HATECon One Tournament February 2016

This was a last minute decision, since East London isn’t terribly easy to get to from the West Country but I have a friend living there that I haven’t seen in a long time – the efficient use of time is to visit one and attend the other!

My choice of team was made, as is traditional, on the morning. I chose the Rebels in the end since they are better painted than the Ada-Lorena, and I wanted to show off. As for upgrades, I chose two ranks on each of the Gaelian Jacks (they’re the centaur-type that can run and slam).

This was the first tournament to use the 2016 style rules pack, where Jacks can move up to half of their movement on actions.

Game One – Dale’s Tsudochan

Dale was running this tournament, and he brought his stunningly painted Tsudochan team. As usual, he’s got to the precise requirements of the team and did a great job of keeping the pressure on me. On the other side, my dice completely abandoned me – I don’t normally complain about my dice, but right here they were awful. I failed so many “easy” rolls, to dash, to pass, to catch, and so on… it was a little painful to watch. It wasn’t too bad, as I managed to score 2 kills and 3 4-pt shots but I ended up losing by 3 points. The game had swung quite significantly, I was 5 points down early on and three points up later in the game, before the final score.

Game Two – Leanne’s Veer-myn

If I play Dale in a tournament, I’m probably also going to play Leanne. Her luck was typically excellent, and I was almost completely unable to clear the 3pt zone of rats. In the end, she won with 5 points.

Game Three – George’s Teratons

Teratons are as usual a challenge. George was fairly good at keeping the Strikers away from scoring, but eventually I managed to scrape together 7 points for a landslide win, and my first of the day.

Game Four – Andrew’s Marauders

This game was incredibly close, and it was the first time of the day I hadn’t been the Home player (Andrew had been slightly luckier; this was his fourth Home game). Andrew’s Marauder team had an interesting setup – they ignored guarding the strike zones and instead bunched up near the centre line for an early push. Like George, Andrew’s guards did a fantastic job at managing the Ralarat Strikers. When they were on the pitch, they were too far away usually to do anything. He scored a 2pt lead early, and it was several turns before I managed to equalise – to be immediately bested by another greenskin 2-pointer. The ball moved around a lot without a score, until the very last turn when I finally managed to score a 4-pointer and edged a 2pt lead. That last action was the first time the score had moved into my favour, that was how close the game was.

Conclusion

Two wins and two losses, I feel is a fairly good result. It was great, as always, to see Dale and co again and I got to play against some new people which is always a pleasure. I look forward to seeing some of them at the Bristol tournament.

I was a little too tired to explore the rest of the con, but they had a lot of other wargames events on, demo games, some roleplay stuff and a bring-and-buy sale upstairs. It’s probably for the best that I stay away from shop, I’m sure that many people would understand! The only downside is that I feel the lighting downstairs was a little dingy and dim. Overall though it seemed very well organised, there were plenty of staff checking things were going smoothly and they were easy to identify with their bright yellow t-shirts.

On to the scores! Dale rather embarrassingly took first place with his Tsudochan, Rob failed to take most bloody. I ended up in fourth place myself, and had most 4-pointers. The thing that I was most pleased with however was the Best Painted award, as done by player vote! It’s the first time I’ve won best-painted and it was one of the (distantly hopeful) reasons that I brought the Rebels instead of the Ada-Lorena. They are one of the teams I feel I’ve done the best on, but my opinion is not always matched by that of the world at large. I was disappointed in a previous tournament not to have won for the painting of my Martian team which was, at the time, my best work. I have a nice certificate, and another art print to put with the others (I must get those on the wall some day).

All in all, it was a fantastic day and I will try to go again next year if they run again and I get the opportunity.

2015 Nationals

Here it comes, the big one of the year! Since 2013s final was late (beginning of 2014), and 2014s just didn’t happen for some reason, it’s nice to see the big tournament happening on time and organised. The regional champions all get free tickets, and I am glad to be one of them now. Hopefully we don’t have to show our Blaines at the door…

I figure the team to beat will be the Convicts. The standard strategy of putting three players at the back and blocking big strikes is easy for the convicts to take out. Action one: Sprint a player to sit next to all three defenders. Action two: Shock Collar, undefendable and watch them all get sent off or knocked down. Either way they are no longer a barrier to scoring. The other possibility, of leaving two players on the bonus point lane to threaten three-pointers and prevent four-pointers, isn’t going to work for the same reasons. However you place the players, it’ll be possible to knock them both out with a Shock Collar or else you’re not even threatening some of the three point shots.

By simply inverting the standard three player defence – instead of forming a line on the strike zone itself, you form a line around the strike hex (so two players are not on strike zone hexes), it becomes massively more difficult to take out all three at once. On the other hand, it puts an unthreatened hex front and centre for your bonus lane defender to get Slammed. With my Sphyr team, I will intend this to be a Striker with his back turned, to make it the most favourable match-up that I can.

The other thing that I can do is to move that line forward a hex so that pushing the middle player back does not place them on the Strike Hex (and thus a potential target).

By trying to keep as much threat in the three-point zone as possible, it’ll be essential to remove the Convicts ability to score bonus points at all by removing their Strikers. This is dangerous, since trying to threaten a Striker enough to knock them out bunches my remaining players up enough to be hit by a Shock Collar themselves and the Convicts Guard is pretty nasty regardless. I can’t be sure exactly whether to go for the Strikers and slow their advance or their Guards and keep my offence safe.

As for scoring, it’s going to depend very much on the opponent. If they commit to blocking the three-pointers (as I will be), then I will probably focus on two-pointers. This is also more action efficient, allowing me to Slam their players more as I go. If there is a three-point path open, it’s not too difficult for a Sphyr to go for it and try to eke out a lead.

All that talk about the Sphyr aside, I didn’t end up taking them. I flip-flopped up until the morning of the event (how many times I’ve sat in a hotel room staring at two teams…) and eventually decided upon the Kalyshi.

I think the Kalyshi are the dark horse of Season Five. With the Mutants and Mechanites taking a lot of thought in construction, and the Convicts having such a shocking ability, the Kalyshi are sort of forgotten. I think it helps that they are the less optimal team in Xtreme, where they debuted. However, they have four excellent Strikers that get a 50% chance of a Skill upgrade on the Season One chart, and their Jacks (if used correctly) can get a 7 dice Shove-Backstab-Slam to push people off of the four-point lane. It’s only Strength 5, but they too have a 50% chance of boosting that Strength. And all I need to do is move someone a little, since the Strikers have Jump and can squeeze into tight gaps to drop a few points.

Game One – Mike Clark’s Nameless

Mike is a strong player, and his setup caused me some extra thought. He had two Sticky Guards on the 4-point line, and flanked them with two Strikers. His two Hard Guards were on the 2-point lines. I had no chance of moving both Guards in a single turn, and the Shove can’t remove a player from the pitch so they would only get moved back in the following turn.

Eventually his Strikers moved, but that still placed a lot of threat hexes on the three point zone. Luckily, I was able to score just a little more than he did and kept the game pressed firmly at the far end of the pitch. One memorable moment was the end of a rush where my Striker had the ball but no chance of scoring due to threat hexes – no dice left. So I ran it into the far corner to reduce the chances of having it taken. He chose to pin me in place with a Hard Guard… meaning that I got a chance to use Jump to avoid two Evades and sneak out to score 3 points. The game ended with a three point win.

Game Two – Dan’s Veer-Myn

Dan came up from Bristol separately this time around, and it’s always a pleasure to play him. He had his Veer-myn in the configuration I normally choose (to mixed success in tournaments) – 2 Strikers with two ranks each.

We each scored every single turn. Every. Single. Turn. Every damn one of them. No failed shots, no balls left lying around, just wall-to-wall scores. It was a grind, but the score was moving slowly my way. It ended up on rush 14 as a landslide win to me, although I tend to think of rush 14 landslides as “technically” a landslide.

Game Three – Gareth’s Rebels

After explaining in detail to Gareth earlier in the day why I thought the Kaylshi got underestimated and why they were actually pretty good, I realised that perhaps this was unwise. I have only played against Rebels once before, and won in sudden death. I last played Gareth at the 2013 Nationals, where he had Marauders and killed three of my Veer-myn, contributing to his unexpected leap to Most Violent player (and totally at odds with his friendly, pleasant demeanour!)

Gareth scored four points in his first turn, and I dropped the ball in mine. From there, the score fluctuated between 3 and 6 points against me but somehow, by rush 14, I had pulled it back to a draw (with a few more “easy” catches rolling away across the floor). However, sudden death is pretty easy for the Home player and he picked up a one point win far later than I expected.

Game Four – Richard’s Rebels

Wow, Rebels are hard to play when you don’t have a lot of offensive power. Who am I up against next then? Oh.

I’ve not met Richard before, and he had an amazing custom built pitch with hand-painted floor, transparent acrylic walls, walled-off subs benches and even strike posts cunningly placed between hexes so as not to interfere with the model placement. The hexes were extremely large, since he has played with Nameless teams a lot in the past. It’s always great to meet new people!

This was another close run game, but at least it got to one or two points in my favour a couple of times. I used my Defensive Coach to call Offensive plays a couple of times to make sure that I got my lone Striker all the way back to the ball, up to the three-point zone and score. Again, at the end of the game I managed a final turn equaliser to put us into Sudden Death and again… the Home team advantage put me down a one point loss.

Conclusion

I always try to have fun even when I’m losing. And having such close games that finished much later than I expected, and much better than I expected (I was pretty sure Gareth and I would be commentating other games after a landslide early on) I really didn’t feel like I was losing. I was a little surprised to hear that I had come seventh out of fifteen (I was thinking that fifth was still possible) but on reflection, it makes sense since I really only won two games. If I had beaten Rich by two points, I would have been third place… but if wishes were horses, etc. I was really surprised that Jen came in last place, since that’s normally reserved for someone who lost all their games but the competition was so close this year that everyone (bar the stand-in player) had won at least one of their games.

Gareth was the only player to win all four of his games, beating Leon (South-East Regional Champion, and previous National Champion), Dale (North-West Regional Champion), and me (Southern Regional Champion) to get there. I feel glad that I gave him such a tricky game, hopefully I was the toughest opponent for him to beat! That’s almost an imaginary second place, right? But well done to Gareth, he played an excellent game, was great fun to face across the table and I can’t wait to see him again at the next Nationals, or one of the 2016 Regional events.

The only other thing I was close to was a Fan Favourite award, with a personal best of 39 cheers – I was only beaten by Mike, with 41 cheers.

Outside of the games, we caught up with a lot of people we’ve not seen since the last National tournament. Chris came up from Wales, Dale and his crew from Peterborough (Dale had some terrible luck, and perhaps his Teratons are now going to retire from a successful 2015?) and the more Northern folks like Dan, Charlotte and Gareth who don’t often make it down South far enough to cross our paths. It was really, really great meeting up with everyone and having a good laugh.

DreadBall Southern Regional 2015

The Southern Regional this year was held in Brighton, a city I have only ever seen in the dark, going to the theatre. In the day time it is beautiful. As I walked from the train station I could look down a hill along a long straight road all the way to the sea. Brilliant.

The venue was the King and Queen, an oversized 18th century farmhouse converted to a pub and really playing up it’s old roots with pictures of royalty from previous centuries on every wall. We were playing in a room upstairs although the weather was so nice maybe we should have gone and played al fresco.

The turnout was a little disappointing – Dale brought his carful down from Peterborough and I had trekked from Bristol (although staying with family in Portsmouth overnight to make the journey slightly easier). The only local was Simon, the organiser, who we had met in London a month earlier. However, such a small field was balanced by the fact that all players were extremely good at the game and veterans of tournaments – often placing quite highly in the results table too.

As I have all year, I brought the Sphyr with the same loadout of a Defensive Coach and two coaching dice.

Game 1: Leanne’s Veer-myn (the Strike-Happy Squeakers)

Immediately I had a sense of deja-vu as I had played Leanne first in London, same teams and same upgrades. This time however I was more lucky, and managed to push the rats around with relative ease using a forward Guard while a Running Interference card helped disrupt the rats scoring. The game ended at half-time in a landslide to me as I opened up the four-point shot. As an extra boost, I had the Ball Shatters card in my hand at the end of the game in case it hadn’t worked out.

Game 2: Phil’s S1 Corporation

Phil got to the top table at the end of the London Regional, and we had played previously in Wales (although he was using Teratons then). I managed to get a couple more four-pointers in this game, and ended it halfway through with another landslide win.

Game 3: Dale’s Teratons

Dale is always great to play against – he knows his team inside out and always gives me a challenging game. The fact that we have ended up against each other in the final game in the last two tournaments, which by the Swiss system means we should be roughly evenly matched, bears this out a bit. I decided to forego my normal Sphyr passing game and trying to get 3-pointers and to focus entirely instead on preventing him getting three-pointers and using my large number of good Strikers to score 2-pointers exclusively. The passing is a good backup in case one of those strike zones in blocked, but I didn’t need it in the end.

The game started a little poorly as I ran up to put the Teratons on the launch lane into threat hexes… which he teleported out of and slammed my poor strikers. I must pay more attention to the teams I am facing…

Regardless, the strategy worked well for me, and based entirely on 2-point strikes (and Dale’s poor luck) I took a third landslide win.

Game 4: Phil’s S1 Corporation again

Rather than play Rob (who I’d not played yet) or Simon (who was really the spare player), I was paired up against Phil as the second place person, and who had the best chance to beat me. This game started poorly for both of us – he fumbled a strike attempt, and I fumbled picking up the ball after it. I realised that this was the first game that the score had even gone into the other player’s track; although I could afford some loss given the relative Strike differences.

In the later turns, I moved a Jack away from defence to get the ball for a long throw… and again, I fumbled it. This left the 3-point zone open for more points from Phil, bringing the score back to a 1-point lead to me, and on turn 14 I brought it back up to a solid 4-point win.

Conclusion

So with 4 wins, three of them landslides, I took the tournament and the beautiful trophy! The calculations were being made after game three and it was almost in the bag – I could lose by 6 points and still be ahead on strike difference. In a landslide loss, I would need to have more cheers to win the tournament.

This shows one of the benefits of treating a landslide like a regular win in terms of tournament points. Without it, we would have been able to call the tournament completely after game three and the final game wouldn’t have had any peril, or point. As it was with strike difference it was very difficult for me to lose (I just had to prevent being completely steamrollered) it was still a possibility and I could have lost the tournament if the dice had been unkind to me.

In the final standings, Rob took the Wooden Spoon and the Most Violent (7 kills, out of 13 in the tournament as a whole), Phil took third place and Dale took second. I got first place, as well as Fan Favourite (most cheers, although this wasn’t a particularly huge number) and Hot Shot (most four pointers, I got 4 across the day). Due to the low turnout, there weren’t any prizes besides the trophy but Simon painted some Xtreme free agents in gold and silver for us – I got a Pusk Rampager for Fan Favourite and a Judwan for Hot Shot. Great stuff!

So this follows the trend so far of winning one tournament each year, and proves that I can do it without the Veer-myn. I’ll probably be taking the Sphyr to the UK Nationals in Nottingham in October, where we’re hoping to bring a few more Bristolians and expecting to meet the Peterborough crew again.

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.

Tournaments and Painting Progress 2015

The dates for this years DreadBall tournaments have been announced – about a half-dozen Regional events around the country finished up with a National tournament in October, meaning a tournament season of around six months.

As well as the Regional events this year, some tournaments can be “qualifying” events with the same nice trophies and free entry to the Nationals for the winner. Information on these has been thin on the ground but there is one happening in mid-Wales hosted by the Mid-Wales Wargaming Society, which will be raising money for charity (the Wales Air Ambulance Charity).

The Bristol tournament organisation has changed – Bristol Vanguard will only be running one tournament this year. It will be an independent event outside of the official tournament circuit, around September time.

The Wales Regional has been renamed the Wales and South-West Regional, possibly in recognition of the fact that not only has every Wales Regional winner been from outside Wales, but every other player too! Rather ironic, as I believe this is the first year that a Welsh person is going to attend.

Looking at the calendar, it is possible for me to reach the MWWS event in Builth Wells, the Wales and South-West Regional, the South Regional (in Brighton) and possibly the London Regional in a single day-trip, although a lot of driving. Everywhere else is just too far away. We will still be making the effort to go to Nottingham for the National tournament in October.

I’m hoping to get some of the new teams painted in time for these tournaments. I’ll be trying to take something different each time (and my Veer-myn are on a well-earned vacation) but what those teams are will depend on how well I do. I can see myself bringing Martians to a tournament later in the year because they were just so much fun to play, even being totally useless!

On the painting front, I’ve been able to do a little bit of painting most evenings for the past few weeks. It’s not a lot, but it’s getting the main coats down on a lot of teams or doing a bit more work if I’m not too tired to concentrate. The Asterians are getting (frustrating) progress, the skin on the Sphyr and Grogans are finished, and I’m working on the Rebs uniforms before tackling their various skin tones. I was impressed when I realised that the Gaelian Jack (a centaur-like alien) was wearing a jumpsuit designed for it’s unique physiology – good show that designer!

As much as I love the Hobgoblins, I have no idea how to paint them. I don’t like the colour scheme in the book. I’m tempting to go for something yellow-brown and green without looking too much like the Veer-myn. Maybe if I use some of my new blending skills to make the armour transition from one colour to the other in a more organic style than solid plates. One of the downsides of the Xtreme Kickstarter is that there aren’t “spare” models for each team like there were in the original DreadBall Kickstarter, so I can’t experiment with a bold style and then throw it away if it doesn’t work. That would mean opening up the mint, untouched, brand new bag with the duplicate team in.

Another challenge in painting the Hobgoblins will be arriving at a good colour scheme that fits both the scrawny, pathetic, stinky players and the Hulk.

My painting table at the moment is very disordered – I have Convicts, Kalyshi and Rebels on it as well as DBX scenery. There’s still a few teams from Seasons One to Three unpainted (sorry Forge Fathers…) and a few that are practically finished but for highlights. I’m helping a friend out with a DreadBall demo day in a couple of weeks and I anticipate being able to paint between demo games so maybe I’ll get something finished off in that time. Even though I’m jumping around (a lot), it’s all progress and despite not really finishing any teams that I’m working on quickly, I know that it’s helping me get them closer to finished without feeling like I’m rushing anything in particular.

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.