Here at Gamer Escape we recently had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the latest video game iteration of a classic board game inspired by the Warhammer Fantasy universe, Blood Bowl. Having recently undergone a major rules update, Blood Bowl 3 is being released on PC taking advantage of the new rule set. If you aren’t familiar with Blood Bowl, the board game was first released in 1986. It was created as a parody of American Football, with someone apparently asking the question, “What if the sport had much more violence and was turn based?”
The game’s relative success would have it receive a video game adaptation nearly ten years later. Much later, a second one in 2015, and now Blood Bowl 3, developed by Cyanide Studios and published by Nacon. Given that this is a straight up digital recreation of the board game, if you’ve played it, you probably already know how to play this, although BB3 offers a graphically detailed visual experience, instead of, well, your imagination. I myself only had a brief encounter with the second game, and the rules have changed considerably since then. So I had to re-learn the game all over again…but I was up to the challenge!
The learning curve for this game is definitely steep, but there is a lot of strategic possibility. The closed beta version I played did not include all features the final game will have, but notably it didn’t include a built-in tutorial. These things should be present at launch. I was able to go through team creation (with three of the many races available) and play single games (Hot-seat two-player or versus AI) and single online matches in one of three stadiums. While you play a faithful recreation of the board game, you’re doing it in a a beautifully rendered fantasy world, with humorous sports announcers and players kicking and throwing balls and beating each other up with pools of blood.
Each turn, you can perform actions like running, passing or blocking (or rather, fighting), with each of your team’s players. You don’t have to move them all and there’s a bit of a risk/reward system; if one of your players fails to perform an action (like getting beaten by the defender in a fight), it results in a “turnover” and your turn ends (Though this does NOT mean losing control of the ball.) So you want to perform your safest actions first if you can. As you play, you’ll see your players run across the field, and the camera will zoom in on certain actions like passes and attacks, not to mention touchdowns. I’m not going to lie to you, while I was personally terrible at this game, by the end of my time with the game, I was certainly having more fun playing this than I would watching an NFL game (which wouldn’t be hard to do for me personally, but it’s definitely a good thing).
Teams can be associated with various different fantasy races, each having different stats and abilities. BB3 also offers team management features that you don’t really have in the board game. Your team and players have a value (based on their stats and abilties) and your players and team can develop over time. With the rules being consistent with the board game though, plus the advantage of the game keeping time and doing dice rolls, it’s almost a shame this game isn’t ready for release yet. This would have been a great way for any fan of the board game to play with a friend in the global pandemic.
The closed beta did have its share of rough edges, with some graphical and UI hiccups. The action scenes between players are fun but feel a bit too quick. But this was a closed beta with limited features and the game still has some time to cook. People who are fans of the board game or the previous video game iterations definitely have a lot to look forward to. The announcers, referees, and cheerleaders will make you laugh (as well as affect the game!). The graphics have improved vastly over Blood Bowl II Legendary Edition, and the game’s faithfulness to the rules gives you a solid mix of strategy and chance.
If you’re a fan of fantasy board games, Blood Bowl has always been a good pick, and (especially if your imagination isn’t great) the freedom to play with a faraway friend makes it something to look out for when it hits Windows PCs via Steam this September.
Closed Beta access, featured image, and logo provided by Nacon