Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blood Bowl

I used to really enjoy painting miniatures here and there.  I wandered around the fringe of the Games Workshop hobby for many, many years.  However, collecting and painting an entire army for Warhammer or Warhammer 40k was kind of intimidating, and frankly I didn't believe that I'd still enjoy painting after doing that many minis.  So, a long time ago (mid 90s or so?) in an attempt to get into the hobby but in a more manageable way, I picked up Blood Bowl Third Edition, and the Death Zone expansion pack.  My thoughts were that the game itself looked like tons of fun, it was considered a classic, the Third Edition was getting rave reviews (it was still fairly new at the time) and I could literally get all the teams for the price and commitment of time that it would take me to get one army in one of the other games.  Plus, it was easier to sit down and play. 

I ended up finding a group that was playing with a few houserules cribbed from the old bbowl-l listserve that were written by Jervis Johnson himself (the author of the game) and had a great time playing.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm out of grad school, moved across the country, and mentioning off-hand to a friend of mine that I'd played a few years ago.  Before I know it, he's bought a copy, we're using the newer Living Rulebook (which I think gutted a lot of the insanity that always made Blood Bowl so fun, but eh, whatever.)  We ended up playing a fair bit, got some other friends involved, and had little leagues that went through the process of building, maintaining, and improving teams (as per the rules, of course.)  Then he moved away, as well as most of the guys who were playing with us, and my Blood Bowl slumbered.  By this time, frankly, I was a little done with painting miniatures.  I have a nice, full team of orcs, completely converted from Warhammer, 40k, and Gorkamorka models, that include squigs for counters, a referee, a wizard, an apothecary, etc.  The only thing I'm missing is cheerleaders and assistant coaches.  But when it came time to paint my skaven or chaos teams... my motivation dried up.  I haven't cracked open my mini case in probably two years.

However, this friend of mine, who in many ways was the driving force of getting us to play, recently appeared via email having bought me aa a slightly belated Christmas present, copy of Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition on Steam, no doubt with the hope that we'll get to play online from time to time.  I installed it a while ago, but other than run through the tutorial--kinda--I hadn't done anything with it until last night, where I created an orc team, the Washington Greenskins, and played two games in Campaign mode against--I presume--randomly selected teams of various races.  I played against a Necromantic team--a new "remix" of undead types that post-dates my involvement with the boardgame version of the game by an edition or two of the Living Rulebook.  Then I played High Elves, an old bane of mine (my friend used to play high elves.)  I played orcs, just because I thought it would be nice to start out with someone familiar--plus, I think they have the most balanced roster out there, with pretty decent catchers, big guys, and big tough black orcs--not to mention fairly good throwers and blitzers, and standard linemen.  I tied the Necromantic team 2-2, and I lost to the high elf team 0-3.  I always struggled with high elves, and frankly, I'm still struggling a little bit with getting accustomed to the interface of the game (I accidentally gave away a few turns by taking actions that I didn't mean to and then, of course, failing them.)  I'm still relatively happy with my performance though--even with the scathing loss.  It was a good experience to figure the game out.  Plus, I got a little vindictive; when I had the ball dropped and the elves took it out of my reach (they're a lot faster than I am) and headed out for their third touchdown, my troll went and fouled a downed player and killed him dead.  That's a devastating thing to happen to a really expensive team like the elves, so suck it, pointy-ears!

Anyway, I had a blast trying the game out.  I'll certainly want to keep playing more.  Heck, maybe I can do a marathon of sorts on Monday while we're off for a federal holiday (my wife still has to work, so I need to kinda stay out of the way.)  And I'll probably want to branch out a bit.  I've played a lot of orcs in the boardgame, and although the graphics are pretty sweet, and the animations are nice--in reality, this plays almost exactly like the board game.  Once I get all my wrinkles with the interface worked out.  That shouldn't take too long, though.  Hopefully within another game or two, I'll have the kinks worked out completely.  So it's really nice that the game, at least in classic turn-based mode, plays almost exactly like the boardgame.  Just with fancy animations and much fancier stadiums.  They look nice.

My younger boys also think the game is fascinating.  I'll try and teach it to them.  Maybe even my oldest son will play.  It could be a great family activity!  Well, except for my wife who thinks the concept of playing computer games is a waste of time, and my daughter who doesn't think this particular one is something that she's interested in at all.  But I say, an over-the-top, caricaturishly violent football game with fantasy races sorta like Lord of the Rings except "grottier"--what's not to like?  The boys seem especially interested in the various undead teams (of which there are four varieties if you count the vampires--although they're really different from the others) and for whatever reason, it seemed easy to find screenshots of them.  So, that's mostly what I have.

Plus, although this video below mostly shows animation of the cheerleaders and touchdown dances--I really like it.  That really encapsulates the silliness and insanity that makes Blood Bowl so much fun.  I created a post tag for it, but honestly--I don't know how much I'll talk about it.

It appears that if you use your Legendary Edition pass-key, you can get the Chaos Edition as a download for pretty cheap--maybe I'll pick that up too.

And for your viewing pleasure; here's a few more screens.  Just so you don't have to Google Image Search all yourself.

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