Just the other day, someone on the Blood Bowl Community Facebook group was asking tips about how to run a league for the first time. I have run a couple over the years and wondered if I had any suggestions I could pass on that I have learned from my own experience. I was originally going to write this post as a list of tips, but instead I will be just explaining how I am running my league, the choices I have made and perhaps why I have decided on it being this way. It feels a bit less preachy that way and I’ll be first to admit I don’t have all the answers.
Player base is the first and possibly most important thing to think about. Strangely for this league I wasn’t that bothered about running it originally. As stated previously I was kind of not really into tabletop miniatures at the time the idea was being bounced around. However, all of my friends that wanted to play are really good guys. I game with them a lot and I know they are always fun, bringing little to no drama to anything we do. They also have a lot of enthusiasm. More and more I came round to the idea of running a league for the lot of us. There was only one guy that I hadn’t really gamed with before but I had LARPed with him and knew he was alright, plus he was new to the area and seemed pretty keen to join in. I took a chance (don’t let me down, Joe! Haha!).
Before the league started I decided it would be a good idea to have some games as a refresher on the rules for us all. My idea was to have a non serious, fun tournament that would not include any stat increases or permanent damage to the teams. Just everyone getting together one day, trying teams out, rolling some dice and having a laugh. We had a great time, people were feeling settled back into the game and I even threw a special reward in. Everyone in the league was going to receive a special play card they could use once in the season, they were all going to be from the 50,000gp price range. Second place in the tournament would be given two cards to select one from and first place would have three to choose from. Nothing game breaking but something nice to spice things up. I’m not sure I would use these special play cards on a new league with people that haven’t played a lot of Blood Bowl before just because it is another thing to get your head around, but for players who are a little more experienced it can add a lot of fun and surprises to a match.
Getting down to the league, as commissioner I decided that games would not begin until I had a copy of everyone’s team roster. This was just so I could give all of the teams a check over and make sure they were written up correctly. I’m not sure how other people run their leagues, but personally I insist that the full starting treasury of 1,000,000gp should be spent in team creation. If you have any small change that can’t be spent on anything it goes in fan factor.
I also like to run my league using fixtures. Using a website built for this sort of thing, I randomly determined who would be playing who each round for the course of the season. As we had 7 teams, one player would have to sit out each round, but this works out evenly by the end. Once the match ups have been announced for that round the players have 2 weeks to arrange and play their match with their opponents. If the match is not completed by the deadline it must be decided by the two coaches of that match up who should concede perhaps due to their lack of availability to play. There are already rules in place to cover conceding in the rulebook. I’m not sure if other Blood Bowlers would find these choices harsh, but there is reasoning behind this. Quite a few years ago now I was running a league for 10 teams. It was going great, a lot of fun, a good variety of teams, real rivalries forming and a struggle for top spot on the points table. We were on about round 8 then one match up never happened. The two players could not find the time to get their game in, the league stalled, people lost interest and it fell apart which was a massive shame. So now I am very aware of keeping the momentum going which is probably something every commissioner should keep in mind.
I guess, looking at it, if you are running a Blood Bowl league if you have a good selection of enthusiastic and reliable players that cooperate with you and you can keep the momentum going, there is not that much you really need to do. Anything else is just the icing on the cake. For example, I have a private Facebook page set up for the coaches and a few other friends who are into Blood Bowl and might join us in future seasons. We share links to cool miniatures, photos of our teams in progress of getting painted, the occasional fluff story or light-hearted trash talk and it is a good way for me to dish out info on the league.
I’ve also been adding some extra treats and incentives into the game. For one, I found this awesome goblet online to present to the winner of the league. It will be our fulltime trophy for each season, with the plan to find more for any tournaments that happen.
I’ve added a few house rules as well. By the end of the league the player who has earn the most experience (star player points or SPP) from each team will become that team’s captain and gain the “Leader” skill without having to level up (although this will still affect his overall cost). On top of that, the player with the highest SPP in the whole league will become “The Superstar”. This will gain him some notoriety and unwanted attention from the criminal underworld. A bounty will be placed on his head and rewards will be paid to teams who injure him. The worse the injury, the better the payout.
There will also be rewards for various achievements at the end of the league for things such as most touchdowns, most completions, most injuries caused etc. Each of these will grant the team 50,000gp that they can only spend on random special play cards to be used in their team’s future. Should they win multiple rewards they can buy more expensive cards.
All of these little treats will spur the players on to compete even further and adds more fluff and flavour to the game. Here’s hoping my league goes well!