DreadBall – Season 2 Musings

Just for a change of pace, I’d like to talk about where I’d like to go with DreadBall in a design sense. Before I go further, let me say that none of this is carved in stone. The nearer stuff is more solid, but we still haven’t published the core game or finished the Kickstarter yet!

Ronnie, being Ronnie, has already spilled many of the beans with update 26 for Kickstarter. Pesky blighter just beat me to it. I’ll assume you’ve read that.


Starting Points

When I design a game, I find that it has a natural size – an amount of rules and number of options that just suits it perfectly. Sometimes it’s big, and other times petite, but if you listen to a game it will always tell you.

I may have said something similar with Dwarf King’s Hold because I wrote a similar article for that. We’re most of the way through that vision now, and I am looking forward to the next (very exciting) step. For DreadBall things are a bit different.

Apart from Mantic having a bit more experience about this whole board game lark (making production and so on much smoother), there is the whole Kickstarter thing. That has a couple of facets which make me very excitable, and neither of them are the money. At least, not directly.

The first thing is that (thanks to everyone’s support) I can get my vision for the game done much faster and probably better than would otherwise be the case. Me telling Ronnie that I want to do 4 boxes of DreadBall games sounds less silly if everyone is keen πŸ™‚

Secondly, and probably more importantly for me, it creates an instant community. I don’t know about you, but I am often an early adopter of any game that isn’t one of the top 3. That means I am the one investing time, money and effort finding the game, learning it and then trying to persuade enough people locally to have a viable group. The internet is a bit of a game changer in many ways, but it still doesn’t get me local games. I’ve been reading a lot of forums lately, and have posted quite a bit myself. Talking to people, I’m getting a strong impression that whole groups are getting on board with DreadBall, and people are going out and persuading their friends that it’s looking like something to keep an eye on. And, of course, it is πŸ˜‰

What all of this means is that instead of a shiny new box coming out and you being the first to get it, there will be a whole community of gamers on the day of release. And for a game like DreadBall which has so much entertainment value lurking in a set of league rules, this is really valuable. It’s a very different situation, and one made possible only by the enormous support the Kickstarter has had so far. Of course, the bigger it gets the bigger this community will be, which is a real win all round.

So thank you for your support, and for those who read this after it has closed, you missed a really exciting time πŸ™‚


4 boxes?

Like I said, a natural size. At least in my head. I’ll talk about the 3rd (Ultimate DreadBall) and 4th (DreadBall Xtreme) tomorrow because I can already see that this is going to be a bit long. For now, let me focus on DreadBall and its immediate expansion: DreadBall Season 2.

DreadBall is a stand alone game, designed to be entirely self contained. There is no need for you to go and buy a bunch more stuff. Except that you will want to because it’s cool πŸ˜‰

The DreadBall box includes complete rules for one off games and leagues, as well as 4 teams and 8 MVPs. It’s not half a product, because that’s not how I do things. It’s a whole game. Let’s be clear on that.

However, I often struggle to fit my whole idea into a single sane size of product. It’s usually bursting at the seams with ideas, then I have a few more and they have to go somewhere – hence an expansion. DreadBall Season 2 is an opportunity to add a little bit of chrome to the rules with some Coaching Staff, Cheerleaders (because everyone wants them – and why not), 4 more teams and as many MVPs as I can fit in. The core rules won’t change (they don’t need to), and the extra rules will be there purely to allow those additions. I’m very conscious of the cleanliness and sleekness of the system as it stands and don’t want to bury it under fiddly nonsense. Always have to keep a weather eye out for that.

Abilities areΒ a good way to define the character or style of a team or MVP, so I’d expect to include a few of those. A lot can be done with stats, combinations of player roles and so on, but every now and again you need to stick in something new.


Which Teams?

Glad you asked.

This quartet of new teams has undergone a number of iterations so far, and this isn’t entirely final though I feel like we’re getting close.

  1. Ladies First. Yes, the girls really ought to go in here. They are still humans, and will have human stats the same as the Trintek 29ers, but there is a spin or two I’d like to introduce to change their playing style a bit and make them a separate team in their own right. I think I can do this without adding any new rules too, which is a bonus. Needs more playtesting though. Of course, you could still use the miniatures to play as a 29ers sort of human team if you like.
  2. It came from… who knows? It’s the ZZor, and they’re not telling. This is one of the Warpath races which hasn’t seen the light of day on those battlefields yet, but which we might get to see first on the DreadBall pitch. nasty, nasty bitey things, so lord knows how they got to be in teams. Maybe mind control devices and shock sticks, controlled breeding programmes, stunt doubles or some other cunning piece of showmanship. Perhaps their hive minds just like a bit of sport. I suspect their Guards might be quite mean.
  3. Robots! Well it’s the far future, so it would be rude not to. I had a really cool (in my head, anyway) idea for this team, and have sort of dumped a production headache on Mantic. I want the team to be able to change roles as the game goes on. Not like Transformers visually, but a similar idea of mutability. The headache is how to do this as models. However it works it will probably be a bit more effort and cost to collect a robot team because you will need the extra models when they change role (as different player roles will look different). Still, none of the teams is a huge investment, and at Mantic prices I can’t see that people will grumble. Especially as the idea is so much fun. Need another Striker? Sure, I’ll just swap this one out. Should be crazy on the pitch.
  4. Judwan. Who? Well they are made up aliens (it’s science fiction, remember). These were spawned by an MVP I was working on, whose race suggested a whole different play style, and that’s what you need for a really good new team. I’m going to try them out with only Strikers, and we’ll see if they work as see them in my head…

As you can see, it’s a varied bunch.


More MVPs

I want to draw from a few sources for this. There will be some weird aliens, some more for the existing races, plus specific MVPs for the new teams. I’d also like to include a few jokes and you might find homages to some real world sporting legends. Just because I can πŸ˜‰


Season 2

Overall, Season 2 will add greater breadth to an already tactically deep game, and this in turn will add even more depth to the tactics and counter-tactics (especially for leagues). With more teams and more MVPs the Β combinations of possibilities for really interesting matches just gets even bigger.

I look forward to the debates about which team is best πŸ™‚

This entry was posted in DreadBall - The Futuristic Sports Game, Game Design Theory. Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to DreadBall – Season 2 Musings

  1. Lee says:

    Excited to see such big plans! Any chance one of the coaching staff roles will be strength & conditioning coach? That’s a science in and of its self and would think any team worth it’s salt would try to gain that advantage. Very cool concept for the robots, I know I won’t mind buying extra models for them. Interested in hearing more about the others. Guess that means we will have to wait for John Doe and the Sharks for later……

    • Quirkworthy says:

      JD as the basis for a team is not as well developed as the others here, and it makes sense to go with the more refined ones first. Let JD’s team percolate a little longer.

      • Lee says:

        Oh it’s not a bad thing that we have to wait, you know, good things to those that do and all that…

        • Quirkworthy says:

          You know I said that games have a size that they want to be, and you have to listen – the same sort of thing holds true of details like teams or individual MVPs. You get a feeling for when they’re balanced and done and when they’re still waiting for the last piece to slot into place. JD’s lot isn’t done yet, whereas the others are pretty close (bar several dozen playtests).

          He’ll be great when he’s finished though. Wacky, but great πŸ˜‰

  2. Monkey's Blood says:

    We are patient. We can wait for out fishy friends for as long as it takes πŸ™‚

    All sounds really cool, the robot idea sounds fun in particular. I’m intrigued about the Zzor in warpath, so getting an early look in DB is an added bonus. I do like the idea of them being controlled by handlers with shock sticks and maybe devices bolted to their heads. This leads to all sorts of fun when they malfunction and handlers get eaten.

    I ‘d like to think you are right with the kickstarter making a community – I’m not a fan of 40k and Warhammer, but if I want to get a game round my way thats what I need to play. But guys from the local clubs are now talking about dreadball… which is great. Hype works, and I’m so pleased about that.

  3. Monkey's Blood says:

    BTW – you said 8 MVPs… what with Logan, Joe, Rolat, Ironstone, Doe, Wilcard, 88, Enforcer and Buzzcut I count nine – is 8 a typo or is someone’s rules not in the book

  4. thedauntless says:

    I cannot remember being more excited by the possibilities of a game that hasn’t yet hit the shelves – I’m pushing to get a few mates involved with the kickstarter as well, and am getting tremendous positive signs there too-am even going to try persuade the school where I work to commit to a copy for the Games club.
    I think that what has hit me from my nigh obsessive-compulsive checking of the Kickstarter meteoric funding is the real sense of community salivating for just such a product. I like supporting Mantic – and similar companies; but as a smaller company, there is not as much exposure (well, not in Ireland at least) as the more established mainstream companies. This makes it tougher to get games in, or develop a community easily – but an all-in-one that is tied into the Warpath universe makes for a really good stimulus. I think that there is such enormous fun and potential for more – my head was already running to some of the ideas you’ve mentioned for Dreadball Season 2 (Coaches affecting play-aesthetics that have a technical role as option or even board-based rule changers etc), and I am elated that they are so close to the vision you’ve been creating for pushing this system beyond a simple stand-alone. I thought to myself – here is a developer who thinks eerily similar to myself, but then copped myself on to the fact that there is an entire COMMUNITY who have been craving this for a long time! I’m not diminishing your creative processes at all, but I think what I’m trying to say, is that you’ve got your fingers on the pulse of the Miniature’s World Zeitgeist and whether it is through serendipitous timing or answering a call, you’ve really provided an amazing service to not just loyal supporters, but new gaming enthusiasts for some time to come.
    I know that I’m gushing -but I don’t do so often, and it is well deserved here. The way in which you guys have handled the Stretch Goals and rewards- the dialogue with the fans – it is something that inspires confidence in not just the game itself, or the play system you’ve been breaking down for us over the past few posts, but in the company willing to build itself up from and around the people who are willing to support such endeavour. I’ve never felt my voice more heard in supporting a company or product that I am proud to back or happier to see succeed, and that is creditworthy in my opinion.

    Now, if you haven’t contracted diabetes from this post, well done to you and all involved, and keep the great work.

    • Monkey's Blood says:

      That’s what I’m talking about right here. People are wanting to play the game before it’s even out… if it can grow on relase it could establish a real foothold in clubs and cons. Which would be ace for chaps like me who like sports themed games where you don’t have to paint many models!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Well what can I say Shane. You’ll make me blush πŸ˜‰

      You are right though – the excitement of the growing DreadBall community is infectious.

      (And you said zeitgeist and serendipitous in one sentence).

  5. thedauntless says:

    lol – indeed, they are wise as they are yellow! Right, time to hit the hay! Early morning ahead and I find that the general amount of sleep I need everyday is about ten minutes more than I usually tend to get! (to bowdlerise another wiser source than myself!) – am off to dream about one of these new Dreadball teams incorporating some classic Grey alien designs! Take it easy all!

  6. Kiwamu (from Kickstarter) says:

    If my guess is right, bugs are incoming with the Zzor; Also great to know there is a limit of sorts, helps to keep the kitchen clean.

    I’m currently wondering about multihex models and how they might be added to ultimate…

  7. My Lad (aged 11) and I are mad keen Blood Bowlers, and we are salivating at the chance to try something new and different. We are all pledged up as Strikers and very excited at the stretch goals being met. These plans for the future prove to us that we can enjoy the same of sort of extended support, expansions, and most importantly FUN.

    What we also love about BB is the league play, player development and background fluff – what sort of plans do you have to expand in these areas? Is there an injury management system with stat reductions, use of team medical staff etc?

    Thanks for the great info popping up here and around the net – getting rather excited!


    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hey Paul,

      based on my time as game producer for Blood Bowl at GW, the feedback I had was that the injury system in Blood Bowl is one of its less popular aspects. In line with most of DreadBall, things are a bit slicker and more streamlined than that. Injuries that happen during a game are dealt with by spending a number of turns off the pitch being patched up. There is no long term effect. If a player dies during a league game then the team’s Coach has two choices. He can either fork out a medical bill to fix the player at about half an average new player’s cost. Medical advances in the Warpath universe make long term niggles for such famous players avoidable if you have the cash. Alternatively, the Coach can sell the player’s remains as spare parts on the lucrative organ market, earning some cash in the process at the price of losing the player.

      Those players really should read the small print in their contracts!

      • Sounds great! But one of the key parts about taking the field with your best players is that stuff happens and it could always be their last match! Any thoughts then to perhaps bionic/genetic enhancements or adrenal boosts (which perhaps only last a few turns then half their stats)?

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Enhancements and equipment are currently no further along than notes in one of my pads, which may or may not make it to full rules. I’m still not 100% convinced about them.

          Your players can still “die” (though you could then pay for their resuscitation).

      • Kristian says:

        (sarcasm) Really? Tracking niggling injuries isn’t fun? The only thing more fun was BB2ed blocking gridlock. Step-block-fall over. Dodge-fail-trip-fall over. Good times.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Not everyone disliked injuries, but it was a common theme of complaints about the BB league system. properly speaking, it’s just a different level of detail, and DreadBall has gone for a slightly simpler one.

  8. moocifer ( also in Nottingham ) says:

    I am a little concerned that you guys (Mantic) are getting preoccupied with promising / releasing more and more teams & MVP instead of concentrating first on the core rules and then advanced rules & extra bits.

    Having not read the full rules yet and seen all the possibilities .. from the limited example Rush pdf I am worried that the game is no more than 4 actions of GUARDS slamming holes to make some space for STRIKERS to run into with or without the ball before throwing it on action 5 for the score ..

    There has been mention of KEEPERS a few times but what about dedicated RECEIVERS too that are better at catching the long “9-hex” pass ??

    Please do not foresake quality for the lure of quantity.

    • Kiwamu says:

      I think with the general release around the corner (december). They might already ironed out the game. All these extras (starting from Wildcard) will come in may, so there is enough time toiron out these rules πŸ™‚

    • Quirkworthy says:

      There’s no need to worry about that.

      The core DreadBall game has been very extensively playtested with somewhere over 200 games played. I was keeping count, but it stopped mattering as there were so many. There might even be more now, but the rules haven’t needed to change in a long while. These have all been with the 4 teams and the MVPs in the initial box. The core rules are rock solid. Only now, when the core rules have been done, am I spending time to go back through my notes and develop the future concepts. The series of expansions was entirely based on my vision for the game and where it would naturally go. It’s not been driven by Ronnie telling me I have to fit a certain number of release slots. Quite the other way about.

      If you see an opportunity to score in a single Rush, then making a hole and running or throwing the ball through it would probably be the way to go. That’s sort of what happens in real sports too so I don’t see why it would be a problem here. However, things have a habit of not quite working out as planned, which is where the fun comes in. You could also pass the ball around the opponents, swipe it off him if he had it and run past, and so on. All the equivalent tactics to real sports are present (given the differences in “real” DB rules).

      Strikers are the equivalent of both throwers and catchers in DreadBall, basically specialising in anything to do with moving the ball about and rolling those two jobs into one player.

  9. pepperpunk says:

    I like the idea for making the Zz’or “playable”. To me the background is very, very important, and GW’s approach of “alternate universe” was a little too handwavian for my liking.

    The mind control device sounds like the best idea, perhaps surgically modified Zz’or that have had their nervous system replaced with an AI computer system to allow them to do things like catching and running with the ball for the jacks, whereas the guards remain less-modified/neutered and are likely to attack whatever they want.

    The captive breeding program approach could be fairly amusing, too, especially if you add in stuff like certain smarter Zz’or being trained to “play fetch” and being rewarded by a nice hunk of steak whenever they pick up a ball and put it into a goal in their pens (the pens could be replicas of dreadball pitches for training purposes).

    Lots of fun potential there. I do appreciate the efforts to have the weirder races “make sense” within the existing background. πŸ™‚

    Plague will be a lot harder, ideally you need the Warpath background for them worked out before figuring that out (hopefully not space zombies, anything but space zombies.. need to move away from fantasy.. the sedition wars Strain are a perfect example of non-fantasy and fully sci-fi dead/infected humans, same goes for the reavers from Firefly).

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Alessio write the basic background for Warpath – I just get to play about with it…

      Your point about keeping away from fantasy echoes my own oft repeated pleas, so I like that πŸ™‚

      With backgrounds and explanations for the alien races, the line I am taking is that the Warpath universe is a big place, and the Corporation a large and powerful entity within it, so it is less likely that one explanation fits every team. This is especially true for DreadBall as each team has a different corporate sponsor, and so is a potential rival. In this situation it is unthinkable that they’d be sharing the means to get the first Veer-myn, first Zzor, etc teams on the arena floor with all the potential for marketing and hype that would bring. But once one does it the pressure is on, and corners may well be cut to get something that looks vaguely right on the pitch. So for reasons of corporate secrecy and competition, it makes most sense to me to provide a number of explanations – any, all or none of which may be true.

  10. moocifer ( also in Nottingham ) says:

    Any chance of seeing the basic (non-painted) MDF Hex board ?? Will there be any at the Mantic Open Day in Bulwell ??

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I haven’t seen one myself – only the acrylic one which has been shown on the Kickstarter. I’m sure that whatever they have available will be on display at the open day. Ronnie isn’t one to keep things like that hidden.

  11. Monkey's Blood says:

    So it seems all us Kickstarter chaps will be getting a digi copy of season 2… is it still going to be released in a physical format too? It’s always nice to have a copy one can take to games easily, read on the toilet and so on.

    Also I was wondering (this might be a question for Ronnie really) are mantic planning on continuing to produce the teams from season 2 and ultimate in plastic (or the plastic resin, which I like to call plesin), or is their likely to be a switch to metal along the way?

  12. 2 quick questions if I may please:

    (1) Will you be considering providing a digital copy of the Dreadball rulebook at the higher levels of pledge support? Currently that will only be provided in hardcopy yes?

    (2) Have you considered developing a basic iPad/Touch/Phone app which would work as a cool DreadBall scoreboard? You could touch icons at the bottom for different level strikes and have cool sound effects to go with it. You could also type in the team names before the games and have them in cool fonts and glowing colours. I would pay a few dollars to have all that on my iPad next to the board !


    • Quirkworthy says:

      You may indeed.

      1) I’m not sure about that. One for Mantic, really.

      2) We’ve talked about various possibilities for an app or online program or whatever. There is a lot of enthusiasm for some form of tracking and league software, but I don’t think anything has yet been finalised in terms of details about exact functionality.

  13. Pingback: Let’s turn it up to 11! | Mantic Games

  14. Pingback: Dreadball – The Wargamers Forum Archive

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s