Blood Bowl is a board game created by Jervis Johnson and made by Games Workshop (GW), a manufacturer of wargames and metal miniature models.
The game, created in the mid-80s, evolved from GW's fantasy wargame, Warhammer, where players pit armies of a hundred or more miniatures against each other on a tabletop battlefield. Someone once had a bright idea at the end of the battle for the few remaining to start a game of football... and so Blood Bowl was created.
In Blood Bowl, there are two participants per game, each taking a side in a crazy game of American football. Each participant has 11 or more players on the pitch (playing board), who can be humans, elves, orcs, dwarves etc. These are represented by small (35mm) painted metal models known as miniatures.
The object of the game is to score more touchdowns than the opposing team. The team is made up of 11 or so players wearing spiky armour, intent on scoring touchdowns by whatever means necessary. If that means your players injuring all the opposing team, then so be it.
There are different styles of play. Human teams are all-rounders and suited to many tactics. Elves are slender but agile and dodge around opponents, playing a passing game. Dwarves are slow and heavily armoured and walk the ball slowly up the pitch. There are many more races, each with its own special rules. The game is turn-based and play is determined by moving a miniature, rolling a dice, playing a card or declaring a skill or ability.
Now in its fourth edition of rules, Blood Bowl has produced a following of players in their 20s and 30s unlike any other game in its class, especially when you consider the game is no longer available in the shops.
The game is still available, however, by mail order, as is the vast range of miniatures to accompany it. Players all around the world run leagues and tournaments between friends to see their teams batter the opponents and improve with experience.
The fans have not let the game be forgotten. There is a Blood Bowl emailing list and a message board where players discuss tactics and rules old and new. GW also brings out occasional new rule compilations and has recently published the fourth edition rules on the Blood Bowl Website.
Any game that can keep a large following when you can no longer buy it in the high street must be worth a look. Seek out a league or players in your area - you won't regret it.