I like to think of myself as an eclectic hobbyist. At least when it comes to the tabletop hobby as a whole, I tend to have a wide array of favorites throughout. While I’m quite mad about Dungeons & Dragons, either playing or writing about it every day, I started as a miniatures game enthusiast. One of my favorite games that I still love is Blood Bowl. There has been a fairly recent resurgence in the popularity of Blood Bowl so I figured what better time than now to talk about the strengths of the game and why you might find something to love in it.
What is Blood Bowl?
Simply put: Blood Bowl is a miniatures game that combines fantasy elements, American football, and rugby. Blood Bowl is at its best when played with a larger pool of players known as coaches and they are pitted against one another in a tournament over multiple games. The beauty of the game is really the aesthetics of playing such an absurd game with fantastic characters, but once you peel back that wonderful veneer, you catch sight of a truly interesting and engaging system.
The game uses primarily d6’s, the majority of rolls being either traditional d6’s or custom blocking dice for the game. As a coach, you must roll for nearly every single thing your players do, sometimes including moving extra spaces. The difficulty of the game is trying to find that line in risk management. You could try to position a player to catch the ball next turn for an easy touchdown, but trying to get past that orc might drop the receiver to the dirt. Alternatively, you might want to throw a few hits at your opponents players to make the path clear for your receiver, but if your players roll poorly, they could stop your turn right there and might even die. It’s all about weighing what you need versus the risk you’re taking. It’s a very rewarding game with a steep learning curve.
Blood Bowl games can be very divisive. It’s one of those games you either love or hate, few coaches falling in the middle. The nature of permanent injury and even death for any player that can rear its head at any moment is really tough for new coaches. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had the exact same moment; you’re one space from the game-winning touch down, all you need is to not roll a 1 and or course that’s what you roll.
The player falls to the ground, dropping the ball, and breaks his own neck dying. The best player on your team just died because he tripped. That player is gone. Forever. Never to be returned and now you must play the rest of the game and the season without them. Every coach runs into this scene and must make the decision whether to roll with it and keep having fun or break everything in the room. If you can look at that and start crying with laughter, Blood Bowl might be a minitaures game to try out.
The aspects that draw me to Blood Bowl are unique to the game. I’m a huge fan of miniatures game genre and this is one that lends very well to playing with a large player base, but at the same time only needing one of those players to show up at a time. The game really shines when you’re playing with seven or more people you really get along with and want to play a long-term game.
It’s unique within miniatures game circles because it has growth and progression baked right into the mechanisms and theme. Players get better and this growth has customization options that can lend to different coaching styles. The rivalries that begin to develop between coaches and the reputation outstanding players can get is really fun to engage in. Its not uncommon for coaches to put hits out on bothersome characters, promising lunch or maybe cash if someone can kill that pesky elven receiver.
A miniatures game I’m into
If anything here sounds interesting, you could check out the living rulebook and see which of the many teams might be your favorite. If you don’t have a group of people to play at the table with you, or don’t want to invest the time in money before playing the game at the table, you could also check out Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition to play it digitally. If you want to check out the latest digital version and want to see more from myself and my league, check out my channel. There we’ll be doing commentary on every game in the practice season and from it, you should get a good idea if Blood Bowl interests you or not, and hopefully, maybe get some laughs out of our incompetence. Hope to see you there and can’t wait to meet you out on the pitch. Thanks for reading.
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Child of the Midwest, spending his adolescence dreaming of creating joy for gaming between sessions of cattle tending. He holds a fondness for the macabre, humorous and even a dash of grim dark. Aspiring designer spending most of his time writing and speculating on this beautiful hobby when he isn’t separating planes.