas a terrible siege, lad. One I wish I could fergit. Regular assaults on the town admist a hail of poison darts designed to wear us down. And wear us down it did. They surrounded the city and could be seen up on the hills and bluffs around the town in addition to swarming through the marshes. Ye could hear their strange hissing speech and croaking laughter echoing up from the swamps at all hours of the day and the night. They even began to move inta' tha hills bordering tha desert to the west. Day after day we gazed into that bleak expanse, lad, holding out hope for some sign from our kin. One of tha Greytrunks broke into a thrashing, uncontrollable rage one night. She killed two dozen dwarves and tore up a section of recently constructed palisade before we were able to put 'er down for good. We figured one of them Assassins had put something inta her food. We always tested the Greytrunks' meals on dogs after that. Aye lad, them assassins were what kept anyone from sleeping at night. No dwarf wanted to wake up dead in these stinkin' marshes. Our cold-blooded foes were masters of tha poisons. Some of them killed instantly. Others left a dwarf paralyzed, rigid and unmoving until they starved to death, or caused their victims to puke up blood and guts for three days straight until they finally passed on in a frenzied fit! Our boys tried their best, but there were no true healers with us. A Stonewarden was due with the reinforcements... if they ever arrived."

When help did come it was from an unexpected direction. The relief troops had been forced to divert north through the hills where they were able to dash through the marshes and take advantage of a gap in the blockade. Their arrival couldn't have been better timed, for another army of the cold-blooded bastards appeared in the wetlands to the east. Again the wave of green scaled bodies crashed against our earthen ramparts, and again many a soul was lost on both sides. Though the lizard casualties were too numerous to even begin to count, the sheer numbers of attackers still wore us down. The lone Stonewarden from the relief force was lost to an Assassin's dart. Tame bears and painted Greytunks outfitted for war thundered up the slopes alongside the Cualli Hunters and Blowpipes. Another group of dwarven reinforcements struggled through the desert to reach the city. The Axemen and Soldiers gave their lives to clear a path, allowing several Stonewardens and two Adepts skilled in the magics of Earth and Enchantment to arrive. One of the Stonewardens brought with him a trunk full of gold that was used to expedite construction of more solid walls and fortifications. Perhaps this would turn the battle! But the assault was relentless. The last remaining Khazad Greytrunk was slain, as were several units of Slingers. An Adept fell, then a Stonewarden. Things were looking grim. In addition to the diversion of troops to the south, the reinforcements that were designated for the siege relief were slowed in their arrival by the numerous Cualli raiders to the west of Stoville.

Every able-bodied dwarf that could be found was sent to the siege. Paramanders, Champions, Stonewardens, it didn't matter. We even grudgingly shelled out gold to draft a couple of units of Slingers in an attempt to hold back the tide. Those young lads fought bravely, but they were no match for the battle-hardened swamp-dwellers. The third wave of reinforcements finally made it through to the town, just when things were at their bleakest. The fresh troops were astonished to find that only a lone Stonewarden remained of all the military that had been dispatched to aid in the battle.

This was a truly epic siege. It would be 70 years before I was finally able to successfully secure the area. I lost the city early on, recaptured it the next year, and then fought tooth and nail to hold on to it as a seemingly unending wave of lizards poured over the surrounding countryside. Everytime a group of reinforcements would arrive, they would clear out some lizard troops west of the city, lose a few of their own to assassins and other attacks, make it into the city just in time to bolster the defenses, and then slowly be whittled away by the unceasing assaults. My army of doom that had annihilated the Austrin were all heavily-promoted axemen. And to a dwarf, they were slaughtered during the siege of Stoville. Slingers, Stonewardens, Hunters, Elephants, basically any troop that I could find was sent to defend Stoville. Combat occurred nearly every turn, though most of it was defensive on my part. Even killing the patrols that moved into my territory was tough going. The Cualli had a city of their own nearby and Stoville was soon surrounded by their culture borders.

I had my cities churning out Champions, Stonewardens and more Slingers, but my original lands were a good 10 turns away from the front, so it seemed like an eternity before the first ones arrived. Stoville was being assaulted every turn, the Cualli culture had expanded and completely surrounded the city, and experienced troops roamed the desert between this outpost and the nearest town, which happened to be Aucheauthli, captured from the Cualli in the first war. It was a fine town, situated on a low line of hills in the bend of a river with lots of floodplains. I ordered up buildings to make this into a forward training and outfitting post, but it would be many years before anything substantial was completed.

As the siege of Stoville continued, far back in the capitol, a young strapping lad came to the notice of the Elders. This one went by the name of Maros, and people claimed he couldn't be knocked down. and indeed, he won every tournament that he entered. He was quickly drafted into service, given the best armor and weapons that could be supplied and sent down to the front in a hurried manner. But he was not sent to the still-besieged city of Stoville. Instead he was sent farther south along the coast, were an expedition army was testing the resolve of these Cualli by marching several trebuchets through the jungle to chunk rocks at a city of theirs. Maros arrived with yet more trebuchets, but despite the constant rain of large stones, the lizards remained steadfastly entrenched in their city. Maros absorbed countless arrows and darts as the town was besieged for several years. But the Cualli were not easily broken. Those beasts will eat their own young before giving in! So Maros began a 10-year long hike through the hills to join up with the forces at Stoville.

Year 439 - 3rd horseman. Decius declares war, allowing me to remove their settlement they again planted on the southern coast (damn self-righteous surface dwellers don't know how to take a hint!). Lizards attack Citalamina, swarming the area and tearing up improvements.

Year 447 - A second plague hits. Though equally as devastating as the first, this one seems to pass quickly.

That same year a strange event occurred. "Tha' heavens shook and shimmered that day lad. I have ne'er seen a sky like that before, an hope tha I ne'er do again! A great disembodied voice cried out some nonsense about a fella named Basium with various words tattooed on him. None of us was sure what all this surface dweller foolishness was about, but so long as they left us dwarves well enough alone, it was none of our concern."

Only a few years after this strange event, some odd, thin folks calling themselves the Sidar send an envoy to inform us that they've bent their knees to Pentapach, ruler of the 'Free Imperial Balseraph Estates'! Who came up with that pompous mouthful of idiocy? Well, they could call themselves the Feathered Ostrich Fire Brigade for all we cared. As for the Sidar, why they felt the need to inform us of whose toes they were currently licking I have no idea, but inform us they did, only to depart soon after and never be heard from again.

Again rumors of these mysterious horsemen hit our shores. This time they claim that the one who goes by the name of Yersinia, has been slain. Whoop-de-do ya sky-huggin' pansies!

Maros, leading the newly merged army, sallies forth from Stoville, crushing the main Cualli encampment nearby and driving those that survived the assault back to their city. But next year, yet another sizable army of scaly foes moved on Stoville (how fast do these damn things hatch?!). But things had changed. No longer were the Cualli able to sit outside the town and attack whenever it was convenient. Any who hung around too long or attempted to regain the heights were summarily destroyed.

It seemed that after seventy long, blood-filled years, the siege of Stoville had finally been lifted! But moving on to offense would not be so simple. The lizards were smart enough to realize that the wetlands were their advantage where my dwarves were unable to make much headway (you try wading through a swamp when you're only 4 feet high!)

At some point around this time, every single other civilization in the known world declared a state of war with the Khazad. Seeing as how we had almost no contact with any of them, it must have been pure jealousy that was driving them. Perhaps they coveted our glorious mines? Or the secrets of our religion (it was interesting to note that everyone else claimed to be a staunch believer in Tree-Huggin'!)

Year 497 AG - Heralds began spouting off some nonsense about yet another Horseman of Doom (can't these surface dwellers come up with something new?) This one has the ridiculous name of Ars Morendi. And while our Elders scoff into their ale about these tales, a strange, penetrating fear falls across the hearts of the dwarven nation. The Elders react quickly to keep this fear from hindering our growth. Gambling Houses are
ordered built in many of the larger communities. Nothing can distract a dwarf faster than the thought of easy gold.

With this latest crisis taken care of, attention is turned back to the front. Maros and his weary army still haunt the hills in Cualli territory near Stoville. The marsh-sunk town proves to be impenetrable as its trails teem with lizardman units of all types.

Meanwhile, to the west, a surprise attack bears fruit for the dwarven forces, and an expansive Cualli settlement is captured and razed, its dead inhabitants consigned back to the marshes from whence they came.

End Game:

And there I called it quits, mainly due to the several minute wait between each turn. It is currently turn 500, with ~190 turns left in the game. The Khazad lie near the bottom of the score list, though we are 3rd in power and the magnificent Runes of Kilmorph religion is the one most widely followed with 13%. I have very little of the rest of the world mapped, and don't even know what lies beyond the border areas in Cualli territory.

Currently, the Armageddon Counter sits at 73. Ashen Veil has been founded, and surprisingly, is the 2nd most followed religion behind Runes of Kilmorph, despite the fact that no civilization acknowledges it as their state religion. The Infernals haven't been summoned, and there is no hell terrain. Most of the civilizations are evil. The only good one is Basium, and his summoner, the Lsjolfar, are neutral, tending towards the evil side. The Khazad are a little above true neutral, balancing out their penchant for city burning with the creation of a number of Paramanders.

We've finally begun bloodying the nose of the blasted Cualli, destroying two towns, one small, one large, within the last 20 years. We have 22 years until Machinery research is completed and have just received a new Great Engineer, who, with the Great Merchant I've had stashed, can start a Golden Age.

Post-game thoughts:

This turned out to be quite a fun game. I think a large part of that was due to the Perfect World 2 mapscript. This is now my preferred map type. Not only does it create interesting terrain features such as long mountain ranges and sizable deserts, it also has a lot of minor tweaks such as placing Ancient Towers on hills or next to the shoreline for maximum visual range. Combined this with the flavor start option in Fall
Further for unique starts in every game.

One problem I found consistently was the inability to effectively control territory with culture borders. Well, I guess inability is the wrong word. But it was definitely more difficult when I had a self-imposed limit on when I could build new cities. For example, the Bannor twice came and occupied the site of a former Austrin city which was just outside my cultural borders. I had already booted barbarians from the same spot more than once and had little option for preventing further incursions aside from planting my own city, which was not really a viable choice.

Once you get going, the Dwarven economy seems to take care of itself, especially once I started spreading the Stonefire Guild and the various Master's buildings (each of which give +3 gold). Is there any reason not to spread a guild to all your cities? The gold cost seemed minimal.

I found the Cualli cities to be tough eggs to crack. Their Blowpipe units, with a base of 2-4 first strikes, provide some hefty defense. Then on top of that you have Marshes all over their lands which they get a significant bonus for fighting in, and which slows down any opponents trying to push into their land. And for the icing on the cake, the jungles infesting their areas hinder the view, even from hilltop!

I hadn't realized this when I founded Stoville, but it was a mere three tiles away from the nearest Cualli city. And in-between the cities lay two tiles of marshland. This was a perfect setup for my opponent. They could take their trails through the marsh and attack me directly from their city, then easily fall back if things got rough. Their additional +40% strength in marshes made driving them out difficult. And Kilmorph help me if I tried to move my own troops through the marshes! I found myself sending my armies around the long way where they could stay in the hills. It also didn't help that I had no mounted troops.

I found it very odd to see the Armageddon Counter climb so high without the introduction of Hyborem. And it turned out that the Khazad were the 2nd highest contributors to the AC, behind only Pentapach, who founded Ashen Veil. Razing all those cities, while effective in winning the First Great War, could have potentially been disastrous if the Hell terrain had started spreading. As it was, nothing much happened in my part of the world. I never saw any of the Horsemen, and apparently thr computer AI had little trouble taking care of that threat.

Next up:

I plan to try this same roleplaying angle in Orbis. The fort ownership concept they have there really intrigues me and seems to be a logical solution to the culture problem I had with this last game. I don't know much else about the mod, though I understand that it has some pretty significant differences from Fall from Heaven. I figure my Khazad experience will help to balance out the unknown in regards to new or changed game mechanics.