The game of Blitz Bowl: Ultimate Edition has established itself as my favorite board game to date. Combining American Football with gladiatorial combat, Blitz Bowl is a fast-paced, quick-thinking, and tactical game.
I have a soft spot for games featuring miniature figurines (e.g. Space Hulk and Warhammer Age of Sigmar) and I would argue that the line of Blood Bowl / Blitz Bowl sculpts are among the finest that Games Workshop has ever produced.
Here is an image of the box contents (though the Ultimate Edition features Skaven rather than Orc).
Making custom Google Sheets spreadsheets for gaming has been a pastime of mine for several years now, dating back to a complex Hive gaming spreadsheet I designed in college.
Given that the NFL Playoffs were in full swing from January – February of this year, I wanted to run a quick Blitz Bowl: Ultimate Edition tournament that would culminate in a playoffs to coincide with Super Bowl LVII.
I attached a PDF of write-up in session report format, below, for download.
For this session report I created a copy of the BzB_GameRecords Google Sheets to record game data.
24 Jan. – 12 Feb. 2023
– Dark Elf | Dwarf | Human | Ogre | Orc | Skaven
– Season 1, Season 3 (Do not currently have Season 2 pitches)
Regular Season Format:
– Single round-robin tournament (15 games total, 5 games per team)
– Teams randomized to go first or second (minimum at least two games going first per team)
– League Points assigned – 3 for a win, 1 for a tie
– Top four teams by League Points advance to playoffs
> Tiebreaker #1: Head-to-Head; Tiebreaker #2: Points Differential
– Team selection: Coaches roll-off with D6 to decide which team to play (higher roll selects)
– Board selection: Coaches decide with rock-paper-scissors (best of one).
> Winner of rock-paper-scissors rolls a D8 (1, 2 = S1S1 | 3, 4 = S1S2 | 5, 6 = S3S1 | 7, 8 = S3S2)
– Single-elimination tournament with four teams
– Semifinals: Seed 1 vs. Seed 4; Seed 2 vs. Seed 3
> Home Field Advantage: Better seed can choose to go first and can choose the pitch
> Neutral Field: Better seed can choose to go first, but pitch decided on a D8 roll
– Blitz Bowl Ultimate Edition Rules
> No games were played with special Blitz Bowl Arena rules or special balls from Season 2
> Rookies to Watch used in two games with rookie coach (Games 5 and 6)
– All games were played with six endgame cards, though not all games reached the endgame!
For each game, after recording the game data, Pitch, Team 1, and Team 2, the rest of the table automatically populates!
I decided to implement a Game Rating metric to gauge the excitement of the game to the observing fans in the stands:
Game Rating = 2TD + CC + 2CS + (20 – 2APD) + 2LC + 2CB
TD = # Touchdowns Scored
CC = # Challenge Cards Claimed
CS = # Clean Sweeps
APD = Average Point Differential (between teams after even-numbered turns and at end of game)
LC = # Lead Changes
CB = Size of Comeback by Winner
An average Game Rating seems to fall around the 40s – 60s, and exceptional ratings are 70+. During the regular season, two games reached the 70+ threshold, Game 2 and Game 11. I will summarize those games using their recorded game data:
Game 2: Skaven 38, Human 40 | Game Rating 92.3
The Skaven and Human waged a magnificent battle in front of a boisterous crowd on the Season 1, Side 1 pitch. After a few back-and-forth turns, the Skaven jumped out to the 14 – 9 lead with early three touchdowns scored. The game slowed in the middle third as both teams caught their collective breaths before a frenzy of three touchdowns in three turns made the score 30 – 28, Human. While a late Skaven touchdown put them ahead 38 – 34, the Human team then responded with a 6-point turn as the crowd frothed with excitement!
Overall, there were 78 points and 10 touchdowns scored, along with 24 Challenge Cards claimed. With 12 lead changes, this was truly a game for the ages!
Game 11: Orc 30, Human 29 | Game Rating 72.6
The Human team entered this game undefeated at 3 – 0, whereas the Orc team came in at 2 – 1, nursing a recent 20 – 10 beatdown by the Dark Elf squad. While the Humans jumped to an early 7 – 4 advantage following a touchdown, the Orc team punched back with a touchdown and Showboat for the Crowd. The crowd then roared with approval as the Orcs finished their turn by Breaking Some Bones! By the endgame, the match was near level at 23 – 22, Human. Both teams then traded touchdowns and the lead before the Orc team closed out the victory with a fortuitous Show Them How It’s Done.
There were 69 points and 7 touchdowns scored in this game, along with 19 Challenge Cards claimed. This game would later be instrumental in deciding seeding for the playoffs.
Regular Season Standings
Teams that made the playoffs (Record | Seed):
– Dark Elf (4 – 1 | 1)
– Orc (3 – 2 | 2)
– Human1 (3 – 2 | 3)
– Skaven2 (2 – 3 | 4)
1 Orc received the 2nd seed given head-to-head tiebreaker over Human (Game 11)
2 Skaven received the 4th seed given head-to-head tiebreaker over Dwarf (Game 12)
Teams that missed the playoffs
– Dwarf (2 – 3)
– Ogre (1 – 4)
The best team by far in the Regular Season was the Dark Elf squad (4 – 1), their only loss coming in a shocking upset to the Dwarf team in the first game of the season. They ran amok over the rest of their opponents, putting away Sudden Death victories as if they were hot cakes. Their +/- per game was an astonishing +8.4! However, given the lopsided nature of their games, fans began to tune out (Average Game Rating of 41.5).
I wanted to capture each team’s play style, so I came up with a Bash/Dash Rating following the idea put forward one of The Crush podcast episodes.
BDash Rating = 2(DC – BC + 4TD) / PT
BD = Bash/Dash Rating
DC = # of Dash Challenge Cards Points
BC = # of Bash Points
TD = # of TDs Scored
PT = # of Total Points Scored
In the formula, dash cards and touchdowns are given a positive value, bash cards are given a negative value, and positional cards are given value of 0. I multiplied the resultant value by two to get a better magnitude of spread between teams. I figure this is somewhat of a rough equation, but a decent place to start.
The values make some sense to me, with the following teams lined up from bash to dash: Ogre (-0.23), Dwarf (+0.19), and Orc (+0.46), Human (+0.58), Skaven (+0.71), Dark Elf (+0.79).
We played the last three games of the Super Blitz Bowl playoffs on Super Bowl Sunday to great satisfaction.
Semifinal 1: Orc (2) 34, Human (3) 30 | Game Rating 75.5
The Orc team selected the Bash-favoring Season 1, Side 2 pitch and gradually built up a 13 – 4 lead through ball control and breaking bones. The Humans, looking to avenge their loss in the Regular Season, stormed back, tying the game before extending their lead to 22 – 15 upon injuring an Orc Lineman and scoring a touchdown. The green skins would not roll over in defeat, however, instead opting for punches and brawling tactics to force their way to a score to reclaim the lead, 27 – 24. With one last hurrah for the crowd, the Humans scored on their final turn to retake the lead, 30 – 29, but with the Human players all but depleted in the dugout, the Orc team marched their way to the endzone with the walk-off score!
64 points and 5 touchdowns were scored, and 22 Challenge Cards were claimed. The Human team failed to avenge their defeat and finished at 3 – 3 to end their season, while the Orc team improved to 4 – 2.
Semifinal 2: Dark Elf (1) 28 , Skaven (4) 25 | Game Rating 72.5
The tournament-favorite Dark Elf team surprised many by selecting the Season 3, Side 2 pitch, hoping perhaps to prevent the fast-running Skaven from running amok up and down the pitch. After botching an early tackle-attempt in the opponent’s touchdown zone, the Dark Elves lost ball control and quickly found themselves in peril of the Sudden Death rule, down 14 – 4 after a Skaven scramble to the end zone. That touchdown, however, triggered a Multiball event which led to an impressive 7-point turn by the Dark Elf to stave off defeat. The tackling skills of the vermin began to break down, and as the game tightened, the crowd noise elevated in anticipation of a great finish. A late touchdown pushed the Dark Elf lead to 28 – 23, and the Skaven could only limp to the finish and close the margin to three points.
A total of 53 points and 5 touchdowns were scored along with 18 Challenge Cards claimed. The Skaven, who hold the record of touchdowns scored in a game (6), could only manage one touchdown in this game (-0.56 BDash Rating) as they played out of their element. They finished the season with a record of 2 – 4 while the Dark Elf team improved to 5 – 1.
Final: Dark Elf (1) 28, Orc (2) 24 | Game Rating 64.1
The Orc team looked to avenge their Regular Season defeat against the Dark Elf juggernaut – a game in which the Orcs were steamrolled 20 – 10 in the shortest and lowest-rated match of the season. Teeth-gnashing and limbs shaking in fury, the Orcs planned to gouge eyes and fracture limbs on the bloody Season 3, Side 2 pitch. Claiming two Break Some Bones, a Gang Up, and a Take Them Down challenge, the Orcs stomped to a 20 – 10 lead. By this time, some of the crowd began to throw debris and hurl insults at the underperforming Dark Elf squad, accusing them of throwing the match.
Right on cue, the Dark Elf team produced a magnificent turn to flip the game on end: two touchdowns and two Showboat for the Crowds to take the lead 22 – 20. Wild thoughts of “Where have you been?” crossed the incredulous mind of one Orc Lineman before those neuronal connections were interrupted by a beatdown to the hard pitch surface. Nevertheless, the Orcs fought back with a last-turn touchdown to tie up the game 24 apiece. Not to be deterred, the Dark Elves coolly picked up the new ball from the trapdoor on the ensuing turn and ran it in for the winner!
In the Super Blitz Bowl 23 Final, 56 points and 4 touchdowns were scored along with 19 Challenge Cards claimed. The runner-up Orc team fell to 4 – 3. Once again, the Dark Elf team came back from 10 points down, finishing their championship run with a record of 6 – 1.
Super Blitz Bowl 23 Playoffs Table
I was the losing coach in both Semifinal 2 and the Finals – blowing a ten-point lead in back-to-back games was not very fun, I will admit… congratulations to Coach JW for her victories playing Dark Elf in the playoffs and winning Coach of the Season honors!
Final Season Standings Table
Surprisingly, of the 18 games played, the first team only won eight of them, though all three playoff games were won by the first team. Here are some additional data on a per game basis across all 18 games:
– Points scored: 2 ± 15.4
– Touchdowns scored: 4.6 ± 2.4
– Challenge Cards claimed: 17.3 ± 4.6
– B/Dash Rating: +0.37 ± 0.61
Blitz Bowl Records Table
Hope you enjoyed the session report writeup! I was very pleased with how smoothly the data collection went. It would be neat to collect, on aggregate, a whole bunch of community logged games to see general trends among teams. I may explore additional features to add to the BzB spreadsheet such as coach names and Elo ratings if folks are interested.
A few weeks after the tournament concluded, to commemorate the victory of the Dark Elf team, we went to a local pottery store called Color Me Mine, in which one has the option to use bisque paints to paint ceramic objects of one’s choosing.
I settled on a simple plate design. As we only had one hour from start to end, the first fifteen minutes was spent outlining with a pencil while the remainder was a mad scramble to finish in time.
It had been more than a year since I had painted a ceramics object, and I had forgotten how much fun it could be!
Of the six teams featured in this tournament, only two of them – Human and Orc – were fully painted. While I have since painted the Skaven team, I still have a pile of shame including Dwarf team x 2, Ogre, Dark Elf, Human, and Chaos. Gulp…
So much time, and so little to do. Strike that. Reverse it!