Blood Bowl, the biggest American football/Warhammer Fantasy Battle crossover event in history, was and remains one of my favourite board games of all time. Me, my siblings and my friends spent hundreds of hours playing our favourite teams and the comically exaggerated violence and exquisite art and miniatures on offer produced some of the best memories I have of myself sat at a table.
The artwork and board quality are peerless. I’d easily rate this board as among the all-time best available for any game. This high quality carries over to the miniatures with a huge variety of imaginative design on display covering human warriors, goblins, dwarves, elves, orcs and trolls from the Warhammer universe. Each species team has different rules and abilities to play off with different drawbacks and advantages. The faction-based strategizing and aesthetic consistency are carried over from mainline Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
Teams were made up of members of the main faction, members of related races, guest characters and special characters filling the roles of Blockers, Blitzers, Throwers, Catchers, Runners and Linemen.
The rules of the game were a hybrid of rugby and American football but the game was really played in the special abilities and violent attacks and combos used to remove opposing team players from the pitch.
The tongue-in-cheek reference humour is the cherry on the cake and gives the game great replayability and new depth when coming back to it older and wiser.
The supplementary Dungeon Bowl added new rules, figures, art and setting, a dark dungeon navigated by teleporter. Rather than the more traditional pitch-game emulating rules of the main game, Dungeon Bowl has teams competing to find a ball hidden in a chest before a brutal contest for possession with the first touch-down winning the round.
The new rules and setting made for a faster paced alternative to the strategic main game and this ended up being one of my favourite expansions ever.
All in all, though later editions changed the formula in ways that, arguably, improved the game, it’s the 2nd Edition that I played as a kid and it will forever have my heart. Play 2E if you can but even the current edition is unending fun.