Blood Bowl 3 review

by on February 23, 2023
Release Date

February 23, 2023


Despite the first game hitting the market almost a decade ago, and the enduring popularity of the – admittedly niche – tabletop game, Blood Bowl remains a fairly unique property. A brutal sports sim that’s also a turn-based tactics game shouldn’t work at all. The two genres are so completely at odds, they shouldn’t even share a fanbase at all. Blood Bowl 3 pushes the concept a bit further, offering little innovation but rather a polishing of the rulebook and some greater graphical clout.

For those who don’t know, Blood Bowl is the truest definition of the term “fantasy football”. It exists in a pocket dimension of the greater Warhammer universe that’s almost like what modern day would be, where international sports teams duke it out for sponsorships in, we assume, televised events that resound with the franchise’s trademark over the top violence and irreverent humour. There’s little that’s “grimdark” about Blood Bowl, unless you count pulling a goblin’s arms and legs off in the dug-out.

Blood Bowl 3

It’s a world of garish colours, corporate sponsorship and extreme violence in the name of entertainment. This is a game that actively encourages foul play and, occasionally, actual murder. There’s even a mechanic where you can crowd around a fallen member of the opposing team and kill them outright without the ref witnessing. That’s an impressive dedication to the source material. There are 12 teams comprised of elves, dwarves, human nobles, and Ork brutes – among other things – or you can create your own from the archetypes available.

Players have stats, such as Speed and Agility, although tweaks have been applied to temper the previous game’s over reliance on the Agility star. Now each player has a dedicated Passing stat that determines how well they throw and catch. The idea is to field balanced teams that can counter whatever the opposition might throw against you. A comprehensive tutorial mode introduces you to almost every eventuality, but you’ll still be constantly surprised by your opponent – especially if you jump right into the multiplayer. It’s not recommended until you have a decent grasp of the rules.

Blood Bowl 3 is a tactics game first and foremost. It’s also a Games Workshop property, which means everything is based on dice rolls. As a veritable newcomer who hasn’t played Blood Bowl since the first release, and who has never played the tabletop game, this element was my biggest barrier. If you’ve ever played a turn-based tactics game and raged at the “chance to hit” mechanic, wait until you’re dealing with a “chance to not randomly fall over” mechanic. You can, and will, fail at everything in Blood Bowl 3.

Blood Bowl 3

From picking up the ball to running in a straight line past another player , everything is beholden to the dice roll and there are few things more frustrating than fumbling a chance at possession because your player tripped over his own stupidly massive Warhammer boots. It’s even worse when you get to the point that you have star players and the opposing team is able to badly injure or murder them on the pitch.

Obviously the enemy suffers the same issue, and you have saving rollls, re-rolls and even an apothecary you can field to save a life or repair a career-ending groin-mauling. Sometimes progress up the pitch is incredibly slow, and if you make a single mistake you can do nothing but sit and swear as the opposition crowds your ball-carrier like the last piece of bread in a duckpond.

It’s mostly pretty fast-paced throughout, though the AI likes to make a show of “thinking” which can drag on a bit and feels utterly unnecessary. If I want to get my arse sautéed by an opponent who sits stroking their chin like Garry Kasparov for two minutes before every turn I’ll go online, thanks. When you do manage to execute a successful series of moves and finally score a touchdown, the feeling is comparable to toppling a boss in any other game.

Blood Bowl 3

But in return, Blood Bowl 3 requires dedication and patience. This isn’t a game you can spam your way through and hope for the best. Attempting to rush through a match or, worse, wing it without due care and attention will lead to a lot of broken bones and a fair bit of crying. The skill ceiling is about three feet high in some matches and you’ll be catching your hair in the ceiling fans if you’re not paying due care and attention. There are some cases where no matter what you do the dice will simply be against you and it’s never not a cause for apoplectic rage.

This is not helped by the bugs and glitches, either. I never discovered anything utterly game-breaking, but I did have my progress reset right after completing the tutorial for the first time which meant I had to do it all over again. Add to this little bugs such as teleporting players, freezing animations, and odd camera behaviour and it does become pretty frustrating.

And yet there’s something endearing about Blood Bowl 3’s dirty world. Character models and animations are massive and overblown, the “celebrity” coaches and various agents and commentators add humour and colour to even the simplest commentary. There are plenty of cutscenes lampooning real world sponsors and brands, and the whole thing has an air of fun – at least until it starts applying knuckle-duster suppositories again.

Blood Bowl 3

Perhaps one of the most egregious mistakes Blood Bowl 3 makes is not letting you save mid-match. I’ve had matches push past the 30-minute mark and if you leave – which I learned to my own irritation – you simply forfeit. You can’t save and pick it up later. This also removes the opportunity to save-scum the matches, an element that many players use to counterbalance the maddening chance-to-hit bullshit that can make many turn-based tactics games feel steeply unfair even when you’re following their rules.

It goes without saying that if you liked Blood Bowl 2, you’ll like this. If you didn’t or have never played one but you do like turn-based tactics, I’d recommend giving it a go when it’s on sale or GamePass, etc, as it certainly has something to offer the genre as a whole. Hopefully Cyanide will iron out a lot of the bugs post-release. Just go in knowing what to expect and ignore a lot of the cinematic trailers; this is as niche and complex as turn-based tactics games get, it just does it all with Orks and Elves and dwarves with silly beards.


Great universe
Some real humour
A genuine challenge


Very buggy
No way to save mid-match
Can feel very unfair

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Blood Bowl 3 is as niche and complex as turn-based tactics games get, it just does it all with Orks and Elves and dwarves with silly beards.