League and Exhibition Play
Playing a Blood Bowl league is great fun. Teams grow and develop, and rookie players blossom into mighty Star Players. Coaches are able to build upon their team's background and rivalries with others, all the while hoping to reach the play-offs, dreaming of winning lasting fame and fortune.
In truth, although we call them leagues, what our teams are most likely doing is participating in the type of tournaments that happen around the Old World and beyond all the time. There haven't been many formal leagues since the NAF collapsed, and teams travel the known world taking part in numerous privately run tournaments, playing a series of linked games, hoping to qualify for the finals and to win the prizes on offer. The development seen is a team improving through the course of such a competition and becoming a more skilled and complete unit. Over several such league seasons a team will have played in several different competitions in very different locations, gained new players, lost old favourites, and changed and evolved over time.
Running a League
In order to set up a league, the first thing needed is a league commissioner. The league commissioner is the member of any group of regularly meeting coaches who takes up the responsibility for making sure that a league runs smoothly. Some league commissioners like to keep a central database of teams to keep track of how well everyone is doing, and some even write regular newsletters featuring game reports, league tables and anything else they can think of! Most league commissioners will take part in the league with a team of their own.
To run a league, you will need at least four teams. At the start of the league, each participating coach needs to draft a team as described on page 30 and submit a copy of their Team Draft list to the league commissioner.
A Blood Bowl league plays out over a number of 'seasons', each split into the 'regular season' and the 'play-off season'. At the end of each play-off season, comes the 'off-season break', a rest from the action before the next season begins. After the off-season break, returning and new coaches alike can draft a new team for the season ahead. Should the league commissioner wish, returning coaches can re-draft an existing team as described on page 100.
If the league contains enough teams, the league commissioner may wish to divide them into two, three or four divisions. Each division should contain as equal a number of teams as possible, but a division should have no fewer than four teams. The larger the divisions are, the longer a season will last. The teams can be split however the league commissioner decides, but drawing team names out of an upturned Blood Bowl helmet (or similar receptacle) is most traditional. Once the divisions have been split, the season can begin!
THE REGULAR SEASON
During a season, each team plays two 'league fixtures' against each other team in their division. These games should be played to a schedule of 'rounds', drawn up by the league commissioner and made available to all coaches. 'Cross division friendly' games can also be played on a challenge basis against teams in other divisions that a team and their coach may not otherwise face.
It is recommended that you set a time limit for each round. This prevents the league stalling because two players can't seem to get their schedules to line up. A good rule for deciding a time limit is to assume that each team can play one game per week. Any league fixtures that have not been played by the end of the time limit count as a loss for both teams unless one coach voluntarily concedes due to real life commitments. In this case, the other team wins 1-0, gains D6x10,000 gold pieces and may make two MVP awards.
After a league fixture has been played, both teams follow the full post-game sequence as described on page 69. Note that both coaches are responsible for correctly recording the outcome of the game and passing that information on to the league commissioner.
NO-SHOWS: If a coach is thought to be gaming the system - i.e., avoiding certain games just to prevent their opponent from getting a win or to protect their players from harm ahead of another game, the league commissioner should dock that coach 3 League points.
CROSS DIVISION FRIENDLIES
During the regular season, any two coaches that are not in the same division may arrange for their teams to play a friendly game. Each team can play as many or as few friendly games as they wish, but two teams can only play each other in this manner once. Coaches should note that during the post-game sequence of a friendly, no MVP is awarded and no League points are won. In all other respects, a friendly is treated just like a league fixture.
Teams earn League points as follows:
- Win: 3 League points
- Draw: 1 League point
- Loss: 0 League points
Additionally, league commissioners may wish to award bonus League points for the following:
- Score 3 or more touchdowns: +1 League point
- Concede 0 touchdowns: +1 League point
- Cause 3 or more Casualties (counting only those that generate SPP, as described in Step 3 of the post-game sequence): +1 League point
Each coach should record their League points on their Game Record sheet during step 1 of the post-game sequence, before reporting both the outcome of the game and the league points scored to the league commissioner.
THE PLAY-OFF SEASON
Once all league fixtures have been played in each division, the regular season comes to a close. Once all the scores are in, the league commissioner ranks the teams in order of League points, from highest to lowest, using total touchdowns as the first tiebreaker and total casualties as the second tiebreaker, if required. The top four teams in the league will go through to the play-offs as follows:
- If the league consists of two divisions, the top two teams from each go through and the play-off season progresses straight to the semi-finals.
- If the league consists of four divisions:
- The top team from each goes through and the play-off season progresses straight to the semi-finals.
- The top two teams from each go through and the play-off season commences with the quarter finals.
- If the league consists of three divisions, the top team from each goes through. Additionally, the second place team with the highest number of league points will go through as a wild card. The play-off season progresses straight to the semi-finals.
As with the regular season, these games should be played to a schedule drawn up by the league commissioner and made available to all coaches. If quarter finals are being played, care should be taken to ensure that two teams from the same division do not meet in either the quarter finals or semi-finals.
Once the semi-finals have been played, the two winning teams will progress to the final, and the two losing teams will meet to decide 3rd place.
Prizes are awarded to the teams who finish in 1st 2nd and 3rd place, in addition to any winnings generated during the post-game sequence:
- The team in 3rd place receives 30,000 gold pieces.
- The team in 2nd place receives 60,000 gold pieces.
- The team who finished in 1st place, the season's champion, is awarded 100,000 gold pieces and the League Trophy.
These winnings should not be placed in the team's Treasury until after the Expensive Mistakes step of the post-game sequence. Therefore, these winnings cannot be lost as soon as they are won!
The League Trophy is held by the winners until the end of the next season, when it will be awarded to the new champions. For as long as a team holds a League Trophy, it adds an additional team re-roll to its Team Draft list, increasing its Team Value accordingly but without having to spend any gold pieces from its Treasury.
THE OFF-SEASON BREAK AND RE-DRAFTING TEAMS
Whilst many coaches like to start each season with a brand new team, many more like to develop a favourite team over several seasons, building that team's legend over time and telling the story of fan favourites who dedicate their career to their team. The following rules allow coaches who wish to re-draft a team from one season into the next to do so.
Between seasons, there is a period of downtime called the 'off-season break'. Coaches and their players rest and recuperate, spend their hard-earned gold, or go on elaborate tours to promote the latest edition of their increasingly unbelievable autobiographies.
After the finals have been played, any coaches who wish to re-draft their team for the next season should get together with the league commissioner and run through the following steps:
- R&R: Players that would miss the team's next game recover.
- RAISE FUNDS: Coaches calculate the funds available to them to re-draft their team.
- RE-DRAFT: Coaches complete their new Team Draft list for the season ahead.
During the off-season break, players have time to rest and recuperate from their injuries. Therefore, any players that suffered a Miss Next Game Casualty table result during the team's final game of the season will recover before the next season begins.
2. RAISE FUNDS
When re-drafting, each team gets a Re-Draft Budget of 1,000,000 gold pieces. This represents money doled out by the league, the team's sponsors, fan clubs and generous patrons. A team that is re-drafting then adds to this anything they have left in their Treasury from the previous season, after which their Treasury is emptied (presumably having been used to cover the cost of the many unexpected expenses that arise during the off- season break). Finally, a team that is re-drafting adds the bonuses listed below:
- 20,000 gold pieces for each game the team played last season (both friendlies and league fixtures).
- +20,000 gold pieces for each league fixture the team won last season.
- +10,000 gold pieces for each league fixture the team played last season that ended in a draw.
League commissioners may, at their own discretion, place a cap of 1,300,000 gold pieces on the Re-Draft Budget available to teams so that no team starts the season with too obvious an advantage.
Once the Re-Draft Budget available has been worked out, the team can be re-drafted. A few key players will be able to return to the pitch for the new season, whilst others will find themselves unceremoniously dropped and replaced with eager rookies to keep costs down. Those players that are dropped usually have the good grace to disappear quietly, heading off to seek their fortune in the backwater leagues, to become sports pundits on the interview circuit, or to host Cabalvision shows about redecorating your hovel.
To redraft your team, use a new Team Draft list and create a brand new version of your team using the Re-Draft Budget available, as described on page 99. The following rules apply:
- Assistant coaches and cheerleaders may be carried over from your previous Team Draft list at a cost 10,000 gold pieces each, or they may be let go.
- Apothecaries may be carried over from your previous Team Draft list at a cost 50,000 gold pieces each, or they may be let go.
- Team re-rolls may be carried over from your previous Team Draft list at the cost shown on your team roster, or they may be let go.
As well as hiring new players from your team roster, you can re-hire players from last season's Team Draft list. Players can be re-hired by paying their Current Value as shown on last season's Team Draft list, plus an agent's fee of 20,000 gold pieces for each previous season the player has taken part in. Simply copy the player's entire profile across from your old Team Draft list, including any Niggling Injuries, any characteristic reductions and any unspent Star Player points:
- If the player has any Niggling Injuries, roll a D6 for each, applying a +1 modifier to the dice roll if the team has an apothecary:
- On a roll of 4+, some rest and relaxation has worked wonders. The Niggling Injury you are rolling for is removed.
- On a roll of 1-3, the player's injury has not yet fully healed. The Niggling Injury being rolled for remains.
RE-DRAFTING TEMPORARILY RETIRED PLAYERS
Additionally, players that temporarily retired during the last season can be re-hired as described previously by paying the cost shown for them on that season's Team Draft list. Hopefully the time off has helped them to recover from their injuries:
- After the player has been re-drafted, roll a D6 for each characteristic reduction they have suffered, applying a +1 modifier to the dice roll if the team has an apothecary:
- On a roll of 4+, some time off and some intensive therapy has done the job and the characteristic is restored. However, such injuries often leave their mark and the player will gain a Niggling Injury.
- On a roll of 1-3, the player's injury has not yet fully healed. The characteristic reduction being rolled for remains.
Note that if the player has suffered more than one characteristic reduction, you should roll for each separately.
A team's Dedicated Fans value will carry over onto the new Team Draft list. Teams do not have to pay for these, they are free - though they will still affect a team's Team Value.
STARTING A NEW SEASON
After the excitement of the play-off season and the thrill of the finals, the obvious question from most coaches is: when's the next season starting?
The answer, as ever, is up to the league commissioner. Starting a new season is as easy as following these three steps:
- The league commissioner establishes who will be taking part in the next season. This is a good chance for coaches to step down from the league if they're struggling to find the time to play, and it's an ideal opportunity for new teams to join in the fun.
- Each coach who is taking part in the new league season submits a Team Draft list.
- Teams are divided into divisions (if necessary) and dates are set. The season begins anew!
Unfortunately, not everyone is able to commit the time required to take part in a league. Coaches may not live close to their gaming friends, work and family commitments might contrive to keep us away from our hobby, meaning that often we are only able to enjoy the occasional stand-alone game when time permits. Such stand-alone games are referred to as 'exhibition games'. What's more, there is no reason to miss out on the fun of many aspects of the game that appear to be designed for league play; it is possible to create teams for exhibition games complete with extra Skills, characteristic improvements and access to weird and wonderful Inducements, including Star Players. There is a lot of fun to be had in creating a team for an exhibition game, deciding what will be included and what will be left out, choosing Skills, creating names and backstories for the players, and so on.
BLOOD BOWL EXHIBITION PLAY RULES
The following pages offer a set of guidelines for creating exhibition play teams. Coaches who wish to use these rules for a game should decide between themselves on the details. Further, this section aims to give guidance to anyone wanting to run a Blood Bowl tournament, as these rules will help create more interesting teams for participants to use, which in turn will enhance the experience for everyone involved.
DRAFTING AN EXHIBITION TEAM
This section deals with how to create a team for an exhibition game. For the most part this is exactly the same as creating a team for a league, right down to using the usual team rosters and completing a Team Draft list. However, there are some distinct differences to be aware of:
TEAM DRAFT BUDGET
For exhibition games, coaches should have more gold in their Team Draft Budget, allowing them to include more of the options that normally only become available later on in a league.
The Team Draft Budget for exhibition play should be somewhere between 1,100,000 and 1,300,000 gold pieces. We have found that 1,150,000 gold pieces is an ideal size. Larger is possible should coaches or tournament organisers wish, but it is worth bearing in mind that smaller Team Draft Budgets force hard choices to be made. Sometimes, having to choose whether to include one thing or the other is better than having both as it adds to the challenge of the experience.
However, it is important to note that when a team is drafted for exhibition play, all of the gold pieces in the Team Draft Budget must be spent. Any gold pieces not spent are lost. One consequence of this is that the Prayers to Nuffle table is only used for Cheering Fans in exhibition play, as described on page 41.
A Team Draft list will need to be completed for the team, detailing all of the players, Sideline Staff and any Inducements purchased. This is especially important when attending a Blood Bowl tournament, so that your opponents can see clearly what your team contains!
As with league play, players are the only compulsory element on a team drafted for exhibition play. Each team roster details all of the players available to a team of that type and their Hiring Fee. When drafting a team, you should select the players you want to permanently hire for your team, pay their hiring cost from the Team Draft Budget and make a record of the player on the Team Draft list.
As usual, a team may not include more players of a certain type than are allowed by the team roster.
PURCHASING TEAM RE-ROLLS
Any team drafted for exhibition play can purchase team re-rolls, just like a team drafted for league play. Every team may buy 0-8 team re-rolls when it is drafted, for the cost shown on the team roster, paid for from the Team Draft Budget.
HIRING SIDELINE STAFF
Sideline Staff can be of as much use to a team drafted for exhibition play as they are during a league. A team drafted for exhibition play can purchase Sideline Staff from the Team Draft Budget.
Unlike a team drafted for league play, a team drafted for exhibition play will have a Dedicated Fans characteristic of 0.
However, teams drafted for exhibition play can still improve this up to a maximum of 6, at a cost of 10,000 gold pieces per improvement, as described on page 35. For example, an exhibition team may purchase a Dedicated Fans characteristic of 3 at a cost of 30,000 gold pieces.
INDUCEMENTS IN EXHIBITION PLAY
Because all of the gold pieces in the Team Draft Budget must be spent when drafting a team for exhibition play, it is most uncommon that teams will be of different values. Therefore, when a team is drafted for exhibition play, you may spend as much or as little of your Team Draft Budget as you wish on Inducements, provided your team contains the minimum of 11 players, not including Induced Star Players. Inducements purchased in this way should be recorded on the Team Draft list.
If two coaches are drafting teams for exhibition play between themselves, they should take a few minutes to discuss Inducements first. It is important to decide if there are any Inducements they feel should be included or any they would prefer to leave out.
Tournament organisers should decide which, if any, Inducements will be allowed and ensure this information is passed on to participants.
PLAYER ADVANCEMENT IN EXHIBITION PLAY
Unlike games played in a league, exhibition games are not linked. Therefore players will not have the opportunity to earn and spend Star Player points in the same way. However, teams drafted for exhibition play should include more than just rookies - having a few players with an extra Skill or two makes for a more interesting game. To allow for this, exhibition teams are granted a number of SPP to distribute between players, meaning that some players can be given advancements when the team is drafted.
How many SPP coaches have to distribute between their players varies. For example, you could grant each team 36 SPP to spend on advancements; this is a fair number and allows a good selection of advancements across a team. However, this is only a guideline, and the number can be increased or decreased as desired. More SPP will enable more player advancements, fewer SPP will obviously allow for fewer player advancements.
If two coaches are drafting teams for exhibition play between themselves, they should take a few minutes to determine how many SPP they will have first. Tournament organisers should decide how many SPP participants will have and ensure this information is passed on to participants.
The first thing to bear in mind when drafting a team for exhibition play is that randomly selected Skills or characteristic improvements are perhaps best avoided. This is especially true in tournament play. Randomly selecting Skills or characteristic improvements ahead of each round can slow proceedings down quite a lot.
This leaves coaches with the option to choose Primary or Secondary skills for some of their players. How coaches distribute SPP between players is up to them. It is just as acceptable to create one superstar player with several new Skills as it is to distribute SPP evenly between a number of players. How many advancements a single player can be given should be discussed between coaches or decided by tournament organisers. Any SPP that are not spent are lost.
For example, if a coach has 36 SPP to spend they may choose to distribute them evenly, giving six players a Primary skill, or giving four players a Primary skill and one player a Secondary skill. Alternatively, all of the SPP could be spent on one player.
In league play, a player's value will increase as they spend SPP and gain advancements. However, for simplicity, this is not the case when drafting a team for exhibition play. No matter how many advancements a player is given, their value does not increase.
In other words, coaches do not have to worry about covering the cost of any additional Skills or characteristic increases players are given with gold pieces from their Team Draft Budget. Such advancements do not increase a player's value in exhibition play.
In league play, as well as earning SPP and gaining advancements, players can pick up lasting injuries from the Casualty table that will dog their careers. In exhibition play this does not happen. Every time a team drafted for exhibition play takes to the pitch, it does so with a full complement of healthy, uninjured players. Any Casualty rolls made against a player in one game are forgotten about should the same team be used again later. This is of particular importance for Blood Bowl tournaments, where coaches will use the same team in several games over one or more days.
This, of course, is not to say that Casualty rolls do not matter in exhibition play. Casualty rolls should be made as normal. This is because not only do apothecaries work as normal in exhibition play, but several teams (notably teams with the Masters of Undeath or Favoured of Nurgle special rules) have the chance to gain an extra Lineman for the remainder of the game.
THE PRAYERS TO NUFFLE TABLE IN EXHIBITION PLAY
In league play, the Prayers to Nuffle table fulfils a vital role, used as it is during the pre-game sequence to help balance the value of both teams. Obviously, that isn't a concern during exhibition play due to the way teams are drafted. However, the Cheering Fans Kick-off event table result means that the Prayers to Nuffle table may still used. Some of the results are clearly tailored towards league play, particularly those that generate extra SPP. Therefore, during exhibition play, coaches should use the following, shortened version of the Prayers to Nuffle table for Cheering Fans:
EXHIBITION PLAY - PRAYERS TO NUFFLE TABLE
|Treacherous Trapdoor: Until the end of this half, every time any player enters a Trapdoor square, roll a D6. On a roll of 1, the trapdoor falls open. The player is immediately removed from play. Treat them exactly as if they had been pushed into the crowd.
|Friends with the Ref: Until the end of this drive, you may treat a roll of 5 or 6 on the Argue the Call table as a "Well, When You Put It Like That.." result and a roll of 2-4 as an "I Don't Care!" result.
|Stiletto: Randomly select one player on your team that is available to play during this drive and that does not have the Loner (X+) trait. Until the end of this drive, that player gains the Stab trait.
|Iron Man: Choose one player on your team that is available to play during this drive and that does not have the Loner (X+) trait. Until the end of this game, that player improves their AV by 1, to a maximum of 11+.
|Knuckle Dusters: Choose one player on your team that is available to play during this drive and that does not have the Loner (X+) trait. Until the end of this drive, that player gains the Mighty Blow (+1) skill.
|Bad Habits: Randomly select D3 opposition players that are available to play during this drive and that do not have the Loner (X+) trait. Until the end of this drive, those players gain the Loner (2+) trait.
|Greasy Cleats: Randomly select one opposition player that is available to play during this drive. That player has had their boots tampered with. Until the end of this drive their MA is reduced by 1.
|Blessed Statue of Nuffle Choose one player on your team that is available to play during this drive and that does not have the Loner (X+) trait. Until the end of this game, that player gains the Pro skill.