In a word, versatile. Sitting between 5th and 10th in each of my incredibly objective and useful categories, the Humans are a race comfortable adapting their gameplan to a range of opponents, and will rarely be caught off guard. They have an array of solid starting players, notably their Blitzers and Catchers, and between them and the Throwers their teams have easy access to the Agility, Passing and Strength skill trees, allowing them to develop in a number of directions. They suffer from an obvious lack of specialisation, and can often be passive in games, responding to their foes’ weaknesses rather than imposing their own will on a game, but they are excellent teams for a rookie coach, that can be developed into powerhouses with the right levels.
Running rank: 9th/16th
Pass defence: 5th
Total rank: 6th
Lineman; 50,000 gold; maximum 16 per team; MA6, ST3, AG3, AV8; No Skills; access to General Skills on level-ups
The most versatile player on the most versatile team, the Human Lineman boasts solid, if unspectacular, attributes across the board: cheap, agile enough, fairly mobile and tough enough to hold a line. Their lack of starting Skills means they are a bit slow to develop, as a coach must rely on team re-rolls to get them the ball, or pray to Nuffle for injuries, but most Linemen will make it at least to their first level up before they are killed or severely injured. Skills intended to toughen them up in combat are always welcome, such as Block or Wrestle, but moves such as Fend or Tackle can be useful to frustrate more agility-focused opponents; as a result, Linemen can often develop based on what the team needs, and the nature of opponents they will face. If doubles is rolled, Guard is a must to help beef up the team against bashier opponents, and Stand Firm would make a useful second double level-up; I wouldn’t advise taking Passing or Agility Skills, simply because the Throwers and Catchers will take care of the majority of the team’s ball-handling already.
Thrower; 70,000 gold, maximum 2 per team; MA6, ST3, AG3, AV8; Sure Hands, Pass; access to General and Passing Skills
A Sure Hands player on a low-agility team is always useful, and the Human Thrower is no exception. More mobile than the Orc Thrower, and more robust and skilled than the Norse signal-caller, the Human Thrower excels in the short passing game, retrieving deep kicks, striding towards a scrum on the line of scrimmage, and firing a short pass to a Catcher or a Blitzer who can skip or rumble downfield. They can be developed into pure throwers, taking Skills such as Accurate, Leader, Nerves of Steel and Strong Arm on doubles, or a hybrid thrower-safety, with Skills starting with Nerves of Steel, then taking Block and Strip Ball to allow them to play a role on defence, as well as offence.
Catcher; 70,000 gold; maximum 4 per team; MA8, ST2, AG3, AV8; Catch, Dodge; access to General and Agility Skills
Human Catchers are both wonderful and infuriating; Dodge and armour 8 is a blessing on a player likely to be a target for opposing kill pieces, but Strength 2 makes them difficult to use on defence, and prevents them from charging down the field to find space completely alone. Block is never a mistake as a first Skill, to make them more robust ballcarriers, and when combined with Strip Ball the Catcher can become an effective safety, using their huge Movement Allowance to cover acres of space. Fend and Sure Hands can be useful to make them pure ballcarriers, so enemy players cannot keep them wrapped in their tackle zones, nor pop the ball out of their grasp. I would always take Nerves of Steel as a doubles level-up, but I’ve seen a few players online taking Guard to make them a specialist Guard piece, a ridiculously specialised one who leaps into several tackle zones to provide assists for multiple teammates, then scampers back out again with Dodge, to assist another clump of teammates elsewhere on the field. I would start with a pair of offensive-minded catchers, with Fend, Sprint and Nerves of Steel, and then develop assist and safety pieces with the third and fourth catchers, as luxury players.
Blitzer; 90,000 gold, maximum 4 per team, MA7, ST3, AG3, AV8; Block; access to General and Strength Skills
Blitzers tend to be the star players on most teams, and Human Blitzers are no exceptions. More mobile than some runners, more robust than even some fellow Blitzers, the Human Blitzers are aggressive and direct pieces built for harassing ballcarriers. There may also be a maximum of four per team, and I would always recommend taking four on a starting roster, and if one were to die or be seriously injured, replace them as a priority; their baseline stats are exceptional, and can be developed in a number of diverse ways. The basic ball-hunter, armed with Tackle and Strip Ball, is an easy and effective build, but they can also be developed into kill pieces, with Guard and Mighty Blow. Rolling doubles opens up endless possibilities for them; Dodge couples with Block to create an Elf-like untouchable ballcarrier, Leap could be taken to build a tougher, slightly clumsier Wardancer if you’re feeling brave and want in on that sweet, sweet aerial action. Either way, Human teams generally rise and fall on the skill of their Blitzers, so use them wisely.
Ogre; 130,000 gold; maximum 1 per team; MA5, ST5, AG2, AV9; Bone Head, Thick Skull, Mighty Blow, Throw Team-Mate, Loner; access to Strength Skills
The Ogre is one of the best Big Guys in the game, and is one of few such players I’d recommend taking on a rookie team. His baseline stats are solid, and Mighty Blow is a standard, but incredibly useful, Big Guy Skill that is especially effective on a team with no Big Hitters. Bone Head is also the least intrusive of the Big Guy weaknesses, which is always a plus. A downside is his cost, as it can be difficult to fill a team with specialists and vital re-rolls in addition to the Big Guy, so any Human team with an Ogre tends to be a bashier, clumsier team as a result. For development, all standard Big Guy Skills are welcome, such as Guard, Stand Firm and Multiple Block, and for doubles Block is an absolute must. A second doubles roll could go on Tackle or Dodge, but I would ensure the Ogre has Guard by at least his second level-up.
Humans can effectively employ an aggressive short passing game. From the kick-off, Linemen and the Ogre, if purchased, ought to be placed on the line of scrimmage to cause as much damage as possible, with the Catchers and Blitzers placed in the wide zones, a few lines off the line of scrimmage, so they can dart into the opponent’s half, but are away from the line of scrimmage so as to protect them from a Perfect Defence or Blitz kick-off event. The ballcarriers, that is to say the Thrower plus a Lineman or additional Blitzer, should be placed deep to recover the ball.
From here, there are three areas of play for the team to consider. The first is the area on and around the line of scrimmage, where the Ogre and his Linemen should be wreaking havoc, or at least trapping opposing linemen in their tackle zones, so they can’t get to the other areas of play. Rookie teams will have to commit several Linemen to get the assists necessary to make consistent two-dice blocks, but a more developed team full of Guard and Block will be able to hold the line without overwhelming the opponents through numbers. The second area of play is that around the ball, concerning the Thrower, the assumed ballcarrier, and the pieces used to protect them, including Linemen who no longer need to support the Ogre, and any leftover pieces who were placed alongside the Thrower to return the kick. The priority is to protect the Thrower, creating a cage around them that can be slowly rolled into the space generated by the Ogre. Further downfield, the third area of play is the most deceptive, and involves the Blitzers and Catchers. The first turn blitz should be from one of the Blitzers, with a neighbouring Catcher or leftover Lineman providing an assist if necessary, punching a hole in one side of the opposing defence, opening space for a Catcher to wriggle through. On the opposite side of the field, another Catcher ought to be sent as far downfield as possible, without making ridiculous dodge rolls; the idea is to stretch the opposing defence, and force them into a catch-22: if they commit players to wear down the Ogre and hit the Thrower, the Catchers will be left unmarked downfield for easy catches, yet if the Catchers are double-marked, there’ll be lots of space for the Blitzers and Ogre around the Thrower to grind their cage downfield.
This setup plays to the Humans’ strengths of being equally comfortable in passing and running, and they can take advantage of whichever hole is left in the opposing defence; and there will be one, as no defence is perfect.
As with many low-agility teams, the Humans struggle when the ball is on the floor, and especially if it is swarmed by several enemy tackle zones. Coaches will often burn re-rolls just trying to pick up the ball, leaving them vulnerable to 1/9 blocks later in the game, or last-turn desperation plays with unsuitable players, such as asking a Lineman to catch the game-winning touchdown, or a Blitzer to skip through tackle zones into the endzone.
Also, despite the branding of the Humans as a versatile team, they have a number of specialised players that opposing coaches will target; it’s not impossible for a skilled Norse team to surf both Human Catchers by turn 4 and deprive the team of its passing game, and the deception and flexibility that allows it to function.
Lacking Big Hitters, Humans benefit from placing three players on the line of scrimmage, including the Ogre; the Ogre could be placed a few squares deep, free from enemy tackle zones and available to blitz opponents near the line of scrimmage, but I consider a Big Guy blitz to be barely worth it if the Big Guy has Frenzy and Horns, and certainly not worth risking failing the Bone Head roll without these Skills. If possible, non-defensive players, such as the Thrower and rookie Catchers ought to be protected by keeping them on the bench so they aren’t squashed and are fresh for your offensive drives, but this isn’t always a luxury a coach can afford. If more fragile pieces need to be kept on the field, they can be protected by the Blitzers, who themselves need to be kept off the line of scrimmage to allow them to Blitz freely, and to capitalise on a Blitz kick-off event should Nuffle smile on you.
Agile enough to dodge away from tackle zones, and tough enough to stand firm in them, the Human defensive approach depends mostly on the opponents; against sticky teams like Dwarves, you may want to keep them at arm’s length to limit the number of blocks they can make per turn, while against Skaven, you’ll want to get in their face and try to break armour and inflict injuries as much as possible. It’s also not always necessary to leave a safety deep as a last line of defence, except against opponents like Skaven and Wood Elves who are considerably quicker, so you can commit more players around the ball and marking players, rather than marking space.
The Humans lack both the mobility to play a comprehensively conservative defensive game, and the strength to play a singularly aggressive game. It is here that the Humans’ versatility is at its most exploited, as the coach must, out of necessity, adapt their tactics to the moves of their opponents, rather than force their own will on the game. For instance, a Human team will have to stand off Chaos opponents to minimise injury, but that same team will have to grapple and block Skaven the very next week, so as not to have rungs run around them.
Generic starting lineups
4 Linemen, 1 Thrower, 2 Catchers, 4 Blitzers, 3 Re-rolls, 1 Apothecary; 30,000 gold left over
This set-up is the bashiest a Human team can begin life as, without completely abandoning the passing game. Blitzes can grow to be some of the most valuable Human players, and this starting squad means they will be able to cover the field, earn SPP, and level up quickly. The presence of two Catchers also means opponents won’t be able to target one and remove the team’s aerial attack through a single injury. Yet this side contains no substitutes, and with only a single Apothecary, an eleven-man Human team can quickly become outnumbered against injury-heavy sides.
5 Linemen, 1 Thrower, 2 Catchers, 4 Blitzers, 3 Re-rolls, 0 Apothecaries; 30,000 gold left over
This is my favourite approach, posing the threat of an explosive passing game with a pair of catchers, with all the toughness a full compliment of Blitzers brings. The twelve players also means that a Catcher or the Thrower can be withdrawn and protected on defensive drives, or the fifth Lineman can be replaced by an Apothecary for coaches worried about injuries early on. Either way, this team has either twelve players or a healer, not both, and so could be outnumbered later in games, but has all the core components to win games immediately. This build also offers a fair amount of gold left over, which can be put towards another re-roll, an Apothecary, or an Ogre.
4 Linemen, 1 Thrower, 4 Catchers, 2 Blitzers, 4 Re-rolls, 1 Apothecary; 20,000 gold left over
The opposite of the first set-up, this starting team focuses heavily on the pass, and as such has an additional re-roll to make the volley of throws slightly more likely to come off. The weakness of this side is in the single Thrower, as without him the corps of Catchers will be woefully undersupplied, and even wholly useless without fortunate Linemen and Blitzer passes. The relative lack of Blitzers also means this side will struggle to bash opponents off the pitch, or protect their vital Catchers and Throwers.
8 Linemen, 1 Thrower, 2 Catchers, 2 Blitzers, 3 Re-rolls, 1 Apothecary; 10,000 gold left over
The most conservative approach of the three suggested line-ups, this side is unlikely to be outnumbered, boasting two substitutes plus an Apothecary. Useful against brutal bashing teams, or those with a small number of expensive players such as Elf squads, a variant on this line-up will be able to field eleven players, and grind their opponents down under sheer weight of numbers, more often than not. However, this team’s success comes from their strength in depth, and requires injuring at least two or three opposing players for this advantage to be felt; against high-armour teams that refuse to go down, an 8 Lineman-strong squad can quickly look like a sea of mediocrity, rather than a tidal wave of numbers.
While this is a detailed run-down of Human teams, it would be foolish to only trust the opinion of a single person. Below you can check out Sheepdog’s tutorial, complete with a game to show off the Humans in action, and FakeLifeGames’ introduction that goes into player development in much more detail than I have. FakeLifeGames seems to actually like Human Blitzers, so there you go.
See you next time for the Greenskins!
Check out my introduction to the game here.