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.


  1. I still have my original 1st edition Dreadball KS set which came with an additional 4 or so teams. Agree that some models are a bit average, but I too wanted a SciFi vibe sports game and this seems the best option.

    Played a few games, didnt mind it but BB was still king and we were in a league at the time. Yes some of the positionals have some funny rules, but I just assumed that Guards were like reverse goalies in Soccer - not allowed to touch the ball as opposed to not being physically able to.

    Understand there were some later editions of the rules that cleaned them up a bit - looking forward to hearing how you get on with this, as I am also curious about rediscovering this (or ditching it from my collection - I'm in a downsizing kind of place now)

    1. I have 2nd edition (dumped my 1st ed), which made Jacks more useful, and did some balance things which I can't recall.

      Some teams are not just average but have the same sculpt for every player. That's OK for checkers but not a game with individualized players with unique skills...

      The guards had some rule like "don't have gloves" but just penalizing them -1 or -2 would avoid the 'gamey' hard limitation. Actual goalies are more useful as they can kinda punt it and scatter it... I'd even be OK if all guards had this rule rather than just looking at a ball and being unable to do anything...

      DB certainly plays much quicker (and 'fixes' some BB annoyances I listed above) but if you're in a BB league already I doubt there's much incentive to swap; the toys and fluff is certainly less appealing.


  2. I bought my son Victrix Vikings and was really annoyed by how many options couldn't work together. Certain head options only work with certain bodies, weird arm combinations, etc. I love the detail, they are beautiful miniatures, but so fiddly.

    1. I'd probably say they are, objectively, the best non-GW sprue/plastic's I've seen. $1 per model is great value.

      But I think I still prefer the Perry size/sculpting style... their medieval plastics are my favourite kit I think...


  3. I love my Victrix Kits.

    I built an entire Viking army for Fury of the Northman from a single pack of 60. I have several Ancient armies as well for Men of Bronze and Wars of the Republic. Typically, I can make two armies for a very reasonable price and with a decent amount of options for Unit-vs-Unit games.

    Then, I can use some of them for model-vs-model games as well.
    Very versatile kits.

  4. I backed Dreadball on the original Kickstarter but have since moved it on. Loved the idea of it but never played it since I couldn't find people in Brisbane to play with back then. I'm hoping Mantic bring it back soon with models on par with some of their newer offering and tightened streamlined rules.

    1. I don't think the rules are bad at all or particularly need streamlining. They're certainly cleaner than BB by miles. It's just DB isn't thaaat simple and I found the rulebook not as usable as I expected. Besides the 'limited position' quibbles...

      The fluff and minis certainly missed the mark for me. It's unique, but sci fi hockey, for example, would have been a better sell; or a direct copy of those old Atari/Amiga 5v5 Speedball games.

      Remember Speedball? They had stamina/health, skill, and power; and as you took hits (damage = power) your stamina/health dropped and reduced speed. You could jump for a catch but were more vulnerable to getting smooshed. There was power-ups as well.

      I think a better link to this would have done better... actually might be a fun game design project!

      ^I've been dabbling emulators for my kids (RetroPie etc) so I can probably retry the old Atari games easily!


    2. I have been slowly dabbling with a Fantasy Ice Hockey game called PHUCK! in the Google Group. Kind of stalled at the moment.

  5. It's fantastic to hear about your experiences with Victrix Vikings and Dreadball. The detail and value you've found in the Victrix Vikings pack is impressive. It's great that you've been able to create so many characters and scenarios with just one pack. Despite the complexity of assembly, the end result seems worth the effort.

  6. FincasKhalmoril30 June 2024 at 00:56

    That Victrix set looks downright amazing! I will definitely have to try it and work on my decade long project(s) of a historical Viking army and a tolkienesque Skirmish.

    Concerning Dreadball: I fully understand your concerns. I like the rules Mantic usually makes. They are far from elegant, but are pretty good at emulating the *feel* of a HW game with about 10% of the cost and 25% of the hassle involved. KoW is really a great design even though I find it way too gamey in many regards.
    Dreadball otoh is a lost opportunity: the fluff, the teams, the models. They should really have gone for a Speedball/Rollerball/idontknowhatball version from the old computer game days, tuned down the Star Wars factor (I really don’t like those aliens) for more Cyberpunk and have the guy who made the Hellboy models (which are really good, especially if you compare them to other Mantic minis) design the miniatures.

    GW has started a very good quickplay BB itself. Try to get Blitzbowl if you can. It’s even more of a boardgame than BB and very much gets into that juicy spot of bodychecks and fast play. The boxed set is pretty affordable, too.