The Greatest Sport in the Galaxy is only possible because of Great Coaches. Merry Christmas, and Merciless Carnage to everyone on the pitch and sidelines.
xoxo, The BreadDoll
The Greatest Sport in the Galaxy is only possible because of Great Coaches. Merry Christmas, and Merciless Carnage to everyone on the pitch and sidelines.
xoxo, The BreadDoll
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.
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.
Cons: Players must be numbered between 1-14. Takes more space on the Pitch.
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.
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.
Pros: Players don’t need to be numbered at all.
Cons: Clutters the Pitch
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. 😛
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.
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.
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.
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.
The improvments continued:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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;
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.
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!
The Captain for the Sole Surviors is the mysterious Snörk-El. No one knows who hides beneath the mask Snörk-El always wears. It’s a “mystery”.
PDF of all the cards: Snörk-El_Cards
Young Coaches, gather round. This here Old Timer has a tale to tell. Now, it’s not a complete story. And it ain’t a yarn that’s meant to rib ya. But it’s something y’all need to know, because understanding the past helps manage the present. And sometimes, the past can help predict the future. I have here a recollection of the bones rolled from an Ancient Grognard.
This BreadDoll editor is the Grognard.
I’ve played a lot of fantasy sports board games. To be clear, I stress the distinctions. 1) Fantasy. 2) Sports. 3) Board. 4) Games.
There are a lot of board games about sports. Strat-o-Matic, anyone? No. We’re talking fantasy. Strat-o-Matics don’t count, nor do any of the sports titles prior to 1961. In fact, this history lesson begins in the late 20th century. 1982 to be exact.
Grav-Ball was ground breaking. Literally. It was played in zero-G! A science fiction setting, a robotic referee, and a ball made of metal! WOW! FASA published L. Ross Babcock and Fred Bently’s design with a lot of zest for the early eighties. There was so much zest, FASA had to outsource the thirteen metal miniatures to Martian Metals. Of all the games recollected in this history lesson, the fifteen dollar Grav-Ball is the only title that eludes me. So I’ll punt. The best description of this long forgotten title is certainly from the game box itself.
Grav-Ball is a sporting event of the future reequiring skill and courage. Played in a zero-G court, the two six-man teams try to score with a five kilogram steel playing ball. Anything can happen in the meantime! Leagal actions include body, ahnd, and foot checks, passes, and actual goal shots. Illegal actions, or actions requiring a penalty check, include striking with the ball or elbow, shooting the player with the ball, and all out assults. The usual result of such body contact is a high player tunover rate. The player’s body armor does not guarantee physical safety from opposing players or from the ball itself. If the game gets too rough or a fight occurs, Heartless Huey is released. This invulnerable robot will incapacitate the nearest player. He then moves on to the next, nearest player until all are terminated or the fighting stops. All of these factors make Grav-Ball an exciting and action-packed game of the future.
What’s old is new again, yeah? Keep Grav-Ball in mind you whipper snappers. We’ll come back to it.
Monsters of the Midway, 1983.
Released in issue 65 of Dragon magazine, I declare this gem of an insert the first fantasy football sports board game. Draft monsters, create teams, and beat the hell out of one another on a board that looks a lot like a football field. Occasionally, efforts would be made to handle the ball and carry it into an end zone. Designer Gali Sanchez was on to something. Monsters of the Midway was unique and cheeky. Under an hour to play, it was fast. Considering is was included in a magazine, it was free. Win win.
Blood Bowl, 1986.
I don’t know if designer Jervis Johnson was influenced or inspired by TSR’s first effort. I suspect he at least read that issue of Dragon. Blood Bowl took everything Monsters of the Midway had, and elevated it. Everything except the game play, which was a peculiar translation of Warhmamer onto a football/rugby field. Clunky play aside, 1986’s Blood Bowl did raise the bar for creativity: evocative illustrations, funny writing, and strong world-building kept imaginations on fire.
Blood Bowl, 1988.
Games Workshop found itself in a transformative state in late 1980s. GW began shifting from Games into… Miniatures. Blood Bowl had found enough traction in their modest cardboard standee version to merit a second edition. This time, with toy soldiers! A plastic human team and a plastic orc team would now block and blitz on a three-part styrofoam pitch. Colored team inserts for end zones were a great touch. A full colored rulebook with new and revisited illustrations made for an excellent read. The mechanics were still a little cumbersome, but it was visually superior to the 2-D players that preceded it.
Blood Bowl, 1994.
Three times is a charm! Jervis Johnson retooled his parody of American football into something… more. Rerolls, sand timers, and Coaches screaming “ILLEGAL PROCEDURE!” in the face of cheating (or forgetful) opposition. Games Workshop retooled their efforts as well. In the eight years since the first edition, GW was now in full blown mini-mode. Blood Bowl still had a staple human and orc team, but now there were individual sculpts for positions. The third edition was a culmination of what preceded it. Refined miniatures. Refined rules. Robust league play. Robust tournament scene. But just as Blood Bowl found loyal Coaches far and wide, Games Workshop began using a different compass. GW moved in a curious business direction, leaving their ‘specialist’ games (Blood Bowl’s categorization) on a back burner. Eventually, that burner’s light would all be but snuffed. [hee hee, “butt snuffed.”]. Fortunately for the previous metaphor, the legion of Blood Bowl Coaches around the world would keep the game’s flame of relevance for two decades during publisher neglect. It’s what I like to call, “GW’s dark years.”
Milton Bradley. They’re a huge game publisher that works for the lowest common denominator. The bean counters insist on easily accessible toy-games that look attractive on the shelves of big box stores. Every once in a while, their disposable and instantly forgettable catalog has something that shines. Stephen Baker and Craig Van Ness were MB game designers with fondness for the gaming of the British Isles. Baker himself was a Brit, and was responsible for such epic MB / GW crossovers as HeroQuest, Battlemastes, and Space Crusade. What if? Just WHAT IF? Milton Bradley could distill the majestic mayhem of Blood Bowl into an affordable and attractive toy? It had been done before; Warhammer = Battlemasters. Space Hulk = Space Crusade. MB went for it. Battleball was great! If you were eight. Twisting the fantasy of Tolkein tropes to Heinlein tropes was a clever shift in theme. The dice were pretty and plentiful. The miniatures were diverse and dynamic. But the game itself was just too simple. It didn’t capture the height of it’s giant grandfather, despite starting on it’s shoulders. MB tried, and the rulebook hinted of future expansion* teams. It was not to be. Battleball did not move enough units, and is now a mere fantasy sports board game curiosity. The best development from this experiment was the strengthening of Baker and Van Ness’ design aesthetic. They would team up again for perhaps the greatest war game of all time – Heroscape. It didn’t hurt that Heroscape had the same sculptor from Battleball.
*Expansions? Oh, yes. Yes yes yes. No fantasy sports board game can survive this cut-throat hobby business unless there is always something to sell. If a publisher doesn’t have something to specifically sell for a popular fantasy sport game? There will be a vacuum. And a vacuum will be filled.
Come back in three weeks for ‘One History of Fantasy Sports Board Gaming part two.’ In the meantime, leave a comment below. Tell the BreadDoll about some sporting footnote between 1982 and 2004 that should not have been ignored.
May all Coaches have their favorite prone MVP rise, and with a Free Action.
May your team’s Medi-bot never earn an MC out of you, and may your heart never give out. May the ten toes of your feet steer you clear of all misfortune, and before you’re much older, may you hear much better toasts than this.
Happy St. Patty’s Day to all Coaches across the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Konrad Castle continues cooking chocolate. And he’s pleased to report the C-4 will return in 2019! Curious Coaches may need a reminder;
C-4 = Cocoa Castle Corporation Cup
If any competitive Coach needs a cause to attend a North American DreadBall Circuit (NADC) contest, the C-4 is the cream of the crop.
…because the trophies are chocolate. Dates to be announced. TEASE!
Meanwhile, Happy Valentines Day.