Blood Bowl Tactics/2016 Edition
This tactics page is for the modern version of Blood Bowl. For the older editions, see Blood Bowl Tactics/Edition 1-4+LRB).
Why Play Blood Bowl?
Do you have a desire for the community for sports, but only in the abstract due to your nerdy nature? Do you want to pretend you're a Longneckbeard by playing one of the classic tabletop games that has the distinction of changing the least throughout the years, to its great advantage? Do you like Gridiron Football, but your nation is the kind that almost exclusively prefers Football AKA Soccer and/or Hockey AKA MMA On Ice? Do you want to play a tabletop fantasy game, but only paint and collect a very small group that you won't have to add to ever again? Do you just find the idea of Orcs and Elves playing football while a Dwarf tries to run them over with a giant lawnmower and a Goblin cuts his own limbs off with a chainsaw so hilarious you just have to get in on it?
Getting Into The Game
You have two routes into the game: 1) Buy the starter set, which contains all your dice/templates/rules/manual plus the Orc and Human teams and pitch. 2) Buy that stuff separate online (its an old game, so between all the old/new there's plenty available), download the rules, then buy a pitch and team individually.
Games Workshop offers their products between their main website, additional products on Forgeworld, and through Miniatures Markets which may be a cheaper option than their main site.
At any given time they have one pitch for sale, each two-sided and themed with one of the teams. Unfortunately they are limited production, when the new pitch comes the old one is discontinued, so its good to keep an eye out for the team you want if it isn't already out because the secondary market isn't friendly for most of them. The other side of each pitch depicts the same field under worse conditions, such as rain or an invasion of ghosts. The Starter Set pitch has the Orc pitch on one side, and the Human one on the other. The actual extra rules of the pitches will be down below.
Each team also has some expensive glittery dice with the team symbol for the 1, just as limited as the pitches. If that's your thing.
There's also supplementary material. A phone app exists for the game which helps keep track of information for your team. There's also the two Death Zone books, which come in physical and digital forms. These were essentially large magazines containing lore, artwork, and additional rules which were largely things from previous editions of the game being brought into the current one. These, plus some Blood Bowl White Dwarf articles, were later compiled into the The Inaugural Blood Bowl Almanac. There is also Spike! Journal (named for the real like Spike Magazine most likely), which comes out alongside each team and provides the bulk of their lore and some paint scheme fun. The first three were compiled into the The 2018 Blood Bowl Almanac, which on the cover looks like its called the "Spike! Presents: The 2018 Blood Bowl Almanac".
Choosing A Team
Barring meta creep, which tends to be very slow and the game emphasis on local rules and silliness helps negate it anyway, your team of choice mostly comes to your preferences. There's even teams which intentionally are hard to play and almost impossible to win a serious tourney with, literally forcing you to make your own winning conditions other than actually winning. How's that for a balanced game?
Teams that are supported currently under the core rules.
- Humans: Your jack of all trades. Shockingly not that forgiving a team, since it relies on you knowing how all the moving parts work. You can counter your opponent's team slightly if you know what you're doing, but you'll also have to mitigate their strengths as well.
- Chaos: A mixed-Chaos team, although one mostly patterned after Khorne. Like the midpoint between Orcs and Humans, and one of the better pure teams.
- Chaos Renegades: Human Linesmen, with a Goblin, a Skaven, a Dark Elf and an Orc. On the face of it this seems like a crap team to play since none of those players stand out in any meaningful way, but on the plus side they have access to THREE big guys, so their scrimmage needs are covered. They also have access to Mutation upgrades, so those crappy linesmen can transform into specialists after a few games. Better for Tournament play where progress carries over, unless you just enjoy bringing several big guys to pick-up games.
- Dark Elves: "Bashy" elves. Come with two extra blitzers over other Elven teams, while their special players are Assassins and Witches, meaning they have a strong focus on blocking and stabbing. Their players cost more but can actually fight. They don't have throwers or catchers though, meaning it is slightly more difficult for them to master the same positional play as their other Elven counterparts.
- Dwarfs: Pretty great at fighting, they have Blockers instead of Linesmen meaning virtually the whole team can ignore the "Both Down" result on the block table and the whole team has Thick Skull and good AV so they are resistant to injury. This is all without sacrificing much ball handling. Unfortunately they are SLOW AS HELL and don't have any access to Agility upgrades without rolling doubles.
- Elven Union: A mixed-Elf team, the most well rounded Elven team to play. They have the above average agility that all Elves benefit from, and their players come with better starting skills (Nerves of Steel for Catchers, Sidestep for Blitzers) often making them a great team straight out of the packet. Though they have slightly lower average AV compared to other Elves (But not Wood Elves) they do have an overall reduction in price to make up for it.
- Goblins: Obviously you'd prefer to mix them with Orcs. As it stands, they're weak as hell. As a pure stunty team think of them as playing the game on Hard Mode. They do have access to lots of Secret Weapons that need to be utilised properly otherwise they get wasted at the end of a drive. Definitely not a team for beginners.
- Halflings: Given a much needed update by GW adding in positional players like Catchers who will become invaluable players, and Hefties (kind of like Halfling Blitzers, but can't be called Blitzers without being laughed at!), they're still a Slow and Stunty team meaning that you will have big difficulties keeping them alive, moving them around, or playing the long passing game, but are the only team with access to two Treemen players.
- High Elves: Like humans with +1 Agility across the board at a cost of some default skills on your special players. A very good introductory team for absolute beginners since they can make most rolls with reliability, though GW hasn't released models for them yet.
- Nurgle: Cheap players, great on offensive and defense, and with traits that help them in leagues. But come at the cost of a limited roster and being slow.
- Orcs: You can mix them with Goblins as you may expect, and probably should to handle the ball, but a pure Orc team is based mostly on trying to hurt the enemy team as much as possible to leave them unable to prevent you from scoring in the latter half of the match.
- Skaven: Great at handling the ball, and the fastest team. But they are as flimsy as they come.
- Undead: Combine cheap disposable players, some specialized players, and the best offensive option in most versions of Blood Bowl. But they require knowing what you're doing, so aren't as friendly for beginners albeit possibly more so than the Humans since they have more clearly defined roles.
- Underworld Denizens: Goblins with access to Skaven players, or Skaven with access to Goblin linesmen and a Troll depending on your perspective. They are easier to play than pure Goblins (since they're actually playing Blood Bowl rather than looking for excuses to test weapon prototypes!) but don't have the speed or the synergy of pure Skaven teams. What they do gain is universal access to the mutation table, meaning your players can develop in unique ways. Like Chaos Renegades, this does make them more suited to Tournament play rather than pick-up games.
- Wood Elves: Fucking FAST, but low AV compared to other Elven teams means they are more likely to get injured. To counter this they have Wardancers instead of Blitzers, which are basically still Blitzers with the default ability to Dodge (handy) are also the only Elven team to get a Big Guy in the form of a Treeman.
Teams of Legend
Teams that aren't specifically listed under the current material, but were added back into the game under a free .pdf file offered by GW They still get Star Player support, but currently have no official models.
- Chaos Dwarfs:
Special teams found in supplementary material representing specific teams from the history of the fluff, or new and interesting ways to play existing teams.
An intentional hard mode team. Why? They cannot cheat. Their models are found on Forgeworld, so you're intentionally paying more money for an intentionally weaker team. But upon winning you can say you didn't cheat, literally.
Getting to know your players would be a good start. If you're new to the game, then each team is made up of an arrangement of different kinds of player ranging from the lowly Linesman up to the Blitzer or Big Guy. However the game is balanced in such a way that you simply cannot keep purchasing what you might consider to be the "best" players for your team and are often restricted to roughly two of each specialist. So final compositions of teams from the same race generally vary only in the most minor of fashions.
- Linesmen: your nobodies. Typically coming with no starting skills beyond what their race gets by default and their statline is what you compare the other players on your team to. The reason you have these guys is because you need to fill remaining slots on your roster after you've finished buying your primary players. That doesn't mean discount them, with good development your Linesmen can find their individual niches after a handful of games and lend something invaluable (like a kicker) that you wouldn't have a different player doing.
- Blitzers: Almost universally comes with the Block skill and a higher speed than average. It's their job to either carry the ball through the enemy lines, or to create spaces for the ball carrier to move through. Thus, they'll often be some of the most active players on your team and will accumulate SPP quite quickly compared to some of the others.
- Blockers: If your team has them then they will the slowest member of the squad, but either come with the Block skill (Dwarfs), or a higher strength than the average for your squad (Orcs), essentially they are like elite linesmen that you want to create walls with.
- Catchers/Runners: usually the fastest members of your team but with the lowest AV value amongst them. Get the ball to these guys and have them run to the touch line. The difference between a Catcher and a Runner is generally whether they have default access to the Catch skill. Runners usually have something else more relevant to their teams overall play style.
- Throwers: Exactly what it says on the tin, these guys come with Pass as a default skill and its often their job to deliver the ball to the Catcher/Runner. They are generally some of the first players to get their hands on the ball at the start of a drive and look for the best place to fob it off to before they get sacked.
In League play it is possible to circumvent the normal restrictions on the number of special players you can have by hiring on Mercenary players. Though they only stay on the roster for a single match, never accumulate SPPs and cost more than normal players of their type. So this is generally not a great use of funds unless you have an injured player and need to fill a slot in a pinch.
Part of the fun of Blood Bowl is of course the insanity, so throwing in more rules to make things silly is always great. Obviously you'll need your opponent's permission.
As we've said before, the pitches have their own special rules, although you don't really need
- The Human Pitch has no rules. Likewise for the Orc pitch. Forgeworld made a more expensive pitch for both, which also had no unique rules.