Tuesday, April 28, 2015

COACH'S CORNER: Play Testing the Koris and the Tsudochan (both V.2)

I had the good fortune to be able to wrangle a free night to try out two of the teams that Jake released for play testing from Seasons 5 and 6.


Tsudochan V.2 vs Male Corporation Team (I was playing Corporation)

Landslide victory for the Corporation in the 8th Rush

The Tsudochan are very interesting. You cannot block their path. You cannot threaten them. You have to play an entirely different game against them. From the beginning, I knew the game was going to be unlike playing against any other team, so I set up my defense with that in mind. I was the Visitors. I used Guards to block the center lanes of the 1/2 point zones and used my remaining 3 Strikers and a Jack in a straight line defending the 4 point lane of the 3/4 point strike zone (see picture). I thought that if nothing else, he would have to dedicate a lot of resources to moving my players if he was going to go for the big score--I wanted to prevent that as long as I could. My opponent began in a standard 3 Frontline/3 Goal Guarding setup.
Even though the Tsudochan were able to scoot my team all over the pitch, moving the ball was hard for them. They tried a few times to score, but due to the amount of movement it was taking for them to get in place, they were almost always trying for a strike with a single roll of the dice, a straight up 50/50 shot. This overall swung the game to the team with some Strikers.
As the Corporation, I was easiy able to move the ball down the pitch and score, opting for the 3 point shots whenever I could. Eventually, it came down to the fact that I was able to just run the pitch with the ball-handlers, and constantly moving my other players into places where he had to sacrifice his movements to use the Push ability. Without a solid Striker or a Guard to dish out some damage, the Tsudochan are almost playing a different game on the pitch entirely. Which is not a bad thing, but would take some getting used to.
My friend and I discussed how we would change the Tsudochan after the match. We settled on what we thought they needed for a straight team on team match was to begin with a Coaching Dice (or maybe 2). The 2 Cards were not as needed as one might think, due to the specialized nature of the cards, heck you can't even use Striker or Guard cards at all. But a Coaching Dice would allow them to have a more solid shot at getting some points on the board and moving some momentum toward their side of the table.
In a League, these guys may well become monsters! Especially, If they can get an MVP or a Free Agent, they will be unstoppable. Same goes for an Exhibition Match with say 120 MC, that would entirely change the dynamic.
Overall, super fun and cool team with interesting rules and interactions. They seem like with a little practice, they might be a force to be recokoned with! And as a side note, with an all jack team, go for the 1 and 3 point shots most of the time, the odds are way better.


Koris V.2 (I played the Koris) vs Male Corporation Team

One point victory for the Koris

Portals! Man, the portals were a ton of fun, for both sides! And boy does it change the game flow and strategy!
So, I was the home team Koris in this matchup. I set up with a slight variation on the standard 3 up and 3 defending configuartion. I had a Guard defending a 1/2 strike zone, and Jacks defending the other 1/2 and 3/4 strike zones. I played my Striker in the center, flanked by a Guard and a Jack. I placed my initial portal right behind the Striker. My opponent set up in a almosted honeycombed configuartion that was well-planned to prevent me from having an easy go at a deep feild incursion. 
The first thing I did on my turn was Sprint my forward Jack as deep into the center of my opponents backfeild as I could. Then I placed a portal. This was key. I used that portal constantly. 
At first, the 4 Movement was really bumming me out. Then, I decided that I had to utilize the portals better and as a constant part of my tactics on the pitch. Then everything changed. I used Jacks to move portals and jump to place just beside the ball, or used the portal as my one space move for a Jack to throw on the other side. It was loads of fun!
My opponent enjoy using the portals too! He used them to score, to Slam me and generally take advantage just like I was. The problem, of course, was that pushing your luck like that will eventually catch up with you, and it did! A portal gave him the chance to win the game in the 14th Rush, then with a Failure on a Confusion check, it solidified the win for me! This was a really close game, btw.
I think the Koris are great! I look forward to more games with them and more teleporting shenanigans! They would be great in a League too. I don't think I would change a thing about them. 
Pro-tip: Protect your sole Striker! He is your money-machine!

Monday, April 27, 2015

COACH'S CORNER: Play Testing

One very important aspect of gaming is play testing. And being fans of Dreadball we are really in luck. Jake at Quirkworthy has allow the community the opportunity to try out the beta versions of the upcoming teams. Not only that, be he has asked for play testing and feedback on them. This is a wonderful reflection on what Mantic wants to be--a gaming company that is trying to interact with their community.

With these host of teams to play test, what do you think is the best way to carry that out? A lot depends on the size of your DB group and the time you have available (especially as the play test period is rather short). We have three solid players in my area, three more casual but very interested players, and about 3 more just casual players. I think that I am only going to be able to rely on myself and on other player to get together, and probably only once. So, that probably means two, maybe three games. Here is the way I plan on doing the play testing:

  • I always want to play the new team against the Corporate team. Reason being, they are the zero point on the number line that all other teams are either a positive or negative towards. And, they have honestly remained a solid team throughout all four seasons so far.
  • I think to save time, which will be in short supply, I think we should play the set stats teams (ie not the Mutants and not the Mechanites).
  • I will let my opponent chose which new team to test out first. Then I will make the second choice and play it.
  • Who I would like to play: 
    • First choice, the Fran-Taar Philosophers, theTsudochan team. I love the backstory, the looks,  and the mechanics of this team. I have looked forward to these guys since the moment I saw them. They are the reason I did the maximizer for Season Six on the Kickstarter. Plus, they look both balanced and fun from the get-go.
    • If my opponent want to try them, then I will try out the Glambek Ghosts, the Ada Lorana team. I also was drawn to the look of these guys, but unlike the Tsudochan, they look terribly broken. I want to see if my gut feeling is right.
    • Third choice, if we get a third game, the Crystallans.
  • Take notes via audio recording to keep the disturbance to a minimum.
  • Report my findings to the Quirkworthy blog (and the DB Fanatics FB group).

Here's hoping I actually can get out to play test before the period for input is over!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

TEAM: Ro-Tek Brutes (Mechanites team - beta)


Very cool, build-your-own robots!

That is all I know so far! :-)

TEAM: Sulentic Shards (Crystallan team - beta)

Just in case you missed it, Jake published some early rules for the Crystallan team on Quickworthy:


I am hoping to playtest them soon. They look interesting, but need high competence and planning to play. A few people are saying that they think they need a card. I am not so sure. It might give the Guards TOO much power with a card--not sure yet. 

What is unfortunate is the lack of Strikers. Strange, in the Kickstarter I thought they were planning on them (see the three styles below). I suppose in design they might have decided to drop the Strikers though. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

COACH'S CORNER: League Ideas

I am thinking of running a league in my local area to drum up some more interest in Dreadball. I helped run one last year, but I would like to do something a little different this time.

League Ideas:
Minor Leagues - Play a shortened league season and only allow Seasons 1 and 2 teams. Maybe end the season with a short tourney or a few bowl games. I think this could be a fun way to get some new blood into the game with too many strange abilities or unbalancing teams. I really believe this could be a lot of fun.

All-Star League - Have a number of MVPs equal to the number of teams, allow each team to choose an MVP (Free Agents only for Underdog bonus). Start with the team at the bottom and let them choose one, then proceed in ascending order.*

Invasion League - Come up with multiple special rules for different arenas (there are already a number of them out there) and allow the first team to win to be the "home" team. Keep a galaxy chart and allow races to invade planets. Or, something like that.

Two List Format League - This one is like the two list format from Warmachine/Hordes tournaments. It would be as if your were a Sponsor with two teams to ring to the match and neither would know until the time of the match who you were bringing. Winner determined by a tourney at the end.

Regular Old League - ...would still be fun.

*Due to the way someone can "game" the system, I am only going to allow one player to be dropped in-between games, regardless of format.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

TEAM: Ukomo Avalanchers (Teraton Team)

Ukomo Avalanchers (Teraton Team)
Reviewed during Season 4 for DBO only

Brutes, the whole lot of them! - Each and every Teraton on the Avalanchers can Slam you with a fantastic Strength. If there is a Teraton near you, you aren't safe, period.

Teleportation - Let's face it, this ability is just cool. Can't hit them in the back, they can move through people--just cool. No one is really an impediment to your movement, just Slam whoever you want, or line up that Score. And removing one of the only ways to remove a Guard from the pitch, Slamming in the back, is GREAT for the Teratons.

Turtles are not Speedy - ... by that I literally mean their Speed is atrocious! Stealing, not their thing. Hey, at least Evading is generally irrelevant.

Scoring is not their thing - You might think that a Skill the same as the Corporation team would work pretty well for you. And it would, if you had a Striker on your team. The Teratons have to make-do with only Jacks for Scoring. You what that usually means, especially if your Jacks don't have any special abilities to help them along? You are stuck with a running game and mediocre tries at the goal.

MVP Recommendations:

The Praetorian - I recommend this guy for any team that needs a Striker. He is just fantastic. The Teratons need a Striker like nobody's business. A player that can Score reliably is just what this team needs!

Nightshade - Another great Striker. Nightshade is, just like the Praetorian, a welcome addition to the team. A player that can Score reliably is just what this team needs! ... wait, have I said that before?

The Ukomo Avalanchers are a fun team to play, no doubt. The Teleport ability is unique and can be a great way to catch an opponent, even a knowing opponent, by surprise. The problem is, if you cannot take out the Scoring portion of the opposing team, you are lost. If, on the the other hand, you can put a few points on the board, keep the ball to yourself, and Slam your opponent into oblivion, you CAN win the game.

C +

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

TEAM: Locust City Chiefs (Z'zor Team)

Locust City Chiefs (Z'zor Team)
Reviewed during Season 4 for DBO only

I can't kill it! - Everyone on the team has Can't Feel a Thing, and that is pretty awesome. The Z'zor Guard is also Steady, so if you don't take him out, you can be be guaranteed that he will punch back hard. In addition, they are also decent at the Dodge. These bugs can be pretty hard to squish!

Jacks of all trades - The Z'zor Jacks are probably who you are going to be leaning on to do most of the heavy lifting. With Slide thrown in for them, the Z'zor Jacks can actually perform a good deal better than the average player. That little extra push for the Slam or Throw can really change the game. And speaking of throwing the ball, they have a better Skill than the Strikers.

Guarded - Even though there is only one of him, the Guard is just great. He should attempt to crack at least one, if not two, skulls every single turn. He is great at the Slam and Slamback and he should focus on killing key pieces. Steady and Can't Feel a Thing on an awesome Guard? Indeed!

Scoring Dilemma - To go for the goal with the Strikers (with their horrible Skill) or to go for the goal with the Jacks (and get one less roll of the dice)? That is a difficult question. I would lean toward the Jacks, but there are a lot of disadvantages in doing so. I think that the better of two bads options is going to direct you on the pitch. Generally, my answer would be "whoever has the ball" should go for the Score, as Throwing seems like a bad option.

Target - Because your single Guard is a linchpin piece on your team, he WILL be a target for any smart player. Be sure you have someone at his side at all times to give the minus to the opponent. You don't want to lose this guy, he is too good.

MVP Recommendations:

Ludwig - Both a thematically and functionally solid choice is Ludwig. Plus, you are the only team that can take him. With is amazing Speed, he will be able to use Slide a lot more. Couple that with a great Movement and Jump, and Ludwig is a version of your normal Jacks turned up to 11!
Nightshade - The Z'zor could definitely use a good Striker. Well, how about one that might actually save your bacon in a pinch too! Dirty Tricks is the major secondary reason to take Nightshade for the Chiefs. The ability to possibly remove someone from the pitch, or game, if used at the right time, can cripple your opponent.

The Locust City Chiefs are an interesting team that can be quite good if you practice with them. You have to be willing to use your Jacks more than you would in a regular DB team, but it can payoff, and catch your opponent by surprise. Focus on moving the ball down the pitch with whoever is closest, and try to score the 1 and 3 point are they are a little easier. And every Rush, try to crush someone using your Guard. A good team, but not for the beginner and not for those easier discouraged.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MANTIC UPDATE: Deadzone: Infestation Sci-fi Skirmish Game Kickstarter (2)

I said to one of my friends, if there is ANYTHING Dreadball related on the Deadzone: Infestation Kickstarter, I would buy in....

Damn you, Mantic!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

TEAM: Skittersneak Stealers (Veer-myn Team)

Skittersneak Stealers (Veer-myn Team)
Reviewed during Season 4 for DBO only

Quick little critter, aren't you? - Having a good Movement stat is one of the most important things positioning in Dreadball. Along with that, the other stat that will get you to where you are going is Speed. Well, the Veer-myn have both in spades! The Strikers and the Guards both are FAST and NIMBLE.

Lightning fast big guys - One very unique trait, that goes along with the advantage above, is the fact that trying to hit a Veer-myn Guard is really hard, especially when compared to other Guards. I mean, their Dodge is unbelievable for a Guard. Hitting them on the back is just barely even an option.

There are rats everywhere! - With so many Strikers, there is almost always a Veer-myn ready to get into position. The minimum on the pitch at the start is 4! Great for getting into the right spot for a Catch, or Throw, or just a Threat Hex.

Why can't I score? - The abundance Strikers is great, until you try to toss the ball in, or to another player. The Skill stat on the Stealers is not good at all. In a league or tournament, try your best to get a Skill boost to average!

MVP Recommendations:

Buzzcut - A hard-hitting Guard is just what this team needs. Buzzcut can keep up, and he can destroy! And although he would elevate any team, being he is some sort of stompy demi-god, he is sorely needed in a team with just average Guards.
Irsala Sephalin - Gotcha!, that in and of itself is plenty to make Irsala are great choice for the Stealers. She also has a better Skill rating than the Veer-myn Strikers. Oh, plus Alert, Steady, and Toxic.

The Skittersneak Stealers are a good team that is quite fun to play. They are fast and nimble, but are frustrating at times. If you would like a team that is balanced, but in one of the weirdest ways possible, then you might enjoy the Veer-myn--they are very good are board control, and ok at Guard-duty, but struggle to Score.

B -

Saturday, April 4, 2015

TEAM: The Red Planets (Martian Team)

The Red Planets (Martian Team)
Reviewed during Season 4 for DBO only

Gunning 'em Down from Behind - Oh man, is shooting other players in the back fun! Keep the ref away and just fire all day long! Illegal is WAY more fun than I thought it would be.

Coaching Dice - Three starting Coaching Dice is awesome! You going to need them for your Strikers, as their Skill leaves a lot to be desired. And don't underestimate the Guard Slamming, using some Coaching Dice to augment his abilities. Or on the guns! Plus, you are still getting a card with all these dice.

Super Fun - Don't be afraid to just put these "bad boys" out there. The more you are willing to push your luck with them, the more fun you will have. Shoot everyone you can. Go for the impossible Throws, I mean you'll probably miss anyway, so who cares! Play this team with the reckless abandon they deserve!

Breakable - Fragile is a tough ability to get around when you are 50/50 on dice to Dodge--unlike say the Asterians with their ungodly ability to avoid having to make Armor Checks. Try as best as you can to minimize the amount of hitting you take.

Strikers - The Martian Strikers are just nothing special at all. Don't get me wrong, A Safe Pair of Hands is great, but with a Skill as bad a Veermyn, don't expect that to matter a whole lot.

MVP Recommendations:

The Praetorian* - You will need a good Striker that can avoid damage, that is the Praetorian. He excels in Scoring and has A Safe Pair of Hands like the Martian Strikers. He would be the perfect compliment to the team.

*Yes, I know I recommend him a lot. He is just that good!

The Excavator - Here is someone that is just about the opposite of the regular Martian team. The Excavator is a great Guard with the ability to really bring the pain. He would be a nice addition to draw the attention of the opposing coach, and tie him up for a while (the Excavator is difficult to remove). He adds a punch to Slams that the Guards on the Red Planets don't really bring, and are afraid to do due to Slambacks.

Fun, fun, fun. Are they good? Well, I am not saying you can't win with them, but I am saying that shouldn't be your goal in life if you are playing the Red Planets. I really like playing the Martians, even when I don't win with them. I highly recommend them if you are the kind of person that can laugh off a loss and keep going.

C -

... but A + for enjoyment!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

JUST AN ASIDE: Film and TV with Dreadball-like Sports

Here are a few Dreadball-like movies/tv show sports that I could think of off the top of my head. Please tell me in the comments if you can think of any others.

A Mad Max-esque post apocalyptic world provides the backdrop for a brutal, futuristic game resembling football. Rutger Hauer plays a disgraced former star leading a rag tag group of "Juggers" to one of the remaining Nine Cities for glory and redemption. (IMDB Plot Summary)

Roller Ball (1975):
In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game. (from IMDB)

Roller Ball (2002):
A much less interesting and much less engaging version of the 1975 film. (totally my opinion)

Wesley Snipes, Vanessa L. Williams and Dean Cain team up to battle terrorism and save the country in the only athletic arena of the future: Futuresport. (IMDB Description)

Pyramid is a close quarters ball game played on a pyramid-shaped court, hence the name of the game. The objective is apparently to score points by getting the ball into a goal at the top of the pyramid. Pyramid can be played one-on-one or in teams.

Pyramid Gear

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

TEAM: Void Sirens (Human Team)

Void Sirens (Human Team)
Reviewed during Season 4 for DBO only

Human Stat - The stats of the Void Siren team are identical to the Trontek 29ers. Human stats always allow for a good 50/50 shot of a positive result on every roll of the dice. Though that means that there are no stand-out stats like other teams, it also means the Void Sirens are not that bad at anything either.

You have how many Coaching Dice?!?! - Four Coaching Dice to do with as you wish at the start of the match is great! Make sure you get that Slam or Strike with a few dice thrown in. Go for the 3/4 point Score and replenish the dice too!

Running Interference - This ability at first seems amazing. Then it seems like a gimmick. THEN you realize that it is a wonderful added layer of complexity on board control. Nobody defends like the Void Sirens. They are in many ways in two places at once. This is a great way to confound your opponent--the opposing coach has to take into account IF you might move or not.

Odd man, um woman, out - A single Guard in many ways feels hamstrung. You will definitely want to give her some assistance when she Slams. But having one Guard almost takes the heavy-hitting option off the table.

No Cards - One of my favorite parts of the original Corporation team is the fact that they have 2 cards. Two cards is two potential extra moves. No cards hurts.

MVP Recommendations:

The Enforcer - Fast and versatile. The Enforcer is a great addition to the Void Sirens team. He adds another Guard, this allows the team to be much more bashy. And not only is he a Guard, he is a super fast guard. He would make a great distraction to draw the other team's attention. 

John Doe - This guy will make your Jacks viable "Guards" and he will make your Guard good. The Gotcha ability can really shift the play style of the Void Sirens. I highly recommend John Doe for anyone, but especially for a Jack-heavy team like the Void Sirens.

To choose the original Corporation team or the Void Sirens, that is the question. If your play style leans toward the fully balanced, then Trontek. If you lean towards board control, the Void Sirens. If you like a versatile scoring team... you could go either way. I would always say begin with the original Corporation team, but for another layer of depth and complexity, the Void Sirens are your team. In a tournament or league, I would probably go for the Void Sirens.

B +