Coaches’ Corner: Antti Jäppinen

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.

This interrogation is particularly special.  Both the interviewer and interviewee share a common hobby that lies beyond the spectacle of sporting science fiction.  The power of childhood, nostalgia, and fantastic plastic flows through these words.

Antti

Antti Jäppinen. Mini painter, He-Man enthusiast, and data plumber.

1.  How did you first learn about DreadBall?

I was quite new to Kickstarter, with the only projects previously backed either canceled or funding not met. One day, I spotted this sci-fi sports game that picked my interest. I had played Blood Bowl very actively around 2000, but that group had dispersed and this new game looked like it fixed many of the problems we saw in Blood Bowl. I loved the three dice / three Roles design and the general smoothness of the gameplay, and I think I backed all-in pretty early.  Subsequently, I’ve backed every DreadBall Kickstarter since, and talked a few friends into backing too.

2.  What do you remember about your first game?

I don’t remember much anything about my first game, but fortunately I keep a record of all boardgame plays on boardgamegeek.com. Checking there, it seems I’ve played the first game against our older son who was 9 years old at the time, with me playing Tronteks and him playing the Smackers. We didn’t use cards. I won by four points. It took us a year of occasional matches to teach my friends and get them interested, before we started an actual league, and haven’t really stopped since.  Only the second edition completely rebooted the perpetual league. The boy is now 16, and has been playing with us for most of this time. He plays Teratons.

3.  What is your favorite team?

The Martians, probably. I love crossovers, and every time a surprising guest appears in a game – it makes me smile. The first edition team was pretty weak, but nowadays the shooting game is quite effective and amusing with the Slaughter ability. And the clear helmets! I’ve never played them personally, though. I own most of the DreadBall stuff our league plays (although we’ve made some purchases together), and somebody else has always opted for them. I think I’ll be switching back to Forge Fathers (my original team) when we go to our next season. Or maybe Mechanites, I love their variety, and the potential for randomness.

4.  What is your favorite MVP?

I don’t really know. The way MVPs interact with the game means they mostly are not used in our league. Switching all MVPs as Captains would be the way to go in my opinion.

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

Barricade, hands down. Giants in general are pretty nice, being big and imposing, but there’s something special about Barricade. Sadly, he’s not used in the game practically at all, as the players find MVPs not a good choice, and Giants weak in particular. My inspiration for Barricade’s paint job is the 1985 vehicle Bashasaurus from Masters of the Universe. The paintjob isn’t maybe quite what I’d now be able to do, but I am happy with it.

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Antti’s inspiration: part machine, part reptile. ALL BASH.

6.  Now that you mention it, many of your DreadBall color schemes mirror that popular 1980s toy franchise.  Several readers may know this BreadDoll editor is a resident of the Fright Zone, so it’s no surprise there is a lot of love for your Masters of the Universe palette.  What’s your connection to Eternia, Castle Grayskull, and Snake Mountain?

I grew up with Masters of the Universe, and never quite got over that. The muscular men of Eternia have been of my life ever since one way or another. Mostly it’s about slowly collecting MOTU Classics figures, buying too many MOTU-themed t-shirts, and buying any-and-all miniatures that are inspired by the franchise. Occasionally, I also customize MOTU action figures for others. I’m also part of a loose group of Finnish MOTU fans who meet every few months to just hang, eat, and watch a crappy film from the eighties.

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These stunning models are completely acceptable for Vanguard / Deadzone crossovers.

7.  Follow up; Who is your favorite MOTU character?

A tough question! Mosquitor is one of the coolest, and as a kid I loved Modulok and Multi-Bot. Trap Jaw is pretty menacing (not in the cartoon, though). I think I’ll have to go with Mosquitor. He would’ve made for a cool theme for a Z’zor team or maybe Koris, but I’ve painted both already. Not many people have love for New Adventures of He-Man (I think it was called Super He-Man around here), and Optikk from that line is also very cool. In fact I think the bad guys from New Adventures are all very nice designs (sans Skeletor).

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Mosquitor sucks!

8.  Do you have any future color schemes for teams that you’d like to share?  Perhaps another franchise to celebrate?

With DreadBall, I rarely deviate from MOTU, unless the mini is specifically from some other franchise, like the Martians, or Judge Dredd. My son’s Teratons were painted with TMNT in mind, though, for obvious reasons. I think the next team I’m going to paint is a Judwan team for one friend who I’m trying to lure into the league. She has never been a minis gamer but is an avid sci-fi, superhero and board game fan, and I’m unsure how much time she has for semi-regular gaming… But my plan is to paint the team inspired by Prince Adam, I doubt many people can resist that! I painted the Judwan Captain while he still was an MVP with Sy-Klone in mind, but the paintjob isn’t that good, I’ll have to repaint it. If I’ll do a Mechanite team, it has to be based on Multi-Bot!

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

I used to be head chef for an institutional kitchen and staff restaurant, but now I’m studying for a Business Information Technology degree and recently started a new job as what could be described as a data plumber, so studying and work takes a lot of my time. Most of my free time is eaten by painting miniatures, jogging and/or running, playing board games whenever possible, and spending time with my family.

10.  Back to the Galaxy’s greatest sport, how do you primarily play DreadBall? [One-off, league, tournament, Xtreme, Ultimate]

As I mentioned we have an ongoing league. I has been going on with 6-8 players since 2013, and I’m hoping I can recruit two more players once we finish the current season next weekend. League play is where the game really shines! We do love Ultimate, and try to incorporate an Ultimate match into every one of our seasons (for us, a season lasts 3-12 months, depending on how busy people are with ‘Real Life’), but it’s hard to get three or more of the players together. During first edition we managed to play a compelete season with six players with exlusively 3-player Ultimate matches, with all teams participating in the finals game, and it was a blast! It was also the slowest of our seasons, as scheluding the games was so difficult. I own Xtreme, but have never tried and probably never will, although the modular boards from the expansion still intrigue me..

11.  Which opposing team/Coach do you… Dread… the most?

Our two best coaches are my friends Jaakko and another Antti, who currently play Z’zor and Veer-Myn respectively. I suspect I’ve never beaten either one in a game of DreadBall. Jaakko’s Z’zor, the Buzzspace Skyspies (inspired by Buzz Off from MOTU) are dreaded by all in the league, as his extremely tough Guard ”Bitsy” will mow down anyone and everyone on the pitch. In general we do play with pretty casual attitude, though, so there’s not too much actual dread involved. 😀

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Bitsy is going to seriously injure you bro.
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Buzz Off Bitsy!

12.  Describe your most memorable DreadBall Rush.

I can’t pinpoint any specific Rush that sticks out. Many DB matches have very intense last Rushes that decide the match, and that’s one of the coolest things about the game.

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

There’s a couple of things in no specific order:

  • A captain and captain cards for Martians.
  • Maybe alternative Captains for the teams? To go along with this switch existing MVP’s as Captains. Many of them could be an option for several teams. Captain cards would be still team-specific.
  • I do think the game has enough teams as it is, but if a licenced team would come up, I’d be all over that. A specific licence of, say, Eternians would be very high on my to-buy list!
  • Upscaled minis for first edition teams is kind of on my wish list.. but as I own almost every team already, I’m not so sure I should be hoping for this. 😀
  • More event cards. We feel the event deck is nice but kind of stale, and some of the events are pretty big game changers.. seeing them come up isn’t that bad but they could be rarer. This could tie up to alternative Captains?
  • Change the Draft rules to simply give back a fixed amount of cash, making any exceptions meaningless. I feel this would balance the high starting cost players in a perpetual league better.
  • League and Team tracker app (preferably on iPhone). I kind of started my own but decided it’s too much a hassle to make on my free time.
  • Extended league systems? Like the Azure Forest. The new Captains could be tied in with these packs.
  • Active rules review and updates.

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 immediately and stuff as much in my mouth at once as I can. That’s how I usually eat.

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Many thanks to Antti for the Finnish fandom.  You sir, HAVE THE POWER.

Scattered Scullery: Action Token Tracking

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So you have your Action Tokens and it’s your Rush. How to keep track of how many Actions you’ve used and which players you’ve used them on? There are a few options.

The Action Token Tracker

Some pitches, including the new pitch that comes with 2nd Edition DreadBall, have a dedicated area to track your Action Token usage. Simply place the token on the player number in the Action Token tracking area. There’s even a space to track Action Tokens spent to buy cards.

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Pros: Simple.

Cons: Players must be numbered between 1-14. Takes more space on the Pitch.

The Rush Tracker

If the Pitch you’re using doesn’t have a dedicated Action Token tracking area you can use the Rush Tracker. There are 14 Rushes so as long as your players are numbered 1-14 just place your Action Tokens beside the Rush number matching the player number. If your Rush Tracker has a “0” space use that to track buying cards.

Pros: Uses an already existing feature of the Pitch.

Cons: Players must be numbered between 1-14.

On The Pitch

If you don’t have a dedicated Action Token tracking area and don’t like using the Rush Tracker as an alternative you can always just place your Action Tokens on the Pitch beside the player the Token is being used on. For buying cards just place the Action Token near the game deck.

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Pros: Players don’t need to be numbered at all.

Cons: Clutters the Pitch

In Your Head

This one is pretty obvious. If you find you can just remember and your opponent trusts you then just keep track in your head.

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Pros: No Restrictions.

Cons: Requires being able to remember. 😛

DreadBall 3-on-3!

Here it is! The completely unofficial, amateur, backstreet pickup game of DreadBall! DreadBall 3-on-3!

One of the variants of DreadBall that is currently (legally) growing in popularity is 3-on-3 DreadBall. 3-on-3, sometimes called StreetBall due to its origins, is a smaller fast paced DreadBall involving small teams on even smaller pitch.

Ah, the field of dreams….or maiming…..mostly maiming…

Alternating Activation

The biggest change for 3-on-3 is the Rush and Action structure. Coaches alternate taking actions. Each coach gets to spend only 1 action token on their turn.

Rushes

There are no Rushes in 3-on-3. Each coach has 25 Action Tokens (18 standard tokens and 7 sin bin tokens)

Action Tokens

Each coach starts with 25 Action Tokens (18 standard tokens and 7 sin bin tokens)

You can play any number of Action cards (still max 1 per player per turn) when it is your turn to play an Action token, but you still have to play a token either before or after or between playing Action cards.

So. Many. TOKENS.

Setup

Whichever coach is the underdog in a 3-on-3 match gets to choose Home or Visitor. Max of 3 players on the pitch….to start…..

Setup behind the center line of your side color (White for Home, red for Visitor)

Ball Launch

The ball launches from the center hex and scatters. If a player is occupying the center hex when the ball launches they might be hit. Roll a 3 dice 4+ test for the ball.

The ball cannot be caught in the center hex but can be caught when it scatters as if it was an inaccurate pass.

Strikes

There are no set Strikezones. Players can Throw Strikes from anywhere in range.

Strikes are still -1 for Throwing at a small target. All Strikes are worth 1 point.

Strike hexes are impassible, as there is a physical Strikepost in this space in a 3-on-3 game. No fancy holographic Strikehexs here.

Sturdy construction, timeless design. And ALWAYS in the way!

Dunking

If you attempt to throw a Strike from adjacent to the Strikehex you gain a +1 on your Throw.

Score

The team with the most points at the end of a match wins, as is usual. If at any point during the game one team is up by 5 Strikes it is a landslide win and the game ends. A tie will result in Sudden Death overtime. Coaches “reset” their allotment of Action Tokens and continue play.

Sudden Death

There are no “gates” to keep players from coming on the pitch, so there are no restrictions to bringing players on in overtime. However, in the true sense of the sporting term “sudden death”, whichever team scores next wins the match and ends the game.

Injuries

Injured players are not removed from the pitch. When a player is injured lay them prone and place a marker representing how badly they were injured in the Sin Bin (or use a prone model and place the regular mini in the Sin Bin) in their stead.

If the injured player is injured further while on the pitch move their injury token deeper into the Sin Bin, if this results in death, remove the player from the pitch and the injury token from the Sin Bin. Whenever a coach plays a Sin Bin Action Token, in addition to their regular action, they may move all fouling players through the Sin Bin and make a Recovery Roll for injured ones.

Recovery Rolls

At the end of each Sin Bin Action Token, every injured player from the active team must make a recovery roll. This is not optional. A player cannot attempt to Stand Up until they have recovered from all of their injuries.

Recovery Roll: a 3 dice Strength test (1).

-1 per opposing player threatening the hex you are in (maximum of -2).

Recovery Succeeds: the player removes one injury per success.

Recovery Fails: the player sustains one more injury as they continue to bleed out. If this takes the total to 4, then they die and are removed.

Fouls

There is no Refbot in 3-on-3, players are calling their own Fouls.

When you call a foul roll the Spot Test as usual.

The Argue (test that opposes the Spot Check in 3- on-3) roll is:

+1 for the player committing the foul

+1 if the player committing the foul is a guard

+1 to Argue if there is at least 1 teammate within 5 hexes of the fouling player.

Tie: Fouling player is sent to the Sub Bench

Spot Wins: Fouling player is sent to the “1” space of the Sin Bin

Argue Wins: Fouling player stays on the Pitch

Sneak Amendment: If a Coach ends an Action with more than 3 uninjured Players on the pitch, they are committing a Sneak Foul.

Momentum

Resources are crucial in 3 on 3…cards and free actions let you do more with your one token!

In 3-on-3 DreadBall there isn’t a big stadium full of fans. There are no fans checks, but teams can build up Momentum. There are two main methods of generating Momentum:

-Double a Strike

-Seriously Injure an opponent

When an action meets one of these conditions, draw a card and look at the pips.

If the card has 1 pip save it as usual.

If the card has 2 pips immediately discard it and take a Coaching Dice

If the card has 3 pips immediately discard it and take a Card into your hand

Once you have collected 3 pips of single pip cards you can immediately choose to take a Coaching Dice or Card in exchange.

Roster

Starting Roster funding: 600mc

Players can be purchased from all teams.

The minimum number of players on a roster is 3

The maximum number of players on a roster is 5

To represent the rag tag, pick up nature of the setting, you can not have more than one of the same kind of player (race and position).

Additionally, specialists (Strikers and Guards) are rare, most amateur and pick up players don’t have that level of training. To represent this, you may have no more than two specialists on your roster total. So, either 1 Striker and 1 Guard…or 2 Guards, etc.

No Assistant Coaches or Cheerleaders are allowed in 3-on-3

No cards or coaching dice can be purchased on a starting 3-on-3 roster

Lastly, players don’t normally earn experience. It’s not the players who level up and advance, but rather YOU, the Coach, the Manager, the Sponsor…….but more on that next time!