07/08/2014 10:13 BST | Updated 07/08/2014 10:59 BST

'Blood Bowl' iOS/Android Review: Brutal, Buggy, But Brilliant

'Blood Bowl' is out now for iOS and Android. (£2.99 with additional teams £1.99)

Key Features:

  • Turn-based faithful recreation of the Games Workshop board game
  • Full team customisation, rosters and star players
  • Online and local multiplayer


'Blood Bowl' is American Football, played in a horrifically violent fantasy world in which orcs, humans, giant rats and undead creatures line up and beat the crap out of each other, while ostensibly trying to score touchdowns in the time-honoured manner.

If you don't think too hard about how it actually works (how do they get the teams to the pitch without killing each other? Why do they bother to play to the rules? What is the league's policy on post-concussion brain injuries) it's a cool set-up.

And at its best, which is usually when playing with another human, the game an extremely entertaining experience. Massive injuries, attritional tactics and by-the-rules use of fouls and weapons are all part of the fun. So are game-altering swings in fortune at the toss of a single dice. The game is built to frustrate and annoy you, but within careful boundaries -- it will allow you to build houses of tactical cards, and tear it all apart on a single roll of a D6.

The new iOS and Android version is based on the 2009 PC release, but the rules are exactly the same as in the original board game. You can even see the rolls of individual dice if you want. It's turn based, filled with intricacies, and its not immediately obvious how to go about trying to win.

Unfortunately this version is also laden with bugs and other fundamental problems. The game has trouble restarting after switching to another app, and we often lost our place mid-game and had to start again. Players disappear mid-cutscene and the interface as a whole is hard to read and irritating to use. The graphics are poor, with blocky player models and pixelated textures even on an iPad Air (it looks better on a smaller screen). The commentary is superfluous and annoying too. Finally the inclusion of only two playable 'races' (humans and orcs) feels a bit limp. You can buy others for £1.99 each, but you'll likely not bother.

All that said, at the core this is a solid and enjoyable port of a classic game. It's just not one designed with the iPad, new players or anyone with an impatient personality in mind.