One History of Fantasy Sports Board Gaming part I

Young Coaches, gather round.  This here Old Timer has a tale to tell.  Now, it’s not a complete story.  And it ain’t a yarn that’s meant to rib ya.  But it’s something y’all need to know, because understanding the past helps manage the present.  And sometimes, the past can help predict the future.  I have here a recollection of the bones rolled from an Ancient Grognard.

This BreadDoll editor is the Grognard.

I’ve played a lot of fantasy sports board games.  To be clear, I stress the distinctions.  1) Fantasy.  2) Sports.  3) Board.  4) Games.

There are a lot of board games about sports.  Strat-o-Matic, anyone?  No.  We’re talking fantasy.  Strat-o-Matics don’t count, nor do any of the sports titles prior to 1961.  In fact, this history lesson begins in the late 20th century.  1982 to be exact.

51rIrlrX1JL

Grav-Ball, 1982.

Grav-Ball was ground breaking.  Literally.  It was played in zero-G!  A science fiction setting, a robotic referee, and a ball made of metal!  WOW!  FASA published L. Ross Babcock and Fred Bently’s design with a lot of zest for the early eighties.  There was so much zest, FASA had to outsource the thirteen metal miniatures to Martian Metals.  Of all the games recollected in this history lesson, the fifteen dollar Grav-Ball is the only title that eludes me.  So I’ll punt.  The best description of this long forgotten title is certainly from the game box itself.

Grav-Ball is a sporting event of the future reequiring skill and courage. Played in a zero-G court, the two six-man teams try to score with a five kilogram steel playing ball. Anything can happen in the meantime! Leagal actions include body, ahnd, and foot checks, passes, and actual goal shots. Illegal actions, or actions requiring a penalty check, include striking with the ball or elbow, shooting the player with the ball, and all out assults. The usual result of such body contact is a high player tunover rate. The player’s body armor does not guarantee physical safety from opposing players or from the ball itself. If the game gets too rough or a fight occurs, Heartless Huey is released. This invulnerable robot will incapacitate the nearest player. He then moves on to the next, nearest player until all are terminated or the fighting stops. All of these factors make Grav-Ball an exciting and action-packed game of the future.

What’s old is new again, yeah?  Keep Grav-Ball in mind you whipper snappers.  We’ll come back to it.

pic89132

Monsters of the Midway, 1983.

Released in issue 65 of Dragon magazine, I declare this gem of an insert the first fantasy football sports board game.  Draft monsters, create teams, and beat the hell out of one another on a board that looks a lot like a football field.  Occasionally, efforts would be made to handle the ball and carry it into an end zone.  Designer Gali Sanchez was on to something.  Monsters of the Midway was unique and cheeky.  Under an hour to play, it was fast.  Considering is was included in a magazine, it was free.  Win win.

pic8068

Blood Bowl, 1986.

I don’t know if designer Jervis Johnson was influenced or inspired by TSR’s first effort.  I suspect he at least read that issue of Dragon.  Blood Bowl took everything Monsters of the Midway had, and elevated it.  Everything except the game play, which was a peculiar translation of Warhmamer onto a football/rugby field.  Clunky play aside, 1986’s Blood Bowl did raise the bar for creativity: evocative illustrations, funny writing, and strong world-building kept imaginations on fire.

pic256111

Blood Bowl, 1988.

Games Workshop found itself in a transformative state in late 1980s.  GW began shifting from Games into…  Miniatures.  Blood Bowl had found enough traction in their modest cardboard standee version to merit a second edition.  This time, with toy soldiers!  A plastic human team and a plastic orc team would now block and blitz on a three-part styrofoam pitch.  Colored team inserts for end zones were a great touch.  A full colored rulebook with new and revisited illustrations made for an excellent read.  The mechanics were still a little cumbersome, but it was visually superior to the 2-D players that preceded it.

pic1427839

Blood Bowl, 1994.

Three times is a charm!  Jervis Johnson retooled his parody of American football into something… more.  Rerolls, sand timers, and Coaches screaming “ILLEGAL PROCEDURE!” in the face of cheating (or forgetful) opposition.  Games Workshop retooled their efforts as well.  In the eight years since the first edition, GW was now in full blown mini-mode.  Blood Bowl still had a staple human and orc team, but now there were individual sculpts for positions.  The third edition was a culmination of what preceded it.  Refined miniatures.  Refined rules.  Robust league play.  Robust tournament scene.  But just as Blood Bowl found loyal Coaches far and wide, Games Workshop began using a different compass.  GW moved in a curious business direction, leaving their ‘specialist’ games (Blood Bowl’s categorization) on a back burner.  Eventually, that burner’s light would all be but snuffed.  [hee hee, “butt snuffed.”]. Fortunately for the previous metaphor, the legion of Blood Bowl Coaches around the world would keep the game’s flame of relevance for two decades during publisher neglect.  It’s what I  like to call, “GW’s dark years.”

pic227687

Battleball, 2003.

Milton Bradley.  They’re a huge game publisher that works for the lowest common denominator.  The bean counters insist on easily accessible toy-games that look attractive on the shelves of big box stores.  Every once in a while, their disposable and instantly forgettable catalog has something that shines.  Stephen Baker and Craig Van Ness were MB game designers with fondness for the gaming of the British Isles. Baker himself was a Brit, and was responsible for such epic MB / GW crossovers as HeroQuest, Battlemastes, and Space Crusade.  What if?  Just WHAT IF?  Milton Bradley could distill the majestic mayhem of Blood Bowl into an affordable and attractive toy?  It had been done before; Warhammer = Battlemasters.  Space Hulk = Space Crusade.  MB went for it.  Battleball was great!  If you were eight.  Twisting the fantasy of Tolkein tropes to Heinlein tropes was a clever shift in theme.  The dice were pretty and plentiful.  The miniatures were diverse and dynamic.  But the game itself was just too simple.  It didn’t capture the height of it’s giant grandfather, despite starting on it’s shoulders.  MB tried, and the rulebook hinted of future expansion* teams.  It was not to be.  Battleball did not move enough units, and is now a mere fantasy sports board game curiosity.  The best development from this experiment was the strengthening of Baker and Van Ness’ design aesthetic.  They would team up again for perhaps the greatest war game of all time – Heroscape.  It didn’t hurt that Heroscape had the same sculptor from Battleball.

*Expansions?  Oh, yes.  Yes yes yes.  No fantasy sports board game can survive this cut-throat hobby business unless there is always something to sell.  If a publisher doesn’t have something to specifically sell for a popular fantasy sport game?  There will be a vacuum.  And a vacuum will be filled.

Come back in three weeks for ‘One History of Fantasy Sports Board Gaming part two.’  In the meantime, leave a comment below.  Tell the BreadDoll about some sporting footnote between 1982 and 2004 that should not have been ignored.

Advertisements

Hobby Highlight: Magnetising a DreadBall

8mm-Ball
A DreadBall

Introduction

Magnetising your DreadBalls is a fun and practical hobby project. You drill a hole in the bottom of your ball and glue in a magnet. You drill a hole(s) in your miniatures’ bases and glue matching magnets in the bases, taking care to align the polarity correctly otherwise the magnets will repel each other instead of snap together as desired. (Check out this article on magnetising your bases: LINK)

STEP 1: Choosing a ball

There are a few options when is comes to the DreadBalls that are available.

  1. First Edition DreadBall used 6mm balls on a small attached base
  2. Second Edition DreadBall comes with small 4mm balls that detach from their base
  3. You can make or 3D print a custom ball. I use a custom 8mm ball on a base with the same profile as the first edition ball. You can download the 3D print file for my custom DreadBall from Thingiverse.
8mm-Ball-comparison
DreadBalls come in different sizes from 1st Edition to 2nd Edition to custom balls.

In this tutorial I’m going to use my custom, 8mm, ball as the example but the exact same process can be used with all the different balls.

NOTE: If you decide to use the smaller, 2nd Edition, ball(s) I’d recommend gluing the ball into it’s base and letting the glue dry before continuing to step 2 of this tutorial.

STEP 2: Drill a hole

So you’ve chosen your ball and need a hole to put the magnet in. Use a pin vise and a 2mm drill bit to make your hole. You can use a marker to put a little dot where you want the hole to be or you can “eyeball” it but you probably want the magnet in the center of the ball’s base.

Don’t drill too deep. The magnet I’d recommend using is 2mm x 1mm so the hole only needs to be 1mm deep. If you use a larger ball you could use a longer magnet (such as 2mm x 3mm) in which case you’d drill a bit deeper. When you are finished drilling your ball will have a nice hole in the bottom.

STEP 3: Glue in the magnet

Now that your ball has a nice hole to put a magnet in, it’s time to glue in the magnet.

MAGNET

For the official 4mm or 6mm balls I’d recommend using a 2mm x 1mm neodymium magnet. You can get these magnets on Amazon and eBay or you can Google about for other sources. Many game/hobby stores carry magnets as well for just these types of miniatures hobby projects.

eBay: 2mm x 1mm Magnets

When magnetising a larger ball you can use a longer magnet. I use a 2mm x 3mm magnet in my balls. You can buy longer magnets or just stack the 1mm thick magnets to make 2mm x 2mm or 2mm x 3mm sizes.

ORIENTATION/POLARITY/COMPATIBILITY

Magnets have polarity, a North and a South pole. For compatibility’s sake I suggest gluing the magnet into you ball with the North pole towards the sky. If we all do this then all our balls will snap to each other’s bases. To determine the polarity of your magnets see this previous article: LINK

Regardless of whether or not you choose to make sure your balls compatible with everyone else’s, make sure you glue the magnet in your ball and base in matching orientation. You don’t want your base to repel your ball.

GLUING

Use superglue. I like Gorilla Glue brand but any will work fine. Squirt some glue out on a piece of paper or card and then use a toothpick to apply the glue into the hole you drilled. Making sure the magnet is in the orientation you want and then push it into the hole. Use a non-magnetic tool or the table top to make sure the magnet is flush with the bottom of the ball.

DONE

That’s it. Once the glue is dry you have a magnetised ball that will snap on to your magnetised base when your player picks it up. Paint it up all pretty-like and play DreadBall!

 

 

Pitch Protocols: Team Analysis—Matsudo Tectonics

Pitch Protocols: Team Analysis—Matsudo Tectonics

2B4919D4-63F8-4758-B12F-5E9E97C03385

Overview

At first glance, the Matsudan seem like the perfect blend of strength and skill….everything you would want in DreadBall team! However, they are not with out their drawbacks, DreadBall is a fast paced game after all, and these tubby lizards can have a hard time keeping pace with the opposition.

1C6E71AF-009B-4CE3-B318-49A0B8E1A5C1
An entire team of sumo lizards? What’s not to love!

Strengths

Obviously, the great Strength of the Matsudan is a key advantage. Loaded with Guards and Jacks to take full advantage of this attribute, the Tectonics can live up to their name and rock their opposition for sure with a devastating Slam game.

Additionally, the Matsudan all start with Grapple. This is an excellent ability, that can really give an advantage to shifting opposition players around the board.

Lastly, the Tectonics all start with Steady. This can make them very difficult to deal with, as since they all have pretty decent armour, there is a pretty good chance they stay standing and rearing to come after you for revenge!

5E4AD0AF-ADCA-4216-AD2D-ECCE38B76E36
Little known fact…Matsudan have an ambulation intolerance…

Weaknesses

Move….4. Speed…5+. The big weakness for the Matsudan, is that they are not getting anywhere fast. This can sometimes make it difficult for them to take full advantage of their great Skill. Matsudan Jacks will often have to resort to a Throw on the run, or have trouble reaching the deep strike zone all together. It’s not uncommon for Matsudan players to have to make either a second action where their opponents only need one, or have to risk some Dash rolls in order to try and preserve action tokens. This can put a real drain on their resources and how much they can hope to accomplish in a Rush.

No Strikers. While this need not be a huge disadvantage, and can be off set by the tremendous skill of the Matsudan, lacking a scoring specialist can still be a hindrance. One less dice on handling the ball can certainly add up, especially if your having to move on top of it. A Jack throwing on the run from short range is already down to one dice, and forget bonus strikes without coaching dice! And while it’s not the most likely set of occurrences, Matsudan Jacks can turn into prime targets for Bashy teams…if they take them out, you can’t score!

Also, I’d be remiss not to mention that they are Honourable, meaning you can’t intentionally foul with them. This means no sucker punches, so you will have to plan your slams accordingly. If you like to play dirty….this may not be the team for you!

4FE16907-212E-40E8-905B-A7927211E0CB
The Mighty (literally) Raiden!

Strategy and Tactics

There are many approaches to victory for the Matsudan…they can play to score, or they can play to kill. They can do equally well at both. As such, nearly every strategy is open to a Tectonics Coach. 

However, to mitigate getting stretched on the pitch, consider adding or developing a Keeper on your roster. They can pay HUGE dividends for the Matsudan and keep them from wasting actions chasing the ball around the pitch. Baring that, perhaps keeping at least one Jack on each end of the pitch will give you some options too.

Be sure to make use of Sprint where applicable, it’s an action that sometimes gets forgotten is the hustle and bustle of dishing out pain. But for slow teams, you sometimes need to spend an action solely for the purpose of repositioning a player for future use. And while far from an “all the time” type of play, you may look at “risking” a Sprint for a pick up on your Matsudan Jacks. Yes, it’s only a two dice pickup, but on Skill 3+ it’s not the worst odds, especially if you have a card in reserve to burn for a reroll if necessary. It’s a great way to try and add some extra range to your plays where appropriate.

Lastly, don’t fall for your own strength. Many times bashy teams get caught up in slamfests, and in their eagerness to reach out and hurt as many players as possible, they stop spending actions on marking players. Now, certainly there is some wisdom in causing as much havoc as possible, and there are definitely many scenarios where support may be overkill. BUT, if there is a KEY slam that you absolutely HAVE to have for a play to work, don’t succumb to hubris and stack the odds in your favor. What matters more? Making more slams, or making them count?

Hobby Highlight: Bases (Part 3)

I’m very proud of the base system I have settled on for my DreadBall minis. I call what I use now my Mark V base system (as it’s the 5th version I’ve made). You can read about the evolution of the design in my first article on bases: Base Design

MKV_Base
Mark V Base

Most people that see my bases like them and I’d like to share the 3d (STL) files here for anyone that wants to use them.

stl

FILES

MAGNETS

disc-magnet
Disc Magnet

The bases are designed to be used with magnets. Specifically Neodymium magnets. The main, central magnet is a 10mm x 1mm disc magnet. The magnets for attaching the ball are 2mm x 1mm disc magnets (the ball will also require a matching magnet).

Neodymium magnets come in different strengths from N35 (weak) up to N52 (strong). I prefer the stronger magnets and try to use N50 or N52 for my bases.

You can find the magnets on eBay and Amazon with a bit of searching. Here are a few links to get you started.

COMPATIBILITY

So now everyone has the files and have printed the bases. Everyone has acquired magnets and are ready to put the bases together. How do we ensure that my bases are compatible with all of your bases?

Polarity

As you are probably aware, magnets have a North and a South pole. This is the polarity of the magnet.

disc-magnet-polarity
Magnet Polarity

It is unlikely that your magnets with be marked to indicate which end is North and which South so we’ll need to determine the polarity ourselves. Thankfully once you have done this once you can simple use any previously assembled bases as a guide for the future.

The easiest way to determine the polarity of your magnets is either with a bowl of water and some foam/styrofoam or with a string.

String Method:

  1. tie a string around a stack of a few of your disc magnets
  2. allow the magnets to rotate freely
  3. when they stop spinning, the end that is pointing North is the North pole of the magnet

determine-polarity

Water Method:

  1. fill a bowl with enough water to float a small piece of foam or styrofoam in
  2. take a stack of a few of your disc magnets and lay them on the foam in the water
  3. the magnets will rotate around when they stop spinning, the end that is pointing North is the North pole of the magnet

water-polarity

Once you know the polarity mark it on the magnets with a sharpie (or similar) so you don’t lose track.

Installation

Now that you know the polarity of your magnets use the following diagram to glue in your magnets.

  • Red = North Polarity
  • Blue = South Polarity
screenshot 2019-04-10 22.09.38
Magnet Assembly Diagram

If you follow these instructions then all of our bases and balls will be fully compatible when we meet up to play. We will be able to share bases and balls as needed.

If you have any questions please comment on the article or email me at geoff@breaddoll.com

 

Rush Report: Clash of the Giants 2019

Adepticon 2019 is a wrap.  Many DreadBalls were launched.  The most balls out in a singular match was undoubtedly – CLASH OF THE GIANTS.

This humble BreadDoll editor has sung the praises many times.  It was a title first, and a tournament format second.  In its fourth year, Clash of the Giants saw a major 2019 facelift as it transformed from a non-sanctioned tournament that encouraged Giants into a singular six-Coach session of Ultimate.  Ultimate, with GIANTS!!!

In what will hopefully become a late night convention classic, Clash of the Giants is intended to get Coaches to sit down, unwind, and embrace the chaos that only Ultimate can serve.  If swingy dice are thwarting the best laid plans during a tournament or league play – ha!  Wait until time is spent on the Ultimate pitch.  It’s a “beer and pretzel” affair, and it encourages king-of-the-hill smack downs both literally and metaphorically.

A mild effort was made to limit the madness, and no Event Cards were used.

Facilitating speed of set up, all Coaches had pre-constructed rosters to select.  Adepticon 2019 had six options: Kalyshi, Martians, Forge Fathers, Mutants, Veer-Myn, and the Male Corporation.  Each roster was built to 1000 mc, and each roster included a GIANT!

As mentioned in previous posts, Clash of the Giants would not limit itself to the nine officially released Mantic Models.  No no.  A Mantic convention event needs to be a spectacle.  Giants help, but NEW GIANTS are even better.  Culled from the Deadzone miniatures line, four figures were selected for conversion.  A fifth miniature was pulled from Mantic’s good ol’ Mars Attacks line.  Easily accessible, visually complementary, and quick to convert – these Giants made their public debut at Mantic Night and quickly got to work!

Stats for these beasts will slowly trickle through the BreadDoll blog.  For now, we’ll leave Coaches with two.

IMG_9414

Night Terror

Role Guard

Movement 6

Strength 3

Agility 4

Speed 3

Skill 5

Armour 4

Abilities: Threatening, Ram, Uncontrolled

Value 225 mc

IMG_9412 2

Stage 1A

Role Guard

Movement 4

Strength 4

Agility 4

Speed 4

Skill 5

Armour 4

Abilities: Stubborn, Grizzled, Mutation*

Value 260 mc

*Mutation – Roll a coaching die at the start of the player’s activation.  The player manifests a random mutation from the Mutant’s Advancement table for the rest of the round.

As anticipated, chaos ensued.  Three Giants rushed into the middle of the pitch for some break dancing.  It was a slaughter house.

IMG_9861
Jeez. This game needs some PEST CONTROL.

After only three rounds, one Coach had risen to the top!  Adam Kinne and his Kalyshi held a defensive posture and scored when the opportunity… STRUCK!  Adam won a set of Clash of the Giants cards.

IMG_9913
Well played Adam. Well played.

Adepticon’s Mantic Night finished with winners and losers and and one BreadDoll editor with lots of notes.  Clash of the Giants will return this summer at Gen Con.  Keep reading the BreadDoll as we tease the other three new Giants making a clash-dance appearance.

IMG_9863
BreadDoll’s Andrew beside Mantic’s Ronnie Renton and Rob Burman.

 

Adepticon Highlights

ADEPTICON

2019logo

Adepticon 2019 was this past weekend. I was lucky enough to attend for my 5th year in a row. Ever since my first trip to the Chicago area back in 2015, Adepticon has been my favourite gaming convention. I’ve met so many good friends while attending these conventions and as always part of the greatness of the convention is getting to see them all in person again. There were several opportunities to play DreadBall at Adepticon this year and I took advantage of all of them

LEAGUE IN A NIGHT (LiaN)

Thursday night was League in a Night. BreadDoll takes credit for creating this event last year and it was back again in 2019. With 12 coaches participating, this year was twice the size of last year.

Not only were there twice as many coaches, in my opinion this years was twice the fun. League in a Night is a relaxed, fun event. Four rounds of DreadBall are played using the League rules for DreadBall.

I’m happy to say yours truly pulled out a win in the end having the best winning record (4-0) if not the highest ranking team in terms of megacredits.

If I could only play one DreadBall event at Adepticon it would be League in a Night!

DEADZONE

I will quickly mention Deadzone since I played in the tournament on Friday. As you may not have heard of Deadzone, it’s another game by Mantic, a skirmish game set in the DreadBall Universe. Deadzone tends to take all it’s best ideas from DreadBall ( 😛 ) and the Nameless have now made their way over I painted up a Nameless team. I lost but I won best painted. I had fun. Moving on.

ADEPTICORP CUP

Saturday was the DreadBall Adepticorp Cup. This is the North American DreadBall Championship tournament. There were 10 coaches competing this year. While it’s not the most coaches I’ve seen participating for the North American title, the competition was fierce! Over the course of four rounds I went 3-1-0 and pulled off a tournament win and the Championship by a very, VERY narrow margin. TWO fan check was the difference between winning and losing.

Results:

  1. Geoff Burbidge – Cyborgs
  2. Volker Jacobsen – Sphyr
  3. Andrew Sharp – Yndij
  4. Benjamin Kinne – Zee
  5. Andrew Wodzianski – Convicts
  6. Rob Shlemkevich – Yndij
  7. Natasha Gray – Sphyr
  8. Anthony Sarlo – Sphyr
  9. Dom Laurion – Yndij
  10. Jack B. – Sphyr

Additional awards:

  • Best Painted – Geoff Burbidge
  • Fan Favorite – Geoff Burbidge
  • Most Brutal – Anthony Sarlo
  • Best Sportsman – Benjamin Kinne

 

Thanks to Bryan Novak for running the tournament and providing the results.

MANTIC NIGHT

After the Adepticorp Cup we only had a couple hours until Mantic Night. It has become a BreadDoll tradition now to run a game of DreadBall Ultimate during Mantic Night which we did again this year. I will leave it to my BreadDoll colleague to provide the details since he was running it but Ultimate was played and everyone playing had a blast! Here are a few pics.

CONCLUSION

Adepticon was amazing! I am already looking forward to the next one in 2020. If you can come I highly recommend it. And if you do and you want a game of DreadBall just let me know, we’ll make it happen. There’s no such thing as too many friends or too much DreadBall!