Causerie With The Champ
This was a late evening at the ReBBL News office, the new season was starting and writers were slavering away, trying to outdo themselves for the cheer of the crowds. At least I was, the others might have been sleeping for all I know. Like many among us, I was looking back on the recently closed season 9: the long season weeks, the regular articles to produce on due dates, the whip waiving tyranny of GypsyPrince, the rush before the playoffs, the rush during the playoffs...
And then, in a flash, it occurred to me that our last champion didn't even have a chance to be interviewed properly! Our Supreme Overlord from Liverpool had him on the podcast, true; but the podcast was not centered around him, giving him the unrestricted attention all the champions pine for. Time was due to make this right.
I sprang to my feet and called around the office, asking if someone wanted to do it. Troukk was hunched over his monitor, muttering to himself in Spanish and waved me off. Gypsy yelled something incoherent from the back about spreadsheets, scripts and Clan league. Ledeas had not moved for two weeks, deep into some XIIth century map of star constellations, and ignored me. We didn't have any news of TomasT since he went out, completely drunk, "looking for TTs". Called by my sense of duty and outstanding journalistic work ethic, I picked up my pad and went.
Our dignified guest today is none other than the season 9 Champion, Mystaes. Hailing from Canada, he's a proud member of the ReBBL admin staff, leader of clan [PATH] and evolving in REL 1 for season X. His team "Elements of Style" was the first Wood Elf band to claim the title of ReBBL champions. Accepting to drop matters of utmost importance, he jumped on the occasion to answer ReBBL News' questions.
First of all, where does your name come from?
Oh god, its been my gamer name for as long as I remember. I was a high school kid who just got into the League of Legends beta, and since my Runescape name was unspeakably lame, I invented a new one that I thought sounded cool...
I just kinda came up with it. I don't remember there being anything that really inspired it unfortunately.
In before: I have no knowledge of previous "unspeakably lame" nickname, no need to send letters asking for it. I know you ReBBL.
How long have you been playing Blood Bowl for, by now?
I began playing Blood Bowl in the beginning of high school ~10 years ago (Jesus), through FUMBBL. I racked up a few hundred games there before I just kinda dropped the hobby when I went away to university for undergrad.
4 years later at the beginning of my masters (so ~2-3 years ago), after I was done my degree, I was bored and a few friends of mine were talking about how great BB2 was. I picked it up when it was on sale. Tried a few leagues that I didn't really like the format of, until I found the ReBBL...and joined during the second week of season 3!
Straight into div 1. It was a...brutal experience, haha.
How did you discover BB in the first place then?
I played a lot of Warhammer. Back when it was good and before GW destroyed the lore.
It looked interesting, but I didn't want to sink any more money into GW at the time...but one of the guys recommended FUMBBL, which was a great way to pick up the game...even if I had no clue what I was doing. I jumped straight into my first game...took a solid few turns before I realized that the skulls were a bad thing.There was no ReBBRL back then to guide me
We're talking about a person jumping straight into Blood Bowl, then straight again into ReBBL Division 1 here... With such an approach to the unforgiving game that his Blood Bowl it can only be make or break.
Behind the scenes, an admin and his flock.
You said you joined ReBBL for season 3, how long before you decided to join the admin staff then? And why on Earth would any one do that?
Hmmm. I have been an admin for...I think 3 seasons now? I'm fairly certain I joined for the beginning of season 7.
And it wasn't so much decided. Metal was more or less poking me with a pointy stick to apply, and when the Overlord "suggests" you do something its probably best to follow! In all seriousness though, I love this community and the things that spring out with it. I mean, my Clan started because we began a REBBL Pathfinder group, which continued for years until Saace (the GM) decided he would kill us all with a giant bog turtle and end his suffering.
I was already on the discord for most of the day everyday. And I saw it only right to give back to the community which had given to me. And its not all bad... being behind closed doors when shenanigans are afoot can be quite fun at times.
You're the RAMPUP go-to admin, if I am not mistaken. Was it a baby of yours ?
I wouldn't say it was my baby alone. There were a few admins who helped push for it, though eventually we went with an incarnation very close to what I wanted.
The best part is that the entire system came about almost purely out of my own spite. The season before rampup, I had rerolled into the Elements of Style... I was a pampered coach who had only ever known the trials and tribulations of REL1, where missing a game - or having a bye week - was mostly unheard of. Suddenly I was in a 13 game division that had 5-6 bye weeks...I was starved of Blood Bowl for some time.
I think the system has worked quite effectively too. Last season, there was 5 drops from 10E in the wake of a single week - but before it could cause any problems those had all been replaced.
Rampup is more or less divided into Gman and REL right now. There just isn't enough Big O coaches to have one for them yet. TomasT graciously helps with the GMAN side of rampup. He had a few ideas we've implemented for season two, which should help us on the administrative side of things... Also shout out to Majorbyte. Rebbl.net is a godsend.
For those who do not know about RAMPUP: it is a system allowing coaches to join during the season, play against each other and then be sent to fresh team divisions if people drop off. More infos on the link of course.
Which lessons did you guys learn from past season and what do you have in mind for RAMPUP this season?
The biggest problem was there was no notification when someone joined. So every week we would have to manually go through everything and find it. Now, Majorbyte has automated that system for us. Which is glorious.
Secondly, this season we will be ending rampup signups toward the end of the season. We had a few situations where there were some rampup teams that had played 1-2 games, and their only option was to reroll or play in the OI...and you don't want to play a 2 game team in the Open Invitational.
So we'll be taking care of that, especially as now the play-ins are a thing and thus there's less incentive to start playing for some coaches if you are already past the point where you can make it.
In order to provide a more equal access to play-offs to coaches, no matter their division, the ReBBL admin team has put in play a "play-in" system. Designed to help coaches with fresher teams to get ready for the play-offs, it should help them rack up experience and SPPs. Before throwing them in the white water rapids of the play-offs.
And it seems to work pretty well, the RAMPUP champion from last season did the system proud for its first season...
And he very nearly ended my run... Et tu, Brute.
I knew that was going to be a difficult game getting into it. The poetic justice was there.
The Woodie way, all the way.
Talking about that... With some time to reflect upon it, how heavy is it to wear that Champion crown? I hope BleedinHippy didn't leave too much bloodstains on it...
Is it a stain? I thought this was its natural colour?
It's a great honour to bear the crown of champion, and I never really expected to be able to claim it. And though no coach in ReBBL history has succeeded, it is my every intention to try and defend it. So keep your hands off!
It may be a little difficult. The Elements sacrificed quite a bit on their magical run, and we're now in a fairly brutal division, but I'll give it my best shot.
You indeed paid the iron price for the crown. How do you look back on your playoffs run? Any strong memories besides winning the title?
Absolutely. I had never experienced playoffs before and for the entirety of my first game it was difficult to even position my players properly I was trembling so hard - Playoff nerves are real folks!
But aside from that, every game in the playoffs was a blast. There was of course, the AndyDavo incident. And there is no describing how much my heart sunk there.
A bug crashed Mystaes' game during Overtime in his semi-final against AndyDavo, and he didn't manage to reconnect in time before the automatic forfeit. After deliberation with the players, the admin allowed Mystaes to restart the game in the conditions prior to the crash: i.e. on a one-turn touchdown attempt set-up. Which he scored and took away the game.
Frankly I was ecstatic to even have a chance after that bug crashed me. AndyDavo was quite the gentleman through it all, even in defeat. That guy is a class act, and I really hope that he makes a push for my title this season.
Though if we pair up I might still hope for the same result
What was the moment when you felt: "This is it. I really have a chance to get that title now"?
Always the pessimist, it wasn't until I actually reached the Superb Owl that I thought that this was the run. And even then, I was mulling over everything that could possibly go wrong for some time before the game. To the point where I had a list of actions for every conceivable purchase/fire I thought Kummo would do before the game...
How does it feel to be the first Woodie coach to lift the crown then? It must add to the pleasure...
It definitely adds to the experience. I think its pretty extraordinary that we haven't had any repeats yet! I do wonder which will be the first race to break that...
[to me suggesting Necromantics] I think you aren't far off. I'd suggest Chorfs though. There are just so many of them now and they really are a fierce team.
Into the mind of a Champion.
What would you say was the key thing for you to work on in order to reach that level of play, along the season and all the way to the Cup?
Hahaha. Not tilting.
Its so easy in Blood Bowl to tilt if you roll a bunch of snakes, or if everything seems to not be going your way, but if you don't let it phase you, you can come back from a lot more then you might expect. Even between games - I had a few crushing losses this season, but I tried not to let it affect my play the next game, or my general mood about the team. Hell, our division was so nail-bitingly close that I only got into playoffs on TD differential...any mistake I made out of salt could have ended the run before it began.
For playoffs, the biggest thing was probably working on getting over my playoff nerves. By the time the final came about, I'd basically seen it all - nothing could phase me like what happened in the Andy game - so it was just like a good old regular Blood Bowl game again. Not letting the pressure get to you is really important. You need to be making the right calls at the right time.
Would you say "tilting" is your main weakness as a coach?
I think that tilting is the major weakness of most coaches to be honest. Especially those who are very competitive. Losing - and losing because of what you perceive to be a dicing - can really suck.
On the other hand, where do you think your strengths lie?
Heh. I think my major strength lies with positioning, and especially with these Wood Elves - forcing the opponent to play the kind of game that I want. You can do a lot more then simply screen your opponents or cage as standard. If you position right you can severely limit their options for blitzing, ball movement, etc. etc. I think that's the kind of game I excel at.
On that note, I find control teams extremely relaxing, and I plan on rerolling to one once the Elements of Style die horribly in their attempt at a title defence.
Which team do you have in mind for future campaigns?
I don't know to be honest. The unfortunate thing is that I like every aspect of the game!
My first team, Brettonians, are out. I've had enough of agi3 hybrid teams for a lifetime. After them, I transitioned to the Elements of Style, which obviously fulfil my need to play the beautiful game. I'm not sure what team I go next.
But it will have to have solid control, and possibly the ability to murder things. I yearn for the blood of my enemies, and to take revenge for the many elf corpses which now litter our home stadium...
What do you play in Clan by the way?
Clan was actually my first major foray into Wood elves...I have played a new team every season since. Woodies, Chorfs, Orcs, and now Khemri. I do have to reiterate, the Khemri team is extremely relaxing in comparison to my elves, which tend to be a fairly stressful endeavour.
Yeah it does look like a complete change of pace, or are you one of those Khemri coaches living for the long range passes?
I hope those won't be necessary. I don't even like the long range passes with my elf thrower!
The elf life - if its not a 2+ you usually don't want to roll it. Haha.
All you never thought you wanted to know about Mystaes.
I collect questions from players I interview, one of them is a good fit for you: "What is the largest player you have ever missed hiding behind a Treeman?"
Not with the Elements of Style, but I totally missed a Flesh Golem once. Turns out, trees aren't very good at dodging....
What is the skill you have the most fun with (in Blood Bowl in general)?
Frenzy is a beautiful skill, that accomplishes beautiful things. And there is nothing more satisfying then chain pushing 2+ players out of the game...
I see that you're rocking the Wizard stand for your stadium, what was your reasoning being that choice?
There are not many teams that have the speed and agility to make use of a wizard like Wood Elves.
In general, I get far more out of having one then my slower opponents. It helps in a lot of match ups, especially the ones where I expect to bleed players quickly. Sometimes you just have to build an insurmountable lead before you have nothing to play the game with. The wizard helps with that, and is also a threat which affects the positioning of the opponent - likely carrying the ball - more then me - likely having the ball safe in my end zone until I want to score.
Do you have a Star Player you are particularly fond of ?
I am partial to Eldril.
Just a great all round star player, and the Hypnogaze is amazing. Something that most teams just don't have access too, which means that he's both unique and difficult to defend against.
Any snack or drink you recommend to endure all those Blood Bowl games?
A nice cold glass of milk. Preferably with an entire bag of Tostitos and salsa. That's the life!
I drink about a litre of milk a day. A whole bag.
And on that Canadian note, away our Champion went, to face unspeakable trials.
The author would like to profusely thanks Mystaes for taking time out of his evening to answer questions; extra points for waiting until the very end to go wash the dishes. May he proudly wear the headgear of Champions and have a chance to defend his title for season X.