My guest today doesn't need any intro, really. Most of you already either know him directly, or have seen him around, or have heard his voice.
Hailing from the land of friction matches, he nowadays resides in the Liverpool area. Loving father to his own children, he still manages to be our Supreme Overlord on his free time.
Recapper of GMAN 10A and 10F this season; organizer of one day tourneys such as the upcoming Chaos Cup; host of the REBBL Alliance podcast and leader of clan [METAL]. If you loved him in the Nurgle hit Things that make ya go UH!, you will be pleased to see him return with the Undead promise of REBBL Memes. *breathes*
Ladies and gents, I give you: FullMetal!
How did you pick your nickname?
It’s old, man. I’ve had this screen name for a solid... 13+ years at this point? It’s from when I used to play on Xbox 360. FullMetal after Full Metal Alchemist (but also doubling down as I’m a massive metalhead too), COS was an old clan tag from when I used to play Gears of War competitively.
That just gets stuck on because FullMetal is often claimed but FullMetalCOS is always free.
When and how did you start playing Blood Bowl?
About ‘94. And accidentally.
You tripped on a block dice in a hobby shop?
I played Warhammer Fantasy and WH40K at the time. And was in a local GW playing a game or two and saw the box for Blood Bowl, asked about it, got to play an intro game and instantly dropped my entire savings on the boxed game. And a Wood Elf team. I was saving it for a Space marine Whirlwind and some Terminators. Decided they could wait.
What did hook you in? The game mechanics or the half-naked elves?
The silliness. Blood bowl is absolutely a statement of who GW used to be as a company. It’s super silly and back then it was even more so.
This was a game where Werewolves had catch because dogs liked playing fetch and had to roll dice to not piss on Treemen, or bury Skeletons. Where Chaos could have a seesaw that they used to catapult players down the pitch and Dwarves could set up a cannon in their end zone and attempt to fire a player (and the ball) towards the opposing endzone.
Half the teams currently in the game were made by random coaches sending articles into the Citadel journal.
Working with and for the community has always been the secret, isn't it ? Plus, if you let the community pitch ideas in, most of us suckers will work for free!
So you were into the hobby side of things since your Warhammer days?
Yeah, I’ve been playing tabletop games since I was 9.
And were you playing Blood Bowl in Table Top leagues before it came to PC?
I played “back in the day” but stopped playing TT in around 2002 when I came to uni, it just wasn’t played as much in my gaming groups here. I didn’t really then play it much till BB2 launched. Never really got into FUMBBL and BB1 was just ass.
I know that one is gonna upset folks, but I could never get into it. Ugly ass game with crappy UI. It’s not a good sell, I tried though, I really did. But it didn’t reignite that old spark, till BB2.
So when BB2 came out is when you went out looking for a place to play?
Yeah, I actually joined REBBL back when we were only known as REL-GMan. Just as a coach because where I worked, they had a strict search filter/banned sites; but Reddit was tagged as a news site and wasn’t banned on the office computers. Made it logical to join the Reddit league [in 2015].
You joined REL/GMAN. By the way what do those name mean? Always been wondering...
Reddit Eternal League, and Gamba-man.
Back in BB1 there was only the REL, run by a guy called Voondaba. He had to drop out due to irl issues. So a guy called Gamba took over. That’s when he added the euro divs and jokingly called it Gambaman.
Metal then pointed out the ReBBL wiki article retracing the history of ReBBL that you should absolutely read. The challenge is to read it not in Metal's voice, good luck.
You started as a coach, for season 1?
Yeah, I just wanted to play Blood Bowl! Problem was admin drama came up: someone made a mistake and handled it VERY badly. I contacted Gamba, made some suggestions; he asked me to be an admin. Within a season we were co-running REBBL.
Back then we used to recap the entire league between just the two of us. All 60-80 coaches
We used to start recaps between 11-12pm my time and finish at like 2-3am. We didn’t have “Sports Reporters” till like season 4.
And you've got the head admin chair since...?
It’s been a long journey to get here...
Around season 4 real life started crushing out Gamba's free time. One morning I woke up and divisions hadn’t been rolled and admin games hadn’t been processed. It was a “There’s a bag with a baby on my doorstep, do I look after the baby or let it die?”
Except the baby was a league. And it only eats free time
So what's the secret to your longevity as the top dog?
Having a job no one else wants?
And the worlds most understanding fiancée. She calls herself a “Blood Bowl widow” during play-offs.
Maybe ReBBL could start a "Blood Bowl Widows" support group. You know that many a life partner, all over the world, suffers from the same condition.
And now you have a team of admins to back you up and run this machine of hundreds of coaches. Not even talking about all the hard working men and mad geniuses that keep creating things. I want to talk about your latest addition to the league life, the play-ins.
How did you guys come into this idea and how is the integration going for the first season?
Many leagues like to do things because they “always have”, which is why they still have 100-200 coaches. There’s no RIGHT answer to running a league and no one knows everything.
Good ideas are often hard to make work...Till someone else goes “But wait!” and then iterates on the idea. Play-ins was entirely my own idea (blowing my horn there).
We have had a growing problem (literally a problem with our growth): with our playoff system we have too many coaches to fairly distribute playoff tickets. And there was a couple of sticking points: there needs to be more tickets the higher up you go, and we wanted one season coaches to potentially have the dream™.
But there’s no viable way we could move to 128 coach playoffs, at that point that’s one fifth of the league! Also it would mean a 7 week off season, which is more than 50% of the actual season length!
Play-ins is a system that pro League of Legends actually used to filter teams into the world championship. They don’t do it quite like we do, but that idea of a competition to qualify for the competition came from that initial seed.
Essentially it just means a longer road for one season teams, but it also means a ton of extra coaches get a feel for the playoff experience. And the ones coming out of the play-in system are truly the ones most suited for play-offs. Because a common complaint was too many one season teams got destroyed round one, leading to a less hype playoff round.
This time, the guys coming out of those 9 tickets have already played two knockout rounds and have been forged in the fires of play-ins ready to provide a more fitting challenge.
It was a system I was thinking about since week 1 of season 9 and it took me two months to put into a form to present to the other admins, plus a further month or so to hammer into a plan I could bring to coaches.
Now that the play-ins are getting integrated, are you working on the next idea already?
MY next idea? No. There’s something new coming, look forward to it this off season.
What advice would you have to those who think about applying for adminship and bring new ideas into the league infrastructure?
Do it! If you’ve got an idea I’m happy to hear it, it doesn’t need to be super polished.
One thing the existing team is great at is spotting the nugget of a good idea and polishing it out into a workable plan. Or at least helping it evolve into a better idea. A lot of my changes and rules additions revolve around seeing a problem and figuring out how to fix it, but I am not always gonna know there’s a problem till someone tells me something is a problem...
Metal's take on admin life and the play-ins being key talking points I wanted to bring up, we can now return to our usual program.
You played Nurgle last season. Undead this season. Is there any team you have a special attachment to?
Wood elves and Goblins, my first two teams.
My first tabletop team was Woodies. They got utterly destroyed in a couple of games; my local tabletop league was cut-throat merciless. I went away dismayed and had two choices - get sad and give up or bone up on the rules and system and figure out how to give back what I got
I rerolled to Goblins and I still didn’t win the league, but I DID retire almost half the teams I played against!
I guess it’s why I have such a relaxed stance to stuff like T16 fouls, and losing players doesn’t phase me: TT back then was BRUTAL, having a player last a full season wasn’t an expectation like it is now.
Is there any race you would never play competitively and why?
Probably Flings - actually Goblins as well. I don’t play Goblins competitively. And the way I do play them, people wouldn’t like me nearly as much. No one wants the guy who just plays to cause carnage in a competitive league (Do they Orabbi? XD) And being the guy running the league it is just not smart to go down that road.
It is true that while legions of coaches scream for blood when sitting in the bleachers, they become much more moderate while trundling around the pitch. Go figure.
What kind of coach would you say you are, where do your strengths and weaknesses lie?
I think I’m an all rounder. I know a lot of coaches who are very strong offensively, or defensively, but weaker on the opposite drive. I’d like to think I’m decent across the board, but not necessarily as good as those super offensive/defensive focussed coaches on their preferred drives.
I think my strength comes from my adaptability. I’m so used to watching/casting games that I can usually spot a solid play, the problem comes from my tendency to play too fast, which can lead to silly mistakes.
I also am probably slightly weaker as bash than I am as hybrid/agility teams, I didn’t really play bash before I picked up my Nurgle (and that’s WHY I picked them up).
Everybody has a specific reason to play Nurgle apparently, no one will ever admit to love them. Except in some dark corners of the Internet.
Since you've seen your fair share of game and have been playing for a while, do you still look at other BB coaches to keep working on some compartments of your play style?
Absolutely. There are some coaches that just seem to see chainpush type plays from a mile away... I get this sense that there’s a play there somewhere but I need to take a lot longer to figure it out.
The best thing about B.B. is that there’s no set right answer to any given pitch situation. There are often multiple good options and sure you can usually math it out to a couple of percent either way, but no one EVER plays a perfect match. It’s not even necessarily possible to play a perfect match, and that’s the appeal. 100 coaches can look at a match and there will probably be a 100 different full match “solutions” with slight differences between each one.
If you could change one thing only in BB2 to make it better, what would you change?
No, I mean, I’m really excited for the potential addition of Khorne, but really, they need to give us out of game admin tools. Giving us the ability to reset games, process admin wins or roll rounds from either a website or a mobile app, that would be an utter game changer for us admins.
See, we do not ask for much: Khorne and better admin tools. And Chaos Pact. And Simians. And more pitch variations ...
Which skill procures you the most pleasure on the pitch?
Juggernaut. Not even a question. Did you ever see my Play of the Week? From last season. The one where I Frenzy/Juggernaut Surfed a Woodie ball carrier; and the ball landed in the hands of a nurgle warrior in midfield.
I absolutely shouted “I’m the juggernaut, bitch!” when I swapped that both down for a push.
Also it’s utterly hilarious blitzing a wrestler and choosing both down, knowing they are sat there going “But Wrestle?” Whilst you smash them to the dirt.
Do you have a favourite Star Player?
Barik Farblast is pretty cool, because they took the extra step to leave the scorch mark on the dirt when he fouls (by shooting them in the chest with a damn cannon!)
Zara the Slayer moved up a ton of positions too after she basically won me a clan game last round. Poor Michaels!
What's the kick-off event you hate with your guts?
I don’t HATE any of 'em, I’ve been playing far too long to have not seen basically every possible result. I’ve had my best player killed by a Rock, apo’d and then killed by another Rock in the second half. I’ve seen 80% or more of a team stunned from PI or sent out from Heat. It’s just part of Blood Bowl.
Don't get me started on Pitch Invasions...
Your stadium enhancement of choice?
Depends on the team, but I love getting the Beer Stand on Frenzy teams and you better believe if Khorne drop we’ll be getting drunk on beer AND blood!
Otherwise it’s usually Security Gate or Sandwich Kiosk, I don’t hate kickoff events but I’ll still work to minimise them. Nothing harder than playing Orcs or Dwarves and getting a pitch invasion that stuns half your team, if that happens you basically lose the drive.
(Fun story, I got a 10 man invasion vs Chubstep in a Cripple Cup tournie right when the game first dropped. The only non-stunned player was a ghoul which I blitzed and killed, I then fouled a second ghoul into a stat bust, he quit the game for over a year afterwards!)
Any snack and drink to recommend for those long BB games?
You’ve seen the supplies my missus brings me during one day tournies right?
That mug is HUGE and filled to the brim with Tea.
And yeah, bacon and fried egg: Blood Bowl food of the Gods!
Major credits will be given to Metal's fiancée, for her patience, humour and ability to run a food supply chain for a starving Blood Bowl caster.
Now if you read my past interview I always ask a question given to me by a guest to finish. "What's an annoying habit of yours your online buddies are not subjected to?"
Too easy: fiddling with dice! If there’s a dice nearby it’s always in my hands.
You can’t see in that image but right behind that cup handle is a D6.
(When I set it down I always turn it 6 side up, can’t let the luck drain out.)
It gets worse when we are playing a tabletop game, because I’ll always be rolling dice and I get the “What are you rolling for? Is it even your turn?” All the time...
Many thanks to Metal for accepting to endure my questioning over his morning tea. It was an interesting chat for me on many levels, and you can bet that I didn't fit the whole thing in the paper. 10/10 would interview again.