Blood Bowl: Solo Campaigns

First of all, I have to make it clear that you cannot play Blood Bowl alone (except virtually on the computer). In a solo campaign you play against other players too. So how does a solo campaign work then? At the end of 2009 I had the idea to use leftover parts from my bitzbox to reduce my enormous pile of miniatures a bit. After a brief look, I realized that I had a lot of skeletons, a few zombie parts, the old model of Ramtut, and a few 3rd edition human players left.

After putting together one of the models, I tried out the color scheme I had in mind. As I liked how it turned out, I decided to paint one model completely before each game, so after ten games I would have a fully painted team of eleven players without losing motivation on the go. In short, this was the basic idea of what would later become known as the Challenge.

At the time, I wasn't as narrative a player as I'm now, but I didn't have time to participate in a league, and in 2009, Blood Bowl experienced a relative drought in the German-speaking world of tabletop players. So I had to think of an alternative. I wondered if it would be possible to just continue my roster sheet and if I would find players who would also follow this style. Granted, at the beginning I had my doubts, but I did not always want to play a basic team or start with a teamvalue of 1000 in each league. After the second game that way of playing the game seemed to turn out as a good approach. In my first game I competed against forum user Kako K., who at that time played a human team in Bretonnian style.

My second game was against the only other player who had a Blood Bowl project in the forum running during this time, Ralf Brockhausen. As a small gimmick we used the cards, which he had left me as a souvenir from the Lutece Cup. Each player got a free card at the beginning of the match and my guest was allowed to choose the deck. I liked that so much that I kept this mode, because it made the game more unpredictable and this way more narrative.

Blood Bowl Campaign 3

Since I invested a lot of effort in the match reports and kept them comprehensible even though I was writing in a more story like manner, the number of interested hobbyists slowly grew and soon the first requests for games came by itself.

Blood Bowl Campaign 4 Blood Bowl Campaign 5

Over the years, I have continued to pursue and expand this concept. Although I had participated in various leagues since the first Challenge, I quickly realized that the German players were rather conservative and, for lack of a better term, a bit boring. So if I did not just want to play and roll statistics, but to tell a real story, I had to think about how to make a narrative approach more attractive as a soloist and thus to define the important corners for a solo campaign.

A solo campaign requires a bit of pre-planning and above all, players who get involved in this type of ongoing games. Since the rerelease of Blood Bowl 2016, there are enough special rules to define your own campaign a lot easier, and I follow this method for my upcoming campaign for the repaint of Mork's Maulers. The following things should be taken into account:

Amount of games

Playing a narrative campaign depends heavily on the number of games. The shorter a campaign runs, for example six games, the easier it will be to find opponents who are willing to follow this style of play in their own player community. This works in a similar way to an ordinary league, except that you are not restricted by the field of competitors in a league, but you can also choose who to play against. There are always hobbyists against whom you like to play and against whom you like to play less, for whatever reason. This way it's possible to create the player field that you are comfortable with.

Impact on the roster

Some teams need some help to get on their feet. For example, it can be fun to play with a star player for a while, helping the team build it up. He will remain in the squad for as long as his contract expires or he cannot be paid anymore. If you encounter an opponent who uses the same star player, he should not be used. Instead, he leaves both teams immediately - these starplayer folks just don't spend too much time with provincial clubs.

A really important rule is the use of "aging". This prevents the team from becoming too strong after a long series of games, so that nobody wants to play against them anymore. Generally you should settle with heavier impacts for the team and regardless just keep on playing. Even with real clubs things do not always go smoothly, and sometimes you have to go through a down phase in team history. Speaking of history ...

Background stories

To create the right level of immersion, it is worth spending an evening writing a background for the team and its players. Blood Bowl is a persiflage on real American Football. It is the stories that make the heroes or represent a villain in a models character. It is that what makes actually makes them interesting. Proper team names can also help. At this point, I can already offer a little help, as I have written an article earlier, that you can find here.

Playstyle and roster

If you play narrative, you should consider playing an unconventional setup and encourage your opponents to do likewise. Standardized, maximized squads can quickly create boredom and seduce players into following a no-jokes-attitude while playing. This is appropriate in tournaments where placement and statistics are important, but in narrative solo campaigns it can hurt the immersion immensly.

The choice of abilities is ideally also not only based on its usefulness, but also on the previously given character of the model. Sometimes players have done phenomenal, unexpected actions over the course of their career - you can customize the skills for the model accordingly. Anyone who has written background for his boys (and girls), will soon notice that the style of play will change over time, as the backgroundstory starts to sink into your conciousness.

Of course, the choice of campaign conditions is up to you. As long as enough players are okay to find themselves more of a passenger in a Blood Bowl game rather than an active coach, a narrative solo campaign works well and will be fun. Anyone wanting to see for themselves how the whole thing works in practice simply take a look at the already published and upcoming articles in the Journeys of the Mauler's series.


Greetings from the Chaosbunker


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