If you’re an avid follower of the Blood Bowl 2016 journey so far you would have noticed one of the latest gems to be released alongside each team, Spike! A ‘journal’ dedicated to that specific team overseeing everything you need to know when deciding to play them. Now the name ‘Spike’ is something more seasoned players and coaches who have been playing before the new release will recognise. Spike Magazine has been a foundation in Blood Bowl Journalism and content throughout the years and even is a sponsors of one of the majors in Canada (not literally, the new Spike (Games Workshop) isn’t involved in NAF Spike Magazine Blood Bowl Championship).
In this post I would like to talk about the newest release of Spike, how it developed over the last few years and what it is now.
Blood Bowl 2016
It has been made public that when Games Workshop re released Blood Bowl in 2016 they were caught unaware of how popular the game would be and because and had to adapt to keep up with the demand, a good problem to have for both parties I suppose. Because of this the way Spike Magazine was introduced and developed over the following years moved at a very quick rate.
At the end of 2016 and most of 2017 Games Workshop published a version of Spike Magazine in their monthly magazine ‘White Dwarf’ ranging from 1 page rules updates to 10 page articles covering tactics and match reports, a period when I wouldn’t miss an issue.
The articles showcased some incredibly painted teams and even teams converted or from older editions due to lack of teams that had been released.
These were great times for Blood Bowl fans, new content on a more or less monthly basis during a time when the hype for game was immense but as the game kept growing and demand for new product was sky-high they decided to slow down on publishing Spike. I personally remember being very disappointed with this decision but little did I know what they had in store for Spike!
As much as having these monthly was great, the state of affairs for Blood Bowl Rules was getting very messy. As well as publishing rules in White Dwarf, they had the official ‘rule books’ in the form of Death Zone season 1 and 2 and the Blood Bowl Almanac. It was time to tidy it up.
Did you know? ”Spike!” Magazine’s number one All-time Worst Player Award goes to ‘Speccy’ McGroan of the Evil Gits – one of those truly incompetent cretins that Blood Bowl need if it is to retain its prime-time status! He played for only one season (2488-89) but over the year he managed to fumble the ball over 30 times, averaging more than two fumbles per match. Speccy’s finest hour, however, was in his final match when he managed to fumble the ball a record nine times before he was pulled off (and then pulled apart!) by the Gits head coach”
Spike! The Fantasy Football Journal
At the beginning of 2018 GW released their Chaos Chosen team being the first team to be released alongside the newest version of Spike Magazine, a journal dedicated to the rules, fluff and modelling of the team. When this news was announced there was a lot scepticism, NOT ANOTHER PLACE FOR RULES!?!?, but we had to wait and see whether this new format was going to be the way forward. I mean it’s a good idea when you think about it, like I have mentioned a lot in earlier posts, Blood Bowl is heavily focused on the fun side of the game, the thematic craziness that occurs on the pitch is backed up by a wealth of character built up throughout the years. Having a complete journal dedicated to one team, their star players and background etc builds on this already rich history.
So the day finally came and we saw the release of the Chaos Chosen alongside Issue 1 of Spike Journal and boy it did not disappoint! The general consensus across the community from coaches just being introduced to the game to the hardened players who have been around for years was exceptional. The reason for this was two-fold, not only had Game Workshop listened to what people want and implemented it into a vibrant and entertaining format feeding the fix of the community but they reached out to players not employed by GW but who have a long running immersive history with the game socially. They asked these individuals to write articles for the journal about the team from a competitive point of view. This really increased the value of the Journal from an extension to the hobby with some rules which you can most likely get in all in one format later to a product which can really improve your competitive play for that team.
I played Chaos Chosen in DBL 18 for the season never having played the team before. I read Spike Journal Issue 1 in-depth a few time before the season and believe it did have an effect on my performance during the season. Don’t get me wrong it still takes some on the pitch experience to get to grips fully with new teams but the head start it gave me was incredibly helpful, in fact I am doing the same thing now with Issue 2 in time for DBL 19 when I am playing Dark Elves.
What to expect?
So the Journal is compromised of 5 main parts
- Team history/fluff
- Team rules and stats
- Star players
- Bob Bifford Comic strip
As you can see from the above alongside this vast amount of content, the quality of artwork really brings it all together and out of all the Journals been released so far they have encompassed the teams character perfectly. Here are a few more snippets to back up what I am trying to say.
As mentioned above in each Spike Journal they publish a list of the stars that the specified team can take listing their stats and some fluff. A lot of these are Stars that have been around for a while simply reprinting the rules but this is not always the case. In some instances GW have made some minor amendments to bring them in line with their cost etc. So far they have not been game breaking changes so has been a welcome refresh. On the other hand GW has claimed they are planning to have 10 star players available for each team, this means a few changes for the big teams such as elves or Humans but this will require the creation of a lot of extra stars when we get to teams like ogres and vampires.
This is great stuff for the game and its longevity and I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining but one issue with this during the next few years is the issue of some teams having these extra and others not. I’m not sure what they could have done to avoid this and when all teams have been re released with their own Spike it will all work out but I can imagine this being a nightmare for The NAF.
This issue is also relevant to the newly released inducements. These are team specific inducements released in each Spike. Once again they are not game breaking but they do provide a team with a Spike more options to play with than a team without.
Hopefully GW will continue to release Spike alongside each team but it also raises the question of when (if we ever do) get a Journal for the teams already released, (Humans, Orcs, Dwarfs, Skaven, Goblins, Pro Elves). Will these be added to the end of the list or are they doing what they did with the dice and just release the pre-Spike ones together.
As mentioned above at the end of each Journal they have included a short comic strip by the name of ‘Mighty Blow’. Mighty Blow gives a short and entertaining glimpse into a time when Bob Bifford played against the team highlighted in that particular Journal. It is thing like this that show us Games Workshop now understand what a lot of their target market would like to see in their new release and publications. It is a nice way to finish reading the Journal and the cherry on top, in each episode Bob has different hairstyle! To really top it of it is illustrated by the one and only Pete Knifton just to really get the nostalgia going.
So to sum it up Spike Journal is what we have been waiting for, with 6 Issues out now the level of content is getting better and better and I really hope they continue to publish these with each new team and even if possible go back and write one for the teams released before (I would love to read one for the Goblins). If you don’t pick these up with the new teams I suggest you do, it’s £9 well spent, White Dwarf isn’t far off that and these are not only 10x better (for Blood Bowl) but will last you a lot longer due to the quality of the paper/card it printed on.
There are some technical issues with the way they are being release and has caused some split opinions and issue in the tournaments scene and gaming community but I personally don’t think this is for GW to worry about. They are releasing great content and any little issues the competitive scene faces they can deal with themselves, lets not forget they have been doing it for a while without GW so I’m sure they can come up with something.
So overall this is a great buy 4 times a year and I would recommend it to any Blood Bowl enthusiast.