Salute in Review: Dreadball Fest!

Salute 2014

Salute, salute, salute salute salute. (sung to the tune of Black Adder) I’m sure no one minded me singing Rob’s Salute theme tune on the way home one little bit. In fact it probably made the trip back from London go even quicker [Especially as it took four hours thanks to Mat's atrocious SatNav - Ed.]. So I am sorry to say that it is over for another year and with 365(ish) days to go until the next Salute, I am going to have to go back to buying models in shops or online like the rest of the world. Oh the horror! The whole event was great and there was some awesome stuff to see: so much variety (which is a great sign for the hobby in general), so many great people to meet and I know even though I spent the whole day trying to see everything I probably only got to see half of what Salute had to offer.

The day went pretty much to plan, with no help from Forge World. They had everything a Warhammer 40k player could want…as long as you wanted something from the Horus Heresy. However as an Ork player I was disappointed to find out that they had brought none of their awesome Ork range so I had to order the heavy weapons I needed for my Battle wagon conversion. I hope they turn up soon. Needless to say I have learnt my lesson and next year I will be ordering in advance, still at least I didn’t have to pay the postage and packaging.

Zzappa

But then I wondered over to the Mantic stand…Not only did I got a great look at their Battlezones range (watch this space), but I also got some really exciting information about Dreadball Xtreme and Deadzone and how new rules will work and I am now more excited about both games than ever. I’ll be covering that in more detail soon. Then I bought a lot of stuff for Dreadball including the new supplement Azure Forest. Review to follow. [Damn Neil, you're gonna be busy. -Ed.] We’ve also made it on to Mantic’s reviewer list so we should be able to cover their products much more thoroughly in the future.

I also confirmed that I have definitely fallen in love with Malifaux and saw some amazing figures from Twisted, Black Scorpion, Taban and Mierce miniatures. I checked out some of the great scenery from Amera Plastic Mouldings, where I picked up a great amphitheatre piece and still regret not picking up another Dreadball Stadium, especially as by the end of the show they had them for £25! I was also really interested by a range I had not come across before – Z Clipz by Studio Miniatures.

Amphitheatre

So onto the spoils, and like I said I did buy a lot of Dreadball. I picked up booster squads for both my human and robot teams, as well as two hard-hitting MVPs Buzzcut and DRB7 Firewall and the Azure Forest supplement. Away from Dreadball I got some red dice (because red ones roll higher – it’s science), and a the aforementioned Ork Big Zzappa.

Firewall Buzzcut

Human booster

dice

It wasn’t the biggest haul I know but it was what I wanted and regrettably all I had time to get the rest of my day was meeting some of the #warmongers at the meet up, watching the mild-mannered Mat turn into a model buying machine and the rest of the day was business, meeting some great companies and talking about their new projects and The Shell Case. It should make for some great articles over the next few months.

Dreadball Chromium Chargers – A Review

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When Phil asked me to join The Shell Case team he did so saying that I could look after the Dreadball content seeing as I’m a bit mental for it. Oh how he’ll rue the day… If for no other reason I find myself reviewing the Chromium Charges and I know how much he, and most of the other team members, wanted to get their hands on them.

The Chromium Chargers are a team of robots built by some very bored scientists who wanted to see how good a Dreadball player can be, and backed by some large Corporations, keen to show off their newest robotics which can transform at will into whatever type of player the situation calls for. Now, transforming robots aren’t the most original idea for anyone that has owned a TV or been to a cinema over the last 30 years but, but let’s be honest it’s fun and therefore it’s a good one. And as they say “if an idea ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. From a manager’s point of view the way the team works is certainly interesting; having an entire team of Jacks and changing their role throughout the game can lead to a very different and reactive style of play compared to other teams.

Chromium-Chargers-Robot-TeamThe Chromium Chargers box contains 10 models – 6 Jacks, 2 Strikers and 2 Guards, and whilst this is more figures than other teams get, [Unless you count the mispacks. -Ed] it actually only gives you 6 playable figures as all have to start as Jacks, but with the Chargers 6 is all you should need. Like all of the main teams it would be well worth picking up the team expansion as unfortunately all 6 Jacks come in the same pose. That said it is one of the better poses Mantic have done and I am pleased to say the same can be said for the Strikers as they are really dynamic and the Guards do look like they could dish out some damage. Plus with a whole team costing less than £15 it is hard to be anything but positive about them.

The Chargers have been designed really well and with a high level of detail on each one, they do genuinely look cool. They are a much better design than I would have imagined; sleek, thin and they look like they would be mobile and capable of moving at pace. Mantic have done well managing to make the robots look as though they were built for sport without looking so solid that other races would just bounce off of them. This is important in making the models appear believably competitive but not invincible. I am also pleased that Mantic were also able to make the transformations look like they actually work and the great looking diagrams in the Season 2 rulebook helps to support this further.

The models were also surprisingly easy to build, and this is coming from someone who is very much about the gaming first and the hobby second. Just like all the Season 2 teams, there was far less flash on the models to contend with than the Season 1 range. This made the building process a lot quicker and a whole lot more enjoyable, plus with each model being made up of only 3 parts, it further speeds things up but obviously limits your ability to make the figures in any way individual without conversions.

Once the Chargers were built, I couldn’t wait to get them on to the neodurium [Neeeeeerd! - Ed.] and see how they played, and the fact is the team plays really well. The team has the all-round qualities you would expect to find in the human teams but their ability to transform them gives them a real feeling of flexibility. At the start of a game your team is obviously slightly hampered by having only Jacks and you will feel like you are missing out on the big tackles and tough shots, but with the Quick Change Artist special rule that will swiftly change. There is something extremely satisfying about watching an opponent’s face as without warning two of your players transform into guards and smash a hole through their line then a second pair change into strikers steal the ball unchallenged and score to take the lead.

Despite this once you have played that one obvious tactic, throughout a whole game they are not always the easiest easy to play with and the Chromium Chargers do pose a truly enjoyable challenge to use. They would suit a gamer who is tactically aware as it is vitally important that you always have the right mix of players on the pitch for each situation that comes up and that you conserve some actions for changes at vital times. They are a great addition to the Dreadball Universe and are fun to play both with and against.

The Chromium Chargers are available from Firestorm Games priced £13.49. This team requires the Season 2 expansion book available from Firestorm Games priced £8.99.

The Shell Case does Salute – Neil

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

And now to Neil to wax lyrical:

Neil

So it’s that time of year once again and with just over a week to go, I couldn’t be more excited about Salute 2014… that is unless I was Mat, but first times are always more special. Last year was great and so this will be a tough act to follow, but as always Salute has attracted a lot of great companies and I’m sure it will be awesome.

That said, this time last year I had just fallen hard harder than is comfortable for Dreadball and as a result a lot of my day was spent looking at all the brand new and mega exciting stuff that Mantic had to offer me, nearly emptying my bank account in the process. This year however, unlike Rob, for the first time ever I am going to Salute with no real plan at all. For the first time in a long time I am really not in need of anything major for any of my armies, and although there are some great games out there, I am tight and I’m yet to come across a new game that is getting me hot and hard enough to part with my cash. However with all the great new stuff companies usually bring I’m pretty sure that will very quickly change.

There are however a few things that will definitely be on my to do list;

1. Just enjoy spending the day with the rest of The Shell Case guys and the chaps. It’s sickening I know but a day with them is always a laugh.

2. Hopefully meet some of you at the #warmongers gathering and checking out some of your best buys.

3. I always have room for a new Dreadball MVP or 3, and maybe a new team. One using season 3 rules would be very cool.

4. With all the shiny around, I’m sure it will be almost impossible to resist buying at least one new game. I have been toying with Malifaux and In Her Majesty’s Name from Osprey.

Once I am there, I will suddenly find a million extra awesome but unnecessary things to buy to add to my Orks, Prussians or Banebrood. So, you know, it’ll be Salute.

The Shell Case does Salute – Mat

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s what Mat had to say:

Mat

MAT BUY TOYS! Sorry that was slightly involuntary and besides Rob did warn you [Yes I did, but perhaps not well enough if people are actually reading this. -Rob].

So yes this is my first Salute. It’s not my first event however: I have attended Games Day in bygone years but then I had bugger all disposable income. And it was a pure Games Workshop event and I’m reliably informed that Salute is nothing like. Other than it involves toy soldiers. And as some of you may realise, I’m really hot for other companies’ miniatures and games anyway right now so, bring it:

  1. I will be partly attending this year to perform my duties as an ambassador for The Shell Case and chatting with some awesome peeps, who do know I’m coming. As well as taking photos for The Shell Case. MAT BUY TOYS! Ahem. Sorry.
  2. I will definitely be heading over to see Andy from Heresy Miniatures we’ve been getting a bit of a Necromunda itch here, and he does some brilliant miniatures for a Delaque gang. MAT BUY TOYS! I’m so sorry, I don’t know why that keeps happening.
  3. After reading Ashley’s article about Saga I’m thinking of checking that out, along with Maulifaux which I have developed a warm squishy place for. And Godslayer. And Dreadball. Honestly my list is endless. I don’t know if I’ll part with my cash on these… Yeah, whatever.
  4. I do have a few other bits on my list that I definitely want to purchase…MAT BU- Sorry! Sorry! X-Wing toys for my growing Imperial fleet are a must. Some bits for my Tau force providing I can find a bargain, and I’ll be hitting up Forge World for a tasty Battlesuit. I also want to find some models for my Beastmen Mordheim Warband. I don’t want to have to use the standard models.
  5. #warmongers meet is going to be pretty cool and I’m looking forward to putting some faces to names.
  6. I’m just really looking forward to hanging out with The Shell Case crew and spending a day looking at all the shiny. MAT BUY TOYS! ARRRGH!

[The Shell Case would like to apologise for Mat. Really we would. His mother also got in touch and extends her sincerest apologies also.]

Mantic Battlezones Announced

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Mantic are back with another release but this time it isn’t a new team for Dreadball!

They are instead launching their new futuristic scenery range: Battlezones which they are saying will allow you to easily build a truly 3D gaming space at a genuinely affordable price. If this is the case then I am very interested as the first pictures suggest that these kits could be great for a lot of games.

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The Urban Quadrant

From what Mantic have said so far Battlezones will be marketed as high quality plastic kits that will be modular so can be built and put together in a virtually infinite number of ways. Looking at these initial pictures, it looks like the range will be suitable not only to add cover to a large board but also to create some interesting looking claustrophobic close quarter battlefields ideal for skirmish games.

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We will keep an eye open for any more news on this, and their timing couldn’t be better with Salute 2014 just around the corner. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product, and needless to say I will paying Mantic a visit on the day to see what they are showcasing.

New Teams for Dreadball Announced

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It’s fair to say that things over at Mantic are moving at a frenetic pace, so here’s hoping that we can keep up. They have just released their first ever non Kickstarter backed supplement; Galactic Tour Series: Azure Forest, which Mantic have hinted will be the first of many. Their focus has now firmly shifted back to Kickstarter where it all began and the launch of Dreadball Xtreme. Having now exceeded their pledge goal, Mantic have 2 extra teams to unlock early as part of Dreadball Season 6. They have released initial concept art for both teams and they look like they will pose very different challenges to the existing teams.

Introducing the Koris, a bunch of aliens from another dimension with a real grudge against the Asterians.

Portal-Spinner-Guard

They are a team with a real bad attitude and access to some awesome looking technology, which early reports suggest will not only allow them to teleport across the arena like the Teratons, but in an interesting twist also warp opposition players out of the way or even off the board entirely. This could open the door to some great new tactics and could make the Koris a nightmare to play against.

The second team Mantic will be launching are the Hobgoblins. Of all the possible species and types of alien from the infinite number of galaxies they could have chosen I am a little surprised they went with this one, but we’ll give them a go.

Hobgoblin-Team

There is very little information out about them at the moment other than the fact that their guards are quite literally the Hulk. With Hobgoblin and the Hulk maybe this is the perfect team for Marvel fans.

Hobgoblin-Team1

At first glance, based on the pictures, the models should look good. There is an argument they could be mistaken for another version of the Marauder team, however the addition of strikers should make them very different to play with.

I’m looking forwards to seeing the finished models and giving these teams a go.

There’s 48 hours left of the Kickstarter. If you feel like pledging then go here.

Dreadball Galactic Tour Series Unveiled

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It seems that whilst everyone is either mastering the multiplayer madness of Dreadball Ultimate, or anticipating the interesting looking Dreadball Extreme, Mantic have released a supplement for Dreadball season 3 – Galactic Tours Series: Azure Forest.

Azure Forest

It looks like the Dreadball we know and love, but played in a deadly rainforest…what could possibly go wrong? With new events and characters it is well worth a look.

Azure Forest Book

The supplement includes a 32 page rulebook  as well as 14 new event cards for your team to survive including angry local lifeforms. However most interestingly you will also get the new MVP A’teo Adysi, who unlike the rest of the Dreadball range, will be made of metal, an exciting departure from their normal rastic miniatures.

Ateo Adysi

Could this be the start of a series of supplements for new planets, arenas and challenges in the Dreadball universe? We certainly hope so  and will be watching this closely.

The Galactic Tour Series: Azure Forest is out now and available from Firestorm Games priced £13.49.

Dreadball Xtreme on Kickstarter

Dreadball_logoOnce again Mantic are taking to Kickstarter for their next game project instead of fronting the capital themselves. I like Mantic, I like their games and…well, their models are okay, but I’m disappointed that they are once again using crowd funding. Aside from the obvious, and worn out, argument that that’s not what Kickstarter is for: surely they must know by now that if they produce a Dreadball game it’ll make money?

But what do I know? Of the $100,000 target (no you’re not reading that wrong), they’ve raised over $275,000 with 22 days to go.

So what is it? Well, basically it’s street Dreadball. It’s Necromunda meets Blood Bowl. No really. It’s Dreadball without the rules and copious amounts of gang violence. They may as well have named it Dreadbowl or Bloodball.

But it does also look pretty tasty. And the quality of the models seems to be much higher this time although there’s still on 3 variants. Again. The stretch goals also hint at where they’re taking the game. Which is, obviously, in a very similar direction to Dreadball only not. For a start there’s different game modes which can mean lots more players on the…er…pitch? Which certainly adds an interesting dynamic to a game that relied on careful team balancing.

However, despite the models, cool new playing arena and all that joy, I kinda feel like people will be buying the same game only with a different box.

As always, though, we shall reserve judgement until we get our grubby little mits on a copy.

If you’re interested in the Kickstarter, click here.

Dreadball Ultimate – A Review

471e27f330bd96c059203afdab82dfef_largeIt’s time to once again done our spangly jumpsuits and silly helmets and try to catch some speeding balls… I refer to, of course, to Dreadball Ultimate, the third rule release for Dreadball from Mantic.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of Dreadball. The games anyway. The models are a bit hit & miss. Season 2, whilst useful, wasn’t convincing as a real supplement as it offered very little to the game other than teams it didn’t really need. And I’ll be honest when I heard about Season 3 I rolled my eyes and concluded that Mantic must have still had some of the Dreadball kickstarter money lying around.

When it was announced that Season 3 would be called Ultimate and offer a multi-player option I was pleased for two reasons. The first was that it actually sounded like you’d get something for your money. The second was that Ultimate had a nice ring of finality about it which meant Mantic could stop trying to come up with nonsense rules and focus on making the ones they had better. And the models for that matter.

dreadball-ultimate-coverSo what’s in the box? Quite a bit actually. A lovely big gaming mat for use with up to 6 players, a deck of cards, a nice shiny new book and some Giants – the new model type new for Ultimate.

I must be honest – unlike me I know – but I don’t like the idea of Giants. Aside from being, well, giant, they do two things that piss me off: the first, require their own set of rules because they don’t fit the existing ones and the second is they’re overpowered to the point that if you don’t take a Giant of your own to counter act your opponents you stand very little chance of taking them down. It’s something that always really annoyed me about MVPs in Dreadball, they just unbalance the game too much. And Giants are just mental. They ignore the threat hexes of non-giants, they get bonus dice up the whazoo and thanks to their size they’re not the easiest opponents to get around.

I’ve never been a massive fan of Blood Bowl but at least star players were just juiced members of your chosen race/team. In Dreadball they can be used to offset team weaknesses (which were designed to be there) whilst being nails to take down. Giants are this but more so. Which is a bit pants. It’s difficult because I know my opinion won’t be the popular one and it’s kind of one of the big draws for Dreadball Ultimate but the reason Dreadball is so good is because it’s genius in its simplicity and things like Giants rather over egg the pudding. It’s all a bit gimmicky.

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But if you’re wise enough to buy the Ultimate boxset, rather than the book, you get them all included so take ‘em, don’t take ‘em it really makes no odds.

There’s a couple of rule tweaks in Ultimate/Season 3. There’s nothing really to write home about other than it’s now against the rules to screen the model with the ball. I’m a bit mixed about that as it rather seems to benefit the newer weaker teams especially going up against the likes of the Forgefathers. But you know what? It’s not going to ruin my day. It will ruin Neil’s (of The Chaps) though as it’s a favourite play of his to shut the ball down if the score is tight with only a rush or two to play.

As usual there’s also yet more teams to add to the ever-expanding Dreadball league. If I’m honest, I’m fairly indifferent towards them. There’s a couple of interesting ones . The Kalamarin, with their sticky or hard guards (I’ll leave you to make your own jokes) and the teleporting space armadillos are the Ukomo appeal but otherwise it’s just ticking the boxes to make sure they’ve robbed all the teams from Blood Bowl as well as a couple from the sci-fi hall or fame. Including some diminutive grey chaps. And some of the models look bloody awful.

But on to the real reason to get Dreadball Ultimate: the big mat and the rules for some utterly mental game play. This is where the real work’s been done. The board/mat/thing is gorgeous. I mean bravo to whoever designed it because it’s arty without being fussy and actually builds on the look of the Dreadball pitch rather than just emulating it. It doesn’t feel quite right rolling on it mind, the bounce just isn’t the same as rolling on the board or a table but I suppose the answer is to, you guessed it, roll on the table. But on a serious note, the surface tension created by the fabric does mean the dice don’t roll as well. So, yeah, roll on the table next to the mat.

dreadball-ultimate-pitch

It’s a finely balanced thing, having up to 6 teams running about the place, but Mantic just about pull it off. Three players is a bit more manageable though. And quicker. And having that many people playing a game designed to be that quick has the potential to get confusing and lead to disagreements but some how it does work. And having two balls in play at any given time is only going to end well.

With Dreadball Ultimate I rather feel like they were trying to do too much to make it worth the price tag. In the interests of fairness, it does. There’s a lot in the box that adds a lot to the game. I’m not 100% convinced by it all but the rules for 3-6 player games and a pretty new board is enough for me either way. I do think the Giants are daft and I think that they’ll actually make for some pretty boring games but as a one off bit of fun I could live with them. It’d be a different story in a league however.

I do dearly love Dreadball and the introduction of new teams would get me excited if it didn’t feel like Mantic were just covering every possible statistical iteration available, and if they put more effort into the models. Some of them, particularly the the Not-Space-Elves look utterly, unforgivably poor.

But is it a poor supplement? No. Granted the book feels rather padded out, again, but the Ultimate rule set is way cool. Some of the new teams are way cool. The Giants are daft and overpowered but they come in the box so fuck it. With the addition of some new cards and the like and it does genuinely add a whole new dimension to what is already an awesome game.

Dreadball Ultimate is available from Firestorm Games priced £35.99.