In DreadBall a team gets 5 Team Action Tokens (TAT) in each Rush. This is the bread and butter of what they can get done, though it can be supplemented by free actions and Special Move cards. DBX uses the same basic principle, but only gives each team 4 Team Action Tokens each Rush. Why the change?
There are a couple of reasons, both of which push the rules in the same direction.
Firstly, the fact that a Rush is made up of several actions (as opposed to one) is partly a reflection of the ability of the team to work as a team. They train to back each other up and to execute plays that consist of clearing a path, passing and scoring with a number of players performing interlocking tasks. The teams in DBX are temporary collections of disparate individuals whose teamwork skills often leave much to be desired. They understand the basics from watching the professionals, so they know what’s possble. Some may even have had some practice in amateur games, so they aren’t totally useless. However, they clearly shouldn’t be as good as the professionals who train as a group all the time. A good way to illustrate this is to reduce the number of things they get done in a row – the TAT.
Secondly, DBX is much more dangerous than normal DB and I found that 5 actions meant that a punchy team could too much damage to their opponents in a single Rush. If a team actually tries to score then they won’t do much damage to the opposition as they’re busy doing other things with some of their actions. On the other hand, if they spend their whole time trying to cripple the opposition (a perfectly legitimate tactic in DBX) then the amount of carnage they can cause is a bit overwhelming and starts to make things less fun. To make things more interesting the amount of damage that could be done all at once needed to be reduced a little.
This does mean that there are fewer actions in a game overall, or it would if this was the only source. However, the Special Move cards are a bit more easily accessible than they are in normal DreadBall and so this balances things to the point that I didn’t feel the need to make the game longer. The fact that these card-based actions are more closely defined helps keep the second point under control. Well, as much as you want it to be 🙂
There are some nice side effects from this reduction in TAT. One important feature is that the Rushes go quicker, and this helps balance the tendency for people to spend more time thinking about their moves in DBX (because there’s more to think about with the variable pitch). This keeps the overall time down.
I remember when I first started Dreadball, I completely misread the rulebook and played my first load of games only with 4 actions per turn. I found it made the game a lot *harder* than anything else, for both players, as I needed to be a lot more economical with my actions, especially with the Jack teams as you just couldn’t get across the board that quickly and still punch guys out the way if needed.
I’m interested to see how this goes, with the variable pitch, I think it’ll be damn interesting.
Give it a try and let us know how you get on 😉
Reading the new rule document is fun, but reading the thinking behind the rules is more so.
Keep these articles going please Jake: I love ’em 🙂
Plenty more to come 😉
I’ll second this. Understanding the *why* of rules goes a long way towards understanding what the design aims where, and that’s extremely informative.
I love these little insights into the game Jake! Brilliant how it meshes fluff and mechanics into eachother.
4 Actions sounds like a tough decision game, that really does make it very cool indeed!
Having had a play around with four TATs and seeing what difference five TATs makes I think you have made the right call. at least at this beta – four feels ‘right’.
If not for the broad addition of the effective slide ability it might be too few to achieve any real positioning. But with Jacks granted that little extra mobility, I felt I had just the right actions to plan around but not enough that I could be frivolous with spending them.
I think the reduction was a good move.
All that said… If there was a sponsor who granted 5 TATs or an increase to the number of TATs was a sponsor development skill that would be interesting.
Now… hoping I can just add 8 Zees clones to a team to absolutely flood the pitch from rush one.
Sponsors are certainly slated to have a number of extra variations. The ones in the first box are really a baseline from which to expand. Remember also that access to Special Move cards can have a big effect on how much you can do in a Rush.
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