About Me

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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fast and furious - Dreadball in a nutshell!

Got to try out Dreadball last week and I thought I'd share some views on it. First off, there's not really a lot of competition in the future/fantasy ball game genre. The obvious main contender is Blood Bowl and that's a game that I spent a lot of time playing in my teens and early twenties. So, how does Dreadball (DB) compare with it and what can it bring to the table that Blood Bowl (BB) fails to deliver?

  1. Speedball! Remember that game? I used to love it on the Megadrive and DB really conjures the look and feel of that game. Despite there being Orcs in DB it feels much more sci-fi than BB.
  2. Speedball 2! Actually, what I mean by this is that DB puts some speed into the game. Despite never having played it before, George and I managed to get through a whole game in a couple of hours, complete with much thumbing through of the rules. You will definitely finish a game of DB long before a game of BB ends. Why? Well, that's really down to the number of players on the board. In BB you play with 11 players, while DB sees only 6 on the board. So you immediately half the number of pieces you need to manage. On top of that, you can't actually move them all in DB, as you only have 5 'action' tokens, so rather than pondering 11 moves, you are only pondering 5 at the most (not counting the small hand of cards you have that can grant extra actions).
  3. Gooooooaaaalll! In DB it is much easier to score. Mostly this is because the board is a lot smaller and there are 3 'goals' in which to score, 2 of which are about halfway up the opponents side. Another key factor is that the ball is launched back into play as soon as a team scores, without resetting the play, much like the way the ball is launched in Rollerball. So, you may find that the ball simply lands on a player who catches it and a score can be made that turn. Scoring in BB is a much more labour intensive task with most games only seeing 2 or 3 touchdowns, especially as the play is restarted after each TD and, more importantly, half time (which DB doesn't actually have). So DB is more like basketball in terms of scoring and ebb and flow of play.
  4. Dream team! Actually, this is one of the points that I think DB falls down on. The models are lovely, but there's a real lack of diversity in the teams as they come out of the box. The greenskins, for example, have only two types of player, the humans having three. There is a definite theme for each side, with the humans being much more about running and throwing while the Orcs just want to smash and bash, but it would have been nice to see some variety, or more choice in team selection. This is one point that BB stands head and shoulders above DB. However, I grant that these are early days for DB and I'm sure they'll release more stuff in due time.
  5. Final score! So, how do they compare? DB is definitely a quicker game, but it's not really any more lightweight in terms of tactical depth and decision making. DB seems much more suitable for a club night or a casual game for a night round at your mates. BB is a longer undertaking, for sure, but it feels more like a big marquee game. If you factor in player progression and the fact that skills are built into BB then the league game is where BB is really at. I have to admit that I didn't get time to really inspect all the rules in DB, but nothing leaped out at me as being designed for team progression. It may be there...I just didn't see it! I guess the big question is, is Dreadball worth shelling out £50 for? Well, Blood Bowl is actually very similarly priced, so I would say it really depends on the gaming group you're a part of. If your mates are all up for a decent league and want a good variety of teams and players, then Blood Bowl is still pretty much the best choice. If you are just looking for a nice, easy entry into the fantasy football genre that doesn't require too much effort to play and can be brought out and played comfortably in an evening, then Dreadball is probably the choice for you. 

Both are very good games and very engaging and fun, so on that criteria I don't really think I could separate them. Whether DB evolves into a serious competitor for the league play only time will tell, but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on it.


  1. Shit, I never thought of comparing it with Speedball! Brutal Deluxe!

    Great write up, hope we'll hear and see more DB from you!

  2. It's tempting to start a Dreadball project since I've heard nice things about it from a number of sources. But I just can't afford the time :-( .


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