ManticBowl 2013

The ManticBowl! My first tournament! I’ve never been to a tournament before, not for any game. I’ve played in a single league outside of my house, and a couple of games of Warhammer in a couple of clubs over the last fifteen years. That’s pretty much enough to qualify as ‘I only play against my friends’. Since I got the free ticket with the Kickstarter, I thought it would be nice to treat Jen to a weekend away and get her a ticket too!

Thoughts before

I’ve heard about Warhammer tournaments for a long time on podcasts, and was tempted to join in on one of those (not fancying my chances very much though) but DreadBall is new and exciting, and I feel more able to play well. That being said, I’m not getting cocky. I’ve heard that there are 28 contenders in the tournament, and Jen and I are two of those. I’d like to come in around 25th or better – not aiming particularly high, I know, but almost everyone that I’ve played against is someone that I’ve taught the game and apart from the league games (one win, one landslide loss) I’ve been advising my opponent on tactics and the rules. I don’t know how good my tactics are!

On top of that, I only got my Season Two pack a week ago. We’ve had no time to play against the new teams, and from what I’ve seen in the forums the Judwan are going to take some work to take down. We were planning to get some practice games in but it looks like the only time that we’ll get to play against each other (the first time in many, many weeks) is going to be in the hotel tomorrow night.

One thing that’s been occupying me for the last week is painting. I asked Jen what she wanted to play of our two-and-a-half painted teams, and she said Corporation. The completely unpainted team. I have a colour scheme that I wanted to use for the S2 models but not one for the S1. When the new models arrived, I built up an S1 team with S2 models (ensuring I had enough models in two piles to assemble both an S1 or S2 team in two different colour schemes) and have been painting furiously to get them ready in time. I’ve missed off a lot of the highlighting, but I’ve been trying to work carefully and make a good job of it. I’ve got them to a point where they would be acceptable for tournament entry, even though there is plenty more work in highlighting to do on them. I’m so happy with how they’ve turned out, I’m jealous of Jen taking them!

The last thing to worry about is that we don’t have all the required materials that the tournament pack lists. We only have one copy of the game, so we only have one rulebook, one refbot and one pack of cards. Apparently both players should be bringing this stuff, but the only thing that I have in multiple is a pitch (MDF pitch, started to paint it but no details done yet). Hopefully our opponents will be able to fill in the gaps and the tournament organisers will be tolerant.

Jen is just worried that she doesn’t know the rules enough, so I guess I know who will be taking the rulebook!

The day

Apologies for not remembering more about my games – after the tournament we went to the cinema, had a meal out, then back to the hotel to plough through a bottle of wine. It was a real whirlwind of a day. I ended up taking my Marauders, with two extra coaching dice (the maximum allowed) and an advance on a Jack.

Game 1

My first game was against a Forge Father player named Tristan (Golden Forge Guardians, placed 25th). They were painted black and gold. My Jack got a skill advance, but got injured and never got around to using it! The memorable moment was realising that the bloodthirsty Forge Fathers had put everyone in the sin bin except a single lone guard in my last rush! Seeing where the ball was, I took out my only sub (a Jack) and defended the two closest strike zones and hoped he didn’t have good cards. In his last rush, he managed to get all the way to the 4-point bonus hex, he shot and… missed! There was a little back and forth, but I ended up winning by 2 points.

Jen played a Corporation team, and lost by a landslide.

Game 2

I felt really bad for my opponent in the second game – a Judwan player named Adam (Aryes Grey Basterds, placed 23rd), who had borrowed a friend’s blue, white and red Judwan. His dice were definitely against him, and with a few rounds of dropping the ball and failing catches, I think he only managed to score once. He had set up a chain of passing which worked beautifully, double successes all the way to the three point zone, and if it had worked it would be a play that was talked about in history. His last player failed to catch the ball (needing one 4+ on any of three dice!), and it scattered… back to his other strikers, who failed to catch it and it scattered… all the way back to where it started.

My goblins picked it up and took it to a landslide win. At lunch, I looked around the shop but I didn’t see any dice. I think I owed the guy a new pack, since his dice deserve to be destroyed for their betrayal.

Jen played another Corporation team, and lost by a landslide again.

Game 3

Buoyed up by my good results so far, I got quite close to the top table. It was either table 3 or 4, if I recall correctly. Jen had gone down to the bottom table already. I played a Corporation player named Gary (Cryotek Hornets, placed 11th), whose team were painted in yellow with black and white stripes. He spent most of the early game ganging up on my guys and tag-teaming slams. There was a little back and forth, but his big strike zone at the end (my favourite target) was too well defended to do much with. I ended up losing by 5 points.

Jen played against a Marauder team this time (Hyson Green Smack Fiends, placed 26th), but lost by a landslide again.

Game 4

This was the most exciting game of all. I played against Carl (aka @athousandhats) fielding a Corporation team with an assistant coach (Crashtek Wreckers, placed 8th), and realised just how useful they would be (I almost brought one, but didn’t have any painted yet). This team was also painted yellow, and was probably the best painted team I played against. There was so much going on the whole game – it went back and forth so many times, neither team getting more than two points on the other. We both scored a lot.

He had a Striker with A Safe Pair of Hands (I’d been lucky and got it for the first time today too, but that Jack spent his time mostly injured!) on the ball entry hex, and caught it a couple of times. As I was two points up in his penultimate rush, I used a Running Interference card to at least try and move the Striker so they couldn’t catch the ball… and ended up getting six successes (from three dice!) against his two to dodge! He saved a couple, but was no longer a threat. By this time, we were one of the last games playing.

In my final rush, I failed to get the ball far enough out of the way and he managed to pass it round the back of my Orx guarding the big strike zone to score three points. Every other game had finished, and the time was almost up, but it was our last rush so the TOs and a couple of spectators were crowding at this point. He got the three-pointer, and showboated, and took the score back to 1pt in his favour.

I have honestly never enjoyed a game of DreadBall more than that one – Carl knew the rules well, and played fantastically, he was a good fun guy to chat through all the way through and he was just as buzzed about how the game was going as I was. I think the benefits of a Swiss tournament system mean that you should end up playing someone who is around your level, and in DreadBall that means that it will normally be a close and exciting game.

Jen was still on the bottom table, and the downside of the Swiss system is that she was playing the same opponent again – but she didn’t lose by a landslide! She lost by 6 points. She also helped her opponent (Jona) to win Bloodiest Coach, because most of his kills had come from her team.

Thoughts after

I loved it! I want to go again! I will be going again next year, hopefully. Jen enjoyed herself despite coming bottom of the whole thing, and everyone commented on what a good sport she was. Mantic even gave a prize to the bottom player – a copy of Dwarf King’s Hold, with the tongue-in-cheek comment that maybe she should try a different game. That being said, they were really nice and we would be welcomed  back again. All her opponents were friendly, and she said they offered her tips after the games. The TO, James, even came over to check how she was doing in the last two games, and brought her over to my table at the end of the last game because it was so exciting!

As far as results go, I came 17th and Jen came 29th. One player disqualified himself and told the judges that because he had been playing coaches wrong and giving himself an unfair advantage, all his opponents should get a landslide win against him. They agreed, and that’s why Jen came 29th out of 30. If he hadn’t have done that, I would have come 16th and Jen would have come 30th. I really like the honesty and sportsmanship involved – it shows that everyone else was just there to have a laugh and a good time playing as well. Having analysed the final results, if my opponent in the last game hadn’t scored that final strike, I would have placed a lot higher – but that’s the way things go!

We’re both looking forward to trying out Dwarf King’s Hold, and I’ve skimmed over the rules. I don’t know if we’ll get a chance to play it yet though, as I’ve totally got the tournament bug now and with 2 more tournaments in the next four weeks, I want to get a lot more practice in and potentially paint another team (since we’ve convinced @lordscree to join in the Bristol Blitz).

Overall, I’m finishing off this blog post two days after the event and I am still buzzing. Maybe that’ll calm down as I get more used to tournaments, but for now all I want to do is play DreadBall and get back to another tournament. I know I won’t be able to go to too many out-of-town events because of the need for babysitters, but I might look at travelling a little further afield in the Wiltshire, Devon, South Wales or even possibly Hampshire and London areas (if we can attach ourselves to friends and family out there).

The biggest downside is that we missed a lot of the Open Day stuff, but I had so much fun I don’t really care. I don’t have time to play DeadZone or Kings of War, and I don’t want to buy any more stuff. I looked around at some of the professionally painted models, which was amazing and intimidating, but it just makes me want to try harder. Waiting in the queue for food meant that we missed the seminar, but again we just milled around and chatted to the other players.

We will be going again! As long as babysitters, accommodation and transport can all align, we will definitely be going back. I encourage anyone else who can make it to do the same!

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.