How to Play the Blood Bowl Board Game
Playing Blood Bowl
Iím a fan of the NFL, but Iím also passionate about role-playing games and medieval fantasy. When I heard of a board game that would allow me to combine my interests, I resolved to learn how to play Blood Bowl as soon as possible.
Created by Games Workshop and released in 1987, Blood Bowl allows participants to manage teams of football players in the violent Warhammer fantasy setting filled with elves, dwarves, trolls, and orcs. And thanks to the inclusion of fearsome creatures such as mummies, vampires, and werewolves, youíll be able to play Monsters of the Midway that would make Mike Singletary faint.
But thereís more to this game than just passing and running. Players can break the rules, beat their opponents to death, toss teammates through the air, and even wield magic on the field. By the end of the average game of Blood Bowl, itís not unusual to see the field littered with corpses. Luckily, thatís exactly what keeps fans coming back for more.
In an effort to get you excited about the product, Iíll be covering some of the Blood Bowl rules below, as well as Blood Bowl strategy for beginners and pros alike. So strap on your helmet, slip the referee a few gold coins, and get ready to beat the opposition to a pulp.
Blood Bowl Instructions
According to the Blood Bowl instructions, players can choose from a wide variety of teams. Iíve listed them all, as well as providing a few notes on strengths and weaknesses.
Amazons - A group of bloodthirsty valkyries. All players begin with the Dodge skill.
Chaos Dwarfs - Evil dwarves twisted by the forces of Chaos. Low agility but high armor, they take the field with centaurs as teammates.
Chaos - Mutated footballers who thrive on dealing out pain. Strong but expensive.
Dark Elves - Filled with witches and assassins, they are the evil cousins of elves. Incredibly agile, but the cost of players is expensive.
Dwarfs - Slow but well-armored and tough to kill. Due to their smash-mouth style of play, the dwarfs are my favorite Blood Bowl race to play.
Elves - Low armor, but they possess the best catchers in the game.
Goblins - These nasty little beings are fragile, but they make up for this with secret weapons and the ability to bring trolls onto the field.
Halflings - Plentiful in numbers, yet slow and weak. They can field a few Treemen, however.
High Elves - The nobility of the elven world, these agile creatures have a high agility and solid passing game.
Humans - Solid all-around players with no real weaknesses.
Khemri - Ancient undead such as mummies and skeletons. Players regenerate.
Lizardmen - While they can't pass worth a damn, the reptilian beings possess a combination of strength and speed.
Necromantic - Made of up players who are damned, the Necromantic team is comprised of golems, werewolves, and other horrors.
Norse - These intense human warriors have low armor but the ability to go into a crazed frenzy of violence.
Nurgle - Chaos beings who worship the god of corruption and disease. Their rotting appearance can demoralize opposing players, and their many diseases have proven to be infectious during gameplay.
Ogre - While the have immense strength and the desire to maim, Ogre players are also incredibly stupid.
Orc - Hard-nosed players with high armor and punishing strength.
Skaven - Fragile rat-like creatures who can leave anyone in the dust with their raw speed.
Slann - Alien visitors who excel at leaping and intercepting passes.
Undead - A combination of zombies, ghouls, wights, and mummies provide a diverse and nightmarish team.
Underworld - Mutated skaven and goblins from deep beneath the surface.
Vampire - Talented players with the ability to regenerate and hypnotize the opponents, the biggest drawback of the vampires is their tendency to forgot about the game and start drinking blood.
Wood Elves - Incredibly agile with an obsession for long passing plays and the agility to pull it off.
Keep in mind that some races start with an advantage over others, while a number of the teams take time to develop and are suggested only for experienced players. Still, I suggest trying out as many of them as possible to find the squad that best suits your style of play.
Blood Bowl is a turn-based game for two players, and the object of the game is to score points by moving the ball into the opponentís end zone. When the game ends, the team with the highest total wins. In addition to the usual tactics like passing, blocking, and running, players can also choose to injure opposing players in an effort to clear the field of defenders.
The game can be player in a one-and-done fashion, or you can choose league play. I suggest the latter when youíve gained a bit of experience, as youíll be able to improve your team over time and even purchase the services of assistant coaches, team doctors, and cheerleaders.
Blood Bowl Rules
Blood Bowl rules dictate that a team shall be comprised of 11 to 16 players, with each having the following statistics: Armor Value, Agility, Strength, and Move Allowance. Eleven players from each team can be on the field (known as the ďpitchĒ) at one time, and players may also use special skills in addition to their raw physical abilities. These skills range from blocking (useful in maiming an opponent) to catching (giving the player an advantage when it comes to making a reception).
On your turn, you may choose to have each of the Blood Bowl players under your control do one of the following: block or move. In addition to these basic moves, the following may be attempted, although only one player can perform each: passing, fouling, handing-off, and blitzing. If a player is prone on the ground and you wish to kill or main him, fouling is the best tactic for achieving this.
A playerís turn ends when one of his attempted actions fails, and all turns must be completed within four minutes (in order to keep the game moving along). The turnover rule is also all-important, with players from opposing teams intercepting the ball or picking up fumbles and streaking towards the end zone.
Blood Bowl Strategy
Blood Bowl strategy can get pretty violent, and the following tactics will allow you to score more while sending the opposition to the locker room (or the morgue):
Avoid Tough Teams - If youíre a beginning player, try to avoid playing the following teams: vampires, halflings, goblins, ogres, and Khemri. These teams have built-in disadvantages that make them better suited to players with more experience.
Limit of One Thrower - Only one player can throw the ball per turn, so donít buy more than one player with this skill when starting out.
Alternatives to Passing - While passing can allow you to move the ball down the field rapidly, many things can go wrong when you attempt this. Unless youíre a player with a lot of experience under his belt, you would be better off finding another way to advance the ball.
Get an Apothecary - If youíre taking part in league play, youíll want to get an apothecary as soon as possible. Theyíll prove their worth when they prevent star players from dying or suffering permanent injuries.
Get Blockers - While the blocking skill may not be as flashy as some other maneuvers, itís a reliable move that often serves as the bread and butter of the game. Most solid Blood Bowl strategies can benefit from skilled blockers.
If you fancy yourself an armchair quarterback, learning how to play Blood Bowl will put your skills to the test. The game is fast-past, the strategic element comes into play often, and the diversity of racial features ensures that youíll never be stuck playing the same team over and over. Besides, what respectable fan of the game hasnít dreamed at least once about killing an opposing player with a single shot to the face?
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