Norsca Rampagers: The Goonhammer Review

A little while ago, the Blood Bowl community spotted a cryptid roaming around the place – the Yhetee. This was exciting not just because it meant a new Blood Bowl miniature, but also because the Yhetee is part of the Norse team, which in BB2020 had been removed from the rulebook and relegated to the Teams of Legend page along with other teams that lack a current model range like Amazons and Tomb Kings. With the Yhetee out there in the world, that could only mean that the Norse were coming back – and they were indeed announced shortly afterwards, with a team box of all-new plastic models and a new roster.

Games Workshop have sent us a review copy of the models themselves as well as the new Spike Journal 14 containing their rules; let’s take a look at what’s new in Norsca!

The Models

Credit: Warhammer Community

The team box itself comprises 14 models (plus the tat like balls and coins), essentially comprising two duplicate sprues of 7. All the positionals are in here twice, plus six Linemen.

As models these are pretty great – Norscans are on the simpler end of team design, since at their core they’re Vikings by way of Conan, but playing American football, but within those limits they’re fun and characterful. The Beer Boars, of course, are star attractions, at least if you like Blood Bowl for its whackier elements.

As we’ll see in a moment, just one box gets you all the positionals you’ll ever need (with the obvious exception of your Yhetee, which like other Big Guys is a Forge World joint), which is a better deal than some teams where you’re left in an awkward position if you want, say, just one more Blitzer. The flip side here is that if for some reason you want more Linemen, then you also need to pick up the entire roster of positional players again, and have no real use for them. As gripes go it’s pretty minor; at least you can recycle Linemen fairly easily if they get bullied off the pitch, and Norscans are more likely to stick around than other teams.

The Rules

The team announcement offered some intriguing possibilities for what the roster would look like – the old Catcher and Thrower were gone, and now there seemed to be tiny pigs running around the place. What did they do? Could they carry the ball? What was a Valkyrie going to bring to the pitch, exactly?

Starting from the top, let’s look at Linemen (or Norse Raider Linemen, as they’re now formally called). These aren’t hugely different from the Teams of Legend version, with three exceptions – first, you can now take a full 16 of them if you really want to, two, they’re Drunkards, and three, they now have Passing as a secondary skill, along with General primary and Agility and Strength secondary like before. Drunkard is a new trait for Norse, which only applies to the Linemen, and gives them a -1 penalty to Rush rolls. If your Linemen want to try and run the ball, they’re going to face a little extra risk.

If they do slip and fall, though, a Boar can potentially help them out. You can take up to two of these for 20k each. Their stats are… not hugely impressive, since they have no hands (again, they are pigs, which are not known for their ability to manual carry), and are just MA5 and ST1. What they do have though is Dodge, Stunty, and Titchy – so they can get around the place if they want to – and the other new rule here, Pick-me-up, which at the end of the opponent’s team turn lets you roll a D6 for each Prone, non-Stunned team-mate within three squares of a standing Boar. On a 5+, that player can immediately stand up. This is a useful tool to have available; your basic Norse player shouldn’t hit the deck too often thanks to Block, and if they do and their reasonably tough AV8+ protects them from being Stunned, you can aim to pick them back up again. A 5+ isn’t super reliable, though, and the Boars are just a player like any other in terms of your team on the pitch, so it’s up to you whether you think the occasional pick up is worth not having another guy there.

Berserkers, Ulfwereners, and Yhetees are unchanged from the Legends sheet except that Berserkers gain Passing as a secondary skill.

That just leaves Valkyries, which take a dual role replacing both Throwers and Catchers. They’re your fastest moving models now, at MA7 like the old Catchers, and have a whole bunch of skills – Catch and Pass, like you might expect (and the former of which Catchers didn’t actually have before), plus Dauntless which Catchers did have, and Strip Ball. That’s quite a package for being able to just biff the ball out of someone’s hands. What is notably missing from them is Block, making them a little more vulnerable than most Norse and particularly making a swing with Dauntless a little riskier. If you can get them through the early stages of a league though they have all of Agility, General, and Passing as primary skills, and Strength as a secondary. At 95k they’re not cheap, but they’re likely going to be workhorses for you in terms of such as “scoring touchdowns,” especially since the Linemen are gambling a bit if they need to Rush anywhere.

Re-rolls, tier, and Apothecary access are all unchanged, with the final tweak to the team being their special rules – they now pick from either Favoured of Chaos Undivided or Khorne, rather than Lustrian Superleague, or Old World Classic. Unless someone tells me otherwise, and this is the Internet so I’m sure they will within seconds of this article going live, I don’t believe that Favoured of Khorne or Undivided does anything except for unlocking some star players (which in any case are listed on the team page), but they have it, so there we are.

Star Players

The Norse have a whole set of eligible Star players, as follows:

  • Akhorne the Squirrel
  • Deeproot Strongbranch
  • Frank ‘n’ Stein
  • Glart Smashrip
  • Grak & Crumbleberry
  • Grashnak Blackhoof
  • Griff Oberwald
  • Grim Ironjaw
  • Grombrindal
  • Hakflem Skuttlespike
  • Helmut Wulf
  • Ivar Eriksson
  • Karla von Kill
  • Lord Borak the Despoiler
  • Max Spleenripper
  • Mighty Zug
  • Mog ‘n’ Thorg
  • Rumbelow Sheepskin
  • Scyla Anfingrimm
  • Skrorg Snowpelt
  • Thorsson Stoutmead

Ivar, Skrorg, and Thorsson are all new, with models releasing this week. Like other Star Players these are Forge World items – as well as the rules and team box GW sent me Skrorg, who is also a Yhetee, meaning I previously owned zero cryptids and now own two. Nice.

Starting in the order they’re in the Journal, we have Ivar Eriksson, the War Raider. Stats-wise he’s basically a Lineman, picking up ST4 and AV9+; in terms of skills he keeps Block and adds Guard, Tackle, and Loner (3+). Once per drive, his Raiding Party rule lets him pick an Open player on his team within five squares; they can move one square and ignore Tackle Zones, but have to end their move Marking someone. He’s available for 245k to Old World Classic teams.

Skrorg, meanwhile, is a Better Yhetee – mostly by being slightly more agile at 4+, but also having Juggernaut and Mighty Blow (+1). He can also Pump Up the Crowd, giving a free time-limited re-roll if he causes a Casualty. He’s also an Old World Classic guy, at 250k.

Finally we have Thorsson Stoutmead, with the wonderful alliterative title of “The Beer-Barrel-Bowling Bombardier.” His stats card says he’s 26, and all I can say is that it’s been a hard 26 years even for a Blood Bowl player. He’s pretty cheap at 170k; stats-wise he reverses the Linemen AG and PA, going to 4+ and 3+ respectively, and is also a Blocking Drunkard, but one with a Thick Skull. His special rule lets you throw a keg, which on a 3+ knocks down an opposition player within 3 squares; it’s not all fun and games though as on a 1 Thorsson knocks himself down instead.

Dungeon Bowl

Finally there’s some Dungon Bowl content here, with Norse positions being added to the College of Beasts and College of Heavens. For Beasts, Ulfwereners can be Blockers, Beer Boars can be Specials, and Yhetees can be Big Guys. For Heavens, you can take Raider Linemen as Linemen, Berserkers as Blitzers, and Valkyries as Special. If you’re into Dungeon Bowl as well as the regular pitch-based version, then you can get a little added value out of your new team that way.

Final Thoughts

As updates go, this is an interesting one – Valkyries replacing Throwers and Catchers makes Norse teams a little different to regular Humans beyond just having Block everywhere, and the new Star Players add some fun gimmicks. The overall playstyle doesn’t change too much – you’re still going to have a wall of meaty Vikings battering whatever they can reach – but they’ll be doing it in glorious new plastic (well, for everything human-sized) and with little pigs darting about the place carrying beer, and who can complain about that?