Chairman of the Board: Fantasy football

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

‘Blood Bowl’ board game review

By Ed Appleby, Contributor




The true nature of the sport of football has been lost in all the controversy lately. We need to remember that football is really about athleticism, teamwork, and… goblins with chainsaws?

Blood Bowl (2016) is a two-player figure-based tabletop fantasy RPG designed by Jervis Johnson and published by Games Workshop. In the game, players take the role of managers/coaches with a certain amount of cash to assemble a team of fantasy characters—humans, orcs, dwarves, et cetera—and attempt to win games by scoring the most touchdowns in a set amount of time.

The game itself plays like a hybrid of American football and rugby, with loose formations, plenty of turnovers, and grievous injuries. Though there are rules and penalties, some players—like myself—build teams around fouling and crippling the other players. Injuries in the match are carried over into subsequent games, as a players advances in skill, and player death is permanent.

I found that unlike many Warhammer-based games, Blood Bowl is fast and fun and accessible even for players who are not normally war gamers. Unless you are in a serious league, games like this can act as a very fun RPG, and it’s a treat to watch your team grow—until your star player gets eaten by your troll quarterback. The real barrier for the game is how expensive it is: The basic game with rules, board, and two teams will set you back almost $120, and additional teams can run as high as $60 to $100 each. Plus, players are encouraged to paint and customize their teams.

I would highly recommend that if you want to play Blood Bowl, seek out a local league to see if you like the game before you invest. But if you find the right group, it can be extremely rewarding.