The Let's Play Archive

Blood Bowl

by GNU Order

Part 1: Lesson 1 - What Constitutes A Player? Discussing Player Attributes and Skill Access

Blood Bowl 101

Dropping some insane knowledge bombs in this post

Let's Discuss Necromantic (And Skills/Skill Access)

Here is the blurb on Necromantic ripped straight from the Blood Bowl rulebook. I should note that the current ruleset is LRB6 (Living Rulebook 6, also called the Competition Rules Pack). However Games Workshop appears to not give a shit about us and have taken down the LRB6 rules, so I had to find a copy of LRB5. In our case it won't effect anything. A better resource for the intrepid Bloodbowlster who wishes to learn would be from FUMBBL, a free, 2D, Sprite-based version of the game. Actually playing FUMBBL requires you to be more knowledgeable because it was built with experienced players in mind and doesn't do as much visuallly or mechanically to help you along. Anyway, their help page is located here and information about all the races is located here.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Necromantic. So, let's go down the line and talk about what's going on with the above screenshot.
Qty - Indicates how many of each position type you can have on the team. As you can see, we are already maxed out on Wights and Flesh Golems with two of each, and saving up for (presumably) our second Werewolf. You can only have 16 players on a Blood Bowl team (matches are 11 v 11 if you'll remember) so, while it's possible to run a 16 mans zombie hoard team, your chances of winning would be astronomically low.

Title - Fairly self explanatory, at this point. It's worth noting that sometimes titles refer to the same player type across multiple races. For example, a Necromantic Zombie is exactly the same as an Undead Zombie. However, a Human Blitzer is not the same as a High Elf Blitzer.

Human Blitzer

High Elf Blitzer

While they may be conceptually the same and fill the same role on your team (blitzing, punching) they have very different lines, even down to the Qty.

Cost - Indicates how much a player costs to buy, in gold. If you'll remember, after the first match we won 70k in gold. After every match you roll dice and get a random amount of gold. The cost of a player is based on all four stats, and any skills he might have (also what skill access he has which we'll get to at the end). High strength (ST > 3) players are typically the most expensive on the team, and linemen (in our case zombies fill the role of linemen) are the cheapest.

MA - How many squares they can move per turn. You've seen this in action. 6 MA is typically considered the "average". Not too fast, not too slow. For reference the Blood Bowl pitch is 28 squares from End Zone to End Zone. With a GFI every turn, the average Blood Bowl player can cover that in 4 turns. Our Flesh Golems and Zombies are molasses compared to that, while the Werewolf is white lightning. The maximum MA you can have on a player is 10.

ST - Player strength. Compare with your opponent to see how many dice blocks you throw. ST (and AG, agility) are much less variable than MA (or AV, armor value). Almost every unit in the game is ST 3. That's your average. Any player with ST 2 is often either on a joke team (Goblins, Halflings, Ogre Snotlings) or sacrifices that point of ST for amazing ability, such as the MA 9 (!), AG 4 Gutter Runner, the hands-down best scoring unit in the game. Any player with ST 4 is often slower, beefier, less agile and has a high AV (armor value). Our Flesh Golems, for example. Any player with ST 5 is what we would call "Big Guys". There are two things which designate Big Guys. ST5 (or higher) and Negatraits. Negatraits are skills, only bad. They're given out to a player naturally, they can't be chosen on a levelup. Let's refer to the Treeman, a unit both Halfling and Wood Elfs teams have access to.

That's a lot of skills to take in but let's focus on the important parts. First off, he's movement 2. Jesus. Our zombies are world class sprinters compared to that. Strength 6. JESUS! That's really strong. In fact, he's (currently) the only natural ST 6 player in Blood Bowl. Agility 1, that's no big deal. We saw that with Khemri. The only reason he's AG 1 is that you can't be AG 0. And lastly, AV 10. That's the highest you can get, and he starts out with it naturally. However, all this insane ability comes at a cost, for the Treeman it's two starting skills in particular. The Loner skill means that he doesn't play well with a team. If you try to use a Team Reroll to reroll a failed action (dubskulls, for example), you need to roll another d6 dice first. Failing that means you can't use the reroll and your turn ends. You can use a Team Reroll on a Loner roll and it won't trigger another Loner roll, also it won't charge you two rerolls if you reroll the Loner check. The other skill is Take Root. The Treeman has a chance to get rooted in place during a match. Every time you want to move with him, you have to roll a d6. Rolling a 1 means that he's rooted in place, and the Treeman can no longer move. I mean at 2 MA per turn he wasn't going anywhere to start, but if the match moves away from him he's stuck in place until either team scores, or halftime. This can be devastating and render him totally useless for the whole match if you're unlucky. But, this is the price of high ST buffness.

AG - Agility. Affects agile movement such as dodging, picking up the ball, passing, and catching. Most teams fall into either the base AG 3 or base AG 4 categories. AG 3 is considered the average, but elf teams are all base AG 4, meaning all their players are AG 4. Higher AG modifies the dice in your favor on agile moves. However, remember that, because of Critical Successes on a 6 and Critical Failures on a 1, any player can do anything if the dice allow it. And sometimes the play you had in mind was just destined to never happen. This random nature of the game is why the mantra of the experienced player is to roll as few dice as possible, and do as many "safe moves" (i.e. standing players up, moving players around) before they attempt to roll dice.

AV - Armor Value. Determines how well a player can take a punch. AV 7 is the average. AV is much more variable than ST or AG, but not as variable as MA. AV ranges between 6-10. AV and armor breaks are a mechanic which are much less tactically important than other stats, because of the randomness and high variability of what happens when you knock down an opponent. Knocking down an opponent requires you to roll 2d6 and try to beat their Armor Value. Failing to do so is the simple knockdown, which allows you to stand your player right back up when it's your turn. Beating the Armor roll moves you into the Injury Roll, which is another set of 2d6. Rolling low results in a Stun, where the player has to sit prone for a turn before he can be stood up. Rolling higher results in a KO. If you watched the first video you will be very familiar with these. Your player's bell gets rung and they have to be dragged to the KO box, where they have a chance to wake up on the next kickoff. Rolling a 10 or better on the injury roll 2d6 causes a casualty. Doing so grants the player who did it 2 SPP towards their next level, and means you have to roll even more dice to determine what type of Casualty. I'll touch on those in the video if (or rather when) they happen.

Now, if you'll remember, I cited a full statline as being the "average" player. Does such a player even exist in the game? You bet! 6/3/3/7 shows up all over the place. In fact, the Amazon team is built entirely out of 6/3/3/7 units.

So, what makes some of them more expensive? Well, that would be our next categories, and the reason I even did this whole update

(Skills and) Skill Access!
I will only mention skills because they are relevant to the conversation. Your starting skills affect how much your player costs, and as you level up you get to pick more skills, which make your player even more expensive (and more effective in a match). However, we're not going to be covering skills here. Why?

Because there are so many of them and they can affect the game in so many different ways that we'll need to go over most of them. In fact, that's a post for another day. For now, let's focus on the basic skills that the first match has familiarized you with, and skill access.

You can see that each player has "Normal" and "Double". When you level up, you roll some dice (surprised?). If you roll a normal roll, you can choose a skill from any of the categories that player has Normal access to. For example, a Wight who rolls 3/2 can pick any skill from the General or Strength categories. Rolling a double (1/1, 2/2, 3/3 etc) means you can take any skill from the Normal or Double categories. In practice, the way the game is designed, rolling a double gives you full access to the General, Agility, Passing and Strength categories. Some units have access to the Mutation category, on either a Double or a Normal. But these are the grosser, more mutated teams rather than our simply rotting, undead team. If you roll a 10 (4/6, 5/5 (which can also let you pick a double skill), or 6/4) you can choose to, rather than pick a skill, give your player a permanent +MA or +AV. Rolling an 11 (6/5 or 5/6) lets you choose to take a normal skill or a permanent +AG. 6/6 lets you pick between any skill, normal or double, or a +ST.

As you can see there are 6 skill categories. The "Extraordinary" skills are skills which cannot be picked on a levelup, and they're assigned to players at the start. So, all of the Negatraits are in this category (You can see Loner, Take Root, and Decay there). Let's go through the skill categories briefly.

General - This category contains the basic, utility skills which can often be the most useful, or some of the more specific, technical skills. You'll notice that both Block and Frenzy are in this category. Also in this category are Tackle and Wrestle, skills which negate Dodge and Block respectively. Again, skill metagaming is something for a whole other update, but it's important to note because most teams have access to these skills, and most of the essential skills for any unit are located here. In general, Big Guys do not have normal access to these General skills, but almost every other unit does. You can imagine the frustration of having an ST 5 guy who cannot get block trying to punch a little guy with Dodge and Block.

Agility - This is the home of the agile. Agility skills typically aid with ballhandling and movement around the pitch. There are also skills which help a bit with agile defense. As the name implies, this is typically only available to more agile players on a normal levelup.

Passing - These are skills which help with passing the ball good, or avoiding passing the ball bad (depending on how you want to look at it). Necromantic don't have any players with Normal access to Passing skills, as they don't rely much on the pass game. Pretty much the only unit with natural Passing access are Throwers on various teams, elven or otherwise.

Strength - Skills that help you punch, maim, kill and be generally buff. Stand Firm is a Strength skill, and you know how much I love Stand Firm. Big Guys and general rough-and-tumble punchin dudes get access to these skills.

Mutation - Mutation skills are so much fun. They can do a bunch of crazy stuff. Claw is a mutation skill. So, notice that the Werewolf doesn't have Mutation access, even on doubles, yet gets to start with Claw. Pretty cool. These skills also modify your character in the game, so giving a player Two Heads will literally graft a second head onto his in-game model.

Phew, that was a lot of information. And it was only the first in a series. A lot of this stuff is fairly easy to pick up on as more matches get played, though. So we'll probably do a match or two before I crank out a huge effortpost like this again.

If there's any game concept you want to know about, be sure to ask. Myself or one of the other jerks around here will be more than willing to answer.

I've also neglected to mention that said jerks (myself included) typically hang out in an IRC channel, #tgbloodbowl on SynIRC. If you want to play matches against goons, this is the place to go and ask. We also have IRC bots which contain a bunch of game knowledge. We're pretty forgiving to newbies (because we like fresh blood) so feel free to pop in and ask for a match or some pointers.

FUMMBL Main Help Page -
FUMBBL Race Strategy Page -
Blood Bowl IRC Channel - #tgbloodbowl at SynIRC