Set Up Tactics

The setup in Elfball is not massively critical to your chances of success, however there are some things you need to look out for. .

1) The Face-Off Circle
The advantage of winning the face-off and taking possession of the ball is not huge, as possession commonly changes several times before a goal is scored. For newer players especially, it may be easier to allow your opponent to manage the ball as it gives you one less thing to worry about in the early stages of the game.

While setting up, keep in mind what you would intend to do should you win the face-off. Losing the face off allows you to react to the opponent's move

Probably the toughest decision regarding setup is who will man the Face-Off Circle. Who does this may depend on the ruleset being used. Monsters are not allowed to participate in Face-offs. Don't place a player in the Face-off circle unless you know what you intend to do with them after the challenge dice are rolled! In the simplified face-off rules, the worst outcome is that your player ends up on the floor, and the opponent has the ball. In the advanced rules the worst outcome is that your player ends up in the infirmary on the first turn of the game!

Simplified Rules:
The Face-Off is basically 'Winner rolls highest' as both coaches roll 6 Challenge dice.
If your player has a higher SKILL than MIGHT, you gain possession of the ball automatically.
High SKILL players like Strikers could be a good choice if you're looking to capitalise on a won face-off and consolidate the ball with a quick pass back to a player in your own half.
If your player has a higher MIGHT than SKILL, you must automatically tackle your opponent.
This Tackle just places them down so you'll have no chance to injure them. Putting a high MIGHT player in the face-off circle is possibly not the best option as your ball handling options are limited and you may also be in attacking range by the downed player or other high movement players on the opposing team.
If you have equal MIGHT and SKILL, you choose which of the above option to use.
A Midfielder would be a good option here, as you can place the opponent down and still then pickup the ball and consolidate into your half.

Full Rules:
MIGHT is used in the Challenge, so a higher MIGHT player has a better chance of winning, however they also have less options if they do win. If you're setting up last, it's worth checking to see who you are facing before deciding which player to place in the Face-off circle.
Winning the face-off gives the winner a 'free action' where they have the option of 3 things. Once the Face-off action is resolved the player can immediately move again.
Pick up the ball.
This will be a 2 success challenge as your opponent will have facing on the ball so is fairly risky. Your player would also need to disengage or shove the opponent in your next turn to move the ball anywhere.
Tackle the opponent player
Again this is a risky option, as you will need to Tackle (and perform any Impact Challenge) from the opponent's front facing so have no way of reducing the number of successes needed.
Shove the opponent player
This is generally the lowest risk option, as it gets the opposing player away from you and the ball, and allows you an easier pickup attempt in your turn. Even if you fail the Shove attempt, you're still on your feet and able to disengage.

2) The Guardian Circle
The ideal player in the guardian circle should have enough TACKLE to cause a problem to advancing ball carriers, while having enough JOG to be able to intercept them. In most teams you need to trade-off these 2 considerations.
A heavy hitter could also be a good choice depending on your team composition, however if you have few heavy players it may be a waste of his skills to man the backfield. If you're aiming to win the face-off, a Thrower is also a viable option for the guardian circle, as you can pass back to him which allows you to avoid committing the ball immediately to one flank or another. Another good choice would be a Safety. Remember to make sure you face your "goalie" when you place him, also notice on each side of the pitch where the stairs are to bring in reserves, one of those sides can penetrate a little further than the other.

The diagram above shows you how far your reserves can move in their first turn and then in yellow is where they could be their next move. Remember though you can use abilities the same turn you bring in a reserve (so if you brought in a safety on a SiM, they could then use react to move even closer to the goal.

3) The Rover Circles
The rest of your team go here - it's a good idea to split your skilled and heavy players so you have some each side where possible. Placing your monster in one Rover circle may also encourage your opponent to strike down the other side of the pitch.

General Positioning Comments

In general, Elfball plays more fluidly and has less structured play compared to Blood Bowl.

1) Guessing the opponent's strategy
Once your opponent has moved, you have 2 turns before that player piece can be moved again. Combined with the fact that there are a maximum of 6 opposing players on the field this means that it becomes easy to predict your opponent's next action, as after the first turn he only has a choice of 5 players to activate. This is especially true if his players are spaced too far apart to be able to assist each other, as the number of possible useful options too him are then lowered further.

2) The waiting game
Rather reacting straight away to an opponent's move, sometimes it's best to delay a turn if this allows you better chance or to be in a better position. An example of this would be with hitting a high DODGE player, where you could move a supporting player in first to reduce the number of successes you'd need. If your attack in the next turn subsequently fails, you still have someone marking the ball carrier and that player is able to be activated in the following turn.
This is critical if you have a defending player between the opponent and the goal - if you move your player, it gives your opponent 2 turns to react to your move. Try to avoid reacting immediately to threats if you can improve your position instead, for example moving in another player who can help.
This tactic should be avoided though if your opponent has just moved into a scoring position - you only have 2 attempts to bring the player down, and due to the unreliable nature of the challenge dice, both attempts should be taken!

3) Player Support
Players need to work closely together where possible, if you have a pair of players or more supporting each other you get several benefits:
  • You get to make a move every turn in the pitch area controlled by 2 or more players
  • You can counterattack if someone attacks on of your players
  • You can make use of support player facing to improve chances of challenge success
  • You can move the ball each turn by passing between each player

To counter this strategy, a good method is to target the player who is due to move next, rather than the player who has just completed his turn. This can buy you time to deal with the other player.

4) Holding Territory
Using high MIGHT and TACKLE players to control areas of the pitch is an important aspect in Elfball. Monsters and Defenders are better at taking each other out due to their low DODGE characteristic than they are at attacking Imps or Strikers, for example. If you're playing an opponent and you both have Defenders, it's normal to find that they will generally will stay 6 hexes away from each other if they can help it! If you can pre-empt where you want to go and get such a player into a position to hold territory, this can give you a big advantage and help you move your other players through the area protected by the Defender.
  • You need to position your high TACKLE players in a way that your opponent can't easily move through your line or get to the ball carrier without a chance of being tacked.
  • Players like Defenders are very vulnerable to tackles from other Defenders or Monsters. Ideally you need to position so that you're always just out of range of your opponent's heavy hitters
  • The player in the Guardian circle doesn't always have to remain there! So long as you've got someone positioned who is able to take down any opposing player that slips through. Always ensure you have enough movement to catch any breakaways.

5) Gaining Territory or Moving Upfield
To move forward, either into scoring positions if you have the ball, or to intercept the ball carrier you need to think about the following:
a) Moving into uncontested space
The best way of advancing is into an area out of range of your opponent's players - this can happen if he concentrates his attack down one side of the field or if is players don't have enough JOG to cover areas of the pitch. Sometimes it's also possible to out pace opponents (particularly downed players) and move into uncontested areas behind them. If you can move your high MIGHT players into uncontested space, you have a strong position from which to attack or defend with your other players.
b) Moving into contested territory
This is where player support comes in handy. Ideally you need to move in waves with a player moving a few hexes in front of a supporting player, then the supporting player moving upfield to become the advanced player. The aim is to dissuade your opponent from attacking the advance player because you can counter attack the following turn with the supporting player.
Strikers, Imps and other high DODGE players are particularly good at being the advance players, as unsupported your opponent will find it difficult to take them down. These players should be used to move within tackling range of opposing Hunters and Defenders. Your high TACKLE players need to support them from a few hexes behind, where they're still out of range of the opposition's tacklers.

6) 'Tackle Zones' don't work!
This is aimed at people familiar playing Blood Bowl. Standing even 'heavy' players toe to toe with the opposition is not necessarily good idea in Elfball. The problem is that most low DODGE players have a high MIGHT attribute, and will simply push you away if they want to be somewhere else. Conversely, high DODGE players can disengage reliably, and even a failed disengage will not end their turn - they can get up and try again if they have enough JOG to do so. Also, by getting an opponent's facing on your player, you're generally making it easier for them to Shove or Tackle your player in their turn.
If you need to try and mark an opponent, always try to do it from their rear facing. Even then it's best not to face the marked player directly, as this exposes more of the rear hexes of your player for attack. Dwarves & Defenders make good man markers due to their high TACKLE and MIGHT attributes, meaning it's harder for the opponent to Shove or Disengage to escape.

Positioning is also key when looking at attrition - this is discussed in SECTION 5

7) Shove Prevention
When positioning players, you need to bear in mind that your opponent gets 2 turns to react to your move before your player can move again. This is important when considering shoves, as 2 players in tandem can easily shove opponents 6-7 hexes during this time
  • Try to have at least 1 supporting player close by who will be able to intercept any would be shovers.
  • Try to identify threats before you move, and gauge your distance from the goal circle and outer circle.
  • With Defenders or Dwarves, consider your facing as you're more prone to shoves from your rear hexes
  • Players can't be shoved through occupied squares. Standing next to another player prevents shoves from 2 opposite directions!
  • Try to avoid giving your opponent's free shoves to build momentum - standing 5 hexes away from a Defender is better than standing 4 hexes away as he's then unable to shove you before a tackle.
  • Be careful when bringing in subs/reserves, if an opponent is too close this reserve will be put back out for the rest of the test.

8) Setting up a passing relay
This is a fairly common strategy especially amongst the more agile teams like Pharaohs and Black Widows. If you're in possession of the ball, a common tactic to move it upfield quickly is to set up a relay of 2 or 3 players, who are capable of moving the ball each turn before passing it to the next player in the line. If you can get players in rough positions, you can then implement this when you're ready to strike home the goal.
To do this you would need a player positioned just inside the centre line, who is able to receive a pass then run through the centre and pass again to another player who is ideally in range of the goal circle. Your other players should be protecting these players.
This strategy is also seen where you can have 2 groups of players moving up each side of the pitch, and the ball can be thrown laterally across the pitch to the other group if pressured.

9) Falling over or Defenders love sunbathing
This is a point for people familiar with other Fantasy Football games! Players who trip and fall over are never injured, the worst they can do is Daze themselves. Falls don't necessarily cause a 'Shift in Momentum' either (unless you flop), so if you go down from a 'Slide Tackle' or a failed Disengage attempt, you can simply stand up again in the same turn assuming you have enough JOG to do so.
The floor is generally a safe place to be, as you can't be tackled except by a few special player types with access to the 'Cheapshot' ability. Being down can be advantageous particularly to high GRIT players like Defenders who could stand up for little cost in subsequent turns - and while sunbathing they still control pretty much the same pitch area with the bonus that they are immune from retribution. When considering standing up a Defender or similar player type, have a think about how vulnerable he would be - if he is in a key position, for example near the face-off circle, he may still be able to influence the entire centre of the pitch without doing anything other than absorbing some rays.

10) Dazed Players
You also need to be aware that players can be forced to remain Dazed or Down if enough opponent players are facing them, effectively taking them out of the game. Strikers are particularly vulnerable to this, as an opponent just needs to mark your dazed Striker with 1 player and the Striker is then unable to stand up. Other standard player types need at least 2 opponents facing them before they're unable to stand from Dazed, so if you see your player being marked, it may be time to get them to their feet before another opponent gets facing on your player.

11) Getting players into scoring positions
Problems occur frequently with any offense. If you're playing defensively and the ball pops free, you need to ensure your players are in the best positions to capitalise from it. This means having players able to pick the ball up, and some outlying players who would be there to receive a pass and move the ball away.

12) Avoid over committing on offense
When you have the ball, it's very tempting to push forwards with as many players as possible to increase the chances of a score. Most dice rolls are so unreliable that you generally don't score on your first attempt. It's important to ensure you leave players back to cover any attempted breakaway by your opponent if you lose posession of the ball.

Specific Positioning Tactics

Some positioning tactics can crop up occasionally, or be beneficial against particular opponents.

1) The 'Cristiano Ronaldo'
Sometimes, being stood can have very bad consequences for your player, for example if you've just run up to the front facing of a Deadwood and failed the Impact Challenge. In such circumstances, deliberately getting your player onto the floor would be a good tactic.
A disengage attempt against a high TACKLE opponent is the best way to engineer this situation, especially if you have low DODGE. Otherwise, you could attempt a Dash challenge on 1 or 2 dice. Momentum will also allow you to re-roll successes if needed. The downside of this tactic is that flopping a Disengage or a Dash challenge results in your player being dazed - but at least he's not in the infirmary, right?

2) Running out of play
You can voluntarily move a player out of play by moving him into a hex containing the white line of the outer circle, or into either goal circle. While your player is obviously penalised and ejected from the test, this option could be useful in a couple of situations:
1) If your player has the ball, play stops and the Referee places the ball back in the centre hex of the face-off circle, or gives it to any player who is standing there. If your opponent is out of position, for example all his players are in your half of the pitch, this could be a good move to get the ball away from your goal area.
2) If you are down to 2 players, you are at a massive disadvantage as your opponent knows who you must move next each turn. Running one player out of play means your remaining player is able to move every turn, effectively doubling his speed. This tactic is for desperation plays only!
3) If you have a player way out of position, you could run him off the pitch in order to bring another player in from reserves, if you have 6 players on the field already. This is even more handy for league games as the penalised player can come back for remaining tests. You could also adopt the same strategy to replace one player type with another during a test.

3) Pinning
This opportunity can occasionally come up where you can hold a high MIGHT, low DODGE player like a Defender or Monster in place for a while. Normally these types of players will simply shove marking players away, generating heaps of momentum in the process, however, as you can't shove players if the hex behind is occupied, they can be tied up and forced to Tackle the opponent without momentum (potentially wasting their tackle that turn) or try and make a risky Disengage to get free. Hob-imps or Gnomes are excellent for this tactic, as their high DODGE attribute makes it harder for the target player to easily take down to escape.
The target is then ready for a tackle from the supporting player, who can hopefully get to the rear which combined with the assist can make an easy 1 success impact challenge against even MIGHT 5 monsters.

4) Face-off with a high MIGHT and TACKLE player (advanced face-off rules only)
The Face-off Circle is out of range of a lot of player types. If you place a Hunter or Defender in the face-off circle and win, you can try Tackling your opponent and gaining control of the centre of the pitch. Deadlings especially are vulnerable to this tactic as without a bribed referee, they must field a MIGHT 3 player for the face-off.
If you are setting up second, position your player directly opposite the opponent, like so:
Then, if you win the face-off, you can move 2 hexes and perform a SHOVE challenge to move your opponent sideways
Then in your first turn you could use this player to move into the opponent's rear facing and shove him a couple of times back towards your half of the pitch before hitting with a Tackle. You want to shove him towards your half as this gets your player back out of range of opponents.
Now you can attempt the tackle their rear facing, plus any momentum from the shoving should now help you put this player out, hopefully for the test! The key here is to also ensure your player is out of range of reprisal from any of your opponent's heavy hitters! This tactic can give you a good shot at removing one of the opposing players at the start of the game. This could be a good tactic to use against slow teams, for example the Gnomes and Deadlings. Note however this is also a high risk tactic, as if your opponent also fields a hitter for the face-off, they get the opportunity to do the same to you if they win!

To counter against this, you can either
  1. Maximise your chances of winning the face-off challenge by using a MIGHT 4 player, or a player with Buff (if available).
  2. If you get to set up second and you think your opponent is likely to try the above move, set your player up so that they are on the same side of the ball as the opponent - ie directly opposite with 1 hex between them rather than diagonally opposite. This will prevent your opponent from making that initial shove laterally across the pitch, and the extra points of JOG to perform this maneuver on their first turn should dissuade them from trying it. Of course, this will also stop you from performing this move if you win the face-off challenge.
  3. Man the face-off circle with a high DODGE player. Against a DODGE of 4, your opponent will need at best 2 successes to bring you down, and 4 to force an injury challenge.
  4. If you set up first, position a Hunter or a Safety if possible in the Rover Circle on the same side of the pitch that you set up the player in the Face-Off circle - this player can then threaten the face-off circle and may dissuade your opponent from the tactic

5) Protecting a grounded ball
Sometimes, you might not have players in range to pick up the ball, or only have low SKILL players. You may need to protect the ball and make it harder for your opponent to get it. Bear in mind that generally you're only adding 1 success to a pickup attempt, so against a SKILL 4 opponent it's still very likely that they'll be taking it!

a) The easiest way of doing this is by using a high MIGHT player like a Monster. If they have high TACKLE too this is a bonus, as it also makes any disengage attempt harder. A lower MIGHT player on their own is too easy to shove away.

b) Another way to make things more difficult is by using a supporting player, and the ball itself to protect you from Shoves (as they'll need to attempt the pickup first)

As you can see from the diagram above, 1 player is facing the ball - the other player has been moved into a position where they're preventing a shove attempt from 1 direction by blocking the square, and they're making it much harder to shove from the other facing due to their assist, and the fact that any shover will then still need to disengage to attempt a pickup.

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