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Tabletop Game / Blood Bowl

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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, with some elements of rugby. 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.


The pawns in the game are referred to as "players", so to avoid confusion, the real people who own the players are referred to as "Coaches".

Each team moves one player at a time, and if any player fails an action, then a turnover is called, and their entire team's turn is ended — this means that coaches quickly learn to prioritise actions and get very good at working out the best sequence of events to affect dice multipliers. That said, once a player is moved, the previous acting player will be inactive for the rest of the turn, forcing coaches to take risk quite frequently. This nature of the game is lampshaded by the named-in-the-fluff Random Number God, Great God of Dice "Nuffle" (a pun on the NFL), as entire games can turn on a single failed dice-roll. Experienced coaches sometimes refer to a spectacularly unlikely yet gravely devastating failed roll as being "Nuffled".


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.

Originally released in 1986, Blood Bowl proved highly popular and went through a number of editions until it was discontinued, along with the rest of the Specialist Games range, in the early 2000’s. In November 2015, it was announced that the Specialist Games division was to be resurrected, with Blood Bowl being the first game released (on 25th November 2016) due to its continued popularity.

There was 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 Studio. Blood Bowl 2 was released on September 22, 2015. The release of the 5th Edition of the game in 2016 has resulted in the rerelease of the novel series in eBook format and has seen the release of a number of new eShort stories.

The game and setting provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Athlete: The Dark Elf Star Player Horkon Heartripper was once an infamous assassin hired by the Ashbane Vendettas to take out an opposition blitzer. Unable to take out the player before the game, Horkon launched his attack during the game itself and ended up taking out half his target's team and accidently scored a touchdown in the process. Such talent was immediately in high demand and the Vendettas ended up hiring the assassin in the spot.
  • The Ace: Griff Oberwald, Star Blitzer and captain of the Reikland Reavers, is said to be the most talented human to ever pick up a Blood Bowl ball with a plethora of awards, good looks and a massive fan following. Griff’s game rules represent this by giving him the best overall stats and skills of any human player but at the cost of him being the second most expensive individual Star Player in the game.
  • 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: While some races have a small number of female players and/or Star Players, the Amazons are the only team to be made up exclusively of female players, recruiting their members from the all-female human tribes of the Lustrian jungles.
  • Announcer Chatter: The background material for the game often includes numerous humorous excerpts from the various Cabalvision sports announcers, most often from Jim Johnson the Vampire and Bob Bifford the Ogre but other announcers have been included in some material. The Cyanide Studio Video Games include Jim and Bob commentating on events during the game as well.
  • 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 the 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 and tough as nails, but it takes some effort to use them in circumstances other than blocking. These brutes are slow, clumsy, and commonly have a debuff that occasionally forfeits their moves, even losing their tackle zone. They are also expensive, and thus many coaches shy away from hiring them to avoid inflating Team Value.
    • Several of the Star Players are this as well, especially Morg 'n' Thorg (who comes at a whopping 430K for a single player). Their stats and skills are better than anything your players can develop into, but a lot of the time, you may be better off with a cheap mercenary and some other inducements like a wizard and an extra apothecary.
    • 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 field 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, they still don't get General skill access (meaning you need a doubles roll to give them even something as basic as Block), 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. Additionally, having the Frenzy skill means a player cannot take the Grab ability (they are mutually exclusive).
    • 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.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Turning opposition players into toads and frogs is a fan-favourite tradition for Hireling Sports-Wizards and one that has been present in a number of editions either as a spell or as a special play card.
  • Belly Mouth: The Nurgle Star Player Guffle Pusmaw has been blessed with the mutation of a large mouth situated on his swollen paunch. Guffle has since learned how to use this drooling maw to receive a pass far better than he could when using his hands, becoming the most successful Nurgle Catcher in the history of the game.
  • 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, the Mighty Blow trait (or alternately Claw in some Big Guys), 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. However, if a Big Guy somehow gets hold of the ball, it will be... quite difficult for the opposition to strip it away. The Ogre team is half 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 major drawbacks (beyond low mobility and lack of general skills — and for Tomb Guardians, they have the Decayed trait and replace Mighty Blow with Regeneration) 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 players and come out on top, and their (already very slow) cages described above 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-of-All-Trades teams with a little effort. However, 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 lower 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: The chainsaw is an eternally popular secret weapon that gives its wielder a powerful Armour Piercing Attack. Goblin teams can always field chainsaw wielders, known as Loonys, while other teams, such as Humans and Dwarves, have had the option to field similar players in certain editions (usually as optional rules). There are also a number of Star Players armed with chainsaws that teams can hire such as the zombie Hack Enslash, the Norse berserker Helmut Wulf, the Chaos Cultist Max Spleenripper and, most famously, the Goblin Nobbla Blackwart.
  • 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.
    • 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 than any other team, allowing them to cheat without consequence more often.
    • In the fluff, the Skavenblight Scramblers are the only team to ever win the Blood Bowl twice in a row. The first time, they did this through guts, skill, and tenacity (well, as much as you'd expect from the average Blood Bowl team...), whereas the second time, they did it by sending slaves to die by their multitudes while the real team spent the entire season rigging their home stadium with booby traps, pitfalls, and other horrible ways to maim their opponents in the final!
  • 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 they 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 or Unskilled, but Strong 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. Unfortunately, since any player can be hit by permadeath or a crippling injury, especially if they're a fragile scorer, over-relying on that high-level player can become a team's Achilles' Heel. 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.
    • The sequel manages to reign in some of the impossible skill combinations of the first, while managing to turn this Up to Eleven in other ways. Prepare to see multiple instances per match of AI teams carrying out what would take miraculous luck to do even once for a human player.
  • Dance Battler: Wood Elf teams include Wardancers on their rosters. These players are highly popular with fans as they dance their way through the opposition and use their excellent hand-to-hand skills to bring down even the strongest of foes.
  • Death by Falling Over: If you try to move a player 1 or 2 squares beyond his normal movement allowance (a move known as "Going For It"), 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.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: 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.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Due to certain unmentioned practices, the Amazon team 'The Venus Maneaters' are this for anyone who's male.
    • In the background material, certain Star Players will send some teams into palpitations of dread when they see them in their opponent's roster. The famous Minotaur Grashnak Blackhoof in particular is known to cause entire teams to lock themselves in their dugout and refuse to take to the field, not that a something as flimsy as a door will stop the rampage of the 'Great Black Bull'.
    • Judging by the commentary from the Chaos Edition of the Cyanide Studio game, Khornate teams are feared by everyone, especially Jim. Even Bob gets rather nervous when they're around.
  • 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 them (though that last one can be by-passed with a bribe, unless, of course, you rolled a one while doing 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; similarly, Treemen on Halfling teams are not loners as well).
  • 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.
  • Eco-Terrorist: Although nothing was proven, the dryad Star Player Willow Rosebark has been implicated in the vandalism of a number of stadiums constructed from wood taken from sacred groves. She will also offer her services to teams playing opponents known to cause damage to arboreal environments.
  • 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: Models with the 'Ball & Chain' Extraordinary Skill, such as the manic Goblin Fanatic players, carry massive flails so large and heavy that the centrifugal force causes them to move randomly across the pitch and automatically perform a block on any player in their path, enemy or otherwise.
  • Experience Points: During League Play, players on a team can earn experience points to gain levels, receiving a new skill or characteristics increase for each level gained. To earn experience points a player must perform specific actions during a game, with most editions rewarding scoring touchdowns, making successful passes, making an interception and causing casualties with various of points.
  • 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 (though the PC versions just make Nurgle cheerleaders conventionally attractive with a nice sickly green paintjob). Yes, there are people who made miniatures for them. Yes, the miniatures are just as disgusting as they sound.
    • At least partially averted in the video game, where Orc "cheerleaders" are actually drummers (this no doubt came after the orcs were Retconned into a One-Gender Race), the Skaven have Plague Monks, the Dwarves have a dwarf who waves around some mugs of beer while standing on a podium, and the Lizardmen have skink priests waving football rattles instead.
    • And then there's the Underworld teams. In the PC version of the game, their cheerleaders are masses of writhing flesh, mouths, and tentacles, squeezed into an iron cage which is presumably there to stop them from slithering off and eating the spectators.
  • 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.
    • The Norse provide the game's Spear Counterpart — apart from the Yhetee, their team is made up exclusively of buff, muscular athletes running around in just their boots, a horned helmet, and a fur loincloth.
    • Then there's the Star Player known as Zara the Slayer. Most people will depict her as dressed in a chainmail bikini. Good for the fans, but bad if you're an undead team, as she seems to specialize in killing undead players.
  • 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. In the sequel, this hatred of elves only applies to Bob.
    • Chaos Pact and Underworld include this as a gameplay mechanic: The teams are made up of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits of various races who hate each other, so whenever you want to pass the ball between races you need to roll the dice first to see if they're willing to pass the ball in the first place.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: The Dragon Princes were a team made up of bored young High Elf princes. Horrified that their children wished to participate in such an uncouth game, the players’ parents threatened to disinherit them if they played against any team that wasn’t their social equal, resulting in the Dragon Princes disbanding without playing a single game.
  • 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). 5th Edition Goblin teams even have access to the Doom Driver player, a goblin who specialises in being thrown, using crudely made artificial wings to guide their path towards the End Zone. Throwing players down the pitch is a popular tactic for those teams able to do so as it allows for the possibility of a one-turn touchdown if the player is lucky. If the player is unlucky then their goblin ball-carrier is liable to be eaten by the team's troll.
  • Fat and Proud: The Star Player Glart Smashrip is a massively fat Skaven Blocker who is not only proud of his bulk, but is still trying to get fatter, as it is his goal to achieve the record for being the heaviest player to compete in the Blood Bowl final.
  • Feather Boa Constrictor: The 4th Edition Vampire Cheerleader model wears snakes around her neck as part of her outfit, giving her an evil burlesque dancer look.
  • Final Death: Roll badly enough on the injury table, and this is fate that awaits your star player.
  • Fish People: A long running in-joke in the main Warhammer Fantasy Battles setting, the Blood Bowl background makes reference to Fishmen a number of times. The 5th Edition Sourcebook Death Zone: Season Two! mentions the Southstorm Squids, a former Sea Elf team who suffered a hostile takeover at the fins of a group of Fishmen.
  • The Fixer: The 5th Edition (In)Famous Couching Staff character, Fink da Fixer, is renowned for getting his colleagues absolutely anything they want a few seconds before they want it. In-game, Fink's abilities count as three regular assistant coaches and he has the special ability that help with bribing the referee.
  • Flaming Skulls: The 5th Edition artwork for Bryce 'The Slice' Cambuel depicts the chainsaw wielding Skeleton Star Player with a skull wreathed in green balefire.
  • Flavor Text: As usual with a Games Workshop game, Blood Bowl has quite a bit of background material in the various sourcebooks including in-universe game and career stats for famous players and teams, and multiple 'Did You Know…' box-outs that give random, and often humorous, snippets of background information.
  • Fragile Speedster: The players on most of the Elf teams, Skaven teams, skinks on the Lizardmen teams, and almost every "Catcher" player on the other teams (excluding Amazon, due to her average movement speed and innate access to dodge) can run across the field really fast and dodge hits like nobody's business, but once someone manages to land a hit on them, their weaker than average armor can result in a greater number of injuries.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Flesh Golems, who fulfil the role of Blockers on Necromantic Horror Teams, are created from stitched together bits of various corpses and share the traditional look of Frankenstein’s Monster. The most famous Flesh Golem to have played the game is the Star Player Frank N. Stein who was unfortunately killed during an incident involving a werewolf and a mob armed with torches and pitchforks.
  • Frog Men:
    • Some early editions of the game included frog-like Slann teams, but they have since been mostly removed from the game and background due to the background material in the main Warhammer game moving on considerably since that time.
    • The 5th Edition Chaos Chosen Star Player Gobbler Grimlich is a revolting mutant resembling a hybrid of human and toad with a massive mouth, a long, sticky tongue and elastic legs that allow him to move in great leaps.
  • Football Hooligans: Blood Bowl fans have a reputation for being just as drunken, violent, anti-social and unpleasant as the players with one piece of background information stating that they believe something should be done about the minority of fans who just want to watch the game rather than start a fight. The game itself represents this with random chances of riots, pitch invasions and other fan violence happening whenever there is a kick-off. Fans will also beat-up any player pushed into the crowed.
  • Genius Bruiser:
    • The famous Orc Star Player Varag Ghoul-Chewer, captain of the Gouged Eye, has an unusually tactical mind for a greenskin. This combination of intelligence, muscle, and a violent playing style has earned Varag a legion of fans.
    • The Troll Star Player Ripper Bolgrot underwent experimental ‘sports therapy’ that greatly elevated his intelligence. Now, despite retaining the look of the average troll, Bolgrot is easily one of the smartest players to have ever taken to the Blood Bowl pitch, and has become famous for his strategic plays that combine tactical maneuvering of his teammates with extreme violence.
  • 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. Wardancers in particular are nightmares; a Wardancer built for taking the ball away will generally only fail to get the ball away if she suffers from poor rolls on the part of her coach (against a target without Sure Hands, a Wardancer with Wrestle and Strip Ball has a 98% chance of knocking the ball loose on a 2-dice block). Wardancers beginning with Block and Dodge is almost enough to elevate them to Lightning Bruiser status, but, sooner or later, a Wardancer is going to wind up prone, and when she does, a brutal multiple-player game of Kick Them While They Are Down is sure to follow.
    • 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-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 tend to resort to knocking out players over time, especially against the Fragile Speedster teams. Nurgle and Khemri teams do this as well.
  • Green Thumb: The Horticulturalists of Nurgle, specialist Wizards available to hire by Chaos Chosen, Chaos Renegade and Nurgle teams, are able to cause the weeds and grass of a Blood Bowl pitch to writhe with life before they rot to nothing. The Horticulturalist is able to use this ability in an attempt to trip opposing players trying to 'Go For It' or to knock them from their feet with a rapid bloom of putrid fauna.
  • 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 Party Member: 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 even seems to expect the player to have an external rulebook handy; otherwise, expect a lot of trial and error in discovering the actual mechanics of the game.
    • The sequel resolves this with its Campaign mode, introducing the mechanics in separate games, rather than as an Info Dump.
  • Hidden Weapons: Players with the "Stab" and "Weeping Dagger" Extraordinary skills (such as Dark Elf Assassins and Skaven Gutter Runners respectively) are able to sneak knives of various types onto the pitch to use during a game. Unlike the bombs, chainsaws and steamrollers used as secret weapons by other players, these knives are easy to conceal from the gaze of the referee and so their use will not get the player sent off for using them during the game.
  • 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.
  • Horned Humanoid: Horns are a common mutation available to players that can acquire such skills, with the Beastmen of Chaos Chosen teams having them as standard. In game, the mutation gives the player a bonus to their Strength characteristic when making a Blitz.
  • Horny Vikings: Norse teams, obviously. One of the few Norse Star Players is a fellow named Icepelt Hammerblow, in case you weren't convinced.
  • The Igor: Igors, also known as Hunchback Henchmen in some version of the rules, are deformed minions who can be hired by the Necromancer Coaches of the various Undead Teams instead of apothecaries. These assistants are highly skilled at repairing and manipulating rotting flesh and allow a re-roll to one 'Regeneration' roll each game.
  • 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.
  • In a Single Bound: The Leap skill allows a player to make great jumps over the heads of opposition players. The skill is popular with high Speed and Agility, low Strength and Armour players, especially elves, as it allows them to bypass the opponent’s defensive line and rush for a touchdown.
  • Intangibility:
    • The 5th Edition background material mentions the Forlorn Phantoms, an Undead team made up entirely of spirits, ghosts, banshees and other ethereal shades. The team did surprisingly well, despite not being able to pick up the ball, managing to scare their opposition so much that they managed a number of no-score draws and wins by concession. The banshee Star Player Gretchen Wächter is the only member of the Phantoms still playing and in-game, has the No Hands skillnote  and a high Armour Value stat to represent her ethereal nature.
    • The 5th Edition Sports Necrotheurge Hireling Wizards are able to cast a spell that turns an opposing player incorporeal. A player under the effects of the spell is unable to carry the ball and loses his tackle zone for a turn.
  • 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 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 as hard as any non-big guy Mighty Glacier player and are 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 Character: 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.
  • The Juggernaut: Due to their strength and/or bulk, players with the Juggernaut skill (such as the Dwarf Deathroller and the massively obese Skaven Star Player Glart Smashrip) are almost impossible to stop once they get going, able to outright ignore a number of skills that would otherwise allow an opponent to slow or stop the player.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Doing this will get the player banned if the ref notices. At the same time, the ref is an Easily Distracted Referee, so fouling is encouraged, especially with goblins.
  • Kill 'Em All: Standard Chaos tactics; it works especially well against Halflings, where it's common to knock the entire team, including the Treemen, out of commission (every round a team has no players to field, the other side gets an automatic touch-down).
  • Lamprey Mouth: The 5th Edition model for the Nurgle Rotspawn player sports a lamprey-like mouth that fits well with the model's overall worm-like appearance.
  • Legacy Character: The Clan Rigens scientists who created and maintain the Cyborg Rat Ogre Star Player Kreek Rustgouger claim that he is actually a different creature every time he takes to the pitch, so any previous lifetime bans no longer apply. Whether this is the case or not is much debated by fans and pundits.
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • 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.
    • The video game sequel introduces the Bretonnion teams. While their Blitzers are expensive, keeping them alive is important, as they are needed for almost every action.
  • 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 armor 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 armor 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 armor 9, can sprint, and are 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.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: The High Elf Star Catcher Bo Gallanté is thought to be the most hansom player ever to have taken to the Blood Bowl pitch. Sporting long blonde hair, that won him Lauriel Elflock's Fabulous Follicles Award three years running, Bo is so good looking that his mere presence is liable to drive his less attractive foes into fits of rage, driving them to fight as hard as possible to spoil his pretty face.
  • Loophole Abuse: While some players outright ignore it, the rules for Blood Bowl ban the use of weapons on the pitch. Armour decorations and embellishments are allowed however, leading to many players sporting numerous suspiciously sharp and pointed ornamentations on their gloves, kneepads, shoulders and helmets.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Many abilities (such as Sure Hands, Dodge, or Pass) allow to reroll failed actions without using a team reroll, others add to whatever 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.
  • Magitek:
    • 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.
    • The latest video game also has Jim and Bob make mention of social media, like Facetome and Twerper.
  • Massive Race Selection: This game has at least 11 distinct playable races that can form teams: humans, elves, dwarves, nurgles, undead, lizardmen, halflings, orks, goblins, ogres, skaven. Then they get even further divided into different factions.
  • 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. Excellent bashing game, slow as molasses and about as agile.
    • Nurgle teams too. Their speed and agility is comparable to Dwarves.
  • Multiple Head Case: The Two Heads mutation is a physical ability available to any player on a Chaos, Nurgle, and Skaven team that gives them a bonus to their Dodge rolls. The Skaven are particularly fond of this mutation, with their most famous Star Player, Tarsh Surehands, having a pair of heads. Unfortunately, Tarsh strangled himself to death after his heads got into an argument about a missed pass.
  • 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).
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Scarcrag Snivellers are unique amongst Goblin teams as they attempt to win their games fair and square without any trolls, fouling, chainsaws or any other secret weapons. Despite this the team has had some limited success in the background material and have actually managing to survive a few seasons without being totally wiped out, something even more traditional Goblin teams struggle with.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Many of the named players. And coaches. And one ref. This is best displayed with the last names of Black Orcs like "Eat'Ribz" or "Break'Legz".
  • Necromancer:
    • The Head Coaches of Shambling Undeadnote  and Necromantic Horrornote  teams are Necromancers who wish to become rich and famous under the lights of a Blood Bowl stadium rather than lurk in dark and dank tombs. In most editions of the game, Necromancer coaches are able to raise opposition casualties as rookie zombies, as well as argue with the referee like any other coach.
    • The Sports Necrotheurge is a specialist Sports Wizard, available for hire by all types of Undead team in the 5th Edition of the game. Necrotheurges use their Necromantic skill to enhance the abilities of Undead players and to interfere with opposition players.
  • No-Sell: Several skills allow players to no sell results other players take for granted. For example, Stand Firm makes you immune to being pushed, and Safe Throw (as long as you make an AGI roll) makes you immune to being intercepted.
  • Non-Human Undead: The 5th Edition Spike! Journal Issue 04 introduced a couple of Star Players, for the various flavours of Undead team, from the non-human races of the Old World in the form of Skrull Halfheight, a Skeleton Dwarf Thrower, and Throttlesnot the Impaler, a Zombie Goblin with a pogo stikk.
  • 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.
  • Noose Necktie: The 5th Edition artwork for the Zombie Star player 'Rotten' Rick Bubkis show the notoriously dirty player wearing a noose as part of his uniform, despite the fact that his death had nothing to do with hanging.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught:
    • A foul will only get a player sent off if the ref sees it happen (i.e, rolling doubles either while breaking armour or determining injury).
    • 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.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources:
    • In the first game, 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.
    • Thankfully averted in the second PC game, which features a full roster of "green" TV 1000 teams.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • One piece of Flavor Text in 5th Edition mentions that the record for Most Decapitations in a Single Match was once held by the chainsaw wielding Star Player Helmut Wulf who managed 22 decapacitations against the Champions of Death in 2485. With the maximum team size of 16, the record was only possible because the Necromancer coach of the Champions of Death kept reattaching the heads to keep the match going.
    • As mentioned in their background material, the half-time entertainment of the Dark Elf team known as the Kelthari Executioners is a demonstration of the skills of the swordsmen they are named after on a couple of hundred lucky fans.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Ogre Star Player Morg'n'Thorg once boasted that he could probably beat an entire 16-player Halfling team by himself, and outraged by his arrogance, a team called the Moot Mighties challenged him to do so. While not supported by the actual game rules, according to the fluff, the result of the game was.... Not pretty, for the Halflings.
    • Certain players — especially Star Players — have stats and skills that make them appropriate to play in any position, be it fighting in a melee or running to score. This occasionally results in a spectacular drive in which one player tackles the opposing ball carrier, picks up the ball, dodges their way through the rest of the opposing team, and runs in a touchdown almost unaided by their team mates.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Those werewolves who play Blood Bowl are tormented creatures driven into a wild frenzy by their conflicted nature and are prone to outbursts of crazed violence, something that would make them the prefect Blood Bowl player if they could confine such violence to the opposition. As such, werewolves almost exclusively play for Norse Teams (who don't care about such incidents) Necromantic Horror teams (where any damage they cause to their own side can be easily repaired by the Necromancer Coach).
  • 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, on the other hand, are more on the line of plague zombies; they 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) kill may turn 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.
  • Plucky Girl: Former pig farmer turned Star Blitzer Karla von Kill has had to deal with low-level sexism from Cablevision reporters, as well as major injuries caused by Minotaur that apothecaries said should have ended her career, but has been determined to push onwards regardless. Karla’s attitude was ably demonstrated during the 2492 Blood Bowl final, where she attempted to stop the Mighty Zug, only to be knocked out for her trouble. Karla didn’t let this stop her, however, and once she regained consciousness, she immediately singled out Zug again and actually managed to knock down the famously solid Blocker, something that gained her a nod of respect from Zug himself.
  • Poisoned Weapon: In 5th Edition, models with the 'Weeping Dagger' Extraordinary Skill are armed with a hidden blade impregnated with warpstone that constantly drips a magical toxin that can incapacitate anyone. In-game, the Skill forces a Badly Hurt model that the player Blocked to miss the next game in League Play as they are recovering from the poisoning.
  • Pom-Pom Girl: All teams have the option of hiring cheerleaders as part of their coaching staff to encourage the fans to show their support. In all the editions of the game where they have been included, cheerleaders give their team bonuses for various results on the Kick-off table that involve the fans. The 5th Edition rules also include temporary and special character cheerleaders that have extra rules.
  • 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.
  • Prehensile Tail:
    • Prehensile tails are a mutation that players from some teams are able to develop as they level up. The mutation makes it harder for opponent players to dodge out of the mutant’s tackle zone and is a particularly popular mutation for Skaven players.
    • In a visual representation of the trope, which doesn’t appear in the actual rules, the 5th Edition Skaven Thrower models are depicted passing the ball with their tails.
  • Prestigious Player Title: The game calls the in-universe team members "players" and the real-world players "coaches" to avoid ambiguity.
  • Psycho Prototype: Hakflem Skuttlespike was the first successful attempt by the masters of Clan Rigens to breed a player equal to Tarsh Surehands, the most talented Skaven to ever take to the Blood Bowl pitch. The plan to create an entire team of such players failed, however, when the vicious and jealous Skuttlespike began slaughtering any and all subsequent creations that had the potential to equal or surpass his abilities.
  • 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.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In the video game sequel, Bob is the violence-loving red to Jim's calm, analytical blue. They briefly discuss this in the Campaign Mode, after the Gouged Eye is beaten for the second time.
    Bob: Knowing you, Jim, you'll have gone for something involving the ball or tactics. What's wrong with mindless violence?
    Jim:(facepalming) We can't all be brain-dead morons obsessed with murder, Bob. Some of us are polite, genteel bloodsuckers.
    Bob: You've met our fans, haven't you, Jim?
  • 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.
  • Rules Are For Humans: Due to AI teams receiving random generation of skills, there is a full possibility you can encounter AI players with the Frenzy + Grab combo, which is illegal.
  • 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.
  • Seers: The background material for the 5th Edition version of the Chaos Chosen teams mentions that there are rumours that the upstart coach of the Everchosen possess a magical artefact known as the Eye of Shearer that allows him to foresee the plays of his opponent.
  • 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. In fact, the first game stopped a battle between Dwarves and Orcs, two races that have been fighting for generations.
  • "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.
  • Shock and Awe: In the 5th Edition rules, rather than the fireballs that regular Hireling Sports-Wizards can cast, Chaos Sorcerer Coaching Staff are able to throw lightning at opposition players with the Thunderbolt spell. While it cannot Knock Down as many players as a fireball, the Thunderbolt spell has a greater chance of Knocking Down the player it is aimed at. In previous editions the spell was available to all Wizards.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Team: The Swift Brothers, Lucien and Valen, are a pair of Elven twins who, since reconciling with each other after a long-running feud, have refused to play for any team individually. As a Star Blitzer and Thrower who have been practicing together for more than a century, the pair combine into a strong team, with the only downside being the cost of hiring them (only Morg ‘n’ Thorg is more expensive).
  • 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.
  • The Sleepless: Due to an addiction to Madcap Mushrooms, the Goblin Star Player, and former apprentice to the inventor of the pogo stick, Scrappa Sorehead hasn't slept a wink in over three years. Scrappa himself is perfectly fine with this situation, as his obsession with his pogo stick is such that he refuses to get down from the device for even a moment’s rest.
  • Sports Widow: The 5th Edition banshee Star Player Gretchen Wächter was, in life, a widow to her husbands' obsession with Blood Bowl and hated the game as a result. Gretchen was so incensed that her husband buried her wearing the strip of the Middenhiem Marauders, her spirit returned to torment him in death. When the necromancer Dirk the Abhorrent was forming his experimental ethereal Undead team, the Falorn Phantoms, Gretchen was summoned to terrify opposition players and the banshee finally found something she enjoyed about the game.
  • Standard Status Effects: The Druchii Sports Sorceresses, who hire themselves out to Dark Elf and Elven Union teams in the 5th Edition of the game, are able to cast the unique spell 'One Thousand Cuts'. This spell is an insidious Curse that reduces an enemy player's Move, Strength and Agility characteristics for a drive.
  • 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.
  • Stout Strength: The Skaven Star Player Glart Smashrip is not only insanely obese, but also the strongest Skaven player in the game who isn't a Rat Ogre.
  • Supreme Chef: As with most of their representations in fiction Halflings are renowned for their culinary abilities. This is represented in the game by allowing Halfling teams to hire Halfling Master Chef coaching staff. The abilities of a Master Chef's are so great that they have a chance of greatly inspiring their team, granting them an extra re-roll, and distracting the opposition with the delicious smells coming from the dugout, costing them a re-roll in the 5th Edition of the game.
  • 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 to the floor on a Both Down result, which characters with Block usually ignore. 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).
  • Teleportation: The alternate version of Blood Bowl known as Dungeonbowl, sponsored by the Collages of Magic, involves teams playing through a network of caves and tunnels linked together by magical teleporters. The Elven Union team, the Celestial Comets, are particularly adept at using these teleporters and when they switched to regular Blood Bowl they brought some with them that they would install on a pitch before a match. The 5th Edition of the game represents this with the Celestial Comets 2489-2490 Hall of Fame Squad that includes special rules allowing their players to make a special Teleport Action to move between the teleporters during a game.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: The legendary Dark Elf Star Player Jeremiah Kool of the Darkside Cowboys was so skilled that many pundits and commentators accused him of using magic to enhance his game. Believing that if you are accused of something you didn't do you may as well make sure it is true, Jeremiah helped the Cowboys start the Underearth Academy of Offensive Sports Magic and, after his retirement from the game, became the Cowboy’s Offensive Magic coordinator.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Players with the Bombardier skill (such as the Goblin Bombardier, and the star players Bomber Dribblesnot and Boomer Eziasson) are armed with bombs that they can throw in the same way as making a pass. Using such weapons will get them automatically sent off by the referee at the end of the drive.
  • Tutorial Failure: The tutorial of the 2010 computer game is lacking in explaining the actual mechanics — expect to spend some hours reading the rulebook — to the point where the tutorial actually seems to expect the player to have one handy — or a lot of trial and error.
  • Undignified Death: The notorious dirty player 'Rotten' Rick Bupkeis died after being buried under a veritable avalanche of Halfling lunchboxes when he attempted to foul the highly popular Star Player Puggy Baconbreath. This unfortunate end hasn't put much of a dent in his career, however, as he soon returned to the pitch as a zombie.
  • 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. In the second Blood Bowl video game, the Slann team shows up as Kislev Circus, which has the exact same stats and skill access but different models.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: This is basically the entire premise of the game, to be honest. You can make tackles with freaking chainsaws. Lore-wise, High Elves have an "unusually" high number of being on the receiving end of this by everyone else.
  • 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 their own issues...
  • Untouchable Until Tagged: Players with the Block and Dodge combos, coupled with high Agility, can weave in and out of tackle zones and easily fend off opponents going for a block attempt. But if something actually lands, expect the player to be on his back and a recipient of stomps from 3 or more opponents.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The Stabbing skill sounds useful; it gives your player an attack that automatically makes an unmodified roll against the enemies' armour. This means the enemy can't fight back against it, like a regular block attempt would. However, being unmodified means that no positive or negative bonus is applied to the roll. So Dirty Blow and Niggling Injuries don't apply and high AV opponents can easily shrug off a stab attempt. Even worse, because Stabbing isn't a block attempt, if the roll fails to damage an enemy, then there's no possibility of a knockdown. This makes Stabbing only effective against weak opponents like goblins or halflings, and against those, you can simply hammer them with a regular block.
  • Up to Eleven: Takes every bit of American league and college football (along with rugby) and amps them up. Thought football was violent? Bring in the chainsaws and cannibalism. Hear all those analogies about how football was a lesser kind of war/coaches are generals, et cetera? Turn football into a wargame. Think the NFL's a huge megacorporation that enthralls a nation? Have it as a literal God. No one likes a player? Murder them. Think coaches are really old? Have them as literal zombies. Think certain football stars are prissy, overpaid primadonnas? Have an entire team of them that refuse to play. Hear about the bounty programs NFL teams would illegally use to knock out rival players from a season (or even life)? How about having it a staple of the game, and replace "knock out" with more murder.
  • The Virus: All players on a Nurgle Team are infected with the daemonic disease Nurgle's Rot. This highly infectious disease corrupts its victim, body and soul, turning them into hideously mutated and utterly devout followers of the Plague God. Blood Bowl players who contract the Rot will be driven out of their original team to join those that infected them. In league play, most editions of the game represent this with a chance of any player taken out by an opposing player with the 'Nurgle's Rot' Extraordinary Skill turning into a Rotter and joining the Nurgle Team.
  • 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 Manipulation: One of the more specialised Hireling Wizards available for teams to hire are Weather Mages who are able to use their abilities to alter the weather to a limited degree. The 5th Edition rules for Weather Mages represent this by allowing them to attempt to change the weather effect for a single turn per game.
  • Weather of War: Most editions of the game include a table of random weather effects, generated at the beginning of the game, that can cause players may collapse in sweltering heat or find the ball too slippery to handle in snowy conditions. The 5th Edition of the game introduces a number of extra weather and environmental effects for the various race specific and additional playing field boards.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: The 5th Edition (In)Famous Coaching Staff character Krot Shockwhisker is a Skaven Engineer who excels in combining flesh with technology and hires out his services to Blood Bowl teams to finance his experiments. During a game Krot can attempt to fix a seriously injured player so that they can take to the field once more. Given the nature of Skaven technology however there are often complications.
  • 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 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 block opposing players' pieces so their gutter runners and stormvermin can work unmolested.


Example of: