Sunday, December 4, 2011

General Gamery: Blood on the Pitch

For those that don't know, Blood Bowl is a fantasy football game. I don't mean that it is a game where players create ideal teams of their favorite players from across the NFL, it is a football game played by dwarfs, elves, goblins, orcs, lizardmen, humans (of the normal, norse, and amazon varieties), and even undead teams. It is sports chaos incarnate, represented with 12-25 metal and plastic miniatures per side on a board, and it is spectacular. I'm not kidding. It can be argued (and has been by me) that this is the best game that Games Workshop has ever produced. Even better, GW makes the most updated version of the rules available for free on their website.

In the game store I used to run, Monkeyhead Games, our Blood Bowl league was our most successful league year after year and kept growing in size. This was in part due to fantastic league administration by one of our regulars, Mike Sperl, but also had a lot to do with the fact that this game was just REALLY well written. It was so good that our blood bowl league had more players than our Warhammer and Warhamer 40,000 leagues combined, and Blood Bowl was out of print at the time!

Years later, Blood Bowl has spawned a pretty enjoyable video game available for every platform that allows you to play turn based like the miniature game or more of a "Madden" style of play and alternate miniatures from dozens of companies like Shadowforge, Impact!, Neomics, and Black Scorpion among many others (all available on the Impact! miniatures site or The Warstore). This past Gencon, Fantasy Flight Games released a fantastic card game, Blood Bowl Team Manager, that instantly recaptures the feel and chaos of Blood Bowl but from the POV of the teams' management trying to make your team more popular as they win games and get  noticed by the fictional Spike! Magazine.

Team Manager has proved a win here at the Monkeyden, and it has done nothing if not re-awaken my love of the game that inspired Fantasy Flight's card game in the first place. So began my new project. Cincinnati seems at a loss for a good Blood Bowl league, and since the game is available online at GW's website with fantastic boards from other companies like FF Fields, and the aforementioned alternate minis companies- it's easier than ever to get people into this game. At least, it's easier than it was back when I was still on Long Island and Blood Bowl was out of print. I suppose the hardest thing to find would be the block dice, but those can be found on ebay, made by a few other makers online, and sold as part of the membership to an online Blood Bowl community called the NAF.

Anyway, I came to the conclusion it was time for me to dust off a new team. Back on Long Island, I played three seasons with my rarely winning Orc team, the Miragliano Mob. Oh Gods, they were bad. Eventually, I retired them for my vampire team, and I had a lot more success (and goals) with the Sylvanian Suckers than I ever had with my Orcs. But Cincinnati is not Long Island, so I needed to come up with something new. Down in my basement, is purgatory for all the minis waiting for use or ebay, so I rumaged through the menagerie and eventually found my Blood Bowl teams. I passed up on my Chaos Dwarfs, Wood Elves, and Dwarfs (despite owning the Deathroller) to play something vanilla that I can add a lot of character to: Humans. I know that sounds strange to anyone that has played Blood Bowl before since the human team is so.. average. But I was lucky enough to realize I had the older humans that used to be boxed as the Marauders with the great molded lion on their shoulder pads. Done and Done. So now I could approach team building like I did everything else game related- with too much thought and detail.


I like to have enough miniatures to prepare for every possible contingency with an army or team. First- it looks mighty imposing when you pull out a ton of minis, and Secondly- I like to show off since I'm pretty good at painting little figures.

Players: Human teams are allowed 16 Linemen, 4 Catchers, 2 Throwers, 4 Blitzers, and 1 Ogre. I'd like as much to match as possible, so since the box only comes with 6 Linemen, 2 Catchers, 1 Thrower, and 3 Blitzers, I'll have to scour ebay to find another set of Marauders... even then I'll be 4 linemen short. Not bad, I'm sure they'll turn up on ebay while doing this project, even if it means getting a third box of marauders and selling off the extra minis for spares. I ordered an Ogre player from GW (I know there is some great stuff from those other companies, but for players I want to be a purist) and I'll sculpt a matching lion on his shoulderpad with greenstuff when I put him together.

Star Players: Human teams can use Griff Oberwald, Helmut Wulf, Mighty Zug, Morg n Thorg, Puggy Baconbreath, and Zara the Slayer. Except for Helmut and Peggy, all the Star Players were made by GW so I will order them there, modifying shoulder pads to match the team. For Puggy and Helmut, I found pretty cool versions on the Impact! site. They will need some modifications, but that's fine.

Staff: Here's where I'll have to leave GW behind. For a head coach, I have a spare Marco Columbo miniature waiting and I can modify a Warhammer Empire wizard to fit the Wizard role. That leaves Cheerleaders (GW only makes 1 human cheerleader, I like to have at least 5), an Apothecary, 2 Bloodweiser Babes, 2 Wandering Apothecaries, a Halfling Master Chef, and at least 2 Assistant Coaches. For most of these I might be able to modify some old Warhammer or Mordheim figures... I'll need to come up with some ideas. But Impact! has some great minis to fit the bill for most of these.


Here's where I lose you, my Fearless Readers. I look at minis games as a role-player. So for me, story always matters. Despite being a Bretonnian player, I didn't really want to go that route, and I'm not german enough to really like the idea of making my team from the Empire. However, the guinea in me was jumping up and down like the fat little pastamancer I am screaming "Tilea! Tilea! Tilea!"

Introduced to mainstream Warhammer Fantasy (as in not Warhammer Fantasy RPG players like me) players in the Dogs of War book from a couple editions ago, Tilea is the Warhammer world's rough equivalent of renaissance Italy. It is made up of a collection of city states and is known for trading, sea combat, and pikemen. Of the established city states, the Republic of Remas, home of Ricco's Republican Guard, appealed to me the most. Besides being the only true republic among the city-states, it is essentially based on Rome, so I was instantly drawn to it.

I imagined that Remans would love Blood Bowl as the sport is a throwback to their notorious Colosseum bloodsports of old. It wouldn't take long for and enterprising businessman to garner funding to renovate the ruined Colosseum into a new Republic Stadium. Players would come from throughout Tilea and Estalia to try out for the team and intramural playoffs would eventually lead to a professional Blood Bowl team, the Reman Lions- or rather "Remae Leones" as this is Tilea. And of course, that would mean that Republic Stadium would simply be known by the nickname, "The Pride" from then on.


Dogs of War Regiments of Renown based in Tilea tend towards a very limited pallet of colors. Generally, the predominate colors are red, green, and white with gold or bronze for the majority of metals. The Remae Leones should follow this same trend. So, for a color scheme, I will be using red and white with gold accents and black for any leather strips.

Finally, a little Photoshop work and Remae Leones has a nice logo I can send to FF Fields for a custom board.

I'll keep you updated as the team and the project to introduce a regular blood bowl league to Cincinnati gamers develops.