Blood Bowl 3 preview

Blood Bowl has a stormy history, but what Games Workshop Specialist Game hasn’t? However, it was the first to be resurrected as a video game in an uncharacteristically good deal between Tom Kirby’s regime and Cyanide Studio, the developers of Chaos League. And now, with the game back in physical form with two editions, it returns to PC as Blood Bowl 3. For those not in the know, Blood Bowl is a game of fantasy football. No, not the American past time of making office drama about their dream hand-egg teams. We’re talking about an alternate Warhammer Old World, where orc, humans, dwarves, the undead, and many others have laid down their arms in order to take part in a version of rugby only slightly less violent than war.

I got to play in Blood Bowl 3‘s second beta, which is, as far as we know, the last time we’ll get to touch Blood Bowl 3 before the full release. Out of the dozen teams promised at launch, only four were available: Imperial Nobility, Black Orcs, Elven Union, and Dwarves. We could take them on a spin in the very-on-rails tutorial, matches against the AI, friendly online fights, and even the, uh, Quick Match league.


Are you ready for some Blood Bowl 3?

The basics are already there in Blood Bowl 3. You create a team, buy the players, call them silly names (the full game promises in-depth customization, which is important for a game with team member progression), customize the team colors and logo, and take them to the pitch. There, you heed the one Blood Bowl rule that forever remains unchanged: the dice hate you, so do all the actions that don’t require rolls before moving to anything exciting. Game turns still alternate between you and the opponent, the players spend most for their time punc- er, blocking, injuries are accrued, the ball is eventually picked off the ground, and maybe even passed. Someone wins, but not all players necessarily survive to see it.

Blood Bowl 3 preview

The traditional start of any Blood Bowl turn is standing up knocked down players

Unlike the second game in the series, Blood Bowl 3 closely follows the rules of the current edition. There’s a dedicated passing stat, you can jump over knocked-down players, you can use re-rolls more than once a turn, and so forth. Then again, it also allows for such classic Blood Bowl plays, like grabbing the ball and camping near the endzone to run down the clock and starve the other player of turns.

Blood Bowl 3 preview

The mentioned villainous behavior at full display.

What am blooded bowl?

The beta reminds me of my Blood Bowl 1 experience. My first match was against the most pleasant opponent random matchups can spawn, but then the second game put me against someone grimly resolved to the Dwarven two-one-grind, which is probably the most joy-sucking maneuver combined with the team that is the least fun to play against.

Blood Bowl 3 preview

Might be overdoing with the assists

But that’s Blood Bowl, isn’t it? I’ve played the re-released physical game for two seasons with the old foggers who had fond memories of playing it when it was new, or even carried the torch on Fumbbl. Those people where gleefully toxic. After all, that’s the kind of attitude that is only boosted by a game that encourages you to carefully observe if the other player moves their miniatures without moving the turn counter first. If they haven’t touched the turn counter, you can immediately deploy your shit-eatingest grin and demand a re-roll or suffer a turn-over. The kind of absolutely awful behavior that suffuses the in-game universe also extends to real life.

So, the real test of your enjoyment of Blood Bowl 3 will be this: do you want Blood Bowl the game of fantasy football, or do you want Blood Bowl the game of horrible sportsmanship? Because while new editions have made the game somewhat friendlier to the beginners (at least by rewriting the rules to be more readable), and efforts have been made to make player advancements less of a “blodge [Block+Dodge skills] or fired” affair, it’s still not immune to the worst on-pitch behavior.

To patch out a Nurgle fly

The release I played was absolutely not inoculated against bugs of all kinds, either. It also bore UI issues. The game tries to give you all the information you need, and I’m forever grateful I won’t have to mentally calculate tackle zones. However, neither the UI arrangement, nor the icon sizes or colors really work. The controls could use more work, too, as accidentally making the troll toss to the goblin was never a thing that happened to me in the tabletop days.

Blood Bowl 3 preview

Only one pitch comes with colors.

A friend told me that the main fan complaint about Blood Bowl 3 so far is that it looks worse and runs worse. The running part is partially understandable — it is a beta, after all. But the game looks okay at best. Some designs, especially the faces of the human cheer leaders, are just off. And I already mentioned the UI issues. On the flip side, the pitches are mostly fine (though they really determine whether your game will be colorful or just a drab mess), and so are the fighting animations. There weren’t any synch kills as far as I noticed.

There’s not much to say about the audio either, except fire Bob and Jim. The announcers desperately need to have more lines in the final release, because they repeat like nobody’s business. The worst part is the extended teeth-sucking sequence. It isn’t something you want to hear once, let alone five times during a match.

All in all, it’s hard to say what Blood Bowl 3 will be once it launches. Cyanide isn’t new; it’s done this game three times already (I’m counting Chaos League and so should you). If it can iron out the technical details, the real weight will rest on the ruleset’s shoulders. But who knows — maybe you’ll get lucky and find a Discord of like-minded fellows to organize the league of your dreams. Anything is possible — except for Dwarves being any fun to play against.

Martynas Klimas
Always chasing that full-time-game-reviewer fairy. Perennially grumpy about Warhammer 40,000. Big fan of RTS, RPG, and FPS games. Has written for other sites. The only Lithuanian you know.

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