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Brutally poor sportsmanship and fantasy combat clash in a gruesome battle for glory and gold, in Southpeak's PC version of Blood Bowl. A tongue-in-cheek combination of Warhammer RPG-style battle and American football, the game is won by passing or running the ball into the opponent's end zone for a touchdown, but the players on the field wear armor and wield deadly medieval weapons. Gamers take the roles of coaches, drafting their teams from one of eight fantasy races, including humans, elves, orcs, and goblins. Each race offers a different balance of strength, speed, and accuracy. Individual players' skills can affect their chances of successfully blocking, dodging, tackling, and throwing or catching the ball, and also their combat moves. As in a role-playing game, abilities can be improved with gear upgrades. Helmets add toughness to avoid injury, shoulder pads increase strength, gloves make players more agile and dexterous, and boots increase speed. Cheerleaders and the rowdy crowds can also make a difference in a team's chances of success, as can bribing the officials.
The computer game follows the official Blood Bowl rulebook. The turn-based mode is played much like grid-lined console RPG combat, except that the goal is not (necessarily) to slay everyone on the other team, but to move the ball across the field. A real-time mode is also available, to challenge the coaches' quick thinking abilities as well as their tactical planning skills. Multiplayer modes include LAN games and a same-screen hot seat option, as well as online competitions with persistent leagues and tournaments. The original tabletop version of Blood Bowl, played with miniature figures and dice, was created in 1987 by Jervis Johnson of Games Workshop, who also helped design Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Ancient Battles. The console and computer versions of the game were developed by France's Cyanide studio, whose previous credits include the European releases Pro Rugby Manager and Chaos League. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide