Blood Bowl, General

Blitz Bowl! An Unexpected Journey

About this time last year the Blood Bowl community were hit with a single leaked picture on twitter (see below) which led the way to thousands of coaches wondering what this game could be, was it a remake/reimagined edition of the Blood Bowl spin-off ‘Kerrunch’ from the 90′ or was it be an expansion for the fully fledged game? One thing a lot of them did know was that they wanted it, and they wanted it now.

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First image revealed of the game
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Kerrunch, released in 1991

A few months later at Gen Con, Games Workshop finally officially announced Blitz Bowl, what the game entailed and when/where it would be available. This is where a lot of the controversy of this game comes in. They had only planned to release the game exclusively in the US and Germany!?!? see link

https://www.warhammer-community.com/2018/07/31/gencon-carnage-on-the-pitchgw-homepage-post-3/

Why?! This was the big question making it way around the community, for what reasons would they only release the game in these two specific countries? Is it an attempt to make it a gateway game into the full-fledged Blood Bowl in areas that do not have the biggest gaming scenes? I don’t think this is the case as I know that the US has a very extensive tournament schedule all year, as for Germany im not too sure about but they do have the German team tournament, one of the biggest team tournament around.

If it’s not this could it be an attempt to entice the next generation of bowlers into the game early? I find Blood Bowl a difficult game to get new players excited about, once you get them past a certain stage the game does it all for you but it’s that first 10 games or so that can be a slog for new players. Is Blitzbowl an attempt to get people hooked on the fluff and thematic shenanigans without the complications of quite a complex set of rules and skills.

Well only Games Workshop knows the reason behind it and im sure there are some facts and figures behind the decision but that still doesn’t help us astrogranite addicts who do not live in the US or Germany who have to make other arrangements to get our hands on the game which can turn out to be very expensive. I think the question on our minds right now is will this game be released to us in the future?


Its Match Day

So let’s have a look at the game itself, what goodies will we find in the box? If there’s one thing that coaches love in this game is unique goodies that they can use or collect, this can be seen in the sales of Dwarf and Skaven dice when they were first released. They sold out in seconds and people were paying 10x the RRP  on eBay because they wanted these team specific dice, they wanted to bring some flare and something personal to their team. This pursuit of these dice stems from the fact that Blood Bowl is at its heart an RPG game. Dont get me wrong the game mechanics are great and unique and do draw in a huge crowd of competitive gamers but at its base Blood Bowl is about the creation of your team, watching them grow and surrounding them with as much character and history as possible, well in my opinion anyway. So when the contents of the box were announced people got excited about not only the new game but the new dice. Lets have a look!

As you can see above the box is of a high quality, great finish with a unique piece of artwork on the front (for me these little things make a big difference, as much as the old recognised artwork is great, there’s always something special about a fresh creation that keeps the thematic cravings at bay) So what exactly do you get in the box? well here a quick list

  • 6 Humans (3 Lineman, 1 Blitzer, 1 Thrower and 1 Catcher)
  • 6 Orcs (3 Lineman, 1 Blitzer, 1 Thrower and 1 Black Orc)
  • 1 Pitch
  • 2 Sets of dice (2 block dice, 1 D6 and 1 D8)
  • Player stat cards
  • In games play cards
  • Templates and Dugouts

So lets talk about these! Firstly the models, there’s not much to say about these except you get the exact same sprue as you get in the Reikland Reavers or Gouged Eye box sets, the only difference being the colour of the plastic (yellow and red). These are more than sufficient to play this game, the models are great and the fact you get the already loved miniatures in a board game esq version of the game is generous, although one could have dreamt for some unique sculpts, which would obviously not have been possible due to cost. I did say dream!

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Onto the pitch itself, now this is where Games Workshop have done an impressive job in not only creating a fast paced board game in the Blood Bowl universe but have created a platform for enthusiasts to show off their creative ability and love for the lore. Blitzbowl is set around an event in the BloodBowl universe called ‘The Crush’. The Crush is an exhibition/test match used by aspiring players to show off what they can do and convince coaches from around the old world to hire them for their upcoming squad. It is set in a dungeon surrounded by a talent hungry crowd who set challenges for the players to see what they can do. The pitch itself is incredibly thematic with statues of some the most famous star players around such as Griff Oberwald and Morg n’ Thorg overlooking these starry-eyed athletes not realising what they are getting themselves in to. The reason I like what they done here so much is what it means for the extension of the hobby. There are a lot of coaches out there (like myself) who have spent a lot of time painting teams and writing backgrounds to go with them but Blitzbowl allows us to step away from the traditional Blood Bowl setting and start creating smaller ‘teams’ which we can have more flexibility with. For instance in the infamous DBL, last season a team entered made up purely of human lineman name ‘Logan’s Loser lineman’. The idea behind this team is brilliant and despite having the some of the most plain players in the game, the coach did a lot better than anyone expected and probably had more fun than a lot of other coaches. On top of this, the fluff created to go alongside them had a lot of effort put in and really drew the team together. The idea of a team of aspiring lineman lead by the most famous lineman around, ‘Logan’.  Its ideas like this that can really be taken over to or from Blitzbowl to enhance our full on Blood Bowl experiences.

board

One last point I have to add about the pitch is the way that games Workshop have listened and learnt from other companies. They have incorporated a scatter template into pitch to save you carrying it around/losing it. I hoped they would have started doing this on the Blood Bowl pitches but I think they are already too invested into the current format in order to change it now.

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The details on the pitch are great!

minotaurs-collection-004Did you Know!?

The Crush dictates that all available players are placed in a room with representatives from all teams, NFC and AFC, stand outside observing. At the word of “Go!”, all players rush through the small door to get to the team they want before the slots are filled.

The Crush takes place two weeks after the Blood Bowl Championship, the start of summer recess, and then the participating teams spend around a month trading players, negotiating contracts, and commencing training. While many teams use The Crush as a strong recruiting tool, other teams (mostly Orcs, Goblins, Chaos Dwarves, and Ogres) use the time-honored tradition of filling their ranks from their own tribes or clans, or using slaves they “purchased” from random settlements

From Blood-Bowl.wikia.com

The Dice! lets talk about the dice, the reason some people I know wanted the game. Yes as mentioned earlier you do get a set of yellow and red dice, the only problem being they only give you 2 block dice and 1 D6 as that is all you need for this game (we will talk more about this later but there’s no 3 die blocks or armour rolls) On top of that the quality of the dice were disappointing, some of the block dice had misprints and infills missing. It seems like they weren’t produced by their normal supplier. Overall a little disappointed but still shiny new Blood Bowl dice at the end of the day.

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The Teams

The translation of each teams and it strengths/weakness over to Blitz Bowl is a topic that you could discuss for a while but at the end of the day it all depends on how you are receiving this game. If you accept that Blitz Bowl is a stand alone spin-off board game then its a lot easier to accept but when your like me and enjoy intertwining the two thematically its hard not compare how each race performs in each game. Blood Bowl has been played competitively for years now so there is a fairly common understanding on which teams perform well in what situations as we all know the game is not balanced when it comes to team selection. But will those be the same with the relevant race in Blitz Bowl? well in my short experience no, but lets talk about why and look into the statistics of each race.

cards

As you can see from the cards above each positional now only has 3 statistics, Move, Throw and Armour. Move is pretty self-explanatory, this is maximum number of squares that player can take in one move action, Throw is the roll required before any modifiers for a pass action to be succesful and Armour is the roll required before any modifiers for the armour save to be successful.

Lets start with throwing, as I don’t think we need to elaborate on the move statistic. We will talk more about actions in a bit but if you wanted to throw the ball to another player  you would need to roll the equivalent on the players card. Now this is modified by a few thing such if it passes through an opposing player or the target is marked, but if you do succeed the target automatically catched the ball.

On the other hand, with armour, where as in Blood Bowl you need to break their armour value with 2D6, in Blitzbowl the knocked down player needs to beat their armour roll in order to stay on the pitch. This leads to a lot more removals but as you will see later they do come back. So in order for these player stats to make sense we will need to look into how the game pans out, whats the objectives of the game are and how this can be achieved.


The Playbook

If I were to compare Blitzbowl to another game it would without a doubt have to be what Warhammer Underworlds is to Age of Sigmar. A hugely popular and complex game system condensed down into a fast paced board game which can be played in a pub (well Blood Bowl is best enjoyed in a pub but that’s not the point). The reason I say this is down to two main points.

  1. They both combine cards and tabletop miniatures (Underworlds obviously being the more deck builder esq of the two)
  2. They both run off an action system, slightly different, but both giving the same tactical atmosphere to the game.

I’m not going to go into Warhammer Underworlds here, if you have played it you will know what I mean if not it’s not an issue but lets look at how a turn is structured in Blitz Bowl

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As you can see each player has 3 actions they can make in a turn, these can used to perform a variety of things ranging from moving to blocking. Here is a list of available actions and what they do.

I will be using the term ‘ tackle zone’ but there are not such things in Blitz Bowl. It’s just an easier way to describe it.

Run Action

As you guessed this is where you may move a player their maximum move distance. It is also the only way you can pick up the ball (without an extra skill), in order to do this you just need to run through the square where the ball is and you automatically pick it up. The only problem is you cannot run through ‘tackle zones’

Mark Action

A mark action allows you to move a player 2 square which can be through ‘tackle zones’ but also you must end your mark action next to an opposing player.

Throw Action

A throw action lets you pass the ball to a target player, the throw roll is modified by factors such as whether the target is marked or if the throw is in the second half of the template.

Block Action

Blocking in Blitzbowl is fairly similar but with some small differences that make it a completely different action. In order to Block you need to be adjacent to the target and then roll one block dice. If you have and assist you can roll 2. Assists in this game are not cancelled by other players and even if you have 5 assists it’s still only 2 dice. Here is a list of what each result does.

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As you can see above, even on a both down or skull result you do not knock yourself over and even if you did turnovers do not exist in the game. This makes blocking a lot less risky and takes away a lot of the risk management side to Blood Bowl and changing the flow of the game completely.

Reserves Action

Whenever a player is knocked down from a block and they fail their armour roll they are removed from the pitch and placed in reserves. The difference here is you can use an action in order to bring a player from reserves onto the pitch. This doesn’t make the physical side of the game as irrelevant as I first thought it would as making your opponent waste an action bringing them back is worth it.

Side Step Action

A side step action allows you to move 1 square when you are marked away from you opponent and end your move outside of their tackle zone.

Stand Up Action

You can spend an action standing a player up in the square they were knocked down in

With the amount of available actions each being key in different situations it is crucial to spend your 3 actions wisely as they are over before you know it. For example in order to Block a player who is more than 2 squares away ,aka Blitz, you would be required to use all 3 of your actions. Firstly Run, then Mark to get next to the player and then Block. This really opens ups the games tactically so it doesnt turn into a brawl and shows of some of the more spectacular aspects of the game, just like The Crush was designed to do.


The Scorecard

So what makes Blitz Bowl so tactically different to Blood Bowl is the objective of the game/how you score ‘points’. Where as in Blood Bowl it is purely down to whomever scores the most touchdowns, in Blitz bowl theres is a point system where points can scored in different ways such as scoring a touchdown or completing objective cards. The objective cards are where the game will balance out the teams, apparently. You automatically score 3 points for scoring a touchdown (which is more than most challenge cards) so if you can keep doing this you are most likely going to win the game but in order to balance the game and give slower, bashier teams a good chance a lot of the challenges will include objectives such as ‘claim this card if an enemy player is knocked down or injured this turn’. This gives them more of an oppurtunity whilst the Elves, Skaven and Goblins (we will get to them later) are scoring touchdowns all day long.

After Scoring a challenge card you get to take it into your ‘hand’ On the back of every card is a ‘play’ which you can activated in order to give you some sort of bonus, this where the games creeps even closer to Warhammer Underworlds. Some examples of the plays are that you gain an extra activation that turn which is extremely helpful or it allows you reroll one dice that turn.

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When you start playing with different teams and find out how they play, you quickly come to realise how well this game has encapsulated the thematic of each team and how they are expected to perform from their fluff. It’s very hard to do this in modern complex games as there will always be a meta where theory goes out the window **cough** 40k **cough**.

One thing I would have hoped for would have a larger variety of challenge cards and not as many duplicated, im not sure how that would turn out, whether too much variety would destroy the balance I was just talking about but would be good to give it a go. Finger crossed hey!


Other Teams, GOBLINS!!

Alongside the standard Orcs and Humans that come in the box game, they do supply you player cards for other teams, so that you can use your Blood Bowl models to expand your game. In the box I believe you get Skaven, Dwarfs, Pro Elves, Chaos Chosen and Goblins. I think this is a nice touch from GW as they didn’t have to supply them giving them the opportunity to expand on the game making more revenue in the future. I’m not sure if this means that they will not be supporting the game much further therefore giving you as much as thy can in the box or if it was simply a generous touch.

Blood Bowl Alternative Teams
additional teams player card

So in order test out the game longevity we had a few more games with different teams. First of all I decided to use Goblins, they allow you to have 8 standard ‘lineman’ and nothing else, I had to see how they played as 8 Goblins running around seemed great fun. In this Game Chris decided to see how Skaven turned out, their Gutter Runners still move a ridiculous amount on such a small board.

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Soooooo…….Goblins? from my first two games with them I have to say they are awesome in this game. The reason for this is their skill Small and Stuny. What this does is allows Goblins to move through ‘tackle zones’ when they make a run action meaning they can pick up the ball when it’s marked. Now this nullifies a lot of standard tactics. Normally being such a small pitch you can block of the opponents route to the end zone or mark the ball denying the opponent the opportunity to pick up the ball without knocking your player down (which takes all 3 actions) but with Goblins you can’t. They are extremely slippery and frustratingly good in this game. It was a pretty simple victory for the Goblin and I could see the frustration on Chris’ face when there was nothing he could do stop touchdown after touchdown without being able to pick up the ball himself.

So in the second game we decided to swap, Chris took Goblins and I gave Pro elves a go. Now this game went a bit different to the first one and this was mainly due to the elves getting the right challenge cards at right time. As we spoke about earlier, touchdowns are great, but if the opponent can capitalise on the challenge cards every turn it will be a tough game. The Goblins performed like the previous game, slipping through tackle zones, picking up the ball and scoring touchdowns but the Pro elves were able to keep up with passing plays and killing goblins to score points every turn. This seems to be the only way to have  chance to beat goblins, you need to get some luck with the right challenge card and really make sure your playing to score them.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying Goblins are broken but they are surely a very strong team in the game. They have the ability to be consistent in their scoring forcing your opponent to make sure they keep up and take every opportunity they get.

In regard to any of the other teams, we are yet to try them out but will be definitely doing so in the near future.


The Endgame

When going through the rulebook and learning how to play the game, they suggest you leave this bit out until you completely understand the rules. The reason for this is that ‘The Endgame’ are extra challenge cards that are put at the bottom of the deck so that they indicate the end of the game is approaching and opening up the game. The reason these cards open up the game is that they are on the extreme side in terms of not only how to achieve them but also how many points you gain and also what ‘play’ you receive on the reverse. Now this adds a lot of randomness to the game and can also make what has happened up to this point irrelevant as one player could get fortunate and win a few challenge cards winning them the game. Once again whether you like this side to the game depends on how you are receiving it. If you are playing for the competitive aspect and really want to win then ‘The Endgame’ could make the game inconsistent and frustrating but that is not how this game was designed. It was designed in the shadow of Blood Bowls crazy shenanigans and unbalanced randomness. I suggest playing with these and not taking this game too seriously, I doubt there’s going to be a Blitz Bowl Grand Tournament any time soon.


Match Analysis

In order to wrap this up and decide whether or not this is a game you should buy we should go over some of the key points from above

  1. If you wanted a new Blood Bowl game that you can play competitively and will be as widespread as the original you may need to adjust your expectations of the game if you are considering the purchase. This is 100% a throw in your bag, pub/coffee shop game that can be picked up and played without much setup and played in an hour.
  2. Another thing to consider when purchasing the game is its longevity. Yes they have given you extra teams but that still only mounts up to 7 (including the dark elves that were free in the American White Dwarf). We do not know if they will be expanding this game further in the future and if they do not, it could become stale quickly if you play regularly. Like I said above, I think this game was designed as an every now and then game.
  3. If you are a Blood Bowl enthusiast and simply crave everything about the game, this will give you the fix you’re looking for. The rule book has a little fluff and artwork and overall the quality of the product is great.
  4. How to get your hands on the game if you’re not from the US or Germany? If you do not live in the only 2 countries selling the game it can be fairly expensive to get your hands on. A £40 game then turns into an £80 game which may not be worth it. Is it worth holding out and seeing if they release the game elsewhere? I think so, not that anyone knows if its going to happen but £80 is is bit steep.

So overall I would highly recommend this game, if you know someone who has it I would suggest having a go. The copy we played with was Chris’ but after our first couple of games I am already working out how I am going to get my hands on it.

Here is a copy of the rules for you to have a read over

Blitz_Bowl_Rules

OTT Attempts – 0 (I don’t think its possible in this game)

Uncategorized

New Year Open Day 2019 & Warhammer World

Writing this on the train home, my head is swimming with ideas and dreams for the coming year, after the New Year Open Day at Warhammer World.

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And what a day it was. Release the troll!!! I will come back to him.

It was a day full of reveals, loads of great miniatures, and Games Workshop staff around to ask the only real question. “So when can I buy it?” A bit of painting, shopping, some demonstration games and Warhammer celebrity spotting.

The Open Day

So what was new for Blood Bowl …

Helmut Wulf and Karla von Kill were both available to buy, having gone on pre-order the day before on the Forge World website. Not a huge fan of the sculpts beforehand, but seeing them in person means that I have certainly warmed to them.

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Specialist Games were present in the Studio area being held in the main event hall this year. So anything new you ask? Well you probably have already seen but they had previews of the three Goblin positionals (Pogoer, Doom Diver and ‘Ooligan), the Nurgle Rotspawn and last but not least the new troll.

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Or as the sign said ‘Troll 2’.

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And am I glad we finally have a sequel. I love these new miniatures. The Goblins are fun and OTT as they should be. The Rotspawn is fat and ugly. And the troll is … well how a troll should look. Not a baseball pitcher! A+ all round. I hear we should expect a February release for these.

The usual attempts to cajole, bribe and threaten the Specialist Games staff to provide more details was fruitless (note that I did none of these). But it is always worth a chat with the guys who design, make and write Blood Bowl for GW. The most striking thing you notice when talking to the Specialist Games team is the sense of enthusiasm for the games. They actually love it. And this shows through in the quality of what they produce.

Other than Blood Bowl they had announcements for most if not all of the other GW game systems. Previews for Kill Team, Black Fortress, Necromunda, 40k and Age of Sigmar.

The other Blood Bowl related interest on the day for me was the new Gloomspite Gitz range. With the new Squigs and Squig Hoppers on show. I am looking to put together a Squig Herder team for a local league, so these have come at a great time. The new Troggoths releases could also make for some interesting conversions for Blood Bowl.

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Elsewhere they had a demonstration game of Blood Bowl running along with all the other GW games. It seemed quite popular throughout the day which was good to see. I did think about asking to play a bit of a game as they had painted Human and Orc teams. Most likely painted by the GW Army Painter team. So much better than my standard of painting but I thought I should let others get involved.

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They also had the usual stands for miniature and terrain designers, artists, painters, writers and White Dwarf staff on hand for any questions.

New this year was the Paint a Model and Construction Corner (Building Terrain) areas. I got to use a fully stocked painting station on a Chaos Warrior. This included paints, brushes, GW palate paper, one of the new paint pot holders and painting handle to use. And best of all you got to keep the miniature. Although what GW would do with my effort I would rather not know.

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This was great fun and I spent a couple of hours here. The typcial miniature painter experince tends to be solitary one. But here I found the communal aspect of sharing paints and brushes a welcome change. And the kind comments from on-lookers was something very different from the usual dungeon at home. Brushes for Dry brushing and water pots seemed in short supply but we all muddled through as best we could.

And finally the exhibition. This was free to enter for event attendees and is always a highlight of any visit for me. So much inspiration and excitement is gained by visiting these four special rooms. Which just happens to exit into the shop. I wonder why …

Takeaways

Speaking of the shop. Did I buy anything? Well of course. You cannot spend several hours in a building designed to enthuse you about lumps of plastic and resin and then not. I had a budget and stuck to it, mostly. A trip to Warhammer World always makes the wallet cry a little.

Having been lucky enough to visit Warhammer World previously I have all the mugs, and T-shirts I could want. But I did pick up the new releases for myself and fellow league members. Saving on Forge World shipping is always useful perk.

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Overall a great day. I have been to the two previous New Year Open Days and this one was defently the best. The cost of the ticket was covered mostly by the entry to the exhibition alone. And the chance to see upcoming products and meet the people that make Blood Bowl related things is always a treat.

A couple of preview/painting seminars during the day would have been a great additional but I think a lack of space is the issue here.

We even got a free cup cake when we arrived. Happy 20th Anniversary Warhammer World!

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Blood Bowl at Warhammer World

So what else does Warhammer World have for a Blood Bowler?

Well, they have the goods. By that I mean they have probably the most extensive Blood Bowl selection anywhere I would think. And if they don’t have it on the shelf, just ask. In the case of Forge World products, if you ask during the day they will try to have it for you by 5pm if not early. Otherwise they will ship it to you for free. A great service especially if you are making a special trip or drop in on the off-chance.

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The main section for models, dice, pitches is now in Forge World. With the mugs and T-shirts in the main shop. I believe these are Warhammer World exclusive so always nice to have. Not much of a tea or coffee drinker myself but a Blood Bowl themed mug makes a great painting water pot I find.
Top tip: Just don’t accidentally drink the water!

Forge World also has a specially made mini Blood Bowl pitch. Created by Ashley Reid at GW, it is used for teaching customers the basics of the game. This is a fun item and looks great. If you ever fancied making a pitch this would be a great exanple to follow.

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Black Library

This is tje only Black Library shop in the world. Not the biggest bookshop you will ever visit but for fans of the lore, a must. Browse some of the background fiction, and pick out some limted editions. A couple of comfortable chairs and some Open Copy books on the table make it somewhere you could easily lose a good few hours.

Published Blood Bowl fiction is limited at best. With the novels by Matt Forbeck and the recently released Blood on the Pitch anthology really being it. A couple of copies of the new anthology book were next to a copy of the Blood Bowl Starter Box interestingly. A copy of which is currently sat in my reading pile at home. More on that at a later date …

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The Exhibition

If you need one reason to visit Warhammer World. The exhibition would be it. A benefit of going to events at Warhammer World is that usually the exhibition will be free for attendees. Normally it is around £7.50 to go in. But it is worth every penny. And more! I would have happily paid on the day if I had to. And if you don’t think you will make it back soon or ever, it is a must.

The sheer volume, scale, quality and cost (lots of miniatures) is mind blowing. For anyone who has ever built or painted a miniature from Games Workshop, you will instantly appreciate the effort required to fill these exhibition rooms with hobby awesomeness.

Blood Bowl is represented but is limited to only two small cases showing two matches in progress. And then a cabinet with the newly released teams from 2016 onwards with the original Blood Bowl trophy in the middle.

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Noteworthy here are the two Blood bowl pitches used in the dioramas. These were photographed and used as the basis of the pitches supplied in the 2016 box release. And they are real works of art. Complete with some appropriately battered looking sideline advertising boards (an idea which I have already borrowed for my local league).

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It might be interesting to use the two moments displayed as the start of a ‘What If’ scenario to see what would happen next. Setup a board as close as possible to the diorama and then play out the drive. One for the future perhaps.

The extent of the range of miniatures and paint styles on display in the exhibition means that inspiration is fully on show. I like to look for new and interesting paint schemes for future projects. The armies of the 40th millennium and the Age of Sigmar provide quite a spectical, with lots of ideas in every case. The Golden Demon winners on display are also worth a look. A chance to see how the real hobby champions do it. The odd Blood Bowl model might be lurking in there too.

Bugman’s Bar

And as is tradition, no visit to Bugman’s Bar is complete without a pint of Blitzer’s Best. Or at least I would have done if they had not run out. Supposedly it was also a cherry flavoured one. Not very Blood Bowl if you ask me. So I opted for the Orca Cola instead (cola drink). Hmmm… maybe next time I should ask for an Orca Cola and see what I get. A funny look most likely.

They had a special New Year Open Day menu. So no Blood Bowl themed items as they have had previously. I believe you could take the Bob Bifford’s challenge which consisted of a plate fit for an Ogre, pilled high with food. Receiving a certificate for finishing it all in 30 minutes. It might still be available on normal days. Check before you travel on that one.

And Finally …

Well that was all the Blood Bowl I could spot. I haven’t covered the other systems from Games Workshop. Others more involved can do that better than I. But hopefully this has given you an idea what Warhammer World is all about for a Blood Bowler.

Already looking forward to the next Open Day at Warhammer World and I might just see you there.

OTT Attempts: 0

Blood Bowl

Games Workshop, Kickstarter and 3rd Party Miniatures

In this post I would like to talk a bit about the evolution of Blood Bowl miniatures and how the game was able to keep refreshing on this side of things even when it seemed that Games Workshop had turned its back on its child. What I mean by that is as you may be aware the original Blood Bowl First Edition was released in 1986 but there was a period between roughly 2005 until 2016 that the game was no longer updated by Game Workshop.

This didnt deter the loyal players of the game and it flourished during this time opening a gap in the market for fresh new teams. This is where the 3rd party miniature companies came in offering a range of new models keeping the astrogranite full of character and stopping it from going a bit stale. Dont get me wrong if everyone had to continue to use 2nd/3rd edition models/converted teams through this time I don’t think it would have been a huge issue but from talking to coaches who played the game in this time I believe that they kept the enthusiasm high all the way until Games Workshops rerelease in 2016 giving the game a running start and leading to the creation of the incredible community that surrounds the game right now.

Games Workshop 3rd edition Chaos team
Games Workshop 3rd edition Dark Elf team

The pictures above shows a bunch of the last models that Games Workshop released for Blood Bowl before letting the game be absorbed by the community and progress that way. As you can see they looked quite dated very quickly as they stopped production at a time when the advancements in model design manufacturing were progressing at a rapid rate which fuelled this demand for new Blood Bowl Miniatures to play out the communities highly imaginative and thematic ‘fluff’. Where as with 40k or AOS (Warhammer Fantasy back then) you can add personal touches to armies to a certain degree with paint schemes and lore but Blood Bowl took it to a new level. Players wanted teams that were unique, eye-catching and reflected themselves in some way and this is exactly what Third Party Miniatures supplied.

Greebo Games Obsidian Dusk Dark Elf Team

So where does Kickstarter come into this?

Kickstarter was founded in 2009 and opened a door model companies to reach a wider market. As you can imagine some of these miniature producers are a small set up and don’t necessarily have the cash flow to produce teams and then sell them, this also comes with a big risk if they are not taken well by the community and don’t sell. with Kickstarter they were able to create one set of models and 3D renders to show to the potential customers and gauge whether it will sell. If they do not get enough backing then they have only wasted a minor part of what they would have doing it the traditional way. If on the other hand the project it fully backed they then have the orders in and cash flow ready to start production. This less risky way of producing models has seen a huge increase the output and startup of new designers.

Two Drunk Flings podcast Halfling Team
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Greebo Games Chaos Warriors

Obviously this is all great news for us sports enthusiasts but what are the key differences for the consumer in these 2 options?

Lets start with buying the official Games Workshop plastic, this is more often than not the cheaper way to get hold of a new team. Games Workshop have released all their teams up to now (24th November 2018) at a price point of £20 with additional goodies ranging from £7 for dice to £24 for the team specific pitches. Secondly, GW’ quality and customer service is second to none in my opinion, so you know you are getting a great product and experience. But as discussed earlier there was a gap in the market for these unique teams therefore the cheaper option is not always the most popular. So with that in mind lets talk about what third-party miniatures can offer and why they are still booming in a market where Games Workshop has reemerged.

One of the most common complaints I hear about the new teams released by GW is that they do not give you the correct amount of positionals for the optimum build in that team. Now I can understand why this is frustrating but do not blame GW for this and do not see it a huge deal as even after buying 2 boxes in order to obtain the extra positionals it will still only cost £40 with models left over. This is where these third-party designers are putting out teams with the right amount of each positional in order to play competitively saving the need to buy another box but more often than not still at a higher price.

The next point is something that has recently drawn me to other manufacturers over the mighty Workshop and that is the lack of unique models. Lets take the GW Human team for example, the box comes with 2 Blitzers but in order to be competitive you ideally need 4. The issue occurs when you have to get another 2 of the same Blitzers meaning you now have 4 models on your team of 11 all looking the same. Now for anyone who still uses 3rd edition minis this is a common sight but when the quality of models you see around tabletop games has advanced to what it is now (just look at the new 40k models being released) a lot of people are screaming for more. This is why splashing out £70 on kickstarter knowing you are going to receive a unique team with each player sculpted in different positions and a full roster of positionals is better value for money than 1 or 2 £20 boxes of mass-produced plastic.

There will always be people on both side of this argument and I personally believe that since GW has woken up and realised that the Blood Bowl Community is huge and will continue to buy their products whether it is because they prefer their models or if it purely to support the game in order for it ensure its longevity (belive me I know a lot of people who do this), their sculpts and flexibility/ability to listen to the community has notably improved. There has been a lot of coaches who have been left deflated by the most recent official releases, in particular 2 specific positionals, the Chaos Warrior and the Nurgle Pestigor. I personally belive the reason a large group of people found these models underwhelming is down to the expectation of what Games Workshop ‘should’ do and they have not gone along with that. What I mean by this, taking the chaos warrior as an example, is that the majority of models depicting this position, whether it be by GW or a third-party, have more often that not been designed in a way to resemble a Chaos Warrior from the Warhammer Fantasy Universe in battle armour (see picture above of Greebo Games Chaos). Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, and if people prefer that then that’s their rightful opinion, BUT one of the greatest legacies that 2/3rd edition of Blood Bowl has left behind besides the extremely well play tested set of rules is the characterful models, artwork and ‘fluff’. This is what Games Workshop are trying to do, they are taking a chance and creating something different and I commend them for it. They are producing a new set of teams with their own character so that the 2016 edition is something that will be remembered just like 3rd edition is now.

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Willy Miniatures Chaos Warriors

Above are Willy Miniatures version of Chaos Warriors and as you can see they have gone down the same route of depicting them as Fantasy Warriors in Battle armour. Dont get me wrong these are awesome models and look incredible but I am glad Games Workshop went in a different direction and their take on it (below) has really grown on me.

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Games Workshops take on a Chaos Warrior

Recent Hits and Current favourites

In order to round-up this discussion I would like to share my thoughts on some of the recent teams that have caught my attention and some that are in the pipeline or even live right now. So to kick things off the most obvious choice would be …


Greebo Games Obsidian Dusk

As mentioned earlier Greebo Games released their Obsidian Dusk Dark Elf team not long after the 2016 Blood Bowl release. It came at a time where there was influx of new player and the offering of a team not yet re imagined by GW drew in a lot of orders making it a hugely succesful kickstarter campaign but that aside the quality of these sculpts was something new, something innovative that the community hadn’t really seen before. With Blood Bowl 2016 being released in a 32mm scale this allowed Greebo to do the same naturally allowing a lot more detail to be added creating this vastfully more characterful and unique team.

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Greebo Games Obsidian Dusk

Iron Golems Buzzed Bumblebees

Say to a coach the ‘Buzzed Bumblebees’ they may struggle to realise what you talking about, but mention ‘Two Drunk Flings Halfing Team’ and you will most likely be met with a different response. This is down to the incredible amount of networking and marketing that the Two Drunk Flings podcast put into this team designed and produced by the incredible designers that is Iron Golems, the same designers that came out with one of the best Wood Elf teams around.

The reason I have listed this team is somewhat down to how its was marketed and its journey from kickstarter to now (I believe they are being shipped as I write this) has been something spectacular. The work the Drunk Flings have done to keep everyone involved has been incredible, bringing models to tournaments, even giving one or two away as prizes for the stunty cup. Dont get me wrong this is not the only reason, the models are spectacular also. Every single Halfling is unique and if you have ever played the team, you need a lot of them. Not only is each model different, they have all been given as much time and care as each other creating a team of 14 (I think) halflings with so much character, exactly what anyone looks for when buying a halfling team. For example there is one with a cake, one with pots an pans for armour and even fighting Irish one.

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Always eating!!!

These are my two favourite recent kickstarter campaigns, there are to many impressive projects to talk about, I would be here all day but I would like to move on and talk about a couple of campaigns that are either live at the moment (depending on when you are reading this of course) or have been teased for the new year.


Exit 23′ Zenobian Zeniths 

The first of these projects are the highly anticipated Zenobian Zeniths, the Amazon Team that goes against the mould (pun intended) brought to us by Exit 23 Games. The Zeniths were the brain child of Christopher Chant or @choibot on twitter, someone who I have had the pleasure of being league opponents with at the esteemed ECBBL in London, and a great member of the local community and always a joy to talk Blood Bowl with. I believe the idea behind the team is to give an alternative aesthetic for an Amazon team due to majority out there being bikini wearing, busty women. It’s a valid point, see below some picture of how Amazons have been depicted in the past including the pc game.

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Willy Miniatures Amazon team

As you can see there seems to be theme of what is expected from the Amazons but not necessarily what is practical. The Zeniths really hit a gap in the market that from what I hear from the community is very welcome and breath of fresh air.

So let’s have a look at them..

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So here they are in all their glory and they do not disappoint, they actually look like they are ready to play  Blood Bowl and just like with the Buzzed Bumblebees, each model is unique and full of its own characterful presence, I catch myself becoming curious about their story. Well this is where the project get better, the project page on kickstarter (I will link below) is full of detail ranging from the original sketches by a comic artist, to the 3D designs and finally Graphic novels available which I am very excited on getting my hands on. What does it for me is the subtle steam punk theme, not too in your face that you forget they are athletes but enought to give them that edge.

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So there you have it, if you’re in the market for an Amazon team (even if you’re not) I suggest you take a look at these quickly as I believe there is only a few days left on the project. But I shall leave you with some more pictures below

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/exit23games/zenobian-zeniths-fantasy-football-team


Greebo Games Lizardmen Team

Now this hasn’t been confirmed 100% confirmed yet but Greebo Games have released the below renders of their potential new lizardmen/Slaan team. I have no further details but I couldn’t write a post about Kickstarters and not put these up here. Just look at them, I am very excited about these and think I will need a separate post when these arrive.


What Now?

The main objective of this post was to give people who don’t know about the huge selection of third-party miniatures a bit of an overview of what to expect and how they come to fruition. The reason I wanted to do this is as prerequisite to a new page on the Blog. We want to start keeping track of the best current projects. A place where you can go to see if there is something you have missed or just havent been checking. So keep your eyes peeled for OTT’ Project page including the best current projects being funded on sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

If you know any project going live or live right now send us an email at 1turntouchdown@gmail.com and we will post it on the new pages.

If you enjoyed this post please share with other coaches!

General

Small packages

The summer saw an explosion of Blood Bowl events in the London area with several taking place over a couple of months. Earlier in the year we’d had the London Grand Tournament, but from June we had three of the more established events on the calendar.

First up was Pearly Kings and Queens XIII, 30th June-1st July.

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Having recently started playing in the ECBBL, the best ‘Blood Bowl league in London’. So it says on the website. The annual Pearly Kings and Queens tournament run by the ECBBL fell onto my calendar. This was the 13th edition of this event so it certainly has a history. The event has a skill system which I had not come across before. This used points instead of a number of skills. The higher the points cost for the more popular skills. The higher tier teams having less points to use. Any duplication skills also would cost additional points. So taking just block on your players would mean you would have less skills to take.

Now going into a tournament you would typically review the ruleset and see what race would be the best fit. However as I continue to try and reach the fabled 26 Races for the NAF, this left me with only one painted team to choose from. This is not a race I particularly enjoy using but they have one of the coolest positions in the game… the mighty Deathroller!

Game 6 vs Dark Elves_B_PK&Q_20180701

So Dwarfs then. One of the most divisive races to play within the Blood Bowl community. I say that but the typical reaction from most coaches, as you put down your little bundles of joy on the pitch, is a slump of the shoulders with a muttered, grumbling comment.

“Oh great, Dwarfs!”

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DAY 1

So it started with a glorious sunny day in south London. Luckily I was going to get out of all that nasty sunshine and headed into the Mad Hatter Hotel just south of the river Thames near Blackfriars Station. Despite the name, it was both a hotel and a pub. Which I have come to find means three things for Blood Bowl tournaments. Small tables, great food and lots of beer.

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So I registered with Rob, TO on the day and a fellow ECBBL league member. After a bit of chat with a few familiar faces and we were into round 1.

Game 1

First game was against Firebreather and his Goblins. Ok I thought. You have dodge, but I have lots of tackle. You have some high strength guys and Mighty Blow but I have high armour mostly. I got this!

Game 1 vs Goblins_PK&Q_20180630

So as we setup I was facing two Trolls, Ripper, a Chainsaw, a Pogoer, a Bomba, Fungus the Loon and a bunch of goblins. So lots of different positions to deal with, but this games standout player was the chaotic Fungus the Loon. This guy took out the caged ball carrier twice in the game. The goblin Pogoer took advantage in the first half by outrunning the Dwarfs to go up 1-0 at half time. I successfully made the Argue the call roll for my Deathroller (love that rule), so felt confident about causing some casualties and scoring in the second half. Unfortunately the reverse happened. With casualties piling up against the Dwarfs, I only just managed to squeeze out the turn 16 touchdown for that hard earned draw.  

Not a great start but I could have easily lost that game so felt I had got away with one and looked forward to my second game.

DRAW 1-1
Casualties 2-4

Game 2

I faced Wulfyn in the next game and his Underworld. Another ECBBL regular so a tough opponent but a favourable match-up I thought. His dodging Goblins against my tackle. A few secret weapons and lots of skills but take out a few players and things should go as planned. Kill a few Skaven, base the goblins and grind out my first victory.

Game 2 vs Underworld_PK&Q_20180630

Well I got the casualties in bucket loads. Ending up with a delightful 7 before the final whistle. But I was struggling to pop the ball loose and get clear with the limited movement. So I had to rely on another turn 16 scramble to eek out a 1-1 draw.

DRAW 1-1
Casualties 7-2

Game 3

The draw was made and I found myself playing Geggster. If you are not aware, he is a regular player for Team England at the Eurobowl and has hundreds of NAF games to his name. But most of all he is a really nice guy. Having not played him before I was looking forward to it but did not expect much of a result. Although he was using Chaos Renegades, so a few untimely 1’s and I should be in with a chance.

Game 3 vs Chaos Renegades_PK&Q_20180630

The Koolbeards kicked to start the game. The Renegades got straight to work with the Minotaur getting lots of hits but not any injuries. Despite this the Renegades scored, after dominating the field for the half. My opponents then explained to me that as I had chosen not to field my Deathroller in defense and as I had only 12 players, he was desperately trying to get a casualty and then score in turn 8. This would then have forced me to play my Deathroller for my turn 8. Resulting in a likely early bath for the Deathroller. Luckily in this case I made a KO roll so that I could save him for the second half. This was something that I had not really considered before. One to remember for the future I thought!

So with the Deathroller in play, the plan was to bash a couple of big guys with the Deathroller and scored in turn 16 for a draw. This time the dwarfs couldn’t make it. Geggster did a great job of slowing me down and it ended 0-1. A fun game playing a great opponent.

Now during this game both my opponent and I were a little distracted by the French national football team playing on the big screen. In my case I had them in the office sweepstake so was keen to see them do well (Spoilers – France did quite well in the end!) But I have to stay the crowd noise from the TV actually made for a bit of a stadium atmosphere for the game which was great fun. I don’t think much of the cheering was for me but it sounded good.

LOSS 0-1
Casualties 3-2

So the end of day 1 and I was on a record of 0-2-1, Not great considering the races I had played. If you said Goblins, Underworld and Chaos Renegades would have been my opponents, I would have expected better by the days end. I had played some good coaches and I found out that with that last game I was only 1 or 2 behind on the Most Casualty award. Winning was out, so the plan for the remaining games was to get at least win and cause lots of casualties. Day 2 would surely bring better things I thought.

DAY 2

Game 4

It finally happened! We all know it will at some point but today was that day. Spoiler alert – I lost to Ogres! Oh the shame.

Actually I have to say this was a really fun game despite the result. My opponent was Tom from the DBL. One of the largest leagues in the London area and a very vocal bunch wherever you find them.

Well once again armour 9 continued to fail and those pesky Snotlings just would not die. Suffering 5 casualties in the game got both us bogged down in the middle of the pitch for most of the game. The Ogres received first half and failed to pick up the ball 6 times in a row. I only committed one player initially to pressure the ball, which turned out to be a mistake as that Blitzer could not free himself and the ball from the Snotlings.

Game 4 vs Ogres_PK&Q_20180630

0-0 at halftime but the Koolbeards were receiving. Casualties started to mount and the Dwarfs got stuck in the middle of the pitch. With Dwarfs and the ball knocked around all over the place, a Snotling managed to pick up the ball in multiple tackle zones. A quick hand-off to another Snotling who is then thrown clear for a TD. A reroll wasn’t even needed. I looked on in disbelief as this unfolded but it was great fun to watch.

The most disappointing part was that I had managed only 2 casualties in this game. With those Snotlings on the pitch I was hoping for a real bounty of death to push for the Most Casualties award. But the injury rolls were not working in this one. But a really fun game despite the result.

LOSS 0-1
Casualties 2-5

Game 5

Only my second ever game against Bretonnians for this one. After hearing a lot of talk about how good they could be, I was intrigued to see how it was going to go. My opponent was Ewuan who was down from Scotland for the event. Pretty cool!

The Brets received. And I didn’t choose to field my Deathroller again. Surely my Armour 9 will hold up this game so I was confident of keeping my players on the pitch. Early on I managed to pop the ball free, gathered it up and pushed right through a big crowd looking to roll up the Brets. Unfortunately I had forgotten about the Brets Frenzy blitzer, who proceeded to surf two of my players in his next turn. I was now players down. Crucially 1 was injured the other KO’d for the rest of the half. My opponent took advantage of the player advantage and scored in turn 8.

So came the KO roll for my 11th player. And I failed it! So my Deathroller had to come on, with only one turn (turn 8) to my his mark. Argue the Call did not come to my rescue so I lost him for the second half. That Frenzy blizter is now on the Grudge list!

Game 5 vs Bretts_PK&Q_20180701

The strategy for the second half switched to getting a draw and causing as many casualties as possible, but Nuffle decided not. My opponent rolled a pitch invasion and with his +2 FAME, I had only 4 players standing for the start of my 2nd half drive. Lucky all the stunned players made a screen behind which I could hide with the ball. Unfortunately this required a one die block to free my blitzer. A skull it was and the Brets did not need to be asked twice. The next 4-5 turns were my attempts to get out from a ring of Bret players and try to progress forward. Eventually I ran out of players to form a full cage and the Brets scoped up the loose ball. It ended with a comprehensive 0-2 loss. This game was a bit of struggle where little went my way, although I did make a couple of mistakes for which I was punished. Again causalities were not forthcoming so onto round 6 looking for maybe a win for a little bit of pride.

LOSS 0-2
Casualties 0-1

Game 6

The final game of Pearly Kings and Queens had come. Would it be a final humiliation or perhaps I could salvage a bit of pride. I was drawn against Richy, again form the ECBBL and someone I had lost to before. Today he was using Dark Elves so I didn’t have too much hope. But any hope of prizes was gone so it was time to have some fun, and pound some elves.

Game 6 vs Dark Elves_PK&Q_20180701

Well I thumped them pointy-eared *****! Straight into the KO box. Ending on only 2 casualties by the end, but not suffering any for the first time. And another turn 16 TD, to claim my classic comeback 1-1 draw.

DRAW 1-1
Casualties 2-0

Finishing day two with a record of 0-1-2, which gave me an tournament record of 0-3-3. The 17 casualties being the main bright spot on an otherwise poor tournament, putting me 32nd overall.

The Champion was Stu (stu2) with Chaos Dwarfs, again from the ECBBL. Did I mention that they are the best Blood Bowl league in London!

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In summary, I think my positioning was not great with the Koolbeards. I allowed myself to get bogged down by the opponents in the last third of the pitch. Tending to base and not leaving myself free players to push forward and progress. Thankfully this was 6 NAF games for the Dwarfs and so I will not need to use them again for 26. Maybe one day I will bring them out of the box but not quite sure when that would be.

I really enjoyed this event. The venue created a fun atmosphere with the World Cup games going on in the background. Maybe tournaments could start putting on some background crowd noise to add some of that atmosphere. Play a game while the football is on at your local and see what you think!

Lunch on both days was included in the ticket price and was excellent. And very much appreciated as I was looking to get into true character with my team by indulging in the food and drink throughout. Finishing early and living locally meant I was home in good time to enjoy the last of the warm weather.

A big thanks to Rob for running a great event, with everything going smoothly throughout. Definitely one for the 2019 Blood Bowl Tournament 2019.

OTT’s Achieved: 0 (not a surprise really)

Grudges to be settled:

  1. Fungus the Loon – A guided missile all game.
  2. Snotling TD scorer – Because…
  3. Bretonnian Frenzy Blitzer – Two player surf in one turn!

 

General

League Play!! My introduction to the DBL

I have been playing Blood Bowl competitively coming up to 2 years now but it wasnt until earlier this year that I dipped my toe into the world of League Play. For those of you who are new to Blood Bowl, there are 3 core ways to play the game

  1. Exhibition Play – this is what you will most like take part in during the first few months of you Blood Bowl journey. This is purely a friendly game between you and a friend. The great thing about this is you can decide to use a vast range of optional rules that GW have provided which can conjure up some incredibly theatrical games.
  2. Tournament Play – it is by travelling to local tournaments that really kick started my addiction to this game. Tournaments can range from 1 or 2 day events and even 3 days when it comes to the World Cup which comes around every 4 years. Each event has its own unique set of rules to allow organisers to put a personal touch on their day. A small one day event will see you playing 3 or sometimes 4 games in a day with a winner at the end whilst the larger 2 day events will see 5 or 6 games being played over the weekend.
  3. League Play – this is where an agreed amount of games is played over a certain time scale, i.e 8 games to played in 12 weeks. It is then up to the participants in the league to organise all their games over that time. After this there is normally a play off stage to see who is the overall winner of the league. The interesting part of a league is the development and evolution of your players as you earn SPP.

Unfortunately due to work and the location of my local leagues it has taken me this long in order to take part in one. In February earlier this year I decided to get stuck in and joined the infamous ECBBL aka The Blackshirts. Now this league is highly competitive and highly skilled, many of the coaches are playing for or have played for Team England for example. For me this seemed to be a good opportunity to try to learn and improve my game. I was aware I would not do great but seemed a great opportunity to progress. Unfortunately due to the location and day they met up I struggled to get my games in, and had to cancel on opponents more than I would have liked to. So when I heard about another league in London that was more convenient to get to and played their games on different days throughout the week making it easier to complete my games, I had to find out more. Truth be told I already knew about the DBL, I had the pleasure to play against a few at local tournaments and had attended their first Backbreaker cup back in 2017. So lets talk about my first month into DBL18!!

‘not only is the depth and complexity of how the DBL is being run too impeccable to encapsulate in one word but I believe the effort put in deserves more’

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The DBL and its Organisers

The DBL is a Blood Bowl League Based in Covent Garden, London and is currently knee-deep in its fourth season since being established. Here is a brief biography taken from their website http://www.dragon-bowl-league.com

The Dragon Bowl League or the DBL for short started back in 2015, the first league didn’t last long. But with a bit of perseverance the second season was a success with 18 coaches vying for the coveted Dragon Bowl trophy. In the end the Niveeungos a Wood Elf team took the title, and in the third season the mighty Marienberg Mariners stole the show ensuring that the trophy ‘stays with the Elves’ so to speak. The DBL18 will begin again this year, who will take the title this year? We will have to see…’

As you can see, like most leagues, they started off small, with 18 coached taking part in the second season but as of now I am currently competing in their 4th season with a whopping 50 coaches! No that’s not a typo, there are 50 (fifty) coaches blitzing it out for their chance to win the Dragon Bowl trophy. This leads me nicely onto the topic of how is the league organised? With 50 coaches, making sure everything goes smoothly is surely a task for the bravest of commissioners?

Well from my experience during the first half of the group stages I can sum it up in one word………scrap that, not only is the depth and complexity of how the DBL is being run too impeccable to encapsulate in one word but I believe the effort put in deserves more.

So, how do you make sure 50 coaches play all their games in the set out time, answer any league disputes and make sure everything runs accordingly all whilst making sure people are enjoying themselves (as that is the most important thing at the end of the day)?

Let me explain how the DBL set out to achieve this in a very fashionable way.

‘Seriously!! what other league does this? It is incredible! the community that these guys have built in and around London is superb!’

The Divisions and Draft Night

Before the coaches were able to roll some skulls there was the small question of divisions, who plays who? With 50 coaches the organisers decided to split us up in to 5 divisions of 10 teams which were then divided further into conference A and B. The divisions were named North, West, South, East and Central meaning overall each coach would be placed into a conference with 4 other coaches which they would have to play twice over the period of 12 weeks demanding a play rate of 2 games in 3 weeks. This to me is an optimum pace giving coaches who find it hard to get games in some leeway whilst on the other hand not forcing the others who can play regularly into having to wait weeks after they have completed their matches. In order to decide who is in which division it came down to the draft night!

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The Divisons/Draft Night

Before we move on as you can see from the image above there in an extra division represented with the letter ‘U’. Now believe it or not after enlisting the 50 competitors there were still MORE people who wanted to join in but unfortunately were too late to join or capacity had been reached. Due to this they decided to put together a division separate from the Dragon Bowl League in order for them to get involved and there it was, The ‘Underworld University’ was born! Seriously!! what other league does this? It is incredible! the community that these guys have built in and around London is superb!

So lets talk about the draft night. The first official meeting of the DBL 18 included, if I remember correctly, roughly 35 of the 50 competing coaches getting together in order to sort out the divisions. Now how was this done? Well there was a set theme to the evening which was the 80’s and we were encouraged to come in fancy dress, some of the costumes were great but I was not brave enough! To top this off the bar had an offer for £3.50 a pint all night. Very early on I could see where this night was heading but due to having to work the next morning I had to resist the temptation and be sensible. So for the cherry on top of these antics, the draw itself was done using a bingo machine with each team having a dedicated number, it honestly felt like we were involved in a 80’s saturday night TV games show. After this anyone who had an opponent to play were able to get going and play their first game. It was a great night of Blood Bowl and a superb way to kick off the next 6 months of the Dragon Bowl League.

It was then we got to meet our divisions ‘Guvnor’. Let me explain, im guessing due expansion of the league and how it grew over a couple of years, the commissioner now has Guvnor’s who look after a division each. They try to arrange the best ways for everyone to get their games in, report back to the commissioner on any issue and keep records up to date. You didn’t think it was all done by one person did you?

The Teams and Fluff

In this section I would like to talk about, for me, one of the most important and enjoyable parts of the game, the fluff and role-playing side to the sport. In my opinion the DBL are one of the best in the business when it comes to this. I would like to talk about why I believe this and just how dedicated the majority of the coaches are to the game which rubs off on the rest making it such an enjoyable league to play in. Lets start with the Teams, when naming a team and players etc I have known a lot of people to come up with a pun for the team name and fill the roster with unimaginative names and call it done. Well not these guys! let’s have a look at the quality and effort put into some of the team names and Logos below.

Alqualonde FalconsTaylor and the SwiftsArtful Dodgers

I’m sure you will agree with me about the quality of these logos, well it doesn’t end there, this effort is followed through with everything they do from match reports to the paint jobs. The character that is created in some of these teams is second to none.

‘It really allows you to immerse yourself into the league and community they have created and leaves you itching for more’

This brings me on nicely the next topic, match reports/commentary. On top of everything the DBL do in order to make a coaches league experience as enjoyable and thematic as possible we have not come to mention the match reports, commentary and publications. As a coach competing in the DBL there is as much Blood Bowl action to get involved in off the pitch as there is on. It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to keep up to date with games in your division as they are happening with some great commentary and pictures. These updates are posted through the leagues Whatsapp group and can have as many as 12 games going on at once. Its something I’ve not really thought about until now nor thought that there was a need for it but I will be the first to admit that I have been caught checking scores in the pub and having my non Blood Bowl playing friends ask ‘oh, who’s playing?’ Trying to explain I was checking the score of a board game that’s going on was interesting.

See below for an example, of course numbers blacked out etc.

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Alongside any weekly commentary posted on the groups whatsapp page, the league also publishes an article every week to sum up some key highlights from the past weeks games. This is where the league excels, the level of professionalism is incredible. All of this combined really gives you some great Blood Bowl content to enjoy throughout the week and not just on the night you end up playing your league game. It really allows you to immerse yourself into the league and community they have created and leaves you itching for more.

‘high quality Logos, team photos and History, not to mention a weekly publication show casing this brilliance really brings out the magic of the beautiful game that is Blood Bowl’

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On top of the weekly Backbreaker Sport articles shown above, once a month they publish the ‘Backbreaker Bulletin’. Now the bulletin to too long to show screen shot here and I wouldn’t know where to start in order to describe how immensely inspiring this content is so I will leave a link below for you to admire and succumb to the jaw dropping creativity in this document. It is everything you dream of when you were a kid just getting into the hobby now being fulfilled by these extremely talented individuals who are passionate about the game as anyone I’ve ever crossed paths with, Bravo!  link below.

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The Deadwood Rams

523344387_preview_BBLoading_ChaosSo the only question left to answer was, what team should I play? After my first ever league season at the ECBBL playing humans and finishing as mediocre as I thought I would, I was set on playing a team with a bit more diversity/character. I wanted to play with a team that had a clear plan going into each game, with humans it changes quite a lot. One game you may have to play the agility, passing/ throwing game against dwarfs for instance well on the other hand you can hold your own bashing against teams like Skaven. Well it was not long after GW had released their Chaos Chosen team the ‘Doom Lords’ that DBL18 was set to start and I had really appreciated the chaos models since I frist saw them. On top of that the team is fairly unique, 4 strength 4 pieces and then the rest beastmen with horns, not to mention the ability to hire and Minotaur and upgrade your players with mutations which is great fun. So that was that, I would be playing Chaos Chosen in DBL18. I present to you the ‘Deadwood Rams’

Deadwood Rams-01

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I must admit this is the first time I have sincerely put together a logo for a Blood Bowl team and I loved it. It was my first time using any sort of graphic design/editing software and don’t get me wrong it’s nowhere near as good or professional as a lot of the others but something as simple as this really adds a level of enjoyment to the hobby. It adds to the role-playing element to the game and really brings the league together, it’s not just Dave vs James (not the actual names of the following teams), it’s the ‘Alqualonde Falcons’ vs ‘The Artful Dodgers’. Yes, I know you can announce games with their team names by just naming each team, but when they are all backed up by high quality Logos, team photos and History, not to mention a weekly publication show casing this brilliance really brings out the magic of the beautiful game that is Blood Bowl.

So how have the Rams been getting on?

Well not terrible but could be doing better, they are currently on a win, a draw and two losses. The first four games have been tough, to begin with I played my first ever game with chaos a week before DBL started in a pre season friendly so it is taking time to get my head around them. Chaos Chosen have a tendency to be unreliable and difficult to get results with until they are skilled up. After the first four games they are getting there and fingers crossed the second round of games will be more rewarding.

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Round 1 Deadwood Rams vs Brain Munchen (Necromantic)

After the last result against Taylor and Swifts amazon team, I now need to beat Brain Munchen in my next game in order to have a chance of doing well in the division, if not the aim of the game will be to progress as much as possible in order to go into the knockouts with the best team possible. That will be a tough game, after playing them twice and a record of one a piece it could go either way but I am currently missing my star beastman with Tackle and Wrestle which could make it difficult. I’m sure either way it will be an enjoyable game, it always is. Also I have to give credit to my division, they are all great coaches which makes the games more challenging. Finger crossed the Rams really take off the next few games.

The Drive

So what software do they use in order to keep track of the games and teams, most league will use the thoroughly tested and loved OBBLM (Online Blood Bowl League Manager). But for some reason that I am not aware of the DBL has gone with creating its own Google Drive with shared documents, team sheets and standings there for everyone to edit when needed. This is something that I will find out more about as to the reasons but it works so why not. It has its advantages and disadvantages, it allows a lot more freedom when it comes to design etc something the DBL is keen on but on the other hand it requires a lot more manual involvement when editing team sheets which I can imagine being an issue with newer coaches. Like everything else, they don’t do anything half heartedly therefore the drive is arguably as robust as OBBLM and at the end of the day is something they can keep improving on season on season.

Summary

So to end this post I would just like to sum up my thoughts on the DBL. Honestly if you are in the London area and are looking for a good Blood Bowl league, I could not recommend this place enough. The effort put in, all for the benefit of the participants is second to none creating such a diverse community ranging from coaches who are there for the social side, have fun and play a game to the others who are very competitive and want to win the title. There is something for everyone!

I cannot wait to continue the rest of the league and, fingers crossed, the knockout stages. Let see what else the DBL has in store towards the end of the league as im sure there will be some more goodies and surprises, for instance I believe they are planning to start live streaming some of the games. Talking about Goodies, every Blood Bowl player loves specific accessories for anything they take part in whether it be a tournament or a league. It is normally just a set of custom dice, sometimes more depending on the size of the event. With the DBL on the other hand, the amount of ‘stuff’ we got just for joining was incredible. We each got given a set of division specific dice, badges with out teams logo on it, beer mat scatter templates (awesome idea) and my favourite, a mug with our teams logo printed on the side. This was a really nice touch!

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So all there is left to say is, Commish and every one else involved in managing and organising the DBL………

TAKE A BOW……

You done it right!

I will be back to discuss the second half of the league and the knockouts soon.

General

The Stunty Bug

Today I would like to take a minute to write about arguably one of the most entertaining sides to Blood Bowl, Stunty teams. Stunty teams are defined by the majority of their roster having the ‘Stunty’ skill, being small and easy to squish backed up by big (but stupid) team mates i.e Ogres and Trolls. The main three Stuny teams are Goblins, Halflings and Ogres. Although these are the most common it does not mean they are the only teams that fit this mould, other teams such as Lizardmen and Underworld have a fair amount of stunty players and the option for the big guys but their other available options (Saurus and Skaven respectively) bring the quality of the team higher than your standard stunty. This being said some tournaments will allow these two teams to complete for their stunty cup if they do not consist of these additional players.

The Misty Moon Hornets

The difficulty in winning with these teams is widely acknowledged and as someone who has attended as fair few tournament I have had to opportunity to play against them on many occasions.  In fact I believe I have played them half a dozen or so times and have never lost to them creating a curiosity as to whether my opponents were actually having fun. When ever you play a stunty team, no matter the score, your opponent is more than likely going to say they had great fun. To me this is hard to get my head around, don’t get me wrong I lose as many (if not more) games than I win and still love the game but find it hard to believe that a continuous beating doesn’t become soul-destroying.

As you may or may not know I am trying to work my up to completing the NAF 24 by bringing a different race to each NAF sanctioned event which meant I was fully aware that I would have to give these teams ago in a competitive environment at some point. When the London Grand Tournament came along a the end of May, Goblins where the only models I had that I had not yet played with. So that was it, my first dip into the painful world of Stunties would begin at the London Olympic Stadium.

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Day 2 of the LGT 2018

I was actually looking forward to it for 2 main reasons

  1. The new Goblin team models are awesome and I was really looking forward to painting them in particularly the Trolls
  2. All of a sudden the expectation and pressure to do well was lifted and I was able to enjoy myself more in the first game.

I wont go too much into the LGT itself as there will be a full write up coming soon, believe me there is a lot to talk about, but let me just say I did not do well in the rankings but had a unbelievably fun and relaxed time playing a game I love with some great people. One thing I also noticed was that I was less distracted and tied up with winning my games that I was more aware of my opponents paint jobs, their Blood Bowl story and met some awesome coaches.

Playing Goblins was an experience to say the least but one thing i did  find is it was more of an achievement when you finally get around to scoring a touchdown (especially when you threw a goblin with the ball to run in for the draw) Although i have been pitted against them and knew how they all worked, it was my first time using the infamous Goblin secret weapons. My build was not as competitive as it should have been due to not having the correct models yet but did have the 3 forgeworld Looney, Fanatic and Bomma (Chainsaw, Ball and Chain and Bomb). The combination of these 3 on the pitch at once lead to some great turns and turnovers despite under estimating and seriously struggling without the doom diver and  Po-goer. Movement 6 is pretty standard and any dwarf player would be jealous but when you have to get the ball into a cage quickly due to being strength 2 and easily squishable the extra movement from the Po-Go could have saved the game for me on more than one occasion. The Doom Diver on the other hand wouldnt of made a huge difference as I couldn’t land a bloody Goblin to save my life anyway but seeing the benefit of them in theory I 100% will be working on bringing one next time they come out to ‘Play’.

The first outing with the Goblins has wet my appetite for more Stunty madness in the name of Nuffle. This side of Blood Bowl is something new to me and after doubting whether it was for me or not I can now say I have caught the Stunty Bug! I am now in process of arranging ways to coach the whole range of stunty teams and with the gorgeous ‘Two Drunk Flings’ halfling team from kickstarter it has never been a more tempting time buy a new Blood Bowl team.

So lets see what the rest of the 2018/2019 Calender has in store and what antics await!

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The Squig is on the Loose!!!

So where to begin? a few months back we came across this local (when i say local i mean no longer than 2 hours away) tournament on the Blood Bowl Community page on Facebook, a great place to discover smaller, local events to fill in the gaps between the major Tourneys. As you can see from the event image above it was extremely appealing, a 1 day, 3 games swiss event with 1.3 mil build and the squigball rules released in White Dwarf a year ago used throughout all 3 games. For those of you who don’t know what the squigball rules are, here is a snippet from the rules pack.

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Squigball rules taken from ‘Aldershot Squigbowl 2018’ rulespack

As you can see at first glance they add a level on unpredictability to the game but it is not until you actively use the rules that you come to realise that it adds a completely new level of tactics and decisions. Dont get me wrong I’ve played games like this when its had absolutely no game changing effect on the match but I have also experienced the other side of the sword where the roll of a 1 at the wrong time loses you the game. But Hey!! it will be fun right?

The Build

So the team building framework! This, for me anyway, was the first difficult decision that had to be made. The event allowed to take a team with a budget of 1.3 million gc, without an additional skills package BUT 2 players were able to skill up after each game. The first thought that jumped into my head was the fear of the squig continuing to jump out of the hands of the players meaning the continuous need to pick up the ball but also the opportunity to steal it if it jumps from my opponents clutches. Because of this I was determined to stay away from the low AG teams such as Dwarfs, lizards or Khemri and lean more towards the high AG team i.e elves. I honestly thought that the majority of the field would have had the same thought but with a 1.3 mil build you have many options with a lot of other teams. After a lot of deliberation I decided on playing Dark Elves as they are only Elven team that I have the models for and have not yet played in a NAF tourney therefore creeping one step closer to hitting the infamous NAF 24. The other half of the OTT blog, Chris, decided the same and went with Wood Elves fearing the potential mischievous behaviour of the ball.

So what I did I go for? With a 1.3 mil build I was able to put together a decent Dark Elf roster and also include the star player Hokron Heartripper, the combination of stab and multiple block has always seemed like a lot of fun. But the one question that kept me thinking right up to the day before the event was whether to take 12 men with 2 re rolls or 11 men with 3? Personally for me 2 re rolls is not enough but I had the option to take the leader skill after game one guaranteed which made it a bit more of appealing choice. On the other hand even though Dark Elves are the toughest of the Elves they are still only AV 8 and some 7 meaning taking an 11 man roster was a risky move.

In the end I went with the 12 man choice with the fact that i would take leader as my first skill up. Here are the Har Graef Slavers

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The Har Graef Slavers

2 x Witch Elves, 1 x Runner, 4 x Blitzers, 4 x Lineman, Hokron Heartripper, 2 x re rolls, 1x fan factor

The Venue

As a regular Tournament attendee, the location can either make a good tournament incredible or forgettable, of course I am not claiming in order for an event be good it must be held in a great location but it certainly helps. Lets take the Hard 6 Superbowl for example, it is a smallish event (even though it has grown substantially in the last year) but is held in an excellent venue, The Spit and Sawdust Pub in South London. It is one tourney that I really look forward to due to not only the way its run and the great people but topped off by an awesome venue where everyone stays until closing time. Seriously if you have never been to one and live close enough London you should definitely check it out, you will not regret it. (http://www.hard6.co.uk/superbowliv.html)

So where was the squig let loose? Well the ALDERSHOT Squigbowl was held, as you can guess, in Aldershot Hampshire but more specifically in the Local Gaming Store ‘The Games Shop’. This was my first time at this store but I must say its great! The first thing that jumped out at me was the size of the place, normally with games stores they aren’t the biggest and more so in London but this place had walls covered with different games systems, fridges for food and drink, tables for playing smaller games and that’s not to mention that numerous gaming rooms they had on the 1st floor. When I arrived I was greeted by the staff and told I was in room 1, which was strange as normally you don’t need to be told where the blood Bowlers were, you could normally hear them.

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When you get to the first floor you then have a range of rooms separated for playing multiple gaming systems at once which was perfect, this meant we had an entire room (which was very reasonably sized) all to ourselves. Overall I was very impressed by ‘The Games Store’ and also jealous of the locals who have this great haven on their door step.

Game 1

Before we start this was the race breakdown given to us a few days before the event.

Vampires
Lizards x 3
Bretonnian
Goblins x 3
Slann x 2
Norse x 2
Halflings
Orcs
Wood Elf x 2
Dark Elf
Elf Union

That right 3 Lizards and 2 Wood elves

So let’s get on with the games, a 3 game event with the first game being randomly drawn and then swiss pairing from then on. So what are the odds that both halves of OTT get drawn again each other (not that bad actually but still a funny start). Thats right, me and Chris were matched against each other for the first round and my heart sank when I remembered he had brought Wood Elves. To be honest I wasnt complaining I had Dark Elves so it’s not like I had an inferior team and it was quite nice to play someone you know for the first game to break the ice.

Unfortunately there was nothing to write home about in this game, me and Chris play each other often in friendly games and are at a very similar standard so a game where the dice favoured both of us it was a standard elves v elves game. The end result was 2-2 which ended any realistic chance of any of us winning the event although Chris did have the ball in my half with 2 turns to go but had left the carrier unprotected. We had to end it there due to time but i would have had a simple 2 die block to get the ball back. This is one problem with one day events, they can seem rushed sometimes. We had to end it at a tie even though Chris had a (even though slim) chance to win it in the end but it is these endings to games that make Blood Bowl what it is. The frustrations of turning the screw to get your equalizer with not long to go for then a team like Wood Elves to score a two turner (or even One Turn Touchdown 😉 ) to win.

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Game 2

The second game went a bit more according to plan, playing against a great opponent who had recently come back to Blood Bowl after 10 years or so. Whether you win or lose I strongly believe it is down to your opponent whether you have fun or not, it’s no fun having to apologise every time you roll a ‘POW’ or break their armour. A great opponent will accept your good rolls and laugh off any of their ‘unlucky’ results and this is exactly how this game went for both of us.

He brought an Underworld team with 3rd party models, not sure which company they were from but they were incredibly characterful and enjoyable to play against. unfortunately for the Rats and Goblins the first drive from the Dark Elves saw a fair few casualties and knock outs making it easier to turnover the ball in their drive. After that is was time management for the elves and were able to run in for a 3-0 win in the last turn or so.

Its games like this one which can make your day as a coach, playing someone who just enjoys the game as much as you and not going to breakdown if the dice don’t go their way, I know it was most likely easier for me to enjoy the game as it was a 3-0 win but I believe it would have been the same if I lost. After a draw and a win in a 3 game tourney the pressure get turned up, a good win in the next game could see you in the top 3 (even win it if other results go your way) Lets hope the draw is kind.

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Game 3

Well the answer to the last question is NO, NO the draw was not kind! In the last game I came up against Lizardmen, which is without a doubt the team I hate to play the most, I don’t know why, im sure they are not the most notorious of pain in the ass teams but I just cannot beat them. Having 6 strength 4 and a strength 5 Kroxigor with prehensile tail mean they can pin down elves (in particular ones without the dodge skill) fairly easily.

That is exactly how this game went, I would get marked by all the Saurus, attempt to dodge away in my turn and roll a 1. What made it worse he killed my leader runner taking me down to 2 re rolls for the game. To top it all off I believe the squig jumped loose from my possession 3 times in the game. It was one of them games which you wish to forget, don’t get me wrong it was great fun and more practise against the Lizards is always good but there was nothing I could have done to salvage any sort of result from that game. The result ended in a 2-0 win to the Lizards.

That was it, it was not to be a top of the table finish but more a mediocre result which doesn’t negatively affect any NAF results.

The Round Up

So here are the results

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No races but you can see how bonus points took effect

Unfortunately you cannot see what races are at the top but i can tell you 1st was Lizardmen and 2nd were Pro Elves (a nasty Eldril Sidewinder and Prince Moranian combo). As expected I ended up in 8th out of 18 pretty much dead in the middle of the table.

On the plus side the other half OTT, Chris, ended up winning 2 and drawing 1 putting him in 7th place (could have been higher but there were a lot of bonus points available which he could not capitalise on). They also gave a results table using the official NAF scoring where he would have ended up in 2nd place.

Over all a great day but unfortunately it was not one of us who brought home this awesome Squig trophy. It was an interesting theme for a tournament and allowed great thematic prizes such as the trophy and squig cake pops but not sure just using the Squig ball rules really made a huge difference. But as a last note it was a great day to play blood bowl in a casual format allowing a but more of a relaxed atmosphere. If they decide to do another I would definitely go again.

It was then time to get ready for the NAF Championship!!!!

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