Much wordage has been written about the World Cup in Dornbirn, but more is always good! I was originally going to be a ref, but got tapped up to join Team Wales, who are a lovely competitive bunch of chaps who had their eye on the podium, and I was fairly quickly persuaded into participating, rather than being in the refs’ office, as per last year. With each of us with multiple NAF shields, and ranking in the top 10 based on NAF ranking with the races we were using, we were probably in one of the 20 or so squads (out of 250) that had a realistic chance of being on the stage at the end, which was pretty cool.
The team was made up of me (Lizards, completely block spam, stand firm on the krox), Dionysian with non-Roxy Amazons, Hawca’s super-dominant Wood Elves, 20phoenix with his solid Undead, and media star AndyDavo on Dark Elves. The 6 was rounded out with BB2 expert MikeTheMachine, who took humans, and ended up being at or near our table 1 for the entire weekend! Also a great guy, which is always good when you’re spending all your time with someone.
We stayed in a fab chalet in the mountains, and hired a car, which allowed us to trundle about including the two other halves and Davo’s baby who were also in attendance. This was particularly entertaining because another team were staying in the very next set of rooms in the middle of nowhere.
When we arrived at the venue, the much-vaunted queues were already in full swing. I met Galak, said hi to Gaixo and a few others, registered, and promptly gave up on the skill rings having spent zero time queuing, which I was quite happy about it. We hung around for the awesome drumming, but then headed off for home-cooked food after a day’s travelling (which had gone amazingly smoothly, and was a massive weight off my shoulders).
On the Friday I did have to do some queuing, but spent it with Heartsbane, which is always nice. Got to the front and they tried to tell me that I could only have day one skills, but because I’d cunningly made a great big list I got round that one and got all of them for the whole team. Then luckily had quite a while to give them all out, because of the delay to game 1.
My game 1 was against rookie Nurgle, and I felt fairly confident when I kicked and she only set up to hit one of my saurus – bit of a tell that someone’s quite new. Lewdgrip failed the pickup in turn 1, then a both down on a single die in turn 2 before the pickup, and it was 1-0 to me. The game finished 4-1 I think, and with a solid win for our team, except for Hawca’s brand new wood elf miniatures being pitch cleared by some Chaos. Much fun. I also had one of those nice sporting moments that you can afford when you are multiple TDs up, where she had rolled the Really Stupid roll in the dice cup and I pointed out that it was a 4+ before she revealed the dice, so she could change her mind.
Then the mega-delay, and as the person who organised the software for Eurobowls in Belgium, Sweden and Wales as well as the last World Cup, I had a particularly viewpoint on this, and it was that my heart absolutely went out to the organisers, who had poured heart and soul into this tournament for the last 3 years and it was starting to go to rats. I just wanted it to work, and my help was offered, but they needed to sort it for themselves. And eventually did, happily.
I didn’t write games 2 or 3 down, and the NAF results aren’t up yet, but they were against rookie squads, and so we finished “day 1” with 3 good wins, which as we were using Tier 1 teams (mostly) meant that we had avoided the main banana skin – as an example, my Lizards were now up to 5 block, so in a lot more of a comfortable space. The only slightly dodgy moment was in a Lizard mirror match when at the start of my turn I stood up one of his players and then used that player as an assist for a 2-dice block, which my opponent thought was a half dice (which it was, but only because I had stood up his player!). I think in the end I took the dice roll back but left his player standing, but it was all a bit confusing.
Our game 4 was the most painful – we played Team Alfea, and it was a 123 loss. My game (and the squad) was looking incredibly comfortable at half time, but I got blitzed and it went wrong for a couple of others, including a snake eyes for hawca over the line. They were a good team, but it could have been very different!
Submarine time, as we faced Team Poland in all but name, and had a good chat about Eurobowl 2020 (I’ll be helping with the scoring!). I got my first wood elves, and when my skink failed the pickup, the game was pretty much over before it began. A 312 win for the squad though happily, and it definitely felt like I was taking the wood elf bullet for the team.
Pingu was next – not the lovable plasticine penguin, but a load of quite experienced Spanish BB players! I played against Pro Elves, and he proceeded to pretty much have the worst dice I have ever seen across the board from me. I did my best to give him some chances, but it finished 3-0 as he couldn’t do anything. Our first draw of 3 in a row, bizarrely.
Next was Pilou, a good French team, and more wood elves for me. I played ridiculously well in this one so only lost 1-0!
Next up was the Lutece Noobz, and my favourite game of the tournament against the splendid MaitreTactac and his Chaos – the first Chaos I’d faced. He received, and I bit my nails for the next two minutes, but I survived the LOS hits, and then felt happy as I proceeded to bully his team for the next 8 turns, finishing 0-0 at the half and with 11 players. I scored in 4 or 5 turns, which wasn’t super comfortable, but I was pleased with my “skink sacrifice”, where I left a blitz target next to the sideline which if he took meant he was out of position. He did, and he was!
I then defended and should have been able to keep him out, but one skink was misplaced at a critical point, and when he made 5 or 6 3+ dodges in a row he managed to squeak a draw.
With our 4-3-1 record, we then played a slighty easier team, and I got Underworld to finish my tournament off. It should have been super comfortable again, as more bullying pushed him deep into his own half, but some audacious dice rolling from skitter meant that I could have had a comfortable draw or push for a win. I pushed for the win, and was rewarded with a Glart double skulls, then a skitter snake eyes, and a 3-1 win, so a nice way to finish.
The squad finished 5-3-1, which left us on 15th, which was slightly below par, but still an awesome result, and I was pleased with my own 5-1-1 record (plus 2 wood elf games), as well as the excellent atmosphere in the squad.