Azure Forest Tournament May 2014

I was pretty disappointed that the Open Day in May didn’t originally have a DreadBall tournament planned. The Open Day last year was the first tournament I’d ever been to, and got us both into the tournament thing. When first announced, they said “bring a team – get a few pick-up games.” Coming from Bristol, it’s a pretty long way to go since we don’t play Kings of War, Deadzone, or any of the other Mantic games and we’re not likely to pick up new toys on impulse. Three hours drive each way, a B&B and getting babysitters for the weekend are just too much for a seminar which may talk about the games we’re really interested in and a look at the shiny DreadBall Xtreme models currently in development.

So when they finally announced the tournament at the event, I was over the moon. The fact that it’s an Azure Forest tournament is even better, as I like the changes it introduces. We may still miss the seminars (like we have previously) but I think they did a good job last time of trying to give everyone the chance to attend, and I’ve heard that this year there’s a seminar specifically for event participants timed around the games so we should be able to have a look this time.

The Gang

In the 2013 ManticBowl, Jen and I went on our own. For the November Charity Tournament, we managed to drag Oli up to Nottingham too. This May, Oli was busy but we convinced Dan and Chris to come along with us. Both are new to DreadBall, have played a couple of games each, and convinced they are going to come last but at least only one of them can! At the last second, Jen got ill and wasn’t able to attend – but the other three of us were on our way.

Dan took the S1 Corporation team (the one Jen usually takes, since he had practiced with those and Jen wasn’t using them) and Chris took the Judwan, as he figured using a team of all Strikers would be less to remember. I painted up a Nameless team, putting my faith in extra ranks rather than cards. I put an ability on two Strikers (hoping to get Skill 3+) and an ability on each of my Sticky Guards (hoping to get 360 Vision, so I can sit them in the three-point Strike zone as a super-defender). Without cards, I’ll be vulnerable against bad weather events but hopefully that will be as much of a hindrance to my opponent.

Game One – Adam Cooper’s Crimson Corpse Creators (Marauders)

Adam and I have an Open Day history – we played in the first ManticBowl (I beat him by a landslide), the Gamers For Life charity tournament (I beat him), and we were drawn first in this tournament. He took his Marauders again, and for the majority of the game the weather was “heat haze” that lets us get away with fouls. Despite that, neither of us had to foul to get the advantage. My luck was awful here – I flubbed pick-ups, evades, dashes, and when I got there – strike attempts too. The game ended at a one point loss to me.

Game Two – Dan’s S1 Corporation

My second opponent, and again someone I’ve played before (since I taught him the game and brought him with me…) Again, my luck was foul. Dan managed to get me six points down – I pulled it back with a four-pointer. He jumped up to five points… I pulled it back to two… he got back to four points, and there we sat on his last turn. I’d just failed a strike attempt, so the ball was in the high-scoring zone with my Striker. He slammed me, I doubled the dodge and stepped onto the ball. Doubled the pick-up, threw the strike, and pulled it back to another one point loss in his turn (for a couple more fan checks). Still, not making great progress in the tournament.

Game Three – Charlotte’s Veer-myn

I met Charlotte at the 2013 Nationals back in March, but hadn’t played her. She’s the only other Veer-myn player that I’ve seen in a tournament, and was able to match me bad roll for bad roll. This was the first game that I rolled skill upgrades for my Strikers, so I was able to score quite easily. I killed a Guard and managed to get a landslide win! Quite a reverse from my other fortunes today.

Game Four – Nick’s Judwan

We suffered for most of the game with a Scorcher weather effect in play. It forced me to make more slams, and with less players, he was unable to use all five tokens most turns. It started off tit-for-tat scoring, but we both failed a few and I was getting my guards up to the full 3-pt defence to try and get some more opportunities. In the last couple of turns, I killed four Judwan – clearing out that nasty defence, failing every strike up there, and taking a two-point loss.

Conclusion

So with a barely-positive strike difference, I wasn’t anywhere near the top. There were 7/8/9 players total, probably because of the Open Day, Kings of War game, Deadzone campaign, Loka tournament, and everything else happening. Several people I’d seen playing previously were also working as Pathfinders on the day, so there’s some more potential players out.

I don’t think my plan was too bad, but the dice failed me on the day. I didn’t work hard enough to push my guards to the back to open my opponents defence, or maybe I need to write off the first couple of turns to just smash my opponent’s scoring potential. I’m still not sure I’ve worked out how to use the Nameless – or bashy teams in general – yet.

The overall winner was also using Nameless, and there was a third somewhere around that I hadn’t seen. Chris managed to take away the Wooden Spoon prize – a Rebs Starter Box for Deadzone!

The Open Day

I walked around the Open Day, but I didn’t really dip into anything other than the tournament. I went to the “tournament players” scheduled seminar and heard a lot about Dwarf King’s Hold, but didn’t get into anything else. I had a quick chat with many people I’d seen at previous Open Days, which is great fun, and picked up the prizes for the Cardiff Regional next week. I was also just about coming down with something nasty that knocked me out of work for three days, so I think that affected my enjoyment on the day – I was exhausted, I didn’t bother taking any pictures (after promising myself that I would) and didn’t make the time to try anything out (Project Pandora and Deadzone were high on my list to sample between games). If I’d known the seminar would be dominated by Dwarf King’s Hold, I might have gone for another game or to have a better look at the “studio” – a table with painter, sculptor, and lots of unfinished/pre-release models. I really regretted not talking to the Mantic painter, but didn’t realise this till later when I had the time to run the day through my brain and work out what I’d missed.

Mantic Open Day November 2013 & Gamers For Life Tournament

I wasn’t too sure about going to the second open day, until both a DreadBall tournament was scheduled and the Nationals were postponed as the venue couldn’t host it anymore. It looked a little shaky, but we got babysitters sorted so both Jen and I could make it. Then we dragged Oli into it too…

Jen decided quickly – Season One Corporation. That’s her favourite, and they’re almost ready. Oli has his favourite too, the Season Two Corporation. He told me that he couldn’t get his team painted in time though, so I offered to paint my second Corp team for him and finished it just two weeks before (not including highlighting, which is going to make a big difference). I took a long time to decide – I had four teams to choose from that were ready to take. The Veer-myn, Marauders and Z’zor are all finished or nearly finished, and the Judwan (while basic) are ready to take at least. I heard that there might be painting prizes, so I would rather take the Z’zor (my best painted team) but given that I still don’t think that my best will be good enough I settled with the Veer-myn. I’ve only taken them to one tournament (the Welsh Regional) but I really enjoy the fast teams over the bashy teams. I definitely need more practice before I take a bashy team to a tournament again.

While getting ready to go, and ordering our breakfast, we found out that as well as ourselves, our hotel was also hosting a couple of tournament players, a pathfinder and both the Scottish and Irish regional winners – what are the odds, three regional winners under the same roof! If we’d known, we’d have shared our three-player Ultimate game with them (as well as the vodka, beer and prawn crackers). Next year, there was a suggestion of getting in touch with the hotel and trying to book as a group to get a discount.

Game One – Craig Johnson’s Vanaheim Vixens (S2 Corporation)

My first game went very well – a landslide win! It wasn’t easy, and Craig was an expert with Running Interference. He used a couple of tricks I’d never seen before – if you run interference on someone when they move into the ball space and win, you can attempt to pick up the ball yourself. He even managed to kill a rat, which is pretty good going for humans.

WP_000667

Craig went on to get second place and win best painted, and his models were so clean and clear I’m not surprised!

Game Two – Adam Cooper’s Marauders

I played Adam at the previous Mantic Open Day in May and it was good to see him again – it was also good to see his dice were on his team this time. Last time, he played Judwan while I took Marauders with an Offensive Coach. This time, he had Marauders with an Offensive Coach. The cards I picked up were almost useless, and the game devolved into a massive ruck behind my three point Strike Zone. For a fair portion of the game, there were no models on the opposite side of the pitch – including the ref and the ball!

Both of us used the referee to try and block avenues of escape – me to stop him getting to the three-point zone, and him to stop me getting the ball back to his half. A couple of times I did manage to break away and score to get a win.

Game Three – Matt Willis’s Marauders

After lunch, I played Matt and his Marauders. He bought an extra Orx, and lined up all four on the starting line. It didn’t look easy to break through. Luckily, they scattered fairly quickly and opened up the pitch. He played a heavy slamming game, and kept so many rats off of the pitch I had a tough time getting to the ball and scoring. For a couple of rushes, his Goblin held on to the ball and didn’t move at all, while the rats were being pummelled! In the end though, I managed to scrape enough points to get a win.

It was after this game, on table two, that I realised I might be in with a chance…

Game Four – Dan Porter’s Asterians

Table one, baby! This was the hardest game by far, and Dan had got here with three landslide wins. I got a bit of a pep talk going into the game, since of all 12 teams I’d not played with or against the Asterians before. Before taking any actions, he used Dirty Tricks and got my guard sent out of the game. That’s an incredible ability, and there is absolutely no defence against it (unless you are Zees).

WP_000673

Dan used Taking a Dive really well, and I soon had a Striker out of the game too. I did get a hold of the ball fairly often, and had five strike attempts – four at three points, and one at one point. Guess which one actually worked. Dan had four successful attempts at two-pointers, and one failed at a three-pointer. Despite losing by a landslide, I felt at every point in the game that I could have brought it back – at first, I felt I could get a win, then a loss, and finally in rush 11 it was all over, although Dan had to Sneak to be able to do so. I think I played well, and if my dice had just behaved once I could have got something like a 5 point loss, or possibly even better.

Results

So Dan obviously took first place, with four landslide wins. Craig took second place and best painted, Oli got fourth, and I came fifth. Jen did fantastically – after getting Wooden Spoon in every tournament she’s been to, she had a perfectly even day with two wins (one being a landslide) and two losses (one being a landslide), putting her exactly halfway out of 27 players – fourteenth place. She managed to play two Nameless teams and a Teraton, as well as Marauders.

This time around, everyone had to provide their own pitch. This mean that I got to see a couple of Tesla Domes and the Mighty Dorx stadium, but unfortunately didn’t get to play on any of them. The Tesla pitches are especially nice, with a much better resolution than I expected – they are really clear and beautiful. If I didn’t already have three pitches, I’d be tempted!

There was a surprising mix of teams here – I expected more Asterians, like the Judwan flooded out in May, but there were only two teams. Void Sirens seemed strong again, and Nameless and Marauders were out a lot – which I honestly didn’t think that I’d see. I heard of one Forge Father player, but never saw them, and spotted Judwan and Robot players. There were also a couple of Teraton players. I was the only Veer-myn team. No Z’zor, no Zees – are people just picking teams alphabetically? The top five were a good mix of teams, with Asterians, two S2 Corporation, a Marauder team and my Veer-myn.

WP_000670

Open Day

The Open Day itself was pretty amazing. Enough time was left between games that if you finished early, you could get to a seminar. Oli got to one in the lunch break, but I was hanging around for the Regional Ultimate so I missed it myself. There’s been mention of an online seminar for those that missed it though, so I think I might get in on it anyway. Jen’s game went on a bit too long for her to be able to reach it too.

After the first game, we walked around the halls. Mantic had invited other companies to show off their toys – Dropzone Commander and Bolt Action were both in attendance. Deadzone had a big presence, and I was extremely jealous of the Kickstarters who were picking up massive, massive boxes of plastic. There were literally hundreds of wide-eyed gamers hauling massive boxes, with a slightly disbelieving grin on their faces. It’s hard not to want to buy the lot there and then.

Loka was a surprise to me. As we passed their table, Oli took a look. I’d not cared too much for it when it was released because I’ve never liked Chess that much. But Alessio invited us for a game and being a long time Warhammer fan I couldn’t pass up the chance to play a game on the same team as him! The rules were surprisingly simple, the game is really quick to play, and it nearly swayed me. Oli was heard through the rest of the day saying “I love Loka. I want to buy Loka. I can’t get Loka. Should I get Loka? Loka is amazing. What will my wife say if I buy Loka? I can’t buy Loka. I won’t buy Loka. I just bought Loka.” I have to admit, it’s a really nice game. I was told that they sold out a couple of times through the day, it was just flying off the shelves.

WP_000671

Before the final game, I asked James Hewitt (Mantic’s Community Manager) if there would be time to see the shiny new models at least after the last game. He made a quick phone call, then told us he’d come get us later. True to his word, he brought us to the main room where Silvain, Mantic’s sculptor, had just brought over some of what everyone else was drooling over for us to take a look at. I even got to hold the Zombie Troll Shaman, and I want that model so bad it hurts. I don’t even care what game it is for. We got close up to the resin masters for the DreadBall Convicts and Brokkrs too, and they look absolutely amazing. When the next round of Kickstarter comes around, I am going to be so out of pocket. So for that, unseen internet thanks to James and Silvain! Sorry to everyone else for not taking a picture. But not that sorry.

James clearly takes his role as Community Manager extremely seriously. When he was explaining how to get to the pub for post-Open Day chill-out, I asked “Is it walkable?” For the second time that day, he didn’t answer the question. He said “Hang about, and I’ll give you a lift.” He ended up making two trips to take happy gamers to beer! There’s a man who cares about the gamer community, and makes Mantic fans very happy.

Other people have already got their Open Day news up – I suggest you read the Daily Punter (who won second place in the DreadBall tournament), Tiny Tactics and Afternoon Tea, GMort’s Chaotica, see the Facebook event pictures, the new UK & Ireland Ultimate DreadBall Champion’s blog (and another one here) and read Mantic’s blog about the day. Beasts of War covered the day too, mostly interested in the new Deadzone stuff, and in the background of their video you can see the three of us many times (many, many times).

Regional Ultimate

I found out more about the Regional Ultimate on the day, although only from another regional winner. It didn’t seem terribly well planned or publicised, and started 25 minutes late – meaning instead of leaving halfway through to get to my next tournament game, I wouldn’t even be able to start. I was told that it wouldn’t clash, but I preferred to go for the standard games than the big one.

The Regional Ultimate was a multiplayer game between the Midlands, Scottish, Irish and another English Regional Winners and in the end, Ireland won!

WP_000672

I did get the opportunity to pick up my metal pitch – it is awesome! I have made two rash promises that I don’t know if I’ll keep yet – first, that only painted models can go on it; second, that it will not cross the border into Wales. Hopefully that will convince some Welsh people to come out to win it next year!

What’s Next?

Mantic are apparently moving into the abandoned hospital, hopefully they’ll get plumbing, lighting and heating in there throughout next year. With the offices in the same space getting a studio tour should be easier for us hardcore DreadBallers, and the lighting in some of the rooms was only barely adequate. It was clearly only temporary, and will be better next time. They have a rough plan to hold an Open Day in May again, and maybe next November too. If they make it a DreadBall tournament too, we’ll be there!

It was an improvement on the last Open Day in that there was time for the tournament players to see some of the other stuff, it looks like Mantic are definitely listening to feedback. It’s a shame that the DreadBall tournament was off in a side room this time but after the first game, I didn’t notice it.

I met so many lovely, amazing people. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly and welcoming gamers are, and how I never see any of the real horror stories of tournaments. Even the top tables of the DreadBall tournament were, in my opponent’s words, just like club games. Jen found people giving her advice during and after games, and gave some herself, and we all learned a lot from our games. I cannot stress enough to anyone on the fence that they should drag themselves to a Mantic Open Day tournament – whether or not they have been to a local tournament or not, and whether or not they liked it. They’re such fun, and everyone is wonderful. Don’t worry about being new, I played a guy in his seventh game ever and a couple of the players had only played once or twice before. They had a blast!

WP_000675

Next time, I’m going to have to either convince a real photographer to let me borrow their camera, or to come along themselves. A camera phone really doesn’t do justice to some of the awesome stuff on display.

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.