Dreadball

I’ve been hooked recently on a new, unreleased game called Dreadball. It was described in a nutshell as ‘Sci-fi Blood Bowl, but nothing like Blood Bowl’. A slightly better description is that it’s a fast-paced sports game with a futuristic setting. I played a demo game of it at Cut ‘n Thrust Wargaming in Bristol, and it was a lot of fun despite being a simpler version of the game (5 players instead of 6, 3 actions per turn instead of 5 and 3 turns each instead of 7). If you ignore the reduced scope of the game because there was a lot of rules explanation, it took about 20 minutes to play almost-half-a-game. I thought that was impressive, and according to the Mantic representative, full games only take around an hour to an hour and a half to play. The basic rules were quick to learn, and I started to wonder if even Freddy could learn to play – expecting the game to take a long while to come out. The reps told us the Kickstarter had December listed as a delivery date, but that was expecting major delays from their real plan of October and it always sounds better to say something was a couple of weeks early than a few weeks late on the same day.

What I’m really looking for in a game at the moment is zero setup time (check, the board fits on a normal table and there’s no scenery) and quick play so we can squeeze games in of an evening. Being a quick game to play should also make it easy to fit into a games night alongside other games – Talisman and Order of the Stick, while being great games, really need a whole evening to play. Saying that, I still haven’t tried ‘The Shortening’ expansion for OotS, so I’ll have to try and put it into our next game night as a 90-minute capped game.

If Dreadball is as fast and easy to learn as it appears, it can be added to a games night alongside quicker favourites like Kill Dr Lucky and Unexploded Cow – but I will have to make a second pitch as it’s only a 2-player game. The extra pitches on their Kickstarter drive aren’t really cost effective enough for me, and a basic paper pitch will be easy to get together.

One thing I like is that nothing is impossible – at the last turn, it looked like I needed 3 points to win, or 2 to draw. By aiming to win, I would need to get two successes with only one dice. In most games, that would mean that winning was not an option – you can’t get two successful rolls on a single dice. In Dreadball, any roll of a 6 gives you an extra dice. While it was highly improbable that I would win (I didn’t), it was still a possibility if I was lucky enough. I tried and failed, but at least I got the option and the chance. It’s also how my opponent managed to get 8 successes out of 4 dice to knock out my Orc Guard…

After the demo game, I put down my money for the Striker! reward level, which gets (as of writing) the base game, extra models for those teams, two additional teams, about a dozen MVPs, Season 2 digital book and some models for the fifth team as well as ‘non-game’ rewards like an exclusive trophy, event ticket, poster, and stuff like that. In addition, I’m planning to use the Kickstarter to pick up the fifth and sixth teams (they are buy-one-get-one-free) and some Keeper models for the first four teams, giving me pretty much the whole range as it (almost) exists up until next Summer. A games night is being planned for next year, where I’m hoping to fit Dreadball in for a few games.

If you want to see more about the game, check out their Kickstarter page which has a gameplay video (although it is slightly dull, it’s not as good as a real demo) and a PDF file which describes typical gameplay. It’s also chock-full of pictures of what’s coming out, and links off to places like Quirkworthy where the designer of Dreadball has poured out thousands and thousands of words describing the game, the rules, the vision, etc. Very interesting stuff.