Tabletop Game: Blood Bowl
When your dude GFIs and he falls down and dies, that's Blood Bowl!
When the crowd's cheering lulz as you roll double skulls, that's Blood Bowl!
Snake Eyes roll, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you'll scream "MOTHERFUCKER!"
Blood will spray, tip-a-tip-a-tay, tip-a-tip-a-tay
Trust us, there's no succor
When your face is a scowl as you're Turn 16-fouled, that's Blood Bowl!
Your star player's head splits from a weak snotling's blitz, you will raaaage!
Intercepted by a Kroxigor you lose all control
So we say "well my friend, see the pain never ends: That's Blood Bowl!"
Blood Bowl is a fantasy boardgame made by Games Workshop
, creators of Warhammer
and Warhammer 40,000
It is a game of "Fantasy Football", loosely based on the rules of American Football. Players field teams of Humans, Orcs, Elves, Dwarves etc and roll dice to decide the outcome of passes, tackles and dodges.
In its initial inception, the game engine was closely based on that for Warhammer Fantasy Battle
, and the background was consistent with the established Warhammer
setting. However, the rules tended to bog the game down in a series of mid-pitch fights and the 1994 re-release of the game totally reinvented the rules to produce a more free-flowing game, as well as starting to take the game in a different, lighter tonal direction: In an alternate Warhammer
world, warring armies found that their battlefield hid an ancient temple to the god Nuffle, whose worshippers in the land of Amorica practiced a brutal but highly entertaining combat ritual called Football. The troops decided to give it a try, and soon they developed their own version of Nuffle's Amorican Football
However, like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
, Blood Bowl
ended up being dropped by Games Workshop as it was not a game that sold lots of miniatures (maximum sixteen players on a team, plus a few optional coach/cheerleader/physio models). The copyright to Blood Bowl
still belongs to GW, under the aegis of their "Specialist Games" division, but the rules are maintained by an online committee and the "Living Rule Book" is freely available online.
Each team moves one player at a time, and if any player fails an action then their entire team turn is ended - this means that players quickly learn to prioritise actions and get very good at working out the best sequence of events to affect dice multipliers. The Random Number God
(referred to in the fluff as "Nuffle", a pun on the NFL) is very much in evidence as entire games can turn on a single failed dice-roll.
League play is encouraged, with players earning "star player points" for successful actions, which can lead to advances after the game at certain levels. Most commonly, players acquire extra skills but can also end up with stat increases or, in the case of Chaos and Skaven players, mutations. Fans also come and go with the success of a team, and some dice-rolls during a game can be affected by how many fans have turned up (not to mention affecting the gate takings, and therefore the winnings generated.) A handicap system ensures that weaker teams are given advantages to "even the odds" a little - this has been overhauled in the Living Rule Book and now includes temporary hire of Star Players, the ability to Bribe The Ref, numerous different Random Event/Special Item cards and the like.Blood Bowl
, despite receiving next to no advertising budget since its last official release in 2001, continues to be a popular game thanks to a combination of its "casual gaming" nature, addictive league play and rules that continually evolve in response to the experience of real fans.
There was also a comic adaptation released by BOOM! Studios in 2008, and a series of novels by Matt Forbeck. There also exists an old, 1990s DOS-age game, rudimentary as far as graphics go, but highly entertaining due to multiplayer requiring only one computer. A second video game adaptation
was released in 2009, developed by Cyanide Studios. A second game was announced
by Cyanide in 2013.
The rulebook can be found for free online here
. Now seemingly unavailable following Games Workshop's latest site revamp...
The game and setting provide examples of the following tropes:
- Achilles' Heel: Several teams have "keystone" players they pretty much need in order to handle the ball or use their primary strategy, and having these players leave the pitch is more or less a guarantee that you can't score any more. Lizardmen skinks are a good example, as are dwarf runners and vampire thralls.
- Amazon Brigade: The Amazons. Some other races have one female player type. The Amazon players are all female.
- Announcer Chatter: Jim the Vampire and Bob the Ogre in the video game (and sometimes in the fluff of the books).
- Armor-Piercing Attack:
- The Claw mutation treats all armour over 7 as 7 when blocking players down (a knocked-down player must roll a number less or equal to his armour on 2d6 or risk injury, so Claw ensures a ~42% chance of armour break). This makes it a killer against highly armoured teams like chaos, dwarves, or chaos dwarves, but near worthless against low-armour teams like wood elves, amazons and skaven.
- The chainsaw (wielded by certain star players and the goblin loonie) adds a +3 to armour break rolls, making it superior to Claw for anything with an armour lower than 10. The disadvantages are that the chainsaw is illegal and will be taken off-field at the end of a drive, and because it is a special attack and not a block it will either pierce armour or do bugger all (as opposed to a block, which knocks players down for a turn even if they succeed at the armour roll). It also has a 1 in 6 chance of backfiring on the wielder.
- Gang-fouling adds a +1 to armour breaking per participant after the first one. A full eight-member pile on is all but guaranteed to break armour.
- Artificial Stupidity: The AI in the video game is infamous for this, to the point that veterans routinely warn new players to avoid playing any practice matches against the computer...copying its tactics is a sure-fire way to finding yourself on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle, and even learning how to exploit its flaws won't help against human players, few of which would ever make such glaring errors. The only two reasons that the AI ever wins matches against human players are Nuffle and the fact that the AI doesn't play fair.
- Awesome but Impractical:
- Most Big Guys are considered this. They're good at bashing, but that's also all they can do. Several teams with access to them tend to view them as a low priority purchase because they inflate team value without helping the team with their best strategy — the only teams who are generally always played with their Big Guys as part of the lineup are stunty teams, Lizardmen and Khorne.
- Vampires have one of the best stat lines of any non-specialist player in the game (starting with a 4 in strength AND agility as well as an above-average 8 armour), regeneration, can hypnotise enemy players and to top it all off can select skills from almost any discipline. Unfortunately they also suffer from Blood Lust, meaning that for every action they try to take they have a 1 in 6 chance of either latching onto one of their nearby Thrall teammates and draining him (knocking him out of the game) or running off the field to attack a spectator (causing the action to fail, ending your turn and moving the Vampire to the Reserves box). Additionally, Thralls themselves aren't very spectacular players.
- Ogre teams can fields up to six ogres. Six OGRES! Only the Khemri can even approach that kind of muscle! Unfortunately, while they don't have Loner like ogres on other teams do, they still suffer from Bonehead, making them painfully unreliable, and their only other players are Snotlings, who are... weak.
- Almost all the players on the Khorne teams start with Frenzy. This ability allows you to block again if you got a "enemy pushed" result. While it does increase players chances to get defender down results, it also increases chances of getting attacker down results, causing turnovers. Frenzy also forces the player to follow anyone they punch, possibly putting them out of position.
- Chaos Pact can hire three Big Guys, a mutated dark elf to do ball handling, and their marauder linemen have incredible Magikarp Power potential with their skill access. However, three Big Guys means three chances of going stupid each round (and unlike ogre teams they aren't guaranteed to make the reroll) and the whole team has animosity.
- The Berserker: Players with the Frenzy skill throw two blocks in a row (stopping only if they or the opponent is downed) and will always follow-up. This makes them very hard to manage, especially if you try to use them for busting cages.
- Big Eater: The Troll comes with the trait "always hungry," which comes into play when it wants to throw a goblin and runs the risk of the Troll deciding that they would rather eat their teammate instead.
- The Big Guy: Most teams have access to a player designated as The Big Guy: A model with natural strength of 5 or more, which you can take in extremely limited numbers (normally 1; goblin and halflings can take 2 and Chaos Pact has 3 different ones). They tend to have good armour, lousy agility, subpar movement, the Loner trait and some other drawback (Bonehead, Really Stupid or Wild Animal), and lack of access to General Skills: Big Guys can knock your opponents' linemen senseless and little else. The Ogre team is halfway made up of these players.
- Two specific subversions are Undead Mummies and Khemri Tomb Guardians. Both have strength 5 and limited numbers, and beginning players may think of them as Big Guys. However, they are not considered to be Big Guys, specifically because they do not have any drawbacks (beyond low mobility and lack of general skills) and therefore no reason not to take them.
- Black Comedy: Mix satire of Football hooliganism with the worst stereotypes of Rugby and American football (and their supporters) and add to the already quite darkly comedic Warhammer-verse. The living rulebook is full of gags and jokes and the game itself leans quite to the silly side of the sliding scale.
- Blood Knight: The orcs and dwarves are notorious for putting higher imperative on downing the other side's players than getting the ball. Almost every bashing team is also this trope, to a slightly lesser degree.
- Blood Sport: Beating up the other team is about as important as winning.
- Boring but Practical:
- The Block skill. For any player which is going to be doing any fighting (pretty much all of them) not taking block or its counter skill Wrestle puts them at a considerable disadvantage against anyone who has.
- The cage grind. Take a player with the ball. Put one player in each diagonal corner around him. Run that formation to the opponent's end zone. Unless you're playing an agility 4 team that can pass with any regular chance of success, it's your best bet at scoring but hardly very 'exciting'.
- Dwarves. They can't throw the ball. They can't catch the ball. They can't run with the ball. Only four of their players can even handle the ball. But they can go toe-to-toe with practically everything except high-level chaos and come out on top, and their (already very slow) cages are almost impossible to slow down (further). A good dwarf coach will tie or win practically every match 2-1 through Gradual Grinder strategies. Even orcs (with goblin tosses and passing plays) have more variation than that.
- Chaos teams have incredible flexibility thanks to Mutation access and can be turned into Jack teams with a little effort. Most Chaos coaches just turn the team into straight-on killing machines by giving everyone Block, Mighty Blow, Claw and Piling On (in that order) instead.
- Cannon Fodder: The lot of a Blood Bowl lineman, or any other 0-16 player (a player you can buy up to 16 of, meaning they have no limit on their number), is usually to mark and occupy opposing players that could otherwise harm your more valuable limited players. They are replaceable with journeymen if they die, and usually cost as much to replace as an average match result. Elves and dwarves (whose players are really expensive) avert this, and the Lizardmen and Chaos Dwarves invert it as their 0-16 players are the only ones with a snowball's chance in Lustria of actually handling the ball with any rate of success.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The Evil Gits team in the fluff.
- Career-Ending Injury: Injuries that lowers stats and increase the chances of getting more and/or worse injuries. For low level players this is pretty much an end of the road, while high level players are able to keep playing because their skills are too valuable to get rid of.
- Chainsaw Good: Goblin teams can field chainsaw wielders. Other teams can hire armed Star Players for one game. One of these players is a chainsaw wielding zombie.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Blood Bowl laughs at this concept. The Heroes of Law and Bright Crusaders in the fluff refuse to cheat, much to the amusement of the rest of the world. The intro to the video game has Jim the vampire pointing out that even proponents of fair play are welcome.
- The Chew Toy: Halflings in the fluff. The rules currently limiting teams to 16 players were instituted after a norse vs. halfling match that led to several hundred dead or injured players. By sheer coincidence, that very same match also instituted a rule banning giants from playing the game.
- Crapsack World: The rulebook Lampshades this, pointing out that any world where Blood Bowl is popular must really suck. On the other hand, the replacement of endless gruesome wars with endless gruesome sporting contests makes it absolutely idyllic in comparison with the standard Warhammer setting. See Serious Business.
- Critical Failure: Any roll of 1 fails, no matter your stats or modifiers. Even that agility 6 elven player will fail his dodge roll on a 1.
- Crutch Character:
- All the teams have TV values where their reach an optimal peak, the crutch teams being those excellent at low TV while doing less well at high-level play (2500 and up team value) because they lack the stats and skill access to compete at those levels. Examples of good low-TV teams are the Weak, but Skilled teams like amazons, norse and dwarves, as well as undead and orcs.
- Certain players, particularly catchers, start their career with skills which make them the team's natural scorer. Natural scorers then get SPP from touchdowns, gaining extra skills that make them even better at it. Since every skill costs more than the one before it, these players can suck up nearly all their team's touchdown XP with relatively little benefit. And since any player can be hit by permadeath or a crippling injury, especially if they're a fragile scorer, this can go spectacularly wrong. Many guides recommend taking moderate risks with passes to spread out XP, particularly early on.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: AI teams in the Blood Bowl video game are not bound to standard rules for XP gain and their team values are generated automatically, leading to the computer suddenly re-acquiring two new level 3 players after your last match put their star players down for good. AI vs AI matches being auto-resolved lead to hilarious score results that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve for a human, and their skill gain is not bound to the same rules humans must obey and leads to teams with an ungodly high frequency of doubles and stat gains, while their number of touchdowns, injuries and MVPs recorded would make it impossible for them to be that high level.
- One AI team, the Lizardmen Itzi-Bitzi Blockers, seems to exist just to wave this fact in the player's face — it's a 10-man skink team (with a kroxigor) where all the skinks have block as their first skill (a doubles skill for them). 'Unlikely' doesn't begin to cover it.
- Not Playing Fair With Resources: AI teams start at a minimum of 1300 team value, while humans create teams at the standard 1000. Sure, it means 300K worth of inducements... But there's really nothing that can counter the imbalance of running your newly created lizardmen right into an orc team where all the black orcs have Block 'for free'. They also tend to get inducements for free in games without spending from their own cash box even with a higher team value.
- Rules Are For Humans: Due to the above random generation of skills there is a full possibility you can encounter AI players with the Frenzy + Grab combo, which is illegal.
- Death by Falling Over: If you try to move a player 1 or 2 squares beyond his normal movement allowance, you have to roll a D6 for each extra square. On a 2-6 the player is fine, but on a 1 he trips and falls over, and you have to roll on the armor/injury/casualty tables just as if he'd been hit by an opposing player. Roll very badly three times in a row on those tables, and the player dies.
- Amusing Injuries: the same thing can cause a gouged eye, or a groin strain. Now, try to imagine how.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat:
- The fluff describes Dark Elves as doing this.
- It's also entirely possible for a player to stop his own drive dead in the water with a turnover by fouling and getting caught, or failing a block intended to injure an out-of-the-way player, *before* running or passing the ball. Most experienced players will know better than to do this.
- Essentially the entire point of the Goblin team. In every actual aspect of the game, they are incompetent. However, they have the most secret weapons that have no use beyond wreaking as much havoc as possible before the referee throws them out. In addition, the Goblin team pays less to bribe the referee then any other team, allowing them to cheat without consequence more often.
- Difficult but Awesome:
- The rule book specifically notes that several factions are deliberately designed to be far harder to play than others, including Chaos, Chaos Pact, Khemri, Underworld and Vampire. They're specifically for "advanced players" only.
- Some of the teams venture closer to Difficult But Impractical. Ogre teams, for example, are incredibly hard to play, but capable of incredible feats of brutality; however any way you slice it, they're just not as good as most other teams. They're regarded as a gimmick team included in the game for fun, rather than serious competitors.
- The amount of applicability varies between teams and scenarios. Chaos, for example, has a team of very expensive players with good stat lines, but no real starting skills. It is very difficult to get started, but once you start earning skills, Chaos has good skill access and baseline stats on their players and can develop into a very good bashing team with surprising flexibility from their mutations.
- Distracted by the Sexy: The special play card Lewd Maneuvers has the cheerleaders doing this to the players.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
- There are at least 3 teams of undead. Granted, they specialize in different things, but still...
- Four teams actually, if you include Vampires, although this is easy to forget as their Thralls are living and the Vampires themselves are more stylish than the average ghoul.
- There are also four types of elves: Dark Elves, Wood Elves, High Elves, and no-adjective Elves (usually called "Pro Elves" to easily distinguish them from the other three types).
- There are also three human teams: Empire, Amazons and Norse (well, the norse are mostly human). Brettonia also used to have one for a grand total of four.
- Dumb Muscle: All Big Guys in the game have negative traits that backfire on them. The most common one is "bone-headed", which makes the character stand around dumbfounded and lose all his actions and tackle zones for a round. "Really stupid" is "bone-headed" on steroids and has an even greater chance of activating unless you've got a non-stupid player to poke the Big Guy in the leg. "Wild Animal" makes the character stand still and bellow challenges at the enemy for a turn, and activates a lot unless the player is being ordered to punch somebody. Finally, treemen are liable to take root and stand still for the remainder of the drive, and deathrollers will be sent off by the ref as soon as he's done quaking in fear of it. All these characters also have the Loner trait, which makes them too dumb to use re-rolls properly (ogre teams are the exception; their ogres are still bone-headed but not loners).
- Easily Distracted Referee: Due to rampant bribery and overzealous fans threatening them with bodily harm (and in the case of the 'get the ref' kick-off event, following up on it), Blood Bowl referees are notoriously short-sighted and will ignore flagrant rules violations five times out of six. They also won't stop play for people bringing unsanctioned foreign objects onto the pitch until a drive has ended.
- Elfeminate: In the PC game, Jim mocks Pro Elf teams by pointing out that if he didn't know better he could have confused them for an amazon team. Bob replies that this is silly since he's never heard of anyone fearing an elf.
- Empty Levels: Amazon (and to a lesser degree Norse) teams are very good at the beginning, since all their players start with one of the two best skills dodge or block. This makes them very good in short tournaments, but long tournaments (where players can gain 3-4 skill levels) see them at a disadvantage due to a poorer-than-average armour value.
- Epic Flail: Goblin teams can use ball-and-chain spinning fanatics, just like in conventional Warhammer.
- Fan Disservice:
- All of the races have cheerleaders. The game inclues undead and greenskin teams.
- And Ogre Teams. And Dwarf Teams (and yes, the cheerleaders have beards too). And Chaos-Mutants-Dedicated-To-The-God-Of-Disease-And-Putrification Teams....
- Although the Nurgle cheerleaders are actually surprisingly attractive in the PC version, as aside from the small horns on their foreheads they're basically attractive women in skimpy outfits and a coat of green body paint.
- At least partially averted in the video game, where Orc "cheerleaders" are actually drummers, the Skaven have Plague Monks and the Lizardmen have Skink priests waving football rattles instead.
- Fanservice: Mind you, the humanoid cheerleaders are certainly attractive and there are several teams with lots of scantily-clad hotties on them, most obviously the Amazons.
- Fantastic Racism: Jim and Bob in the PC game have a derogatory comment on practically every team (including Jim ragging on ogres and Bob ragging on vampires, both of which annoys the other), but they seem especially disdainful of elves.
- Fastball Special: The "Throw Teammate" skill (innate to ogres, trolls and treemen) allows the throwing of characters with the "Right Stuff" skill (snotlings, goblins and halflings). The trolls have the unfortunate caveat that they're liable to eat the person they throw.
- Final Death: Roll badly enough on the injury table, and this is fate that awaits your star player.
- Flavor Text: the fluff is funny and quite extensive
- Fragile Speedster: Wood Elf and Skaven teams. In Lizardmen teams, the skinks. Almost every "Catcher" player on any team fits this trope, excluding Amazon, due to her average movement speed (and innate access to dodge).
- Football Hooligans: The fans.
- Gentle Giant: The star player Morg n' Thorg is mentioned to be perfectly nice off-pitch and safe to be around unless you're an interviewer misspelling/mispronouncing his name. He is kind to children, (relatively) nice to his fans, and was used as spokesman for a successful road accident reduction ad campaign. On the pitch... Not so much.
- Glass Cannon:
- Dwarf Slayers start with two very good offensive skills (Block + Frenzy) and Dauntless, which allows them to go toe-to-toe with The Big Guy of other teams with a little luck. Like all dwarves they are slow as heck, and have the lowest Armour Value in the dwarf team (which granted isn't saying much; the dwarves' "lowest AV" is 8, equivalent to most other races' linemen and blitzers). They also tend to operate solo a lot and are favourite targets for your opponents. Fluff describes slayers as berzerk warriors with death wishes, so it only makes sense.
- Similarly, Wood Elf Wardancers and Dark Elf Witch Elves are very good natural blitzers but are very expensive and very vulnerable to counter-attacks.
- To the great surprise of most beginning players, Amazon teams actually fall under this. A lot of people mistake them for a running or passing team, but they don't have dedicated runners, their speed is strictly average (6 on all players) and their passers and receivers are pointedly unspectacular compared to most races (they don't get any agility 4 players or any other special advantages). However Amazon blitzers are one of the few classes in the game to start with Dodge AND Block (the infamous "Blodge" combo), they can have up to 4 on their starting lineup and all their other players get Dodge, meaning they can get Blodge after their first level-up. Amazons actually play as a bashing team, relying on Block to let them stand up to bigger, tougher teams like Orcs and Chaos, but their armour value of 7 means that they're alarmingly fragile.
- Norse teams are similar to Amazons in this respect, but all of them have Block as their starting skill instead, but still only have 7 armor.
- Go-Go Enslavement: The Chaos cheerleeders have their wrists chained together and a large iron ball locked to their ankles.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Granted, everybody is still trying to kill each other, but people are still playing sports with Always Chaotic Evil factions.
- Gradual Grinder: Orcs, Chaos, and Dwarves, especially against the Fragile Speedster teams. Nurgle and Khemri teams as well.
- Grenade Hot Potato: Some players can use and throw bombs. If a bomb touches the ground, it explodes, so it quickly becomes a game of hot potato as the teams keep throwing the bomb at each other till one drops it.
- Griefer: Fouling or surfing in the 16th turn serves no practical purpose and is generally seen as a sign of this. Doing it in a tournament where there's good odds you might play that coach again gives it a purpose and as such is merely seen as 'ruthless' rather than 'dickish'.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: So, an opponent has bypassed the defenses of your Ork team and almost reached your end zone? Well, your troll can stop him dead by throwing your goblin at him.
- Guest Star Teammate: Mercenaries, Journeymen and Star Players are all hired for single matches out of your inducement money. They all have the Loner trait as well, making them unreliable.
- Guide Dang It: The tutorial of the 2010 computer game is... Somewhat lacking in explaining the actual mechanics of the game, entertaining though it may be. Expect to spend some hours reading the rulebook or a lot of trial and error.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: The comic has a few, though in this case it's football terms rather than aphorisms that are being adapted. For instance, announcers refer to a deep pass as a "ballista bolt" rather than a "long bomb".
- Honor Before Reason: The Bright Crusaders and Heroes of Law refuse to cheat, and the latter often has players off doing charity work during games.
- Horny Vikings: Norse teams, obviously. One of the few Norse Star Players is a fellow named Icepelt Hammerblow, in case you weren't convinced.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Vampires and Trolls will eat their teammates on occasion.
- Implacable Man: The Block + Dodge + Stand Firm combination (which is thankfully rare since only two players — Vampires and Amazon Blitzers — can get it without at least one doubles roll) renders a player immune to Both Down, Defender Fumbles and Defender Moved results on the block die when attacked. Barring the attacker having its counter-skills (Wrestle, Tackle, Juggernaut), only one out of every six blocks (Defender Down) will affect them at all, with an equal chance of the attacker rolling an Attacker Down and going down instead.
- Jack of All Stats:
- Human teams are collectively able to play all the main strategies (running game, throwing game, beat-snot-out-of-opponent game) equally well, but their individual players are too different in stats to allow them to fully commit to any strategy. Human teams thrive at flexibility and taking whatever it is their opponents do poorly at and using that strategy against them.
- Also, although they're technically humans anyway, the Amazons who are even more average than the Humans- ALL their players have the same stat line (even their specialists) except for a few starting skills, and they don't have access to any "big guys" like Humans do.
- Vampires are probably the best example of a straight Jack when hired. They have average speed, but hit are as strong as any non-big guy Mighty Glacier player and as agile, if not more so, as any Fragile Speedster player. Vampires also have access to most of the skills naturally, though they can only take Passing skills 1/6 of the time. The only skill set they can't get is Mutation, which is specific to Chaos based teams and the Skaven. They don't start with any skills specific to a particular role though, so skill selection determines what role they develop into. Due to the high stats, they are still competent blockers, passers, catchers and runners without the appropriate skills, but not as good at any individual role as most of the more specialized players.
- Thanks to their mutation access, Underworld teams can quickly go from Lethal Joke Character to a fairly good Jack team after a few levels. Chaos teams can also be built this way, although most coaches would consider it an odd choice when just optimising them for murder tends to pay off better.
- Joke Team:
- Goblin and Halfling teams are treated as this in the fluff; whenever they make an appearance it's usually so they get mocked by bad play results or how horrible they are at the game. Mechanically they are widely considered to be amongst the worst teams, both depending on a single gimmick (cheats/bribery and halfling master chefs, respectively) to make them mechanically viable, and mainly played for fun and Cherry Tapping potential.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Doing this will get the player banned if the ref notices.
- Lethal Joke Character: All of the joke teams are perfectly playable, and capable of winning the occasional game with a little luck and skill. That said, some of the almost-quite-not-joke-teams are even better fits.
- Khemri teams are painfully slow and have no players with an agility over 2. This makes them rather inept at handling the ball; even the dwarves can do ball handling more reliably than Khemri. However, they can hire 4 strength 5 tomb guardians, more strength than any other team except the ogres, and while tomb guardians can't get block except on doubles they don't have any Big Guy negative traits. A Khemri team can sail to a close victory over the broken bodies of their opponents, but if their Tomb Guardians go down the team is practically nothing but (literal) dead weight.
- Underworld consists of a rag-tag collection of the worst players from the skaven and goblin teams, who all suffer from animosity that means their ball handling never reliably crosses the species barrier. However, normal access to mutations and a very varied skill set (they're one of only two teams in the game to have normal access to all the game's skills, spread amongst their characters) means their Magikarp Power is second to none when it comes to flexibility even if their players are crap stat-wise.
- Lighter and Softer: Of the Warhammer universe. Sure, it's still probably a crappy place to live, but at least it's a funny crappy place to live.
- Lightning Bruiser: Most teams could develop into this through the right skill and stat choices.
- Ogres are pretty close to this- they have the standard 5 strength and 9 armour of most Big Guys but also have a decent 5 move allowance (faster than Trolls, Beasts of Nurgle, Deathrollers, Treemen, Tomb Guardians and Mummies) and, more importantly, 2 agility rather than the more common 1. Most significantly, they're the only Big Guy to actually get their own team.
- Beyond the ranks of the Big Guys, Lizardman Saurus are strength 4, move 6 and armour 9, and the team can field 5 of them at once as well as their Kroxigor. Sure, they're only agility 1, but skill them up enough and a Lizardman team can float like a butterfly and sting like a steamroller.
- Chaos Dwarf Bull Centaurs have strength 4, move 6 and armour 9, and sprint and sure-footed which means they can go up to 9 squares every turn barring some very unlucky rolling. They also have agility 2, making them viable (if less-than optimal) ball carriers. You can only field 2 of them, however, and they're expensive as heck.
- Luck Manipulation Mechanic: The dice reroll mechanic.
- Many abilities (such as Sure Hands, Dodge, or Pass) allow to reroll failed actions without using a team reroll, others add to what ever dice roll you make (Accuracy adds +1 to pass rolls) or decrease the rolls made by your enemies (Prehensive tail -1 to enemy dodge rolls).
- Magikarp Power: Teams that need a few gained skills on their players before they hit their stride are in this category, and tend to do well at mid-to-high TV play. Examples of this kind of team are lizardmen and chaos, as well as chaos dwarves, chaos pact, underworld and necromantics.
- Magi Tech: The fluff has magically powered cameras broadcasting to magic balls alongside a lot of other tech akin to our world, like something akin to a radio broadcasting system.
- Massive Race Selection: This has at least 11 distinct playable races that can form teams: humans, elves, dwarves, nurgles, mummies, lizardmen, halflings, orks, goblins, ogres, skaven.
- Metagame: Depending on what teams and skills are popular in a given league, some skills become more or less valuable. The most obvious example is tackle, which serves solely to cancel the effects of the Dodge skill, and therefore is nearly useless unless you're facing many agile teams.
- Mighty Glacier:
- Dwarf teams. High armour, excellent bashing game, slow as molasses and about as agile.
- Nurgle teams too. Have Dwarven speed and agility, but barring their rotters they match the Dwarves in toughness. Plus they have the hideous appearance trait that gives a 1 in 6 chance of being unaffected by block attempts from the enemies regardless of how strong.
- Most Big Guys tend to have movement 4 or less and thus count for this trope, with Treemen and Mummies being the most straight example.
- Mutants: Any non-undead, non-daemonic race that has been tainted directly or indirectly by Chaos have a chance of having their characters become one, including the Underworld and Skaven teams. With some exceptions like Hideous Appearance, Tentacles and Claws etc., many of these mutations aren't quite as potent as more standard skills but they give otherwise limited players a lot of flexibility (for example a Beastman is normally a mediocre catcher as he just has average agility and no Catch skill, but if gains an extra arm he gets a fairly hefty +1 to catching a thrown ball or picking a loose ball off the ground and for his agility of 3 that +1 may be better than getting the extra re-roll from the Catch skill that he'll likely just botch again).
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Many of the named players. And coaches. And one ref.
- Non Indicative Name:
- Chaos Dwarves aren't too plentiful, so most "Chaos Dwarf teams" largely consist of Hobgoblins.
- Similarly, Vampire teams rarely feature more than 2-3 vampires, the rest being taken up by human thralls.
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Or if you bribe the ref to look the other way. Or if he's too scared the fans will kill him if he calls you on it.
- In the rules, it's perfectly legal to "forget" to make rolls for "the player does something stupid" unless the other coach calls you on it.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Two kinds. Zombies (which are more or less the linemen of the Necromantic and Undead teams), are of the voodoo variety (although they are corpses), high armor and regeneration makes them hard to take down for a unit of their cost, but tied for the third slowest unit in the game. Nurgle rotters are more on the line of plague zombies, on the other hand, are faster and have the same armor, but have decay, which means they are very prone to injury. Any unit they (or another Nurgle unit) kills turns into a rotter.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Armour Value increases share a result with the much more useful Movement increase, making Armour Value essentially the Dump Stat. Things aren't helped by Armour being perhaps the most situational stat: Strength, Agility and Movement are pretty much always useful, while Armour only comes into play if you get knocked down or fouled.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: The PC game's Chaos Edition introduces the Khorne team, whose Big Guy is a Bloodthirster. As a Big Guy it is very good at its role but only has Strength 5, same as the Ogre and the Kroxigor. In normal Warhammer a bloodthirster has twice the strength of those two units and could single-handedly destroy a regiment of ogres.
- Prestigious Player Title: The game calls the in-universe team members "players" and the real-world players "coaches" to avoid ambiguity.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Scoring and how many casualties you sustain aren't always linked: Elf and skaven teams can often win games scores-wise but lose so many players that the prize money won't cover their losses. Moreso if high-level or valuable players got permanently injured or killed.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Motley Horde. The coach has no idea what his lineup is going to be for any game until it starts.
- Random Number God: As described at the top of the page, Blood Bowl's Random Number God is directly referenced in the game's backstory as Nuffle, the Patron God of the Game, and has been adopted by players as someone to appeal to when they need a critical dice roll to succeed. It works about as well as one would expect.
- Ring Out: Being pushed off the pitch is an automatic injury roll, and (even if the player survives unharmed) disqualifies the player from entering the pitch again until the drive is over. Aiming to do this intentionally (referred to as "crowdsurfing", or "surfing" in short, an opponent) is a quick way to get players off the pitch, and frenzy-heavy teams like Norse or Khorne in the Video Game can do quite well at it.
- Rugby Is Slaughter: Turned up to 11.
- The recent video game contains various references to an Albion League which is even more vicious and brutal than Old World Blood Bowl, in a direct invocation of this trope.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Pro Elf teams, which are made up of the High Elves that actually worked to get into a team.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
- High Elf teams are made up of rich kids who bought their way in.
- Also, bribing the ref, a practice so common that the refs' union actually has guidelines for when and how to take the money.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Dwarfs were among the first of Nuffle's priests, so they feel that they are allowed to adjust the rules at their pleasure.
- Serious Business: Blood Bowl has basically replaced full scale war, and even, in a fashion, brought about peace; even the forces of Chaos no longer try to slaughter the world, instead focusing on dominating the Blood Bowl tournament.
- The first game stopped a battle between Dwarves and Orcs. Let me repeat that: it stopped a battle between Dwarves and Orcs!
- Shaggy Dog Story: The comic is mostly about Kalter Morder, an assassin undercover in the Blood Bay Hackers, who takes contracts on opposing players. After the Dwarf Giants game, he receives a contract on one of his own teammates, star player Dunk Hoffnung, and is told to make it look like an on-field accident. He's constantly foiled by the chaos of the game throughout the season. After the Hackers win the championship, Hoffnung is momentarily distracted by his amorous fiancée and Morder moves for the kill... only to be killed by the team's coach, who has decided to "cut" him from the team.
- Skill Gate Character:
- Orc teams have tough, cheap players with close-to-average stats and are easy to learn the game with, but in high-level play their lack of a good throwing game or ability to score quickly (barring the odd goblin throw) means they're very predictable.
- Dwarf teams are the orc team Up to Eleven: They're even slower and even better at making giant man-piles to crush their opponents, but they're even slower, less dodgy and only have one way to win, making them extremely predictable and thus easier to counter if you know what you're doing.
- All the players on the Norse and Amazon teams start with Block and Dodge, respectively. This makes them relatively forgiving. However, if they are the first team one plays, it may make playing a different team that doesn't start with those skills harder.
- Steam Punk: A game starring Elves, Dwarfs, Orcs and Goblins also features gas-powered chainsaws and steam-powered steamrollers as special models.
- Stone Wall: Nurgle. Practically every player worth his salary has high AV, ignores 1 in 6 blocks and regenerates from injuries, they can throw cheap rotters at opponents in hu-errr, rotter wave attacks, their Big Guy starts with one of the greatest 'roadblock' skills and half the team has skills that makes the idea of passing around them a sad joke, making them very good at defending against opposing drives. On offence they're a slower and less agile Chaos team with dead weight players that are useless for anything but marking, no ball handling skills, and an unreliable and slow Big Guy.
- Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Most teams have certain set-ups that they have trouble against, but none so bad as Amazons vs Dwarves or Chaos Dwarves. Amazons have the advantage of all starting with Dodge (making them harder to hit) to compensate for not being especially tough; Dwarves have the advantage of all their basic players starting with Tackle (which negates Dodge) and are much more durable in melee, compounded by the amazons being a mainly bashing/running team (see Glass Cannon). It's so bad the best advice you can give to an Amazon player facing Dwarves is "try to bring at least a few players home alive."note
- Taking You with Me: The Wrestle skill counters the Block skill by sending both characters into the floor on a Both Down result, which characters with Block usually ignores. Since you don't roll for armour when using Wrestle, though, there's no chance of either player getting actually injured and it doesn't cause a turnover either (unless your ball carrier gets wrestled).
- The Dreaded: Due to certain unmentioned practices, the Amazon team 'The Venus Maneaters' are this for anyone who's male and judging by the commentary, Khornate teams are feared by everyone especially Jim. Even Bob gets rather nervous when they're around
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Goblins are the kings of this. Dwarves run a close second.
- Tutorial Failure: The Video Game.
- Un-Person: A bit of an unusual one: Slann teams are pretty much treated by Games Workshop as though they didn't exist, but Games Workshop has no creative control over the rulebook. In other words the race is still in the rulebook but no supplementary material, models or mentions of the team exists in any Games Workshop-controlled media.
- Unnecessary Roughness: This is basically the entire premise of the game, to be honest. You can make tackles with freaking chainsaws.
- Unskilled, but Strong: As a general rule, basic players who start with very good stats for a role (Saurus, Black Orcs, Chaos Warriors, etc.) start with no innate skills necessary to fill that role, which balances them somewhat with poorer-statted specialists who start with those vital skills (most teams' blitzers have Block, for instance). No Big Guys (models with base strength 5 or higher) have normal access to the General skills either, limiting access to the all-important Block. The sole exception is the vampires, who start with both good stats (four strength AND four agility) and a few great abilities (most notably hypnotic gaze) but come with there own issues...
- Weak, but Skilled:
- Amazons and Norse start with two of the best skills in the game on most of their units (Dodge and Block, respectively), but their stats are subpar. Most Stunty players have Dodge as well.
- Dwarf blockers start with Block and Tackle to compensate for their bad agility (2) and their absolutely atrocious movement (4). However, those two skills and their AV of 9 means they'll stay relevant as roadblocks even into long tournaments even if (or perhaps exactly because) they hardly ever skill up.
- Weather of War: Players may collapse in sweltering heat, or find the ball too slippery to handle in snowy conditions.
- We Have Reserves:
- Skaven coaches, due to their race's cheap linemen, and tendency to get turned into a pulpy mess, often end up with this mindset.
- Undead, Necomantic, and Khemri coaches due to their players' ability to recover from serious injuries.
- Snotlings and Halflings are the cheapest and second cheapest players in the game, and the easiest to kill. Do the math.
- Finally, vampire thralls have very low life expectancy due to low armour value and being preyed on not only by your opponent but your own players. Vampire coaches tend to fill the rosters with them "for safety's sake".
- When Trees Attack: Halfling and Wood Elf teams can hire treemen.
- You Have Failed Me:
- It is impossible to buy a life insurance if you are a coach.
- If you fail one of the obligatory missions in the "legendary edition" story mode, your coach will be abducted and eaten by some ogre fans.
- Zerg Rush:
- The prevailing tactic for Halfling teams in both fluff and actual play — "After all, if you can get half a dozen players in the opposing team's end zone and, by some miracle, manage to end up with the ball, then there is a small chance that one or two of them won't be jelly by the time you throw the thing."
- Back when Snotlings had their own team, each only counted as half a player. This meant they could field twice as many players on the pitch as another team. However, Snotlings are so weak that they deserve to be called half a player.
- Skaven coaches tend to sacrifice their linerats by the dozen by making them base opposing players' pieces so their gutter runners and stormvermin can work unmolested.