I have been sitting with this box of goodies since just before Christmas and thought it was time I cracked it open, had a good rummage through and let you all know what I thought of it all 🙂
If you have not heard of it before, Dreadball Xtreme is a much more violent variation on Mantic Games sports game Dreadball. Dreadball takes place in large, shiny arenas watched by millions of adoring fans and monitored by refbots, cameras and the strict ruling body, the DGB. Xtreme on the other hand takes place in the darkest, dingiest holes in the galaxy. Gambling dens, abandoned warehouses and every other place of ill repute you can think of. Rules go out the window and the fast and furious game becomes very bloody indeed.
This boxed game is much like the one for Dreadball I reviewed quite a while back, this box acts as a starting point for getting into the game. Everything you need to play a game of Xtreme is in this box and we’ll take a look at each now…
The Miniatures: We all know this is why we play these games, so we might as well start here. The box comes with 31 miniatures in total; 10 Kalyshi, 10 Convicts, 9 Free Agents and 2 Sponsors…
The box comes with 10 Kalyshi, broken down into 4 Strikers, 4 Jacks and 2 Prone Markers. The design of these is really nice, with a sexy space elf punk vibe, with a good variation on poses to keep them interesting.
For the other team the box includes 10 Convicts, broken down into 2 Guards, 3 Jacks, 3 Strikers and 2 Prone Markers. Again the models look great, with the character really on point. It’s nice to note the guards come with a choice of arms and heads so they can be constructed as guards or keepers.
9 Free agents come alongside the rest as more generic aliens and critters that can join up with the teams to fill some interesting or more specialised roles. The design on these is once again great and begins to expand on Mantics sci-fi universe, fleshing it out even further, something that is always welcome.
Every model (other than the Convict Guard) comes as a one piece model which means no construction but also means more difficulty for converting and a real pain in the behind for cleaning off the mold lines, which I found there was a quite a few of and in some very hard places to manoeuvre a craft knife. The addition of prone markers straight of the bat is a welcome one. These are very useful in Dreadball, but even more so in Xtreme where injured models stay on the pitch.
The Deluxe Play Mat: The pitch has been improved on, with the success of the mats used for Deadzone and Mars Attacks, the Xtreme pitch is also printed onto a large mat made from material similar to a mousemat…
This large mat, 2′ x 2′, gives plenty of space for not only the pitch and key gaming markers like the rush tracker, subs bench and score tracker but also some nice extras. It includes areas to place the card decks for drawing and discarding, an area for your fan check cards and areas for your used and unused action tokens. Overall this is a cracking and easy to transport pitch for the game.
Terrain: One of the big additions to Xtreme over original Dreadball is terrain on the pitch. You have 3 types; the first is large terrain such as support struts, big crates etc. that blocks everything entirely. The second is explosive crates arranged on the pitch to make things more interesting for the spectators and the third is the strike posts which can now be in different places each game…
These add another dimension to the game in a couple of ways. Literally, they add height, blocking passes and movement. They also add a restriction to where you move as if you get too close you can set off an exploding crate, or your opponent could push you into a crate hoping the resulting explosion could take you out. It’s not guaranteed though as it could be a dud. Finally they allow some diversity to the game, as you can set them out how you wish or use the 6 layouts that are found in the rulebook.
All of these are in your standard wargaming plastic, meaning they are easy to clean and assemble, and look great with crisp, clean details. The only problem is they are quite light, meaning they can be knocked around and off the pitch quite easily and it may be worth either basing them or weighing them down a little.
Card Decks: There are two cards decks for Xtreme; Special Moves and Sabotage…
Special Moves act much like the deck from standard Dreadball, giving extra actions to your different types of players – giving a wee extra boost when you need it or a surprise for your opponent. They are also used for fan checks, something that gives your team a boost if a player does something exceptional.
The sabotage cards represent hidden tools and weapons on the one hand, and the proper equipment to counter these things on the other. This means they have two options as to how they are used, offensively or defensively. Do you use them to try and poison an opposing player for instance, or keep a hold of the card to unstick a player targeting by your opponents glue bomb? It’s a great addition that adds some great strategy but also the opportunity for a good laugh.
The cards are smaller than your standard deck of cards, coming in at about half the size, which does make handling a lot of them much easier.
Dice, Tokens and Bases: You get a full set of card tokens to help mark various things in the game..
These are used for your action tokens, to mark the score and rush, to mark injuries and to keep track of the new gambling and threaten mechanics.
These are of a really good quality on par with any other board game out there and a marked improvement over the ones from the original Dreadball boxed game. Even though they are very nice I would still like to upgrade to the acrylic counters once they come out.
You also get a useful compliment of 14 dice and some nice coloured hex bases…
The dice come in three colours for different purposes, blue and yellow to match the team markings on the pitch and action tokens, so when you are rolling against each other you don’t get the results mixed up and red for the coaching dice.
Also included is the bases for the minis but this time they are coloured! Coming in blue and yellow, again to match the team colouring on the pitch, action tokens and dice, these could come in handy especially considering how the teams are put together in Xtreme.
The Rulebook: Finally one of the most important components to having a game, the rules…
The 64 page rulebook is beautifully presented, with clear crisp graphics, text and some fantastic artwork and pictures of the game minis in action. The rules are laid out in a clear and concise manner, with a few minor details seeming to be hidden in the ‘wrong’ section. The inclusion of a reference page is a welcome one, giving a good rundown of everything in the book and I mean everything.
If you have never played Dreadball before, don’t worry, it is one of the easiest games to pick up I have found. After only a few games to work out a few wrinkles, you begin to feel like an expert and if anything this rulebook will make it even easier than original Dreadball. If you are familiar with Dreadball then you will find it really easy to get to grips with Xtreme. The majority of the gameplay mechanics are carried across, with a few tweaks here and there to spice it up. For a good rundown of the differences have a look here.
The only difference not in the article above is the way in which you pick your team. First you pick a sponsor, this gives you a specific list of players to choose from with a points cost for each, which is different for each sponsor. For instance Blaine can get Kalyshi very cheaply but the Cons for him are pricey, but for the Warden the Cons are cheap and the Kalyshi are pricey. It’s then as simple as picking who you want depending on the funding you have, which means you can build some really unique teams from a good choice of players.
The book only includes rules for using the two sponsors in the box; Blaine & The Warden. They can pick from any models out the box, the Kalyshi, Cons and the Free Agents. This could be quite limiting, but there will be an expansion at a later date including a lot more sponsors and a hell of a lot more players to choose from. Considering the game has not been officially released yet, I think these will do to get people started.
Overall I’m very impressed with the quality and the quantity of the contents of the box and would highly recommend it for anyone who’s even a little bit interested. My feelings at present are this represents something of better value for money than original Dreadball and from what I’ve played so far is much more fun :). My only gribble is with the quality of the miniatures, they represent something more akin to a normal boardgame than the more detailed minis commonly associated with tabletop war gaming.
The game will be available very soon and you can pre-order your copy from Mantic Games now!