Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review

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Dust off your shoulderpads and polish those knuckledusters, Blood Bowl is back and it’s just as brutal, violent, and utterly ridiculous as ever! Square your shoulders and get ready to dive into the scrum with VoltorRWH and Hellhound‘s in-depth collaborative Blood Bowl Season 2 review!

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Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Summary

In what has been a great year for Games Workshop boxed sets, Blood Bowl Second Season Edition comfortably finds its place alongside those others basking in this year’s glory.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the Warhammer universe or any other Games Workshop products, Blood Bowl Second Season Edition will make an excellent addition to your board games shelf – because it’s really that good.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Introduction

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Greetings all! Just as any Blood Bowl game features two teams, in order to give you the best, most comprehensive, and in-depth overview of the brand new Blood Bowl Second Season box we could, this review features two writers.

To get a good sense of who is saying what, you’ll see a little writer portrait next to the section either myself (VoltorRWH) or Hellhound wrote as we pass the article back and forth between each other – just like a tiny plastic football in a game of Blood Bowl. How fitting.

Anyway, onwards.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition is the latest instalment in what has been a smashing year for Games Workshop boxed games. Its announcement elbowed its way onto our feeds and inboxes a few weeks ago, and ever since the FauxHammer team has been abuzz with excitement surrounding this release.

Blood Bowl is, in many people’s opinions, the best game that Games Workshop has ever made (FauxHammer: Except Space Hulk). Known for its unique blend of tongue-in-cheek anti-sportsmanship, larger-than-life cartoon violence, and its hilarious take on its own factions, Blood Bowl is the angry nerd’s answer to Subbuteo.

It’s the game that enabled the acrophobic geek to finally do sports like their pushy father always wanted, but not leave the house. It’s the perfect means to enable those of us who were routinely picked last for sports at school to, at last, get a rough idea of how it feels to be involved in a team (I didn’t quite have this problem: I was big enough to make the rugby team, but too much of a dweeb to ever be passed to. Or have any friends).

It’s the real beautiful game: one that neither takes itself too seriously, nor is wrecked by racial abuse scandals and eye-watering sponsorship deals. Those figures on the board? They aren’t seventeen years old and earning three-hundred grand a week whilst you slave away at your dead-end nine to five; they don’t make you feel bitter and old, because they’re plastic. And they’re under your tutelage and captaincy.

The game is essentially high fantasy tabletop rugby: two teams field eleven players and face off over the line of Scrimmage – for the uninitiated, that’s the line across the middle of the pitch. Factors such as the weather, how many fans are cheering for the teams, and so on, are also taken into account to try and keep the experience as authentic as it can be when rendered on a tabletop using plastic Orcs.

To score, one player has to make it to the End Zone with the ball. Of course, that’s easier said than done: you only have two halves of the game to accomplish this, and there are only 16 turns per half. Whilst the game doesn’t have a “story mode”, it does support the growth and development of your team across a league – so all those victories (or defeats) matter.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Contents

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This box, like a Blood Bowl football that’s been kicked into someone’s groin one too many times, is bursting at the seams. Stuffed with a plethora of vivid and vibrantly-coloured goodies, as well as some truly smashing minis and a hardback book, this set is the Blood Bowl fan’s holy grail.

Foremost in the box, we have a 136-page hardback Blood Bowl rulebook that contains all the rules of the game, along with more advanced details regarding running a league and developing your team. If this is a bit heavy for you, there are two quick-reference cheat-sheets, much more practical for having at your side mid game. There is also a double-sided fold-out Official Pitch, marked up in such a way to make your playing of the game as easy as possible, as well as some dugouts.

The box comes with two complete teams, broken down as follows.

12 red plastic Imperial Nobility team players representing the Bögenhafen Barons:

  • 4 Imperial Retainer Linemen
  • 4 Bodyguards
  • 2 Noble Blitzers
  • 2 Imperial Throwers
  • 1 red plastic Star Player, Griff Oberwald
  • 1 red plastic Blood Bowl Ogre

12 green plastic Black Orc team players, also called the Thunder Valley Greenskins:

  • 6 Goblin Bruiser Linemen
  • 6 Black Orcs
  • 1 green plastic Star Player, Varag Ghoul-Chewer
  • 1 green plastic Blood Bowl Trained Troll

Alongside a pair of Blood Bowl Biased Referees (a Dwarf and an Elf), there are also extra balls, team coins, and counters to help you keep track of your game.

To ensure your game gets off without a hitch, the box also comes with all the templates and themed dice you need to keep your match going.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Unboxing and Contents

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Hellhoud here. At long last, we return to crucible of carnage and skull-splitting scrum with Blood Bowl Season 2!

It is only fitting that we get an unboxing done with some nice reviews underway for you wonderful readers.

So, without further ado: here’s the box!

We’ve got some gorgeous artwork on the front. The part that excited me the most about the box was the shiny metallic lettering and the holographic sticker that were reminiscent of sports paraphernalia.

The first thing that stuck out to me was the glorious smell of fresh smell of plastic and the opening of a new kit. The box’s contents are as follows:

  • 5 Orc Sprues
  • 2 Orc Star Player Sprues
  • 3 Human Sprues
  • 1 Human Star Player Sprue
  • 1 Sprue with a ruler, direction template, and a crowd throw-in template
  • 1 Referee Sprue
  • 1 Core Rulebook
  • 2 Cheat Sheets
  • 2 Sets of Dice
  • 1 Pitch (double-sided)
  • 1 Decal Sheet
  • 1 Poster

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Dice

Considering Games Workshops’ recent weird experimentations with dice and the miraculous disappointment that came tucked in the limited edition Sisters of Battle box, those dice in the Blood Bowl Second Season Edition box are a breath of fresh air.

There are two sets, one clear red and one clear green respectively for each team in the box set. Each set has two D6, one D8, one D16, and three block dice, for when things get “dicey”. The dice are numbered normally, but the six is marked with the Blood Bowl logo. All the markings are crisp and easy to read, thus making them feel and look high quality.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Rulebook, and Cheatsheets

The Season 2 hardcover rulebook looks absolutely gorgeous.

The shiny lettering overtop the front cover is a lovely touch. The Rulebook itself is a whopping 130 pages, more than double the original Season 1 Core Rulebook. The pages are all decorated with beautiful artwork, much unlike the Season 1 Core Rulebook, the pages of which are boring by comparison.

Accompanying the new rulebook are two cheat sheets, one for each team in the box. Each cheat sheet covers the set up until the post-game sequence, and have all the charts for blocking sequences and stats for their respective teams.

Whilst the cheat sheets might as well be in hieroglyphs to the inexperienced, they are perfect for more experienced coaches who already have a grasp of the game. A fantastic addition for such an extensive rules.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – The Pitch and Dugouts

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition’s pitches are a real step-up from last season.

The strewn armour, blood splatters, and bits of parts of former players really helps set the stage for carnage.

The new pitches have bigger squares, up from 29mm to 34mm, though there are still be the same number of squares of squares on the board. Because of this, the new pitch is 13cm longer, but remains the same width as the old pitch.

Season 2 Blood Bowl Dugouts

The new dugouts are much slimmer and compact. To reduce confusion, the score counter is now on the top. Away from the re-roll and turn counters.

Less clutter in the dugouts makes them that much easier to read. Good job, GW!

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Sprues and Models

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Ah yes, the models. The really good bit. I cannot stress enough how beautiful these new sculpts are. The details are crisp and the models are perfect for conversions and kitbashes, and every model in the box is to be based on a 32mm slotter base – a hobbyist and tabletop gamer’s dream.

Cutting the actual bits off the sprues felt a bit difficult. When I cut away from the bit, I often found myself digging into a thicker part. On grey plastic this isn’t that big of an issue, but with these coloured sprue, it felt a a bit harder to get through with nippers.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – The Manual

The manual still has that Warhammer Fantasy build style. It’s pictures of components and arrows with an indication of where they should go.

Those with eagle eyes may notice on the image below that none of these models are push-fit unlike many recent GW boxed game offerings.

On the Humans and Refs, it’s not a problem because their designs are pretty self-explanatory. However, this did not work out all that well with the Orcs.

Unlike the Humans, who each have the traditional two half torsos we all know and love, the Orcs are a bit more all over the place – particularly Varag Ghoul-Chewer, where just the application of the front torso component to the back torso component took much trial and error because the orientation is not all that obvious.

The arrows only give a vague direction of where each component fits. In this instance the guide is not very helpful. To solve it, I had refer to a picture of the model already assembled.

The Models – Biased Refs

Putting the refs together was simple enough. The tricky parts to note are the Elf’s buckle – it is a small piece, and if you have large hands, I recommend using tweezers to apply it.

The Dwarf is easy to put together. I highly recommend dry fitting the two ends of the book and applying them one by one to avoid making a big mess. As I almost did!

The Models – The Thunder Valley Greenskins

By far my favourite team in the box (not sorry ‘Umies). These models are the definition of detailed without going overboard.

They’re downright gorgeous.

I recall seeing them at the preview show with my mates and saying over our group chat “they look like the eye-gougers but on steroids”. And I still hold by that statement.

I will, however, have to warn future builders of these models that their spiky bits (FauxHammer: No affiliation) are indeed spiky and hurt if held the wrong way, so be careful!

While all their bodies are exactly the same, there are enough bits for exactly six different head options so you can have six unique players on the field. You’ll still have leftover heads too for any kit bashing/conversions you may wish to do.

Fiddly bits to note – the ropes on their pants that are just asking to break during assembly or if they’re held the wrong way during play.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been one to like hobbying goblins. I like goblins in fantasy or in general, I just didn’t like the idea of grappling with smaller miniatures.

With that bias out of the way, this half of the Thunder Valley Greenskins was a pleasant experience to put together. The only real issue I had with any of them was with the vaulting goblin – namely, sticking him to his base.

His contact to the base is his are just the tips of his fingers. I realised this too late with the “jousting” goblin so now he’s hovering a little over the base. It looks amazing I prefer my minis to have as much contact to the base as possible so they don’t break as easily. Which leads me to the troll…

The troll.

Man, oh man.

The troll’s assembly still haunts me. Now that he’s all dry, he’s that much more stable than before. The number one problem (among quite a few) is his top-heaviness. Because all of his weight is resting on the one foot and he is now on a 32mm base, his centre of gravity is off.

Even when you think he’s ready to go on the base, he won’t be. Trust me. His build also suffers from the vague arrow problem I mentioned earlier in the manual section – plus, the troll’s last few bits of assembly don’t have steps.

I will note it here: Before gluing on his left arm, glue on the wood name tag, then his left leg, then his head, and then his left arm.

The Models – Varag Ghoul-Chewer

Star player Varag is by far my favorite model in this entire box. I may dedicate enough time to this model alone to constitute this becoming my next competition piece.

The detail is amazing, the boy is chonky! And yes, he is quite hefty and has a real weight to him.

Initially i thought I’d pin him to the base due to his bad centre of gravity (like a certain troll). But thankfullym, once the glue is set, he doesn’t really have that issue.

The Models – The Bogenhafen Barons

Onto the smelly ‘Umies of the box, the Bogenhafen Barons.

Unfortunately, unlike the Greenskins, they are not as customizable and you get two of each of the models pictured below.

The only “customizable” player in the team is a bodyguard with an optional aquila over his chest guard which covers a skull.

However, if you have any freeguild bits laying around, you can definitely do some kitbashing and make this nobility team your own.

In terms of the actual build, they were very easy and straightforward. Fiddly bits to note are the individual ribbons on one of the bodyguards that have to be glued on. Surprisingly, the feathers were not at all brittle or fragile.

So long as you arent rending plastic. You shouldn’t worry too much about snapping them off or even damaging them while clipping them off the sprue.

The Models – Griff Oberwald

Star player Griff Oberwald has come back in all-new red plastic glory. My only complaint is the bird. And not the one on his head.

Fortunately, the bird is not integral to the miniature, so I’ll be keeping it off for my sanity and for playing purposes. The points connecting the eagle to Griff is a small indentation on a medal to a dot on the glove. That’s it.

That gripe aside, his model is glorious. The folds in his clothes are just asking for washes and highlights

The Models – Tokens

The tokens surprised me. They’re actually really cool.

I’ll be surprised if I see absolutely anyone in their right mind start to complain about these. Kudos to the design team again for making a few tiny, seemingly innocuous, design choices which make painters like me want to actually paint these tokens.

The coins are also simple but detailed enough to stand out. The crisp lines on the aquila of the Bogenhafen coin and the clear depressed detail on the Greenskin coin is phenomenal.

Food for thought: magnetizing the slotter ball to the player bases. My first thought would be to maybe glue a magnet to the underside of the base where the ball would go and a thin sheet of galvanized sheet metal to the flat bottom of the ball so it’ll just snap to the base without any hassle or fiddling.

To conclude my feelings on the models: Orcs iz da bezt. Their sprues have the most space for customization and I just love their models the most.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Playtesting

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Right, the elephant in the room.

There have been some big changes to Blood Bowl’s rules since the last edition which, as I imagine we’re all used to now, has caused a bit of a split in the community. Some people love the look of the new rules and, surprise surprise, some people hate them. I imagine it’s been the same since time immemorial.

I imagine Vikings in the ninth-century Scandinavia, sitting in alehouses, arguing over the rules of hnefatafl similarly. How dare Ragnar bring those garbage new rules from Britain back to the clan? Someone should write something rude about him on runestone so people in a thousand years’ time will know what a pr*ck he was.

So, a brief rundown of the major changes, as listed on the Warhammer Community website here, are as follows:

  • Overall, statistics have been given a bit of a facelift. Unit stats are now Target Numbers instead of a characteristic base value, so you now know what number it is you need to aim for when you’re rolling.
  • Any and all special abilities, such as Brawler, Grab, and so on, have also been updated, and added to the core rules book.
  • A new stat, Passing Ability (PA). previously, this was liked to the unit’s Agility, but is now its own independent stat.
  • Units are now considered “Marked” or “Open” depending on whether or not they are standing in another unit’s Tackling Zone, which works in tandem with actions such as catching a pass or dodging through the Line of Scrimmage.
  • You can now jump over prone units. Yippee!
  • Pre-match and post-game sequences have also been changed. If the teams that have been fielded are not as evenly matched as they could be, the weaker side can roll on the new “Prayers to Nuffle” table, which offers, and I quote, “some minor but entertaining, benefits or penalties.”
  • After a game, the coach can has more control over how they develop their team throughout a season due to the addition of a Star Player award, which lets you roll to gain a random Skill or characteristic improvement.
  • The rulebook also contains all the new statistics you’ll need for the old teams.

Much like with the tweaks to 40K Ninth Edition we saw earlier this year, these all appear to have been done with accessibility and speed of play in mind. Blood Bowl is being streamlined into a fast-paced game, likely in an attempt to move away from the idea that all miniatures games require an entire weekend and a day booked off work in order to be played to completion.

So, passing back to Hellhound, let’s see how it holds up.

Playtesting – Introduction

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Hellhound Minis here again to take you through a little of the new game!

I asked my homie Dan to help me play test the new Season of Blood Bowl.

He’s already a very seasoned tabletop wargamer, winning top threes at convention tournaments and local events, but was willing to try out Blood Bowl – which is my jam.

Playtesting – Pre-Sequence and Set Up

Before even starting to roll any dice, we read through the rules a few times and then resolved to picking teams, paying for our players with our 1,000,000 gold budget and any re-rolls.

I chose a roster of five Goblin Linemen, six Black Orcs, one tamed Troll, and two re-rolls. Dan had two re-rolls, one Ogre, two Throwers, two Bodyguards, two Noble Blitzers and four Retainer Linemen.

We then rolled off for weather conditions and fan count. We decided not to go into the Nuffle Prayers or Inducements because it was his first game of Blood Bowl and he wanted to get the basics down before getting anything more complicated happening.

The dice were merciful and gave us a beautiful day, so no negative weather effects affected play. The Orcs had six thousand cheering fans, and stinky ‘Umies got four thousand.

With the promo coin I got from my Warhammer store, we flipped for first turn. In a sick twist of fate, the stinky ‘Umies went first. We assembled our teams on the line of Scrimmage and prepared ourselves to watch our teams duke it out on the pitch.

Playtesting – The Right Stuff

The first few rounds were, in short, hilarious.

Picture it like this: Thrower goes to pick up the ball. The coach yells from the side-lines, “THROW THE BALL!” and gestures wildly to the other thrower a few meters away. The Thrower with the ball nods in acknowledgement, so he throws the ball and lands it next to his target.

The person who was supposed to catch it was too busy admiring himself in his pocket mirror to notice the ball next to him.

That was Dan’s first round.

Because the Thrower who was supposed to catch the ball failed the catch roll, this caused a Turnover. Now, it is the Orcs’ turn.

For the sake of brevity, my turns were essentially attempting to throw Goblins and constantly failing. An approach wiich is available because the Goblin has the “Right Stuff” ability, and the Troll has the “Throw Teammate” ability.

Another team that has this kind of synergy is the Halfling team between the Halfling Catcher and the Altern Forest Treemen.

Playtesting – Smelly ‘Umies

When the Ogre knocked over one of my Black Orcs, that’s when I realised that I messed up for placeing my team in a defensive position. This team needed to be played offensively. So that’s when I started just going into the ‘Umies.

Every time my Orcs POWed a ‘Umie down, it initiated an armour roll.

With a 2D6, I rolled against the Armor Value of the given player whom I’d declared to either K.O. or kill.

In the case of the Bodyguard in the dugout’s KO infirmary (above), I rolled over an 8 in the armour roll and over an 8 in the Injury table. Boom: one down, 10 to go…

Playtesting – Touch Down

It was about round 3 when the ball got dangerously close to my End Zone.

So I sent out a lone wolf Goblin to intercept. I, of course, failed the intercept and caused a Turn-over. Dan brought in reinforcements and in his attempt to pass the ball, failed and caused another Turn-over.

We were now in round 5. I decided to finally bring my Troll in on the action and blitz him into the ball party.

Lo and behold, I roll a “Player Down” and a “Both Down” dice. Because the troll has a higher strength characteristic than the thrower he blitzed, I roll two dice. If it were more than double, I would have rolled three dice. But, out of that pool, I can only choose one effect.

By this time, I’d already used my re-rolls in blocks so I figured, “If I’m going down, I’m taking you with me.”

Playtesting – Post-Sequence

After that epic fail, Dan’s team finally picked up the ball and scored a Touch Down!

It was time for the post-game sequence. He rolled for his KO’d Bodyguard to recover: on a 1-3, he’s done for for the next rounds of the game, on a 4+, he’s ready for action. Luckily, Dan rolled a 5, and the Bodyguard is back in the game.

I decided to throw in the Star Players for the pictures and because I thought they’d bring me some luck in these last few rounds!

The ball landed near a Goblin, who aptly grabbed it, and ran to the far Goblin on the Line of Scrimmage. He made a successful pass, and the Goblin was able to make a dodge around the Noble Lineman.

Then, I just kept the ball going, knocked down a lineman, then another and another just like dominos. This should have been how I played from the start, dangit!

Because now, by the time I was able to re-activate my Goblin with the ball, there aren’t be enough rounds left to make it to the End Zone.

Playtesting – Final Thoughts

In the end, I was able to kill one Lineman, and KO two more. Still, an amazing outcome for aggressive gameplay. Honestly, it felt so good playing Blood Bowl again. I can’t wait to try out the new Necromantic Horrors team and see how my Skaven work out!

Blood Bowl is – and remains – a great game for experienced tabletop gamers looking to get into specialist games.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Price and Availability

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Blood Bowl Second Season Edition is available for £85 ($140 USD/$230 AUD/€105), straight from Games Workshop.

As ever, your local hobby retailer may be able to sell this to you at a discounted price, so it’s worth shopping around a little before committing to your purchase – especially given how tough the economic climate has been for local gaming stores this year (thanks, Covid). Get on to your local store and see if you can pop a few bob their way.

For reference, buying two premier league UK football teams could set you back a couple of billion quid, so if managing a top-tier sports team appeals to you this is definitely a cheaper alternative. It’s also a lot more fun than Football Manager 2020.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Where to Next?

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If you like the look of Blood Bowl, the best thing to do is to have a glance over the full range of teams and figures available for purchase, as there are a lot more teams out there than just Orks and Imperials. Much like the Greenskins and Barons from the Second Season set, they’re all a bit daft and tongue in cheek.

As someone who has been painting 40K and Age of Sigmar week in, week out for the last year, the chance to paint something a little bit silly really appeals to be – and, to be honest, an entire Blood Bowl team is pretty reasonably priced too, so it’s an easy thing to get into.

Blood Bowl Second Season Edition Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Fantastic minis
Awesome board
Truly quirky and enjoyable
Not the most beginner friendly
May be a must buy for returning players

So, there we have it. Another triumph.

From beautiful models to gorgeous, well-written resources to speed along your play, Blood Bowl Second Season Edition upholds 2020’s long line of high-quality Games Workshop boxed games.

That said, it’s not the best game for outright beginners. If you’re unblooded in the crucible of Blood Bowl carnage, this set is going to require some serious study, as there’s very little handholding and swaddling. Much like the Orcs and Humans in the game itself, you’ll find yourself hurled headlong into a chaotic heap of numbers, statistics, and rules the likes of which may seem a little overwhelming.

But that aside, if you’re a Blood Bowl veteran, a tabletop fanatic, or, perhaps, if you’re just feeling brave, you can’t go wrong with Blood Bowl Second Season Edition’s box.

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Authors

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

  • Michelle is a NYC based commission painter, aspiring hobbyist, and above all: a devout follower of Chaos. And yes, she made the pilgrimage to the holy land of Warhammer World in Nottingham, UK. It was the best day of her life. She lives with her mom, hellhound chihuahua, and chaos spawn cat.

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Blood Bowl Second Season Edition
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Blood Bowl Second Season Edition
About VoltorRWH 58 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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