I’m down with punching an Elf in the face as much as the next guy, so I had a go at Blood Bowl: Team Manager recently.
Opening the box, everything was as nicely produced as any other Fantasy Flight product. Excellent artwork, good quality cards, and a rules book which makes sense. No nasty surprises in there.
Gameplay is simple. You have a row of pitches, and a hand of cards which represents the players available to you to place either side of a pitch. Pitches offer different rewards for both attending and winning, but only two players can be involved on any single pitch, so you gain an advantage in going first by picking the pitch with the rewards you want to aim for over the next five rounds.
Each player takes a turn in placing one of their team in an available slot, and each turn takes as many cards as you start with that round – first round takes seven turns, second takes six, and so on. Cards have their abilities written clearly on them, so there’s rarely a need to refer back to the rulebook once you’re underway. Common abilities include beating the snot out of an opposing player, grabbing the ball, or cheating.
Cheats are represented by little tokens which you put on a team-member who is cheating, and they aren’t revealed until a match is over. These could include your star player being sent off for said cheating, but more often than not give additional fans or star rating to that player. Star rating’s what you need more of to win a match, but fans are what you need to win the game overall.
Overall I wasn’t really keen on this game. It suffers the problem where if you begin winning early on, you steamroll ahead of the other players and their ability to catch up by the end falls further and further behind. Winning yourself Star Players to add to your team early on vastly seems to be of more use than aiming for Staff or Team Upgrades (certainly from those which came into play during our game, at least), and the theoretically balancing aspect of Cheat Tokens only ever saw two cards sent off for bad behaviour. More often they led to matches which were close suddenly becoming vastly in the cheating team’s favour.
It wasn’t bad, I just wouldn’t choose to play it if another game was on offer.