Blood Bowl is a fantasy football game created by Jervis Johnson for the British games company Games Workshop as a parody of American Football. The game was first released in 1987 and has been re-released in new editions since. Blood Bowl is set in an alternate version of the Warhammer Fantasy setting, populated by traditional fantasy elements such as human warriors, goblins, dwarves, elves, orcs and trolls.
The turn-based board game typically uses 28 mm miniatures to represent a contest between two teams on a playing field. A board containing a grid overlay represents the field. Using dice, cards, and counters, the players attempt to score higher than each other by entering the opponent's end zone with a player who possesses the ball.
The "Blood" in Blood Bowl is represented by the violent actions available to players. Game play is based on a hybrid of American Football and Rugby. Players may attempt to injure or maim the opposition in order to make scoring easier by reducing the number of enemy players on the field.
The player races are drawn from the ranks of fantasy races and have characteristics that reflect the abilities of those races. Elves tend to be agile and good at scoring, while Dwarfs and Orcs are more suited to a grinding, physical style of play.
All teams offer a choice between player types with different statistics: related races (e.g. skeletons and zombies in undead teams, various lizardmen types), guests of allied races (e.g. trolls in orc and goblin teams), exotic or monstrous units (e.g. ghouls, wights and mummies in undead teams), and specialists of different roles (usually some combination of Blockers, Blitzers, Throwers, Catchers, Runners and Linemen). Teams can include any number of players of the most basic type (usually Linemen), while the stronger units are limited to 1, 2, 4 or 6 per team.
In league play, players gain additional skills and abilities based on their accumulation of experience points. Players face potential injury or even death on the field throughout their careers. Teams improve by the purchase of off-field staff such as cheerleaders, assistant coaches, and apothecaries. Disparity between team values is offset by the purchase of ad-hoc star players or mercenaries, as well as bribes and additional temporary support staff, such as wizards or a halfling cook.