SECTION 1: UNDERSTANDING THE CHALLENGE DICE SYSTEM


Any action taken during a game of Elfball (other than movement) requires you to pass a dice roll, called a Challenge. There are several different challenges, and each one is tied in to a particular player attribute as summarised in the table below.

I found it useful when learning the game to break down the challenges into three categories: Active challenges, Passive challenges and Special Challenges.

  • Active challenges are the ones that you can choose to take as part of your action
  • Passive challenges are ones that you are forced to take as a result of something else
  • Special challenges are ones that take part out of your turn.

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*the Dash challenge is the only one not tied into a player attribute – this (and the effective use of momentum) will be discussed later.


To take a challenge, you roll between 1 and 6 Challenge dice – the number of dice rolled is equal to the related attribute - and the results of the roll dictate if you succeed, fail or flop. The number of dice rolled depends on the attribute used, For example, a player with SKILL 4 trying to pick up the ball will roll 4 challenge dice. A player with MIGHT 3 shoving another player will roll 3 challenge dice, and so on.

Each challenge dice has six sides, broken down like this:
  • One side has a cross, and represents a flop, which equates to -1 success
  • Two sides are blank and do not add or subtract to the number of successes.
  • Two sides have a bulls eye symbol, which represents 1 success.
  • One side has a star symbol, which represents 2 successes.
The main rulebook lists the star as a conditional success, but this rule is only recommended for advanced players. For the purposes of learning the game, or playing in tournaments, most people stick to the star = 2 successes rule.
The first point to note then, is that the higher the attribute a player has, the better he should be at performing tasks using this attribute. This should relate to how you use your players on the pitch - if you want to pick up the ball, you're more likely to succeed with a SKILL 4 player compared to a SKILL 2 player.
Each challenge is rated in difficulty by how many total successes are required from the dice roll. If you achieve the required amount, the challenge is passed and your player takes the relevant action. A flop occurs when your total successes are -1 or worse, and results in something bad happening and play shifting over to your opponent (callled a 'Shift in Momentum' or SiM for short). Any other result is a failure, and usually (but not always) means you continue with your turn. The key to a winning strategy is to reduce number of successes required in any given challenge to 1 whenever possible. The table below shows the probability of achieving 1 success on 1 to 6 challenge dice (and also the possibility of rolling a flop).

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From this we can see that even a one-dice challenge roll has a 50% chance to pass when only 1 success is needed. So, how do we manage our play to reduce the number of successes needed in each challenge?

Picking up the Ball (SKILL challenge)
Picking up the ball only needs 1 success unless the ball is faced by opposing players. In this situation, you can:-
  1. Shove them away from the ball (viable if the shove challenge only needs 1 success)
  2. Shove them onto the ball and hope the ball bounces favourably
  3. Tackle them (provided the odds of the impact/tackle challenges are in your favour)
  4. Have an equal amount of your own supporting players face the ball too.

Throwing The Ball (SKILL challenge)
Any throw at less than half maximum range only requires 1 success, unless the thrower is faced by opposing players.
  1. Shove them away from you (viable if the shove challenge only needs 1 success)
  2. Have an equal amount of your own supporting players face you too

A throw at more than half maximum range is more difficult and requires 3 successes before any negative effects of opposing players are taken into account – the only way to reduce this is to have two supporting players facing the thrower to bring it down to a one-success challenge.

Something else to consider when throwing is that if you beat the number of successes needed by 1 or more, the ball is automatically caught by the receiver, with no Catch challenge required – engineer the chances of this whenever possible. Even a Monster with a SKILL of 1 can be an effective receiver if the throw is done well!

Shove (MIGHT challenge)
The number of challenges needed for a Shove are calculated as opposing players MIGHT less 2, so the number of successes needed will only be 1 when shoving players of MIGHT 3 and less. However, if you are up against a MIGHT of 4, 5 or 6, you are going to need help.
  • Shoving a MIGHT 4 player from their rear facing will make it a 1 success challenge. Even a weedy imp with a MIGHT of 2 has 63.9% chance to successfully shove a MIGHT 4 dwarf from their rear facing.
  • Each team mate facing your opponent also reduces number of successes by 1 – this is vital knowledge when shoving the Monster players (MIGHT 5 & 6).

Many people don’t fully appreciate the tactical aspect of the shoving side of the game, as it isn’t seen in any other fantasy football games at all – however it can be very effective, and certain teams specialise in it. More on this later.

Tackle (TACKLE challenge)
Tackling isn’t easy. Three things to take into account are:-
  • Base number of successes needed are calculated as opponents DODGE less 2.
  • If your opponent is not carrying the ball, you need to add 1 success to the total needed
  • You need to beat this score by 2 or more if you want to cause an injury.
  • If your opponent has higher MIGHT than you, you will need to pass an Impact challenge first.

So, is it worth it? Of course it is! Sending your opponents to the infirmary is always fun and to be highly recommended and encouraged. So....basic ways to improve your odds:-
  1. Always Tackle from behind – needs 1 less success. If you need to pass an Impact challenge prior to the tackle, this also needs 1 less success from behind (not to mention the chance to build momentum – more on that later).
  2. Consider shoving the opponent first if you can push them into a space where your team mates can lend support (each supporting team mate reduces successes needed by 1).
  3. Tackling an opponent's ball carrier

Although a high number of successes are needed to make a BIG injurious tackle, only a flop can really hurt you so the risk involved is low. Any other result than a flop can easily be shrugged off and you can continue with your turn if you have enough JOG points left to do so.

Disengage/Catch/Impact Challenges
With the passive challenges there isn’t much you can do to reduce successes needed other than having supporting team mates facing your active player.
  • When wanting to Disengage, sometimes it might be easier to shove your opponent away from you, particularly if their TACKLE attribute is high, or your MIGHT is better than your DODGE attribute. However, if you have high DODGE, and their TACKLE is 3 or less – go for the disengage!
  • If you follow the guidelines above for your Throw challenges, you should hopefully be able to eliminate, or at least seriously reduce the number of Catch challenges needed during a game.
  • Impact challenges are covered in the Tackle section above.

Interception (SKILL challenge)
You need 2 successes to intercept the ball, so it's a bit harder to do! Another factor is that your opponent can use any spare momentum to force you to re-roll some of your challenge die. It may be worth declining an interception with a low SKILL player in this situation to avoid being placed down on a flop result.

Injury (GRIT challenge)
The injury challenge is one you have no control over, or any real option to avoid once you've been tackled! Your opponent can make things worse for you by forcing re-rolls of successful dice using any spare momentum.

Taking Riskier Challenge Rolls
Sometimes, you simply cannot reduce the number of successes needed to 1. The table below shows the percentage chances of achieving a certain number of successes for those situations.
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Table courtesy of GrumpyGrizzly and Antipixi

Flopping a challenge
As seen from the table above, most times you pick up the challenge dice you'll have around a 10% chance of flopping and probably ending your turn. In Elball it is common for ball posession to swing back and forth several times before someone manages a score.
If you have unused momentum, and you flop - your opponent also gets this for free at the start of their turn, which can be really beneficial for him.
Bear in mind the risks before attempting challenges!

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