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