Author Topic: Bloodbowl Tactics  (Read 226 times)

Justin Penwith

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on: June 08, 2020, 10:42:53 PM
Let me preface my remarks by stating that I am in no way an "expert" on Bloodbowl and that I recognize there have been far more rabid players than myself. However, having run multiple leagues as a manager of a few GW stores, and also a non-GW store, as well as having avidly played the first digital version of the game, I have spent hundreds of hours either playing or pondering the game in some form.

In league play, I have run Skaven, Dwarf, Chaos, and Human teams, with my human team going 32-0-3, on the tabletop. It has not fared as well digitally, but I have done rather well with them over the years.

To provide you with some of my reasoning for my tactics, I will reveal that my luck with die rolling knows no equal. I am known, in more than one gaming group, to be the unluckiest person with the dice they have ever seen. Once, in a GW staff tournament (LONG ago), I rolled 36 dice (in a single attack with a lot of shooty), needing 4s to hit and 4s to wound. I got 6 hits and no wounds... and there was much laughter at my expense as a result.

So, read on if you want to glean from my observations and play choices over the years.

1) One major factor to the game is to limit your liabilities as much as you can, but not to the point where you are wholely unwilling to take any risks.  In a game where a victory can come down to a single die roll, you want to make the circumstances for the outcome of that roll as good as you possibly can.

2) Do not end your move with a player on the sidelines. Do not do it. If you play against me, you WILL regret it.  Only a few teams can possibly get away with temporarily putting a player on the sidelines, but those circumstances are very rare, when facing an experienced player. Some player skills may be gained through experience awards which will help mitigate the downsides of playing on the edge, but I will leave you to figure those out on your own. I won't be giving away ALL of my secrets.

3) In the right circumstances, and with certain experienced teams, you can score on the first turn of a kick-off, as the receiving team. Yes, it can be done as I have done it two or three times. There are several teams who will not be able to pull this off unless they have certain players with a particular set of skills... :) You should then set up both offensively and defensively with this in mind. Hint: Skaven and Elves are notorious, at least they were in my leagues, for doing this. I achieved it with humans.

4) It is very tempting to go with star players, but I have never done it. Not ever in a league game, that is. I, of course, tested them out, but when it comes to purchasing players for a league, a star player just did not fit in with my play style. Now, there are some teams that will greatly benefit from a couple of the star players available, but for the most part, I would avoid the temptation until your team has gained a lot of experience. OR if you happen to have the team rating buff from having a much lower rated team, then you may want to consider the free cash expenditure for that game.

5) Some teams need their critters, the Skaven most noticeable benefit, quite often, from having a rat ogre, and goblin teams can do well with trolls, but in my experience it takes a special kind of person to play gobbos in a league game. In one game, my humans KO'd or killed 8 gobbos, and standard human teams really are not known for that. Not that I was a great player, but the gobbos were easy meat... For humans, I'd not take an ogre unless it was from the rating buff and only against certain teams.

6) You need to remember that you only get ONE blitz action a turn. Yes, that seems silly for me to mention here, but you MUST remember that that rule ALSO applies to your opponent, so plan your player movements accordingly.

7) If you have a player that is downed on the sidelines, because he was pushed there when downed, do not stand him back up and leave him in place. Often, it is better for you to leave that player down instead of standing and remaining on the sideline to be pushed out of bounds.

8. Downed players you really do want up should be stood before you do any other movements, under most every circumstance. The reason being is that since a single failed roll results in a turnover, you can cause a lot of trouble for yourself by leaving downed players down when they could have stood for free. If your player is downed next to a critter that can roll a 3 dice block on him, leave him down unless you have high agility and can dodge out of his tackle zone after standing. Otherwise, it is like putting a "hit me" sign on your face.

9) There is more than one way to win a match and I have accomplished each in table top. Learn the rules for ending a game and use those to your advantage.

10) I rarely foul, but when I do, I foul as often as I think I can get away with. It is rarely worthwhile to foul when you have a small lead over your opponent, except if they are a fast scoring team like any of the Elves or Skaven, most especially the Elves because of their high agility. It is almost all too worth it to foul if you are being beaten by three or more points, regardless of the number of turns left in a game.

11) Moving a player into the end zone, wanting to toss him a long bomb is almost always a bad call. Usually, you want to get the ball and throw it to him, letting him run into the endzone on his movement. In either case, if you fail the pass, the result is the same, a turnover, but if you move the receiver first, you can make the throw impossible or extremely difficult, unnecessarily. It happens all the time, where the excitement of a possible score is immediately followed by intense regret of having moved out of range.

12) When a player has the ball and you want to go for it, doing so with several enemy players one or two spaces away is a BAD IDEA. Now, I am known for going for it, and usually slipping and falling, all the time, but I reserve those attempts for when they will be a greater benefit for having made the attempt than the negative for having failed to do so. I have seen players go for it just to move a little further, with no other object in mind than to get another space of movement. No tackle zone consideration, no potential interception attempt, just to get more movement out of a player. Nope!

13)  Plan to fail. This game does not totally fall to RNG, but it feels like it. Your choices as a player have almost everything to do with winning or losing, and RNG is present enough to keep you honest. So, when planning to fail, you need to consider where each of your players needs to be before doing something "important" during your turn. I frequently see players attempt to pick up the ball as the very first thing they do after receiving the kick-off. In nearly 100% of the times, this is a bad call. A team with agility 3 or even 2 will suffer if this is how you choose to play them, else you will burn re-rolls needlessly. Agility 4 teams can get away with this, sometimes, but my recommendation is to do everything else less risky first, then attempt to pick up the ball. And yes, I have had situations where I needed anything but a 1 to pick up the ball, I failed and then failed the re-roll. It can be very frustrating and is made worse when you have done nothing else that turn.

14) When purchasing your team, consider Fan Factor. This is the time where you can make this adjustment most easily, after your first match, you will rely on RNG for increases or decreases. Do not go overboard, but in some cases, it may be better to get several more factors than another re-roll.

15) Re-rolls can save your game and your sanity. I have played against people who spent so much on the tougher players for their team that they were left with enough gold for only one or two re-rolls. I have never started a team with less than 3 and usually I go with a minimum of 4. Buying re-rolls after your first game is expensive and most often you are wanting an apothecary and then more players, almost always in that order. Hence, re-rolls being rare purchases ever after My recommendation is to plan ahead. If you have a high agility team, you might survive with 3 or maybe with 2, but again, the dice WILL fail you and you will regret it.

16) Some teams are "trick teams" as in they do well with a certain type of play and with any other manner of play style, they are awful at either scoring or damaging the other team. Learn these tricks well, before expecting to be successful, if you happen to play those teams.

17) People ask "what is a good bashing team?" Well, that depends on a number of things, but usually, Chaos, Dwarfs, Chaos Dwarfs, and even Skaven can be fairly brutal to their opponents. One thing to pay attention to your players and what skills may become available to them as they level up. I have been mauled by Dark Elves, but my human team suffered the most at the hands of Dwarfs, with Chaos being next in line of my punishers. On the other hand, against Dwarf teams, I have scored six points, more than once, in a game. I think my highest score, ever, was seven...but I was very lucky with some random events...and yes, that means I scored almost every other turn. It was in a league game too, in 1997, and I still remember the look on my opponent's face...although his name escapes my memory. My team, at that time, was the highest-rated in the league, with numerous self-made star players, extra movement, extra skills was glorious! So, while they can be brutal, Dwarf teams are not going to usually be contenders for high scores.

18) A well-played Skaven team can be absolutely maddening. Two of my three draws, for my human team, were against the same Skaven team. I nearly beat him in the second game, but my catcher fell, from going for it, in the endzone on my last turn...I remember my opponent's laughter most. How is this a tactic? Well, do not underestimate your players or those of your opponent. Assuming you know their capabilities is a mistake, as is counting on your player's skills, like Block and Dodge, to guarantee your victory.

19) No Balls, No Babies! Yes, it is true in nearly every conceivable (ahem) way, you will find yourself in situations that you have only there merest hope of something good happening for your team. If you do not chance it, then it can never happen. Learning to pick your battles in Bloodbowl is an art and sometimes the thrill of victory will be had, but usually not, so make the call as you think best.

20) Timed games are tough. We always played with the 3-minute timer and if you-touch-it-you-play-it. In these games, you want to plan what you are going to do before its your turn. Do your thinking on your opponent's time, and then make any adjustments as needed during your turn. I have watched the clock run out on people who were caught flat-footed in a decision loop. They decided on nothing and did virtually nothing, as time counted down. Don't be that player!. I mean, I am all too happy for my opponent to run out of time before achieving anything of note on his turn, but in the spirit of sharing helpful observations and recommendations, I am giving you fair warning.

Again, I am not the most rabid fan of the game and it has been nearly 20 years since my last tabletop game and I really do not count single-player digital games as games, so you will want to take my words as something just shy of Gospel instead of as Canon.

I look forward to beating you...I mean meeting you in-game!


« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 11:56:30 AM by Justin Penwith »

Dave Pumphouse

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Reply #1 on: August 01, 2020, 09:09:01 AM
I play a bit of blood bowl on steam... i always thought it might be nice to partake in a multiplayer season :)


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Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 06:32:55 PM
Sure will be glad for you to join the next mp season here!

(...though I have to wonder how much shooty you managed to acquire in Bloodbowl to roll 36 dice at once....  :o )