I really like tabletop sports games, they can be super quick, tactically deep, and for some reason playing a game about little dudesmen who’re playing a game feels cooler to me than playing a game about little dudesmen having a scrap. Plus, we’re spoiled at the moment for options: Dreadball, Bloodbowl, Guildball, Kaosball, Aristeia to name some that come to mind…
I’ve only played the former two on that list, and let me say categorically that I prefer Dreadball. That’s not to say Bloodbowl is bad (I know you’ll still write angry things at me, it’s OK I forgive you) but rather it has a couple of big failings that Dreadball 2.0 cleans up. Let me explain with the power of Excel:
|Game Duration||Surprisingly slow, particularly for newbies. Expect over 2h||Quick, even for noobs. Expect about 1h – 1h30|
|Turn Duration||You have 11 players to move around, and things like evasions and supports take time to work out. However, if you mess up, your turn is over very quickly 😉||With only 6 players to activate, this is less of a task. Plus the rules around evading and support are cleaner and much quicker to resolve|
|RNG Punishment Factor||Very high, you make one mistake and your go is over. This can be really frustrating to some folks||Your go is only over if you lose control of the ball. Meaning failed tackles and the like can be overcome|
|Rules Depth||Very high. Lots of scope for tactics and strategy||Very high. Lots of scope for tactics and strategy|
|Rules Simplicity||Pretty complicated, tonnnes of special rules that you need to understand||Very simple recurring mechanic to resolve most events, still some special rules but much less to contend with|
|A Typical Game?||It varies depending on the teams involved, but it’s not uncommon to spend most of the game bunched up in the centre of the pitch in a stalemate until someone gets a lucky roll||Again, varies by team, but games are typically fast paced with action all over the pitch, and lots of cool pass play linked up to strikes|
|Official Models||Beautiful, but not all teams have official models.||Mixed bag, older ones are crap (but workable), newer ones are looking much nicer|
|Official Support||The NAF – quasi official support body that does a great job. Bloodbowl also has an official app which last time I checked was OK, but not great.||Mantic have an official website for managing global team rankings and finding tournaments etc|
Some of the biggest reasons I hear people say that they don’t like Bloodbowl are the RNG frustrations with losing their turn, or the game because of one bad roll, and then the sheer length of a game (Yes I know you vets can finish up a game in like 7 minutes…) and both those legitimate gripes are just not an issue with Dreadball.
Yes, Dreadball is still a dice game, but more often than not, a bad roll won’t cost you your turn. Plus a game for newbies can be played in about an hour and a half, whereas Bloodbowl for newbies has taken my group about 4 hours!
If I had to sum them both up with cheap clichés: Bloodbowl is difficult to learn and difficult to master. Dreadball is easy to learn, and difficult to master.
Hopefully this piece encourages a few more of you guys to give Dreadball a go, I hope so – I really think you’re missing out. But if not, and you want to stick with Bloodbowl – that’s cool, I get it.
Anyway, let me know what you think