For board game fans of a certain age, the name Blood Bowl likely elicits fond memories. The game rose to popularity in the late 1980s on the back of its mix of fantasy strategy and parody of American football. Blood Bowl saw its first digital release way back in 1995 for MS-DOS PCs and it lay dormant in the digital domain until the folks at Cyanide Studio brought it back to life in 2009. More than a decade later, Cyanide is hard at work preparing Blood Bowl 3, designed to be the ultimate digital representation of the board game that won over so many players.
Helmets, pads, balls, legs, and parts of arms
Explaining Blood Bowl isn’t too difficult, even if it can appear daunting at first glance. Based on characters created by Games Workshop, Blood Bowl pits teams against each other in a hybrid send-up of American football and rugby. The available teams each represent the various races and factions found within the expansive Warhammer lore. Be it Goblins versus Wood Elves or Skaven versus Chaos Renegades, Warhammer fans will have no trouble siding with one of the many teams.
The action plays out across a soccer-style pitch surrounded by thousands of bloodthirsty fans. Participants from each team occupy the field on a grid. Teams are composed of players of varying sizes and skillsets. Much like chess, some pieces are better used as fodder while others are capable of greater feats and should either be protected or saved for the appropriate situation. The team possessing the ball will take their turn positioning players and executing blocks, passes, or handoffs in an attempt to reach the endzone for a score.
All interactions in Blood Bowl happen at the mercy of dice rolls. While individual player stats and abilities are important, they can often be for naught if the dice roll goes wrong. On the flip side, a single turn can go incredibly well with some fortuitous rolls. Unlucky souls may roll so poorly that their turn ends prematurely, represented in the game as a turnover. As the game progresses, participants can be injured or mauled to the point where they are removed from the field of play. Others can be knocked unconscious resulting in a missed turn.
While most of the advertisement and presentation is heavily inspired by American football, the actual game is about as far from the real sport as you could imagine. Hardcore sports junkies may find it all unappealing, but fantasy buffs and strategy aficionados should be right at home. Cyanide delivered the definitive digital presentation of the board game with Blood Bowl 2 in 2015. The third iteration is largely built on the foundations established in 2015 and the biggest changes come along in the UI and implementation of the new ruleset from the current edition of the board game.
While there will be only twelve races scheduled for launch, fans can expect the roster to grow post-launch as Cyanide has an excellent track record with DLC for the previous Blood Bowl titles. Customization for teams and players is also a heavy focus in Blood Bowl 3 so you can dial in the exact look you want for your guy (at least until they get ripped in half). All races will be getting solo campaigns and online play will get some updates to help the competitive community, including league functionality.
Halflings 7, Vampires 3
Cyanide announced plans for a series of beta sessions for players ahead of a release into Steam Early Access. However, those plans recently changed around the start of the most recent closed beta test. The team has explained that based on player feedback and internal testing, the best course of action will be to hold back Blood Bowl 3 until it is ready for wide release. While the prospect of early access to the game would have been nice for fans, Cyanide is confident that hunkering down and putting the full focus on the 1.0 release is best for the game. If you have aspirations of epic Warhammer battles with a pinch of football (and a few buckets of body parts), Blood Bowl 3 should be on your shortlist later this year.
These impressions are based on time spent in the recent closed beta test. Beta access was provided by the publisher for coverage consideration. Blood Bowl 3 will be available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles later in 2022.
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Painting the pitch red with Blood Bowl 3
I'm curious how they're working around the time commitment necessary per match and whether the "official ladder" is going to have quality matchmaking involved.
Blood Bowl 2 matches take ~75 minutes to play through and matchmaking is absolutely abysmal, with tons of ladders that each have their own rules that you have to search online to find (Though there's really only two main leagues this far into the lifespan). And match scheduling is a headache. I see that they're putting in limited turn timers which is nice, but who knows how that will be handled.
Really like to see a shack league though.