So I have been branching out from my usual gaming of Infinity to play some DreadBall. Like many wargamers I have very fond memories of playing Blood ball and felt like DreadBall might be a good replacement. With this in mind I brought the DreadBall KickOff box set for around £25. The DreadBall KickOff is a low cost entry level box set, with two teams (16 models in total), a pitch, dice, counters and a rule leaflet. The teams in the box are Orxs (with goblins) and humans.

Dreadball!

Dreadball!

After playing five games, I can safely say that DreadBall is a blast! DreadBall is quick to learn, has a decent amount of depth but is most importantly fast and fun! The game constantly sees the advantage switching from one team to the other, which keeps both players interested in the game. Indeed scoring tends to happen a lot and the sliding score scale makes the game like a tug of war to get the upper hand.

To give the gist of the game you have eight players per side, six of which play on the pitch at any time. As you would expect, the players try to get the ball and throw it within the strike zone to score whilst battering any opponents that get in the way. Each side of the pitch has three strike zones, with the furthest away providing the highest points. This is already an interesting twist from Bloodball and keeps the game distinct from any real spots.

Another interesting feature is the player position rules. This is a big one, which may initially turn people away from the game (I was sceptical anyway!). Each player has a specified position, which can be striker, guard or jack. Stickers are good at dodging, handling the ball and scoring but can’t tackle and have light armour. Guards are the opposite in that they tackle well, have good armour but can’t handle the ball. Jacks are literally “jacks of all trades” in that they can both tackle and handle the ball, have average armour, but can’t do either well. Having players take specific positions actually works really well and adds a surprising level of tactics to the game.

Dreadball Pitch

Dreadball Pitch

The only issue I had with the teams comes down to my own game style, rather than any fault in the game design. Personally I like playing alien races, but I did not get on with the Orxs. This comes down to the available player positions, or more lack of! The Orxs team does not have strikers (at least without adding MVP’s) and this means that the goblins (who are jacks) are left to do anything related to the ball. Unfortunately, being jacks, the goblins are just not that good at scoring! Getting the Orx team to score often feels like an upward struggle, indeed scoring often involves beating the other team into submission and then going for the ball! I appreciate that this is just my opinion, so don’t let it put you off the game. In the future I would defiantly like to use another alien team that has strikers, as it makes scoring so much easier!

Orx team

Can anyone pick the ball up?

With the quality of the miniatures (which are on par with GW) and the level of fun I have had playing DreadBall, I think that the KickOff box is defiantly good value for money. Also if you like the KickOff box set, you can buy “Extra Time” which gives the more advanced rules like fouling, referees and event cards. The only complaint I have about KickOff is that the box does not come with the clear plastic hex bases. This seems a little tight to me. I will undoubtable buy the bases and it won’t cost too much (under £3), but it’s a shame that they where not in the Kick Off set. Maybe it’s just because I am a wargamer who is used to bases being a standard for a miniature, but this little omission did bug me!

Anyway to summarise, DreadBall may be in the “Beer and Pretzel” category of gaming but this is exactly what I wanted from a sports-miniature game. Personally I think many gamers would benefit from having this game in their collection. If nothing else you can break it out in-between playing some more intense games like Infinity or 40K, but at it’s best you can have a drink an excellent game and a great laugh! Personally I already want to get the “Extra Time” expansion (although it’s only an expansion if you buy the cut down DreadBall KickOff set, rather than the full game) as well as another alien team, of course with strikers!

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