Dreadball is a futuristic sports game set in Mantic Games' Warpath setting. Coaches take their teams head to head, with each attempting to slam a small metal ball into 1 of 3 opposing scoring zones. From the moment the match starts, the action doesn't stop as even after scoring, the ball immediately returns to play in the center of the pitch. In this review, we'll take a look at what the Dreadball Core Set Second Edition contains, how it plays, and how the 2 teams it contains handle.
You can buy all the Dreadball products from our tabletop sponsor, Firestorm Games.
The Dreadball Core Set Second Edition contains:
- Double-Sided Gaming Board
- 2nd Edition Collector’s Edition Rulebook
- Quick Start Guide
- Yndij Team - The Ninth Moon Tree Sharks - 12 miniatures plus Captain
- Neo-Bot Team – The Draconis All-Stars - 12 miniatures plus Captain
- Refbot miniature, Rush Tracker, Trophy Score Tracker, and DreadBalls
- DreadBall Game Cards
- Team Cards, Captain Stat Cards, and Captain Cards
- Counters and Dice
The Dreadball 2nd Edition Collectors Edition Rulebook contains all the rules for Dreadball, plus leagues, multiplayer games, the stats for 29 different teams, their captains, and 67 special players.
The double-sided pitch includes 1 side for regular games, and the other for multiplayer games of up to 6 teams.
Ninth Moon Tree Sharks
The Ninth Moon Tree Sharks are a mobile and agile team of Yndij. They're pricy, so you'll have less of them in reserve than other teams, but they have a high movement and great agility for dodging through players and avoiding attacks.
The Draconis All-Stars are a cybernetic team of Neo-Bots. Their stats are similar to the base-line human corporation team, but they also have the Linked ability. This allows them to chain movements together when playing action cards on other players to set up some awesome combos. Thematically, this works extremely well with the team being controlled by a set of programming instructions for the perfect plays.
Games of Dreadball are played across 14 alternating turns, with each coach getting 5 actions during their turn to do things like move, slam an opposing player, pass, or score. Each team starts with 6 players on the pitch, and during your turn, each player can be activated twice. Some actions let you move before acting, and some abilities and cards give you free actions, which can be used to combo actions together and produce some awesome set pieces. Player's activations don't have to be back to back, but turn's end when your team scores, or loses the ball, so sequencing is critical.
Player's have a number of straight-forward stats, listed as a target number to reach on a 6-sided dice. These stats are never modified, and instead, the pool of dice rolled increases or decreases. Most tests start with 3 dice, and a single success is required to complete a task like picking up the ball or passing. In opposed tests, like slamming another player, the coach who rolls the most successes wins, with bonuses for doubling the amount of success the opponent rolls. When catching the ball, the amount of dice rolled is equal to the number of successes achieved on the throw, which is a great mechanic for rewarding a good pass.
To score, each team has 3 strike zones in their half of the pitch, and you have to be in the marked squares to make a scoring throw. For being in the furthest hex from the strike zone, there is also a bonus point awarded for the more difficult throw. The scoring system is like a tug of war, and the score moves along a track as points are awarded, and moved back if your opponent scores. If either team ever has 7 clear points, they win immediately, otherwise, the team with the highest score at the end of the 14th turn is the winner.
After scoring, the scoring team's turn ends, even if they have actions left, and the ball immediately shoots along the centreline of the pitch, for the opposing team to pick up and attempt to score with. This means that if you use your entire team to batter through into your opponent's half to score, you can leave yourself vulnerable to a counterattack by your opponent. This mechanic puts the focus on sequencing and positioning over all else, rather than sheer brute force, which has to be used in conjunction with other plays.
There are only 3 types of players in Dreadball not including captains and special players. They each have different stats and access to different actions.
- Jacks - Standard players, with access to all actions, including the Jack only action, Run Interference, which is used as an interupt action with the Dreadball cards, and lets the Jack move 1 hex and either slam or steal the ball from an enemy player.
- Guards - The heavy hitters, but can't interact with the ball and are used for taking out opposing players and clearing a path.
- Strikers - Strikers aren't able to slam opposing players, and tend to be agile and deft for scoring and passing.
The Dreadball rulebook also includes the rules for multiplayer games, with up to 6 players, which are played on the reverse side of the standard Dreadball pitch, and also league play, which is a hugely rewarding experience as your players can gain experience and buy abilities.
Out of the box, the Dreadball Core Set Second Edition has a huge amount of replayability. Both included teams are straight-forward enough but mechanically different to be interesting, and the way Dreadball works with only 6 players on the pitch, there's is a great degree of flexibility for styles of play simply by changing the number of the player types on the pitch. The component quality is fantastic and having access to the full rulebook and all team rules makes it very easy to expand out of the core set. The core set miniatures are all also pre-constructed, giving it a very fast time to get to the tabletop.
The Bottom Line
Dreadball has extremely straight-forward mechanics, which allows for very fast-paced play. The sequencing of player actions can get very tactical, which can slow down the games during the first few plays, but quickly speeds up when you learn the team. The flexibility in team selection for the 6 payers on the pitch is surprisingly varied for the limited player types, and gives a huge amount of replayability, with only the 2 included teams. The multiplayer option, large number of teams, and the league rules all included in the rulebook, along with the quality components make the core set incredible value.
Get This Game If:
- You want an accessible, fast-paced sports game.
- You want great value, a large amount of replayability, and incredible scope for expansion out of the core box.
- You want a tactical miniatures game that's great for player counts between 2 and 6.
Avoid This Game If:
- You don't like tabletop sports games.
- You hate getting great value out of a core set.
The copy of the Dreadball Core Set Second Edition used to produce this review was provided by Mantic Games.