sean johnson(SeanXor)United States
I first played this game at Gen Con 2011. I was really enjoying the game, and thinking this might be one worth purchasing. Right around that time, a Fantasy Flight Game booth worker came around to the Blood Bowl Team Manager demo tables and mentioned there are only 13 games left. The scarcity was the deciding factor, so I got up and grabbed one of the last five copies. I have played the game with several different groups, but is it a game that the two of us enjoy together?
In one sense, Blood Bowl Team Manager can be kind of hard to wrap one's head around because this game does not actually simulate a fantasy football. The goal of this game is not to win games, the goal is to have the most fans. To this end, players compete over highlight reels and trophies. Each round, players will draw a hand of six cards to use. Cards represent various players that have star power. These cards also have various special abilities. The main special abilities are cheating (gives cheating tokens that can lead to ejection or extra star power), ball handling (move the ball token, which is worth two extra star power), a cycling ability (draw a card then discard a different card), and tackling (knock another player down!). Each player plays a card one a time at one of the various highlight reels, and each highlight reel can only hold two players. Once every player has played their cards, cheating tokens are revealed and highlight reel rewards are given out. There are various rewards. Players can win fans, which is needed to win the game. They can also get star players. These are players who are often better than the starting team. Staff upgrades are available to all, and these upgrades either give abilities that can be used during a game or they give extra fans at the end of the game. Finally, team upgrades are like staff upgrades but are unique to each team. The game is played until the Blood Bowl, then end of game fans are added in. The winner of the game may not be the person who won the Blood Bowl, but the person with the most fans.
The Game We Played
I played the Chaos team, and my wife played the Wood Elf Team. Chaos cheats a lot which means they are always a wild card. At the end of a round the cheating tokens could really boost the team or eject them from the highlight. The wood elves focus a lot on grabbing the ball. For the first two rounds I focused on getting star players and staff upgrades. One of the staff upgrades I got, gave me bonus points for each other staff upgrade I had at the end of the game. My wife also got star players, but she also got fans and jumped out to an early lead. In the next to last round, I won the chaos cup which gave me a nice boost of fans. On my last play of the round I managed to injure (tackle a player who has already been tackled and discard them) one of her cards, meaning that she got nothing from that highlight. In the last round, I had a god draw with multiple star players and managed to win the Blood Bowl. My wife had 29 fans, and I had 23. However, my investment into staff upgrades paid off. I got 10 extra fans from those at the end of the game, which made the final score 33 to 29.
My Rating: 5 (Love it!)
My Thoughts:I think this is a fantastic game. I love the back and forth competition each round. I love the tactical decisions that need to be made about which highlight is the best one to go for, and I love working on a strategy throughout the game and having it all come together. The theme and well it is implemented through card art, game play, and flavor text just makes this game even better.
Her Rating: 3.5 (It is ok)
Her Thoughts: I like the challenge of balancing between fans or star players/upgrades. I think this game works better with more than just two though.
Combined Rating: 8.5
I think that one of the reasons why my wife gave this a 3.5 over a 4 is because she is tired of hearing me talk about how much I love this game and she did not want to give me another reason to talk about how good it is. I really do like this game, and I am glad my wife likes it enough that she will play it with me. This is a game we will be keeping and playing regularly for sure.