Coaches’ Corner: Rob Burman

The Coaches’ Corner is an in-depth interview with DreadBall Coaches, Commissioners, and Creators.  A game is fourteen Rushes, and the interview is fourteen questions.

Rob Burman has been pulled from his GCPS issued desk for this interrogation.  It’s a coup for the BreadDoll editors, as Rob is the first interview from Mantic Headquarters.

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Rob Burman.  Goblin lover, Bigfoot believer, and ex-Donkey Konga UK champion.

1.  How did you first learn about DreadBall?

By accident, really. I stumbled across Mantic just after the first Kings of War Kickstarter but just before the DreadBall Kickstarter launched. Although I had been out of the hobby for about 13 years, it totally looked up my street and I immediately went all-in! Since then I haven’t looked back… I mean, obviously I’ve looked backwards when driving and stuff. I just haven’t metaphorically looked backed. Apart from memories… oh, you get the idea.

2.  What do you remember about your first game?

I didn’t actually play a game for a long time. Instead, I spent time (really badly) painting the teams I got from the Kickstarter. Eventually I found a local club in Nottingham and they had a few players who said they would teach me the ropes. I think my first game was playing with Veer-myn and I got absolutely swept off the pitch, but I loved every minute and was immediately hooked.

3.  What is your favorite team?

Woah, that is like asking me to pick a favourite child or pizza topping. It changes all the time. For the longest time I was a hardcore Veer-myn player because I loved their speed. Then I changed to Rebs (while still in First Edition). In Second Edition, I thoroughly enjoy playing Matsudan and Yndij (and played both of those for a while). However, I’ve recently returned to my greenskin roots (and the first team I painted), with the Marauders. These guys are absolutely top notch in Second Edition and I can see myself sticking with them for a while.

4.  What is your favorite MVP?

Bit cheesy but probably the Praetorian, in terms of stats. You really can’t argue with a 3+ Skill and he’s relatively tough, thanks to Can’t Feel a Thing. I had the Praetorian in my DreadBall UK Championship winning side back in 2018 and he won the tournament for me, really.

5.  Across the entire DreadBall line, what is your favorite model?  If you painted it, how did you do it?

Actually, going back to the Marauders; I really love the orcs and the plastic makes them very easy to re-pose. They’re nice, big, chunky models so you can get quite a lot of detail on the paint job.

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6.  How do you primarily play DreadBall? [One-off, league, tournament, Xtreme, Ultimate].

Nowadays it’s mostly tournaments with the odd one-off on the Mantic live stream. I wish I could play more, to be honest, because it’s still my absolute favourite game.

7.  Shifting gears for a moment, what do you do when you are not playing DreadBall?

Cry, solemnly.

8.  You work at Mantic!  Without jeopardizing your employment, please describe your position.  Any advice on how to find a gainful salary in the gaming industry is welcome (asking for a retired DreadBall Coach).

I am the Online Sales and Social Media Manager, with is a bit of a mouthful. In terms of getting a job, it’s all about pursuing your passion. Once I got back into the hobby, I hit it hard. I became a senior committee member at the club, started writing blogs, shared my (often terrible) painting progress and eventually managed to persuade my boss in a previous job to let me start a tabletop gaming magazine. I think if you can demonstrate that sort of commitment to the hobby and industry in general, then someone is bound to pick you up.

9.  Back to the Galaxy’s greatest sport, which opposing team do you… Dread… the most?

I see what you did there… I don’t think it’s necessarily the team, it’s more the Coach. Facing off against Geoff [Burbidge] at Adepticon was a humbling experience – even though he was playing Brokkrs, who I normally wouldn’t be scared of. Likewise, a humbling defeat recently came at the hands of the Trontek 29ers, who I have previously dismissed as complete rubbish. However, I must admit that I fear taking on a competitive Zee player. Having that many players to block all the strike zones is a pain in the backside.

10.  Describe your most memorable DreadBall Rush.

I love those Rushes when absolutely everything goes to plan (although it doesn’t happen that often). During the Co-Prosperity Cup 2019, I was down one Strike in my final Rush but there was an outside chance I could grab the ball and score. For that to happen, I had to; get the right card (Any Player, Any Action), pick up the ball, double it, and then Dash several times to sneak into the two point Strike Zone. It really shouldn’t have been possible but, against all the odds, I pulled off everything.

I also love the fact you can swap Fan Checks for extra cards now. That really encourages you to try crazy stuff (nine hex passes, triple Dashes, etc.) to generate the Fan Check and get a card, which could turn the tide.

And, of course, every Rush I played against Crazy-A at Gencon 2019 was sheer joy. [Editor’s note: Mantic has nicknamed this BreadDoll editor “Crazy-A.” It’s not… inaccurate.  Regardless, our Gencon match ended in a tie.]

11. What would you like to see from DreadBall in the future?

To be honest? More people playing! There’s quite a good UK community bubbling away at the moment. Franticon had 20+ players earlier this year and WOFcon recently had a similar number. There’s already an event planned for early next year, and I’d like to see another at Mantic HQ.

With more people playing, we can then release more products. I would be wary of ‘just more teams’ because we already have a shed load but perhaps a resin classics edition, with re-poses of the original teams? Something like that would be very cool.

I’d also like to see some sort of global tournament, a little like the Deadzone campaign we  [Mantic] did last year.

12.  You often play DreadBall on both sides of the pond.  Have you noticed different coaching styles between North American and British opponents?

I haven’t, really. I was expecting the Americans to be more violent (although Shane [Knerll and Geoff [Burbidge] both obliterated my NeoBots at Adepticon), but that isn’t always the case. I think good players are good players both sides of the pond.

13.  You frequently appear on Mantic video feeds competing against colleague Elvis Fisher.  More often than not, you dominate the matches.  Have you considered facing-off against other Coaches, like Crazy Bobby?

Crazy Bobby has been banned from the live stream after an ‘incident’. I have had my backside handed to me on the live stream by Martin [Thirwell, Mantic employee and all-around sexy man] though – in fact, I don’t think I’ve won a game on the live stream against Martin. He intimidates me off camera by threatening my children with a shiv. I’m always up for playing more games on the live stream (apart from Rob Taylor, before he asks).

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14.  Lastly, if you won a BreadDoll in tournament play (last place), would you; eat it immediately in front of attending coaches, or wait until you were in the privacy of your locker room?

I would eat it while sobbing in the shower.

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Many thanks to Rob for agreeing to answer such pressing queries.  After two Brits in the Coaches’ Corner, should the BreadDoll aim for a hat-trick?  Who should be interviewed next?  Let us know in the comments below.

Scattered Scullery: Evolution of The Pitch

For everyone that prefers a low-profile DreadBall pitch, I’ve put together another card. Before we introduce the new card, let’s go over a bit of history.

The Original Pitch

When DreadBall was first released in 2012, it came with a board for a pitch.  This 1st Edition pitch was much simpler and much smaller with a lower profile (low-profile) on the table than the larger 2nd Edition pitches we’re familiar with today.

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Original 1st Edition Pitch

 

Action Tracker and Pitch Evolution

As more and more Coaches took to the game, they began to see opportunities to improve upon the basic 1st edition folding board pitch. The idea of printing the pitch on a neoprene mat was attractive. Without the original artwork for the pitch, we had to recreate the entire pitch design before we could print it. The first new designs were merely recreations of the original, but on neoprene.

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Hyperdyne Arena

Those neoprene pitches were nice, but the hexes were the same size as the original. Often players on the pitch, when next to each other, did not have enough room. The next pitch designs increased the hex size from the original 25mm to a spacious 30mm.

The larger hexes were great and opened the door to the concept of improving the DreadBall pitch. In late 2013 and early 2014, features that would require a larger area were added; spaces for the card deck, discard pile, and Action Token storage. One of the first larger pitches incorporating these features was the Neo-Tek Tesla Dome.

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Neo-Tek Tesla Dome by SHAWN GRUBAUGH

The improvments continued:

  • Coaching Dice area
  • Ball launch direction indicators
  • Strike values
  • Standarized scatter direction
  • Action Token tracker
  • Assistant Coach areas

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Mantic, acknowledging the fan improvements, released their own large size neoprene pitch that included the new pitch additions. It was named the Gruba-Tek VII Coliseum as a nod to Shawn Grubaugh who, as mentioned, created one of the first large size pitches.

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Gruba-Tek VII Coliseum

1st Edition Cards and Player Numbers

The Action Token tracker was added as a nice way to keep track of how many Action Tokens a Coach was spending on players. The Action Token tracker was numbered 1 to 14, with an area to indicate if a Coach had used a token to purchase a card as well.

The tracker could be numbered from 1-14 because in 1st Edition DreadBall, all players HAD to be numbered between 1 and 14. This numbering requirement was based on the way the cards worked in 1st Edition. The cards in 1st Edition DreadBall often affected a random player. To determine which random player, a Coach would draw a card and read the numbers down the right hand side of the cards. The first number (1 to 14) that matched a player on the pitch indicated that player had been randomly selected.

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1st Edition Action Card with player randomizer down the right hand side

2nd Edition and Player Numbers

When Mantic decided to release a 2nd edition of DreadBall, they looked at what fans had been doing with the pitch design and decided to incorporate almost all of the additional features into the official 2nd Edition pitch. This meant the new official pitch was of the large variety, on a quad-fold board.

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Official 2nd Edition DreadBall Pitch Design

The random selection of players was removed in 2nd Edition. There was no longer a requirement for players to be numbered only between 1 and 14. Despite no longer being limited in the numbering of players, the Action Token tracker remained on the new official pitch, still using 1-14.

This Coach’s Opinion

I have played on all of these different pitch designs across many different versions of the game. Overall, the fan additions that Mantic adopted into the official design are fantastic.

In my opinion, the Action Token track should have been removed from the 2nd Edition pitch. It’s a nice feature, but it’s not needed. Keeping track of your Action Tokens can be done in a few other ways. With no requirement to number players using only 1-14 for player randomization, leaving the Action Token tracker on the pitch in 2nd Edition has always bothered me. That mentioned, it is an easy way to track your player Actions and can certainly help coaches that are just learning DreadBall.

I’ve stated many times that I prefer the smaller, low-profile pitches, closer in size to the original 1st Edition pitch. There is no room on a low-profile pitch for a dedicated Action Token tracker area. Since I know many coaches like the Action Token tracker but may also have seen the benefits of a low-profile pitch, I’ve created an Action Token track card that can be placed beside a low-profile pitch.

New Action Tracker Card

Here is the new card(s). They are designed to fit on big cards (3.5″ x 5.75″). There is a version with and without a designateds area to tuck your Fan Checks under as well as 2 different numbering patterns, Left to Right and Top to Bottom.

The Features of a State-of-the-Art Low-Profile Pitch

Wrapping up, let’s take a look at all the feature on a modern low-profile pitch. It’s a long way from that original pitch from back in 2012.

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EDIT: See all our pitches HERE including my newest design made for the Ontario DreadBall Leage (ODBL).

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Ontario DreadBall League Pitch

A new spin on an old favorite

So, last time I left of rambling about different versions of DreadBall in the DB universe. Really, it makes a lot of sense to me, and you see it in real sports all the time. I’m a big fan of rugby, but I really enjoy rugby sevens too. I used to watch football (erm, gridiron, or North American rules football to those in other parts of the world), but I was a season ticket holder to Arena Football.

Even in…other sports games, I really enjoyed variants. From multi race teams deep in a dungeon, to a smaller pitch with fewer players, each variation of the rules emphasized new ways to play and challenge yourself.

A lot of 3-on-3 is similar to Xtreme, including a focus on the Manager/Sponsor

Well, I’d like to do the same thing with DreadBall. The first variant of the game is a little thing we have internally referred to as DreadBall 3-on-3. It started as a thought experiment on how to capture a different feel and flow to the game and slowly morphed into its own at home version. Later, the variant developed a little further for capturing some of the rules cast to wayside from DBX when we moved to second edition. And finally, it was put together intended to be used as a mini game for conventions as a smaller, quicker, introductory game to DreadBall. Well, it never quite made it to that. So, rather than be lost to the ravages of time and my “to do” folder, it is being resurrected here on BreadDoll.

“Looks like a fun place to play…safe? NO. But fun…”

Over a series of articles, the back alley amateur version of DreadBall will be developed. The version of the game that is played by enthusiasts and wannabes as opposed to highly sought after professionals. The holographic strike targets and neodurium pitch of the pro ranks? Nah, here it’s concrete and cobbled together physical strike posts. It’s gritty and messy. It’s also chaotically fast. You won’t find any Cheerleaders or Assistant coaches either. Heck, your team will hardly be cohesive at all, and that is a good deal of the challenge. But, who knows? Maybe you’ve got what it takes to weld these dregs into a formidable force. Maybe charge up the semi-pro ranks. Maybe a talent or two gets discovered. Let’s find out! Next time we will peel back the curtain and take a peak at the fundamental workings of the stripped down amateur game.

Coaches’ Corner: Sam Graven

The Coaches’ Corner is an in-depth interview with DreadBall Coaches, Commissioners, and Creators.  A game is fourteen rushes, and the interview is fourteen questions.

Sam Graven is in the sin bin for this iteration, and he’s agreed to answer some BreadDoll questions while reflecting on the chaos of multiplaying Dread.  He’s a commissioner for a tight knit and mercurial league – his family!

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Sam Graven.  Educator.  Game Influencer.  And, a man with an inexplicable fear of big boats (although he would argue the phobia is completely rational).

1)  How did you first learn about DreadBall?

Well, I suppose when the original Kickstarter came out.  It was a topic of general chat at my local club, but at that time I hadn’t really got back heavily into any kind of mini gaming: I played a lot as a kid, then moved on to RPGs and TCGs (fairly competitively).  Those TCGs were why I’m very wary of tournament play of any variety as I’ve got older – and only started coming back to minis with, of all things, Heroclix.  By the time DreadBall 2nd edition came around, I’d been back into gaming, and blogging about gaming over on bigcomicpage.com, for a few years.  I got a review copy, and I was hooked.

2)  What do you remember about your first game?

Chaos!  But in a really good way.  It was fast and intuitive, and I liked the way the score swung back and forth constantly.  The consistent 3d6 mechanic appealed to me too, as it gave a peg to hang everything else off.

3)  What is your favorite team?

You mean favoUrite team, right? 😉 [Editor’s note: Sam is our first interviewee from the UK].  That’s such a hard question.  Teratons were the first team I played with after the Marauders and Humans, and I still love their aesthetic.  I’m enjoying playing Crystallans a lot, at the moment, and I like the sheer variety – and challenge – of playing Rebs, especially against experienced opponents.  But for total unabashed fun, it’s got to be the Zees.

4)  What is your favorite MVP?

Now that’s easy, Nightshade, hands-down.  Occasionally hopeless, but usually incredible. I often play fairly slow and/or Jack-heavy teams, to give the kids a chance to try to outmaneuver me, but at the same time I want someone with serious speed and skills to give them a fright.  He ticks the boxes, and has only once ended up doing a comedy juggling act.

5)  Across the entire DreadBall line, what is your favorite model?

Probably Barricade?  Dynamic, fun to build, paint AND play with.  Although I like the lids on the small objects in X-Treme!  The tension they generate appeals to me, and they’re just a really nice bit of design.

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6)  How do you primarily play DreadBall? [One-off, league, tournament, Xtreme, Ultimate]

Ultimate all the way.  Dreadball has social appeal to me.  I don’t often get to hang out at my local club that much nowadays (three kids) but it’s easy to rock up with a copy of the game and a bunch of teams.  It never ceases to surprise me how quickly folk get it by just watching, and in Ultimate that can mean you have full 6-player in no time.  Likewise, with two kids of gaming age, it’s good to have things which we can play together.  We play board games, of course, but a lot of mini gaming feels a bit clumsy with three players, or is horrendously time-consuming (and prone to the whims of a rampaging three year-old).  Ultimate is the ideal game for us to play together; the kids have painted up teams, so they feel more invested in the experience, and in fact my older son bought himself a Kalyshi team just because he liked the fluff.  Because we tend to play Ultimate, we’ve been experimenting with a host of other rules and spent this summer testing and playing an Ultimate League*, which has been great: a particularly jumpy Kalyshi Striker is now mounted on a flight stand, the Yndij Captain is notorious for stealing all the glory off the rest of his team, and woe betide anyone who goes near the legendary Crystallan Guard known simply as “Mr Hitty.”

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7)  Shifting gears for a moment, what do you do when you are not playing DreadBall?

Like so many gamers, I have terrible hobby ADHD.  I really like Superhero gaming, primarily DC stuff, though Kitbash Games’ new Supers Unlimited range is beautiful.  Gaslands is a heck of a game, who doesn’t love toy cars?  Wings of Glory, because for the first time in my life it’s a game my dad will play (he’s really into WW1 aviation).  Walking Dead, X-Wing, Harry Potter, and more Death Guard than’s remotely healthy – I run a very broad church.  Lots of Board Games.  A bIt of TCGing too – Transformers with my older, Warhammer Champions with the younger.  So the common thread in all of these is that I can play them with the kids.  The geek shall inherit, and so on.  Oh, and in real life?  I’m a teacher, Media and English, secondary school.  High school, in colonial parlance.

8)  Which opposing team do you… Dread… the most?

Oh, Yndij, easily.  All of my most memorable defeats are to them, and given that my younger son plays with his Ninja Sharks all the time, that’s a LOT of defeats.

9)  Describe your most memorable DreadBall Rush.

I’m going to cheat slightly with this (don’t tell the Ref).  We had a fantastic Mantic Scotland Day up at Common Ground Games in Stirling, organized by our local Pathfinder and good buddy, Gofur Hunter.  Myself, the kids, and a couple of other mates rocked up for a day of Ultimate whilst most folk around us played Kings of War.  We’d started to set up, and a couple of young lads asked if they could try the game, so we gave them the Yndij to play together vs my Zees, my older son with Z’Zor and another friend with Marauders.  They went last in the first Rush, managed to score 3, went first in the next, flipped a Faulty Scoreboard event, and scored 4 off their second ball!  They enjoyed it so much they went over immediately to hassle their dad into buying a copy of the game!  Job done.

10). What would you like to see from DreadBall in the future?

Man, what a toughie.  Little things to spice up the game.  I think card packs would be great – like Azure League.  Limited Print-On-Demand, or even pdf packs, relatively low cost but would add a lot to the game.  Or a commercially available DreadBall Ultimate pack, with the second edition Ultimate cards and Subs’ Benches, as shown in the Collector’s Rulebook.  I ended making physical subs’ benches from Battlezones bits.  Other than that, maybe a pdf of Challenge Cup and/or Xtreme stuff, bringing it into the mainstream?  Which is kind of what we’ve been doing for Ultimate League, I suppose.  I don’t think there’s much needed model wise; could do with Beauty and the Mob being back in print!  Maybe some new Giants – who do I see about that? [Editor’s note: The Rules Committee has been play testing.  There is good news afoot]

11)  You often play DreadBall with your children.  What are the family dynamics during matches?

Tense!  My kids are great, my older maybe a bit too competitive, my younger a bit too sensitive, so I have to be Ref-Dad sometimes.  It’s always fun when they realise they have to stop bickering and gang up to take me down!  But it’s definitely a great way to spend time together.  The duck and weave of Dreadball beats pretty much everything else we could play hands down.

12)  You’re an educator.  How would you assess DreadBall and what distinction would it receive?

Well, you know, it’s not about grades any more – it’s all about giving productive feedback.  So, excellent work, just keep working on promoting the game as widely as possible!  I think Dreadball’s greatest and most underrated asset is the potential of the community.  And hey, BreadDoll is nothing if not the proof of how awesome it is.

13)  DreadBall exists within Mantic’s Warpath Universe.  What other Mantic titles do you play?

I like how you said play, not own… The Walking Dead: All Out War was actually the mini game that really got my kids playing.  Terrible parenting I know!  The wee fella was seven, maybe only six, the first time we played, and he immediately threw Carl to a Walker as a distraction to help win.  Genius, if somewhat terrifying.  We’ve found ourselves playing more Here’s Negan! though, as we like the hybrid mini/board game model.  I’m blown away by Hellboy, incredible sculpts and visuals – I’m a comic nerd, after all – the difficult curve on it is immense though.  That’s not a criticism, mind you.

14)  If you won a BreadDoll in tournament play (last place), would you; eat it immediately in front of attending coaches, or wait until you were in the privacy of your locker room?

The chances of me BreadDolling are very high! I would glory in it. Because at the end of the day, bread is amazing. When I was a kid I would eat bread like cake. Not much has changed.

* Sam’s mention of an Ultimate League caught the BreadDoll’s attention!  Loyal loaf lovers can look forward to a thorough explanation in the near future when we invite Sam back to become our first guest writer!