Sunday, 9 February 2020

Dreadball (1st Edition) 2020

I know I'm a bit late to the party, but my Dreadball set has been sitting untouched in my shed since 2016 or so - I remember picking it up for around $50AUD on a clearance sale as I thought it looked worth a punt.

I remember being unimpressed by the minis - they were nowhere near as good as the Bloodbowl ones I coveted in my youth (I say coveted rather than owned - I played a LOT of Bloodbowl using plastic counters proxying for minis). The Dreadball stuff was diminutive, and had repetitive poses.

Digging through my 1st ed box, I wasn't particularly impressed with the stuff inside - it seemed cheap, flimsy, and cut-budget.  The cards and dice seemed rather "got this in a $2 shop" quality.

Anyway, what inspired my to dig it out? Well, Blood Bowl 2 the PC game was $14 on Steam over Christmas and I've been having a great time reliving my youth. (My 4-year-old son actually really enjoys watching it, which is surprising as a turn-based-PC game is rather unspectacular graphics-wise). I noticed that Games Workshop has actually reasonably priced its Blood Bowl release ($150AUD for starter box + $50AUD per team). Well, reasonably compared to its insane prices elsewhere and par for the course for a boardgame.

I was tempted, but... then I recalled the two-hour games, how you'd have to play out turns when you have no hope of doing anything before the half ended, how setup took ages... and the arcane, convoluted, very-1980s rules. I mean - who was I going to play Bloodbowl with? Would I be willing to guide people up the steep learning curve? Was there a simpler option?

Hence, digging out my old Dreadball box.  From my playtests ages ago, I dimly remembered it had only 5 activations, and games flowed as the teams did not reset after a score. It might be possible to finish a game in a third of the time!

I played a few games against myself and was fairly impressed. Whilst the minis are uninspiring, the rules themselves are probably the best bit. Without fully getting into the cards and fouls (the 1st edition box REALLY needed a fast-play/quick reference guide) the game flowed well and was quite exciting. The rulebook itself was easy to read, but badly laid out. I.e. it was easy to understand the rules, once you found them. In addition, the dice rolling and mechanics were quite consistent and modifiers were both minimal and easy (removing or adding dice).

Probably my biggest gripe was that some player positions (guards) cannot pick up the ball at all. This seemed quite contrived, and a step back from Blood Bowl, where even clumsy Ogres have a chance to pick up the ball.  Also, the campaign rules are very lacking compared to the characterful detail of Blood Bowl.

I also think that sci-fi fits the combat-sports-genre better than fantasy, heresy as it is to a old Bloodbowl fan. On the upside, Dreadball box sets are available under-the-odds on ebay, which made the price good despite the rather uninspired sculpts. I picked up a box of some Hammerhead-shark-dudes for $25AUD, then went one better - a complete Dreadball Extreme box set (with three teams, heaps of free agents, and another set of rules/dice/board etc) for $25AUD. Bargain! (Also, the included crates and terrain will be used for other games).

Of those teams, the Bremlin Nebulas (above) showed the blandness and lack of variety of the poses, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sculpts of the Convicts team (below). In addition, the box contents had improved somewhat and the new rubber game mat was quite nice.  I just wish they wouldn't include the unnecessary casualty minis but instead more variety of normal poses (I mean, for a casualty I can just tip a model on its side, put it in the dead box etc).

Obviously Dreadball moved over to 2nd edition a year or two ago, and given Mantic have the rules as a free download I'm not complaining. From my read through, 2nd Ed seem to be an improvement, with teams tweaked, jacks (the allrounder player) made more useful, and the players stat line changed to allow more nuanced variety. Apparently the campaign rules were improved but that wasn't par t of my free downloadable copy.

Anyway, for $100AUD (50 pounds or $67USD) I have 2 sets of fields, dice and counters, as well as 6 teams and assorted free agents.  Enough for a league! Mantic have a Dreadball sale on at the moment, so I'll probably pick up the new rulebook, cards and a few more teams while they are 50% off.

This isn't really a rules review (I could do one when I get my shiny 2nd ed rulebook, but I'm sure there's heaps out there) but I probably will be doing more Dreadball-centric posts as it's a game where I can actually play a round before my kids descend on me.

Monday, 6 January 2020

The 7 Painting Days of Christmas

While 2019 was a bit of a washout as far as gaming/painting etc was concerned, I did find time in the holidays to get some painting done. I've got unpainted 6-year-old minis dating back to B.D. (before my firstborn daughter's birth) and when my son came along...  ...let's just say the backlog hasn't improved.

In counterpoint, I only bought a few minis in 2019 - I couldn't resist Warlord and their Cruel Sea's 1:300 MTBs (coastal warfare is an interest of mine) on sale and I also got a starter pack of Blood Red Skies while I was at it. A rulebook for 40K Kill Team has yet to arrive.  That's pretty much it. So I haven't been adding to the unpainted mountain.

I continue to tinker with homebrew rules in genres of interest; some are in their 4th or 5th iteration, and were started back in 2015! I''m starting to understand Patrick Rothfuss (*actually, no, he still needs to get his finger out). I may post on this soon.

Anyway, for my first 2020 gaming actions - I decided I'd force myself to paint a bit every day. My offspring see me enough in the holidays so for once I feel comfortable telling them to get lost: "No, you CAN'T help daddy paint - do play with some of that expensive Christmas LEGO or I'll dump it."

On the first day of Christmas, I enthusiastically painted....

 First some Confrontation minis. I've had these for years, picking them up for around $10 a pack back when Rackham was suicidally transitioning from their wonderful metals to hideous plastic.

I'm wondering what they would fetch now on the market - I've got all the original unit card, albeit tossed messily into a box.

Obligatory butt cheek shot. My 4-year-old always chuckles when he sees them. "Dad they're the nudie-butt ones!"

I also found a Confrontation orc I forgot to paint when I did them last year. I always prefer red orcs to greenskins. For some reason I find green cockney orcs ridiculous, while red orcs have a menacing feel like Japanese demons.

One the Second Day of Christmas I rather lazily painted....

Some terrain (I suspect a pirated knock-off of old 40K Epic terrain) which will go with my Gunship Vector space gunships and tanks.  After my big day, I decided to go for the low hanging fruit.

On the Third Day of Christmas I painted...

Some Warmachine mercs.  My son dropped one and broke it, and as I was reglueing it without comment, he dropped and broke a second one.  Banishment from my office is apparently a fate worse than death.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, I painted...

Some Warmachine solos and a few Heroclix. I enjoy slicing up Heroclix and adding different arms etc.  Given I got them for cents each, I can be creative and slice with confidence. I don't understand the guys who kitbash together two $50 GW models....

I think some of these may be from an anime-ish skirmish game called Anima Tactics.  I gave it a swerve as the rules seemed dense, but I picked up some models on sale. The dwarf is another clix. 

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, I painted (but mostly sliced and kitbashed)...

A range of clix, though the lizardmen are Black Cat/Hat I think.  They all got new weapons, courtesy of my Confrontation bitz box. The Judge Dredd villain got a robot arm from AE:WWII.

Then, I made a WW2 female monster-hunting cult using clix. My Perry Medieval Men At Arms sprues spares provided weapons and armoured arms. They will accompany my Secrets of the Third Reich infantry into combat to hunt Nazi undead.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, I painted...

More Warmachine minis. I dislike Warmachine's gimmicky rules, but steampunk robots, fighting undead pirates lead by a dragon? Yeah, they're cool.

Doing a metallic paint scheme was a bit lazy, as I was not in the mood for painting the usual Scyrah white armour. I think they turned out OK, given the low effort paint jobs I am doing.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, I only painted...

....Not much, as I was still jaded from doing the Scyrah guys from the day before. Oh well, I've made some inroads on my collection.

The Year Ahead in Painting- I'd LIKE to paint....

- Confrontation - Dainkinee Elves (mongrel job, due to fiddly detail)

- Confrontation - Sessairs (too much skin = pest to shade)

- Confrontation -  Wulfen (lots - these big sculpts are probably quite valuable)

- Warmachine undead (only ~10 Warmachine left, I enjoy painting the chunky cool sculpts) and two heavy Cygnar jacks I picked up on sale
- Pulp wizards (from.. Empire of the Dead?)

- Properly detail my ISS toy models I use for sci fi orbital bases

- Paint up small toy dinos (for 15mm) as well as sea creature toys (to be monsters for sub games)

- Warlord French-Indian Wars (some trappers first, then settlers, then a box each of British & French regulars)

- Kitbashing/rebasing/painting the less cool Heroclix, + random models from Helldorado

- Cruel Seas MTBs when they arrive

- Some 1:300 Tumbling Dice jets (both 50s and 70s) - should be a quick easy job

- A handful of 40K Tyrannids (they make good monsters for lots of homebrew rules)

- Kill teams of of 40K Space Marines, IG, Tau, Orks and Eldar

- More Perry medieval warbands for my homebrew Middlehiem rules

- Kitbashing some landships out of 1:700 naval models and tracks from K Mart toy tanks

I probably won't get around to....

- Warbands of Greek hoptites (too much white/skin)

- Warbands of ECW musketeers (discouragingly too many)

 - Robotech veritechs (I'm not keen on assembling/painting 3 minis for a single tabletop unit)

- More SOTR Weird War II squads (I already have enough painted for skirmish gaming and I'm not interested in platoon level gaming)

- More platoons of 15mm sci fi (I already have a heap of armies painted, and I'm not enthusiastic about the scale/genre any more)

- Viking warbands (I got them intending to play SAGA, but lost interest as they simply aren't as cool as the Perry medievals)

My Moby Dick....

- My 500+ LOTR minis, bought by the box when they were uncool (in the lull between LOTR and Hobbit). Given a LOT are metals/heroes and I have ents, trolls etc, they are probably worth a bucketload on ebay, but I LIKE the rules and minis, it's just the task is too daunting to attempt..

I'd say if I paint half of my "I'd like to paint" list then 2020 will be a success...

Anyway, the next post will be about projects.  Due to my inactivity on the blog/DV google group you may assume I'm not doing anything - yet I do some rules tinkering, but I just don't have time to extensively playtest them or write them up.