Hi folks, Squiggy here, admin for the ReBBL Rookie League. After a fantastic first season, in which 20 new players and 4 veterans took to the field to great success, our humble league has been incorporated into the behemoth that is ReBBL, grown into an absolute monster...and I couldn't be happier about it! Season six is just beginning and already shaping up to be a great one. We’ve had a few people ask “so how did ReBBRL begin?” so I thought I’d write a little article about it.
I first made the league after reading yet another post on reddit with new players complaining that there was no fun place to play and learn the game, and that their choices were basically murder the AI yet again, or enter CoL....often accompanied by horror stories about their first multiplayer games being Not Fun. Perfectly understandable, league play can be daunting, especially for a new player coming into a game where permadeath, and the destruction of a months hard work, can be but a dice roll away. CoL...God I hate that place. It's just.....badly planned. Making Champion's Ladder the default league was even worse...but in general, if I was a new player and my options were CoL or AI....seeya in single player! I've met some great guys there, but unfortunately the toxic trolls far outweighed the people I played who were there for CoLs original purpose...play, learn and have fun. It's just not the right place for rookies to learn, and since sighanide missed the obvious option of creating a league specifically for players with Coach level <x or games played <x, there was just no better option.
After reading the sixth or seventh post in a week bemoaning the lack of accessibility and choice for new players, I thought to myself "Myself, you're not playing Blood Bowl 2 a lot with this lousy pc...why not do something about it? You have experience, you have a brain, you have a reasonable rep as a friendly chap on reddit...get your ass in gear and help those rookies!"
So, I did. Created a small 8-man league, spoke to a friend of mine who was willing to help out new players, and hit reddit looking for six rookies who were willing to put their fears of permadeath and organised play aside to give my league a shot. Went to bed with two replies, hoping there would be a couple more by morning.
Well...woke up, checked reddit...29 PMs. What? Sorted through them all, and after reading the messages of encouragement (and several "don't do it, you're wasting your time" posts) I had eleven rookies wanting to join the fun. Well, wouldn't be fair to pick six, would it? I had thirteen players, I could probably manage to run a 16-man league...so I wrote down some details and posted again asking for a few more people. Turned out to be unnecessary...before I'd even written the post we were at twenty applicants! This was interesting...could there actually be demand for a league where a veteran or two would be willing to step up and help the new players learn and the game grow? Sure looked like it!
A couple days later, I'm sat down to twenty-four applicants (I ended up not playing myself, to make room for a final rookie) trying to work out what the hell I'd gotten myself into! This was far, far bigger than anything I'd done before. Twenty rookie coaches were looking at me, and I was gonna be their first experience of real Blood Bowl-no pressure then. Luckily, amongst those twenty were some real diamonds. One, Zuark, was a dab hand at communication and admin work himself (though new to BB) and lent a hand creating the league's discord. I still feel without that, and him, we wouldn’t have made it to season two. Cakengrad was another, who was always active, chatty, friendly, encouraging other coaches to play and gain experience, and is now the owner of our own subreddit. We also unearthed some really, really good rookies...Ghazgkull was a prime example, taking his orcs all the way to the final, toppling several veterans along the way. We also had some fantastic veterans step up and lend a hand. Kejiruze was incredibly helpful with the new players, and Khornight was a fantastic sport, playing a majorly gimped team but using his skills to show rookies tactics, formations and proper positioning. Too many names to mention all in all, I was genuinely stunned and humbled by the effort some great people put in to help make this work.
All in all, it was fun! 21 of the original 24 completed the season, and almost all of them were immediately wanting more! I was being swamped with applications for season two before season two was even confirmed...PMs coming in daily from reddit asking about future leagues, recommendations for other places to play, asking for games or help with learning to play...it was amazing. Everything I wanted, and more. It was, however, scary as hell!
During the playoffs for season one, I decided there would be a season two, but if we’re gonna do it, we had to do it right. I freely admit that as a rookie commissioner taking on FAR more than expected in S1...mistakes were made. Did my best, everyone was very understanding and helpful...but it wasn’t what I would call smooth sailing. If this was gonna work, I needed backup, experienced coaches to take part, experienced league admins to teach and help me...especially as by now we were closing in on SEVENTY applications for season two.
Suddenly, up rides a white charger, with a gallant and brave knight of the...oh no, wrong story. What actually happened was FullmetalCOS, a good friend of mine, had taken note of the work we had done season one, and was also looking at ways to improve and expand ReBBL (as always), and he had a proposition for me. Well, after telling him in no uncertain terms "me not that kind of orc", and with his mocking laughter ringing in my ears, he explained that ReBBL would like to take my little league into the fold, encompass it within the structure of the REBBL league as a whole, and use it both as a training ground, and a recruitment/baptism of fire league to bring out the best in the rookies, and to give them a chance at real progression. Learn your trade here, and then step up into The Big Leagues. He gave me admin assistance, he made mentors available to the new players (A huge thank you to Walkerthon, who as well as organising the rookies, has put in major hours to help plan mentoring groups and sessions, and to collate data as to who and what is required) and he welcomed each and every one of my boys (and girls!) into the fold.
So, here we are! As I write this, week one of season six is about to get underway, this time with us proudly flying under the REBBL banner as the ReBBL Rookie League. There are three leagues within the rookie foundation, one is a spin league (currently sitting at 2050 teams) for matchmaking, friendly games and team development. We're seeing anything from five to fifty games per night being played, some purely friendly learning experiences, some structured mentoring sessions, and some players developing teams for the future. Five minutes in our discord channel and I guarantee you someone will be looking for a game!
Another, and the one in progress right now, is our ReBBL College League, which is a league for new teams only, coaches arranged by both timezone and experience level, with a few mentors scattered among each division to help with any small problems or any questions that may arise. From our humble beginnings of eight players, and me hoping that of the six rookies, maybe half will stick it out and learn the game a little better, we now have EIGHTY coaches in that one league, all vying for the right to be called Rookie Of The Year, and to win the rather splendid Mystery Prize awaiting them, as well as just under four hundred graduates from college league. That league is about to start week one, and games are being played at a phenomenal rate!
At about the same time (roughly) our other league will begin, the Minors. This league is for teams returning from season one, plus any teams born and developed in our side leagues (this season we have a cap of 13 games played maximum, future seasons will probably be divided by team value and games played) and I expect the interest to continue this season, with a great Majors Playoff spot on offer as well as our usual mystery prizes
So yeah...from humble beginnings and all that...our eight initial coaches (of which I'm proud to say seven are still with us, and five are acting as mods/admins to the league) and some elbow grease have grown into a league I am spectacularly proud of, with a ton of enthusiastic players, and some really talented coaches who have stepped up and played in the big leagues. I can say I've spotted a LOT of coaches who wouldn’t look out of place in the higher reaches of ReBBL's major leagues...ever heard of Ornan? We’ve had well over a hundred coaches graduate from ReBBRL to the majors, and some have really hit the big time!
As well as this, we have side leagues, which attract a mix of new coaches looking for fun ways to gain some experience, and veterans looking to try out a fun new concept, fill downtime between seasons, or pass on some of their hard-won experience. Showtime league, with one minute turns and fun concept teams, as a perennial favourite. Upstarts has become a common and popular way to develop teams for future leagues. And in Allstars, you’re gonna meet some of the most famous teams in reBBL history, as well as the bravest and brightest of the new coaches. I’m also VERY proud of the organic way we’ve developed our admin team, taking the best, most willing and brightest community members and easing them into positions where they can help the league be even better. Without the wonderful mods, admins and assistants we have, this league would be dead in the water. Thank you to each and every one of you.
Basically, if you want blood bowl...we got blood bowl. We’re here to help.