Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.
Blood Bowl 2
Developer: Cyanide Studios
Blood Bowl is a silly place. The ridiculous concept—American football with ogres, dwarfs, elves—makes ridiculous design not just forgivable, but necessary. Unbalanced teams, a high degree of randomness, the way it enshrines acts of cheating like committing fouls and sneaking weapons onto the pitch by having rules for breaking the rules? That’s how a game where goblins on pogo sticks go up against vampires should be.
The randomness is especially important because your turn ends when you fuck up an important dice roll. Or you finishing activating all of your players, I suppose, but fucking up is more likely. Maybe you tried to dodge away from a player who was marking you and got tackled, maybe you tried to block someone and they put you on the ground instead, maybe you couldn’t even pick up the damn ball without rolling a one and fumbling it.
The main tactic of good Blood Bowl coaches is “safe moves first”. Moving across open ground to mark an opponent or standing up a player who fell last turn, these require no dice rolls and are safest. Then come actions where the dice are in your favor. If your player is stronger or has more assists, they roll two block dice when attacking and pick the best. If your strength doubles the opponent’s you roll three dice. That’s a safe move. Your elf who can dodge out of a tackle zone into an empty space on a roll of two or higher? Also safe.
You wait until after you’ve done the safe moves before trying risky stuff, says every tactician on the forums. Thing is, sometimes safe moves go wrong. There’s a one-in-six chance of getting a skull on each block die, a result of ‘attacker down’. Rolling skulls on all the dice when you’ve got three of them shouldn’t happen, you think to yourself, which is why you remember every time it does. And sure, you might have a precious team re-roll to spend throwing those dice again. The number of times I’ve rolled two skulls then rerolled and seen two skulls grin up at me again is absurd.
Which is why sometimes you don’t get every safe move out of the way first. There’s a passing play that could give you a touchdown this very turn, but if you chuck away your reroll on a double-skull block, what are your odds of making the roll to pass the ball and the roll to catch, then succeeding at the 2+ rolls to take extra steps across the line and score? They weren’t great to begin with because you’re making these rolls with orcs.
So you risk it for the biscuit, ignore the people who have not seen enough triple-skulls in their life, and then see the dice fall in your favor. When your witch elf dodges out of tackle zones into multiple other tackle zones and then back out again to score a touchdown, or your troll successfully resists the temptation to eat the goblin with the ball, picks them up, throws them over the line, and they survive the impact to shakily stand up and claim a point? That’s what Blood Bowl is all about.
Safe moves first is a fine rule to learn, but we learn rules so we know when to break them. And in Blood Bowl, breaking rules is practically sacred.