I didn’t know what to expect when I loaded up Blood Bowl 2 for the first time. I had heard about it before, hailing from the company that is known for making Warhammer games, but I really didn’t know what the game was all about. I knew it mashed football with orcs and vampires and with that simple realization, I was on board. It took me a little to get the hang of what exactly was going on in the game (I never played the original board game), but before I even started up my career as the coach of a gutted team looking for their former glory, I was introduced to the two telecasters that serve as the game’s main menu of sorts. This vampire and and troll have witty banter about the games being played, shady dealings, and offer typical sideline humor you would expect on any given Sunday, and with that little bit of presentation, my impressions of the game started high and only went up from there.
Blood Bowl, as mentioned before, is basically fantasy American football where everything is decided with dice rolls and cheating is not only allowed, but a crucial part of the game. In the campaign, you will begin with a team of 11 players on the field, with different roles among them. You have your throwers, your catchers, your troll (big linemen), and your blitzers. You begin with a human team as the game introduces you to the mechanics and throughout the campaign you will play against the other factions and learn their setups that make them unique. For instance, the orcs are heavy hitting while the dwarves seem to be incredible when it comes to blocking. The campaign has a bit of story intertwined into it, but primarily it’s there to give you a crash course of the game and get you a basic understanding on the game’s mechanics.
If you haven’t played Blood Bowl before, the best way I can describe it is as a virtual board game where you can move each player once per turn and perform actions with them. Everything involves dice rolls and each character has stats that factor into the dice rolls. One team will kick the ball off to the other team, and from there it’s pretty similar to American Football, just without the line of scrimmage. You go after the ball, pick it up, and then through passing or running, you need to make your way to the other end of the field to score a touchdown. It’s not as easy as just clicking on a guy and having him make his way to the other end of the field. If there are opposing team members near you, every time you move there is a chance they will block or knock you on your back. When this happens, a fumble occurs and the ball is available for anyone to grab. This is an over simplified way of looking at the gameplay, but it’s really difficult to explain the entire mechanics in a review. Suffice to say, there is a lot of strategy involved, lots of dice rolling, and a ton of violence as that orc knocks your guy unconscious for the third time this game.
The gameplay, while straightforward, took me some time to get a handle on. This is because the game pretty much throws you right into it with some popup notifications giving you information. The different classes weren’t really explained, so I just sort of moved my guys around until I finally scored a touchdown. It wasn’t until I was on my third or fourth game when I finally “got” the mechanics. You need to use your players strengths against the opposing team’s weaknesses and pairing a strong guy up against a smaller enemy will make your life much easier when it comes time to get the ball downfield. This is a game that will reveal itself to you through your failures, and honestly, that’s OK. It was through doing that I really learned what was involved in this game and while the learning curve was high, I really enjoyed my time spent learning it. There is something special here if you take the time to learn the game. If you’re looking for a quick game to blast through, this won’t be for you.
While most of my time spent playing the game was spent doing single player content, that is only a fraction of the content available. The main feature of the game is the multiplayer/league gameplay that is available for the more hardcore fans of the series. I was actually really impressed by all that is allowed in this particular mode. You will create a team along with a unique team name and build it however you see fit from the range of races available. From there, you’ll battle against others online. There is also a mode where you can watch games that already took place and I found myself spending time here to just pick up strategies that might work against other teams. The sheer level of dedication that fans seem to have for this game was really enlightening. This is a cherished board game that is being lovingly crafted on a console (or PC) and it truly brings the board game to life, multiplayer and all.
Blood Bowl 2 isn’t something you’re going to want to play with young kids around. It’s overly violent, but that’s sort of the name of the game (it is called Blood Bowl after all.) While the game has a lot going for it, it still has some rough edges as well. The crowds looks odd with the same identical person doing the same identical pose over and over and some graphical inconsistencies during the game showed themselves on the field, but overall it’s a solid title. The main draw here is the gameplay and everything else takes a backseat. You’re coming for the brutal strategy football, not the graphics or sound design. This will not be a game for everyone, though. You have to like both strategy games where you move individual pieces around a board and have a love of the source material (football and/or Games Workship creations) but if you fall into any of those crowds, you’ll have a blast playing this game. I wasn’t expecting much when I started playing Blood Bowl 2, but it has made it’s way onto the short list of games that I will continue playing after I finish reviewing. I can honestly see myself going back to this game in the future for a quick pick me up in between other AAA titles that will be coming out in the coming months.
Xbox One Review Code provided by the publisher