Bristol Regional Tournament 2013

The Bristol Regional Tournament! Held at Vanguard Wargaming, like the Bristol Blitz before it, and the first tournament I’ve been to without Jen. Oli came along and borrowed my Corporation team as his own Void Sirens weren’t painted yet.

I took a lot of umm-ing and ahh-ing about what team exactly I should take. My initial thought was for Veer-myn as they had done me so well before, but on the other hand I’d been told at that tournament it was not fun to play against. I decided to go with the Z’zor – because I had only played one game with them before, because they almost derailed me at the Welsh Regional, and because I don’t do well with bashy teams and this would be an opportunity to get some practice. In addition, people are put off by their Skill 5+ Strikers, but that’s what I am used to with the Veer-myn anyway.

I suffered from the Kickstarter mispack problem, so I had too many guards and not enough jacks. In the special provision given to tournaments, you can take the team like that and choose either a card and a 2mc penalty or a coaching dice and a 2mc bonus. Given that I would always want a card to give me the option to buy one in the game, I went for the card option. With the remaining 18mc, I chose extra ranks on both of my Strikers and a Defensive Coach (to try and keep them safe).

It was a fun event – five games squeezed into a single day, and 14 players overall. A bit more hectic than the previous Bristol tournament, but with only six players then it could be a little more relaxed with timings.

The only thing slightly marring the event were the new rules – in the week before the tournament, the ball launch rules changed twice and most people had no chance to play with them. On top of that, the widely rumoured change to Judwan to drop them down to Speed 4+ was used, removing their tournament penalty. These changes weren’t in the rules pack, and I was wondering if there was anything else going to change before the day. However, the new launch rules were printed out for everybody and weren’t too difficult to follow – although I think once people get used to them their play might change a bit. In spite of the last minute changes though, it was a very well-run event and everything happened as it should – the games went so smoothly, we actually finished a little early. Three cheers for Liam!

Game 1 – Broadside Bandits (Kev’s Marauders), Away

Start as you mean to go on! Kev hadn’t played at all since the Vanguard Season One League back in March – and that game was against me. He hasn’t lost anything though, as he beat me by a landslide – even when I got 3pts early on! My Strikers had Jump and Roll – neither of which came into play. A couple of times he managed to push me onto the ball launch path, and got me bashed by the new launch rules. Luckily, Z’zor don’t get knocked out too easily.

Game 2 – The Lunar Darksiders (Cai’s S2 Corp), Away

This time, I got exactly the skills that I wanted – Safe Pair of Hands and Skill increase. They worked quite well, although I always seemed to be throwing with the Safe Pair of Hands and catching with the other one. I managed to kill a human Striker, and get a 6pt win out of it.

Game 3 – Saltford Spankers (Oli’s S2 Corp), Away

I enjoy playing against Oli, because I think we are quite close in skill level. This time, my upgrades were Roll and Skill Increase – again, Roll never came into it and the Skill Increase was heavily relied upon. In this game, I failed many dashes and evades, and even got knocked down a bit. Oli used his Running Interference quite well to break my scoring runs. I lost many actions trying to stand up players that had no intention of standing at all – Oli even took a picture to show how many players were lying down at a time (from both teams). I used the last turn to score a single point and bring my beating down to a 4pt loss.

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Game 4 – The Clone-A-Cell Crushers (Adam’s Marauders), Away

Adam was a skilled opponent, and by this point I thought that I should focus more on smashing. This was successful! I got two kills! I lost by a landslide, and I don’t think I scored any points at all. Adam also managed to kill one of my Strikers. Once again, the skills I got were Roll and Backflip and were unused. Adam was very lucky with his dice – he managed to score about seven injuries on the Z’zor Striker, and to dodge five successes from a Z’zor slamming his Orx in the back on a single dice.

Game 5 – Orcs Orks Orx (Dave’s Marauders), Away

I played Dave back in the Vanguard Season One league earlier this year, and he brought his yellow-armoured Orx again. He suffered some very bad luck – I managed to push one of his Guards onto the ball launch and got him hit, and he also failed a ball pickup with his Jack on the DB1 hex. When I scored in the next rush, his goblin got killed by the ball re-launch.

Both of my Strikers had A Safe Pair of Hands, and I managed to win by 5pts, in part thanks to his goblins constantly missing their 1-dice attempts at 4pt shots. In the final rush, seeing that I couldn’t win a landslide and wanting to get a bit further in body count, I spent all my actions Stomping and Slamming, and had no ref checks against me, but didn’t even send anyone off.

Conclusions

The full results are on Liam’s website – I got 11th place out of 14 players and Oli came 6th. Sebastian Gerhart came top (winning an awesome, awesome trophy), and CJ (who I played in the Vanguard Season Two league) got the metal spoon – because a wooden spoon is not futuristic enough for DreadBall. Sebastian has put a few blog posts about his experiences there on his blog too – trophy and match reports.

It was a fun day – and I think either I didn’t focus enough on murder, or my dice were against me. It’s quite possible that both were true – I had some awful rolls, and missed a hell of a lot of 3pt strikes through the day.

I was surprised at how few teams were represented – I think there were equal numbers of Corporation teams, many Marauder teams, one Judwan and one Z’zor team. I wasn’t surprised that Forge Fathers and Robots were left out, but I was surprised that there were no Veer-myn. Maybe I’m the only one not put off by Skill 5+ after all.

There is another tournament in Bristol being considered for January next year. Hopefully everyone else had a good enough time to come along to that one, and we can get some babysitters so that Jen can come along too. Next big DreadBall event on the calendar is the National in Essex in November!

Sordus Silage Scroungers

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The CPS Norvegicanne was an unlucky ship – some said cursed, others said haunted. Whatever the truth, it was certainly always in need of repairs and maintenance. The engineering crews worked round the clock but regardless of what the ship provisioned, it never had enough supplies or equipment – whether due to administrative error, logistics failures or shipping delays, the crew had to make do with bodges and temporary fixes that no-one had time to revisit and improve.

When the ship’s deflector arrays failed in a dense asteroid field, the Veer-myn who’d been secretly living on board finally made their move. Breaking out of the machinery rooms and ventilation ducts, they scoured the ship for food. The crew abandoned the ship, doubling up in what escape pods hadn’t deteriorated, and escaped to a nearby planetoid leaving the rats to the junk ship.

Six months later, the Norvegicanne reached a starbase at the edge of the star system. No-one could work out how they’d got the ship’s systems to keep them alive long enough, let alone travel and navigate out of the asteroid field to reach civilisation – indeed, all systems went off-line mere hours after arrival. The Corporation (Sordus Silage) immediately impounded and quarantined the ship, and while interrogating it’s Veer-myn occupants to discover their engineering secrets, discovered that they had formed an enthusiastic DreadBall team. After watching thousands of games played by the human crew, and analysing holo-vid recordings of famous games, they had formed their own teams and practiced for much of their brief rule of the ship.

Once it was clear which of the Veer-myn knew nothing about starship mechanics, Sordus Silage conscripted a DreadBall team from the rat’s ranks and entered them into the local league. Since then, they have made some great games, including an astonishing 5-rush landslide against a human Corporation team that contributed to their first tournament victory, the DGB Llamedos Regional!

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The Veer-myn were the first team that I painted. I didn’t have a clear idea of how I wanted to paint the other teams.

I started playing them when we first got the game, but began concentrating on the Marauders and Forge Fathers when tournaments came around – favouring the simpler, smashier teams over the more challenging Veer-myn. After the Vanguard DreadBall tournament however, I brought them back with new tactics and a new plan to take on the Judwan that I expected to face at the Welsh Regional Heat – I didn’t face any Judwan, but they did bring me the victory!

Colour-wise, I started with a Bubonic Brown base, Chestnut Ink wash to give them a bit of grime, and then more Bubonic Brown. The metal was straight Dwarf Bronze, and the skin was exactly the same as I do Dwarf skin – Tanned Flesh base with Dwarf Flesh highlights. I’m not entirely happy with the skin, but it does look great on the tails. The fur is Dark Flesh highlighted with Vermin Fur, and all the straps, bindings and glove mitts are Dark Angels Green highlighted with Snot Green. The claws were straight Dheneb Stone.

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I tried to freehand the numbers on the back, and used Calthan Brown. Some came out alright, some were a bit more wobbly, and the colour was far too close to the main armour to be easily visible. At some point, I may go back and try to hide the existing numbers and redo them with green, for a better contrast but I’m happy with them for now. I’d like to move to a different team with some other colours!

I’m planning on painting the team-exclusive MVPs in the colours of the team that they will play for, and also on tweaking their background a little bit to make them my own. I want to try and get my teams painted first though, since I have never played a game with MVPs at all, I’m happier to put them off for a bit so I can spend a bit more time on them when they come around.

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Magnetising DreadBall Models

I’ve bought some teeny tiny magnets in order to magnetise my DreadBall models. I ordered the magnets to collect from Firestorm Games (a very friendly store, good advice and they cook a nice burger) and got my email 12 minutes after I’d gotten on the train to Bristol – and wouldn’t be back in Cardiff for a week. Oh well, c’est la vie.

There are two things that I want to achieve by magnetising models – keeping them from crashing around in boxes during transport and keeping the balls attached to the ball carriers. To do this, there are a few options:

  • Magnetise the box and ball, put metal on the model bases
  • Magnetise the models, put metal in the box and ball.
  • Magnetise the ball and models, but metal in the box.

I have to experiment – if the magnets are too strong, they will affect each other when models are standing next to each other. Magnetising the ball will be tricky, there’s a very small margin of error. And if I’m magnetising both models and bases, I’ll have to make sure to line the magnetic poles up properly or it’ll be more like a game of Subbuteo than DreadBall!

As for the vague term ‘metal’, I’m thinking of paperclips or metal wire. A small metal rod inside the ball, and flush with the base, should keep the ball attached to anything with a magnet in it. A similar rod stuck to the bottom of the base (after gouging out a channel for it to keep it flush, of course) would do the same in the other direction. Metal wires can also be run inside the cardboard of the boxes that I use for transport and storage, if I choose to go in that direction.

An interesting side effect will be seeing how the magnetic bases react with the metal pitch I’m expecting!

I got a pack of 2mm x 1mm magnets (discs 2mm in diameter and 1mm thick). They weren’t quite as strong as I thought, so I doubt that they would stop anything moving around in the box. That’s alright, there are plenty of other options (probably foam) although may take up a little more space. They are very strong right next to each other, but not so much going through things like bases – this is strong enough to keep a ball on the base (even upside down) but not to make it a hassle to move it off.

Based on the experimentation, I’ve scrapped the transportation goal. I’d need bigger magnets specifically for the task, and I would probably need to glue the models into the bases to give them enough thickness to secure the magnets. I’m putting magnets in the balls, and gluing another on the underside of the hex base corners. I’m going to try magnetising a single Robot model into the base, to make their transformations easier to manage – but I don’t know if either the model base or the hex base will be thick enough to glue a magnet in.

…intermission music here…

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I experimented with the single Robot for transformations. It is possible to fit a magnet into both the hex base and the model base flushly, although to do so the drill tip pokes out of the end (not enough for a magnet to fall out though). At the same time, I had been playing a couple of league games with the Robots, and found transforming while keeping track of player numbers to be a huge pain in the neck. I went on a blitz last weekend and magnetised the rest of the models and bases. It’s a lot of fun to keep plucking ‘bots from the bases and sticking a new one in. It worked extremely well and didn’t interrupt the game when I tried it in full against CJ in a league game.

Despite this, they still wouldn’t secure safely to a metal box. They’d do better being attached to a magnet in the base, but I don’t want to go to that expense. I don’t think it would do the job on it’s own anyway, and would rather get some foam to move them around safely.

While I was at it, I put a magnet in one of the corners of the hex bases for the ball to stick to. I’m going to put the remainder of the magnets in other hex bases to attach the ball, because I think that’ll really help the biggest annoyance of the game, which is dropping the ball all over the place. The last decision to make is whether or not to magnetise both of my balls, or to leave one plain so that it doesn’t interfere if an opponent has magnetised his bases with the opposite polarity. It’s unlikely to come up very often though.

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Just for fun, here is a magnetised robot with a ball magnetised to the corner of the base, hanging nonchalantly from a screw on the underside of a shelf above the Greater Blurred Black (Grey) Dragon.

All in all, a successful magnet experiment and a modest increase to my modelling ability!

Vanguard DreadBall League Season Two – Games One to Three

The Bristol Vanguard are holding another league at Vanguard Wargaming – there are some major changes to the format based on feedback from the first (Season One) league they ran for two rounds earlier this year.

There are no rounds and no friendlies, instead every player will play each other twice (once at Home, once Away) in a Double Round Robin format. MVPs are not bid, but bought for each game (using underdog bonus) for three times base cost. I think these changes are good ideas to fix the problems we had from the previous league – it seemed that there was almost a week between rounds while everyone made their challenges and bid on MVPs, meaning two-week rounds become three-week rounds, and bad schedules can drag it on for a few more days too… basically, this format means that two players who will be scheduled to play aren’t waiting on an unrelated third player to bid on MVPs before they can go.

Game 1: Tom’s S1 Corporation (Away)

This was an interesting game. It was over in 5 rushes, because my son was flooding the bathroom and I had to concede and run home to put him back to bed and clean up. Because Tom had played quite a few games in this league already, his team ranking was 38 points higher than mine. Our particular league rules allow you to buy anything for your game with your underdog bonus, such as coaches, cheerleaders, etc. I picked up a human striker, an offensive coach and three coaching dice.

The coach failed to call a single play, I used all the coaching dice trying to catch the ball with my Jacks, and that blasted Corporation scored two three-pointers early on. I managed to kill off a human, getting me some experience, but no actual points.

Tom very graciously kept the score as it was rather than the landslide win I offered him, meaning I got a single league point out of it for a 6-point loss. With the four dice income, I bought myself an offensive coach to keep for myself and saved the rest.

Game 2: Oli’s S2 Corporation (Home)

This was an up-and-down game, both sides were scoring a lot but the score stayed on my side. At the end I had a 6-point lead, but Oli was able to score in the final rush to bring it all the way down to 2 points. Still a win, my first with Robots!

This was Oli’s first league game, so he got a slight underdog bonus, with which he bought a card (since Season 2 Corporation don’t get cards).

Highlights of this game were a massive, never-ending ruck in the middle of the board, in which Oli’s guards killing one of my Robots, who had to have a budget resurrection – the freezer burn took his Speed down by one. Also, one of the scoring ‘bots got Machine of the Match, putting it into Rank 2 – I rolled on the Guard table and got 360 Vision, which means he will be useful either as a Striker or as a Guard. As I realised in this game, Guards are squishy when they get hit in the back.

Game 3: CJ’s Marauders (Away)

This was one of CJ’s first games, so I was helping him through the rules a little but trying not to be too patronising. He had just played a friendly game against someone else, and hadn’t realised that his Orx were Strength 3 (wondering why they weren’t as bashy as he’d been led to believe…) When I corrected him, every one of my Robots became a ‘target’. Another was killed early, and I played most of the game with three or less players on the pitch (at one point, everyone was on the bench!). It was at that point that he scored three points.

Despite the brutality, I managed to scrape a landslide in the last turn or two (mainly through a desire to stop the game and end the violence!) At one point, I picked up the ball with a Jack and realised that I only had one action and that wasn’t enough to score with. Instead, I turned him round and threw it to a Striker just behind an Orx guard, figuring that the Striker would be able to handle it a bit better. He was, and went on to score that last strike…

In the aftermath, three of my Robots levelled up – I chose Guard tables for them all, and got another 360 Vision, a Quick Recovery and Can’t Feel a Thing. Given the fairly deadly teams in this league (CJ’s PatriOrx and Liam’s Z’zorlanders), this should make me a little more survivable. My casualty got a budget resurrection, and lost his ability to transform…

Second Games Night of 2013

We recently hosted our second games night of the year. Unlike the last one, where we started early and crammed in many many short games throughout the day, this games night was mostly taken up with long games.

The day began with a long game of Warhammer for Jen’s Vampire Counts against Dan’s Warriors of Chaos. She did relatively well, although I believe her spell choices were poor (despite having two doubles, she did not choose Hellish Vigour or Vanhel’s Danse Macabre!). The Terrorgheist at least survived the battle, and was last seen chomping through the back of a unit of Chaos Knights. Although we couldn’t work out victory points due to time, we eyeballed it and decided it was probably a minor victory for the Warriors of Chaos.

Once that was finished, I pounced on some of our new players (while the turnout was still fairly low) to teach DreadBall. That game was cut short by departures, but more players arrived at the same time so we reset the board and played again. This is the first time I think someone I’ve shown DreadBall would not play again, probably because the rules were not grasped as quickly as people usually do. It was an exciting game though, with the Corporation player scoring 5 points throughout the game despite the Forge Fathers keeping at least two of them injured at any time and, by the end of the game, killing three! In the final two turns, the Forge Fathers scored a 4-pointer and a 2-pointer to bring it back to 1 point in their favour. The Corporation player got the ball to the 2-pointer spot, and the whole game essentially came down to the final roll – two dice, requiring at least one 4+. And they flubbed it, the Forge Fathers win!

I love exciting games like that, and we had everyone present hanging on the outcome of that final roll. One old friend noticed that DreadBall is very much like ice hockey, which is interesting considering the game mechanics were originally designed for hockey or a hockey-like game. It’s a good way to get her into it again some time!

Once that long game of DreadBall was out of the way, we brought out Kill Doctor Lucky as a nice, simple, uncomplicated game for two rounds. The first was over quickly as over-ruthless bluffing let a murder attempt through without challenge (Tight Hat killer!), and the second was surrendered to the victor as she had 24 spite tokens to a combined total of 1 spite token across 5 other players and she had a car waiting for her outside for 20 minutes while she tried to turn that into a win! We gave her the win, and retired for the night.

It’s a shame we didn’t get to play so much, I think that was my fault for pushing a 2-player game onto people who weren’t quite used to tactical/strategic games, and I was going slowly myself because of the huge amounts of overtime I’ve been doing in work recently. I was exhausted way before the end of the night!

I’m not sure when the next games night will be – we’ve got a busy calendar ahead of us with DreadBall tournaments and the like, and I’d like to squeeze in a movie night at some point. The top candidate for that one would be the blu-ray box set of Resident Evil or new Batman trilogy that I picked up for Jen’s birthday/Christmas last year.

(Oh yeah, and we all lost the game)

First Games Night of 2013

Our first games night of 2013 was a success! Not that I was expecting a failure, but the previous one (almost a whole year before) had two guests. This time we had four, meaning we could fill out the full six players in some games! We were expecting another (so we could have filled out an entire crowd for Kill Doctor Lucky) but for some as yet unexplained reason he chickened out.

We played a few games – started off early in the day with the keenest players, with a quick round of Toy Story 3 Yahtzee with Fred. I don’t think he realised that people were coming round just to play games, but he was telling everyone that they were his best friends and thanking them for playing his game nicely so that was cool. We were thinking about having a demo game of Warhammer earlier in the day, but I haven’t read the latest rulebook in a long time and haven’t had a chance to get it back from whom I lent it, so revised that down slightly to a demo game of Gorkamorka or Necromunda, but a cock-up by Homebase means that our study is filled with a bath until I get time and assistance to fit it. The bath conveniently blocks off all access to scenery, models and rules so that’s completely removed.

Before the main event I managed to teach Chris and Mark how to play Dreadball, as I threatened before – I spectated/refereed and taught the rules as they went along although by the end of the game they were only really checking numbers with me. I got to play against Mark the following day, and although it was only his second game he was only asking me “is it this many dice and that number for success?” and was usually right. He’s even considering picking it up to play against his brother, since it’s so quick to learn and play and as a veteran Blood Bowl player he’s already keen on the small-team miniature games. I think it also helped that he won both games, and managed to make the Forge Fathers succeed every speed test they had to take! Chris too was keen to come round and give it a try again someday. When I’ve got the models painted, I’ve now got a total of five players willing to join in a one-day-league (including myself). It’s just a shame that I only have four teams to go around until Season Two!

As much fun as Dreadball is, it’s only a two player game and I can’t teach everyone to play at the same time so we played a couple of rounds of Thunder Road before more guests turned up. Thunder Road is a fun and fast game based on a Mad Max style race through the desert on the straightest, longest road ever created. It’s really quick to pick up – although the helicopter mechanic was a little bit strange and took a while to grasp before I really understood it, it wasn’t complicated and once I properly grokked it there was no confusion at all. It’s a great four-player game and I’ll definitely request it be brought back another day. The Wikipedia page has the rules available for download, if you want to take a look. I’m not sure whether the game is available anymore, but maybe it’s somewhere on eBay.

I had to duck out to keep putting the kids to bed (and Jen was pretty much unavailable the rest of the night with more of the same) so I missed a couple of childless games of Toy Story Yahtzee, and resolved that the next games night will absolutely 100% have a babysitter. It wasn’t nice that Jen wasn’t able to play in most of the games of the evening, and we had originally planned a babysitter but there was a last minute change of plans.

ultravioletdragonFinally, we started to play Order of the Stick with some of the Shortening rules. I put in Wandering Xykon but left out Backstories, since I couldn’t remember the rules well enough to want to put in even more mechanics. I figured that we’d get Xykon out early and see how that worked. Unfortunately, we all had big and nasty monsters so the first level was entirely unworkable for the whole of the game. For an example, the first monster out was an Ultraviolet Dragon (roll a D12, add your defence of 1, and hope that it somehow gets higher than 18). Other dragons, big Ogres, and named NPCs filled out the rest of the first floor.

It took a while to remember and relearn the rules as we went, and it seemed to take too long before we even started trying to attract Xykon. I wonder if I got some of the rules wrong in the skim-reading, I’ll have to check that later. At some point we decided to just start the dungeon collapse and end the game without Xykon. When that happened the game finished fairly quickly, so next time I think I will assign a time limit and start the collapse at that point. Another reason it may have taken so long to get to the Xykon stage is because we had 5 ½ players, so obviously each person has less time to get at monsters and gain experience.

Everyone enjoyed it, even the ones unfamiliar with both roleplaying games and the Order of the Stick comic, which is always a bit of a worry to me with really niche games like that.

For the first time in a long time, we didn’t play Kill Doctor Lucky – I noticed that we were expecting another player, and it was one of the only games we have that advertises up to 7 players (and still optimistically expecting Jen to be able to join in) so I put that aside until they got to us. They never turned up and Order of the Stick ran on so long (I was enjoying it too much to notice that it wasn’t really any shorter a game…) so Kill Doctor Lucky remained on the sidelines.

Next time, as I mentioned before, we’ll definitely be organising babysitters. I think I’ll make a shortlist of games to bring out for the evening (Zombies!!! hasn’t been out for a while, nor has Talisman) and read the rules in advance. If I put Order of the Stick in again, I’ll really have to read the rules first so I can be more helpful with it and try the Shortening rules properly – I’m sure I missed something or got things wrong. I’m aiming for the middle of April so we can try and attract some people who always seem to miss our games nights.

All in all, an excellent night and I look forward to the next one!

Butter-Fingered Dwarfs

Our best game of Dreadball so far – I got the Forge Fathers and Veer-myn assembled and challenged Jen to a game. I took the Forge Fathers, and she took the Veer-myn, and we decided to try out cards for a game (no ref this time).

She played Home and I played Visitors – which seems to be the general way that my games have gone so far, and she proceeded to dance her rats all over the pitch. There was a giant scrum on the centre line as our guards got into a huge fight, and one of mine was killed outright. The others did almost nothing for the first half of the game as we slammed backwards and forwards, all the while the rats running around with the ball behind my lines. She scored 2 four pointers, and I was completely unable to even pick up the ball, even with my Strikers.

In rush 8, I managed to get the ball! And transport it all the way to her four-pointer spot! And get it stolen off of me by a Veer-myn striker running straight off of the bench! This was about the time that I managed to clear much off the space on the centre line, asserting that Forge Fathers are stronger than Veer-myn. Even if they can’t score for toffee. This slowed the rats down, although Jen managed to get the ball back up to my scoring zone for a rush 13 landslide victory.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game, despite barely having any contact with the ball. We’d introduced the ref this time so there were more events – the biggest effect on the game came from the ‘double-distance scatter’ event, with the ball ricocheting all over the pitch, especially where it collided with the ref and the scrum on the centre line.

In our next game, I picked up the Forge Fathers again and Jen took the Marauders. It was more difficult for her to get behind me and Sucker Punch my guards, and her lack of strikers made scoring more trouble. Forge Fathers are also pretty good at holding their own against Orx. This time, the dice gods had completely changed their minds and the Goblins found it difficult to pick up the ball, while the Forge Fathers managed to score two four-pointers and a three-pointer for a landslide victory in the second half despite an early Goblin two-point strike.

As with the previous Veer-myn game, I think it helped that I cleared the table of opponents – there are fewer models to evade around, straighter paths to the strike zones, and less threat hexes to worry about. Jen didn’t top up her teams from the subs bench because there were models closer who could be immediately effective to spend the action counters on.

In both games, the fan support and the ref didn’t really matter – no-one scored the high points to get enough fan support for a free coaching dice, and no-one fouled anywhere near the ref. I also realised just how far away the ref can see things going on – it can cover a large amount of the action, if placed near the centre line.

I noticed on the Mantic website that there is a games day at Firestorm games in Cardiff in June, and hopefully I’ll have at least two teams painted by then. I’ll just need to work out if I want to do the work commute on a weekend, and if I can convince Jen to come along too. As there’re two of us, it’ll work out cheaper to drive (even factoring in parking and the bridge toll). I haven’t heard about anything in Bristol yet, and if nothing happens maybe I’ll try and organise something myself. Cut ‘n Thrust Wargaming is pretty good and has plenty of space, and it’s where I played the Dreadball demo game that convinced me to jump on the Kickstarter.

DreadBall Catchup

I got my first DreadBall package a couple of weeks ago, and I calculated that it contains over £150 of miniatures – an incredible deal, when you also consider that I’m getting another two packages next year.

So far I’ve played three games with the unassembled Marauder and Corporation teams (luckily, even without arms and heads their poses make the positions clear enough). The first was a half-game against Jen where she beat me with 3 points, in which I played the Marauders and tried to smash the humans into a fine paste.

The second game went better for me – I played against Lord Scree (one of our roleplay group, who plays a human Tollkeeper in the game I’m running and once used a Sunspear to devastating effect) and scored 3 points myself early on. Unfortunately, his Corporation team got two 4-point strikes thanks to awesome passing and learning to smack Orx in the back of the head (although this might have been helped by my misreading that Orx guards only have a speed of 5+). It might have also helped that I got excited on threw a strike with the first action on my turn, and in DreadBall when you lose control of the ball (including throwing a strike) your turn is over and any remaining actions that turn are lost, wasted, unusable. So again, playing as Marauders against the Corporation, I lost by 5 points.

My latest game was against Jen again, and I got to play as the Corporation. I won for the first time, but I can’t remember by how much. The extra power that Strikers have over Jacks is pretty impressive, and now that I have the Veer-myn team assembled, it might be a bit of a fairer fight in our next game until we work out how best to use Jacks (especially Goblin Jacks, who are next to useless at slamming). She had some terrible luck, missing throws and catches with her first couple of actions, or tripping up with the ball while evading,

I’ve definitely got the bug, and my two test opponents love the game too. My next mission is to make sure that the models get assembled and arrange a games night to show it all off. Once they’re all assembled, I can get them undercoated at the first opportunity, then I can begin painting in the evenings again. As they’re all nearly finished, I can be sure that they’ll be assembled by February although I’ll need a good day’s weather (or borrow my in-law’s garage) to spray-undercoat them ready for painting.

I originally hated the colour schemes in the book, but they’re actually growing on me. I think I’ll skip on the Corporation scheme of silver and blue, but I haven’t come up with anything else just yet. I think I’ll stick with the Marauders scheme exactly as is since red goes well with greenskins. I had an idea of reverse-shading on the Forge Fathers, where the deep recesses are white hot and the armour appears to cool as it gets nearer the edge. It might be difficult to pull off, but it’ll be very Forge-y and intimidating in a sports-team style of thing. My Veer-myn definitely won’t be orange and white, I don’t like the clean look for rats at all. I was considering a plaguey green and brown, but the concept art in the book with yellow armour covered in dripping grime and slime, oily and mouldy, also appeals to me. I’m not quite ready to make my mind up yet anyway so I can mull it over, get some feedback, and see what more motivated players are getting up to on the forums.

When the female Corporation team is released next year, I will probably paint them in the same colours as the male Corporation team (when I decide what colour scheme) so I can mix and match the models. I’m not a fan of gender differentiation, and one way to get my attention for an hour or more is to talk about girl toys and boy toys. Just don’t expect to get a word in yourself while I rant. I’d like to have two mixed teams – one using the Season 2 Corporation rules with whatever special agility rules they end up with, and one using the vanilla Season 1 Corporation rules. Perhaps, if it doesn’t look too discordant, I can give them a mix of Star Trek uniforms from Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, where some have a black uniform with coloured shoulders and others have coloured uniforms with black shoulders and trousers. Maybe I’ll try and get a picture editor and experiment before I crack open the paint pots.

When it comes to the MVPs revealed so far, I am tempted in most cases to paint them the same as the team they can play for. In cases like Buzzcut and John Doe who don’t have a single team restriction, I’ve not made my mind up. Even Slippery Joe, who can only play for Marauders, I may end up painting the same as the ‘official’ paint job because he looks pretty cool. Wildcard looks like she’ll have a different uniform to the Season 2 Corporation team, so I can let my imagination fly there. Buzzcut looks to be mostly undressed so he’ll stand out even if I put him in the Marauders colour scheme – he’ll be green where everyone else on his team is in red armour.

I’m not a fan of the colour schemes used for John Doe and Number 88 – they both have the same grey uniform, which for Number 88 means it’s almost a completely grey model. For such a sleek model, I’m thinking about trying some freehand designs on the armour. My favourite idea at the moment is a sort of swirly, sketchy blue – a bit like tribal tattoos but more flowing and less sharp – on a plain white. Now that I come to describe it, a little like a china plate pattern. The flowing pattern matches the ‘Mind Like Water’ skill that the character has, where it can use martial arts techniques and is difficult to really smash. The plain grey armour seems to fit with an assassin on the battlefield, but not a showy bright sports game, televised, vid-casted and advertised all over the place.

For John Doe, I think the deep purple colour is too dark and cartoony-alien coloured. I’m going to experiment with Earth octopi, with some fleshy-orange skin with a cream-white underbelly. It’ll be a nice test of my painting ability, and hopefully when I see the sculpts for the rest of the ‘Nameless’ team (though this won’t be until Season 3) I’ll see if it will still work. The armour I might try and do a slightly metallic blue-green to evoke the sea and marine colours. I’d like to save purple for the Asterians in Season 3 (incidentally, I really want to give them a Green Goblin style with metallic purple and green armour).

We haven’t tried a game with the ref or any event cards yet, since we’re all still learning but I’m looking forward to introducing them soon, in one of the coming games – perhaps after we’ve exercised all the teams a bit more. I’m definitely hoping to get better at the game and at least one team painted before another parcel of models arrives in May next year, with another 50+ models in it!

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.