Thursday, 24 November 2016

Bloodbowl - Orc Team review

Welcome one and all to the hallowed ground, the sanctified turf, the pitch of ages. Yes, it's bloodbowl once more, and a new game for us to drool over! Here's the second of the brotherhood's reviews of the bloodbowl teams, and today we're concentrating on the orc team.

Bloodbowl Orcs - the short version

The original bashing team, and still one of the best – the only thing that lets them down in this regard is lack of access to the claw skill, but you’ll still have a very good team by the time opponents get that on lots of players.

Orc linemen do everything you could want them to, they’re tough, they’ll rarely get injured and they’ll hold the line. Their only drawback is there are better players on their team. Goblins aren’t one of them. Sure, stick one in for the occasional hilarity inducing throw team mate play. Throwers – don’t throw with them and they’re great. Actually they’re no worse at throwing than human equivalents, but it’s more the issue that there are no catching skills in the team that means you don’t play a passing game. Use the thrower to retrieve the ball then hand it off into a cage. Black Orcs are your cage defenders, they’re slow but very tough, and once they get block they’re going to be difficult to put down. Blitzers are the stars of the orc team, they’re your fastest and most agile players without losing the high armour that makes them resilient. The troll is a rock on the line, but a really stupid one. Serious orc teams won’t have one (probably), whereas more fun ones will, mainly due to the necessity of babysitting them with other players to at least give them a decent chance of performing an action.

Bloodbowl Orcs - the longer version

The Team

The Orc team is designed to do one thing and one thing only, which is good, because the Orc race is designed to do the same thing. If you don't know what that is, there are two words that adequately describe it.
Krush Dem!
There is no point trying to play orcs any other way. Even though you need to keep one eye on the ball, the team is designed to hit their opponents, hit them hard and put them down, and if they get hit first, to get back up again and keep hittin'.

The game plan with an Orc team is therefore pretty simple. You have someone to pick up the ball, and everyone else creates a protective cage around the ball carrier to slowly bash their way forwards up the pitch until you're close enough to make a break for the end zone (with a maximum move in the team of 6, you really will need to be close).

There is only one other strategy with Orcs, and that's to forget about the ball, and keep hitting your opponents until they don't get back up again, then fetch the ball and score when there are enough defenders left to stop you.

The Orc team also has a vast number of potential players, not only positional players in the traditional sense (lineman, blitzer, thrower) and the almost obligatory big guy, but you can also pick up goblins and black orcs, the first to act as an emergency ball delivery system via a troll, assuming that troll isn't hungry at the time, and the second to replace the traditional catching player with a second type of aggressive basher.

The Players


One of the toughest basic linemen (lineorc) out there, they come with no skills, a slower than average movement (that'd be compared to the 'average' human team - see my human team review 😉) but significantly, a much higher armour value. Ok, it's only 1 point higher, but of the 36 possible combinations of numbers when you roll two dice, there are only 6 results that beat an armour value of 9, whereas 10 results beat the human armour, which is 1.6 times as likely.

You probably don't need to fit too many of these guys into your team, depending on how you want to fill your roster to start with, but if you do they're not likely to let you down as they'll still make a formidably tough defensive or offensive line.


The only truly dedicated positional player on the Orc team, the blitzer brings the usual increase in speed we saw on the human team along with the block skill, although his already formidable armour isn't boosted any higher.

These guys are the offensive workhorses of your team, they come naturally with the block skill and they're also the equal of the goblins in the speed stakes. You will almost certainly want to develop one into a dedicated ball carrier, with others focusing more on blocking, blitzing and pain bringing skills to take the fight to the enemy.

As with the human blitzers, look to develop these guys down a specific path, 'mighty blow', 'piling on' etc for the killers, sure hands and fend for the ball carrier, and if you pick up any doubles, then anything that keeps you from having to pick the ball up again is useful (such as 'dump off').

As with the human blitzer, don't risk fouling anyone with these guys, the potential for a sending off may be fun, but it's also quite stupid.

Black Orc

Speaking of stupid! Not exactly a positional player as such, these guys are basically super-linemen. Even slower (so what, they're linemen, not going to be going anywhere) than the usual orc lineman, they also drop a point of agility to give themselves absolutely no chance of being anything but a rock to anchor a defence or offense on. This trade-off though gives them an extra point of strength, and that is huge for such a player. Bring the maximum number of these guys and a liberal sprinkling of blitzers and you have a defensive line that will worry almost everyone.

Do not, and I repeat, do NOT think these guys are at all capable of handling the ball. Yes, picking it up from an unattended square has a 50% chance of success, but think about that, it's a turnover if it goes wrong, and this guy has MA4. Even if you go for it twice per turn, he will still need three turns to cross the field from the line of scrimmage to the end zone.

When choosing skills, this guy needs block first and foremost. The only instance when I might consider not taking block is to get dodge (on a double) since that means opponents will really struggle to knock this guy down even if they gang up on him. After that, just take anything that hurts your opponents, like mighty blow, tackle, frenzy, piling on etc. I would also strongly consider giving a couple of them guard fairly early on, as this will really help you to put the odds on your side on the line of scrimmage.


Hmm, bit of a trick this one, methinks. In theory at least, the orc thrower isn't that much different to the human thrower, 'cept he's a bit slower and more heavily armoured. He's got average agility and ability to both pick up the ball and pass with it. In fact, he's a perfectly pass-able (sorry, bad joke) thrower, the only drawback is there's literally no-one on the orc team I'd want to throw the ball to!

In that respect, I consider these guy much more as a ball retriever, who is then sheltered in a cage of some kind whilst the team moves up the pitch, then hands off (!) the ball to a team-mate who needs the SPP for the score.

For development, I would look solely to develop for this role, picking up the ball and carrying it (fend, side step if you can get it etc)


Well there's nothing wrong with liking the little guys, but being the size they are, carrying the ball isn't something they're really designed to do very well, and against the right skilled opponent are positively a liability. There is only one reason to include goblins on your bloodbowl team, and that is if you're also planning on taking a troll and launching them over the line of scrimmage (to be honest, with or without the ball, doesn't matter, they actually work pretty decently as missiles if you can get them to land in the right square).

If you want to take them because you like them and cos they're fun, then look at the goblin team instead, it's much more unreliable but you can launch two goblins per turn and you also have a bunch of special weapon guys who can cause absolute mayhem.

If you ever actually manage to get a goblin to skill up before they die, taking block can be fun to reduce the number of down results they'll suffer, though you're probably better off aiming for things like 'side step', 'jump up', 'sneaky git' etc


Ah the troll, one of my favourite big guys, and for one reason only - because I don't play any teams they're in. That makes it sound like I think he's a bad player, so let's qualify that, as he's not.

The troll has the most annoying of the negative big guy traits, the 'really stupid' skill, which means you have to keep  one of your other players next to him or suffer a 50% chance of him forgetting he's there to play bloodbowl and instead spend the turn picking the stray bits of goblin from between his teeth. Which brings me to his second issue - this guy also has the 'always hungry' skill, so whilst he can replicate the ogre's exploits throwing team mates, you'll fail to even attempt the throw 17% of the time, and on another roll of a 1 after that, you'll also lose forever the goblin he was supposed to throw as he eats him alive instead. And yes, you can argue that rolling two '1's in a row is very rare, but we all know that dice can be fickle!

On the plus side however, he'll have a 50% of ignoring any injury that gets through his high armour and with the standard big guy strength and the 'mighty blow' skill he's more than capable of laying down the pain on anyone that gets too close.

As with many of the more commonly seen big guys, the fact that they come with mighty blow from the start actually makes their first skill more difficult than you might imagine unless you get a double (take block). As the troll's best position however is right in the middle of the line of scrimmage, you'd probably be best advised to go with 'guard' first, then 'grab' or 'break tackle'.


So there you have it, the bludgeoning second team from the boxed game, the Orcs. 

This team really does only play reliably one way, which is to mash the opponent into the ground and then stamp on them with their dirty great hobnailed boots.

Do Not forget about where the ball is, or how it should be protected, but one of your greatest assets is your ability to get other players off the pitch, giving you free reign over how you can move the ball around. Don't play this team if you fancy pulling off any of the more elaborate moves in the bloodbowl playbook, but if you like seeing your opponents squirming on the floor then the Orcs might well be your team.

Next up...Skaven