Games Workshop is best known for their Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universe miniature war games, but they also have a little less known fantasy football game played with miniatures - Blood Bowl. Originally released back in 1987 the game has gone through several editions and rules revisions and has matured to a true classic. The basic premise is 2217 simple - Blood Bowl is a two-player turn-based board game that has some similarities to American Football and Rugby, with liberal amounts of gratuitous violence and fantasy elements thrown in.
In Blood Bowl, each player acts as a team coach, fielding up to 16 players from a single race (such as Orcs, Elves, Undead etc.) with up to 11 on the field at the same time. There is a ball and getting it to the opposing endzone by running or passing gives you a point. Beyond that... pretty much anything goes - injuring or outright killing opposing team members during play is not only legal, it is considered to be a valid tactic.
While miniature gaming is a niche of its own, for most people the price tag and the effort required to field a Blood Bowl team of miniatures for play is unfeasible and the rules can be a daunting barrier as well. While the rulebook is very polished, the game is unquestionably complex and deep, pretty much requiring someone well versed in the details for smooth play using miniatures and dice. A computer game conversion would be the obvious solution and Cyanide Studios did just that in 2009 with Blood Bowl.
Unfortunately the first version was widely panned as little more than a paid beta release of a half-completed game. There were only eight available races, the game play was riddled with bugs and the single player modes were laughable due to AI that had no clue how to play the game. If you really liked Blood Bowl, it was a way to play the game online but you had to be willing to overlook a lot of issues. There were some patches that sorted out the worst problems and a re-release of sorts with Dark Elves edition (available as a free patch to BB1 owners) adding one additional playable race. Still, no matter how you looked at it, Blood Bowl (BB1) fell short of providing a faithful computerized version of the game.
Cyanide Studio didn't give up - they took a lot of flak from the players for all the issues and then even more for deciding against incremental patching and instead chose to try again with a whole new release. Enter Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition.
The big ticket item of Legendary Edition is the addition of 11 new teams. You can now coach Undead, Khemri, Norse, Elves, Halfling, Amazon, Ogre, Necromantic, Nurgle, Vampire and High Elves teams in addition to the previous set of nine. So, with BB:LE the game finally has the official races, with one exception; Chaos Dwarfs got the axe at some point, reportedly due to complexities of having four-legged player models (Bull Centaurs) that couldn't be implemented with the existing game code while meeting the targeted launch date.
With new teams comes a set of new stadium environments to play in and the single player side has received a "Story Mode" in addition to the existing campaign. While in campaign mode you create a team to improve and build it across multiple single player matches with individual players gaining skills (or getting killed) and the team earning money along the way, story mode takes a completely new perspective on things. You play as a traveling assistant coach, taking control of different teams and to advance you are expected to fulfill specific objectives during play that often don't actually include "win the game". The story component is just a set of text screens but it does add a new way to play and learn the game, especially as you constantly switch teams and the players are commonly "pre-leveled" with advanced skills. I would call it "advanced tutorial", but I guess that's semantics.
The meat of the game, online play, has received an UI upgrade that makes casual online play bearable and includes additional options to assist private leagues. Online play is still a tad confusing operation for a newbie due to multiple public leagues and unintuitive joining - you can't play against anyone, not even direct challenges, without first creating a team and then assigning it to a public league that defines the rules. You also have to dig out the league rules and realize that only Auld World allows direct challenges and importing of existing teams. The rest of the public leagues require new teams and only allow random matchmaking. Yet once you figure out the French logic behind it all, things work acceptably. Sadly BB:LE also splits the community in two - BB1/DE players cannot play against BB:LE players online and the only upgrade route for existing players is a 30% discount off the full price offered by the official site for digital download version.
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