Hello sports fans! And magic fans too, I guess. Today, I feel like a very lucky boy indeed because Games Workshop have sent me a copy of the brand new Dungeon Bowl game to review and I am super, mega, wonderfully excited. Blood Bowl is one of my favourite games ever, and Dungeon Bowl, which replaces the gridiron with a network of magical rooms and portals is a legendary variant of the game that I am so happy to see brought back. If you thought Blood Bowl was crazy, wait until you give Dungeon Bowl a try.
For this article, I’m going to be doing a bit of a straight up unboxing, but then I’ll take you for a whistle stop tour of some of my favourite bits of the rulebook, and I’ll tell you a little bit more about the team I’m going to be putting together to play this game. Now, get your foam-dome hats on, find your big foam finger, and let’s get ready to *finds out the phrase “lets get ready to rumble” is owned by the WWE and they are very litigious when it comes to its use*…play ball! (phew)
I will confess when the latest edition of Blood Bowl came out, I wasn’t in love with the illustration style, but it really has grown on me now. It gives this weird little alternative universe of the Warhammer Worlds its own identity, and the Dungeon Bowl set fits very nicely into this brand. And it’s a lovely, glossy box too – the sort of thing you’d expect from G-dubz. So we can say that the box looks great, now let’s rip that top cover off!
Sprues! Lovely, lovely sprues. I do hope we’re past the days of hiding sprues in a separate box because it really does make all the difference to see them front and centre when one takes the lid off a fresh new set. My favourite reveal by far, and while only one of these six sprues shows anything new, it still makes it a wonderful gateway into the box. That new sprue features the components key to the Dungeon Bowl experience – treasure chests and portals. Just seeing these here takes me back to, and reminds me wonderfully of, the mayhem that this game can inspire (though I still have a minor fear of opening treasure chests thanks to this game – stupid booby traps).
One might argue that the lack of new miniatures in this box could be seen as a let down, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Sure, we like shiny, new things (people who do this hobby seem to share about 95% of their DNA with magpies), but we are getting new teams here, and the familiarity of these kits will come as a comfort when descending into the magical dungeons of this game. So while I could see it as a downside, I really don’t think it is here – everything about this feels very new (and yet oddly familiar to us older fans) anyway.
And here are those familiar sprues in not so familiar settings or colours. Beneath the components needed for the game, we have our teams: Ogres and Dwarves rendered in luminous coral (that’s pinky-orange to the uninitiated), while the Skaven and Dark Elves are wearing a fetching and vibrant purple. I think this is a really nice touch for this game which features very dark boards, and I know people who have limited vision will appreciate these colour choices if they want to get playing straight away.
Then we have the divider that separates the sprues from the books. Not really much more to say about it so let’s get that to one side.
The rulebook is chunkier than I thought it would be. Happily, you don’t need to own Blood Bowl before cracking on with Dungeon Bowl – all the rules for this iteration of the game are in this book, and that’s great. The book itself is full of great illustrations and has been put together to those usual high standards you’d expect from Games Workshop. We’ll look at this book a little bit more later in this post, so what other pages of things do you get?
Well, there are the assembly instructions (always useful) and, wonderfully, a cheat sheet – a must have, especially for new players and those who will forget rules constantly and get them confused with regular Blood Bowl (i.e. Me). You are allowed to fine me 10,000 gold pieces if at any point I try to do a weather roll – this will happen.
When we lift the cardboard out, we find our bases, some more vibrantly colourful Blood Bowl dice that match the team colours, and the boards. The boards are really lovely, with their thematic and charming illustrations set on thick card with a very pleasing satin-like finish, they are just lovely. You’ve got your dugouts too, but the rooms are the real stars of this box – a great headliner to hide beneath everything else as a final reveal.
In regards to the box, I like everything about it. I always try and find something even a little negative in my reviews, just to emphasise balance and honesty, but I can’t with this one. It may down to the fact that I’m super excited for this game, but I’m seeing nothing but win here. Everything is top quality, the minis are great (even if they’re not new), the boards are stunning and the rulebook is nice and chunky too. Well done to the teams who helped bring Dungeon Bowl back!
A Little More About The Book
This book is very good at not presuming that the person who purchased this set already knows all the ins and outs of the Blood Bowl setting. Dungeon Bowl uses the majority of the rules that long time BB players will be familiar with, but there are some very important distinctions that help to make this a truly magical game. It’s worth any Blood Bowl player reading all of this book very carefully because it will be like 90% the same as Blood Bowl and then something will catch your eyes that’s different. From the Treasure chests and Portals which are obvious, to not needing to worry about weather, or getting knocked into the fans. It’s also key for everyone to remember how important that first touchdown is, because it will be the only touchdown – first to score wins, so no “oh, I’ll get them on the next drive” thoughts.
One section of the book that has had me engrossed is the section detailing what happens in each of the different dungeon rooms. Each room in Dungeon Bowl has different rules, you see. Yes, you heard me. Each room is governed by the nature of the room and this can lead to some very tactical thinking and hilarious disasters too. You might try and strike it rich in The Treasure Room, or ensure you have a presence in the sewer where any players there gain the ‘Disturbing Presence’ rule, and you can even have a food fight in the kitchen. This is going to be so much fun.
If you think Dungeon Bowl is to Blood Bowl what 3D Chess is to Chess, you’d be wrong. It’s actually what 3D Chess that’s on fire and everyone’s falling over and laughing half the time is to Chess. So much of that comes down to these rooms. There are lots of other enjoyable rules that go to make this game a great deal of fun, but you’ll soon learn that it’s all about location, location, location.
The other variable that will throw off any seasoned player is the make-up of the teams. Orcs and Humans teaming up will look very strange to many of us, but when you read through the rosters, you can see how it all makes sense. It’s bonkers, but it’s sense-making bonkers. I already know what team I’m going to be putting together because I a) came up with a pun name that’s wonderfully nerdy, and b) I found the college of magic that really speaks to me – The College of Beasts.
So the team I’m taking will look like this:
2x Team Rerolls
Everything has horns! So I’m calling it Round The Horn and they’ll all have names like Rambling Syd Rumpo, Julian, Sandy, Dame Celia Molestrangler… Basically, if you’re a fan of 1960s BBC radio comedies, you’ll be enjoying a sensible chuckle right now. And if not, well, you should be. And the fact that they all have horns and so tackle super hard makes them even greater in my beardy eyes. As with Blood Bowl, in Dungeon Bowl, I am rarely focussed on the ball. It’s also an excuse to try and hunt down this Oldhammer cutie to act as a manager:
So, in summary, if you like Blood Bowl but wish it could be crazier, weirder and slightly different, this is the game for you. If you’ve never played a Blood Bowl style sort of game before, I would still probably suggest getting the basic game and trying out life on the Gridiron first with a more traditional team. Dungeon Bowl can be a bit full on for newer players, so that’s a reminder to all of us veterans to be good and patient teachers when introducing the uninitiated. And if you like try Blood Bowl, enjoy it, and wish that it could be nightmarishly hilarious and full of even more mayhem, Dungeon Bowl is absolutely the game for you.
I cannot wait to get going with this game, and I’m only two Pestigors (called Daphne Whitethigh and Seamus Android – again, listen to Round the Horne) from being able to field an unpainted version. And painting them will be great too – can you imagine the basing options!? Pick a room (or several) and work to that. This gets a bog foam-thumbs up from me, and I hope to get playing very soon indeed. Onwards!