An Introduction to Blood Bowl (Part 1)

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Author: Deleios Cherchenuit

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The aim of this series is to introduce you to the wonderful world of Blood Bowl through its video game adaptation. We will get to follow together the adventures of the Orc team "Moulin Rouge <3", fighting for its survival and realizing that really, fair play is overrated in that world.

What is Blood Bowl?

Blood Bowl is a board game first released in 1987 by Games Workshop. It is set in a world mixing American Football and a medieval fantastic background. There are cameos in the game referring to the NFL (National Football League), one of the Gods' name being Nuffle, and you can also find teams like the Darkside Cowboys, the Bad Bay Hackers or the Orcland Raiders.

Blood Bowl is a two player, turned based game. The aim of the game is, surprise surprise, to score more touchdowns than the opponent. Each game lasts 32 turns (16 for each player) which are divided in two halves. "Blood" represents the violent actions available in the game; after all, it has been demonstrated that it is much easier to score when there are no opponents left to bother you on the field.

There are a large variety of teams available: humans, orcs, elves, chaos, skavens... One of the most interesting aspects of the game is that you can pick a team that suits your tastes. Each team has its own specificities, and the game play can vary a lot from one to another.

Basic rules:

Player stats:

MA (Move allowance): Defines how many squares your player can move in a turn. The field is divided in two halves of 15 square wide and 13 square long. The average value of MA is 6.

ST (Strength): Defines the player's fighting ability. The average value is 3.

AG (Agility): Defines the player's ability to handle the ball and dodge his/her opponents. The average value is 3.

AV (Armor Value): Defines how difficult it is to injure the player. The average value is 8.

Skills: some players start with some skills, some without any. I know, life is unfair. However, players can gain skill when leveling up!


During his/her turn, a player can act only once. The actions available are:

Movement: Move the player through empty squares. If a player starts a turn on the ground, he can stand up at the cost of 3 movement points.

Going for it: a player is allowed to try to move up to two (three if he possesses the sprint skill) additional squares, but if he fails, he is immediately knocked prone.

Block: Block an opponent on an adjacent square.

Special actions are also available, once per player and per turn :

Blitz: Allow the player to block and move in the same turn. The blocking action counts as one movement.

Pass: Allows the player to pass the ball. The player is allowed to move before passing the ball.

Hand off: Pass: Allows the player to give the ball to an adjacent player. The player is allowed to move before handing off the ball.

Foul: Foul an adjacent player who is on the ground. The player is allowed to move before fouling. Watch out for the referee's eyes, though.

Some additional special actions are available through special skills, but we'll see that later.

The Block sequence:

When a player decides to block another, first and foremost, you need to determine who's the strongest one! To achieve that, you compare the values of the Strength attributes of the players :
- If it's the same, you roll one die.
- You roll two dice if one player has a greater strength than the other, and the player with the greatest strength decides which die will apply.
- You roll three dice if one player has more than twice the strength of the other, and the player with the greatest strength decides which die will apply.

But how can the tricksy hobbit defeat the evil troll, then? Well, strength also is in numbers! Each player can assist a block (he needs to be in an adjacent square of the defender, and have no other opponent in an adjacent square), therefore granting your teammate one extra ST point for the block.

Example: Frodo (who has a strength of 2) fights the evil Troll (who has a strength of 5). On his own, he would have 3 dice against him! But look, Sam comes to the rescue! Now Frodo has a strength of 3, and only has 2 dice against him. Not enough you say? Well, Merry and Pippin join the fight! Now Frodo has a strength of 5, matching the Troll's. That's still a chance to take, but at least it's not impossible now! Good luck, little hobbits!

The result of a block is determined by the roll of dice :


(1 on a regular D6): The attacker is knocked prone.


(2 on a regular D6): Both players are knocked prone, unless they have the block skill. Also, the defending player can choose to use the wrestle skill to set both player on the ground.


(3 or 4 on a regular D6): the defending player is pushed back.


(5 on a regular D6): the defending player is knocked down and pushed back, unless he posses the dodge skill and his attacker does not possess the tackle skill. In that case, the defender is simply pushed back.


(6 on a regular D6): the defending player is knocked down and pushed back.
If the opponent is pushed back, the attacker can usually choose to follow up the block (ie go in the square where his opponent was), for no movement cost.

The injury sequence:

When a player is knocked prone (or fouled :P), an injury sequence is engaged. Roll 2D6. If the result is higher than the armor value of the player, he is injured. Roll another 2D6 and see the results!

Knocked down (between 2 and 7): the player will not act next turn and will enjoy the view from the ground.

Knocked out (8 or 9): the player is out of the field, but may return later in the game.

Injured (10+): another roll is then thrown, to determine if the player is out for the game, suffers a more serious injury or is dead!

Example: Frodo and his fellow hobbits managed to knock the troll prone! Frodo rolls an armor roll, and rolls 11, which is higher than the AV value of 9 of the troll. Congrats Frodo, that Sting isn't for show! Now roll the injury roll! What? You got a 9? Congrats, the Troll is knocked out! Way to go!


Some actions or specific skills require the player to take a test (whether in strength or agility). To succeed a test, the player needs to roll a D6, add his value in the tested attribute and get a result of 7 to succeed. However, a result of 1 always is a failure and a result of is 6 always is a success.

Tackle zone:

As explained in the block sequence, positioning a player next to another one is not without importance. Each standing player generates around him a tackle zone, which gives his opponents a -1 penalty to all of his tests (blocks being a special case already explained). A player can be in several opposing tackle zones and in that case, the penalties stack.


If a player leaves a tackle zone while moving, he is required to take an agility test with a +1 bonus. The tackle zons considered for the penalties are the one of the square the player is entering, not the one he's leaving. If the player fails, he's knocked prone.

Example: Legolas is facing two black orcs. Listening to his courage, he turns heels and runs! However, a goblin is waiting behind him. Legolas has an agility of 4, so his roll has a +1 (dodging) and a -1 (going into the goblin's tackle zone) = 0 modifier. Legolas therefore needs to roll 3 or more to make it without being knocked prone. The result is a 4; you can hear the grunting orcs behind him, while Legolas can now wonder where to escape next.

Handling the ball:

Blocking opponent is good, but scoring touchdowns is better! Or so elven teams say, at least. The actions available regarding handling the ball are:

Picking up the ball: To pick the ball, the player needs to succeed an agility test with a +1 modifier.

Passing the ball: To pass the ball, an agility test is required. The modifier depends on how long the pass is going to be. It can vary from +1 (quick pass) to -2 (long bomb). If the throw fails, the ball will go slightly off its aim. If the result is 1, the passer fumbles the ball and drops it next to him.

If an opposing player is on the path of the ball, he may try to intercept it, by succeeding an agility test with a -2 modifier. If there are more than one opposing players, only one may try to intercept the ball.

Catching the ball: To catch the ball, the player needs to succeed an agility test. If the catch roll is due to a successful pass, a +1 modifier applies.

Example: Legolas runs for the loose ball and attempts to pick it up. He rolls 2 (AG 4 +2 on his roll +1 modifier=7, success!) and then spots Gandalf in the end zone. He decides to throw the ball in order to score against the "One Ball To Rule Them All" team. Gandalf however, is pretty far and the throw has a -1 modifier. Legolas still tries and he rolls 3 : 3+4-1=6. Alas, the pass failed! However, all is not lost. The ball, aimed for Gandalf, luckily arrives right on the square where Gimli is! Gimli's agility is 2 (hey, what did you expect?), so he needs to roll a 5 to get the ball. It's a 6! Gimli caught the ball, to everyone's, much more his own, astonishment! Go Gimli, run for the touchdown!


The most important rule in the game is the turnover rule. If you attempt an action and fail, your turn ends immediately and your opponent will take advantage of it. Plan accordingly!

Some examples of actions causing a turnover are: Being sent off by the ref, missing a pass or have it intercepted, failing to catch a pass, falling on the ground (through a missed block or dodge, or a failed sprint) and of course, scoring a touchdown! \o/


Each team has a set number of rerolls, which allow you to reroll any roll (except injury rolls) once. Some skills also allow players to reroll certain rolls, but a single roll can only be rerolled once.


As they accomplish actions on the field, players will gain experience points. For each level they get, they will gain skills and become even better!

A completed pass is worth one xp (experience point), injuring an opponent on a block or intercepting the ball is worth two, a touchdown is worth three, and finally, the audience will randomly award the MVP award to one player in each team after each game, granting him five xp.

The xp table is as follows:
Beginner: 0-5 xp
Experienced (one skill): 6-15 xp
Seasoned (two skills): 16-30 xp
Champion to be (three skills): 31-50 xp
Champion (fours skills): 51-75 xp
Super champion (five skills): 76-175 xp
Legend (six skills): 176xp

This covers the basics (!) of the rules, I will see you next month with the presenters Bob Bifford and Jim Johnson for our first game, where we will see how brave orcs ended there, and how they will fare!

Feel free to leave comments!

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