|1988 Box art. Rather sad but I still have my old copy.|
"Friends don't let friends play Blood Bowl" is an unfortunate turn of phrase relayed to me some years back. A friend of a friend of a fairly prominent North American GW employee passed on this little mantra from the former with a laugh and it became a bit of a punchline any time people expressed interest in playing it at the local hobby shop. Recently this joke resurfaced in a discussion about the, "mystery box that wasn't" (Blood Bowl was rumoured prior to the Innocence rumour that replaced it then died) and someone tried to extol the "wonders" of Dreadfleet while disparaging the Game of Champions.
Blood Bowl was the first GW game I ever played almost 25 years ago. I will admit I am biased because of the glow of nostalgia but thought it worthwhile to share my top three reasons for thinking so highly of it;
- Strategy and Tactics: Blood Bowl is a boardgame not a wargame; It is less Warhammer, more Chess. It doesn't devolve into the endless cascade of rolling dice that the core games often do. A good Blood Bowl player knows that rolling dice is bad and performs actions in such a way they don't have to use them. Risk assessment and priority management are skills called upon in Blood Bowl that are not tested to the same degree in the core games.
- Modelling and Painting: The classic models are dated. Since their release there have been huge additions to both the fantasy and 40k ranges that would make incredible replacements. Many of these kits are plastics and their adaptability is incredible. With such a low model count to create a squad there is no reason not to languish attention on each and possess a truly characterful and wonderful team. Even if you don't want to model a squad of your very own or have an attachment to the classic models you can give them an incredible paint job. A Blood Bowl team is comparable in scale to a single 40k squad and a lower model count than a single Warhammer Fantasy regiment .
- Campaign Building?: I didn't know what to call this header but there is something rewarding to me about logging my little guys accomplishments (and abysmal failures:) ) and watching them get better. Does my humble lineman become a star and deserve a shiny new model to represent him? Of course. I won't be playing again for a week and it's just one model; Even I can do that. Campaign progression has been a part of Blood Bowl for as long as I can remember. It can can be played as a one off game but why would you? The league campaign never felt like it was an awkward tack on like the vagaries of 40k and Warhammer campaigns. Years after discovering Blood Bowl I remember feeling the same excitement as I participated in my first Mordheim campaign.
Blood Bowl was an odd duck that reflected it's time in the evolving retronomican that eventually has become contemporary Warhammer. As the revisionist past became "Grim Darker" the Warhammer distanced itself from the post Amorican and the suggestion that properly grim fantasy types would never debase themselves throwing footballs (even spiky ones). As gamers I think the suspension of disbelief is strong in us and we are able to readily accept the fantastical but there is some last vestige of that fledgling geek who endured wedgies and got crumpled into lockers by athletic nasties that can't reconcile themselves with sports in their imaginary world. If you had a rough time time in gym class get over it; Blood Bowl is a gaming gem and worthy of your attention.