We Don’t Go To Skavenholm: Blood Bowl 2

The Warhammer version of The Straight Story is quite the thing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Skaven are the greatest of the Warhammer Fantasy races. Just this morning, I took some time out to write a series of furious letters to the BBC regarding their refusal to fund my all-Skaven series of Dickens adaptations. Our Mutual Pestilens is a surefire hit and Tiny Verminkin would help our new Christmas Carol to dethrone the Muppets.

At least Blood Bowl 2 [official site] will treat Skaven with the respect they deserve. Out later this month, it’s a game sure to take up more time than I can reasonably spare and a new video shows dwarves vs skaven. Surely the vermintide will secure victory?

Just in case you haven’t watched yet, I’ll plant my reaction below this block of text, in which publishers Focus describe the two sides:

“To sum up: the slow and tough Dwarfs, versus the fast and scrawny Skaven!

“Albeit slow, Dwarfs make great Blood Bowl players. They’re compact, tough, well-armoured, and have a stubborn knack of refusing to die! Most successful Dwarf teams work to the principle that if they can massacre all the other team’s best players and wear down the rest, then there won’t be anybody left to stop them scoring touchdowns! Their Deathroller, a real mobile siege engine, helps greatly with this tactic, as it is able to crush any enemy regardless of its size. However, the use of such a machine is strictly forbidden, and the referee will always end up sending the player (and his ride) off.

“Skaven, on the other hand, show just the opposite traits. Save for their Rat Ogre, they’re not so tough, frail, but rather agile and extremely fast. Many an opponent has been left in the starting blocks as fast-moving Skaven players scamper through a gap in the line and run in for a lightning fast touchdown. Make sure your Skaven players keep away from the opponent though – especially if they’re hard-hitting players such as the Dwarfs – or you’ll be likely to end up the match with much less players than you started it…”

I guess the clue was in the header image. The dwarves win this one and it’s not even close. I played enough of the previous Blood Bowl release to have a Pavlovian response to the turnover GONG. Not strictly Pavlovian, in that I don’t salivate – I shudder. It’s a punishing game, with small margins for error and tense dice rolls. I’m looking forward to the new edition, for which a multiplayer beta opens next week. Access to that beta is tied to pre-orders, as are two of the playable races. In a Deus Ex style twist, you can augment your game by selecting one of two races if you pre-order. Boo, I say. I’m happy to pay for extra races as DLC down the line but I don’t want any to be excluded from my game.

Edit: Both races will be available as DLC – the preorder choice is being treated as a bonus, free piece of DLC rather than an exclusive.


  1. Iajawl says:

    “In a Deus Ex style twist, you can augment your game by selecting one of two races if you pre-order. ”
    One sentence just killed my interest in this game. Reducing the quantity of playable races is problematic to start with. Locking up some of the few remaining playable races feels like they want the same level of torrenting that Deus Ex is certain to receive.

    • Kevashim says:

      “I’m happy to pay for extra races as DLC down the line but I don’t want any to be excluded from my game.”. Does this mean that whichever pre-order race you don’t pick will never be available to unlock in the future at all???

      • SirRoderick says:

        No, they will be avaiable as DLC. Thing that happened according to them is that the release date was shifted back in order to properly finished the game, but because they were developing extra races in tandem with member of the art team and such (who are otherwise unemployed), the DLC finished before the game was ready. So they put one of the two races in as a pre-order bonus in ADDITION to being DLC.

        • Kevashim says:

          Great, thanks. I was completely misled by that line in the article then!

        • Koshinator says:

          I was just logging in to say the exact same thing.. Yeah, to the uninformed onlooker it looks like a bad thing.. but it’s really just an unexpected bonus if you preorder.

        • Iajawl says:

          Wake up. The roster is already cut in half. This is not reasonable practice. Releasing non balance breaking cosmetic DLC all day long would be fine. Releasing each race at $5 a pop isn’t reasonable. Also kinda makes the game cost over 100 USD once its finished.

          • SirRoderick says:

            Same goes for the original if you bought the expansions, as well as many other games with similar expansion based content. It’s a lot of work to redo all the teams for a new game, I don’t really expect them to keep the full roster out of the gate.

            I do understand where you’re coming from, I just don’t agree we’re entitled to what you’re asking for per definition.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      As someone who owns two versions of the first game and was excited by BB2 I’m not pre-ordering because of their DLC at launch policy.

      I’ll pick it later in a bundle, sale or from a CD key site.

  2. Iajawl says:

    Just did a wee bit of thinking and came back. If RPS really wanted to do PC gamers a solid you wouldn’t cover games with such blatantly anti-consumer practices.

    • SirRoderick says:

      Oh no, not at all. If you’re taking the point that these practices need to be removed (despite the explanation provided by the devs that I reproduced above I would still agree) you should DEFINITELY cover these games. Negatively, with express condemnation of these practices.

    • Everblue says:

      Given that the BB1 servers have been going for 6 years and I have about 2500 hours into the various editions, I have no problem with being charged for DLC (hell, I’d even pay a subscription). That said, I would certainly not gate all the teams at the beginning. Going for 20+ teams available in BB1 to 10 in BB2 does not make me want to switch leagues from the start, and many of the players in my leagues feel the same.

      • Everblue says:

        To clarify – a better DLC policy would be to sell pitches, stadium art, team skins and cheerleader/coach models, etc. Team skins in particular would definitely sell really well for not much programming effort.

        • SirRoderick says:

          I don’t think it’s that simple, making the teams with all the rules and mechanics working, animations and sound recordings etc. clearly takes a lot of development time. If they included all races, they would be taking MUCH longer, incurring costs all the time to keep development going. I get why they don’t do that.

          I just hate that my two fave teams are the DLC ones…

    • MisterFurious says:

      Then they wouldn’t be able to cover any games.

      • Iajawl says:

        This is a curious standpoint. I play plenty of computer games and I haven’t come across this many with such a hostile consumer policy. Perhaps you are referring to so called AAA games ?

  3. Spacewalk says:

    What’s a Skaven?

    • SirRoderick says:

      A large rat person with a tendency towards backstabbing and spreading plague. Adorable things :P

  4. Beandip says:

    I am utterly devastated and disappointed that they have changed the commentators. Those new voice actors are disgustingly bad, the original Jim and Bob resonate with all the Blood Bowl board game illustrations and stories, they had character, charm, and depth. Those new ones are seriously making me reconsider purchasing.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Wow, there IS someone who doesn’t disable the commentators forever (which still, of course, doesn’t disable them entirely, because Cyanide don’t give a shit). I thought it was all a myth!

      • cpt_freakout says:

        I eventually started to think of their voices as an ambient soundtrack…

        Yeah, I could’ve listened to so many albums…

  5. blastaz says:

    I’m not sure about this sequel yet, what is the point of it?

    The previous game pretty much nailed the board game, what do you actually get here?

    I guess I’ll wait for the rest of the races to first come out and then get bundled together for a reasonable price before upgrading…

    • EhexT says:

      Improved graphics (minor upgrade), improved UI (could have been easily done in the previous version if they wanted to). The rules are (one hopes) still 1:1 BB, that’s their selling point after all, so there’s no change there compared to the previous one either.

      It’s a thoroughly unnecessary sequel – the reason it exists is so they can sell a game and all it’s dlc a second time.

      • HopeHubris says:

        I would have liked it to be less of a 1:1 translation, there are a lot of things you can do with a video game that you can’t do with the miniatures version. Plus, there is still the first one that already did it.

      • mgardner says:

        Early on, they also claimed they were improving the single player AI, and allowing the different teams to have different scripts/behavior (I’ll believe it when I see it). Compare this to BB1, where all teams mostly cage (even the elves) and try to set up passing plays (even the dwarves).

        Also, there are rumblings on the official forums that they are NOT strictly adhering to the latest rule set, but making changes that don’t seem to make a lot of sense. For example, removing a skill from the game, but seemingly not changing the point value of an all-star player that used to have it. Also player aging which may or may not be optional.

      • klops says:

        But this time they didn’t do the real-time version :D

      • Elusiv3Pastry says:

        The main selling point for me is the built-in league manager. I hate having to rely on external tools to make a game a complete experience (I’m looking at you, Elite: Dangerous).

      • Replikant says:

        Also, there’s a lot of bugs which have never been fixed.
        Having 12 players on the field during setup. Not being able to put a specific player on the field. Missing players.
        Lots of bugs with hypnotic gaze.
        The fact that it is usually not possible to reconnect after a lost connection is really annoying.
        And so forth.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      My understanding is that BB2 will also be accessible to people who don’t have a doctorate of warhammerology. The rules may not have changed from the physical game, but RPS ran an interview with one of the devs a while back in which he acknowledged that the esoteric rule set and the deluge of information in the tutorials turned off a lot of gamers outside of the traditional Games Workshop audience. I assume that the revamped UI will help correct this issue in BB2, but I don’t know if that’s the full extent of the fix.

      • SirRoderick says:

        If the game manages to get a larger playerbase I’m all for it!

  6. Jarmo says:

    The dwarves don’t win in that video. It’s just the first half. The match is far from over.