Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Review: Dread Ball

So today I ventured down to Enfield Gamers tonight to speak to one of the guys at Mantic Games and to try out one of their Kickstarter star games: Dread Ball.

Now, I have a lot of love for my typical Games Workshop games, but lately I've been wanting to branch out and try a few other miniature games and I've been eying this system for a while, particularly with my love of the sci-fi genre as a whole and with the whole fantasy football genre expanding exponentially nowadays, I thought I would go ahead and get infected with miniature football fever!

For those who don't know Dread Ball, the idea of the game is to get to your opponent's coloured areas (shown above in red, but the other side is white) and shoot to score a goal, pretty bog standard really. However, it's not merely that simple! There are three zones, each has it's own sweet spot marked by a big target icon. If you shoot from the sweet spot, you accrue more points and the zone furthest away rewards even more points than the other two. This makes the game much more tactical, do you go for the safe bet, or do you go for big points at the risk of being stopped?

There are 3 types of players for each teams, some teams only contain 2 of these types - Blockers, Strikers and Jacks. Blockers get extra dice for beating people up as well special rules for doing so. Strikers are your quick footed "pick up the ball and run for it" type and get extra dice when performing these actions. Jacks are a jack of all trades, master of none and can perform both roles but not especially well. It's a lovely mechanic and one not unfamiliar with Blood Bowl players.

All skills and tasks are rolled on D6s, in most cases players will roll 3 of them each time, but this number can be modified depending on the situation, for example a Blocker gets +1 to attacking other players and another +1 for performing a moving strike, but any rolls of a 6 will allow you to roll an extra dice and further 6s will allow you to roll  yet another dice (I went from 4 dice to 8 in one strike using a blocker!). To make things even more interesting, the game also uses a card system which can do or be anything and range from fan counters, free actions, interception actions and even events that completely change the dynamics of the game!

But for me, the highlight of this game has to be the pure amount of cheating you can do and get away with (if you're lucky) in this game, it's covered everything in this way! You can do anything you want with actions, but if your opponent catches you out he can call a foul and potentially kick your players off the pitch, for example I rushed an extra player on to the pitch (legally you can only have 6, I had 7) just to beat up a striker on my side of the board. Yeah my player got sent off, but I beat down their player. You can also stomp downed players and potentially kill them, which can be good or bad depending on how lucky you are.

To reinforce this sense of being caught out as it were, there is also a referee and an "eye in the sky". The eye always means you can be caught out, but you're more likely to be caught if the referee is nearby. This gets really hectic and fun considering players move the referee at the end of each turn.

All in all, it's a fantastic game, better than Blood Bowl in my opinion as it's more tactical (the players don't reset position each time a goal is scored for example) but the game can be laughably quick if players are particularly unlucky which can be infuriating in a tournament (my second game was 3 turns long before my opponent hit the points limit and won, I only got a single action for example) but if it's not too short, the game is a hoot. Regardless, I highly recommend going out and buying it, and if you're umm-ing and ahh-ing about getting this or Blood Bowl, remember Dread Ball is also cheaper!

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