Thursday, 1 December 2011

Blood Bowl and Getting Started

Morning folks,

After the Doubles tournament 2 weeks ago and after having a clearout of some gaming stuff last weekend, I've fancied wanting to play some other games instead of just 40k. This got me thinking about what other games to play. I kept my WHFB army, with the intention to start playing that some more next year. I also was looking into splitting the Warmachine starter set and getting the Khador stuff.

The next one I thought of was whilst I was debating selling it, was Blood Bowl. The rules are (legally) free through the Games Workshop website, the cost of making a team is pretty low and it's a fast and fun game that we could run a league or cup for every so often at MAWS to break up 40k.

So for those unaware or new to the hobby - What is Blood Bowl?

In a nutshell, Blood Bowl is what happens when you cross the Warhammer Fantasy world with American Football.

Blood Bowl is the game of fantasy football. Throughout the Old World and beyond, teams of fearless warriors - known as Blood Bowl players - face each other on ritualised battlefields known as pitches.
Their aim is to score as many touchdowns as possible in the time allowed. To score a touchdown a player must move an inflated pig's bladder - also known as a 'ball' - into the opposing team's end zone.
The ball can be moved around the field in many ways from being kicked, carried thrown or even held by a thrown player! The opposing team will be trying to gain possession of the ball as well.
They can do this by intercepting a ball from a throw, picking up the ball if it has become 'loose' or the far more frequent method of attacking the ball carrier! Over the years this hasn't stopped teams using this rule rather loosely, and many a player's armour is covered in sharp protruding spikes with blades and large knuckle-dusters attached to their gauntlets. The history of Blood Bowl is littered with the illegal use of weapons.

That's the GW intro and you can read their Getting Started article HERE

For what it boils down to at the club is 3 things...

1. The Rules
The rulebook is free through the Games Workshop website. It's about 80 pages and can be printed out or kept on a PDF capable device.

The basic rules are pretty simple, and you wouldn't have to worry about campaign rules or too much with the experience side of things for the time being, just the game basics.

There's also a lot of special rules like dealing with weather, star players and whatnot. Again, don't worry about these for the time being, just check out the basics and play a few games with that.

All the rules for the different teams can be found in that rulebook as well, so no need to be getting separate codexes and army books.

The full rulebook can be downloaded from here: Games Workshop - Blood Bowl Living Rulebook

2. The Team
The next step in this is to choose what team you want. As with 40k and Fantasy, each team have their own distinct style and theme.

The two teams that come in the starter box are Orcs and Humans. Both are pretty similar, with humans being slightly faster and better at passing, whereas the Orcs are tougher and stronger.

Also, Blood Bowl teams can be as cheap or expensive as you want them to be. Sometimes you can pick up good deals off eBay or second hand teams, and the full metal box for a team is about £25 - £30.

The other option is to convert your team out of a Warhammer Fantasy / 40k plastic boxset and do some scouring on eBay for extras.

Some examples:
- Halfling teams consist of 0 - 16 Halflings and 0 - 2 Treemen. You can pick up Hobbit models pretty cheap off eBay using LOTR figures, and there's Plastic Ent models for LOTR you can use for the Treemen.
- Lizardmen teams can easily be made from a cheap set of boxset of Skinks, some spare Saurus models off Ebay and a Kroxigor if you want them.
- By far the cheapest team to make is an Ogre team. 0 - 6 Ogres you can get from 1 Ogre Bulls boxset, and the 0 - 16 Snotlings can be Gnoblars.

There's also plenty of third party sellers who make "Fantasy Football" miniatures that can be used.

Again, I reckon about £30 is what you're looking around paying... depending on eBay deals, second hand sales and such.

3. The Resources
The main problem with Blood Bowl however is not the rules and minis, it's the resources you need for it.

First up, you need a board / pitch to play on. These are grids with specifically marked measurements and (mostly) only come with the actual Blood Bowl boxset sold. You can pick them up on eBay, but they're about £20 from there.

Secondly, you need the templates. These are a bit easier to get hold of and make however, since they can simply just be printed off and although it's not as nice as a clear plastic template, it does the job. One of the most important ones is the pass ruler, as it dictates how far you can throw the ball, as well as who can try to intercept. Also included in this is things like the turn trackers, dug outs, score counters etc. But these are even easier to print off, as they don't require specific measurements.

Third, are the special dice for the game. You need to get yourself an eight sided dice (about 50p) off eBay if you don't already have one, and also the "Block Dice" for the game. However, these go for about a £10 on eBay as they're hard to get hold of. But, what you can do is simply use a D6 and consult a chart, since the Block dice are just 5 different results, with a duplicate of one on the 6th side (I'll explain this in a bit more detail in a moment).

Lastly, but not too importantly are the Ball markers. In the boxset, there's 2 loose balls to be placed on bases to show someone carrying the ball and 2 that are in the ground, which I glued to spare bases to show when the ball is in an open square and not being carried.

Right, so it's not sounding so cheap anymore when you factor in £30 for a team, £20 for a pitch, £10 for dice, etc. etc. But as I say, you don't *need* the majority of the templates etc.

It can be done for dirt cheap as I found online: Blood Bowl on the cheap!

Basically he's printed everything out, and while some of it looks really basic, it does the job and lets you spend your pennies elsewhere.

4. Playing the Game
Now then, me and Angryman are really interested in playing more Blood Bowl and perhaps starting a league / cup and keep it running as a break from 40k throughout the year.

We've got 2 full Blood Bowl sets between us and are looking at getting hold of the bits needed, but if you're interested in playing (whether you're a MAWS member or not!) get in touch with me via comment or text message and we'll try and arrange something.

To play, all you will need is a team, we'll try and sort out the rest of the stuff like board, counters, templates etc.

Blood Bowl, from what I played of the game (and also the computer game) is really fun, it's wacky and personally, a much more socially enjoyable game than 40k or Fantasy, where there's 1 set of rules, no "codex creep" or need for FAQs, lengthy internet discussion or too much beardiness.

A turn in Blood Bowl can be over in 1 (extremely bad and poorly chosen) dice roll, meaning that games are fast and unpredictable.

So yeah, if you're interested in playing, let me know and once I work out interest in playing, we can arrange something!



  1. I'm game, a change from 40K would be nice!!!

  2. I am a massive fan of all the specialist games that I have played. And would love to have a running campaign/league of blood bowl, necromunda and battle fleet gothic.

  3. I have a dwarf team I need to play a bit more with... Played humans quite a bit. Have a board to bring down if required ;-)

  4. awesome, i think thats 3 or 4 boards between us.