So there’s a new Blood Bowl coming. Much heralded and much trailed, and then leaked on 2nd August, either by someone from China selling knock-off rulebooks or a cunning GW ruse to build the hype. Doesn’t really matter. 1200+ comments on the BB Community group later, and lots has been said. Here are my thoughts, based on a bit of reading, summaries from a few people including GngrNoob, AndyDavo and ketilkn on Reddit. Thanks to them. I’m writing from a position of no inside knowledge, with my NAF President days behind me, so these are just my own thoughts and obviously all is my opinion.
At the time of writing the Warhammer Community team either reacted to the leak or put a long devised masterplan into action, depending on your world view, and have shown off the box set and the Imperial Nobility in detail. This team were in the slightly rubbish official GW app, and those that played them in leagues said they were a bit broken, mostly due to being the only team to start with Guard players. A new tier 1 roster is not the headline however, the headline is the separation of agility into agility and passing, along with the whole passing mechanic being changed, and it is this that is causing the angst (such as there is) of whether it’s a whole new game or not.
The New Rules
Most of the changes are tweaks that could have been incorporated into an LRB-style evolution. Some are pointless, like changing the injury table to a d16. The kick off table has a reduced effect, with Blitz and Perfect Defence being toned down, which will increase the likelihood of the better coach winning due to reduced randomness. I’m needlessly infuriated by the Cheering Fans/Brilliant Coaching symmetry having been removed, but most of the rest is quite… well, OK, but probably no need. I don’t think it will make it particularly a better game, maybe at the margins, so on balance I would rather not have had these significant changes.
There has been some discussion about whether the rules have been playtested. The WarCom release talked about some of the best players in the world having been involved, and there’s every reason to believe this. If you look at those who have written playbooks in the Spike magazines, then the calibre of (most of) these players is high, and so the chances are these players have been involved in the playtesting. It’s also likely that some of the most famous streamers have been involved in the development of Cyanide’s BB3, and the rulesets are likely to have been developed in tandem.
The effect on the various races will be an interesting one to see, and we don’t know the answers yet. Will Khorne, Bretonnians and Kislev make it into the rules and the new version of the game. If Kislev do, then Slann will live on, if not then I think the time of the space frogs may be at an end. It seems unlikely, but not impossible, that the NAF will design a new roster for them including the new statlines. Will other races be doomed as well, especially those that have not had a new plastic box set and particularly those that have not had the “made to order” treatment either?
The NAF response
It’s virtually certain that the NAF will move to the new rules, the only question is how quickly, and what will happen to CRP? It has already been mooted that CRP could be listed as a variant in the NAF database, which I think might be a reasonable idea, particularly for those parts of the world who are more resistant to GW’s changes. If this were to happen the current database could all be moved to the CRP variant, and the BB2020 game records could begin. As a statistician this would make the dataset more pure and more interesting, and therefore better, and we have the capabilities around now with Glicko and active developers to produce some interesting analysis around the data.
I only really know about the UK tournament scene, and my impression is that the transition here will be fairly seamless, with a few tournaments holding the line and sticking with CRP for a while. 2021 is going to be a turbulent time for Blood Bowl, and it’s fairly likely that some people are going to stop being tournament regulars, unfortunately, but the game will go on. The tricky ones are going to be the big tournaments, with Poland Eurobowl in October 2021 needing to decide on a ruleset (or in fact, they have decided on a ruleset). My money would be on this tournament being the last major one (and the last Major) with CRP ruleset, before the new GW rules are fully incorporated. I’ve been wrong before though.
The Fumbbl response
At the time of writing Fumbbl has already started to respond to the new rules, writing AV breaks as 8+ rather than greater than 7, for example, so every indication is that the client will adjust and adapt.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- change can be invigorating. There will be new tactics to learn, and something to talk about in the BB world for a good few years to come. I actually love learning new games, and am excited to learn the new rules.
- GW is sticking around, with new figures to come for a few years to come, it would appear. This leads to a persistent trickle of new players, which is good for the game.
- It looks like there will be a standalone rulebook, which if it contains all the rules needed for the game would be a major step forward.
- some people will stop playing, and these people will be a loss to the community. Or they will stick around and complain a lot, which isn’t great either.
- there are a whole raft of new rules coming in, and unfortunately GW’s reputation precedes them here in terms of not being able to produce a watertight set of rules. There will be typos, there will be mistakes, there will be unforeseen consequences of interactions of rules. This is going to be a bit of a pain, and GW’s approach to FAQs is pretty terrible, unfortunately.
That will do for just now. This was Part 1. Thoughts welcome!