The 2003 BBRC Rules Review
Once per year, a group of half a dozen or so experts - the Blood Bowl Rules Committee (BBRC) - sits down and draws up a list of changes to the core Blood Bowl rules. After a protracted delay, the BBRC has announced the 2003 rules changes. The changes to teams are listed in an accompanying PDF file.
The rules review has been the subject of much speculation. Some changes were hinted at well before time, many hotly-debated potential changes have not appeared, and the committee even managed to spring some surprises. Not everyone is happy, of course, because there are enough changes to make many coaches rethink some of their team strategies.
The main change is the addition of four new teams: Khemri, Necromantic, Nurgle's Rotters and Elf. The anticipated entry of Vampires did not happen, and the widely expected deletion of the old Undead team did not happen either, although two of the wights on that roster were removed. Khemri Blitzers were beefed up slightly, confirming their potential as one of the most bashy rosters in open play. Werewolves were toned down slightly by swapping Razor Sharp Claws for the less damaging Claws, while Flesh Golems were left alone, meaning that the Necromantics will still be able to concentrate on a throwing game if they want. Elf teams will possibly be the strongest passing team in Blood Bowl, so it will be interesting to see how they perform in open play on FUMBBL when they don't have to play solely with dX division teams. Finally, Nurgle's Rotters got the nod, with some significant changes to the Beast making it arguably the strongest big guy in the game.
If there is a theme through the rest of the changes, the BBRC seems to have made a concerted effort to remove a lot of the power of Big Guys. The changes to the Piling On skill and Wild Animal characteristic are only the most prominent of these. The removal of the Ogre from all but Chaos, Human and Norse teams was expected, but the Take Root characteristic was expected to be improved to an "on-pitch" version and this was not done either, leaving Treemen with a significant weakness. The change of Pro from a skill to a trait (meaning it can only be taken on a double for a skill roll for a player who has access to general skills) is also an attack on Big Guys, meaning that it is harder for them to get access to rerolls. All Big Guys now have weaknesses which will put them out of action for significant parts of the game, making them unreliable at best.
GLN has a race-by-race breakdown of the effects that the rules review will have on page 4, but overall it can be seen that teams that rely on positional players rather than Big Guys - like Chaos Dwarves and Wood Elves - escaped relatively unharmed, while the stunty teams like Halflings and Goblins were the major losers. The Throw Team Mate skill has been significantly harmed by the removal of Ogres from Halfling and Goblin teams.
One of the main talking points about the review is not what was changed, but what was left alone. The full list of considered amendments contains many items which caused much debate on discussion boards but did not make the final cut: the amended Take Root, new aging rules, new fouling rules, new handicap tables, new winnings rules, an expanded role for secret weapons, new apothecary rules, and amendments to various little-used mutations.