Welcome, Sports Fans and burgeoning coaches, to the Goonhammer Blood Bowl Combine! For those of you who are new to Blood Bowl, or maybe those returning after a long hiatus, we’ve assembled a playbook here that will hopefully get you onto the field and winning, drawing, or at least losing in style! Although Blood Bowl is technically about literal fantasy football, the game itself is fairly strategic and is best thought of as a style of skirmish game with a sports theme. Passing, blocking, scoring, stalling and fouling are all part of your toolkits, but how, when, and where you should do these things can be the difference between great success and spectacular failure. Let’s continue with suggestions for putting together a team!
Putting Together a Team
Now that you know a little bit of how Blood Bowl works as a game, let’s walk through getting a team together. Most coaches will pick a team based on whichever team looks the coolest to them, which is the best reason to collect and play Blood Bowl, but let’s look at what types of teams there are and how they play.
There are 4 types of teams in Blood Bowl. They go by many names, but are generally called Bash, Finesse, Hybrid, or Stunty. These are broad categories that loosely define a team’s playstyle, not hard and fast rules of how to play them. Not everyone will agree with our categorizations here, and that’s ok! Each coach can play their team however they want to, but each team certainly has their own tendencies based on how they play.
In addition to our unofficial types of Blood Bowl teams, GW has helpfully provided us with tiers that can broadly tell you how a team ranks up against the other teams. The science isn’t exact, but what tier a team lives in will generally tell you how difficult it is to win with them. Tier 1 teams are the easiest to play, and tier 3 teams are generally all Stunty teams, which should tell you what you need to know.
Bash teams are teams that excel at causing violence on the pitch. They’re exemplified by lots of blocking skills, low Movement, many high Strength players, and high Armor Value. Bash teams will not wow you with how many touchdowns they score, but they can fill up the opponent’s casualty box by halftime! Generally, Bash teams are the most forgiving teams available to play, and are perfect for new players. Teams that could be considered Bash are:
- Chaos Chosen (T2)
- Chaos Dwarves (T1)
- Dwarves (T1)
- Necromantic Horror (T2)
- Nurgle (T2)
- Orcs (T1)
- Shambling Undead (T1)
- Tomb Kings (T2)
Finesse teams, on the other hand, rely on high Agility, Passing Ability, and good ball-handling skills to advance the ball and score a touchdown. Finesse teams are known for their ability to score quickly and often, but are often characterized by low Armor Value and Strength. Finesse teams are generally better for experienced coaches, as their players are generally more expensive and fragile. Our Finesse teams are:
- Amazons (T1)
- Dark Elves (T1)
- Elven Union (T2)
- High Elves (T2)
- Skaven (T1)
- Wood Elves (T1)
Hybrid teams are teams that have elements of both Bash and Finesse teams, and play their best game when their coaches are playing to their opponent’s weaknesses instead of their own strengths. Most Hybrid teams have both strong blockers and skilled roleplayers, meaning that they’re able to move the ball easily, and take hits on the line. Some Hybrid teams even have Stunty players like Goblins or Skinks to balance out their big bruisers like Black Orcs and Saurus. In the right hands, Hybrid teams are probably the most dangerous teams out there, but winning with them isn’t always easy. Hybrid teams include:
- Black Orcs (T2)
- Chaos Renegades (T2)
- Humans (T1)
- Imperial Nobility (T2)
- Lizardmen (T1)
- Norse (T1)
- Old World Alliance (T1)
- Underworld Denizens (T2)
- Vampires (T2)
Stunty teams are teams where the most of the players on the team are diminutive, weak, and, most importantly, bad at Blood Bowl. Stunties represent Blood Bowl on Hard Mode, and are recommended for experienced coaches or coaches who don’t care about winning many games! That being said, coaching a Stunty team can be one of the most rewarding and fun experiences in the game, as everyone loves the mayhem and chaos that Stunties bring to the pitch. Expect Stunty teams to cheat like crazy and use outlandish tactics to try and score. The Stunty teams are:
- Goblins (T3)
- Halflings (T3)
- Ogres (yes, really) (T3)
- Snotlings (T3)
You’ve found the team you like, so let’s talk generally about positions. It’s important to note that each team has a different roster, and might not be able to field all of the positions listed below. On page 33 of the Blood Bowl rulebook, they do a great job of describing the positions, so we’re not going to do that here. Instead, we’ll talk about how many of each position you should take. Again, each team is different, and will end up with different amounts of players on each team, but we can do some helpful generalizing here.
- Lineman: Take as few as you can! They’re considered the “backbone” of any team, but in reality they’re just there to take up space. Buy linemen last, after your positionals and re-rolls, to round out your starting 11. Low AV teams generally need more linemen than high AV teams because they’re more likely to lose players during the game.
- Blitzers: Take as many as you can! Blitzers are usually the best all-around players on the team, and you should be taking the maximum at team creation. It’s usually either 2 or 4 per team. Some teams’ Blitzers are called something else, but they always come with Block and usually +1 MA compared to linemen.
- Throwers: If your team can take Throwers, you will only ever need one.
- Catchers: Catchers are great for scoring, but are usually too weak to stand up to protracted blocking. Too many of them can hold your team back. The sweet spot is a number between 2 and 4, but most teams should really only start with 2 at most.
- Runners: If your team can take Runners, you really only ever need one, unless your team can also take Throwers. In that case, treat them like Catchers.
- Blockers: Blockers and Big Guys occupy the same role, generally: smashing the opponent’s team into the pitch! Blockers usually sacrifice a bit of Strength when compared to Big Guys, but don’t come with any of the drawbacks. If your team can take both Blockers and Big Guys, then you’ll have to strike a balance between the two, but if it only comes with Blockers, then you’ll want to take as many as you can.
- Big Guys: Minotaurs, Trolls, and Ogres, oh my! If your team can take multiple Big Guys, take as many as possible at team creation. Having multiple high Strength characters is never a bad thing. If your team can take both Blockers and Big Guys, find the balance that works for you. If your team can take only one Big Guy, it probably means that they’re well off without one, and deciding whether or not to take one is all part of the challenge!
Re-rolls and Sideline Staff
In addition to players, a team can pay for Team Re-rolls and various Sideline staff at team creation. Some of these options are necessary (Team Re-rolls), and some are superfluous (Cheerleaders). Let’s take a look at each of them and gauge how important they are to your team’s success:
- Team Re-Rolls are a core mechanic in Blood Bowl, and it is important to have a good supply of them. Indeed, now that multiple re-rolls can be used per turn, their significance is higher than ever before! It is integral to balance your chosen team’s skills and abilities with their need for re-rolls. The absolute floor for how many re-rolls your team needs is 2, and unless you’ve got a stunty team, you probably don’t want to buy more than 4. Elves and teams with good ball handling skills can get away with fewer re-rolls, but teams with no ball skills, like Black Orcs, Chaos or Lizardmen, definitely benefit from having a good amount of re-rolls at team creation. Re-rolls double in price after you play your first game, so consider stocking up at team creation.
- The Apothecary is the main way to prevent your players from kicking the bucket or getting permanently injured. That said, an apothecary doesn’t guarantee that players will escape the worst of their injuries. An Apothecary gives the coach the ability to re-roll the Casualty Table roll and choose between the two results. There are times when the Apothecary will give you a worse result than the 1st, and you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Be prepared for that! However, Apothecaries are extremely worth it for low AV teams (Elves, Skaven, Amazons, etc.). They’re probably too expensive to have in your first game, but should be considered the mandatory first purchase for low AV teams. High AV teams can generally avoid spending the gold on an Apothecary until late in a League, if at all.
- Assistant Coaches and Cheerleaders are only used on two kickoff events: Brilliant Coaching and Cheering Fans. Brilliant Coaching will get you an extra Team Reroll for the drive, and Cheering Fans will get you a Prayer to Nuffle. Each of these options is 10,000 gp and are generally not worth it. They inflate your Team Value and stop you from spending money on players and rerolls. Our recommendation is to avoid these options and focus on buying players, rerolls, or that ever-important Apothecary.
- Dedicated Fans can be hired at team creation and represent your team’s die-hard supporters. They show up for every match, and will factor in to how much gold each team gets at the end of each match. Having a lot of Dedicated Fans means more money after games, but if you lose matches, then some fans will hop off the bandwagon, meaning you’ve wasted your money if you went and paid for them. Buying fans is probably unnecessary, but we’ll have to play more league games to give you all more of a complete recommendation.
Figuring out how to best staff a team can be a daunting task in Blood Bowl. A Wood Elf team with 4 Catchers at the start of a campaign might sound like it could be unbeatable, but in reality those Catchers can’t take a punch and you’ll soon find yourself short-handed. However, there really is no wrong way to build a team, unless you’re just not paying attention to the rules, and you should give experimentation some thought. Have fun with some crazy combos and unorthodox builds and let us know what you come up with by dropping us a line over at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for joining us, Sports Fans! Next time, we’ll talk about kickoff formations and how to start off your drives right. We’ll see you on the pitch!