A Bit More Detail: Dungeonbowl

A Bit More Detail: Dungeonbowl

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Now, before I post the review of Dungeonbowl, I'm going to be adding a bit more detail about certain things. Because, to the uninitiated, the Blood Bowl computer games (and, by extension, Cyanide Studios) are a bit of a hassle for the uninitiated.

Blood Bowl, the Games Workshop boardgame, has always been a fantasy parody of the NFL, set in their "iconic" world of Warhammer. The rationale for Blood Bowl in Warhammer makes next to no sense, considering, but most people consider the "fluff" (lore, setting, backstory, character, etc) pretty secondary to what it was: A fun turn based strategy game that simulated an ultra violent and skewed version of American Football. It went through about four or five editions, before becoming a "speciality" line (IE - No longer fully supported by Games Workshop). Dungeonbowl was basically a houseruled version by Games Workshop writer Jervis Johnson, where you could use pieces and tiles from another GW product, Warhammer Quest, and play a variant of the game with a lot more random elements and general happy fun times.

The Blood Bowl *computer games* are meant to faithfully recreate these entwined products in computerised, 3d glory. This hasn't always worked as well as it should, for various reasons. Part of this is the fact that there are elements of the rules being missed from time to time: It wasn't until either Dark Elves or Legendary Edition that Wizards, normally a staple Inducement in the original board game, arrived, along with some other things that had normally been in the rules. Chaos Dwarves and Underworld (Night Goblins), the final "official" teams for Blood Bowl, won't be arriving until the release of Chaos Edition later this year. It's the same with Dungeonbowl: Wandering monsters and Traps, for example, don't appear to be implemented with the exception of pits. Leaping over gaps and obstacles as a normal rule also doesn't appear to be implemented. Which brings us neatly to the second problem Cyanide have faced.

Now, to make it clear, I'm not pointing fingers at anybody. Even though maybe I should. But all editions of Blood Bowl, including the new Dungeonbowl, have been released with some... interesting bugs or issues, and not all of them have been dealt with, even after three or four engine updates. For example, "Invisible Teammate Syndrome", a bug where the player cannot be selected if you tried to select him in the changeover between turns, has been around since at least Dark Elves edition, as far as I am aware. Extraneous features, as I've noted, exist in Dungeonbowl at the time I'm writing this, such as Kick skills (which are useless in Dungeonbowl, due to not having kick-offs), Bribes (no refs, no need), and FAME (Which now only seems to serve as a general marker of how well you're doing, as opposed to the mechanical benefits in core Blood Bowl) are all still in the game. Fouls also have no risk associated with them, which is a real shame, as it gives the cyber-bullies a tool with which to troll players who would otherwise enjoy the game.

Look... what I'm saying is, it's not exactly in a great state at the moment. Deathroller/Yhetee combos are quite common, and believe me, in the confined spaces of a dungeon, these are a heckuva lot worse than on an open pitch, where their slow speed and limited control issues make them less of a threat. I have yet to win against a Yhetee/Deathroller combo without resorting to the same (or similar tactics) myself, and that's a real shame. And then we come to the extra teams.

You may have noticed there are currently only three teams, and the official site has spaces for the teams that they presumably didn't put in yet. These are going to be, in pure technical terms, DLC. I've not been informed of the pricing, but have been urged not to call them DLC. Why? Because they're not *necessary*. On the plus side, I've been informed that people who download more teams will quite happily be able to play with the folks who didn't. On the neutral side... If it's downloadable, and it adds something to the game another player might not have (or want), whether it's free or not... It's DLC. Looking at the team lists from the house rules, it does add variety, but it doesn't remove the "Big Guys Arms Race". I've spoken before in the blog about DLC being both an understandable thing and a delicate issue, so I can understand the reluctance to call it that... but that's what it is, and, as I've said in the review, I've got no real problems with it unless it's going to be expensive per team.

So, I'll repeat what I'm going to say in the review: Is it a good purchase? Right now, it needs work. But, like the original (unbalanced) Dungeonbowl rules, it has potential to be a good, cheap introduction to Blood Bowl. Cyanide just need to take a good, hard look at certain things, whether that's some of the bugs that have been on their "to-do" list for too long, situational as they can be, and the original houserules, which, I think you'll find, were fun with a little adjudication, but definitely needed some balancing work.


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