Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Blood Bowl On Sale

Steam is having a sale for the most recent computer version of Blood Bowl. It's now down to $10 until 4pm PST Thursday. The implementation has a few bugs but I've found it to be pretty good thus far. I don't regret buying it at all and play it a couple times a week so I definitely think it's worth picking up if you want to play the game.

If you don't know anything about the game it's a turn based miniatures game where you're playing football with fantasy creatures. There's a lot of punching and a little bit of passing. It's more like rugby than football, really. Really bloody rugby. Your characters can level up and get new stats and abilities. They can also suffer permanent injuries or straight up die. You roll small numbers of dice with auto-failures, so the game tends to come down to risk management and recovering from critical failures. You need the temperament to handle having your guys die, or failing your 1 in 1296 roll. But it is very fun if you can let those roll off your shoulders.

The computer game has a couple of different ways to play. There's a single player campaign mode where you can take a starting team and compete in a bunch of tournaments against the AI. This is how I played the first version of the game and it was pretty fun just as a solo game. The AI is not very smart, but neither are new players to the game, so it's probably a pretty fair fight. The other way to play is to join one of the many online leagues and play against other people. There are a couple of 'open' leagues where anyone can join up, hit play, and get matched with a random comparable opponent who is also looking. Alternatively there are a bunch of private leagues you can sign up for which may have scheduled matches or open play. A recent patch to the game made it so you can spectate games live, which is actually pretty cool.

I'm currently playing in a private league that Sceadeau is running. We're almost into the last 'week' of the season, and then there's going to be three rounds of play-offs. After that it'll be time to start a new season of the league! Some people are going to keep playing their old teams. Some people are going to switch what team they play. Some people are going to quit entirely. Other people are going to join the league who didn't play this season. Maybe you're one of those people? If you're at all interested let me know here, or on Facebook, or by email, or something. There's a private Facebook group you can join if you're interested.

The setup for the league is one scheduled match every 2 weeks. Most of the games are played in the evenings but the people matched up are free to pick any time that works for both of them. People have seemed pretty flexible so far for the most part. Most of the games feature both coaches getting onto a Vent server for communication/trash talk and sometimes people use spectate mode to kibitz. And yell for blood. Everyone must die! Except my team, of course. Don't hurt the dwarves!

Existing teams in the league get to carry forward with whatever they have. New teams to the league are allowed to play pickup games to level up, including having games conceded to them for quick experience if needed. There is a 'salary cap' for new teams of 1500 TV. On the one hand this means a new team is going to start off with a lower value than the existing teams, which is bad. On the other hand new teams are in a position to actually fire people with permanent injuries and just play more games to replace them. New teams can concede games to burn off their excess fan factor if they want to. (Note: I tested it and this version of the game does not have your super stars quit when you concede. Or at least I did it 4 times and didn't lose my guy with  more than 51 SPP. Considering you get a concession when your internet dies it would be a pretty terrible rule.) A team at 1500 TV is also not going to be very far back, and the first couple inducements are actually pretty cost effective. Wizards are awesome, agility potions are undercosted, and bloodwiser babes are actually pretty useful. I'm strongly considering switching my team to a 1500 TV team so I don't think it's going to be a very big penalty and my gamer senses are tingling enough to make me think it might be the 'right' play. I'm just a little attached to my music themed dwarves!

If all the matches finish in a round the next round starts right away. You do get 2 weeks to schedule your matches in any given round, but if everyone is quick then we move on. It's taken about 8 weeks to play the first 6 rounds of this 7 round season, to give a rough idea about how fast things have moved. It moves slowly enough that it's not a huge time commitment like WoW raiding would be, but it still moves quickly enough that you can see your team making progress round to round. A given match is somewhere between 40 minutes and 2 hours. I'd imagine with newer players (or Robb) it would lean more towards the 2 hour mark.

If you don't know how to play but want to learn please let me know. I taught Robb and Snuggles to play over Skype before this season started and it worked out ok. I'm more than happy to play random games and talk strategy as we go to try to help people get up to speed either with the rules of the game or the rules of the interface.

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