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!