Fans of the classic fantasy sports game Warhammer Blood Bowl should keep their eyes open for Slapshot Showdown, an upcoming indie wargame that ditches Blood Bowl’s American football in favor of ice hockey. The game’s solo developer has shown off tantalizing concept art and miniature sculpts via Instagram and reddit, well ahead of a Kickstarter campaign planned for 2024.
According to an intro post in r/Wargaming, Slapshot Showdown is “a fantasy hockey game that takes place in the fictional world of Rinkhaven. In Rinkhaven, hockey is played 3 on 3 (plus goalies), and is played as a brutal blood sport similar to Blood Bowl”.
How brutal? According to the developer, “There are no penalties in Rinkhaven, so you’re free to try to beat your opponent the old fashioned way by scoring more goals, or to simply beat them until they can’t play anymore”.
Apparently, Showdown will “ride the line between the silliness of Blood Bowl and competitiveness/crunchiness of Guild Ball”, a respected but now OOP fantasy soccer game from Steamforged Games.
In Blood Bowl, every roll – which could be anything from making a tackle to picking up the ball – could result in you surrendering your turn to your opponent, if you simply flub the roll.
In contrast, the developer for Showdown gives the example in their game that passing “is as simple as being able to draw an uninterrupted template between your players, and spending the appropriate AP cost. It does not include a die roll and a random chance to fail”. Fans of math rocks shouldn’t worry though, as the game still uses the trusty D6.
Crunch will come from the ability to react to your opponents’ actions, interrupting their turn. The developer has shared a short demo battle report in the game’s subreddit if you’d like to get a feel for the rules.
Three players and a goalie will be on the pitch at any given time, with one or two substitutes on the bench. Team building promises to be open ended, with coaches free to select whichever players they like: a wolfman, an orc, a grizzly bear, and a lich in goal, why not? Players can then use upgrades to customize their players, and pick a team card which will unify them with a shared ability.
Fantasy sports games appeal to a unique slice of gamers. Games like Blood Bowl, Mantic Games’ Dreadball, and TTCombat’s Rumbleslam are hybrids of board and wargames, as they all use fixed-sized boards, like board games, but allow you to paint miniatures and customize your team, like miniature wargames. If you’re not part of the scene it can be surprising just how many people are into it.
Even if you don’t care for sportsball in real life, there’s lots to recommend about sports miniature games. I’m a Brit and I don’t know an end zone from an audible, but I reviewed Blood Bowl 3 and had a great time. It released with plenty of bugs that I simply didn’t notice (and that developer Cyanide Studios has been squashing since), partly because I got lucky and partly because the core tabletop rules of Blood Bowl are so darn good.