Shoot some balls, make some tackles, smash some heads...
When the various races in an old battle realized that none of them could claim victory and met for negotiations, a discovery was made. An old temple of the Amoricans dedicated to the god Nuffle was discovered, and in it a book describing a form of ritualized battle, in which teams of eleven warriors met to do battle. The races decided to decide this battle according to these old rules in order to achieve some sort of a result, and the rest was history: The Blood Bowl was born, and soon other races joined the annual battles.
The game is hilarious: Fantasy miniatures storming across a football field, passing, kicking, killing each other, touching down, bashing their faces in, in short: creating as much havoc as possible. Each team is different, and calls for different tactics: the dwarves slow but well armed and armored; the Skaven fast, but weak; the Orks mainly on the (physical offense) and the gnomes and halflings thrown over half the fields by their ents are just plain weird. And there is loads of other teams as well.
Did you know that the limit of 16 players per team was only introduced in 2482. Previously, a team could swap players as often as it wished. The rule was finally introduced after the deaths of 743 Halflings from the Greenfield Grasshuggers at the hands of the Asgard Ravens Norse berserker team.
With the introduction of league play, the game get's even better, being able to improve players after a game, or playing large tournaments just adds that much more verve to the game... And of course your teams fan appeal, effects of injuries and other hijinx also start playing important roles.
It is a pity that many of the funniest miniatures were only pressed for the first editions, such as the cheerleaders (the orcish ones are...scary), injured players, referees and coaches, but some of them are still available as (expensive) special orders from Games Workshop. But the currently available 'tures are great as well, much better than most of the stuff GW usually produces. I just *love* the Dwarven Steamroller.
Blood Bowl has been plagued by long periods of unavailability, especially between the second and third editions, but also between the third and fourth editions. First published in 1986 (with the Death Zone expansion set coming out a year later, the game was an instant fan favorite. The second edition was released in 1988 and had two expansions: Star Players (1989) and Companion (1990). There also was Dungeonbowl (1989), but that was more like a variant than an expansion.
A "Lite" version was published in 1991 in Kerrunch but in 1994, the entire game was revamped, the rules changed (making all the previous expansions and materials apart from the miniatures obsolete), and the third edition appeared on the market, sold out, and was re-released in 1998 and again in 2000. Many of the features of the previous expansions were included in the new Death Zone expansion, which also included Star Players and League Play. Also in 2000, Games Workshop fidlled a bit more with some rules, releasing the 4th edition Blood Bowl rules (also known as Blood Bowl Magazines #1 and #2), a further Rules Review in 2001 (aka the BB2k1 rules), and just a few months ago, the Living Rule Book which currently includes the complete rules of Blood Bowl, and is free for download from the official Games Workshop website. Let's hope they stick with this set for a while. But the real money is and always was in the miniatures, not the books, maybe they finally realized this.
The current official version of the rules can be legally downloaded from:
A list of playable teams: