As you have guessed from the title, this post is going to looking at and review the newly released ‘Coaches Handbook’. Unless you have been under a rock the past few weeks you would have heard a lot about this product and the frustrations it has been causing amongst the community.
I am going to start by saying yes, there are mistakes in the handbook itself and depending on your mindset or requirements will decide whether this is forgivable for you or if it is something you cant live with. I will go over the mistakes and how they have been rectified, sufficiently or not, later on in the post but I wanted to start this overview with this fact on the back burner and look at it from a different angle, reviewing the other parts of this product and the value it brings.
Whats in the ‘Box’
So lets start with what you get in the ‘box’, I put box in quotations as the contents come in a clear plastic film, making it look a bit rushed and cant imagine it being very appealing on a shelf, that being said GW don’t stock their Blood Bowl products in store.
So what do you get it?
- Coaches Handbook – a smaller copy of the rulebook
- Tokens – a sheets of cardboard, pop out tokens to represent mechanics such as ‘Bone-head’ or ‘Weather’
- Templates – The same 3 templates from the core box set. Passing, Scatter and Throw in
- Pad of Rosters – a book of printed roster sheets, similar to what you got in the previous edition box sets
- Quick Reference Sheet – a more detailed version of the Quick Reference you get in the core box
As you can see you do get a decent amount for a price of £25, as a new player who doesn’t want to play humans or orcs could buy this, a team of their choice (£22.50), a pitch of their choice (£25) and a set of the new Blood Bowl dice (£9) all for £81.50. This is a bit more than the core box at £70 but if you aren’t interested in those teams this gives you a lot more options potentially giving new players an easier entry point to the game which I am all for.
So for me this is where this set does sooo well but at the same time has some serious failures as discussed before. To start, this rulebook is the PERFECT size, it fits neatly inside a Feldherr case (probably one of the most popular cases for Blood Bowl). I never bring my rulesbook around with me, mainly because I know the core rules, but there are ALWAYS times when you need to check something and that can sometimes cause issues. From now on this will have a permanent home in the top of my case and for me this makes it a great book.
Secondly, the handbook has a summary of most of the updated rules that have come out over the past 3 years. Before this my copy of the rules has been split over 3 or 4 books so having it all in this small package is another win and 100% something the game needs and for that I commend GW for listening and trying to make the game more accessible for casual players.
So overall a fantastic product and something that will add a lot of value to new and old coaches, I will talk about the issues later and how they affect different levels of players.
In an average game of Blood Bowl there is a lot going on, a lot of mechanics that require you to remember what player has a certain ailment or whether you have used a one time per game ability. Although with the teams you get given tokens to keep track of what turn it is, what the score is or how many re rolls you have left, there are far more that could do with some sort of marker to keep track of. Up until now GW have not given you an option to do this which has lead to a lot of 3rd party companies and tournament organiser commissioning their own as prizes or giveaways (OTT even have our own set of markers). I love a good marker, whether it is a ball token or prone/stunned marker. I have a vast collection from different events but for the casual player who doesn’t attend these or doesn’t want to spend that sort of money on high quality metal tokens (they can be a bit pricey). This is a useful option.
Although a lot of these markers have been widely adopted by coaches for a while now, there are some included that not many people have, even the regular players. For example the weather tokens and big guy nega-trait markers. In a game it is more likely than not, that the weather will be ‘perfect blood bowl weather’ meaning it has no effect. But when you do get a game with special weather it is very easy to forget to apply the modifications. Having a large token sitting by the side of the pitch is a great way to help in reminding the players. This also applies to the big guy nega-traits, i.e. Bone-head and Really Stupid. When an Ogre goes Bone-head he loses his tackle zones but the model stays on the pitch. This can cause the opposing player to miss that fact but having a marker around the player helps in making sure you take advantage of it when it’s your turn, again something not a lot of players do.
The tokens are another great option for casual players which adds a lot of value to this product. I love the fact that GW are looking to the community for what they want but also what they have created themselves to make the game easier, and make it available to everyone. Although I have a lot of markers already, there are some in here that I will be using, for example the Bloodweiser keg markers, the weather and the Bone-head markers (all the more that the Ogre team is being release soon).
Templates and Roster pad
There’s not much to be said about these two. Everyone knows what the templates do and the Roster pad might not be used a lot but is a nice addition. I personally have a stack of printed rosters from the free PDF on Games Workshops website as an emergency in case I have computer or printer issues the day before a tournament. It has saved me on several occasions in the past when I need a printed roster. So this is something nice to have but I can imagine a lot of coaches using it very rarely.
Ok so lets talk about the mistakes that were printed in the Handbook and whether or not it kills this product, or if it is something that can be dealt with
So if you don’t know the Handbook had a bit of a proof reading issue, a lot of mistakes were printed. This was only noticed after people had it in their hands. This caused a lot of coaches to vent their frustrations on community pages and to GW direct. I can understand where people are coming from, If you have spent your money on something that is supposed to do a specific job (be a correct reference of the rules to the game) and it has some silly mistakes you are justified to be annoyed.
The second issue people has was the way GW dealt with the issue, people expected them to recall the product, correct the mistakes, reprint and send back out to affected customers. As a consumer this is the ideal solution for a situation like this but not practical for a company. What they done instead is release a PDF Errata online highlighting and correcting the mistakes that were printed (see below)
Ironically what this done was highlight further mistakes that were made that people had not even noticed, a bit of a blunder on GW’s side, but all credit, they were quick and efficient in getting this document out to players, the problem was that people were not happy with this resolution.
So how do these mistakes affect different people?
So these issues don’t affect everyone in the same way, for instance the majority of the mistakes can be seen in Player statistics, something I already know so will not need this book to assist in. This is why I still believe the Handbook still adds a lot value to player like myself. The rules I would most likely need the book to reference are correct.
The issue comes when a new player picks up the Handbook in order to get into the game. For someone who doesn’t know the rules, feeding them incorrect information from the beginning is an issue, and lets be honest, this product is aimed at new players. Looking at Games Workshop online store, there is not even a note on the product advising people of the issue and directing them to the Errata.
Hopefully these problems will get sorted in the future and GW will continue to support new players coming into the game. Although the Handbook has issues it still has some great content and accessories for new and old coaches a like. I believe GW just need to make these issue more widely publicised so that potential players know what they are buying and how to work around it.
To sum it up I personally believe for £25 this is a must buy, it has teased us with what GW can do and produce and is just a shame it has had the issues it has. But as a regular player I think it is something that is definitely needed in the game and am glad that they are expanding on the product range on offer. If you are an experienced coach and know the rules and stats already you will have no issues with this book and I am sure it will come in handy a lot especially as it is the perfect size to carry around. I am also happy that they have made the tokens widely accessible as it can cause issues when playing a coach who doesn’t have any. Seeing more of these on the Blood Bowl scene is welcomed.
If you are reading this and are thinking of buying this as a new coach wanting to get into the game, don’t be put off by what you have heard. Just keep in mind some of the mistakes, download the errata and maybe do what i’m planning on doing, and using a Sharpie to correct the stats.