Blood Bowl Gnomes: The Goonhammer Review

Welcome back, Sports Fans, to another Goonhammer team preview! Games Workshop were nice enough to send over a copy of the new Spike! Magazine featuring the surprising and brand new Gnome team! Our Blood Bowl boffins have had a look at it, and are here to break down the new kids on the block! Let’s hit it!

King_Ghidra: I’ll be honest, I was somewhere between indifferent and unenthused when this team was announced. I was surprised, because I thought GW would get through the other Teams Of Legend first; and I’m a BB lore guy, and Gnomes have never had any place in it (barring the Shortstuff Scurriers). That said, I’ve got no issue with silly and fun stuff in this game; humour is one of its essential appeals. So I was very eager to see what a GW Blood Bowl team looked like, but slightly apprehensive that we would end up with another genuine competitive force on our hands that exceeded its lore, a la Snotlings.

Dan “dittka” Boyd: Add me to team “surprised” when they announced Blood Bowl Gnomes. I didn’t even know Gnomes were in the Old World, and I definitely didn’t know they had a place in Blood Bowl! But with their cute and wacky models, they immediately made a good impression, and the more wacky stuff we can shoehorn into this game the better. I was hoping that they’d be functionally different from halflings, and thankfully, that wish was fulfilled. Whether or not this team is good, it’s a novel and creative take on a stunty team, and I feel like they’re a great addition to the game!

Strengths and Weaknesses


  • Jump Up/Wrestle spam has lots of potential to frustrate and create openings.
  • Beastmaster’s Guard/Stunty can be a powerful ball-stripping aid.
  • Agility access on Primary means they can still become a mass Dodge team.
  • Two Treemen is never bad.


  • Lack of Dodge is a huge defensive liability for Stunties.
  • Low armor values mean KO and Casualty boxes will have lots of occupants.
  • With MA5 on Gnomes and MA2 on Treemen, this team will be awfully slow.
  • Your incipient ball-carriers, Woodland Foxes, have no General access at all.

Player Breakdown

0-16 Gnome Linemen

King_Ghidra: Let’s start with the basic Gnome Linemen, because they have a skill combo shared by many of the other players on the team (Jump Up/Wrestle), and also because they are lacking a skill which we have come to expect as standard on Stunties in Blood Bowl: Dodge. It’s hard to underestimate how significant that is. Dodge has a natural synergy with Stunty by allowing auto re-rolls on their unmodified Dodge rolls. That has become a pillar of Stunty gameplay, with the pesky little guys just running into often impossible spots, or Dodging through multiple Tackle Zones during one-turn attempts. And this at least will still be possible of course, it’s just that now they will eat a lot more Re-rolls in the process than other Stunty teams. But the loss of the defensive use of Dodge, to negate Defender Stumbles results, is going to be huge. Look at the numbers:

  • A 2D block needing a Pow to take a Goblin down is just over 30% chance
  • A 2D Block needing a Pow or Defender Stumbles to take a Gnome down result rises to over 55%

Add in the AV7+ armor roll, and that same 2D block has over 32% chance to knock down and break armor. That is twice the chance to do the same to a Goblin, and it means a full third of blocks by ST3+ players against Gnomes will yield a stun or worse. We have all seen games where stunties lined the KO and casualty boxes in droves; this team is going to have a lot of games like that.

To return to the other combo, Wrestle and Jump Up is great. It also has a natural synergy: I take you down and then get my full move on my next turn. And Wrestle and Stunty is great. It’s a natural cage and screen-diving threat that means Gnomes can very often take a decent shot at the ball with a 3+ dodge and a 2D uphill block (this is a surprisingly decent 1 in 6 play, or 1 in 3 with a Re-Roll). In fact arguably if they did have Dodge added to this mix they would be really bloody good. And the good news for Gnome fans is that any Gnome can easily develop this combo, because all Gnomes have Agility access as Primary. They just have to live long enough to get it. Strip Ball and Tackle are also very powerful Secondary Skill choices to combo with Wrestle and lean into ball-hawking.

Dan: I just wanted to note that Gnome Linemen also have Right Stuff which means their Treemen can huck them down the field as they see fit.

Credit: Games Workshop

0-2 Gnome Beastmasters

Dan: With AV8+ and Guard instead of Right Stuff, Beastmasters are your main tech pieces on the Gnome team. I was surprised and disappointed to discover that the Beastmasters only have ST2, but we get what we get, I guess. That being said, Guard on a rookie player is not only extremely good, they’re the only players in Blood Bowl that get Guard from the get-go! Gnome coaches will never leave the clubhouse without taking 2 Beastmasters. Obviously, Dodge is immediately necessary to keep these fellows on the pitch, but after that if you can get them Sidestep, they’ll be one of the best players on the pitch on any pitch.

The big drawback to the Beastmaster is how much of a target they’ll be. At ST2 and AV8+ it won’t be too difficult to get them off the pitch, either. To keep them doing what they need to do, you’ll have to put a lot of effort into protecting them.

King_Ghidra: Guard is good. Guard is great. Dead Guard not so much. So yeah, Dodged-up, great piece very versatile, great potential to jam into cages before a wrestler has a shot at the ball. In general play, I don’t know. When the default Gnome experience is that all your guys are getting 2-diced by anything bigger than a Goblin, making that a 1D (circumstances permitting) is not huge. And unlike most good Guard pieces (Flesh Golems, Dwarves, Big Guys, etc.) this one can just be shoved into the dirt or pushed away with ease. I like it as an aggressive piece; I don’t think it helps Gnomes not get killed.

0-2 Gnome Illusionists

Dan: I really like this player. To start, they have the same profile as a Gnome Linemen except for PA3+ and access to Passing skills as primaries. But most importantly, they trade Right Stuff for a brand new skill: Trickster. Trickster allows for the Illusionist to teleport whenever they’re blocked to a different square that is still adjacent to the blocker. Then the block occurs. This is a wildly good skill. First, it will basically guarantee that a blocker with ST4 or lower will only ever get a 2-dice block on the Illusionist. If you can get them Dodge, this means that they’ll be very, very difficult to get down. Second, Trickster is kind of like a pre-Sidestep which will allow the Gnome coach to dictate where their Illusionist goes on a block. If you can combine it with Sidestep itself, then each block taken is functionally 2 squares of movement for the Gnome coach! Once again, the only bugbear here is crap-ass AV7+. These players will have to be heavily protected if you want them to stay on the pitch.

King_Ghidra: Trickster is a cool skill; I love skills that give positional options. But there is definitely a ‘choose the square you die’ element when attached to this body. Again, loaded with other complementary skills it gives you a very unpredictable piece. But the Illusionist doesn’t actually do anything useful itself. With Passing access on Primary and its 3+ PA it seems to have a potential passing niche, but I don’t see that working in this team at all. It might work as an annoyance piece with things like Sidestep, Defensive, or Diving Tackle. But we are jumping through a lot of hoops here for a positional that probably needs to start with Dodge to even survive.

Credit: Games Workshop

0-2 Woodland Foxes

Dan: The fox is a bit of a head-scratcher. With MA7, Stunty, Dodge, and Sidestep, you’ve got the bones of a good player. But then GW has saddled the poor canine with two “nega-traits”. First, they have the My Ball trait meaning that a Woodland Fox can never give up the ball voluntarily under any circumstances. Honestly, that’s fine. Coaches tend to try to minimize hand-offs and passes already, so it’s not much of an issue. Where we have an issue is with the Foxes’ skill choices. To start, Woodland Foxes do not have access to primary skills. In league terms, that means one will have to bank 12 SPP before you can choose a skill-up. And then, Foxes do not have access to General skills. No Block, no Sure Hands (teeth?), no Pro. The good news is that you don’t need skills to foul! Also, while you probably don’t want a fox picking up the ball at the beginning of a drive, handing off to one to score near the end of a drive is always going to be a good move. If you do ever get a skill-up here, Catch seems like the obvious choice.

King_Ghidra: Yeah, strange and interesting piece. The key factor here is AG2+. That makes it an incredibly reliable ball-picker-upper (just maybe after a Gnome has Wrestled the ball down) and Dodger. And with Stunty, it will only ever be rolling 2+ dodges. So practically speaking it goes wherever it wants, whenever it wants. Thank Nuffle it can’t Blodge up or it would be amazing. The fact that it’s skill prevents a Gnome drive pivoting from a Fox carry to a Throw Team-Mate attempt, and prevents the fox utilizing its great AG and MA to deliver the ball for one-turn TTMs, is a big problem. It is worth mentioning that it has a paltry, snotling-level AV6+. If this thing does get knocked down it is very probably going to be roadkill.

0-2 Altern Forest Treemen

Dan: Treemen are a known quantity. They’re good! You can take two, so you do! The new models are sick!

Credit: Games Workshop

Skill-Up Guide

Linemen: Dodge is obviously your first choice, here. After that, Strip Ball and Tackle are stand-outs. In a league, these guys aren’t going to be scoring a ton of TDs, so you’ll probably see some random Agility skills in the mix. Like any stunty team, fouling is a strong option to even the odds, so Sneaky Git has a place here.

Beastmasters: Once again, Dodge is great here. But don’t sleep on Sidestep! Guardstep, as it’s known, is a very good combo. In a league, I wouldn’t bother with random Agility skills, here. These guys are going to rarely level, and you need to keep those SPPs for useful skills.

Illusionists: Can you believe it, Dodge is once again at the top of the list! After that, things get interesting. Sidestep synergizes really well with Trickster, allowing for what is functionally 2 moves for every block. In that vein, Safe Pair of Hands is a great 3rd skill if you’ve already picked up Dodge and Sidestep. That way, you get blocked, you move, you choose where you’re pushed, and if you get knocked down, you can choose where the ball goes! No more random bounces. Dump-Off will work well to get the ball to a Fox if your Illusionist ever gets targeted. But let’s face it, your first Illusionist to level up twice is going to get Leader after Dodge. It’s boring, but it’s a good choice.

Foxes: Catch will help a Fox actually get the ball, and if you manage to level up one of these things more than once, you should get some sort of medal. Sprint and Sure Feet will also be very good options for Foxes.

Treemen: Guard is less good here since there are other pieces with it, but also Guard is never bad, so maybe consider it. Grab is another perennially strong Treeman skill.

Rookie Rosters

King_Ghidra: Well our default Gnome box doesn’t include any trees, but I would not recommend playing this team without them! Here’s a base build with all your models:

  • 2 x Altern Forest Treeman
  • 2 x Gnome Beastmasters
  • 2 x Gnome Illusionists
  • 6 x Gnome Linemen
  • 2 x Fox
  • 3 x Team Re-Rolls

This comes to 940K, giving you 60k to pump into Dedicated Fans, an Apothecary, or an extra Lino.

Dan: I would actually suggest taking an extra linemen, because this team is going to hemorrhage players early on. You’re gonna need the reinforcements!

Credit: Games Workshop

Tournament Rosters

King_Ghidra: Gnomes in Tournament play have some interesting possibilities. One is Stars, of course. They can easily be built at very low TV and play the inducement game.  The other is the fact that if they do find themselves in the usual Tier 3 territory they will probably get access to a bunch of skills, and in that scenario, the Wrestle/Dodge spam dream can become realised to a greater or lesser extent.  That might actually make Gnomes pretty dangerous.

Fun With Inducements

This is a bare XI that comes to a paltry 740k and you can then tailor depending on the rules pack:

  • 2 x Altern Forest Treeman
  • 2 x Gnome Beastmasters
  • 6 x Gnome Linemen
  • 1 x Fox
  • 2 x Team Re-Rolls

Sadly, per GW’s commentary, Gnomes do not have access to the Halfling Master Chef at its 100k price. But this build can still take Mega-stars like Griff Oberwald and other fun pieces like Cindy and be good to go at 1100TV. Karla Von Kill is a nice option as ball carrier/blitzer if Griff is banned. Again, depending on the rule pack, you have a good chance to be able to put Block on both Trees and sprinkle Dodge across the rest of the team to support your inducements of choice.

Dan: I do feel like this team could be scary in tournaments, where you can reliably deliver Wrodgers all over the place, but it does lack a few foundational skills. Namely Sure Hands. But I’ve got the cure right here, y’all: Grak & Crumbleberry! The dynamic duo of Ogre and Halfling really help plug the holes in this team. With them you get a 3rd big guy to help you lay down the hurt, and you get a Sure Hands piece who can be thrown (or kicked!) to help you with one-turn TTM TDs and conserving rerolls. Can you feel the synergy?! Here’s an 1100 TV roster with Grak & Crumbleberry:

  • 2 Altern Forest Treemen
  • 2 Beastmasters
  • 2 Foxes
  • 1 Illusionist
  • 5 Linemen
  • Grak & Crumbleberry
  • 3 Rerolls

You’ve got 14 players, all the positionals, and plenty of rerolls. In most tournaments you’ll get access to 8-10 skills for a roster like this. Throw Dodge on the Beastmasters and a couple of Linemen, Leader on the Illusionist, and you’ll probably have enough to put Block on both trees. At this point you’re honestly looking pretty good! I don’t know if this beats out a Deeproot Halfling roster, but it might, and that’s the point.

Final Thoughts

King_Ghidra: After Snotlings, it feels dangerous to take a seemingly innocent bad-looking stunty team at face value, because you can’t help the nagging feeling that there must be something we’re all overlooking. Maybe this team just plays the inducement game particularly well, maybe it has some Star that just shores everything up, or maybe it has some X-factor (like Swarming) that makes it thrive despite what the raw numbers seem to suggest. And that might still be true for Gnomes when the planets align (or if a tournament pack gives them tons of skills). But this team, more so than any I have seen for a long time, just seems flat out terrible out of the box. I think they will get absolutely destroyed by a good majority of even mildly bashy teams. I don’t think they have any great matchups. I think they will have games where they frustrate some teams and moments where somehow it all works, but I think these will be few and far between. I think this will be the new worst team in the game in this format.

In Tournaments, getting a ton of skills and having a bunch of wrestle/dodge guys jumping up and cage diving every turn (with some choice Star support) will probably be pretty decent.

Ultimately many Gnome fans who love the models and theme of the team won’t care about all that at all. Is it fun? Is it different? Does it have interesting mechanics and shenanigans? Yes, unquestionably. And between being pretty bad, and being very different, I think they’re a fine addition to Blood Bowl.

Dan: I think it is imperative to mention that the Goonhammer consensus is that a rookie Gnome team in a league will most likely be the worst team anyone has ever seen. I understand that the siren call of little guys will draw in new players, but you need to understand that this team will most likely underperform right out of the gate. I’d hate to see new players get into Blood Bowl with this team only to have frustrating experiences playing it and get fed up with the entire system. This team is going to be hard to pilot, and everyone should know that going in. Additionally, you are going to desperately need both Treemen right away, so that’s another $60 or so on top of the cost of the team itself. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

That being said, I think that this team has some serious potential to be one of the more annoying teams to play in a tournament. The amount of Wrestle present will cause people to have to play and block differently, which might provide the Gnome coach with substantial initiative. If properly screened, the Woodland Fox has the potential to be one of the best ball-carriers in the game. And a whole bunch of Guard is always a threat when fouling. I can’t wait to see what the top stunty players do with this team, and I’m sure I’ll be confounded when I see them across the pitch!

That’s it for now, Sports Fans! Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or requests from our Blood Bowl team, feel free to drop us a line at Happy blocking!