Blood Bowl “The Losing Streak”

Blood Bowl “The Losing Streak”

This post is regarding what one might best call a “Losing Streak” in the game of Blood Bowl. Just what does it mean to lose repeatedly during League play.

It’s an odd one for me, as typically I have just as much fun losing in a game as I do winning. I enjoy the social aspect of getting together and having some fun. That’s more important to me than min/maxing my turns and being super competitive.

In our recent Blood Bowl (Fumbbl) tournament, I experienced the “losing streak” feeling. I’ve heard podcasters talk about how they became mildly depressed when hitting a really bad run in Blood Bowl. Sure, it’s not always fun to lose at a game, but I thought they were exaggerating. This time I think I felt just what they were trying to describe. A genuine depression over losing repeatedly. It was a very strange feeling.

I had won our last friendly tournament, so I figured I would do well in the next. The beginning started out okay, but then things started to go poorly. In the middle of the tourney, I started to lose game after game. Subsequently my ego started to drop more and more. I felt like I was doing worse than a beginner coach. I seriously doubted myself each game, which probably made things worse. I just needed to win one game and started to beg the other coaches to just give me a shot (half jokingly). I was a mess. Ironically, this didn’t affect me other than in regards to the game. But I pretty much just felt like I was a Blood Bowl loser, with no hope.

So how does the guy who laughs as he loses in most games, turn into a groveling, depressed wreck of a man?

Here are some reasons as to why this might happen:

Playing Online: Our Blood Bowl tourney is played online via a system called “Fumbbl”. Unfortunately we don’t use voice or video chat when playing, and even sometimes then, it’s really hard to gauge people’s emotions and inner thinkings when meeting online. Is your opponent laughing merrily as they decimate your team or do they feel genuinely bad that they just killed your best player? A sense of any empathy is missing from our online interactions.

Investment: You build your Blood Bowl team from the base line and slowly work them up over time. Players will die as you go, it’s part of the game. Most coaches try not to get too attached to individual players because of this. But the team itself is where things can go really bad. Lose some expensive players and continue to lose games, and you won’t have the money to replace those players. This leads to a downward spiral as you continue to lose. Also if you can’t ‘level’ key players, then you won’t be a competitive against other well developed teams. Which means losing even more games.

 

 

Random Failure: Honestly, Blood Bowl is one of the most unforgiving games I’ve ever played. I’m sure psychologists would have a field day evaluating people who like the game. Most of us question why at different times.

In Blood Bowl, you get to do a whole turn’s actions until you fail a crucial roll (drop the ball, fail a pass, etc.). This means you could punish the other team mercilessly, blocking with all 11 players. Or you might have a turn that your first activation is more 1 player an extra square, end up rolling a 1 on a d6. Which indicates a trip, then you roll an injury result, and could end up killing himself. All the other things you had planned to do on that turn, such as protecting the ball from the other team, blocking a key player, etc. are now forfeit. As failing that one roll, results in a “turnover”.

For the most part, odds are not good when rolling dice in Blood Bowl. Most actions seem to be weighted towards you failing. Even the above example of gaining an “extra square of movement”, which is one of the easiest feats to pull off in the game (2 or better on a d6), has a 17% chance of failure!

Here’s a fairly typical scene in Blood Bowl. It’s my turn, I move most of my guys into position. Players are lined up to stop the opposition, just in case this plan should fail. One of my guys picks up the ball. He rolls to pick up, success. He then moves down the field to where I have my Thrower waiting. He rolls to Hand Off the ball to the Thrower. Once again, a success. So far, so good. But the chances of my Thrower passing the ball to my ‘receiver’ are not good at this range. So, he decides to move up closer. Get him in position. Check weather, possible interceptions, range, roll…the pass succeeds! Oh, but now the receiver has to roll to catch the ‘accurate’ pass! He rolls, he fails…but wait, I have a team reroll left for this turn! He rolls again…and catches the pass! The crowd goes wild! He starts dashing for the end zone, but he’s running out of steam and has to push himself to move one extra square into the end zone. Make a “Go For It!” roll….all I need is anything but a 1….

Depending on the outcome of that last die roll, I could end up scoring, killing my own player, dropping the ball into the end zone, possibly planting the ball somewhere close enough that the opposing team picks it up and gets it down field. As you can imagine, failing that one roll after all that work, is quite a let down.

 

 

Game Duration: add to these other factors, that Blood Bowl can be a long game. On Fumbbl, where all the calculations and most of the rules are handled by the application, we usually play 1 game in about 1.5 hours. In tabletop, a game will typically take us 3- 4 hours.

 

 

Win Good/ Lose Bad: There is a tendency in Blood Bowl to have a runaway winner. Being a two player competitive game, most times one person will win and the other will lose. Sometimes there are ties. I find the game is often a lot like Risk, where one guy has amassed a super powerful army towards the end and runs around rolling dice, gleefully smashing his hopeless opponents. This often happens in Blood Bowl where one team might be much stronger than the other. As your players start to get crushed by the opposition, your defense rapidly dwindles if you didn’t have the money for sideline players. Many times I’ve faced a stronger team and ended up fielding a mere 3 players against their 11.

 

Conclusion

It’s interesting because I’ve been impacted by many of these variables in other games. The best example is roleplaying games, where I might spend a good amount of time creating the character. Spend even more time developing their personality, relationships, and growing their power (levelling). Yea, it sucks when that character dies, but then I make a new one. RPG sessions often ran longer than a Blood Bowl game for us as well.

I think with a Blood Bowl tourney, there is the other factor of being tied to a crippled team. Your team could be the biggest losers, but you are expected to keep playing them and make the best of it. Even though they might lose time and time again. When you’re on the opposite side, it feels great winning. So hopefully you would get to experience both, as I have.

As I said, it was an odd feeling. Which quickly went away once I started over with the next set of teams. How about you? Have you ever played a game and got seriously bummed about it?

9 thoughts on “Blood Bowl “The Losing Streak”

  1. A great piece even though I’m not a gamer. Had I thought about ever be coming one this article has served to remind me that I am a sore loser and therefore am best avoiding such things. Can’t afford the hike in blood pressure at my age! I admire the fact that you keep smiling, keep it up (smiling that is not losing)!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks TIM, I find the intense concentration in gaming helps to take my mind off things like work. Painting can do the same, in a different way….in that my mind seems to just switch off. Not sure which is better, brain overload or shutdown?

      I think of the stress and conflict of games, sometimes helps people to bond together and laugh about facing the same challenge. The only time I laugh during painting is when I realize I did something so stupid that my only outlet is to chuckle at myself. 😉

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  2. I think this is quite telling on why so many have a love/hate relationship with the game. I’ve had more than my share of these experiences but again I think it is closely tied to me choosing teams from looks not skill. I mean I’ve played gobbos for ages!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea, I think I forgot to mention the unbalanced aspect of the game as well. I told this story early on, but the first time I played the game I took Halflings (link below).

      If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to pick a really bad team. Even if you do know what you’re doing, it’s easy to pick a really bad team. We often take teams that we haven’t played, because it can be a fun challenge to figure out how to make them work. If you can’t figure out the team though, it can be torture trying to play them for a ‘season’.

      Blood Bowl is certainly a love/hate game, and it is definitely not for everyone.

      https://doubledowndice.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/rookie-stories-whats-green-and-red-all-over/

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Outside of one-off games where I’ve played many (but not all) teams, I’ve only ever played a couple of them for any length of time in leagues/campaigns. Those were Orcs (several times) and Chaos Dwarfs (a couple of times). The extra armour is what makes the team able to function over the time. Sure, they’re slower and can’t pick up the ball as well, so the main focus of my play tends to be “krumpin da uvver teem fer a bit”, along with the cage and other classic tactics, avoiding needing to dodge at all costs and basically playing a slow but brutal game, avoiding as many risks as possible since I know I just can’t compete with the faster teams to score.

    I’m also pretty upfront with my opponents that one of my main objectives is to put their players out of the game, but also hope I don’t cause any deaths or long-term injuries. I guess that wouldn’t come across in the videogame or Fumbbl. Certainly not nearly as charming as when I explain it to you across the pitch face to face.

    But yeah, Bloodbowl, like many, many multiplayer miniatures campaign games has that “rich get richer, poor get poorer” issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea, I’ve had a couple teams that I had to outright retire in tabletop. When they added the Journeyman rule, things weren’t as bad. I’ve also had some teams in our recent Fumbbl games that turned completely around. My Dark Elf team lost their Witch Elf early, and things plummeted. I was able to buy a Blitzer eventually and they made a major comeback. So usually things shouldn’t be completely hopeless with the new rules.

      Taking Orcs or Chorfs is pretty solid. Managing risk is key to the game after all, and the passing game is the riskiest of them all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That has actually lead to some of the more memorable and fun plays that I’ve had. When I unexpectedly gone for a long pass with my orcs. If I can manage to get a Lineman out and behind the opponents team and then go for that long throw. The opponent tends to appreciate it because it’s unexpected and also fun and let’s face it it doesn’t often work either. But when it does even they typically can’t help but congratulate me on it. Now you’ve got me wanting to play some Blood Bowl again!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Okay, I’ll bring the beers over, haha!

          Seriously it’s those crazy play moments that I think most B.B. players live for. It’s like a bad gambling addiction, waiting for the big payoff. I’ve never been able to successfully explain that exciting part of the game to people. And it’s doubly difficult when they get bad dice and don’t see it.

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