Dreadball: Azure Forest – A Review

For some of you who have read previous articles on the site, you may already be well aware of this, but if you don’t already know; I love Dreadball! I genuinely do have a real fondness of Dreadball for a variety of reasons, with the most notable being the scoring system, the varied tactics created by different player positions and teams, plus the general carnage. Recently a few people have said to me “It is just like Bloodbowl” and to these people I say: you obviously haven’t actually played it. Anyway putting this loved up rant to one side, Dreadball is now firmly one of my favourite games, so when I heard that Mantic were releasing the Galactic Tour Series to be played alongside Season 3, I was obviously very excited, but also a little worried, as I have seen other games do similar things with underwhelming results.

The concept behind the Galactic Tour Series is a simple one, with the popularity of Dreadball growing throughout the Corporation, more leagues are appearing on some of the stranger planets on the further reaches of Corporation space. With these new leagues, there are some new rules and some slightly… less safe stadium designs to play in. With the first of the series; Azure Forest now available, it was inevitably going to be one of my first purchases at Salute this year. I am pleased to say that now I have played a game in Azure Forest, I am sold, it’s still Dreadball that I know and love but having to play through harsh weather conditions and earthquakes can at times really change the game and your tactics.

Dreadball Azure Forest

So what do you get in the box? Azure Forest comes with a weather table as the weather will change throughout the match, which creates some real tactical challenges. Being unable to dash, reducing the range and accuracy of throws and, possibly the toughest of all; heat wave, which tires all players out and reduces them to using just 1 action token a turn can both be found in the dekc. As I mentioned before these additions can be genuine game changers and will change the way you use your team. Plus the fact that the weather changes randomly will really keep you on your toes and I can testify to the fact that this makes the game a lot more exciting and guarantees that no two league games will play out the same way.

You also get a brand new MVP – A’Teo Adysi – who comes with a nice back story and is from a race called the Ynjdi. A new species for Dreadball one must ask if they’re a team for further down the road. He has a nice set of stats and special skills, and without seeming overpowered, looks like he could mix it with some of the better players. Interestingly  A’Teo is a metal figure which is a real change for Mantic and, on his occasion, it is one for the better. Because he is metal, there is great detail on the model, probably better than on any of the plastic figures they have released so far. Also unlike some metal models, I am also pleased to say that my A’Teo came with little to no flash on it.

Ateo Adysi

Another nice touch with the Azure Forest set is that it comes with its own trophy. Granted it is a bit of a novelty and not really necessary at all, but as I said its a nice idea and its metal too. Again, just like the MVP there is a good level of detail on it and it looks like it will be fun (and quick) to paint.

trophy

In Azure Forest it is not just the weather that you need to be prepared for as Mantic have added another nice element. You also get 15 new game cards to be shuffled into the main game deck. They are marked differently on one side which is a nice touch so the don’t look any different face down but they can be easily separated from the deck. Just like the weather, the new cards have been designed for maximum carnage. Earthquakes, creatures falling out of the rainforest canopy onto the pitch, and a nasty bout of jungle sickness (that just so happened to affect my striker who was carrying the ball) all feature. The new event is really quite fun and a little more chaos that although it won’t change a whole game, can make or break a rush.

Finally you also get the 32 page rule book, but unlike all the main Season rule books it is A5 not the regular A4. This however makes for a well thought out and add yet more challenges to playing in the Azure Forest. A couple that cropped up in my first game were an very little difference as it is still well put together. As well as the stats for A’Teo, it also contains profiles and start for 3 other MVPs now available to buy and some nice background about the Blue Moon and the Azure Forest league. It also covers revised tournament rules to play a specific league, and if you do Mantic has also written some nice rules for blessings from the town elders that you can buy to temporarily improve a player. The rules do feel a little light and there is possibly too much background, but it is a good read and with all the other bits you get I am almost certainly being too picky. I’m sold.

Azure Forest Book

So all in all, Azure Forest is a great stand alone supplement and it adds some extra spice to any tournament or league, and is well worth giving a go. More exciting than that is  it’s only the first of the Galactic Tour series and it is a strong start. I can’t wait to see what planet and what challenges the Galactic Tour will throw up next. If you are as intrigued as I was then the last point to mention is the price.

The box is less than £15 and can be bought on Firestorm Games for £13.49 which seems pretty good value, especially when most other games would charge you £15 just for the cool new metal special character or the rules but certainly not both or with the other extras too.

Salute in Review: Dreadball Fest!

Salute 2014

Salute, salute, salute salute salute. (sung to the tune of Black Adder) I’m sure no one minded me singing Rob’s Salute theme tune on the way home one little bit. In fact it probably made the trip back from London go even quicker [Especially as it took four hours thanks to Mat’s atrocious SatNav – Ed.]. So I am sorry to say that it is over for another year and with 365(ish) days to go until the next Salute, I am going to have to go back to buying models in shops or online like the rest of the world. Oh the horror! The whole event was great and there was some awesome stuff to see: so much variety (which is a great sign for the hobby in general), so many great people to meet and I know even though I spent the whole day trying to see everything I probably only got to see half of what Salute had to offer.

The day went pretty much to plan, with no help from Forge World. They had everything a Warhammer 40k player could want…as long as you wanted something from the Horus Heresy. However as an Ork player I was disappointed to find out that they had brought none of their awesome Ork range so I had to order the heavy weapons I needed for my Battle wagon conversion. I hope they turn up soon. Needless to say I have learnt my lesson and next year I will be ordering in advance, still at least I didn’t have to pay the postage and packaging.

Zzappa

But then I wondered over to the Mantic stand…Not only did I got a great look at their Battlezones range (watch this space), but I also got some really exciting information about Dreadball Xtreme and Deadzone and how new rules will work and I am now more excited about both games than ever. I’ll be covering that in more detail soon. Then I bought a lot of stuff for Dreadball including the new supplement Azure Forest. Review to follow. [Damn Neil, you’re gonna be busy. -Ed.] We’ve also made it on to Mantic’s reviewer list so we should be able to cover their products much more thoroughly in the future.

I also confirmed that I have definitely fallen in love with Malifaux and saw some amazing figures from Twisted, Black Scorpion, Taban and Mierce miniatures. I checked out some of the great scenery from Amera Plastic Mouldings, where I picked up a great amphitheatre piece and still regret not picking up another Dreadball Stadium, especially as by the end of the show they had them for £25! I was also really interested by a range I had not come across before – Z Clipz by Studio Miniatures.

Amphitheatre

So onto the spoils, and like I said I did buy a lot of Dreadball. I picked up booster squads for both my human and robot teams, as well as two hard-hitting MVPs Buzzcut and DRB7 Firewall and the Azure Forest supplement. Away from Dreadball I got some red dice (because red ones roll higher – it’s science), and a the aforementioned Ork Big Zzappa.

Firewall Buzzcut

Human booster

dice

It wasn’t the biggest haul I know but it was what I wanted and regrettably all I had time to get the rest of my day was meeting some of the #warmongers at the meet up, watching the mild-mannered Mat turn into a model buying machine and the rest of the day was business, meeting some great companies and talking about their new projects and The Shell Case. It should make for some great articles over the next few months.

The Shell Case does Salute – Neil

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

And now to Neil to wax lyrical:

Neil

So it’s that time of year once again and with just over a week to go, I couldn’t be more excited about Salute 2014… that is unless I was Mat, but first times are always more special. Last year was great and so this will be a tough act to follow, but as always Salute has attracted a lot of great companies and I’m sure it will be awesome.

That said, this time last year I had just fallen hard harder than is comfortable for Dreadball and as a result a lot of my day was spent looking at all the brand new and mega exciting stuff that Mantic had to offer me, nearly emptying my bank account in the process. This year however, unlike Rob, for the first time ever I am going to Salute with no real plan at all. For the first time in a long time I am really not in need of anything major for any of my armies, and although there are some great games out there, I am tight and I’m yet to come across a new game that is getting me hot and hard enough to part with my cash. However with all the great new stuff companies usually bring I’m pretty sure that will very quickly change.

There are however a few things that will definitely be on my to do list;

1. Just enjoy spending the day with the rest of The Shell Case guys and the chaps. It’s sickening I know but a day with them is always a laugh.

2. Hopefully meet some of you at the #warmongers gathering and checking out some of your best buys.

3. I always have room for a new Dreadball MVP or 3, and maybe a new team. One using season 3 rules would be very cool.

4. With all the shiny around, I’m sure it will be almost impossible to resist buying at least one new game. I have been toying with Malifaux and In Her Majesty’s Name from Osprey.

Once I am there, I will suddenly find a million extra awesome but unnecessary things to buy to add to my Orks, Prussians or Banebrood. So, you know, it’ll be Salute.