Blood Bowl + Endurance

TL;DR
Add hit points to Blood Bowl, replacing the injury system. This would cut down on the highly random but also influential injury system. Reduces risk early on and hence should incentivise more toe-to-toe action; but late in the game attrition will become a major factor.


Blood bowl is a mostly enjoyable strategy game. The fundamental mechanics are excellent: each action is a move or block, plus one crucial blitz; the possibility of a turnover adds spice. Dice rolling / RNG are no problem if you are used to it, and if you accept that even the best sports stars make mistakes. 4 stats, different races, different players, skill progression, all allow different styles of play. The famous possibility of injury or death makes each match meaningful. The ball play and the football setting are almost unique for strategy games. The only aspect of the game that sometimes disappoints and can occasionally ruin a game is the injury system. In a nutshell, it is too unpredictable. You can plan for a failed pick up, but planning for a KO, injury, or death to your key player each turn can be a drag. If the removals are front-loaded for one team the game soon becomes one-sided and too susceptible to permanent damage to the line-up, ruining an afternoon session. An option is to ignore or delay an early CAS to keep things interesting; there are relatively few board games where some unlucky dice in the first turn can almost decide a 2hr+ game.

My BB group and I are going to try a set of house rules to address this (BB+EN). The idea is to keep as much of the mechanics as we can, but replace the injury rolls with a points-based system for working out injuries. It sacrifices the simplicity of the armour/injury/CAS rolls, but will add a bit more stability to the game. We aren't convinced this is necessarily a good idea – it may bog the game down, and possibly lose the essential flavour of BB - and so would like to hear of any experience with similar house rules, and any refinements the community might suggest. There has been discussion about this after I posted this to the Blood Bowl reddit, where to summarise most comments were that it sounded OK with a few bugs straightened out, but added too much book keeping to the table top version. On this forum lets pretend the computer takes care of that.

The main point is the addition of a 5th stat, endurance (EN). Endurance is reduced in-game, mainly by blocks, but also GFIs, pushes, trips, etc. On any action where a player's endurance is reduced, ends below 0, and the player ends prone, that player must make an injury roll on the standard table. Endurance is gained by spending turns off the field, at half time, and from an Apo. Until EN reaches 0, there is essentially no chance of being removed, but once 0 is reached the player is in serious danger while they are on the field.

The numbers we're using start from the following assumption: a human lineman can withstand 6 knockdowns from another human lineman before reaching "critical" territory, where a removal (KO or CAS) is possible. There are 16 turns, as a lineman you would be hoping to receive the occasional push and deal out some blocks, and hence around half the time not be getting knocked down. Withstanding 6 knockdowns should just about get you to the end of the game, unless they have a big guy or a chainsaw...

Thus we start a human lineman at 60 EN, with a standard pow from ST 3 v AV 8 doing 10 damage to EN. The rules changes/additions below were decided with reference to this standard.

Block results are decided in the usual way. However instead of an armour roll we have the following.
- basic damage of a knockdown: 10 + (ST x 2) - AB (see Armour Bonus below)
- Note that ST contributes to the damage; this feels right but could require balancing
- Armour bonus (AB) calculation: (AV - 5) x 2
- AV7 gives AB 4. AV8 gives AB 6. AV9 gives AB 8. This amount is subtracted from most block rolls.
- Examples:
- a lineman with ST 3 vs AV 8 does 10 + 6 - 6 = 10 damage.
- A black orc vs a skaven linerat: 10 + 8 - 4 = 14 damage.
- ST 5 vs Halfling: 10 + 10 - 2 = 18 damage.
- Stuns: although removals are not possible until the victim is reduced to 0, stuns are still possible. For each knockdown there is a chance to stun. The attacker makes a roll, and if successful the defender is stunned for a turn.
- Attacker roll (D6):
- 6-15 dmg, 6+
- 16-25 dmg, 5+
- 25+ dmg, 4+
- hence, on a normal block lino v lino, there is a 1/6 chance of a stun. This compares to BB rules where there is a 28% chance (9+) to at least stun on a knockdown. Big guys often get a 1/3 chance to stun

Starting endurance
- From what we have worked out so far, we are setting the starting endurance at 60 + ((ST – 3) x 10) for most players, i.e. big guys start with 80, BOBs & CWs start at 70, linemen at 60, ST2 catchers at 50. Stunties get a further -10 starting penalty. There are a few exceptions which I won't list here, but, for instance, clearly Fanatics would start closer to 40 than 100.

Notes:
- A big guy has a good chance to remove a stunty after two blows (or a teammate can finish them off).
- A lineman getting smashed each turn by a saurus will last 5 rounds rather than 6.
- A treeman, with EN 90 and AB 10 is going to take concerted effort to remove.

There will obviously be an impact on some aspects of strategy. On the one hand there is less chance to remove an opponent which discourages blocking, on the other hand since there is less chance of yourself being removed you can be more aggressive, at least early on. Stalling a cage by making contact is not as terrible a proposition. Dodge teams can expect their players to last the first half. By midway through the 2nd there will start being some removals, possibly in a bunch. Bash teams have to decide between focusing their blocks (esp. blitzes) on one player to remove them more quickly, or spread the damage out and go for total numbers dominance in turn 12/13. On the other hand, snipers like wolves and WDs can be used more freely early on, as they can withstand a few blocks in return; towards the end of the game, however, they need to be treated with the usual care to avoid injury.

Mathematically, the point is that under BB+EN rules for the first n blocks there is 0% chance of a removal, but once the critical point is reached for a player, the chance of a removal becomes very high. Under BB rules the chance of a removal stays “constant” throughout the game.

More detail (Those who like removing the opponent might find the following of interest; the rest can skip this bit): In BB+EN, an ogre (with MB) bashing an av8 lino needs 4 pows to reduce him to 0, obtaining an injury roll. This works out at 4 pows gives a 42% chance to remove (8+ on injury roll). Under BB+EN rules, there is the continuous 42% chance to remove (and 100% to at least stun) after the first 4, hence an 80% chance to remove after 6 pows. Under normal BB rules, an ogre (+MB) v AV8 has a 42% chance (8+) to break armour, followed by a 42% chance to get a removal, = ~18% chance per knock down. This means after 4 knock downs there is a 55% chance of a removal (actually slightly better as I have not applied the MB to the injury roll). On each subsequent hit there is an 18% chance to remove. After 6 hits, there is a 70% chance of a removal.

Here's the changes to skills and other aspects.

Main skill changes.
- mighty blow: +4 damage per block
- claw: ignore AB in damage calculation
- chainsaw: 30 - AB dmg

Other ways of losing endurance:
- each GFI reduces EN by 2
- failed dodge, leap or GFI: 10
- 10 is the base value for pows (and hence other falls). Since in BB these trigger an armour roll, in BB+EN they have to have a reasonable penalty.
- As with pows, this amount of damage triggers a stun roll (and possible injury if <0 EN).
- failed GFI into blitz is either 10 or pow damage, whichever is higher
- a push is 2 (we wonder whether this should be a push is dmg=ST, no AB)
- stay upright on a both down: 2
- down (skull or both down): normal pow damage
- wrestle: 2 each
- (being on the front line is tough, even if you aren't getting knocked down)

Surfing:
- Pow damage + 4, ignore AB
- (need to consider what the calculation should be for chain surfs)

KO box:
- each full turn (of the player's team) spent on the side lines recovers +5 EN.
- bloodweiser adds +5 per turn in the box
- there is no recover from KO roll; instead, once back above 0 the player is awake and joins the substitutes
- At half time each player gets +20 EN
- Apos work as before on injury rolls; “rejoin the subs” gives +20 EN
- when choosing reserves, a player with < 20 EN can optionally be left off the field, leaving < 11 on the field (unless that would leave less than 3 for the LoS).

Fouling:
- Damage: 10 + 2x#Assists - AB (+MB,Claw)
- After a foul, roll D6. Roll 3+ or be sent off
- justification: in current BB rules, send offs occur on doubles; on a successful foul, there are 2x 1/6 chances of being sent off, ~=30% chance. Since all fouls are now successful, 1/3 is reasonable.
- Dirty player: +4 dmg to foul
- Sneaky git: +1 on send-off roll

SPP:
- For each 30 pts of damage dealt in blocks, gain 1 SPP (60 dmg ~= 1 lino off the pitch ~= 1CAS = 2SPP)
- CASs no longer give SPP
- this will make it easier to gain SPP on bash teams. This seems in the spirit of the BB2016 changes to MVP distribution.
- Statup: on a 10, +20 EN is an option.
- niggles as before, and additionally lose 5 EN permanently

Others:
- piling on: extra 6 + Strx2 damage. However the attacker suffers 4 in return for the fall (this is in the spirit of the BB2016 nerf)
- thick skull: helps with injury rolls as before. Gives a +1 on the post-block stun roll
- stunty: as before.
- horns, dauntless, multiple block: damage is wrt. modified ST
- stab: 10 + ST, +1 on injury roll if it causes one. Stun roll required
- regen: no CAS, +30 EN

last edited by rildonz

While I can understand the issue you're seeing (while not agreeing with it) this system would really put me off the game - that's too much detail & book-keeping for what is essentially a "beer & pretzel" game.

But if it scratches the itch for you and your group, then go for it

I suppose you should try to minimize the blocks done to you and maximize the blocks you give? I'm not sure what the problem is because half the time there actually is an injury you're fine at the end of the game AND you get a reroll if you don't like a result.

@shaggrath Agreed, obviously. The situation I dislike is when I maximise my blocks and knock over 4 enemies on the line, no armour breaks, or a stun if you like. They reply with a 1DB blitz which gets a KO. The temporary positional advantage of the 4 knockdowns is negligible compared the advantage of the removal, if we are at the beginning or middle of the drive. I've played the game the way its meant to be played (as you define it), but am at a disadvantage that I couldn't really have done anything about. A bad pick up roll is different, as I can try to cover that if I'm really worried about it.

The above situation does not happen all that often, of course. But it happens often enough, to my perception, to be a disincentive to play.

What I've realised is I don't mind the randomness of the 1DB KO (although my proposal would get rid of that), what I mind is that having maximised my blocks I don't get any guaranteed benefit from that down the line.

@darkson The book keeping is an issue, perhaps a deal breaker over-the-board. Such a system is trivial to follow using a computer, of course. If only I could find a developer ..

More seriously, re: the "beer & pretzel" comment. I suggest going by the number of teams in the cabalvision league compared to the others, that that is no longer true. It was designed as such, and the community is maintained by a committed group who still see it and play it as such. But the way most people, certainly almost anyone new to the game, experience it, is in the open or championship ladders. There's no face-to-face contact, games are played against random opponents of (essentially) random skill and TV. Teams can be played and developed as intensively as the player likes, not subject to the rounds of a league. Many of the comments on the forum are by new players complaining about attrition (due to lop sided injury rolls), but they are told the game was designed that way and isn't meant to be played the way they are playing it.

The point is, the beer&pretzel argument isn't convincing. The book-keeping argument is reasonable though, for table top play.

Your system looks definitely interesting and well-thought (could you also share url to the mentioned "reddit discussion"?). But I agree, even for a PC game, it adds a whole lot of additional mechanics to learn. For TT it will be a nightmare, it's basically complexity which BB has been trying to distance from for whole its history (just check some BB history articles on how the game looked like at edition 1 or 2..)

But the biggest issue with your system is that it seems to affect long-term attrition of agility/hybrid teams, and this is one of the main balance factors used to keep them on par with bashers. If you reduce their long term losses too much, together with short-term attrition, like in your case, they may start to dominate charts, as, in general, elves or rats are much better ball players than dorfs or chaos. What you propose may lead to a situation where elves or stunties sometimes won't be even seeing attrition at all.. It's a total no go, a sort of complicated variant of Rez, where even in-match attrition is removed. Elves and rats will be the unchallenged rulers of the pitch in such conditions. You also change a lost of status effect and skills...

I believe even @Plasmoid who often is criticized for changing what not needs to be changed doesn't go that far )) A chance of something like that be applied by Cyanide or GW is basically zero. Neither of them will overhaul the core mechanics to such extent, effectively throwing out all semblance of balance they've managed to achieve for 10+ years of tests and feedback analysis.

Sorry for reducing all your efforts to such primitive hacks, but may be something more plain and stupid could be tried instead, helping a bit with keeping your players on the pitch a bit longer (any of items provided below, or all of them)?

  1. Allow coach of an injured player to reroll injury with TRR (the usual limitations for TRRs still apply, i.e. one TRR per turn, only one re-roll attempt per each roll, except for the fact you can use TRR during other coach's turn this way (for example, during a block against your player), if you haven't used it during your turn before (or, for example, if you move first and you use TRR during your turn, you won't be able to use it during the opposing coach's turn to re-roll injury)). Now you can actually prepare for bad luck by managing your TRRs more strictly, or increasing their number before match (so you can get more of them if you think your next match will be casualties-heavy, and then remove excessive one after it to maintain low TV). Perhaps some additional limitations should be introduced here, to still make Apo a more specialized and effective way to treat Injuries. Say, you can't re-roll death with TRR at all, and long term injuries are just changed to KOs/transition to the reserves bench with TRRs (if what you roll during re-roll is NOT death or another long-term injury)? KOs are just changed to Stuns without additional rolls, as in case of Apo.

  2. If you would like to play the Endurance card, let's play it a bit differently. You seem to be especially concerned about allowing fragile teams to last at least the first half without much attrition, correct? The endurance could be a simple stat, the same for any type of a player, which only would allow him to still stay on the pitch for some time even in case of a fatal/severe wound. So, let's say each player has endurance of 2. On each KO or CAS they lose 1. They still roll for injury obviously, and it's actually applied to them (so if it's a stat loss it's immediately in effect, unless you were able to use Apo to reroll it) - yet if their endurance is still not 0, they are just stunned and are allowed to stay on the pitch till the end of the half when they are either drop dead or go to CAS/KO box (so at the end of the half anybody with Endurance less than 2 is removed). If during the same half they get another KO or CAS (Endurance gets to 0), they are removed immediately, and out of both effects they got from those 2 injury rolls the worst is applied to them (or should we apply both in such case?).
    This approach at least keeps the long term attrition aspect mostly intact (i.e. injury rates are not changed that much (still they are affected, as already effectively dead player will be able to accumulate additional blows which would go to another player under the current rules; it also will allow coach to play more risky game with some injured player, as he now knows he has nothing to lose, as he'll fire him anyway after the match due to -1 to ST or AG), it only allows injured players to stay on the pitch longer). Another option is to make it not the end of the half, but end of the current drive, if it will happen to favor agi teams too much. So at the end of the half/drive any previously KOed elf with Endurance 1 first drops to KO box, then rolls for recover are done for KO box, and it's quite possible he'll be able to get back to the pitch the next drive again. No such luck for those with long term injuries, of course.
    In any case, if you successfully re-roll injury with Apo, Endurance is not reduced and everything stays the same as before.

  3. The approach I mentioned here. But its purpose is to limit long-term attrition, and you seem to deal with short-term (within a match) attrition, i.e. "pitch clearing". Yet, while at it, your proposal also seems to reduce long term attrition, and does it in a hard to manage way (balancing your system will be a true hell on Earth, taking into account complexity of the game). If that's what you want to treat, a more clear and straightforward cap for injuries is, IMO, a better approach, and it can be tweaked and balanced much easier.

Of course what we are talking here about are home rules. I'm ready to bet my tooth that neither Cyanide, nor GW won't even try to listen to us here if it comes down to changing some mechanics, though for different reasons, perhaps ))

last edited by Mori-Mori

Have done some ninja-edits to previous lengthy post, sorry for that.

last edited by Mori-Mori

Regarding item 2): I would still make an exception for Secret Weapon players. They are quite powerful and specifically are designed to be very susceptible to removals. Their Endurance should be 1, perhaps, so they are removed on the first KO/CAS as before.

@rildonz said in Blood Bowl + Endurance:

certainly almost anyone new to the game, experience it, is in the open or championship ladders. There's no face-to-face contact, games are played against random opponents of (essentially) random skill and TV.

The point is, the beer&pretzel argument isn't convincing.

The many, many new players that have started since GW re-released the box game would disagree with you.

@rildonz I'm not sure why you think you should get an armour break after 4 blocks...i mean you could kill or cas a player on the first hit if you're lucky.

I can't speak for new players but I've only been playing a year and I know that you get better with practice. The system works and the more random things are the less skill comes into it. The skill is in positioning and odds playing but even then there are few guarantees and that's a good thing I think.

Thanks all for the comments. Here's the reddit discussion
https://www.reddit.com/r/bloodbowl/comments/798e2k/blood_bowl_endurance/

I'll try to summarise what I'm trying to address with BB as it currently stands. I think it is a successful game despite the injury system, not because of it. All the other parts are very engaging. I like both short and long term attrition. What I dislike is that there is no reward for bashing if you don't get those lucky armour break/injury rolls, while you opponent may make only one blitz per turn and get a removal.

I accept that what I've proposed seems too complicated for over the board. Online it might take some getting used to, but so do the rest of the rules of BB. Think of it this way: if a system like what I have proposed was the way it was, and someone said that's too complicated, lets just turn it into a random chance on each pow that you get removed, that proposal would be scorned (I think).

As Mori-Mori pointed out, playing at least the first half 11 on 11 would change the dynamics of the race balance, and dodging away may become too powerful. In the perfect world, from my perspective, the skills and stats would be rebalanced to allow the "more sensible" approach of an endurance system to be used. But that won't happen

@shaggrath Fair enough; I think its a bad thing when it comes to removals. I'd like to play the game where positioning becomes mostly about control of the line and stopping opponents from moving by basing them; but often basing is a bad decision because you could get instantly removed. Instead there is a lot of avoiding of opponents even by bash teams, until the final push. This seems a pity to me

@darkson There has been bigger take up of the new boxed set than Cyanide's game?

Its a very detailed proposal. Intelligent and smart in its maths and traits. Entertaining to read and chat about.

But I am with those who love it as it is. I cant see me liking it more with your proposal. And I am a Skaven player.

16 turns would not be enough with all that endurance around. And the game is long enough.

I've no idea, as I don't know the figures, though as BB (TT) is more difficult to get into (models, physical opponents) I'd imagine digital has more players.
But GW isn't concerned with the digital game, it's just more money from the rights, they're concerned with the TT game, as their business model is about selling figures.

Now, Cyanide could implement a complicated system like this, and it might work, but they've said all along they want this to be a digital version of the tabletop game (with their own house rules).
And then there's always the question on how many current digital players would want to play your version of "nearly abut not quite Blood Bowl".

Get COL with resurection +spp+gold like woodoomike keep pushing for and you ll see a change in the dynamic of how people play the game online. At least i am sold on the concept.

@dragonloup said in Blood Bowl + Endurance:

Get COL with resurection +spp+gold like woodoomike keep pushing for and you ll see a change in the dynamic of how people play the game online. At least i am sold on the concept.

I really wonder.. Perhaps some changes, yes, but observing this non-ending stream of "too much randomness/no skill is needed" complaints everywhere, I'm not that sure it will be enough to satisfy everybody ) Rez won't change the fact you can lose half of your team in the 1st half of the match, or reroll into 3 skulls too often etc

last edited by Mori-Mori

@mori-mori said in Blood Bowl + Endurance:

I really wonder.. Perhaps some changes, yes, but observing this non-ending stream of "too much randomness/no skill is needed" complaints everywhere, I'm not that sure it will be enough to satisfy everybody ) Rez won't change the fact you can lose half of your team in the 1st half of the match, or reroll into 3 skulls too often etc

The dice rolls is different subject. Everyone is equal in front of 1 dice randomness. It s pretty black and white you like it or you don t. The Rez solution is essentially to shift the state of mind from saving your team to winning the game as your team will be intact at the end of the match and on the long run i beleive it will help increase diversity at high tv. Yes you ll face bash team but you may face more super boosted ag team. Again it will depend how the "mass"of online player have fun (winning , bashing, team development ...) but i think the rez solution should sastisfy few type of players. Certainly not the purist but they have the table top, fumbl and bb2 private league option to find happiness. For the casual players like me it will make a difference

A couple of things to note in response to some of the comments.

I don't have a problem with losing players to being bashed, I just want justice for the number of blocks I throw. This suggestion is not about avoiding losing players; I play bash teams mostly, I like beating up the opposition, and don't mind taking it in return. But I'd like to know that the good play in turns 1-3 helps me later in the match. But as it stands, my attempt at attrition is still in the lap of the same Random god in turn 12 (unless a removal snowball has started for myself or the opposition).

Watching some good players on youtube (e.g. jimmy fantastic) the bash v bash games have very little bash in them, just stand offs with hoping for the better luck in the blitz-off. And the first turn injuries can decide the game, or at the very least, decide the enjoyment of the game.

To reaffirm: majority of blood bowl games are played online, the extra book keeping is not a problem, so it would be nice to see an overhaul that keeps its beauty and eliminates the most random/influential element of the game.

@rildonz said in Blood Bowl + Endurance:

To reaffirm: majority of blood bowl games are played online, the extra book keeping is not a problem, so it would be nice to see an overhaul that keeps its beauty and eliminates the most random/influential element of the game.

If you really hope for such overhaul made by Cyanide (you was talking about using it in your own TT league first), I would suggest you to leave all hopes behind right away 🙂 Partly because of reasons I mentioned here, mostly because such overhaul is a tremendous amount of work which change development course to a different direction of the main game's course, and Cyanide struggles to even resolve high priority issues with the current system and provide all contents related to it (where is muh Special Play cards again, and BB2016/DZ?). The only thing you can hope for are some slight optional slight changes to the main rules which somehow help with what you see as an issue so you could use them as home rules in your own league, but even this is unlikely to happen.

last edited by Mori-Mori

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