Yesterday I spent the day with a bunch of 14 playtesters as we kicked around the 4 new teams for Season 2. Each of the new teams was played against one of the original 4, and players rotated to play both with and against the new teams and with each of the different options.
Photos? Some were taken, but I don’t have them. Too busy talking to people and taking notes. You wouldn’t be interested though as we haven’t got any of the models back yet, so we’re having to proxy everything. Such is the norm for playtests though.
What was interesting was the teams themselves. Overall they are a more unusual and tricksy bunch, as befits a second wave of options. You’ve had the simple ones in the first box and you’ve learned how to deal with them. Now we come to teams that require a little more consideration.
In case you don’t know, the 4 new teams are:
- Human (female)
Of the 4 there was only one that cause issues, and that was the Judwan. They were always going to be the awkward one, so this was largely expected. They are unique (and will remain so) in being the only team that cannot harm their opponents. As DreadBall essentially boils down to two elements (thumping folk and throwing the ball), focussing entirely on one is more than a little bizarre. Whether this design goal is actually practical in the long run is still up for grabs. I may have to give them some ability to bash the other side or, as some suggested, at least push others about. However, as I demonstrated on the unfortunate Stewart, pushing people about doesn’t seem all that pacifist, and is really just Slamming by another name. Whilst it may be necessary to make the team work, I’d rather avoid it if I can.
Why be so stubborn? Well my aim here is to make teams that offer as wide a range of tactical choices and are as characterful and varied as I can make them whilst keeping a coherent background environment and story. Not being able to score is an option that isn’t available. Not being able to Slam is a theoretical option which offers one intriguing tactical extreme. The problem is that it isn’t fun to play at the moment (though it does work mechanically). Although every team will be dull to some, the Judwan in their present state just aren’t floating anyone’s boat much, and that can’t stay.
So there’s work yet to be done. Luckily it’s only the most bizarre of the 4 teams. I seem to have the measure of the others who seem to be working rather nicely 🙂
Playtesting JUDWAN huh .. 😦
No sulking now. That playtest day was an experiment with a new group of people. Your time will come. Just waiting on confirmation from Mantic tomorrow for my next cunning plan…
I have an idea for the Judwan! Why not have two different types of Strikers? One set could be all about nimbly running and scoring and the other type (‘Judwan Pacifists’, get the pun?!??) could be equipped with something like a ‘stun glove’ that would enable the player to stun enemy models. This would still be very Judwan-like, I think. Stunned models would be unable to move or influence their thread hexes in the current and the following rush.
I’ve been toying with the idea of 2 types of Striker, in the way that the Nameless have 2 types of Guard. The issue with the stun gun is that, as I mentioned above, that’s just Slams by another name. Whatever excuse you use to add it is irrelevant because the whole intent is to have a team that doesn’t do it. Having said that, it may not be possible, in which case I’ll have to put something in.
what about a turning effect? Where instead of slam they use their speed to turn the opponent around to face the direction of the Judwans choice? If it’s double, they are left disoriented and can’t move or have erratic movement due to lack of balance?
“Woah, that Forge Fathers Cyber Jock Strap is on the pitch because of that Strikers blinding speed!”
It’s different than a slam and his threat hexes have now changed due to speed.
Judwan could work a bit like number 88’s ‘mind like water’ skill. Or they only do it when they get slammed by the opponent. So if they double their opponent with their dodge the opponent falls over and is treated as being slammed (the Judwan just moved out of the way and they fell over….).
It’s not the Judwan’s fault if the opposing players keep knocking themselves out…
I’d always reuse existing stuff rather than make up fresh where possible as it keeps the overall length of the rules to a minimum. The problem with the team so far hasn’t been their survivability, but their fun. Also, they can’t have too many extra skills without becoming so costly that they only get 5 models in a team…
Don’t get me wrong here – I love the image of the Judwan having Mind Like Water. I’m just not sure it works in play for a whole team. It is on my list of things to test though, as the only way you can really tell for certain is to get it on the tabletop and try it out for real.
Then what about this idea: In a team of 6 active Judwan players, only up to 3 can activate the ‘mind over water’ skill per rush (they get a token or whatever to remind the players of this). I don’t know much about the Judwans’ fluff, but this could be explained by drug use, sci/fi equipment, extraordinary tactics or whatever suits. Or: Judwan could get their own, slightly weaker version of ‘mind over water’ where they can’t drop enemy players, only push them.
And: I still like my ‘Stun glove’ idea. ^.^
Reblogged this on zweischneid.
Thanks so much for sharing this update about play testing, very interesting to hear about the behind the scenes action. You know, I can’t help but imagine a little b-ball/Harlem globetrotter vibe when I think about the Judwan. Perhaps they could have a ball fake ability, something that allows them once per rush to move a target defender one hex in any direction as he bites on the fake. Contested or automatic? Your call, but I imagine the contested would lead to less belly aching in the end. Or an ability to not lose their rush after throwing the ball at an opponent…just a few thoughts. I do hope you find a way to make it work, as I really like quirky teams like this, it adds a lot of character to the game!
In my mind I see a lot of movement trickery. Jumping over players, dodging around, passing the ball to each other i would have fun playing this type of team.
The trouble so far has not been making them work mechanically as a team that runs about and scores effectively. They already do that and they have a reasonably even win/loss record (which is what you want for a balanced team). They were just not as much fun as they should have been, and because “fun” is such a nebulous quantity it’s harder to know exactly which changes will help most.
All sorts of plausible suggestions here, but how to know? Just have to rejig the team, playtest and then repeat again and again till it works 🙂
Sometimes things like this work perfectly first time (as most of the teams have so far), and sometimes they take loads of repeated test cycles, as here. No panic though. I just thought you might be amused to see where we’re at.
I was wondering if you be a bit more specific about why exactly they are no fun. Are they no fun to play with or against or both. I realise because they can´t slam they are a bit limited. Do you think giving them extra dodge/throw abilities or some kind of substitute for slam would remedy the problem ??
Some kind of psychic slam mechanic that can only ever result in the opposition player being in the Sin Bin for a maximum of 1 turn, or some equivalent.
As far as it stands he does not want the Judwan to be able to influence the enemy directly, hence my idea with the ‘stun glove’.
I’d love to see the Judwan to be able to out-agility other teams, but I wonder what the big difference (rather than the non-slamming of the Judwan) between them and the Asterians (who will be, what, Space Elves?) will be?
@Gleesman – The “no fun” thing is a bit puzzling and hard to quantify, which is why I’m being a bit vague. I don’t entirely know how to express it more clearly. Also, as I was watching rather than playing yesterday (watching 7 games at once) I didn’t feel it quite the same way as the testers. Need to play some more games myself as well as do some more testing.
@Sebastien – Asterians have all 3 player roles, not just Strikers.
I was just thinking that quantifying exactly why they aren´t fun is half the battle. Then you could try and alter their dynamic without affecting the overal game… I think.
I was thinking along the lines of instead of a dodge when someone tries to slam the Judwan you could have something like “stupify” where the opponent is unable to use any more actions that turn and has been stupified by their aura/chemicals etc. Would make slamming the judwan risky without actually harming anyone ????
Good luck with all the playtesting !!
On another thought, how did you guys handle the Robot teams’ ability to transform into different player types? And: how will this be handled with the Robots’ miniatures? 🙂
After experimenting with a few different options, we’ve gone for swapping out the miniatures. It’s by far the simplest way to play. This means that you start with a set of 6 Jack models on the pitch, and if you want to change role you swap the model for a Striker or Guard one.
This works very well in play and is simple and practical.Other methods we tried were fiddly and awkward in comparison.
The only issue people need to resolve is how to track the player numbers. I’ve just been using little markers with the number on that sit on the base. Simply keep the marker when you swap the model.
Then how do we buy Robot teams? Up to now I thought that with each buyed team box we’d be in posession of a fully playable team (6 active, 2 on the bench). Now it seems that we need at least 18 models for a playable team (6 of each player type) for a robot team to be fieldable…
Robot teams might come in 10s, not 8s (6 Jacks and 2 each of Guard and Striker). It’s not been finalised yet.
You won’t need 18 models to field 6 players. It’s impractical to change that many (because it costs too many actions in the game), and a team with all one specialist always has issues, especially if it’s balanced to have all 3.
Also, the way I’m thinking that you would label the models, you might even need less models than a normal team.
I’ll need to play more games to get a definitive set of numbers, but 2 each of the three roles on the pitch was about normal from what I saw. Of course, if you want to run with an odd mix of mostly Strikers, say, then I’d expect there to be separate blisters of the specialists.
I will have to buy one of each variant for each player.
its the completionist in me lol
I think that Mantic may have a better solution again – what about the fancy ex-bases that are supplied with our kickstarters? Wouldn’t it be an easier and cheaper fit to have labelled or colour-coded bases-then it’s simple lift and shift to replace units and play continues? Maybe I’m thinking a bit too simple here!
Quick Q: why are human females their own team? Will there be major differences? I really thought they’d be booster models for the existing human team. The world of Dreadball is striving for fast, fluid and diverse with MVPs from all over the galaxy. I would think human teams who have accepted aliens, mechs and others onto the pitch would probably be ok with ladies on the team. This has probably all been covered elsewhere with great discussion, but I’m going to consider playing a mixed team of humies. Plus, it will make the box set models go a lot further.
Judwan could be awesome at using momentum against opposition. Big sidesteps, counter-slams, or stopping them cold without having to make a test… using the super size and space kung-fu to stop an oncoming player.
The female team is their own team mainly because Ronnie got the models done and I had a team idea I wanted to try out (and the two fitted).
In reality, it’s not necessarily a male and a female team – what we have is really just two different styles of human team. The examples we use (Trontek 29ers and Void Sirens) just happen to have a male/female split.
When you are playing DreadBall, as long as your opponent knows what each model represents, I don’t see any problem at all with using a mixture of male and female humans in your team. I was thinking of doing the same myself.
No worries here however they turn out I will enjoy all the teams. Your was the first blog I ever followed ( wasn’t to keen on reading other men thoughts that weren’t in a book) and opened my eyes to follow others. I was even inspired by reading your musings to deign my own board game which I am in the process of now. Don’t know you but I think your a cool cat and I cant wait to see what you come up with.
Why thank you Rasheed. I’m very happy being “a cool cat”, and it’s heartening to hear that you’ve been inspired by my burblings. Long may it continue 🙂
Someone sort of mentioned this before, but how about a version of aikido for the Judwan? They use their opponent’s momentum against them and slide out of the way, or take that momentum for themselves.
In this way, there would be no slamming really, or tripping, or the other player going down. What could happen instead is that, for a failed slam, the Judwan get to move a hex of their choice (as though they are vaulting over the body of their attacker). They’d be a little bit like eels or greased pigs — the more you tried to get a handle on them, the more they would slip away.
That’s not much different to how the rules work now though. A dodge that doubles a slam gets a free hex move in any dirrection and facing. You’re saying that Judwan get it on all fails, not just doubles.
I guess that is essentially what I’m saying. I haven’t read the rules thoroughly since I’m waiting for my set to arrive. Really, though, I was just trying to brainstorm something that would work within Jake’s parameters of non-violence.
I haven’t see that color version of the Z’zor before. I really appreciate that piece of art. I think I am going to use that as my PC wallpaper for a while. It’s very nice, beautiful really.
In keeping with the non-combatant feel of the Judwan, how about the ability to use a Speed or skill test to change another models facing? No pushing… just ‘spinning’…
Hi Jake…and sincerly thank you for your open forum.
Ive been museing on what wasnt there in the the DB Rulebook for me and this post has come about just in time following on from the picture of the Veer-myn coach on Beasts Of War and Ive started a thread on the Mantic DB Forum under Cowabunga.
Get a character writer mate… the quips from the comentators ( which was what I was looking forward to the most from the rulebook ) were sadly lacking in the extreme….what year is it in the Mantic universe for Buck Rogers sake!
I for one need and expect characterful background and poseing, which is sadly lacking from the MVP Minis IMHO so far. Buzzcut and Lucky Logan have the same style sculpt which has already been mentioned and looks weird with one open and one shut hand. For a Hyperkenetic Futuristic Sports Game they are simply dull. One arm forward blocking/Striking style? Or angry wave botrh your arms about muppet style Guard?. Yawn….booring. Seriously.
Its not the art direction or concept its just the way in which theyve been posed which is the problem for me.
Well your the Gmaes Designer, I thought you were realy pulling for as much variety in the poses as humanly possible from this KickStarter and to be honest on that one major point….where is it?
Cant be always the nice guy and Im a Backer so … ( sticks tongue out and blows )
All the best 🙂
I have to chime in on the dull poses of the last few MVPs, as they really feel rushed (Gorim, #88, John Doe). Like to rest of the MVP bunch, though.
I’d always vote for variety in the poses for miniatures in any range. I often do minor little conversions even on supposedly uniform units so that no two models in my force are ever identical. By chance I’ve spent part of this morning looking at the new Veer-myn DB team and trying to work out possible conversions so that I can have more variety. So I can understand your desire for dynamism and variety.
In terms of the MVPs, I’ve had very little input on the majority of the poses, beyond what I wrote. That’s generally all sorted out by the Mantic staff. Occasionally, if I’m in the office for something I’ll talk to them and comment on what’s going through the mill at the time. Mostly though I’ve got the game development to worry about 🙂
Nearly all of the sculpts for MVPs that I’ve seen have been only in photos on screens, and this is not a good way to judge any miniature. Models often look different in reality – sometimes better and sometimes worse – but frequently different. Personally I’ll reserve a final judgement for when I’ve got one in my hand.
Could they have been better? Ronnie has very high standards and I’m sure he would agree that not every model in every one of Mantic’s ranges is as good as it could possibly be. Does every model need to be dynamic? Actually, no. To start with there is variety. Sometimes the pose reflects the model’s abilities and function. For example, look at the stats and ability of John Doe – a slow model who ensnares and immobilises opponents. Having a relatively static pose suits that character, whereas a dramatic pose that was frozen half way through a hand stand (tentacle stand?) would look wrong. Not for everyone, but for JD it would.
So yes. There will probably be some that could have been better, and when the Mantic staff see them they will push harder for the next ones because they want the best toys they can get too. However, which ones need improving is not something I can agree or disagree on till I see them.
On the subject of colour text for the book, that was simply a matter of space. It was already bigger than it was initially intended to be because I kept putting extra stuff in. The colour text simply never fitted. Hopefully I’ll find a bit more room in Season 2.
Jake Ill just repeat my opinion that the poses are too similar, almost repeats, not inspiring at all, nor is there any “Fluff” worth investing in through the Rulebook. Please invest in someone that can provide this badly needed level of characterisation or face further mainstreem bashing. Filling a hole in the market so to speak is a good thing and I totally realise that DB got off to a quicker start than anyone may have imagined but you guys need to fill in quickly on the “Fluff” and please please please make some “Worthy Minis in future releases for DB, to date the best Ive seen are the Enforcer and Payback and there not that great in all honesty mate.
I love your blog and everything youve done with Mantic and I realy appreciate everything Ronnie has and continues to do for Gameing and Gamers and both your integritys and skill sets but Im underwhelemed by the MVP minis. Im sorry to say this, and I doubt it will have any real negitive effect on DB sales, but the poses are a lot less than what one lone gamers hopes were.
Are you guys aware that the announcement of the Nameless team drove my cogs wild for a Lovecraft inspired sports team minitures range, intentional or not, tipped me into pledging? Im sure you were. Now I want the minis to equal and even surpass those expectations… and Im not confident after seeing John Doe nor any of the other sculpts. Id love to be a lone gunman on this one but Ive a feeling Im not.
I want this game to rock in large quanties, please get the humor in and change up the poses in future releases, please.
I think that the story will be fleshed out in the expansions, so I see no problem there. The games’ rules are solid, so i don’t think that most gamers will bail out of the game because of this.
But the MVPs’ quality is just nut up to par right now. Think about some of the Blood Bowl starplayers – they’re legendary from times long past up to now (both in fluff and even much more as a miniature).
If Mantic wants to create a game that stays fresh and interesting for years, it’s miniatures need a ‘WoW’ factor and that’s a thing that’s lacking from some (not all!) of the MVP miniatures right now.
As far as I see the teams’ miniatures are okay, I really do like the Cooperation Striker.
Hopefully the other teams will enhance on that.
While I agree that some of the MVPs are pretty awful – Number 88 does have a very odd pose, and I think Wildcard is one of the ugliest minis I’ve seen in a while – but I also think it’s important not to get too wrapped up in what the minis mean for long-term play. Blood Bowl hasn’t updated its minis in what, 20 years? The box set still has the same hideous plastic orcs and static, single-pose models across the board. Pretty much every other team are the same sculpts they’ve been selling for decades, many of which check every “bad” “ugly” “static” “repetitive” box. I think we can all agree it’s chugging along nicely despite that, right?
Quality of miniatures is like graphics quality in a video game. They’ll draw the “Oooh” and “Ahh” and hook people in, but in the truly long term it’ll be the quality of the game that keeps people playing. Ugly minis may make that initial hook harder, but it can be overcome. And I honestly think that in general, the minis aren’t bad enough to actually drive (many) people away from the game.
Your comments just show how personal a lot of this can be. I’ve had several people at events tell me that they thought the Wildcard sculpt was “stunning” when they saw it up close for real, and a couple of them were competition level painters. Personally I think it’s good, but not that good. There are plenty in the range that I prefer.
There isn’t a right or wrong about personal taste, so that’s not an issue. I do think that a lot of the figures bear some detailed looking at. For example, of the initial human sculpts, I thought the Jack was the least interesting. At first glance he’s in a very static and simple pose. OK, well that’s good for contrast, right? When I looked at him close up I noticed that there’s a bit more to him than that. It’s in the fingers, which seem to be twitching like a gunfighter, waiting for his opponent to go for his gun. That subtle detail lends his pose far more tension and I rather like them now. Incidentally, this was a detail I only saw when I had the real figure to look at, which was better than I’d expected form the picture on screen (same was true of Wildcard, actually).
Are there bits I’d change in the model range? Yes, of course. Are there any similar sized ranges by any manufacturer I wouldn’t change something from? No…
It’s nice to see you are working hard on the play testing. I’m sure whatever you do will work nicely. Some will cry, some will laugh. But it’s the knee-jerk reactions you’ll hear most about.
I guess I’ll put my vote in for trying the Judwan spin move. The only other manuveure I can think of is an offensive teleport.
“I’m gonna squish you alien!”
“How did I get here?”
Could be a confusing game for the spectators when the Judwan play the Teratons though…
For the Judwan how about giving them some control of rebound on the ball, wether it’s off the wall or an opponent give them a degree of control of the direction of rebound. I think that may be fun, a lovely long pass that just happens to leave an opponent stunned on the deck as it goes. And it’s not an attack, they’re just using them to improve their game.
Had a really good time testing the new teams, I can’t wait to see the changes made to the Judwan, I’m entirely sure there’ll be devilish to play with or against once they’ve been fine tuned a bit, that being said my team is definitely going to be the females. Running interference and a massive early advantage on dice
So, a slam that is not a slam but might eventually be a slam…
How about giving (some of?) them the option for a “taunt” slam? If you succeed, you swap place with your target, if you double, you swap and he falls (no armor, guy simply tripped). The pull-not-push might feel more aikido and less sumo.
I like the elegance in that idea.
Got the idea from Toki of Fist of the North Star, a sort of pacifist warrior dude.
More Aikido than Sumo… hmmm. That statement makes me want a space-sumo team now…
You could always convert some Urban War Sumo:
I don’t care, I just want me Robot team
Man after my own heart
Same here, I just want my Zzor and robots….insects fighting robots, cmon how much more Sci Fi can we get with this game. Id rather see the commentators Jim amd Jake get shown the door and are replayced by an enterteining due. I was thingink bout a Zzor, an ex player called the The Doc Z and new addition Slave Girl Number 88. The slave girls get replaced from time to time due to their many talents obviouslybeing put to better uses! Ater all head the head of T.H.C. intergalitic broadcasting , the all powerful crime boss, Brain Mc Slug has a fondness for dancing Slave Girls . Sluggy likes to get close to the Slave Girls at times, and none are ever seen from again… Ive seen the slimy mess he leaves afterwards! Grud it too maintenance two weeks to clean up the last one!
I think you might need to wash your brain out with soap!
All very Jabba…
And what exactlys wrong with a bit of Jabba slave girl action? Too obvious, kinda like its been done before huh?
Sorry I had to stop for a second while I cracked up laughing. A game which involes evil human corporations, Orx, Goblins, Dwarfs, ( Elves soon to be added as Asterians ) Insects, Robots, Genetically enhanced Monkeys and all manner of aliens and theres no room for Slave Girls? Is that what your telling me? Well in my DreadBall universe there most certainly is Sir.
I don’t think I said there was no room for slave girls in the Warpath universe. In fact, I expect there are quite a few in certain quarters of the Sphere. However, I wouldn’t expect them to be paraded on the DB pitch (unless you count cheerleaders). The private boxes of the Corporate sponsors, perhaps. But we’re back to a very Jabba sort of image again.
In DreadBall Xtreme, on the other hand, things are rather different.
In reply to the earlier comment (damn you limit on replies)… Thanks Jake. I might not convert those chaps for DB but sweet christmas they are nice models. I’ll be buying them and using them for something whatever happens. It’s not often I see a range that caters to my tastes in both sci-fi and bizarre traditional japanese sports.
Heres a post I posted earlier, took me damn ages to write, damn meds…
Ill tell you what I honestly think and you all know Im nothing but honest 🙂 rashktah: Your always the verry first one to negatively comment on all the MVPs et all.
Well Ill tell you this my old mate…come to terms with this like I have.
Im a Second Round KickStarter Striker Pledger so I initially pledged with the understanding that I wouldnt get my box till late Jan 13 at best, but is HOPEFULLY! getin his 4team box plus MVPs Before the new year!( Im in Ireland guys please try and get it hear, pretty please ) with a larger variety of alternate poses per player type to come,”SIGNED” extras, counters etc, Eat it world!
The point is Im going to get a “lot” of alternate player position poses with existing, and future releases ( if you did like I did and went for season 2 and 3 team extras ).
Ive put a lot of posts out there about this and heres what Ive come to…
1) Alternate poses are exactly that. If your personal taste isnt expressed by an MVP, or any player position then tough, but we can now put forward ideas for future player and MVPs, Big Guys etc poses.
Example: My vote for pose for the Nameless Spawn is the Buzzcut pose, with movement ie tenticles writhing either to the front or to the rear. Anothers may be the Guard pose with tenticles and hand the same. Or even better Id love Mantic to blow my mind with a fantastic Mini I cant even dream of but I doubt that. I cant waite to see if Alpha Simien is done justice, I dont go for understated so Id take a look at scenes from Kong doing his nut on the Rexes! My personaly Hook into over extending my initial pledge considerably during Mantics hugehly successful KickStarter campaign is The Nameless Spawn concept art. Cheers Jake and Ronnie, Im a Lovecraft fan :)= That blew me away, Im gona have a heart attack waiting to play with it. DEEP EDDY Ive named him just for all the fluff guys. EPIC is whats in order for the Big Guys.
2) My ideal setting for a fantasy Sci Fi Hyperkenetic Sports Game is a parody of Mega City 1. Enforcer/Judge colour scheme here I come! And if that doesnt give me the right to a fitting commentary duo ala Judge Fish, or JABBA inspired slave girl nonsense then Im going into a corner and doing it myself, cmon a frickin talkin goldfish, now that sounds more entertaining than either Jim or Jake doesnt it?
And to you my ally in negativity Rashktah..point two has nothing to do wiyh your post and chill out man its a board game. Take the sound advice of RangerRob, its a pose, poses have variety in which to come and thats damn cool from my point of view 🙂
Anyway sorry about the length.
I actually just read your post Jake “after I posted my last one and posted it first on the Mantic forum under Cowabunga and I was thinking it alllll day long man, how is this gonna pan out, eh? Xtreme… this is where its all at for me ever since I heard about DB, dirty Sci Fi…OMG you obviously read my mind judging by your well deserved success, bravo Sirs.. BRAVO… hay do you happen to like Rogue Trooper do ya? Colour shemes anyone?