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.

Doombar League Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season Finale – the Ultimate Battle

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

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

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

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

What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

On with Season Two!

Doombar League – Games One to Three

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

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

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

Round One – vs Sam’s Nameless

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

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

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

Game Two vs Stu (Pale Marys, S2 Corporation)

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

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

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

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

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

Game Three vs Tom (Woolwich Armourers, S1 Corporation)

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

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

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

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

Welsh Regional Tournament 2014

There wasn’t really any way that I could miss this one, as last year’s winner. It almost looked like it had been cancelled too, as the local Pathfinder was no longer able to run it. I was offered the opportunity to both run it and play, and as I was planning on being there anyway it seemed like a simple enough deal!

I wouldn’t need to do any of the tricky stuff like arranging a venue, sorting tickets or prizes or anything like that, just sort out who plays who in each round and give out the toys at the end (provided by Mantic, given to me at the Open Day). In addition, since I was still allowed to play (and win – I checked).

This helped to decide my team for me – I was dithering between Nameless and Zees, since I’ve used them both this year and enjoyed them, but the Zees are quite a complex team and if I was going to be called by anyone else for rules queries, I didn’t want to have to cut a game short with my current opponent in order to answer a rules query for someone else. Not a lot of people have played with or against the Zees, and not everyone has the Season Three book, so quite a few people are unfamiliar with the way that they play and all their odd rules – they’d be likely to cause rules queries, and I didn’t want there to seem to be a conflict of interest. Finally, a Zees game can take a while (more rules, more decisions, less ability to score) and I wanted to have time to go around and take pictures, collect results and get the next round sorted out as early as possible. With all that involved, I figured the best choice was to take the Nameless. They have fairly well-known rules already, their errata and FAQ are very simple, no strange Running Interference, Teleport or Dirty Tricks to annoy people with obscure rulings, timings and loopholes.

Game One – Dan’s Brigstowe Raiders (S1 Corporation)

I started off well with a rematch of last week’s game in the Azure Forest tournament at the Open Day. This went much more my way with good rolls, and I hit a landslide win to take the game. I even managed to kill two models, putting on top in points, strike difference, kills and cheers!

Game Two – Oli’s Saltford Slappers (S2 Corporation)

My lead didn’t last long – Oli plays Running Interference perfectly, and held up all of my strike attempts. He did manage to take a win, putting him in the lead overall.

Game Three – Andy’s Arkham Harleyquinns (S2 Corporation)

I first played Andy back at the Bristol Megalofunotron, and he was the only player at the Welsh Regional who hadn’t come from Bristol! He travelled up from Exeter. He was even hotter on the Running Interference than Oli was, and took a landslide win in turn five.

Game Four – Dan’s Brigstowe Raiders (S1 Corporation)

As there were only four players, we had to duplicate our results and I ended up playing Dan again for the final game. Again, I managed to take a landslide win – and so early, that we started off a friendly game – swapping sides to try out the opposite teams.

Results

It was slightly disappointing having a small field again, it would have been nice to have some of the guys from the Cardiff League turn up but unfortunately it was left a little unconfirmed until about three weeks before (hence my being drafted in to keep things running).

I managed to pull third place, Dan unfortunately had last (losing every game, as compared to his standing in the Open Day tournament). Oli and Andy were so close going into the last game that if it was a draw, Oli had won. If Andy won by two points or more, he had won. It went backwards and forwards all game, it could have gone either way.

It came right down to the last couple of dice of the game, and time ran out… It finished with three points to Andy, and his strike difference won the tie-breaker. In fact, cheers would have been identical if the final event of the game wasn’t ‘Bored Fans’, losing a fan check card and putting Andy on top there too.

It was a fantastic day, it was nice that everyone had a chance to play everyone else even though it was a low turnout. We all had a good laugh, the final game on the ‘top’ table was good and nail-biting (as is only proper).

Bristol Megalofunotron Tournament Review

This was another local tournament, like the Bristol Blitz last year. It would be nice to bring every different team to a tournament at some point, to get proper use out of all of them, and given that I’ve been using Zees a lot this year (especially in the Cardiff League) it would be a good chance to get those out for a bit.

The tournament has a slightly different format to the traditional tournaments we’ve been to, and instead of just being four plain identical exhibition matches this was more of a surrogate league – each game is an exhibition match with more credits, and the team you use each game is based on the team you had in the previous game. Unlike a league, any rank increases are rolled at the beginning of each game, and deaths are ignored (instant, free resurrection between games).

In addition, it’s a five-game tournament and the final game was an Ultimate multiplayer game.

Game 1 – Andy’s S2 Corporation (4pt win)

Andy was great fun to play against – I got a good six-point lead early on but he refused to let me get the landslide. We made it through to the end of the game, where I got a final point to put me on four and with the three-point strike hex blocked up with two on the bonus lane, it was going to be impossible for the Corporation to score a win. This is one of the games that I expected to be the hardest, since the Zees had the fewest upgrades. The Monkey Business dice didn’t favour me much, but the Offensive coach was very useful.

He did kill a monkey though.

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Game 2 – Rob’s Asterians (7pt landslide loss)

The Asterian Dirty Tricks and Dive-Taking failed to do too much to the monkeys, as expected. Rob played well and blocked the three-point strike hex from me, and with their 3+ Speed there was nothing I could do to open it up. Like the last times I played Asterians (at the Charity Open Day and 2013 Nationals), I was permanently on the back foot trying to slow down what seemed like an inevitable loss. I managed to hold off until turn 12, which is pretty good for a Skill 5+ Jack team against one with Skill 3+ Strikers.

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The best moment of this loss was pointing out that he hadn’t called any fouls all game, and I’d had ten models on the pitch uncontested for almost the entire game. It clearly didn’t help me, but it was rewarding nonetheless. On the flipside, I didn’t notice that he’d had 7 players on the pitch for at least half of the game himself.

Game 3 – Cai’s Teratons (3pt win)

Cai was a sharp player, he knew how to use the Teratons to best effect and made it difficult for me to pick up the ball by applying threat hexes to it. At one point, I played the Ball Shatters card to my own player because he wouldn’t be able to safely Evade out of two threat hexes. When relaunched, the ball landed in the only spot with two threat hexes on it, so it didn’t really help me at all. He called foul almost every one of my actions, but found it difficult to kill off the monkeys quickly enough to stop them scoring.

Game 4 – Josh’s Robots (7pt landslide win)

I wasn’t too sure how I would end up doing against the Robots, and Josh didn’t know about the Zees. I managed to kill a Robot Guard by slamming them in the back (with plenty of threat hex support, obviously) and in my final turn, took a one-dice 4+ chance at a 4pt Strike to get the landslide… and got it.

I don’t think Josh is used to someone fouling against him, and I feel a little bad about fouling, but the Zees require the foul to be able to do anything. Still, he called more fouls than Rob did and got a few monkeys sent off – just not enough.

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Josh had a great, simple paint scheme for his robots – white undercoat with a coloured wash for position. One of the big problems with robots is determining player role, since they are all so similar, but this made it so easy for me to tell what was a Jack, a Striker or a Guard.

Game 5 – ULTIMATE!

The Ultimate game involved Andy, Rob and Josh from my previous games, as well as a Nameless team and an S1 Corporation team (Tom, who I’ve played in previous tournaments) to make a full six players.

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I called Defensive plays for the first couple of turns, but didn’t need the dice and didn’t get much done in those turns. I’m not sure whether it was subsequently calling Offensive plays or just having more Zees on the pitch closer to the action that did the trick but I started scoring again. At one point, I was tied for first place with Tom’s Corporation and Rob’s Asterians but Tom scored an extra couple of points on me to pull himself ahead and push me down to third place when the time ran out and we ended the game.

I think I liked this game more than the others in the day – I even managed to pull a couple of nasty surprises on people (Running Interference cards!) and took a Nameless Hard Guard off for three turns thanks to many threat hexes and a slam in the back (with a few unused Monkey Business dice).

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Conclusion

Overall, Jen and I did pretty well – she won her Ultimate game by a landslide, and we were both tied on tournament points with Tom (who won our Ultimate game). Taking into account strike difference, Tom came in second, I was third and Jen was fourth. I think that’s a brilliant turnout for the Zees. I think it was even better for Jen, who had misunderstood the format and was reducing her tournament bonus each game, instead of adding it on, and effectively was being outranked by her opponents in games two and three. I think – although I’d need the complete results to be sure – that if the Ultimate game hadn’t happened I would have been in second place.

The overall winner was Rob Taylor with his Asterians – I’m definitely going to have to arrange some practice games against them, since they are the team I do the worst against.

The aim of the ‘league-ish’ format was to encourage other teams to come who are perceived as needing a bit more development to be competitive – teams like the Zees, the Robots and Z’zor. I think it definitely helped the Zees to be able to spend more than 20mc since they need an Offensive coach to really push for the big scores but 5+ Skill (and unpredictable coaching dice) is even more crippling for them than it is for the Veer-myn. On the other hand, every other team had the same number of upgrades as I did so it was still a set of four balanced matches.

I like the different format, it kept things interesting and I was really pleased to have done so well with the Zees. I hope that other people will take them in the future, since I have not yet played against them – I think they’d be an interesting challenge. It was also very good to have two full Ultimate games – no dead Strike zones – with all the chaos that entails. I’d like to play another tournament in this format one day, but it’s quite tiring – four hour games and a two-hour Ultimate game to cap it off is a gruelling schedule.

The giveaway for this tournament was a set of custom acrylic tokens with a Bristol Vanguard logo on them (a Banksy bear throwing a dice) – Jen and I picked blue and red to supplement the green Kickstarter ones we already have.

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DreadBall Kickstarter Season Three

The DreadBall Kickstarter is nearly over… I’ve received my final parcel, I have a big pile of plastic to clean, assemble and paint and all that is left is the ‘Creating DreadBall’ digital book and the backer MVP rules.

I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in the tournament ‘scene’ – I’ve taken part in four tournaments this year, winning one and doing acceptably in all of them. The National tournament has been postponed, but a second Open Day this year has been planned for the end of November. Oli, Jen and I are going to rock up there en masse and see what we can do. It’ll give me a little more time to practice for the Nationals too.

So far, I’ve played one game of Ultimate (my Veer-myn, Jen’s S1 Corp and Oli’s S2 Corp) – it’s a real blast, you’ve got to focus much more on scoring with the lack of actions but it’s a real shift from the familiar two player game. Having two players gang up to put threat hexes on a model with the ball is an interesting new tactic, as well as nearly having sudden death on us. I intend to break it out for our DreadBall day in January, I think our casual players will pick it up relatively quickly and enjoy it.

I’ve also played a couple of games with the Zees – one win and one loss. I haven’t got a clue how to play them, they are absolutely insane. They can’t score, they can’t slam, and they definitely can’t pass, but they can move around a lot and they can put out a lot of threat hexes. A few times, I managed to get all ten of my players on the pitch at once. The foul rules are neat and don’t feel like the game slows down at all, and the Zees do stand a chance of being sent off. The only thing is that while concentrating so much on fouling myself and trying to find an edge for the unpredictable primates, I didn’t notice that Jen had snuck on a extra player right at the beginning and was Sneaking for most of the game. My summary – no idea how to play them, but loads of fun. Can’t see them being competitive but they should be an awesome team for a laugh, maybe in a game of Ultimate…

After that, I tried a game with the Nameless against Oli’s Corporation. Just for a laugh, we upgraded our teams with 20mc and I chose to bring Dozer in, to see how giants work. It’s the first time I’ve played a game involving MVPs of any kind. The basic plan was to run in with a Sticky Guard, then slam with Dozer. Six dice slam with a 3 dice penalty on the target should have made it pretty lethal, right? Nope. I’ll have to try again to be sure but the luck was definitely not with me that game.

Then there’s the Mars Attacks Kickstarter. I wasn’t planning on backing, and on the morning that I wrote all of this out ready to queue up for the next scheduled update Mantic went and put up the rumoured Martian DreadBall team. I had a whole thing ready about how I think the cross-over is OK in my eyes but I could see myself getting disappointed if they appeared in Warpath if I were a Warpath player. However, Mantic beat me to it and explained that they don’t fit in Warpath or DeadZone, but that Mars Attacks love cross-overs and DreadBall is a suitable target for it. The renders don’t look particularly exciting, and they may never be legal outside of Mantic tournaments, but I like a bit of a laugh and they look pretty cool with the clear dome helmets. Should be a bit of fun to paint. Well done Mantic, you have my money – now give me a Martian team!

With so many models to assemble and paint, I’ve got to be organised about it. I’m planning on building the bare minimum Season Three teams and prone markers for the teams I have finished. Then I’ll be painting the Season One Corporation for Oli to take to the Open Day (with an extra Jack, because he prefers the Season Two team…) and hopefully, if there’s time, paint the prone markers for our three teams.

Next up, I think I’ll finish assembling everything I have. That way if a good weather day appears over the winter to undercoat them, I’ll be able to get out and hit those ready. Otherwise, I’ll be working on painting the Forge Fathers and finishing off the Season One teams highlights. Then I can put Season One to rest – finished. After that, I’ve nearly finished two Season Two teams (I just need to paint the last Z’zor Jack to make them legal) and have started the Judwan and Robots, so they’ll be a good place to go next. Based on my current painting habits (“wait for a tournament, pick an unpainted team, make sure they’re done enough on time”) I’ll probably be in the same place next year!

In the dim and distant future when all teams are painted I’d like to do the Keepers and prone markers next, followed by the Giants, Cheerleaders and MVPs. I’ve never used MVPs so I’m not in a great hurry to get them painted but I know that they’ll have to be eventually! I intend to paint the team-specific MVPs to match their teams, but the less restrictive ones in unique colour schemes. It’s going to cost me a fortune in paint.