A gaming review of the year (2011)

I've actually played relatively few computer games this year, mostly because my chair for my desktop PC is still broken, and my laptop is a MacBook (and therefore suffers from neither being Windows, nor having as up-to-date versions of Wine available for it as Linux-based systems). This gaming review of my year, therefore, is based almost entirely upon games I've played in the last two months (most of the games here were bought in one or other of the Humble Indie Bundles recently), or one game for Nintendo DS that I finally got around to playing (mainly due to finally having a DS Lite).
I've also not actually finished most of the games here; the ones I've completed at least once are Portal 2, SMT:SJ and The Binding of Isaac. (I've not mentioned games here that I've not played at all, but own. This is mostly the additional games that comprised the Humble Bundles, but also Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which I'm still waiting for the OSX port of...)

Shin Megami Tensei : Strange Journey (Nintendo DS)
(the first game this year to reduce me to tears (at the conclusion of the Neutral ending); also the game I stopped playing on New Game+ as Lawful, because you're forced to be such a horrible person that it was sapping my will to continue. Not released in the UK: I picked up my copy in the USA last year, in anticipation of buying a DS at some point. )

Marathon (technically: the remake of Marathon in the Aleph-One open-source engine).
(Very very hard to play with a trackball or a trackpad. As a result, I've not managed to get past the first level, embarrassingly.)
unrated: not enough play time.

The Binding of Isaac
(Ed McMillen's games always have the problem that Ed has the sense of humour of a dysfunctional 12-year old. This means that the tone lurches between toilet humour and something approximating darkness, which can be mildly off-putting. Danny Baranowsky's soundtrack is the best thing about the game; the gameplay is the second, combining the best bits of Zelda, Robotron and the roguelike genre to produce something almost as good as one of them.)

Super Meat Boy 
(not as "hard" as it might be, which is not necessarily a bad thing; what is less forgivable is the terrible performance and surprisingly high system requirements. Once again, the main reason to play this is Danny Baronowsky's excellent music, especially if you have the poorly ported OSX release as I do.)

Cave Story +
(a platform "rpg" which really wants you to use adjectives like "enchanting" about it. I particularly like the experience mechanic - unlike most games, it's your current weapon which powers up with experience, not you (although additional health is available separately), and is depowered by taking enough damage subsequently. In terms of tone, it's towards the cutesy end of Japanese RPG design, with anthropomorphic bunnies as the majority cast members, other than the player.)

Portal 2 
(like Portal, one of the few Valve games to throw me out of the naturalness of following the path (both games have moments where you're forced to do something obviously stupid to make the plot continue),  a bit easier than Portal but also more varied (partly because it actually tries to have a plot, partly because of the new gameplay mechanics introduced), I didn't play the co-op mode because I have no-one to play with (which is one reason I took so long to buy this in the first place; also the other game that brought me to tears at the end)

(one of a series of games in the Bit.Trip sequence, RUNNER is basically Simon, but with platforming: Captain Video must complete a series of auto-scrolling levels by performing the correct sequence of actions (jump, slide, kick, etc), in time with a musical background. Notable mostly for being one of the cluster of inter-pollinating Indie games of the last few years, RUNNER featuring guest characters from other games, and Captain Video likewise guesting in others (like Super Meat Boy)).

(a bullet-hell vertically-scolling shooter set in a steampunk world where we colonised Mars and the Spanish allied with the advanced Martian civilisation for Evil purposes, and with an excellent soundtrack,.What's not to like? Shop-based unlockables are also well implemented. )

Crayon Physics Deluxe
(a winner of the Independent Games Festival, based on drawing freeform solutions to physics-based problems (in each room you have to get a ball to a star. Everything you draw becomes a rigid physical object, which you can use to solve the room in whatever way you wish. Despite this, the form is a bit limiting, and the game quickly feels a little restrictive, especially when it fails to interpret your drawings correctly.).

(another prize-winning game, with another simple mechanic: Captain Viridian stars in a 8-bit styled platformer where, unusually, you cannot jump: instead, you can only invert the direction of gravity while touching a surface. The restriction provided by this is the source of multiple puzzles, many of which require you to "fall" through multiple rooms before reaching a terminal surface on which to launch yourself from in the opposite sense (often in order to accomplish a total horizontal movement of only a few blocks width over a deadly obstacle). Like Super Meat Boy, death is cheap, and twitch-sequence learning is necessary; unlike SMB, VVVVVV is consistently likeable, if surreal, and performant on basically any computer.)

Edited post-25th Entry:
Gratuitious Space Battles
(GSB is Positech's interesting approach to a space tactical game, focussing on design, rather than control. Given free-reign to design ships, their deployment, and their initial orders (such as: escort this vessel, fire on any enemy attacking this ship), each battle consists of the action unfolding without your further involvement. There is an unlockables system, paid for with points awarded for how well your designs have done in each engagement (winning significantly under budget gives more points). Limited by the available number of missions, and by a difficulty cliff at the start of the game (you'll lose most of the time when you start playing, until you start to understand how the game mechanics work).)


Bout Report: Pivots of the Caribbean: Dundee vs Fair City 26 November 2011

With only one weekend before the Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto, the last Scottish bout to be played saw Dundee Roller Girls' Silvery Tayzers play host to Fair City Rollers' Fear Maidens in nautically themed bout "Pivots of the Caribbean".
While the rematch was much anticipated, the Fair City Rollers were facing a much harder challenge than they had anticipated, with multiple players pulling out of the final line-up at late notice. With such significant last-minute changes, could they still fight to victory?

Period 1

The Silvery Tayzers dominated the first period, only letting the Fear Maidens score once in the first 13 jams; the second jam seeing Dundee Captain Psychomilly (69) taking lead jammer easily, but finding her scoring pass difficult from the start, thanks to Fair City's Vice Jill Antonic (76), Terrifying Tink (8), and Pivot Zomboobies (8008), allowing the away team's Pistol Panties (6) to pick up some points in the split second before the jam was called. The Perth skaters weren't totally outplayed, however, managing to keep a majority of the jams to no-scores.
Thanks to the Fear Maidens' tenacity, the score differential remained relatively close, only reaching

024 DRG : 003 FCR

by the end of the eleventh jam. Jam 12 was to change all that, however. Beginning with a slow start by Fair City to allow a sin-binned skater to return to the track, Nutshel (26), jamming, accelerated off the track, only to get caught behind the usual strong Tayzers 4-wall. Meanwhile, Dundee's Dr Carnage (T800) was forcing her way past Tenacious Dee (7) and  Pistol Panties on the inside-line to take lead jammer. Knocked to the back of the pack by Sins 'N' Needles (89), Nutshel appeared to cut track trying to catch up again, and was sent to the sin-bin. Handed their first power-ham of the bout, Dundee effectively slowed the pack, goating Terrifying Tink for a while, while Dr Carnage picked up laps. Despite some determined opposition from Tenacious Dee on her final pass, the Dundee jammer picked up 14 points to bring the score to a more intimidating

038 DRG : 003 FCR

Jams 14 and 15 were the only times that the Fear Maidens managed to push the score the other way. The 14th jam saw Dundee's Cilla Block (24) exit the pack first, despite being knocked to the track by Jill Antonic at the very start of her pass, but a final block by Fair City's Pistol Panties (also jamming) caused her to cut track, denying her lead-jammer status. The Fear Maidens jammer was finding it exceptionally difficult to break out of the pack herself, however, with the strong Dundee blocking at the front of the track proving impregnable. A somewhat enthusiastic leaping check from Psychomilly made things a little easier, however, the resulting pile-up taking not just blocker and jammer down, but also Zomboobies and Cilla Block (just starting her scoring pass); with 'Milly immediately off to the sin-bin, the pack was thinned out just enough for Pistol Panties to fight her way through, almost neck and neck with her fellow jammer. Deciding it was worth the potential score, the Fair Maidens jammer went for her own scoring pass, both jammers passing through the pack together until a final block against Splatter Killer (3) brought Pistol Panties to her knees… and also to the sin-bin. Handed a power-jam, Cilla Block jammed a little too aggressively cutting track, to pick up her own trip to the sin-bin on her next scoring pass. Released from the sin-bin with only a few seconds left on the clock, Pistol Panties didn't have time to do much…

…but at least it meant that jam 15 would start with a full minute of power-jam for the away team. An official timeout put paid to this advantage, however, with both jammers ending up in the sin-bin at the start of the jam 15, Cilla Block leaving first, skimming effortlessly through the pack, and back into the sin-bin for track cutting! With Pistol Panties back in the running for a (brief) power-jam, she fought her way through to lead jammer status, managing a single scoring pass (despite last second opposition from Unprotected Bex (32) ) before calling it as the power-jam ended, with the score at

050 DRG : 010 FCR

While the sixteenth jam saw Dundee pick up another 3 points, jam 17 started very badly for the Fear Maidens, DRG's Littlest Peepshow (666) taking lead jammer just before their own Tenacious Dee was sent to the sin-bin for a forearm block penalty. With her teammates holding the pack almost stationary, Peepshow easily completed her first scoring pass; and her second, despite a block from Fear Maidens pivot Jill Antonic sending her to the track, where she stayed. With the jam called early for injury (from which the DRG jammer walked away with no permanent damage), the home team had still picked up 8 points, a performance that Psychomilly only slightly bettered in the next jam, beginning with the Fear Maiden's jammer still in the sin-bin. With the Silvery Tayzers taking a knee, their jammer swept through a depleted Fair City pack, completing multiple scoring passes, even after Tenacious Dee returned to the track. Indeed, with Unprotected Bex, Crown Julez (67) and pivot Viva La Derby (42) taking turns to stop her, the Fear Maidens jammer remained on her initial pass for the entire jam, for 14 points to the home team!

The period ended with what looked to be another impressive jam by Dundee's Cilla Block, taking lead jammer with Teenie Bash stuck between a 2-wall at the front of the pack. With a big pile-up on her scoring pass ending in several skaters remaining still on the track, the jam ended early due to injury, with Dr Carnage seeing particular attention from the medics present. A single grand slam pass resulting wasn't anything to sneeze at, however, and with no skaters permanently injured, the period ended with the score:

090 DRG : 010 FCR

Period 2

Coming into the second period, the Silvery Tayzers looked like continuing to dominate the period as they had the first, beginning with a 13 point jam for Cilla Block, without a power-jam. Things got a little more interesting in the second two jams, Teenie Bash dodging around DRG blocking to take lead jammer for the Fear Maidens in jam 2, picking up a single scoring pass for the away team, despite some aggressive blocking from Splatter Killer at the back of the pack, giving up jamming herself to try to stop her opponent. The third jam was more mixed, with the Tayzers taking a knee into the jam to exploit a pack advantage. Both jammers experienced tough resistance, but DRG's Littlest Peepshow won through the pack first, without lead jammer status. After picking up a grand slam pass, she was joined by Jill Antonic also failing to take lead jammer. With the jam running to time, the superior coordination of the Dundee skaters told, the Fear Maidens jammer being held in the pack on her scoring pass by pivot Viva La Derby until her own pivot, Pistol Panties, helped her out; only for Unprotected Bex to take her pivot's place. Nevertheless, Jill Antonic eventually won through, managing to begin her second scoring pass before time was called, moving the score to:

117 DRG : 022 FCR

This surge of fight from the Fear Maidens couldn't last any longer, however, subsiding until the 7th jam of the bout. With the Silvery Tayzers picking up a big score in jam 4, keeping Teenie Bash locked in her initial pass, despite a hard fight (partly thanks to some fortuitous timing from DRG jammer Dr Carnage, completing her first scoring pass at precisely the right moment to knock an escaping Teenie to the ground), while picking up grand slam passes themselves, followed by a pair of less exciting single scoring pass jams, the score by the start of the seventh jam had moved on to

140 DRG : 022 FCR

Jam seven saw the Fear Maidens fight back with a combination of skill and luck; with jammer Teenie Bash taking lead jammer, DRG's Crown Julez found unexpected opposition in the pack, starting with a casual block to the ground from Jill Antonic. Fighting her way through the inside line, the Dundee jammer cut the track, and was sent to the sin-bin; throwing a power jam to the Fear Maidens. An impressive display of jamming followed, with the Maidens slowing the pack enough for Teenie Bash to weave her way through it a total of four times before time was called, picking up a big 20 points to almost double her team's score!

140 DRG : 042 FCR

This turned out to be an isolated incident, however, with the next seven jams all resulting in scores for the home team, and no points to the Fear Maidens.

The Fear Maidens finally got a break in the 14th, Pistol Panties taking lead jammer, while DRG's Viva La Derby (42) was trapped at the back of the pack by pivot Knock-Turnal (616) and Tenacious Dee. Eventually fighting her way through her initial pass, the Dundee jammer only had enough time to score a pair of points while Pistol Panties completed her first scoring pass and called it.

Despite their best efforts, the away team couldn't maintain the pace into the next, Teenie Bash (2) perfectly matched against Splatter Killer for a no-score, leaving the score sitting at:

188 DRG : 046 FCR

That was the last chance the Tayzers gave the Fear Maidens, the final five jams all going the home team's way. The bout ended with a final power jam, the Fear Maidens' Teenie Bash just slipping her skate outside the track while completing her initial pass to pick up a trip to the sin-bin rather than lead jammer. Dundee's Littlest Peepshow was happy to take the time to pick up last minute points, completing two grand slam passes before calling the jam, the period, and the bout, with a final score of:

207 DRG : 046 FCR

Discussion and Awards

While the Fear Maidens fought hard through-out the entire bout, the Silvery Tayzers showed their superior skill over-all. That said, there were exceptional performances by some Fair City skaters, in particular Pistol Panties and Teenie Bash jamming, and Jill Antonic and Tenacious Dee blocking. With a bit more pack cohesion, the Perth team could well have presented a significant challenge to the home team; perhaps next time, with the line-up they'd expected, they could fight to victory.

Best Blocker
Viva La Derby
Jill Antonic
Best Jammer
Cilla Block
Teenie Bash
Most Sin-Binned
Most Valuable Player

Credits and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dundee Roller Girls and Fair City Rollers for a fantastic bout.
Thanks to FCR's Van Damn and DRG's Go Go Gadget Skates for the awards info.
And thanks also to Sins 'N' Needles for an excellent bout programme.

Your announcers were: Kinkhey (for DRG) and Detroit Dangerous (for FCR).

The text of this report is licensed CC:BY 3.0 (Creative Commons: Attribution) by me.

All photos are licensed CC: BY-NC 3.0 (Creative Commons: Attribution, Non-Commercial) by Laura MacDonald, taken on a Canon 450D with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Note: this article has been updated with additional information concerning the background of FCR's entry to the bout, at 16:47 1 December 2011.


Bout Report: Glasgow Roller Girls Season Two Intraleague Final: Death Stars vs Bad Omens

After battling through the qualifying bouts, the Death Stars and the Bad Omens faced each other in the Season Two final on the 12th of November, just as they had in Season One. The Death Stars were the clear underdogs, having been beaten by the Bad Omens in every face off over both seasons, so it was up to them to topple the champions and make history.

Of course, first there has to be the skateout, featuring the Psychopants delivery cart and Corvid for the Bad Omens, and, of course, a personal appearance from Lord Vader and his honour guard for the Death Stars.

Period 1

The bout started with an almost immediate blow to the Death Stars' chances, however, with jammer Marshall Lawless (42) off to the sin-bin in the very first jam! With the Omens slowing the pack to a standstill, jammer Meg 4 Mercy (4) garnered 2 Grand Slam passes, and a final partial pass, despite tenacious blocking by Death Stars' Wild Oates (3), Mistress Malicious (99) and Whisky Galore (11). 

With only one jam spent, the score was already:

00 Death Stars : 13 Bad Omens

Malky Traz and Mazzy Chaos put an end to Meg's scoring.
The Death Stars didn't let this initial setback phase them, however, Rogue Runner taking lead jammer in jam 2, despite last-second blocking by Lily Lethal (5). With a good lead over the Omens' Slain Austen (823.7) thanks to Mazzy Chaos (R10T) and Peggy Su-icide (14), the Death Stars only attained a pair of points, thanks to an impassible Tarcenic (41). The challengers continued their press into the third jam (VIDEO), Mistress Malicious (99) picking up an easy scoring pass before calling it. Meg 4 Mercy pulled the points back in the next jam, however, with a good lead over Marshall Lawless thanks to Marla Mayhem's blocking; knocked to the ground herself by Malky Traz (137) and Mazzy Chaos (pivot, R10T), the champions' jammer called it immediately for three points.

Keen to continue her fellow jammers' work, Slain Austen rocketed through the pack first in jam 5, but cutting track on the outside line; a track-cutting penalty and a trip to the sin-bin was not what she expected from her jammer ref. The Death Stars' Rogue Runner found it hard work to exploit the power-jam, however, the Omens' Haberbashery (88), Bashin' Berserker (83) and Chemikill Hazard (LD50, pivot) proving difficult to pass on both initial and scoring runs, limiting the challengers to a single grand-slam pass.

With Slain Austen starting from the sin-bin, the Death Stars' Mistress Malicious had a significant advantage in the next jam, (VIDEO), but failed to cleanly complete her initial pass, not achieving lead jammer status. Still the Death Stars jammer was in the lead; a fast pack and excellent blocking from pivot Marla Mayhem (13) and Lily Lethal (5) prolonged the challengers' first scoring pass for long enough that both jammers picked up points, before Slain Austen called it.
With the scores so close, it only needed one good Death Stars jam to switch the lead; and that's what Marshall Lawless gave us in jam 7, bringing home a perfect scoring pass, to edge the challengers into the lead by a single point!

21 Death Stars : 20 Bad Omens

The next jam started extremely defensively, both jammers trapped behind strong walls in the pack; the Bad Omens' Jess E Ska at the front, and the Death Stars' Rogue Runner at the back. While the Omens' jammer managed to break through her wall, thanks to DS pivot Mazzy Chaos (R10T) being sent off, the Death Stars were not so lucky. One Grand Slam scoring pass later, and the Omens called it, to swing the lead right back their way.

21 Death Stars : 25 Bad Omens

Things hadn't settled down yet, however, a similarly defensive jam 9 seeing the Death Stars' Mistress Malicious fight through to lead jammer, while Slain Austen was given a hard time by Death Stars pivot Viper (29) and Wild Oates, the latter getting herself sent off for a somewhat messy, yet effective, last-second block. Finding herself unable to break through, while Mistress Malicious was racking up grand slam passes, the Bad Omens jammer eventually passed the star to pivot and Captain Haberbashery (88mph), who faired somewhat better, for a last-second score as the jam was called.
With such a fantastic jam under their belt, the Death Stars had finally resolved the lead switching for a while, the score standing at:

35 Death Stars : 27 Bad Omens

The Champions weren't about to give up without a fight, jam 10 (VIDEO) seeing Meg 4 Mercy break through a fast Death Stars wall with the aid of Marla Mayhem to take lead jammer, but with Marshall Lawless too close behind to score. Similarly, Jess E Ska raced into lead jammer in the next jam (VIDEO), but with Rogue Runner in close pursuit. With most of the Omens at the rear of the pack, the Death Stars picked up a couple of points before the Omens called it, despite being behind on the track. Meg 4 Mercy finally grabbed some points for the Champions in jam 12, perhaps due to three of the Death Stars blockers starting in the sin-bin! This was merely whittling the score down, however; it was the 14h jam that saw the big Bad Omens fight back, Slain Austen battling through a strong 3-wall to take lead jammer, while Marshall Lawless found Bad Omens pivot Marla Mayhem too tough to handle, kept almost continuously at the rear of the pack. Slain Austen, meanwhile, showed some tremendous skill, dodging past all defence on multiple grand slam passes, bringing the lead back to the current champions at:

37 Death Stars : 47 Bad Omens

While Meg 4 Mercy effortlessly took lead jammer in the very next bout (VIDEO), she didn't have any time to score, with Rogue Runner right behind her. Trying to engage, the Bad Omens jammer misjudged a block slightly, ending up in the sin-bin instead. Picking up multiple scoring passes as the pack was held stationary by her teammates, Rogue Runner eventually made a mistake, a back-block sending her to the sin-bin, and freeing her opponent.
The Omens jammer had barely enough time to complete her first scoring pass before the jam was called, allowing the power-jam to continue into the next jam (VIDEO). Jess E Ska was up for the champions, making fast work of her initial pass, and her first scoring pass, despite the efforts of Wild Oates. Her second scoring pass went badly wrong, starting with a collision with Death Stars pivot Sykes, sending her to the ground, and the jammer to the sin-bin for a back-block major.
With a bit of help from Whisky Galore and Wild Oates pushing the Omens out of the way, a returning Rogue Runner quickly began restoring the challengers' points differential, despite the Omens making her work for every pass. In the end, the pair of jams ended with the Death Stars favour,  reversing the lead once more:

65 Death Stars : 61 Bad Omens

With the Bad Omens depleted on track, Slain Austen cougaring off, the challengers had the advantage again going into what could be the final jam of the bout (VIDEO). Nevertheless, neither jammer escaped the pack quickly, with Chemikill Hazard holding back the Death Stars' Mistress Malicious near single handledly at the front of the pack for a whole minute, before Mazzy Chaos managed to break her control. Meg 4 Mercy had less friends in the pack, however, and looked increasingly desperate as the challengers began picking up grand slam passes. A star pass to pivot Marla Mayhem solved that, the new jammer easily escaping the pack and forcing the Death Stars to call the jam, with the score:

79 Death Stars : 61 Bad Omens

Despite the period timer being clearly at zero, it looked like a further jam was about to start, but it was quickly stopped after some confused looks from the referees (VIDEO), leaving the score unchanged as we entered half-time.

With all apparently well with his favoured team, Lord Vader found the time to pose for publicity photos during half time,

while the Death Stars themselves discovered that they have a fan-club amongst the spectators.


Period 2

The Death Stars re-entered the second period aggressively, determined to push their advantage (VIDEO), although with mixed success, the Omens' Slain Austen scoring in the second jam, while Mistress Malicious pushed the points differential pack the challengers' way the next jam. The teams were closely matched, however, Meg 4 Mercy taking lead jammer in jam 4, with sparse packs on both sides (Rogue Runner cougaring off for the Death Stars, and two Bad Omens blockers in the sin-bin already), and Lily Lethal (until a forearm block sent her to the sin-bin), and Chemikill Hazard proving too much for the Death Stars' Marshall Lawless. Once again, Mistress Malicious pushed the challengers' lead back to quo in the very next jam.
Marla Mayhem earning that Best Blocker award.

With the Omens taking a knee for a change in the sixth jam, to exploit a slight pack advantage (VIDEO), it was Meg 4 Mercy who took lead jammer, working her way past pivot Whisky Galore at the front. With half a track's lead, a little help from Lily Lethal, and a last-second lean of the hips, the Omens picked up a complete scoring pass, calling it just before the Death Stars' Rogue Runner began her own. Of course, as previously, the Death Stars restored their advantage in the next jam, Marshall Lawless picking up her own scoring pass against Slain Austen in jam 7.

The Death Stars' enthusiasm for taking the knee close to the jam line was finally curtailed in jam 8, Mistress Malicious' attempts to pass the 2-wall of Chemikill Hazard and Marla Mayhem resulting in an back-block minor sending her off to the sin-bin. The Omens' Jess E Ska still had to complete her initial pass to make use of the power-jam; Whisky Galore and Sykes were perhaps a little too determined to stop her, both picking up trips to the sin-bin themselves in close succession. With only two Death Stars on the track, this was now an easy scoring opportunity for the champions, 14 points starting to narrow the points differential for the first time in the period.

With the Omens now taking the knee to exploit the sparse pack, (VIDEO), the next jam was a predictable success, Meg 4 Mercy fighting her way quickly past Wild Oates and Mistress Malicious, while Rogue Runner was unable to pass the pack stacked against her. A single scoring pass, and the scores were potentially just a jam away from switching lead once more...

94 Death Stars : 90 Bad Omens

…but it wasn't to be, the next 4 jams seeing the two teams alternate scoring passes almost like clockwork, despite the Bad Omens taking the knee into each one.

With only two Omens blockers on track, the Death Stars took a knee into jam 13 (VIDEO), undoubtedly expecting an easy jam. While Marshall Lawless did exit the pack first, despite a last second (and low) block from Lily Lethal, she also picked up enough minors to send her to the sin-bin! Despite the power-jam, Omens jammer Jess E Ska only picked up a single scoring pass, her second spent behind an impassible Death Stars wall, or on the track where pivot Viper shoulder-checked her!

Breaking the deadlock, some exceptional pivot work by Sykes in the 14th jam  saw the Omens' Meg 4 Mercy shunted behind a Death Stars wall and the Death Stars' Marshall Lawless handed a clear outside line in a single block, beautiful walling and some hammer-and-nail work from Whisky Galore, Wild Oates and Sykes keeping the Omens' jammer bouncing around on her initial pass while their own picked up a total of three grand slam passes! With that impressive performance, the Death Stars had restored their initial lead, the points now:

116 Death Stars : 99 Bad Omens

The worst luck comes in clusters. In this case (VIDEO), Slain Austen, having easily taken lead jammer, picking up a track-cut penalty on her scoring pass, and a trip to the sin-bin before Mistress Malicious had even made it out of the pack. The chance of a power-jam scoring galvanised the Death Stars blockers, however, Mazzy Chaos and pivot Viper trapping the Omens' pivot Chemikill Hazard to place their troublesome 3-wall out of play, freeing Mistress Malicious to score. The Omens weren't going quietly, forcing the challengers' jammer to pick up minors on her first and second scoring pass that sent her to the sin-bin instead, releasing Slain Austen onto the track. Barely had she returned, before she was knocked to the track by a combined block by Viper and Sykes, causing the jam to be called for injury. Luckily, it was nothing serious, and Slain Austen was not only able to make it off track, but also returned to jamming later in the period.

Still, the immediate effect of the early stop was to make the 16th jam (VIDEO) open with the power-jam still in place. The Death Stars had the pack advantage, though, and Chemikill Hazard found it nigh impossible to break through their defence, particularly that of Whisky Galore. By the time she'd finally completed her initial pass, the power-jam had ended, only enough time remaining to score a pair of points before calling it.

With Meg 4 Mercy continuing the Bad Omens resurgence into the next jam (VIDEO) for a couple more points, the champions took a knee into jam 18 (VIDEO) as well, only for the Death Stars' Mistress Malicious to take lead jammer, the Omens' Marla Mayhem getting sent off for blocking out of play to boot. A relatively easy scoring pass kept the points differential relatively safe for the challengers. A close run jam 19 (VIDEO), with lead jammer Rogue Runner only metres ahead of Slain Austen, didn't change much, both jammers scoring, to put the score at:

126 Death Stars : 111 Bad Omens

With only a few minutes on the clock (VIDEO), the Bad Omens had to continue pressing their attack to have a chance of pulling off a win. While Meg 4 Mercy took lead jammer, she was quickly outpaced by the Death Stars Mistress Malicious. Oddly, the Omens jammer was happy to waste time, coasting along until just before the challengers could score before calling the jam.
With just enough time for a final jam (VIDEO), the Bad Omens must have been praying for a power-jam, only 14 points separating the scores. If they were, the Gods were clearly fickle, as it was Slain Austen who got sent off, picking up a 4th minor for blocking with forearms. The Death Stars hardly needed the extra points, but Rogue Runner wasn't averse to good fortune, picking up a single grand slam pass against heavy opposition, to bring the unofficial final score to:

131 Death Stars : 111 Bad Omens

That wasn't the end of matters, however, with an unusually long post-bout deliberation from the referees, and the score unconfirmed.

Finally, with everyone agreed, the final score was up as:

134 Death Stars : 111 Bad Omens

ticking up to

during the high-fives.

Conclusions and Awards

This was an exceptionally close fought bout, both teams showing why they deserved to be in the final. While the Death Stars certainly earned the Championship, having the lead more often, and for longer, than the Omens, it was never a sure thing; had the final jam been a power jam in the other direction, the Bad Omens could easily have retained the Silver Helmet for another year. This can only be a good thing for the spectators and the skaters, however, and next year it could all change again; maybe even the Hell's Belles could make their way to the final!


Best Blocker
Death Stars
Whisky Galore
Bad Omens
Marla Mayhem
Best Jammer
Death Stars
Mistress Malicious
Bad Omens
Meg 4 Mercy
Death Stars
Bad Omens
Chemikill Hazard

Notes and Acknowledgements

Thanks to the Glasgow Roller Girls for an excellent game.
Thanks also to the creator of the bout programme, and to announcers Helliverance and Sven?.

The video and photographs used in this report are all taken by me on a Sony A580 with a second-hand 24-105mm Minolta AF lens, and no flash.

A playlist of video and album of photos from which they are drawn are at:
YouTube Playlist
Picasa Web Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/102032801144714237554/GlasgowRollerGirlsIntraleagueFinal12November2011DeathStarsVsBadOmens?authuser=0&feat=directlink
 (Also shared on Google+, and a copy on Facebook)

 Professional photography for GRG is handled by the excellent Dave McAleavy, who has a website for his bout photos.

 This bout report, and all media therein are licensed CC-BY (Creative Commons : Attribution), which means that they are completely free to reuse and remix as long as I am given a credit as the author.
You don't have to ask permission first as long as you do that.

 As always, this report, and any inaccuracies within it, are purely my own. All corrections and comments are gratefully received.


GRG Death Stars vs Bad Omens Macaron Special!

So, I blogged about macarons last around the time of the first Team Scotland public bout, when I gave my recipes for Team Scotland and Team Steve Macarons.

Since then, I've also baked macarons the second Team Scotland outing (against the Northern AllStars), but didn't really change the recipe much, so there wasn't much point in blogging.

This Saturday, however, is the final of the Glasgow Roller Girls Intraleague Season Two, featuring the Death Stars vs the Bad Omens for the second time!

In honour of both teams, I have prepared some new macarons, which I shall tell you how to make.

Death Stars on the left, Bad Omens on the right.

All macaron shells are based on the recipe linked in the previous article.

Death Stars Macarons

Make the shells as with the above recipe, substituting vanilla sugar for granulated sugar.

(blueberry butter icing)

Make butter icing as in the above recipe for Team Scotland macarons. Reduce 200 to 300g of frozen blueberries, with a tablespoon of water to stop them burning at first, until they form a thick jam. Strain, and allow to cool. Gradually blend the blueberry essence into the buttercream until you achieve a strong colour and taste without thinning the mix too much. Adjust sweetness and consistency with additional sugar (castor or icing).

Pipe the blueberry icing onto one shell, and assemble with a matching shell with a slight twisting motion.

Bad Omens Macarons

Make shells as with the Best of the Rest chocolate macaron shells.

(raspberry butter icing)

Make as with the above Death Stars icing, but substitute raspberries for blueberries.

As above!


Bout Report: GRG Irn-Bruisers vs Rainy City Roller Girls 29 October 2011

As I mentioned in the previous report, last Saturday's Hallowe'en themed roller derby at Glasgow was a  double header. Having covered the international bout first on the agenda, this report covers the second: the traditional yearly matchup between Glasgow's 'A'-team, the Irn-Bruisers, and Manchester's Rainy City Roller Girls. The previous two years had been wins for the hosting team - Glasgow in 2009, and Rainy City in 2010 - so the onus was on the away team to break the pattern this time!

First, of course, the skateout!

Period 1

The first five jams of the bout were somewhat inconclusive, neither team managing to get a cohesive advantage over the other (see, for example, jam 4 (VIDEO) ). As with the previous bout, it was to be a power-jam that finally broke that deadlock.
Randi Razorlegs and Marshall Lawless contest for lead jammer.
Coming into jam 6, it looked like Randi Razorlegs (L11) had successfully slipped around the inside-line to take lead-jammer, but the eagle eyes of referee Karl Lager-Filled detected track-cutting, for which the Rainy City jammer was sent off to the sin-bin. Slowing the pack, pivot Viper (27) and the rest of the Bruisers blockers made it easy for jammer Marshall Lawless (42) to rack up the points: 22 of them before the power-jam ended!

As with so many bouts, a single jam was enough to shake the scoreboard up, the scores now:

30 GRG : 13 RCRG

With their lead established, the home team continued to press their advantage, jams 7 (VIDEO) and 8 seeing great defensive work in the pack to give jammers Marla Mayhem (13) and Megan Hyndman (4) strong leads over Rainy City's Missy Rascal (6) and Elle Loco (K-133), enough to score single passes each.
Clearly, the Rainy City skaters needed to think outside the box to break through the home team's impressive blocking. In the ninth jam, they finally got a chance to do so: with the pack formed up against the jam line (GRG taking a knee to exploit a numerical advantage), RCRG's Missy Rascal immediately performed a star pass, reaching over the entire pack to hand her jammer panty to pivot, Dee-Mise (18), at the front. While this didn't grant them lead-jammer status (Dee-Mise not actually having passed any of the opposing team in the pack), it did seem to confuse the Irn-Bruisers sufficiently to break their grip on events, Hardcore Prawn (88) battling her way past Missy Rascal (apparently attempting a Gotham-style face-to-face block) but without lead-jammer status. With neither jammer in a position to call the jam, it went to time, both teams picking up multiple passes, to bring the score to:

Dee-Mise and Missy Rascal's star pass gambit in process.

45 GRG : 24 RCRG

This is the kind of trick that only works once, however, and the away team might have played it too early, the next 4 jams proving as inconclusive as the first five had, despite yet another power jam in jam 10 for the away team. With a fast pack limiting Belle-istic's ability to score, she called the jam; the rest of the power-jam much better exploited by Rainy City captain Missy Rascal, accounting for most of their points here. With Rainy City taking a knee into the next jam (VIDEO), it was Marla Mayhem who took lead, setting the theme for the next few short jams.

Hardcore Prawn had to fight for every point here.
Just as in the previous case, the run was ended by another dramatic power-jam, in the 14th jam. With Rainy City taking a knee into the jam, to exploit a numerical advantage, both Hardcore Prawn and Elle Loco faced a strongly defensive pack, the Rainy City jammer faced with a strong forward wall from Lily Lethal (5), Chemikill Hazard (LD50) and Slain Austen (823.7), and Hardcore Prawn the blocking expertise of Dee-Mise, Sookie Sock'em and Mama Firefly (667). After a last-second block from Dee-Mise put paid to the Bruiser's break for freedom, it was Elle Loco who took lead jammer, only to be sent to the sin-bin during her first scoring pass. Adapting quickly to the change in circumstances, Hardcore Prawn fought her way repeatedly through a slow moving pack to take 10 points in the power-jam, and setting the score at:

59 GRG : 35 RCRG

With the dying seconds of the power-jam extending into the next jam (VIDEO), Marshall Lawless was a little too hasty getting through the pack, failing to do so cleanly enough to take lead jammer. Her haste did her no favours in her scoring pass, either, some track cutting on the outside line sending her to the sin-bin just as Elle Loco was coming back on track. The excitement wasn't over, however, the Rainy City jammer managing to get herself sent off again on her second scoring pass for a back block major, returning Marshall Lawless to the track just as two of GRG's blockers left it for the sin-bin themselves. With the pack balanced against her, the Bruisers' jammer fought hard to complete her scoring pass, barely managing to do so as the whistle blew.

They're not really quite this different in size in real life!
While Marshall Lawless and Hardcore Prawn had already managed high-scoring power-jams, Marla Mayhem was about to demonstrate it was quite possible to do the same thing with your opposing skater on the track. With only Viper and Chemikill Hazard on the track for the Irn-Bruisers, it took some help from their jammer to hold back Elle-Loco (starting from off track) as the jam began; as soon as her services were no longer needed, with Lucky Hateball (8) emerging from the penalty area, Marla Mayhem surged ahead to take lead-jammer. With the Rainy City jammer held securely behind a forward wall, the home team picked up a safe pair of scoring passes before calling it as she emerged.
Despite high scoring on both sides, the points differential had barely moved, the scores now standing at:

73 GRG : 43 RCRG

While Rainy City had a chance to recoup their losses in jam 17 (VIDEO), a messy start seeing the Bruisers' Megan Hyndman sent to the sin-bin on her initial pass, while Belle-istic took lead jammer. Not many points in this power-jam, however, the Rainy City jammer calling it immediately after being blocked off the track by pivot Wild Oates. This did mean that the majority of the power-jam extended into the next jam (VIDEO); however, with Randi Razorlegs struggling to pass a strongly defensive GRG forward wall, Megan Hyndman was back on track before Rainy City had picked up any points. To add insult to injury, the Rainy City jammer was sent off almost immediately for blocking to the back, handing the power-jam across. With the home team lined up stationary at the outside of the track, it seemed that Megan Hyndman would have no trouble picking up points; ironically, a back-block major on her second scoring pass put paid to that, sending her back to the sin-bin as the jam whistle blew!
Jam 19 (VIDEO), then, started with both jammers in the penalty box, even if Rainy City's Randi Razorlegs was standing ready to reenter the jam. Once again, an exceedingly strong defence from the home team, Wild Oates and Lucky Hateball in particular, minimised the losses, until the jam was called early due to injury.
When play resumed, there was only time for a single jam before half-time, (VIDEO), Rainy City's Belle-istic taking lead jammer over Marshall Lawless thanks to some exceptional blocking from the away team. The Rainy City jammer found her scoring pass curtailed by another one of those impassible GRG walls, however, and left it slightly too late to call the jam, both teams picking up points and leaving the score at half time:

82 GRG : 55 RCRG

After half-time, play resumed in period 2, which started a little late as the scores had apparently been accidentally reset for both teams!

Period 2

The second period started as closely contested as the first had, both teams slowly edging their scores higher, with perhaps a slight advantage to the away team (for example, see the first jam (VIDEO) ). The first big score of the period had to wait until jam 5. With GRG's Viper in the sin-bin, Rainy City took a knee into the jam, but it was the Irn-Bruisers' Marshall Lawless who fought her way through their forward wall first, to take lead jammer, Rainy City's Randi Razorlegs ending up in the sin-bin instead. She didn't spend long there, however, an incident during the GRG jammer's scoring pass sending her straight to the sin-bin herself, and releasing her opposite number in turn.
Continuing their power-jam into the sixth jam, captain Missy Rascal effortlessly took lead jammer (with a little help from pivot Dee-Mise), picking up another 9 points before calling it to prevent a returning Marshall Lawless from scoring.
With that good fortune, the Rainy City Roller Girls looked like they might be able to pull things back in the second period, the score now a considerably closer:

99 GRG : 89 RCRG

With that confusion over, the next two were almost sedate, Marla Mayhem picking up a single pass' worth of points in jam 7 (VIDEO), and then Missy Rascal managing a partial redress, with 2 points in the next.

This became something of a habit during the bout...
The ninth jam started a little messily, both jammers having to fight through strong walls after a Rainy City knee released them into the pack. While Marla Mayhem fought her way through the wall at the front, Randi Razorlegs was less fortunate at the rear, ending up sent to the sin-bin instead. This time, however, the away team proved themselves in defence, the GRG jammer failing to pass their wall on her third scoring pass (knocking Sookie Sock'em over in the process), instead herself heading off to the sin-bin! With Randi Razorlegs back on the track, the Rainy City blockers slowed the pack down; two more Irn-Bruisers getting themselves sent off in the process! With Marla Mayhem being sent off so late in the jam, the situation continued into the next jam, (VIDEO) team captain Missy Rascal taking full advantage of the reduced GRG presence on track to pick up 8 points before the Bruiser's jammer returned to the track.

After that excitement, the home team needed to show they handn't lost heart. Megan Hyndman was the one to do it, taking lead jammer she took no issue in knocking down Elle Loco to make herself more space on her second scoring pass, taking the score to:

124 GRG : 103 RCRG

that 20 point lead looking pretty constant.

This wasn't much of a respite. History repeated in jams 12 and 13: once again handed a power jam, Marla Mayhem proceeded to lap a stationary pack repeatedly, fighting her way through the Rainy City wall each time.  Inevitably, the penalties accrued eventually sent the GRG jammer to the sin-bin, allowing a last minute scoring push by Missy Rascal. As before, this Rainy City power-jam extended into the next jam, where (VIDEO) Belle-istic (13) fought her way past a two-wall of Slain Austen (823.7) and Lucky Hateball (8) to continue the scoring run. Once again, however, the home teams excellent blocking limited the damage done, the scoreline sitting at:

139 GRG : 111 RCRG

With Missy Rascal stuck behind the Bruisers' wall once more in the next jam, Megan Hyndman had no problems picking up 8 points to increase the home team's lead again, although her call was too late to stop Rainy City picking up some points of their own. The 15th jam was a little more clear cut (VIDEO), Marshall Lawless managing a clean 4 point pass before calling; the very next jam (VIDEO), Missy Rascal repeating the same for the away team. With Megan Hyndman returning to repeat the process for the Irn-Bruisers in the 17th jam, the score, with only about 3 minutes left on the clock, was:

155 GRG : 119 RCRG

The penultimate jam of the bout started slowly (VIDEO), Hateball and Wild Oates (3) keeping the rest of the pack pressed up against the jam line while they waited for their fellow blockers to serve their time in the sin-bin. When the action finally started, with RCRG taking a knee to destroy the pack, it was only for their jammer Missy Rascal to immediately get herself sent off for a back-block to Wild Oates. A sedately skating Irn-Bruisers pack kept things slow for Marshall Lawless to capitalise on the power jam, which she did, despite some heavy blocking from Oona Bomber (75) and Sookie Sock'em. Fifteen points later, and all hope for a last-jam resurgence by the away team had evaporated, the score sitting at:

170 GRG : 119 RCRG

And, indeed, the final jam (VIDEO) only cemented that; with Missy Rascal sent off again, Marla Mayhem didn't have to do much in her new power-jam, which was lucky, as the Rainy City blockers weren't about to let her pass. Considering the scores, Marla was content to just wait behind the stationary pack until Slain Austen and Sykes (360°) made her a path, calling the jam well before a returning Missy Rascal got to pick up any points.

With that, then the final score of the bout sat at:

175 GRG : 119 RCRG

Conclusions and Awards.

This was a spectacular bout, if for some of the wrong reasons. While Rainy City's star pass was a great piece of tactics, and the Irn Bruisers' blocking was impressively solid and coordinated, this was perhaps overshadowed by the huge number of power-jams (and multiple power-jams in one jam) that occurred.
It also continues the trend of each team tending to win on their home ground; we'll have to wait until 2012 to see if the Irn Bruisers can be the first to break it when they play in Manchester.

Best Blocker
Glasgow Roller Girls
Lily Lethal
Rainy City Roller Girls
Best Jammer

Glasgow Roller Girls
Betty Gogo*
Rainy City Roller Girls
Missy Rascal
Glasgow Roller Girls
Marshall Lawless
Rainy City Roller Girls

*(who didn't jam - perhaps the Rainy City girls were thinking of Mistress Malicious, who skates as 99 to Betty's 999?)

Acknowledgements and notes.

Thanks to the Glasgow Roller Girls and Rainy City Roller Girls for an excellent game. 
Thanks also to the creator of the bout programme, and to announcers Helliverance and Handsome Joe Hanson. 

The video and photographs used in this report are all taken by me on a Sony A580 with a second-hand 24-105mm Minolta AF lens, and no flash. 

A playlist of video and album of photos from which they are drawn are at: 
YouTube Playlist 
 (Also shared on Google+, and a copy on Facebook) 

 Professional photography for GRG is handled by the excellent Dave McAleavy, who has a website for his bout photos. 

 This bout report, and all media therein are licensed CC-BY (Creative Commons : Attribution), which means that they are completely free to reuse and remix as long as I am given a credit as the author. 
You don't have to ask permission first as long as you do that. 

 As always, this report, and any inaccuracies within it, are purely my own. All corrections and comments are gratefully received.


Bout Report: GRG Maiden Grrders vs Malmö Crime City Rollers 29/10/11

The 29th of September saw Glasgow Roller Girls host their traditional Hallowe'en themed bout, with fancy dress and a generally ghoulish theme. While the bout against Rainy City is the regular feature, this year's "Monster Bash" was a double-header, featuring new Swedish team Malmö Crime City Rollers first up on the agenda. Facing Glasgow's 'B' travel team, the Maiden Grrders, this promised to be an exciting bout.

First up, of course, we have to be introduced to all the skaters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwbSRQmACSg

Period 1
Fightin' Torque faces off against CCR's Barbara Barfight.

For almost the entire first period, Malmö Crime City Rollers and the Maiden Grrders looked almost inseparable in performance. Despite an early power-jam handing GRG's Fightin' Torque (531) the chance to pick up 14 points, only two jams later Jess E Ska (31) handed the sixth and seventh (VIDEO) jams to Crime City, JJ Fury (159) and Curly Håår (100) taking advantage of their own power-jams to reverse the situation, until a bad challenge in jam seven saw the CCR jammer sent off herself. Entering the eighth jam once again with only their jammer on track, and a numbers advantage in the pack, the Maiden Grrders took a knee, and the chance to push the score once again in their own direction. With the Malmö blockers outnumbered, they were unable to prevent GRG's Rogue Runner (210) from picking up an impressive haul, two more skaters finding themselves sent off for blocking out of play as the home team simply stood still on the track!

The excitement wasn't finished, however, with Peggy Su-icide getting herself sent off in the very next jam, CCR's Ankefar getting the chance to show her own mettle on the track, bringing home 24 points in a single jam!

41 GRG : 49 CCR

After all that penalty time, both teams seemed to have worked out their tensions, and the next five jams saw more cautious play, the home team gradually eroding the small points deficit, starting with a conservative tenth jam (VIDEO) from Fightin' Torque, and continuing through the 13th (VIDEO), bringing the score eventually to a close:

61 GRG : 59 CCR

at the end of the 15th jam. All this was about to change, however.

With only 4 minutes left in the bout, it was GRG's Peggy Su-icide up, jamming against Malmö's Happy Army (217). (VIDEO) Both jammers were given a hard time, Happy Army skipping around Grrders co-captain Haberbashery (40), before encountering the two-woman blocking team of Jackash (911) and Mazzy Chaos (R10T) out front. Being blocked out into the crowd wasn't the worst of it, for the CCR jammer, who was immediately sent off for track-cutting, just as Peggy Su-icide took lead jammer. With the Glasgow blockers simply stopping at the edge of the track, Crime City seemed unable to get things moving again, wary of their experience of jam 8; with the addition of some excellent jamming, this resulted in a massive 28 point power jam for the home team!

For the first time in the bout, there was a clear leader, the score now (with one jam left in the period) at:

89 GRG : 59 CCR

Shrugging off this last minute blow to their chances (VIDEO), Ankefar dodged past GRG's Lola Bruises (96, pivot), while teammates Barbara Barfight (101, pivot) and Fröken Smacky (85) made things hard for GRG's Rogue Runner, who was freed only after the pack was intentionally split (and after a scoring pass by Ankefar). With much more resistance on her second pass, especially from Lola Bruises, the Malmö jammer didn't manage to call it before her opponent also picked up a couple of points, leaving the score at half-time:

91 GRG : 67 CCR

After a half-time filled with costume contests (for which the Bride of Frankenstein won the adult costume prize), and unexpected performances...

Period 2

Curly Håår means business.
Returning to the second period, Malmö had clearly been given a pep talk from their coach. Over the first five jams, they outplayed the home team, wearing away at the spoils of that late power-jam inexorably. Jam 1 (VIDEO) and jam 4 (VIDEO) are reflective of the experience; Ankefar picking up a good lead over GRG's Rogue Runner thanks to good walling from pivot Barbara Barfight, Fröken Smacky and Belgian Bob*(88), and then Curly Håår totally outskating the GRG blockers to take the lead in jam 4. So cohesive was the CCR blocking that Jess E Ska had to resort to a star pass in the third jam, handing over to pivot Lola Bruises, just to limit the away team's scoring to a pair of passes in the jam.

At the end of jam 5, the away team had actually taken the lead, the score now sitting at:

91 GRG : 94 CCR !

Jam 6 initially looked like it would be the start of a Maiden Grrders push back, Peggy Su-icide taking lead jammer for GRG for the first time in the period, only for CCR's JJ Fury (159) to overtake her on the track, nullifying her advantage. It was only in the next jam (VIDEO) that Fightin' Torque acquired a good enough lead to bring home a single scoring pass, a performance that they couldn't sustain into jam 8, Malmö's Happy Army instead taking lead jammer while most of the Maiden Grrders ended up in the sin-bin.

Indeed, with jam 9 (VIDEO) another no-score, and jam 10 seeing the Malmö team once again scoring it wasn't looking that good for the home team, with the score halfway through the period standing at:

99 GRG : 112 CCR

Peggy Su-icide faces off against the CCR pack.
As with the previous period, it was a power-jam that properly kickstarted the home team's return to the game. With Ankefar and Fightin' Torque racing each other through the pack, it was the CCR jammer who make it through first, only to be sent straight to the sin-bin for an illegal procedure. While some exceptional walling from CCR's Sister Stitch (2), Venom (11), Fröken Smacky and Happy Army delayed the GRG jammer for some time (despite Happy Army getting herself sent off for blocking out of play), eventually Fightin' Torque won through, with GRG holding the pack almost stationary as in the first period. Things got even worse for the away team, however, with Ankefar returning to the track only to almost immediately get sent back off again, just in time for the end of the period. Despite Malmö taking a time-out to argue against their jammer's position, jam 12 (VIDEO) started, with Ankefar still in the sin-bin, and GRG's Zombilina (15) capitalising on the second power-jam in a row to pick up yet more points for the home team.

Two jams had completely reversed the situation on track, the score now standing at:

128 GRG : 112 CCR

GRG couldn't maintain the momentum, however, failing to accrue any points in the next two jams, Rogue Runner picking up only a pair of points in jam 15, and jam 16 (VIDEO) yet another no-score, Fightin' Torque unable to outpace Ankefar on the track.

Curly Håår, about to take lead jammer.
It was the seventeenth jam before any real movement happened, with only 8 minutes left in the bout. With CCR's Curly Håår slipping around the outside line to take lead jammer, GRG's Rogue Runner found herself trapped behind an impenetrable wall. Unable to pass Sister Stitch and Fröken Smacky, the Maiden Grrders jammer picked up a trip to the sin-bin instead, and Curly Håår capitalised. With her teammates slowing the pack, despite some determined blocking from the home team (which resulted in two trips to the sin-bin), the Malmö jammer managed to pick up 20 points by the time Rogue Runner returned to the track, bringing the scores back to within a single point:

131 GRG : 132 CCR

A tense series of jams followed, Fightin' Torque effortlessly taking lead jammer in the first (VIDEO), but with only two blockers to oppose her, Happy Army only a short distance behind. Two points to GRG; just enough to switch the lead over, but still only with a single point in it! Ankefar faired a little better in jam 19 (VIDEO), out of the pack while Rogue Runner struggled once more with great defensive walling; the CCR jammer was missing lead status, however, and as soon as Rogue Runner escaped the pack (with the help of Zombilina), she called it; but not before the score had swung the other way, with a whole 5 point lead for the away team.
With only enough time for one or two jams, the Maiden Grrders would have to manage something special, and Fightin' Torque did (VIDEO), taking lead jammer and multiple scoring passes while some excellent waterfalling and walling from Mazzy Chaos, Jess E Ska and Mona Rampage (22) kept Curly Håår locked up in the pack. The result? The fourth lead change in as many jams, with GRG now sitting with a 6 point lead entering the final jam of the bout.

Ankefar knew that a Malmö CCR win was on her shoulders, and she fought her way through to take lead jammer, despite a parting block spinning her half around (VIDEO). With more than half a circuit's lead over Rogue Runner, Ankefar easily completed her first scoring pass, slipping past the pack without the Grrders even noticing. To the surprise of the crowd, however, she almost immediately called the jam, despite needing a second pass for her team to actually win.

With that tactical misstep, then, the bout ended, the final score:

143 GRG : 141 CCR 

Awards and conclusions

After a tremendously hard-fought final third, neither team really deserved to lose here; although, sans-power-jams the bout would have been much less close. Crime City Rollers can particularly congratulate themselves on an exceptional opening to the second period, as Crime City captain, Barbara Barfight, and jammer Ankefar noted when I caught up with them after the bout. Asked how they felt the bout had gone, they responded positively:

Barfight: I think we have a team of very different types of skaters; we hadn't played that much together in this specific team and [with] these players. I think that we did a very good job today: we worked well together building our walls, and the jammers did a really good job too (laughter from Ankefar) . I think that we did, in the second half of the bout,  an even better job; I think we caught up a bit.
And it's difficult to, to come here and to know how the Glasgow girls will play. That's always difficult to know.

Ankefar: but we've learned very nice things that we can take with us back home.

Barfight: definitely!

With Team Sweden about 50% Crime City skaters, this performance can only bode well for their performance in the World Cup next month! Of course, the winners here were the home team, who also upped their game in the second period, Fightin' Torque in particular showing her usual high quality jamming.


Best Blocker
Glasgow Roller Girls
Crime City Rollers
Dusty Minefield
Best Jammer
Glasgow Roller Girls
Fightin' Torque
Crime City Roller
Curly Håår
Glasgow Roller Girls
Crime City Rollers
 Barbara Barfight

*Not in programme.
Acknowledgements and notes.

Thanks to the Glasgow Roller Girls and Malmö Crime City Rollers for an excellent game.
Thanks also to the creator of the bout programme, and to announcers Helliverance and Handsome Joe Hanson.
The video and photographs used in this report are all taken by me on a Sony A580 with a second-hand 24-105mm Minolta AF lens, and no flash. A playlist of video and album of photos from which they are drawn are at:

YouTube Playlist.
(Also shared on Google+, and a copy on Facebook)

Professional photography for GRG is handled by the excellent Dave McAleavy, who has a website for his bout photos.

This bout report, and all media therein are licensed CC-BY (Creative Commons : Attribution), which means that they are completely free to reuse and remix as long as I am given a credit as the author. You don't have to ask permission first as long as you do that.

As always, this report, and any inaccuracies within it, are purely my own. All corrections and comments are gratefully received.


Bout Report: Glasgow Roller Girls: Intraleague Season 2. Death Stars vs Hell's Belles

The 8th of October saw the third and final of the "qualifying rounds" in Season Two of Glasgow Roller Girls' Intraleague tournament. With the Bad Omens already through to the final, after defeating both challengers, the following bout saw the Death Stars and Hell's Belles fighting it out for the remaining place.

Skateout VIDEO
Period 1

Fightin' Torque and Jess E Ska neck and neck in the pack.
Opening the first period fairly evenly matched, the Death Stars still finished the first five jams ahead by 15 pts to 1, mostly thanks to a power-jam for Mistress Malicious (99) (VIDEO) in jam 3 (the Hell's Belles' Slain Austen (823.7), skating in her first bout since recovering from injury, having been sent off, after struggling to pass the Death Stars' Wild Oates (3)).

15 Death Stars : 01 Hell's Belles

Not to be out-done, the Belles showed that they could fight just as hard, Slain Austen triumphing over Mistress Malicious in their rematch, to score a single pass in jam 6. This seemed to be the signal for a Belles resurgence, with Meg 4 Mercy (4) (VIDEO) managing a single scoring pass in the next jam, despite not taking lead jammer (the Death Stars' Sykes (360°) did, and called the jam immediately), and Fightin' Torque (531) doing likewise in jam 8, to bring the scores level at:

15 Death Stars : 15 Hell's Belles

with more than half of the period still to play.

Slain Austen pulls ahead of Wild Oates,
thanks to pack advantage
Slain Austen wasn't finished making it clear she was back and fighting fit, however. With both Mistress Malicious and Rogue Runner in the sin-bin for the Death stars, the Hell's Belles took the knee into jam 9, where Slain Austen showed her true form, blasting through the pack to take lead.  While Chemkill Hazard (LD50) and Haberbashery (40) kept Wild Oates locked up in the pack, the Belles picked up 12 points worth of grand-slam passes.

Meg 4 Mercy did a little less well in her next rematch against Sykes (VIDEO); the two jammers proved equally matched this time around, and the jam was called no-score.
Obviously, however, the current scoring trend was starting to worry the Death Stars, and they called a time-out for bench manager Knuckles to dispense wisdom.
On return, however, things didn't seem to have changed much, Fightin' Torque still managing a full scoring pass ahead of Mistress Malicious in jam 11 to put the score at:

15 Death Stars : 31 Hell's Belles

Things started to slip by the very next jam, however, Death Stars jammer Marshall Lawless (42) managing a dead-heat through the pack against Slain Austen, calling it for a no-score.

And then we reached the 13th jam of the period (VIDEO), pitting relatively new jammer Rogue Runner (210) against the Belles' Meg 4 Mercy. The Death Stars took the knee into the jam while Sister Grimm was in the penalty box for the Belles, the advantage proving too much for the Hell's Belles jammer, who eventually managed to get herself sent off herself, just as Sister Grimm reentered the track. With the Death Stars taking Belles' pivot Lola Bruises (96) as a goat, Rogue Runner almost effortlessly picked up a whole 15 points in a single power jam.

30 Death Stars : 31 Hell's Belles

A single jam had almost completely reversed all the good work the Hell's Belles had put into their lead. It would be hard not to be demoralised by this turn of events, and it certainly seemed as if the Death Stars had regained the advantage, the next 4 jams showing Marshall Lawless and Rogue Runner (VIDEO) both scoring for the dark side of the force (with Mistress Malicious proving equally matched with Slain Austen in the next episode of their shared jams (VIDEO)), bringing the score, with just one jam left in the first period, to

50 Death Stars : 31 Hell's Belles

With their last chance to change the momentum of the bout ahead of half-time ahead of them, the Belles played experienced Slain Austen against the Death Stars' new star Rogue Runner in jam 18 (VIDEO). Both jammers found the pack unforgiving, but it was Rogue Runner who slipped around the inside of the Belles' Sister Grimm (57) to take lead jammer. Indeed, the difficulty of the pack caused Slain Austen to eventually make her second trip to the sin-bin, handing the Death Stars a power-jam. Despite Lola Bruises (96) and Sister Grimm making things as hard as possible for Rogue Runner, a pack numbers advantage for the Death Stars made it easy for the lead team to repeatedly put them out of play, allowing their jammer through. With a final haul of 15 points before Slain returned to the track, the first period ended with the score:

65 Death Stars : 31 Hell's Belles
Period 2

If the last jam of the first period had been horrible for the Belles, Fightin' Torque was determined that the first jam of the second would be better, battling through a nearly-out-of-play Death Stars wall to take lead jammer ahead of Marshall Lawless (VIDEO). Only enough of a lead to take 2 points, but still, a sign that the Belles were still in the game.

65 Death Stars : 33 Hell's Belles

The next two jams saw the teams trading points: Mistress Malicious picking up a full scoring pass ahead of a throughly trapped Slain Austen (the Death Stars jammer could have comfortably tried for a second, but didn't bother), only for Meg 4 Mercy to pick up another 2 points for the Belles in jam 3.
So, with the points differential back to what it was at the start of the period, it was Marshall Lawless for the Death Stars against Fightin' Torque for the Hell's Belles in the fourth jam of the period (VIDEO). Marshall Lawless powered through the pack, shrugging off a block from Lola Bruises to take lead jammer... while Fightin' Torque found an increasingly fast pack hard to escape from. With Sister Grimm, and then pivot Lola Bruises both sent to the sin-bin, the numbers were against the Belles; the Death Stars picked up 14 points in grand-slam passes before Torque escaped from the pack, Marshall Lawless immediately calling it.

83 Death Stars : 35 Hell's Belles

Slain Austen jinking.
With the Death Stars' Marshall Lawless cougaring off at the start of jam 5, the Hell's Belles had the ideal chance to attempt a resurgence, and they took it. Released immediately with her teammates taking a knee, Slain Austen jinked around the outside of Sykes at the head of the pack to take lead jammer, while the Death Stars' Rogue Runner was faced with a nigh-impenetrable Belles wall at the rear of the pack. Four points for the Belles, and the chance to show they still had a fight in them. With more Death Stars in the sin-bin at the end of the jam, the advantage was still to their opponents. Things only got better for the Belles when Mistress Malicious managed to get herself sent to the sin-bin for her involvement in a multiple skater fall, handing Meg 4 Mercy a power-jam. With the numbers still to their advantage for much of the jam, the Belles slowed the pack, allowing their jammer to pick up 15 points before the Death Stars' jammer returned to the track and completed her own initial pass.

83 Death Stars : 54 Hell's Belles

The Death Stars weren't about to let their lead evaporate just like that, however. The very next jam (VIDEO) saw a bit of help from pivot Viper (29) propel the Death Stars' Rogue Runner into lead jammer status, ahead of Fightin' Torque, who was given significant trouble by Jess E Ska (31) and Viper. Enough for a pass and a bit of scoring, the Death Stars not being in any rush to pick up tons of points.

Marshall Lawless, behind an amazing cooperative
Death Stars block.
This attitude was made more obvious in jam 8, Marshall Lawless picking up a scoring pass' worth of points ahead of the Belles' Slain Austen, but happy to let her opponent skate around the track a bit before calling the jam. The trend of Death Stars dominance continued for the next nine jams, the Belles barely seeing a scoring opportunity. Most dramatically, a repeat of period 1 saw the recurring rematch between Mistress Malicious and Slain Austen in jam 11 (VIDEO) become a power-jam, the Hell's Belles jammer finding herself in the sin-bin for the second time in the bout. 
Only Fightin' Torque managed to score any points at all, escaping from a Death Stars wall at the very climax of the 16th jam (VIDEO) to grab three points. The Death Stars were barely dismayed by this, however, Wild Oates (VIDEO) still managing to pick up a full scoring pass in the next jam, despite half of the Death Stars blockers sitting in the sin-bin, bringing the score to:

138 Death Stars : 57 Hell's Belles

Finally, with minutes left in the bout, the Hell's Belles managed to get their skate together (VIDEO). After another slow Death Stars start, pivot Mistress Malicious apparently reluctant to come and play with the others, it was Meg 4 Mercy who slipped around the outside line, and into lead jammer status, despite the numbers advantage to the Death Stars. Still, with the pack kept exceptionally fast, the Belles' jammer only had time for a single pass before Sykes caught her up, The Death Stars pivot proving an almost impossible challenge at the head of the pack.

Finally, with sisters Slain Austen and Scara-leigh (616) facing off in the last jam of the bout (VIDEO), it was the Belles' jammer who managed to escape the pack first, Scara-leigh being given a very hard time by Jackash (911) and Lola Bruises. It wasn't a large lead, but Slain Austen used it well, slipping around the inside of the Death Stars' fast-moving front line to take a final 4 points for the Belles.
It was never going to be enough to win the bout, but maybe it was enough to retain the Belles' honour, the final score standing at:

142 Death Stars : 65 Hell's Belles

Aftermath, Awards

Despite the look of the scores, both teams played an exceptionally good game, with the first period particularly filled with close-run jams. If anything, the Death Stars benefited slightly more often from a pack numerical advantage, with several of their skaters obviously trying to avoid penalties and stay out of the sin-bin.
The result, however, means that the Death Stars go forward to the season final, fighting out with the Bad Omens as they did last season.


Helliverance giving Belles'
"Best Jammer" Meg 4 Mercy
a victory whirl.
Best Blocker
Hell's Belles
Mazzy Chaos
Death Stars
Whisky Galore

Best Jammer
Hell's Belles
Meg 4 Mercy
Death Stars
Marshall Lawless

Most Valuable Player
Hell's Belles
Chemikill Hazard
Death Stars
Mistress Malicious
More conventionally,
Death Stars MVP
Mistress Malicious
goes for a hug.

Acknowledgements and Disclaimers.

Thanks to the Glasgow Roller Girls for an excellent game.
Thanks also to the creator of the bout programme, and to announcers Helliverance and the other guy (who's never mentioned in the bout programme).
The video and photographs used in this report are all taken by me on a Sony A580 with the kit lens, and no flash. A playlist of video and album of photos from which they are drawn are at:

YouTube Playlist
Picasa Web Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/102032801144714237554/GRGIntraleagueSeason2DeathStarsVsHellSBelles?authuser=0&feat=directlink
(Also shared on Google+, and a copy on Facebook)

Professional photography for GRG is handled by the excellent Dave McAleavy, who has a website for his bout photos.

This bout report, and all media therein are licensed CC-BY (Creative Commons : Attribution), which means that they are completely free to reuse and remix as long as I am given a credit as the author. You don't have to ask permission first as long as you do that.

As always, this report, and any inaccuracies within it, are purely my own. All corrections and comments are gratefully received.