A Brief Moment With ...
As the season is winding down, and the play-off hype revving up, we reach the end of the first group of interviews. Despite having been gratuitously questioned on my journalistic integrity by some jealous individuals, I pride myself in giving Big O coaches the same opportunities to spout their insanity in our paper. Hence today's interview, that you'd be sad to miss.
My last guest of the season is, like yours truly, a rather new addition to the Big O directory. Hailing from Adelaide, South Australia, he's one of the inhabitants of that strange Australia Central Timezone. When not playing in the Big O, you'll find him experimenting in CCL, with some Vampires these days. We were noobs together in 4B during season 8 where he managed the auspiciously named Pro Elf band "Inevitably Dead". He's now leading division 4A with his Orc team "Da Kahoonaz", which he will take to the play-offs.
Ladies and Gentlemen: AnteaterReborn !
I'm curious, how did you pick "AnteaterReborn" as your nickname ?
It goes back a long time, actually. When the original Age of Empires came out (must've been something like 95), I signed up to play online on 'The Zone' - an old Microsoft gaming service. I had no ideas for a name, and their random generator suggested Wooden Anteater, so I took it. Had that for like 15 years on everything I played, until my Xbox Live profile by that name got hacked and locked down. So I rebirthed it as Anteater Reborn
How did you end up playing Blood Bowl?
I'm a GW fan from way back, played Hero Quest as a kid, and a lot of fantasy prior to the abomination that is Age of Sigmar. Really like the universe, and BB was kind of always on the edge of my radar. Finally picked it up with the release of BB2 about 2 years ago now - I think there must have been an ad on Steam or Live that caught my attention.
Fell in love/addiction very very quick, which I think is probably a pretty common experience. I reckon I've probably played about 300 games since then, and I've developed a disturbing habit of the game occupying a disproportionate amount of my free time
We've all been there, and some of us still are at that stage.
What did make you jump into the ReBBL then?
ReBBL gets a LOT of really positive promotion out there. I reckon Sage's stream brought it to my attention first, and I'd run across the league on Reddit as well. I keep finding myself getting about 15 games into teams on CCL before life gets in the way and I can't properly develop a team, so thought it'd be good to get into a perpetual league to have a proper chance to keep a team going.
And then chose to run Pro Elves. And name them the Inevitably Dead.
Safe to say I didn't get a great experience of the whole 'keep a team going' thing.
That 'keep a team going' thing seems indeed pretty critical to enjoy playing Blood Bowl, especially with the late blooming races.
So what are your plans for the ReBBL, I assume you're staying next season; thinking about getting a bit more involved in the community maybe ?
Yep, I'll certainly be hanging around for a little while. I'd like to take a bit more of a role - though I'm nowhere near pretty enough for streaming, and not much of a writer. I reckon it'd be fun to help out in ReBBRL perhaps - I think that's an awesome initiative. I'm not sure whether they need mentors or something, and I don't hold myself as a whole lot more than beginner on the scale of BB, but it's always fun to help out with that sort of thing.
I am pretty sure ReBBL and ReBBRL will look positively to any help offer they get. Hell, they let me write here for a whole season and nobody stopped me ...
Talking about the ReBBL, any league in the ReBBL, beside the normal championship, that caught your eye and you think about joining ?
Haven't given it a lot of thought, TBH, though I reckon the one minute league could be a lot of fun! Obviously a tough way to play the game, especially as I'm a relatively slow player as is (apologies to my opponents!). But I reckon knowing you just have to play on muscle memory, and react to situations rather than think through things really deeply would actually take the pressure off. I've enjoyed some of the gimmicks people have been carrying too - I think I saw someone only handling the ball with Saurus? Madness. Morka's netball Helves are pretty great too.
Beyond that though, I reckon I'm happy enough with the Championship for now.
There are some amazing gimmicks in 1mn league. Win or lose, it is always a good laugh. I cannot recommend enough participating in it.
Why did you pick orcs this time? Tired of AV7?
Like I was saying earlier, I'm definitely an Elf coach by preference. In general not even that worried about the low AV, beyond the obvious frustration when players die of course. But I really wanted to get a feel of the opposite end of the BB spectrum, and figure Orcs are that opposite end!
As a rule I'd prefer to win games via out-positioning rather then removal focused play, and I'm definitely not a fan of the whole clawPOMB stack situation, so went the Orcs route. They're solid, consistent, and fairly low variance, which I figured would help my positioning game. Ideally, I'd really love to develop them into a frenzy / grab / SF sideline dominance team - I reckon that'd be great fun.
I still love my elf BS though. And these Orcs have been surprisingly capable of pulling off some outrageous agility play, so that's nice
T'is true, I often find myself surprised by Orcs pulling off some agility play, having forgotten that most of their roster is AG3.
What's the theme of your actual team, and how did you pick it ?
My team, Da Kahoonaz, are pretty much themed around that sideline control concept. Pretty heavily inspired by Point Break, the players are all named for great surfers or stereotypical surfer names. The plan's to go Block, Guard, Grab/SF on the Blorcs, 1 or two frenzy Blitzers, the rest with Grab/SF, and lots of Guard everywhere and diving tackle on most doubles to tie things up and prep surfs. Right now they're a little vanilla as they really need those core skills, but hopefully they'll be fun in a couple hundred more SPP!
I think they have a good base.You had a rough season though...
Ah, yeah. That's a thing. [...] Plenty to go on with now - the Blorcs have seen some great progress which is pretty much the hardest part. To be fair, I've had a pretty great season bar one brutal game against Yasmirr and He-Rat. 3 dead orcs and one retired in the same game put the brakes on pretty hard.
Incidentally, I'm playing him again this week, in the last game before Finals. So, ahhhh, Yasmirr, if you're listening, don't kill me.
Don't play him before Monday if you want the message to go through...
Oh, OK, we play Sunday, so in that case can we replace it with - 'Goddamnit Yasmirr, why did you kill me?'
Because let's be realistic, we all know this isn't gonna be pretty. Low TV underworld are scary.
I heard a few times Underworld being called the most efficient low TV kill team, so there must be some truth in that. Plus, He-Rat is a beast.
Talking about your near future, do you know who you'll be facing in the Play offs ?
It's still a toss-up, but first round is against the Minor's League champ. I think there's still 4 options, but it's broadly claw bash teams plus a human team. All up around 1750-1900 TV, so likely to be tough matchups. TrueBlu, AussieVikingr are the names I recognise in there.
So probs pretty tough games, but that's to be expected for a first round team. On the plus side, bribes are fun, and when you're heavily down TV, you've got to play a little more high variance to make things happen.
When in doubt, kick something.
Sounds like more than one coach made this their blood Bowl motto.
Without cursing your team, which race would you consider playing after Pro Elves and Orcs for competitive settings ?
Yep, while I imagine these Orcs are obviously going to be around for six or seven seasons... it's gotta be Vamps. I've played about 15 games with them in CCL, and they're just disgusting when they get going. So. Much. Fun. If you can bring yourself to last the grind until they get going.
And for some reason Hypno-gaze has been replaced with Roofie-gaze in my head.
What would you say is your proudest achievement as a Blood Bowl coach to this day ?
Probably a little obvious, but getting through to the playoffs in ReBBL's pretty great
Do you have any special way to prepare for your games ?
I do like to get a look at my opponent's last game or two, to get a bit of an idea about their strengths or weaknesses. It doesn't always produce results, but any bit of insight's useful. Otherwise I'll try to have an idea of how I'm going to handle their key players and a broad strategy for the game.
And then one of the teams dies, and I wonder why I wasted my time
What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses then ?
Hmm, that's a question.
Strengths - I think I'm pretty good at controlling the urge to get greedy. There's always that temptation to take an extra 2+ pass in front of the opponent when a handoff would do, and I try and stay focused on the win wherever possible. Otherwise I enjoy trying to see how the game's developing in the next couple of turns and playing for that, rather than just the position that's in front of me, and think that helps a lot.
Weaknesses - I'm way too invested in the game! Like, I've kept myself up thinking about mistakes or interesting situations, and if I do something silly I can absolutely tilt. And you can bait me with a surf, pretty much always to my detriment.
Keeping my greed on a leash was one of these moment where I felt I was progressing, indeed. Never got that surf fever though...
How do you try to think and practice in order to get better ?
In terms of us practicing as relatively new players, I really think there is absolutely no substitute for just getting out and playing games. There are so many situations and matchups that I think you can get value just by getting exposure to as many of them as possible.
Beyond that, I'm a big advocate of mindful practice in any pursuit, and I think that can be applied to BB. Things like watching replays of situations you didn't handle well and finding the best solution to that scenario, as well as seeing how better players handle similar spots.
And if you can handle the thrashings, play better players as much as possible. Watching better players is great, but there's something clarifying about having your arse handed to you.
Oh, and in terms of thinking - as I said earlier, taking winning or losing out of the equation, and making the goal of your play to make the best of every scenario. Even if you're three TDs down and half your team's dead, there's still an optimal play to be made. If your win condition is making the right play each time, rather than winning, I think you'll improve faster.
Which player skill is the most fun to use for you ?
Frenzy or grab. If only they could go on the same player.
Hey, drink or drive... Got to chose, can't have both.
Do you have a favourite Star Player ?
Eldril. Because which Elf doesn't want 5 Pro-Elf catchers on the pitch at once? And also Roofie-Gaze
Roxanna's a close second.
Some still call him Eldril Sideliner. Nobody mocks Roxanna on the other hand ...
Roxanna's amazing. I'm secretly in love with her I think...
Justified. Just don't tell Zara...
I think we can all appreciate a strong, independent woman who don't need no vampires.
What's the kick-off event you truly detest ?
My god I hate Rocks. Just the worst. At least you can respond to everything else, but a rock's just a Fuck-You from the universe.
A common proposition among my interviewed guests...
We do have a certain erudition within the Big O, I'm not surprised.
What's your stadium enhancement of choice ?
Beer Stand - gotta get the value from that Frenzy/Grab player!
And it directly rewards/punishes good/bad play, which is good game design.
So if you could change one thing only in BB2, what would it be ?
Ah, OK. It's something a lot of people say, but defs. the clawPOMB stack. Personally, I think you should only be able to choose two of the three on any one player. That way, instead of a coach being able to just make a killer that's good against everything, they'd have to build their players to have a little more specialisation.
That Chaos team instead of having two killers who are interchangeable, now has a dedicated low AV POMBer, and a dedicated ClawMB (or even ClawPO, maybe), and they have to consider their positioning a little more.
Plus, a 50% removal rate on any knockdown from the full stack, particularly against high TV teams, just seems over the top. The 30% rate you get from just ClawMB does the job just fine.
Do you listen to any podcast or music when playing ?
Yeah, I almost always have Spotify going in the background. Pop, indie or classical stuff, as long as there's instruments played by real human beings involved I'm there!
What about your body, any drink or food you like to have during those games?
Hahaha, nah, I actually tend to eat way better food when I'm playing for some reason. Like, big bowl of veggies or something. I have no understanding of this compulsion and how it ties to BB.
That is a rather unusual situation, but why not...
Jape's question was :"With playoffs due to start are there any particular match ups you'd like to see and if so why?"
Oooooooh. So I watch heaps of AndyDavo's stream, and would love to see him get through to the Superb Owl. Somehow he's built a team that can actually function in the finals in one season as well, and I love his playstyle.
And, taking myself out of the equation, I'd love to see Papa's stupid big Orcs match up and rep the Big O - even with his losing two legends just now, they're still a monstrous team.
That'd be a good match.
Thank you very much Anteater for that last interview of the regular season; I had some good laughs doing it. Looking forward to watch you in the play-offs and in the season 10 of the ReBBL.