I was having a call with my friend about a month ago and he was telling me that during this time of confinment he was teaching his girlfriend to play Blood Bowl with the stuff he kept for more than 15 years when we had setup a small tabletop league amongst friends. As someone who played about a thousand games on FUMBLL from 2004 to 2006, that sparked something in me. I remembered being so in love with this game that I had to give it another shot.
Back in those days, a lot of things were different. You were capped in how many teams you could have at a time, so having a team you cared about badly mangled meant you'd have a tough time rebuilding or had to retire and start from scratch. Without unlimited freebooters, starting a game under 11 usually meant you were likely in for more punishment than you were to crawl out of it. Those recovery games were difficult to find and even more difficult to win. The rating system also meant your MNG also counted to give your opponent advantage, while providing zero value to you. This was not always fun.
There's two part to this game: the Blood and the Bowl. Most players enjoy something close to the middle betweeen these twos, but others find themselves on either end of that spectrum and that's fine. Everyone is allowed to enjoy that game as they see fit. In ranked however, that can lead to a lot of contentious discussion on what is actually a "fair" matchup. One of my contribution to FUMBBL was to be an early advocate of the E.L.F. group. I've always liked playing elf teams, and while I wasn't necessarily interested in having them slaughtered, I also liked to take on the challenge of facing a wide range of teams, including those that were considered bad matchups.
This was represented in the concept of "completing the cycle", which meant you would try to play against all the races and beat as many as you could. It wasn't a "take on all challengers" mindset per say, but it was as close we could get to it, lest you find yourself on the hard and painful road to rebuild.
Fast foward to today, I find that the current rules and changes over the past 14 years have mostly resolved those issues and Blackbox is the ultimate playground for testing your mettle against all comers. After such a long hiatus, I was curious to explore how the game had changed and 100 games in the box seemed like the perfect way to do this. And so I submitted my 4 teams and got going.
I must admit that for most of what I've learned, I did so by smashing my head into it with full force. Some have directly contributed to losses, some I was lucky to get away with. I'm learning slowly, but having a fun time doing it. So without further ado, here's what I've discovered so far:
- Blood Bowl can be very unforgiving. I had to catch up a lot on my tactics and strategy, but winning is very difficult when you're making mistakes or have a suboptimal roster. So far only my Dark Elves have a neutral record, but I feel my game is improving even though the wins haven't been there.
- The best coaches play conservative and try to maintain control of the ball and the clock for as long as they can.
- Positioning is key and one of the main aspect of the game to master.
- Expensive mistakes - that wasn't in any rulebooks I found and I think there's no actual single document that contains all the currently effective rules. Legal bullshit is the reason.
- The community is great. Lots of activity on Discord and I've had no troubles getting advice or help when I needed it. I like to use the chat in game too and most people engage positively.
- Stand Firm doesn't prevent failed dodges anymore.
- Fouling is a non-issue now. Most games go without a single foul.
- 95x147 is a small space to fill. Text can only be used sparsely.
- Most teams cap re-rolls at 3, when before you'd try to get to 5-6 and maybe even more for some teams like Vampires.
- Leader is now used since it's seen as a favorable TV investment.
- You can do crazy things with bbcode now. Need to step my game up and make something nice of it.
- Really Stupid fails 50% of the time regardless of the assist.
- MVP selection from 3 players mean it becomes much easier to focus on developing key positional players and most people do that. I've been spreading around too much which leads to having skilled up linemen that can't deal with super powered positionals on the opposing team.
- Christer is still a God.
- A successful Goblin team needs a deep bench so having not enough guys and too many secret weapons is a recipe for disaster. And now to make matters worse, one of my troll just died. Just hoping to win a few games with them at some point.
- The sidelines are VERY dangerous.
- The etiquette of using the timeout button is still blurry to me. I've had it used once against me and used it once myself. I go over time quite often though, but people seem to generally be lenient.
- The forum is a gold mine of information. I've spent countless hours digging into old threads, finding people arguing passionately over minute details of some kind with great composure. It's an oasis of the golden era of the Internet we've known before.
- The dice does not forgive.
- I'm tempted to vary my skill choices, made a few mistakes, but the best players just stick to the basics and most effectives.
- Using the apothecary has become a lot more complicated. Back in the days, you'd save if for a permanent injury or death and save mostly anyone. Now I'm wondering if it's better to keep it to save key players, the first guy that gets permanent injury, or the first BH or knock-out to maintain as many players as you can for the remainder of the game.
- Some people have played an INSANE amount of BB, I'm looking at you BillBrasky.
- I absolutely love fluff.
Shout out to jdmickleburgh
for inspiring this post.