Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Bowled Over

The pull and draw of modern table top games is such that even those that once viewed them with mild distrust begin to accept them, enjoy them, look forward to games nights to eventually buying titles for themselves.

James has come a long way from an evening 4 years ago when he banned me from bringing a few examples in the pub to show him. These days he is providing lists of possible purchases to his wife for Christmas! Nice one James! The plan for last night’s two player was his Christmas present, Blood Bowl : Team Manager.

With the thrilling finale to the recent super bowl fresh in our minds (Well my mind as I stupidly stayed up to watch it on a school night) we made a bid to recreate the event albeit with bits of cardboard, playing cards and the hordes of chaos taking on the puny humans…

With the Team Manager version of Blood Bowl the board has been done away with and a virtual playing field has been planted there in it’s place. Somewhat obscurely though teams are vying for dominance over season highlights (denoted by newspaper clippings) which give the winner certain benefits such as star players, team bonuses and general scoring bonuses. The main currency of victory is fans which are symbolised by little flags on the cards. In each of the 4 seasons there is a main trophy to be fought over which mostly offers a large supply of fans to the winner and a token gesture for the runner up.

Battles over highlight cards involves selecting players from your hand of 6. Each player has certain abilities, like tackle, pass, sprint and cheat. It is cheat option which really makes the game interesting. Although there is a great deal of luck in the game, tackles are resolved by dice for example, the cheat mechanic makes adds the element of the unknown which players will either love or hate.
Picture ripped from BGG.
In the scoring round the cheat tokens are revealed and can do one of 3 things, add to the players score total, add fans or get him sent off thereby removing his total score from the battle. I found this to be fun and not at all irritating. There was a certain amount of tension as we came to the reveal section and realised we had either been undone or luckily boosted.

We played the first season in a semi open fashion whilst we worked out the process. It was all very simple and intuitive and we found ourselves reaching for the rule book only to clarify random events. Most of the information was on the cards.

Our fortunes wavered between seasons with James marginally winning the first and showing me the benefit of obtaining a star player. I fell further back in the second but had a really successful 3rd and 4th seasons as my new star signings began to repay their huge transfer fees. James was as sick as a parrot. Obviously.

Chris – 42
James – 24

Even though this game (As Joe noted when he played it) is a little random for its length I still came away with a very positive feeling. I don’t mind a fantasy theme and it reminded me a little of smash up where if you expect your best laid plans to be whipped from beneath you then it’s not so harsh when they are. It also has that Nexus Ops feel to it whereby your best laid plans can be inexplicably prevented by a series of unfortunate dice rolls. No different to the much loved Lords of Vegas in that respect….


  1. Yeah I thought there were a lot of similarities to Smash-Up when I played it (or perhaps when I played Smash Up, whichever came later). I confess the fantasy theming is a bit of a turn-off for me, or at least stops me getting too excited or invested in it.

    Lords of Vegas!!!

    I'm going to do that whenever anyone mentions it. Have you played LoV, Chris?

  2. Did I make a gaff there?

    I've played it once at septcon. I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. Needs another play to be certain probably.

  3. No gaff! Just wondered if you'd played it. I want everyone to play it. All the time.

    I do remember now, we both played, with Sam and Andrew. When I say remember, I just checked the blog.

    Interestingly, Andrew mentions the lack of catch-up ability as a potential flaw back then, and that's been far less prevalent in more recent games - I think we're playing better, making better use of trading etc.

    I say this even though my last game I finished with half as many points as the winner, Sam. But it wasn't so much catching up as falling back late in the game - I'm fairly sure my late spurt of sprawling (nice) left me open to some easy takeovers, something I should have spotted. Any way, we;re not here to talk about Lords of Vegas.


  4. I'm not sure if anybody else has picked this up and I hope that you don't find this an unfair observation but I'm detecting that you have a slight inclination toward LORDS OF VEGAS.

    I dunno, I could be wrong.

  5. Did someone say Lords Of Vegas?

  6. Hey! Nobody plays Lords of Vegas without me!