In one game, my Orc team failed to knock out or even tackle the opponent’s sole werewolf. We had it outnumbered and the linemen, the thrower, and the blitzers were rolling two block dice at a time against the hairy ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. Said werewolf, with the help of a ghoul and a zombie, proceeded to injure one of the blitzers then kill the thrower, who, btw, was holding the ball.
10/10, would enjoy failing again.
There really isn’t a PC strategy game quite like Blood Bowl. For most strategy games, if you can do a lot things right, e.g. play as intelligently as you possibly can, utilizing the collected knowledge of guides you’ve read or watched plus your own experience, then you can reasonably expect to come out ahead your opponent. In Blood Bowl, however, you can play to the best of your abilities and still fail because no matter how good you are, there will be times when you roll two skulls on your block dice, use a team re-roll, and then roll two skulls again. BB is a game that does not necessarily reward playing well. I’ve never quite accepted this fact. But it’s essential to understanding the game.
To put it another way: if you take this game too seriously, you’re going to have a bad time.
The basic mechanics are as follows: a game, called a match, consists of two teams that field a total of 11 players on a playing field, called the pitch. Both teams try to win the match by scoring the most touchdowns. And there are a lot of teams to choose from. Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll want to research each one and possibly try the ones that interest you in singleplayer (via a campaign or an exhibition match) to decide if you like their style.
Throwing, passing, and catching the ball is important, but so is blocking. Blocking involves running up to your opponent and punching them in the face, to borrow a phrase from TotalBiscuit. When you block, the game roles a block die. The roll can result in your opponent being knocked down, knocked down unless they have the Dodge skill, your player being knocked down (those previously mentioned skulls), both of you being knocked down, or the opponent being pushed. You can mitigate the risk of unfavorable rolls in multiple ways. Such as blocking with a player who has the Block skill (not to be confused with block, the action), which means they will not be knocked down if a “both down” result is rolled. Or by trying to ensure that you roll two or more block dice. Of course, even by minimizing risk in these ways, you can still roll “opponent pushed” and “attacker down”.
But I’ve barely touched upon all the basics. I didn’t even address tackle zones. A team’s individual players have their own styles, too. Blitzers (or variations thereof, like werewolves) are good for aggressive attacks, throwers are essentially quarterbacks, and linemen are generalists. Protip: press 'G' to show the pitch's grid and press 'N' to reveal a player's position (e.g. thrower).
As you might’ve gathered from other reviews, the learning curve for this game can feel like a perfectly straight vertical line. Singleplayer is fairly useless, outside of getting used to the basics and testing what teams you like. The AI can behave in ways no human player would, even on the hard difficulty.
Yet, despite the frustration and difficulty, Blood Bowl is a fun game. Team and player names are customizable and so is the appearance of most players. As team members earn Star Player Points (i.e. experience) and gain skills or injuries, they develop their own character. All this customization permits a a lot of variation, even within the strengths and weaknesses of a specific team. What BB does reward are players who treat the game like chess: those who take their time to patiently make decisions that best utilize the different team member’s skills. There’s a great sense of accomplishment to watching your players compliment each other to dominate the pitch and protect the ball carrier to the opponent’s end zone. Moverover, veteran players in Mister Hadwick Invitational and in private leagues, like those advertised in cKnoor’s Steam group have consistently been good sports and enjoy helping newbs.
Finally, between this, the Chaos Edition, and the Legendary Edition, there is no reason not to get this one instead.