Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Blood Bowl, The Fantasy Football Game

The third edition cover, which is always the first picture to come to mind for me.
There are few Games Workshop games I am as fond of as Blood Bowl.  I picked up the third edition new back in the day and while there were many other GW games I owned - Man O' War, Necromunda, Horus Heresy, Epic 40,000, Advanced Heroquest plus of course Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 - Blood Bowl was the only one I played any amount of as a young man, both as a child and then as a student at Glasgow University.

It has a lot going for it - for one thing it's an easy premise to understand, being essentially American Football or Rugby as played by fantasy races like Dwarfs, Goblins and Ogres.  It's got a low overhead cost because unlike the scores of figures you need to assemble a Space Marine battleforce or an Imperial Roman army, you only need a dozen figures or so to make a full team.  A fairly tight set of rules seal the deal - winner of an Origins Award for best miniatures rules when originally released.

Rules I'd quite like to play again, if anyone is up for a game!

Although I owned this game as a child the whereabouts of my copy are a little hazy - it's somewhere in my parents house, precise location unknown, though I still have some of my supplemental material.  For a long time Games Workshop had a copy of the rules for free download -  you can still find them online elsewhere- but of course you need the board and various counters & templates to play.  Rather than trawl through the chaos of my parent's house, I just bit the bullet and bought a second-hand copy of the game on eBay.

The magical Blood Bowl trophy itself, one of the four major tournament cups held every year.
While I've mentioned my Chaos Space Marines as my first real big painting project, they weren't the first figures I painted as an adult.  A year or so before I introduced my girlfriend to Blood Bowl and the two of us played a fair few games using a mishmash of real Blood Bowl figures and various Warhammer/D&D figures.  Eventually I decided to try and paint up some teams and my first fumblings in adult painting where on painting a Human, Amazon and then a Lizardman team.  (The latter being converted from plastic Skinks and Saurus figures)

Those early experiments in painting - the Lustrian Pussycats, still my favourite Blood Bowl team, when I had only just finished base coating them.  Mostly official Amazon figures but there's a few conversions in there using Mordheim Amazon or Sigmarite Sister figures.
Progress was slow and of course the end result was very basic - it had been a long time since I'd put Elf Flesh on anything! - but with the aid of the then-new Citadel Foundation paints I was able to produce my first ever team figures.  I even dabbled a bit in some star players and referees, thanks to some purchases from Impact! Miniatures.  Even though Games Workshop no longer support Blood Bowl, there's a wide variety of compatible figures from third-party retailers to keep any gamer happy.

Another early figure of mine: chainsaw-wielding loonie Helmut Wulf, created using Impact's modular human figures as a base and then raiding the bits box.  A Space Crusade Multi-Melta and a Warhammer 40,000 Chainsword make his huge weapon of death;a Space Marine shoulder pad gives him extra armour on his left side.
I haven't played Blood Bowl in a while - in fact I don't think I've played since I moved house.  Partly that's that I've had other new games to play - my ever growing Warhammer 40,000 army and of course Dreadball.  Partly it's that I only really have Ailsa handy for immediate games- and she's more likely to pick something quicker to play, Blood Bowl tending to last double the length of a Dreadball game.  Finally, like any game, if you play it enough times in a row you can scunner yourself on it, and Ailsa and I had fought many Amazon vs Dwarf match-ups!

Some more Impact figures from those early fumbling painting days: a female referee and a player transmogrified into a frog.  The latter isn't actually valid in the current rules - earlier editions had a "Zzap!" spell which turned people into frogs - but I couldn't pass it up!

But I'd like to change that up soon.  I've made a few Blood Bowl purchases recently - getting the second edition of Blood Bowl and it's plastic figures on the cheap, as well as its sister game Dungeonbowl.  The latter is a version of the game played underground with special rules for the ball bouncing off walls, pit traps for players to fall in, magical teleporters to throw people around the dungeon, etc - even more chaotic than normal Blood Bowl!

One of many items I picked up on eBay after months, if not years, of trawling looking for a cheap purchase.

For people that find Blood Bowl too slow, there's variants to deal with that, including Blood Bowl 7s.  Based on the amateur 7-a-side version of rugby, Blood Bowl 7s uses a smaller board as well as smaller teams to produce a game playable in a lunch hour.  I'm very keen to give this a go and see if it can give me a compressed burst of Blood Bowl magic.

I've printed a copy of this Blood Bowl 7 pitch and stuck it down onto corrugated cardboard.  There's quite a few downloadable Blood Bowl pitches, both normal and 7 sized - you can find many of them here.
Finally I'd like to try Street Bowl, another seven a side variant but one played on a different pitch - as long as a normal pitch but far narrower, designed to represent a game played down a city street.  Small rule changes (like the ball bouncing further and injuries being worse for hitting the ground) seem like they'd produce a different game.

Half of the Street Bowl pitch - I printed two copies out and again attached them to card to make a sturdy board

So, anyone for a game of Blood Bowl of some stripe?  I've got painted Human, Amazon, Lizardmen and Dark Elf teams I can bust out - and I've got plenty more teams on the to-do pile, including full teams of figures for Chaos Dwarf, Chaos Pact, Human, Orc, Dwarf, Wood Elf and High Elf waiting for a blank spot in my painting schedule.

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