Skaven Playbook

Or, Offensive Behaviour. Part 1. By Paul Gegg
It's late in the match, the opposing star player is looking for a last-second game-winning touchdown and your fans are already drifting off to get drunk. But then one of your players somehow fashions a block on the ball-carrier and the ball squirms loose – another player picks it up by his fingertips and launches a hopeful pass into opposition territory - your marked catcher pulls it down, dodges out and dances into the Endzone for the winning score. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – is there a better feeling? This end to end play is beyond most teams but with the awesome Skaven, it isn't too uncommon. Sometimes they really can achieve the seemingly impossible. The thing is that Skaven possess a unique collection of qualities that allow them to scurry between opposing legs, nick the ball and rack up the scores - incredible speed, access to AG 4 players and bargain-basement price cannon-fodder so they can afford a few substitutes too. Add a bit of brute-strength, albeit unreliable, in the shape of a Rat-Ogre and they are formidable as well as fun to play. Not all of you will remember when Skaven first appeared on the Blood Bowl stage. It was way back in White Dwarf 86 (1985?) when we were introduced to the Skaven Scramblers, led by starthrower Breeet Braingulper (although my favourite was the grotesquely-obese Glart Smashrip). So having been around since practically the game's invention, it was therefore somewhat surprising that no playbook came along until Jim Mawby's BB Mag 10 Article in 2003 and even then, that's been the only doffedcap to the Blood Bowling Rats. Well here I am to re-address the balance. In this article I'm going to examine the players, skill progression, some specific plays including the fabled One-Turn Score (without Stat Increases) and polish off with possible rosters and tips for both Tournaments and League Play.

RIGHT, LET'S GO
Well I guess we can start with the obvious - speed. Boy, these guys are quick. All standard players Movement 7 and rookie Gutter Runners can cover up to an amazing 11 squares. Even the Big Guy is fleet of foot! Terrific movement - so make the most of it. Spread your players out and watch your opponent struggle to cover all your scorers. On Defence; use your movement to continually re-deploy. Force your opponent into risky plays and try and turn him over. Next up – Gutter Runners – they really are the stars of this team. They are the most reliable dodgers in the game and therefore are notoriously difficult to mark. That's of course if the oppo can catch up with them in the first place. Apart from being incredibly good at evading opposition TZs, the AG4 makes them perfect ball-handlers. At only 80,000 gold pieces and being able to pick four of the little blighters, well, that's the first four spaces on the roster filled up. Skaven have always been a decent team but not really outstanding. That was probably because the Rat-Ogres were a complete liability for a good while. The NAF tables (world rankings for the uniniated to the growing tournament scene) at then end of 2003 would attest to that. But with the introduction of the 2004 Wild Animal rules, the Rat-Ogre became the must-

have accessory for that season and Skaven started to, probably unfairly, win too many tournaments. It really was Year of the Horned Rat. So I was quite pleased to see the Blood Bowl Commission get together and remove General Access from the big idiots at the last Rules Review. No longer a liability but not a definite name on the team-sheet either; Skaven coaches have to go back to the little guys on the team to win the games and that's good news for all. No team with access to AG4 players have as cheap a basic player as Skaven. These plucky Linerats hold up the Line of Scrimmage, mark dangerous foes, rarely touch the ball and even rarer get within a sniff of a life-saving Apothecary. In fact, you've got to wonder why they do it at all, but at 50,000 gold pieces per rat, you shouldn't complain. Did someone say Mutations? Apart from the rather uncompetitive Chaos (certainly at low TRs), Skaven are your only opportunity to try out the fun Mutations. I'm not sure any of them are so brilliant that you must choose them when you roll a double, but they certainly add flavour to your games - though thankfully still no 'Spontaneous Combustion' (remember that from 2nd Ed?). More on Mutations in the Players section. Okay, so far so good. They need a major weakness to make them balanced and you don't have to look any further than Armour Value of 7. Nearly one in two floored players will be at least stunned. If you are not careful, very quickly you will be players down - a KO and a couple of stuns and suddenly those AG4 players are starting to look a little lonely on the pitch. A complete

kicking can quickly follow. The best defence against being beaten up? No doubt about it - score. Or at least look like scoring. Your opponent (unless he is really canny or mad) will be doing his damnedest to stop you scoring and is less likely to be beating you up at the same time. Besides, as your KO box will almost certainly be busier than your opponents, the more scores, the more chances you get of replacing your injured comrades. In the end, you've got to go to toe-to-toe sometimes to force the ball loose on defence and those Runners will come a cropper as soon as your oppo starts targeting them, so look after each and all of your players. It's a fine line between being beaten up and losing heavily and being beaten up and still winning. Often it's just one stupid Linerat that makes the difference. Stay alive and you always have options. Overview complete - let's look at the players in a bit more depth.

Dauntless on a Double 5, but take the stat increase elsewhere. An AG5 Runner can do things that make your (and certainly your opponents') eyes weep let alone a ST3 Runner. The mind boggles. Throwers. I don't like them personally. You wouldn't put up with an Elf Thrower with AG3, would you? No. So why take risks with ball-recovery when you have AG4 players around? Still, they are your best bet for ball-handlers should you find yourself out of Rerolls with alarming regularity and many good Skaven coaches use them extremely well. With Accurate they even become better passers than the Runners and they have in-built immunity to Strip Ball. Should you find yourself in the position of an AG increase on a Thrower; cherish and protect him. Normal Skills: Accurate and Block, then maybe Safe Throw. Could go Dump-Off but I always feel it's a bit risky to throw the ball away during your opponent's turn (no Team Re-roll should your Runner fail to catch it). Double Skills: Big Hand for picking up on 2s in TZs (with Sure Hands Re-roll) is really useful. Otherwise, Strong Arm to improve throwing success even more. Linerats. As mentioned before, the great thing about these guys are that they are expendable so can be used to tie up dangerous enemies and are cheap enough to allow for a few substitutes. They don't tend to attract many SPPs though, so try and give them Block and they have a chance of getting to 16 SPPs before they die or get too injured to carry on. Normal Skills: Block then Tackle. Other Normal Skills: You should have at least one Dirty Player. Make sure you only foul key opposing players (Wardancers, Ghouls, opposing Gutter Runners etc) as fouling means your Runners are more at risk should they be on the floor. I hardly ever foul without this skill as you've got enough numerical problems without getting players sent off too. Key Normal Skill: Kick. You NEED Kick. More on that later too. Double Skills: Guard is great for your Line of Scrimmage, as is Foul Appearance. FA has the added advantage of causing passing teams bit more of a headache, though one is only a mild irritant rather than a full-scale migraine. Leader could also be considered if you are short on Re-rolls. Rat-Ogre. Now that these guys have lost Block as an easy skill choice and obviously can't use Team Re-rolls, they are back to being unreliable. So you've got tough decisions to make. Do you want to use your blitz on a player that will waste it one in six times and will then turnover fairly regularly? In a lot of cases, the answer is still yes as you don't necessarily want to try and pass a 4+ Wild Animal check to move him into a better position. Mitigate this by using him towards the end of the Turn or give more thought to where you deploy him in the first place. He is incredibly annoying to opposing dodgers (whether he is wild or not, unlike a boneheaded Ogre), especially with that Prehensile Tail. Frenzy can help him get close to opposing cageprotected players and also be used to even up numbers by pushing unsuspecting players off the pitch. But beware of canny opposing coaches who line up defensive assists for the possible second block. What with all the other skills, Mighty Blow is fairly unheralded on these guys, but that helps hit players stay hit and again even up the numbers. Normal Skills: Break Tackle means that he can dodge through a single TZ on 2s and even into a three-TZ cage on 4s. Guard will also help the Linerats around him get a leg-up in a possible blocking war. Double Skills: BLOCK! Pro, Claw and maybe even Tentacles would be nice afterwards but he progresses so slowly that you won't be getting more than one double on this guy so just remember the block, right?

THE PLAYERS
Storm Vermin. These are your blockers. Block and AV8 means they are tougher than all your other regular Skavs. They can survive at the Line of Scrimmage (although I don't recommend you start them there) and are noticeably more tricky to get rid of permanently. But at 90,000, you are paying 40,000 for Block and an AV point, so I don't know about having more than one initially, whatever your format. One, however, is a necessity so you can block at least one per turn with negligible risk of turning over. Normal Skills: Tackle and Guard. Double Skills: Dodge or Claw (you've even got a ready-made miniature). Gutter Runners. These are your play-makers. Movement 9, Agility 4 and Dodge. I nearly always field the maximum (although possibly only three at a league outset). Ball-handling on 2s, tricky to take down and even cage-breakers in the right setting. I'd almost be willing to call them the team Blitzers. Normal Skills: Block and Side Step - a blodging, side-stepping Gutter Runner can cause absolute bedlam for an opponent's offence as he just can't be pushed away from the ball-carrier. Other Normal Skills: Shadowing as an addition to Block and Side-Step. With Movement 9, your opponent is likely to give up trying to escape on foot. Add Diving Tackle on top and any opponent's rushing game could be stopped in its tracks. At a later level of progression, Pass Block is also worth consideration for defence-minded Runners. Key Normal Skill: You NEED Strip Ball. More on that later. Double Skills: A little controversial but Dauntless; partly because then you have a player that can get into all sorts of positions for a one-dice blitz but also because on a second double, Horns then gives you singularly the best player in the game. “Movement 11. Agility 4. Strength? One more than you”. Alternative Double Progression: Very Long Legs - never chosen it myself as Dauntless seems useful throughout the game whereas VLL followed by Sprint only really provides you with a “cheesy”(or is that just mice?) one-turn scorer. My advice; go with the Dauntless and be ahead so you don't need to rely on the oneturn score. I should mention Stat Increases here too. Runners get so many SPPs that stat increases come by fairly regularly. I'd go with

OFFENCE
A lot of people have scored a lot of TDs with Skaven over the years and, unless you are new to the game, then much of the info below should already be known to you but I will summarise the key plays. Most of which are achieved in two-turns, so set-up is important.

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Skaven in yellow. Against what is actually a pretty good defence (5-51), StormVermin 10 and 11 should be able to combine to knockdown/push Blue 1 out of the way and then blitz Blue 6 (with an assist from Linerat 6) to open a channel into the backfield. Gutter Runners are 13-16. This offensive set-up also lowers the potential damage of a Kick-Off Blitz!

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Generally one Gutter Runner should collect and stay deep out of reach. You then need to force an opening for other Runners to get downfield. I generally only send two downfield so the fourth Gutter Runner should be open as a conduit (I like the term 'Half-Back'), as should the Thrower. These conduit(s) should ideally be safe from being hit during the oppo's only defensive turn and maybe even safe from being marked too. Should the kicked ball end up near the LOS, then one of the three forward Runners can pick up and run back towards his own endzone. The deep Runner can then take his place at the LOS, leaving the other two LOS Runners to head into opposing territory. Got that? Let's examine some of the plays: Two-pronged Attack: Force a hole, or holes, in the defensive line and send a Runner down each of the flanks if possible. The 5-5-1 defence actually makes that unlikely but you won't always be playing against 11 or good defensive set-ups. Most tournament and early development teams (excluding Dwarves) will only have one tackler at most. Make the most of that by forcing the tackler to choose which flank he defends. You'll have at least one Runner standing and possibly two come your next turn. Hand-off to the Half-back and pass into the Endzone for a waiting Runner or pass to the Half-back for a hand-off (although the markers will need to be blitzed off the potential scorer). Good opponents will recognise the threat of the Half-back but the long pass is still achievable on 4s (75% chance of success with Re-roll) if you want to/are forced to miss out the middle man.

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Following on from the 5-5-1 defensive set-up, I have knocked Blue 1 down, though not off, and blitzed Blue 6 (and stunned him, therefore he's missing). Linerat 3 is marking the oppo safety (possibly the tackler) and Runners 15 and 16 look ominous. Runner 13 has the ball and Runner 14 is acting as the Half-back. The oppo will concentrate on covering 15 and 16 and if both aren't fully covered, it's an easy play to blitz the Half-back's marker away and then use him to transport the ball up to either possible scorer.

Concentrated Attack: Run the two Runners down the same side. The Oppo's defence isn't stretched but the Runners can screen for each other, can dodge out of TZs easy enough to help with assists and are well-placed to pick up future dropped balls. By focusing the defence on one side, it also possibly leaves the other half of the field open for your next turn... The Feint: Used when you have two downfield Runners in the Concentrated Attack being tightly marked. You need a back-up plan. Use the fact that your oppo has over-committed on one flank to attack the other side with your Half-back (or even the end of LOS Linerat). Then it's a matter of screening with all available players; Runners and the unmarked Linerats, before dodging as many other Linerats out as you can manage. The opponent has swamped the possible scorers, marked the Half-back and knocked a Linerat out. Runner 14 or Linerat 2 can be blitzed free to receive the ball before heading downfield. Runners 15 and 16 can easily dodge out back towards half-way and through the gap between Blue 2 and 10, setting up a screen. See insert.

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The plays so far rely on transferring the ball to the scorer on your second turn, possibly via another player. However, you can eradicate any ball-transferring errors by getting the ball-carrier into a safe position to score on your first offensive turn. One-turn Cage: Get the ball into the hands of a Runner in a cage in the oppo's half. Easy when the oppo is players down or has dropped back to cover the pesky Runners following a two-turn lesson earlier in the match. The problem here comes with one of your cornermen being blitzed and then your scorer being marked or, worse still, danger players like Strip-Ball Wardancers and Vampires knocking the ball loose. Again same 5-5-1 defensive set-up, but the ball landed shallow. 13 recovered, handed to 15, who is now fairly safe from being blitzed himself and should probably score on his next turn.

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Blue 1 and 3 are the danger players (Block and/or Tackle) and have been marked by Linerats. Blue 4 and 6 will be able to blitz but they are unskilled and will still only get a two-dice block on ball-carrying 14 no matter how they arrange the blitz. Runner 13 is in proximity should the ball be knocked loose.

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Rolling Cage: Not one that I'm well-versed in (as I like to have my scores on the board), but you have options with Skavs and one of them is to wait a little longer on offence which means your opponent may be forced to go hurry up on his offence with obvious potential side-effects of spilling the ball for you to score another. Give Orcs seven turns to score and you may well come a cropper. Give them three or four turns and they are far more likely to make mistakes you can pounce on. Skavs have the agility to stay out of harm's way for a little while and Throwers make for hard targets in a good cage, so why not take a bit longer if the situation warrants it (apart from stopping yourself winning any Most TDs awards)? Cajones Play: For when things have gone awry or when the ball has landed practically on the Line of Scrimmage and you're feeling brave. A rookie Runner is tough to take down if the blitzer doesn't have Block or Tackle. Period. On many occasions I've sent Runners free towards the Endzone when I didn't have to, knowing that all the block/tacklers are marked and the only play is a two-dice block needing a straight POW This is particularly useful when the oppo is down to one Re-roll as he is unlikely to take you down without . using it. Once a player is down to no Re-rolls, he'll play more conservatively AND you can still capitalise on the smallest mistake. Even if he takes you down, he probably won't be in a position to get the ball safe, let alone recover it, so assuming you have a second Runner in close proximity, the rats are still the more likely scorers (see above inset). Just a quick note on Dwarf and, to a lesser extent, Chaos Dwarfs. These guys are tricky. Sure you can run rings round them for a while but Block and Tackle are well-suited to injuring your star-players. Once they catch up with you, you can find yourself short-handed very quickly. My advice here – spread out the Runners across the pitch and force the Dwarfs to chase them down individually. Also use Rerolls for failed dodges early in your turn if you may be leaving Runners in Dwarven TZs. That brings me onto playing with less than four Runners. I always have an Apothecary and keep it practically for exclusive use on Gutter Runners. So I guess you could say I have five available for a tournament match (course you would be well-advised to refrain from using an Apo in league play for anything other than a death or stat decrease). Even so, Gutter Runners are fragile when knocked to the floor so get used to playing with only a couple. I guess this is where a Thrower comes into his own, freeing up the remaining Runners to act as receivers, and as long as you have at least one eligible receiver, the one-turn cage or the screened drive/feint is available. Like Wood Elves, you can still score whilst being beaten up. It's just can you get the ball back afterwards? That's the tester. Right, that’s it for this week. Next time I’ll be covering defence and how you stop your opponent from scoring touch downs!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Paul won an 86-man Tournament in Spain last year as coach of the Darkthunder Cheatahs. He was also in Team England that recently won the EuroBowl in Germany. He has won Most TDs at two majors; the Blood Bowl and the DungeonBowl _ and lost late in both of them to the eventual winners. All with Skaven. Not with a Rat-Ogre.

Skaven Playbook
Or, Offensive Behaviour. Part 2 By Paul Gegg
DEFENCE – AND USING YOUR SKILLS WISELY
Okay, most coaches can get a well-drilled Skaven Offence working nicely, but Defence is a bit more troublesome. So much, that many coaches feel that you should just concentrate on keeping your team complete and wait for a catastrophic error, or failing that, your next drive. Well not all coaches are going to give you either should they be masters at a seven/eight-turn cage or passing kings. I find that the most 'offensive' displays come when the Rats play good defence. With a well-drilled offence, and fast and agile ballcarriers, you may only need to knock the ball loose once for a probable win (and you should have at least two drives on defence) because there is no better team during a melee for the ball than the Skavs. First thing is make sure you have someone worrying the ballcarrier. That will slow the Offence down and cause them to dilute their resources for fear of turning over. Runners can get everywhere and a TZ on the ball-carrier requires the marker to be blitzed off (preventing the blitz being used for forward progression of the team) or forces the ball-carrier to dodge out or block. Both can seriously affect forward motion and can result

in Re-roll burning, or better yet, a turnover. This Runner also doubles up as a potential scorer too should the rats recover. In order to maximise my Runners' chances of tracking down the ball-carrier, they tend to line up in the widezones ready to race into opposing territory without having to go through the Line of Scrimmage (although being mindful that Runners in widezones can be easily targeted by oppo's tacklers/frenzied maniacs). Getting them in behind the Line of Scrimmage can also mean that they are covering passing lanes.

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Standard set-Up for Skaven Defence. 13-16 are the Gutter Runners. 6 has Kick, 11 is the StormVermin, 13 is the Strip-baller. A deep kick means Blue 11 can't find his cage. Linerats 4 and 5 should help blitz a lane through to the opposition backfield should they be free. Runners flood into backfield, looking to exert pressure on the ball-carrier.

Strength teams will be aiming for the grind and therefore their priority is to form a cage. Best defence against that? Don't let one form. That's easier said than done, of course - planning to swamp the backfield with your Runners isn't going to be enough if the ball lands more or less in the middle of pitch as the cage will be formed before you get a defensive move. That's why you need the Kick skill. Kick should be the first skill for the first Linerat that gets a skill upgrade and first skill at a tournament too. It allows the ball to be placed deep in the corners cutting off the Orc Thrower, Throw-ra or Ghoul from the safety of his cage, and giving you a vital turn to swamp him with your Runners. Alternatively, kick shallow knowing that there's a small chance of the coach not picking up. This means that slow teams have to focus on ball-recovery rather than a first-turn massacre and may be forced to set their cage up in a widezone. This is a bit risky though, as often they will recover, form a cage AND give you a slap too, so be careful. Assuming the ball has not arrived in the cage, you can now use the Runners. It's great to get a Runner blitzing an open ballcarrier with another Runner as an assist for one-dice, but it's not very common at a decent level. You have to work at it by marking the deep players and hoping for a failed dodge. Alternatively screen the carrier from the cage (particularly effective against Khemri) and hopefully you should be able to fashion a blitz on the ball-carrier in subsequent turns. Once you can get blocks on the ball-carrier, having a Runner with Block or better yet, Strip Ball is going to improve your chances of knocking the ball loose. Once it is loose, and you put TZs on the ball (and the opposing ball-handlers) your oppo may start tearing through his Re-rolls and then, my friends, the battle is half won. Good oppos will still often make it to a cage, but one play I've used many times is the “Kamikaze Blitz”. A Runner can dodge into even the most robust cage (three tackle zones) on a 5 (55% chance of success with the Dodge skill) and then a half-die StripBall block (assuming at least one defensive assist is cancelled) will still force the ball out 70% of the time (with Re-roll) and a massive 91% if you are prepared to accept both down (again with Re-roll). Great for what your opponent thinks as an impregnable cage. And it's not even that jammy! Assuming you haven't turned over, use your unactivated Runner(s) to put TZs on the ball or potential recoverers. You can try the same tactic with a Block Runner but although the chance of turnover is lower, so is the chance of seeing the ball loose.

A smattering of opposing Guard, Tackle, Block and Sure Hands make this play pretty much impossible, so then you've got to fall back on other cage-breaking tactics. That's where you need the Rat-Ogre to get in there and use his second block to put a tacklezone on the ball-carrier and leave a corner of the cage free for a Linerat (or better yet, a sidestepping Gutter Runner to get a second tackle-zone on the Thrower).

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Rat-Ogre 12 blitzes Blue 3, pushing him back (even if he gets the POW), then hits him again into position between Blue 4 and 5, meaning that he stays in contact with Blue 1 ball-carrier. Then you can get players in to put extra TZs on Blue 1 forcing a dodge away from a Prehensile Tail.

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Like so.

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Runner 13 dodges from position shown on 5s into a half-die blitz on the ST3 ball-carrier. The ball may well be knocked lose from the square between Blue 4 and 5 and may be recoverable by Runner 14.

If you haven't got a strip-baller or a Rat-Ogre, it's best to step back and try and frustrate the cage by allowing it only one or two squares of forward movement per turn. With plenty of Movement and players with Dodge, you can re-deploy fairly easily. Frustrate the oppo by putting TZs on key cage- cornermen and dropping remaining players off slightly so that the enemy cannot set up another cage if they move forward. Maybe even try and force the cage down one side. They will have to try something eventually and then you can possibly pounce. In the meantime, remember that your rats are fragile so don't leave them in any unnecessary TZs and get used to playing short-handed. You never know when an opportunity will come or how many rats you'll need to take advantage of it.

going to make defence work. Whatever you decide, just don't ignore Kick. A quick note on the Apothecary in a tournament: You can use him to heal any injury you like. I'd use the Apo on the first injured Runner I get, but have also been known to use him to unstun a Runner in a key position.

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LEAGUE PLAY
You probably can't (and shouldn't) go for 4 Runners from the start as then Re-Rolls or Fan Factor have to be ignored. You still need at least one Vermin for offensive blocking so I suggest 8 Linerats, 3 Runners, 1 Vermin, 3 Re-Rolls (you're going to need 3 so get them whilst they cheap!) and 9 Fan Factor. High FF will mean good gates and good winnings so you should be able to afford an Apothecary after your first game and then a string of players after that. Saving for the fourth Runner (or a replacement Runner) should be the first objective and then your second Vermin or a Thrower. The Rat-Ogre only comes in later in my opinion. Gutter Runners hog the SPPs but they will improve quickly and help drag the team up the league table assuming you keep reasonable healthy. Try and spread the SPPs a little when you have games in the bag - your Vermin will appreciate it - and your team should then become well-rounded. At higher levels of TR, Skaven tend to plateau as they will always break easily and Niggles and stat decreases will take their toll. Course by then, you should have won your first couple of trophies. I'll mention the two star players quickly as Hakflem - the star Gutter Runner - and Headsplitter - the reliable Rat-Ogre - swing games easy enough, though you may as well try to build your own star players and save money for those certain-to-come fatalities. Best keep the Stars for the League Decider.

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Frustrating the cage. Without Strip Ball or Rat-Ogre. Defending against Agility: Your opponent may well use the same tactic on you that you do against them (namely dropping deep and aiming for the two-turn score). There's not much you can do about that once the ball is out of range of your blitz, other than take out/mark the potential scorers and put some sort of pressure on the ball-carrier. Your StormVermin (ideally with Tackle) should be deep in your half to get in amongst the opposing potential scorers. You should also be looking out for the opposing team's Half-back. Agile teams generally don't have Sure Hands so they will either target your Strip Baller or make sure their carrier is out of range. But with movement of possible 11, that's a long way. The shallow kick works wonders as they have to recover and can't necessarily get far enough away so may try extra re-roll-burning ballhandling rolls. Re-rolls are normally few and far between with agile teams so be patient if you are trading scores. They will be lucky not to run out. Whether it's against strength or agile teams, the shallow kick can even prevent the need for a good defence altogether should you get a Kick-Off BLITZ! Even if the ball lands deep and you can't reach it, your Gutter Runners can put serious pressure on the oppo's backfield. Whatever you decide on kicking, mix it up. Don't always kick to the same place. I don't. Least, that's what I tell everyone.

ONE-TURN SCORE
It's the last turn of the half and you've just been scored on. Your opponent has lined up three players on the Line of Scrimmage and rest of his players well out of range across the pitch. You chose Dauntless rather than Very Long Legs, or maybe it's a tournament, and you need to score. Well the good news is you still can. Basically you need get one of your Runners two squares into your opponent's half so then with 2 GFIs he can reach the Endzone. To that end, you need to turn one of your opponents into a pinball and push him into your half of the pitch. If you can do that, then with two further blocks and control of secondary pushbacks (blocked players pushing back players behind them as they have no available squares to fit into), you can push a Gutter Runner on the Line of Scrimmage into range of the score. Simple? Not quite. First up, be mindful that a Quick Snap helps an amazing amount. So much so that you only need ONE successful block to potentially score.

TOURNAMENT PLAY
Well a lot of this article is based on tournaments or low-TR teams. So you know that I advocate four Runners and an Apothecary. What about the rest of the team though? At a One Million Tourney, I like 7 Linerats, 4 Runners, 1 Vermin, 3 Re-rolls, 1 Fan Factor and an Apo. A more standard line with a bit more strength in depth might be 6 Linerats, 4 Runners, 2 Vermin, Apo, 2 Re-Rolls, 3 Fan Factor. For the bashy amongst you (what are you doing playing Skaven?) 3 Runners, 2 Vermin, Rat-Ogre, Thrower, Apo, 2 Re-Rolls and 1 Fan Factor will get you a fair few TDs too. At a Tournament with starting value of 1.1 Million value, you have little to spend it on other than a Rat-Ogre so I think the ideal roster is 6 Linerats, Rat-Ogre, 4 Runners, 1 Vermin, Apo, 3 ReRolls and 3 Fan Factor, though 6 Linerats, Rat-Ogre, 3 Runners, 2 Vermin, Apo, 3 Re-Rolls and 2 Fan Factor gives you a bit more Block to start with. Skill choices: I normally go Kick (LR), Strip Ball (GR), Tackle (SV), Dirty Player (LR) and Block (GR). Guard for the Rat-Ogre may get squeezed in there too. Many coaches find that Block on all their Runners is too tempting but you need to think how you are

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This Set-Up allows the One-Turn Score whether you get Quick Snap or not. 13, 14 and 15 are the Runners (let's assume you've lost one). Move 13 one forward on the Quick Snap and then Linerats 1 and 4 in behind Blue 1 on your turn so that Linerat 2 can hit Blue 1 (good idea to cancel Blue 2's assist so Linerat 6 has raced up to the LOS).

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Blue 1 has nowhere to go other than in into one of the players behind him. I chose 13 and he gets pushed a square nearer the Endzone. 13 is now within range. Quick Snaps aren't all that common. Assuming you don't get one, you need to blitz an opposing Line of Scrimmage player into your half and next to your intended scorer.

Linerat 1 blitzes from his starting position in the wide-zone and smacks Blue 1 pushing him back into Skaven Territory (and Linerat 3 back too). Re-roll knockdowns as he needs to be on his feet. Linerat 1 then takes up position next to 13 to help out later in the manoeuvre. Linerat 2 can now block Blue 1 pushing him into Runner 13. Runner 13 opts to move into opposition territory square following the block on Blue 1.

3

2 2 3

1 1 4

13

This is all hypothetical, as although I know how to do it, and have attempted it many times, it's never actually worked for me. In fact, I've lost more than a few Runners on the GFIs or the dodges. But it will work one day. It will!

13 3 2 2 3 4 1 1 6

SUMMARY
Gutter Runners are just terrific players. Look after them and they'll look after you. You should think nothing of dodging most turns, picking up in an enemy tackle-zone or making the odd long pass. And they'll be successful most of the time too. But you will get the odd snake-eyes, in fact if you don't get one a game, you aren't doing enough dodging! Sometimes those snake-eyes will be harmless but more often than not, they turn what appears certain victory into spectacular defeat. Just get used to dramatic failure - it goes with the territory. Try and remember the jammy plays too and you'll always have fun with them. You should find that over the course of a few games, your Touchdown difference is quite large. The problem being that your casualty difference is often just as big the other way. It really is a fine line between being beaten up and losing heavily and being beaten up but still winning. Hopefully this article will have given you some ideas to turn the former into the latter. Good luck and may the Horned Rat look kindly on your Kamikaze Blitzes.

Last block. Any spare player fills in the spare gap next to Blue 1 (here it's Linerat 6). Linerat 3 blocks Blue 1 pushing him into Runner 13 and hopefully down as well (so no TZ on 13's catch). Get the ball to your scorer (which is why you had your other Runners deep), dodge through the enemy lines and 2 GFIs to score. Lovely. The Rat-Ogre can help with this manoeuvre as he gives a potential three-dice block and the follow-up Frenzy too (although with the amount of Skavs in a small portion of the pitch, you can get three-dice blocks anyway). However your oneturn scoring attempt dies with a failed Wild Animal check or if you don't get a push on the blitz (as you can't Re-roll it) so be warned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Gegg is the very successful coach of the Skaven team, the Darkthunder Cheatahs. The Cheetahs, along with Paul, have appeared at nearly every Blood Bowl tournament in Europe and must hold some record for the most travelled team. Paul will be sharing his experiences of playing with a Skaven team in an upcoming issue of Fanatic Online.

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