Welcome to this blood bowl focused episode of Optimal Game State. In our previous videos, we introduced the game and covered the Sevens format for quick games. In this video, we will delve deeper and explore the different types of teams in Blood bowl. These teams can be broadly divided into four groups: Bash teams that focus on inflicting casualties, Finesse teams that rely on ball control, Hybrid teams that combine both aspects, and Stunty teams that prioritise fun over competitiveness.
If you are just starting to expand your teams beyond the core Black Orc and Imperial Nobility, it may be beneficial to pick up a Bash Team and a Finesse team to experience different playstyles. The video will cover what you need to purchase to fully play the team, as one box may not include all the positional players. Positionals refer to non-linemen players such as Blitzers and Throwers, who are generally more skilled but have a limited number allowed on the field.
Additionally, we will indicate whether the team is considered Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3. These ratings serve as a guide for how difficult the team is to play, similar to ratings in other competitive games. In tournaments, incentives are often given for playing lower Tier teams to balance out the difficulty.
Let’s get stuck in.
A Bash team in Blood Bowl prioritises brute force over speed and agility. Their objective is to overpower their opponents and take control the game once they are down. To achieve this, Bash teams have players with high armour values to withstand hits and the strength and or skills to dish them out. Once the opposing team is weak, the Bash team can advance down the field to score, as long as they remember to do so!
It’s easy to get too focused on inflicting injuries, but it’s just means to an end, you still need to score touch downs to win. Currently, there are 8 teams that fit into this category, each with their own unique approach to Bash playstyle.
First up, the Orc team. The box has 2 Blitzers and 2 Black Orcs but you want the option for 4 of each. These are the backbone of your list. The Blitzers are fast at move 6 and are great at taking down ball carriers or carrying the ball themselves with their block skill. Meanwhile, the Black Orcs, or Big Un Blocks as they’re now called, sit on your front line with Strength 4 to wreck your opponents. You can add to this mayhem with a Troll making that front line pretty terrifying. Everything else is made up with a combination of Linemen, Goblins, and maybe a thrower. The Thrower has Pass and Sure hands which can come in handy, but they’ll mostly be used as ball carriers as there isn’t really a receiver, add to that the Animosity skill which means they’ll refuse to handoff the ball 1 in 6.
One important thing throwers do is free up other players. Without a thrower, your ball carrier is either a strength 2 goblin or a Blitzer who would otherwise be on the front line throwing blocks..
As the team isn’t particularly fast, the team focuses on brutalising their opponents to make it up the field. The Goblins do have move 6, Ag 3 and Dodge so they can play a little ball. Since the Troll has Throw Team mate and the Goblins have the Right Stuff, you can have a lot of fun making poor decisions.
The Dwarf teams are renowned for grinding their opponents down, typically holding onto the ball in super defensive formations scoring only twice all game. All the linemen start with block which is a big advantage and tackle so they are a menace for any team relying on that dodge skill. Everyone has high armour values so they’re tough to take out.
All the positionals, the Troll Slayer, Runner, and Blitzer are all limited to 2 so the box has a full set. The Blitzers and Runners will be your ball carriers as they have Agi 3+ and 5 and 6 move. The linemen are all move 4 so you’re going to spend a lot of time caging up and slowly moving down the field. You do have the option to get a Death Roller which is a lot of fun, but as a very expensive Secret Weapon which will get sent off, you might be better off passing on it at least initially.
Your positionals are Wights, Ghouls, and Mummies. The Wights are essentially Blitzers, having move 6 and block, the Ghouls are runners with Dodge and move 7, while the Mummies are for standing on the front line with their strength 5 and Might Blow. The rest of your team is made up of Skeletons and Zombies. The Zombies are better armour so you’ll normally put them on the front line while the Skeletons are better move at 5 so they’re better for covering the field.
All but the Wights and Ghouls have the Regeneration skill, this means if they get injured 50% of the time they go into reserves instead. A straight build out of the box will give you 2 of each the positional which is a fine way to start, but you do want another 2 Ghouls to have the option to go to 4, so the second box comes in. This also gives you more linemen which you will need as the team has the Masters of Undeath special rule, anytime you kill a strength 4 or less opposing player, you get a free zombie!
Necromantic Horror is a different take on the undead team, you still have Zombies and Ghouls but instead of Wights and Mummies you get Wraiths, Werewolves, and Flesh Golems. Again, everyone except the Ghouls have Regeneration making this a pretty hard team to shift. Add to that, the Flesh Golems have Stand Firm, the Wraith’s Sidestep, and the Werewolves Frenzy, so this team can be very good at controlling who ends up where but lacks the raw strength of the shambling undead team.
All the positionals are capped at 2 which means one box will get you all you need. Getting this along with the Shambling Undead box will give you those extra two Ghouls you’re missing for your Undead team.
The Chaos Chosen is a pretty simple team, you get 4 Chosen Blocker and 8 Beastmen Linemen in the box. These are all great players but essentially lack any skills apart from a token Horns on the Beastmen. This makes them a great base for development in campaign, where once they do get the skills they’ll have the numbers to back them up. What you don’t get in the box is a big guy, the Chaos Chosen can take one Troll, Minotaur, or Ogre. If you picked up the core box for Bloodbowl you already have a Troll and an Ogre so you’ve already got some options.
The box has 4 Bloaters, 2 Pestigors, and 6 Rotter Linemen. You can only have 4 Bloaters, so you’re good there but you can have 4 Pestigors and as their speed 6 and Ag 3+ they’re your best player for actually playing the ball. Now, chances are in a starting roster you’re only going to play 2 of them, so one box is a good start but long term you’ll want those extra two.
You’re playing this as a bash team so you’re looking to crump opposing players. When you manage to kill an opposing player with strength 4 or less, then you can use the Plague Ridden skill which is on all of your players to turn that dead player into a new Rotter Lineman for yourself.
Their big guy is the Rotspawn, a strength 5 mighty blow blob for the front line. This team is a menace to play again, the 4 bloaters and the Rotspawn all have Disturbing Presence and Foul Appearance. So if you try to block them you roll a d6 and on a 1 if fails. If you try to pass or catch the ball while within 3 squares of them, that’s a -1 and that penalty stacks for each bloater or rotspawn within 3 squares.
Putting the Blood and Skulls in Bloodbowl, we have the Khorne team. This box has six Bloodborn Marauder Linemen, four Bloodseekers, and two Khorngor. Your roster can have an additional two Khorngor which is why this team needs two boxes. A lot of the starting rosters only have 2 though, so you certainly can get into the action with just one, that second box will only come in when you’re developing your team in a league.
The theme of this team is Frenzy and the Khorngor are the only players who do not have it. So you need to be careful, the Bloodseeker with their strength 4 can get a lot of work done with Frenzy but the linemen with only strength 3 will often need support. With frenzy it’s not enough to just think about the first block, you also have to consider the next block too and if that puts you in a bad position maybe don’t block at all.
Your big guy is the Bloodspawn, another Frenzy piece this time with Strength 5, Claws, and Mighty blow. That’s a lot of murder and while that’s going on, it’s up to the Khorngors to step in, pick up the ball and score.
Last up in the Bash teams we have the Norse. This box has new sculpts for a very old team and along with it brought an update to their rules changing them significantly. As one of the newer releases, this has all the positionals you need in just one box. The box has 6 Norse Raider Linemen, 2 Beer Boar, 2 Norse Berserkers, 2 Ulfwereners and 2 Valkyries. You’re just missing the Yehetee as the big guy to round out your options.
The linemen are some of the best in the game, they have movement 6, str 3, ag 3+, and Block making them a solid core. The Beer boars are a bit of a gimmick. They’re very weak and can’t handle the ball, so in play they’ll be best used to foul and they open up some starting list options because they’re so cheap.
The Berzerkers are your blitzers, they have block and frenzy along with move 6. The Ulfwereners have move 6, strength 4, and Frenzy making them great reactive players to take out unsupported enemy players.
The Valkyries are move 7, they don’t have block but do have Catch and Pass so they’ll be good ball handlers and with Dauntless and Strip ball can be good at getting the ball from enemy ball carriers.
While the Bash teams focus on beating up their opponents, there is another way to play. It turns out you win the game by scoring touchdowns. Finesse teams spend more time getting the ball to the end zone than they do brutalising their opponents. They typically have low armour values, so they try their best to avoid a direct fight, although they’re not above the occasional shiv to the ribs.
In previous editions, the agility and passing traits were one, so teams that were good at dodging out of tackle zones, were also good at passing the ball. Not so anymore, in the most recent edition the passing skill was added. This means some teams favour a running game while others favour a passing game, keep that in mind as we go through the various teams.
First up we have the Wood Elves, they are move 7 base with the Catchers and Wardancers at move 8. They’re all 2+ agility with the throwers having pass 2+ along with the Pass skill to make sure. The catchers have Catch and Dodge, so you get the ball to your Thrower and they throw it to your Catcher who makes the run to the end zone and scores. On the down side, they all have low armour at 8 AV, so they’re very fragile.
The Wardancers do have block and dodge, so they can be an effective blitzer, and they have leap so they skip the opposing defensive line and go straight for the ball carrier.
The box has 2 of each of the positional, but you can have 4 of the Catchers, which is where the second box comes in. It’s also common enough to have 7 to 9 linemen, so that second box will round those out also.
The team doesn’t have a lot of punch, but you do need to put players on the line of slaughter, that’s where the Treeman comes in. He’s expensive, but an effective way to hold the line while the rest of your team plays the ball.
Elven Union are similar, but lose the Wardancers and instead get blitzers who have Block and Side Step. These are a little slower than Wood Elves with Linemen and Throwers at 6 move, and the blitzer at 7, but the catcher is still 8. On the plus side, everything is a little cheaper, so paying for all the options is a lot easier. You have the same problem with the box which only has 2 catchers while you can have 4 in total. You can certainly start a team with just the 2 catchers, but in the long run you’ll want all 4 in a league.
Notably, the catchers have Nerves of Steel, which means they ignore penalties for enemy tackle zones when catching, along with their Ag 2+ that means it’s very hard to stop them from scoring.
While the other Elf teams focus on scoring, the Dark Elves don’t neglect the good things in life. They do not have a thrower or catcher, their best passing player is the Runner at 3+. So this isn’t a team for passing. They are still fast though, with the linemen at 6 and everyone else a 7 so they do have a great running game.
The box has 6 Linemen, 2 Blitzers, 2 Runners and 2 Witch Elves. Not only are you missing two of your 4 Blitzers, but you’re entirely missing the 2 Assassins. You really want those 4 blitzers with block, so two boxes it is. In a league, you’ll look to get 2 Witch Elves and 4 Blitzers before you look at an Assassin.
The Assassin is an interesting player taken for his stab skill which lets you skip straight to the armour roll once per turn. This works best against teams with low armour and skills like dodge or block that make them hard to knock down normally. This means you’ll only want Assassins against certain match ups like Wood Elves, Elven Union, Skaven, Amazons or Norse. Often rather than adding an Assassin to their roster, Coaches will use cash from inducements to pay for a Mercenary Assassin as a one off.
This is a precision team, they’re fast with good agility, so you can get them where you want to and play ball. You also have some offensive abilities like Block on your Blitzers, Frenzy on your Witch Elves, and Stab on your Assassins. Keep your own players out of trouble and then gang up on key opposing okays to open up plays for your Runners or Blitzers to score.
Skaven are a bit of a mix. You have the Gutter Runners who are move 9, Ag 2, with Dodge. You also have a Thrower with Passing of 2+ along with the Pass skill and sure hands. So you have a throwing game, but more often than not your Gutter Runners will just be zooming across the pitch too fast for your opponents to catch. Along with that, you have 2 Blitzers who have block and a Rat Ogre big guy, so you can hold the line for a little bit, but with your teams general low armour you can expect them to go down
The box has 2 of each of the positional, so again we’re down two Gutter Runners. The typical starting teams either have 4 Gutter Runners or a Rat Ogre with the goal of eventually getting all on the roster.
Last in the Finesse teams we have the Amazons, like the Norse, a recently released update to an old team. You get everything you need out of the box. Along with the linewomen, they can field 2 throwers, 2 blitzers, and 2 blockers. So one box has everything you need. All move 6 and Ag 3 apart from the Blitzer who is move 7.
Everyone on the team has dodge, which in theory makes this team agile but in practice makes them harder to knock down as dodge helps during a block. There’s definitely an argument to be made that they’re more of a hybrid team than a finesse team and you certainly can play them that way, especially once you start getting some skill ups and are able to give them block along with that dodge. That said, the relatively low armour of 8 on the majority of their players pushes them towards the finesse category.
As the thrower has Ag 3 and Passing 3, she’s not as super reliable as you have in some of the other finesse teams but with On the Ball she’s able to move 3 squares after an opposing pass is declared or after after kick off. You don’t have a catcher to throw to, so she might end up your ball carrier a lot of the time. Alternatively, the Blitzer is fast with move 7. Either way, expect to be running the ball rather than playing a passing game.
The Blockers are going to be some of your stars, with that 4 strength they’ll be able to make some gaps for you to play through.
As this version of the team is relatively new it’s hard to say with certainty how this team should be played, but it does look like they’re currently doing well.
Next up we have the Hybrid teams. These are the ones who go Bash versus a Finesse team and go Finesse versus a Bash team. Teams like this are great to start with as it gives you get to learn both styles. Often these teams are split with some players being Bash players and others being Finesse.
Our first team is out of the core box, the Imperial Nobility. You do get a full set of positional out of the box which is great, you also have an Ogre in the starter box which rounds it out perfectly. The Bodyguards aren’t going to get pushed around as they have Stand Firm, and have a good shot at taking an opponent down with the Wrestle ability. So they’re making a solid defensive line along with the Ogre. You have a Thrower with Ag 3+ and Pass, so you can play a bit of a passing game. The stars of the team by intention are the Noble Blitzers, these are move 7 with Block so they can dish out some damage but they also have Catch so you can use them as receiver. With Ag 3 on your Throwers and Blitzers, you’re probably better off just going for a hand off, but the option is there.
The other team from the core box is the Black Orcs, these are split into Black Orcs and Goblins with a Trained Troll as their big guy. You can have up to 6 Black Orcs and will likely take all of them, along with a Troll and 5 Goblins. Again, everything in the box you need.
The Black Orcs are all 4 strength but only move 4, so slow but dangerous. Brawler lets them reroll a both down while grab lets them control where push backs go, but they don’t start out with the classic block and dodge skills, so they’re mostly just relying on their strength.
Meanwhile, the Goblins Bruisers are move 6 with Ag 3 and Dodge, so they’re going to be your ball handlers hopefully shielded behind a screen of Black Orcs.
Similar to the Black Orcs, this team is split into the big Saurus players and the small Skink players. The Saurus have no skills but are strength 4, they do have Ag 5+ it’s unlikely they’ll ever end up with the ball. Unlike the black orcs they are fast with move 6, similarly, their big guy the Kroxigor is also move 6, and these are the slow part of your team.
The Skinks are 8 move and are your linemen, they have okay Agility of 3 with Dodge but don’t have a passing game with their pass of 4. With strength 2, 8 armour, and stunty, they’re quite fragile. There is also a chameleon skink who also has on the ball and shadowing, for 10k more you lose 1 move and get 3+ passing instead. Typically it’s worth taking at least one.
The goal with this team is to use the Saurus to hold off the other team while the Skinks score. A common tactic against them is to take out all the Skinks, leaving the remaining Saurus unable to carry ball at all. You can build a 6 Saurus, 1 Chameleon Skink, and 4 Skinks team out of the box, but in a league you’ll develop into the Kroxigor. Having one also opens up a few other starting roster options.
Last in our Hybrid teams list are the Humans, these are the poster boys for Hybrid. The thrower has Pass and Sure Hands with Pa 2+ possibly one of the best throwers in the game. The Catcher has Catch and Dodge with Ag 3+ and move 8. The Blitzer is move 7 with Strength 3 and Block. The numbers aren’t always great, but you have the skills to back them up. That pretty much sums up the team, average but with the skills you need.
How you play them will depend on the team you’re facing and the situation you’re in. They aren’t going to be able to out score an Elf team, or out bash an Orc team, but they will have the tools they need to switch the game they’re playing when they see an opening.
You can take an Ogre to improve the line of scrimmage and GW recently added the option of up to 3 Halfings on the team. The halflings bring two things to the team, they’re cheap and they have the right stuff so if you want to set up a throw team mate with the Ogre you can.
The box does not have all the positional you need. It has 2 of each the Catcher, Blitzer, and Thrower but you can have up to 4 catchers and 4 blitzers. It would also be nice to have at least one Halfling as an option.
The last set of teams are all in tier 3. They’re the stunty teams named after the skill which lets them ignore -1 penalties for being marked when dodging but also makes them more prone to injury if they go down. These are described in the core book as the most difficult teams to master and will often lose, but they also have some incredibly fun mechanics and can be a real laugh to play.
The first team are the Snotlings. These green skins are even smaller than Goblins. The box has enough for a full roster, that’s 2 pump wagons, 6 secret weapons (2 of each), and 12 snotlings. You will want to get your hands on 2 Trolls to add a little bit of backbone to the team.
The Trolls and Pump wagons give you some strength to get some targets down. Then it’s time for fouling, and a lot of fouling. The Swarming skill lets you get extra Snotlings on the table, but since they are snotlings they’re really easy to be removed. The pump wagons and Fungus Flinga are secret weapons, so part of the skill is knowing when to deploy your secret weapons and having enough bribes to stop them being sent off at the end of the drive.
As you might expect with a snotling team, it’s mostly madness.
The halfling team is a little more straight forward. They have Linemen with dodge, Catchers with catch, and Heftys who have Fend to hold a line. They also can take 2 Treemen which is where the real power in this team is. Everything is slow though, the halflings are all 5 move while the Treemen are move 2.
Because the halfling team is so cheap, a common tactic is to fill out the roster but leave 400 gold free to be spend on a star player like Deeproot Strongbranch and inducements like the Halfing Master Chef. With the Master Chef, at the start of each half you roll 3 dice and for every 4+ you gain a reroll and your opponent loses a reroll!
No matter how you spin it, this is just a hard team to play. The box has all the haltings you need, but you definitely should be getting those two Treemen to go along with them.
Like the snotting team, the Goblin team has a lot of Secret weapons to balance. They have Bomma, Looney, Fanatic, Pogoer, ‘Ooligan, and Doom Divers. So it’s mayhem on the pitch. They also get to take two Trolls which keeps the opposing team honest. The box only has Goblins, so you’ll need to get the secret weapons and trolls separately.
Weirdly enough the Ogre team also counts as a stunty team, that’s because the Ogres only make up part of the team and the majority are actually Gnoblars who are a breed of snotlings. You can have 5 Ogres and 1 Runt Punter who is an Ogre with Kick Team Mate rather than Throw Team Mate. Unfortunately all the Ogres have Bonehead, which means there’s always a 1 in 6 roll they just won’t do anything. The box has enough for 3 Ogres and one runt Punter, along with 12 Gnoblars so you’re missing 2 Ogres for the full roster.
The Ogres will have a lot of punch, but they are unreliable and eventually the dice will betray you. The Gnoblars will have to do all the work handling the ball, but with Ag 3 and no ball handling skills, that will be tricky.
Legends & Alliances
And that’s it, all the teams GW currently have in production.
There are four teams from the Teams of Legends: Chaos Dwarves, High Elves, Tomb Kings, and Vampires. These are all teams that don’t currently have models but once did and have legacy rules. Eventually we can expect these rules to be updated and new models released as happened with Norse and Amazons.
There are also three alliance teams: Underworld Denizens, Chaos Renegades, and Old World Alliance. These are all teams with models from different teams. For example, the Underworld Denizens have Goblins, Snotlings and Skaven, the Chaos Renegades have Humans, Goblins, Orcs, Skaven, and Dark Elves, while the Old World Alliance have Humans, Dwarves, and Halflings. These once had boxes but they’re out of print currently and they’re the sort of teams you put together after you’ve already got a few other teams under your belt.
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