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Category: Blood Bowl

Chubby Bowl I: Review

The first Chubby Bowl ran last weekend over two days in Dungeons and Donuts, Galway. If you missed this one, no worries, it’s now a quarterly event. The next event (Chubby Bowl II) is running from 6-7 April, 2013.

Did it go well? Yes, it did. The organisers ran into the issue of flaky players but the reliable half appeared on time and eight players sent their teams into the melee. The venue was the Dungeons and Dunots store in Galway. It’s home to the world’s only gaming themed doughnut stand which sports the Super Munchkin, one of the few doughnuts that comes with a bacon topping.

The White Isle Star Bowl tournament rules were used which meant that teams were slightly more developed than in a normal tournament. The Orcs proved massively popular and everyone went with the maximum number of Blitzers and Black Orcs but the Star Player requirement, extra skills and extra cash meant that no two teams were alike. All the Elf teams also went straight to Jordell Freshbreeze as their special character but again, the rest of the team varied massively in composition and skills. The Khemri team was the dark horse of the tournament and proved very potent. The decay nega-trait was less punishing when teams regenerated between rounds and those Tomb Guardians proved to be excellent Orc-hunters.

 I grabbed some team photos and the less horrifically blurry are presented below.

Gaydar (Pro Elf)
Shampoo Gorillas (Orc)
Uruk Hai Skool (Orc)
King Tut’s Waagh Waagh Hut (Khemri)
Blorcs (Orc)

The timetabling was relaxed and games ran until completion and the Illegal Procedure rule wasn’t enforced in any of my games. Like most niche tournaments, the atmosphere was friendly and people were chatty throughout. Wins and losses were taken in equal good humour and the soft drinks/doughnuts flowed like wine. All in all, a disgusting display of human decency.

Here’s shots of a few games underway. For the record, in the fifth shot, Morg didn’t actually knock any of those opposing players down, he just stepped into that spot when he spotted the camera. But the ability to take credit for the work of others is what separates the superstars from the journeymen.

A lot of the players had spare teams with them and I took the opportunity to grab some shots of the more eye-catching examples, apart from the first image, these are largely the work of Sean Nee and Ronan Murphy. Check out the Connacht emblem on the first Dark Elf and watch for the use of green stuff to make runes, numbers and team logos throughout the photos.

Blood Bowl Team Showcase: Tarentino’s Ogres

During the recent Blood Bowl tournament in Galway, I came across a very striking, heavily converted Ogre team. I was going to roll them into a review of the Chubby Bowl itself but they really deserve their own post. These are the work of Sean Nee, who can be found lurking in Dungeons and Donuts on occasion.

First up are the Reservoir Dogs themed Ogres with their colour-coded bases, Messieurs Blonde, Orange, Blue, Pink, Brown and White.

These little guys are now unrecognisable as Snotlings but you can spot your favourite characters from Pulp Fiction fairly quickly. Vince, Jules and assorted bystanders, gimps and mobsters. There are some doubles in there, too.

And that’s the lot. Sean’s skills with green stuff will also be seen in the Chubby Bowl review, once I get around to writing it.

Two Irish Blood Bowl Tournaments Announced

We’re getting totally spoiled here. After all my quiet hoping, we’ve got two Blood Bowl tournaments in the first quarter of the year. I’m liking you, 2013, keep this up.

Chubby Bowl I (Galway 19/20 January)

This is shaping up to be a well-sized tournament with a strong local scene likely to push numbers into the double digits/ mid teens. It’s a two day event which is fairly unprecedented and I’m quietly optimistic about it.

The rules set is very interesting, based on the White Isle Star Bowl system. The game doesn’t change but the weaker teams get more starting perks to even out the odds. The mandatory inclusion of Star Players and higher starting gold make for some unique starting teams. I also feel the rules level the playing field between the teams as some Blood Bowl races (Amazons…) can field starting teams that outclass most of their counterparts.

Check the details here.

All-Ireland Blood Bowl Championship (Bangor, 17 March)

 I know, I know, it’s on Paddy’s Day but that just means you probably won’t be working that day. It’s a NAF-approved event which means that those funky custom block dice and memberships will be available on the day. The North may seem far away but it’s also very very cheap. There are sixteen tickets available and it looks like almost half are gone at this point.

The rules set is standard NAF which means that your normal starting team will work just fine. I’m also going to take the chance to point our Nordie brethren at NIBBLE, a forum for Blood Bowlers in Northern Ireland. I believe the tournament idea was spawned over there.

Check the details here.

Dungeon Bowl: The Game Released

Mr Saturday’s blog put us on to the news that Cyanide Studios have released a Dungeon Bowl game. After releasing the official teams in dribs and drabs, it looks like they’ve realised the potential profit in releasing mods based on their Blood Bowl engine. It’s good news for Blood Bowl fans as the French company continue to milk their license for all its worth.

But in more shameless news, I am hearing rumours that they intend to release new Blood Bowl teams of their own creation. With some official and experimental teams still to be released, that comes across as a cynical bid to fluff out their expansion packs.

(EDIT: Yup, they’re doing it again. This release has three of the ten Colleges of Magic represented. The other seven will probably appear over time. I commend their industry in securing a steady revenue stream.)

Street Bowl at Hobocon

Hobocon ran Ireland’s first Street Bowl tournament last weekend. Street Bowl is the smaller version of the famous Blood Bowl. Rather than representing professional teams from the big leagues, these are the back-alley, half-witted, drunken amateur teams. It’s more fickle than its big brother but still immensely fun. More of this, please.

Street Bowl uses a narrower pitch, about seven hexes wide. This makes it feel a little more congested than regular Blood Bowl but with only seven players per side, it actually works out much the same. The IGA provided four of their homebrew pitches. They do give the feel of a rougher pitch and they’ve added some terrain to show that this is true street ball. In this case, it’s a small town in Albion.

Grabbing my team as an afterthought on the way out the door, I lucked out. It turns out that playing on cobbles makes injury more likely so the well-armoured Orcs proved quite resilient. Team-building is similar to the main game with some limitations, you have a total budget of 600k to buy 7-11 players and your allotment of positional players is halved. To reflect the lack of training, rerolls are twice as expensive in Street Bowl and you really have to scrimp to afford one. I managed to pay for mine by creating a bare minimum team of seven players, which left me with no subs. I also had to sacrifice a positional player for a less capable lineorc. In the end, I chose to go with one black orc blocker, two blitzers, a thrower and three lineorcs. Say hello to the Red Starz.

Before kicking off, I had a quick look at the other teams playing nearby. We had two Dwarf players battling their way to a bloody stalemate. And probably quite relieved to avoid playing bashing teams, a Wood Elf and Pro Elf player duked it out.

My own opponent was another Orc player. Very similar to my own team, he was packing a reroll and two black orcs which gave him a strength advantage but he lacked blitzers. He also had that luxury, a substitute.

The kickoff saw the ball drop just behind my scrimmage line and an almighty scuffle ensued all down my left flank, engulfing the ball. My thrower managed to retrieve it but couldn’t find a safe path out of the melee. Blue’s black orcs gradually smashed through the line and with most of the Red Starz knocked out, my thrower was forced to break for the right wing. He was quickly locked down by the enemy but risked it all to break out and fire a pass to a waiting blitzer. He took off with the ball underarm and the Blues didn’t have any defenders in position or the pace to catch him. 1-0 to the Red Starz in a half which probably should have gone the other way.

The second half saw the ragged survivors step out onto the pitch. The lack of subs was beginning to tell on the Red Starz as several players remained concussed from the “incidents” of the first half. With only five players facing off against seven, it would be difficult to hold out for the win but a draw was looking likely. My only consolation was that my opponent would not be able to press the numbers advantage while also protecting the ball. As expected, he caged up and began feeling for a gap in my line of scrimmage. The Red Starz refused to get drawn into a brawl and focused on delaying the drive.

The third quarter saw his advance stalled around the midway point as the Red Starz line continued to hold. This was more due to luck than skill as the line was dangerously thin at times. But my opponent had used his reroll, which meant the chances of a game-changing turnover were high. I played cautiously and hoped for a lucky break. A screening player stumbled during a tackle, leaving a path to the ball carrier and the Reds pounced. A quick hit on the enemy thrower and the ball was stolen. My thrower fell back deep into my own half with the ball to try and buy time. The Blues moved up in pursuit but the Reds had committed themselves and most of their team were now trapped in a melee. The thrower waited to the last second before throwing a long pass into the opposing end zone. My loose blitzer took off uncontested as the Blues found themselves tied down. He arrived with seconds to spare and… failed to pick up the ball. But wait, a re-roll. Failed again. Game over.

Still, 1-0 and a casualty inflicted. Good start.

The last two games saw Orcs vs Dwarves on both pitches. The kick-off table for both games saw a stray pony running onto the pitch and across the line of scrimmage. Oddly, the slow stunties managed to dodge the worst of it while the quicker greenskins were trampled under his small but deadly hooves. I hope he ends up in a hot-pot.

Apart from my own opponent, the other dwarf player was the main contender for first place. To my relief, I glanced over at half-time to see that he was 1-0 down. Dwarves are not noted for their quick scoring game and that score meant that he was likely to lose and would be lucky to come away with a draw. Good news for my chances.

The idea of fighting a dwarf team proved more fearsome in my head than in actuality. He had a sub to spare and better odds in the melee. Or so theory would have it. After some lucky hits, the game became a whitewash. My black orc tore through the middle of his line and once the numbers went my way, I took the time to really cripple the opposing team. The shot above represents the state of play late in the first half. Two orcs per downed dwarf, waiting for them to stand up and take more punches. On the top right, we see the ball-carrying thrower relaxing by the end zone. By the time the whistle blew, two dwarves were dead and one knocked out.

The second half saw a vengeful, angry but woefully understrength Dwarf team line out. They had sworn mighty oaths of vengeance but it gave them no joy. They were brutally mangled again as the orcs quickly broke through to the ball-carrier. One touch of ultra-violence later, a greenskin pried the ball from the runner’s lifeless grasp and ran in a second touchdown. With that, the game was decided and only the fighting remained. The last quarter descended into blood-soaked madness as both teams just stood on the scrimmage line, exchanging punches and kicks. Even the death of my heroic blitzer didn’t dampen the mood as the solitary orc fan taunted his dwarven counter-part.

2-0 and overall tournament victory.

The prizes were of the “someone trying to empty their closet of random junk” variety so I donated them back to the con. This seemed to unnerve them so I assured them that winning was prize enough for me. But to leave me with something tangible, the con director awarded me the “Winz Hobocon” page thing. I feel so honoured.

Review: Blood Bowl Team Manager

I know, I know. It’s a wargaming blog but this is vaguely on-topic. Indeed, it’s something of a public service announcement in these times of fiscal responsibility. I bought Space Hulk for the grand sum of eighty quid a few years back. I’ve played it about five times. Blood Bowl Team Manager cost me thirty three quid a month ago and I’ve played it about twenty times.

The Mechanics
The goal of the game is not to be the most successful manager but the most popular. Good managers can get fired, managers who are adored by the fans do not. You secure your popularity by taking your starting team of half-wits and never-do-wells through a season and boosting their fan factor to new heights.

Each week, the players compete in a series of highlights from various matches and cups. The winner takes the lion’s share of the payout on offer but all participants gain something from every match, which ensures that no team stagnates. The rewards on offer include star players, team upgrades, staff upgrades and that all-important fan factor.

The Teams
The box comes with six distinct teams and the internal balance has been solid thus far. The Wood Elves have a strong passing game coupled with off-field effects to negate the impact of enemy tacklers. The Dwarves have a resilient style, players tend to fight on even when downed and their additional abilities reflect their stubborn resistance with effects which activate when hit. The Humans are the all-rounders, which could have be a weakness but allows access to a wide variety of skills. They excel in recruitment and sponsorship deals.

The Chaos have a direct cheating game style, coupled with additional “cheating” abilities from the dug-out. The Skaven share some similarity with the Chaos in making heavy use of cheating but also have a strong passing game. Their off-field abilities allow them to switch players around and benefit from defeats. The Orcs are brutal, violent and occasionally foul their way to victory. Their off-field abilities attempt to leverage their violent acts directly into fan factor. Now these descriptions are merely a basic introduction and I would warn that the teams are not as one-dimensional as is suggested here.

The Tactics

In theory, a successful game is built on careful team development and on-pitch success. But this is Blood Bowl so there are multiple paths to success. The Star Players can be used to bolster your team and change its style. Or they can be used, LA Galaxy style, as big names to drum up supporters. Staff Upgrades can be used to strengthen your squad by granting access to new skills, win matches through direct intervention (hello, Mr. Wizard) or simply increase fan factor quietly. Staff Upgrades are also central to off-pitch bids for fan factor and victory but also required to grant your team the full range of skills. Team Updates generally enhance your specific team’s playstyle by providing race-specific upgrades which tie into their abilities in some way.

No single strategy can be decided upon before the game begins, the successful coach must see how his season unfolds and choose a strategy based on his initial results. Once chosen, he must work to disguise his plans to prevent other players from countering him. This is difficult as the compulsory public display of cards will generally begin to reveal his intentions.

“That was fun. Another game?”

Replayability. I’m not convinced this is a word. But if it was, it would certainly apply here. I have never played a boardgame so often and with such a variety of opponents. The play time is quick, roughly one and a half hours, including set-up. The four player maximum makes full games easy to organise and the teaching time is incredibly quick. We have found that simply playing through the first turn gives all players the required knowledge. My copy now lives in my car so I always have it to hand whenever nerds should gather. So take that as a glowing recommendation.

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