I just got destroyed at Bloodbowl. It was an utter catastrophe of a game. By halftime I was down 2 – 0, three of my strongest players where injured, two of my line men had been sent off for penalties and my star thrower was unconscious. As the second half began I probably should have thrown in the towel then and there but I didn’t because the game was only just heating up.
In case you don’t know, Bloodbowl began life as a boardgame produced by Games Workshop. It’s a turn based American Football game set in a fantasy universe. The one defining feature of the game is that almost everything is random and even the simplest in-game action can end in failure. You want to pass the ball? You roll for that. You want to perform a block? Roll for that too. Even picking the ball off the ground requires you to roll. If you fail then not only does the action fail but it’s also the next player’s turn. Which can often mean they’re in prime position to exploit your failure to the maximum.
Failure is pretty much inevitable. No matter how you play the odds something will go wrong and if you’re really unlucky you can end up with matches like the one I described above. But the point of the game isn’t watching your plan go off without a hitch it’s the mad scramble when everything goes pear shaped. Almost every turn involves constantly adapting and thinking. When I started the second half I knew I was in for a hell of a ride. I must have thought up dozens of different plans, some of them even almost worked. Of course they didn’t, the game ended 3-0 and I was just happy that I managed to prevent it from being a total blow out.
Maybe it’s just me. I’m willing to admit I might be a little masochistic and I do tend to find peril more exciting than success. But for every game of Bloodbowl that has totally fallen apart there have been more that I’ve won and those victories were bought with slapped together plans emerging from the sublime wreckage of failure.
Clint Hocking might call this improvisational play. If it weren’t too depressing a thought I might even think of it as a life lesson.