Blood Bowl is a fantasy skirmish sports wargame, based on a sport set in Games Workshop's Old World and featuring the races from Warhammer. Blood Bowl was first released in 1986 and has had several editions since, and also been ported into a video game with real-time and turn-based modes of play. In this article, we're going to take a look at the contents of the Blood Bowl Second Season Edition boxed set and some of the rules changes from the last edition.
You can buy all the Blood Bowl products from our tabletop sponsor, Firestorm Games.
The Blood Bowl Second Season Edition starter set is the perfect way to start playing Blood Bowl. It contains everything required to play, straight out of the box. The contents are:
- Full hardback Blood Bowl Rulebook
- 2 Quick Reference Cheat Sheets
- Double-sided pitch board
- 2 Double-sided dugouts
- 3 durable plastic templates for range, scatter, and throw-ins
- 1 Black Orc Team and tokens (see below for more details)
- 1 Imperial Nobility Team and tokens (see below for more details)
- 2 Star Players, Griff Oberwald and Varag Ghoul-Chewer
- 2 sets of dice (color-coordinated for both included teams)
- 2 Referee miniatures
You can pick up the rules, dice, and a pitch separately, but the Second Season Edition is the easiest way to get everything you need, along with 2 full teams to get you going. Both included teams are also brand new to Blood Bowl, so even veteran players have a lot of great content in the boxed set.
Imperial Nobility Team
The Imperial Nobility team comes with 2 identical sprues and separate sprues for the Star Player Griff Oberwald and an Ogre. Each sprue allows you to build 1 Imperial Thrower, 2 Bodyguards, 1 Noble Blitzer, and 2 Imperial Retainer Linemen (so 2 Noble Blitzers, 2 Throwers, 4 Bodyguards, and 4 Linesmen in total) for a total of 14 players including Griff and the Ogre. That's the maximum of Blitzers, Throwers, Bodyguards, and Ogres allowed for the team. The 2 Noble Blitzers can also be built as Linesmen, simply by leaving off the giant eagle from their chest and leaving it instead as the skull. this gives some variety in how you want to build your team and also leaves some room for expansion beyond the early games of a season. We would have liked some additional head options on the sprue, just to add some variety to the Nobility straight out of the box. But there are a huge amount of conversion options available for humans if you do want to make each team member unique.
The Nobility team works slightly differently from a regular Human team. It's all about the Noble, and rather than be a Blitzer, he's a suped-up Catcher and everyone else's purpose is to defend them, usually by taking fists to the face from opposing players trying to get the Noble.
Black Orc Team
The Black Orc team comes with 2 identical sprues and separate sprues for the Star Player Varag Ghoul-Chewer and the Trained Troll. Each spure allows you to build 3 Black Orcs and 3 Goblin Bruiser Linemen (so 6 Black Orcs and 6 Goblin Bruiser Linemen in total) for a total of 14 players including Varag and the Troll. This gives you the maximum amount of Black Orcs and Trolls and half of the number of Goblins available to the team. Adding more goblins can be done easily with a Blood Bowl Goblin Team box or even just Warhammer Goblins with a little conversion. The Orc sprues also has 2 head options for each Black Orc and Goblin, so out of all 12, they can all have different faces.
The Black Orc team is actually more like the Ogre team than the normal Orc team. The standard Orc actually has a semblance of ball tactics, even if it is just player type names and all they really want to do is get stuck in. The Ogre team has large Orgres and tiny Gnoblars and the Black Orc players sit in the middle of those, with the Black Orc being smaller and less robust than the Orgres, and the Goblins being more robust than the Gnoblars. They play very much the same though, an aggressive style with maybe time for the ball when the opposition team stops moving.
Blood Bowl Rules
This edition of Blood Bowl is very similar to the last edition with some streamlining of mechanics to make it a fantastic, tight ruleset. We'll discuss the new changes more at the end.
For those who’ve never played before, Blood Bowl is a skirmish wargame, played on a squared board which makes movement straightforward. Games are split into 2 halves, and in each half, both players get 8 alternating turns. During your turn, you can activate each player on the pitch to either interact with the ball through passing or attacking the opposition's players. The aim of the game is to score more than your opponents by getting the ball into their end-zone, and some teams do this through speed and agility, and others simply try to take out as many of the opposition as possible or steamroll their way through.
A unique element to Blood Bowl is the turnover, where failing certain rolls ends your turn early. It puts a high focus on doing all the actions that don’t require a roll or have the odds in your favor, before the riskier rolls. This makes sequencing in Blood Bowl very important and a large part of the tactical process.
For combat, Blood Bowl uses a unique 6 sided dice. The number of dice rolled depends on the strength characteristics of the 2 players fighting, which can also be modified by adjacent assisting players. The Block Dice have a number of symbols indicating different results. These symbols are:
- Blank - No result
- Player Down - The attacker is knocked over
- Both Down - Both attacker and defender are knocked over
- Push Back - The defender is pushed back into an adjacent square
- Stumble - A push back and knockdown, unless the defender has the dodge skill
- Pow! - A push back and knockdown
The player with the highest strength picks the result, so working out which battles to fight and which to avoid is essential.
Blood Bowl can be played in single games, with both players building a team of matching value, but it is best enjoyed over a campaign, where your players can gain experience, known as Star Player Points, which can be used to improve abilities and gain skills, and also recruit other players and team improvements. The full campaign rules are included in the rulebook, along with the rules for 21 teams, with an additional 6 Legacy Teams available in a free PDF here.
The big changes in this edition are mainly just tightening up certain elements. The core of Blood Bowl remains the same from the last edition. Stats have received a change, and all player stats, apart from Movement and Strength, rather than being a number, are now listed as a target number to hit on a D6, with modifiers now being added to the dice roll.
Passing is now also a separate skill from Agility, which separates throwers from high agility players like catchers and Wardancers. Tackle Zones have also been cleaned up rules-wise and players are now either open or marked (if they have an opposing player in an adjacent square).
Post-match spends of Star Player Points have also changed, and there is now a cheaper option for a random skill. You can reroll if the random roll picks a skill your player already has, so for high-skill players, this becomes a very fast way to get the skills you need.
We’ve had a blast trying out the new rules, and the 2 new teams, and we’re looking forward to trying out our own teams in this edition, Skaven look as rapid and tricksy as ever in this edition.
The copy of Blood Bowl Second Season Edition used to produce this preview was provided by Warhammer Community.