For those unfamiliar with Blood Bowl, it was originally a table-top board game created by Games Workshop. Imagine American Football populated with the Warhammer Fantasy races and you have a decent grasp of what to expect. However, picture some spiked footballs, plenty of bloodletting and more permanent injuries.
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: September 22nd 2015
The game proved popular enough to be made as a video game a few years ago. Blood Bowl is a game which is loosely based on American Football. At its core, it is a turn-based, fantasy sports game. The player takes control of a team of eleven players, composed of linemen, blitzers, throwers, catchers, and one unique larger character. The choice available of teams is as varied as any Warhammer fan could desire; the agile Dark Elves, run of the mill Humans, the brutal Orcs, and the stalwart Dwarves are just a handful of the teams available. Each of the teams have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example the Humans are average in all areas: they aren’t as strong as the Orcs or as agile as the Elves, but they are the easiest team to manage due to neither failing or excelling in any particular area.
Games start, as expected, with a coin toss and a kick off. The turn-based system operates on successes as a team. Each major action, picking up or throwing the ball, and attacking an opposing player for example are either successful or not depending on a dice roll. The game itself is streamlined as most of the dice rolls occur off screen. For those familiar with other table-top Role-Playing Games (RPGs) the dice statistics shown on the bottom of the screen will be easier to understand but generally an understanding is not required as it tells you simply pass or fail.
The game certainly doesn’t hold any hands, and the learning curve is quite steep. The campaign involves the player as the new manager for the ‘Reikland Reavers’, a Human team that has fallen from Blood Bowl glory. The campaign serves as a tutorial, feeding the player basic aspects of a game at a time. However, if you feel comfortable with your play during the campaign and move to a quick game outside, a shock will greet you. It takes some time for key gameplay elements to be incorporated into play. However after getting to grips with these elements, a smart player will begin to have a lot of fun.
Some elements included are ‘team re-rolls’ which are a set number of retries at die rolls per game. These are per team so you only have access to maybe three or four per game. Cheerleaders can be bought to keep the crowd happy, who are constantly looking for blood and may raid the pitch if no action occurs. There are other elements that can be unlocked such as apothecaries to keep injured players alive and dead players to a minimum. All add to the game in interesting ways, ensuring that the game is not just fun on the field but during management.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Blood Bowl II is the quality of animation. With so many fantastical creatures, such as ogres, hulking minotaurs, and lizard people, the animations are truly important. And as such a brutal game, the player can really feel the impact as your blitzer uppercuts that smug elf in his face. Each race has unique animations and they lend themselves to the spectacle that is Blood Bowl II.
Blood Bowl II is an enjoyable game, although it takes some time to get into. It is a must buy for any Warhammer Fantasy fan, and certainly for those who enjoy sinking their teeth into a tough strategy game.