Overview Blood Bowl
is a video game based on Games Workshop
's table top game of the same name. The game focuses on the brutal sport of Blood Bowl
: a team game which resembles a primitive version of American Football
, except many teams use the game as an excuse to pummel their rivals into the ground with a spiked fist. Originally released for the PC
on June 25th, 2009 to above-average reviews, the Xbox 360
followed January 26th, 2010 to generally poor reviews. There is a PSP
and Nintendo DS
version of the game in development for North America though already released in Europe.
In Blood Bowl
the player chooses a team to play as from one of eight races: Humans, Wood Elves
. Each team has it's own unique playing style, special players and tactics. For example the Skaven are a team of rat -like humanoids who excel at the running and passing game. Skaven Gutterrunner's are quick and stealthy but are fragile and prone to being knocked out or, worse still, killed. Storm Vermin provide some much needed muscle to back up the average Linerats who are nimble but again fragile. To bolster their defense the Skaven can employ a Rat Ogre, a towering beast which can easily stomp an opposing lineman into the ground but is prone to stupidity, making it unreliable. Rounding out the line-up is the thrower, the most reliable quarterback player in the team.
The campaign season is the real heart of the Blood Bowl
game. Picking a team and managing them through thick and thin. You'll want a team that's built to last (unless you're playing as Goblins!) so it isn't a good idea to spend your start-up money on position players and neglect having a solid base of linemen. Linemen are the backbone of any team and it's good to get them established early on so they can learn the skills they'll need to start being really useful later on. As a manager you'll have to be careful about what games you put your team up for, a starting Skaven team might easily be able to beat Orcs, but keep playing against Orcs and you will see the losses begin to stack up as more and more of your players get taken out of the game by the superior Orc brawn. When your players get injured, and it is a WHEN, they may be lucky enough to only have concussion and have to miss the next match but if you're really unlucky a player could pick up a Niggling injury which he will carry with him for the rest of his career. Niggling injuries can sometimes chafe meaning the playing can start missing matches quite frequently, sometimes it's best to retire the player to the coaching staff.
Version Feature Differences
All of the platforms that Blood Bowl
is available for contain wildly different features. The most complete is the PC version, containing both Classic and Blitz play modes, superior graphics, full online league support, and the extra Dark Elf race. The 360 version sacrifices graphical quality, squad customization, and online league support while keeping the Campaign and Blitz mode. Players must export their custom squads in order to play on Xbox Live
with anything but the standard starting teams instead of getting to use and grow a team like in the full online PC league. The PSP sacrifices additional graphical quality, the real-time Blitz mode, and online multiplayer. The DS version is the lowest quality, removing the team-based campaign and only allowing simple competitions. In short, the DS version is simply not recommended.
At release there are two modes of play. The first is the Living Rulebook 5 rule-set based version to the letter of the law known as Classic Mode. The second is a real-time interpretation of those rules known as Blitz Mode intended for people who may not be interested in the complexity of the classic pen and paper version. The two play differently in both their gameplay and the season that encapsulates each match.
Turn Based Concepts
There are a number of concepts essential to understanding the turn-based gameplay of Blood Bowl's
classic mode. Knowledge of the finer points of the concepts decide the game more frequently than die rolls.
- Turnover - Unlike American Football, turnover means that a teams turn is over. A turn can be ended by having one of the acting team's players fall over, a pass not being caught, a player failing a dodge roll and falling down, or a player failing a "go for it" roll and falling down. A player may also end their turn whenever they like, but if there are no more players that can move their turn is also completed.
- Movement - Players have a set number of movement points described by their MA. This is the number of squares on the pitch that the player can move during a turn. The player may also attempt to "go for it" and move beyond their maximum movement squares. Each additional move requires a die roll against the player's agility.
- Tackle Zone - The tackle zone is the area on the pitch one square around a player. This is essentially the player's area of coverage.
- Blocking - A player may attempt a block against an opposing player if that player is withing their tackle zone. The number of dice that the player who initiates the block gets to roll is based upon the difference between the two players strength scores and the number of players that can assist either player.
- Dodging - If a player attempts to leave an opponent's tackle zone, then they must make a dodge roll. This roll is based upon the leaving player's
- Passing - One player per turn may attempt a pass. This is modified by the range to the receiver and both the receiver and thrower must make successful rolls based upon their agility.
- Blitzing - One player per turn may move and block. For nimble teams, this is their best mechanism to attack the ball carrier.
- Re-rolls - A team may have a number of re-rolls per half associated with them. If a player fails a roll, they may choose to re-roll the dice hoping for a better result.
At release for both PC and Xbox 360, there were eight total races all from Warhammer lore. Within a few months of the PC release, Cyanide added the Dark Elf faction as a free update for the PC version. While there are plans to bring the Dark Elf team to the 360 as well, it will be coming as a paid piece of downloadable content
. After repeated delays, the Dark Elves DLC pack was made available on the Xbox Live Marketplace
March 30, 2010.
Each race has a totally different line-up and is better suited to certain strategies for example Dwarves play a slow possession orientated game where they trudge slowly up the field stomping heads while building their offense into a watertight steamroller of an attack, they are terrible at the throwing game however and are the slowest team in the game. By comparison the Elves can play a very varied game with lots of passes, bluffs and feints until they open a gap in the lines to rush or throw in the touchdown. A weakness of the Elves however is their low armour value and high player cost making them a tough team to manage over a long season if players begin to get injured or/and killed.
The Chaos team has very little diversity at start, but gifts of mutation from the Chaos gods
of the Warhammer
universe can transform them into a fine-tuned machine. Their starting roster favors an aggressive, running approach that is not as strong as the Dwarf or Orc teams. Because of the knowledge required to tune the advancement properly, Chaos is not recommended for new players.
Believed to the the optimum Blood Bowl
players, dwarfs are feisty, bitter, and likely drunk. Their compact frame and surprising strength make them the ultimate physical team. Even the poorest dwarf can afford a thick suit of armor, making them the most durable team on the pitch but sacrificing their movement and agility. This makes the dwarfs rely on punishing their opponents physically and running the ball. The team is one of the easiest to learn with and is commonly recommended for new players.
An odd mix of tiny goblins and massive trolls, the goblin teams are best known for the gobo toss. In this play a goblin basically teases a troll until the troll picks it up and hurls it as far as it can. The results of this play are rarely good. Goblins can also wield chainsaws, but considering the chainsaw is a large as the goblin itself, there are frequent mishaps on the field. This team is less about winning and more about entertaining the crowd. It is certainly not recommended for new players.
Supposedly the addition of humans to the Blood Bowl
league brought in a new era of sophistication in teams as they were able to adapt to any opponent strategy and win. The human teams truly are able to field any strategy reasonably well but do not excel in any area. They field a wide variety of players, featuring solid blitzers, cheap linemen and great throwers. The weak spot on the team is the catcher, who lacks armor but only has slightly less mobility than the other races' catchers. While not the easiest team to play, they are good for learning the basics of passing.
Another odd mixture of stronger than average Sauruses and tiny but quick Skinks, the lizardmen are almost strong enough to push around the Orcs while nearly quick enough to keep up with the Skaven. The skinks are extremely easy to injure and therefor must be kept away from stronger players, but the Saurus can effectively dominate a front line. Because of the weakness of the skinks, they are not recommended for new coaches.
Similarly to humans, the Orcs
can field a very diverse team. However, their focus is more on physically dominating the game than making plays with the ball. They are nearly as tough as the Dwarfs, but are faster which makes the much more well-rounded. The Black Ork Blockers are the cheapest strong unit and can dominate a front line in a single turn while their Blitzers are a great all-purpose unit. Their access to goblins and trolls lets them execute the gobo toss on a smaller scale. Sticking to the orcs and skipping the trolls and goblins makes them possibly the easiest team to play.
The pack of rat-men are known for having some of the quickest units in the game. Unfortunately they are also known for having some of the weakest units in the game. In addition to occasional access to Chaos mutation, skaven must rely on advancement to become truly powerful. They are however a great passing team, and are one of two teams that can score a two turn touchdown. Because of the weak units, skaven are not recommended for new players.
The most agile team in the league has chosen to sacrifice armor and strength in favor of speed and ability. While they can score quickly and easily from any part of the field, they suffer greatly in physical play. It is also extremely difficult to coax an elf out of the woods to play such a brutal sport, so their costs are naturally higher than other factions. The wood elf wardancers also give the team a more physical component for attacking ball carriers. While the wood elves aren't the easiest team to start with, they are a great team to learn the passing game with.
One of the more complex teams to play because they are primarily a running team without very much defense, but with time they can grow into a truly devastating force. They do not have a large bruiser like the other factions and their units are more expensive similar to the Wood Elves, but they get unique abilities such as Stab that can devastate an opponent. Additionally, they get black leather. Who doesn't like black leather? Because of the understanding of the rules required to succeed with the dark elves, they are not recommended for new players.