Recording Live Blood Bowl

A bit of ongoing commentary on my adventures in recording live Blood Bowl – things I have tried, what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll probably leave a few questions unanswered, so if I do just drop me a line and I’ll happily answer any questions.

Equipment

I have an HP Pavilion G series laptop, if anyone cares to look up the spec – it’s not very powerful, of which more later.  I’m using a Logitech C920 USB webcam, which I have gaffer-taped to an old lamp so it can be pointed in various directions, and a separate USB microphone to pick up the sound.

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Software

I’ve used a few different combinations of software.  Before live-streaming, I had recorded the screen using Debut and then moved on to Open Broadcast Software (OBS), both free programmes.  When using Debut for screen capture I recorded the audio separately using Audacity, and then used Windows Movie Maker to combine the two.  This took an age, whereas live-streaming means the video is available straight away.

I had a look at Twitch, but I had already set up my YouTube account by this stage with a few videos on it, so I didn’t fancy making the switch.

So the easiest way to live stream is through Google Hangouts. This is the default option. To live stream on YouTube you create a live event, which needs an account in good standing (some videos already published, I think). Once you have done that it’s literally a couple of clicks to get your Hangout going.

I then found that it was a bit tricky to get the score, turns and dugout in clear view, so HairyPete suggested using OBS with an overlay.  This is a text box that allows you to put any text over the picture, by setting up a “scene”.  He and I played around for a while, before I put the call out on Twitter, and Christer (of Fumbbl fame) came to the rescue with a snazzy little app that updates a text file automatically.  This allowed me to just have a simple interface for increasing the score etc.

Overlay

In terms of getting YouTube going with OBS, this was straightforward, and there are lots of guides out there written by more technical people than me.

The only problem I found with OBS was the amount of computer power it took, and this is where my poor little laptop couldn’t really take it.  I couldn’t have any other programmes going at the same time, and had to reduce the frames per second (fps) to 10, down from the recommended 30.  I don’t think this affected the quality, however.

There were still occasional hangs, but mostly I think it was OK.  A better camera would probably improve the resolution, and a better computer would speed it up, but I am in no hurry to invest money in a niche activity!

I stopped using the overlay more recently, and adapted one of my boards to have a mini-dugout on it, copied (I think) from a Dutch Open design.

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Once an event appears on YouTube, you can edit it, trim it etc, but only if it’s less than 2 hours, which I learned to my cost as some of mine have half an hour of nothing at the beginning while I wait for my opponent!  Will do first half and second half in future, I think.

Hope that was helpful, questions and comments welcome!

Blood Bowl v NinjaHamster

I had the webcam set up to livestream Lycos’s 1000th game, and then recorded game 2. Took a different approach to game 3 by using the webcam to take snapshots at various points in the game. This is my Humans with a wizard against NinjaHamster’s Necro.

I kicked, and this was the starting set up.  NH set up fairly deep, with only 3 on the line – I tend to pack the line when receiving to get as many blocks in as possible, hoping to remove the line of scrimmage if possible.  When kicking I have 3 on the line, with the big guy behind to dissuade following up.  My 3 blitzers are protecting the vulnerable catchers and throwers behind.

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The kick went short, and NH gathered his forces at the top of the board.  After a few turns this was the position.  He pushed forward after this and I managed to dodge out but not get down the blodge ghoul.  Thought about using the wizard, but was not in a position to capitalise.  After 3 games where I have kicked I am starting to think that when having a wizard receiving is actually the better option, as it keeps the psychological effect in play for longer.  After this position NH scored, giving me a few turns to score back.

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A wiser man would have taken a pic of my setup, but I forgot.  The kick went deep, but my thrower and ag4 catcher combo meant that after receiving I got into this position with my cage just over the line and the catcher within scoring range.  NH put some nice pressure on and I used a reroll early in the turn, leading to two unprotected GFI for the score.

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Made it!

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I received in the second half , and a touchback meant that I could get the catcher in a nice cage early on (top of picture).  Still no wizard used.

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Nice little position here, little tricky to see.  Start of NH’s turn, and my catcher has retreated a bit after it got a bit crowded near the sideline.  NH has a flesh golem a couple of squares away, with a werewolf nearby, so spots the opportunity for a nice chain push to put the golem next to the ball carrier.  Does so successfully, but doesn’t get the reward of a pow or both down (neither golem nor catcher has block).Snapshot_20150221_8

After the chain push:

Snapshot_20150221_9

It was one of those positions though where the manpower needed to make it work means that if it fails (i.e. no pow) there is a gap, so my lot zoomed through the line and protected the catcher.  At 1-1, and with a wizard in hand, I should have scored rather than stalled.

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But I stalled, running the catcher over and not protecting him properly.  The wight (NH happily pointing at him!) needed a dodge and then two gfi’s to hit me, which I realised but allowed. Oops, both down (last reroll gone on the dodge).

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Ball bounces in to the end zone.  Not a problem, my catcher at the top of the screen can reach it and… fail the pick up, bounce into the crowd, head towards half way line.  Argh!

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Many shenanigans ensued, and I eventually had to lightning bolt a ghoul to get the ball back, and do a quick pass with the blitzer to get the score.  The morale of the story, if you can go ahead and still have a wizard, don’t stall!

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Fun game, excellent opponent.  Finished day 2-0-1.  On to Sunday!

Ed’s Poster

ed

  1. What does blacklist mean?
  2. Isn’t this true already?  Or is it 20 hours?
  3. Don’t know what ISDS/TTIP means.  What effect would repealing the act have?
  4. Good idea with Free Schools.  Have always hated the words “Bedroom Tax”.  People probably shouldn’t have bigger houses than they need?
  5. State control of prices without state control of businesses seems like a mistake.
  6. Why Bankers’ Bonuses and not all Bonuses?  Bankers are not evil.
  7. Building homes is a good idea.
  8. How will guaranteed jobs work?  Sounds nice!
  9. The NHS is flawed as people are living so long, it can never have enough money. No idea what the answer is.
  10. Not sure what I think about renationalisation.  Can’t see it being a good idea, but don’t feel strongly.
  11. Raising the threshold for tax-free seems more sensible.

Would have been easier if he had numbered them!

Who to vote for?

With the election in 5 months, the media is all about the beginning of May, and not just because of my birthday (or even partly).  So who to vote for?

The public finances are in a bit of a state.  The massive deficit does seem to be a bit of a problem, as it does mean that a lot of taxes go to servicing debt.  Gordon Brown did talk about the economic cycle, but that didn’t seem to work.  So it would be nice to reduce the deficit.

Cuts are probably necessary, but wouldn’t have been necessary if Labour hadn’t made such profligate increases.  Belt-tightening only hurts if you are too large to start with.

So probably not Labour.  Though Anne Snelgrove seems to be a good egg, despite her too-political tweets.  But the negativity there might just be a necessary by-product of the political system, which is obviously flawed.  The worst except for all the others, possibly.

So Tory?  What’s wrong with voting Tory?  Rob Buckland seems to be doing a good job for Swindon in Parliament, but I do have a slight bias against white middle-class Oxbridge types (like me) because it would be nice for Parliament to be representative.

And voting Tory just seems wrong, to be honest.  Working in state education means a frequent anti-Tory union agenda, which is difficult to resist.  The Academy agenda just seems a bit unnecessary, and the changes to GCSEs etc are spectacularly ill-thought-through (can you double hyphenate?).  But if cuts are necessary, who else will implement them?

So are cuts necessary?  Could tax rises work instead?  Obviously getting large international corporations to pay tax would be a good idea, but everyone wants to do that and no-one seems able.  High tax on ridiculously large incomes (£2m+?) seems like a good idea, as do crazy things like a maximum wage as well as a minimum wage, so maybe that means I should vote Green.  But they will never win in Swindon, where it’s a two-horse race.  Or maybe not this time round, if UKIP rock the boat and the Green surge continues.

I would also find it very difficult to vote Green because of the name, and that I don’t especially buy into the Green agenda.  I believe in climate change (because I’m sane) but until India, China and the US start changing their behaviour it won’t make a huge amount of difference for the UK to do so. So I’ll recycle, but I won’t get solar panels (or whatever the international metaphor is).

Speaking of wasted votes, there is then the economic problem that the difference one vote can make is miniscule, and it is very difficult to decide who to vote for, so it takes a lot of energy reading manifestos etc, which in economic terms is irrational because the difference you can make is much less than the energy required.  So there are better ways of making a difference, and hopefully I do some of them (like, erm, teaching…).

But to vote is good!  So the sensible thing to do is to find someone you trust, and ask them who to vote for.  But I am yet to be convinced by anyone’s arguments.

Would like to be convinced.  Go on, convince me.

Christmas Gaming Ch 4

To wrap up the Christmas gaming period – returned home a few days ago and was promptly struck down with a horrible bug, consigning me to my bed for about 48 hours.

In the meantime, what had happened?  My elder brother mentioned that his son was keen to play Risk, so we dug out the old family edition (about 35 years old) and dusted off the old dice, though updated it by adding some nice Perudo dice of matching colours to the armies and Perudo dice cups (I love a good dice cup).  First game went smoothly, but then we played again later and as I’d had a few glasses of wine I didn’t give enough thought to how to level the playing field, as this time I was playing against two rookies.  I duly played to win, and thus did.  Tears ensued.

The next morning the boys played against each other, and there were mild fisticuffs.  Love Risk.

Upon returning home (before starting shaking and other unpleasant things) I again dug out some Lord of the Rings Risk, this time last used about 10 years ago!  lotrrisk2

This is the same as the original, but on Middle Earth, with special figures (for 1,3,5 instead of 1 and 10) and with a few optional special rules to do with fortresses (+1 to defence) and Leaders (+1 to defence and attack).  I also decided some extra special rules where children get 3 extra reinforcements per turn.  Predictably, this time I lost (a bit too heavily, so 3 was probably too many…)

Final gaming addition after the family party on the other side was Holiday Fluxx, lots of fun as are all the foolish Fluxx games.  Back to school on Monday, ah well!

Christmas Gaming Ch 3

Family party today, a few goodies for me and others.  Got a couple of expansions for King of Tokyo – the Halloween one to replace some of my missing dice and then the Power expansion because I heard it was awesome.  Didn’t think it through unfortunately so the main set is still in Swindon – oops!  Looking forward to playing it again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I forgot that I had put Hey, that’s my Fish on Alex’s wishlist, and that turned up.  Beautiful little game, 2 mins to learn and 15 minutes to play.  Suitable for children and adults too, and both together.

Got Set as well, and not overly enamoured with the “out of the box” rules.  Great idea,  but shouting out when you spot a set (instead of taking turns, or timed) was never going to work very well with my lot.  Going to have to do “get as many sets as you can in 30 seconds” or something like that.  Also doesn’t help that Linus has a ridiculously sharp mind, so will dominate almost anyone he plays against.  Tricky.

More 3-player chess, Dad unimpressed with the change to the rules.  I still like it though.

Creationary in the evening (like Pictionary but Lego), good fun but a bit too much scope for random guessing.

Not allowed to play Cards Against Humanity in my parents’ house, so that will have to wait for another day…

Christmas Gaming Ch 2

Quite a quiet one on Boxing Day, woke up and helped Linus stick his Chaos Dwarves together.  This inspired me to clear out my painting table, and review all the half-finishd projects that I have on the go:

  • Thrud holding the NAF shield from Thrudball last year.
  • New snotlings for my Ogre team – I multiple-ordered the Greebo buggers, and now have about 30 of them.  16 or 17 are now stuck together, and I’m seriously considering an all-snotling team for a tournament next year – possibly a one-dayer.
  • Finishing the flesh golems.  My Necro team has never had any proper ones (mummy proxies don’t block well), and I took Necro without flesh golems to the NAFC, which was fairly disastrous.
  • New hobgobs for my chaos dwarves, as the original ones were a bit big.  I’ve been sticking together the greebo ones today.  Absolutely nightmare.  And I’ve run out of super glue.

So lots to be keeping busy with, along with a Duel entry for NAFC and an ogre for the Waterbowl legacy team.

In terms of games, lots of 3-player chess.  This is an amazing game, which I can play with the boys and try my hardest and not win – exactly what I want in a game!  It’s brilliant in that there is only one winner, so you need to work with and against the other two players depending on the situation.  Classic diplomacy.

Christmas Gaming Ch 1

A quick record of the multitude of games played in the Davies household over Christmas!

  • Blood Bowl. Naturally.  On Cyanide, Fumbbl, and tabletop.  Tabletop Tuesday, had a family friend over so we had 2 games on the go. My ogres lost to Linus’s Lizards.  Kind of proud…
  • Talisman (2nd ed), though obviously didn’t finish.  I didn’t play this one, just the three boys.  They chose the Dragon King as the final quest, which was an error.  I am a purist and like the Crown of Command – lose a life or admit defeat!
  • Forbidden Island, just me and Linus.  We won!  Though were on novice, and the waters didn’t rise for absolutely ages, which made life fairly easy.  I was the Engineer and Linus the pilot.  Classic combo.
  • Carcassone, with Princess/Dragon extra tiles, but not the Princess and Dragon themselves, as I think they spoil the game.

Thrudball 2014

Thrudball has always been a special tournament for me – it was my third ever BB tournament back in 2007, and a massive step up in size after the 12-man Strongbowl and a one dayer as part of Conflict South. I took Ogres back then, and was very pleased to get the Most Sporting award and a 1/2/3 record, including a 3-0 win over MattWhile’s Orcs in his first tournament (he’s had plenty of revenge since). I had to miss a load due to the unfortunate scheduling of a wedding anniversary and various family holidays, but returned last year and found it bigger and better than ever, with free camping in the grounds of the community centre and all the foolishness intact.

I took Lizards as part of my training for Eurobowl, as I am part of Team Scotland, having last participated in Spain in 2008. I’d played them at Crumbbowl (201), NAF Champs (420), Cakebowl (420) and Gert (312) and was enjoying them immensely after previously going all round the houses and completing the 24 races. This tournament was also special as it was my eldest son Linus’s first tournament at the age of 9. Exciting times!

I took 4 Block Saurus, also with Leader, MB, Tackle and Guard.  This left cash for 2 more Saurus, a Krox and 4 Skinks, plus 2RR and an Apo.  I used the Apo every game, including on a KO’d Saurus in the 2nd half and 3 first half skinks.

Many fantastic plans were made for Friday night camping, but unfortunately the tail end of Hurricane Bertha (Bigfist) hit and most of these were scuppered, leading to fish and chips in the car. On to the games!

Game 1 v FunnyValentine’s Pact

Slightly put out (not really) to be on bottom table for the first game, I was facing a French coach with 2 dirty players going for the Fouling award (as well as the wins).  The game mostly involved his big guys rolling 1s, as they often do, although his ClawJugs Mino was a pain in the backside until it was removed.  I managed to turn him over and scored in turn 5, figuring that a 3 turn score with Pact is hard and if I could sneak a second that would give me the game.  Went in at 1-0 and made it 2-0 in the second half.

Lunch was some fabulous pies, and the sun had come out, so there were lots of activities like Smite, Zorbing and the ubiquitous ball games.

Game 2 v Rubick’s Skaven

The roll of 1 played another important part in this game.  I managed some early pressure on the ball carrier, but the rats would have been away but for an unfortunate snake eyes.  My skinks failed to secure the ball, and when he got it back I was worried, but another snake eyes (whoopee!) messed him up completely, and then the rats left the pitch.  Quickly.  3-1 in the end.

Game 3 v Mozzerman’s High Elves

In his first tournament Mozzerman had just beaten my son’s Undead, so revenge was due.  He had an Ag 5 leaper, but he was left unprotected at a critical point so got a Saurus to the face, which wasn’t fatal but bad enough to mess up the drive for him.  My Tackle Saurus had fun against the blodging blitzers, and the game finished 3-0.

Saturday evening was the auction, and I avoided spending crazy cash on silly things, though was very pleased to see that others did, including £80 on some block dice cushions and many £10s on dice.  All to a good cause!  More excellent food and good gaming action also ensued, and the rain most held off until Sunday morning, which dawned grey and grizzly, but did not dampen anyone’s mood!

Game 4 v Gninocker’s Lizards

At the end of Saturday 4 teams were on 3 wins, and the other two were Woodies and Orcs.  As long as I avoided the former I was happy, and so it proved.  Having had pretty good dice on Day 1, on Day 2 they really went to town, with an opening Blitz for me putting massive pressure on the ball carrier and his Krox dying in turn 2 (no apo for him).  Gninocker had made the trip over from Belgium, and had won most Thrudlike the night before, so was making the most of the experience, including his first time on Table 1.   He had played a lot of NAF tournaments but not with Lizards.  A massive scrum in the centre put his skink in a lot of trouble, but I didn’t take a both down with a rookie saurus, hoping to keep him contained, and he managed to chain push the skink to freedom and score in his turn 3.  A 6-turn and 7-turn drive later, and the result was 2-1.

Game 5 v Basurdi’s Orcs

The Lutece v Lutece game went to the Orcs, but the refs had refused to tell me this, so I didn’t know until the draw came out who I would be facing.  +2 fame for me and a pitch invasion later, and Basurdi was heard to mutter “j’ai perdu”.  It was difficult to argue with that, as the kick was short and the goblin ball carrier ended up in blitzing range of the Block/Tackle Saurus.  An amazing turn 8 sequence of rolls for him (3+,4+,3+,3+,3+,4+,3+,2+) with only 1 dodge reroll to play with made it 1-1 at the half and kept it interesting, as did a mistake by me in turn 16 which kept the TTM play alive, but I held on for another 2-1 win.

Game 6 v Kwek’s Halflings (!)

I was packing up the tent between games 5 and 6, so missed the original draw that would have put me against PeterD’s CDs.  I’ve never played Peter, despite being at a few tournaments with him, and would have liked to as he is thoroughly nice chap, but had to rub my eyes when the redraw (due to a data entry error and random matchups between those on the same points) put me against Kwek’s Flings, who were having a great tournament and were on 401 (he’s got the hang of them after 200 NAF Halfling games!).  Kwek started very strongly, making me use my apo on a skilled Saurus in turn 1 and then killing my krox in turn 2, but my Block/Tackle Saurus (again) removed a fling a turn, and then when I realised the pressure was getting too much I sacrificed my players against the trees, making the TTM too much of a risk.  The flings couldn’t escape the clutches of the surrounding Saurus, and the moot was doomed.  Kwek is an amazing guy to play, and one of the highlights was when he set up on defence with all 3 trees together and I marked them all with a skink to avoid the blitz.  Turned out I was the only coach all tournament to do that!  At 2-0 I did a corner kick for entertainment value which led to a one-turn score, followed by a Blitz result and a nice kick which could have been nasty, but there weren’t enough little guys left, and the game finished 3-1.

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I had won the tournament, including most TDs and third (I think) in most Cas.  The icing on the cake was Linus winning Dockbowl (BB on a ship, competed for by the bottom 4 coaches at the end of game 5),as well as Most Sporting.

sporting

One more tournament to go before Belgium, with a trip to Exebowl in October.  Already planning which teams to go next, thinking a return to Stunty for a while, and possibly a Thrud-themed team for next year…

See Lunchmoney’s photos here.

 

 

State of the NAFtion

Without my NAF hat on, here are my thoughts about where the NAF should be going and what it should be doing.  Most of this stands whether or not there is a nice new box in October.

The website obviously needs an overhaul.  It should offer members and non-members different things, in a way that might be complicated to set up.
– An easy way for a tournament organiser to provide all the information that potential attendees might need, including an upload of the rulepack, a link to the forum thread, all on one page.  This would improve this page:

tourneypage

– This would need to be accessible to all without paying membership, otherwise it would not be used by tournament organisers (one of the reasons at the moment).
– There should then be a Members section, where you can view the Matches that took place, download the Score file, and read a tournament report.
– The Library section should be a central repository for all things to do with tabletop Blood Bowl, with links to excellent sites like Plasmoid’s playbooks, bbgridiron.com, bbtactics, GW and so on, a catalogue of suppliers of Fantasy Football models.  This is particularly necessary as Googling Blood Bowl I suspect will hit the Cyanide version more often than not.  This should be a Members only service.
– There should be a new League section, offering the service that stuntyleeg offers, or used to, in that any BB league should be able to get access to OBBLM without having to install it themselves.  This would need people to be NAF Members if they are part of the league.
– The NAF Newsletter should go to Members, and all the content accessible to Members only.  At the moment this isn’t possible because of the functionality of thenaf.net, so content resides on nafnewsletter.com.
– The Rankings are excellent, I think, and don’t need any fiddling with.  If the doubleskulls analysis could be automated and incorporated into the website, that would be great.  Rankings and all analysis should be Members only.
– The Forum should be part Members and part non-Members, with all the tournament threads in a non-Members section, but with frequent hints about all the lovely stuff that can be found in the Members section.

Now all of the above is website-based, but some of it should be possible under the current structure.  If there were a new structure at some point, it should bear the above in mind. In terms of non-website things:

– The NAF should have a Recruitment Organiser, who organises and supports demoing by local people at non-BB tournaments and events such as Salute.  Obviously, the NAF is not trying to sell the game, but is trying to get people to play it, which would be a very different take for demo stands.  With a standard setup and a standard set of simplified rules for demo games, this would make organising demos a lot easier.
– Without block dice, the “collectable” bit of merchandising should be rethought – maybe different coloured badges or patches for each year of membership.  These could become as collectable as block dice, possibly.
– The membership should be reduced to around $5, as this will make it a lot easier for people to make the decision to join, and without the draw of block dice something needs to be done.  However, the point has been made frequently that there needs to be something you get for your membership.  All the website stuff that I mentioned above would I think be worth this nominal member fee, but without knowledge of the accounts I don’t know if this would make the NAF viable.

I may think of more later, but I think that’s it for just now.

Mike (June 2013, just before I learned what the plans were for thenaf.net)