Saturday, 5 April 2014

MAD Blood Bowl: Egdenberg Undertakers Special Report #4

Welcome sports fans, to a bumper edition of my spotlight series on Egdenberg Undertakers and their progress in the current MAD Blood Bowl season. I am your host, Bertwold Humpernickle.

Last night saw the Undertakers play their sixth match of the season, which makes three since my last report. Their fourth game was against the Elves of the Lions of the Three Rings, a team which had taken a real beating early on in the season, but by the time they faced the Undertakers were not only able to field a full team without having to draft in drifting mercenary players to make up the numbers, some of their veterans were turning into impressive rising stars.

Match 4

Seventeen thousand revved up Undertakers fans packed the stadium, almost outnumbering the Lions fans two to one for a total gate of twenty six thousand blood thirsty fans. This match was played end to end from the first whistle, Edgenberg Undertakers taking an early lead as Snagir ran in a touchdown mid way through the first half, though his fellow runner, the Ghoul Vishur and the team's top scorer so far, took a bad hit and was dragged off the pitch to the screaming room.

Once the teams were all set for the restart, the ball was kicked high into the air by the Undertakers' kicker, just as a rock thrown from the crowd struck Amron of the Lions in the face, and knocked him out cold! He too was dragged off the pitch by his heels, blood streaming from his broken nose.
Despite some mad scrambling by the Undertakers, they couldn't extend their lead before the end of the half, which ended 0-1 to the visitors.

As the second half kicked off, there had been some speculation about greased shoes, a greased ball and even a greased pitch, as on several occasions so far during the match the flow had turned one way or the other as the ball carrier slipped or tripped unexpectedly, letting the ball lose and handing the initiative to their opponents.

The Lions surged out with a very early second half rush, leaving the Undertakers flat footed and scoring before the visitors knew where they were. There were ensuing yells from the crowd that the Lions had started early, players throwing punches before the kick off. This came to a head just as the High Elves kicked off the restart, as the mass of Undertakers fans flooded onto the pitch to attack the Lions players. The Lions fans retaliated, and by the time order had been restored, one Egdenberg and four Lions players lay stunned face down in the dirt. Not that onlookers noticed much difference in the responsiveness of the dazed Zombie player.

Play swung up and down the pitch for the bulk of the second half, with numerous suspicious slips just as a drive looked like breaking the 1-1 deadlock, heightening concerns about another pitch invasion, but to no avail, and the dramatic game ended a draw, with no overhanging injury concerns for either team in this decidedly casualty light match.

Match 5

The Undertakers' fifth game of the season was a home game against the current generation Skavenblight Scramblers, a team which needs no introduction to anyone who knows anything about Blood Bowl. So far the Scramblers had managed to match the Undertakers unbeaten run, so this match was set to upset the success of one team or the other.

The roar of the stadium was deafening as the almost evenly matched fans tried to out-cheer each other, the home fans outnumbering the away fans by just four thousand in this twenty six thousand attendance match. The shouted one-upmanship over which team was best developed into threats of outright violence, and by the time the teams were lined up ready to kick off, small scuffles were already erupting in the arena. As the ball was kicked high by the Skaven kicker, the fighting spilled onto the pitch, and in the ensuing ruckus, four Scramblers and three Undertakers players were left eating dirt and struggling to get back to their feet.

The Undertakers started their drive up the field, Ghasha the Ghoul runner scooping up the ball as Egdenberg tried to smash a hole in the Skaven line. This saw Setti the Spike deal the Scramblers Rat Ogre blocker, lynchpin of their line of scrimmage, a crushing blow and he was dragged off the pitch with a serious injury which would see him out for the rest of the match. What a start to the Undertakers offence! The Spike's form was set to continue as he asserted his dominance over the unfortunate Skaven left to face off against the Undertakers offensive line and a line-rat was also carted off to the screaming room before the half was up.

Egdenberg were unimpressive with their ball handling skills this game though, their team of runners fouling up a couple of plays, and shortly after Zombie Herman Gerter was knocked out, Vishur fumbled a hand off, gifting the ball to a Scramblers Storm Vermin. The ball was handed off to a Gutter Runner who dashed downfield in a daring running play. The Undertakers had just one chance to prevent the speedy Gutter Runner before he zipped into the Endzone to score. Undertakers Captain Kratorus the Black, just managed to reach the plucky ball carrier, crashing into him with a bone splintering tackle and stopping his rush.

The half ended 0-0, with neither team able to reach the opposing Endzone, but both teams giving as good as they got in the hitting play.

The second half looked to start in the Undertakers' favour, with just eight Skaven fit to take the pitch, and the Undead had set up what looked like a perfect defence. However Egdenberg's atrocious ball handling continued, the Skaven managing to get a hold of the ball early and breaking down the right wing. Vermis Krall however had the ball carrier covered, blitzing him clear into the crowd, and then managing to grab the lose ball!

The Wight was then blitzed in turn and badly hurt, though his unholy constitution and the magic of Rakarth von Kampman saw him shake it off. Moments later however, team captain Kratorus the Black was knocked unconscious, leaving Egdenberg Undertakers with no Blitzers on the field, the Ghouls would have to go it alone!

The remainder of the half saw Egdenberg Undertakers form a cage around the Ghoul Snagir and funeral march the ball up the field. The march was slow, but the Scramblers players couldn't penetrate the procession, bouncing off the Undertakers cage. As they neared the Endzone, the Skavenblight Scramblers managed to strip off the forward advance, Ghasha the Ghoul being floored trying to block a Gutter Runner out of the way of the cage, Zombie Gerter and Skeleton Glickman ending up face down and in a bad way.

In the final moments, with the Skaven having slowed the procession to a crawl, the Undertakers failed to make it to the Endzone, the number of quicker players off the pitch with injuries really taking it's toll on their play options. The match ended an uninspiring 0-0, despite both teams playing hard until the final whistle.

This was the Undertakers' first no score draw of the season, and looked set to cost them as a Line-Zombie, Line-Skeleton and Ghoul would miss the next game while the Undertakers backroom staff hunted for suitable replacement parts.

Match 6

Egdenberg Undertakers most recent match saw them travel to an away match against the Greenskinned Whackers, a vicious Orc team with an equal number of wins and losses so far this season. This team packed a very hard hitting line of scrimmage, including a Troll, three Black Orc Blockers and three Blitzers, which on paper outweighed even the formidable Undertakers line-up.

The number of Undertakers players missing the match however lead the League to offer the Undertakers a number of inducements to entice them to take a risk with their complete lack of reserves for this match. A roaming Ghoul runner accepted a one off match fee, while Count Schwarznacht provided a nubile young Vampire girl to tend dazed players and get them moving again.

Once again, the Undertakers fans turned out in force, swelling the thirteen thousand Orc fans to a roaring thirty three thousand capacity crowd! The supporter advantage was definitely in Egdenberg's favour, but inside sources revealed to this sports reporter that the Undertakers Management were taking a real risk playing against a hard hitting team with only a mercenary Ghoul to call on as a reserve. Egdenberg would have to make a dent in the Whackers team early to even out the numbers game.

The match started well for the visitors, making their move the moment their kicker's foot conected with the ball and attacking the Whackers line, the two Mummie Blockers Cheops and Setti sending a Line-Orc and a Black Orc to the dugout in the first push. The Undertakers managed to batter a hole in the Orc line, through which Snagir managed to slip and, guarded by the two Wights, sprinted all the way to the Endzone for a rushing touchdown midway through the first half.

The Mummies seemed to be able to maintain the momentum on the line of scrimmage, pushing the reduced Orc line back and keeping the greenskins on the back foot, leaving the odd unconcious Orc in their wake and prosecuting the Egdenberg goal of thinning the Orc numbers.

Kicking off again, Egdenberg Undertakers were quick off the mark a second time, positioning themsleves to launch through the Orc defence and grab the lose ball from under their warty noses, but before the Ghouls could reach the ball, one of the two Orc Throwers got to it first, made a short pass to a wide Blitzer who made a bull run down the left wing for the Endzone!

It took everything Kratorus the Black and Hashak the Ghoul had to reach him, bearing him to the ground with a bone crunching tackle. He didn't stay down however, rolling to his iron shod feet, grabbing the fallen ball, and diving across the line for an equalizer, ending the half at 1-1. A Line-Orc however did decide to stick the boot in a little too much, and was sent off by the ref for the remainder of the match.

The second half began with the odds slowly tipping in the Undertakers' favour, as the number of Orcs fit to take the field began to dwindle, which was compounded by the sending off, leaving them one player down as the match re-started. The Vampire girl tending to the Egdenberg dugout however ensured that the Undertakers were able to field a full line and put the Orcs under pressure.

The kick went wide to the left deep in the Whackers half, and the Orc Throwers made a mad dash to retrieve it, the nearest managing to scoop it up and make a long pass downfield towards the Blitzer on their right who was preparing to push through the Undertakers line, but the pass missed it's mark at such long range.

Taking the initiative, Kratorus the Black grabbed the bouncing ball and broke through the players on the Orc flank, rushing through the gap supported by Ghouls, whilst the two lines of scrimmage continued to batter at each other. This half, the Orcs had the Undead on the back foot, but they still needed to maintain a numerical advantage in the thick of the action to keep the Mummies in check.

As Undead players dashed upfield to support Kratorus on the left, the Undead had the Orcs outnumbered on the right, as they managed to shove a Blitzer into the crowd and he was carried away by waves of knuckle dusters and toecapped boots.

Kratorus reached the Endzone, but stopped short of the line, hoping to run down the clock and hurt the Greenskinned Whackers chances of equalizing after the Undertakers Captain put his team ahead. With Vishur ready to run interference on any Orc attempt to reach Kratorus, combined with his own formidable skill, the Egdenberg Captain was not expecting the Orc thrower to power at full stretch past the Ghoul and barrel into him, sending the ball into the cheering crowd.

That corner must have been crammed with home fans, as they sent the ball hurtling across the pitch back towards the Orc left. The crowd had done the Orcs a huge favour, but by the time the ball came to rest, there were no Orc players positioned to capitalise, the Undead wingers having corralled their Orc opposite numbers, and the line of scrimmage having shuffled deeper into the Undertakers half.

Snagir of the Undertakers scooped up the ball and pushed upfield towards the Endzone on the Orc left, the Wight Vermis Kraal and another Ghoul running up to support, even as Kratorus the Black swept in across the Orc back line to meet them, forming a wall between the Orcs and the ball carrier.

Though they made a valiant charge toward the ball carrier and his guards in an effort to repeat the trick the Thrower had pulled on the opposite wing minutes before, the Orcs were outpaced and just couldn't reach the cage before Snagir dashed into the endzone to cement an Undertakers victory with just minutes left on the clock.

The final restart of the game was heralded by cheering from the fans, as Egdenberg brought home a hard fought win.

And that Blood Bowl fans, leaves Egdenberg Undertakers just three league points behind leaders Asgard Wrath, but with two matches in hand over the formidable Norse team. It's in the Undertakers hands now to push for the top spot, though the Skavenblight Scramblers are also within punching distance of the lead place, so every point counts. Who knows what lies in store for the rest of the season? Rumour has it that Count Schwarznacht is in talks with Luther Drakenborg about playing a match for the Undertakers, and a player of that calibre could make all the difference come the end of season play-offs.

Until next time sports fans, I'm Bertwold Humpernickle, and this has been an Egdenberg Undertakers Special Report. Good night.