Blood Bowl 3 gives us new rules and satisfying broken limbs

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Blood Bowl is back, baby! Well, something like that. Blood Bowl 3 is supposed to be out next year – February 22nd to be precise – but the fine folks at Cyanide are letting dedicated fantasy sports fans into the stadium before the previous teams have been scraped off astro granite over early access this September. Can’t you wait so long Do not worry. The closed beta test starts today and you can sign up here. It’s a bit limited so it’s best to sign up sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, my Black Orc team (Da Krumpmeisters) has spent the past few days head butting Imperial nobles and breaking the limbs of satisfactorily fragile elves, and I’m here to tell you all about it.

As you may know, Blood Bowl 3 is an adaptation of Games Workshop’s 2020 edition of the Blood Bowl tabletop game. As for rule changes, they range from small (‘Going For It’ is now called ‘Rushing’) to potentially game-changing (you can now destroy all of your team’s re-rolls in a single glorious round). Here is a useful overview. Overall, Blood Bowl is cleaner, full of character, and the passing game is given a brand new value. Blood Bowl 3 aims to capture this as faithfully as 2 does the 2016 edition of the game.

As a digital adaptation, Blood Bowl has two main features: convenience and presentation. Tabletop is nice, tactile, and granular, but it can also be a big problem, especially when it comes to finding IRL opponents during These Trying Times ™.

Plus, you’ll have to rely on your stupid brain for all of the squishy parts. As such, Cyanide leans into the game’s signature chaos. Beats, blood, goblins in barbed boots jumping up and down on unconscious elves, that sort of thing.

Not everything is perfect on the pitch, but it doesn’t have to be

While the beta has some of the visual issues that come with the territory for an early build, Blood Bowl 3 is emerging to be a real head-turner. It’s less saturated and cartoonish than 2: a little more subdued, but also more detailed. New team customization options let you choose from Citadel’s named hues, and the classic Games Workshop-grimdark-zero-oil style with chipped, highlighted edges keeps things both grainy and vibrant.

I’m a huge fan of the many fine details in the new Black Orc and Imperial Nobility miniatures, and these sharp character models show that Cyanide is, too.

Bloodthirsty commentators Jim and Bob return, though I swear I heard all of their lines in about 20 minutes. More variety, please! Fortunately, at the sounds of bone crunching, you can safely ignore them because successful blocks sound (and look!) Great here. Animation lengths are shorter and therefore less intrusive.

Jim and Bob Comment from Blood Bowl 3

The sheer effect made me grin more than once (this is a ‘grin’ and ‘twitch’ portmanteau that I just made up). There’s also a new scene for players to get pushed into the crowd and buddy, if you like dwarves hurting people I have an animation for you. With the current beta build, you can play as the Black Orcs, Imperial Nobility, or Elven Union, with the third being a great choice from Cyanides as passing is so important now.

There will be twelve teams at the start. Something we haven’t had confirmation of, but the beta makes me believe we’ll see pitch effects too. There’s a tooltip for them that’s set to “none” for the games I’ve played, but my basic understanding of relativity makes me believe that “none” suggests the possibility of “some” which is exciting. At some point, fingers crossed for squig balls.

a wide angle view of a game in Blood Bowl 3 showing the stadium and fans

Are there any bugs you ask? Yes. Mainly a persistent animation bug with a player model stopping while “moving” around the field and a few unresponsive clicks here and there, but nothing to make the game unplayable. The few online matches I have achieved have been stable too, and I would actually suggest that newer players go online via vs. AI as the game is slower and you can better follow decisions that are otherwise automated a little too quickly .

In addition, the beta is 7.82 GB in size. I never see this mentioned in previews, but I think it might be useful for someone. We did a quick Q&A with the developers, most of whom pointed to possible features without confirming anything, but here’s what I got out of it. Blood Bowl 3 publishes basically everything, and Cyanide has the intent to deal with the cross-platform game.

Developers recognize a high level of player demand for custom leagues and additional player customization options are a “focus”. Cyanide aims to develop “tools and features” for the community to “get the most out of the game” and will have “good news on that later”. However, there is no explicit confirmation that this includes mod support.

So once again for the rear stands; A beta is currently available and you should be able to sign up here. Not everything is perfect on the pitch yet, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be. Did I mention the goblins jump up and down on unconscious elves?

Blood Bowl 3 will be released via Steam (and everything else) for PC on February 22, 2022, with a Steam Early Access launch in September 2021.

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