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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Playing new old games: Dreadball (and vs Blood Bowl)


I've owned Dreadball since the beginning, having backed the first Kickstarter campaign in 2011-12. I even posted some blog entries here as I painted the teams.

I played it for the first time a couple weeks ago. When I met my wife, I learned that she loves co-op games, and enjoyed competitive games, but not necessarily "take-that" or fighting games. So I figured she wouldn't like Blood Bowl or Dreadball, both of which I owned but were in mothballs.

As the years went by, we started playing more and more of those competitive, take-that, and fighting games, culminating with Adrian Smith's "Hate." Then the Harry Potter: Catch the Snitch Kickstarter campaign popped onto the scene and I thought that would be a fun game to play (and my wife loves the Harry Potter franchise.) But I remembered I already had a couple "sports" games, so that was the catalyst to dig those games out from hiding.

We tried out Blood Bowl; the rules took a a little bit to get back into, but after a few turns, we had things in hand. Verdict: Wife liked it -- it was nothing special, but she enjoyed playing it. Next we tried Dreadball. Verdict: She loved it! She already (after one week) has her sights set onto creating a Mechanites team, though she's also enjoying playing her human corporation tea.
I've since forgot all about the Harry Potter game.

If you haven't played Dreadball (and/or have played Blood Bowl,) here are a few comparison points between the two games:

Dreadball Hobgoblins on the same team try to one-up each other
and will punish each other for failure. I love it. (art by me!)


-- Both games have a "tackle zone," (Called a threat zone in Dreadball.) In Blood Bowl the zone is all the squares adjacent to the player; in DB, it's only the three hexes in front of a player. Both games require some sort of test to be made to be able to evade out of one of those zones.

-- Blood Bowl and Dreadball, a player's turn ends mostly when you drop or lose the ball (or after a score,) though, in Dreadball, if you fail an evade test, you can keep on going. So it's a little more high-stakes in Blood Bowl.

-- If you drop the ball in both games, it will scatter, and a player who is able must try to pick it up.

-- There are a large number of teams and stars/MVPs to choose from in both games. Blood Bowl has 21 official teams and 23 Star players. Dreadball has 29 teams and 67 MVPs and team captains. Both have the requisite humans, dwarves, elves and orcs. Blood Bowl expands on the fantasy races with Chaos and Undead, for example; Dreadball has more aliens, such as the the Judwan, Mechanites, and Sphyr, for example. Both games have large player options.

-- Both games have team-building, and league rules, along with coaches, cheerleaders, and player development and injuries.

My beloved Iotacorp Rockets -- my first Dreadball team.

-- Blood Bowl: After a score, you re-set a players to start a new drive.
-- Dreadball: After a score, players do not re-set as a new ball is launched (and woe to those who forget to move out of the way of the ball launching area!)

-- Blood Bowl: Game play is a little slower, more methodical. Sometimes, it might take multiple turns (dirves) to score
-- Dreadball: Game play is more freeform and faster, with scores possible almost every turn (rush.)

-- Blood Bowl: You can pass once per turn.
-- Dreadball: You can pass as long as you have activations or free turns remaining to do so.

My first Blood Bowl team: Wood Elves

-- Blood Bowl: Every player gets an activation.
-- Dreadball: You get five "activations" per rush -- and each player can be activated up to two times (or three if you have a nearby team captain.) If you roll particularly well on some "tests" (passing, catching, evading etc.) you are rewarded with a free run, throw, slam (tackle) etc.

-- In Blood Bowl, the fans will try to hurt you if given the chance.
-- in Dreadball, the fans will cheer great plays; and you can "collect" those cheers to inspire you to do better in the game.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head; I'm sure there are more similarities, but if I had to choose one sports game, I'd go with Dreadball. Though, Blood Bowl still has a place in my heart even if it's only for the nostalgia.

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