First Look: Blood Bowl


Focus Home Interactive has sent over the first pack of screenshots and new game info for Blood Bowl, the upcoming strategy sports title based on the Games Workshop board game that brings the fantasy world of Warhammer together with American football. Cyanide is currently at work on PC and Xbox 360 versions that are due out by the end of 2008. Browsing by the game’s teaser site, I also noticed logos for the PSP and DS too, but today’s update didn’t make any mention of those platforms so I guess details on the portable versions will have to wait. Either way, I know what football game I’m looking forward to most next year. Madden who?

It started with Blood Bowl, the board game…

Created by Jervis Johnson and published by Games Workshop, Blood Bowl is a board game that experienced tremendous success in the late 80s and 90s. Games Workshop continues to make miniatures for the game even now, via its Specialist Games division and range of products. The game system also continues to evolve and improve through its ‘living rulebook’ idea where the game is updated through various rules updates almost continually. Today, Blood Bowl remains extremely popular around the world thanks to a large community of players and many Internet sites devoted to it. Former Blood Bowl players often reminisce about fierce games of Blood Bowl that they have played over and over again. In some cases, even many years later!

Introducing Blood Bowl, the video game…

A brutal team sport unfolding in a parallel fantasy world based on Warhammer and American football, Blood Bowl invites gamers to form a team of players from such races as: Orcs, Elves, Humans, Dwarfs and many other fantasy creatures, and launch themselves into battle in the bloodiest of arenas. This strategy sports game combines a fine balance of tactics and bonecrunching action! The basic principle couldn’t be any simpler: two teams, one ball. The team that gets the ball into the opponents’ Endzone scores a Touchdown. The team with the most Touchdowns at the end of the game is the winner… that is if you survive! Because in Blood Bowl – anything goes! Fists fly through the air throwing blocks at opposing players, while feet (or hooves!) stomp on those unlucky enough to end up on the floor. If an opponent bothers you a little too much, wait for the referee to look away, then tear off his arm and trample that pesky foe while he’s down! Its use of humor, magic, weapons and other unconventional methods makes Blood Bowl stand head and shoulder (along with broken arms, legs and skulls) above other sports simulations.

Developed by the French studio Cyanide, the video game adaptation of Blood Bowl has all of the characteristics of a traditional ball game, and so it allows you to develop actual tactics and strategies before and during matches.

The game offers two game modes. The first, which is fully real time, offers a spectacular gameplay. Intense battles between blocking linemen and daring displays of agility of players leaping and dodging through opponents tackle zones, while powerful spells and dirty trick special plays are unleashed across the pitch; all this creates a highly charged atmosphere. Of course, since it is sometimes difficult to keep an eye on the entire field at once, the game’s interface offers different tactical and strategic setups, while the AI is responsible for managing the players on the field.

The second game mode, an actual turn-based game, is a treat for players of the original board game because it is an exact replica of Games Workshop’s tabletop masterpiece. The original rules have been faithfully reproduced, and it contains all of the devices, strategies, play and rhythm of the original game.

Coaching Blood Bowl teams is not limited to the field, as they are heavily influenced by events off the pitch too! As the head coach you must maintain the reputation and popularity of your players, recruit cheerleaders and encourage spectators to pour onto the field to trample the opposing team when the opportunity arises. You can also bribe the referee, get opposing players banned for using illegal substances, or even recruit a Wizard to cast spells from the sidelines and many more behind the scenes actions.

Whatever your choice is, real time or turn-by-turn, the game is faithful to the official rules of Blood Bowl. Your players will have the same characteristics and skills as in the board game. Some players will specialize in throwing the ball, some in catching and dodging or simply in blocking opponents. With the full list of (nearly a hundred!) skills we can promise almost innumerable tactics and combinations of strategies.

With eight different races drawn from the Warhammer World, gamers have a huge variety of playing styles to choose from. Traditional Humans and Orcs are available of course, but also Skaven, Dwarfs, Wood Elves, Goblins, Lizardmen or even Chaos! Players can also recruit one of the “Big Guys”, bigger and more brutal versions of the Blood Bowl players. Among them are the Minotaur, the Troll the Ogre and the Kroxigor. The player may as well unlock certain Blood Bowl All Stars, prestigious players from the past. All of these “Star Players” often make the difference in a tight match.

The single-player experience allows the player to manage a team throughout an entire season of Blood Bowl, through the Old World of Warhammer. The team will evolve over the course of victories, experience gained and awards won. With its immense depth, the game can almost be considered as a management game, from managing the popularity and sponsorship of players to the purchase and sale of players, as well as their aging, retirement and even death.

In multiplayer, the player will be able to throw down a challenge to other Blood Bowl players and participate in large tournaments on the Internet in order to climb the official ranks (ladder).

There will also be “home” competitions where the player can play friendlies, without affecting his official ranking.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!