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Author Topic: Think of the Children - Blood Bowl for a new generation  (Read 1795 times)

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Offline LexMajor

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Think of the Children - Blood Bowl for a new generation
« on: January 18, 2016, 02:05:23 PM »
After seeing those NICE new miniatures for an upcoming Blood Bowl (THANK YOU!), I got really excited and decided to bring my 10 years-old son into the magnificent world of Blood Bowl (that's around the age I got in anyway). I went back to my drawer I picked up my Blood Bowl 3rd edition box, and we played a game. After's got so much to draw on: the ubiquitous sports theme, the humor, the tension... few other games tried but none comes close to Blood Bowl's raw charm. I knew he'd love it.

His verdict? "It's fun dad, but it's too complicated, and it took SOOOOO long... why do you love this game so much?".

I reeled from the blow, but in retrospect I understand him completely. With full knowledge of the kind of debate this typically generates, there are a few things I feel I must humbly lay on the table, or forever hold my peace.

Blood Bowl needs to be simpler.
This is the big one. Over the years, Blood bowl gradually got more esoteric and less accessible. Using a pro re-roll requires another roll first, and you can team re-roll a Pro re-roll but not the roll pro re-rolled (say that ten times for fun). You get an arbitrary +1 to all Agility rolls except Interception (where it's -2) and Passing (where you do get the +1 but for only a Quick pass).

It's quirky. It's not consistent. It's hard to learn. It's hard to teach.

There are a lot of ways this could be achieved, big and small, and some of which would not even touch the "core game" that much. Standardizing all game tables (injury, advancement, kick-off, etc.) so they use a single standard d8, 2d6 or d12. Rewriting the Agility tables so they make more sense and are more intuitive. Reworking or removing some skills that add more to the complexity than to the game itself (Piling On? Pro? They're not on ANY team's starting roster for Mork's sake!). Getting rid of the Desperate Measures deck and some of the more esoteric Inducements.

Blood Bowl needs to be shorter
If "Simpler"'s the big one, this one's the tougher one. A Blood Bowl games take 2 hours. Between veterans. On a good day. Without breaks. Not with my friend Manu. Not against Dwarves. With newcomers, it's often closer to 3 hours, and we lose quite a few on their very first game. Games today are tighter, more streamlined than those designed in the '80s. There needs to be a way to fit more Blood Bowl in a game night's time.

Maybe it's including an official BB7 variant in the box (with the field printed on the reverse of the main one?). Maybe it's introducing "Action tokens" that limit the number of players you can play each turn instead of playing all of them. Maybe it's finding a clever way to speed up team setup before a kick-off. Maybe it's simply removing/changing the kick-off table results that take forever to resolve (Perfect Defence, Pitch Invasion anyone?)

Nobody's saying Blood bowl should be a 20 minutes "filler" game, but making it so it reliably takes AT THE VERY MOST 2 hours (preferably a bit less) from setup to tear down is a sound, sound proposition. After all, something happened in 1994 called the "Turnover rule" that sped things up a lot, and I don't think anyone's looking back.

Blood Bowl can be awesomer
Heresy. It's already so awesome, right? Yes, yes it is (else I wouldn't be posting a rambling post on a semi-obscure forum on the unreleased new edition of a game,  now would I?). But... why not? Why resist the urge to reinforce it's atmosphere and humor?

This is where Specialist Games can knock themselves out with some fresh ideas of their fancy. This could mean new teams (maybe), new (simple, elegant) skills, new player types (I saw somewhere a writeup for a lovely Halfling catcher), what not. Everybody loves when a Trolls eat a goblin (even though it takes at least three dice rolls just to get to that part, and a lot more after that for the actual goblin throw), maybe now they get peckish enough for a lineorc or an opponent once in a while? A few new coaching staff including the waterboy? Some snazzy player trading mechanic between teams?

Let's not get carried away with this one, but sometimes a fresh coat of paint helps make things more alive.

A heartfelt plea
This would by no means be a small undertaking. Disturbing any delicate BB mechanic will upset the finely tuned balance built over 30 years of intense gameplay. But even small, simple improvements could have tremendous effects on the game's accessibility. Plus, the community will get a brand new opportunity to bicker over balance! (and brand new members of the community to do it!) :)

I'm relatively convinced we're NOT going to get a new edition of Blood Bowl any time soon after this one, and this means NOW is the time to seize the opportunity. It'll take some courage (I see the pitchforks from here), but is it too big of a price to pay for another 30 years of longevity for this gem of a game, and for the joy of playing with my sons for years to come?

Cheers, regards, respect.

Offline Stormwind

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Re: Think of the Children - Blood Bowl for a new generation
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2016, 07:59:29 PM »
Thanks for your post and honest self critical thoughts, and welcome to the forum!

I feel much the same way about things.  Nobody can really argue that Space Hulk 3rd edition wasn't a good idea.  There's no enemy guns or hybrids, it's incredibly sleek, marines vs. Genestealers, still room to expand but what it has is very elegant compared with the reams of rules I remember wading through in old White Dwarf mags.

I think this will be the case with the releases ahead.  From what I read things like Betrayal at Calth were well constructed with solid but not overly complex rules, so this bodes well in the future.
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Offline Darkson

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Re: Think of the Children - Blood Bowl for a new generation
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2016, 05:36:00 PM »
I already answered your post on TFF, but I disagree on many of your points.

It's not hard to learn, it's not hard to teach.

It doesn't need to be shorter. Yes, a game may take longer than 2 hours between new players, but then show me  a game that doesn't take longer when being played by people that don't know the rules?  Dreadball takes about 45 minutes for us now, but when we started we were looking at 1-2 hours.

Certainly doesn't need to be simpler - some of the better rules were removed due to JJ's insistence on removing dice rolls.

Removing skills is a bad idea - there are already a lot of "cookie cutter" team builds out there, removing skills will just reinforce that. So what if they're not on a starting roster? Just means there's less for a new player to learn about.

"Awesomer" - they all sound like fun house-rules, something that no-one is stopping you from adding for yourself (but they do seem to play in the face of your "simpler" plea).

So in conclusion, I see your opinion but disagree with it wholeheartedly.
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Offline LexMajor

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Re: Think of the Children - Blood Bowl for a new generation
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2016, 06:01:23 PM »
So in conclusion, I see your opinion but disagree with it wholeheartedly.
Likewise (and might I add this post/explanation here makes your point of view much clearer to me than the one on TFF - thanks)

I'll argument by the absurd to illustrate my point. There are 3 options:

1) Keeping the Statu Quo would mean keeping the rules/game roughly as they currently are, and it has been my observation that Blood Bowl, while very good at keeping its followers loyal (sometimes fanatically so!), has not been doing as well in attracting new players. There used to be 3-4 actuve leagues at my gaming shop, now there are none (Replaced by GB/DB). This works to sell an "anniversary edition" once every few years (Space Hulk comes to mind), but It seems like it's "leaving money on the table", and I believe they are right for such a strong "brand" (everybody knows BB! ;) )
2) In that regard, the option of making it MORE complex, more convoluted, longer, etc, would only reinforce that paradigm.
3) Therefore, what is left is the option of streamlining, rejuvenating, etc. the rules and the game as I broadly suggest earlier. I do believe that is the best option, although without a doubt the most challenging one.

A lot of "classic games" have done this recently (Through the Ages, Fury of Dracula, D&D 5th edition, Eldritch Horror for Arkham Horror, etc.), all with a certain success, sometimes resounding!

That sums up my point of view, without getting "technical".

Offline mlkr

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Think of the Children - Blood Bowl for a new generation
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2016, 02:20:25 PM »
Interesting thoughts :)

Personally I would rather go with hidden option nr 4)
GW Rereleases BB with new mini's, current CRP and adds the official support back in.

Games more often than not slowly die off when not supported. It speaks volumes to me about the quality of the game when it can still be as big and popular as it is while not being officially supported.

Look at the success of Cyanide's digital version. Look at the 900+ people going to the tabletop World Cup. Look at FUMBBL, The NAF and the many mini's being manufactured by different companies. That's the signs of a healthy game.

Now, add officiall support to this - New minis, Marketing, Officially endorsed championships... It would be great! :D
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 05:36:20 PM by mlkr »
//Swedish BB & WM-player.