With the era of Games Workshop’s Specialist Games coming to a close I would like to take a moment to reminisce about the coveted game of the mighty lord Nuffle: Blood Bowl! My experiences with Blood Bowl are relatively fresh. I will be the first to admit that I have not always been a fan of this game. Roughly ten years ago I started my journey into wargaming with Warhammer 40,000. I was causally strolling through an issue of the White Dwarf and I happened to notice a small section of the issue containing a segment on games like Mordheim, Battlefleet Gothic and Blood Bowl. Battlefleet seemed interesting at the time, but I had no desire to collect floating pieces of metal that break under a steady breeze. I looked hard at Mordheim, which is basically the dirty dozen style game of Warhammer Fantasy and while it seemed like an easy transition for my gaming group (the transfer from Warhammer 40K to Fantasy was happening at our store) but for no particular reason the game just did not catch on locally. Last, we have the game of the hour, Blood Bowl! Although it seemed interesting in concept, I just couldn’t get past the silly nature of the miniature aesthetics and decided to avoid it.
Fast forward to this year. I had always been aware of the Blood Bowl computer game, but heard mixed reviews on the title. Honestly I did not really think about it a whole bunch, until that one fateful day. If you’re a regular listener of my podcast (The Warmonger) you will know that I love…okay, maybe that’s too strong…I mildly, to an exceptional degree, enjoy user-generated YouTube content based on video games/miniatures etc. One of my regular haunting grounds is the old Game Station Network (currently called Polaris). Back in February, TGS began a tournament league, which included a variety of their network personalities like Total Biscuit, Jesscox, Dodger and Wowcrendor to name a few. This series was absolutely amazing! With most of the hosts having no clue how to play the game (excluding TB and Angry Joe) it turned out exactly how you would expect. Dark Elves running for it, but falling on their faces. Amazons getting smashed by Chaos Dwarves. Wood Elf teams getting crippled to one a man. This series was immense.
The beauty of this league was that each YouTube celebrity made their own teams, and added a degree of personality and flare to them. My personal favourite was the All Star Player: Little Skittles (Skink) “Making it Rainbow”.
So as you could probably imagine…I have the Blood Bowl itch so to speak. I fed my Blood Bowl addiction with the easy to access nature of the video game. Needless to say, the video game is far from perfect and is still pretty difficult to control. Regardless, I became obsessed with Blood Bowl to the point where I began to look up list combinations and also started to play the amazing 23 team selection that was provided within the game. With the exception of the Slaan (no longer in the Video game), an all-new Khorne daemon team was recently added and was actually made playable in the normal miniature Blood Bowl as well.
Over the past few months, I have gorged over more Blood Bowl content then an Ogre Tyrant at a Skaven Buffet! I even started listening to several Blood Bowl podcasts like: 3 Die Block and Both Down, which both have their own unique levels of witty banter and sportscaster quality entertainment. As I listened to each show, my appreciation for the Blood Bowl miniature’s game began to grow. Competitive local leagues, inventive game segments and team building really started to tempt my miniature collecting desires.
Then the rumours started to spill. Games Workshop was rumoured to re-release Blood Bowl this September as a one-off box game in the same fashion as Dread Fleet and Space Hulk.
And low, the penny collecting did begin. And I let be known unto the masses that I would collect money from recycling bottles.
So things were beginning to look bright and double rainbow for my Blood Bowl obsession! But of course this is why we can’t have nice things…
It is no surprise to me that since the very beginning of my hobby career that the Specialist Games were beginning their slow decline into obscurity. It is only now, at the end that I truly regret not trying Blood Bowl sooner.
Too be frank, it wasn’t really the game that makes Blood Bowl amazing. There are comparatively better games in this genre now, Dreadball being one. It hasn’t always been the smoothest of rule sets. What makes Blood Bowl worth your time is the interactions and devotion of its fans around the world. Games Workshop abandoned the game aeons ago in favour of bigger projects, yet Blood Bowl lived on! It’s like the Chaos Gods of old, were not yet finished and kept coming back for more. Over the past decade, there have been national events and competitions ranging from North America to Europe to Australia. Blood Bowl has become a global classic! It has reached audiences that may never have otherwise come across wargaming! The NAF Website continues to update and I have yet to see a game system be run so effectively by a passionate group of people, without the help of the a major company.
I am upset to see the end of an era for all Games Workshop Specialist Games. I am beginning to see why these games can contain so much character and still be fresh to play, even after all these years. If this is truly the end, hopefully we can see more classic GW properties make their way over to digital platforms for years to come.
Keep Making It Rainbow!