Blood Bowl Games and a Review of 5th Edition
(scroll down past the pics for a review)
It started last week when my good friend Grant succumbed to the tricksy wiles of a games salesman at a Bring-and-Buy table. Grant ended up buying a cheap copy of Blood Bowl, which I think was the 4th release–I won’t call it 4th edition because The Marketing Team(TM) will probably just insist on it being called Blood Bowl, and because the game hadn’t changed (and still hasn’t–mostly, I’ll get to that).
So anyway, we set it up and went to start reading through the rulebook to play. It’s been a while and so naturally we forgot all the rules, and I myself have never owned a copy, having just played with a few friends over the years. But it had been a long, long while. As we were rolling our first dice to determine kickoff order, a nice chap (we’ll call him Al), who was a super, super, hardcore Blood Bowl fan (was? nay, is) rocked up, eyes all aglint, and helped us play through our game. Al remembered every rule and every stat from every team, and if I’m honest, is quite probably the reason I won the game.
Credit where credit’s due. Thanks Al. 🙂
The teams were Ogres with snotlings (with Grant as coach), vs Undead (coached by myself).
I didn’t take notes throughout, so here are just some highlights of the game. This was the first time I took down one of the ogres:
And here the skellington with the funny hat in the middle has the ball, while the rest of the team successfully kept the other ogre occupied.
WOAH! First ogre casualty! It was a good hit!
And here was my last touchdown of the day, resulting in a final score of 4-0 in my favour.
Before he departed, Al announced that he was going to run a league and would let us know once he set it up. We’re pretty sure there could be at least 6 people interested, and that kinda got me fired up. As soon as I got home, I downloaded the living rulebook and searched eBay for a cheap team. Then I did more digging, and found some nice fantasy football minis by a company called Black Scorpion Miniatures.
The Amazon team were cool looking and I think the cheapest of the lot, so I ordered them. And then I started looking around online for more background info, youtube videos and the like.
And then I discovered that The Evil Empire had evilly released a new set at the end of 2016, and it was a “mere” NZ$195. I say mere, because even though that’s a lot more than any other company on the planet would sell a board game for, GW’s other board game is currently selling in NZ for over NZ$300–double the converted price of what folk in the UK pay for the exact same game.
Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows I utterly despise GW and their business practices, but two things pushed me into it: 1) I’ve never owned a copy of the game, and 2) I’m an idiot. And possibly 3) I quite like Blood Bowl. I mean, I wouldn’t buy it if I didn’t like it. I’m an idiot, not a moron.
So I bought it last Sunday and by Saturday I showed up to the club with two fully painted teams, ready to go. Oh yeah, so that puts my 2017 painting score up to 24. Huzzah! I finished some minis. First ones in over a year! They’re rough, and I had totally forgotten how much extra work 28mm minis are, so I just got lazy and left most things painted as base coat with Army Painter Soft Tone shade. The orc skin was what I spent the most time on.
They look OK if you don’t get up too close. Here are a few other shots of yesterday’s game:
We didn’t get a chance to finish it, and only managed to just start the second half, so we’ll try and pick it up and finish the game over the next few days.
What do I think of the latest release?
For a start, the mechanics and the stats are exactly the same as the previous editions. The text is the same as the latest Living Rulebooks, which you can still find online for free. There’s no need to actually buy this boxset unless you want to have the minis and board to run games yourself. Alternatively, you can hunt out a 3rd or 4th release version for cheap and still be able to play with anyone who owns the latest.
Naturally the game is still a lot of fun. If you liked previous releases, this is relevant to your interests. If you’ve never liked Blood Bowl, then nothing has changed and you won’t find anything to sway you over.
Well, almost nothing has changed. The rulebook does not list the stats for any other teams. This is simply humans vs. orcs. If you want more teams, you’ll have to either buy their NZ$50 Death Zone Season One supplement (which I’m guessing will only be a select few teams so that they can sell you Season Two next year with more), or, as mentioned, download a Living Rulebook (LR) free. The 6th edition of the LR has all the teams and stats and Star Players included.
But if you do want to get the latest official release, then here are some of the things I liked about it.
The miniatures are fantastic quality and fantastically detailed sculpts. These are not the cheap 2nd edition or basic 40K style lego brick minis (ie; cheap, basic, low detail, click together, mass produced pap). They aren’t very malleable in that heads are designed for specific torsos, but that’s not a biggie. I learned after cutting all the minis off one sprue and having to figure out which bits matched, that if I cut one mini at a time off each sprue, the building went smoother.
There were sod-all flash and mould lines that needed cleanup. On top of that, they’re not flimsy fragile models and I think will withstand a lot of play, so I give them a solid 8/10 for the minis.
The tokens are possibly the biggest let-down for me. The game comes with two plastic “coin” tokens per team, one side with a Blood Bowl logo, and the other with a team logo. These are supposed to be used as a score counter and a spare one to “flip a coin” at certain times during the game. The tokens designed for tracking turns and re-rolls are standup plastic fists which don’t stand up very well due to their bases being small half-circles.
I laid one of mine down and used it as a score counter, while I used the coins as turn and re-roll counters. But these are things that while not ideal, are easily replaced with homebrewed tokens.
Here’s what they look like:
While the scatter counters and the pass ruler are “nice” plastics with great detail, they’re impossible to read. The older clear rulers had markings of what distances meant, where the new one has the delineations, but you have to look up what the sections are (quick pass, short pass, etc) in the quick reference sheet. After a few games that’ll become second nature, but when introducing new players, they’ll have to look up a table at the start, and that doesn’t seem ideal.
The scatter counters are impossible to read at a distance and will only be useful once painted, where the old clear plastic ones were useful right out of the box.
The tokens in this edition are, in my opinion, the weakest link in the set and I give them a 4/10.
The playing field board itself is, I think, the highlight of the box set. It’s really solid, thick, strong, and has protective tape sealing the edges. I noticed on GW’s website that they had a limited edition snow version (currently sold out) for NZ$60, and quite frankly, I think that this is a good price for that quality board. Sure, anyone else might only charge $40 for the same thing, but GW are a small poor company trying to keep their head above water in a very small niche, so I’ll throw them a bone.
If you’re going to play this game regularly, I think it’s a good investment. Besides which, the board has two sides. The one in the box set has a nice grassy human home pitch, and the other has a hellblasted, barren orc home pitch.
The grid spacings are bigger in this release, which I also like a lot. The number of times we’ve played on the smaller boards and had to fiddle to move figures around when they’re surrounded, rolling over stunned players, knocking down other players, it all got a bit fiddly at times. The new board has slightly larger spaces and it gives us a lot more room to play and move models without interrupting others. It was a bit hard to see the grid separations at times, but that’s a minor quibble. Overall, I like it better. I give it a 9.5/10.
BTW – I think the models are slightly larger, but not with the intent for making them larger specifically for this game. I think it’s just the standard growth spurts that Citadel miniatures have had over the years. All their models are slightly larger than they were 10-20 years ago.
Yeah, I like this release and think it’s worthwhile getting if you don’t own an older edition. If you do own an older edition, then this may not be value for money, unless your board is old and worn out and you want the larger grid squares. But in that case, maybe you can just find someone selling the board online separately somewhere.
If you’re only going to play with others as part of a league, then it’s probably cheaper for you to just buy a team (search online for “fantasy football miniatures”) and print out the free Living Rulebook.
If you don’t own an older edition and see yourself hosting games for others, or using as a demo or teaching tool, and you can’t find a cheap older edition nearby, then I think this is worth throwing money at.
If you’re keeping score, I give this release of Blood Bowl 7/10.
Are you local to Wellington (NZ)? Then come along and join in at our club, the Wellington Warlords. We’d love to see you.
3 thoughts on “Blood Bowl Games and a Review of 5th Edition”
Very nice review thanks.
Fancy posting a link to that free loving ruleset?
Thanks for the comment Dai.
I've just done some more digging to give you a link, and it looks like there are a few versions around with people releasing it with different covers, or more or less background material. I can't find the exact one I have, but here are a few links to get you going:
http://bloodbowlgamers.com/ (they have LR versions 4-6 listed on the sidebar)
http://www.thenaf.net/blood-bowl/rules/ (NAF link to a document which has a link to the download inside it)
http://www.bloodbowlonline.com/Rules.shtml (links to LR versions 3-5)
If you search online for "blood bowl living rulebook" you'll get even more hits and info to look at. 🙂
All the best.
Appreciate you posting those links. Looks like they more or less show the same thing, but the rules are the same. I have the old 2nd Edition set (With the polystyrene pitch) from childhood and (Having never played the following editions since then) will be interested to see how the current/living rules set matches up.
Either way, all this renewed Blood Bowl enthusiasm I read about in the blogosphere has had me pull out my old metal Orc and Dark Elf teams and drop them in the stripping solution for some updated paint jobs!
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