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Dungeon Bowl | Review and Unboxing

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Our thanks to Games Workshop for sending us this box to review.

Hello sports fans! In particular those who love the absolutely brutal sport that is Blood Bowl.

Would you prefer your matches underground? Or close quarters tunnels and rooms filled with mystery and danger? Well, Games Workshop have just the game for you…

Say hello to Dungeon Bowl, a new boxed game that takes the mechanics of Blood Bowl, adds magic and a dungeon, and provides a new hilarious way to play.

Fancy checking out our unboxing? Hit play on the video below!

On to the review!

Contents

So what do you get in this fairly sizeable box?

The first thing you’ll see when you slide the lid off is a number of coloured sprues. The first 4 sprues have your players and team tokens on them, the third has a number of chests and portals, whilst the final sprue has the Blood Bowl accessories, such as kick range ruler.

You then have a large piece of card displaying the box art, with a nice advert for Blood Bowl on the reverse.

Under that you’ll find a very nicely present rule book for Dungeon Bowl. Presented in hard back, the rule book feels like quality in your hands. Within the rule books shrink wrap we have two cheat sheets, presenting the main rules of Blood Bowl and the assembly instructions.

Finally at the bottom of the box we have all the dungeon tiles, dice, tokens and bases for your minis. 

The Basics

To put it simply, playing Dungeon Bowl is almost identical to playing the second (and current) season of Blood Bowl.

I’m not going to run through how you play Blood Bowl but what I will say is I prefer the rules tweaks in the new edition of the game, helping a game to run that little more smoothly.

For those who haven’t played Blood Bowl, the rules at first glance seem complicated, however once you’ve tried them out with minis you’ll soon pick up how to play.

Armour and injury rolls, throwing teammates, short/medium/long passes, blitz moves, agility checks…they are all in here.

The aim of a game of Dungeon Bowl is to score touchdowns, with an end-zone for both teams found in the dungeon.

Mastering Blood Bowl takes time…but with Dungeon Bowl it doesn’t really matter, because whilst Blood Bowl has a number of random elements, this boxed game takes it up another level.

Rule Additions

So I mentioned that the mechanics of this game are in short, Blood Bowl, but as you would imagine being in a dungeon there are certain mechanics which needed to be added or tweaked to work.

Take for example, on a pitch if the ball went into the ground you’d roll random for a throw in. In Dungeon Bowl this obviously cannot happen, so instead if the ball would go into a wall (as it was unable to go into the next tile) it rebounds and bounces in a random direction. You place the throw in marker against that wall then roll to see where it goes.

When you start a game of Dungeon Bowl the football is nowhere to be seen. It’s located in one of 6 random chests dotted around the dungeon. If you open a chest and it doesn’t contain the ball, then instead you’ve set off a magical booby trap spell that will knock you (and anyone next to you) down and force an armour check! If your lucky enough to find the ball you immediately gain possession.

The actual game itself is played out on tiles which are placed by you and your opponent. These are double sided giving you lots of options.

Some of these tiles represent a special room, which have abilities or effects that can be good or bad.

Let’s take a look at some explained

  • The Dragon Youngling’s Lair: If you start an activation on this tile you must roll a D6. If you roll a 5+ your player is knocked down. Luckily, this only causes a turnover if the player has the ball.
  • Chaotic Idol: If you start an activation in this tile, you again have to roll a D6. On a 6 you can increase your strength by 1 for the duration of the activation.
  • Cursed Room: You can not re-roll any dice, using any skills or abilities, whilst on this tile.

Another addition to the rules is Portals. Like the Chests, these are actual plastic tokens included in the box. These are very, VERY cool.

When you step (or get pushed) into a portal you are teleported to another portal. Each of the tokens is numbered 1-6. When you step on to the portal you roll a D6, and are sent to whatever number you roll. Caution however, for if you roll the same number as the portal your in, your player will get teleported somewhere else in the College and will play no further part in the game! (It’s OK, they are found unharmed after the game, so no injuries or needing to replace them before the next game).

If you come out of a portal and land on the same square as another player, you have to go back through the portal, rolling again. At this point it’s worth mentioning that if the same player goes through a portal more than once per team phase, you have to roll on the injury table, as the magic takes its toll on your player.

Each players dugout also features a portal, and theirs no limit to the number of players you can have from your team in the dungeon at one time, however you can only do this once per turn.

One final rule that’s new to Dungeon Bowl (and well worth a mention!) is the Magic Sponge. Every team gets a free one each game, and allows you to move a KO’ed player from your dugout into the reserves box. Yay for the Magic Sponge!

Making a Team

Drafting a team in Dungeon Bowl is slightly different. This is because instead of having teams based on your race, you instead choose a College of Magic.

In the box you get two Colleges represented, the College of Fire and the College of Shadow.

  • College of Fire: In the box you get a combination of Dwarfs and Ogres, however you can also draft in Bloodborn Marauders should you wish.
  • College of Shadow: Skaven and Dark Elves make up the team in the box, however you can also choose to draft Goblin Linesman into your team too.

Here is who you can choose from in the other College teams:

  • College of Light: Elven Union, Humans, Imperials
  • College of Death: Skeletons, Ghouls, Zombies, Wraiths and Mummies
  • College of Metal: Orcs, Humans, Goblins
  • College of Life: Wood Elves, Halflings, Treemen, Snotlings, Nurgle
  • College of Beasts: Beastmen, Chaos Chosen, Rat Ogres, Kroxigor, Bloodspawn
  • College of Heavens: Lizardmen, Humans

I believe over time the other colleges not included in this box will be getting releases. Alternatively you would need to purchase the full teams and build the players you need.

Outside of your choice of players, drafting your team is the same. The rulebook includes a handy sheet you can photocopy to keep a record of your team and the games you’ve played with them.

The Rulebook and Tiles

Let’s cover the rulebook first.

First and foremost, this book is very neatly presented. I absolutely love the artwork, from the cover to all the little images dotted throughout the book. I could happily read a full Blood Bowl comic.

The book is also comprehensive. It explains the full rules of Blood Bowl, covers all the abilities, tells you how to draft teams, has all the details for player progressions, explains how to run league and exhibition matches and more. You’ve even got rules for Inducements in here.

You also get the full rosters for each of the College teams, so you’ve got all the stats and costs in this book. This means you can build any of the College teams without purchasing any other books, and can start playing with them right away.

You get 16 tiles in this box to make up your dungeon. Each tile is double sided, and as mentioned early, features different rooms and corridors. This gives you a variety of different layouts to play with. They are substantial tiles too, so they should last a fair long while, even if played with a lot.

Summary

I was really impressed with the quality of this box. You get two fairly balanced, and fun, teams…a high quality and comprehensive rulebook, as well as all the tokens and tiles you’ll need for hours of fun.

This is, in basic terms, Blood Bowl, albeit in a dungeon with more random elements to make the game, well…random. These new elements, such as the Portals, have been neatly added to the mechanics.

I don’t foresee a game being easy, but that’s no bad thing, as you’ll enjoy playing it. I very much like the mixing of different races in the teams, it is encouraging me to pick up more Blood Bowl teams so I can paint and create more College teams.

Whilst Dungeon Bowl does have rules for leagues, in my honest opinion games of Dungeon Bowl feel like they will be at their most fun in one-off games. Your traditional Blood Bowl feels more like a system that works brilliantly for leagues.

If you don’t like Blood Bowl, then this is 100% not for you. Whilst it has new elements, the core mechanics of the game are identical. If you haven’t played Blood Bowl, maybe because the American Football aesthetic doesn’t sit well with you, then I encourage you to try this out.

One thing that did come out of this review is a reminder of how much fun Blood Bowl is, so once I’ve had a game of Dungeon Bowl I think I’ll have to dig out my pitches and get some Blood Bowl back on the go!

Again, our thanks to Games Workshop for sending us this box to review.

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