A while ago I backed (and subsequently received) the models from Willy Miniatures Vampire 2.0 Kickstarter. I’ve talked about the KS before in an earlier post so won’t rehash it here in any detail (quick recap: KS was generally fine but the communication to backers was abysmal).
That aside I’ve grown to love a lot of the third party Blood Bowl offerings. There are two main reasons for this.
GW has always and continues to only release 12 players in a box. That’s fine for most starter teams, but with a full roster of 16 and with big guys aside, it generally necessitates topping them up with forgeworld models (if available) or hitting eBay/buying and selling pages etc. to pick up the final few models (and this will also mean duplicate sculpts).
Most of the specialist Blood Bowl miniature companies (Willy, Iron Golem, Black Scorpion to name but three) will sell a full team, including big guys and often these will be individual sculpts, so you don’t need the additional faffing around trying to source the final models. If you do want to mix and match the Spanish company Comixinios (https://www.comixininos.com) pretty much sells all the 3rd party Blood Bowl Miniatures and you can buy full teams or individual models as you see fit.
Continuing the numbers theme, I have to mention price. In general, the third party teams are more expensive especially if you get GW items at a discount through a 3rd party retailer (and with up to 20% off, why wouldn’t you?). It’s also worth mentioning that GWs new teams are also in plastic vs 3rd parties metal or Resin offerings.
My second reason is around sculpts. I won’t beat around the bush, there are a lot of terrible models out there but with the increased use of CAD combined with the advances in 3D printing technology, I actually think quite a few of the recent sculpts put out by 3rd parties are on par or even above those put out by GW.
A case in point is the recent Lizardman team (and even the halfling team). The new Greebo Miniatures Lizardmen team looks a head and shoulders above GWs (although I caveat this as it is still on Kickstarter) but there are also several halfling teams on the market and I prefer a number of their aesthetics over GWs (including the pitches).
Now I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and many players love both these teams but i think they are lacklustre affairs (though the Lizardman pitch is great).
Anyway enough of my rambling/grumbling, the Willy Miniatures Vampire team is another example of a superb set of sculpts released by a third party. If/when GW release an equivalent set, it will be interesting to compare them but as it stands, this team fills a hole very nicely.
Dukes of Drakenhoff
I’ll admit to going pretty much all in with this Kickstarter with the ‘deluxe’ set and some extras. This meant I not only got the basic team of 16 (10 thralls and 6 vamps) but an addition KS exclusive female thrall, vampire star player, apothecary, cheerleader, ‘Bloodweiser babe’, dice (with bag), tokens, balls, skill rings (which will never be used), pitch and a box for it all.
Listing it here, it seems a veritable haul!
My paint job was pretty basic on these but I’ve learnt that simple schemes are often the most effective and a red, black and silver is not a combo I’ve done before but seemed pretty apt for Vampires.
As I mentioned above I love the aesthetics of this team. Every sculpt is different and many of them embody different aspects of the game (and skills), especially with the thralls. I mean a quick glance at them and there’s a kicker, one about to lay in the boot (dirty player), one about to be fed on by a vampire etc. They extrude character. I love them.
So with my team chosen for the next league I’m going to put down a few thoughts about them.
How do they play
At first glance they look like quite a good team.
The thralls are cheap (40k) with ‘standard’ human stats (move 6 and Str and Agi 3). They do suffer from the same issue as Norse, with an armour of 7. They also don’t get block as standard (actually no skills) so they are likely to get a pasting from other teams (and your own but more on that later). As such consider these guys and girls as disposable but overall they aren’t really any worse than other linemen equivalents.
The Vampires are where your team first looks to shine. Move 6 and a reasonable armour of 8 are ok but they start with Str and Agi of 4. That is superb. Though they don’t have any standard starting skills, they do get:
Regeneration – a 50% chance to avoid being a hurt/removed as a casualty:
Hypnotic gaze – a fantastic ability with loads of utilities. At the end of its movement, you may use this skill on an opponent in an adjacent square. Make an agility check against them (with -1 per opposing tackle zone). If you beat them, they can’t move voluntarily, block, assist in a block, catch, intercept, pass and lose their tackle zones until the start of their next action. It thus becomes very effective at allowing you to break cages by removing assists, allowing movement without dodging and letting your blitzer get through. On top of that you don’t suffer a turn over if you fail it, if you didn’t move and we’re next to 2 players, you could hypnotise one and block the other! It is very useful and will take many opponents by surprise. So far they Vampire is looking sweet. Unfortunately he gets a final ‘skill’ and this is the equivalent of the negative skills most big guys get:
Blood lust – Basically any time you want a Vampire to do anything roll a D6. On a 2+ you are fine. On a 1 you may do your action but at the end of it, you must drink blood. If you are next to a thrall, you feed off them (remember my earlier comment about getting a pasting from your own team? Well when bitten, you make a straight injury roll for the thrall). If you don’t end up by a thrall, then the Vampire heads into the crowd to help themselves to a spectator and is placed in the reserves.
This means that although you want to take lots of vampires, you have to balance that against the need to have plenty of thralls to feed on and also the whopping 110k cost of the Vampires.
On top of that, the re-rolls for the team are a hefty 70k starting price (140k after the season starts), so you need to buy a good few of them at the start (minimum 3).
You also ideally want an apothecary as regeneration or not, you don’t want to lose one of your Vampires.
I chopped and changed a few times and at present have settled on the following:
3 Vampires – 330k
9 Thralls – 360k
4 Rerolls – 280k
Fan factor of 1 – 10k
Total – 980k
I’ll be joining a league where a number of players will have teams carried over, with associated skills in tow. As such I wanted 3 Vampires to offer that versatility. 9 Thralls would fill out the roster, give the vamps plenty to feed on and an extra body just in case. 4 rerolls will help offset the lack of skills on the team. In a starting league I would have put the spare 20k onto fan factor and I’m still tempted as it boosts the chance of another reroll but many of the teams I’ll face will have the increased fan factor already so I’d rather keep it and put it towards an apothecary or another player.