An impressive mix of American football and Games Workshop strategy
Game review: Blood Bowl 2
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / PC
THE claret splattered fantasy sport known as Blood Bowl that has enthralled generations of Games Workshop players. Created by Jervis Johnson as a parody of American football in 1987, it has gone on to become a popular turn-based board game in its own right. After several well received video game iterations over the years, Blood Bowl 2 is the most ambitious offering to date, and it is a fun, nuanced fusion of sport and strategy that ought to appeal to Games Workshop aficionados and newcomers alike.
The field of play may look a regular game of gridiron, and at its most basic level, Blood Bowl 2 abides by the same principles. The aim to is move forward and block, with the ultimate goal of taking the ball over the line of your opponent’s backline in order to score a touchline. This can be achieved by smart runs or, if you are feeling brave, a passing game. But the similarities to conventional American football end there.
Brains are as vital as brawn
Although the switch from real time action to turn-based play slows the pace of games, it emphasises the need for brains as much as brawn. Plays are determined by rolling dice and, should your players have the sufficient abilities - and a stroke of good fortune - they will go in your favour. But choosing them carefully in the first place is critical; whereas American football is all about running and passing plays, Blood Bowl 2 demands that you avoid bone-crunching assaults.
Rather than tackling, turnovers are achieved by smashing your opponents to the ground, a tactic that is played out with visceral, entertaining cut scenes. Often the AI will strategically take out one of your players in space, requiring you to reassess your offensive approach and find another, less hazardous route. This is difficult early on in the campaign mode, where you are asked to manage a team of meek rookies and mould them into a fearsome fighting unit, but as you learn the game’s tricks, hard won victories prove hugely satisfying.
Character models are diverse and imaginative
Set in the Warhammer fantasy universe, the teams vying for glory are comprised not only of the human variety. There are goblins, trolls, elves and many other creatures, all of whom have their own skillsets, whether it be brute strength or pace. The graphics do justice to the Games Workshop aesthetic, with diverse and imaginative character models and animations punctuating up the action.
In time, you might also wish to migrate to the online multiplayer modes, although given the servers are mainly populated by veteran players of the series, this can be overwhelming and it is best to spend at least a few days pitting your wits against the AI which, though unpredictable, poses a modest challenge.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Don’t let your ball carrier advance up the field alone, but surround them with teammates to protect them and ward off challenges.
Only make moves that require dice rolls when you absolutely have to, otherwise you run the risk of having your turn end prematurely.
The orcs are a good all round team and a fine choice if this is your first time playing Blood Bowl.