Dreadball Xtreme is the brand new game, currently active on Kickstarter, from Mantic Games. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks you may not have heard anything about it, and I suggest you head over to the Kickstarter page immediately! For the rest of us there has been a plethora of new information, images, videos and hearsay covering the internet on this new underground sport as each stretch goal is smashed out of the park. One of the most recent of these updates was the introduction of the beta rules, as well as a way to create a simple pitch and some nasty surprise cards to go with it(Which you can find here). I was Xtremely excited (sorry couldn’t resist) about these as it gave me an opportunity to see what this was like and if it meant my blind pledge at the very start of the campaign would pay off. Yes, is the simple answer, oh god yes. If I could afford to pledge more, I most certainly would be. This is everything I love about Dreadball with some more death and mayhem thrown in :D, which I’ll tell you about now…
The first thing you’ll notice is the pitch is surprisingly cluttered with various objects (those are not Bolt Action dice, they are pillars. Use your imagination folks :P). The tall ones are solid objects, probably holding up the roof and don’t get moved, destroyed or blown up throughout the game. The little ones however are packed full of explosives. Move adjacent to them and you’re likely to have your limbs taken home by the crowd as souvenirs. Unfortunately, as you can see in the image, there is no way to get to the opponent or your their strike zones without risking a little dismemberment! For the beta rules finding out what happens with each crate is no more than a dice roll, but it seems in the full game the crates will have a removable lid to let you know if you need a body bag or not. It’s a nice little touch :).
The mechanics of the game work much the same as regular DB but with a few subtle and not so subtle changes to make things more interesting (By interesting I mean violent. Horribly, horribly violent). As usual Guards can slam but can’t handle the ball, Jacks can do both and Strikers handle the ball but are unable to slam. Dice mechanics tend to work the same, with all tests starting on 3 dice with + or – depending on situation. The rushes work much the same with 14 total, alternating between players with the same rules for turnovers and the like, and a score track seesawing between each player. The main notable differences me and my opponent found are:
- You only get 4 action tokens per rush, instead of 5
- The ball launch is completely different. With it dropping onto one of the numbered hexes you can see and scattering from there
- Sucker punches can be done anytime, there’s no ref after all, and Stomps are now included in the slam rules. So a full run up before a Guard elbow drops the player struggling on the floor
- There is no sin bin/recovery area. You get injured you stay on the pitch and can’t get up until you pass recovery rolls. Or die
- Fan checks are handled very differently. You roll a dice for each cheer you’ve obtained, for each 4+ you roll you get to choose a special move or nasty surprise card or a coaching dice
- Nasty surprise cards. These give the opportunity for a offensive or defensive ability to be used once. Most of the defensive letting you stop an opponents offensive, and most of the offensive making it so much easier to take someones head clean off
- Sponsors. So far they can either give you a coaching dice for use in your rush, or can nobble an opponent making them lose a dice from all rolls. There will be the third option of betting, but that’s not included yet. Colour me intrigued though.
- Armour saves now do not include any bonuses (so no extra dice for your Guards)and vary widely between players (no regulation armour here)
- You don’t have to try and catch the ball if it scatters onto one of your players. So you can avoid the turnover if you fail, but you will give your opponent a fan check
- Subs. Jacks can move onto the pitch any time. Guards and Strikers have to be moved on as your first action of the rush. But the entry point is now anywhere along your edge of the board
- Cards. With two available you can still buy them in your rush, but a maximum of 2 of either is set for everybody
- Sudden death. Means what it says on the tin now. Strikers are removed from the board, and the first team to kill or injure the opposing players win!
- Pitch layout. There is talk of there being 6 different layouts in the first book, which means a lot more variety to games
- Scoring. You can dunk if your adjacent to the strike hex. No dice required for 1 point. 2 points from anywhere else, and 3 points from the opposite end
It’s a lot to take on board at first but it really did make for an entertaining game. There did seem to be more of an emphasis on killing than anything else, as evidenced by the dead pile halfway through the game…
We only played with the Convict Scum for this game, as we felt it was better to use the same to get used to that set of rules, rather than add in another set of new stuff :). They have a nice mix of players, with a good mix of abilities. And explosive collars!
These can be set off once per rush but at the cost of 3mc. My opponent gave it a go, trying to bomb two of my players. Luckily for me they dodged the shrapnel and bodyparts, but I can see these being really useful. An injured player surrounded by enemies for instance, he can take one for the team :).
The Guards are great with a 3+ strength and threatening. Jacks are average to be honest, with the strikers being about the same, just with some bonus dice to help ‘em out in most situations. And the final player is the Yndij reaver, who with duck & weave and 360 vision makes a pretty damn good striker. All in all a very well rounded team.
Overall I found it to be a damn entertaining game and I might even go so far as to say I enjoyed it more than normal DB. I like the gritty fight to the death feel it has, and the violence, oh the violence. With 7 deaths total in the game and a couple of injured players still lying on the pitch, you an look forward to some really bloody matches. With it not even being the full rules yet I can see even more being added and some things tweaked to make it even better. Only have to wait until November to get the full product and that’s with pledging on the Kickstarter, it may be even longer for the retail release. So if your keen I would recommend pledging now(this also helps unlock more toys for me :D) or if your not sure get your own printout of the board and cards and give it a go
And finally if you want to read some more on Xtreme, here’s some links to some great articles from Jake Thornton’s blog: