Over the months of October and November I have been lucky enough to play a few tabletop games!
First off, I joined a friend’s Blood Bowl league. The ‘Turboleague’ is run using the Community Rule Pack (CRP), which as I understand it is a set of rules distilled from an older edition of the game, agreed upon by the community and distributed with Games Workshop’s blessing.
The only time I had previously played Blood Bowl on the tabletop was a few turns in a Games Workshop store in the 1990s, plus a few mostly unfinished tournaments in various editions of Cyanide’s fun but often broken videogame adaptations. This also meant I did not have a team, but happily my friend was willing to loan out one of his teams. And so it was that the Griffon Gate Griffons were born, a High Elf team! I’ve not previously played much of a running and passing game so this was a fun new challenge, and apparently a welcome addition to a league dominated by teams that prefer to punch than pass.
Both games were a highly entertaining learning experience, and I like to think that despite my inexperience I put up a solid fight and some interesting plays! My friend, Michael, has already published writeups of both games on his blog Freodom, and I recommend checking them out if you’ve any interest in Blood Bowl, or are willing to spend a few minutes getting a feel for how the game plays and what can happen. Michael’s writeup of my game against his Sheogorad Saints can be found here, whilst my match against his friend’s RagnaRock Ravens is covered here.
Blood Bowl gameplay is quite changeable; one feature I particularly like is the turnover mechanic, where certain failures – dice rolls that don’t go your way – mean your turn ends and your opponent is up. This means coaches must evaluate risk versus the importance of certain plays. What can you set up safely before you take the risky moves? What are your contingencies for if you experience a turnover? Do you take a low-risk move before a high-risk move, or flip the order because that high-risk action is critical to all else you might do? Quite aside from the formations, tactics, strategies and skills, these kinds of decisions make Blood Bowl a game where both planning and adaptability are key, as well as a game where, at the end of the day, not everything will go your way. All you can do sometimes is roll with the punches and laugh at the ridiculous situations that can arise. Or drop a fireball on the line of scrimmage, and laugh whilst the world burns.
It has also, in truth, been a lifeline to see friends and even make some new ones. In these pandemic times, living in a country away from the many years-deep friendships my partner and I had cultivated in England, our social lives have withered. As I grow older I’m also more interested in social engagements that need not involve drinking. A youth spent in pubs and drinking at gigs and rolling up to house parties was a lot of fun, but I’m slowly realising it has set expectations about socialising that just aren’t as comfortable or fun as your body ages. (Don’t get me wrong: I still love a pint and a chat.)
I also celebrated my birthday this past month. I’m not far off the big four-oh at this point, so it felt suitable that to celebrate I persuaded my girlfriend to join me in painting miniatures from the new version of Kill Team, and then playing a match. This is how you midlife crisis, folks: you return to hobbies from your teenage years and buy all the plastic crack you couldn’t even imagine affording back then. It’s a damn sight cheaper than, say, a sports car or an affair or whatever.
Both activities went well, to the extent that my partner demanded a rematch the next day! Inspired by those Blood Bowl league writeups I took photos, kept notes, and will be writing up both games. The first writeup and pictures will follow in another post; the writeup is a short one as I periodically forgot about the notes as we were distracted trying to figure out some rule or another, or simply got too involved in the back and forth of the game! I also, rather foolishly, did not record the scores at the end of each turn, only the final score. The second write-up went better, although you may still find yourself frustrated by a lack of context. Let me know if you read either and Have Thoughts; I’m more likely to do this again if I know people are reading.
Shoddy note-taking aside, this new Kill Team is another game I really like. Comparable to Blood Bowl the back and forth between players is quick. There are four turns and in each players will perform one ‘activation’ each until both have run out of models to activate. This means that you’re rarely waiting to take action for long, and can adapt your strategies and tactics as the game unfolds. There are definitely some complications to the game. For example certain rules that are easily missed, at least if you’re us, as well as the depths and complexities to the factions we played that we’re only scratching the surface of. I certainly look forward to playing more, both with the Ork Kommandos and perhaps with other Kill Teams that I’ll build. I’d also like to try my partner’s Death Korps at some point, as they are able to produce some very large explosions…