Thursday, 12 September 2013

Trying out Dread Ball

So I had the chance to get in a practice game of Dread Ball in last night and whilst I'm sure that I'll have played some of the rules incorrectly (it is me after all) I think that I have enough of them down now that I can give a quick review.
You really need to play lengthways for the game to work, your feel as though you are actually 'rushing' at  the opposition.

Simplified Bloodbowl. That is the best way to describe the core mechanics. Blocking is Slamming, Dodging is Evading and Throwing & Catching are still the same (guess they aren't copyrighted). The main difference is the Tackle Zone (can't remember the exact name) is only the front half of the hex making your choice of where to face your player very important. Skill checks are pretty similar as you have a target number you need to get but the number of dice you get to be successful varies depending on the difficulty of the situation and skills of the player. For example, my Striker (combination of the catchers and throwers from Bloodbowl) got two dice to throw the ball (1 base + 1 for being a Striker) giving two chances to get the 4+ I needed to make the pass accurate. Strangely (and this is where we could have gotten the rules wrong) you can still throw the ball on 0 dice but it is automatically inaccurate which is -1 dice for the player catching. Once you add I the fact that certain players cannot perform certain actions (Strikers cannot Slam for example) you end having to be a little more tactical than in Bloodbowl.
The ball is in the middle of the clump, figured he'd find it hard to dodge his way out. Turns out I was wrong!

Things I liked:
- The change to the scoring system from standard games of I score one point for a 'goal' to having a range of points based on which area of the pitch really opens up the game in it's early stages. Plus having a mercy rule (game ends if one player gets 7 ahead) allows players who are seriously out matched/unlucky to get it over with quickly.
- The Slamming mechanic is pretty cool as it's much like Risk/Spartacus so you feel you have really beat the player rather than just lucked out on a die roll.
- The game is quick! I can see why the tournaments are made up of two matches per round.
- There seems to be real variation in the teams with just a few simple tweaks to team composition and skill levels rather than a plethora of special rules to remember.

Things that made me go hmm:
- As far as I can tell there is no risk of being knocked over and prematurely ending your Rush (a turn of the game) from Slamming another player. This felt odd as it meant that you really don't have to think too much about whether you want to hit someone as your only limited by the number of actions (five a turn) so if you know your Striker only needs one action to attempt to score, just do all your Slamming and then throw the ball at the goal.
- Whilst the cards are fun and give a needed amount of variety to the game they are so random they feel rather pointless or a bit of a distraction as you have to give up actions to draw them and they may not be of any real use for the team you have (Orx don't have Strikers so cards that give Strikers actions are wasted).
- It's definitely more sport than gore and that works ok when the game is quick and flowing but I just wanted it to feel a bit grittier when the fits were flying. As a human player I don't understand why you would ever use your Strength (4+) to counter Slam a player instead of your Speed or Skill to Dodge (4+ though can't remember which it is exactly but its same number) as each dodge reduces the number of hits you'll take, the other doesn't. 
- The model quality is fine but part of me would really like some chunkier/crisper sculpts.

All told I really liked it and am looking forward to playing in a league and getting my behind handed to me (no Undead team to hide behind in this game!).

4/5 Daves


  1. I had a few games with the basic set a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I had most of the same thoughts you did.
    I liked that players couldnt magically tackle people moving behind them, i liked that i didnt have to remember all the plus 1s and -1s to work out what i needed to roll, just work out how many dice i need.
    i liked the flowing nature of it, the games could be over quite quick.
    I agree the cards seemed a bit overkill, i didnt see why they were needed.

    Im liking the look of some of the teams in the later seasons, too. None of the season one teams 'popped' for me, personally. But the robot team, the judwan and the new cheating monkeys team are all tempting.

  2. Should be organising a day over Will's to crack open his Kickstarter stuff and learn the rules properly. I'll let you know when we have organised it.

    1. sweet, please do, ill be in. from what ive heard it might need several pairs of hands to clean the minis up and get them ready too.