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iPad Game Review: Blood Bowl Review
      #47125 - 10/09/14 04:58 PM

Only seasoned players of the physical board game need apply. Blood Bowl is a turn-based strategy game based on the analog board game of the same name, which is in turn based on football if it were played in the Warhammer universe. Blood Bowl is a difficult game, both to wrap your brain around, and to win.


In Blood Bowl, every action requires a dice-roll to determine the outcome; and I mean every action. In fact, I heard the dice rolling so often reeled in disbelief that a set of dice would not be worn into a ball by playing the physical version of this game. It helps, however, to think of this as a role-playing game, with each member of your team having a unique set of stats and skills. The key to winning lies with using the correct team member at the correct time, and of course, preventing your opponent from doing the same. This is easier said than done, of course, and even the simplest of tasks in the wrong hands can result in a painfully slow game of fumbles, falls, and turnovers. Unfortunately, even after a few weeks of regular play, I never grew confident that I knew what I was doing. This was exacerbated by the ridiculously inadequate tutorial, and the publisher's irritating decision not to include an instruction manual within the game, even though it is absolutely necessary. Instead, clicking on the Instructions link will whisk you away to their website in an attempt to load a bloated PDF file. This will happen every time you want to read the manual unless you take the time to save the PDF and import it into iBooks. Of course, this is only possible if you are able to actually load the document; something which I have been unable to do the last few times I've played.

Each team has its own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities, which translate to some great variety in game strategy. A single exhibition game is the easiest place for newbies to start, but the real meat of the game lies in its multiplayer and campaign modes. Because it is turn-based, it is a bit easier to find opponents than you might think; especially because seasoned gamers are looking for people like you and me to crush under their giant orc feet. Because of this, it didn't take me long to dive into the campaign, which consists of an entire season of Blood Bowl games. Here, you can take your fledgling team from rags to riches, and watch their stats go from puny to herculean. This gives the same sort of satisfaction you would get from taking a party of adventurers all the way through a mighty adventure, and the sheer randomness of the game brings it endless replayability, unlike most RPGs.


Blood Bowl has a very polished look to it. All the menus are themed, and the field of play is a beautiful verdant green that really shows off the blood nicely. All the players are animated, of course, but the turn-based nature of the gameplay means you never really get to see it all come together; you know, like a football game.


Bone-crunching sound effects, rousing music, and color commentary really bring Blood Bowl to life. Although the commentary can get a bit repetitive, its enjoyable in small doses so don't turn it off too soon.

In-App Purchases (IAPs)

Blood Bowl comes with two teams: Orcs and Humans. For $3 a pop, you can unlock Elves, Dwarves, Chaos, and Skaven teams. Although I appreciate any game these days that features IAPs that don't consist of coins, gems, or some other consumable; these prices felt a bit high for what you get, considering the game's purchase price of $4.99. These unlocks are permanent, as I said, and will work across multiple devices so $3/team may be an acceptable price to you.


Blood Bowl is as unforgiving as it sounds. Unless you are a seasoned board gamer, or have a knack for learning complicated games with little or no help, I can't really recommend it. If you are already a fan of the physical version, then you are going to be in heaven, because Blood Bowl appears to be about as faithful an adaptation as you are ever going to find.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 4 - Nice menus, a colorful field of play, and quirky looking players (remember: they're monsters!).
Sound: - 4 - High quality sounds, music, and commentary.
Controls: - 4 - Uncluttered interface makes gameplay a bit easier.
Gameplay: - 2 - Unless you're a veteran of the boardgame, I can't recommend this.

Playing Hints and Tips:

Turn on the log; it will help you understand why you're rolling dice, and when. Also enable Tackle Zones and Positions from within the Info Window; both of these will really help. Find a rulebook and read it (or read the one linked from within the game if they fix it).

App Facts:

Developer: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: July 31, 2014
Price: $4.99 with $3 IAPs for additional teams
Buy App: Blood Bowl

Reviewed by Tom Slayton


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