Posted: August 16, 2014
Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition
Many people will tell you that Blood Bowl is unfair. Other people will tell you the RNG is rigged. Yet other people will defend it with their lives. Blood Bowl is just not a game that respects you, especially if you go out there and try to win by murder. It will spank you, waterboard you and then anally invade you with spiked baseballbat that has glasshards glued on for good measure.
I have had my trial by fire on the boardgame and got butchered by experienced players. It was enough to not want to play anymore, mostly because of the discussions with the rulebook in hand. Yet, I was also constantly drawn back to it until I got absorbed by Epic and built myself a nice Eldar army.
But then I got the 360 version and was hit over the head with a game that applies the rulebook to a fault. No more sneaking stuff past my opponent, no more obfuscating the rules with 'you're interpreting the rules wrong, muppet!'. Instead, I got steamrolled over and over again, until I wised up and started to take the full time allowance on a turn, always trying to get at double dice on every action that needs them. I begun to make progress, but the on-line was so horrid I turned away from the game.
Today, I decided to buy the Chaos Edition for PC on a whim. Fact is that I'm not that into GW-games anymore. I sold off my hobby some time ago, mostly because I outgrew the demographic. Whenever I walk into the GW-store, I feel like a child-molester for one and inviting a kid over to play a game of Epic just has too many negative connotations to it.
Getting back in the saddle was easier than I thought, but much of that is in selecting the team that supports my play-style instead of a team that looks bad-♥♥♥ but is a dog to manage.
Blood Bowl looks very pretty to my eyes. Cyanide did not go for flashy imagery but instead kept it simple and to the point. Game music is likewise utilized and during the matches there is a duo-presentation by two dudes who sadly will have run out of new things to say after you've played a few matches.
I have not yet played with the Blitz rules, opting to play Classic-rules (Read GW-authentic) instead. The Classic-rules play by the boardgame rules and follows that ruleset to the letter, which results in nailbiting matches, as long as you play on Hard. I don't say this to be leet. On Easy, you'll win. On Medium, the AI will anally probe you. On hard, the AI gets slammed by the rules as hard as you are. How that can be, I don't know. The game was like this on the 360 too.
Winning thus depends on team-choice and choosing a team should be a factor of your playstyle. For me personally that meant a choice between the Dark Elves or the Amazons. After having tried a few games with the Dark Elves I noticed that I couldn't pull off miracle plays with them. I like to dodge and play a passing game and the Dark Elves are the proverbial team for that. (Still the best DLC I bought on the 360.)
I started over, going for the Amazons this time, who all have Dodge as a natural skill. At first I felt it was hopeless, but slowly I was getting the results. After being butchered a few times, I got a handle on the Amazons and started to fight the AI to a stand-still. Some time later I managed to win a match with a miracle play, passing the ball from the midfield-line to a Catcher in the end-zone.
Blood Bowl is not an easy game. One of the first things a new player should learn is that tackle-zones are the backbone of Blood Bowl. Each pawn on the field has a tackle-zone, consisting of 8 squares around that pawn. Pawns that have overlapping tackle-zone empower eachother, making offence and defence easier. For offence, blocking an enemy pawn is a snap if it has base to base contact with other pawns that are friendly to you. For defence, understanding that tackle-zones are only good for enemy pawns entering it is key.
As you play matches, your players will level up, provided they did something that gives them points. There are many ways a player can get EXP and not all of them are obvious. Blood Bowl does however apply them according to the official boardgame rules (if you play Classic, which I recommend.) and does so rigidly. Should you ever question the game's judgement, crosscheck the decision with the ruleset, which is included in the game. I have not been able to fault it sofar.
Leveling your players up will allow you to give your players extra skills. There are loads of skills, but not all of them will suit your players or your style. Take the time to read the description of skills. But most of them are obvious. The first extra skill a Catcher should get is Sure Hands. A Runner should get Sure Feet quickly. A Blitzer should keep an eye out for Break-Tackle.
Blood Bowl comes with a hefty Single Player experience. First there is the tutorial. This is scripted as heck and it won't allow you to experiment. But for new players it does open the game a little, though it won't go into specifics. Therefore it's better to play a few exhibition matches after you've done the tutorial.
The Exhibition matches are perfect for experimenting, because they don't have a persistent effect on your team. Work on your starting set-up and watch the AI closely. Here you get the goods on how teams are played, which is unvaluable information for the other game-modes. Many tactics the AI employs are also good to use by you.
Begin a Campaign is a set mode where you buy the team of your choice (or field one of your existing teams) and try to reach the top of the different leagues and tournies.
Begin a Competion is like the Campaign, but now you set it up to your specifications before you start play.
Story Mode is very different as you're free-agent coach who coaches teams that need your expertise. This time, the focus is on you and your managerial skills. And you'll be tested. Hard.
World Cup is like the wolfmother of Blood Bowl. Hear you must lead your team to greatness entering nothing but tournaments and your goal is to eventually qualify for the ultimate event.
All these modes can't be completed in a single evening. These modes are all in depth and content rich and successfully completing them will take your dedication and test your motivation.
Don't go into this game believing that you'll trash it on your first match. Learn from the AI, see how it handles ball-possession and see how it defends. A wise man once said that no one ever learned something from winning and nowhere is this more true than in Blood Bowl.
-Do safest actions first.
-Do less safe actions second.
-Do dangerous actions last.
-Always guard your ballcarrier.
-Buy re-rolls pre-game over stuff like Bribes and Bloodweiser Babes.
-Cheerleaders and Coaches are the most helpful during kick-offs. Look for other things to buy first.
-Use fouls and bribes to disable enemy keyplayers, like Catchers, Throwers and Runners. Don't waste them on rank and file.
-Try to use all your re-rolls in a half, they get replenished at half-time. Re-rolls are instrumental to your play, so don't let them go to waste, use them as needed and don't be frugal with them thinking that you'll get a better chance to use them later.
I love digital Blood Bowl, but the love took a wile to take hold. Blood Bowl rewards the patient, thinking player and it really opens up to those that stick with it and gain skill. Once you get past the disappointment of playing a game that won't let you win and start to recognize what works and what doesn't, Blood Bowl is one of the more rewarding games to play.
For those that want to always win and who want to be leet 24/7, Blood Bowl has little to offer.