Thursday, August 06, 2009

Have you tried Blood Bowl?

Blood Bowl
Originally uploaded by Xadhoom.
Blood Bowl, the game of fantasy football is easily the best game ever designed. It has everything; miniatures, clear and precise rules, a great concept and backstory, and a tried and tested campaign format.

What is Blood Bowl?
Imagine that the inhabitants of the Warhammer world put down their weapons from time to time, and met on a field to play football instead of war. Welcome to Blood Bowl!

The league I'm currently in is called Torshov Touchdown, and consists of 14 teams. These teams are divided into two divisions of 7 teams each. With matches and rematches, this gives each team 12 matches per season.

What do I need to play?
First of all, you're going to need a gaming board. You can make this yourself, but the easiest route is to buy the Blood Bowl starter set. This is a great kit! Not only do you get a high-quality gaming board, you also get two full teams; Orcs and Humans.

The rules are currently in their fifth edition, and can be downloaded for free from the Games Workshop website.

How is it played?
After you have selected a team, you decide which team is going to be the kicker. The kicking team sets up first, then the receiving team, and the ball is kicked to the receiving team's half of the pitch.

Both teams are trying to get the ball into the other team's End Zone, which is 13 squares from the middle of the board, the Line of Scrimmage. To do this you must beat up the opposition, run around them or outwit them. Orcs and Chaos are strong and like to knock around some elves. The Elves themselves are more fond of passing the ball around and running really fast.

Each player has 4 stats, Movement, Strength, Agility and Armour. Movement decides how many squares you can run each turn. A stronger player has a better chance of beating up an opponent. An agile player is better at handling the ball, dodging opponents and leaping over them. Armour is important to reduce damage.

During the match, you make a note each time a player hurts an opponent, each time the pass the ball, score a touchdown or intercept the ball. The player earns Star Player Points for these actions, and will gain skills to use in future matches when reaching certain thresholds. For me, this is what makes Blood Bowl so great. Even if you lose the match, you get some SPP that makes you team a little better for the next game.

Which team is the best one?
Every time I teach a new player the game, they ask me this question. The truth is, that this really depends on two things. The player's playstyle and the length of the league.

If the tournament is short, teams that start with a lot of useful skills are superior. Chaos doesn't start with any skills, and will have a really tough time against Amazons, which are very skilled. However, if the league goes on indefinitely, these differences fade, and most teams are pretty equal in performance.

Not to say that they don't perform differently! Oh, no! Orcs, Dwarfs and Chaos are still going to beat the crap out of your Wood Elves!

In longer leagues, the player's playstyle becomes much more important to which team is the best one (for you). Some players thrive with teams that scores at most two touchdowns per match, but hurts the opposing team greatly in the process. Other players cannot fathom how anyone would play anything less agile than an elf.

In conclusion, play what you think is cool! (Halflings and Goblins still suck, though)

What are you waiting for? Order Blood Bowl, get your friends to buy a team, and start a league. It's awesome, people! :D