12 Questions to ... Squiggy.
I tried to work out a system for my series of interviews. The goal being to talk with as many coaches as possible, I try to make sure to harass them indiscriminately, without regards for division, ranking, fame or race played. Then, having received the agreement of a future victim - 'cause contentment is a thing - I try to do some research about them, so I don't end up asking question about elf ball to a Khemri coach. This time the research was both easy and humbling, for my vis-à-vis is rather notorious amongst us Blood Bowl coaches.
Living in Manchester, England, he's part of clan THICC; plays in ReBBL's Big O, Speed O, Lineman League, XSessively Elfly Open; ReBBRL's Upstart League; Villeynich's BLUA, and SkyblueMonty's Big Lucker League. He roamed the three conferences of the ReBBL and seems to be a member of every Blood Bowl related Discord I stumble upon. I heard him described as the closest thing to a rockstar Blood Bowl can have.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Squiggy !
After exchanging the usual greetings, and having adorned Nuffle with a few choice epithets, I humbly start asking my questions.
Q: How long have you been playing Blood Bowl for ? And how did you get into such a hard drug ?
A: 26 years I think. I started in high school when a friend showed me the tabletop version and, aside from one break, I've been playing it more or less consistently since in one format or another.
I played Warhammer even earlier, but my mother got sick of my demands for more models, more paints, more everything; and told me to pick a game, let her know exactly what would be needed, and that could be my hobby. I chose Blood Bowl and four teams, and here we are all those years later.
[I've been playing in the ReBBL] five seasons, so far. I joined ReBBL a season before I created ReBBRL.
If there is one thing I knew meeting Mr Squiggs, it was that we would have to talk about the ReBBRL, so I promised to return to the topic later on.
Q: I see you've been playing Dark Elves the past two seasons, and Wood Elves before. Is your love for elves only ? Or is there any race you enjoy particularly playing competitively ?
A: I LOVE Norse. They're by far my favourite team. However, they're far from my BEST team.
I'm just an elf coach who has no regard for their player's well-being if them dying means another tick in the W column.And an elf coach who plays without fear is a scary, scary prospect. Morka, for example.
[...] My favourite thing in the game, however, is chainpushes. I LOVE chainpushes. And Norse, with frenzy, cheap linemeat, strong fast ulfs and a whole lot of reliability, are golden for it.
Q: How do you regard your own play style ? And is there any coach(es) you try to emualte habits from ?
A: I am a very, very good player-on defence. My offence is awful without AG4. WITH ag4, I can use math and positioning to make magic happen on defence, and muddle through in a half-assed manner on offence.
For defence, nobody has taught me more than Sandune, although he may not know this. I have watched literally hundreds of his games in an effort to learn from his immaculate positioning and defensive skills.
On offence, Morka is a clear and obvious influence, and someone I look up to on and off the pitch.
Also, although he plays in a completely insane manner and teams no normal person would call good, SkyblueMonty. He has the best offensive positioning and ball protection of any coach I've met despite playing stunties.
I ask him about the bet he has going on with Rocky. After replying that he didn't know about it and having both agreed the Minors wouldn't take Rocky back anyway; Squiggy spoke good words regarding Rocky's abilities and promising potential before we moved on to the topic of the ReBBRL.
Q: I think it's time you tell me more on your relationship with the ReBBRL. How it came to fruition, and so on.
A: Well, basically when Blood Bowl 2 came out, I bought it instantly, as I had played almost three thousand hours of Blood Bowl one. However, my computer couldn't run it very well: ingame, at best, on minimum settings - no grass, no spectators, 800x600 resolution - my old rig from 2005 was getting 5 fps. 2-3 if it rained. So, I thought to myself "Myself, why don't you try to do something within the community rather than within the game?"
On the BB subreddit at the time, the most common threads were "This game is biased", "CoL is crap", "There's nowhere to learn unless you want to play the AI forever". So: I had free time, the game, 20 years of experience with the game, a decent reputation within the BB community, and a lot of evidence that new players were struggling...and I was worried that with that, plus Cyanide's at the time deserved reputation for not following through with games/bugs/issues, the game would die out.
I figured I could at least do a little something about that, so I created a 12 person league, spoke to three friends I knew who had played for a while, and set out to find myself eight newish players willing to take a chance on a small, friendly league they could learn in. Four hours later we had twenty applicants so, we made it a 24 player league.
By the end of week two, we had another 15 people asking if they could join, and by the end of the season, with application open for S2, we were looking at around seventy players, 50ish of them brand new to Blood Bowl.
Q: So how long did you take part into managing the ReBBRL before taking a step back ?
A: For the first season, I ran it solo. Ironically, I did so despite the league I was playing before ReBBL turning me down as both a moderator AND admin because I didn't have what it takes, according to their team.
Second season was WAY too big for that, so I asked three of the guys who took part in season one who showed serious promise, as well as having experience with social media and admin, to help out. BIG shout to Ghazgkull, Cakengrad and Zuark for that! Also, Walkerthon, who helped set up the very first season of our mentor and training program.
I was then digesting the amount of informations given to me, and trying to comprehend the strength of his love and commitment to Blood Bowl. Squiggy took me off my stride and a series of comments regarding his actual season were exchanged. Until I finally regained control over my own interview and dragged the conversation on the terrain of One Minute Showtime.
Q: We reached the "Show Me Your Speed O" part of the interview. How many times have you taken part in the One Minute Showtime league ?
A: Two, I'm trying to make my gimmicks sillier and sillier as time goes on. First time out was wood elves with no wardancers, no rerolls, no apo, and no taking the block skill.
Q: And this time you play Kislev linemen only, with no team Reroll.
A: And no taking +agi.
Q: You're a bloody masochist.
A: No, I'm just trying to keep it interesting.
As you can tell, I was losing control of the interview again and struggled to wrestle it back. Without success for a while, as we tangent into a talk about bad dice. Then I managed to remember I was supposed to interview him.
Q: At this stage, I usually ask people what kind of dice check/result they would use to summarise their Speed O outfit trajectory this season.
A: a 3+. I know elves usually live and die by the 2+, but I've found that with my teams, the key moments tend to be when I find the courage/stupidity to attempt the slightly riskier plays for the much larger rewards. For example, picking up a ball an ag3 player failed to pick up, in a tackle zone, before dodging out to score. If the 3+ fails, your team can be, and often is, in for a world of hurt, whereas succeeding can win the game before its even properly in full swing.
[...]For elves, its either a last resort, or a balls to the wall game-changing play. And balls to the wall is how elves SHOULD be played.
Q: So I guess you're not a 2-1 grind in control kind of guy ? More of a 4-3 shoot out or a tight one with a YOLO play to steal the win ?
A: Actually my favourite result is a 2-0 win. Because it means I did my job on defence, and stole the ball to score, then implemented a successful elfstall to score T16 for 2-0.
I do love me a good shootout, can't deny that, but 2-0 means I played a good, intelligent game.
Sidetracking ensued once more. I decided to let it go and enjoy the ride.
Q: So. After such an amount of games under your belt, do you have any favourite player skill ? Or one that you don't give a crap about ?
A: Diving tackle! Man, I love diving tackle. I have literally written haikus about it. It's a skill that nobody expects, and so many people forget about, but used correctly it is SO good.
Aside from that, if we're talking a skill that is effective, rather than fun, Kick. Kick has won me more games than any other skill, including staples such as dodge and guard. At the risk of repeating myself (ReBBRL coaches are sick of me saying this...) I feel every team needs kick, for different reasons, but that any team who has it is inherently stronger than one which does not, regardless of if you use it to score fast, defend tighter, unbalance a slow team, punish a weak setup, surf bitches, whatever.
Kick makes everything better.
Skills I don't care about...well, none. However, I think some need a rework. For example, sneaky git...it's crap. but we could make it good and fun, and fluff-themed, SO easily.
For example, how about if sneaky git acted like guard...but on fouls?
Q: What about kick off events ? Any you enjoy ? Any you think could use some rework?
A: Throw a rock can go die in a fire.
Blitz, perfect defence, quick snap can all be mitigated, played around and defended against. The reroll results are thematic and fun. But rocks? No.
Riot I don't mind, and pitch invasion, although a nuisance, and can cost you a touchdown, isn't going to cost you a player for something you have no control over.
I'm famous for not caring about the health of my players...if they die to something that actually matters
Being hit by a rock because dice say so, no matter what you have done, isn't fun.
We then, surprisingly, segue into a discussion over how to change the Rock event and stadium enhancements.
Q: Do you have any favourite snack and beverage to recommend for those Blood Bowl games ?
A: Yes! I never play a match without either a can of energy drink or a whiskey (delete depending on if the sun is over the yardarm).
And although I rarely eat when playing, I chew SO much gum. The missus knows when I am having a bad game as she hears what she calls "angry chewing" from across the room.
Q: And then, my last question (to have people do my work for me) is : Swag is the next on the line, anything you'd like me to ask him ? Or any question I should ask to people in general ?
A: I'd like to know how he's always so cheerful! but that is a personal thing rather than Blood Bowl related.
In Blood Bowl terms, I'd like to know why he plays the teams he does, and where his team themes come from.Team themes are a great question, as some people put a LOT of time and effort into them, only for them not to be noticed in, say, recaps.
And getting people to talk about something they created is the easiest thing in the world, example...Me, ReBBRL.
As with each and every one of my interviewee, I want to thank Squiggy greatly for offering me his time and reflexions. Not to mentions all those side talks about the game, the community, the mechanisms, etc.
I do hope dear reades that you will take as much pleasure reading this interview as I had doing it. And I certainly wish to bring you more of the same in the future.
A man tried to dodge
A simple dice roll, three plus
Diving tackle, splat