What's it all about?
Blood Bowl - a hilarious mixture of fantasy warfare and American Football - is one of the most enduring and popular tabletop games published by Games Workshop, the company behind the Warhammer brand of wargames. Blood Bowl was first released in 1986, but really took off with its third edition in 1994, featuring updated rules and a new range of miniatures. Though sadly neglected for many years by its developer, the game continued to develop and grow in popularity worldwide through multiple iterations of the fan-made Living Rule Book, and online platforms such as FUMBBL, as well as licensed video games.
In 2016 a new edition of the board game was finally released, along with the 'Death Zone' rulebook for league play. While the game is easy to learn and fantastic to play in one-off matches, Blood Bowl really comes into it's own when you take part in a league and can develop your team of players over time. Though there are many pitfalls to avoid, it is easier to set up a league than it may seem, and this article will help you to get started!
Blood Bowl Overview
Starting your League
- Get a copy of the Blood Bowl board game and the Death Zone rule book.
- Find 3 or more other players able to commit to joining your league.
- Set up a means of communicating with each other, such as a group on a social media site.
- Decide on how many matches to play, how to decide the winner, and what the prize will be. eg. You could all play each other once/twice in a single league and the top ranked player wins, or could divide the teams into divisions and then the top players go through to playoffs for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.
- Decide on your method of record keeping - this is VERY IMPORTANT. If there is any possible way of cheating to gain an advantage, this can quickly get out of hand, players' faith in the whole structure deteriorates and the league will fall apart. More on this in the next section.
- Decide on your method of match-making: Set up a fixed schedule? Allow players to challenge each other? Allow players to post when they are free and let other players contact them? The third method is the most effective to allow players to fit in lots of matches but you may end up with unbalanced teams, as some enthusiastic players cram in lots of matches and skill up their teams, while others struggle to fit in games and get left behind. It could also allow players to game the system by strategically choosing their match schedule to their advantage. A fixed schedule prevents this, but may not be feasible if players are unavailable on their match days and have to keep rescheduling.
- Consider how to prevent players from dropping out if they have a bad run of games, and what to do if this happens. You could offer a reward for all players to complete all of their games. You could also plan a second season using the Death Zone rules, with players getting extra funds towards building their new teams based on how many matches they played, touchdowns they scored and casualties they inflicted in the previous season.
- Play your first matches and get your league going!
Every player needs a Team Roster, which is updated after every match to show Star Player Points accrued by each player, skill acquired, new purchases, and injuries. Roster templates can be found in the Death Zone rule book.
The League Commissioner (the person in charge of the league) needs to keep a Match Record of all matches played, and make a League Table showing the total points and ranking of the teams. The best method is to use the brilliant automated spreadsheet available at - http://bbowl.gmxhome.de/scribe/scribe.htm - This tool allows you to easily track all team rosters, match results, your league table, as well as providing other fun statistics.
After every match, the two players need to fill out a Match Report, which they both SIGN to verify it is accurate, and submit it to the League Commissioner. This must include:
- The date
- Team names
- The match result
- Number of touchdowns per team
- Number of casualties caused per team (not including those caused by fouls or the crowd)
- Number of fans per team
- Fan Factor changes
- Any other changes to team treasuries (spent on inducements, lost to 'Spiralling Expenses' or 'Expensive Mistakes').
- Gold spent to add players/rerolls/coaching staff to team rosters after the match.
- All Touchdowns, Interceptions, Casualties, Completed Passes, MVPs and the player numbers that achieved them.
- Results of player improvement rolls and new skills chosen.
If all of these things are in place, you will be able to run a well-organized and successful Blood Bowl league. The only way for players to cheat would be through collusion (such as both agreeing to give each other more match winnings than they actually rolled). This can only be prevented by having a third person 'referee' the match.
You could also require all players to check and sign each others' updated team rosters and submit the full rosters to you after every match, if you want to keep more thorough records. If you share the full league spreadsheet with them after each match, however, players can all check you have updated the rosters correctly and this shouldn't be necessary. You could also allow players to download the spreadsheet, update it themselves using their match record, and upload the new version to the group. You just need to check these updates for inconsistencies with the match records.
Full Blood Bowl League Match Sequence
To make sure every game runs smoothly and records are kept correctly, here's a crib sheet to print and keep, telling you what need to do for every match, with page references from the Blood Bowl (BB) and Death Zone (DZ) rule books.
BLOOD BOWL LEAGUE MATCH SEQUENCE
- Roll on Weather Table
- Choose Inducements (DZ p23, details on p28)
- Draw Special Play Cards (DZ p23)
- Flip for the Kick – Winner decides to kick or receive.
- Roll for Fans (BB p26). 2D6 plus your Fan Factor, then x1000
- Roll for FAME. Less fans = 0, equal or more fans = 1, double or more fans = 2.
- Kicking player sets up.
- Receiving player sets up.
- Kicking player places ball and scatters D6.
- Roll on Kick-off Table (BB p27) and resolve the result.
- Bounce/catch/touchback the ball.
- Receiving player takes first turn of the drive.
- Record all Completed Passes, Touchdowns, Interceptions, and Casualties on Team Rosters. Roll on Casualty Table (DZ p20) for each casualty and record results on Team Rosters.
- At end of the drive, roll to bring back KO’d players on 4+.
- Team that scores a touchdown kicks off the next drive.
- Receiving player at start of the first half must kick off the second half.
POST-MATCH (DZ p24)
- Roll for MVPs and record on Team Rosters (DZ p21)
- Calculate total SPP per player earned this match, add it to their previous SPP and update the Team Roster with their new total SPP. (DZ p21)
- Roll for Improvements on players that have gone up a level (DZ p21-22).
- Roll for Winnings for each team - Roll D6 and add your FAME value for the match, then x10,000, then add 10,000 if you won or tied. Subtract Spiralling Expenses (optional rule, DZ p29).
- Adjust Fan Factors and record on Match Report (DZ p24).
- Remove dead/fired players from team rosters.
- Spend gold to add players/rerolls/coaching staff (DZ p38) to rosters.
- Teams with over 100,000 gold left in their treasury roll for Expensive Mistakes (DZ p25)
- Teams with less than 11 players available for their next match may add Journeymen to their roster for free.
- Fill out a Match Report showing the date, team names, result, touchdowns, casualties (not including fouls/crowd), gold spent or lost, Fans, FAME, Winnings, Fan Factor changes, actions rewarded with SPP per player, results of Improvement rolls per player.
- Update Team Rosters with all changes.
- Both players sign the Match Report and Team Rosters, then submit them to the League Commissioner.
Good luck coaches, and I'll see you on the Blood Bowl pitch!
Morakinyo Moses on December 24, 2019:
Is this actually real