I didn't have time to read the rules and I didn't pick up a rulebook at registration, as I don't think they were ready when I arrived. Then I realised that I probably wouldn't be able to play in it anyway as I was signed up for the Freeform for most of Saturday, then I had won the lottery to play in Greg Stafford's Gloranthan game, so I would be busy all evening. When a very, very tall New Zealander called Andrew Wood came up to me during the Moon Design seminar and asked when I would be able to play, I explained that I would be tied up the next day, so he might have to play alone. He came back a few minutes later and said that we could play that evening, "OK," I said, "as long as I don't miss the Pub Quiz", as I had complained at its absence during Continuum.
We played that night and I still hadn't read the rules, but fortunately for us, Andrew had. He controlled the sheets and I moved the pieces, although his arms were long enough to stretch across the whole board. The Lunars kept throwing food at us, but we stalled them and hoped for a draw. They scored a goal,l but our trollkin walked over their goal-line making it 1-1. We bashed them about a bit and stalled in extra time and won 1-1 on casualties. We were in the next round and I was hooked, and I mean really hooked.
The next day, I played in the Freeform, but kept checking in with Andrew on the progress of the other teams. He had watched every game and had made a note of their tactics and we discussed each team's tactics and worked out our own. We booked our semi-final between the freeform and Greg's game and I had enough time to shower, change and eat before the game. We were fighting the Malkioni, who were quite tough and had some food to throw at us. We started fairly well, but they got the ball and hoofed it up the pitch, then kicked it into the goal area. 1 down already, not a particularly good sign. We could control the ball and spent most of the time shouting "Control" and cursing our inability to roll below 4 on a D6. It reached 8.55 and I had to go to Greg's Game, leaving Andrew in sole charge. When I came back, he was watching the Baboons' semi-final and we watched them beat the broos while he told me how he managed to kick a goal in the final seconds and then score in extra time. We were both hyped at this stage. However, Lewis, one of the Baboon players, was fully booked the next day and it was unlikely that he would have a chance to play, so we agreed to play that evening, it was probably about 12.30 by this stage.
We went for refreshments, soft drinks really helped us concentrate, and returned a quarter of an hour later. Then followed the hardest Trollball game of the weekend. We managed to kill one of their players and their ancestral ghostly player within about 2 minutes, leaving them completely shell-shocked. The blood had actually drained from their faces! However, we made the tactical error of actually trying to play Trollball rather than just beating them to a pulp. They had inspired tactics using food and took out our goalie and star player, which didn't help one little bit. They ran rings around us and could run up to us, take the ball and run on again without a problem, so it was like playing against jet fighters. We used banana skins to trip them up every time they tried something fancy, but we ran out of them. We managed to draw 1-1 and it went to extra time, again. We hadn't played a single match that only took the allotted hour. During extra time, the baboons pushed and pushed us, reaching the corner of our goal area, before we wrestled the ball away from them and rushed up pitch, hoping to be able to score one last goal. Their sprinters came up and took the ball away from us and we used Interrupt after Interrupt to try and stop them, but just couldn't butt in. Finally, they managed to kick a goal having weaved their way around our clumsy runners. Victory was theirs. It was only afterwards that we realised we should have kicked the trollkin into the wall and killed it rather than trying to play silky trollball as we were ahead on casualties. The moral of the tale is "Never Change Your Gameplan" which would have stood us in good stead had we followed it. We should have torn their players limb from limb and then taken our time to score a goal, rather than trying to be clever and failing dismally.
Afterwards, we spent an hour or so talking to Grégory and discussing our tactics before retiring. The next day, I had nothing planned, so I decided to watch the losers' semi-final and final. Andrew was there, of course, and we watched together as the Giant kicked seven bells out of errant players. We watched the Rinliddi and Lunars lose their semi-finals, spectacularly so in the case of the Rinliddi, to set up an All-Homeland final. They played the final almost immediately afterwards and the Rinliddi were more and more useless, but the Lunars were also pretty bad, so it was a good Worst of the Worst final. Eventually, the Lunars won and consigned the Rinliddi to the Bat. The Giant was so disgusted with the way they had let down the Empire, that he refused to shake their hands.
All in all, it was a fantastic spectacle, made even better by my co-coach, Andrew Wood, who was really, really good at Trollball and dedicated himself to watching every single match. At the Closing Ceremony, we gave Grégory an ovation like no other, as far as I was concerned, we could have applauded all night and it still wouldn't have been enough. They presented the trophy to the winning team and they managed to hold it at fingertip before whooping away, at least they didn't moon or sniff each other. They called up the Rinliddi and presented them with a cool Bat Trophy. Finally, Grégory thanked everyone who was involved and called up "My drinking buddy Darren" who helped think up the idea at Continuum 2006. A very surprised Darren Driver came up to huge applause, having clearly succeeded in a "We are all Darrens" roll, and took the applause for Darren Staples who had spent a very enjoyable night at Continuum 2006 drinking Grégory under the table and discussing a Trollball World Cup event. Hey-ho, that's the way it goes sometimes.
But, playing and watching Trollball really made a very good convention the best one I had ever been to. Trollball may well make it to Continuum next year. If so, I'll be first in the queue to play and watch it, hopefully accompanied by a lanky UzUz called Andrew .....
So, there you have it. The TrollBall World Cup. By far the best event I have ever played in at a games Convention. If they had it at every Continuum and Tentacles, then I would be a very happy bunny indeed.