How To Pick Your Starting Roster

Teams Without Core Starting Skills:

Different races have players who start with various starting skills, or in some cases without any. The skills you start with all have differing uses and there are certain ones that are considered the “core skills”, which help with the most common actions your players perform. The more of these skills your players have the better they will be early on compared to counterparts on other teams. Generally the more skills a player has the more they cost as well, so you can’t usually take them all in a starting team. Teams that don’t have the core starting skills on their players are probably going to want to start with as many rerolls as is practical to fit into the starting roster. Teams with lots of core skills, the most notable of which are Human teams, will find that they tend to rely less on Rerolls than other teams. Typically the teams with more core starting skills have lower Reroll price as well, expensive players sound great, but without core starting skills they can be just as useful as a cheap Lineman.

Players Starting Skills and Opposition Schedule:

Early on for teams Block is quite a key skill to have on the pitch, it gives you someone who can hit with reliability (and reliable players early on is very helpful) and early on in leagues there are going to be  a lot of opposing players without Block who you can knock down easier. Dodge is also a powerful skill early on against most teams and if you have players who can start with it, then they can be an attractive player to start with. If however you know that you are facing a Dwarf team in the first game, then unless you are Amazon you may be tempted to take a player without Dodge. This can save you some money as starting skills inflate a players cost and against Dwarfs you would have paid for the skill and probably not get much benefit from it. The saving made on the player can perhaps mean you can now take an extra Reroll or an alternative player with different starting skills.

12 or More Players:

You have to start with eleven players as I already mentioned, though as you haven’t spent 90k on Fan Factor, do you look to take a reserve twelfth player instead? Personally I feel that it is a waste, an extra Reroll would probably come in just as useful most of the time and don’t forget that they will double in cost in the future but the players cost will stay the same. Most other teams will only start with eleven players as well, so if you suffer an injury or a KO, you only will probably need to cause one to their team to even things out again. Some teams cope better with having less than eleven players on the pitch than others though. The more expensive Elven players can still be very effective with less players. The teams with cheaper players will suffer more and are more likely to be able to afford to have someone on the bench. The trade off is that they also typically need Rerolls more often (slower, less agile and often skill less), so you will probably should spend money on Rerolls. If you feel you have enough Rerolls though and would like a twelfth player, then is probably time to consider an Apothecary, while they can’t be guaranteed to work, they can give you back a player you would have missing and may be able to get you back one of your more expensive players, rather than just bringing on a Lineman.

Miniature Consideration for Table Top:

If you are playing one of the digital versions then this won’t really apply. For tabletop players though you may consider which miniatures you have available as well. For some bizarre reason most of the official team boxes don’t have a full 16 players with maximised positional players in them. You can of course use proxy miniatures to represent ones you don’t have enough for. If you decide to not start with a Catcher but have Catcher miniatures and not enough Lineman ones, then this can be annoying, especially further down the line when none of your Lineman you planned on getting killed have got injured.

If we take Dark Elves as an example though, a common starting roster only includes six Lineman. If you do get a full team of 16 players on a Dark Elf team, you typically will have 4 Blitzers 2 Witches 2 Runners 2 Assassins which leave 6 Lineman. This means you don’t need to worry about having proxies in place or extra Lineman miniatures just for the start of the team. Some coaches do like having eight Lineman but if your league insists you have to represent every player properly, you may not be able to do this.


Starting a team can appear to be quite straight forward but make the wrong choices at the start can leave your team struggling early on. In a short league this can rule you out of the running from quite early on, so it pays to put some thought into it. The main things to consider are the amount of Rerolls you can afford and need compared to which of the better players you will have to leave out and if it is worth starting with an Apothecary or not. I’m a big fan of starting with plenty of Rerolls, but if your league is fairly short, then having better players can make all the difference.

24 thoughts on “How To Pick Your Starting Roster”

  1. I’d personally put a lot more emphasis on the expected length of the league. Our most recent league was just eight games long, whereas some of my teams in the past have still been going strong after more than fifty games. In an eight-game league, most of your players won’t get upgraded – in a sixteen-game league, most of them will; in a fifty game league, all of them will. This makes skilled players much more important in a short league; you did kinda mention this in passing, but I’d have given it a lot more coverage.

  2. Perhaps example starting rosters for each race are worth being in here for beginners?
    Or would you rather do that on either the team page or the forums when they happen?

    It’d be good to have a spot to discuss starting team lineups for league play and for tournament play. Though the tounament play probably needs its own string of articles lol.

    Top job coach, keep it up 🙂

  3. Some great points there.

    Whenever I am starting a new team I like to spend ~200k on Rerolls and an Apot. This will give you 2/3 rerolls and a chance to save an important positional player. I never use an Apot on a Lineman (unless its the last turn perhaps), but as you say spending 50k to save yourself having to buy a new 120k Wardancer or a 90k Gutter Runner who scored most of your tries makes alot of sense.

    After that I go with a Sure Hands Player, a Blocker and a Runner with Dodge. Once you have at least one of these each you can fill up to 11/12 players with Linemen. If you have spare cash afterward you can ‘upgrade’ your Linemen, say you have 70k spare, that is an extra Gutter Runner(Lineman+30) and Stormvermin(Lineman+40)  for example. I rarely start with a Big Guy unless you have to i.e. Goblin Teams, etc.

  4. Perhaps example starting rosters for each race are worth being in here for beginners?

    I’ve had a category in place since day one ready for these, as there are a few different viable starting line ups for every race, I will be doing separate ones for each race. If needed in the future I’ve set it up to easily have different starting rosters for different amounts of starting money as well.

  5. Where are you planning on putting the starting lineups? On the team articles or a separate link to all of them or?

    Apothecary is being evaluated on a ‘one game’ value here for some reason also. They’re a bit like a reroll, their value is in having them forever and the cumulative effect of having one is well worth the investment.

    On LONG leagues, particularly the Cyanide ‘open league’, I start with a big guy on pretty much any team that doesnt have access to strength 4 players as standard. This is mainly to start their progression as soon as possible.

    On short leagues or tounaments its much more likely i’ll skip on the big guy altogether.

    Its not clear cut though, big-guys add a lot of backbone to a team and can indirectly cut down on your number of casualties.
    A skaven team without a rat ogre loses a lot more players in my experience. Even if the rat ogre spends a large portion of the game not doing anything useful, just its presence (and guard hopefully) makes the opponents life a tiny bit more difficult and stops them getting a clear three hits on your front line using just three players.  they are at least usually forced to either spend another player or two on the front line skirmish, or not follow up on a hit or two in order to assist against the big guy. Either way you end up with less of your players being hit and therefore fewer injuries.

    The treeman for the wood elves is a trickier one, I like to have one, but I appreciate that a lot of coaches dont, and in tournament play I have previously not taken one (though my only tourney experience is little-league local stuff, none of the ‘serious’ ones lol)

    I’d skip mino for chaos, roller for dwarves and troll for orcs without losing any sleep, but rat ogre and ogre for humans I’d take (though lots of ppl dont).

    I’m looking forward to dark elves adding to the cyanide game, it’ll be interesting to have a team with no big-guys in the comp and see how it fares in open league format, I’m looking forward to using them.

  6. The forum would be a better place for starting rosters. There’s a lot of post online about that already.

    I agree about the Big Guy for leagues. He’s either in from the start or out.
    The treeman in wood elves team is not mandatory.Some people like it, some don’t. I personnaly never play with one.
    My league WE setup is: 2 dancers – 9 lineelves – 2 RR -30k in the bank.
    Starting Orc league setup: 1 Troll – 4 BO – 2 runners – 1 thrower -2 lines – 1 gob – 3RR – 20k in the bank

  7. Yes, Skaven Teams definately need a Rat Ogre in my experience, and in fairness he isn’t the worse of them, failing Wild Animal doesn’t lose you his Tackle Zones.

    I’d have to disagree with VoidSeer’s absolutism, but I do understand why you would feel that way. Saving up for a Treeman or Mino is worthwhile for a longer League IMO, but obviously you would probably never have the money in a shorter league.

  8. My WE setup is typically (for leagues of medium to long):
    1 dancer, 1tree, 1 thrower, 2 RR, 8 linesmen, 10 in the bank.
    Then its apoth, catcher, catcher  assuming no losses or only a linesman lost. 

    For a tourney I’ve tried a few and the most comfortable to play felt like double dancer, 8 linesmen and a thrower (2 RR)

    I dont like playing without a thrower, too much relies on that pass working, too many bad things happen when it doesnt and I dont like to have to save a reroll just for that through the entire half.

  9. I run with tree, dancer, thrower, linesmen and 2RR in the average league (medium to long league)
    For a tourney or short league, double dancer, thrower, linesmen and 2 RR is the way to go for me.

    I dont like playing without a thrower. yes I know your linesmen are just as good with a reroll on standby, but a) they dont look cool doing it, b) it means you have to save half your rerolls for the one critical throw you know you’ll be doing at some point in the half. That leaves you with only one reroll you can really afford to use during the half, not enough to give you the best chance at forcing a turnover td.

  10. @Thanatos
    The problem is that big guys are dead slow to skill up (expect the Mino and the RO, maybe). Even in long leagues, your rookie big guy will face full block lines or dauntless blitzers etc. if you buy it late.  If you want a useful BG, you kinda need to take it from the get go.
    I do not start with a WE thrower on purpose in leagues. A good elf team needs to have very skilled lines. A thrower skills damn fast, and hogs all the passing SPPs. I always try to make a quick pass when receiving (MVP + quick pass = 1 skill).
    On short leagues or tournaments, I do definitly start with one (and leader as 1st skill).
    With my league starting roster, I go : Apo – 1st thrower – catcher – catcher – 2nd thrower – 2x catchers (provided I don’t have to replace anyone).

  11. I get you now, and while yes BGs are slow to skill, they only really need Block/Juggernaut to be competative against a more advanced opposing LOS. That is just 3 Cas, which might take a game or 3 but not too long.

  12. I believe part of his point, however, is that if you take a BG later on, you wind up with a rookie BG facing a developed LOS, and it’s even slower to get them the Cas they need.  Against an unskilled human lineman a BG inflicts a casualty approximately 1/16 blocks (if you figure 2 dice, 1/6 failure from nega-trait, Mighty Blow, no Frenzy).

  13. Juggernaught does not make them competitive with a skilled line of scrimmage.

    In fact, if you’re going down the juggernaught path then they probably shouldnt be on the LOS at all, they’ll be blitzing ppl off the field or hitting squishies.

  14. Guys, I appreciate your comments but can we take the more specific discussion onto the forum. I understand taking a Big Guy at the start or later (or not at all) is kind of relevant. The same with starting Wood Elves with a Thrower or not, but the forum would be much better suited to specific threads for those races. Think I need to add an extra forum for general team build non race specific threads though for things like big guys and inducement discussion that aren’t so specific to a certain race.

  15. Most BB websites have a section for starting rosters with a thread for each races. If you create the section and sticky one post per race, we can start yelling at eachother 🙂

  16. My starting team for Norse is killing they are currently 11-1-2 and now have 4 re-rolls 11 ff and full 16 players.
    I started with 1 thrower, 1 yhetee, 2 norse werewolves, 2 blitzers, 5 linemen and 2 re-rolls my only loss was the 4th game of the season. I had to purchase the second thrower due to my starter thrower Constantly  being targeted his +1ag on his first level was awesome. I quickly started picking up runners as quick as I could so I could score faster with their 7 movement.

  17. I might add the first starting roster for norse where I didn’t take big guys was 1 thrower 2 berserkers 2 runners 7 lineman 3 re-rolls 1 cheerleader 3 fan factor perfect million team I ended up in 4th place. 9-4-2 over regular season 2-1 in playoffs. Wasn’t a real threat or beat down anyone good until I got the werewolves and Yhetee thats why I started this new longer league with the big guys.

  18. Hey Coach
    I have recently started playing blood bowl and would like to ask some help regarding choosing correct team. I started game from modelling point and it is very important to me that my models look right when thinking at their playstyle. For example using human AOS starter set chaos models would result in bashy team rather than fast ball handler. They do look like they want to rip your face off, not play honest ballgame!

    I recently saw James Braund’s converted team, the Hoeth Harlequins, converted from WH40k harlequins, and decided to convert me some clowns. Harlequins are typically nigh impossible to catch or pin down, less fighty without their toys (which they won’t have in the pitch). So my question, after long winded intro is as follows:

    Which elf team plays overall like you would expect from harlequins? Fast with tons of evasion and ball handling. Since this is a converted team, with modelling, i can make it look like any team in game, though woould prefer it to be elf. Also, i am beginner coach so if your suggested team is beginner friendly, all the better. Thank you in advance

    • I know other players who have used Harlequins for Elven teams and used the same miniatures for whichever of the four Elf teams they are using. Personally I think they would best fit the Pro Elves or Elven Union as they appear to have been renamed as. Though they are reportedly the next team Games Workshop are going to release a new set of minis for, so Wood Elves are probably the next best fit. I wouldn’t say any of them are much easier than the others to play though.

  19. Hey Coach,

    Do you have any insight/advice about the new Bretonnian team in Cyanide’s Blood Bowl 2? I notice they still haven’t included Slann or Chaos Pact, but I don’t think Bretons are from any official (i.e. GW) publication, and I’m a touch unsure where to go with them.


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