DreadBall Xtreme

Yesterday I was talking about Ultimate DreadBall and how this was the end of the first cycle. What I mean by that is that DreadBall, Season 2 and Ultimate DreadBall all focus on the official game, run by the DreadBall Governing Body (commonly known as the DGB or “Digby”). But DreadBall has a darker, unsanctioned side. This lacks the glitz and glamour of the stage-managed spectacle in the big arena. In its place it has more grime and sweat, and a lot more blood.

These days, Digby has enough political clout and certainly enough money to be able to influence governments, and for this reason it is actually illegal to hold unsanctioned DreadBall games. Technically even a pick-up game of Street DreadBall is illegal, though in  the case of kids the rules are often waived. The real target of the laws were the underground circuit of games at which vast amounts of cash change hands, both as hiring fees and as bets. The aficionados of this version of the sport want their blood too, and the illegal status of the games makes player casualties murder victims. At least in the eyes of the law. So the players are often masked, or otherwise disguised.

Games are held in hidden locations, organised secretly by shadowy figures who only release the information at the last moment. Digby’s own security forces fight a constant battle of infiltration and skullduggery to prevent these matches, with far less success than they would like. This has led to a huge campaign of media suppression in an effort to deny the existence of DreadBall Xtreme, even if it cannot actually be stopped.

So, we have a different, but related game. Current thinking is that this will be a completely self-contained boxed game. I say current thinking as I am writing this when the DreadBall Kickstarter is still running, and I have no idea how well it will be supported. I’d love to get all the way to writing DreadBall Xtreme, but that depends on the fan support. If there’s a demand, then I’m way ahead of you 😉


How will it play?

Well that’s not entirely nailed down yet. As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been focussing our playtesting on ensuring that the core game was as solid as possible. However, I’ve got some ideas and have tried a few out which looked promising.


Whatever happens it will be fast and furious, just like normal DreadBall. It will also be guaranteed to have more casualties.

The main features of the game as they stand in my head now are:

  • No Ref, so no fouls. Do what you like. There is one exception to this to avoid complete anarchy, which is the maximum number of players in the arena at once. Apart from that, I can see a lot more injuries and deaths.
  • Less armour. Another likely cause of major casualties is the lighter and more makeshift armour. Digby controls the manufacturing of official armour and there is no real incentive to fabricate major protection when what the crowd wants is blood. Xtreme will be a lot more gladiatorial than official DreadBall, though you should never lose sight of the fact that you still win the game by scoring Strikes.
  • Fancy holographic Strike targets is a bit beyond the ad hoc nature of most Xtreme arenas, so the arenas themselves are laid out a bit differently. I am also toying with the idea of every Strike Zone being usable by both teams, but with a different points value for each team at each Zone, if you follow me. For example, in the Zone nearest my end of the pitch I can score for 1 point, but you get 3. This may not work as I envisage, but I’ll give it a go.
  • Teams and team building will work very differently. In the secretive and illegal huddle of DreadBall Xtreme, teams are more fleeting and variable than normal. They form around a Backer who can pay for the hire of enough players. This is usually just for a single game. As players get injured or killed (or arrested) they come and go from the line up. In reality, what happens if that a Backer will have a large pool of players that he knows, and he will hire whichever ones he can find or wants for each match on a per match basis. This single match contract is the basis for the difference between official and unofficial teams. Normal DB players sign up for years, and so the teams change only slowly. In the board game, this means that you (the Backer) buy your team from a much wider selection of players and races than normal, and most Backers have a similar set to draw from (though I need to work on this to add more variety – I’m not happy with that yet). Regardless of the details, it’s a very different team set up from normal DB.
  • The core moving and action system will remain the familiar one from DreadBall. It’s a violent parody of the same game, so there’s no need to fix what’s not broken. However, I’m toying with the idea of only 3 Team Action Tokens per Rush to reflect the lack of coordination in these temporary teams.
  • The card deck will be replaced with a heavily revised version to better suit the different character of Xtreme.
  • The league system will be modified to accommodate the different team system. It is possible that league hiring will all be auction based, like current MVP hiring. This might be a bit slow though. We’ll see how it goes.


New Players?

The player types you will see in DreadBall Xtreme are the scrapings of the barrel. They include all manner of cutthroat scum, ex-convicts, disgraced big league players, military deserters, criminal enforcers (not the combat unit), mutant aberrations as well as all manner of alien dregs.

Should be a laugh 😉

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50 Responses to DreadBall Xtreme

  1. Scott Myers says:

    Sounds Very Interesting and a great ” to finish things off” Kickstarter Goal. I love the idea of using criminals and such to field the Teams, it makes the model selections endless. Can’t wait to see more on this one. Hopefully, we can wiz past Season2 and Ultimate.. bring on Extreme!

  2. Jeff says:

    That all sounds very cool, and – in some ways – more interesting than the main Dreadball itself. I like the idea of teams comprised of rag-tag aliens from all about the galaxy. It would be like scouting a team in the Star Wars cantina. That’s cool. Very cool. Dreadball as a whole continues to get more and more exciting.

    (…but I still want a team of cat-people!)

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I think it will appeal to different people, like the DKH sets.

      With Dwarf King’s Hold there are 2 starter sets, and there seems to be an even split between folk who prefer Green Menace and those that think Dead Rising has the edge. In fact, they’re just different 🙂

  3. Lee says:

    I know I’d give it a go, sounds like a fun variant! I like the idea of the auction team building and the unique deck cards for this version of the game. Have you thought of other card variations for the regular DreadBall? I know some were discussing ideas of team specific cards and such to differentiate even further the playing styles of teams even within the same race. Regardless, can’t wait to see what all is in store! Oh, and if they can’t use official armour, they must have to jury-rig gloves too, right? Might be some significant ball handling accidents in this version….

    • Lee says:

      Also wondering, is Xtreme where we might see things like weather/climate and/or terrain and objects influencing play in the Arena? I’d say pitch, but Arena seems more fitting for this more gladiatorial sounding spectacle!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      There might indeed. Another chance to get injured 🙂

      The original version of the DreadBall cards had team specific ones and was a bit different from what we ended up with. The problem there was that I needed to know all the possible teams in order to balance the deck, which of course I didn’t.

      I think weather is somewhat unlikely, but I wouldn’t say definitely no just yet.

      Terrain elements are much more probable a feature. They might even turn up in Ultimate, though I’m not going to promise anything. I’ve got a couple of mutually conflicting ways to deal with them and it depends on which I end up using.

  4. Kiwamu says:

    Sounds interesting, also I like your approach of first make it clean, cut what’s to shiny without throwing all out of the window. This gives DreadBall fans some practice and can mostly hop in…!

    However I would also love if some familiar faces of the DreadBall scene are sometimes playing for a lowy team, just to get some extra money on the side…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It would be difficult to make this fit convincingly with the background in more than a couple of very rare cases, though I was expecting it to appear for the very occasional MVP, perhaps.

  5. Blair says:

    Instead of auction based for non mvp’s, how about a point total system like how other minis games work for army creation?

  6. mindg4m3 says:

    I love the idea of both teams using the same goals. I would love to see it as well in normal dreadball on an alternative pitch.

  7. James says:

    It seems like you’ve spent some serious time really thinking about all facets of dreadball. Aside from the rules, this level of commitment to the background and all different ways to play the game is one of the most important things to me. Also the subtle *cough* reference to rollerball on the website and the idea it might be possible to do something like that in the extreme version of the rules doesn’t hurt.

  8. David Yellope says:

    How About a four player “DreadBall Max” pitch with two balls in play .Strikes in your rival (the Strike Zone opposite yours) are worth 1 extra point, while Strikes in the the other two non your team’s strike zones are worth normal points).

    Or, instead of that, do it solely based on point differential:

    Team 1: Scored 7, Let In 5
    Team 2, Scored 11, Let In 10
    Team 3: Let In 8, Scored 6
    Team 4: Let In 6. Scored 5

    Team 1 would be scored the winner despite scoring less points then team 2, as they have a better point differential. (prevents TOO much offensive play, and it provides a useful late game strategy if one team’s way out in front, that the other teams gang up to score in their goal

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve been wondering if I can squeeze in 6 player games for Ultimate – 6 being the obvious number for a pitch based on hexes. It would require considerable rejigging to avoid excessive downtime, but will be on the playtest schedule.

      A similar Grand Arena sort of insanity might be fun for Xtreme, though I was thinking of something perhaps more akin to stock car racing when you play till only one is left moving…

  9. thedauntless says:

    Hi Jake – thanks for letting us in on the thinking surrounding the future possible – First off – it sounds really REALLY interesting! You have my interest piqued! I do think that you’ll have quite the headache on your hands with such new rules while tying too closely to the original concept – I imagine that such a rule set would work well (I’m not saying better – please take the suggestion in the spirit in which is is intended) if it changed the layout of the board entirely – such as a single Strike Zone that both score into – kind of like a game of street style pick-up basketball – one hoop divided between attackers and defenders? I know that this idea is not without issue, but it might also tie in with the fluff you’re determining too. A backstreet game without funding deserves an adhoc pitch so to speak. I really enjoy the prospect of the hi-octane media monster scrubbing down to bare bone and played by those who can’t play the real thing for whatever reasons – and I think that the mercenary team formations makes for some really interesting play; I really think that is the greatest asset and biggest hurdle for you to overcome in design vs. play! If anyone can do it, it’s you though! Great stuff here today!
    Either road – just my unasked for penny’s worth! Take it easy and thanks again!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Shane. As you say, there are quite a few design hurdles to overcome here, but it’s fun to have a challenge. All I can say is that I’ve got a pretty clear picture in my head for most of this, and that’s where I usually start. It’s now just a matter of translating that into a playable and fun game 🙂

  10. Anton K says:

    Hello Jake,

    First of all I am very excited about all of the details you have described and am delighted that you take the time to walk us through your thoughts and creative process. Thank you very much for your great communication with fans on here, on BoardGameGeek and the Kickstarter pages.

    I recall you mentioning multi-level arenas and larger scale games than 1 VS 1.

    Are those still on the table and if so which DreadBall release are they a part of in your mind?

  11. Monkey's Blood says:

    I like it – I like how it seems a so different from normal DB. Based on what you are saying would this be a whole new boxed game with board, pitch, cards, counters and plastic teams designed for the extreme format?

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  13. Boris says:

    “In the board game, this means that you (the Backer) buy your team from a much wider selection of players and races than normal, and most Backers have a similar set to draw from (though I need to work on this to add more variety – I’m not happy with that yet).”

    One possible approach would be to chose the Backer’s species, and make it easier/cheaper to hire players from that particular species. So a Human Backer would still have access to a Marauder Guard, but it would be more expensive to hire him and/or more difficult to convince him to play for the team. This would also allow for nice Backer miniatures, by the way …

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That’s not a bad idea Bris, though I think we need to go a little further to really add character to the Backers. Race is one thing that would be good to include, but we can also think about political allegiances, corporate affiliations, wealth, etc.

      Whatever we end up with, the Backer needs something to characterise them as different from every other one, otherwise they’re a bit bland, and that would never do.

  14. tornquistd says:

    I don’t know if you had an idea in mind for goals in the street games. I was thinking a computer system seems to high tech for a street game. A basket really would not be right because it would capture the ball. But a gong on a stand would be interesting. Hitting it with the ball correctly would be indicated with a nice gong sound and the ball would bounce off. For entertainment you could throw players into the gong once in a while.

  15. Chris says:

    One idea that cropped up during some of the LRB BB discussions was for a team focus rather than player focus. So as the team gets richer with success you get more and better payers. However everyone likes their advancement…

    How about a concept where you have a team budget built around a core ‘gang’. Single or certain combinations of races. These players develop and then you supplement with additional one game mercs. These could be stars, nutters, whatever. Would need a mechanic that limits the core players linked to success so the most successful teams to resemble a DB pro team – clearly they are one their way to join a minor league! Also possible some mechanic that shows how the core players while they might not be as individually good as the one match contract guys play better as a team. The obvious parallel is the BB system that makes it harder for stars to use team re-rolls. Maybe here limit one match guys in some way linked to coaching dice?

    • mindg4m3 says:

      This is an awesome idea, the idea that both the team levels up, and the individual player.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      With Xtreme you take the character away from the team (because they can all draw from the same pool – even if costs vary). However, character needs to come from somewhere. I was going to focus on the Backer himself (herself, itself… ) and work in a way that their character and background influenced the players they had available.

      I’m not happy with characterless and bland rules, so replacing the team character is very important for me. Tying this into the way the teams are recruited adds a natural and entertaining texture to what is otherwise b land and samey.

      The danger with allowing richer teams to draw from more powerful players is that they may accelerate in power so that lesser teams cannot compete with them. Possible, but very tricky.

  16. killaminis says:

    I wonder with these cheating criminals and thugs if they’ll use ranged weaponry?? That’s extreme.. football with axes and bolt throwers… hmmm.

  17. Tomeu says:

    First tought I had when reading this was something like playing football in a favela-like environment. Would be great if the pitch was on an open street (or even market!). Irregular shape, obstacles, maybe other people, or cars passing by (on which the ball would bounce!), etc. Sounds great!

    Think something like P. Pandora scenario, with wider pieces, and alternative ways of being mounted. Or like Dungeonbowl! That’ll be surely Veer-myn playing at home…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That’s an interesting idea. I was envisaging something a little more private and out of the way of prying security eyes. A single solution is less credible than a series of options though.

  18. Mephisto says:

    I like both versions of Dreadball, at least its theme.

    I have several suggestions for the team management:

    1) Each team manager has its contacts on specific neighbourhoods/worlds/sections/regions and can hire the players from there. You either pick those areas at the beginning of the season or you get them randomly assigned. Depending on how good you know the area (you could improve it by investing more money in your contacts/scouts) the probability of getting certain players from there increase.

    A different possibiltiy could be to have a system like Blood Bowl 2nd edition starplayers, where you generate your players at the beginning of the season. This would be the available pool for your team during the season. Let’s say that you generate 30-40 players and that each player has a percentage of appearance. You roll at the beginning of each game which players are available and you choose amongst them. Are you going to invest in the best ones or one the reliable ones even if they are somewhat worse?

    2) Wages are only paid to those players that attend to the game, so you have to plan ahead. There might be games were the better players come (and you have to pay them more money), if you don’t pay them, they will not play again for your team…

    3) I would like the randomness of this version. You are never sure how your team is going to look like, so you have to be flexible.

    4) Mutants and aliens would be really cool to be in there.

    5) The best players can be drafted by the pro-leagues. It would be really cool to have some rules that allow you to play parallel campaigns. The players of the dreadball extreme version provide a pool with new recruits for the pro-teams.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Some great ideas there Mephisto.

      I’m leaning towards focussing on the Backer as the core character of the team and allowing them to develop within their likes and contacts. This might make some players cheap and others unattainable for personal or racial reasons. It’ll be tricky to balance, but is (in my view) absolutely vital to give a strong character to each team.

  19. tornquistd says:

    I am been thinking about what the relationship would be between DreadBall and DreadBall Xtreme. So here is my stab at it.
    DreadBall started out as a athletic sport with very little violence. Attendance and income was low. During the start up phase of DreadBall a group of workers in recycling (scrap yard) started playing the game and sending their games over the scrap feeds. The scrap yard games used a (grinder, incinerator or some very dangerous thing for the goal) and a lot of scrap items were re-purposed for use in the game including a common scrap item that was used for the ball. There was a lot of carnage in the DreadBall Xtreme games but the number of people watching the games were massive. The official DreadBall league took notice and added Guards and rule changes to their game so it would include more violence. The DreadBall league took off and become a big money maker. To get more viewers the DreadBall league made sure the scrap yard leagues were outlawed. Now each scrap yard game has the extra risk of a raid by the enforcers who enforce the ban with immediate capital punishment the only hope in a raid is the eliminate the enforcers, often by feeding them into the “goals”.

  20. Doug says:

    What about focusing on the Backer’s Contacts and Rivalries/Enemies. So a Backer starts with X contacts and Y enemies, which dictate where he can and can’t recruit from (or what’s discounted and what’s not available) and can gain more as the league progresses.

    You could split players into their positions as well as species, creating a wider array of options for the Backer. For example, you might be able to recruit FF guards from a Mining Guild, but FF Strikers come from a Guns for Hire outfit. So a Backer could have a mining guild as a contact, but Hred Guns as an enemy. Thus he gets a discount on FF guards, but can’t hire FF strikers (or maybe has to pay a premium to get them). Every backer gets the same number of starting contacts and enemies and gains more as the league progresses.
    One-off games are played by choosing how many of each the backer has beforehand. So your one off game could be as random or focused as you want.
    This would add more granularity than just ‘you can recruit FF, you can’t recruit Marauders’. It also separates the choices by race as well as allows you to add affiliation(s).
    You could have fun with ‘loans’ too. So Backers can take advantage of their contacts by promising to pay later (effectively getting free players). But if they don’t then the Contact becomes an enemy. On the other hand you could try to convert enemies to contacts, perhaps by paying double what the player is worth, or promising to pay the enemy a cut for X league turns, until they like you (it could be a 321 test, where after the 1st league turn you need to get 3 successes to turn them into a contact, then 2 then 1).

  21. Dave Yeeles says:

    I’m sure you have your own ideas but how about instead of having a selection of players each position has a table you roll on before the game. To start with you just have a beginners table, roll 2D6 and see what you get. A 6,7 or 8 gets you an average player of that type with higher numbers giving you a better player and lower numbers a worse one, maybe a change in Stats or an ability including negative ones i,e the player has taken a few too many blows to the head and suffers from blurred vision so 1 less dice when throwing.

    As the team progresses the coach can get abilities to allow him to either roll on a different table or add a modifier to his roll.

    Also you could allow three permanent players per team, one per position, but these can also be changed, if you roll well you may want to hire one of the temporary ones though this shouldn’t be cheap or easy.

    The major problem I can see is having to roll up your team each game, I don’t know how awkward that would be.

    What are your thoughts on this?

  22. Tony Hooper says:

    Please take with a heavy dose of salt truck, as of yet I haven’t dipped into the Dreadball field.

    Reading about Xtreme, I fail to see why the players would not be as well armoured as their “legit” counterparts. If the sport is more bloody, then surely players themselves would want to be armoured, and bring a nice set of knuckledusters to the arena. If armour was restricted by the corporations, then maybe guards would be the only ones to have the capacity to nab some kit. But perhaps that is what you have in mind.

    I’d hope in the Xtreme team design and Clean team design, allows for cross cultural participation (Veer-myn and Marauder Teams in particular).

    As for this game.

    I’ll confess that at this stage, I have not bought into DB as it does not, IMHO capture the brutality of BB, yet. Xtreme is a step in that direction though. It could get me.

    I like the idea of an alternate arena system, as the clean tron like pitch in DB does not appeal to me. Call it a taste thing, I just don’t like it. I’m not suggesting just using the BB field either, maybe something along the lines of AFL’s oval http://auspost.com.au/education/afl/media/images/player-positions-thumb.jpg but using the gongs (as mentioned above) instead of the goals and point posts. Heck even use the AFL scoring system (goal = 6 points, point gongs on either side of the goals).

    Separately, you could have the arena designed with a Centre Bar (A row two hexs deep) going down the middle, and this split into two halve boards. Players roll to see if they play on a full field or a half field. On a half field, only half the team can be fielded at a time. To activate the goals for you to score, someone from your team needs to carry the ball over the Centre Bar line.

    Again never played DB so don’t know if that would work.

    Team design.

    I do like the idea of the manager/backer shaping the team. Maybe you pick two traits such as race (Human, Asterian, Sorak, Gobbo),and social standing (Industrialist, Mobster, Starlet). Races open up the main team race availability, and social standing provides a bonus for team management.

    I hope to also see a manager right hand man / MVP that not only helps shape the team (can be of a totally different race to the Manager, and allows selection of one more of that players race/allies), but also gains experience on their own and stays with their boss throughout the season. Think of this as the leader of a Mordheim force, and everyone else is just filler.

    By having a backer, and their man form the core of the team, each team created should have a character of their own, while maintaining the ad hoc team acquisition approach you are striving for.

    Good luck, and hope you can suck me in…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Armour. One thing that seems to be true about armour in the real world is that it is expensive. Full DB arena armour is the sort of Formula 1 car version of the armour with all sorts of fancy extras built in. These won’t be readily available to the kind of desperate folk who play DBX. Many of the individuals play because they have no money, and the team organisation isn’t very interested in equipping them nicely to protect their investment (because they didn’t make one). The better, more experienced players will have armour of their own.

      Playing in Xtreme DB would get a professional banned (and jailed) immediately, so few if any currently playing would risk their livelihood to join in. However, ex-DB players are not uncommon as they seek the thrill of the game even after they’ve lost the edge they needed for the highest level of the arena.

      Interesting that you say that DB is less violent than BB. I think the body count in an average game is very similar.

      The DBX pitch is a makeshift affair and I’m currently working on a system that will make it slightly different each time, and very different from the slick arena version.

      I need to balance the team design with a practical way for gamers to buy the models they will need and not have to go and get something every time they want a game. I mean, that would be great for sales, but it would annoy the legs off people (me too) and be impossible to paint. The models will therefore come in families of aliens, convicts or whatever. Each group will form the basis of a team because the points cost for using players from your closest connections is least and that’s what you need to field a large enough team. If you want to add some more exotic players then you can, but they’ll eat up the points.

      • Tony Hooper says:

        Cheers for the reply.

        I see where your headed with Armour, and that makes sense. I do hope there is a almost ramshackle version available. The “middle ground” as it were.

        I do like that fluff explanation re cross pollination, which is sort of why I was thinking Marauders and those darn stinking rats would be able to slot in.

        Re the body count, maybe as I play vampires I’m used to seeing alot of dead (thralls)…

        For the pitch, maybe something like Settlers of Catan. Although that could get annoying.

        I like the point system described too. The backer (to me) would seem to be the most important miniature of all. Full of character and detail. Whereas the players become almost pawns. That was why I was thinking a right hand man/captain/MVP, would be nice. It gives the avid modeller the opportunity to bring a special guy/gal to life, without eating into the adhoc feel of the team as a whole.

        Good luck, and I have to say, looking forward to more.

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