An anti-rant at this time of goodwill to all men!
And women! And children! And Blood Bowl players everywhere. Yes, everywhere, so let's take a moment to be grateful for everything in the world of Blood Bowl.
Starting at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start. Games Workshop is a tremendous company which has brought literally billions of hours of pleasure to millions of people over more than a quarter of a decade. The zenith of its gaming development was the invention of block dice, that integral part of the game that moved on from having to consult table after table to a simple game mechanic that nonetheless has enough subtle variations to keep people interested.
Along with this, the miniatures it produces are superb. With the increased use of plastic towards the end of the 90s the conversion possibilites for BB increased manifold, to complement the array of various editions of metals.
Then the internet came along! Amazeballs! Since 2003 the NAF has been tracking tournament results and providing a focus for the tabletop community. Entirely run by volunteers, from the various Presidents all the way through to individual tournament organisers running a one-day tournament for a dozen people in the pub, there have been hundreds of people giving up their time to bring joy to others. Running a tournament brings with it a fair degree of stress, and it's one of the wonderful facets of the indomitable human spirit that they keep multiplying - there are around 250 a year all around the world, and that's just the ones registered with the NAF.
But of course, the internet also brought along internet gaming. FUMBBL and play-by-email came first, with various incarnations of both tools allowing a new way of playing the game against other humans (in contrast to chess, those feeble computers have never been able to compete...), and this was followed by the Cyanide game. Those behemoths of brilliance Christer, Kalimar and others need no introduction here, but in this paean of praise to the volunteer spirit, how does a commercial game fit in?
Similarly to the original board game, the Cyanide version of Blood Bowl was destined to end up a standalone product, and with all the bells and whistles that might be planned for BB2 it is still fundamentally a tool for all the fluff that surrounds the game, which is huge, and this is where the voluntary contribution comes - leagues all around the world have massively complex back ends, with the stats being crunched by user-developed bits of code, supported by stories written by the coaches.
So the game is in a wonderful place - tabletop is big and growing, with numbers of tournaments reaching saturation in some countries and burgeoning in others, and there is a World Cup on the horizon that should easily pass 500 participants. New leagues appear all the time, with Facebook and Twitter allowing communication between people playing the same game all over the world, and various podcasts and youtube channels providing extra channels for experiencing the game. FUMBBL has a new tool, allowing extra customisation, and the community continuing to provide support to each other, and there is a new Cyanide version in the offing.
My New Year wish for 2015 is for the worldwide BB community to come together - for FUMBBL players to embrace Cyanide and vice versa, for more and more online players to experience the awesomeness of facing against another human across a physical board, and peace and joy to all menz. Merry Christmas!