"A Brief Encounter With..."

In my adventures on and off the trodden paths of the Big O, I realize that more coaches than i think joined recently, often for season 8 like myself. Season 8 was apparently a good injection of fresh blood in the Big O.

So today here's another of the "newer" coaches to the Big O. Hailing from Australia, he coaches one of the necro teams in division 3. After a rough start this season, his team "The Scuffling Dead" is now picking up speed. Always up for a chat, a good sport on the pitch: Ladies and Gents meet Serjon !

Serj and I have been chatting more often of late, and I had the feeling he wouldn't shy away from enduring my questions and company for a good hour and a half. So, after establishing a few facts about him and Blood Bowl, we just casually started with the questions. 

Serj, where does it come from ?
Bastard mix of a bunch of things. I didn't like my old tag and wanted a new one when I made my Blood Bowl account. So the stuff floating through my head at the time was : main character of the book I was reading: Sir John Ryan; I was watching the Sage on Youtube; I liked Ser Jon Connington from the A Song Of Ice And Fire novels. Also a surgeon describes the way I like to play: clinical and precise.
So Serj or, the longer form, Serjon.

How long have you been playing BB for, and how did you get into it ?
I spotted it on the shelf in JB Hi Fi and went "Hey ! I like Gridiron and I like Warhammer... This looks right up my alley!" That was about 3 years ago. So I beat up on the AI on ps4 until I got bored and forgot about it. Until about the start of this year, when I was reminded of it saw legendary edition was on sale and knew that the computer leagues were where the multiplayer was at. Played one season of CCL then joined ReBBL, thanks to Sage always talking about it on his stream.

I know that you're working on something for the ReBBL news, what motivated you to get into this ?
This community has so many people giving so much of their time and effort to improve it, and I wanted to be a part of it. It also seems like a good hobby I'm discovering how lazy I can be though. I need to finish that article.

Well now it's out, so people will be expecting your work Serj, you're cornered.

So would you be interested in trying any other format in ReBBL (1day tourneys, Lino league, Elfly Open, 1mn)? Or you like the pace of the regular Big O season ?
I'd definitely be interested in the Elfly and maybe the Lino league, with the goal of trying to expand my skills. It's more a question of how much time I'm willing to put aside for scheduled matches, real life can just get in the way sometimes.

Especially since you seem to live with your partner.
Yes, she has supplied me dinner mid-match several times this season which is very kind of her. I try to schedule when she is out working or socializing but it doesn't always match up anyway. 
Shout out to Yasmine! love you xx

That wasn't supposed to be in there but such a sweet shout out had to be let free. And I'm sure some of our readers know the feeling of being (re-)supplied mid-game.

So did you pick a theme for your team, the shuffling dead ?
No actually I let Yaz name the players. So she enjoyed looking up ghouls and golems from mythology or other assorted places. So I wound up with Norse and Roman mythology, Harry Potter and ASOIAF names. I think she got bored by the time she got to the zombies though, since they all got names starting with H for some reason. Most of my original team has died though, so players have been named by me since.

This is were I teased Serj with his bloaty players (*cough* Hunter *cough*). He countered with the fact that they took the hits instead of more important players.

So you play Necro in Big O and Halflings (undoubtedly in a fit of masochism) in Upstart. Which one do you prefer so far ?
I've only played 2 games of Flings in my life, so I can't say I have a solid grasp of the team yet, although they have been fun so far. Necro (being an actually competitive team) is my favourite of the two since it's much more a contest of skill than the luck you need to perform well consistently as Flings. Most of my CCL games have been as Norse, so I guess I like teams with Frenzy...

I was going to ask if you would consider another team to play competitively, so Norse maybe?
Yeah earlier this season when I was a bit beat up I was considering a reroll into Norse, or maybe Chaos with the goal of thinning out Big O's legends. Things have been looking up for the Scuffling Dead more recently though.

Still, I maintain my point - Help a brother de-bloat.

Until now, what is your proudest moment of blood Bowl ?
I've been waiting for this question! Turn 16, 1 turn as Norse on defence with no Blitz [the event]
I was so proud of that I could talk you through that for the next hour.

And we talked a bit about 1TTD, and I now feel bad because I can't 1TTD.

What would you say are your strong points and weaknesses as a coach ?
Cynergy always talks about my positioning as my strong suit, but I can think of 3 times this season where a major positioning error on my part cost me a win/draw. The goal is to eliminate those mistakes.Clinical and precise!
I'm trying to get better at spotting chain push options, especially since I have Frenzy, I'm getting better at that.

Is there any coach you're trying to learn from in order to progress ?
Not especially, I don't catch as many games as I would like. Morka is one I do try to watch though. He chainpushed the ball carrier out of Cynergy's cage the other day so he could get a 2 die on it with a lino. That impressed me.

What about your own games, do you have any type of preparation before them ?
I'll calculate the inducements and consider what I want. If i have 200k+ I'll often do that several days in advance and ponder my options all week. Other than that no. Majorbyte's recent(ish) update to ReBBL.net which provides the next match tv is very useful for that instead of me counting how many loners a team will have.

As always, shout out to Majorbyte for the titanesque amount of work sunk into ReBBL.net and endlessly expanding its features. 

So looking at your own experience, what kind of advice would you give to other coaches that want to keep progressing ?
Don't give up, and try not to tilt. If the safe plays aren't working or aren't going to win you the match start considering the riskier plays. Khemri passing or half-die-ing a ball carrier can win games!

Those are my go-to plays, dunno what you're talking about.

What is the player skill you have the most fun with ?

Unsurprisingly [WinkyFace]

I'm looking forward to messing with Juggernaut, though the repositioning aspect of Frenzy is great. You can create some really unexpected holes if you can get a chainpush with it too.

Which kick-off event you hate the most ?
Blitz it is the most swingy of the events. Almost all of them are relatively even or are random effect that can impact one side strongly. Only blitz can completely change a game. You can at least respond to a riot.
I also dislike Pitch Invasion, since it can totally ruin one team or another but at least you have a chance in that one.

So what is your favourite stadium enhancement ?
I've only ever got one team to the point where I can afford one. I got the surfing stadium [Beer Stand]. It depends which team though, Nuffle's altar for example is critical for stunties. I haven't got this before, but the number of Norse linemen who have died after dodging away from a black orc is way too high, so I do like the idea of Elf Grass.

Deez can tell you stories about Norse, GFIs and Elf Grass.

Considering all of this, if you could change ONE thing in Blood Bowl, to make it more balanced, what would you pick ?
Nothing. Some teams aren't balanced but they're not supposed to be. You could tweak rules and they'll make it different, but I don't know if they would make anything better; better for one team or another, but the game itself is pretty great imo.

So do you listen to anything while playing, music or podcast wise ?
Nah, I am laser focused on the game. I'll finish a game and then notice that the sun has gone down, and that I'm freezing cold, and have a crick in my neck...

Any snack or beverage you might recommend then for a good game of BB ?
Nope, same reason as above I will eat whatever Yasmine gives me though.


And the final question ... Would you rather face 5 gnoblar sized bull centaurs, or 1 bull centaur sized gnoblar ?
5 gnoblar size bull centaurs sounds like a nice swag of SPP.

Do you have any question you would like to submit to my list ?
Nothing as creative as Krusader's! 
What's the largest player you have ever missed hiding behind a treeman ?

As always, thank you very much Serjon for your good nature and willingness to take the time (and more) to chat, and answer my questions. When you see him, feel free to ask him about Norse 1TTDs !
On a personal note :​​​ ​​​​It was nice to have the impressions and thoughts of a coach with as much time spent in the ReBBL as me. It made me realize, again, where I was still lacking work and development.

See you on Friday, with another guest who spent a brief moment with me, on a Sunday morning !

- Zee

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