I’d travelled to Portland to take part in a Blood Bowl tournament, while my wife and kids were away in California. This morning I got up, walked for about twenty minutes to Blue Star doughnuts (a very high end doughnut shop, with a frankly over the top Mexican hot chocolate doughnut that wasn’t all that was promised), had a vegan latte and a vegan bacon scone at Oracle, the cafe round the corner, then took my offering of a dozen doughnuts to the venue.
The venue was a small room over a teriyaki shop in Portland, with ten other men of various sizes and shapes crammed into it. We were there to test out a couple of new game formats for a bigger tournament in August (which was why this particular tournament was free).
In the morning we played Blitz Bowl. This is a version of Blood Bowl simplifed so much that it’s effectively a different game. Playing it was very difficult as all the patterns you learn playing Blood Bowl aren’t just useless, they’re actively unhelpful. Just as one example, in Blood Bowl you win by scoring the most touchdowns. In Blitz Bowl you collect points by completing random challenges (and/or scoring touchdowns) and so normally sensible defensive play designed to win games makes you lose. In fa t, I think I may even have lost a game despite scoring more touchdowns. Very topsy turvy. I did get better as I played it more, but I still lost all three matches.
By then it was lunchtime, so we all went to a local food truck marketplace, in the grounds of a defunct mental asylum. This was fitting, because they’d run out of toast so I couldn’t have a grilled cheese sandwich. I got a waffle sandwich containing beets and goats cheese, which I think was what caused my guts to clench in horrendous agony four hours later. But who can really say?
In the afternoon, we played Street Bowl. Street Bowl is like regular Blood Bowl but played on cobblestones instead of a proper grass pitch (so players are more easily injured when they’re knocked down) and you can’t reroll any dice, so actions become much riskier. This is good for me because I specialise in being lucky, and indeed my first game went very well – I wiped out the opposition and then scored.
In my second game, and my third, I drew. In the second game I was confused and thought the other player’s team roster was illegal, but I had the wrong set of rules, and that had thrown me a bit. On the other hand, we rolled an event where a pony runs across the pitch and knocks everyone over, which strikes me as a reasonable game mechanic.
In my third game, against a team of scantily clad Vikings, again I wiped them out, but failed to score. So that was two draws and a win, which got me third place overall. I suppose 2 wins might have got me to second, but it was very close.
The game is much quicker than regular Blood Bowl, which I like because I find a lot of people play slowly, usually giving themselves an advantage against me. Or I’m just bitter.
After we’d finished, I went to another games shop, spent half an hour looking for (and walking straight past) the Blood Bowl section, then decided I couldn’t justify more Blood Bowl stuff and went shopping. I found an Army Surplus shop but I need no more camouflage in my life. So I went to hipster central, near Powell’s Bookstore, had an Impossible Burger and some blueberry flavoured wheat beer at the Backwoods Brewery, then went home to play another game of Blood Bowl, which I lost 2-1.
And that was Saturday.