Hobocon ran Ireland’s first Street Bowl tournament last weekend. Street Bowl is the smaller version of the famous Blood Bowl. Rather than representing professional teams from the big leagues, these are the back-alley, half-witted, drunken amateur teams. It’s more fickle than its big brother but still immensely fun. More of this, please.

Street Bowl uses a narrower pitch, about seven hexes wide. This makes it feel a little more congested than regular Blood Bowl but with only seven players per side, it actually works out much the same. The IGA provided four of their homebrew pitches. They do give the feel of a rougher pitch and they’ve added some terrain to show that this is true street ball. In this case, it’s a small town in Albion.

Grabbing my team as an afterthought on the way out the door, I lucked out. It turns out that playing on cobbles makes injury more likely so the well-armoured Orcs proved quite resilient. Team-building is similar to the main game with some limitations, you have a total budget of 600k to buy 7-11 players and your allotment of positional players is halved. To reflect the lack of training, rerolls are twice as expensive in Street Bowl and you really have to scrimp to afford one. I managed to pay for mine by creating a bare minimum team of seven players, which left me with no subs. I also had to sacrifice a positional player for a less capable lineorc. In the end, I chose to go with one black orc blocker, two blitzers, a thrower and three lineorcs. Say hello to the Red Starz.

Before kicking off, I had a quick look at the other teams playing nearby. We had two Dwarf players battling their way to a bloody stalemate. And probably quite relieved to avoid playing bashing teams, a Wood Elf and Pro Elf player duked it out.

My own opponent was another Orc player. Very similar to my own team, he was packing a reroll and two black orcs which gave him a strength advantage but he lacked blitzers. He also had that luxury, a substitute.

The kickoff saw the ball drop just behind my scrimmage line and an almighty scuffle ensued all down my left flank, engulfing the ball. My thrower managed to retrieve it but couldn’t find a safe path out of the melee. Blue’s black orcs gradually smashed through the line and with most of the Red Starz knocked out, my thrower was forced to break for the right wing. He was quickly locked down by the enemy but risked it all to break out and fire a pass to a waiting blitzer. He took off with the ball underarm and the Blues didn’t have any defenders in position or the pace to catch him. 1-0 to the Red Starz in a half which probably should have gone the other way.

The second half saw the ragged survivors step out onto the pitch. The lack of subs was beginning to tell on the Red Starz as several players remained concussed from the “incidents” of the first half. With only five players facing off against seven, it would be difficult to hold out for the win but a draw was looking likely. My only consolation was that my opponent would not be able to press the numbers advantage while also protecting the ball. As expected, he caged up and began feeling for a gap in my line of scrimmage. The Red Starz refused to get drawn into a brawl and focused on delaying the drive.

The third quarter saw his advance stalled around the midway point as the Red Starz line continued to hold. This was more due to luck than skill as the line was dangerously thin at times. But my opponent had used his reroll, which meant the chances of a game-changing turnover were high. I played cautiously and hoped for a lucky break. A screening player stumbled during a tackle, leaving a path to the ball carrier and the Reds pounced. A quick hit on the enemy thrower and the ball was stolen. My thrower fell back deep into my own half with the ball to try and buy time. The Blues moved up in pursuit but the Reds had committed themselves and most of their team were now trapped in a melee. The thrower waited to the last second before throwing a long pass into the opposing end zone. My loose blitzer took off uncontested as the Blues found themselves tied down. He arrived with seconds to spare and… failed to pick up the ball. But wait, a re-roll. Failed again. Game over.

Still, 1-0 and a casualty inflicted. Good start.

The last two games saw Orcs vs Dwarves on both pitches. The kick-off table for both games saw a stray pony running onto the pitch and across the line of scrimmage. Oddly, the slow stunties managed to dodge the worst of it while the quicker greenskins were trampled under his small but deadly hooves. I hope he ends up in a hot-pot.

Apart from my own opponent, the other dwarf player was the main contender for first place. To my relief, I glanced over at half-time to see that he was 1-0 down. Dwarves are not noted for their quick scoring game and that score meant that he was likely to lose and would be lucky to come away with a draw. Good news for my chances.

The idea of fighting a dwarf team proved more fearsome in my head than in actuality. He had a sub to spare and better odds in the melee. Or so theory would have it. After some lucky hits, the game became a whitewash. My black orc tore through the middle of his line and once the numbers went my way, I took the time to really cripple the opposing team. The shot above represents the state of play late in the first half. Two orcs per downed dwarf, waiting for them to stand up and take more punches. On the top right, we see the ball-carrying thrower relaxing by the end zone. By the time the whistle blew, two dwarves were dead and one knocked out.

The second half saw a vengeful, angry but woefully understrength Dwarf team line out. They had sworn mighty oaths of vengeance but it gave them no joy. They were brutally mangled again as the orcs quickly broke through to the ball-carrier. One touch of ultra-violence later, a greenskin pried the ball from the runner’s lifeless grasp and ran in a second touchdown. With that, the game was decided and only the fighting remained. The last quarter descended into blood-soaked madness as both teams just stood on the scrimmage line, exchanging punches and kicks. Even the death of my heroic blitzer didn’t dampen the mood as the solitary orc fan taunted his dwarven counter-part.

2-0 and overall tournament victory.

The prizes were of the “someone trying to empty their closet of random junk” variety so I donated them back to the con. This seemed to unnerve them so I assured them that winning was prize enough for me. But to leave me with something tangible, the con director awarded me the “Winz Hobocon” page thing. I feel so honoured.