Blitz Bowl: NPCs and 2020 Review

2020 started with a plan to host a gaming weekend in the summer which featured a Blitz Bowl tournament. The dastardly Covid had other plans, but I pushed forth and took the opportunity to get a lot of painting done. Though I didn’t hit all of my goals, I got really close finishing these on December 31st.

The featured image above of the Snotling Pump wagon flanked by some refs is a collection of NPCs I plan to have for variant match types. I’ve also stage the photo to hark back to some Blood Bowl NPCs I created about 20 years ago. From left to right…Dark Elf ref, Big NPC, then Dwarf ref.

How do I intend to use these NPCs? After bouncing some ideas around with coaches in The Crush Discord, I think I’m going to go forward with the following.

Referee: Referees are essentially movable blocked squares. During initial set-up, after placing the ball, determine a trapdoor as if a second ball were coming into play. Once a trapdoor is determined, roll a d8 and consult the bounce chart, placing the referee model in the corresponding adjacent square next to the trapdoor. Add the following to the Game Sequence between “No Ball in Play Check” and “Emergency Reserves”:

“Move Referee”. The active player consults the point value of the rightmost Challenge Card in the Active Challenge Card Spaces. This is the number of spaces the referee will move that turn. Roll the d8 that number of times, moving the Referee as if they were a bouncing ball. If the referee would move into a blocked or occupied space, ignore that roll.

This is basically it. The referee just moves around the pitch causing a blocked space for players to content with. The ref doesn’t provide assists nor do players need to worry about moving adjacent to them. True, sometimes the Ref will move somewhere random…hug a sideline or something but maybe they’re arguing with a fan, or getting out of the way of the play.

For my referees, I used the two from the recent Blood Bowl Second Season Edition box. I dreaded painting straight lines and didn’t do the best job, but at arm’s length on a table they’re fine. I used Eschen Grey for the black lines and washed the clothes with the white contrast paint to shade the white parts, but it also dulled the Eschen Grey which worked in the favor of having the uniforms look more natural I feel. I wasn’t sure what color to do the elf ref initially, thinking maybe as a high elf, but then I thought the Dark Elf skin would contrast better with the uniform. Plus, who can forget the classic piece of a Dark Elf player paying off a ref? Well, now the Dark Elves just have an insider.

If you wanted a little variance between the two referees maybe consider something like this:

Dwarf Referee: Moves one less than the point value of the rightmost Challenge Card

Elf Referee: Moves one more than the point value of the rightmost Challenge Card.

With this you might have the Dwarf grudgingly holding down a square, but the Dark Elf nimbly dances about the pitch. Another variant option you might try, is to use the value of the leftmost Challenge Card. This would take the number of spaces the ref moves out of the player’s hand as the active player won’t know what the value of the leftmost card is because Challenge Card refresh happens when their turn is over.

The Snotlings…this is a new team to Blood Bowl, and they also don’t have official Blitz Bowl team rules. For me, I don’t really see them being an organized team, but I do want to include them somehow, so decided to use them as another variant match time for those coaches finding themselves on the Pub Table. Plus, I’ve only ever been involved with Snotlings in games via the classic DungeonQuest where they’d pile into a space on a hero.

So, how would I use the Snotlings in a BzB match? I’m going to just go with the Pump Wagon, and treat it very similar to the Refs, except they aren’t here to observe, but to assault players with rocks, stones, pans, rollers, utensils, anything that wasn’t nailed down backstage.

Pump Wagon: The Pump Wagon is movable blocked square that can knock down adjacent players. During initial set-up, after placing the ball, determine a trapdoor as if a second ball were coming into play. Once a trapdoor is determined, roll a d8 and consult the bounce chart, placing the Pump Wagon model in the corresponding adjacent square next to the trapdoor. Add the following to the Game Sequence between “No Ball in Play Check” and “Emergency Reserves”:

“Move Pump Wagon”. The active player consults the point value of the rightmost Challenge Card in the Active Challenge Card Spaces. This is the number of spaces the Pump Wagon will move that turn. Roll the d8 that number of times, moving the Pump Wagon as if they were a bouncing ball. If the Pump Wagon would move into a blocked or occupied space, ignore that roll. If The Pump Wagon moves adjacent to a player that player suffers a Knocked Down result. If the Pump Wagon ever moves into either end zone, remove it from play for the rest of the match.

This is clearly the game on “Hard Mode”. It’s a lot like a referee in execution, but the result can lead to whacking players off the pitch. I would save this for a fun end of season type match for teams on the bottom table. On that note, as I’ve posted other variant matches before…gobbo night, rot spawn, etc… I wouldn’t stack multiple of these, but only one variant for each match.

So, now I’ve got some referees in training getting involved in these minor league Blitz Bowl matches, but also a crazy Pump Wagon rolling it’s way around the pitch. These are both some pretty simple ways to keep adding BB universe flavor to BzB.

The last thing I needed to do to close out the year was get a collection of balls painted.

These were a total slop-n-go job and a grind to push through them all. These pieces will see the most wear and tear during games so I didn’t want to be concerned about proper paint jobs. I also lathered them with ‘ardcoat gloss before hitting ’em with Dulcote. Hopefully that’ll protect them some. I skipped the balls with pegs because I don’t really go for that.

In the end 2020 was a big year of painting Blitz Bowl for me. I assembled and put paint to three tables of terrain, nine teams, eight npc models, and all the tokens, coins and balls needed. I ended up only two Blitz Bowl teams short from my entire collection…the Skaven and Lizardmen. Well, to be honest, in the last month I also found myself with a sprue of Imperial Nobles, Black Orcs, and Ogres, so this would be five unpainted Blitz Bowl teams left. As I have nine ready to go though I think I’m good for awhile. Here’s what all the work looks like in their new storage.

On the Blood Bowl front, I started 2020 with two teams to paint. The Humans and Orcs. I started on the Orcs in preparation for a local tournament in March, but…The Covid. I didn’t pick up any new teams that I kept, so still have a BB team and a half to get through. With new strains popping up I’m not sure that BB tourney is gonna happen this March either, so there’s no rush there. Still, here’s hoping 2021 sees more face to face game time for all of us.

Happy New Year.

3 thoughts on “Blitz Bowl: NPCs and 2020 Review

    • Thanks! Like I said I was hoping for a little more, but this is plenty to play with. I’m planning 2021 to involve post apocalyptic and fantasy projects. How’ve you fared this year?

      • It’s been a tough year and surprising. I’ll be posting a roundup in a few weeks.

        I keep thinking I will switch to just doing Blitz Bowl teams, as that’s more likely to get played, but it’s too tempting to ‘paint the whole hog’ if I’m going to paint anyways. That is, until I’m on my second layer of base coat on my 20th mini…

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