Cardiff League – Weeks Five to Nine

I was missing playing DreadBall regularly – tournament season appears to be in the Spring, and it’s been difficult to play against people other than Jen for a while. I eventually approached the Cardiff League guys to see if they would allow me to join, given that I could only attend in person every fortnight (at best) and would have to play most of my games remotely via Vassal. They seem to be more organised than the last couple of leagues in Bristol – the first one followed the rules from the book and people failed to challenge or complete their assigned games in the fortnight provided each round, the second was a more open double-round-robin but I had a couple of people stand me up and found it difficult to attend on the busiest club nights, no-one else was able to attend the same nights that I was and many didn’t try to arrange games on the forums (or reply to my calls for the same).

The Cardiff League has a very disciplined organiser sorting out the match-ups for each week, rounding up the results and making sure it all keeps ticking along. I’ve jumped in to replace one of his teams, with the team ranking and league points that they had accrued so far – 2 losses and a draw.

I decided to take my Zee team along for this league, since I think a developed Zee team could be interesting to play with, and I’d like the practice to try and perfect their tactics. Since I was replacing a Zee team, I only got 17 credits to boost my team rating – I bought an offensive coach and saved the rest for later. As I’m starting in week five, I’m hoping to organise some friendly games via Vassal so I can get some experience on the monkeys and make them better for the league games.

Game 1 – Home vs The Cylon Conspiracy (Robots)

The Cylon Conspiracy had a huge lead on me, having a few landslide victories behind them and on top of the league table. Being the underdog that I am, I got a bunch of free agents here. I got an Asterian Guard, a Sticky Nameless Guard, and two more Zees.

I swarmed the pitch and managed to get a few good scores, but couldn’t keep the three-point strike zone defended well enough and ended up six points down when I had to concede the game early and run to catch a train. I made enough cash after the game to buy two cards, and replace a dead Zee. Two of them managed to get experience, but not enough to gain a rank.

Game 2 – Away vs Squad Sonny (Robots)

I was hoping to squeeze this in on the same day as against the Cylon Conspiracy but the schedule was against me. Instead, we arranged this game by Vassal. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be to play via Vassal, and doesn’t get in the way too much.

Squad Sonny had a huge team rating, 250 against my 134. This meant my underdog bonus was more than I could possibly use. I bought Buzzcut for the game, and got a few free agents – Asterian Guard and Jack, and a Teraton Jack. The Teraton spent the whole game on the bench because I’ve not played with them yet, and I’m not sure how best to use their abilities. Buzzcut I used for some muscle, but wanted to keep the scoring to the Zees (as poor as they are) to try and get some experience. This worked well, with my two experienced monkeys scoring early on and getting me a six point lead before half-time.

Unfortunately, good luck doesn’t last and I wasn’t able to score again – Squad Sonny managed to push enough models around to get a four-pointer, and ended up winning by two. However, with the underdog bonus I had enough to max out my cards for the next game, and still have plenty left over to buy something else. I don’t know if I’ll buy more Zees, since there is a limit of fourteen and I would like the space for MVPs if I am the underdog again. I could buy some Cheerleaders to try and capitalise on scoring, so the cards can get me easier scores, the scores can get me fan checks, the fan checks get me the coaching dice that I’ll need to help guarantee the score for next time.

My two happy scorers both got Skill increases after the game, so given how close I was to a win this time (landslide, even!) I could actually get it to work next time!

Game 3 – Home vs Yutani Predators (S1 Corporation)

This was another Vassal game, but a little trickier without voice communication. I worry enough that I might be misunderstood with my voice, let alone in plain and emotionless text. The first half of the game was a frantic score-fest, with my two ‘striker’ Zees running and scoring three-pointers every rush, but having them negated instantly by a three-pointer from the Corporation Strikers. After a couple of fumbles from the humans, and a break in the scoring, I finally managed to pull ahead and started to get a lasting lead, and the game ended as a win five points up to me.

Because of all the scoring, I got man monkey of the match, and another ability on one of my ‘striker’ Zees – who got Misdirect.

After this game, I’d maxed out on cards and had oodles of cash left. Looking at team rankings, I can’t expect to get too many more free agents so I bought a couple more Zees (never a bad thing) and a pair of cheerleaders, just in case.

Game 4 – Away vs the Tannhauser Kaiju (Teratons)

Yet another Vassal game – I will be trying to make it to the store at some point, as I need to get some paints and I think I’ve earned the leave at home. This was my first experience with Teratons, on either side of the pitch and they were formidable. Lots of upgrades (two Keepers) and the Teleport ability is incredibly useful! Why ever Evade again?

First score went to the Teratons, and they kept the pressure up high throughout the game. Even with my new hires, there were times I only had 5 on the pitch and no subs to bring on! While not quite so back-and-forth as the previous game, the tit-for-tat was a spread out a lot more and the score didn’t come near my cheerleader till near the end. My Monkey Business dice only gave me a little luck near the beginning, and I realised that Teleport can’t stop a determined Zee from Stealing the ball from a Teraton – but rolling low will scupper that.

My favourite points of the game were having more than half of my team in the Sin Bin thanks to injuries and fouls, and using a Running Interference card to snatch the ball before a Teraton Jack could pick it up… then doubling and running off with it! That Zee eventually sprinted off to a far corner of the pitch, where a Teraton Keeper attempted to teach him the error of his ways. It worked, but the ball scattered off the wall and straight back into the Keeper, who flubbed the catch, and a weird bounce dropped the ball into the almost undefended three-point Strike zone. That was the rush lost, and my final rush for one of the new Zees to sprint up, grab the ball (doubling with 5+ skill), and score (doubling with 5+ skill) to end the game on a 5 point win.

Monkey of the Match was mine again, same Zee as before (both times, he’d done nothing) and that meant a rank increase. He got Running Interference. Another Zee got a Skill increase, and three more are close to advances.

I’d love to play these Teratons again, it was a real challenge – but after the game they did buy a new Guard, so maybe I’d best save some cash for resurrection bills…

Vanguard DreadBall League Season Two – Games Four and Five

My Robots continue plodding their way through the Vanguard Season Two League

Game Four – Stu’s S2 Corporation (Away)

This game showcased the awfully fickle nature of dice. For his first action, Stu slammed a Robot with his Guard – and his Guard went out for three turns. Pretty much every slam he tried failed – combined with a failed Evade roll, I ended up with a single Robot threatening two down humans and the 2-pointer bonus hex. For my part, throughout the game, I failed to pick up the ball two or three times and failed two 3-point shots. The only Robot to get experience was the one who took out the Guard on the first turn, and I got no fan checks at all.

That being said, I don’t think I played badly – just Stu played better. He considered every turn extremely carefully, and used Running Interference extremely well. I think I need to practice more against the S2 Corporation to get used to being surprised during my own turn. I think they’re also the only team that I haven’t played a single game with – it might help me to understand them a bit better.

In his last turn, Stu got the last few points to score a landslide win – and with the underdog bonus, tons of income.

Game Five – CJ’s Marauders (Home)

This game reversed both of my previous game’s fortunes – CJ’s Marauders weren’t able to kill anything and only injured a couple of times, despite stomping a prone guard who was surrounded. On the offensive side, I was able to pick up the ball and even score with it! I fumbled one pick up and failed one strike, but both of those were near the end of rushes where I had either one action or none left.

CJ made me work hard, putting threat hexes and Slamming all over the place to make things difficult for the robots. He kept up the danger level with many many slams, but unfortunately his dice were against him and I was able to dodge most things and suffered minimal injuries. For the first half of the game, the ball was carried up and down the pitch without a single Steal attempt – only Slams. The robots managed a single Strike attempt and failed it. In the second half, they got another Strike attempt for 3 points, the Marauders used an Offensive coach to get their three points back (involving an excellent tactical slam to move a Robot so their goblin could sprint past), the Robots went for another three points but the ball exploded…

In their final rush, the Robots got the three points again and the Marauders spent the last rush trying to put some pain on them in revenge but fortunately for me, nothing happened. It ended as a three-point win to me.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the next three games that I scheduled were cancelled by my opponents. With school starting, we’re getting used to a new schedule that makes it even harder to get to the store to play games, so I’ve not been able to get any further. I don’t know why, but I think everyone else’s interest has fizzled out too.

It has taught me a little more about how to use Robots – I prefer Strikers to Guards, because 5+ Speed is devastating if someone hits them in the back. I like being able to roll on any skill table, half of my players have 360 Vision – which is extremely useful for both Strikers and Guards. I think that the Robots need a league format, they really feel like late bloomers who need a little advancement.

Planned next was the national super-league, but based on my scheduling here I didn’t think I could get to any games. A few other people are having the same problem so the Bristol Vanguard super-league will now be on a single day, like a tournament, but I won’t be able to make that day. I don’t know when the next ‘regular’ league will be, but I’ll have to see if my attendance can improve any time before then. Perhaps the double round robin format was a bit ambitious, since there were at least eight players every player has to play fourteen games. At one game a week (a reasonable expectation), it would take three months if people’s schedules are perfect. For myself, I find it hard to get to the club on a Thursday (club night, when most people attend) or Friday, can’t make Wednesdays, and only occasional weekends.

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…

Vanguard Dreadball League

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I was tempted to step up and start some DreadBall community in Bristol, since no-one else had done so and the nearest tournament, official or widely announced, was in Milton Keynes. The ‘Southern’ regional heat was somewhere out East somewhere, and pretty much useless for much of what I think of as the South region (anywhere from Bristol out to Brighton and beyond).

Conveniently for me and my sanity, the Welsh regional heat was arranged in Cardiff. Since I commute there every day it’s not a big problem for me to travel out that far. Not long after that someone got in touch with me on the Mantic forums to tell me about a new wargaming venue in Bristol called Vanguard Wargaming, with an active community who were really getting buzzed about Dreadball.

They were starting a league, and I wanted to join a league, and so I signed myself and Jen up for it! It means that quite often, we’ll probably not be there together (children need watching) and as they are fortnightly rounds there will probably be one day every week that we don’t see each other. But it will be good for both of our playing to be able to play other people. In between league rounds, we can play friendly matches against each other too. We’ve gone through three of the four planned rounds so far, and I’ve been putting match reports on every game I’ve played on the Vanguard Wargaming forums.

Round One

Marauders vs. Corporation (Pete vs Jen, friendly)

We had a friendly game to start off the season, but the term ‘friendly’ is a bit of a misnomer. Marauders took the first rush and by the third action a human striker was already being recycled.
The game went back and forth with a number of small goblin strikes balanced by larger human ones. In desperation, a lone goblin sat on the human entry hex to block reinforcements coming on while the ref was occupied at the high-point strike zone on the far end of the pitch, avoiding the Eye in the Sky and driving the humans mad with fury (and hell hath no fury like a woman stalled…)
In the final rushes, the goblin Jack left the entry hex to avoid being called out and the goblins were 4 points up. But in the final human rush, another 4 pointer brought the game into sudden death!
Sudden death was thankfully short, as the goblins grabbed the newly launched ball and scored a single point to tip the game to their favour.
In the aftermath, one Orx guard was voted Man of the Match and promoted to a Keeper while a human striker increased in rank and gained the Roll skill.

Marauders vs. Marauders (Pete vs. Hung, league)

First league match, and my first ‘mirror-match’ – Marauders vs. Marauders! Thankfully, not both in the same colours. Hung’s Yellows lined up with 3 Orx and 3 goblins, and my Reds faced them with 1 Orx and 5 goblins.
The first six rushes saw a lot of fighting, but not a lot of injury. The ball was picked up, stolen, slammed and dropped, picked up again, but never got further than 2 hexes from the centre line.
Finally, one of the Red goblins grabbed the ball and made a break for the 3-pointer zone. Two Yellow Orx were knocked down and pinned by the starting line for several rushes while the scrum was sorted out and broke off a bit.
The Reds scored two 3-pointers, then Yellows took the ball for a 4-pointer to bring the score back to 2-0.
In the final turns, the Reds brought in another Orx to replace an injured goblin and got a few back slams on the Yellow Orx – killing one! Despite sucker punches from both sides, the refs were content to let greenskins murder each other with complete abandon.
Just before the end, the Reds got another 3-pointer and a tense moment based around the high-point strike zone prevented a Red landslide in the final rush. Final score: 5-0.
Dave’s Yellows had awful luck, and my Reds were unusually lucky – no player on either side spent more than a single rush injured, both refs missed everything, and goblins dodged left, right and all over the place.
Man of the Match went to a Yellow goblin, and two Red goblins got advances (one Skill advance, one Safe Pair of Hands).

Corporation vs. Corporation (Jen vs. Skindog, league)

Not much of a league report here – Jen couldn’t make her game, and in the interest of time they agreed to count the game as a draw.

Round Two

Corporation vs. Marauders? (Jen vs. Skindog, league)

I wasn’t here to watch this one, but from what I can tell Skindog had awful luck – dropping the ball two rushes in a row. Jen ran all over him to get a landslide by the 6th or 7th rush.

Marauders vs. Marauders (Pete vs. Chillydogg, league)

My second league game was really forward and back. Both of us had moments of terrible luck, and points were it could have swung the other way, but the dice were against us. I set up the same as I did for the game against Hung, with 5 jacks and 1 guard. Kev lined up against me with 2 jacks and 4 (!) guards – it was even more extreme than the match-up against Hung!

I scored 3 points in the first time and started juggling my goblins up to the top scoring zone and back. Despite having 4 guards against me, I only had a couple of jacks out injured at a time and no-one on my side died. Just like every other game in this league, I killed one of the opposing team – this time, it was an Orx guard. He had extra anyway. The ball was constantly being dropped and carried back and forth, but on it’s travels it scored a 2-pointer and two 4-pointers for Kev’s visiting team to end the game in a landslide against me in the 9th rush.

Round Three

Unfortunately, interest fizzled out in round three as the final pairing found it difficult to organise their game and everyone was waiting on tenterhooks for Season 2 models and rules. It was decided that as a practice run, Season 1 was a success and we would begin a new league with Season 2.

What’s Next?

I enjoyed the club, and will be jumping in on their Season 2 league when it starts. From what I could gather, there’s going to be a different structure, where a game night is picked and everyone plays as many times as they like/can in that evening. At the end of the round, the best 3 games are submitted for your score (so obviously, it helps to play more games to have a larger pool to choose from). I’m not sure what team I would pick in Season 2 – perhaps the Judwan, since they are playing a passing, dodging game which is how I am trying to play the Marauders at the moment.