I only managed a couple of practice games with the team before the event and only finished painting them the night before, no I wasn't exactly confident about winning my matches. However I went into this with one goal, whether I won or lost my matches I really wanted to be able to win the award for most violent coach.
Matt, from PWC, and I set out bright and early. Matt was about as well prepared for this as I was, also having only finished painting his team the night before. However in his case he had a good reason, he's only been playing the game for a month so this would be a bit of a baptism by fire. We got to Nottinghamjust before the doors opened to the same disused NHS surgery as last time, that Mantic are apparently looking to turn into a permanent games centre. They're going to have to sort out the lighting before then though.
|Slightly worrying, the lighting at the venue owed a lot to duct tape and hope.|
My first game was against Adam, another Teraton player so this should be interesting. I was playing the home team, which allowed me to get a good start on the inevitable fight that kicked off by killing one of his guards with the first dice roll of the game. We had a very close game, but at the end of 14 turns I was ahead by 3 points and claimed the win. Unfortunately, that first kill was the only one I got so I was hoping for someone squishier for my second game.
Between games I checked out the Kings of War tournament that was taking place in the main hall. Some great looking armies, and unlike some companies I could name Mantic weren't worried about players using models from other manufacturers although the "best painted" prize could only go to an army of Mantic models.
My second game was against Chris, playing Orx so there goes that hope. This game was truly incredible, two teams who started out only paying token attention to the ball, then proving to be incapable of doing anything with it when they tried. We reached the end of turn 14 with the game scoreless and went into sudden-death overtime. I managed to miss what should have been an easy 1-point strike to win the game, then Chris's goblins got the ball, ran down the pitch and managed the same thing. Eventually I managed to score a point in turn 8 of overtime to claim the win, but this was a truly epic game against a great opponent who really took our combined incompetence in his stride.
|Dreadball convict team|
We had a break between games 2 and 3 to allow us to attend one of the seminars that Ronnie was hosting, which was a nice touch as we hadn't had a chance at the last event. The seminar was just a Q&A session with Ronnie and Jake Thornton about the future of Dreadball, Dead Zone and Mantic games in general and was informative and amusing in equal measure. I may be reading to much into things, but at times the 2 of them didn't seem to be on quite the same page as Ronnie was making pronouncements from the corporate point of view that didn't seem to sit with Jake's game-designer point of view, so it'll be interesting to see how various predictions shake out.
Highlights included - Dreadball annuals, Dreadball Extreme (saw some sculpts for a couple of teams for this, looks good), Warpath getting a 3rd edition (still free-to-play beta) that will be more in line with how Kings of War plays and Jake's throwaway comment about the next Deadzone scenery pack coming with added skulls and eagles in an obvious dig at another Nottingham-based games manufacturer. This last one got a huge round of applause, not least from the guys from Beasts of War who were filming the seminar (and whose contribution to the discussion was amusing, predictable given their recent history and largely unrepeatable).
Back to the tournament and game 3 saw me up against an Asterian team, unfortunately I have forgotten the name of their coach which is a shame because he really deserves a mention. This could have gone really badly for me, as Asterians were more than capable of running rings round me. They're also capable of getting my players sent off too, and 2 of my guards wound up watching from the sidelines as a result. I tried to get into a position to score, but the Asterians kept stealing the ball from me no matter what I tried. A well timed "The Ball Shatters" card stopped them from scoring a 4-pointer, and allowed me time to get back to plan A. Six fatalities later, we went into overtime scoreless and with only one Asterian player left on the pitch. Once I pounded him into the dirt, I won the game by default. Another great game against an opponent who really kept his sense of humour throughout the battering I dealt out.
Between games 3 and 4 I took the opportunity to pick up my Dead Zone kickstarter rewards, so I've got that to look forward to playing sometime soon. I have too many games on my "must play" list again, an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence.
|The Dead Zone rewards waiting to be collected.|
Not ALL of these were mine.
Game 4 saw me up against Luke and his Zzor, another hard-hitting team with 4 guards. Luke really made the most of his "sticky" guards, using them to keep my players on the floor once he had them down. Once again we managed a game with no scores, despite our best efforts, and went into overtime. This time my opponent had 5 players on the pitch, but only one of them was striker capable of moving the ball so I committed my only foul of the tournament and stomped on him while he was down. With Luke now unable to score, I won this one by default as well.
End result: 4 wins out of 4 games. Much, much better than I've ever managed before. Since none of my wins were landslides, and because all my tie-breakers sucked because of all the overtime wins, I would up in 6th place overall which I was more than satisfied with. More importantly, 10 kills over the course of the event saw me take home that coveted title of "Most Violent Coach". Mission accomplished, and proof that playing the ball can be regarded as optional in Dreadball. :-)
Overall I had a great day, played against some great opponents (I still have yet to play a game of Dreadball that I haven't enjoyed, win or lose) and had a lot of fun. In fact the only negative point on the whole day was getting home and finding out that, once again, Mantic have managed to screw up my Kickstarter rewards. Hopefully that gets sorted out quicker than the mess they've made of my Kings of War and Dreadball rewards, and I refuse to let that take away from my enjoyment of the day.