Blood Bowl Again?

It’s a common topic of gamer chat at the moment: is GW’s assumed Limited Edition (LE) release this year going to be a new Blood Bowl?

For those of you that haven’t been paying attention lately, GW has released 2 Limited Edition stand-alone games so far in this current phase: Space Hulk (which did very well) and Dread Fleet (which didn’t). As these came out with a 2 year gap between them and we’ve had another 2 years since, the discerning geek is assuming that GW will continue their love of fixed release cycles and deliver something else this year. Blood Bowl is the rumour mill’s favourite with Warhammer Quest a strong second.

Mostly I ignore rumours, but this one has some apparent merit. On a more personal note, I’ve been asked by a number of folk whether this worries me. Will this kill DreadBall? I thought I’d burble about it for a little while here.

The answer is “no”, by the way.

Blood Bowl is a fine game with many years of refinement and nostalgia behind it and if it comes out as a LE I would expect it to do very well and sell through quickly. If it follows the current GW LE model it will be released, be sold, and then be dropped by GW as if it never happened. Ebay will see inflated prices on copies for years. DreadBall will continue to be better supported before the BB release, throughout this period, and beyond.

LE releases allow GW to make a nice cash injection to their finances without muddying the waters for their staff who can continue to focus on core games. It suits the way they work and they’re doing fine so far. Judging by the comments I hear from supporters of their many non-core games, this does not suit those fans especially well. Either way, it’s what GW do, so we can reasonably assume they’ll do the same again.

The current rumour may be wrong, but let’s assume for a moment that they’re on the money. Blood Bowl comes out as a stand-alone boxed game with 4 teams in. GW sell it through and once their warehouses are empty they forget about it. I can see this causing as much upset as excitement in the BB community, but not a great deal of either. What about those many players who play one of the two or three dozen other teams in the current incarnation? What do they play in this new, limited version? We have nothing except Space Hulk to go on as far as rules are concerned (because DF was new, not reissued), but if we follow the same logic there they’ll be much the same rules we already have. Nice new models and pitch one would expect; not drastically reworked rules. That probably leaves the community to simply update the current teams to the new version and carry on as before, grumbling as ever that GW have failed to support the game in the long term. There will be a blip in the smooth running of the BB community, but they’ve grown used to being ignored by GW over the last decade, so it won’t be a shock.

I’d expect a new BB to add some new recruits to the online forums and a wad of cash to GW’s coffers. Apart from that I don’t expect to see much change. Does that sound worrying?

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37 Responses to Blood Bowl Again?

  1. Keith says:

    I hope they do give Blood Bowl the SH treatmeant (or WHQ for that matter, or both). I love my copy of space hulk as it allowed me to get a great game which I couldn’t get at the time. I do have both BB and Quest, but they are worn and battered through many years of use, the models in both show their age badly as well and I would relish the chance to pick up a ‘deluxe’ modern version.

    I also think you’re right about it not affecting dreadball in any way, I love bloodbowl, but I love dreadball too, although related they are different games, and lets not forget bloodbowl will come with a GW price tag and be over as soon as it’s starts, like Sh to be brought out for an occasional game.

  2. Ben Stewart says:

    I love both games, and would jump at the chance to get some lovely new BB models but it wouldn’t stop me playing DB

  3. Ben says:

    This would be a little different from the previous two releases in that GW currently do sell BB product whilst they didn’t for SH or DF. It would make sense for them to tie any BB release into this product to create a knock-on sales boost of the teams they currently sell.

    Either way, I can’t see it creating a BB “revival”. It has a small but dedicated fanbase now and it’ll have a small but dedicated fanbase afterwards.

  4. Matt Lee says:

    Jervis talked about his desire to redo BB back at Adepticon in 2005 when Fanatic was downsized as a result of the LOTR bubble bursting. I hope it does happen — Specialist Games are dead or dying in terms of the love and care GW can give them, a last hurrah is a more dignified way to die than rotting into obscurity as the moulds eventually break and aren’t replaced.

  5. Chris says:

    The interesting difference is you have the bloodbowl computer game. This has been a success for cyanide to the extent they have brought out 3 editions. Somewhat unusually it is just the board game on a computer. Now they are bringing out a bloodbowl 2 (in addition to a freemium team management game). If GW substantially alter the formula it would potentially create additional work for them. Especially if it makes having the big range of teams harder as from their Dungeonbowl foray it would seem likely they would charge extra for each team you can use.

    Warhammer quest is getting an iOS game but this will not be a reproduction of the board game. Any contractual wrangles GW may find with the bloodbowl licence wouldn’t be there for Quest. Also quest fits in with an existing range in the same way Space Hulk did and doesn’t create IP wrinkles (the Bloodbowl background is just slightly different from the GW fantasy setting…).
    I would have thought quest fitted the LE model better, though bloodbowl could sell more by simple virtue of all the die hards buying 2+ sets, the PC gamers picking up a set and the nostalga value selling it to everyone else who used to play it.

    Anyway, just in case its true, time to sell those spare bloodbowl components πŸ™‚

    • Quirkworthy says:

      WHQ would sell well too and would probably be my pick to do a LE with, but that’s me not GW. Who knows, they may do nothing this year as they’ve got the Hobbit? Actually, I don’t believe that. I’d expect a LE something, though it wouldn’t desperately surprise me if it was neither BB nor WHQ.

  6. Ben Stewart says:

    Maybe they’ll do a nice fancy re-release of my second favourite ‘Specialist’ game, Battlefleet Gothic. Or Mordhiem, my third favourite…

  7. mattadlard says:

    LOL, it doesn’t sound worrying, it sounded like some excited managers business pitch to the rest of the directors, as the best thing we can do is this…..

  8. mattadlard says:

    I would bet that BB is the next release with some support purely on the basis that Dread-Ball has taken on such a following and against what some perceived as the smart business model for the gaming industry. With the constant release of and compulsory addition of new martial as if the model gaming industry were the same as the computer one.

    What Mantic showed, was a rather public face to the principle that smaller dedicated and dynamic companies that understand their market by embracing what they say and want.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Flattering as it might be to assume that GW would respond to DreadBall in this way, I don’t really think it’s true. The lead times they gave themselves for SH and DF are such that DB would not really have been about during the run up to a decision on any LE for this year.

  9. Andrew says:

    If I was putting money down (and I’m not), it would be on Warhammer Quest over Blood Bowl. If you look at the structure of their previous LE releases, WQ much more closely follows the ‘everything you need in one box’ format than BB.

    Would it be good to see Blood Bowl get a new lease on life? Yes, but we’ve already got the console/PC game and FFG’s card game, so that’s a market that is pretty well covered. They could release a self-contained box with 2-3 teams in it, but that might raise the ire of fans of the races who are left out. Alternately, they could do something slightly different (like DungeonBowl) that is more easy contained and focussed.

    Warhammer Quest seems like a much more promising prospect to me. You can fill the box with the basics, but also include rules for more exotic characters and foes that could be represented through the purchasing of other GW products. It might be a little more limited when it comes to replayability (unless there are rules for creating your own campaigns), but it’s certainly a niche that needs filling.

    I doubt we’ll see the return of Necromunda or Mordheim for reasons similar to Blood Bowl, but Battlefleet Gothic is a possibility, if it gets retooled to be more like Dreadfleet. I just wouldn’t expect anything too ‘big’ until they’re done with The Hobbit/LotR lines.

    • James maz marsden says:

      I said this sonewhere else bit i’ll repeat it here.

      If GW re-release BB it will cost at least Β£80, won’t be supported past release weekend and maybe 1 article in White Dwarf.

      Also because Dreadfleet did poorly (some places still have stock aparently) and because GW keeps screwing around the indys not that many will be sold outside GW stores.

      Furthermore because DreadBall’s done so well and maintains a presence in a lot of independents and because bloodbowl is so badly supported I can certainly see a proportion of younger/newer gamers who thing BB is a fantasy version of DB. Which is funny

  10. James Staley says:

    With my highly limited gaming cash and one solitary 5 year old opponentI hope they do blood bowl and not quest. I’d find it so hard not to buy quest, and even though I played BB for years that particular itch has now been scratched by dreadball. While I’m on the topic, I’m not sure whether you’d take it as a positive or not but I managed to have a fairly decent game of DB against my daughter (with some tweaks) which I think proves the simplicity and clarity of the base mechanics.

    • James Maz Marsden says:

      I play against my 6 year old quite often.

      He wins

      I dont let him either

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’m very pleased to hear that it’s simple enough for a 6 year old to play (or either gender). Simplicity is not a bad thing unless it is accompanied by a lack of any tactical thought (like snakes & ladders, for example). There is ample evidence to support the idea of games helping to stave off dementia in old age, and it would seem logical to assume that the same methods would help exercise brains in the young too. That can only be a good thing πŸ™‚

      • James maz marsden says:

        Dreadball is great because the rules are simple enough for a 6 year old ro follow yet tactically deep enough that i can enjoy a game against him. the randomising factor of the dice helps keeps thibgs fairly level.

        What i’m loving is my son starting to think tactically about the game.

        He was even giving his 20 year old uncle some tips.

        Proud dad moment πŸ™‚

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Embarrassing uncle moment.

        • Will says:

          I know Dwarf King’s Hold has exactly the same appeal with my 6 year old daughter…seems Jake has the market cornered! I think it is incredibly difficult to make a game that satisfies both parent and child simultaneously, but you’ve managed it – in the best traditions of Eurogames!

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Thanks Will. As I often say, I design games for my own 6-year old brain πŸ˜‰

  11. The way my simple mind sees it, even if GW released BB as a new box set and then continues to not support it, I’d be generally fine with that, as it would mean new models, a new pitch and probably new people playing Blood Bowl. If they tweak the rules it doesn’t mean I have to play them, my group can just continue to play LRB6 rules while using the new stuff they released, and hopefully get new people who may have been interested in the new box set to join our league.

  12. talarius says:

    As a member of the small & dedicated Blood Bowl player base, I am lukewarm on this rumor. The only potential positives are new improved sculpts from GW (desperately needing an update for years now) and an influx of new blood to the BB player community.

    The only potential negative (and it’s a big one) is if they change the rules. The (disbanded) BBRC (Blood Bowl Rules Committee) members have not been contacted on a potential new edition of the game and as they are the undisputed experts on the system, any changes to the current rules would be a cause for concern. This could very well cause all kinds of problems for the vibrant tournament scene run by the NAF.
    Apropos of nothing, I feel like I ought to mention that the 2012 edition of the Blood Bowl World Cup in the Netherlands featured nine games over 3 days and had 480 coaches in attendance. I think that’s a record for a GW game system that will likely stand for some time.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That’s an impressive event for any system.

      I used to work with the BBRC so I know from personal experience that they were/are a dedicated and knowledgable bunch. I agree that majorly reworking BB’s rules would be counter-productve in many ways. That doesn’t mean I can’t imagine them doing it, just that I think it’s rather unlikely.

  13. E r i c k B o u c h a r d says:

    I think I’m amongst the oddball Dreadball fans here. I never played Bloodbowl, though a friend of mine is a fan, and I’m not even remotely attracted to its team. Dreadball, beyond being a SF game, has a strong appeal by its core mechanic – simple, fast, elegant. It’s really not the same. Aside for the models and the fact I like what Mantic usually does (and the company’s spirit), the fact that the game could be played in a single hour was a great appeal to me, especially as I’m a middle manager and a dad with very limited free time on my hands.

    So there IS a customer base beyond the GW nostaltic fans out there!

  14. crimsonsun says:

    I would buy Blood bowl in a flash, but I would rather see warhammer quest redone with a deluxe set that contained dungeon furnishings like Hero quest had ( This was my introduction game into hobby and sadly my copy including all four expansions, warhammer quest + expansions was left around a friends who got damp so it all went rotten.. :((( )

    I would love to see BFG redone, and Necromunda as well but the rumours give no hint that this is likely this time around, so with blood bowl or WHQ more likely and I would buy either. In my opinion if GW were/are concerned about Dread ball as a rival product I believe they would be better to release a new blood bowl in 2 years time once Dread ball hype has calmed down, and they could entice more people rather than put out a directly competing product and the same time as there sales would not do as well.

    Blood bowl is not a release that they would make a substantial profit from its supporting products and in fact this seems from there previous two releases something they are keen to keep clear of, instead preferring a single box release with no support. On the other hand WHQ is supported without any new products being released, via Warhammer Fantasy, and its release would likely create far more new interest in there core game system than Blood Bowl.

    It was the lack of possible development and support for Dreadfleet that I didnt consider buying the game, which is sad because when I first saw hints/adverts/rumours about it I became excited hoping that it would be like BFG/Man-O-War and that we would get a system which could be used in conjunction with Warhammer, and Warmaster as part of a truly epic campaign. I too this day do not understand why they chose to release a game with such a tight focus, to the point where every ship is a ‘Special Character’ with unique rules and there is no divide between the fleets between goodish neutral and Evil. Maybe if you are willing/permitted Jake you can give me some insight here to why this was the route chosen. Now I will add that I have no idea upon how the game actually plays and cannot offer opinion because I was lost as a possible customer at the concept which in my mind offers no long term hobby prospects.

    At the end of the day though I have no understanding of how the business mind of GW works any more, I feel that there product pricing is absolutely bonkers, by which I do not mean outrageously high I mean unpredictable, some items being obscene and some being reasonable value and no way of telling what its going to be. I also find this to be the case with the quality of the models also, some things are utterly jaw dropping (I am thinking of things such as the dark Eldar range if you ignore the grotesque’s and some of the court or the Vampire range ignoring the vamps, spirit hosts, bats of all kinds) to utter in my opinion trash (see above) and then GW in its wisdom removed a lot of the options for conversions by no longer offering mail order by component. (Which as someone who worked as a mail order picking troll, and sometime caster for mail order when they did as well as a retail manager trainee staff member before leaving , I can understand this partly as its greatly increased workload, chance for error and produced a back log but it made me a VERY sad panda)

    So back on topic and too conclude I agree that I do not feel that even if BB is redone that it will cause much concern for Dread Ball, the games although of a theme, are EXTREMELY different to play, both have a very different visual appearance, Dread Ball has great support and is made by Mantic who are a company that IMO seem to put the gamer above the customer and so will be I feel constantly increasing it Market share, especially amongst the ‘Gaming vets’ who value communication and support very highly. Sorry for long post….

    Crimsonsun

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Happy to read long posts Crimsonsun. I write long all the time πŸ˜‰

      I think that GW, along with every other company that has a big range, has a variety of qualities of sculpts in its ranges. As you say, some are outstanding, others are poor – it’s the same in Privateer, Reaper, and everyone else. An individual company’s average may be higher or lower than another, the spread of quality may be more or less broad, and personal preference comes into play too, but there will always be a variability across the range. This is particularly obvious in ranges that rely on a wide variety of freelancers.

      As to why GW went with every ship as a special character, I have no inside knowledge, I can only guess. That guess would be that they wanted to focus very much on a single LE release with no product trail and deliberately discourage people from trying to make a MOW out of it, despite that being what people want (I can think of many people who would have liked a redone MOW and zero gamers who had asked for a stand-alone game as delivered).

      It probably boils down to their past issues with specialist games. Whenever they release cool additional games their staff get distracted from their main job of selling core products. This gives a short spike in sales and then a larger drop as people have the small selection they need for the BB teams, Necromunda gang, MOW fleet or whatever. GW want people to buy into Warhammer and 40K so that they go back week after week to add to their army. It makes business sense after a fashion. It does, however, rely on finding new customers constantly and accept that you are abandoning many veterans.

      • crimsonsun says:

        Thanks for taking the time to respond its appreciated, and I do understand how GW works regarding specialist games I was just highly taken aback by Dreadfleet because it stands apart from all the specialist games I can think of in its isolation from the core systems with the exception of talisman which is licensed to FFG along with all the RPG stuff (A decision I did not agree with, but have begrudgingly had to accept) but I am sure they had there reasons, I do remember something to do with the LOR licence was restricting there making of specialist games.

        All this is distracting from your initial post which I agree with your assessment that Dreadball and Blood Bowl and co exist without any consumer wars and I am happy to enjoy both.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Personally, I suspect that the main driver for their lack of interest with Specialist Games is an inability to find a model which does not impinge on their sales of core games. This latest LE print runs approach is probably their most successful tactic so far, so I would expect to see if continue. I can’t see why a LOTR agreement would stop them selling BB or BFG, for example.

  15. Socks says:

    There’s no way I could go back to BB after playing Dreadball! Don’t get me wrong, I have many, many fond memories of the game, not to mention the accompanying pizza. But I’m happily used to my team being able to DO things now, not spending half the game getting the ball into a players hands, just for them to slip on a patch of wet grass, fall over and DIE. In ARMOUR.

    Good luck to GW and all that, but it won’t be changing my group’s habits.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      How will your resolve fare if they come out with WHQ?

      • Socks says:

        We never really played WHQ as a game in itself, we just bought it for the pretties! It is a beautiful set, on which we play a version of AHQ that’s House Ruled so heavily it might as well be a different game (lucky to have a very experience and (IMHO) talented rulesmeister in our group) … so… again, might pick it up for the cardboard and the minis, but for playing? Naaah, I’d still stick with Dreadball. πŸ™‚

  16. I’m still learning the nuances of Dreadball (as I am sure everyone is), but so far I dig it. Blood Bowl’s advantage is 25 + years of experience. Three editions, DungeonBowl, FOUR computer games, a card game – Blood Bowl is a franchise and an institution in it’s own right. Can Dreadball be relevant in 2033? It may, it certainly has a lot of positive marks. But I’m going off topic from the OP. I’d like to see GW develop a LE DungeonBowl as it would be far more self contained than BB proper. I’m most interested to see how much table space will remains when Eric Lang & CoolMiniorNot jumps into the sports fray with Kaosball.

  17. Chris says:

    Just was reminded of this post when deleting old subscriptions. Yes, who indeed understands the minds behind GW? πŸ™‚

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