What do you get when you mix a beloved board game with a beloved sport?
Blood Bowl is a game that takes the rough and tough of the fantasy Warhammer board games and smashes it together with the rough and tough sport of American Football. Blood Bowl is fairly simple. Players position their athletes similarly to football players on the line of scrimmage with a minimum of 4 players on the line. You take turns performing up to one action with each athlete, often moving, blocking (which is essentially tackling), and passing. Each athlete has a specialization, meaning their stats allow them to move further, make them stronger, or give them special abilities that come into play on specific die rolls. Notably, the ball isn’t reset after every turn—one half is just a single football play drawn out over the course of eight turns. You’re encouraged to tackle, maim, or kill anyone, whether on offense or defence.
If you are a newcomer to the game all of this can be quite intimidating especially as there is no tutorial option at first glance, but fear not. In Blood Bowl 2 the campaign and the tutorial are one and the same with each aspect of the game being taught to the player as they progress. This was a feature that was badly needed in the original game but was never included. As an avid board game player I was introduced to Blood Bowl in its original format, this was very confusing at first but as the games progressed I found that I was relying less and less on the rule book. The way the campaign makes it easier for new players is by breaking down the game to its core/most basic rules and then adds a new feature each new game. Even having played the game previously this helped me to get back to basics and relearn the game at my own pace without a seasoned pro sighing at my every rookie mistake.
The campaign focuses on the human team: The Reikland Reavers. The Reavers are the most famous human team and have fallen into tough times with most of their star players in hiding and the team is controlled by an unknown sponsor behind the scenes. Your job as new head coach is to get them back on top by destroying any and all opposing teams that dare to face you on your road to redemption. Over the course of the long campaign you rebuild the teams reputation, fanbase and turn your team of rookies into a star team.
Developer Cyanide Studios have really done a fantastic job with this game, everything from the AI to the graphics to the ambient music are superb. As soon as you start the game and load into the main menu screen you are greeted by the ambient music and the two commentators, Bob the Ogre and Jim the Vampire. These two provide a light-hearted humorous commentary of the game as it progresses with a surprisingly diverse array of things to say and talk about, though when one of your players fails a roll it can get quite vexing when they comment on it. The visuals of the game are stunning and never fail to provide a fantastic stadium experience to play in, the crowds are quite diverse and scale with your teams fan factor. This feature is small but the feeling of being in a crowded stadium of your fans really adds to the immersiveness of the game.
The animations for each of the movements of the characters are very smooth and don’t look like they are aren’t really connecting with the opposing character model. This really gives the game a more immersive feel and you almost believe that they are fighting each other and not just acting and reacting to a punch, maul or kick.
The multiplayer in Blood Bowl 2 is completely overhauled making it easier than ever to create or join leagues for you to compete with your friends and people around the globe, but organising these leagues is quite a chore. Upon creating a league you then need to create a competition to be able to play games in that league. The options of competitions that you have are; Ladder, Round-robin and Knockout. All of the matchups in these competitions are made by the computer so you as the league manager have no control over the matchups, this would have been a nice option to add as you would be able to greatly control smaller leagues to suit the needs of its players. With that said though if you do want to get a group of friends together to create a league it is quite quick to do, I created a league and a had a game going within a few minutes.
When you go to create a team in Blood Bowl 2 you have a few options of races to choose from:
- High Elves
- Dark Elves
These 8 races are all that are available in the base game, this was a surprise to a lot of fans as the original Blood Bowl had 23 different races that you could choose from. If you did pre-order the game you were given the Lizardmen and the Wood Elves as pre-order bonuses. Obviously some fans are very annoyed at this decision which has prompted the developers to give back to the community by giving people who already have the game the next 4 DLC races:
Back to the locker room, after choosing a race you then choose a team name, moto, logo and team jerseys. There are lots of logos and jerseys to choose from including options that are limited to the race you have chosen. You are then given the option to handpick your team or have your assistant coaches choose an average line-up for your team and that’s it. Team creation is really simple and very much hassle free, but you are restricted by the name of your team as all the team names have to be unique across the community. This can be a really annoying feature but is also a really useful one as it allows you to be able to quickly search for your friends team without having 20 other teams with the exact same name appear.
Undoubtedly Blood Bowl 2 is a very unique game that really has no other similar games to compare it with, but it is a fantastic mashup of two games. The level of detail in the game is a great aspect that will have you admiring all the characters in the game including your opposition. I for one have really enjoyed having the ability to play this fantastic game with so many people across the globe. I really recommend that you pick up this game as soon as possible as it is a blast to play even with the ghastly rolls that you can get. Seriously Lazzoalt how can you mess up walking with a 99% success chance!!!