I am a huge Blood Bowl fan. I probably have dramatically overspent on miniatures and rulebooks over the years, I used to be an active member of the NAF, an international federation of coaches (people who play the game are technically coaches, while the “players” refer to the beings on the pitch…). Unfortunately, I’ve always had trouble finding games or leagues to join when it comes to the tabletop game.
Enter Cyanide Studios. Before we go any further, yes, I am aware of other online versions of this great game (I’ve even interviewed some of the team members WAY back in episode 10). However, we’re here today to discuss the official game.
The Focus and Cyanide Blood Bowl titles have their faults (connection issues and spotty AI being chief among them), but there’s something glorious about seeing fully rendered 3D versions of my favorite Skaven team (rat-men for those of you new to the game) wreaking havoc on the pitch.
Since I do enjoy the game overall, I was intrigued when Dungeonbowl was announced. This version of the rules takes the games off of the standard BB pitch (a representation of an American Football field, replacing NFL teams with humans, orcs, elves, and far fewer rules protecting a quarterback…) and brings things indoors into cramped quarters filled with deadly traps and even a hidden ball! The ball is placed randomly in one of several chests scattered throughout the map. Unlike regular BB, the object of DB is to find the ball (all of the other chests are booby-trapped and explode when opened) and make your way to the end zone. The first team to cross the end zone wins.
Dungeonbowl as it stands is tough to recommend. For $15, I felt that more teams should have been included, and not just available as DLC. I also have an issue with the fact that the only way to create a team is if you join an online league. If I want to create my own team of thugs and simply play local games, I should be able to. Also, not including a single player mode seems almost unforgivable. It has been argued on the forums that the AI would not have been able to keep up with all of the rule changes and specialty plays that Dungeonbowl brings to the table (smaller teams, bouncing passes off of walls, trapped floors, teleporters, etc), but as this is a niche rule set for an already niche game, finding online opponents can be difficult, AND new players should have a way to learn the fundamentals without having to go online immediately. Yes, you can play against yourself in a local match, but other than allowing you to learn the mechanics, it doesn’t help with tactics or pacing.
That being said, I like the way the game plays. The mechanics seem clean, and the interface works pretty well, so long as you have a good understanding of Blood Bowl rules. A rulebook is provided, but I recommend going to forums to really learn the ins and outs of how the game should be played before you dive in. The traps, teleporters, et al all are animated nicely and seem effective. I don’t remember enough of the minutiae of the rules anymore to know if every last action has been accurately portrayed, but it seemed accurate enough to me. Hardcore fans are encouraged to comment here to let me know what I’ve missed. There’s still something very entertaining about watching my Treeman lay a beatdown on a hapless opponent, or having my Halfling make a great dodge and scurry into the end zone for a score that makes me want to come back. I just feel like Dungeonbowl should have been offered as a DLC pack for Blood Bowl (at a reduced price) rather than trying to spin it off as a separate game.