What I look for in a Blood Bowl miniature

It’s four years since I got back into playing Blood Bowl and in that time I’ve painted 11 teams, organised 2 tournaments, played in 2 league seasons and 5 NAF tournaments. I’ve enjoyed it all and despite a few low periods (mainly in the Summers) I continue to take great pleasure from the game and hobby that I love.

I gave a little goal of having a painted team for each of the 24 races and prompted by a little discussion on Twitter I looked at the gaps in my collection of teams to see what I need to plan to buy. There are so many fantastic miniatures available these days so there is quite a lot of choice. The big gaps – where I have no plans to convert or repurpose – are Amazons, Vampires and Wood Elves, and so I started looking around and asking for recommendations. I had quite a few responses and thought I’d share with you what it is I look for in a Blood Bowl miniature.

First and foremost I want miniatures that represent fantasy football players. Remember that Blood Bowl is a sports game played by great (and not so great) players and watched by crowds of crazy fans. Therefore the armour needs to reflect that these players need to move around the pitch regardless of position and that they are inherently tough professional sportsmen. I also want the detail of the armour and clothing to reflect the background of the race and the position of the player. I hope it goes without saying that Bunny Girls, Nuns, Minions, Lego figures and any other “quirky” alternatives are absolutely banned from my collection.

The next thing that I look for it appearance and usability on the table top. I want miniatures that I can play with. I’m not looking for models that will look good in a display cabinet or in a photograph. I want models that when on the table top accurately reflect their race and position. I want models that can be placed prone on the pitch in a single square and that can easily be identified as prone or stunned. I want miniatures that can fit skill rings and have bases that can hold a football.

A lot of modern teams seem to focus on dynamic verging on acrobatic poses and on having unique poses for every model. I don’t like acrobatic poses and don’t mind dynamic as long as the previous two rules are still followed. Uniqueness is nice as long as it is still clear what position each model represents. I don’t like having different Blitzers models that represent the different roles that a Blitzer may have on the field. I don’t want a killer, a ball carrier or a ball getter for example. I want similar looking models with slight variations in stance and body. I want them to look like different sports players not different types of position.

Finally I want the actual physical model to be 28mm heroic (the classic proportion), I want it to be detailed and to have enough weight to it that it won’t move when the board.

To help illustrate what I’m looking for and what I’m not looking for, here are a few examples.

I really like these Dwarfs from the Iron Golems Indiegogo. (Full disclosure: I have backed this). The style is very much the 2nd/3rd Edition GW minis that I love. They are full of character and the sculpts clearly show what each individual player does. I don’t even like Dwarf teams and already have one but they’re so nice that I had to support them in the hope that they make more teams. I like that the helmets, uniform and pose distinguish the positions.

 

Iron Golems

 

This is an example of a Wood Elf catcher from Star Player miniatures that I don’t like. I’m sure it looks nice in the cabinet, but it is not what I want to see on the table top.

 

Wood Elf

 

These Amazons from Willy Miniatures are another example of a team that I don’t like very much. Too much diving, crouching and kicking for me.

 

Willy Miniatures Amazons

These Elves from Black Scorpion received several recommendations and I am really tempted by them. To me, they are better as High or Pro Elves than Wood Elves but they fit what I am looking for in general.

 

Black Scorpion Elf Team

 

These are just a few examples. There is a good list of suppliers on The NAF’s website. Not every miniature is for every coach and it is all subjective. This is just my personal view and it is clearly shaped by the period that I first got into the game and the style of the time. There are many alternatives out there these days and we’re very lucky that Blood Bowl has this level of support from the community long after the creator fell out of love with it. If you’re interested in supporting the game then do check out the various funding campaigns that come out and help these manufacturers. I can’t see that there’s much money in it and without the support of us coaches they just won’t get produced which would be a real shame.

I’d love to have your recommendations for Blood Bowl miniatures of any sort. What do you look for in a model and why?

Ideas for NAF website

There’s been talk of a new NAF website for years and there’s new software due for release this year to help run tournaments. The software is specifically needed for the upcoming Blood Bowl World Cup but will be available for Tournament Organisers (TOs) as a replacement to “Score!”.

My understanding from the NAFCast (the NAF’s own podcast) is that it is being developed by the same company and my hope is that they properly interact with each other and allow TOs, coaches, NAF members and interested Blood Bowlers to manage their tournaments, view their records, post results and add information such as rosters, match reports and photos. As well as a website and some offline software, I’d also really like an App to do some of the basic tasks. I’d love for coaches to receive notification of their next tournament matches via the app, and then for them to be able to post photos and comments about the match via the app as well as submitting (with confirmation from opponent) the result which then automatically posts it to the TOs software.

I’d love coaches to be able to submit their rosters to the TOs through the website and for the rosters to be recorded in the NAF database as part of the key information available for display and interrogation.

As well as all of the functional bell and whistles, any new site MUST provide all of the information that any new Blood Bowl player would need to get into the tabletop and online games, as well as everything that you need to run a league and a tournament. If should be the #1 resource for Blood Bowl in the World and in itself be a reason for coaches to want to join the NAF.

I pulled together the sketches below in a few minutes (literally – it took longer to scan them than draw them). I have passed them onto the NAF and am always available to help them and the game. I don’t know what they have in mind or when their changes will be released but I hope that they’ve gone down this route.

Ideas for NAF App

Ideas for NAF website

One man and his Griff, went to the NAFC 2015

Before the NAFC 2015 becomes a distant memory it is probably worth me writing down a quick summary of the games and my thoughts on the event.

First a quick recap. I decided a long time ago to take Humans and to bring along the greatest human Blood Bowl player – nay the greatest Blood Bowl player of all time, Griff Oberwald. As I was told several times over the weekend he’s getting on a bit and isn’t what he used to be, but at MA7 ST4 AG4 AV8 Loner, Block, Dodge, Fend, Sprint and Sure Feet he’s still pretty darn good to me! Yes, he wants a cart full of gold before he’ll turn up but my team was willing to make sacrifices.

My build was therefore 1 Thrower, 4 Blitzers, 6 Linemen, 1 Reroll and Griff. My Day 1 skills were Leader on the Thrower (for the extra RR), Guard on a Blitzer and Kick on a Lineman. Day 2 I was very creative and took Guard on the other three Blitzers. Not the most dynamic lineup and the phrase ‘all your eggs in one basket’ was used more than once in the build up. It was all built around Griff. His people insisted on it. He was to be the star of the show and everyone else was there to make him look good.

Griff's team talk

Griff’s team talk

So how did it work out…?

Game 1 – Dark Elves

There were a lot of Dark Elves in the room. A lot. Not a great match up and it was going to be a challenge. I received and Griff immediately took control of the situation, picking up the ball and shimmying left before breaking right and making a dash for open space. He dashed…but the thought of spending all that gold and the weary old legs resulted in him falling over and dropping the ball when there was nothing but grass near him. Dark Elves being Elves duly picked up the ball and scored, much to the annoyance of Griff who didn’t even have a chance to stand up. He did redeem himself by running in a first half equaliser, which was cancelled out at the start of the second half when the Dark Elves ran in another score to go 2-1 up. With both teams electing to go with 1 reroll and the Leader skill dice eventually caught up with the Elves and Griff’s experience and expertise shone through and he was able to level it on his own to make it 2-2.

Game 2 – Lizards

Lizards. Eurgh! I hate facing tournament Lizards. They’ve got all the questions and I don’t have any of the answers. To make things worse, these were French Lizards. The French are exceptional Blood Bowl players and there was a large group of strong French players at the NAFC…and this was one of them. The Lizards received and expertly maneuvered the cage downfield for the whole half scoring on Turn 8. Griff received in the second half and ducked and dived but didn’t get anywhere. He got bogged down on the left and so charged to the right catching the Lizards off guard. His joy at the way in which he wrong footed an entire team was short-lived as he again tripped over whilst trying to get away from all possible attackers. By this stage the kit-man was being ushered up to the team owner’s office. Something was clearly wrong with Griff’s boots. The Lizards reacted and covered the ball and seeking to kill off the game an eager Skink attempted to pickup the ball. The glare of the sun shining on Griff’s magnificent headpiece distracted the Skink and he bobbled it. Griff stood up knocking the skink down in the process and picked the ball up at the feet of a  shocked Saurus before running away and eventually pulling free to score down the left. The Lizards had three turns in which to get the winner but Griff engineered a good defence and made it hard for the Lizards. One Skink did break free and with the winning touchdown in his grasp, a sudden glare of bright sunlight blinded him and he fell over. Griff put his helmet back on and smiled. Ol’ Chicken ‘Ead had done it again.

Game 3 – Humans

We called this game before the tournament. Two Griff’s enter, one Griff leaves! The Griff-off. Mirror match. Same builds with the exception of one skill. I received and it was very cagey for the first few turns. Each coach trying to find an opening or closing gaps that could be exploited. As time was running out my Griff sensed that he needed to take control of the situation and ran free down the right. The opposing Griff (created by the probability wizards just for this game) attempted to catch up but fell over and stunned himself, which allowed Griff (my Griff, the real Griff) to walk in for the score. At the start of the second half the opposing team advanced the ball with the Thrower and Griff leading the way upfront. I managed to get a player free to knock over the ball carrier and send the ball scattering. It came the way of Griff who caught it in three tackle zones. Unfortunately for me, it was the wrong Griff and he ran free with the ball. My Griff gave chase but fell over and stunned himself, allowing the (fake) Griff to make the easy score. No time to mess about now. Griff took the kickoff and charged down the left into open space. Griff knocked him over but on turn 16 Griff (my one) stood up dusted himself down then dodged out, picked up the ball and sprinted over the line for the winning touchdown.

Game 4 – Norse

The start of Day 2 and the team’s coaches were hard at work over night and the three previously unskilled Blitzers all gained Guard – it’s not spamming if it’s not Dwarves ;-). That win at the end of the first day meant that I was on Table 14 for this game. 2pts for a win and 1pt for a draw meant that I was in the realms of players with 2 wins. Good players. And this player was another very good player – he was French. When a French coach tells you that another French coach is very good, you know that you’re facing a good player. Griff got the ball but just couldn’t get through. The four Guarders were causing problems but the Norse are good blockers. Griff was forced to make his move into space with those that could follow. With no tacklers on the Norse team only something special could take Griff down. And it did. He was grappled down and lost the ball. He got up and tried again but was again POWd to the ground. He couldn’t recover for a third time and the Norse gathered up the ball and looked in position to score but the lone scoring threat was taken down by Griff’s teammates and the half ended 0-0. In the second half the numbers were down on both sides 9 vs 9 and then 8 vs 8. Unfortunately one of those was Griff who KO’d himself when he mistook an Ulf for a Beserker and found that he was evenly matched in strength when trying to blitz. The rest of the team rallied in Griff’s absence but couldn’t hold off the Norse who scored on their last turn of the match. Griff didn’t recover from seeing stars and the crowd rioted having paid good money to see him play. The humans made a go of it but ultimately came up short of pulling off the miracle and the game ended in defeat.

Game 5 – High Elves

From table 14 to table 41. There was a sense that this game was going to be different. That Griff was different. The media speculation before the game was that Griff had been seen chatting and laughing with some of the High Elf players before game. The team owners released a statement saying that Griff is a superstar of the game and that he knows lots of players on lots of teams. The Elves kicked off and caught the Humans on the back foot and got the Blitz. Griff went to gather the ball..and failed. The Elves pounced on the ball but it was one back and Griff charged off with it to the right of the pitch before somehow falling over and spilling the ball in the process. The Elves passed their way to the opening touchdown. From the kickoff Griff again spilled the pick up from the short kick and the Elves took the ball. They attempted to pass the ball around the field but the ball was intercepted by a Human Blitzer who broke free…and fell over going for the touchdown. The Elves themselves failed to get the ball and the Blitzer redeemed himself by getting up and picking up the ball to level the score. It didn’t last long though and despite a pretty decent defence managed to get another score before the end of the half. The second half was a similar story with Griff failing at every opportunity. His teammates were dumbstruck and it finished 4-1 to the Elves. Griff posed for a team photo with the High Elves at the end of the game.

Game 6 – Wood Elves

The reward for getting beaten by Elves was more Elves. Griff was wrestled away form the previous team and joined the Humans for the match. The coach instructed the other players to keep an eye on him and when he received the kick off they quickly caged around him and followed him as he moved to the left. The team wanted to make up for the previous result and started to take it out on the Woof Elf lineman, removing a couple of the from the pitch. All was looking good. Then a Tackle Wardancer leaps in and hits Griff (two dice Griff chooses). Defender Stumbles. Defender Stumbles. Griff was down. And he was down hard! Out for the game on turn 3. Plan A gone. The eggs had left the basket. It just got worse from there. The Wood Elves now had a massive advantage and proceeded to make hay. I think the game ended 4-0, but it was a blur towards the end as the players were given the hurry up by the refs and the second half was played at a pace that would make SpeedBowl look ponderous and considered.

Summary

So I finished 1-2-3 for the weekend. But, and this is the key I LOVED IT!!! Everyone (I hope) will say that they had great opponents and fun games. I really did. The Griff mirror match was fantastic and David_Hamlin and I had a lot of fun throughout the game as each Griff tried to out-Griff the other. The game with the High Elves was a real highlight. Coach Eldritchfox fully getting on board with the High Elves paying off Griff (even giving him a team talk). I loved the challenge of facing the two French guys – Miyata (Lizards) and Bud_wiser (Norse). Touchdown (Dark Elves) and Thedukester (Wood Elves) played really well and got into the spirit.

The venue is really good and when combined with the stay at the hotel is a fantastic and fitting venue for the NAFC. There were some gripes: the tables were a bit too wide and some of the tables had big ridges in the middle where they’d been joined, the lunch bag was terrible, and the lack of projector for results and draw was a bit lo-fi for me.

I really enjoyed putting faces to the Twitter and TFF names that I’d shared so many conversations with. That was brilliant. Although there were still so many people who I know were there that I didn’t get a chance to see (another minor gripe – name tags would be useful).

Before the tournament I’d fallen out of love with playing a little bit. I just wasn’t feeling it. I enjoyed all aspects of the game and the hobby…except the games. This weekend reinvigorated me though. I want to play with silly teams. Strange builds, Star Players, unusual skills. I want to build my teams and my play around a story and to keep writing that story with the games that I play. A chapter in the story of one of those teams will be the next NAFC.

Thanks to the organisers and players for making it so much fun.

Blood Bowl Tournament – Birthday Bowl Report

Saturday morning at 4am and my son is awake coughing and spluttering, which meant that I was awake too. Two hours of disrupted dozing later and it was time to wake up and get ready for the two and a bit hour drive up to Swindon for Sann’s Birthday Bowl, a 16 man Blood Bowl tournament hosted by Mike and his family at their house. The drive was clear and quick and as with most things I was the first to arrive.

I’d brought my Norse team the Hellspire Avalanche to the tournament. I chose them partly because it ticked Norse off the list on my Road to 24 and partly because through my recent experiences with Norse I wanted to get them out of the way now because I hate them. Something about me and Norse just doesn’t click. I think the lack of movement, Frenzy and the fact that my play-style tends to emphasise the glass part of the often used glass-cannon analogy.

I took the Snow Troll and gave him Mighty Blow, 2 Ulfs both with Block, 1 Beserker with Guard, 1 Runner with Dodge, 1 Linemen with Guard, 6 regular Linemen and 3 Rerolls.

Through all of my league play with Norse, I’ve seen just how important the Runner is to me and my game. Giving her (I’m using the Valkyrie team from Impact!) Dodge would help in her roll as ball carrier and give me more dynamic movement and make her a Blodger.

Guard on the Beserker is probably an odd choice. I chose this based on my play style. Very often with the Beserkers I find that I don’t know what to do with them. I love Jump Up and it is a skill that opponents often forget about but the Frenzy on the ST3 player means that am generally overly cautious with the player and don’t end up getting them into trouble, or not using them at all. By giving her Guard, I was trying to make her more useful and Jump Up would help give me a little bit more mobility on the team.

There was a nice little twist to the tournament. At the start of each round, each player rolled a D12 and was awarded with a free mutation that could be added to a selected player on the roster. Mutations stayed throughout the tournament, could be stacked and could be added to Star Players. Allowing these mutations on Star Players made for some very scary players!

I didn’t take notes on the games so this is all from memory. I find that 4 games in one day is very draining and writing notes often falls by the wayside as my brain goes on strike for the few moments of downtime between games.

Game 1 – Amazons (Lost 2-1)

I received the kick off and in keeping with my more progressive approach recently I scored early, running it down the right and scoring on T4. Before I forget I rolled Foul Appearance and gave it to the Runner – making her just that little bit harder to knock down (in theory!). I hoped that I could then hold out for the rest of the half. Hope didn’t get me very far as my Snow Troll, who had been menacing on the first few turns, got seriously injured and was out for the rest of the game. I couldn’t hold out, and in the battle of the AV7s I couldn’t break armour and mine was non-existent. I could knock players down but didn’t do any real damage. We went in 1-1 at half time with me to kick at the start of the second. I was down on numbers and in the end the Amazons could just run along the end zone picking off the couple of players that I had in striking range. It ended 2-1 to the Amazons. It was a tough matchup and not the best for the Norse in my mind. Still Cornish is a great guy and a great opponent and it was a fun game. I did learn an important lesson – don’t sit next to the beer fridge at a Blood Bowl tournament.

Game 2 – Chaos Dwarfs (Lost 2-1)

Not a great matchup again. I kicked and was determined to try to hold out. It wasn’t looking good to start with when a Bull picked up the ball and was well protected by teammates as the raging Minotaur tried to kill my players single-handedly. My Snow Troll made amends for a poor first game though by killing the Minotaur early on in the game. Taking out the Minotaur opened up some space in the middle and allowed me to Block the ball carrier and push him to the sideline. The ball was free and my Linewoman with the newly acquired Hypnotic Gaze dazzled a defender allowing me to get some pressure on the ball. It looked like it would be enough and maybe even enough to get me a touchdown of my own but a lone Bull managed to break away and avoid my Blitz to get the T8 score. I received in the second half and was down on numbers which meant that I got stuck in the middle of the field longer than I hoped. I managed to break free with the Runner holding the ball and had a choice – try to stall for the Tie or score and see if one of us could get a result. A Tie doesn’t help anyone so I scored on T14. The reward for my choice? Pitch Invasion and all but 3 of my players, and all of those that could stop the ball carrying Bull, ending up face down! The Bull needed his Sure Feet but was able to get in to make the final score 2-1 to the Chaos Dwarfs.

Game 3 – Chaos Pact (Drew 1-1)

I kicked and started the game by taking some early damage with two players leaving the pitch on the first turn. I managed to even the score a little by seriously injuring the Chaos Ogre with a little help from the new Claws that one of my Ulfs developed between games. I conceded with enough time to try to score the equaliser. Everything was setup – I had three players in scoring range, the ball…but no rerolls. I did the hard bit by clearing out the Troll with Prehensile Tail on a 1DB. Handed off to a free Ulf (slightly better odds than my other choice of scorer) who caught the ball and ran towards the line. “Two dice, anything but a 1”, I said as I went for it twice on T8. Of course one of them was a 1. The Ulf tripped up and spilled the ball ending the half at 1-0. I was doing slightly better in the casualty battle this time around and managed to score but not as quickly as I would have liked. I first tried one side and then other before finally crossing the line on I want to say T14. There wasn’t enough time to score again and the Kick Off table didn’t help either of us and the game ended 1-1.

Game 4 – Underworld (Won 3-1)

Final game of the day was against Glowworm and his Underworld. I’ve played Underworld a bit recently and I know that Glowworm plays them a lot and well. They say that 1s are the Curse of the Elves. You can probably extend that to Trolls and dodging Goblins. I kicked off and managed to recover the ball and run away with it down the sideline to score. I was able to do it again shortly after to make it 2-0 at half time. The Extra Arms that I gave my Runner allowing her to pick it up from the feet of the Troll and Dodge out and away to the protection of the Snow Troll. Not much was going right for the Underworld, including when Star Player Bomber Dribblesnot blew himself up and took one of his teammates with him. I made it 3-0 in the second half before the Underworld’s two Skaven Throwers moved the ball up the pitch and ending the move with a pass to a goblin in two tackle zones who caught it and dodged out for the score. The game ended 3-1.

So I ended the day on 1-1-2 but I must say it was a lot of fun. Four really good opponents, a really relaxed atmosphere and a nice twist on the ruleset with the mutations. I really enjoyed the home tournament vibe and will look out for more of them.

Thanks to Mike and family for hosting and for my opponent’s for making it a really fun day 🙂

My next tournament, and the only one booked in for the rest of the year, is the NAFC in a few weeks time!

Finally Printed My Blood Bowl Pitches

It’s taken a while but I finally got my Blood Bowl pitches made. These are the ones that I made from scratch last year. I’m really pleased with the quality and look forward to giving one of them a run out on Wednesday when I have a league game.

Pitch for Fantasy Football designed to be printed.

Printed version of the RRBBL pitch

Printed version of the RRBBL pitch

Pitch for Fantasy Football designed to be printed.

Printed version of the ExeBowl pitch

Printed version of the ExeBowl pitch

Customising Printable Blood Bowl Pitch with GIMP – Changing Colours

This is the first of a few small guides that I will put out to show how to make simple changes to the Blood Bowl pitch that I made. In keeping with the spirit of giving the pitch to the community, I’ll be using GIMP which is also free.

So, the first things that you need to do are…

Get GIMP and install it.

– Download the latest version of HairyPete’s Blood Bowl Pitch XCF file.

Step 1: Open the file. You’ll see something like this…

Step 3

Step 2: Click on the foreground colour at the bottom of the Toolbox.

Step 2Step 3: Pick the colour that you want for the left hand side of the pitch in the Change Foreground Color window and click on OK. The foreground colour in the Toolbox wil change to the colour that you selected.

Step 3Step 4: Select the Bucket Fill tool from the toolbox and make sure that the FG color fill type is used, that the affected area is set to Fill similar colours and that the finding colours settings are unticked and that the thresehold is 0.

Step 4Step 5: Next we need to select the layer that we want to apply the changes to. Select the Layers tab from the dock on the right and select the ‘Left markers bg’ (this is the layer that controls the colours on the left hand side of the pitch).

Step 5Step 6: To change the colour click on a blue section and let the fill tool do the rest.

Step 6Step 7: To change the colour of the right hand side repeat the steps above starting at 2 but select the ‘Right markers bg’ layer in Step 5.

The background of the pitch can be changed in exactly the same way but by selecting the ‘Pitch bg’ layer. I’ll cover making a more complex pitches in another tutorial.

Don’t forget to save your new file at the end.

To create a file that you can submit to a printer you will need to do the following.

Step 1: File -> Export As

Step 2: Select ‘PNG Image’ from the dropwown box where it says ‘All Images’.

Step 3: Select the folder that you want to save the new image to and enter a filename.

Step 4: Click on Export.

Step 5: Adjust the compression level to get a file size that you printer can accept (you want the best quality that you can get) – I’ve used 9 with good results. Set the other settings as the picture below and the click on Export and wait for the process to finish. The new file will be exported to where you set.

Hope this is enough to get you started. I’m only a learner myself so if there is a better way of doing anything that I’ve described then please let me know.