07 February 2013

DreadBall - first impressions

Jeff's hand painted Dreadball Stadium - lovely job!
At CanCon last week both Right Stuff and I got to play a Demo game at the stand being very well run by a very friendly and engaging bunch of gamers.  Thanks very much to Jeff, Jenni and Doug for putting on a fun and very friendly game!  After our demo we went home, played a few games, got a bunch of stuff wrong, re-read the rules and FAQ, and are now playing our own home league.  So after all the waiting and all the hype, what's the game actually like?

There are enough posts and articles on the specific rules mechanics so I'm going to focus on what the game feels like.  NOT Blood Bowl is my answer!  Its much faster, looser, and more unpredictable which makes many BB tactics useless (trust us, we tried...).  The rules work differently and I found that while I had almost half the number of figures on the field compared to BB, I had many more choices.  And not in a good way usually!  Being able to react quickly, take advantage of a sudden free action when it comes, or responding to the failures which pop up even when you have set it up to be unlikely is the name of the game.  A balance of Offence and Defence is of course typical in BB too, but nowhere like this.  If you just leave 2 players back to defend in DB, then you are going to be in big trouble when you do score and that ball pops out because there is not time to reset...

Figs from Jeff;'s collection, on his hand sculpted bases
The lack of a 'half' also means that the pace never slackens: no 'only 2 turns until half time so I'll just thump some people' feeling, its all go go go!  We found this lead to a very offensive spirit which saw scoring shots made nearly every turn/rush, because we have yet to work out many effective defensive strategies.  The cards add all sorts of extra options which can make the impossible plays possible with extra actions etc.  There are no rerolls but you can earn extra coaching dice which can be used to take the risk out of actions.  These are earned by currying the crowd's favour by very accurate scores, 3 and 4 point strikes, crippling or even killing players.  The end result is that it feels like you are currying the crowd's favour as opposed to having the crowd interact randomly though the kick off table like in BB.

The FAQ is a bit of a must read, especially once you have played and seen what your knowledge gaps are.  Its is a living document at the game designer's blog here: http://quirkworthy.com/2012/11/03/living-faq-dreadball/

Jeff in action at the CanCon demo table

Overall- we really like it and the ability to get a game done in just over a hour is great (we got in three games today).  The league rules seem a little light on for now but I'm sure they will develop more in time.  I can see us playing this a lot of this and cant wait for a local league to start up.


  1. Sounds like a blast, a pity none of the other rejects are interested!

  2. Three games in the span of a single Blood Bowl game? I'm officially intrigued, plus those "ork" players look fantastic.

  3. The game looks like fun and the models are really cool. Thanks for the post.

  4. Once you get a local league going, be sure to contact your Dreadball Governing Body representative to get you hooked up.

    If you are in the states (I don't think you are), then let me know and I can help.

  5. I never could get into these sports type games, though I do like the mini's and I like reading other peoples antics with them.

  6. That is exactly the typre of review I have been looking for! Now I cant wait for my team to arrive....

  7. I've been waiting for a simple and educative review of this game, especially how it felt towards BB. Thanks a lot ! The chances are great I jump into this game as well. Thanks again :)

  8. Thanks all, the fast pace means I'm sure you'll all enjoy it when you give it a go!

  9. Really curious about it.
    Thanks for the review!