Sphyr Team Overview – Cetamere Centurions

These pictures make them look more the colour that I wanted. They're really a bit darker.The Cetamere system is unusual in that every planet has a large amount of water on the surface – the asteroids are mostly ice comets caught in the star’s gravity and even the moons of the planets are mostly water or ice.

The Sphyr were invited to colonise the system to provide a ready workforce for an enterprising group of Corporations working together to exploit the system, given it’s challenges for most citizens of the GCPS.

It didn’t take long for the Cetamere Conglomerate to elevate the worker’s off-duty activities to company sponsored events, with the aim of sponsoring a team in the local sector leagues.I normally don't do much with the guards, other than try and push a space on the 3-point zone.

I intended to have the Asterians all painted up, but got distracted. It’s very difficult to stay focussed on them when I have so many other, easier teams to paint. I’ve done more work with a wet palette on this team to try and practice mixing colours and getting smoother blends. The skin was a base of Calgar Blue mixed with Eshin Grey, highlighted with Dawnstone mixed with Calgar Blue, then a highlight with more Calgar Blue, and a final one with a little Pallid Wych Flesh.These guys are often defending with their back to the pitch, for their tail ability to make them a little more survivable.

The armour was Rhinox Hide mixed with Bestigor Flesh. Increasing amounts of Bestigor Flesh for a further three-ish layers. Straight Bestigor Flesh on the gems.

I wanted a more “sandy” colour for the armour but I think I started too dark (or didn’t go for a big enough jump in the middle coat). I’m still practicing with the wet palette and I think I learned a lot from this team, as simple as their colour scheme was.

Also on display here is the Gruba-Tek Coliseum pitch, a new toy and very nice for travelling

I have gotten along well with this team – high movement, slightly better-than-average Dodge, and lots of Strikers (or “Hulk insurance”) are nice. They can handle a pretty good passing game and they already start with a card to save me the trouble of buying one. I don’t know exactly what upgrades I would buy in an exhibition match, I don’t know that they need any coach benefits and ranks wouldn’t guarantee them the Skill boost that every Striker wants. Maybe they are a good team to fill up on coaching dice with, to help push for early scores and landslides.

Obligatory 'Strikers Run' pose

London & South-East DreadBall Regional

One of these days...

My second regional tournament this year was all the way over in London. As I left Bristol by train, I saw some hot-air balloons in the distance and remembered it was the Balloon Fiesta weekend.. Ah well, I’m sure I’ll catch it next year (for the twelfth year in a row).

It was held at Dark Sphere, an interesting place that felt a little like B&Q with the high shelves stacked full of models along one wall, the other wall covered with row upon row of gaming tables. The only downside is the railway track built onto the roof. I was able to tune it out from the beginning of the day but partway through the final game it started to intrude on my awareness more and more and became a real distraction. Fourteen DreadBall players came out for the event including a rather large number from the East of the country – including super-champion Leon Chapman and dedicated traveller Dale Robinson, with their crew in tow.

I was disappointed that my Kickstarter package hadn’t arrived as it meant I didn’t get to use the foldable pitch mat but it’ll be here soon… soon… I got a good look at someone else’s mat although I didn’t get a chance to play on it myself.

One of these days...

Once more, I took the Sphyr along. I’ve not had a lot of chance to practice before the event (something I will have to rectify before the next one) but I feel like they worked sufficiently for me.

Game One – Leanne’s Veer-myn

My first game was against one of Dale’s gang, Leanne. She put up the standard defence of three Strikers on the back strike zone, and they proved extremely difficult to move on. I was reduced to grabbing two pointers while she scored three-pointers, taking many more risks than I would have done when using the rats. I was rather late in blocking the three point zone, expecting that the Veer-myn’s poor skill would work in my favour. The game ended in a 3pt loss.

Leanne's lovely rats

Game Two – Simon’s Kalyshi

Simon’s Kalyshi were absolutely beautifully painted. I’ve not had a chance to play against any of the Season Five teams yet, and haven’t had a good look at the book either (despite having the PDF). Unfortunately, they were not terribly lucky with the ball and I was able to score three pointers happily, and end the game with a landslide win.

I was so happy to have played against such beautiful modelsDidn't jump once

Game Three – Rob’s Brokkrs

Rob is a veteran tournament gamer who typically goes for “most violent” prizes. He has played Marauders and Teratons in the past in service to this objective, and  the Brokkrs are just as bashy as either of those teams. Last time we played I managed to landslide him with a team of Zees in turn five to the amazement of all. This time was more difficult though. The Brokkrs were brutal, and managed to kill two Sphyr (although I did manage to get one in return). They are much more resilient than the Forge Fathers, and much harder to put down. Near the end of the game, I had a tough choice to make. Either go for a risky, moving two-pointer to win by a landslide, or a slightly easier three-pointer throw that was near to a Jack. I took the chance with the Jack who had a Running Interference card hidden away, knocking me down and giving him the initiative. The game did end a couple of turns later with a landslide win for me.

Despite appearances, not your grandfather's Forge Fathers

Game Four – Dale’s Teratons

Dale and I are fairly evenly matched. Our teams were identical to those we took to the Wales Regional, where we faced each other in the final game of the day. This time however, he beat me by 3 points. It was very nearly a landslide win for him, thankfully I managed to claw back three points near the end of the game (there was no way that I was going to manage a draw let alone a win).

Conclusion

Overall, Leon Chapman took home the prize with his Convict team. If he was beaten in the final game, it may have gone to someone else but he had an impressive lead at that point and it would have been difficult.

I came out fifth again, which I feel is a strong position. I had a lot of fun in all of my games, and my first games against Leanne and Simon were terrific. Simon’s models in particular are fantastic, truly beautiful pieces. He won a joint prize for best painted, as there was another team there (Void Sirens) that were also absolutely stunning – not playing against them though, I didn’t get quite as good a look at them.

It looks like I will be seeing Dale & Co at the Southern Regional in Brighton, along with Simon (for whom it is home turf). I need to decide whether to stick with the Sphyr or try out a different team.

The spread of teams at this event was very good. Season Two was under-represented, but there were no Rebel teams (surprising, given the internet’s current whines of overpower) and four Brokkr teams (mostly using Forge Father models). There were even two Convicts and one Kalyshi team, and I’m glad that in addition to playing two new players, I got to play against two new teams. Variety is fun!

All in all, I had a great time. Big thanks to Rob Taylor for running the event, and to all the players who came out for it. With the loss of the Bristol Pathfinder, it looks like it is definitely down to me to organise the next tournament in the South West and that will probably have to be March next year now. Watch this space!

Finally, some of the other teams that I managed to snap whilst there. Couldn’t work out which was which with the Convicts, and forgot to get people’s names, but some pictures are better than no pictures!

Finally, the two teams that were tied for Best Painted:

Wales and South West Regional Tournament 2015

This year was a huge improvement for the tournament. There were fourteen players overall, coming from Bristol, East Anglia and even Wales! Genuine Welsh people! And just after Mantic added “and South West” to the name, too.

I’d been intending to bring the Asterians, but had screwed up the painting a bit so took the Sphyr instead. I was joined by Jen with her S1 Corporation as usual, Dan with Veer-myn, Stuart with his S2 Corporation and Dai who forgot his team on the day (he borrowed Dan’s S1 Corporation). As for upgrades, I took two coaching dice and a Defensive Coach.

Game 1 – Chris’ Rebels

This was a very, very close game. We went into Sudden Death, which I don’t recall happening in a tournament for me before. I scored a few four-pointers, and my Jack at the back of the pitch was indestructible – as a result of Slambacks, he sent off both Rin Guards and the Gaellian Jacks before he was finally knocked out for a turn.

These guys were knocked out in short order by a single Sphyr Guard...

In the first round of Sudden Death I managed to grab a single point and win the game. Exhausting, nail-biting, thoroughly exciting game!

Note the sin bin and subs bench...

Game 2 – Phil’s Teratons

Phil had travelled from the other side of the country for his first tournament with Dale, a well-known and very strong Teraton player from East Anglia who I’ve seen at many tournaments and hadn’t played competitively (he did come to see us for a DreadBall day in Bristol, where we got a friendly game or two in).

These guys were also knocked out by a lucky Sphyr guard..

Phil has been trained well, and made things very difficult for the fish men. However, the dice were still with me, and I managed to not only move two of the players blocking the three-point zone up – but kill them completely! It wasn’t helped that in the first action of the first turn, he slammed one of my Strikers, who doubled moving onto the ball, evaded out of the threat hex, and scored two points to get the very earliest of early leads. The game ended in a landslide win for me.

Game 3 – Dai’s Corporation

I was coming away from lunch on a bit of a high – I’d bought myself some new toys, I was winning my games (though not in the lead, certainly)  when I came up against Dai – an ex-work colleague who I hadn’t caught up with very recently. He completely dismantled my team and I hope I didn’t come across as a sore loser – there was literally nothing I could do to stop it. There were no glaring errors in his play to exploit, and in the standard approaches I tried my dice disappeared. He kept apologising (I probably had a real frown on by then) but really, I’d just done the same thing to Phil in the round before so it wasn’t a problem. One landslide loss to me.

Game 4 – Dale’s Teratons

Finally, we got to play each other in a tournament! Both a little tired (admittedly, he had driven four times longer than I had and most of the Welsh guys had come further than us too), I made some huge errors. I didn’t calculate the Teraton Teleport properly and kept miscalculating where he would choose to go, then I got into place for a risky throw only to have it pointed out to me that the shot was blocked. Despite the fouling up, I got a three-point victory.

Final Results

Chris’ Rebels came in first place, as well as getting Fan Favourite (most cheers) and Hot Shot (most four pointers). He was only beaten once, and barely at that, so I take some pride in my first game win against him. Stuart had been in the running for first place but the way the final scores shook out, he dropped down to fourth place. I finished in fifth, which I feel is a fairly good place in a fourteen-player tournament.

Looking back, I was much more aggressive than I needed to be in some games, and needed more defence than I put into. A single player to guard the three-point strike zone doesn’t work against all teams, and I need to vary my setup depending on my opponent. I think the upgrade options were right for the team overall, the defensive coach saved me a couple of times (against two Teraton players, and to deny the Rebels a four-point shot, definitely!) and having the coaching dice to boost a high scoring shot early in the game were extremely helpful.

I will probably try taking the Sphyr to another tournament this year, I’m still planning on going to the Southern Regional and the UK Nationals for certain and it’ll either be the Sphyr or the Rebels (because they are probably my best painted team). I know that Dale is aiming to get to every regional this year, who knows if we will face each other again in Brighton or Nottingham…

Finally, here are some of the painted teams from the event! I’ve forgotten who they all belong to, because I am an awful awful person. If you want to correct me on anything, please comment below! It was really difficult to choose my favourite, every time I looked I had two favourites… then I went for another more detailed perusal and came back with two totally different favourites… it was a tough decision and I don’t remember who I voted for in the end. Here’s the few I managed to grab a picture of – enjoy!

Hobby Projects, and Why I Missed An Update

Whoops, missed a scheduled post back there. I was expecting to be able to add a write-up about the MWWS charity tournament in Builth Wells, but unfortunately was struck down ill that weekend and was unable to attend. I was extra disappointed because I was supposed to be driving two other players to the tournament, and we were unable to organise alternative transport.

I’m trying to work on building up a buffer of posts for the site to ensure I always have something ready to go ahead of time, but I’ve been working on a few hobby projects instead. One of these is a revival of my Gorkamorka/Necromunda skirmish engine in WPF, and is coming along nicely for the moment. It’s nowhere near finished, and it’s never going to have pretty graphics, but I’m practicing my architecture design on it (as a large, complicated project it will be ideal for that). The other is an actual public website: www.dreadballhub.com.

Right now, it’s a small website that only has two features. The first is an Xtreme team manager (this will need to be completely rewritten in a month or two when the Player Handbook comes out), that calculates an Xtreme team from the two sponsor options in the book. You can even download the finished roster as a PDF. It’s not entirely pretty, but it works.

The second feature is a relatively new one: a game tracker. Someone made one previously (back when DreadBall was barely out). They closed it down last June as they walked away from the game, citing irreconcilable balance issues and a difference between the support requested and the support given. A number of people have requested that the database be reopened.

I did consider building it earlier this year, but I had heard that Mantic were going to have an all-singing all-dancing ranking website to track players in tournaments, record games, and all of that jazz. Since it hasn’t appeared (and I’m still waiting on Windows Phone versions of the existing Mantic Digital apps) I thought “well blow it, I can write code” and dived into the project.

There’s more things that I want to add, but I figured it would be best to get the site out there and collect data. Even if it’s not publicly visible yet, it’s there and working behind the scenes.

One thing that I want to add (that will be difficult without an internet connection on my lunch/code breaks) is a way to login to the site (with Google/Twitter/etc) so that individual players can be identified as being great players. Identifying the opponent that you played against, however, will be much harder and I’ll need to think about the process before I do any work. Possibly each player will need a unique name of some kind after they’ve logged in to be identified by their opponents? I can also see the possibility of abuse, if people record massive wins against you that never happened, and so a system of verifying games becomes necessary as well as a way to record games against unregistered players.

So that’s what I’ve been up to instead of going to tournaments and writing blog posts. I’m still aiming to be at the Wales and South West Regional tournament in two and a half weeks (yikes, best get painting) and trying to decide if it’s worth trekking across the country for the South-East and Southern regionals too.

That address to remember is www.dreadballhub.com and feel free to suggest new features! I’m looking for new ways to expand it and make a useful community resource.

Vanguard League Season Two – Part 2

Well, the latter half of my league frittered away a bit. I got in a game against Dan and managed to win by a landslide pretty quickly, so we pulled out some Season Four teams and had a follow-on for fun game. My last game was scheduled against Oli, but due to impending babies we had to call it off. That left me a fairly solid third place out of six.

I ended up winning the “Hot Shot” for most four-pointers, and the most violent was Oli with a grand total of two kills. Not a very angry bunch, are we. Merrick managed to come fourth despite missing three of his games (two of which were giveaways to his opponents, rather than the draw we took in the first round).

Stuart took the league with his Void Sirens – five wins, no losses, top for cheers and score difference. Incredible!

Running a league is hard – I was told that the hardest part is getting people to play their games. I did my best, but Division One ended up not playing a single game. Division Two (which I was in) managed most of our games – I think four out of the fifteen failed (two were mine, whoops).

I wouldn’t mind giving it a go later in the year. I might relax some of the MVP rules to make it a bit easier to get them, and maybe rejuggle the Division system. It worked great for Liam last season, but it didn’t really work out this time around and I feel like being promoted to the division that doesn’t play games is hardly a reward for our division’s star!

I had fun playing the Z’zor but it would have been nice to get some more games in. I think if we did it again, I might relax the fixtures a little more – two week timeslot to play a game, against anybody, but keep the round-robin style. Maybe even four weeks to play two games to allow for some slippage without holding everyone up. It’s something to consider for later in the year anyway, I have enough to get on with without trying to launch another league so soon.

Vanguard League Season Two – part 1

With our normal organiser getting too busy, the second season was delayed slightly – and then taken up by a new organiser. Me!

I always said that if no-one else organised leagues or tournaments in Bristol, I would have to do it myself. So here I am.

I kept the two divisions from the first season – there were a number of drop-outs, and a bunch of new players, which roughly evened out. Division One was a player short, so each round someone has to sit out and do nothing but it’s all equal and they’ll get the same number of games.

For this league, I’m going to be taking the Z’zor. I find that I usually get better at playing a team if I take them in a league, so my aim is to work out how these bashy teams work (while sticking with my familiar “Skill 5+” style).

Game One – Merrick

We started with the best of intentions – we both turned up on time. To different venues. We weren’t able to reschedule, so I put it down as 0-pts each. Technically, we did both turn up and nobody won the game.

Game Two – Adrian’s Rats

This game went fairly well – I scored a few 3-pointers but so did the Rats. Fortunately, they dropped more strike attempts than I did so I squeezed out a 3 point lead (could have been 4, but for a last minute score by the Veer-myn).

The highlight for me was one Z’zor Striker scoring an achievement by throwing a 9-hex pass to another Z’zor Striker, and having it be caught. It took both coaching dice, but he made it! It only got a single cheer pip, but that’s not too bad.

After the game, one of my Strikers got Grizzled on the Extra Coaching table (which makes him extremely hard to hurt) and the Guard got Quick Recovery on the S2 advance table, on the off-chance that he actually gets hurt. I chose the S1 Extra Coaching table since 4 of the 6 options are attractive to a Z’zor Striker – Can’t Feel A Thing essentially means “choose” in addition to the normal “choose” option, Lucky is universally useful and a Skill improvement is definitely welcome for 5+ players. So it stands to reason that he should gain Grizzled instead. At least I can be sure that he won’t get damaged when I come up against the two Marauder teams near the end of the league…

Game Three – Stuart’s S2 Corporation

This game was nail-biting – by turn 6 I was 5 points down, but my Guard was moving up the pitch knocking out anyone standing in the three-point zone. Unfortunately, no player went out for more than two turns and my defence was almost empty, making it easy for Stuart to score three points most turns. From that halfway point, I got lucky and scored a four-pointer for each three-pointer scored against me until I actually had a point in my favour. Unfortunately, in rush 12 he scored 3 to bring the score to two in his favour, I missed my four-point shot in rush 13 but to balance, he missed his three-point shot in rush 14.

So the game ended as a loss, but I made it as tough as I could (and I’m amazed that Z’zor Strikers can score four-pointers…) We tried out the Achievements rules again, and since I was mostly beating up human Jacks I got a lot of “triple-Slam” results. Unfortunately, most of these (and my fan checks in general) ended up being events. With an extra Coaching Dice, maybe I’d have won…

After the game, my second Striker gained a Skill advancement (again, on the S1 Extra Coaching table). And I’m aware of the counter-intuitiveness of complaining about not having enough Coaching Dice and then spending one to roll on an advancement table. Don’t judge me.

Why So Zeerious?

I couldn’t come up with a backstory for the Zees. I had so many ideas for them, drawing from many sources including my love of genetics and the Planet of the Apes series. I came up with something long and complex with pointless detail and it wasn’t even entertaining for me (and as you’ve seen elsewhere on this blog, my standards are fairly low). It occurred to me that the Zees are anarchic and unpredictable, they’re irresponsible and irreverent. They aren’t going to be honest about anything, much less their own history. They probably even stole their equipment, rather than look at all cohesive and organised. Every single one of them will end up giving a different account of who they are and where the come from, and laugh about the confusion caused.

For the Zees, I went for a colour scheme inspired by The Joker. I put more orange in than purple because I wanted to differentiate them from the Z’zor team I already painted, but I think the three main colours match well.

The skin is Khemri Brown with a Flesh Wash (ancient GW paint), another highlight of Khemri Brown and some have a Dheneb Stone highlight. I found Dheneb Stone a bit difficult to highlight with because it is so strong with pigment (being a foundation paint, I guess) that it doesn’t have anything between “covers everything” and “this is a wash”. The eyes were Eshin Grey. The orange was a practice run for my Nameless team – it works here, but I might need to do something else to get the effect I want on the Nameless. It was a Vermin Brown base with Squig Orange. The purple was Liche Purple with a Genestealer Purple highlight. Some of the models had a Tentacle Pink edge highlight, but I didn’t like the effect too much. The green was Snot Green, Orc Flesh Wash (again, an ancient GW wash), more Snot Green and Scorpion Green highlight.

It still needs to be finished off with a highlight of yellow on the visors, and Incubi Darkness on the bases to cover my sloppy boot painting.

This is the first team that I managed to name every member of it. It was always the plan to name the teams, but I find it a little difficult. This one was much easier! The line-up is:

  1. Benjamin
  2. Benchamin
  3. Benjummin
  4. Benzhamin
  5. Benchummin
  6. Benzhummin
  7. Benjimun
  8. Benchimun
  9. Benzhimun
  10. Benjamon

Doombar League Part Two

Game four was cancelled, as my scheduled opponent quit the league after his prior game. Since this is a structured league rather than a free-form one, the organiser decided to award all of his future matches as an average of his recorded ones. The upshot of this is that my monkeys got three experience increases (resulting in a Skill 4+ player!) and their first win of the season! Hooray!

Game Five – Josh’s S1 Corporation (team name unknown)

This was a nail-biting game – neither team’s coach managed to pass they coaching play rolls very often, and only three scores were made in the game. An early three-point lead completely failed to be matched by the Zees, the closest that they got was scuppered by the ball shattering as they got to the strike zone. They made it back by waiting for a human Striker to sprint all the way to the ball, before Running Interference onto the ball, flubbing the pick up and having it scatter (with a Fast Pitch event in play) way too far for the Striker to catch it.

Another Zee tried to Sucker Punch a human guard to turn him around but kept rolling 6s, until the Guard was dead. Dead dead dead. Zees don’t normally kill things, so that monkey was very happy. And removing him from the board is even better than turning him around!

On the other hand, I lost two turns – once to trying to pick the ball up for my first action (and failing) and once because the ball launch landed on a prone Zee, bounced into the ref, bounced into a human Guard, bounced into another Zee who had no dice to catch it with – thus ending the rush before it even began.

It wasn’t until the final Zee rush that they finally scored, bringing the score back to zero and hoping to go into Sudden Death – however, there was one Corporation rush left and they got a single point to finish.

I really love it when a game comes down to the wire, and Josh is fun to play. I played him at the previous Bristol Megalofunotron tournament (also with Zees, he took Robots).

The Relegation Battle – CJ’s New England Patriorx (Marauders)

As I was now second from the bottom, I had to play a match against the second-place player in Division Two. If he won, we swapped places and if I won, I stayed where I was.

It turns out I was playing against CJ, from the last league. He’s still taking his Marauders except that his league team has hired Slippery Joan (all of his models are female Orcs… including the Jeerleader).

It was the tensest game yet, on both sides. I was in the lead (barely) for most of it, but the luck just wasn’t with me where I needed it. Four monkeys bit the dust, most of them had some unused experience but no ranks.

I managed to hold onto a draw for the final turn, but only had three players on the pitch. Slippery Joan started with the ball, and all she had to do was score… and did so. Easily. Game over by two points in Sudden Death, and with four simian corpses to recycle. Luckily, the underdog bonus managed to replace them all in time for the Ultimate season-ender!

And good luck to CJ in the second season, playing up in Division One!

Season Finale – the Ultimate Battle

We managed to get all five remaining players in Division One together for a massive Ultimate game – it was a good finish to the league, as we’d all played each other previously in the season. I actually wasn’t the massive underdog in this game, despite not having as many advances as the other players and suffering worse casualties throughout the league – I did have enough underdog bonus to max out my cards and hire an MVP for the game (the Praetorian).

The Praetorian was sent off early as I attempted a Sneak foul, and a massive pile up blocked much of the centre near our arm (I was sharing with Tom’s humans) with Sam’s Nameless taking on everything around them. Stu had hired the Enforcer for the game, and he flew around looking for a good place to smash things.

I did fairly well, scoring a few points and defending myself well (The Ball Shatters on Stu’s striker, after he’d committed the Enforcer to moving my defence and travelled from the far side of the pitch to a scoring position…) and once the Praetorian got back into the game, scored a few points in his zone (rather safely since there’s only one Ball Shatters in the game).

The Nameless managed to grab a landslide win, since monkeys can’t stop very much at the best of times and his guards had advanced a few ranks already. I did finish on 5 points though, so if I’d managed to grab the next turn somehow it would have been my chance to take the win – and would have been my first legitimate win of the season, just before I leave for Division Two!

What’s Next?

At the time of writing, Division Two haven’t played their final Ultimate game yet. I think there will be a short break – there’s a new player in the area who is interested in getting in on the league so we might be back up to 12 players again when Season Two starts.

The underdog rules are being changed for Season Two (trialled in the Ultimate game) that allow us to hire MVPs, coaching staff, cheerleaders etc as well as the free agents.

We’ve also got the opportunity to scrap the team and start again with a new one. I don’t think I’ll go that far – I’ve actually got a monkey with an extra rank, and almost the full complement of cards. It’ll be nice to follow them on a more long-term journey.

The Ultimate game also left us with huge piles of cash. I’m considering buying an MVP, but this is fraught with peril for Zees. They are vulnerable to ref check fouls, and takes away the point of playing a ridiculous team like the Zees if you actually hire a star player who is good at scoring. Maybe having a bruiser on the pitch would be a better idea, or maybe I’doomll just stick with Riller to support the clones and provide some more power to the monkeys.

On with Season Two!

Doombar League – Games One to Three

After the Vanguard Wargaming store closed permanently, the Bristol Vanguard club found a new home at the Old Duke pub in the centre. The parking is slightly harder but the public transport is much easier.

Also, it was time for a third league! This one is more organised than previous ones – the pairings are fixed, there is a two week time limit to get the game in, and while friendlies are allowed they won’t gain XP or cash. There are twelve teams split into two divisions, with a promotion/relegation mechanic at the end of a number of rounds. It’s also possible to permanently hire MVPs, although I’m not sure that I’ll ever get the money to be able to afford Riller (the only one worth taking for the Zees).

I took the Zees again to this one – I think in a league setting, with a bit of development, they can really shine. They’re obviously not as easy to play as some other teams but the victories are much, much sweeter.

Round One – vs Sam’s Nameless

Things started alright, in the first few turns I managed to avoid injury or sending off, and even scored a three-pointer! The tables quickly turned though and by the fifth rush I only had three players on the pitch. This is very, very bad. The score was only one point down for me, but with so few monkeys around it didn’t look good. It was at this point that I started to remember to roll for Monkey Business dice…

I brought the score back up to three points but the slow trickle of players back from the injury bench wasn’t going well. On top of that, Sam’s luck was coming back and he began to kill players – three had gone off the field by the end of the game. He took the score three points into his favour, and there was nothing I could do on the last turn to even mitigate that slightly.

So, Sentient Being of the Match went to a Nameless Sticky Guard and three Zee clones were recycled. I’ve decided to only replace one of them and buy an Offensive Coach – maybe that can help get me the scores when it looks good and call Defensive plays if it doesn’t. I’ll have to replace those missing Zees at some point – I’m only one credit away from getting another Zee which would bring me back to nine on the roster, and hopefully in my next game I can get at least back to the starting ten.

Game Two vs Stu (Pale Marys, S2 Corporation)

Having gone back to the clone farm to pick up a new recruit and hiring an assistant coach (offensive), the team went on to the next fixture – the Pale Marys, on top of the first division after round one.

Being an underdog, I got a Nameless guard (sticky) as a free agent to help out. The danger with free agents in a Zee team is that they might be sent off, but I was lucky this time around. A sticky guard is a really great addition to a Zee team, especially one that is down a couple of players.

The game went OK (no-one died, on either side) and my strong-Zee picked up more experience as my only score of the game but I still lost by 4 points. The sticky guard really shook things up and I think it used it to best effect. I didn’t Slam much, but he as able to hold players in place and prevent the human guard from causing too much damage.

The final turn, I had the choice of a 3 point score to lose by one (on two dice), or a four point score to get a draw (on one dice). I figured a draw was infinitely better than a loss, and a loss by one isn’t much better than a loss by four. Having thought about it since, maybe the minor loss would have been better for the league tie breakers, but any chance at a win should have been taken (even though I still had the unfinished problem with scoring again in Sudden Death…) because that’s Dreadball!

With my underdog ‘winnings’, I replaced another of my clones to put me back at 9 players. I’d like to buy some cards, but at the speed the Zees go out of the game I need plenty of spares.

Game Three vs Tom (Woolwich Armourers, S1 Corporation)

Going into the third game, I was bottom of the league thanks to my ‘risk it all’ attitude in the last game. I picked up an Asterian Guard as a Free Agent, which could be useful.

The game was very close, Tom was very good at keeping players off of the pitch and rolling good ref checks. The Asterian guard used their Dirty Tricks twice (thanks to a card) while a Vigilant Ref was in play but only managed to send one player off.

I managed to get the ball to the far end a few times, but Tom had great use of Running Interference cards to block me whenever I looked close to scoring. On the other hand, he failed an appalling number of pick-ups, catches and throws. Incredibly good luck with his good plays, and incredibly bad luck on the game-winning ones.

Picking up tons more cash thanks to the underdog bonus (17mc!) I now have a choice between buying cards or players. I do find that with only nine players I am finding it hard to keep more than six on the pitch at a time, but I also need the additional cards to give me more options in the turn. In the end, I decided on a bit of both – one card and one Jack.

Cardiff League – Conclusion

My first four games in the league have been good so far – my first experiences against the Robots at the top of the rankings, which I think may have been orchestrated to get me a head-start on income since I was inheriting a poor, downtrodden team with no experience. This catapulted me to a high enough team ranking that I couldn’t get MVPs or Free Agents any more, and the second two games (Corporation and Teratons) ended in wins to the monkeys.

I’ve missed one game so far, the player has been MIA from the Facebook page and the club and everyone seems to be waiting on them for a game (that explains why “weeks five to nine” would be five games, not four…)

Game 5 – Home vs the Wrong-Tech 69ers (S1 Corporation)

This game went awfully for my opponent. I actually managed to turn up in person, intending to play someone else but I ended up playing one of my missed games from a previous week since I could start a little earlier and be sure to catch the train.

Having twelve Zees available really helped, but I wasn’t able to get all of them on the pitch at the same time. My luck was up exactly when I needed it and two Zees scored 4-pointers. The cheerleader was placed on the score track again but was never used, and I ended up scoring a landslide in the thirteenth rush. Luke managed to score a three pointer, killed a Zee and injured a couple of others. That got his Guard the Strength upgrade he was holding out for and his Striker (already a superstar) getting on the cusp of another rank. The underdog bonus also favoured him, getting almost twice as much in income as I got!

The End?

At this point, a ‘break’ was announced and an offer for someone else to run the league for a while. I had two more opponents to play, but having altered my hours slightly in work I was finding it harder to get to the club and one of those opponents has been completely absent for a while. It looks like momentum has dropped out of this league as well, and the results haven’t even gone up.

Conclusions

I found this league more enjoyable than the previous leagues I’ve played in. The big difference is that instead of being a completely open format, the Pathfinder running it was very hands-on. You could play friendlies, but the league games were set at a rate of one per week, and it was arranged for you. I’m not sure whether this was randomly determined of the ‘remaining matches’ or if there was an algorithm to determine who was best placed. It was good for me coming in late to play against a team as far as ahead as the robots I played, because the underdog bonus catapulted me ahead.

The other nice thing was the pace. Both leagues were double-round-robin leagues, but where the Cardiff league set your matches for you one a week it gave an incentive to arrange and play the game. In Bristol, I was on the forum every week saying what days I was free and getting very few replies.

The only downside is the way that this league has ended – much the same as the previous ones I’ve been in, the momentum fizzled out (in Bristol, who knows why and in Cardiff, because the organiser took a break). In both of them there was no end, no event, nothing to mark the league as ‘over’ at all. Even in the Bristol leagues where the ‘last day to play’ was announced, it was after the league was already unofficially over and the date came and went with nothing really happening at all.

So what are you going to do about it?

Well, I don’t know if I can play a league in Cardiff again. It’s not easy to fit around family and travel and things. I enjoy the team progression of a league format – the standard 120TR tournament format is nice, but there’s no growth from game to game. There’s no feeling of “ooh, my star player just levelled up again” or “let the rookie take the shot”.

I might even start a long-form league between friends, since we can get together for a day and play a few games together it should be possible to make a lot of progress in short bursts.