Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition is a strategy game from Cyanide Studios. Based loosely on American Football and fused with Warhammer from Games Workshop. In Britain, most people don’t understand American football. We don’t really get the stop-start of the game, the continuous stats spewed by the presenters. How many catches this season, how far has he run what his averages are? This means nothing to us. We do however love a bit of Dungeons and Dragons, we are quite into Orcs and Goblins.
On any given weekday in Britain, you can find a Games Workshop staffed by a fat guy, a ginger guy, a rock dude or a normal looking guy that for some reason cannot find a girlfriend. They will be huddled around a table with a tape measure in one hand and a pair of 20-sided dice in the other. There is a hint of Iceland oven ready chips in the air and the cool kids will pass by, looking in and scoffing at the “nerds”.
What the cool kids don’t know is that these nerds are having a really good time. They are involved in a strategic battle that is all about stats, hit points and movement dice. They don’t care what the cool kids think, they are playing for fun.
So take the fun, the stats, the American football mechanic, throw in the fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons mechanics and you will end up with Blood Bowl. Improve it, make it better, add to it and you will end up with Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition.
So, I bought the original Blood Bowl and immediately hated it. It was too much like the nerdy tape holding game I had seen people play in the stores. However, I started to ‘like’ it after a few hours of play, but it never hooked me, it never made me feel like it was a complete game I could get my teeth into. In fact, to date, I have only played it for 4 hours.
Along comes, Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition and I felt like it was an important title to have on this very site so requested a review copy. I was sent the Beta and in my very first match, it felt different. It wasn’t feature complete and yet it really felt like a game I could lose hours in. After launch, when the entire game is with us and I have had a chance to play it properly, I have to say, I don’t ‘like’ Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition, I LOVE it.
Cyanide Studios have taken the same mechanics from Blood Bowl but somehow made a game that feels very different. Before we talk about the additions in the legendary edition lets recap Blood Bowl 2.
The basic idea of the game is pretty simple. You have 22 players on a field and a ball. The attacking team must try to get the ball to the end zone to score and the defending team must stop them, usually by smashing them to the floor with a spike-covered forearm or fist.
These slow-motion attacks are never boring to watch and are accompanied by a big bass thump and a blood splatter. You could either knock the player down, knock them out, injure them or even kill them but that all depends on the dice. If the dice are unkind you could fail and end up being knocked down. This is clearly random number generation visualised with dice but it does mean that the outcome of your actions is by no means certain. It adds to an already strategic game as you have to think about what could happen if your move fails as well as plan around it.
Planning an attack with a limited number of moves, defending against the attack and having to change your decisions on the fly is enough to keep you awake at night and winning a game is immensely satisfying. Should I try to pass the ball, run with it or just beat that player to within an inch of his life? I generally choose to hit people, there is a very visceral sense that someone is getting hurt and it’s absolutely fantastic.
Playing as a human team you will often be outmatched in strength by an Orc or Chaos team so you need to play smart. The Chaos teams, for example, don’t have any passing or catching specialists so using a long game will counter them. This is a game that will take some serious thought and study if you are to do well.
The voice acting is fantastic as is the animation to compliment it. During the campaign, you are treated to some fantastic cutscenes that were too good to skip. The campaign begins with a few easy to beat teams but soon the difficulty begins to ramp up. As well as scoring the most points there are objectives that you need to complete in each match to win. I did at this point become a little frustrated at the randomness of the game, specifically the dice. Because of this random element, I found myself having to replay some matches several times before I could progress. In my opinion, it would have been better for these objectives to have been an optional task that I could have attempted “as and when” I felt I wanted to instead of being forced to replay games before I could progress.
I was unable during the Beta to play online and this is probably Blood Bowl 2’s biggest selling point. There are tonnes of leagues with up to 128 teams in and they can be customised in a myriad of ways that the game will give you something to do for years to come.
So, what’s new in the Legendary Edition? Well, there is everything from Blood Bowl 2 plus the eight DLC races that came out already and there are two new modes for single player, even more for multiplayer and eight, count them, eight new playable races.
This means that you can round out your teams, you can create teams made up of all the different races and pick the strengths you need to create an incredible team that not only supports the way you like to play but gives the online modes, even more, to think about.
The two new single player modes in Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition are Challenges and Eternal League. The Challenge mode is a set of scenarios with certain goals in and you have one turn in which to do it. How you solve the challenge is up to you but again it’s simple to start with and will have you searching google for a solution come to the end. Think of the challenge mode as a way to learn how to play the game with different character types and strategies than you are used to. It’s not simple to complete but the sense of satisfaction after working something out is super.
The other single player addition is Eternal League. This appears to be a mash-up of different modes and you play through the different seasons. You can lose hours in this mode alone and it’s another chance to try new things, experiment with the team makeups and build your skills. Looking at an opposing team and trying to figure out what the best strategy for a win it will keep you coming back to this mode again and again. This is a reason to get Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition alone as there is so much to learn.
Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition brings a host of new playable races and these are Amazons, Elven Union, Goblins, Halflings, Khemri, Orgres, Underworld and Vampires. You also have star players who have new skills with mean, even more, new tactics to master. This is a very strategic game and changes this for the better.
As well as single player additions, there is now a slew of new multiplayer options. You can take a timeout, this allows you to pause the game and you can do this 3 times per game which may not seem like a lot but how many bathroom breaks do you need? There are leagues that have AI as well as players and you can also chat with other Coaches in your league.
From the notes, the AI are smarter in the update, I have not noticed this in my playtime but I don’t disagree that its there, it’s just that I couldn’t see what changes had been made. You can also create a mixed team to compete in leagues and working out the best way to get these different races to work together can lead to some really great finds, it can also lead to you being crushed but if you find a team that works well together you could be unstoppable. I did find that some players have already worked out how to utilise the large players to create a team that I couldn’t win against until I created a team that was awesome at throwing and catching.
I play mostly FPS and survival games so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition if you fancy a change to your usual and you don’t know what to try, check it out, you will not be disappointed by this deep, thoughtful and fun game.