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 Issue 13 - August 28th 2511
Freestyle II
by Calthor

The following article is a Freestyle article. The author has incorporated three subjects, as voted upon in the forums. 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:
Warhammer fluff vs Blood Bowl fluff
Chaos Dwarf Hats
Axis & Allies

Special thanks to harvestmouse, for helping me out with some Chaos Dwarf facts. He was an endless well of information that corrected my original article here and there. So thanks for the help, mate. You live up to being 'a massive fan of chaos dwarfs', and I would love to see that 'most valuable collection in the world' of yours someday!

The basis of every complex board game is fluff. For those who do not know what 'fluff' is, allow me to explain. 'Fluff' is, besides a noun for anything light, soft, or fuzzy, also interchangeable for 'setting', 'context information', 'background story' and similar terms. And when I say 'complex board game' I am implying games like Blood Bowl, not games like chess or checkers, which are almost (but not completely, mind you) stripped of fluff.

Take for example the successful game Axis & Allies. For those that are not familiar with this ingenious game, you have missed out. Basically, the game is a board game that takes the strategic situation of WWII. One player plays Germany, another plays the USA, another plays, Japan, etcetera. The success of this game is not based on the mathematics – the numbers – that lies at its basis. Replace all the territories by squares, and all the armies by different kind of counters, and the game is dead boring. I am not saying that the numbers game is not exciting on its own. There is a good amount of strategy, topped off by a random element. The real intriguing part of the game, however, is that you can pretend to be an evil Japanese mastermind, sending in kamikaze airplanes, or you can pretend to be the arrogant American ready to save the Western world. A cliché, you say? Of course, but it does increase the fun, to make the game as alive as possible. Imagination is key to your enjoyment.

Sounds familiar already? 'Cause it should.

There are many similarities between Blood Bowl and Axis & Allies if you look at the games in this way. Fluff stands at the basis of the games. Sure, those rules and numbers are a vital element too, but without the fluff, nobody would care about those rules. It is a synergy of fluff and rules that make up a successful game, at least if the game is intended to be more detailed and elaborate than chess. And at its basis, Blood Bowl is derived from the world of Warhammer, although what many people sometimes forget, or have never learned, is that the world of Blood Bowl is not the same as the world of Warhammer. It never was, and since the creation of Blood Bowl, both worlds have only diverged more and more.

So, how exactly should you place the Warhammer world and the Blood Bowl world? Well, imagine it like this: the Blood Bowl world is placed in a parallel reality of the Warhammer world. Most races are there in both worlds, but there are a few major differences. War in the Blood Bowl world has been mostly replaced by the violence of Blood Bowl, which is also why the games are so important to the spectators. In addition, the tech/magic level is a little higher than in the Warhammer world, which explains chainsaws as well as the fact that major games are aired all over the Old World thanks to Cabalvision. Other differences are the nature of the Slann race, the absence of Gnoblar that associate with Ogres, and of course, the very existence of Chaos Dwarves.

You see, in Warhammer, Chaos Dwarves are only supported to a certain extent. Although not discontinued (new miniatures were released last year, and more are planned), it is certainly not comparable to other Army Lists. Perhaps the sales of their original miniatures were not good enough, or perhaps their existence demeaned the normal Dwarves. I personally do not know the exact reasons, but harvestmouse kindly filled in my blanks: they were indeed the worst selling army of all. That was partly due to their cartoony, comical big-hat-look, partially due to a severely limited army book, and also because of a lack of store support. Whatever the case, they are only sparingly supported by Grandma Wendy ( - much like Blood Bowl itself, I might add).
Personally, I blame the hats. The comical look has never really been suitable for what is in essence a war game. However, the parallel reality of Blood Bowl is more comical in nature (point in case, chainsaws and silly puns in the fluff). This lack of official support for Chaos Dwarves is not the case for Chaos Dwarves in Blood Bowl, since Blood Bowl itself is hardly supported at all, which means that there is little reason to meddle with the game on such a fundamental level, although it should be noted that Chaos Dwarves have been kept out of the Cyanide game - and that is likely to try and keep the worlds of Blood Bowl and Warhammer from drifting to far apart. All in all it is a weird situation. Especially because some of the new Warhammer Chaos Dwarf models have sported hats again... Somewhat less big and cumbersome, but nonetheless... Is there a hat revival?

So, besides the history lesson and fluff explanation for those who had no idea about all this yet, why am I telling this (besides to make sure I talked about all three of the required subject)? Well, like I said, the cornerstone to having a good time when playing Blood Bowl, is imagining the whole scene. That is why some never catch on to on-line Blood Bowl, because they need to see and feel the miniatures before them, and the idea of pixels just won't do the trick for them. That is their prerogative. Whatever the case, on-line or tabletop, we still have Chaos Dwarves in a way that they do not have anymore in Warhammer. And praise be for that, because the Bull Centaur is one of the weirdest, coolest players in existence. If you think about it, the person who thought of them must have been absolutely mad. Thinking of a centaur is one thing, but replacing the human part of the body with a dwarven part, and replacing the horse part with, well, a cow's part is madness on its own.

But to top that off with the characteristic Chaos Dwarf hat, is bordering the line between brilliance and madness. And to me, that is the epitome of a game that on its own borders the line between brilliance and madness. So, if you ever find yourself burned out to the game, after having rolled another Triple Skulls and losing the game 0-6, remember why you are playing this game. Remember that the real reason you are playing is not because you want your CR to hit 160 or 170, but because you want to shout at your screen: 'Yes, my grand Bull Centaur, you are indeed unstoppable, and your hat is as grand as the bits that dangle between those bull legs!'<br/> I understand that he might not work anymore as a Warhammer model, but by George, for me, he is the epitome of Blood Bowl insanity! Hail to the Bull Centaur!

Yes, my friends, we are all insane here. Don't dwell on it too much. Remember Meuh: when it is time to go to pasture, you will know, and that time has not come yet!

 
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