Sunday 16 June 2024

Victrix Vikings & Dreadball Musings

I bought a pack of Victrix Vikings, intended either (a) to proxy as Dunlendings or (b) fight zombies in a medieval post apocalyptic ice age.



Well, they are amazing. GW-level detail, at $80AUD (~$50USD) for 60 minis. They are a tad big to go with my MESBG but after I priced up the official Dunlendings, I don't care.

So with my single packet I managed to make...

Thrydan Wolfsbane (foot only) = $25

Igrinna/Oathmaker/Gorulf = $78

Chieftain + Banner + 12 Dunland warriors = $137

Wildmen of Dunland (16 not 12) = $101

Huscarls (4) = $57 my Victrix pack allows me to duplicate about $400AUD worth of stuff as per GW Australia. And I've still got about twenty vikings left to make a zombie fighting expedition for my own skirmish homebrew rules...

I'll add some 3D printed Crebain (crow flock) and maybe a few hill ponies and I'm good to go. It's pretty much a single packet = an entire Dunland army.

Why are these displayed unpainted, you ask? Well, here's the negative...

Unlike say Perry plastics which are pretty casual in mix-and-match, the combinations are quite complicated. It took forever to assemble them (hours and hours). Not quite Wargames Factory samurai level annoying, but much slower than I expected. 



My son has expressed an interest so I've grabbed these out again for a playtest. In my teen years I loved Bloodbowl and technically this is a sleeker, faster playing game of similar ilk. Well, it's not exactly the same (more akin to basketball/hockey/some sort of 90s speedball arcade game) but you can tell BB was in the back of the designers mind when they made it. There's some good design choices here but I'm strangely unenthusiastic.

No setup/kickoff. Once you score the game just keeps going. It's a massive time saving compared to BB and you can actually think ahead beyond when you score. Cool.

Resource Management vs Risk Mitigation. You have 5 actions to spend in various ways; it's more managing your resources than slowly setting up a play, avoiding being f---d by the dice like BB.You can pass multiple times in a turn. Play also alternates faster. You can try riskier shots for more points.

Less meaningless turns/one sided games. Goals can be worth 1-4pts and can be scored almost any time; you never get far behind (there's a 7pt mercy rule); there's no feeling of playing out meaningless turns in an unwinnable game. From my limited experimenting, there seems to be more balance. Stats don't differ much between teams.

Consistent Mechanics. The same mechanics (roll a handful of dice; count successes, modifiers subtract and add dice to pool) are used throughout. No weird dice. Also, the results are less 'swingy' and less terrifying than BB.

A lot of these seem like a direct 'fix' for issues with BB. The game just seems better/more modern. Mechanics are better/smoother. Seems pretty balanced. So why am I not so keen to play?

Miniatures. They're just meh. Some are OK, but many are weedy and lame. Others have pretty much the same sculpt for the entire team. Extra teams are the same price as a BB team and they are nowhere near the quality. Bah.

Factions/Fluff. Bloodbowl is iconic and easy to 'get'. Violet gridiron with fantasy teams. Ogres, elves, orcs - you know what to expect - it 'fits.' Now the sci fi fluff of Dreadball is just... it's like they threw a ideas at a dartboard. Teleporting turtles? It feels like a wasted opportunity. Combined with the lackluster minis, there's almost no team I go "cool - I wanna play as these guys!"

Generic Samey Teams. The teams (and players) seem kinda similar. Bloodbowl had more variation within a team than Dreadball has between teams. Perhaps it was for better balance. It may be because the probability curve has been smoothed out (which although it removes some of the harshness of the rolls) makes things feel.. bland? Flavourless? Except...

Guards/Locked positions. For some reason these guys can't pick up the ball at all. There's some B.S. reason in the fluff but even the most hilariously clumsy ogre in BB could at least attempt to pick up the ball. It just seems weird and contrived. In fact, most Dreadball positions are a bit 'locked' compared to BB - where a player can start out one position yet do other jobs - and through skill rolls, can kinda turn into another. Anyone can do anything - even if it isn't a great idea! But in Dreadball, the strikers can't slam at all (act as guards) they can only dodge. There just seems to be more of a 'hard lock' on positions. There's less flavour yet less flexibility. It's a limitation.

Less simple than you'd think. No one I know plays Dreadball - I'm just teaching myself from the book and it isn't as easy as it seems. There's lots of actions and although they share mechanics all are slightly different. I don't find the rulebook easy to use. (And I've read and played it a few years back so I'm not completely unfamiliar)

 Disclaimer: Dreadball has been out for ages and I'm sure there's many more thorough reviews by guys who play leagues etc. This is just my 10c - but it may be relevant if you are, like me, the 'early adopter' or only player in your area and you can't try/learn from someone else. That said, I see starter sets on eBay for ~$60AUD ($40USD) so it's pretty cheap to start if you're curious. Unfortunately for us in Australia, that's also the price of a single extra team - and the quality of some of the models is very iffy.

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Man Cave v2 Activated

Still some boxes lying around, but the Man Cave (tm) is habitable. I've done a bit of painting and been testing Dreadball rules again (my son likes the idea of it).

I've actually got LESS shed space now (6 bays from 9) but as it's a single large shed not three smaller ones; it seems about the same. Ooh, and I got a shed fridge (allegedly to help my wife with extra room but we really know what it's for) as well as a better shed TV setup. I've forsaken streaming services and have collected ~900 DVDs this year. It sounds a lot but 20c each from the local dump the collection is cheaper than most wargames! There's about ~6 tables of terrain but they stack on top of each other or are hollow so you only see a few tables here. 

The painting gear isn't unpacked but I'm sort of operational.

The wall is mostly wargaming. It goes painted models, books, unpainted models, terrain.

I guess my LoTR count is ~18 for this year? Down a bit on 466 for 2023 but I blame the move...

The dwarves are genuine but the Shelob is a $5 Toys R Us kids toy, the Riders of the Dead are from a Fireforge sprue and the Heralds of the Dead are 3D printed.  In other words, a fraction of what they cost from Gee-Dub. 'Official' Shelob alone is $70AUD. 

I have visitors - Australia's most terrifying predator. The magpie! No, crocodiles and snakes are not what a true Aussie fears (although I do keep the screen door shut to discourage slithering visitors). It's being swooped by a feathered fiend!  I've been appeasing bribing feeding befriending ours so the magpie mafia now appear as soon as they see me in the backyard and tend to come peek into the house and man shed. Yes, I do have kangaroos (lots) in my backyard. No, I have not seen any koalas - although there is a koala reserve on my back fence. Weirdly enough, there is also a lot of ducks.

I was going to discuss some Dreadball thoughts but kids are impatiently awaiting me to read them their nightly book...