The latest incarnation of the venerable game is getting a digital version!
Type: Single-player, Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, Sports
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Release date: TBA
Blood Bowl is one of those remarkably long-lived games. First released in 1986 Blood Bowl depicts the ever popular sports of American Football and Rugby in a more violent form, fitting of the Warhammer Fantasy setting. It’s also a game that’s remained largely unchanged, barring some new teams and small tweaks, since its 3rd edition release in 1994.
This is Cyanide’s 3rd game based on the Blood Bowl license, and the 4th officially licensed Blood Bowl game (the Fumbbl java client some of you might be familiar with was never officially licensed), and it’s slated for an early access release in September of 2021, with a full release planned for early next year, though anyone who’s been following game releases for any period of time should know that dates like these are never set in stone.
Blood Bowl, for those who have never played it, is a turnbased tactics game about fantasy races from Warhammer playing ball. The goal is simple, score a touchdown by having a player from your team carry the ball to the far side of the opponent’s half, and prevent the opponent from doing the same to you. If that was all there was to it Blood Bowl would probably not have lasted for as long as it has though, and when you’ve got Elves and Orcs on the same field things are sure to get messy pretty fast.
One of the things that have always made Blood Bowl such a blast to play, both in its digital and physical incarnations, are all the different teams. From Orcs to Skaven (ratmen) to Dwarfs to Halflings, there’s a lot of different teams with vastly different playstyles. Some, like the dwarfs are slow and sturdy and like to use brute force to bash their way through the enemy lines, trying to injure anyone who get in their way, while the agile Skaven would rather avoid direct physical confrontation and instead want to grab the ball and just run for it, and the halflings mostly just hope that nobody will step on them by mistake. At the time of writing we don’t know exactly what teams will be available on launch in Blood Bowl 3, beyond an elf team (Elven Union), a human team (Imperial Nobility) and an orc team (Black orcs), though Dwarfs and Skaven do at least feel like pretty safe bets for other starter teams. Cyanide has also hinted at there being plans for DLC teams, but nothing is known for certain right now about those, but hopefully the base game will come with a good selection of teams to begin with.
Blood Bowl has always been a deceptively deep game. At first it might just seem to be random chance that determines success, as you’re doing a lot of dice rolling, but it’s a game about careful risk management and forcing the opponent into bad situations where they need to make as many unfavorable dice rolls as possible. The game punishes failure quite harshly, so the more opportunities you can give the opponent to fail, the better.
So what has changed since Blood Bowl 2? Well, the graphics has obviously been improved, and the game is now running in Unreal Engine. But more exciting are the rules changes. Long time Blood Bowl players might be all too familiar with how overpowered certain players can get if they receive some boosts to Agility, as that stat was used for pretty much anything not related to punching someone in the face (or not getting punched in the face). Now there’s an additional stat, passing, which should keep players from snowballing too badly, and also keep the game a bit more fun for the teams that have low agility to begin with. The game is still very much Blood Bowl as we know it though, and apart from a few rules tweaks here and there it still plays pretty much the way it has since 3rd edition was released, though anyone who’s exclusively played older editions might be caught off guard by some skill changes and changes in terminology. If you’re familiar with the latest edition of Blood Bowl though (released in late 2020) then everything should feel familiar, as Blood Bowl 3 uses the full ruleset from that release.
Customization has also been improved. You can design your own team colours, select different emblems and even change your cheerleaders. At least in the preview build you could even change to cheerleaders from other teams. Ever wanted a team of Orcs to cheer for your Elves? Well, you can! Hopefully they won’t get rid of this options in the final release.
Blood Bowl 3 should launch into early access on PC in September and get a full release on both PC and consoles early next year. We should also get a bit more info on what teams are in the final release before then. Personally I hope that Snotlings will be one of them, but that’s just because I’ve have had a weird fascination with Snotling teams ever since I saw the rules for Pump Wagons in an old Blood Bowl magazine 20 years ago.