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Champions of Death


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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:33 AM

Late last year, Fantasy Flight Games announced the upcoming release of Sudden Death, a bone-breaking, pulse-pounding expansion for Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game! This death-defying expansion brings a host of options to the pitch, including three new teams, new Contract payouts, new enchanted balls, and more.

Now, with the release of Sudden Death a little over a month away, we’re pleased to present our first in a series of previews examining its new teams, cards, and mechanics. In today’s preview, we’ll look at the irrepressible Champions of Death, and we’ll see how new mechanics like Downed Skills and Regeneration keep the Undead in the game. First, however, we’ll read a word from Blood Bowl: Team Manager designer Jay Little, who will share his insights and influences surrounding Sudden Death.

A Word from Designer Jay Little

I was really excited when I saw Sudden Death on my project schedule. I am a diehard Blood Bowl tabletop player, and had a great time designing the Team Manager base game. Even with six teams included in the base game, I couldn’t wait to add more teams!

I’ve played in a number of Blood Bowl leagues over the years. I’ve fielded a variety of teams, from Norse and Amazon to Humans and even Halflings (boy, that was a painful season). But the most success and the most fun I’ve had in a league was when I fielded my Undead Team, the Death Rattlers. And of the Blood Bowl teams I’ve painted, I think the Death Rattlers came out the best, resplendent in their gore-spattered jerseys, ready to pummel their opponents into the pitch. Aaah, good times. 

I couldn’t wait to get started with the Sudden Death expansion, and I started working on the Undead team first. The intimidating Champions of Death were heavily influenced by my personal experience with the Undead team. In fact, several members of the Death Rattlers ended up making their way to the Undead team’s Star Player roster in the expansion. Run, Jibber, run!

The first design challenge was to figure out a way to integrate one of the Undead team’s signature features – regeneration – into the game in a way that was easy to resolve and felt right. Since the card play in Blood Bowl: Team Manager represents a Cabalvision highlight reel rather than an entire game, regeneration had to be reliable enough to be highlight-worthy without being overpowered.

But regeneration isn’t the only thing that makes teams like the Undead so nasty. There’s a certain persistence or tenacity to these teams. They’re vindictive and relentless. Sometimes knocking them down only makes them madder.

Suddenly there was something else I could incorporate into the design. That’s when downed skills were created. Now there were two game mechanics that helped properly convey the nastiness of the Undead team. Even better, these ideas thematically fit well with the other two teams in Sudden Death – the Vampire and Dark Elf teams.

Essentially, Sudden Death is a whole expansion of nasty, vile players with a seething hatred for everyone else. Sounds like a good time to me.

Thanks, Jay! Let’s take a closer look at downed skills and regeneration, two mechanics that make the Champions of Death (as well as the other new teams) such fearsome opponents.

Down, But Not Out

Even when brutally tackled, the Undead have a way of making life miserable for the other players on the field. After all, an animated corpse doesn’t need to be standing (or even have legs) to grasp and claw at the living. Downed skills are a feature new to Sudden Death that represent this threat.

Similar to the way downed Star Power is a factor for tackled players, downed skills are listed along the side of a card’s face, to take effect when that card turned. In fact, downed skills trigger immediately (and in order from left to right) when that player is tackled, even if this interrupts the active manager’s turn!

This means that not only are downed skills a great way to claim revenge on a tackling player, but they’re an effective deterrent for being tackled in the first place. Any would-be tackler will have to ask: is it really worth trying to take that Wight down, given his inclination towards cheating when he’s tackled? And even if someone tackles the mighty Mumma Hotep, won’t he just tackle them right back?

Up and At ‘Em

What’s more, many Champions of Death players boast the new regeneration skill as one of their downed skills, meaning there’s a chance they’ll get right back up after they’ve been tackled. This new skill, indicated by a pair of crossed bones, reflects the raw tenacity of the new Dark Sorcery Syndicate teams in Sudden Death.

This optional downed skill means upon his regenerative player being being tackled (keep in mind that downed skills must be resolved in order, left to right), a manager may try his luck at returning that player to a standing state. To use regeneration, the manager rolls two dice and chooses one to apply. If he applies an “X” (tackler down) result, he may bring that downed player back to his feet!

With the Champions of Death, not even mortality will keep you from dominating the pitch. Keep checking back for more on Sudden Death in the coming weeks, and place your pre-order through your local retailer today!






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