When things get in the way…

When things get in the way….

Inspiring photo from the first DB rulebook….play wherever you can!

You and the gang head out for a nice “friendly” pick up game of the greatest sport in the galaxy. The players are gathered, but what’s this? The usual playing space that you use for a pitch is a cluttered mess! After carefully cutting the locks on the warehouse, you’d think the least they could do was leave some open play space for DreadBall…..geesh!

It is an inevitable fact, when you don’t have access to professional venues, things are going to try and get in the way of your game. However, rather than stopping the action, it can be a way to add to the fun!

Obstacles in DreadBall 3-on-3

Below you will find rules for incorporating the first three types of obstacles players typically run across in their pickup matches of DB. Obstacles help add variety to pitch layouts, and can come in handy when using non-“standard” pitches as well. But more on that at a later time.

Veterans of the game will recognize the first two types as having been originally introduced in Xtreme. The third type is something of a necessity for defining when using some non traditional layouts.

All obstacles, short and tall!

Tall Obstacles

The first type of obstacle, is the Tall obstacle. Tall obstacles are typically things like support columns, large shipping containers, pillars, etc. Even the strike post, is considered a Tall obstacle. Tall obstacles block the ball path when trying to make a throw or scatter, in much the same way as an opposing player or wall. Additionally, a Tall obstacle can not be moved through nor can it be Jumped over.

Short Obstacles

The second type of obstacle, is the Short Obstacle. This category can include other types of obstacles as well, such as traps, but typically includes things like crates, debris piles, dead bodies….that sort of thing. Short obstacles can not be moved through, but they CAN be Jumped over. Additionally, Short obstacles do NOT block the path of a ball being thrown or scattered.. However, a ball that ends its movement on a Short obstacle must be scattered immediately.

Impassable Wall

A third obstacle type is an impassable wall. Impassable walls, obviously, can not be moved through, and also block the path of the ball in the same manner as walls in regular DreadBall. This needs additional defining only in the sense that there may be more walls than usually found on a standard DB pitch. Pick up games will sometimes be played on pitches that have unusual angles in the walls that might make it difficult to ascertain if another player is eligible to make a Throw to a specific target. Simply draw an imaginary line from the hex of the throwing player to the target hex. If it crosses a hex with an impassable wall, or even simply a boundary wall, then the throw can not be attempted.

In this example, the Forge Father players are able to make a potential throw past the building.
Alpha could not attempt a Throw here, the boundary wall is in the way.

Anyway, there is much more to explore in the way of obstacles. Don’t let them get in the way, but make it part of how you play!

Hobby Highlight: Team In A Can™

What if it were possible to combine these things?

team-in-a-can-idea

This was the idea: DreadBall Team in a Can

Taking advantage of the Mark 5 DreadBall bases that all of my DreadBall models are mounted on I set out to make the idea of a team in a can a reality.

A bit if history. If you are not familiar with my GeoffTec Mark V bases (I find that hard to believe) you can check out the journey I went on to create them here: Hobby Highlight: DreadBall Bases

To begin the process of creating the GeoffTec Team in a Can™ (TIAC™) I went to Thingiverse.com. After some searching, I found a 3D model of a screw lid can that I liked.

6fea2212b109b5064a6371403f653cdf_preview_featured

The can wasn’t the right size so I imported the .stl file into TinkerCAD and resized it as well as making some modifications.

team-in-a-can-can

In addition to some small stylistic changes, spaces for 10mm x 1mm neodymium magnets were added. The magnets hold the inner components of TIAC™ in place. The inner components were designed next. Inside TIAC™ are tiers with magnetized slots for DreadBall Players (mounted on MKV base inserts), Mark V bases, DreadBalls, etc. The modular design on TIAC™ allows for multiple, reconfigurable loadouts.

team-in-a-can-tiers

Once all the components were 3D printed on an Ender 3 printer, many 10mm x 1mm magnets were glued into place. (Don’t tell but I actually ran out of 10mm x 1mm magnets and had to double up on 10mm x 0.5mm magnets in a few places.)

I present to you the GeoffTec Team in a Can™:

team-in-a-can-finished-opening

Coaches’ Corner: James Hewitt

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 interview is important.  Very important.  It’s not just a series of Q&A.  It’s not just an opportunity for some terrible puns, double entendres, and strings of alliteration.

This interview is educational.  It’s a history lesson.  It’s a design lesson.  It’s a business lesson.  It’s all thanks to the mind of James Hewitt.  His paws have touched your favorite, and soon-to-be favorite, games;  DreadBall, Blitz Bowl, Goreschosen, The Silver Tower, Hellboy, League of Infamy, and Robot Fight Club to name a few.  Let’s find out why.

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James also knows a thing or two about secret identities (this Bread-itor’s favorite!).

James Hewitt.  Desiger.  Cat Herder.  Funniest guy in the room.

0. Have you seen the Saturday Night Live episode where comedian Chris Farley incompetently interviews Paul McCartney?

…It’s great to be here.

 

1. DreadBall’s original design is credited to Jake Thornton.  However, there is legend that you played an integral part in the game development.  What can you share about DreadBall’s origin?

Ha! Straight out the gate with the big questions, eh? It’s a long and complicated story, and I can only tell you what happened from my perspective, and with a gap of nearly a decade (dear God) since it all happened. Details might be vague, I might have a few things in the wrong order, and I’m certain that there’s a whole other story to be told from the other side!
The short answer is: I was involved in the earliest stages of the core DreadBall engine design, but everything after that was Jake.
I first started interacting with Mantic when my former boss from Games Workshop retail (who was Mantic’s trade sales manager at the time) heard that Ronnie Renton was looking for someone to design a sci-fi sports game. He knew that I was really keen to design games for a living – I’d been doing it in my spare time for years – so he hooked me up with a meeting. I came up with a game called Razordisc, which was basically brutal sci-fi ultimate frisbee. (I actually did a walkthrough of Razordisc on the Needy Cat Games patreon page – www.patreon.com/needycatgames – if anyone’s interested.)
I worked on it for several months, figuring out what worked and what didn’t – I had a while as they’d only been talking about it in vague terms, and weren’t ready for a pitch meeting or anything for quite a while. Eventually I took it to Mantic and showed it to Ronnie and the gang; in hindsight, knowing what I know now as a professional game designer, I wince a bit when I think about how much time I spent worrying about laying out the rulebook and mocking up prototypes. I think it was very clear that I was an amateur punching above my weight!
Despite my hindsight misgivings they really liked the game, but they were appropriately cagey about handing a big project to someone so fresh-faced and new. To give some context, this was before Mantic started using Kickstarter – it was around the time that Project Pandora came out – so they weren’t at the point where they wanted to be taking big risks. Ronnie’s suggestion was that he’d bring Jake onto the project and we’d work on it together. We’d be credited as co-designers, and so on – it would be a collaboration, developing Razordisc and making a sellable product.
Jake and I got on fine, but he was very keen to scrap the game and start again from scratch, as he obviously had plenty of ideas of his own. At the time he told me he never ever got around to reading Razordisc, but I’ve never been sure, because there are definitely a lot of similarities between that and the early drafts of DreadBall. So once a week I’d go over to his place and we’d work on stuff, testing out ideas and figuring out what the game would look like, debating the finer points of rules, and so on. The fact that it was a sports game played on a hex grid with dice pools (just like Razordisc) meant I had several months’ headstart when it came to knowing what our potential pitfalls would be, and I felt like I was really helping shape the core game. Also, Jake seemed very keen to borrow elements from Blood Bowl (which he’d been in charge of for a while during his time at GW).  I argued quite strongly against at every opportunity, because I felt like this was a chance to make something fresh and different.
As time went by I got the feeling that Jake was less keen to have me on the project. He started standing his ground more and more firmly and shooting down any feedback I offered, and being more cagey about sharing rules documentation with me. I gradually got less and less involved – I was working full time, and where we’d previously been having meetings at Mantic on days when I could take a long lunch or something, that stopped being a consideration, and Jake started having solo meetings with them. In the end I was barely working on it at all, just writing bits and pieces of fiction or helping run playtest events.
There’s actually a pretty clear demarcation between the stuff I worked on and the stuff I didn’t; the core rules (not the ref, and not the cards) and the Corporation and Marauder teams were done by the two of us working together, and everything after that was Jake working on his own. (Back when the first edition “Kick Off” boxed set was released, I could very easily point at it and say ‘I was involved in everything in there!’) Eventually, when he handed over the manuscript, he’d credited me as “Lead Playtester”; the Mantic guys disagreed and changed it to Supporting Developer without asking him. The whole situation was pretty sour, and felt like it caused a lot of bad blood that I’d never wanted – it was especially awkward when I ended up working at Mantic full-time, and had to work on things with Jake! Because the ‘official line’ was that Jake designed the game by himself, I wasn’t in a position to say anything about my involvement, which is why it’s probably become some weird urban legend. These days I don’t mind being a bit more open about it!
In the intervening years we’ve bumped into each other at shows, and we always have a nice catch-up, so I hope it’s all water under the bridge.

2. What were your reactions during the first DreadBall Kickstarter campaign, and were there any memorable challenges or opportunities during that crowd-sourcing effort?

It was mad! By that point I wasn’t heavily involved with the game any more, but Chris from Mantic got in touch to ask if I wanted to help out by answering some comments on BoardGameGeek and the like. I was more than happy to – despite the slight awkwardness I was incredibly proud of the game, so I was dashing around answering questions in loads of places (which eventually led to me being offered the community manager job). Kickstarter back then was the wild west! No one really knew what worked, or how big things could get. It was Mantic’s second Kickstarter and the first one that really took off, so the biggest challenge was figuring out what would come next. Obviously the game ended up having a huge pile of stretch goals – from my perspective, it was a challenge to keep up with everything so I could answer questions!
BreadDoll 2
“And then you throw the ball at this player’s head!”

3. Your designs at Games Workshop are impressive (thank you for Gorechosen).  In particular, you developed the rules for the Blood Bowl (2016).  Did your work with DreadBall influence that other sports game?

Not Blood Bowl, because that was a cut-and-paste job. We just took the existing living rules document and laid it out into a book. But Blitz Bowl (the spinoff game which is currently only available in Barnes and Noble in the US, and certain stores in Germany) was very much influenced by what we’d done with DreadBall. It addressed a lot of the same issues – how do you take a game like Blood Bowl and distil it down into something that’s fun and challenging in a 30-45 minute play time? Smaller teams, fewer punitive rules and multiple ways to score are all common themes between the two games.

4. Follow up; how would you compare DreadBall to Blood Bowl?

I like them both but in very different ways. Blood Bowl is a commitment. Each game can be an absolute slog. It’s also horribly punishing; it has a nasty learning curve that goes out of its way to make new players cry, and you can find yourself playing for two hours after you’ve realised that you can’t win. But the league rules are incredibly deep and the fanbase has to be seen to be believed. They have regular events with 500+ attendees. It’s madness. DreadBall, on the other hand, is fun and light and entertaining. It’s always surprising, it rewards risky play and it’s regularly hilarious to watch.

5. Hilarious..  I”ll get back to that in a moment.  Mantic Entertainment and Games Workshop are on your resume.  Recently, you began your own game company – Needy Cat Games!  What drove you in this independent direction?

Several things! I’ve always wanted to design games for myself. I’d been hanging around GW for about four years, designing rules for games, and it was increasingly apparent to me that I wasn’t a good fit. There was too much work to do everything to a good standard, and I hated the idea of doing what I saw as a sub-par job, so I was working myself to the bone. There was also a constant pressure from different managers, all pulling in different directions, and sometimes it felt like I was screaming into the void. Then a colleague passed away unexpectedly in his early forties, and I realised that life is short and you sometimes need to take a leap of faith if you’re not happy somewhere.
So I did!
Sophie (Significant other) was helping out part-time at first, then came on full-time within the first six months (she ended up doing most of the heavy lifting on Hellboy, after I’d designed the core rules). We haven’t looked back. It’s terrifying sometimes (this is our only income – and we have a mortgage and a four year old daughter) but it’s constantly rewarding, and we’re free to drive in the direction we want. We always end up doing way too much work, but it all looks like it’s starting to pay off!

6. Robot Fight Club is an upcoming title from Needy Cat Games.  Can you offer our Coaches a compelling pitch?

Why yes, I could! 😉
Robot Fight Club – coming to Kickstarter soon! – is a two-player arena combat game in which each player builds a pair of customisable robots and sends them into battle against their opponent’s team. Gameplay is fast and tactical – you’re playing cards from a limited selection to active one of your robots each turn, trying to second-guess which robot your opponent will be activating based on the board state and the cards that you know they’ve already played. A bout lasts about 15-20 minutes, and you play to the best of three, so a full game usually takes less than an hour. There are a lot of parallels with DreadBall – two players, short play time, lots of interesting decisions and a game engine that rewards risk-taking! If you want to know  more, check out www.needycatgames.com or find us on social media.

7. Reddit is technically a social media site, though arguably it’s more akin to a cesspool of scumbags, criminals, and perverts.  You have countered the site’s trend of negativity with some positive contributions.  Specifically, a 2018 thread of Q&A.  You generously answered dozens of grognard head-scratchers.  One of your remarks has lingered with this BreadDoll editor; the difference between a “good game” and a “good enough to sell” game.  Can you elaborate on that observation?

Ha! I’ve been on reddit for about 11 years, and I find that the trick is to tailor the subreddits that you read. The default subs are pretty dreadful. Reddit lets anyone create as many anonymous accounts as they want, and we all know what anonymity leads to online! Still, if you find some decent subreddits that are a bit off the beaten track, you’ll find some incredible, friendly communities. /r/boardgames is great, as is /r/tabletopgamedesign – in fact, most of the tabletop games related subs are pretty awesome. I imagine any of the ones that are tied to a special interest are gonna be pretty good.
Anyway! That wasn’t the question.
To expand on the observation you mentioned, there are different reasons that games get designed. If an indie publisher puts out their very first board game, and they haven’t got a license or any big names tied to it, the game will sell entirely on its own merits, so the game design has to be good. And it probably will be, because it’s probably been designed for the same reason George Mallory climbed Everest. (Many game designers can’t imagine not designing games.)
However, once you step outside that, you get games which are made for more ‘corporate’ reasons. I don’t say that as a bad thing, I just use the word to describe games that are designed to support a product or meet a business need. For example, a company has a gap in their release schedule, or they have a range of miniatures that needs an accompanying rule set, or they need a £15 game that fits in a small box and can be sold as an entry-level product. Or whatever. That’s where freelance designers like us come in – companies come to us with a game need, we go away and work on a pitch, and if it all goes ahead we’ll make a game which fits their brief. It’s also how the vast majority of companies with in-house designers operate.
The problem is, “be an awesome game” is rarely a business need, so as a designer you have to find the balance between the awesome game you want to design and the one that fits the brief and is achievable in the time frame. At Needy Cat we take a lot of pride in always designing our games to a high standard, but when you get games designed by in-house designers who are never gonna be credited anyway, I absolutely understand why they might let their standards slide, especially when their managers tell them that the only thing that matters is that they have “a game” to sell, regardless of whether it’s any good. I can’t remember if I told this anecdote on reddit – I probably did – but at GW I was once told by a manager that I was working too hard and making a game “good” instead of “good enough”. From his point of view, he’d already ticked the box he had to tick – yes, we have a product which contains miniatures and rules and which can be sold for £90 as a game – so he didn’t understand why I was so keen to keep working past that point. From my point of view I was designing a game that people would have fun playing, so it had to be good.
And that’s the difference.

8. Back to hilarity.  You have some professional experience in comedy.  How important is humor in game development?

I wonder what you’ve been reading! Yeah, I come from a family of musicians and entertainers. My uncle’s a fairly well-known comedian in the UK, and in my early twenties I spent several months working on his UK tour, setting up props and doing silly walk-on parts and generally seeing how the entertainment industry functions.
I think it very much depends on the game. I think the best games are ones which a) give the players meaningful decisions and b) make the players feel something. That might mean making players laugh, or making them feel tense, or excited, or sad, or anything else. Gaming can be incredibly cathartic – we’ve all felt the rush of endorphins when we’ve committed to a risky play in DreadBall and it’s paid off and we’ve scored big. So games that can make people laugh are a big winner, as far as I’m concerned – as long as they’re laughing with the game and not at it, and as long as it fits the theme. If a game’s meant to be creepy and scary, a nervous laugh is a good thing, but a belly laugh because something is ridiculous is less good. We look at all of this stuff when we test our games!
One side note, I think a game that generates ’emergent humour’ – fun moments that arise from the gameplay – will always be better than one which goes out of its way to be funny with silly card names or the like. Those silly card names will get old after you’ve played two or three times, so you’d better hope there’s a good game underneath them…

9. And now back to the Galaxy’s greatest sport!  What was your level of involvement with DreadBall’s second edition, and what excited you the most about returning to the pitch?

I didn’t have anything to do with the actual development, but the timing was such that I was just starting up Needy Cat as it was about to go to print, so I was asked to give it a rules review / editorial pass. It was really fun to come back to the game after several years away, and look at it with fresh eyes. I really like the changes that came about, especially the ones that make Jacks more interesting and the changes to the stat-line. The original engine was definitely creaking once all the different teams had been added, and the new edition seemed to address a lot of those issues on a fundamental level.
That said, I’ve hardly played it since the new edition! I’ve played precisely one game of it, at a Mantic open day just after it came out, against Stewart Gibbs (who led the development of the new edition). Stew is a really solid player and he was using his Teratons, who I remembered as being pretty nasty. I took my old Corporation team and managed to get a landslide, which made me really happy! Normally, when I work on a game, I utterly suck at it, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case with DB.

10. So how do you primarily play DreadBall [One-off, league, tournament, Xtreme, Ultimate], and why?

Well, as I said, I haven’t played in far too long! When I used to play it was mostly one-off games, but I really enjoy a league. We used to have a Mantic studio league which we did away from the studio – we’d all go out to the pub on a Monday night and play some DreadBall. Those were good times!

11. Ah, the memories… What is your favorite DreadBall team?

Boring answer, but it’s gotta be the Corporation. I love my Corp team – they’re vanilla, but they don’t suck at anything. People used to underestimate them, and I really enjoyed proving them wrong.

12. Describe your most memorable DreadBall Rush.

See, now you’re asking me to reach back through the mists of time and recall something from a long time ago! I don’t think I can recall any real details, so here’s a general answer. One of my favourite moments when showing someone the game (and this goes back to those first, pre-release demos) is when they realise just how much you can get away with in your turn if you’re willing to play dangerously. When you show them how they can set up an action chain and pad their odds with some coaching dice, multiplying their available actions and pulling off a mad passing play that turns a hopeless defence into a 4-point Strike. To me, that’s the heart of DreadBall.
So… a rush where that happened. There you go. 😉
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“This picture is from the first and last DreadBall tournament I played in! This was just as I was about to leave Mantic, and there was an event coming up at the Sanctuary Gaming Centre nearby, which is in an old church. I forget what it was called, but I think it was an official Mantic tournament? Anyway, I went along with my Corp team (the TuStax Wranglers) and made it to the top table… where I got utterly annihilated by Leon Chapman and his Nameless (this was first edition – I hope they’re less horribly broken these days!) This photo wasn’t posed. It was was me deep in contemplation, trying to decide whether it was worth taking a stupid risk, because that’s how I play DreadBall. (Hint: always take the stupid risks, because when they work you’ll look like a genius.) The combination of background and pose seem to work pretty well together, though!”

13. That’s great!  But enough of the past.  What would you like to see from DreadBall in the future?

There were some ideas we threw around way back that I’d love to see. A more detailed league system – the one we’ve got kinda copies the Blood Bowl structure, but I think the sci-fi setting gives you so much more scope. I love the idea of tracking each team’s misadventures off the pitch as well as on – giving your players individual personality so they’re not just a collection of stats. Oh, and the other thing I love the idea of is more interesting arena designs. Xtreme kind of touched on this, but I think it would be really exciting to switch things up and have arenas with moving obstacles, or arenas that are split into two or more parts and linked by jump pads or teleporters, or arenas with irregular shapes and narrow chokepoints. Fun fun fun.

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’d tear it out of the organiser’s hands and devour it there and then, while staring into the eyes of whoever got first place. It’s all about establishing dominance in these situations.
…it’s made of bread, right?
###
James has guessed the primary ingredient of the BreadDoll.  It’s bread.  Twisted, but sprinkled with sugar.  Hand crafted with love.  Delivered in jest.  And usually…  Devoured in spite.  Earn your own in March at the Adepticorp Cup – The NADC’s National DreadBall Championship tournament.
A big Slamming thanks to James for taking the time to educate, formulate, and elucidate our Coaches.

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.

###

Andrew:

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.

Sam:

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

Andrew:

Keep going.

Sam:

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.

Andrew:
Do you gravitate towards one MVP?

Sam:

Nightshade is my go-to.

Andrew:
“I thought he’d be bigger.”

Sam:

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.

Andrew:

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

Sam:

Yes.

Antti:

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.

Sam:

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!

Andrew:

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

Antti:

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.

Sam:

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

Antti:

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

Andrew:
Focus, you two.

Antti:

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).

Sam:

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

Antti:

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

Sam:

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

Antti:

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?

Sam:

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?

Antti:

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.

Sam:

True true.  We need a list.

Antti:

List of?

Andrew:

FOCUS!

Sam:

All giants matched to teams.

Antti:

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

Sam:

Yeah, well, Andrew is on that.

Andrew:

(grinds teeth)

Antti:

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.

Andrew:
Summarize please.

Antti:

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.

Sam:

Something like that, yeah.

Andrew:

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

Sam:

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.

Antti:

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.

Antti:

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.

Sam:

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.

Antti:

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

Sam:

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.

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh….

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

Antti:

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

Sam:

Cool cool.

Antti:

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

Andrew:
(Grinding bleeding gums)

Sam:

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

Antti:

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

Sam:

Right. Useful.

Andrew:

I’ve created monsters!

Sam:

Well, duh.

Andrew:

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!

Steals and Deals: Super Mega Cup Sale

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3 Monkeys for 3 Years.  BreadDoll editors (left to right); Geoff, Andrew, and Lee.

2020 marks the third year of BreadDoll Blogging.  ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY posts about the greatest game in the galaxy.  Every week; Geoff, Lee, or Andrew serve up slices.  We have different voices with different perspectives.  For a spread analogy, it’s like Geoff is jam, Lee is preservative, and Andrew is straight-up marmalade.

In soft celebration of three editors surviving three years together, this bakery is serving three loaves in three days.  This triple helping of BreadDoll is timely.  The United States of America (Earth Planet) is hosting a naive event in two days.  Its popularity has reached such staggering proportions, huge swaths of the entire world population somehow find a broadcast to view.  A cruel spectacle of manhandling will be witnessed by viewers divided into camps both for and against.  The outcome has been forecast and bets are wagered, but anything is possible.  A groundhog may see its shadow.

Also, there’s a Super Bowl.

american sports
This ball is not constructed of metal.

48 hours before kick-off, The BreadDoll is pleased to shill.  Mantic Games is celebrating the sports weekend with a sporty sale.  It’s the second annual SUPER MEGA CUP SALE!  Steals and Deals?  Yes.  Yes, there are plenty.  Especially if a Coach needs to expand their Coaching Staff.

  • Cheerleaders
  • Coaches
  • “Sponsors” (ostensibly, more Coach models)
  • Event Deck

Each are priced to levels only Bobby would bargain.  Two items however, are just Bobby bonkers.

  1. The Web DreadBall Team Bundle.  Ten teams = $80 USD.  That’s too good to be true.  And seemingly – it is.  There are only two is stock.
  2. The Galactic Tour expansion.  $20 USD.  That’s awesome.  Cheerleaders, Coaches, a Medbot, plus a jungle cat and an indigenous trophy.   Those are just the models!  An alternative ruleset and card deck to play on the planet Azure is in there, not to mention the league handbook.  Seriously.  Best Buy.

Aaaaaand…  Mantic is not done.  Gains are important, but so are GAMES.  Keep it clean Coaches!  A new FAQ / Errata has been released!  Clarifications and adjustments will make everyone’s pitch time even more perfect.  Head to the Mantic site and find their Free Rules.  Download and become high information.

MANTIC GAMES FREE RULES

And at the very end of the document?  There’s a surprise.  If you think you’ve seen bad officiating this season on Earth Planet (NFL, MLB, FIFA, etc), wait until you see this Bad Call.

IMG-9330
This is bad.

Thanks for reading the BreadDoll.  We love DreadBall, and we hope it shows.  Come back this weekend for more.  More Bread.  More Dread.

Saturday – a roundtable discussion about GIANTS.

Sunday – a Coaches’ Corner interview with JAMES HEWITT.

Steals and Deals: New Year’s Resolutions

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Welcome to 2020 all Earth Coaches!  For your consideration, the BreadDoll suggests for the following playbook option:

  • Mantic Games is offering a ‘Cyber Sale’ until January 2.  If you don’t have a PDF of the 2nd edition Rulebook, now is the time.  Also for consideration: a first edition bundle and xtreme compilation.  While they both have limited function with 2nd edition rules, the images are (always) great, and the fluff is well written.  But perhaps most importantly is the FREE STUFF.  Captain cards, Martian rules, rosters…  Download and be done.
  • Also…  Just saying…  The DreadBall Core Game 2nd Edition is on sale for $49.99 USD.  It includes the Collectors Edition rulebook.  Seriously.  Buy a second copy.

With New Year purchases resolved, why not commit to goodwill in 2020?

  • Join the Facebook DreadBall Fanatics group. Write a post!  Identify where your league plays on planet Earth (Map of DreadBall Leagues).
  • Visit DreadBall.com, and register.  Create a team!  Find an event!
  • Visit Boardgamegeek.com, and log your DreadBall plays.  Write a post!  Leave a review!
  • Visit Mos Eisley cantina.  I mean, Reddit.  Join r/dreadball.  Write a post!

Then, GET OFF YOUR GOD DAMN COMPUTER!  Interact with other humans, face-to-face, in real time.

  • Play DreadBall.
  • Start a league.
  • Play in a tournament.
  • Be nice to others.

Happy New Year.  May all of your sixes explode.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Rules and Regs: Threat (Part 1)

There are a few Abilities that tend to cause some confusion. Two such Abilities that seem to frequently come up are Gotcha and Threatening. Both of these Abilities affect the way Threat is applied in certain situations. Let’s start with a quick look at the basics of Threat.

Threat

Threat is a negative modifier on a test. All Players project Threat into their front 3 hexes known as that Player’s Threat Hexes.

basic_threat
FIG 1: Player A Threatens their front 3 hexes known as their Threat Hexes.

When a Player needs to make a test, if they are in an Opposing Player’s Threat Hexes they will have a -1 on their test. (Note: There are a few tests that are not affected by Threat as indicted in the rules. For example Armor Tests are not affected by Threat.)

basic_threat_minus1
FIG 2: Player B is attempting to Pick up the Ball but has a -1 (one less dice) because Player A is Threatening Player B

Threat modifiers stack but only to a maximum of -2. Threat does not apply if the Opposing Player is participating in the test because it is an (X) test (an (X) test is a test where your success’ are compared to your opponent’s success’, also known as an Opposed Test).

max_threat_minus_2
FIG 3: Player B is attempting to Pick up the Ball. Even though Player B is Threatened by 3 opposing Players (A, C, D), Player B is only at a -2 on their test because -2 is the most Threat possible
opposed_no_threat
FIG 4: Player A is Slamming Player B. Neither Player has any negative modifiers because Threat does not apply from Players involved in an opposed (X) test.

Threatening (Ability)

“This Player’s Threat Hexes always modify a test (up to the maximum) if the modifier is listed. For example, if a Threatening Player Slams an opponent then that target Player will receive a-1 modifier for being in the Slamming Player’s Threat Hex.”

Some Players start with or can aquire the Threatening ability. All Threatening does is change the rules for this Player so that their Threat DOES apply during an opposed (X) test.

threatening
FIG 5: Player A is Slamming Player B. Because Player A has the Threatening ability their Threat applies even during the opposed Slam test so Player B has a -1 on their test.

What tends to confuse some coaches is the part of the rule that states “(up to the maximum)”. This just means that even with Threatening the maximum Threat allowed is still -2.

Gotcha (Ability)

“Some Players are very tricky to get away from. Even a single Player with this ability causes the maximum -2 modifier for threatening an opponent during a test. A Player with Gotcha may Restrain an opponent as normal, taking the modifier to -3.”

The Gotcha ability allows a single player to apply the maximum Threat of -2 all by themselves.

gotcha_max_minus_2_
FIG 6: Player A is Slamming Player B with assistance from Player C. Player C has the Gotcha ability so is Threatening Player B for -2. Player B is at -2 on the test

The maximum Threat allowed is still -2. If a Player with the Gotcha ability and another player are both Threatening one of their opponents, that opponent is only at a -2.

gotcha_max_minus_2
FIG 7: Player A is Slamming Player B with assistance from Player A’s teammates Player C and Player D. Player C has the Gotcha ability so is Threatening Player B for -2. Player D is also Threatening Player B for -1. The combined Threat of Players C and D is -3 but because the maximum Threat allowed is -2, Player B is only at -2 on the test.

What can confuse some coaches is the mention in the Gotcha rules of a -3 modifier in the last sentence. The -3 only happens if the Player with Gotcha chooses to do a Restrain Foul when one of their opponents attempts to Evade out of one of their Threat Hexes.

Threatening AND Gotcha

Both the Threatening and Gotcha abilities are powerful on their own but when a Player has both of these abilities they are very powerful indeed.

This combination of abilities allows a single Player to apply a -2 Threat to an opponent even during a opposed test.

gotcha_and_threatening
FIG 8: Player A with Gotcha and Threatening is Slamming Player B. Player B is at a -2 on the test.

 

Hopefully this article has helped to clear up any confusion any coaches might have had regarding Threat.

If a future article I will look closer at the Stench and Keeper abilites and how they apply additional Threat and negative modifiers as well.

Steals and Deals: Black Friday 2019

On Earth Capitol Washington D.C., the lizard men in control of operations agree and understand one fundamental truth.  Commerce is King.  Slave-minded humans fuel the workings of the first world with purchase power.  This power is so strong, reptilian machinations have scheduled non-secular days of worship around it.

And so, Black Friday.

This BreadDoll editor is posting to our loyal readers on Saturday November 30, 2019.  It is one day after Black Friday.  Presumably, the hive-mind of Homo sapiens buying crap for others on sale/discount/bargain has somewhat abated and the focus can turn to what really matters.

Yourself.

Mantic Games sponsors a Black Friday sale.  It is ‘Friday’ in name only; the sale begins a full week before the dark day, and important for this weekend’s readers, continues until the following Monday.  In this case, Monday December 1, 2019.  This is important because Mantic Games is the publisher of DreadBall,  THE GREATEST GAME IN THE GALAXY,

Mantic’s Black Friday spokesperson, Crazy Bobby, has a few deals that all Coaches should notice.

  1. DreadBall Core Game, 2nd Edition = $89.99. NOPE.  Now it’s $49.99
    You probably already own a copy, and that is good.  Now buy another.  Start a league.  Give a copy to a friend for the holidays.  Pass along you beater copy to that fish-head eating half-brother you keep in that attic.  DO IT.
    DreadBall-Boxed-Game-e1557487806902
  2. Long Rock Lifers = $39.99.  NOPE.  Now it’s $14.99
  3. Nemion Oceanics = $39.99.  NOPE.  Now it’s $14.99
  4. Rotatek Rocksliders = $39.99.  NOPE.  Now it’s $14.99
  5. The Unicorporated = $39.99.  NOPE.  Now it’s $14.99
    These teams are fab.  If you already own them, you too are fab.  Go ahead and buy another set.  You’ll want to paint your players in an VISITOR uniform.
  6. DreadBall Xtreme with Free Player’s Manual = $29.99.  NOPE.  Now it’s $14.99
    Now this price is truly crazy.  Crazy Bobby has lost all of his crackers.  DreadBall Xtreme is already seriously discounted at $29.99, and that’s a huge value.  But $14.99?!  Seriously, WTF.
    DBExtreme-the-Galaxys-most-brutal-Sport

    DreadBall Xtreme may not suit everyone.  It’s not this BreadDoll editor’s favorite cuppa, but it is a fine game nonetheless.  It’s just a… different… game.  No longer THE GREATEST GAME IN THE GALAXY, DreadBall Xtreme is an explosive death trap.  It’s unforgiving, it’s brutal, and it’s a bit random.  Your mileage may vary.

    But what won’t vary is the value of this price point.  Inside this beautiful box of boom boom, you get three.  THREE.  Three DreadBall teams.*  Convicts, Kalyshi, AND a set of Xtreme “Free Agents” that have transformed into the Ronnie Rejects for DreadBall’s second edition.**  Coupled with crate terrain, a handsome neoprene mat, and dice to choke your half-brother; DreadBall Xtreme’s Black Friday sales price is just too good to pass.

    * NOTE: These three teams will not be exactly 2nd edition complete…  The Convicts and Kalyshi will be missing their Team Captain and Team Captain cards.  No worries.  You can download the Team Captain cards from the Mantic Games website AND you can purchase both Team Captain models from the MVP pack “Strike Zone Stunners.”  The third team, the Ronnie Rejects, are mostly complete.  The team does not yet have an official Team Captain or a set of Team Captain cards.  But I’ve overheard Jesus Ortiz say that Digby is working on that issue…

    ** DreadBall’s second edition and DreadBall Xtreme are different rule sets.  This may be a concern to some, but here’s the straight dope: Coaches can play Xtreme’s rules in tandem with DreadBall’s second edition core rules & team stats just fine.  It works, and works well.  There’s no need to adjust card play, though players will want to adjust their Sponsor bets by adding a zero to their sums.  That’s it.  These quick adjustments make the Xtreme Player’s Manual obsolete, but you can still read the fluff and appreciate the illustrations.  Mantic’s publications always shine with their miniature photography.

Go BUY DreadBall stuff.  Happy Black Friday.  Happy Small Business Saturday.  Happy Cyber Monday.  BUY BUY BUY.