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Robert Ehlers
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I don't do a lot of game reviews (this may be my 2nd one), but after spending many hours working on a reference sheet for this game (RangerRob's DreadBall Reference), I feel as though I have crawled around the inner workings of it.

Design
I want to start by complementing the game designer. It is not often that you find a game so thoroughly consistent in design. When you have to ask "how does this work?", the answer is always "exactly like you'd expect". Each rule and action flows together smoothly and seamlessly. Learn one, and you already are most of the way to learning how the next works. The 'exception' is the exception in this rule book. This is one of the most intuitive game designs I've played.

Rules
While the design is fabulous, the rule book is only decent in my estimation. It is surprisingly easy to look up and find how to do things while playing if needed. However, the order, layout, and presentation make the game a little more confusing to learn than it should be. You can learn the game from the rule book, but reading it feels like looking at a masterpiece painted on a paper towel.

Game Play
The game lasts 14 turns, with each coach (the people playing the game) getting 7 turns. Each turn you have only 5 actions total to distribute between your 6 on-field models. This makes for little down time and fast games. You play on a hex field, attempting to throw the ball for a score at various points on your opponents half. After scoring, your turn ends and the ball is launched back onto the field. The players on the field do NOT reset. The score track is combined, so a score pulls the score marker towards you on the track and away from your opponent.

Actions - At the core of the game are actions. You get 5 per turn, which can be supplemented by card play. Each of your players can have up to 2 of the 5 actions spent on him. The action selection is very simple and easy to understand, but your tactical choices are deep. You have to think a turn ahead, even (or especially) if you score, since the board does not reset. You can do somewhat standard type actions like move, slam(tackle), steal the ball, throw the ball, pick up the ball, stand up. The actions all have the same basic mechanisms, so learning and remembering them is easy.

Cards - The cards add a nice extra bit of planning options to the game. Each of your players can have 1 card played on them per turn. Most just give them the ability to do an extra action of some type. They are not broken, and they are not cheap, as they cost an action to acquire during the game.

Fouling - Fouling is fairly simple in the game. It is basically doing things you would already do, but in a dirtier way. Like Slamming someone when they are down, or taking actions but having too many men on the field. You can try to be sneaky about fouling, because it is up to your opponent to call them on you. If he misses what you did, then you get away with it.

Abilities - You can gain new Abilities as your player advances. There are not too many of them, but they are almost all useful and simple to understand.

League Play
I have not played in a league game yet, so I cannot say from experience how this system works. I can say that it looks again very simple to understand and play with. Everything is very streamlined in execution, but nothing you would expect is cut out from the system. Your players can die (but be bought back for a price and small XP penalty), you can buy new players, MVPs, and other team bonuses. Your players get new skills and abilities. There is a handicap system built in for underdogs.

Comparison to Blood Bowl
This is probably the first question anyone would ask if they have ever played Blood Bowl. If you've played Blood Bowl, the game will feel somewhat familiar too you. The basic concept of moving a ball around the field is similar, but the game play is vastly different. Blood Bowl could be a real brain burner, grinding game of chess. In Blood Bowl, you have many pawns to move carefully into position for the 1 or 2 players that turn would do something amazing. DreadBall plays more like a game of chess, but without the pawns. This makes for a faster and more interesting game. I feel like all the enjoyment is still there, but in a fraction of the time. The rules are also much cleaner than Blood Bowl, so just understanding all your actions and abilities is much easier. DreadBall has a concept of threat zones, like Blood Bowl, but they are not impacted by other players like in Blood Bowl. Calculating the modifiers is instant in DreadBall, whereas someone had confusion with that in nearly every game of BloodBowl I played.

Components
Ah, I saved the best for last. shake Ok, maybe I didn't want to focus on the 'worst' part of the game first. I will start by saying that I find all of the components completely functional and none are junk (except the counters).

Board - The playing board is adequate, the art and quality are slightly below what you would expect for an average 'hobby' board game. But you can play on it without issue, and it looks decent.

Cards - I'd rate them about average, maybe slightly below average on quality. They look nice and are not too thin. They shuffle just fine. No printing / cutting issues with them. Not deluxe linen finish, but very serviceable.

Rule Book - The best non-mini component. You would not find a better quality rule book in a board game, especially for the size of it.

Dice & Counters - The dice roll and show you numbers. They do look kind of cheap. The counters are quite poor. Almost paper thin, although they are printed double sided. It is not necessary that you use the included counters. I know I won't be, as any cube, bead, whatever would also work just fine.

Miniatures - Here is where the components really shine. These miniatures are better than anything you would ever find in a board game from a detail and quality perspective. Some of the newest FFG games get kind of close, though. This is a miniature company, and this is what they do best. Difficulty to assemble would vary depending on your background. If you come from miniature games, they are dead simple. If you come from board games and have never assembled a model/used glue before, then you should probably find a video and take your time at first. There are very few pieces to put together per model, but like anything new, it can be a challenge at first.

Verdict
You should play this game, if for no other reason, that it is a masterpiece of good design (once you can see past the rule book layout). Rules are simple and intuitive, games are fast and fun, and the play is very rewarding.

9/10
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Bobby Warren
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So which team do you think you'll play in the league?
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Sebastian Grawan
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Great review and I all with you on most opinions about the game, especially the final rating.

The included cardboard counters and the non-linen-slightly-cheap-looking board are the weak spots of this production, as is the somehow jumbled rulebbok (rules for scoring right at the beginning somewhere in the description of the board and not under the rules for throwing a strike, whatwhat?). The flimsy cards could have been of better quality, too.

The minis shine, there's no doubt about it, but could have come with fewer moldlines.
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Great review . Have you played scrumbrawl? Can you compare them
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Daniel Drickman
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gamer667788 wrote:
Great review . Have you played scrumbrawl? Can you compare them


I haven't played a game of dreadball yet, but I have played Scrumbrawl and read through the rules of dreadball. They are very very different.

Scurmbrawl is a chaotic, crazy and random game set in a fantasy world which will be 90% decided by luck. But it is also a lot of fun and I have no plans for it exit my collection. Dreadball appears to be much more tactical and skill based and more realistic when still considering it is a sci fi game.
 
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Damien
United States
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Couple of things,
1. I hope you referenced the page number on your Ref Sheet to make verifying a little easier. I look forward to seeing it.
2. The rule book layout is really a mess. Rules are tucked everywhere except in a orderly fashion, and the table of contents is not that detailed.
3. I love this game and cannot wait to play in a league.
4. Thank you for the review.

***Edit: To me the board is fine, the cards are fine, the counters are flimsy but I have the acrylic ones, overall the game is worth the asking price in my opinion (which is worth less than two cents)
 
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Andrew Wodzianski
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"In Blood Bowl, you have many pawns to move carefully into position for the 1 or 2 players that turn would do something amazing. DreadBall plays more like a game of chess, but without the pawns. This makes for a faster and more interesting game. I feel like all the enjoyment is still there, but in a fraction of the time."

I played my first two matches yesterday with another old school Blood Bowl player. We think the above analogy is spot on. I felt a smart adjustment to Blood Bowl was Dreadball's front arc / threat hexes. It adds another dimension to placement and orientation.

My buddy and I played Humans vs. Rats, and we noted the offense heavy focus. Perhaps that's unique to these two factions, but holy crap - you gotta go full throttle to score and score often. In our case, defense was primarily positioning and less slamming.

Fun times! I'm looking forward to playing more games and getting the league started. But I gotta finish painting 'em first!

Great, and accurate review. Jolly good!

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Daniel Drickman
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Oh and a thumbs up for an actual review! A lot of people are posting about being disappointed in the components so far, but it's been nothing but positive regarding game play as far as I can tell. The quicker and more streamlined play made this an easy decision to invest in compared to blood bowl for me.
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Robert Ehlers
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Thanks to everyone for all the feedback on the review, I appreciate it.

My reference did not have page numbers, but per the above suggestion, I just added them in. I'll update once BGG approves it.

Not sure what team I'll be playing just yet. Dwarves are the early favorite, but I have to see what the rats can do.
 
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Andrew Wodzianski
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RangerRob wrote:
Thanks to everyone for all the feedback on the review, I appreciate it.

My reference did not have page numbers, but per the above suggestion, I just added them in. I'll update once BGG approves it.

Not sure what team I'll be playing just yet. Dwarves are the early favorite, but I have to see what the rats can do.


The rats are very good at not picking up the ball!
 
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Robert Ehlers
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ha, I played a few games with the rats today. The only thing they failed more at than picking up the ball was throwing Strikes.
 
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Bobby Warren
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RangerRob wrote:
ha, I played a few games with the rats today. The only thing they failed more at than picking up the ball was throwing Strikes.

After you left, I played Mike using the rats and also failed miserable several times. I had a last-gasp shot to take a 1-point lead with the rats and had a coaching die I earned, and failed on the two dice.

Love the game with the cards, really dislike the rat poses and their hanging out over the edge of the bases. Bad choice for poses having so many appendages sticking out like they do.
 
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Andrew Wodzianski
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Bobby4th wrote:
RangerRob wrote:
ha, I played a few games with the rats today. The only thing they failed more at than picking up the ball was throwing Strikes.

After you left, I played Mike using the rats and also failed miserable several times. I had a last-gasp shot to take a 1-point lead with the rats and had a coaching die I earned, and failed on the two dice.

Love the game with the cards, really dislike the rat poses and their hanging out over the edge of the bases. Bad choice for poses having so many appendages sticking out like they do.


The rats look cool, but as functional board game pieces? FAIL.

I'll still play with 'em, but I gotta figure out some sort of new strategy. Even if the strategy is sprinkling pixie dust on the dice.
 
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Robert Ehlers
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My reference got approved for anyone interested in downloading it:

RangerRob's DreadBall Reference
 
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Chris Miller
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Great review, and I agree on just about every point.

The rulebook is SO CLOSE to being excellent. It is top tier in the quality; large size, glossy pages, nice graphic design, etc. The actual rules however are a mess. Once you learn the game it will not matter because the rules are fairly basic, but our first games had a LOT of slow downs for looking up rules... and looking up rules often meant flipping front to back and then to front again before finding the rule in question.

I've heard a lot of complaints on the counters. I did get acrylic with my Kickstarter but the first game we used the normal card ones, and I don't think it would bother me. They don't see a lot of use and are easily swapped out for just about any token. The acrylic ones are nice and worth the cost.

Speaking of cost, the price of the game is definitely right. I see prices coming down pretty quickly so I'm wondering if it's not doing as well in retail as expected. Either way, it's a great deal.

The models were a near-miss for me. I expected more from a company that was primarily a miniature maker before getting into actual game rule sets. The size, while truly 30mm, is small. I didn't realize just how much minis have scaled up over the years until I measured the human players and saw they are actually just about 30mm exact. They feel small compared to what most companies are making and probably should have been a shade bigger.

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Paul
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Having played my twelfth game of Dreadball recently I came back and reread this review. I agree with pretty much everything here I think, Dreadball is a great game.

Thanks for the review and the very handy reference sheet

 
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Frank Müller
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Very good review. Thanks alot. Also many thanks for your game sheet. I guess you did the work of Mantic Games here because such a sheet should have been provided first place in the main box.

I am very disappointed that in a modern game a rulebook can still be so messy and unpractical. It seems this book was developed and written by an amateur with absolute NO knowledge how this should be done. shake
 
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jon doedren
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In Mantic's defense:

1) It's a "Kickstarter" game (meaning it wasn't backed by a huge corporation with lots of people who not only understand rules, but how to translate those rules to an easily readable, quickly refrencable, product.

2) I have a friend in the gaming industry and the way he puts it, that most gaming companies that aren't Hasbro/WotC don't have lots of people to do different things, and usually 1 person ends up doing 2 to 3 different parts of a project.

I'm not saying the product is a polished, easy to read and quick to get product. I am saying that for a Kickstarter project from a company that isn't Games Workshop or Hasbro/WotC, this is a quality product with good internet support. And while the ability of the rule book to make the game quick and easy to understand is lacking, the game is genuinely and consistently fun to play once you do get the rules. I felt like my money and time were well spent once i started understanding the rules and playing the game.

Plus, as new iterations come out, I am willing to bet that the rules and how they are written will get tidied up.

So to end this I will say: it is important to express frustration at the rulebook layout so the makers can work on fixing it (which it does have a frustrating layout), and it is only so important to express if the game is genuinely fun to play (which it is for me and my friends)!
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