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Blood Bowl Review

Blood Bowl is a sports game made by Games Workshop, the makers of the iconic series, Warhammer. Games Workshop games are different to other games; they're traditionally played on a table not a computer, with figurines, dice rolls and a whole lot of rules! Blood Bowl is one of these games, first released in 1987. A PC version of the game was released in 1995 but this was met with some less than complimentary reviews.
14 years later, Games Workshop has decided to foray once more into the world of video gaming. Can this one be a little more successful?


Blood bowl is a fantasy football game loosely based on the sport of American football. This game sets itself apart from the likes of Madden however by implementing a few systems you're not likely to see in your usual sports games.
Taking control of a team of your creation, your aim is to score as many touchdowns as possible. This is not made easy however, as the opposite team are going to do literally anything in their power to stop you doing so. Blood is shed and tears are cried (mostly from you) as you attempt to send your ill fated players to victory.

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When creating a team you have the option of choosing your race, this is important as every race has different statistics, for example the chaos race, a race of huge beasts such as minotaurs are only really interested in one thing, violence. This is reflected in their team stats, they have more strength than any of the others. On the flip side of things you have the wood elves, they are small and weedy and will do their very best to avoid a confrontation, why they chose Blood Bowl as their career I'll never know! Their no trouble nature is also shown in their statistics, they have greater agility allowing them to dodge and run past a slower more cumbersome opposition.
Other team choices are humans, orcs, dwarfs, lizardmen, skaven (mutated rats) and goblins.

yeah...your screwed

Once your race is determined it is down to you to purchase team members, up to 16 of them. Also available for purchase is an apothecary who will attempt to heal one player per match, cheerleaders who spur the players on and fan factor, the greater the fan factor, the more people show up to see you and the greater the influence on some rules bending in your favour. Once this is over and you have customised your team to your liking, it's time to enter the arena.

First up you need to arrange your players into a strategic position of your preference, there are several preset positions, available through using the shoulder buttons or you can arrange your players yourself. Once done, it's time to play.

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Blood bowl is primarily a turn based strategy game, in your turn you are able to move your characters within a set amount of squares, this is easily done by selecting the character and selecting where you want him to go, beware though if you are passing a member of the opposite team he will try and tackle you, if he is successful that spells the end of your turn. Other actions available during your turn is, picking up the ball, done easily by selecting your character and then moving over to the ball, throwing the ball and catching the ball. In a unique twist, injuring your opponent is not looked down on; it is in fact welcomed by the ref, fans and commentators! It's quite amusing to be able to give your opponent a swift punch in the mouth when he's in your way! It's also entirely possible to mame, or even kill your opponent during the game. This is also done by selecting your character and selecting the player you want to attack. Guess it's not called Blood Bowl for nothing!

In another twist to the game play, the success of every move you make rides on an automatic dice roll by the computer. You are wanting to attack your opponent, a dice is rolled, it can have several outcomes such as defender down, where you succeed; attacker down, where you fail and both down, which is a no win situation! Dice rolls rule over allactions in the game, it's quite common to fail picking up the ball, or to succeed in passing and fail in catching the ball. If you mess up, your character falls over, knocking himself out and it's the end of your turn.
Adding to the strategy is your players individual statistics, if their strength is high then the chances of a successful opposition knockout is raised but overall its still down to the dice and whether they are smiling at you on that turn.


The authenticity of the original game is kept in the rules that are used. They are pulled straight from Games Workshop Living rulebook 5, the rules used to play the original board games. So if you're a fan of the board game you will feel right at home with the rules and regulations of the game. If you have never played them however it may take some time to get the rules memorised.
The game's controls are ok, but I found them to be quite unresponsive at times, highlighting a character or clicking on something would simply not work on occasions, persevere and it will work though. Still it is rather frustrating when it does happen.

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There are several game modes to choose from, Career mode which sees your team growing and gaining strength from match to match, Tournaments which are fully customisable, however many matches you want with whatever rules you want and Xbox Live where you can host tournaments with friends as well as the usual tutorial stages. Another mode available to choose from is real time mode where the turn based system has been abolished. To me this mode seems like an afterthought, with nothing too original going on. I personally favoured the turn based mode as it feels like that's how the game was intended to be played.

The best mode for me is multiplayer, I found playing the game with a friend much more fun than by myself, it's quite satisfying to watch your friend build a plan of action and watch it crumble as the dice say no. I found myself getting quite competitive and feeling much more involved in the game.

alchohol, taking the pain away

Graphically, Blood Bowl is not the best looking game I have seen but it is most definitely not the worst, the graphics are adequate for the job at hand. Arenas are nicely detailed and different from one another and player movements aren't too bad either. Sound wise, there isn't much music in the game except for the intro and menu music. Most of the sound in the game is provided by the two rather amusing commentators, whose constant stream of one-liners keep you amused, even if the game itself doesn't!

I've had quite good fun with Blood Bowl, its relatively easy to play once you get your head around the controls and the basic rules, it can however be incredibly frustrating to see your characters fail at the simplest of actions i.e., picking up a ball, as this then ends your turn, ruining any plans for victory you had in that turn. The dice rolls are meant to be random but in my frustration I managed to convince myself that my Xbox was biased and hated me. I went through an entire match where every pick up of the ball was a fail, every run ended up with my face planting the floor and every tackle ended with me removing my jaw from the back of my head.
The best part of this game for me is the local multiplayer, I was able to have a lot more fun when I realised that the dice didn't just hate me and they were torturing my friend equally! Its makes an interesting change to other multiplayer sports games you may play.


If you are a player of the original Blood Bowl, I highly recommend you try this game, it captures a lot of the atmosphere and authenticity of the board game, and I'm pretty sure you will have a whale of a time seeing all your favourite characters digitalised and more interactive than before. If you are not a regular to the game, then its still worth a look but be warned that failure will be your friend and it will come and visit quite regularly. Because of the botched moves I found the game quite difficult to play and have scored less than a handful of touchdowns in my time playing.

With some interesting systems it is a completely individual take on traditional sports games. If American football is something you enjoy, this game may be for you.

7.00/10 7

Blood Bowl (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

With some interesting systems it is a completely individual take on traditional sports games. If American football is something you enjoy, this game may be for you.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Sarah Nicole Collings

Sarah Nicole Collings


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Kaostic - 11:36pm, 3rd April 2015

Sheesh, longer than I had written on mine.. I'm glad to find that you didn't it as hard as me :(