Pitch Protocols—Tactics Talk: The Dao of Dirty DreadBall

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“I didn’t do nuffin’!”

“If ya ain’t cheatin’, ya ain’t tryin’!”

DreadBall is a game of strength, skill, and finesse…..at least, for some teams. For others, it’s an exercise in pushing the envelope of rules interpretations. And when simply “bending” the rules doesn’t get it done, well, they will undertake flat out BREAKING them with equal gusto. If this sounds like your preferred path to victory on the pitch, take head of the Fouling Foursome:

“Whadda ya mean that’s a Foul?!?”

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The Fouling Foursome

  1. Cheat early, Cheat often. For teams that make fouling a central pillar of their formula for success, there is no point in waiting till later in the game to do it. While dirty play can take many forms, often it helps to create numerical superiority on the pitch: whether that is from removing opposing players, sneaking your own on, or creating situations to maximize modifiers as if you had more players than you really do (Restrain). Additionally, Fouls can create fan checks. Fan checks, in turn, create resources in the form of coaching dice and DreadBall cards. By getting busy early, you create more opportunities to cash in for extra resources, giving you more to work with over the course of the match. Lastly, when you are the home team, there is no greater time to know exactly where the ref is going to be all the way until the end of the second rush: giving you a distinct advantage in planning your rules infractions in advance and to maximum effect.
  2. Manage the Killjoy. You know the one, that mechanical thing that chirps an annoying alarm every time your squad seems to do anything. Putting a little extra mustard on that Slam? BEEP! Running over to “check” on that opposing player flailing hopelessly on the ground? BEEP! BEEP! Geesh, it’s like some people (aliens, robots, whatever) think DreadBall is a Mu’shen’wan demonstration! Anyway, you know the ref isn’t gonna see your interpretation of the rules, so you will have to manage them accordingly. Have in the for front of your mind where you are most likely to attack with questionable tactics, and seek to move the ref as far away from that area as possible. Secondly, you still want to make sure that you have plenty of players available to quote the rulebook to the ref should a dispute arise, so plan accordingly. It is better to have plenty of your players in range to Distract the ref, yet within 7 of the foul taking place, than it is to have the ref on the other end of the pitch with no one to consult the manual.
  3. Make it count! Don’t get all willy nilly breaking rules just for the heck of it. Have a method to your madness. It doesn’t make sense to stomp on an Agility 3+ Striker without some assists. If your gonna take the risk of a foul, make sure that you make it with your while and put the player out! Maximize the impact of the action. The cost can be steep and cost you a player, make sure it will cost your opponent one first!
  4. DISTRACT! Aside from the obvious, “don’t draw attention to your foul”, you can’t forget to scrounge up every distract bonus you can manage. Firstly, your own players. As already mentioned, they should be managing that robotic killjoy with impunity. Try to make sure at least one of them is a Guard if you can, to cash in on the bonus dice from that. Next, don’t hesitate to use as many players as possible, particularly if it is your own Rush. The worse that happens to a distracting player is sitting on the subs bench. If you have actions left, you can immediately replace them….with them! Don’t forget that coach assistants can also be used to distract. Further, if you have a captain on the pitch, they can spend an action token to use the same ability. Costly, but potentially worth it if you really need the dice and the foul. Lastly, keep an eye out for cards that can benefit you as well. Inattentive Ref being a particular favorite, but even Vigilant Ref serves a purpose….either simply denying it to your opponent, or sabotaging any retaliation fouls they may have planned. Works great for a a reroll too. These cards can’t be counted on, but if you are following step one and generating some bonus cards, you improve your chances of drawing it.
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Some folks prefer a rougher style of play….and that’s ok too….I think….

There ya have it, The Fouling Foursome. Now go get down with some dirty DreadBall!

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Rush Report: CORT Season 7 Sacko & Championship

The seventh season of DreadBall CORT has officially wrapped.  While a celebratory, post-season Ultimate match will see the top ranked six Coaches compete in September, the worst and the the first have been crowned.

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Among CORT’s many traditions, each season is named.  Previous years have included;

S3 The Search for Spock

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S4 IV

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S5 Slaughterhouse Five

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and S6 Christ Punchers

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Most seasons are titled after pop culture references.  Season seven’s title, “Fresh Meat,” was literal.  For the first time since it’s inception, CORT welcomed two new coaches into the fold.  Their season debuts could not have been more different and their final matches are detailed below.

THE CORT DB S7 SACKO

VETERAN Steve’s Diaspora (Yndij)  vs FRESH MEAT Gavrie’s Bruce (Sphyr)

The Sacko is played to determine the Coach with the worst season record.  In a surprisingly tight field, the bottom game squared veteran Steve against fresh meat Gavrie.

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Set up is complete, and miniature truck nuts serve as a score marker. A ball launch takes on weighted meaning.
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Striker Scaramucci takes the early lead after Rush 1 with a 3 point Strike.
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Striker Megamouth keeps the game lively with a 2 point Strike to finish Rush 2.
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Rush 3. Rinse and repeat: The Mooch sinks another 3.
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And in turn, Megamouth scores another 2 to finish Rush 4.
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The Yndij in the backfield increase their lead. Another 3 point Strike at the end of Rush 5 puts the Diaspora ahead by a commanding 5.
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Rushes 6 & 7 are keep away, and repositioning. At the top of the 8th Rush, Stubborn Megamouth finds himself in a well guarded strike zone.
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By the end of Rush 8, the stealthy shark swims by threats for an easy 2 point Strike. Steve’s Yndij lose a bit of their lead. The Diaspora are ahead by 3.
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Rush 9. And the tide turns! The Yndij lose the ball in a failed Dash.
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The Sphyr capitalize on an Yndij fail, picking up the ball and attempting to score 2 points on Rush 10.
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But the Strike attempt failed.
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Back and forth, back and forth! Even scoring sends both Coaches into the final pair of Rushes with the Yndij still ahead by 3.
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A heavily guarded Strike attempt at the end of Rush 13. One success needed, one success rolled.
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Hammerhead sinks a 2 point Strike to finish the match with some R E S P E C T.  Steve’s Yndij Diaspora win.
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One the smartest, funniest, and good natured Coaches of all time is awarded the CORT Sacko Trophy.  He may be new to the sport and league, but Gavrie is not to be taken lightly.  He took a beating in the standings, but that recored does not account for games well played. Remarkably close matches throughout the season made Gavrie a constant threat. Now with Sacko in hand, Gavrie has the duty to “modify” the award before passing it to next season’s last place.

THE CORT DB S7 Championship

FRESH MEAT Brett’s Mean Machine (Male Corporation)  vs VETERAN Zak’s Russia’s Red Twitter Bot Army (Brokkr)

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A perfect Corporation record with a new coach, competes against a slow burning juggernaut Veteran.  It’s a match of green horns vs. a four time league champion!
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Set up is complete and a miniature Golden Blaine serves as the score marker.
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An action packed 1st Rush! The Brokkr head to score and The Ball Shatters! A new ball is launched and is followed by Run Interference! However, Mean Machine’s Bobby Boucher Jr. fails the pick up.
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The Brokkr finish Rush 1 with a castle break and 3 point Strike.
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The Mean Machine’s Shane Falco runs to grab the ball in Rush 2. And fails.
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The Brokkr capitalize, and Striker @Ozy Bear sinks 2 points at the end of Rush 3.
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Brett’s embarrassed Shane Falco redeems himself with a proper ball pick up, and 2 point Strike. End of Rush 4.  3 point lead for Zak.
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Rush 5 ends without a Strike. Instead, Guard @underthemotic looks at the ball.
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Rush 6. Fancy footwork puts Brett’s meanies into scoring position. 2 points! Zak’s lead is narrowed to 1.
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Rush 7.  A launched Ball Strikes a player.  A successful Dodge, but eventually – a failed pick up.  The ball scatters.
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Brett’s Mean Machine takes the lead in Rush 8.
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And Zak turns the pendulum with a 2 point Strike response. End of Rush 9.
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2 in the 10th!
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Zak’s Team Captain rolls down to pitch for a deep castle break through. Meanwhile, a challenging 2 pointer is scored by a grizzled Jack. Zak leads by 1 again at the end of Rush 11.
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Back and forth between Rushes! At the end of Rush 13, Zak has tied the game.
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Despite a last ditch Even effort by Zak, Brett’s Jimmy Dix scores 1 for the win.

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Reigning Champion Zak passes the torch (i.e. the well worn and battle scarred DreadBalls Championship Trophy) to the new winner. Brett finishes the season with a perfect record, a trophy, and the gratitude of other CORT coaches [Gratitude that Zak has been defeated in the Championship match]. Brett now has the duty of making “modifications” to the trophy before handing it to next season’s champ.
Several CORT Coaches will have an opportunity to seek revenge and hurl final insults during the post-season Ultimate match.  BreadDoll readers can anticipate another Rush Report from that game.  Meanwhile, Gavrie begins considering his team draft for Season 8.  That season will see its first ball launch in October.  Do readers have suggestions for CORT’s season 8 name?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Long live DreadBall.  Long live CORT.

 

 

Hobby Highlight: Reference Cards

When playing a game, be it a regular board game, or a miniatures game, reference cards or sheets are very useful. Back in the days of 1st Edition DreadBall I created reference cards for all the teams, players, and MVPs.

I used the icons developed for the Mantic Playbook application as a way to save some space on the cards. Also, who doesn’t like a nice set of icons. Not everyone was as familiar with the icons though. I had to include a reference card for the reference cards to explain the icons. Not ideal.

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Reference Card for the icons on my 1st Edition reference cards

Overall they were very useful as a means to quickly double check the stats and team composition when playing or just setting up. 2nd Edition DreadBall seems to have realised how convenient reference cards can be and there are now official reference cards created by Mantic. They come with a team when purchased.

The reference cards that came in the retail box of 2nd Edition DreadBall for the Neo-Bots and the Yndij are a sheet of cardstock. The reference material that comes with the boxed teams is more of a booklet design (instead of a sheet) but still a quality cardstock material.

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Mantic Booklet Team Reference

While the Mantic references are nice, I wanted a slightly more compact reference card with team and Captain information all together with less of the fluff.
I designed my own reference cards with the intent of making them the same size as Mantic’s official MVP and Team Captain cards, 5″ x 3.5″ (the size of 2 poker cards side by side).
Here is what I came up with.

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As you can see I set aside the stat icons and used the actual names this time around.

Ironically I also decided to make my own version of the MVP cards. While I really like the MVP cards Mantic designed (which is why I made my new Team cards the size to match) I ultimately decide they could be made the size of a regular poker card. So that’s what I did.

I created the cards in Photoshop such that they are a template and it’s relatively easy to input new teams in to create new, custom cards. Here is a custom Team Card I made for my Origenes Cup mutant team. This sort of custom card is particularly handy for teams like the mutants where there is no default roster.

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Here are some custom team cards I made for teams playing at the Nova CTS Cup coming up this weekend in Lansing Michigan (hope to see you there).

 

Pitch Protocols: Tactics Talk—Playing for Keeps!

Playing for Keeps

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Keepers: Strike-stuffing, Super-slammin’, tough as nails, and swagger for daaaaays. Yeah, they are pretty cool!

I have always been fascinated by the concept of the Keeper position in DreadBall. Honestly, when trying out the game waaaaaay back during the first Kickstarter, it was probably one of my most looked forward to aspects of the game. Even one of the pledge levels was called Keeper. The concept art for them looked ridiculously cool. Big, Heavy armour. Presumably some great goal tending skills too.

Alas, it is an understatement to say that Keepers were….underwhelming in first edition. Sure, they lived up to their heavy armour reputation, but that was about it. They contributed nothing to goal tending, at least no more than any other player, and their ball handling ability was more liability than asset. 

Enter: Second Edition.

Now, Keepers play like they should! Placing a Keeper in a Strike zone allows them to threaten any Throw in it, even if they are not adjacent. This makes scoring a little more challenging if the Keeper is not dealt with. Additionally, Punt is now an action worth taking and can be an extremely useful ability, particularly for slower teams that can’t afford to be running back and forth across the pitch. It only scatters ONCE now, and doesn’t end your Rush. Meaning you can clear out your end of the pitch and continue playing. Don’t worry though, Keepers still have their heavy armour, but it does cost them a little movement now in exchange.

Here are a few tips for playing with Keepers:

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Make sure Keepers get put into position to do what they do best!

1: Setup DEEP and CENTER. Place the Keeper right in front of the Strike hex. This does two important things: a) it keeps the entire strike zone in their front arc, allowing them to threaten throw attempts. b) it blocks bonus point strikes completely. While this is far from fool proof, it often has the benefit of forcing your opponent to spend actions on dealing with the Keeper, meaning they have less left to mark your other players and still score.

2: Slow teams should consider TWO Keepers. One to guard the 3/4 zone, and one to roam the middle of the pitch to punt the ball down to their ball handlers in the opposition end of the pitch. Teams like Matsudan, Forge Fathers, and Crystallans have such slow Movement, that they can’t afford to spend actions running back for the ball and still setup good scoring opportunities in the same rush. Keepers let them play on the other end of the pitch with a little more freedom.

3: COUNT your scatter potential before you Punt. When you go to Punt, be sure to look at the possible directions and distances of scatter from your ball placement. If the pitch is fairly open, you can be fairly confident on the general area the ball will end up. If you try to Punt into a more congested area, subsequent scatters may ensue and make the ball’s final resting place a little more….dicey. This is also a great time to play those cards that let you choose direction or distance of scatter for pinpoint punting precision.

4: Don’t forget the Double! If you double a Punt, the Keeper can make either a free Run to reposition for goal tending duties, or take a free Slam-punishing would be Strike scorers no doubt!

Lastly, paint one! Treat yourself. Because, honestly, some of the coolest models in the DB range are the Keepers. And seeing as how it’s a thing in real sports, being a Keeper let’s you kind of alter your team color scheme for some extra pizzaz. 

Happy Punting!