Pitch Protocols: Tactics Talk—Cheer Factory

worst staff2
“Gimme a……”

The roar of the crowd….there isn’t anything like it! In fact, some teams live for the adulation of their fans, playing for the approval of the masses. Win or lose, these teams just want to be the most popular!
In the game of DreadBall, this can lend itself to a very interesting and potentially devastating style of play. The Cheer Factory is based on gearing a team around winning the battle of popularity on the sidelines, rather than only on the pitch.


Having a lot of cards, can create a BIG advantage! Cheer Factory helps you “make” your own!

Well, some teams seek to create advantage through numbers….by hook or by crook, they will try to outnumber your squad on the pitch by pounding your players into submission, either within the rules or out! A Cheer Factory takes a different approach to creating advantage, by vastly increasing the number of resources at the team’s disposal. The purpose is to create an avalanche of “free” extra coaching dice and DreadBall Cards that both increase the number and efficiency of your team’s actions on the pitch.
This approach largely centers around Cheerleaders. The reason is twofold. One, through their Work the Crowd ability, Cheerleaders can create fan check opportunities where there otherwise might not have been, OR, increase the number created from a successful action. Two, having MORE Cheerleaders than your opponent when making a Fan Check allows you to draw two cards and chose which to keep…increasing the efficiency of “pip” generation.

Don’t forget DICE! Cards are often superior because of their flexibility, but even just one dice can let you attempt what would otherwise be impossible…..or just throw it in to give yourself more potential successes!

However, another approach is to load up on Fan Favourite and/or Show Off players. This can be done by either ranking up players in league play, or if a tournament allows, purchasing the additional rank for advancement and selecting the ability. Alternatively, you may purchase an MVP that has the abilities your seeking, if allowed.
That said, these approaches aren’t mutually exclusive, a combination of cheer creating players AND cheerleaders can be amazingly productive.
Get Busy!
Once the ball is launched, don’t waste anytime waiting for the “perfect” moment to create cheers. Get the crowd on their feet early and often. The sooner you start collecting pips, the sooner you can cash them in! Get your three pips and trade them in for either a Coaching Dice OR a DreadBall Card. Rinse, repeat. And with those additional resources, you will be able to take more actions, assisted with coaching dice and rerolls, that will in turn create even more fan check potential. Over the course of a match, this can turn into a MASSIVE advantage. It’s a viciously effective cycle…. IF you can get it rolling.
The tricky part is when you are the Visiting team, having to wait through your opponents Rush, hopefully with your playmakers intact. When you do finally get your turn, seek to create cheers out of even the most mundane of actions. And don’t forget about using your Cheerleader advantage for double draws! Make those checks count! Lastly, don’t let the desire to keep that advantage, prevent you from using cheerleaders to create cheers in the first place.
Now get out there, and wow that crowd!


Pitch Protocols—Tactics Talk: The Dao of Dirty DreadBall

“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?!?”


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.
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!

Pitch Protocols: Tactics Talk—Playing for Keeps!

Playing for Keeps

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:

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!

Pitch Protocols: Famous Formations—The Press

Famous Formations: The Press

Wonder what they’re up to?

The Press is a series of variant offensive formations where at least half of the teams players are situated on the launch line at the start of the match. However, The Press can also be combined with other formations, depending upon the match up in question to provide some defense, and then becomes more a “tactic” than purely a formation. Either way, it tends to be utilized by more aggressive teams, or simply by teams that are Home. It would also be possible to use the five across variant as a sort of Forward Screen for a Visiting team looking to mix it up, but that takes careful consideration of positioning and matchup to keep from getting exploited by your opponent.


The Press allows the Forge Fathers ample slamming opportunities and gives them the range to go deep on Strike attempts.

There are many viable variations of The Press, but there Advantages are fairly similar across the board. Firstly, it allows a Bashy team to get as many bodies as possible close to the action to start laying down the hurt. Secondly, it positions slower teams to have greater “reach” with their actions, being positioned to get into the opponents half of the pitch on their first move. It can also be psychologically beneficial when setting up as the Home team, as it often can force your opponent into a more defensive formation to try and counter your slamming game….thereby minimizing their own first rush opportunities.


One of the main draw backs is usually defensive orientation. Committing so many players to attack tends to leave your own end of the pitch open to counter strikes. However, if you start to win the war of attrition, this can be increasingly less of an issue. Also, it kind of tips your hand as to what your going to do and can allow the opponent to minimize the damage you intend to cause them with their own setup. This would, in turn, be a good time to counter with a Sucker Draw and slow ball them with an attrition game if you have a decided advantage in slamming. The main key is to not get so caught up in slamming that you win the battle, but lose the war…..pay attention to that scoreboard!


The Press is often as much about how you use it, as how you set up for it. This screams Sucker Draw and Slowball attrition.

The Press doesn’t have to be all the players, all the time. You could combine a Press with a Three Pillars for instance, the only difference really being intent of how you plan to utilize it. As mentioned, while typically a Home formation, it can be used defensively as a Screen, or even to exploit Run Interference trickery.

You’ve got a lot of options Coach, make ‘em count!

Top Tips: The “Secret” to Success

Shhhhhhh….it’s a “secret”!


Well, it’s no secret that I love DreadBall. Really, I enjoy not just the “game”, but also the future sport it’s meant to depict. However, one of the things I really enjoy about the DreadBall hobby, is continually learning something new. It helps keeps the hobby fresh and exciting.

One of the best ways to create opportunities for learning something new is playing in tournaments. I really appreciate the way it creates match-ups against coaches I’m not familiar with, and that see and play the game differently than I do. Sometimes it’s simply different set-ups. Other times, it’s different tactics. Or even just a more varied team composition, or compositional preference. Regardless, it usually gives a jolt of inspiration to develop something I can adapt and incorporate into my own style of play.

When it comes to tournaments, though, there is one learning tool that I prize above all the rest. The “secret mission”. Every tournament for the last couple years, I have set myself some additional objective that I try to achieve. This has the added dimension of having to look at the game differently than I normally do, and doing away with some of my own “best practices”. In so doing, I sometimes develop very effective new ideas. And sometimes, it simply helps reinforce why best practices are best! 

These “secret” missions have ranged from not using a particular formation, to seeing how many Punts I could pull off in a tournament, or even just challenging myself with a team I don’t usually use. The mission didn’t matter so much as it provided new “discovery” opportunities in playing the game—the ones that give a rush of excitement when you “discover” a new combo, team makeup, or tactic that you can’t wait to try. It’s simply my opinion, but I feel it also helps add variety, and therefore longevity, to the game. And in the process, I think it’s helped me become a better player too.

2018-03-23 19.17.05
“Check out THIS combo….”

If you get a chance, you really owe it to yourself to participate in a DreadBall tournament. If you feel that’s old hat, maybe freshen things up and take a “secret mission” for a spin? 

Anyway, keep it secret, keep it safe, and Good Luck when you hit the pitch!


Top Tips: How to Get Lucky

How to “Get Lucky”


Final Rush. Down by three. One action left. Your Striker has the ball, makes an evade, a dash and launches the throw from the 4-point bonus hex…..IT’S GOOD!

“You got lucky!” Your opponent harrumphes. 

Well, did ya….punk?

Here are some tips to try and ensure you “get lucky” as often as you please.

  1. KNOW WHAT NEEDS DONE! If you need to score, for example, make sure you save at least one action token for that (or not, if you have a card, but more on that later). Some vets will count out what action tokens they NEED to do and set them aside, leaving the rest for any extraneous actions to play with first. This may seem frivolous, but keep in mind, success in small actions can have knock on effects, like removing opposing players, or generating fan checks that result in bonus dice or cards. It also helps to make your Rush more efficient. With only 5 tokens, there will be times you will need to prioritise
  2. POSITION PLAYERS TO SUCCEED. If you want your Striker to have the ball with a chance to score at the end of the match, they can’t be on the bench. Likewise, if you want to make a successful Slam, use a Guard if you can. Trying to decide if you want to Steal or Slam to get the ball? Which is your player best at, and can you get behind the opposition first? You know the saying, it’s “How you use it” that matters!
  3. PICK A CARD, ANY CARD. Get some DB cards. Somehow. Whether you have them on your roster, generate them from fan checks (I almost never take the dice), or simply spend some action tokens to acquire them throughout the game. The cards are HUGE! They serve two primary purposes. One, they can give you extra actions later in a Rush when you need to do more than 5 tokens will allow. Two, they can provide some additional “insurance” on those critical rolls when you NEED it most. Don’t underestimate the cards.
  4. PLAY SMART! This goes back to the “know your team” advice from The Playbook. If your team isn’t built to smash, don’t waste actions on it! If your team is full of brutes, lay the hurt down early and often. Play smart by matching your team capabilities to a strategy that utilizes them effectively.

2018-03-24 22.19.11

So, there you go. Four tips to help you get lucky. Go get ‘em tiger!

Pitch Protocols: Famous Formations—The Deep Screen

Famous Formations: The Deep Screen

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Deep Screen Variant. Here, the Yndij have opted to leave the wings of the pitch open in order to try and benefit from the presence of their Captain. They have also added a Pillar to the 3/4 zone should any one break through the screen. Two of the Yndij are serving dual roles, they are both part of the screen, while simultaneously serving as Pillars in the short strike zones to minimize dinking.

The Deep Screen is another defensive oriented formation. The general set-up is to create a Screen of players that maximize threat-hex coverage the width of the pitch. Additionally, these players are set-up deep in their own half of the pitch. This serves two purposes. One, it serves as another way of deterring 3/4 Strike attempts by placing players or threat hexes in the path of the opposition. Two, it minimizes attack opportunities by the opposition as attacking players will need to spend some actions to move into position first. As such, this formation will be typically used by a Visiting Team, though it could be utilized by a Home squad that is planning on slow balling or using a Sucker Draw as well.


One of the main advantages of the Deep Screen is the width the formation provides. This leaves very few options for teams that prefer to run around opponents rather than through them. It also creates lots of passive defense opportunities in the form of Evade rolls. Another advantage is that, while still defensive in nature, the players are still free to be more active than if they are in a Castle, so long as they maintain their relative position to their teammates.

Teams with great Movement, defensive abilities (like Duck and Weave, Gotcha!, etc.), and solid Strikers can play an attrition game of giving up short zone Strikes, while countering back to equalize or take the lead. This plays to the strength of being the Visitors, setting up a game winning rush for the end game phase. 


Having your team set-up so deeply can limit your attacking or counter-attacking opportunities. This can be mitigated, however, in careful assessment of the match-up at hand. If the team you are playing against, or even their coach, prefers a more aggressive style of play, you may find that they will do the bulk of the movement work for you, giving you more actions to counter attack with anyway. Another drawback is that it leaves the front of the pitch open for the opposition to dink and dunk 1’s and 2’s, or to counter with a Sucker Draw. However, if you are the Visitors, it will be easy to assess how much of a threat those options are based on the Home team formation and can be countered accordingly.

Pitch Protocols: Famous Formations—3 Pillars

Famous Formations: 3 Pillars

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The Sphyr have opted for a 3 Pillars formation. As the Visitors, they have opted for a more defensive arrangement, committing two players to a short-screen in the middle of their end of the pitch. Additionally, a second player has been tasked with guarding the 3/4 zone by taking up position on the bonus hex.

The 3 Pillars is a flexible formation that can be utilized by both offensive and defensive minded coaches. The Pillars refer to the players who take up position in the middle of each Strike Zone. Their purpose is to deny bonus point Strike opportunities, and in the hands of some teams, can even serve to frustrate regular Strikes as well. This allows some passive defense in each Strike Zone, and still leaves players free to take the match to the opposition. Like always, there are many variations, and you will usually see Pillars added to other formations to make full use of a teams roster and set-up.


Having players in each scoring zone make its easier to respond to opposition threats on your end of the pitch. The Pillar players are able to be a little more active and responsive in your Rush due to this positioning. And, in a similar fashion to the Castle, if the opponent wishes for bonus points, they are going to have to expend actions to shift players. Depending on the match-up, this can be beneficial in and of itself.

Additionally, certain abilities make the formation even more potent. Extended Interference and Alert, for example, can give you the opportunity to not only deny bonus strikes, but threaten or disrupt regular ones as well. Other abilities like Keeper and Stench, can be used for similar effect.


A formation like this again necessitates committing half of your team to your own side of the pitch. For some teams, this is not much of a draw back. However, if you depend on numbers or raw aggression for your plays to succeed, this can be a bit of a detriment. Additionally, it doesn’t really take that much to shift a single player. This is where careful consideration of the match-up at hand is required, to ensure placement of the right players for the job, or even changing formations all together.

Pitch Protocols: Tactics Talk—The Sucker Draw

Pitch Protocols: Tactics Talk—The Sucker Draw

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Well, that’s annoying….

It is just about launch time, your team is frothing at the mouth to put a hurt on the opposition. The crowd is going crazy, you are the Home team after all. But then, as you scan the opposition, you realize that they’ve committed to cowering near their subs bench, castling up, or setting a deep screen. Being so far removed from where the action is, your left with some less than optimal decisions. Do you spend most of your Rush simply getting into position? Do you dole out only some token hurt, lacking the necessary actions to punish the opposition in earnest? Their devious deep set-up leaves you with a less than fulfilling Rush that they will surely capitalize on….or does it? Enter: The Sucker Draw.


Why waste actions going to them, when you make the opposition come to you? That’s what the Sucker Draw is all about. Spin their game plan right back on to them. This works particularly well if your team is geared for attrition and likes to play a bit of slow ball.

To start, get hold of the ball, and turtle up a sizable distance away (preferably at least two move actions from the nearest opposition). Make sure to have a barrier of some of your own players for opposing players to have to navigate around. With no easy routes to the ball, they will have to spend their whole Rush stretching themselves to get into position. If the opposing team has some players close to the center, swarm them with a vengeance to knock them off the pitch if possible. Otherwise, use some actions to position a pair of players in preparation for besieging the opposition defensive line or Castle.

Done well, the opposing team will have very little to effectively do, save moving. On your subsequent Rushes, your ball carrier must play a little keep away. The rest of your players systematically eliminate the closest opposition players or biggest threats. Where possible, always try to keep a pair of players working in tandem to keep the opposition formation under pressure.

Do not panic if you lose the ball. If you position yourself well, there will often be very little that your opponent will be able to do with it, if they get it, having spent most of their actions simply trying to get in position in the first place. In doing so, they have most likely stretched themselves out without support, leaving you plenty of opportunities to team up on them and Slam at will. If the ball is lost, simply start the process over: secure the ball, turtle up, beat down nearest threats.

Admittedly, this process is best utilized by strong, Slam heavy teams. However, with some forethought and clever positioning, most squads can use this tactic capably. As the Home team, you do still need to make sure you get some points on the board. The ideal end game scenario is that you are able to decimate the defense and score big late in the match. When the opposition finally gets a chance to handle the ball on or near the last Rush, they will ideally find themselves low on numbers and out of position to capably Strike back with the equalizing score.

One of the true strengths of this approach, is that by decimating the players not set in a screen or Castle, the opposition is often forced to break their own formation to field players capable of coming after you—doing the hard work for you and opening up those prized scoring lanes while presenting more targets for slamming in the process!

The Sphyr have been cagey with the ball for almost the entire match. Now, with the clock winding down, they move to score on the stretched out Judwan.

While this tactic is described from the set-up perspective, it can be used later in the game if the opportunity presents itself. The key is patience, and a fair amount of practice. It can also be put to devastating effect by a Visiting team, clinching the game winning Strike in the final rush. Also, it should be noted that it’s not a strategy that needs to be committed to for an entire match. You may find that once you start to create a deficit of players for the opposing team, you are more than willing to trade strikes with them, having properly handicapped them in the process!



Pitch Protocols: Famous Formations-The Castle

Famous Formations: The Castle

Love it, or Hate it….it works.

The Castle refers to a defensive set-up where the 3-point Strike Zone is walled off with at least three players. The purpose is to nullify any strike attempts by the opposition without first having to shift players out of the way. Sometimes this will deter teams from bothering to attempt the big scores all together. More often, it means the opposing team will simply have to make a concerted effort to break the Castle if they want to score the big points.

The other three players of the Castling team are responsible for taking the game to the opposition. Where they set up at the start of the match is dependent upon being Home or Visitor, as well as the particular match up in question. More defensive minded coaches will opt for Pillars (placing players to block throwing lanes for bonus point strikes), or a Screen (trying to create more Evading rolls for the opposition to get where they may want to go). There are many variations and combinations we can look at in the future. More aggressive coaches or play styles will set up closer to the launch line, to more effectively get to work when it is their Rush.

The Visitors are using a Castle with two Pillars. Additionally, the Striker in the middle creates a short Screen in the middle of the pitch.

The advantage of the Castle is that a 3-point Strike is IMPOSSIBLE without the opposing coach first moving at least one of your players out of the way. This is often a favored set-up for Visitor teams, as the Home team usually has to spend several actions getting players into position to make the necessary Slams/Feints/Push/Illegal/Take a Dive/Shock Collar, etc….and even then, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to dice rolls. For many coaches, it’s the one way they feel like the can play “defense” in a game very focused on scoring. The Home team may be forced to opt for a smaller Strike attempt if their player removal plans don’t go well, setting up an opportunity for the Visiting team to take a lead on the scoreboard in their own Rush….or at least keep it level until the opportunity presents itself.

One thing to be mindful of in the Castle, is that you are committing three players to being little more than spectators. However, for a lot of teams, especially single position or well-rounded teams, this is not as big a disadvantage as it would first appear. Since a player can take 2 actions, and with cards being a desirable thing to have and even more useful to use, three players are typically more than enough to get the job done.

However, where you have to be careful is when the opposing coach is patient and able to swarm your side of the pitch. Depending upon the match up in question, the three players outside the Castle can become Swarmed under by opposition, putting pressure on the Castle to break itself to respond, or find it under siege. When the game doesn’t leave your end of the pitch, the Castle starts to be a tenuous situation indeed.

Lastly, be sure to carefully consider WHICH players you Castle. Consider the match up in question and make sure you place the correct positions where they have the greatest potential to contribute in the game. In some cases, you may want to place your Guards in the Castle, to make them harder to shift…..but they may be more susceptible to Slams from behind for example. Also, if all your Guards are in the Castle, who are you going to use to move the opposition players out of the way for your own scoring attempts? You will also want to consider having a ball handler available to field the ball from your own end of the Pitch should an opposing Strike attempt go awry or you create a turnover situation that you want to capitalize on.

That concludes our look at The Castle. Next time, we will look at a useful anti-Castle tactic in The Sucker Draw.