A number of people have asked why it is that in DreadBall Xtreme Strikers are not allowed to Slam. After all, there are “no rules” on the pitch. The answer seems so obvious to me that it’s been hard getting it across, so I’ll try to explain the background reasons a bit more fully. It’s crystal clear in my head so the issue is just one of conveying that image.
Let’s start off with defining the terms in the title: Slam and Strikers. Exactly what does each of them mean in the world of DreadBall and DreadBall Xtreme?
What Is A Slam?
DreadBall is a full contact sport.
The entire time a player is on the pitch they can expect to be pushed, shoved, jostled and barged about – and they’ll give the same back to their opponents. There is a constant undercurrent of violent contact in the game, and this ubiquitous jostling for position is far too commonplace to be modelled in detail in the board game. However, it does appear in the game rules in an abstracted form as the modifiers imposed by threat hexes, and the requirement to make Evade tests.
It’s not worth trying to model the bulk of this pushing and shoving as specific tests because it is so ubiquitous. To do so would double the playing time. Also, the bulk of this shoving about isn’t very effective and only really gives a player a marginal edge for that moment’s jockeying for position. All the extra time spent rolling tests would make very little difference to the outcome. Watch something like basketball and you’ll see this sort of shoving used all the time around the scoring zones (and BB isn’t exactly a full contact sport like DBX). It’s routine, it’s used by every type of player, and of so little consequence that it is largely ignored by the referee. This sort of contact is not a Slam.
So what is a Slam?
A Slam is a powerful and focussed attack that aims to knock down and injure the target. It’s not incidental barging or shirt pulling, it’s a deliberate assassination attempt.
In the context of this routine undercurrent of violence, a Slam has to be of considerable violence to stand out and have a distinct game effect. The players are collectively inured to the normal bumps and bruises, and a level of incidental violence is just part of moving from A to B on the pitch. Nobody thinks twice about it.
In order for an attack to count as a Slam it has the potential to be the sort of thing that a 300+ pound fully armoured Orx Guard is going to notice.
What Are Strikers?
There are two basic skills on the DB pitch: handling the ball and smashing opponents out of the way.
Strikers are one of three player types in the game: Guards, Jacks and Strikers. This distinction between player roles applies in DBX as much as it does in the DreadBall played in the main arenas and on the tri-vid. It is a core feature of how the game works in all its forms, in both background terms and board game rules. If the player roles are not present then you’re not playing DreadBall.
Strikers are defined by one simple feature: they can’t Slam.
This is what makes them different from Guards or Jacks. Sure they can handle the ball, but so can Jacks. In fact, some Jacks are better than Strikers at that skill, so that cannot be the defining point of difference.
I’ll say it again: the key defining feature of the role of Striker is their inability to Slam. Guards can Slam. Jacks can Slam. Strikers can’t.
Now as Strikers can’t Slam they have to be good at handling the ball otherwise they are useless on the pitch. That follows naturally. However, it is a consequence, not a defining feature.
Of course, on the pitch a Striker can push and shove opponents like anyone else (and they exert threat hexes like everyone else to show this in the board game). Nobody is banning them from that. However, for one reason or another they simply aren’t up to attacks that would count as Slams. Why not? Well, there are a number of possible reasons. The first ones that spring to mind are:
- Some Strikers are simply too small and weedy. Their physique makes them too feeble to Slam effectively.
- Some Strikers may be poorly trained in combat techniques so that their attempts to attack opponent are weakly delivered to count as Slams.
- Some Strikers are too timid, scared or otherwise mentally unprepared to Slam. They don’t want to risk starting a fight they know they can’t finish.
- Some Strikers are too focussed on being good at other things. They know they cannot compete with the big Guards at their own game, so get where they want by concentrating on speed and agility instead.
Whatever the reason, Strikers are physically, mentally or emotionally not equipped to Slam.
You might say that a player could fake an inability to Slam and get onto the pitch as a Striker only to start laying about the opposition later in the gane. Well it’s a big universe and I’m sure that happens on a few, rare occasions. Never with the same person twice though.
Who are the most dangerous people in DBX? I’ll give you a clue – they aren’t the players.
Lying to a Sponsor, taking their money under false pretences, upsetting the (very possibly rigged) betting by doing things you’re not supposed to… how do you think this will go down with the borderline psychopaths that run the games? The players that get onto the pitch are pussycats compared to the very heavily armed bodyguards of the Sponsors, and these are not people you want to upset. Players who lie to Sponsors tend to lose them money. People that cost Sponsors money get put in the recyclers whether they die in the game or not. The players know this and act accordingly.
So Why Can’t Strikers Slam?
A Striker cannot Slam because not being able to Slam is the key defining feature of that role. It is the very essence of what a Striker is. If the player was any good at hitting people hard enough for it to be counted as a Slam then they’d be classed as a Jack or a Guard. So, if a player can Slam then by definition he is not a Striker.