For the last couple of weeks a few of us at the club have been having a Blood Bowl resurgence and really enjoying it. The rules are simple to learn, everything is very streamlined and both sides tend to match up evenly so there's no "uber-lists" or "Unit X spam" like you can find in 40K and Fantasy at times.
For those who don't know about it, it's American Football crossed with the Warhammer Fantasy universe. So teams consist of Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, Lizardmen etc.
The best part of Blood Bowl is that *technically* it is free. The rules are downloadable straight off the Games Workshop site, all you have to do is print them out and go. However, as we're finding at the club, unless you have access to the boxed set GW sell, then you're going to need a fair few things.
After speaking to people on Twitter over the weekend, trawling some forums and doing a bit of research, I've tried to compile a guide here of how to get started with Blood Bowl at different levels, ranging from free, cheap and then stuff that costs a bit.
First thing you need is the rules themselves. GW seem to have introduced a streamlined document called "Blood Bowl Competition Rules" which cuts out lots of artwork and fluff pages, which makes it easier on the printer load.
Blood Bowl Competition Rules: HERE
One of the quickest and easiest things to do (especially if you or a friend want an Orc / Human team) is to just buy the boxset. It's £50 off GW and doesn't tend to dip much lower than that on eBay.
Personally, I got it bought for me about 5 years ago and although I've not played it as much as I should have, it's definitely got some good value to it (once you start comparing cost to other stuff).
Blood Bowl Starter Box: HERE
Alternatives to the Boxset
£50 is a fair wedge of cash for a game you might lose interest in, or like me you may need more pitches, tokens, etc. and don't want to be spending £50 a pop. So understandably, some people like to make their own stuff, buy cheaper parts or alternatives.
Luckily for us there seems to be a few generic "Fantasy Football" items out there that can be used.
Now, onto the physical stuff you will need to play the game if you haven't bought the boxset.
Next thing is, everything in Blood Bowl is done based on a grid of squares. Players move a set amount, have an effect squares around them, throw a certain length, etc. This means that you need to get yourself one that is to the correct size and scale.
First up, is printing yourself a pitch. These are sometimes a bit tricky to do as it requires multiple pages being stitched together, along with getting the printer settings right so that it prints at the correct scale.
I found a few different pitch designs available to print at this website: HERE
These are all themed to different teams in the game, like a Skaven one, Wood Elf one, etc. but personally, Pitch #8 is the most generic one and one that I would plan on using.
Another alternative is large pieces of grid paper available from stationery shops, which is what a chap in a "Blood Bowl on the cheap has used. Check it out: HERE
In searching for alternative Blood Bowl boards, I found that a company called Impact Miniatures has their own range of "Elfball" and "Boulder Brawl" football games and sell a mat that is compatible with Blood Bowl.
These are £15 but I'm sure if you enjoy the game enough it would be a worthwhile investment. The main thing is you get the "Large" mat and "29mm" as that's the correct sized one for Blood Bowl.
It's available from their Webstore: HERE
Next up, Blood Bowl uses a few different templates for different things. These are unique to the set and no longer available to order from GW as a separate component. You can find these for a few quid on eBay usually, but if you need several at once (or don't fancy paying) here's 2 options I found.
|Throw in template.|
Quick google searches found a really really useful Blog offering free printable templates for the game. He only offers the Scatter and Throw-In templates, but they're good enough to do the job and come 2 to a sheet (1 for each player, or 2 games worth).
You can nab them here: HERE
Impact Miniatures also offers some pre-printed ones for a few quid that are a bit more colourful. Handy if you are already ordering with them or don't have access to a printer.
They're £1.36 from Impact!: HERE
Now, this is possibly the most awkward thing of the lot as it is specifically sized to the Blood Bowl pitch. You use this to measure throwing range and it's 1:1 with the size of a Blood Bowl pitch. If you make the pitch slightly bigger or smaller when printing, it'll mess up this range.
Likewise, if you make your own and the size is wrong, it'll mean throwing and intercepting the ball is impacted.
Here, you've got 3 options...
You can buy these range rulers from eBay if you're lucky, but also Impact again do their own version of this. Going rate for either is around £5, but it's probably the one thing you should invest in if you're buying any template stuff that is pre-done.
Impact's version: HERE
Similar to the "Blood Bowl on the cheap" link earlier, you can always make yourself a range ruler out of some stiff paper or card. It helps if you have access to a GW range ruler and simply trace around, line the zones and then you're done.
You can find some measurements of the ruler available at "Sons of Twilight" blog: HERE
With the lack of availablity on range rulers, Blood Bowl community have come up with a "throwing matrix" which uses the squares on the grid rather than a ruler. This means that no matter what size squares are on your pitch, you are always guaranteed correct throwing distance. The only issue with this is it then becomes harder to judge interceptions I suppose, and also a bit awkward to explain to people who've learned to play using the range ruler.
Either way, you can find an example pass matrix on a printable reference sheet: HERE
These are simply just bits of card that help keep track of a few things in the game, such as what turn it is, what subs you have, who is injured and crucially, how many re-rolls you have left.
You can always just keep this kind of thing on a sheet of paper, or knock up a quick one in MS word, but for the lazy folk like me, there's a pre-done printable one: HERE
These are special dice for Blood Bowl that feature various different symbols on them. At the end of the day, they're still just a D6 and you don't NEED them.
Using a D6
Simply make yourself a chart with what the D6 value corresponds to on the block dice results:
- Attacker Down
- Both Down (unless you have BLOCK)
- Pushed Back
- Pushed Back
- Defender Stumbles (unless has DODGE)
- Defender Down
Again, Impact Miniatures sell some block dice through their website as does eBay. Also, you can join the NAF as a member and recieve some free block dice (assuming they still do this?)
Impact Miniatures sell them for £5: HERE
A single D8
This is used for scatter dice, which happens every kick off, failed pass and if someone drops the ball. This is essential unless you want to start using 2D6 and discount anything above 8.
Lots of people might already have these from RPGs, board games and other such, but if not, they're less than 50p a pop from most places.
Occasionally (quite often if you're Orcs) the ball will need a physical representation on the pitch as no player will be holding it. When it comes to this you'll need a token or counter to mark where it is. The main boxset comes with 4 plastic balls, 2 for on bases and 2 for on the ground.
One alternative is to make some out of green stuff, leave it to set and paint them brown. Just a really simple egg shape. The more detail you start to add, the more awkward it can look.
GW sell their own metal Blood Bowl balls, but they're about £3 for 2, and again Impact have their own range that come with a little ring on them to attach to people's bases.
Assuming you didn't buy the Blood Bowl boxset, you're going to need some models for teams. I'm planning on saving this for another blog but the jist is, you can buy 1 box of Warhammer Fantasy figures and some bitz to convert yourself a full team. Admittedly it's not so easy since they've re-packaged most figures to come in boxes of 10, but it's still doable.
I'll go into more detail on converting Fantasy models into teams on another post.
Failing that, there's also a LOT of other Fantasy Football companies making models out there, like Impact's "Apes of Wrath" and various other races that can count as certain other teams.
Blood Bowl is a cracking little game and people shouldn't be put off by the investment. It's well worth it, especially since once you buy a team (arguably the most expense) you're set for good. No codex creep, no changing or scaling points values etc. Buy yourself a team, keep a few extra blokes spare and you're sorted.
I've found it to be the most enjoyable GW game that I've played and helps a lot with 40k/Fantasy fatigue and provides a most sociable experience.
Any questions or other suggestions drop me a comment! Keep your eyes peeled for more Blood Bowl over the coming weeks.
* Handy References
Figured it would be handy to provide links to a few places I've hotlinked to in the main post: