Secret Weapons are one of the most fun and thematic parts of Blood Bowl; one of the elements of the game that reminds us how ridiculous and fantastic our game world is. They can also swing games for (and against!) those who play them, and in this article we’re going to take a look at how to get the best bang from your bombs.
The Secret Weapon Trait
This is the defining characteristic of our weapons and the most important to understand in terms of how we get value from them: At the end of any drive in which a Secret Weapon was on the pitch, it will automatically be sent off.
What this means is that timing and personnel management are crucially important in order to maximise the number of turns your weapons stay on the pitch. Your greatest opportunity to control your weapon’s stay on the field is on your own offensive drives. With the ball, the decision is in your hands, but when your opponent has the ball, and especially versus agile opponents, any quick score can see an equally quick exit for your weapons.
For this reason, assuming you have more than 11 players, and depending on how many Secret Weapons you have, there may well be drives where you do not field them. If you do go this route, you must equally be aware of the danger of being forced to field a weapon on a short drive. For example, you have 13 players on your roster, your opponent is receiving, and so you decide to save a secret weapon for your own drive. Your opponent scores in 8 turns, and also casualties two of your players. You are now forced to field the weapon for the final turn of the half, at which point it is immediately sent off.
You will encounter many other combinations of game state and you and your opponent’s rosters, so just take a moment to think which strategy will get you the most mayhem.
Keeping them on the pitch
Fortunately we also have a couple of ways of getting round the rulemakers. Bribes can be used on your weapons, just as they can on anyone else who has been sent off. You can also Argue the Call, but if you chose to do this and roll a 1, you cannot then use a bribe (remember Goblins can reroll a natural 1 on this roll once per game!).
If you have weapons in the KO box who were knocked out on the drive that just ended, they are still subject to being sent off, and per the End of Drive Sequence, you must make the decision to use a Bribe or Argue the Call first, before you make their KO recovery roll. This means some risk that they will not return still remains, so if you have multiple weapons you might want to prioritise your bribe elsewhere.
The Devil in the Details
The nature of Secret Weapons has always been a huge pile of rules and unexpected interactions in game. There are very few universals in Blood Bowl, despite GW’s attempts to standardise and keyword the game. What that means is you really need to know your weapons in and out, and probably have had a good read through the FAQ for any relevant clarifications.
There are many different saws in Blood Bowl, from the permanent one on the Goblin roster to the Star players Helmut, Max, and Bryce.
Chainsaws are often considered to be one of the biggest ‘noob traps’ in the world of inducements. The saws look amazing on paper, and they are very cheap, which means they are commonly within reach; but for players who don’t understand their pitfalls they can often provide very poor value.
The greatest danger for a chainsaw (aside from killing itself with kickback) is failing to break a standing target’s armour. This opens the saw to an immediate counter-block, and if a saw is knocked down, it is very likely to have its own armour broken. For that reason, though high-armour opponents seem tempting targets because of our huge bonus to the armour roll, they are also the most likely to still be standing.
The best use case for a saw is a low-AV high-value target who is tough to block down normally. A Wardancer, Witch Elf, or Gutter Runner are great examples. All that Blodge and Dodge is rendered irrelevant, and we have a very strong chance (83% vs AV8+) of getting at least a stun.
Fouling with saws is also a strong option to inflict armour breaks , but none of the chainsaws in the game have any inbuilt Sneaky Git, Dirty Player, or other rules that help with doing damage or preventing being sent off, so as with all fouling we must weigh up the potential loss of our piece against the damage we are likely to do. The Goblin saw is the best proposition here, being extremely cheap.
For rostered Goblin Chainsaws, Dodge is a good first skill choice, as they do not start with it. Block is a good Secondary.
A final note, contrary to many people’s intuition, players with Chainsaw do not have No Hands, and they may quite happily carry the ball while cutting a bloody swathe through the opposition!
Bombers are another class of weapon that are well represented. We have the Goblin Bomma, Snotling Fungus Flingers, plus the Stars Bomber Dribblesnot and The Black Gobbo. We had a couple more in BB16 such as Cindy Piewhistle and Boomer Eziasson, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them come back.
Bombardier got a nice buff in BB20 with Mighty Blow baked into the bomb. It also now has a chance to explode immediately when caught by an opponent, which was one of the more frightening scenarios for bomb owners. And furthermore, the general nerfs to passing ability and passing in BB20 mean the dangers of Elves simply lobbing bombs straight back at you have lessened across the board.
Nevertheless, bombs are probably one of the weapons most variable in their effectiveness. The area-effect nature of the explosion and the low likelihood of the bomb ending up where you want means precision use (outside of Dribblesnot, who is apparently like Drew Brees) is extremely difficult. A more likely scenario is aiming at a rough area with very few of your players in it, or lobbing at a cage, where it can be devastating.
Before BB20, the holy grail of additional Bombardier skills was Hail Mary Pass, which turned your bomber into a piece of long-range artillery. But nerfs to this skill in BB20 make it less desirable now. Accurate and Pass are both very strong.
Ball and Chain
The ball and chain is currently represented by the Goblin Fanatic and the Star Players Fungus the Loon and Kreek Rustgouger
The defining characteristic of the B&Cs its unusual movement using the Throw-in Template. This can often require careful planning to ensure you don’t hit your own players. The B&C received a small buff in BB20 as it is no longer required to move its full movement distance each turn, which gives some useful flexibility and control.
All Ball and Chain players have ST7, which makes them a powerful force for pitch control, especially against bashy teams who rely on their strength advantage to win the game, and cannot easily dodge away from you. But coaches must beware leaving a B&C hanging in the open where opponents can surround them with multiple assists. It can be trivial for teams with Block and Wrestle players (even with uphill blocks) to knock a B&C down, and once you are down, you are off the pitch.
For rostered B&C’s, Mighty Blow is an excellent additional skill available as Primary. Block is a great Secondary. Note that B&C’s have a list of skills they may not take (sadly Grab is one, which would otherwise be great).
The Deathroller is a unique Dwarf-only rosterable weapon that is exceptional for many reasons. It is extremely expensive, coming in at a whopping 170k, which bucks the normal trend of lower cost Secret Weapons and makes the concept of losing it after a drive seem even more unappealing.
On the flip side, it has a bucketload of skills and stats that make it a huge presence on the field when it is in play. With ST7, AV11+, mighty blow, Juggernaut, Stand Firm, and no negatrait or janky rules that enable it to be easily removed, the Deathroller will be a constant and hard-to-shift threat to even the strongest opponents.
The Deathroller possesses one other extremely notable skill: Dirty Player (+2). Yes you read that right: +2. Now, if you read my Complete Guide to Fouling, you’ll know that the fundamental proposition of fouling with a 170k piece is about as bad as it gets. But…this is +2 we are talking about here. There is absolutely a time and place to take advantage of this, and it is towards the end of a drive when you may be expecting to get sent off regardless. If for any reason you are able to carry bribes, you can potentially be more aggressive with this.
Dwarves naturally get the best out of the Deathroller’s time with their slow offensive drives. As with all Secret weapons, fielding it defensively gives you less control over the drive state. The Deathroller does have some very cheeky shenanigans available to it as a defensive option though, with Diving Tackle being a notorious Tournament build that allows you to tag opposing ball carriers or groups of players and lock them down.
Snotling Pump Wagons have a lot in common with the Deathroller. Though weaker and less well-armoured, the combination of ST5, Juggernaut, Mighty Blow, and Stand Firm gives them many of the same benefits; and you can have two of them! The big down side, sadly, is they carry the Really Stupid negatrait, which means they need Snotling support to function at their best. For Snotlings, the Wagons form part of a potential quad-ST5 wall alongside the Trolls, allowing for powerful pitch control. But whether you deploy them together on a drive or ration them will be a strategic decision to make.
Pump Wagons also have Dirty Player (though only at +1), and Sneaky Git is a very viable additional skill for them. Frenzy is a very interesting option for Tourney builds or if you can save for a Secondary.
Thanks for reading, and we wish you all the best in your rule-breaking mayhem! As always, if you have any questions or suggestions for us you can drop us a line at Contact@Goonhammer.com