DreadBall Experimental Jacks

As regular readers will know, I’ve put up a couple of experimental rules for Deadzone, and these have generated some very useful feedback. So, this having proved entertaining all round, I’ve got a couple of ideas you might like to try out for DreadBall.

Both of these ideas are to address Jacks. They don’t quite work as I’d like them to and are often seen as the poor relation of the player roles. These rules should bring them closer to parity.

Before I explain the rules though, please note that these are called experimental rules precisely because they are just that: experimental. These rules aren’t official updates, FAQ, errata or anything like that. It’s just that I quite like talking about games and one of the things I’ve been tinkering with is the way Jacks work so I’m sharing that here.

So, without further ado, two rules tweaks: one small and one large.

The small change is to allow Jacks to use any Special Move card. So, if a card says Striker, read that as Striker or Jack. If it says Guard, read that as Guard or Jack.

The second change is to do with the role(s) that get a bonus for certain actions. The idea is to move some from Strikers to Jacks. So Dash and Evade becomes +1 if the player is a Jack (not a Striker), and Stand Up becomes +1 if the player was either a Jack or a Striker.

Now these changes alter the relative usefulness of the players and therefore the points costs. This, in turn, changes the team compositions and so the knock-on effect continues. As I said, these are experimental.

Don’t worry about all the ancillary effects just yet. What I’m interested in hearing about is how you think works out on the pitch, in play. Clearly, as some teams don’t have all player roles, this will depend a lot on which team you favour. It may also take a while to adapt to the different options and new levels of risk for different actions. That’s to be expected. All of which obviously just means that you need to play a lot more games 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Game on!

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189 Responses to DreadBall Experimental Jacks

  1. Steve Ptacek says:

    I think the card rule is very needed. With it I don’t know if the second rule is needed.

    With only the first I don’t see even needed to adjust points.

    We are going to add this and see if it helps.

  2. Vinsssounet says:

    It might be a second zone issue, but as much as I am for changes for the Jacks, I think it might be a really good move to consider options that do not mess with the actual team composition.

    Dreadball is a Hobbyist game. It’s a huge project if you actually commit to it fully. Painting 18 players for each team is an insane amount of work.
    A lot of people also built a lot of things around Dreadball : custom cases, custom cards, bases… and so on. A lot of those actually take into account team composition. If that composition changes, a lot of this work – physical, printed, built work – becomes obsolete.

    If suddenly you need more models, and some you have become pointless, that’s really hurting from the point of view of someone, let’s say, painting Dreadball for about 2 years – and not even finished – oh, yes, I talk about myself 😉
    As much as I love the game, I’m really unsure I have what it takes to try to mimic the painting I did on my previous teams to have the new proper composition. Or to re-make all my cases. And if I don’t, that’s kind of a deal breaker to me. That’s half of the joy of the game.

    Maybe that’s a consideration that won’t be shared by many, but I had to express it anyway =)

    Thanks for your hard work. I hope you can take into account this devoted Hobbyist point of view.

    • Teskal says:

      First of all, these change of rules would need a lot of test games before anything is decided.

      Painting 18 players for a team is not really insane amount of work. And eventually 3-4 more because of a rule change is also not really something dramatic. We are not speaking of a Wargame with 100-300 miniatures and through change of rules you need 50- 70 new units this would be really not fair.

      I think rule changes through editions are absolutely normal. As long old units are not useless and only a small amount of new minis are needed or not is still fair.

    • Teskal says:

      Ah, and I love your painted and often modded minis, they are really cool. But I think the work you put into the minis, do not much players or even cannot do such jobs at all. And I hope you and others how do similiar jobs much fun with all the modifications and high level painting.

      • Vinsssounet says:

        Thanks for your kind words 😉

        Well, surely 18 players isn’t insane, but 18 x 12 starts to be a good lot. I do realize this isn’t something that is likely to bother many players though.
        The majority of people I see playing don’t even have teams of 18, even less fully painted ones.

        It’s very true we’re far from seeing anything official happening. That’s why I raise this small point right now : maybe it gets a little attention, maybe not the slightest. Anyway it serves no purpose to speak about it when things are in a more advanced state. Now or never ^^

        I agree, rules changes are a necessity, even a good thing, keeping the game alive and all. I just think, for those small reasons, if we could avoid changing the team compositions, it would have upsides, good sides directly related to the very nature of Dreadball as a Hobby game.

        Nothing more 😉

        • Quirkworthy says:

          It’s a fair point, and one that always arises when you consider making any changes to an existing game. In the end you have to balance whether any improvement in the game is worth the hassle to existing players. The aim is only to make changes that are sufficiently worthwhile in terms of added enjoyment to the game to make them worth a little extra modelling/painting. Speaking of which, you’ve got a very impressive collection there 🙂

          As you say, we are a long way from any of these rules being official, or even being sure what or how much change they would really entail in a team. I suspect that the actual changes in team composition would be quite small (in the order of a model or two at most). What would be more changed is the way those players were used and the tactics that evolved.

          So don’t panic 🙂

        • Vinsssounet says:

          Thanks for reading Jake 😉

          As we are speaking of “the future of Dreadball”, there’s a question I’d like to ask, even though it isn’t Jacks related.
          But definitely Jake related 😉
          Do you find good & interesting ways to make the 12 new Dreadball (Xtreme) teams different from the first 12, with the current set of rules ?

          Don’t you sometime wish this game was played with D8 ? ^^

          Pretty excited to find out more about them !

        • Quirkworthy says:

          The new teams range from very different to only modestly so. I wanted to include this spectrum as there are always those that want the new models with simple rules as well as those that collect all the teams and just want something wacky. The aim is to have a variety of teams that offer something for every taste. You’ll have to be the judge of how successful I was when they come out 🙂

          D8? It’s a tempting thought, and Ronnie even asked if I wanted to make that change, but I think the discipline and tightness of the D6 design is a worthwhile restriction. With careful design and lots of playtesting I think a D6 version will be cleaner and slicker than a D8 one would. So I’ll stick with D6, thanks, even though its probably more work to do so…

  3. Leon says:

    Cards yes. Jacks should have more options

    Change to dice, no. Jacks should not be better at speed based tests.

    The only move one square with slam/throw is what makes the jack the not quite a jack of all trades.

    • Lugosi says:

      I agree, in fact it would maintain the speedy theme of the game. But there is a balance issue involved with jacks suddenly being fast! Like running zombies changed that genre of movie.

    • Torkel says:

      But changing the 1-square move before throw and slam diffuses the difference between the roles. The suggested change (of moving bonuses to actions) does not.

      • berger15 says:

        Actually, I think it does. If the Jacks are better at speed based tests, then using strikers offensively becomes more difficult. Allowing jacks to make a full move before taking a throw or slam only makes them better as all-rounders, without making them better at the action. The action bonuses really make the difference to defining the roles. Overall I think this is the best way to make them the all-rounders they should be. They will then be as mobile, but not quite as good at everything. Add in the ability to use all cards and they are now genuine all-rounders.
        In league play this would then be enhanced by skill upgrades, making each jack slightly more specialised. Almost like the midfielders in football, some can tackle pretty well, but are not defenders, some can shoot pretty well, but are not strikers. This is how I see the jacks developing. They can cover at a push, but are not quite as skilled as the specialists.

        • Torkel says:

          I disagree that the dice bonus for specific actions is the most role-defining difference, and here’s why. Lets say Jacks can make a full move before a Slam. What’s the difference between slams from a Strength 3+ Jack and a Strength 4+ Guard? The answer is essentially nothing. 3 dice on 3+ has exactly the same average number of successes as a 4 dice on 4+. Both would Slam in the same way, with the same amount of considerations for both roles.

          The point is that number of dice rolled and the target number to roll against are two sides of the same pancake. A lack in one can be completely made up with strength in the other.

          That said, I feel that Jacks currently pay way too much in effectiveness for their overall-ness. But if we find a way to make the three roles distinct (and preferably equally wanted), that would make for a more interesting game. For example, it will be easier to make a larger amount of teams that don’t end up feeling the same.

      • theearthdragon says:

        Changing the 1-square move doesn’t diffuse the difference at all. There is such a change in effectiveness with loosing one dice to your slams/throws, it makes the Jacks useless having both in place.

        I don’t think making Strikers squishy is the answer either though. The proposed changes make the already low defensive FF striker even worse, and the Veer-myn go from competitive to bottom fodder.

        • Torkel says:

          I agree that Jacks are “useless”, i.e. they are not useful enough. My point is that if all they lose in effectiveness is a die, it defuses the role difference because the number of dice to throw is “the same” as target number to roll against.

          I do think Strikers should be reduced a bit. And I’m not necessarily against making them more squishy. But I think the change to Strikers that Jake has suggested might be enough.

          Regarding FF and Veer-myn concerns, I don’t think team balance is important in this discussion. The team balance will need to be adjusted anyways if we change how Jacks work. The important thing is to make Jacks work in a satisfactory way first, then balance teams around the new game mechanics.

        • theearthdragon says:

          Team balance is completely relevant to the discussion. Increasing the Jack move to full brings one position up, while speed change is one up and down. It’s potentially a harsher shift. Not taking that into account is foolish.

  4. juanbonnets says:

    Hi Jake,

    Our group had planned to playtest the changes to Jacks that are present in the DBX Beta rules (once our Deadzone campain finishes…) – I recognise the special move cards rule from there and agree it’ll work well, but the other DBX rule that we thought could make a positive difference to DBO Jacks was the change effectively giving all Jacks Slide. As other have said, the change in bonus dice above impacts Strikers (not necessarily a bad thing until it comes to altering team composition) and I wonder if universal Slide on Jacks (with Z’zor Jacks having e.g. One automatic success on Dashes) might be a less messy way to give Jacks a boost. Or would that give too much of a boost to certain teams? (i.e. Void Sirens) The only answer is to play more games to test it. To the DreadBall pitch!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      DB and DBX should not be identical in terms of rules because what they are modelling is different. For the moment I’d like to leave the global Slide in DBX and not DB. We can see what the games turn up.

      I’m well aware that this impacts Strikers too, and that was part of the appeal of this approach. They are, as it stands, perhaps too much the golden boys of the game.

    • Torkel says:

      I’m a fan of Slide for all Jacks, but I must admit I haven’t played with it too much.

  5. Personally, I like both changes at first blush. The card change should definitely help manufacture a few more strikes for all the bruiser teams. Putting the changes on movement related actions puts Jacks a bit more into the fray, whilst making strikers a bit more limited. I would think that maybe swapping the Stand Up and Dash for Strikers might make more sense. – Makes them godo and speedy in the open, but can easily be thrown off their game by having an opponent nearby.

  6. Jake,
    I’m a big fan of Dreadball. Early KS adopters, my six man league have totaled 180 games and we anxiously await the new twelve teams as we finish our third season. Context aside, I do not like these experimental rules at all. I’ll play test them, but I believe I am in the minority thinking Jacks do not need any adjustment. Jacks are not as skilled as Strikers and Guards, and that is well represented in the existing rules. Adjustments may be inevitable, either from your urge alone or from a vocal (internet?) minority. Personally, if any adjustments are needed it’s tweaking the Dwarf and Judwan striker stats (or at least the Judwan price points – the “fix” ruined their league play). But I digress. A Dreadball fanatic on Facebook suggested some modest Jack ideas that don’t alter the card decks, and don’t alter other positions. Give Jacks a +1 dash, a +1 armor check, and/or two hex movement before an action. It’s subtle, maintains the theme, and doesn’t alter team makeup. If change must happen (again, I don’t think it does), subtlety is the path.
    Best,
    Andrew [I just received my Mars Attacks KS in the post!].

  7. Oz says:

    For my part the main reason I usually don’t use Jacks as active players (just for passive blocking) is because they can’t, unlike Strikers or Guards, move AND do something as an action. So using a Jack is “wasting” an action token. Perhaps if they could also make a move with a Throw and a Slam, with no dice bonus, it might make them useful as active players.

    Even with the Z’zor, I never use the Jacks, I used the Strikers (who have about the same probability of making a Strike under normal conditions) and use blue dice until I get enough XP to get them to improve. One of my Z’zor Strikers thus got +1 on Skill, and with its Can’t Feel a Thing ability it became quite a winner (and still is).

  8. Sam says:

    We accidentally played having Jacks able to Move and Strike and Move and Block when we started.
    It worked really well…having them all effectively have Slide is similar.

    I really love Jacks having a bonus to Dash and Evade based tests and not Strikers.
    You could take the Jacks (and most games the Guards) out of the roster and I’d barely notice.
    Strikers the only thing you need to win at the moment.
    Why take anything else unless you very rarely need to bash back?
    I rarely need to bash back because my Strikers can take a beating.
    They shouldn’t be as durable as they are, it takes three actions for an opponent to have a worthwhile chance of taking down a 4 dice Dodge.
    When they luck and get a Striker down, they should stay down.
    Why would a Striker even have a bonus to Stand Up?
    They are the prima donnas of the team used to being supported by the other positions.
    They shouldn’t be taking it on the chin and laughing like they are now.
    Jacks should be up and fighting and where they are needed, Stand Up should be their’s.

  9. alessandro says:

    if jack could move and make an action (Slam – Throw), etc. ) without bonus could be a good solution.
    By the way i think Striker shouldn’t get a bonus to stand up, as you can see in any football and soccer game from the time needed to recover from a foul for a star player! (having less armour doesn’t help!!!)

  10. Strahleo says:

    I like the idea of both the changes in honesty. I think this gives Jack’s more of a role in the game as a play blocker and gives them more movement while also slowing the speed of strikers who are often zipping around the board pretty easily to score if you can’t take them down quick.

    The thought that Jacks can hold there own and evade better by simply using their strength & speed sounds good while strikers not being physical enough do not get the bonus dice (As Alessandro states). Lets see what the test game results show!

  11. Robert says:

    Maybe the card change, but not a fan of the other. I think the game is pretty well balanced as it is.

  12. Teskal says:

    I think it would be best to test both rule changes without the other and test how they change the game alone.

  13. Erion says:

    The Card use change is very good. All that Jacks really need, in my opinion, is to be able to have a chance to control a scattering ball. I’ve seen far,far too many games decided by a ball that scatters onto a jack and ends the rush because he doesn’t have any chance to control it (outside of coaching dice). They don’t need a bonus to do anything else, because by their very nature they are supposed to do everything, but not as well as the specialists. Teams with no strikers are handicapped DRAMATICALLY by the simple fact that they need to reserve any/all coaching dice to prevent scattered balls from blowing the whole game for them.

  14. Lamanzer says:

    We have already test the first one last season and it’s a good rule.
    I will test the second one and leave a reply after 10 games.

  15. Duncan says:

    Teams like FF their dwarf strikers need more help not less fair enough this slightly helps the jacks out but doesn’t do anything to improve the team.

    Judwin now they have been neutered are tame with this change will be really bad.

    It doesn’t do anything to fix the nameless who are broken in one off games.

    As a result It’s not a fix its a major change to the game that will end up causing more problems than it fixes.

    Why not just keep all the +1 as they are right now.

    But just add +1 for evades for strikers and jacks

    +1 dash for strikers and jacks

    +1 armour saves jacks and guards.

    It actually helps jacks with out making strikers useless.

    This would be less destructive on the game.

    They only catch we need to look at the season two corporation team after the change drop a coaching dice or two and raise the price of their jacks.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Duncan. I think you’re missing the aim of this. It’s not to fix all the things that need work within the game, but to examine one area. You’re right that some teams need balancing, and I’ll get to that. However, there is no point in balancing details of teams if there is a problem with the balance of the value of the core roles. One has to build on the other, and attempting to change them in separate sections allows the effect of the change to be more easily seen.

      As I said in the post above, this will change the relative values of teams _ don’t worry ab out that for the purposes of whether these changes. What’s important is whether this makes Jacks better balanced compared to Guards and Strikers.

      Strikers are not made “useless” by this change. far from it. They are, however, reduced in power.

      Adding and adding (as you suggest) and never taking away is a poor design principle. This is where power creep comes from. Sometimes you need to rebalance by trimming, not gilding yet further 🙂

  16. LexMajor says:

    To be honest, at this point anything to get Dreadball out from its dust-gathering spot on my shelf. Over time, the Jacks(/FF/Orx,etc.) problems and the lack of updates/erratas/content discouraged my whole gaming group from playing.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      So you can’t play a game that isn’t constantly updated? Chess isn’t your thing then 😉

      • LexMajor says:

        Not exactly a fair comparison, but I’ll let it slide in my pure joy of having some rules put to the test for Jacks 😉 (and from the post count on this thread, seems I wasn’t the only one…)

        A slight comment/idea: While we’re at +1 for Stand Up for Jacks AND Strikers, why not give it to all players?
        – Downed players that stay down are no fun: most of the strategic value is getting them down in the first place, or just having them marked.
        – Un-agile Guards already pay for it with their low agility, and high-agility Guards don’t really mind the lack of Bonus dice.
        – Just plain simple.

        • theearthdragon says:

          Heavy armor = weighted down more. While it’s no fun to have them lying there on the pitch:
          1) There’s cards to get them up at no risk
          2) You can always slam those marking them to get them up more efficiently
          3) Coaching Dice

          I don’t think everything should be given to players on silver platter. There are so few ways to play defense as is, and man-marking rear arcs and downed players is one of few things going. Taking more of those out doesn’t do much to improve gameplay.

      • DB - OG says:

        If your game was as balanced and had perfectly clear rules, like chess, then this would be a fair comment.
        By the way… it is not…

        Signed,
        Another player desperate for some updates and some love from the developer for this game

  17. Torkel says:

    One problem I have with Jacks is that they pay too much in effectiveness for being allowed to both Slam and use the ball. This is paid in both the number of dice rolled and in the amount of actions needed to spend on them. Giving Jacks the bonus to Dash, Evade, and Stand Up doesn’t fix that directly, but it gives them at least their own area of expertise (while also removing some from Strikers, which is very good!). I think it’s a good change.

    The card change needs no comment. It’s an excellent change.

    Another gripe I have with Jacks is that they are much easier to take out than Strikers. While they do not contribute to the team effectively, they could at least be somewhat sturdy compared to the extremely effective Strikers. I do feel that they could use a survival boost. Currently, Jacks are just a liability.

    Hopefully, the final changes will make Jacks attractive. I understand that they don’t necessarily need to be on par with Guards and Strikers in order for the teams to be balanced. But I still feel that the game would benefit from having three roles that all were wanted. I would be very happy if teams that don’t have Jacks end up saying “damn, I wish I had access to a Jack that could fill this and that purpose in my team”, just like the case is for Guards and Strikers at the moment. Unfortunately, in the current state of the game, Jack-less teams go “I’m so so happy that I don’t have to field Jacks.”

  18. Wifstrand says:

    Many people I’ve talked to are wary of changing the core rules, since the core rules of Dreadball are incredibly good and simple. Howerr, in my most humble opinion I believe it would do the game good to just remove the “jacks may only move 1 hex” restriction from slamming and throwing. It would actually simplify the game even more, whioe retaining the (wonderfully simple to teach!) idea that guards get +1 to rolls that use their strength or armor but can’t handle the ball, strikers get +1 to rolls that use their speed or skill but can’t fight, and jacks can do everything, but they get no bonuses.

    Please, Jake, don’t make this a bigger deal. Making jacks better at evading and dashing aren’t going to improve them notably. Their core problem is STILL being so bad at ball handling. Look at the FF and Teraton jacks…

  19. Jack Trowell says:

    Thank you Jake, it’s good to see the issue of Jacks acknowledged.

    From my point of view, there are two main problems :
    a- without the additional bonus die to actions, even an experienced jack will often feel less effective than a specialist
    b- with the free full move that specialists get to their actions, even if a Jack is in position you are usually able to move a specialist for the same cost

    The two combined means that in most teams your jacks just stand there while the specialist do most of the job, making the player feel like he would have been better to just field more guards and/or strikers instead

    Giving Jacks a niche by transferring them the bonus die for some actions might be a solution.

    Your suggestion was for Dash and evade to become Jacks skills rather that Striker, and Stand up for both of them.

    Here are some other variants on the same idea :
    – Jacks as receivers : bonus die when the target of a pass. The fact that they are more armored than striker mean that they are more able to survive near enemy lines, so this might make sense, however the striker role very name imply that they are expected to be the one to “strike”, so this move me toward …
    – Strikers as receiver and Jacks as thrower/passers, bonus die to throw when passing moved to jacks, with strikers retaining the bonus to strikes and to pass reception. The bonus die for catching the ball on the ground might also be moved to jacks or both might get it, but getting the ball after a rebound would still be the speciality of strikers.
    – jacks as acknowledged underdogs : the crowd loves when a jack make an impressive action, as it is not expected from them, so any jack that trigger a fan check get an additional fan check for free.
    – jacks as ball stealers/defenders : move the bonus die for stealing action from strikres to jacks, and maybe give them a die bonus when defending against a steal action.
    Also, this is for another topic, but I think that the ball stealing action should have been a “skill” action and not a “speed” one. Also, if you really want to make jacks into ball stealers, let them get the free move for steal actions that the specialists get.

  20. Rob Marden says:

    I’m liking the changes except for the removal from the strikers.

    How about Jacks keep the card rule change and the movement rules changes, but the Strikers don’t loose them. So the Strikers and Jacks move about the field roughly the same…just Strikers have Ball skills the Jacks lack.

  21. Antti Jäppinen says:

    I’m not liking the dice change, as I think it clutters up the clean split of modifiers. I’d like to see the pure utility of Jacks being modified with a simple change like this:

    Strikers’ threat hexes do not modify Slamback tests.

    I think this simple addition would greatly enhance the utility of Jacks, without actually changing any Stikerless teams at all. Judwan would not suffer, as they’re not Slamming (and thus not getting Slambacks against them). All other teams would have to move Strikers to purely ball-playing roles – and not affecting the poor Forge Fathers at all, really, as that’s what their Strikers do, anyway. Veer-Myn would be the most handicapped by this, though, and their Guards might need a boost, then. Adding Threatening to their starting skills would do the trick, I think.

    The change would be nicely in line with the in-game explanation of “Strikers do not Slam”, too.

    The card change is cool, though, and we’ve been using it in our league for a while already.

  22. Don Squires says:

    While I can certainly appreciate the willingness to address the jack issue, I must say I don’t think the swapping of dice helps. The problem with jacks isn’t dashing or evading. The problem is they are no where near as effective as the the other positions as it relates to action token management. It generally takes a jack two action tokens to do what a specialist can do in one. Not only that, but when it comes to scoring, they sometimes need three! Which is impossible without a coach or a card. Swapping the dice makes forge father strikers and judwan that much worse, while doing very little for the jacks. If you want to improve jacks and bring them up to actually be jack of all trades, then allow them a full move on slams and throws. Maybe add that they can’t dash as part of the move. Leave the dice where they are. This way jacks are much improved, strikers aren’t hurt, but they no longer vastly outshine the jacks. You’d still want your specialists, but wouldn’t feel like your tilting at windmills if you had to employ your jacks.

  23. Stu says:

    Antti Jäppinen’s idea is the winning one here for me.. no extra rules, no dice mods..
    “Strikers’ threat hexes do not modify Slamback tests”

    Personally, I also think that jacks should be more mobile, rather than only getting the one hex but I do think the above quoted variant makes a lot of sense.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @Stu – How does “Strikers’ threat hexes do not modify Slamback tests” = “no extra rules”?

      That aside, it’s an interesting angle Antti’s suggesting.

      • Stu says:

        Maybe I misinterpreted Antti’s suggestion, but we’ve been playing in the last few games that strikers have no threat zone for slams (whether slam or slamback) – this seems to me to be a minor rule change, with a big impact, but it’s certainly not complex

        We’ve also been allowing them to move mornally when taking an action.
        Now, they’re definitely worth having

  24. Stu says:

    After reading further Dan’s comments about jacks being allowed to move the full distance when performing an allowed action is also a good one..

  25. Sami Mahmoud says:

    For me the issue is simple, Jacks not being able to move the full distance before taking an action is the problem.

    So teams that are relying on Jacks to cover one or both specialist positions take a triple whammy: harder to complete actions, less opportunity to double, requires two action tokens to conduct basic game functions.

    The first two can be addressed by balancing starting cards and coaching dice appropriately. The third one alters an underlying principle of the system in an unbalancing way.

    • Antti Jäppinen says:

      In our league we think that the lack of mobility for Jacks is not the real problem, but without other fixes it is a problem. The problem is that Jacks do not feel like they are doing anything useful in relation to Strikers, and we’ve come to the conclusion that this is not about actions that are taken, but passive benefits of Threat and its mobility.

      Jacks are usually at their most useful when their Threat hexes exert pressure on the opponent, and Strikers do this better. They can Evade to get to position, they can take harder Slams, and get up from the ground faster.

      Jake’s dice fix would help with these specific tests, but would still not fix the core problem; at most times you could still use a Striker just as well as a Jack. It would also dilute the “feel” of Strikers, and makes it harder to remember who gets a bonus to what (the current system is -really- easy to remember).

      Just removing Strikers from assisting Slams would go a long way in making the Jack really a role of its own. The card rule just underlines the versatility.

      • Blax says:

        Removing the threat hexes of striklers open up the whole can of worms that is “Why cant strikers slam” which is simply answered they are but not very well so they only count as appling threat hexs.

        • Antti Jäppinen says:

          I don’t get that, why? It would be a simple rule to apply, not a can of worms in any rules-sense. And do note that I deliberately only included Slambacks. Not Slams, not Dodges. That way the Stikers’ presence is still felt.

        • Blax says:

          No it is a simple rule I agree. When DBX was in Kickstarter a discussion started about “how come strikers cant slam” some people thought that in DBX anything goes so even if the chances are so poor they should be able to slam. Jake went on to explain that the mechanic for Strikers slamming is the fact that they provide threat hexs (by pushing and shoving) now what you propose would effectivly mean that its a foul for a striker to push and shove when someone is slamming someone else and so should be an option just one that could get spotted by the ref and in DBX is a perfectly good option. This is where the can of worms gets opened not the use of the rule.

        • Antti Jäppinen says:

          I did think that over.

          My angle is not that they can’t or won’t push and show when someone else Slams, but that it is limited in effect, just as with Slams.

          There’s four cases involving this rule, and Slams or Slambacks that I can think of, and in all the rule I think works both from fluff and game-balance perspective:

          -The Striker assists a Slam. If the target decides to respond with brute force (a Slamback), a Striker would just not be of any practical use. The Threat does not apply. If he responds with evasion (a Dodge), that shoving would be useful – and note that this is the only way an opposing Striker would respond, or anyone Slammed from behind. The threat applies.

          -The Striker distracts a Slam. Opponent is Slamming someone else and your Striker is shoving him, putting a Threat on him. The threat applies.

          -The Striker assists a Stomp, by whatever means. The Threat applies.

          -The Striker assists a Steal (and this is a meaningful part of the rule, too, boosting Jacks). Same considerations as with a Slam.

        • Blax says:

          – My angle is not that they can’t or won’t push and show when someone else Slams, but that it is limited in effect, just as with Slams. –
          This is where is causes a problem for me anyway. Firstly lets look at what the threat hexes actually are trying to represent, “Pushing, Shoving and generally trying to stop your opponent being able to do something”
          In the strikers case this is the only way they physically themselves “slam” their opponents because if they were to slam they just aren’t as effective.
          In your proposal what your saying is they are only ineffective when someone else is doing the slamming, if someone is dodging or trying to slam back having two people to fight off is still making life difficult no matter what you’re doing. Yes the big slamming you is probably the most damaging thing but if his two striker buddies are stood next to you holding your arms then life just got a whole lot worst and if you tried to dodge you are still no better off. Threat hexs work for everything no matter because they are all doing the same thing with the same amount of force/skill.
          No if you look at it from a game point of view the threat hexs for strikers are there to show that they are trying to “slam” but they never have a chance so instead they assist with their guard/jack mate. IF you were to say that Strikers cannot assist slams or slambacks in a game where the Actual rules of dreadball (not the game of dreadball) are enforced by a foul and ref mechanic then you are saying that the rules of dreadball allow strikers to bump their opponents so long as their opponent isn’t getting punched in the face, which opens up the legitimate idea that it could be done but is a foul. Stomps for example are not allowed in the DGB rules but in the game you can do them you just commit a foul.
          And I don’t think that if you make strikers assist slams a foulable offense it will help.

  26. I fully agree with Don.
    Access to all cards and full movement would make jacks usable. Everything else is overly complicated and not needed.

  27. fenriroton says:

    What about halving the move options for Strikers and Guards? The problem aren’t the Jacks, the problem is than Strikers and Guards do their functions double better (more movement y more dice).

  28. Blax says:

    So been thinking quite a bit about these experimental rules and allowed myself to mull them over. I am going to look at some modelling to see the effect the changes have on the numbers game later today. But below is my personal “feelings” and my thematic reasons.

    “The small change is to allow Jacks to use any Special Move card. So, if a card says Striker, read that as Striker or Jack. If it says Guard, read that as Guard or Jack.”

    Perfect fits exactly how I see Jacks as the Jack of all trades so allowing them access to all the cards (+ their own RI cards) gives them the utilitarian role that I feel they should fill. While this change will effect teams in a variety of ways in for instance those that have no cards gain no benefits this can be mitigated in a league but for one offs teams like void sirens suffer.

    The second change is to do with the role(s) that get a bonus for certain actions. The idea is to move some from Strikers to Jacks. So Dash and Evade becomes +1 if the player is a Jack (not a Striker), and Stand Up becomes +1 if the player was either a Jack or a Striker.

    This is where I am afraid I don’t feel like they fit. Firstly I don’t see Jacks being any better at Dashing and evading than Strikers. Strikers are meant to be naturally fast they wear less armour so these test should be easy for them and hence the bonus and the stand-up I don’t like for the reason of I feel it dilutes the idea that each position has a distinct role to play. Take a look at Teratons the guards and Jacks are very similar same with Forge Fathers whereas the strikers look much more springy even for a FF.

    Personal take and I understand that this isn’t terribly helpful to suggest alternatives but I am going to. Is that the bonus to stand up is removed completely or is transferred to a skill (Doesn’t Backflip already do this pretty well). As for improving Jacks I think the problem, like many have mentioned, is not their lack of a role it’s that the role they fit they just don’t do as well as any alternatives. For instance in the Robots team Jacks are actually really good and it is a common mistake of robot players to transform everyone. Robot Jacks have a decent stat line and a bonus move normal only found on the fastest players which gives you plenty of options for controlling the field.
    So what to do about it. While changing the bonus is a good start I feel that it takes away too much from the other roles what about considering some sub roles and tweeking the game rules to promote these sub roles and I think the sub roles that are needed are between the jack and striker the jack guard relationship works guards are better but jacks aren’t too bad and in numbers are equally dangerous especially as being able to handle ball allows them to capitalise on any successful slams. Strikers are the golden boys/girls and in our leagues its strikers that get the most exp and the best skills and become super players because people try to use them exclusively if they have them. My take is to split the bonus to throwing between Strikers and Jacks, simply Strikers get a bonus when attempting to Strike and Jacks get the bonus when attempting to pass. I think this opens up the passing game in dreadball more and allows a good synergy between Jacks and Strikers.
    Also I would enjoy Slide being made the norm and the skill replaced with a skill that improves dashes [Speedy – Player always treats Dash attempts as Speed(1) not Speed(123), can also be applied to evades in the same vain Agile – Player always treats Evades as Speed(1) not Speed(123)]

  29. Jack Trowell says:

    I have been thinking more about that, and I am starting to thing that among my previous suggestions, the best one is probably making the Jacks into specialist ball stealers.

    ————————–
    The fluff
    ————————–
    “Yes, usually I fear the guard that will slam me to the ground, or the striker that will evade me an score against my team, but when I am the one with the ball, It’s the Jack that I fear the most. With a guard you know that he will try to slam you and just have to protect yourself. With a striker, you know that he will be after the ball and can manage if you are good enoug. But with a Jack, you never know what he will do, he might starts pushing you at first and then instead of slaming you all the way switch to trying to catch the ball, or he can feint by seeming to go after the ball and then slam you violently before you realize it.” – extract from “Interview with a Striker”
    ————————–
    The proposed variant
    ————————–
    Jacks gets a bonus dice and a free move action when doing a “steal ball” action, with those bonuses removed from strikers.

    ————————–
    Discussion on the topic
    ————————–

    Imagine the situation : you have one player in place, and you opponent has not far from it one of each positions, a guard, a striker and a jack.

    If you don’t have the ball, but are somewhat in the way, your opponent will then wants to slam you. He can either use one action to move and slam with the guard, or two actions to do the same with the jack, and with a worse dice pool. Note that even if the jack is already in position and so don’t need an additional action to move, if the guard is in move range, he will still be more effective for the action in most situations.

    If you have the ball, the guard might slam you to make you drop it, of he might do a steal action with the striker. Once again, the jack is the worst choice, *even if he is already in position*, it’s only if no Guard or Striker is in move range (meaning more thatn 5 squares usually) that the Jack is usable, and even then if you must use two actions, you might run or sprint with a guard or striker instead and still get a better dice pool.

    With the variant, Jacks are still worse at slams and at general ball handling that the specialists, but they get to shine as an alternative to slamming when your target has the ball. Note that you can still steal with a striker (so Vermyns are still capable to get the ball if they don’t have a guard available), but they are just not optimal for it.

    This also make gobs into sneaky ball stealers in the Marauder team, and I don’t thing that it is a bad thing. ^_^

  30. Lamanzer says:

    Hello 🙂
    Well, 3 friends of mine and me have played 12 games to test these rules and this is what we think about:

    All apologies for my average English 😦

    Card rule: it’ very good – Nothing to say, we are already using it on our league.:)

    Changes on jack:
    – Jacks are now better to relocate and it’s interresting for the game. (For 4+ speed jack)
    – Goblin, Asterian jacks and zees can now dash for 2 hex instead of one with a good chance to succeed. (2 times gobs and 1 time zees have reached a strike zone with only one token instead of 2, and the shooted with +1Die)
    – No difference on Jack with 5+ speed.

    Changes on Striker:
    – Only one game with Judwan… 5 were killed in only 7 turn. They are bad before and this rule bury them…
    – Human striker (and probably all 4+ speed Strikers) are less effective with these rules. We have discussed a long time on them and we are not agree. 50% think it’s good for the game, 50% are not agree.
    – 3+ speed strikers are now not sure to succeed for the first dash attempt. Before they can try 2 dash easily, now only one.
    – man-to-man marking is now a good option to defend on striker and it’s interesting. (Often in our test matchs, we have choosed to Slam the Player near the striker to nullify the Man-to-man marking instead of go for evade with only 2 dices)
    => before: 1 token / easy evade roll. Now 2 token (slam and run for striker) or roll with 2 dices…

    In conclusion:
    – These rules change the game in the right way, They change the balance of the value of the core roles: Jacks have more versatility, Strikers are less mobile and it’s now not useless to defend man-to-man on them.
    – Power ranking of the 12 teams don’t change: Teams without strikers are always less effective than other ones, Forge fathers always struggle and Nameless are always overpowered (maybe more! Because opponent strikers don’t fear them now…)

    Hope this could help even if it’s only personal feelings. 🙂
    ++
    Lamanzer

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Brilliant Lamanzer! This is excellent feedback, a good analysis, and very useful. Your English is nothing to be ashamed of either. I wouldn’t worry about that. Your comment is perfectly clear.

  31. Morat says:

    Just to wedge yet -another- idea into the barrel. The card idea that Jake’s adopted (can’t remember who proposed that originally) seems sound, but probably isn’t enough to bring Jacks to where they need to be (the worst players on the pitch but not by too much). The +1 to evade and dash seems entirely odd though, doesn’t suit them at all. I’d be satisfied with them losing their move restriction, but that may well be too much resulting in horrible balance issues.

    My proposal would be to add an extra “skill” to Jacks to represent their setting up plays for the rest of the team:

    If a Jack uses an action counter to make a -move- action (certainly not strike attempts or slams (pickup attempts maybe)). then the player may immediately draw a card from the deck into their hand, but must also afterward discard one card from their hand.

    This would allow Jacks setting up plays to cycle through the deck but without increasing the players hand size.

    As a marauder player, fixing Jacks is of course a big issue. I am acutely aware of the danger of over egging the pudding though, I can and do, both score and win games using Jacks to do it. We don’t need them to be as “good” as strikers and I certainly don’t think making other players worse to make them seem better is the way to go either.

    • Jack Trowell says:

      You mean something like “activate a Jack, get a free card”,? This could indeed be a very god idea, and give a reason for most teams to field at least one jack or two.

      • Vinsssounet says:

        Actually sounds like a good idea, though without League Play, woudn’t help teams who start with 0 cards – as it is.
        Probably tweakable.

        • Jack Trowell says:

          We might simply allow a minimun of 1 card drawn per turn

        • Morat says:

          Aye true that regarding teams who have no cards, Can’t remember off the top of my head which these are though, are any of them Jack reliant? Does seem a little unfair for them either way. Perhaps allow such teams to hold the drawn card till the end of their turn or something.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      An intriguing approach Morat. I’m not sure it’s right (slightly concerned about slowing things down and breaking the flow as you swap cards about), but it’s interesting to see the problem attacked from a different direction. As has been mentioned, it will depend on the number of cards you already hold as to how useful it is.

      • Morat says:

        Well it can’t cause more slowdown than we already get with Zees and their charming/malicious re-interpretations of the rules no? 😉

        Oh crikey they’re a team of Jacks though aren’t they? Hmm. Well I should re-iterate it could (and possibly should) be for move actions only, and it’d be fair to say throws, slams -and- pickup attempts don’t grant it (could even make it incompatible with run-around rule for zees if necessary). So it shouldn’t add too much time to the turn, unless of course you’e the sort who likes to spend time staring at his opponent over a fan of cards saying errrrrrrrr. There’s no hope for that type though, first against the wall…

        Thanks for the reply though Jake, happy to provide yet another half assed solution to what is already a confusing mass of them for you to unravel.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          It’s all useful to contemplate, though I’d rather hoped for a bit more focus on actually playing the ones I suggested before everyone wandered off in a dozen different directions at once.

        • steffen.wifstrand@gmail.com says:

          Quirkworthy: “It’s all useful to contemplate, though I’d rather hoped for a bit more focus on actually playing the ones I suggested before everyone wandered off in a dozen different directions at once.”

          Well, it seems like there aren’t that many directions – many people echo my (by now rather old) suggestion of removing the movement restrictions on Jacks, allowing them to actually move the ball and to actually fight. They’d still suck at it (as is only right!), but at least you wouldn’t feel like you waste TWO actions on doing something with them. I’ve suggested this multiple times on Facebook and the Mantic forum, and it seems like the idea is catching on.

          I really, really wouldn’t move around the dice modifiers. That’s an unnecessary complication of a simple, elegant, beautiful game. I want to go out on a limb and say that it would most likely further reduce interest in Dreadball in my area. One of the big selling points is that the game is so simple and easy to learn, but I feel your suggested dice bonus change would mess with that.

  32. Morat says:

    Yes, essentially, but only actions with an action token played (can’t have them ripping through the deck with every free action or card action).

    Also only when it’s a move action, which tends to represent them “setting up” a play for a glory hog (striker or guard) to exploit. The only thing I’m unsure of is if they should get the card draw on a move ending on a pickup attempt. Guts say “yes”, brain says “not sure”.

  33. Morat says:

    My helpful answer here is: not sure. 🙂

    From a personal perspective, I tend to see most events I draw into my hand as an annoyance, they’re for the most part too situational to be any use, so if I drew one off the back of a jack action I’d probably discard it.

    Your mileage may very well vary here though I appreciate.

    • Jack Trowell says:

      Don'( forget that you can play an event from your hand at any time, and that it will then replace the previous event, so any event in your hand can potentially protect you from a bad one.

  34. Morat says:

    Trufax with regard to us not testing the proposals on the whole (though I think a couple have said they’re already using the card changes.

    I shall join my fellow belligerents in issuing a vaguely apologetic sounding “Meow” and retire to lick my paws.

    I will go and book a game or two at my club and try out the rules Jake’s given us though. My Marauders stand to benefit particularly from them. Will post here how it goes.

  35. Chris says:

    Hi Jake

    Just wondering on why these changes in particular?

    So for example we tried shortly after DB came out and the Jack problems became apparent (leading to people minimising them in teams) to efectively give each position one of the three stats and the bonuses associated with those actions (though doesn’t entirely work without further core rule changes).

    Did you try a bunch of different options before settling on these to try? Was it a big theoreticaly exercise and you are looking for feedback? Are these the remainder of the original bunch of changes you have been testing?

    We didn’t think of the card idea though. That is both thematic and a power boost. Would be interested to try it…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve tried several options and thought of some more. I’ve read numerous suggestions and tried a few of those too. The aim of this post was to suggest one approach for people to test out on the pitch. Whatever we do in the long run, it will need a great deal of practical testing before it is formally adopted. At present we have a game that works, even if Jacks are a bit weak (IMO). In fact, not everyone agrees with that, and it does vary between teams too. All of this makes any changes more contentious, and the need to make them more robust (and to ensure they do exactly what is intended) more important.

      I have tried the one stat per role approach and wasn’t keen. Apart from anything else I think it is too much of an abstraction of their actual roles, especially in a background sense, and a Jack of trades does not easily fit into the same sort of pigeonhole as the more (supposedly) specialised roles.

  36. Jon M says:

    Hi Jake,
    I can’t claim credit for this idea (as it was posted by Geoff on the Facebook group), but think his suggested extension of the first experimental rule is worth considering (instead of changing modifiers).
    “What do you think of the idea of leaving the Striker and Jack bonus’ as they are but when a Jack uses a card meant for a Striker or a Guard they get the bonus’ of that role for that action?”
    I would take this to mean that a Jack using a card saying “Action: Striker” (not “Action: Striker or Jack”) would get access to the free run and the bonus die for that action only.
    Initially I thought this might over power Jacks, but given that cards are limited and the cards this would apply to are also limited, I don’t think that would be the case.
    Anyone else considered this option?
    Thanks.

    • Lugosi says:

      It wouldn’t help as much as Jakes original change that he has asked us to play test, or at least it wouldn’t help jack heavy card light teams e.g. Teratons with no cards, I might try a dash on the end of a sprint with 4 dice but I still have no cards.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Lugosi is right here. It’s hard to rely on cards to balance Jacks when not all teams have equal access to them (or even access to them at all in one-off matches).

      I think they need something more generic to achieve this.

  37. Played 2 matches today. First one was VeerMyn vs Corp(1) – No real benefit to changes – Corp kept drawing events, and Veermyn didn’t suffer much with a 3+ speed and 6 movement.
    Second match was Corporation vs Forge Father – Corporation made a lot of use of the 4 dice Dashes and Evades. Similarly the ForgeFathers were a bit more daring with their Jacks to dash a time or two. The Forge Father Strikers were relatively unaffected, but you can’t get much lower than where they are.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks for the feedback.

      FF do need working on, and we’ll definitely get to them. However, they’re only one team, and Jacks are all over, so I’m doing the bigger stuff first.

  38. mastertugunegb says:

    Gave these experimental rules for Jacks (and Strikers) a try just an hour ago with the basic teams that come with the DBO set. Wasn’t too bad. Jacks feel a lot less useless now that they can get a bonus for dashing and hopping clear of opposing front hexes. Also puts more of a reign on Strikers who ordinarily just do everything good. Being able to benefit from Special Moves that Guards and Strikers can use makes them way more awesome.

    Even the Stand Up bonus felt useful.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Tentatively positive then? More balance between roles by the sounds of it (which was the aim).

      • mastertugunegb says:

        Well it feels good…

        Strikers still get their +1 Dodge, their +1 for anything involving the ball still remains, they will still be the go to role for strike attempts or long range catching or ducking the charging Guard.

        Losing the Evade and Dash just means they get to rely on their Team rather than merely zipping about the pitch lone wolf style. Who gets to try and assist them get out of the enemy threat zones? Most likely the Guards but even likelier… the Jacks who can probably use a Special Move card and or the bonus to Dash and Evade to be there just that little bit more often.

        • mastertugunegb says:

          One knock on effect is that Teams with a specialist role (or both) missing don’t feel nearly as handicapped by their absence with Jacks having the Special Moves opened up for them, which can only be good news for the likes of Zees, Teratons, and Marauders. Probably just Veer-myn and Judwan that get a little left out cards wise, but they get a fair bit of Strikers, so no real boohoos for them.

        • mastertugunegb says:

          But then, as Jake has mentioned before, even in regular card games, not every card you get dealt is going to be useful to you in your current situation, that’s just luck of the draw.

  39. juanbonnets says:

    We got about five games in over the weekend and tried both rules in all of them. The cards rule is excellent, really improves the versatility of Jacks. Moving the bonus dice for Dash/Evade meant that Jacks instantly have a reason to be chosen over Strikers in some situations – I like that. A few times when a player would have had to move through threat hexes to get to the ball, and both a Striker and Jack were available, there was an additional factor to consider. Man-marking Strikers is no longer utterly pointless as they are less likely to escape easily.

    Our games included two Marauder landslides against Corporation in the classic out-of-the-box match-up (Goblins benefitting from the Dash dice to get many more 3pt attempts and coincidentally getting better than average dice rolls when shooting for once!). A three-player Ultimate game of Z’zor vs Teratons vs Veer-myn was a win to the Z’zor, who enjoyed the bonus dice on their Slide attempts. Finally we had time for two half games between Z’zor and Veer-myn (Veer-myn win) and Z’zor vs Robots (Robots win). In both of those the transfer of the bonus dice was noticeable for both player positions.

    We like the changes to the dice, though it may take a few more games to tease out the subtleties that are no doubt lurking!

  40. Don Squires says:

    I’ll be getting in a game tonight and trying out these rules. As I said, I don’t believe the dice swap is the way to go, but if the game play points the other way I’ll say so. I’ll be sure to post the results.

  41. Lugosi says:

    I had a game last night trying the changes. Played Teratons vs S1 humans. So no cards for Teratons and with 5+ speed I tried to dash twice in the whole 14 – they both worked though. Human jacks seemed more able but it was still their strikers that won the game (except for the dead one 😉 )
    The thing that would improve my Teratons jacks would be efficiency of action. It has already been mentioned that having a full move before slamming or throwing would do this, although there would be a fair bit of rebalancing required. So with these changes I would like to see a card for Teratons to balance them with other jack heavy teams … Or…
    Where I think the easiest improvement lies would be a +1 die to picking up the ball, doubling that roll does help to get down field even if the remaining action can’t create a scoring chance.
    Anyway in summary the test showed minor improvement to Teratons jacks and a greater improvement to Human jacks although not necessarily to the point that they get activated in place of a striker.

  42. Don Squires says:

    Ok so I’ve finished up my game, testing the new rules. Season 1 Humans vs. Teratons. Funny that was the match up Lugosi tried as well. I know one game is a very small sample but here are my observations and thoughts. For the Teratons. The extra dice helped for dashes and evades. Being only speed 5 I’d be real reluctant to dash. In this case, the reluctance is less due to the extra die. There were 5 evades from the Teratons and only 1 of them failed. (That was by a guard so no real reflection on the test rules) There were also 5 dash attempts and all were successful. However all of them were dash 1, no attempts at a second dash were made.

    The Humans. The extra die on the get up roll for the jacks was very nice. 4 times the jacks found themselves getting up off the floor and in each case they doubled and got the free action. Only 1 evade was ever attempted by a human jack and he failed. Oops! 3 dash attempts by human jacks and all were successful. The strikers didn’t seem to suffer. 1 evade roll was successful and there were 3 dash attempts, all successful. I did hold my breath when rolling for the strikers dashes, being less confident in 3 dice than I normally am in 4. However, all 3 times my strikers were carrying the ball so a failure would have been real bad.

    Overall. The Humans won by landslide in the 12th rush of the game. The strikers scored all the strikes for them. The dice shift is nice and does help the jacks somewhat, but it still fails to make up for the difference in action tokens. It still takes a jack 2 tokens to do what a striker or guard can do in 1. Case in point. My jack used an action to move and pick up the ball, which he did. However, I only rolled 1 success so now my jack was stuck holding the ball and unable to make a strike attempt due to the 1 hex move restriction. I took a gamble and bought a card, which worked out as I got a striker any action card, which under the play test rules the jack could use too. So I lined him up and used his second action to take the shot, he missed, but that’s not the point. The point is without the card, he wasn’t going to be able to take a shot. Had I drawn an event, same deal. So in closing I’ll leave my bullet points.

    -The card rule change helps jacks, doesn’t hurt the other positions, and is pretty good overall.
    -The dice change does help jacks, but not to the level that the spotlight is taken off the strikers, which is what I think your going for.
    -The dice change kind of hurts strikers, but not in any real way. Further, I think it’s wrong to try to makes jacks better, by making strikers poorer.
    -I still contend that the real problem with jacks is their action token inefficiency compared to the other positions.

    Thank you.
    (Overall I feel Dreadball is a great game)

  43. Morat says:

    Played my first play test last night too, Corporation vs Marauders. My opponent played Marauders leaving me with the less familiar corporation. Tried to keep two jacks on the field at all times, but with Orx it can be difficult keeping -anyone- on the field at times. Orx won by a landslide, primarily due to my failing all -5- strike attempts made during the game, all on at least two dice… Fortunately it was a rush 13 landslide so we had adequate time to see how Jacks performed.

    Change 1:

    Only saw one benefit from this all game (think it was a “Guard Any Action” one) as the deck kept throwing up either “Any Player” or “Jack &” cards. Allowed a Goblin Jack to score though so it proved it’s worth.

    Change 2:

    Made the Goblin Jacks even better at getting where they need to be, they still suffered from action shortage though, with them left holding the ball at the end of the turn on two occasions. Corporation Jacks still saw less use, as I found desperation was driving me to use Guards and Strikers in preference more than I had intended. The bonus dash did allow me to use Jacks for assists a couple of times, but it was single hex moves and I’d have done that much regardless of the changes. Losing the dash and evade bonuses made no material difference to my Strikers in this game, They were still easily able to get where they were needed.

    Broader thoughts:

    Change 1 still feels right (though it’s a rum deal for 0 card teams).

    Change 2 still feels wrong, and I struggled a bit to explain it while I was trying to re-acquaint my opponent with the player roles (he last played back in January). Really helps Goblin Jacks in some areas (they’re essentially impossible to “mark” now). Feels like less of a benefit to Corporation as Jacks just play less of a role in that team.

    Really enjoyed losing with Corporation, not sure if it’s because I usually struggle against them with Orx and I was just enjoying seeing human Strikers miss attempt after attempt to score or if play-testing beats the competitive streak out of me.

    Shall try a few more games when I can.

    • theearthdragon says:

      I warn people of this a lot: gotta avoid playing games with an agenda when play testing. It’s hard at times, but if you have a stake in hoping the Marauders can beat Corp, it’s better to play FF or something else.

      Not that it invalidates your test, just something to keep in mind in the future.

      • Morat says:

        I quite agree with and am aware of that.

        My decision to play Corp rather than my preferred team was mostly behind that concern. As I said above, the result of the game had only a little to do with the changes being tested. I just enjoy seeing Corp Strikers missing repeatedly satisfying even when I have the “poor luck” to be using them, Not something I have any control over, more’s the pity.

  44. theearthdragon says:

    This change is a bit too rough on Striker survivability from the games I’ve played. You’re taking the squishiest player in the game (FF striker) and making him even more so. I think there is a little too much focus on how the speed three strikers don’t get dinged too badly (though the game with FF versus Veermyn saw 4 dead strikers…….that’s a little silly) yet four and five speed strikers are gonna get blasted. There needs to be a lot of adjustments along with this change to team stats/composition if this is gonna work properly. We also had some confusion about stealing. Does no one get the bonus now? Or do strikers retain it (we played as they retain it as that nerf would be WAY to much in our opinion). So again, overall opinion was the change was too rough on Jackless teams and Strikers with lower speed stats.

    I’m firmly still in the camp that the movement restrictions make little sense and are the easiest fix. After playing a few games it just feels ackward, in particular for slamming. These are professionals players that for some reason are all playing flat footed. How are these guys the ones running interference when they have no ability to react when you ask them to do something? It’s by far the biggest hindrance and would bring Jacks up without risking punishing Strikers too much (much like the Judwan change took them from the team to beat to one that struggles more often then not).

    I agree that stat changes affect the strikers identity a bit as well and causes a bit more confusion on the bonuses. As it stands now it’s divided by stat. Having some speed bonuses given to a striker and some not increases the learning curve a bit more. If that’s the way we need to go, it needs to be done carefully. Speed and skill actually work together nicely as combined bonuses on the same player. They scream finesse, and that’s the striker, similar to a guard in basketball. Scorer, facilitater, ball handler, and able to strip balls (hoping when tripling becomes live that straight up stealing the ball with an action becomes possible, granted you get a minimum of three successes to avoid technical tripling over a zero).

    A couple out of the box thoughts:

    Break the Jack up into multiple positions that all retain the Jack moniker. Kind of like what that individual player focuses on. A speedster (Runner), a slammer (Blizter) and a ball-handler (Wing). Possibly even an armor guy (Tackle). This would give you a lot to play with as far as team variety goes again without punishing any teams without Jacks. You are bringing teams up instead. This also allows for greater variety without forcing it like a few of the season 4-6 teams feel (meaning it felt like they were assigned to position numbers just to be different but didn’t gel with the theme of the team at first glance. Having varying Jack sub specialties would opened this up a bit more)

    Another one is possibly giving the opposing player a token to be used between the 2nd and 3rd tokens of the player with the active rush and give the Jacks the bonuses/movement. This effectively turns the Jack into a defensive specialist

    (I had a third but was drawn into this great Friday night CFB game and lost my thoughts. I’ll post if I can think of it again).

    At the end of the day I think there are ways to increase Jacks w/o risking ruining other teams by nerfing Strikers as well.

    • Morat says:

      Not sure how the rules as described way above, make strikers much more vulnerable. Only thing I can see is them failing to evade (with one less dice) leaves them more vulnerable to being punched again or leaves easy assists.

      I guess that’s a thing but will it make -that- much difference.

      • theearthdragon says:

        Fair enough. Switch got applied to Dodge as well in out play testing. No wonder there was positive comments at all lol.

        My bad.

        I’m on the same page now.

  45. MoonFever says:

    I have played 3 games with experimental rules so far. Card change only mattered in 2. Dice change mattered in all three. All in all the changes made Jacks a more viable option since they had access to more cards, and the maneuverability to get where you needed them. Twice in those games I brought a jack in off the bench instead of a striker to get the ball because of distance and/or tackle zones.

    In one of the games I had a striker tagged up by opposing jack. Instead of evading to get away and get to ball for strike, I relied on nearby guard to blast opposing jack away. Then striker was free to score.

    Liking both changes so far. Instead of guards to clear flight path and strikers to run the field, strikers have to rely on teammates at times cans jacks are worth having in play.

    I do not see an issue with jacks only being able to move one square prior to slamming/throwing. Removing that may make them too good.

  46. Lugosi says:

    I had another game, Marauders vs Nameless, using the new rules. Ended with a 1 point win to the greenskins in the 6th rush of sudden death. From about rush 12 onwards no one could roll higher than a 2. Goblins definitely feel some love from the change with the ability to make 2 hex dashes consistently and even evade the sticky guards.

    No real news on the card front as only one came up to be of use that otherwise would,t. Also the slight striker nerf was almost imperceptible as three nameless were bouncing free actions all over the pitch. There was a failed dash where the nameless fell on the ball but there were two instances where they fumbled the pick up too so they weren’t hindered particularly.

  47. Torkel says:

    Remove Dash completely from Guards and Strikers, and let Jacks Dash on any movement. That would give Jacks their exclusive area of expertise, and in a pretty thematic way, I feel.

    • theearthdragon says:

      That’s an interesting take. I do like some of the suggesting coming out of this weighting in what to do.

      As I unfortunately and moronically proved, not having bonuses stat focused can get jumbled up easily. I’m so ashamed………

  48. theearthdragon says:

    Damn, now that I realize I misread and included dodge as part of the switch I gotta rethink this a bit……

  49. Ian James says:

    Have many people played the game at any length having Jacks able to move fully and perform an action? I understand a few people have for their first few games mistakenly, but anyone gone further than this? I’ve played quite a few games this way, it makes quite an interesting change.

    The games become even faster than they already are, with most teams now having more viable options for scoring. A Striker or Guard is always a better bet for ball handling or a Slam, but Jacks all of a sudden become a worthwhile inclusion. The balance of teams changes a bit. Marauders become really quite decent, whilst other teams that really struggle such as Teratons and Zee become more capable at scoring. Even the Trontek team become slightly different to play, with the Jacks now able to make a solid contribution to the team.

    By doing this, I really don’t think it is necessary to alter the composition or points cost of the teams. Sure, Jacks get much better for free, but they are so poor at the moment. People may argue that teams with a lot of Jacks (Marauders, Zee), get an unfair boost, but they are teams that currently struggle. You’ll never get 12 perfectly balanced teams, there will always be some that are slightly stronger, some that are slightly weaker.

    I’m not a huge fan of the bonus swapping or card ideas for Jacks. Even if they do get a bonus for standing up or dashing, or are able to use a Guard’s card for a Slam, they are still pretty rubbish as they are.

    • Stu says:

      We played Nameless vs Z’Zor on Saturday.
      We used ‘jacks move a full move with any allowed action’ and ‘strikers do not assist slams/slambacks in any way’

      The unbelievable slammyness of nameless notwithstanding, the changes worked just fine.
      Jacks did score but more importantly they’re now wanted on the pitch and they can move around on it.

      The Z’zor strikers are crap mind but that’s always been the case (doesn’t make any sense to me personally but such is life).

      • Jack Trowell says:

        One variant might be to give full movement to Jacks, but make it restricted like a sprint, meaninghaving to pay movement to change facing but without the double movement value.

        Jacks would then still be worse both at movement and at the actions themselves, but it would be less marked.

        In fact one houserule that I have been thinking about for a while was using this system not for jacks but for the other specialists, and have Jacks the ones with a true move for each action. This would have made Jacks still worst at the actions themselves due to lack of bonus dice, but the ones the more likely to be able to move into the correct position.
        But as this would completely change the balance of the existing teams, I didn’t try to go further with this idea until now.

        The idea behind this houserule is that from a design point of view being a Jack of all trade is supposed to be both an advantage and a flaw. The down side is supposed to be that you are worse at the skill that a specialist, but in exchance you might be able to do unique things not available to a true specialist (like a cross skill needing both aspects to be useable), be more effective in some specifics situations (“As a Jack I’m not as good as a striker, but when some guard comes to me, I’m able at least to push him back a little, giving me the edge to score despite the opposition”), or get a “logistic” advantage due to being able to do the needed job.

        The problem is that with the current system, Jacks are both worst at all actions (not bonus dice at all, note even a special hybrid action that they could call their own), and the theorical positioning advantage is lost most of the time due to the “free move” that the specialists get, meaning that even if someone happens just right at where the Jack is, you can usually get a better result just by moving there a specialist.

        If nobody or everybody got the bonus dice, then the specialists advantage would be their mobility, but at least a well placed Jack would be useable without remorse.
        If nobody or everybody got the free move, then a Jack would be able to project the potential bot both a slam or a throw around him without being compared to a specialist several hexes away.

  50. Blax says:

    Now lots of people are looking at the movement as the jacks issue. My personal point of view is that to allow full movement is a bit too powerful. Has anyone considered they can move half their movement (rounding down) that way the different movement of the races comes into play more and its less dramatic than giving them full movement.

  51. theearthdragon says:

    So I’m actually liking Jacks getting the extra dice as, thematically, they are the more physical/aggressive ball handler.

    But I STILL feel Jacks should have movement opened up on all actions with the following exemption: No dashing on throws or slams UNLESS you have slide.

    I’d also really like it to be considered that instead of the initial proposal, Jacks had three (possibly four) Skill similar to keeper that gave them the plus one dice to a particular stat. Once they had that skill, they couldn’t anyone of the other 3/4. This way you could have the power runner (which is essentially what the current proposed incarnation of the Jack is), a ball handler, and a slammer.

  52. Personally I think all the jacks need is full movement. Everything else is overly complicated and unneeded. A Jack with full movement would be a threat both for scoring and slamming but never as good as the specialists. At the same time the Jack remains a turnover waiting to happen with the inability to pick up scattering ballls. There is absolutelt no reason why they should be punished thrice- limited movement, fewer dice and the inability to pick up the ball but still having to do so.
    Give the Jacks full movement and nothing ele and they game stays simple and no piint adjustments need to be made

    • Quirkworthy says:

      This is not a solution I am at all fond of, nor do I think it actually fixes the issue. For me, this makes them too similar to the other player roles, which defeats the purpose of being different in the first place.

      Yes I have played it. No I don’t like it.

      • Stu says:

        If you remove the striker ability to aid a slam, then the jack ‘feels’ a lot different.
        I really don’t see why a jack should not be able to move and do something.

        Of course if you don’t like that, I guess you could make jacks more akin to play makers, with a bonus when passing to team-mates..

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I think they need something that is different to the other roles. Giving them something that the others both have too (full movement, for example) is a step towards blandness, not towards a strong character for the role.

        • Steffen Wifstrand says:

          They’re “jacks of all trade, masters of none” – they’re supposed to do the same everyone does, just not as well! There’s no need to further define the jack role.

          Allowing them to move before attempting a throw or slam would NOT make them more bland – currently they’re benchwarmers and waterboys for the guards and strikers, how fun is that?

          The main attraction of this game is that it’s simple, streamlined, and FUN! Please don’t ruin it by over complicating it. If I wanted a more complicated, less fun game, I’d play freaking Blood Bowl*.

          * Just kidding, I’d never play BB again.

        • theearthdragon says:

          I don’t see how taking away playability is making them “not bland”. Unique skills like RI, having access to all cards, having more yet riskier options at your disposal for the character are all defining factors. Giving them, as well as all positions, a greater bevy of unique skills would help define them a little better as well.

          Look at American Football. Most teams use the “less talented” players on special teams (kick-offs, punts, etc). These guys are running full speed down the field trying to hit/tackle/block the other players. They don’t move 10 yards then go “Crap, I’m not assigned a starting position so I’ll have to wait for them to come to me since I can only move 10 yards before a tackle versus 50 like the first stringers.”

          Giving them such a harsh movement restriction makes them bland by default since they are unusable in so many situations, whereas the intent seems to be they were suppose to offer flexibility over efficiency.

          At this juncture, as written, their flexibility is sabotaged by their overly harsh movement restriction. I still feel eliminating dashing (unless you have slide) from throws and slams still demonstrate the need to concentrate one a single task a bit more without going overboard and eliminating them as a viable option on your team to complete an action.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          @Steffen – whether Jacks are bland or not as they stand is not the question. My point is that any changes need to be in the direction of a strong character. I accept that they are not right as they stand. That’s why I posted this in the first place. You don’t have to tell me that.

          As for complication, the above changes are the essence of simplicity. The first is merely knowing that a Jack can use any card. The second requires 2 words to be changed and 2 more added. The actual mechanics change not a jot. That doesn’t make them the answer, but objecting to them because they are “over complicating” the game is plain weird. All that has been done in both cases is to change who the existing rules apply to.

          @theearthdragon – a stronger unique flavour is exactly what I’m after. You seem to be muddling bland and useful. Things can be both bland and useful. WWII Soviet line infantry, for example, is dull and bland and extremely useful in quantity. Things can also be one or the other. I want Jacks to be both useful and not bland. They should have their own character and it needs to be stronger than it is now.

          I agree that their movement restriction is probably too harsh. However, I’m far more inclined to give them all Slide (in effect – in reality you just remove the restriction on Dash) than to give them full movement. That, in my view, makes them too similar. Unless we then layer on something very strong on top to make them distinct. That’s something I’d be very wary of doing with a live game and would save for a second edition, if at all. Incidentally, it does illustrate why fixing Jacks has to be done before we check team balance. Doing it the other way round is just asking to do the same work twice.

        • Vinsssounet says:

          Bonus dice for passing to teammates, does sound good !

        • Blax says:

          Yeah I cant say that I have playtested anything yet so I am not in much position to make a backed up comment but I really dislike the idea of 2 roles sharing bonuses. I would preffer that other avenues are explored.
          The cards sounds great and fits the Jacks 100%

          I would advocate giving all Jacks Slide, question of what slide would do? Could it be something like this…
          Slide. When this player makes a successful dash attempt they may move an extra 2 hex’s worth of movement. (Is this too powerful?)

          I would like to see that the throwing bonuses were split between throwing a strike and throwing a pass. Striker has the strike Jack the pass and bonus to stand up removed completley.

          What do people think of steal?? Could this be the Jacks domain. Could a jack get a bonus? would a tripling result help? ie free action. Should Steal be Speed test or a skill test a skil test would go a long way to helping ff become stealers? Or maybe Jacks could have a rule where they steal on which ever stat they wish to test (Could apply to all steals but may be too powerful)

        • hirnkhan says:

          I kind of like the idea of +1 die to steal attempts and maybe make it str based instead.

        • Torkel says:

          Strength-based Steal is an interesting idea. But Steal is needed as a way for low-Strength teams to get the ball. So instead, maybe let Jacks use their strongest ability for Steal? ^_^ (any of Str, Speed, Skill.)
          While the rule isn’t complicated, it would be a bit of an exception to the normal rules. =/

        • theearthdragon says:

          I’d be more inclined to give players, not just Jacks, the ability to use other stats when performing an action via skills:

          Juggernaught/Power Runner – may Use Str for evading

          Targeter – Use Ski for slams/slambacks

          Tumbler – Use Sp for armor checks (can’t be combined with Steady)

          There are really a dozen new skills that can come up from these. Some could be position specific (giving added flavor). Others could be more open to multiple positions. Skills such as these also could help shape racial differences (ie. giving a dwarf striker power runner as a starting skill) and shore up weaknesses that teams have due to the base rules, but shouldn’t have thematically.

          (Glad I was able to get a spot of reception)

        • Blax says:

          Hmmm nice idea with the skills unlocking different stat uses.

          Like the power runner idea. Not too sure about the 2 others. I dont see much of a situation where you would use skill over strength for slams and I think speed for armor is a bit too good and seems like your just repeating g the dodge rolls.

      • theearthdragon says:

        I see an Asterian Guard/Jack performing a brachial stun, leg sweep, or knee kick as a very skill oriented type strike. The main thing I was trying to illustrate is that all actions have options to be performed by other stats and could create some interesting combinations on Jacks and otherwise.

  53. Stu says:

    Well that is exactly why we are about to launch into a league at my club – it’ll take one game for (most) people to learn the basics. It’s very simple. And that is a massive plus..

  54. theearthdragon says:

    I would like to say I am loving this conversation as a whole. Lots of ideas and subtle twists on existing ones. This needed to happen. I’m about to go dark for a few but I want to throw out just a couple things more before. Regretting I won’t see the replies and further posts for a few days.

    Role Uniqueness – this seems to be a big thing, and I agree, when a player type, be it guard, striker, or Jack, is missing from your roster, there should be a little “Man, I wish I had a xxxx right now/in that position” instead of “I’m glad I got rid of/don’t have any xxxx.” I’m not convinced forcing one player to play so flat-footed has a real place. It adds variety, but so does forcing one of positions to crab walk when attempting to do something that someone else is great at (which is essentially what is going on). On top of that proposed change is saying they are the expert runners. If they are so good it, how is it they can’t pull off ANY other action while doing it.

    I’m not down with “No Striker Threat”. Again, adding silly hindrances that take away from the visuals you are trying conjure up is not a great direction. As explained, they are pushing, shoving, getting in the way of someone trying to escape (screening if you will) and otherwise trying to swipe at the ball as players are passing. Taking it away from pacifists in some/all situations however would be something to look into.

    There is so little access to RI at the moment. That is the Jack positions baby. Opening this up somehow (all Jacks have a charge, skill give you a second perhaps) really starts to open up strategies.

    I like the idea of keepers. They just weren’t done quite right. I hope this gets looked at and possibly adjusted in some way before season 5 kicks out their guard heavy lot.

    Everyone visualizes things in different ways, and that’s fine. I’m just hoping that people at least try to picture things how they play if the game was being played in RL and not JUST a board game function (remember, throws already ding you for moving while slams demand it)

    Keep the suggestions rolling. Glad to see the people that care about Dreadball coming out of the woodworks.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As you say, lots of interesting angles. We’ll revisit some of these later.

      It’s been good to hear some play test reports, and Id like to hear more if you guys have the time. Whether they are the answer or not I don’t know. Overall, I suspect not, or at least not entirely. However, I’m not sure we’ve heard a suggestion that’s better overall. Still, perhaps once we’ve given the suggested versions a try out we can pick another to check. Doing testing in organised waves gives far more useful results than trying to do everything at once.

      • Chris says:

        It is a fascinating discussion, certainly some new angles to test. I wonder though Jake, did you go through a time in development when Jacks had a full move but no bonuses like strikers or guards? I would imagine it would have been a natural starting point, and potentially more forgiving than the current set up.

  55. Pingback: Retoque de reglas a la vista: revitalizar a los jacks | Esto es DreadBall

  56. David Azofra says:

    Hello.

    Feedback from Spain ^_^ (please be gentle with my bad english).

    I like to use al special movement cards in jacks. It is fuuny and useful. Not more “dead” cards in hand. All the picks from the deck are playables. I like this.

    I do not like the change in the bonus: bonus of +1 to dash in jack is good (could be better if the jack have slide; without slide is not very useful). But the striker has lost this bonus. Now the star player y less shiny… I do not like this bonus to jacks.

    I think that the +1 to evade is not appropiate … the jack has got a heavier armour than striker has… it is a power lifted armour? Like space marines? I believe that not is powered by armour. The strikers are slower now? I do not like this bonus to jacks.

    The bonus of +1 to stand up is good for the jack. But they have a heavy armour (heavier than striker). Although jacks is heavier than striker, jack are strong and brawler players… this bonus is appropiated to they. I like this bonus to jacks.

    You have said that full movement for jacks is not whith their “character”… So, you are looking something more appropiated. You can give “slide” to jacks (and maintain de +1 to dash) for they. This is a solution to jacks, i believe.

    Another solution, more radical is (but very interesting) is… to give all the jacks “running interference” (not only for void sirens). Just think in this: what can do a jack that can not do any other player? Running interference (once for match) is a reasonable ability, do not change rules (or need a new rule)… running interference (once for match) it is no a passive ability, and it is not a permanent bonus. Running interference it only in jacks. And (the more important thing) it is very funny. A big and nasty surprise to a fancy striker, dancing with the ball through the defences aiming to score and… KROUCH and to the floor. Once for match, but… what the hell, why not?

    And for the void sirens, please… PLEASE, give they a card. Season 2 needs 1 card for sigle matches. Season 3 teams are heavier, faster and smarter teams… with more abilities, with faster strikers and nastier guards (nasty and sticky guards). Dont forget te funny teleporters… Season 2 need a card. The possibility to draw a card to play one more action with a void siren jack is very useful… and they do not need four “one use” trainer dice /dies… just trade one of the dice for the possibility to draw a card. Teraton can do teleport… but void sirens can stop & watch… The sirens are like 29th tronteks but WORSE.

    Thank you for your time.

  57. “I’m far more inclined to give them all Slide (in effect – in reality you just remove the restriction on Dash) than to give them full movement.” = Fascinating idea.

    “…save for a second edition, if at all.” = Scary idea. I have the utmost confidence that you’ll “fix” issues by tweaking, not torquing. I know I’m in the minority, but I think DB is fab as is.

    “Incidentally, it does illustrate why fixing Jacks has to be done before we check team balance. Doing it the other way round is just asking to do the same work twice.” = Frustrating from a immediate gratification mind set, but a fair point. Do you expect to have matters resolved before DBX and seasons 5,6,&7 are released? Tangentially, when are you going to drop the rules for DB Martians? My league is starting their next season in November!

    FYI, I won season 3 with the Veer-myn.

    • theearthdragon says:

      This seems to be a common theme: “I think the game is fab as is” teamed with “I used a Jackless team to win in league” 😉

      Anyone here thinks the game is great, but plenty of experience and hard data has shown it’s not all that balanced. Most who have played this game see it as great. There is just always room for improvement/positive additions to keep the game healthy for years to come.

      • Hard data? Please. The number of players submitting results to a particular spreadsheet is a fraction of what’s actually being played. Call me skeptical, but I find the reported numbers to be highly suspect. The scientific method it is not.
        At this point, I trust Jake will do what he thinks best. I’ll complain and freak out, and then adapt.
        I know you were jesting about my jackless win, but let me preamble: I’m willing to bet my league across the pond plays this game more seriously than anyone other on the NA continent. Of course that’s a bit a bravado, but I also don’t make wagers lightly. My point; the six of us just wrapped a third season, and the rats’ success was absolutely from a lucky playoff win. As in; my winning 14th rush had a 2.7% of success (don’t get me started). The final match had a slightly higher percentage, coupled with some remarkable dice whiffs from my opponent. Lady Luck was my dancing partner for two games in a row.
        Our league’s top teams going into the playoffs? The Sirens, and the Asterians. And they were both undefeated! Our first two seasons were won by the Corporation and the Teratons.
        I’m very guilty of the remark ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken.’ Jacks may be of limited use in one off games, but in my experience thats not case in league play. Our league’s meta strategy has been to recognize Jake’s strengths over the long haul. The debate this Jack issue has stirred make us think we’re playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. Consequently, we also think that if you’re not playing DreadBall in a league – you’re doing it wrong.
        Still, Jake thinks the jacks a bit wonky, so he’s going to do something about it. I’ll (eventually) deal with it. Jarvis made amendments to Blood Bowl, Jake will make amendments to DreadBall, and Eric will let Kaosball die on the vine. So it goes.

        But seriously, if anyone ever visits Washington D.C., you’ll have a table to play Dreadball.

  58. Morat says:

    Aye, I’ve been saying as much (only not as well) over on the Mantic forum (feeling very quiet there of late).

    Let’s not forget that even if we took that old database as correct (it has enough data points that one shouldn’t completely discount it) it only showed a swing of 20-30% on average between teams. This really doesn’t indicate that the game is badly broken. Seen a few league and tourney lineups of late and Nameless don’t seem to be doing all that well, so one wonders if they’re not actually as good as many had feared. Perhaps they’re easier to deal with after some practice.

    As I’ve said, I do think Jacks need a slight buff, but at this point if it were only the above card change coupled with just taking the get up test bonus dice away from strikers and giving it to Jacks and leaving the other skills as vanilla, that’d probably be sufficient for me. I’d be really concerned my Marauders wold be too good if the Jacks had full activation efficiency combined with their 3+ speed.

    Anyone else done more play-testing of the proposed changes yet?

    • LexMajor says:

      Slightly disagree on the “20-30% is not broken”: that’s HUGE.

      I’ve made the comparisons, and in no real-life sports league has that much swing. Not that Dreadball is a very simulationist game, but it really relies on the game being decided mainly by coaching skill instead of team choice or composition. Blood Bowl is also way below that ( http://naf.talkfantasyfootball.org/lrb6.html ) except for Goblings/Halflings/Ogres but that’s expected if you see where I’m coming from.

      Playtesting very soon. Pleased to see things proposed. Hope it’s going to keep going.

  59. Morat says:

    Interesting to see that breakdown for Bloodbowl. Draws a pretty common occurrence for BB compared to DB.

    Not sure if it backs you up. Sure if you ignore 3 of the teams the range closes. However you could do the same for DB, by ignoring Forgefathers and Nameless and we’d be much closer. I’d say close enough considering we are still in a 1st edition of the game vs one that’s had edition after edition of levelling. You either take all the teams together and look at the range in both, or you ignore the exceptional (read “broken”) ones in both

    Also 70,000 games vs 2000 in the data-set, that’s going to see some averaging, perhaps only a couple of %, but still visible.

    • LexMajor says:

      I agree with you pretty much across the board on that, with one small thing: Goblins/Halflings/Ogres were always designed as “Joke/Tier3/sub-par” teams, while that was never the intention with FF.

      Can’t wait for a rules update for DB. Might give an incentive to re-start a league within my group.

  60. Jon Finn says:

    How about instead of Jacks being lukewarm versions of both Guards and Strikers, make them the best at what they do?

    Guards are best at Slamming or being Slammed.

    Strikers are best at Throwing or catching.

    Jacks are best at… movement.

    Switch the Run/1-hex rule from applying to Jacks to applying to Guards and Strikers: they can only move 1 hex before their action, Jacks can Run and then Throw or Slam (but less effectively than the specialists). Give Jacks the Dash and Stand Up bonus.

    Now you’ll have a choice in-game whether you want to spend two actions to maximise the chances of your Throw or Slam, or to take a chance with one action and a Jack to do the job. That’d mix things up.

    Guards and Strikers still have niche protection and Jacks don’t feel like a “no other options” choice.

  61. theearthdragon says:

    One more angle Jake, and this is a two for one special!!

    Give jacks some sort of defensive action like blocking, intercepting or something of the like. This same defensive maneuver can be pulled off by Keepers giving them additional validity. You can give the bonuses to Keeper possibly still, but having the Jack unlocks it right out of the gate immediate gives them more defensive clout.

    As far as movement goes….what about 2 spaces versus 1? This seems like a super safe adjustment that isn’t going to throw anything out of whack, yet let’s you retain your reservation about letting them get full movement. When people complain about “why not full movement” you just explain “baby steps”.

    Defensive ability to Jacks and Keepers. Slight adjustment to Jack movement.

    Money!!

    • Vinsssounet says:

      Oh please yes, 2 hex instead of one could actually get a long way.

      • Blax says:

        Yeah I belive the movement issue could be solved with half distance and slide probably.

        Would love to see Keepers get a bit of oove as well. Simple changes like punt doesn’t lose possession and a mechanic to get them to block strike attempts. Basically make strike attempts that go through a keepers threat hex become vs dice roll with success by the keeper means he blocks the shot double he catches and take a free action which can be punt if the keeper gets doubled he falls over in an adjacent hex choosen by the striker, think diving the wrong way for a penalty in football.

        • LexMajor says:

          Yeah, there’s been some talk about “half move”, “2 hexes”, and especially “Dash always permitted with Slide giving a bonus” for Jacks. All sensible ideas.

          But.

          In french we say “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”, roughly “Best is the enemy of Better”: you’re better off doing something than keep going at it hoping for the best solution. What we’re looking for here is some corrective measure for the much-negliged Jacks, and basically anything will help right now: I’m of a mind they should go forward with this, make it official, and see from there. I suspect this could quash a lot of problem.

          I kind of like your idea that Keepers giving some penalty to scoring, though. I’d just give a “-1 dice” for any strike attempt going through their TZ. That’s probably to put on a “to do list” for some major revision of Dreadball. I’d pay for a Keeper with that.

        • Blax says:

          Yeah I considered the -1 but thought it was a little weak and wanted something that would make for interesting uses.

        • LexMajor says:

          There’s two main schools of thought about this in game design:
          – The “measure twice, cut once”: nudge everything slightly and incrementally so that it eventually “falls in place”. By that way, you give -1, then -2, then -3, etc. until a unit/player/team feels the way it should.
          – The “Sid Meier approach” (of Civ fame): if something’s not performing, either cut it in half or double it, nothing in-between. This one has a wider “system impact”, in which you’ll have to re-tweak the rest of the system much more to get to balance, but when you get it it tends to give a more dynamic game.

          Wonder which one Jake adheres to.

  62. LexMajor says:

    Just finished playtesting this exactly as written in the post above over half a dozen games with some of my usual fellows. Some of the “Striker-rich” teams (Corp, Asterians, etc.) still won, but less so by landslides (see comments below).

    Short version: it’s great, If I were you I’d go ahead and release it.

    Long version:
    – The card mechanic is more of a “psychological role enforcement” than anything useful, and you’re right it does have some wonkiness with card-less teams, but it does make the Jacks very desirable in some situations.
    – Moving the bonus for Evade and not Dodge works really well: it doesn’t make the Strikers more fragile, it just makes them a bit more dependant on their team as a whole. It gives a greater incentive both to position them well (and removes some of the “lone striker” syndrom, somewhat lessening the impact of high-skill striker teams) and for your opponent to mark them well.
    – Only peeve left is Jack Mobility; if anything having the Evade bonus die but very often not being able to use it is a bit more of a tease than anything. We played for a long time with some variant of “all Jacks can Slide” (which works great)

    There.

  63. Coming at this from a different angle (and using the Corp team as the basis), how about making the fact that a Jack ‘costs’ less than a specialist (8mc to 10mc) actually *mean* something in 1-off games?

    As an example, allow the Trontek 29ers to voluntarily downgrade some of their Guards/Strikers to Jacks to gain 2mc per player downgraded, which they can then spend on coaching dice (6mc per die).

  64. Don Squires says:

    Here’s an idea. How about giving the striker-less teams an offensive coach from the start? I’m playing Orx in my league this go round and I’m 4-0! I won my first game and bought an offensive coach first. It’s really helped me keep pace in the scoring game. Jack dependant teams would really benefit from this and then you wouldn’t need to change jacks at all.

  65. Cap'n Crunch says:

    After 30+ testing games, in which every team has seen the field at least once (in original and ultimate), I’m ready to add to this discussion.

    Firstly, the card-change is a good call. Keep it.

    Secondly, the adding and substracting of dice…

    Let me start off with some and statements.
    A jack with 4+ to all his stats always dodges/evades 50% of the time. All-jackteams would stand to gain from the extra die.
    A jack with 3+ STR shouldn’t be dodging. He clearly was designed to be a beta-basher next to a guard.
    A jack with SPE 3+ doesn’t need the extra die. He already has an above average chance to make it.

    If anything, the changes proposed make it harder for teams with weak strykers or all-strykerteams to score. ForgeFathers won’t be bringing their strykers onto the pitch anymore, while Judwan with their nerfed speed just got a whole lot worse on the board, having their wings clipped two seasons in a row.
    Jack heavy or all-jackteams didn’t see a very big change in their playstyle, their odds at succes remained mostly unchanged even.
    Guard heavy teams just got a whole lot better… Strykers go down much faster (5dice vs 3). And that’s where my main concern and reason for complaint lies…

    This change feels much more like a nerf to running/passing teams in favour of bashing teams, while not tackling the main issue… getting jacks out there to be of use.
    If there’s something holding them back, it’s how many actions they need to be able to do something usefull.
    Granted, the extra use of cards does help somewhat, but not for every team.

    While I’m also not a fan of granting them full moves (which, for example, would allow a teraton to teleport past a defensive line to score), there is something that can be said for a loosened movement restriction. Cutting movement values in half and rounding down, as proposed above, is too much of a hassle for the game to remain fast-play and easily introduced to new players, but granting them 2 squares instead of one would allow them, with carefull positioning, to be of more of use on defence and offence.

    Nerfing the strykers to gain a minimum of flavor to jacks is a change best left to fantasy, and the proposed change seems a very lazy sollution at best. Specialists are specialist for a reason, and it makes no sense that the nimble ones should become les nimble (isn’t that why they wear lighter armour?) because you’re seeking a purpose for another player.

    In league play, this whole discussion becomes nill and void, because jacks are your unpainted canvas that can turn out to be your best players for the least amount of advances and team rating, so in the long run you’d potentially be overpowering them.

    Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed your product this far, and am sure that whatever changes you implement will be carefully playtested to say the least.

    • Cap'n Crunch says:

      Sorry for any typo’s and bad use of your language. I did my utmost best in replying here, but probably am not without fault myself. 🙂

      • Chris says:

        I haven’t played nearly as many games as that! No problems with cards but does mean some team rebalancing. The core change just seemed to reinforce the results we got before, possibly due to our mix of teams (no terratons for example). So moved to Jacks get no bonus to actions but get full moves. Again with the basic mix of teams this seemed quite fun and we actually tried to get a mix of players on the pitch. The average play positions with the jacks were sort of middle & less rear, occasionally forward, strikers middle & forward, and guards middle and less rear. So became a sort of souped up guard, which is an interesting difference to your experience of replacing strikers. (Not worried about teams like terratons getting auto wins now, that cold be fixed? But we were just playing with the core teams.)

        • Cap'n Crunch says:

          I disagree…

          The cardchange doesn’t really shift the balance between teams. It just gives that one type of guy on the field a chance to be a bit more usefull, and gives players better odds at getting a useful card.

          Giving full move to jacks on the other hand does unbalance the teams. Void Sirens just got crazy good (running interference with a full move?), Teratons are zipping past your line, Orx’ll never bash as much again because the goblins just shoot through your line at speed 3+ to get a goal in (so why waste the action kicking someone’s skull in? Except for the sheer fun of it…).
          I could go on with a list of teams that need fixing with full movement to jacks, but the point really is that if you have to start fixing more than 2 teams because of the change you made to a general rule, the change was bad. It’s trying to find a concensus for ALL (or most) teams that’s important.

          The power of this game is that it’s easy and streamlined. I’ve played (and still play) bloodbowl for almost two decades, and if I wanted a game full of exceptions to the norm, I’d play bloodbowl.

      • Jack Trowell says:

        Myself I think that giving Jacks access to their own specialities is a good idea, but evade and dash are maybe not the best ones.

        I would rather make jack the ones with access to the full steal action (with bonus die and full move) justified by the fact that being able to both play the ball of the player they are less previsible, or can combine both, for exemple pushing the ball handler to destabilize him/her/it and then going for the ball.

        This would give Jacks a very useful ability, as an alternative to Guards for taking back the ball.

        The only true problem that I could see with this variant is that the steal action was at first created mainly for Vermyn teams (and later used by other teams with few or no guards but lots of strikers) and those would then lose the bonus.

        However, the main teams concerned are Vermyn and Judans, but both are/were considered top tier when introduced, and both have a very good speed attribute, meaning that even with one less die and without the free move they should still be able to steal the ball.

        It might also be possible to let both strikers and jacks get the full move on steal, as long as the Jacks get the die and not the striker they would still have their niche.

        —————
        Not directly linked to the basic idea of making jacks ball stealers, but I would also like to see the steal action be skill based rather than speed-based, speed being already too charged and skill being supposed to be your skill and playing the ball.

        A skill based defense action against ball stealing might also be a good idea (maybe just use the evade action but with skill instead of speed).

        If Vermyns become too nerfed by this, maybe just give them a starting skill (maybe something like “sneaky thieves”) that would allow them to use speed instead of skill for stealing. This might also be a good skill idea to make available for others on level up.

        But in any ways, making stealing skill-based in another matter, on the original topic my main suggestion is still moving the steal free move and bonus die from strikers to jacks as a way to make them feel as useful as other players.

        • Cap'n Crunch says:

          I’ll have to test this idea before I can give any decent comment on it…
          Shifting the steal action from strykers to jacks won’t shift the balance too much for most teams, and’d ensure jacks a solid position in the mid- and lower part of the field, as well as giving them a use as potential distributors. Which leads me to question why a ball-stealing distributor can’t throw the ball better than he can now.

          Maybe the road of jacks as throwers and strykers as catchers should be tested sometime. It’s give them a role on the field that isn’t really being employed a lot right now.

          I wouldn’t give them the +1 to throw, because that should remain firmly to the golden boys, but why not remove the penalty for moving and throwing for jacks? this would mean they can move up to a square before giving a more secure form of pass.
          The shift for +1 to steal from stryker to jack appears more logical to me than the dodge/etc shift. The extra steal-capacity, combined with a better/different sort of throw, really gives them a place on the field i think…

          Anyhow, I’m starting to freewheel, and should really playtest first before I go on 🙂

        • Cap'n Crunch says:

          “The only true problem that I could see with this variant is that the steal action was at first created mainly for Vermyn teams (and later used by other teams with few or no guards but lots of strikers) and those would then lose the bonus.

          However, the main teams concerned are Vermyn and Judans, but both are/were considered top tier when introduced, and both have a very good speed attribute, meaning that even with one less die and without the free move they should still be able to steal the ball.”

          Hence, keep the steal as a speedcheck, and give Judwan their speed 3+ back

        • Blax says:

          Judwan shouldn’t get their speed 3+ back withit they would once again be far to good at stealing and using feint!

        • Cap'n Crunch says:

          Maybe the problem isn’t that they steal the ball at 3+ (just like Asterians), but that feint is too easy…

        • Blax says:

          No i think them having the bonnus to feint is fair and at 4+ speed afterall its their thing. Asterians don’t have a full lineup of people who can steal and get a +1 for being a striker.

          I thought about having a rule where jacks could decide which stat to use when stealing to represent the different ways of taking the ball. But I dont think that works. The problem I have with making Jacks stealing specialist is that the vanilla stealling results aren’t that effective, which is why we have tweaked them

    • Lamanzer says:

      “Guard heavy teams just got a whole lot better… Strykers go down much faster (5dice vs 3). And that’s where my main concern and reason for complaint lies…”
      false…. Evade is not Dodge.

      • Cap'n Crunch says:

        True. Mind you that I’ve made my review based on notes gathered during these games, so I could’ve easily got sidetracked while going through them.. I see most of my group this friday, and I’ll get them to review my notes then. Thanks for noticing 🙂

  66. Blax says:

    Ok so I played a few test games at the weekend. We are building up a bespoke league for our local store.
    First went with FF vs Orx with the rules above only. We both love the Card rule in play as well as fluffwise – perfect keep it.
    The bonus swap we are not so keen on didnt feel like it made enough difference apart from it will really hurt striker heavy teams, veermyn, judwan. Also I don’t like the removal of all the bonuses for the Strikers and especially not keen on shared bonuses because i like the simple logic of role a is good a x so no other role is as good at it.
    We then played with what will be our set of updated rules for the league.

    Dash can be done on any move by any player
    Slide is now a skill which allows the model to always test for dash as a Speed(1) test not a Speed(123)
    Jacks can use any card
    No one has a bonus to standing up
    Jacks have +1 Dice to throws that the target is a teammate
    While Strikers have +1 Dice to throws thats the target is a strike hex or opponent.
    We also have changed the steal rule that a Draw scatters the ball, a win the stealing player takes it and a double the stealing player takes it and a free move or throw.

    This opened up the passing game with Jacks being the go to guys for longer passes and means that passing is no longer restricted to around 1-3 hexes. The hail mary at 7-9 hexes is still very risky but the middle ground is a much more succesful affair when using Jacks and Strikers in combo. This also allows the JAcks to be in the best positions to play defence and offence. We think this may of solved some of the zzor problems and we have a few other bits that help ff strikers out.

  67. Lamanzer says:

    This is a little bit off topic, but We have tested these new rules with Special Judwan Roster.
    – Speed back to 3+
    – long arms work only on Passing (not throwing a strike) *
    – Judwan can now score 3+1 and 1+1 due to change on Long arm *
    And it’s working fine! .. and all are ok to say Judwan are now cool and not overpowered 🙂

    * All my teamates think “judwan can’t score bonus” is like to say : 6″9 or more dudes are not allowed to dunk in Basketball or speedy Wrs are not allowed to Play in Football!… So this idea was born. :p

    • theearthdragon says:

      I despise top down mechanics. If they get in the way of the rules, get rid of them completely or reprogram them all together. Either they have long arms that let them throw further, or they don’t. I would suggest that if you are trying to make it part of the passing game, it should be attached to catching the ball, or perhaps intercepting the ball.

      I agree it’s silly to penalize them from scoring extra points, but your solution is equally as silly in a different direction.

      • Lamanzer says:

        Don’t understand why it’s silly 😦
        – Bring back speed to 3+ to counter -1D to evade and Dash
        – Long arm now is only use to Throw a pass BUT Judwan can score Bonus.
        – Keep spirit of Judwan play style.
        Just feat well with jack rules… don’t understand your reply.

        But in an fact it’s off topic and it’s a house rule, but we love it. 🙂

      • LexMajor says:

        Top down mechanics?

    • What were your results when you played Judwan with their new stats and eligible for bonus points? – Were they too powerful still, and that’s why you came up with this alternative?

      • Lamanzer says:

        We have played 9 games with them. they Won 6 (2 Humans, 1 zees, 1 Vermyns, 1 Z’Zors, 1 robots) and lost 3 ( 1 Nameless, 1 vermyns, 1 Asterians). They are very close to Asterians play style. They are very good: top tiers team, but not unstoppable.

        Off-topic again:
        The problem is the same as Asterians: quick landslide when the played at home. 😦 They can stay relatively safe (speed 3+) in defender Territory and score a landslide in two turns.

        (In our league we have minimised this problem, cause we use an house rule for landslide: when a landslide is coming, a team has another turn to not stay at 7-0. It’s working fine.
        Next season we will try another rule: Landslide can occur only if both teams have played the same number of turns. I think it will be better.)

  68. Lamanzer says:

    Next step: we will try Jack’s rules with “Slide” on all jacks.

  69. Stu says:

    Just curious.. has anyone experimented with altering the sequence of play to something more like igo-ugo for actions? So that rather than my rush followed by yours, there is a single long phase instead?.. I fancy a play around to see what results this might bring..

  70. Chris says:

    Did all this come to anything?

  71. Lamanzer says:

    Hello,
    About 60 matchs played with this rules (and no house rules) later.. 🙂
    Moving dices from Striker to Jack: we are still no sure about it. On one hand it’s interesting (see my previous reply) but on the other hand it just changes balance between teams without giving Jack a real “interesting” role.

    In my opinion, two changes are no-brainer:
    – Stand Up becomes +1 if the player was either a Jack or a Striker (or just Jack)
    – Allow Jacks to use any Special Move card. So, if a card says Striker, read that as Striker or Jack. If it says Guard, read that as Guard or Jack.

    For others changes… not bad, but not “THE” change needed by Jacks.

  72. NID_2575 says:

    At the time of this post it has been almost 9 months since the original post about Jacks, and as Chris stated on April 18th “Did anything come of this?”

    Judging from the absence of comments on the topic since October 21st, and justifiable so, due to the many release, projects, and I imagine life in general, it can reasonable be surmised that – No, nothing officially of yet has come of this.

    Why?

    I would argue that perhaps that the original intention of new rules and what is considered cannon for Jacks is not in alignment.

    To quote you in regards to this topic:

    “Jacks. They don’t quite work as I’d like them to and are often seen as the poor relation of the player roles. “

    “Guards feel about right to me as they are, Strikers feel a bit too useful and Jacks not useful enough. That’s the basis I’m starting from here.”

    “What would be more changed is the way those players were used and the tactics that evolved. “

    “It’s not to fix all the things that need work within the game, but to examine one area. You’re right that some teams need balancing, and I’ll get to that. However, there is no point in balancing details of teams if there is a problem with the balance of the value of the core roles. One has to build on the other, and attempting to change them in separate sections allows the effect of the change to be more easily seen. “

    “What’s important is whether this makes Jacks better balanced compared to Guards and Strikers. “

    “I think they need something that is different to the other roles. Giving them something that the others both have too (full movement, for example) is a step towards blandness, not towards a strong character for the role.”

    “My point is that any changes need to be in the direction of a strong character. I accept that they are not right as they stand.”

    “a stronger unique flavour is exactly what I’m after.”

    I really hope that a major revision of the game is not underway as I love the simplicity of the core rules of DreadBall and changing the flavor of the Jack would definitely affect a major impact, as Jacks can do everything so everything will be effected. That is the most dramatic point of view, but I think it holds value.

    I get the feeling that the “idea” of a Jacks has been solidified as an all a rounder but… “what does it mean to be a Jack” has not, and a desire to make them “different” is holding back their potential as changes that bring them into patterns similar to Guards and Strikers are perceived as making the game bland.

    Maybe the blandness that is being worried about is the necessary ingredient to make the overall game stronger? Has the Role of the Jack and what it means to be a Jack truly been solidified and has a real model from professional sports been selected that would focus the development of the missing flavor?

    Yes I can go to the DreadBall Handbook and read the storyline as to what the role and flavor of a Jack is within DreadBall. I can also read that there is are Corporations that takes entire planets worth of resources and that the resurrection of dead sports heroes is commonly crowd funded. These bits of story provide expectations as to the world and specifically to the role of the Jack, but it does not detail what specifically a Jack does and by being so general the ability to do everything does not always translate to game mechanics and better playability as a unique flavor.

    I am going to go out on a limb and shoot to define their role and give them a proper definition that does give Jacks “a stronger unique flavour “ making them something more than being able to do everything. After all doing it all is a terrible model for developing abilities. Playing D&D at age 12 taught most of that lesson when we thought it would be fun to make and play a character with all 18 stats.

    This is not another Jacks need this special rule, or here is my rule as a solution, or you need to try Jacks this way or that way. Game Designers tend to take ideas and comments mull them over and come up with solutions that seldom give what most players want … more power, more damage, more speed more, more, more. Instead the best get inspired and come at it differently and usually create something new and workable. I admit I would love my Jacks to have certain things in the future but I won’t be discussing that. I hope to highlight strengths and weakness in concepts of playability in terms of player expectations vs game mechanics.

    First I understand that Jacks are suppose to “jacks of all trades” able to do everything. From their description from the DreadBal Handbook,

    The “jack of all trades”, or Jack for short, is the all-rounder of the game. They are able to fill any role, whether that is holding the line against the opposing Guards, or passing the ball about like a Striker. Naturally they sacrifice the finesse of the specialists, but they allow a team to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing nature of the game. Their amour is a compromise between the protection needed by the Guards and the lightness needed by the Strikers. They also wear DreadBall gloves and can throw and strike with the best of them (on a good day). Fans love the Jacks for their willingness to try anything, and many’s the time when a desperate gamble by a Jack has saved a team from certain defeat.

    I want to suggest that truly defining what a Jack is would be much more advantageous to rules changes in evaluating “a problem with the balance of the value of the core roles.” If I choose a Guard I know that they are defined not to Guard anything but to run up and hit something, an hit it hard. If I choose a Striker I know that they are not defined as model to be used to strike other models. They are defined as the “go to players” in the game for scoring – they move, they shoot, they score, and most importantly they try to avoid getting hit, so as a player I expect that with a Striker I can run, pick up the ball, throw, Strike and dodge all sorts of other players wanting to splatter that player with a decent degree of success.

    When I pick a Jack I expect to do everything the others do, but with no natural bonuses. It is the expectation of what a Jack will do in game vs what it really does do in the game that makes Jacks the least desirable option to field in DreadBall.

    The problem of expectation comes from what is read about Jacks, and as such defines the problem of what is wrong with Jacks. What a Jack is and how it is defined is easy to evaluate as the DreadBall handbook gives the player everything they need to know and build their expectations upon. The Jack accordingly is:

    1. An all rounder.
    2. Can fill in any role in the team.
    3. Not a specialist.
    4. Highly adaptable.
    5. Wears heavy but mobile armor.
    6. Has a Dreadball glove.
    7. Can Pass and Strike.
    8. A try anything, willing to gamble to make a play, Fan Favorite.

    I feel this defines the expectations that a player develops when choosing Jacks and sets the player’s expectations as to what they expect the model to do – and that is be field as an exciting versatile player, that is not a specialist but can do everything with no penalties or disadvantages, but also no bonus or benefits. They are the everyman of the pitch so to speak.

    Having set my expectations as a player. The next step is to see if they are met in terms of game mechanics.

    So in evaluating the Game mechanics to expectations it should be asked — “Are they ….?”

    1. “Are they an “All rounder”?” – A Jack can do all of the things Guards and Strikers can do (on a good day).

    These are the action options Jacks can take including actions that they can use from Guards and Strikers:
    1. Run / Sprint / Move onto and off the Pitch/ Take an Armor Check (not an action but important) /Stand Up/Dash/Evade
    2. Guard – Slam (Slamback, Dodge/Push Back)
    3. Striker – Steal (Slamback, Dodge)/ Throw (Pass, Throw at opposing Players, Throw a Strike)/ Pick up the Ball.

    Here expectations are met. This section of expectations is not a problem Jacks can, and do, perform these actions. The game mechanics meet expectations.

    2. “Are they able fill in any role in the team?” – A Jack should be able to do any of the above actions. Again, no problems. The game mechanic meets expectations. In fact the Jack can actually perform more actions if they have the action card allowing them to Run Interference.

    3. “Are they a specialist?” Answer “No” – No problems. The game mechanic meets expectations. On a personal note I really like how this is handled. The system is simple and well controlled by the number of bonus dice Guards and Strikers get when performing their actions. This is usually (+1) but can be higher. Jacks do not naturally get any additional dice, unless they have an option to set up a situation where they can earn at best (+1) dice, while performing that single action. Making them players that have to work to get a bonus and that keeps them from being specialists, as the specialists have natural advantages.

    4. “Are they Highly adaptable?” – In league play the Jack can gain new abilities from ability lists and can become very diverse in game play. I am not looking at the league play Jack, rather the Jack without any abilities added to them. The non-league Jack though equipped to do everything is not adaptable. I am using adaptable to be mean “able to perform actions with an average beneficial outcome” and not meaning skilled. It is more than clear that Jacks are not supposed to be as “skilled” in performing actions – I use skill to mean having better dice rolls or more dice to role. I see adaptable as being able to choose to perform one or more of the previously mentioned actions in a manner that makes choosing the action by a Jack beneficial to the team overall.

    Thinking this way I hit the first major disappointment from expectations due to game mechanics.

    Rule restrictions prohibit the Jack from playing at a level that makes them a solid choice over Guards and Strikers in terms of cost for actions desired to be performed vs cost of actually performing them. Meaning the Jack is actual a weaker tactical option and a more expensive choice when it comes to spending action tokens. As such it makes sense that they will be less likely used to “fill any role”, unless there is no other option.

    In short the expectation is that Jacks have an adaptability that allows them to do all sorts of things. In game play they cost a lot of action points to perform actions that a Guard or Striker can execute cheaper in terms of action points and with options that increase the chance of success. Jacks can’t compete.

    What if a Jack was a car you were looking to buy. You have three models One huge, one medium and one small. Would you want to drive a Huge car or a Small Car that goes farther and faster and is cheaper but you can’t do everything with them, or do you want a nice mid-range care that is more expensive to maintain can’t go as far and has no advantages in its performance other than in time it can possible meet all of the basic performance standards the others have, but at double the cost in the amount of time you have to spend in maintenance you will also be eating away the lifespan of the car as the overall time you have to drive will be made shorter.

    Not an exciting purchase – This is what a Jack gives a player in game.

    In game example: A Jack can only Slam an opponent if they are next to them, or if they opponent is 1 hex away – gaining the Jack a (+1) dice to the Slam. If an opponent is farther than one hex, subsequently also out of the Jack’s threat range, the Jack must spend one action to get into a position to Slam and a second action to Slam. A Guard can Run allowing them to turn and Slam in a 5 hex range, in addition the Guard can choose to Dash gaining further hexes of distance and thus being able to Slam farther.

    Dreadball is a game where movement is a key factor to playability. The disparity in the abilities to gain field position while performing an action, unless using an elevated action cost, for what is a basic action for Guards and Stikers, removes a Jacks adaptability making it a liability, as the other positions can, and do, make a better return on investment as their abilities benefit the team as a whole. With the same number of actions spent by a Jack, a Guard or Striker could accomplishing the same actions at half the cost of action expenditure and allow for the drawing of more cards or taking advantage of other future actions that Rush.

    5. “Are they wearing heavy but mobile armor?” – Jacks armor value is equal to a Guard (+4) In terms of game mechanics this is perfect. Guards have a special armor bonus of (+1) dice representing their wearing of super heavy resistant armor. Jacks gain a solid armor save per hit, but can do nothing to reduce the amount of damaging hits they receive.

    In terms of expectations vs Game Play there is again a disappointment. This one stems from again, an issue of mobility from their wearing of heavy armor. Jacks have a 1 Hex mobility for many of their actions. Guards Slam using Run (5 hexes), Strikers Steal and Throw using Run (5 hexes). The expectation that is not being met is – Why can’t a lighter more mobile Jack run a distance equal to a super heavy lumbering Guard who even equipped with his heavy armor can move an equal distance to that of an Ultra light striker?

    I see mobility as the issue here in terms of game mechanic not meeting expectations. DreadBall has an expectation with it that you get to run up and hit your opponent. It is suppose to be violent and players want to hit their opponents, it is fun! As such Guards should be, and rightfully are, the best at rushing up to an opponent and smacking them down to the pitch. If a reduction of movement for a Guard is implemented as they are wearing heavier armor you have REALLY destroyed player expectations as slow guards have a terrible time getting close to anything so they can hit them. So reducing the amount of distance a Guard could move before attempting to Slam an opponent would greatly change the game and certainly not for the better. In addition having Jacks being able to perform basically on par with Guards, I am talking humans with their +4 stat line all using run to Slam, suddenly turns the game into a Slug Fest rather than the more balanced game it is today.

    However player disappointment stems from the fact a Jack cannot perform an offensive Slam action outside of a tiny movement range. Meanwhile for half the costs for an equal affect the biggest and supposedly slowest of the slow can rampage all over the board. Players normally expect their Jacks to get into a combat situation more than throwing, catching, striking, or running. They expect that when it is necessary the Jack can go forward and hit an opponent. It is obvious that being unable to moving into range to attack while the heavier slower guard can run the pitch hitting players is frustrating. It’s like saying the 300 pound lineman playing Offensive Guard in American Football is as fast as the 200 pound tailback and thus all other offensive backs are slower than both of them. Not the case.

    6. “Are they wearing a Dreadball glove?” – Game mechanic meets expectations. Having a Dreadball glove allows the player to pick up the Ball. Jacks can pick-up the DreadBall, if everything works out. Here the game mechanic meets expectations. Jacks can pick up the ball but gain or have no special benefits for any attempt to do so. Awesome.

    7. “Are they able to Pass and Strike?” – Game mechanic meets expectations. Jacks can perform these actions, but gain no special benefits for doing so as they are not specialists. Works and makes sense.

    8. “Are they a willing to try anything, willing to gamble to make a play, fan favorite?” – This is deep in the rules creation and game design part of things… I would say your suggested experimental rules for Jacks that “allow Jacks to use any Special Move card.” Really meets the expectations for the Jacks and fits here in terms of definition.

    Could game development go further into rules and special things for a Jack that is applied to this idea? Yes, I am certain special rules could be made to influence gambles, Fan checks, any and all sorts of things that would give flavor. I have no real feelings about this as it is outside the scope of defining a Jack. What is important s that what defines the Jack is taken from these ideas and any special rules should come from what a model is and the player’s expectations of what it is. If player expectations are met or exceeded, then playing a game builds passion and devotion to that game. Simple as that.

    My last point also addresses expectations. Though we play fantasy games we look to real life for associations. Comparisons are drawn, made and arguments all based on what we know. I see DreadBall as a futuristic mix of American Football, Rugby, and Soccer. As such the Jack is a mix of positions played in these sports: a Central/Box-to-Box midfielder in Soccer, an American Football Offensive Tight end, and a Fullback in Rugby.

    Why these positions? A Central/Box-to-Box midfielder plays both offense and defense and implies that he runs from his own penalty box to the opponent’s to fulfill different roles: create scoring opportunities and stopping the opponent’s attacks. Stamina, technical ability, and relentless hard-work are the attributes of this type of midfielder. Tight ends are considered hybrid players, something between a wide receiver and an offensive lineman. Because they play next to the other offensive linemen, they are frequently called on to block, especially on running plays. However, because they are eligible receivers, they may also catch passes.
    In Rugby the position of the Fullback calls for all-round ball-playing ability and speed. Being able to chase and tackle any player who breaks through the defense, and must be able to catch kicks made by the attacking side. Their role in attack is usually as a support player but they can also come into the line to create an extra man in attack.

    If you take all three of these put them in a Blender you have the perfect result of expectations for a DreadBall Jack.

    Both an offensive and defensive player. Who creates scoring opportunities and stops opponents drives. They are hybrid players called on primarily to physically block opponents but can catch a pass. They are also the last line of defense capable of confronting anything that breaks through the line, and is able to directly support the positions in an attack on goal.

    With something like that to guide play development you have not only flavor but a great pool to draw from in terms of rules development and evaluation as to what a Jack should or should not be doing, and the description “Jack of all Trades” has something definite. At the same time it gives and meets expectation of the players who know that a Jack of all trades can do X and Y and if the rules support them not penalized for doing X and or Y.

    I hope this gives something for you to be inspired by when looking to solve the Jack issues at the core of the Game. I honestly Love DreadBall and its rules and simplicity. I also am a big fan of Jacks in terms of expectations. I have not seen them reach their potential officially. On my pitch the Jacks are a threat and an asset to their team. If you are not careful they will move into position to pass to a striker and if the ball is caught then blitz from range to slam into the blindside of a Guard in two actions. I hope the Pitch sees a new form of Jack soon that does everything but not moving as far, or being as skilled as the other positions.

    Thank for the hard and constant work keeping the game great!

  73. JimmyTheOne says:

    As a long-term Blood Bowl fan and as a result of reading your very interesting blog (originally for your Dreadfleet articles), I have just purchased Dreadball and am really enjoying it. However, it only took me one Rush to start wondering why I would use a Trontek Jack rather than a specialist, which brought me to this article. This seems to be a crucial area that needs addressing in the base game, so I would be really keen to see an official rules updates. I am intending to use two house rules in my games: “Jacks use all cards” and “Jacks can make a full Run before a Slam or Throw”.

    What occurred to me as I was writing this was: what if Jacks were allowed to Dash before a Slam but Guards weren’t? This would make Jacks more useful (and more characterful – they take risks) while reflecting the heavier armour that the Guards wear. In the same way, would it make sense for Jacks to be allowed to Dash before a Throw but Strikers couldn’t? I think I will try these as a house rule also.

    Overall though, thanks for designing an enjoyable game! I am looking forward to painting the models.

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