Scattered Scullery: DreadBall Feedback

Mantic Games’ Rob Burman is a DreadBall enthusiast and advocate.  He has questions for Coaches.  E-mail him, and let your opinions be known.  You may expand your team revenue!

From Rob’s 4/21/20 Mantic Blog Post – DreadBall Historic Matches:

“I’d also like to hear from YOU! Take a look at the questions below and e-mail me at

Make sure you have the heading ‘DreadBall Feedback’. I’ll randomly choose one person that emails in to win a £25 voucher for the website too.

  • Do you like the concept of historical matches? Are they likely to encourage you to pull out some teams you might not normally use?
  • Any suggestions for historical matches? You can include a little background and the team roster, if you want. Stick to around 2,000pts.
  • Would you be interested in a supplement of more historical matches and other content, like matches on different planets with alternate rules? A little like the old Challenge Cup.
  • Do you use Captains in your games? If so, do you use the Captain Cards? If you don’t use Captains, why not? What would encourage you to use Captains?
  • Do you use MVPs in games? If not, why not? What would encourage you to use MVPs?
  • Would you be interested in annual game updates for DreadBall? For example, a new event deck that would be used throughout the year, an annual update to Captain cards, a new MVP, a supplement with new abilities to learn during a league, etc.
  • When considering playing in a tournament, do you prefer ‘vanilla’ teams or do you prefer to create custom lists (a little like a league) by spending credits on upgrades and abilities?

Thanks in advance for all those that respond. Please bear in mind, these are just general questions and don’t necessarily mean that any of them will actually happen 😀”

Or…  Just follow this link:

DreadBall Historic Matches

Scattered Scullery: Let’s talk about Giants

The BreadDoll continues their third year of blogging and breading.  In our second of three posts over a Super Sports weekend, we’re pulling back the curtain.  It’s a glimpse into the conservations and brain-storming sessions of rules development.  In this case, a perennial concern from this Bread-itor in chief; GIANTS.

Sam Graven and Antti Jappinen were invited to a roundtable discussion about big fellas.  Both were selected because of their expertise; they play with Giants.  A lot.  On the pitch or on the palette, both of these Coaches have invested hours handling the largest of DreadBall models. Their input would be invaluable.  Jesus Ortiz praises those with the power of well written words, and the wisdom of middle age.

Below is a rough transcription of our thought provoking discussion about might & right, height & fright.



Sam & Antti! I have a challenge, and you two may be able to help the Rules Committee and I pick it apart; DreadBall Giants. Mechanically, I think Giants are fine. For DreadBall Ultimate play, I also think Giants are fine.  However, Giants rarely see League or Tournament play.  I have my suspicions, but I’d like to know if either of you have; Praise, Criticism, Doubts, and/or Suggestions for Giants in DreadBall.


Hi! They feel very expensive in DBU [DreadBall Ultimate] with the MVP premium.  That would be my initial thought.


Keep going.


In DBU, you tend to play guard-heavy teams anyway so whilst they are good, there are often better options for cost.  I would always tend to go MVP Striker for the MC.

Do you gravitate towards one MVP?


Nightshade is my go-to.

“I thought he’d be bigger.”


When writing the league rules*, I considered waving the appearance fee for Giants for exactly that reason.  A further possibility is linking Giants more to individual teams so some are more like Team Captains.

* Editor’s note: Sam is the League Commissioner for his Coaching family.


Linking… Do you think there may be space for Giants to exist somewhere between an MVP and a team player?




As I’ve stated before, we play a perpetual league almost exclusively (with soft resets when we feel like it).  A rare Ultimate match is thrown in just for fun. Thus, we really have no perspective for one-off use of Giants.

The Coaches in our league never use the team treasury for MVPs (nor Giants).  Even an Underdog bonus -without the premium on top- rarely is incentive enough to put these players on the pitch. This is because the Coaches feel any “extra” players are only robbing the actual team players of Experience. Our league definitely values team growth over victory, especially as an Underdog (many feel the Underdog experience bonus is too much, however, but that’s another subject matter).

Giants are seen as the worst offenders, as they;

  • don’t gain Experience
  • cost a lot
  • take the place of two players
  • and their movement is more complicated than regular Players.

Ultimately (pun intended), It means no-one is willing to draft them in most situations.

Because I personally still love them, we’ve played some games of Ultimate with bonus cash reserved for one-off Giants only, but even that isn’t enough for everybody to field them.  Again, even if Coaches hire them with bonus cash.

(I’ll get back to this and Sam’s other idea a bit later.)

To Sam’s idea; I’ve been toying with an idea like that, too.


This is part of the reason in my league I included the penalty for not including an MVP or Giant every 3 matches. It’s what the fans want!


That’s a fascinating dictate from a commissioner.  If my league’s commish enforced such an expenditure, there would be mutiny!


My proposition (that I’ve made on the Facebook DreadBall Fanatics page) to widen the league-use of MVP’s sits right with this approach.

To recap: Remap and maybe restat all the existing MVPs as Captains so that every team would have maybe three or four Captain options, and maybe add two or three Captain-specific cards to the team-specific Captain card draw deck.

What I would do with Giants would be essentially that, but without the Captain cards.


In Ultimate, we tend not to use the captain cards in the same way.  Antti, have I sent you my Utimate league rules?


Uh, maybe? I don’t rememeber right now.

Focus, you two.


But Team Captains are already seen as essential in our league. The third action and rather powerful card effects means that everybody that can buy a Team Captain will do so. If Giants would be available as “BB-style” big guys, I’m afraid they would get a similar status (and I’m now assuming they would gain experience like the rest of the team, or I think we’d be back at the core of the problem in league play).


Yeah, I agree I wouldn’t see them as Team Captains.


So maybe making a Team Captain or a Giant either-or purchase?


Just make MVPs available at a discount for certain teams.  Not 75mc extra.


I really wouldn’t see our league using them in that case. Not gaining Experience is really that important. The connection the Coaches get to develop their teams with experienced players is really the charm.

Making Giants tough, normal players available for every team (not every Giant for every team, but maybe 1-2 choices per team), but only as an alternative to Captains would mean that hiring one or the other would be a meaningful choice.  It opens up more varied play-styles for every team (more so with a wider pool of Team Captains).  Maybe every Giant could have their own two event cards added to the event deck?


I think making them a team choice makes sense.  The idea for DBU Giant cards is ace.  So now I feel there should be no 75mc penalty, but they can gain Experience.  But that also means they need an advancement table. Perhaps a GENERIC Giant advancement table?


If mapped correctly to the teams they wouldn’t. Team Captains use the Team advancement table, regardless of the Captain (so ok, that only means anything for two (?) captains, but still).  A generic table would work, too.


True true.  We need a list.


List of?




All giants matched to teams.


I think we’d also need new Giants to make this properly work.


Yeah, well, Andrew is on that.


(grinds teeth)


We have 30 teams (counting Martians, although I don’t think we should? I’d really, really like for them to get a Captain and a Giant, still, even if just one of each), and 8 Giants at the time being. I think all of them should be as evenly distributed as possible.  That would mean that with these 8 Giants, there should be 3-4 Teams for every Giant to play for.  That is, if every team had 1 Giant only.

And Sam, I now remember your Ultimate League rules! I just forgot to get back to you about them. I especially like the different play environments, and I’d like to see an expansion centered on those locations.

Summarize please.


That would mean with these 8 Giants*, there should be 3-4 Teams for every Giant to play for.

*Editor’s note: As of 1/2020, there are technically 9 official DreadBall Giants.


Something like that, yeah.


I’ve been holding my tongue (fingers?), but this is the honest feedback the Rules Committee needs. I’ll share more in a bit.


Here’s my first thoughts about team-Giants:

San-garr – Sphyr, Crystallans Nameless Spawn – Nameless,? Krastavor – Koris, Rejects Brank Boom Fist – Forge Fathers, Brokkr Barricade – Rebs, Neo-bots Synecdoche – Tsudochan, ? Big mech – Trontek, Void Sirens Alpha Simian – Zees, Yndij Dozer – Teraton,? Asterian Drones – Asterian, Kalyashi Night Terror – Veer-Myn, ?

Oh, big bug – Martians.


I’m not sure if Andrew and the RC wants to go this far into idea-throwing territory?  If that’s where we’re heading, I’d first try to establish what are we trying to accomplish with the list? I personally would prefer if (almost) every team would have a choice of two Giants, regardless of the number of Team Captains. Captains vary because of their cards, but a team with a Giant is a team with a Giant.

And if we are adding Giants, I’d look carefully through the existing minis from the other lines.  What can be reused?  What “fits” otherwise?

For example, Rebs have the very cool ape in the new starter for Deadzone, and the nice Teraton in the other starter, so I’d just put Alpha Simian and Dozer as choices in Rebs’ roster.

Another idea: an alternative for Big Mech could be.. Gun Mech? A Guard Big Mech with Illegal and something else to differentiate? It would fit right-in with Corp teams and Rebs, and uses an existing model. How big is the Abyssal Dwarf Greater Obsidian Golem? Larger than a DB Giant? Just looking at the mini, there’s the orb-y element of the Ada-Lorana and rockiness of Crystallans both.. I’d say that with some ridiculous fluff about possession or whatever you’d have a Giant fit for either team.


Well, it seems it’s way too big.  A Tunnel Runner with serial numbers filed off could be a Barricade facisimile for the Veer-Myn.


All good points.  I was thinking more about this, and I agree.

We start with the initial set from the rules, and certain teams can purchase them for the season full cost, as though they’re a team member of that position.  That is the big advantage (pun intended).  Yes, they deprive you of one of your Guard or Jack slots.  But only one.


The Judwan need a Giant of their own! Or not, but I’d like them to have one.


It’s a natural evolution of the Ultimate League Giant’s Playground idea. Yes, the Striker only team issue…. I was getting to that.

You develop them like the rule for the Marauder Team Captain.  I reckon that Synecdoche with its big weird arms is logical. I’d put San-gar with the Crystallans as both they and Sphyr have lost homeworlds to the GCPS.


Give Rebs more choices. They’re awful in Ultimate (not enough cards).


Right.  I forgot about Slippery Joe.  Synecdoche was my choice for Judwan, too.


Cool cool.


But still, I’d like to hear if this is a direction we should take this before going in very deep.

(Grinding bleeding gums)


Where do Hobgoblins sit faction-wise in the warpath universe?


They’re from the same planet as Orcs, but disliked?  I’m not as familiar with the fluff.


Right. Useful.


I’ve created monsters!


Well, duh.


I’m never allowed to divulge much from Mantic Headquarters, but I can say DreadBall Giants are not a direct charge with the Rules Committee.  They are however, a topic the RC would like to see addressed/re-examined.  Many of your ideas mirror my own and the RC. I’ve kept silent throughout much of this discussion because I didn’t want to influence any of your back-and-forth.  I could have conducted this more like a proper interview or debate – but I honestly didn’t trust my own bias.  As originally mentioned, I think the Giants are fine mechanically speaking.  I didn’t read any hard criticism from either of you about how the big guys move around the pitch.  Giants’ use in one-off games are seemingly fine.  League play (and distantly related, tournament play) is a different beast and what I’m most interested in exploring. The three of us agree; Giants are not viable options under existing league options/rules.  I’ve already formalized some cost reductions similar to what was mentioned above.  It’s encouraging to know it’s not completely bonkers and that other independent minds can come to the same conclusion. I’m also tampering a bit with stat lines, but I’m reticent to go very far.  I’m pretty conservative RC member when it comes to altering stuff, preferring to keep a small footprint and not make printed material obsolete.  If there’s a work-around that doesn’t involve cancelling printed material – I usually aim in that direction.  New Giants?  You’re aware it’s been a passion project of mine. The Rules Committee knows it too, and they’re on-board (You may surprised to know this, but the Rules Committee discusses DreadBall every day.  EVERY DAY).  Passion in part, because I’ve spent a long time play-testing them in private and public sessions.

18 months of ‘Research and Development’ for new DreadBall Giants is positively absurd. However, no one is publicly clamoring at the RC for new Giants.  Nevertheless, a funny thing happened along the way.  The Deadzone Rules Committee created ‘Escalation,’ and in doing so repurposed several DreadBall models.  That precedent only strengthened my resolve to keep moving.  The DreadBall Rules Committee have reviewed all of the models in the Mantic line.  We’ve identified a handful that can convert to DreadBall Giant status as-is.  Meaning, no conversion or modeling skills necessary.  They work in scale, and perhaps more importantly, they work in aesthetics.  Playtesting has been a work-in-progress; edits, omissions, scrap pile… And… I’ve had second thoughts.  My hang-up has been this systemic concern; why don’t Giants see more play time?  There’s little point to spearhead new Giants in DreadBall if the root problem is not going to be addressed.  You’ve both offered a lot of weighty input.  Many thanks.  I’m certain I’ll have some follow-ups, especially after this is transcribed and posted on the BreadDoll


What does the future hold for DreadBall Giants?  The winds of change are a blowing.  Post some comments below, and maybe they’ll make a BIG impact.

Come back for that third helping of BreadDoll.  We’ll finish our trilogy of toast with an incredible interview from the one and only James Hewitt!

Scattered Scullery: Action Token Tracking


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.


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.

2017-06-17 14.32.17

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.


Pros: No Restrictions.

Cons: Requires being able to remember. 😛

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.


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

Ontario DreadBall League Pitch

Hobby Highlight: Sideline Card

When I play DreadBall I prefer a narrow low-profile pitch instead of the larger pitches. I like the smaller table space the low-profile pitches take up and the portability.


One of the few drawbacks is the lack of a sideline to place Support Staff. The solution: Sideline Card.


The Sideline Card is simply placed along the side of the low-profile pitch of your choice and used to track when your Support Staff (Assistant Coaches and Cheerleaders) are available to be used.


If you don’t have or use Fan Support cards (Home/Visitor) to put your Fan Checks under you can also use an alternate version of the Sideline Card.


The Sideline Card is designed to be printed on a ‘Big Card’ (3.5″ x 5.75″). Here is a suitably large card back.


One History of Fantasy Sports Board Gaming part II

Coaches were left with a charge at the end of our last history lesson.  If a sporting footnote between 1982 and 2004 needed mention, comments were welcome.

Among all responders, loyal BreadDoll reader Mike Mueller was quick to reply with perhaps the most obscure title that preceded 1982’s Grav-Ball by three years!

From the annals of Wyrd, behold this relic from 1979;

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 10.34.25 AM

Troll Ball, 1979.

Greg Stafford and friends manipulated the Runequest combat system into a sports game. Competing troll teams face-off on a field of violent mayhem, with an objective of most points scored.  A “point” is earned by carrying a living trolkin across a goal line.

Troll Ball may very well be the first fantasy football sports board game, thus knocking Monsters of the Midway off my previous mantle.  Troll ball is very much a product of its time.  It’s a compact ruleset at five lean pages, but still includes team and character creation, as well as leveling.  And it’s funny to boot!  It’s also very DIY.  Coaches need to craft their own pitch!  Those with a spare 1/2″ grid map will be able to save time before the starting whistle.  Glorantha needs dedicated sports fiends to field Troll Ball.

Other responders were kind.  And… kind of off-mark.

The “One History of Fantasy Sports Board Gaming” is so titled for a reason.  There are parameters.  An editorial decision has been made, and consequently, a lot of games have struck the killing room floor.  Part of education is understanding boundaries, and part II now shifts focus to what is out-of-bounds.

If it’s a card game, it’s not part of this history lesson.

Slapshot (1982), Dream Team (1997), and Blood Bowl: Team Manager (2011) are fine games.  In fact, I’ll revisit Blood Bowl: Team Manager in a future lesson detailing the Blood Bowl franchise.  However, each of these titles and their poker deck sized brethren are not included.  A board is necessary, and by inference; tokens representing players.  Baseball Highlights: 2045 (2015) will most likely make a future appearance.  While a card game at its core, it does include a baseball diamond board and player pawns are fielded.

If there is no Board, it’s not part of this history lesson.

Guild Ball (2015), Darkball (1996), and Sports Fuzz (1995) are…  games.  Guild Ball has no board and frankly, no sport.  Dark Ball also has no board.  However, thanks to the nineteen nineties, it does have POGS!  Coaches mileage may vary depending on their experience with pogs, but Darkball is fine hybrid of sports gaming and tiddlywinks.  Sports Fuzz is another miniatures combat game disguised as a sports title, but it gets a mention on the BreadDoll for creativity.  Fuzz Ball is dependent on existing toy collections, their size and color.  It’s a “miniatures agnostic” game.  Any ruleset that champions cross pollination over publisher shackles gets a nod from this editor.

If it’s a race, it’s not part of this history lesson.

This distinction is arguably polarizing.  Racing is a tried, true, and tested form of competition.  Cockroaches.  Dogs.  NASCAR.  These qualifiers may describe North Carolina, but they also describe a small sample of countless speed-based sporting events. So does Arena Maximus (2003), Blood Race (1999), and Monster Derby (1994).  And yet, the BreadDoll’s history on fantasy sports board gaming ultimately exists to compare and contrast games with the greatest sport in the galaxy.  DreadBall.  DreadBall is a sport that pits two adversarial teams in direct conflict over a limited resource.  Racing and Ballin’ is like apples and oranges.

Missing Links, circa 1993 – 2003:


Thunder Ball, 1993.

Mark Hanny’s take on basketball, now with Harry Potter-like antics!  If any title could use a refresh via Kickstarter,  Thunder Ball would be it.  A hex based court with multiple baskets and spells?  Think of a simplified DreadBall Xtreme meets Wiz-War.


Jugger, 2002.

Lloyd Krassner’s turned medieval war machines into ball-smacking’ sportsmen!  Mentioned here only to lay groundwork for a similar themed game in a sci-fi setting.  Privateer Press will have an entry in part III!


Peace Bowl, 2003.

Angelo Porazzi’s Warangel/WarBeast universe expands!  2-4 players push themselves around while trying to get a ball into one of three end zones.  Mentioned here only to lay groundwork for a similar game with a pop culture smash up.  CMON will have an entry in part III!

Is the history lesson still missing a gem?  Let us know!  In three weeks, we’ll dive into the 21st Century with full abandon.  2007, here we come!