The following article is a Freestyle article. The author has incorporated three subjects, as voted upon in the forums (see the thread here). If you enjoy this type of article, be a good reader and let us know! That way, you're sure to see it return in the next issue...
The three subjects used in this article are:
Heavy Metal (music)
Naming Your Teams/Players
There are basically two distinct sides to Blood Bowl. One is quite familiar to most of us: the competitive side. It is what makes some of the coaches thirst for the top CR spot. It is what makes us want to demolish the opposing team, win with glorious prowess and it is what makes us join tournaments.
But if that was all there was, then all the teams would be equal in power. Ogre teams would be just as good as Orc teams. Perhaps there should only be one statline. All teams are basically equal!
That's not how Blood Bowl works. There is the fluff-side. The mad side of line. Jump in and surrender yourself to Wonderland, because this is a world in which mad goblins wield chainsaws, the undead come back to the pitch to play once again and high elves and dark elves hate each other. If you forget about the fluff and focus almost exclusively on the (somewhat random) strategy of the game, then let's face it: you're missing out.
The forum is full of strategy, at least if you know where to look properly. Tips on how to enjoy the 'fluff side of life', not so much. It is automatically assumed that new players know the world of Blood Bowl as much as the veterans do. There really aren't so many reasons given why fouling is such a part of the game. Is it really any wonder that we always get new players to complain about fouling, stalling and similar aspects of the game? Understanding this game is not just about the raw numbers, although that might win you more games. However, to really enjoy this game, you should also know the background of this game. There is a surprisingly high amount of information about the fluff of this game... And it is all missing in the latest rules pack, due to the negligence of a certain well-known company that we sometimes refer to as Grandma Wendy.
The lack of this information breeds lazy new coaches. They have played the computer game, and where impressed by the game, even though the bugs were disturbing. After only a little bit of investigation or luck, the player finds FUMBBL. All is well?
Hardly. Coach Joe will now create a Chaos or Khemri team named 'dark bashers' with players named 'Bob' and 'Splut'. If he has some talent, he might even win games after a learning curve. Eventually though, this weird game loses its shine and Joe quits playing, never to return.
Perhaps if Joe would have seen the rich world behind the rules, Joe would have learned the 'why' of fouling, and he would have felt inspired to make teams that matter. His teams would then matter beyond the scope of a few games or a single SMACK. Tournaments would come to life, and Joe would learn to see why some of the old teams are respected so much.
In the end, Joe would be a valued member of our community, eventually contributing as heavily as the regulars in the forum. We would be so proud of him, the day he makes a poll that includes 'Macavity' instead of 'Pie'.
So, here's a lesson for Joe. We return to the basics. Joe wants to make a Chaos team. And why not? There is nothing essentially wrong with a Chaos team, as long as it is done with the right reasons. Now, even before Joe starts to name his team and its players, we introduce Joe to what makes Chaos Chaos. We introduce him to the Chaos Gods.
At the same time, we remember a solid fact. To make a team last for a longer time, it needs to have personality. It needs to have a theme. It needs something that makes it last longer than 20-25 games. It needs to be memorable. It is usually a good idea to incorporate things you like in real life, especially if you can't think of anything good to use. Some of the most memorable teams have used RL-elements in the creation of their team. Don't know what I'm talking about?
A techno song: Sleeper in Metropolis.
Competitive eating: Competitive Eaters.
A famous actor: Clint Eastwood Roles.
Norse mythology and nordic-themed heavy metal music: Hellbound Charioteers.
Heavy metal music? Now that's a good idea, because Joe happens to like metal. So Joe, a die-hard metalhead, is about to make his first Ranked/Blackbox Chaos team. He has now learned that Chaos is all about the four Chaos Gods. He reads up on them, all the while thinking about his team and how he can combine the fluff of a certain God with his music passion.
Khorne is the Chaos god of anger, fury, violence, hate, war, bloodshed and rage. Every act of violence gives power to Khorne. He is the Lord of Rage and the Lord of Blood. He is the mightiest and the oldest of the Chaos gods and he sits on a throne of skulls centred in a lake of blood. The mountain is growing ever higher...
Really? Joe quickly flips through his cd collection to find Slayer's most famous album 'Reign In Blood'. In fact, it quickly dawns on him that most thrash metal bands are closely connected to Khorne. Anthrax, Exodus, Annihilator, Kreator, Pantera... But not just thrash metal. A lot of death metal fits fine too: Death, Celtic Frost, Obituary, Deicide, Morbid Angel...
Joe writes down a few great team names. Angels of Massacre, Morbid Cannibals, Slaughterhouse 666, Sorrow Post-Mortem, Suffocation Brothers.
Even player names come easy now: Vinny Venom, Slaughterboy, Bloodbeast, Helleater...
Nurgle is the Chaos god of decay, disease and corruption. He is the Great Lord of Decay or the Lord of All, for everything falls apart eventually. Nurgle is a patient god, for everything is subject to entropy. And that is why in the end, perhaps it is Nurgle that will be there when the universe comes to and end as everything falls apart...
Joe smiles. He hadn't expect that a Chaos god would be so closely connected to a musical genre so obscure and brutal: goregrind (and pornogrind and grindcore). In fact, bands like Carcass, Repulsion, Regurgitate, Aborted and Cattle Decapitation all fit the bill perfectly. Nurgle is all about disgust.
It doesn't take Joe long to jot down a short list of team names. Last Days Of Humanity, Leaking Carcass, Gynaecological Problems, Meat Dissection, Gut Disturbance. (And Joe has wisely left out some of the more adult-rated team names.)
Some possible player names come easily now: Vomitfist, Impale, Parasite and Lord Disgust.
Slaanesh is the Chaos god of lust, excess, hedonism, pleasure and perfection. He/she/it is the god of delights and the youngest of the gods, although nonetheless a power to be reckoned with. Slaanesh coaxes its opponents as much as anything else and it is no secret that the Lord of Dark Delights finds it easy to convince others to 'just let go'. Soon, all will be dancing 'till the end comes, naked and surrendered to the most primal of instincts...
Joe has to look in a totally different part of his collection this time, although some of the more sexually-orientated bands in the goregrind genre could work too. Really though, there is nothing that fits the bill better than glam metal and some of the dubious offshoots of that genre into blacker/extremer metal. Bands like Poison, Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper and Kiss fit the bill, as well as Cradle of Filth, Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.
It is perhaps a little harder to find the proper names here, but the names are nonetheless quite inspiring that Joe ends up with. Spawns Of Love and War, Hedonistic Voices, Cruel Pleasure, Sisterhood of Darkness and Love.
Some possible names: The Seven Night Delight, Astral Habit Nun, Ravendark, Pesha Pain.
Tzeentch is the Chaos god of change, vitality, magic, dynamic mutation and grand, convoluted scheming. Tzeentch listens to the plans and hopes of every mortal, manipulating the course of history as it fits him best. His plan goes beyond mortal comprehension. Tzeentch is the Changes of Ways, and in the end, if it will ever end, all existence will come together in the great writhing masterplan of Tzeentch...
And here too, Joe is able to see the overlap with his musical interest. Tzeentch fits in nicely with complex technicalities of progressive metal and technical (death) metal. The complexer the music, the better it fits in. Queensrÿche, Dream Theater, Cynic, Meshuggah, Atheist and Gojira.
It is a real joy to find the proper names inspired here. Joe has now truly learned the pleasure that comes in this part of the game as well. Essence Entralled, Madness Sleepers, Veil of Complexity, Manifested Manipulation.
Player names: Reality Qualm, Terminal Illusion, Pain Ghost, Dissension Eternal.
Now all that remains for Joe is to choose what Chaos God to adhere to. It doesn't really matter. He has now fallen. He might lose a hundred times, but he will now play with passion. He will learn, he will enjoy, and his team will always evolve with him. In time, he will truly be one of us, and our community will be richer with his added presence.
What is our lesson? Sometimes it is more important to show and explain a new player why fouling is a part of the history and background of the game, than to recount the literal advantage. A new player will not necessarily get the term of 'player advantage', but show him the joy and relevance of the mechanic in the fluff, and you will have a convict forever.
Soon new and old players will come to FUMBBL when the new client comes out of beta. When you are playing one of these players, keep this in mind if the player seems open for it. It is our duty to welcome him with open arms first and a spiked boot afterwards. It might be a hard process sometimes, for the new player as well as for us, but for every player that will eventually shout out 'It's a conSPIROcy!', it is worth it.
Remember, show and explain the player everything, not just the cold numbers. Only then will the new player understand why shadow46x2 is fat...