The rules of Blood Bowl are fairly short and comprehensive. Although a lot of parallels can be drawn between them and the real world game Blood Bowl is based on, American Football, there is no need to know the rules to the real world game in order to know the rules of, and play, the table top version.

However, I'm curious if having a reasonable level of knowledge of the tactics and strategies used in real world American Football can be used as an advantage when playing Blood Bowl?

Even with my limited knowledge of the sport there are a number of similarities that spring to my mind that could potentially be transferable from the real pitch to the game one:

  • Formations - the layout of players on the pitch
  • Team Composition - the amount of players in a team that excel at certain skills
  • Plays - the actions players take between touchdowns to try and score one
  • Style - when to play defensively and when to play aggressively

(This list isn't exhaustive, please do not just copy and paste it and give an example of each as an answer, especially if that answer is not backed by any evidence of the advantage it gives.)

Given the large amount of competitive Blood Bowl leagues that exist, and that it has a faithful video game conversion allowing competitive play against a world wide audience, is there any evidence that supports the theory that using tactics and strategies from American Football can be used reliably and repeatedly as winning strategies in Blood Bowl?


3 Answers 3


Knowledge of American football strategy is not helpful in Blood Bowl because Blood Bowl lacks the rule that shapes all of American football play, namely, down and distance. In American football you have four plays ("downs") to advance the ball 10 yards. If you manage to do so, then you get another four plays to go another 10 yards (a "first down"), and so on until you either fail to make a first down in the allotted plays, or you score. Almost everything about American football strategy revolves around managing down and distance.

Suppose, for example, that you make four yards on your first play, and five yards on the second. With only one yard to go you would choose a short-yardage play that highly likely to gain the one remaining yard, even though it has virtually no chance of making a large gain. Getting tackled after two yards in that situation is a huge win.

Blood Bowl really has no equivalent. Once a team fields the ball, they pretty much have to keep advancing it until they score. If the ball carrier gets knocked down, you won't get an opportunity to reset for another play; you'll just recover the ball with another player and continue advancing, or you'll lose possession to the other team. (I.e., every tackle effectively results in a fumble.)

Therefore, in a Blood Bowl game you'll never get much of a chance to apply anything you happen to know about American football strategy because you essentially never run a play from scrimmage, and that is what football strategy is all about.

  • 4
    Sounds more like Rugby than American Football....
    – John
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 2:19
  • 2
    @John My knowledge of Rugby is pretty limited, but from what little I do know, I agree.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 11:37
  • Though a knowledge of Rugby tactics wouldn't help either, especially since in Rugby there are several major rule differences, e.g. you can't tackle a player without the ball, and you can't "protect" the ball-carrier from being tackled by the opponent, which are two of the common & basic actions/tactics in Blood Bowl
    – komodosp
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 13:24

I think there would be some basic strategies that could probably transfer from American Football to Blood Bowl.

1. Protecting the weaker/faster/better-at-throwing players In Blood Bowl, as in American Football, there are differences in the physical and technical abilities of the players. In Blood Bowl they're arguably more pronounced than in real life American Football. The basic strategy of using your larger, stronger players to form a barrier in order to protect your weaker/faster/technical players would carry over.

2. Certain 'plays' Hail Mary, for example, is going to be a valid play in Blood Bowl with limited time remaining. Having some knowledge of this strategy and when to use it would be helpful.

However, my opinion is that these similarities could be learnt from experience in Blood Bowl very quickly. So my hypothesis is that, at the tournament level, it would not be beneficial to know American Football strategies. You would only need to know Blood Bowl specific strategies instead.


Although Blood Bowl may have similarities to American Football, listing the differences will show that knowledge in the latter doesn't help the former:

Turn Based vs Real-Time:

Blood Bowl is a turn based board game. I'm quite certain there is no turn based version of American Football.

Teams are asymmetrical:

The teams in blood bowl have different abilities

"Blood" means violence:

One way to win is to kill the other team. That is obviously not a valid tactic in American Football.

  • 2
    How does this address the prospect of using tactics and strategies from American football in playing Blood Bowl, though? You've answered the reverse question, not the one actually asked.
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 8:20
  • Because you have no chance to apply them? I can't even imagine how to apply any real American Football tactics to Blood Bowl.
    – Nelson
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 8:21
  • 2
    American football is at base a game where the attack has two options, pass or run, and the defence has to guess which one they're more likely to try, and react accordingly. The same applies here; you haven't shown that there are no useful tactics transferable from American football to Blood Bowl. A lack of imagination has not ever been proof of anything (in fact, it's a logical fallacy, the argument from incredulity).
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 8:30

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