Friday, November 5, 2010

In which our hero loves to hate Blood Bowl

A picture requires a thousand words, and if it doesn't, well, you get them anyway - welcome to the blog. Anyway, here's something to look at:

What is it? Excellent question. That is a photo of the arrayed contents of one of my two big boxes of Blood Bowl (or, as we've taken to calling the rather thoroughly revised game in these parts, Goblin Rules Football) miniatures.

What is interesting about this box is that these are the miniatures I may not have much use for. See, I have another box with the minis for all of the teams I still want to paint, about 15 teams at last count, to be more or less precise, pending another too-good-not-to-steal-my-money release (I'm looking at you, Gaspez Arts) but that is neither here nor there. Meanwhile, I have this massive pile of metal and plastic which represents assorted hoarding, false starts, extra figures, and a little bit of old Phigs stock. Do I need it? Probably not, but I amass this stuff. It's what I do.

It certainly didn't get this bad overnight. I have been playing Blood Bowl in one form or another since the summer of 1990, and other than a few teams I sold off for gas money during a particularly rough spot after college the swag has just been piling up for twenty years. Even in those years when I was in denial about my geekyness, I still brought Blood Bowl with me when I moved back to Texas to become a rock star, or whatever the hell that was, and every time I come back to miniatures, I come back to these first. A skeleton lineman was the first figure Of my own to be cast in metal (or at least, Rob cast them for me with his jury-rigged spincaster), and I even had a fantasy football mini line once.

Yeah, this is my obsession. Too bad I actually hate the game itself, ain't it?

The second edition gave me fits. The game was so horribly imbalanced it was essentially unplayable and my usual opponent had innocently chosen to play dwarfs when we first started, which made him nearly unbeatable, or at least very frustrating for someone who thought playing elves and skaven for the most part was a good idea. I got some back once the dodge rules came out, but it really didn't do much to change the fact that the game had some pretty serious shortcomings. Amazing miniatures, genuinely entertaining flavor text, and a choke hold on me, yes, but a good game? Not so much.

Third edition's gameplay mechanics aren't entirely hopeless, but the league rules are just impossible. The basic on-the-field flow is actually quite good, and it really only needs a tiny tweak or so there, but the peripheral aspects - campaigns, star players, roster balance, and miscellaneous debris are all  mess even after several years of mucking about with the rules by those both authorized and unauthorized to do so. I've spent a decade and a half trying to sort out this version of the game myself, written War and Peace in house rules, split off my own hubris-laden version of the game which only I will ever even play, and still I can't quite make it just work.

Even now, with the long-expected surge in fantasy sports miniatures games appearing to come to fruition as last few years has spawned a few new faces in the genre which previously was all-but exclusive to Blood Bowl. Oddly, I just have not been compelled to even look at the new options in detail - even Elfball, a game which I am no linger involved in, but initially created for various and sundry reasons has yet to receive even a first thorough read of the rulebook. In the end, I just don't think I want to find another game that uses these beloved miniatures right, I still want Blood Bowl to work, I want it to finally earn all of the time, dedication, painting, sculpting, money, and thought I have lavished upon its undeserving pitch. I want Blood Bowl to be worth everything I have put into it.

But it just never is.


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