Expansion Buzz – Blood Bowl Team Manager: Sudden Death

An expansion for my favorite game from 2011:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Sudden Death is the first expansion to Blood Bowl Team Manager, designed by Jason Little and published by Fantasy Flight Games.  It adds new teams to the base game experience, as well as new star players, new staff and team upgrades, new highlight cards, new headlines, and a new tournament.  There are also some new tokens that go with some of the new mechanisms of the game.

Here’s a recap of the original game.  Blood Bowl Team Manager takes the Blood Bowl sport (as present in the Warhammer 40K universe) and puts it into a card game, where players are trying to build a team that will attract the most fans.  It’s played over five rounds culminating in the Blood Bowl Tournament.  In each round, there will be a number of highlights dealt into a row equal to the number of players, plus an additional Spike! magazine card.  This Spike! card could be a tournament or a headline that will change the rules a bit.  You commit your players to different highlights, which represent the games.  You are trying to have the highest power on your side, and along the way you can use tackles, carrying the ball, drawing from your deck of cards, or cheating to gain an advantage.  After each player has committed as many cards as they can or want to (up to six), the power is added up and the winner gets a bonus payout (players usually get something just for showing up).  After five round, the player with the most fans is the winner.

Sudden Death adds three new teams to the mix – the Naggaroth Nightmares (dark elves), Champions of Death (undead), and Black Fangs (vampires).  These three teams are part of a new league, the Dark Sorcery Syndicate, and thus have their won star player deck to draw from.  Each team has their own special ability – Dark Elves tend to have skills that activate when they go down; the Undead have the ability to regenerate; and the Vampires can gain blood tokens.

Downed skills are just that – skills that activate when a player gets tackled.  They are printed on the side of the card next to the player’s downed star power.  These skills are activated as soon as the player goes down, interrupting the active player’s turn.  They are resolved just like regular skills, from left to right with cheating as a mandatory skills.

Regeneration is indicated by a crossed bone symbol.  It’s an optional skill that is only used when a player is downed.  The way it works is that you roll two dice and choose one to apply.  Rolling an X allows the player to stand up.  Anything else results in no effect.  You must do regeneration in order with the other skills, so if there are other skills listed after regeneration, you won’t be able to do them if you are successful.

Blood tokens are acquired through the use of the Bloodlust ability.  When gained by a player, these add one star power to a standing or downed player.

The game also includes contracts, which is a new type of payout.  When you get a contract payout, you randomly draw a contract and keep it secret to everyone.  Including yourself.  You only get to find out how much it is worth (2-5 fans) at the end of the game.

A variant for the game is the use of enchanted balls.  These are random balls that are placed on the highlights in place of the standard balls.  The base game balls added star power to the holder.  The expansion balls could increase star power, or give you fans if you are in possession at the end of the round, or give you an immediate skill to use.

And that’s it.  Not a whole lot in the expansion, but certainly enough to keep fans happy.  I got to play a beta copy of the game, and had fun – the new teams will be fun to explore.  The expansion as a whole doesn’t try to change things around, it just adds more, and that’s all the game needed.  More teams, more star players, more of everything.  The new mechanisms don’t distract from the game, and that’s important.  As I said, BBTM was my favorite game from 2011, and this expansion looks to make it even better.  Thanks for reading!

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