Dungeon Bowl: The Game of Subterranean Blood Bowl Mayhem Review

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Dunegon Bowl Review 2021 - Featured

The madness and mayhem of Blood Bowl is transported to the dark and dusty corridors and passageways that lie beneath the Eight Colleges of Magic in this chaotic high-definition remaster of the classic game. Take command of the College of Fire or the College of Shadows as you attempt to answer the most important question ever raised from within the Warhammer mythos: which college is better?

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Dungeon Bowl Review – Summary

Dungeon Bowl is back and better than ever before. Whilst some of the miniatures are less impressive (and far more difficult to assemble – oh, and aren’t in any way exclusive to the box) than others, the Dungeon Bowl set packed with new rules, a flashy book, and plenty of good-quality tiles and tokens, that catapults the cult game into the twenty twenties in style. A well thought-out and cleverly put-together boxed release, that is a credit to the Blood Bowl franchise.

Dungeon Bowl Review – Introduction

I had no idea Dungeon Bowl was a thing before I saw this was set to be released, and when I did assumed it was a new thing to follow on from Blood Bowl’s Second Season Edition – which, to be honest, it kinda is. When I broached this to FauxHammer, he got all misty-eyed, slipped into reverie and kept starting his sentences with “many years ago” – but he’s about a million years old, so that doesn’t narrow it down much.

After the eighth “back in my day”, I, an impatient and ignorant millennial with no respect for That and Those Which Came Before, stopped listening to him and did some Googling.

Turns out you probably fall into one of two camps when it comes to this new Dungeon Bowl release: the first are the FauxHammers, who remember the good ol’ days of charging your figures down tight corridors after a tiny spiked football and generally having a blast with the whacky spin off of the original whacky spin-off of American Football, Blood Bowl.

The second camp are people like me: either too young to have the faintest idea that Dungeon Bowl was ever a thing before December 2021, or far too blinkered by Age of Sigmar or Warhammer 40,000 to have noticed that GW make other games.

Originally released as a supplement for the 1988 second edition of Blood Bowl, “Dungeonbowl” has in the forty-three years since its first steps into the Blood Bowl universe become something of a cult classic – and has gained a space in its name.

Taking the classic pitch-based rules for Blood Bowl and transposing them into a dungeon crawler-like environment, players control one of two teams and, as they do with regular Blood Bowl, try and score a touchdown to win the game. There are a number of fundamental diffferences, though.

The first is that players have to find the ball. Hidden in a chest deep within a magical and trap-filled dungeon, whoever finds the ball has to then try and score a single touchdown to win the game. The other team must try and get the ball off them and do the same. This process is, of course, complicated by the aforementioned traps and magic.

It sounds like great fun, so what’s the box all about?

Dungeon Bowl Review – What’s New

As outlined in a Warhammer Community article from the 24th November, a number of changes come to Dungeon Bowl 2021. Here’s a run-down of them.

  1. Dungeon Bowl now takes place within the new and streamlined ruleset introduced with Blood Bowl Second Season Edition. This is done to make the rules easier to understand and more accessible.
  2. Generating a dungeon/pitch has been changed. A player will now works with their opponent to set up the space in which they will play before tossing a coin to decide who sets up which team where.
  3. Every room in Dungeon Bowl now has its own rules. Each room-specific tile in the box has its own unique selection of rules in order to encourage players to interact with their environment. In the article, the example given is that “when making an Armour roll in the Armoury, [the attacker will] get a +1 modifier to represent [their] player clobbering their opponent with one of the weapons lying around”. Sounds pretty neat.
  4. old-school tokens are out, three-dimensional miniature terrain is now in. The set comes with heaps of terrain – including chests and portals with which players can interact.
  5. Team recruitment has been shaken up. Players will now be able to recruit players to their teams from a much more varied pool of talent depending on their choice of college. Colleges feature certain rosters, and from these rosters players can recruit a number of different players. The College of metal, for example, allows players to recruit Orcs, Black Orcs, Khorne and Human players, whilst the College of Death favours Necromantic Horrors and Shambling Undead. It’s all about discovering your playstyle and building a team around it.

Faster, easier to understand, and with more customisation options than ever before, Dungeon Bowl certainly looks good on paper. But what about what lies between the cardboard walls of the box in which it comes packaged?

Dungeon Bowl Review – Unboxing

Here we go again – another unboxing! We all know how these work by now, so let’s kick this off with a nice picture of the box.

Dungeon Bowl Review Unboxing 1

Blood Bowl boxes always look great. A bit silly, but always gorgeous.

Anyway, inside lies the plastic.

Dungeon Bowl Review Unboxing 2

There are six sprues in the box. One with your measures on, one with the portals and chests, and then two for each team.

Dungeon Bowl Review Unboxing 3

Beneath lies a divider, separating the pointy bits of sprue from the scratchable stuff beneath.

Dungeon Bowl Review Unboxing 4

And it’s a good job it’s there, as the book that lies beneath is rather nice.

Dungeon Bowl Review Unboxing 6
yep, the cardboard backer is upside down – OOB experience ruined! RUINED!

The book is shrink-wrapped with the two cheat sheets in it as well.

Beneath the Dungeon Bowl rulebook and the cardboard inserts – which I’ve just noticed were upside down in my box – is the rest of the contents.

Dungeon Bowl Review Unboxing 7

Tiles, tokens, bases and dice.

Let’s have a more in-depth look at everything.

Dungeon Bowl Review – Contents

There’s a mountain of stuff in the Dungeon Bowl box.

Dungeon Bowl Review All

To list everything, then, that’s:

  • 14 College of Fire miniatures in orange plastic, featuring
    • 1 x Ogre Blocker
    • 1 x Ogre Runt Punter
    • 6 x Gnoblars
    • 1 x Dwarf Runner
    • 1 x Dwarf Blitzer
    • 3 x Dwarf Blocker Lineman
    • 1 x Troll Slayer
  • 12 College of Shadows miniatures in purple plastic, featuring
    • 3 x Skaven Clanrat Lineman
    • 1 x Skaven Blitzer
    • 1 x Skaven Thrower
    • 1 x Gutter Runner
    • 3 x Dark Elf Lineman
    • 1 x Dark Elf Blitzer
    • 1 x Dark Elf Runner
    • 1 x Witch Elf
  • Dungeon Bowl furnishings
    • 6 x Chests
    • 6 x Portals
    • 1 x Spiked Ball
  • A 104-page Rulebook
  • 2 x Rules reference sheets
  • 6 x double-sided Token Boards
  • 14 x dice
  • 3 x plastic measuring templates for range, direction, and ricochet

Dungeon Bowl Review – Literature

All the reading you’ll need to do with this box comes across two (well, technically three things): the rulebook and two cheat sheets – one for each player.

The Rulebook

I really like Blood Bowl rulebooks. Rather, I really like the two Blood Bowl rulebooks I own: the Second Season Edition rulebook and now this one.

Dungeon Bowl Review Rulebook

They’re always quite fun. Filled with lots of cartoony images and bursting with colour, the Dungeon Bowl rulebook very much feels special. Look, it’s even got one of those built-in bookmark ribbon things. How swish!

Dungeon Bowl Review Rulebook Inside

It’s not the most digestible of books, though. There’s a lot of information spread across its 104 pages, and whilst it’s broken down and signposted clearly, it’s still quite a hefty thing to have around.

It does, however, contain absolutely all the information you could possibly need in order to play a game of Dungeon Bowl. There are also tables in the back of the book to help you ensure you put together your college team legally by listing all the units available to each college and their respective costs.

Rules Reference Sheets

With that in mind, the Rules Reference Sheets are very useful to have. Taking the vast amount of information spread across the rulebook’s pages and distilling it down into its most basic form, the Cheat Sheets also take up far less room on or around your chosen gaming surface.

Dungeon Bowl Review Cheat Sheets

Still, there’s a lot of information in here, and you’re not likely to follow everything that’s written on them without first having a basic understanding of the rules of Dungeon Bowl. The Cheat Sheets come after the rulebook for players who understand the rules but just need a quick prompt, not before the rulebook for people who just can’t be bothered to read it.

Dungeon Bowl Review Cheat Sheets Inside

It is nonetheless a very useful and succinct thing to have at your side during a game. We need more things like this in all boxed games.

Dungeon Bowl Review – Wargear

There’s loads of stuff in the Dungeon Bowl box to make your experience playing the game as fun and immersive as possible.

Dugouts

The dugouts are, in essence, just tiles.

Dungeon Bowl Review Dugouts

The difference between the tiles that are used for the rest of the game and these dugout tiles is that these are where your miniatures are stored during the game should anything happen to them. Designed to look a little like college locker rooms, the art on the cards is both a little grim and rather amusing.

They’re quite fun and clever little inclusions. Instead of just taking your figures off the board and assigning them all a token or counter, why not up the immersion by having an actual pitch-side space for them to sit around in?

Dungeon Tiles and Door Tokens

Much like the Dugouts before them, the Dungeon Tiles are covered in detailed, quirky and amusing artwork. Depitcing traditional dungeon-esque spaces one may expect to see in any piece of artwork associated with a TTRPG from the late 80s, the somewhat tongue-in-cheek designs will help players stay immersed in their game.

Dungeon Bowl Review Tiles

The Door Tokens are the avalanche of thin, rectangular shapes at the bottom-middle of the image above. These work exactly as one may expect in Dungeon Bowl: they each represent a doorway through which players can choose to pass.

The tokens are made of good, solid card and the artwork on each is of a high-quality. There’s nothing to be sniffed at here.

Dice

The more and more boxed games I review, the more and more I come to feel that the dice included in a set – or, perhaps not included in a set – can be used as a litmus test for the amount of care and attention that has gone into the overall product.

Oftentimes, I feel that products that have just had a plain run-of-the-mill packet of white dice with black spots on are symptomatic of a box that maybe hasn’t had quite the same level of care and attention invested in its creation as a box with, say, some fun, quirky, thematic dice in it.

The dice in the Dungeon Bowl set are a good indicator of the latter.

Dungeon Bowl Review Dice

Printed in the colours of the two colleges in the box – Fire and Shadow – these translucent coloured dice are stamped with specific iconography and numerals that are very Blood/Dungeon Bowl in theme and design. Whilst they aren’t exactly the most exciting dice ever, they nonetheless help add a sense of completion and professionalism to the release.

Measuring Templates

Cut from one of the sprues and partially assembled, purchasers of the Blood Bowl Second Season Edition will recognise these measuring templates.

Dungeon Bowl Review Measures

There’s not much to say about them – beyond the fact they’re far better than any dull range sticks or flimsy clear plastic rulers that could easily have been used as an alternative. As with the dice, it helps give the impression you’ve purchased a product that’s received some real care and attention.

Dungeon Bowl Review – Models

Dungeon Bowl comes with two full college teams, all equipped and ready to go. Representing the College of Fire and the College of Shadow, Blood Bowl fans may notice that the figures in the Dungeon Bowl box look a little familiar. That’s because they are not unique to this box.

The College of Shadow team is made up of a number of Dark Elves from the Naggaroth Nightmares kit, and the Skaven are from the Skavenblight Scramblers.

The College of Fire team is made up of Dwarves from the Dwarf Giants kit, and the Goblins and Ogres are from the Ogre Blood Bowl Team kit.

Beyond the scenery included in the box, there is no new plastic to be found here.

College of Fire

The College of Fire team is mage up of two Ogres, six Dwarves and six Gnoblars.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Fire 4

The Gnoblars are each made up of two components: a head, and an everything else. They’re very small, very light, and very easy to put together.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Fire 3

I’m not huge a huge fan of the miniatures, though. They all look like Dobby the House Elf from Harry Potter going through a different stage of grieving.

The Dwarves are much more fun.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Fire 2

Again, easy to put together (usually a beard and head, an arm or two, and a body with everything else attached to it) the Dwarves in the box are straightforward to build and pleasing to look at. There’s a good deal of detail across all of them, and their design seamlessly blends the grim stoicism of Age of Sigmar Dwarf design with the momentum and movement associated with Blood Bowl.

There are a few headswaps – and beardswaps – available across the sprue as well, so you can get your Dwarves looking just how you want.

Finally, we have the Ogres.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Fire 1

Big, lumbering, and fun models, the Ogres are probably my favourite miniatures in the box. They have a few customisation options too: heads, shoudlerpads and belts. They have more components to them than any other College of Fire miniature in the box, but they remain easy to put together.

Everything else on the sprue for use in your games (aside from your optional components for the figures) is shown below.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Fire 5

A good start. Can the College of Shadow match it?

College of Shadow

No, unfortunately they cannot.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Shadow 4

Let’s just get it out there: the Dark Elves drove me mad. They aren’t particularly large figures to start with, and have an awfully high number of very small, very fiddly components – I’m talking hands, feet, and tiny spikes and spurs (there was even a single thumb that needed to be attached at one point) that need to be attached individually, often to other tiny components. They’re not easy to put together – but they have many parts that are easy to miss, easy to drop, and easy to lose.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Shadow 1

There was one head left over on the sprue at the end, so there aren’t many opportunities for customisation across the six Dark Elves.

The Skaven, by comparison, were far better to build. Each model consisted of around three parts: a body, an arm (or arms) which are attached to a shoulder (or shoulders), and a head.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Shadow 2

They’re a reasonable bunch covered in lots of nice details. As with the other figures in the set, they retain their sneaky Skaven-ness whilst simultaneously looking suited for a pitch, but they just aren’t exciting me like the Dwarves and Ogres were. Perhaps it’s because there are no swaps or options for customisation on the sprue: the Skaven you see as the Skaven you get.

Anyway, here’s all the other stuff on the sprue.

Dungeon Bowl Review College of Shadow 3

And that’s that.

As I said at the top of this section, the College of Shadow team is made up of a number of Dark Elves from the Naggaroth Nightmares kit, and the Skaven are from the Skavenblight Scramblers, whilst the College of Fire team is made up of Dwarves from the Dwarf Giants kit, and the Goblins and Ogres are from the Ogre Blood Bowl Team kit.

I do feel a little hard-done-by that there’s no new plastic in this box. It’d have been nice to have had something a little different or exclusive, like the Imperial Nobility and Black Ork team from the Second Season Edition (though these have all since beenr eleased as their own kits). But on the whole, it’s all pretty good stuff.

Dungeon Bowl Review – Price and Availability

Dungeon Bowl is listed on Games Workshop’s webstore at £95/$160USD/€125 which seems like a fairly reasonable price for the game. Blood Bowl Second Season Edition was, and still is, a little cheaper. Clocking in at £85/$140/€105, you get a similar amount of stuff for a few bob less.

You get a good heap of stuff in the Dungeon Bowl box, and it’s a good, fun game. The price isn’t amazing; it’s not terrible either. It feels pretty fair.

I don’t say that often.

Dungeon Bowl Review – Where to Next?

Dungeon Bowl really opens up the Blood Bowl franchise to players. With the ability to chop and change players from many teams into your favourite college, the catalogue really does become your oyster. Find a college you like and you can pick yourself up two or three Blood Bowl teams for use in your games of Dungeon Bowl. There’s also a heap of unique stuff available from Forge World.

Of course, if you’d rather play on a more traditional pitch (the only time the word “traditional” will be featured in a Blood Bowl review) instead of a dungeon, there’s the Second Season Edition box, which we reviewed this time last year.

Dungeon Bowl Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Interesting and entertaining spin on Blood Bowl
The box is reasonable value
Some nice miniatures in the box
No original miniatures
Dark Elves are horrible to assemble

Dungeon Bowl has a lot going for it. An interesting take on a classic board game given a face-lift for the twenty-twenties.

The majority of the individual components of the box are all great: the rulebook, the cheat sheets, the tiles, dice and so-on. There’s a nice artistic theme stretching across all elements of the boxed game which gives buyers the sense that they’re getting a luxury, thought-out product and not just a hastily thrown together release.

The miniatures are a bit hit and miss. Some are more interesting and exciting than others, and some are significantly easier to assemble than others in the box. That there isn’t even a single new miniature in the box is a bit of a letdown. They aren’t the kind of miniatures that are going to prompt Blood/Dungeon Bowl novices into buying the set. But, in a way, that’s not the point of Dungeon Bowl.

Dungeon Bowl’s big selling point is the versatility in its teams. That players can chop and change miniatures from multiple teams into a cohesive line up that works for them is a really nice aspect of the game. Sure, it’s a tactic designed specifically to sell more boxes of Blood Bowl teams, but as far as die-hard players of Blood/Dungeon Bowl are concerned, it’s a great opportunity to really start making their teams their own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Click this link & buy your hobby stuff from Element Games for the UK & Europe to support FauxHammer.com – Use Code “FAUX2768” at the checkout for double reward points.

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Author

  • 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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Dungeon Bowl: The Game of Subterranean Blood Bowl Mayhem
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Dungeon Bowl: The Game of Subterranean Blood Bowl Mayhem
About VoltorRWH 87 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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