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Blood Bowl

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Play OverviewPlay Overview

Blood Bowl (1986) is a sporting and fighting American football-style game played with two teams of Tolkienesque fantasy races. They compete to either get the ball to the end zone or kill all the opponent players. Despite the violent overtones, it's a finely balanced board game that has developed over many years along with a tradition of hand-painting plastic figures.

Play involves placing your players on the field in offensive or defensive rounds. You then take turns to move, attack, dodge, block, throw and catch. Whether you're successful at each action is determined by your player's stats and a dice roll.

As play progresses you need to carefully choose the order of actions, as one failed move results in a turnover and play going to the other side. As you get to grips with the action you can add in new aspects such as the crowd and other elements affecting play on the pitch.

How you play is determined in part by your team. In the box, you get Humans and Orcs but can also purchase a range of other races to play with. Stronger teams opt for more fighting while faster, lighter teams run and throw the ball.

What results is a finely honed game. It's been around for many years, and the latest edition of the rules has come from years of development. The history brings with it the tradition of painting miniature plastic player figures as with tabletop war games Warhammer and 40k, also from Games Workshop.

Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Blood Bowl 2 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 7 weeks ago.
Too complex for your family? There are lots of games similar to Blood Bowl. Here are some easier younger-rated games:

Play StylePlay Style

This is a Battle game with Sequencing and Traversal elements. You can play with 2 players in the same room.

You can play this game in the following styles:


Learn to Play: This takes 1 hour to learn. Part of the novelty is the intricate and finely honed ruleset. This does mean you need to learn and practice each of the different aspects of the game.

The first time you play, the following helps you learn things:
  • Run through the rules for blocking, dodging, throwing and catching before you start a game.
  • See how the different players' stats affect these rules and required rolls.
  • Play one round with one person assisting the players with the rules.
  • Don't introduce special player or crowd rules until you have the basics down.

Play Time: This game will take between 45 minutes and 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete. It's not a fast game, although it is possible for some rounds to be won quickly. Because of this, you should allow over an hour to play.


This game is good if you want to:

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Skill Level

11+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Still, it's important for parents and guardians to consider the maturity required to process the game content. Because of the complexity of the rules, older children with patience, attention to detail and forward planning will enjoy the game. You need to be willing for plans to be foiled by bad dice rolls. Also, a desire to paint the figures adds considerable enjoyment.

Content Rating

We rate this suitable for 12+ years-olds. The game includes the concepts of injuring, knocking out and killing players. This is not graphically depicted or dwelt upon but is part of the premise of the game. The Blood Bowl 2 video game version does depict this violence and is rated 16+ for Strong Violence.


There are no additional in-game purchases, loot boxes, adverts or subscription costs.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 01/01/1986, updated in 2020

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Players: 2

Genres: Battle (Sequencing and Traversal)

Accessibility: 29 features

Components: Board, Cards, Dice, Figures, Score Board and Tokens

Developer: Games Workshop 1 (@Games_Workshop1)

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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