When I first stumbled back into the world of Blood Bowl I did a search to see if there was anything on the iPad or on the PC. I found the Cyanide game on the PC, Legendary Edition at the time, but didn’t find anything on the iPad. My theory was that the table top game of Blood Bowl would be a perfectly simple port across to the tablet. It wasn’t until a little later that I discovered FUMBBL and saw how effective its simple interface allowed for the full game experience.
Not too long ago it was announced that the Cyanide version of Blood Bowl was being released on tablets and today, just within their July window, it was released.
When the announcement was made that this was being released there was very little detail provided by Cyanide. All we had was that two teams – Orcs and Humans – would be provided with the game and that four additional races – Skaven, Dwarf, Wood Elf and Chaos – would available as in-app purchases. There was no mention of the version of the game being released or the costs. This was a bit of a concern given that Blood Bowl 2 is currently being developed for the PC.
Against my better judgement then I downloaded the app today and gave it a go on my iPad Mini. The basic game is £2.99 which is pretty standard but given that the teams that can be purchased are £1.99 each it seems a little expensive. A free base game with addons would have been my preference.
The game itself will be very familiar with anyone used to the PC version. There are some minor graphical improvements which help on the small screen, but it is still the frustrating interface of Blood Bowl:Chaos Edition.
I started by creating a quick Orc team and playing a one player game against the computer’s artificial intelligence (AI). For those that don’t know the AI on the PC version of the game is notoriously stupid – each team used the same basic tactic and style regardless of game situation and the inherent skills and traits of the players. One of the big things being talked about in the new PC version being developed is improved AI. Well I can tell you that this version is not the new one. It’s a while since I played the PC version but this version seems even worse. During the first turn of the game a dwarf dodged forward before anything else had happened and of course fell over. Next turn I was being blocked 2 dice against for now apparent reason (for those that don’t know 2 dice against means that the computer rolls the dice but rather than the computer picking the dice to use, I get to choose which one they have to use. So I am going to pick the one that knocks their player over of ends their turn). There are legitimate times when you would do this in a game but turn 2 against an Orc Blitzer is not that time. Next turn the dwarves started to setup a mini cage to protect the ball carrier. It was only mini cage though because other players were moving to the sidelines or charging upfield. The blitz moves were being made by players that had to dodge out rather than players already free. When I stole the ball the dwarves made very little attempt to get it back instead blitzing players with no apparent plan. In short it was terrible. I found it quite frustrating actually. I’m no Blood Bowl genius either (read my match reports!) so it was annoying not to get any sort of serious game.
I tried again playing as Humans and again as Orcs and all of the matches were the same. The computer AI seems particularly susceptible to the crowd surf (pushing players off the pitch where they are at the mercy of the crowd).
The multiplayer option is there and you are able to login using your existing Cyanide login. It brings up your history of games but as I’ve only played two games using the online PC version there’s not much for me to see as I haven’t played with Orcs or Humans. I will explore the multiplayer options further as I think it is the only version of this game that will be any fun.
The interface itself is a slight improvement over the PC version but changes have been made to suit the tablet rather than being a fuller improvement – I hope this will come in Blood Bowl 2. It is very intuitive to play Blood Bowl on the tablet, it is just a shame that this port has kept to the PC style too rigidly. One of the things I find tricky in the PC version is getting to squares in a ruck of players or behind a player. It can be difficult to select the target square properly. This is still a problem in the tablet version and is a bit worse as the touch interface is not as precise as a mouse. There are a few things missing (or that I can’t find) such as the indication of the number of dice being rolled. This wouldn’t normally be a problem except that it is very difficult to see the characteristics and skills of the players. You need to click on the player and this only increases the chances of you miss clicking and making a mad dodge or a crazy pass – something I do at least once a game. Setting up at kick of is also annoying because you can’t turn on the information about the players during setup. You have to click on everyone individually to see what position they are and what skills they have.
***** Edit – I have found where the required roll and number of Block dice being rolled is displayed. They are shown in the bottom left in the little magnifying glass. Now that I know this is here it it just tells me that this interface wasn’t clearly thought out. As a left handed player my left hand is always covering this area of the screen, which is why I didn’t notice it as I played games. This bit really needs to be at the top of the screen. The logos could be reduced in size as they take up valuable screen space. I’ve added some extra pictures at the bottom of the page. *****
The one player Campaign mode is an odd thing. Each campaign starts with you up against a team with a higher Team Value (TV) which means that you are an underdog and able to pick some inducements to make up the difference. This means that Star Players (only one available per team) and wizards are available. This is quite nice for the new or novice player, although a little complicated. More complicated is that you play against teams with skilled players which is never a nice introduction to the game.
So what do I think? I’ll probably play a few games as I’ve paid for it now. I won’t be buying the additional races – much though I want to. Part of this is because I don’t know how they will be handled when this is inevitably upgraded to Blood Bowl 2 at some point in the future. I will try out the multiplayer version but if I have to be online to play a game then I’d rather play a game on my PC; I’d certainly not play an important league game on this version. The interface needs to give more table top style views so that players can be viewed and moved more accurately; it needs to be a tablet game and not a PC game basically.
Overall, this release seems like a beta or pilot version for the main event which will be Blood Bowl 2. This is pretty much what I thought it would be when the new of its release was first announced. I can’t fault them for testing the waters but it seems a bit cynical when the PC version is being upgraded and the base game costs £2.99. I hope they are able to take everything that they learn from this release and put it into a really great implementation of Blood Bowl 2 and if by buying it I have shown that there is demand for Blood Bowl in a tablet format then I’m happy for my money to be used for that.
If you want to mess about with Blood Bowl or introduce someone to the electronic version then this is an interesting option; although a game of table top with Orcs v Humans would be better as a way into the game. If you want to play in the multiplayer version then I suspect the interface would cause you to have too many errors and that you wouldn’t want to risk a bad result on a mis-tap.
I’ll look to see how this develops with interest and will see how it is received by fellow players. I’d still love a port of FUMBBL onto the iPad though 🙂
Have you played it yet? Thinking of getting it? Would love to hear your views.