Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Review - Dreadball Ultimate

Howdy folks,

Dorksworth here. Last night a few Dreadball veterans from the Outpost league had the opportunity to play a game of the shiniest toy in the Mantic portfolio - Dreadball Ultimate (DBU)

For those not in the know, DBU is Dreadball designed for three to six players, it's a separate entity to "vanilla" Dreadball, and requires the purchase of a Dreadball ultimate box set to play.

We've never done a review at the Daily Punter before, so bear with us whilst we find our feet, I'll be reviewing the game from three main perspectives; Ease of Rules, Quality of the Product, and Fun. You can expect some miscellaneous thoughts in there too. So without further ado.

The Review

Opening up the box and unraveling the pitch, the first thing that strikes you (apart from "ooh shiney") is the great quality of the pitch.

The artwork on the pitch is nice and crisp, it has a very 80's "Tron" feel to it which is spot on in my opinion. It's been well designed too, the pitch is roughly 24" squared and contains not only the playing space, subs, sin bins, rush & score trackers, but it also now has place to keep the cards (like a Monopoly board).

A work of art

The game also comes with a set of special cards which are used in place of the standard Dreadball deck, Mantic have gone for a nice quality matt finish on these cards, and they certainly feel nicer than their glossy counterparts. Although, one downside I noticed is that because the matt cards generate extra friction,  they have and awkward tendency to stick together a bit when you're trying to pick one up, however this could just be because they're new, and with use I'd expect this to improve.

The final piece to the puzzle is a new set of card counters, and this is my first real gripe. Although the new card is much nicer than the old card (it's good and chunky) the pieces themselves are tiny and difficult to manipulate with my big meaty man fingers. This was obviously a cost saving decision, so they could fit all the pop-out counters on a single piece of card.

Another downside is again, (I assume) a cost based decision. [We've since learned this was down to a lack of Dreadball Ball tools, that didn't also contain an Orx and Corp team on them! - ed] DBU uses more than one ball in play, and instead of forking out the extra few pence in cost price for nice plastic balls, you get cheap looking card board ones to play with instead. We took one look at them, cast them aside and rooted in our bags for our own nicely painted balls.

Once we had everything set up (and it didn't take very long at all) we delved into the rules. Although we were all experienced players, I was still pleasantly surprised to find that the game was incredibly easy and intuitive to pick up, borrowing many of the same rules form the vanilla game, with just a few subtle changes that alter the gameplay significantly.

The game now lasts seven rushes, and as opposed to vanilla Dreadball that's not one rush per team. Instead, each team gets a turn before the next rush ticks over. Significantly, you don't feel cheated as the game still lasts a good hour or so.

Teams themselves now only have three actions instead of the typical five, although this can still be modified as normal with free actions and cards (each player is now given a new card at the start of each rush). It's easy to see why this was implemented as waiting for two to five other people to take their move can be pretty laborious sometimes. I'm thinking that stop clocks might be a good idea here!

The game presented all the usual tactical options, plus new ones. For example, whilst there was a big predictable scrum in the middle of the pitch, I used my slippery goblins to get in and out quickly with a ball and score without disrupting the ongoing mayhem.

That's one thing I think bashy teams will need to watch out for, if they spend all the game bashing another bashy team, then the other speedy guy will just go off and win the game whilst you're not looking!

I always hated this guy...
This just leaves me with my major rules based gripe - for some reason, you can't move the ref Bot at the end of your turn anymore. I don't know if this was a time saving option or what, but I think it's killed a few tactical options that clever players can utilise with sneaky ref placement.

Overall, I think DBU is a sound game, and a sound purchase if you know a few guys  that you regularly play with. I can even see the game working in leagues as a characterful one-off exhibition match to start the league or finish it off.


+ Very easy to pick up
+ Lots of tactical options available
- No moving the Ref Bot

+ Beautiful pitch, well designed
+ Nice quality cards
+ Chunky card counters
- Teeny Tiny counters
- Cheap card balls

+ Plenty of Dreadball madness
+ Fast moving game
- Can see it getting tedious if you're playing with slow pokes

1 comment:

  1. DreadBall Ultimate is for you, if you are a fan of DreadBall. I still am really enjoying this game and am starting a league at work. The option to play bigger games every now and again is great and I believe that everything in the box adds some fun things to DreadBall.