The maker of DreadBall talks about the game as its resemblance (or lack thereof) to other Fantasy Sports games

By Polar_Bear
In Crowdfunding
Aug 27th, 2012
54 Comments
489 Views

DreadBall is getting higher and higher in their funding campaign on Kickstarter.
Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of comparisons between it and other Fantasy Sports games out there. In his blog, Jake Thornton talks about the design of the game and how it’s not just “another Blood Bowl.”

From the article:

The elephant in the room* is a colourful and evocative phrase that I rather like, but one which is rarely appropriate. Here, for once, I am happy to say that it is.

The elephant is, of course, Blood Bowl.

It was obvious from the outset that whatever DreadBall was or was not, it would be compared to GW’s Blood Bowl. Whether this was going to be favourable or not depended on the individual, but compared it would certainly be. This is exactly what is happening now, and so I would like to take a few moments to discuss the similarities and differences from my point of view as designer, and explain my decisions and talk a bit about where the concept for DB came from.

Firstly, let me say that DreadBall is very deliberately, NOT a Blood Bowl clone. I cannot stress that strongly enough.

About "" Has 25886 Posts

I was born at a very young age. I plan on living forever. So far, so good.
  • Nightbee

    I haven’t encountered a single person that thinks this looks like Blood Bowl. Elfball, perhaps.

    • AKE

      I’ve never had anyone tell me water is wet, either.

  • AKE

    2) Copying things is boring.

    That coming from Mantic is HILARIOUS.

    • Borzag

      Coming from the individual known as Jake Thornton however is rather valid.

  • blkdymnd

    Yeah this resembles bloodbowl pretty much not at all

  • Greyhound

    If I see a completely new race I have never heard of this will be a new very new game, but as long as it is:
    – dwarf
    – orc
    – skavens <= surely couldn’t they pick another anthropomorphic animal?
    – humans
    It will feel very attached to Blood Bowl. Not that it is a problem, but when Mantic will start doing game design which involve something else than just rules and which includes a rich and vibrant (new) universe, even if it is inspired by others then it will walk in the shadows of other giants. Again not an issue, just an observation.

    The game looks fun but I will probably only look at the minis to transfer to bloodbowl where appropriate… until they start creating something completely unique and very much tied to Dreadball only. If I fall in love with that team, then I might pick up the game, since i would not be able to play the minis in my blood bowl.

    • Would gaming companies please stop copying Tolkien and other Fantasy authors!? ^^

    • skavens <= surely couldn’t they pick another anthropomorphic animal?

      Rabbits? I’d have loved rabbits :o))

  • scarletsquig

    @Greyhound: Hopefully the kickstarter will be successful enough to reveal the Cthulu-esque tentacle aliens. 🙂

    • Greyhound

      This will be interesting, I will follow it with interest.
      I have nothing against Mantic, I like their work, I just want to see more “new” ideas.

    • Nightbee

      Because Cthulhu is an original idea? Even in the realm of Fantasy sports games, Impact just produced a team of Cthulhuesque footballers.

  • Blitz R

    @Greyhound: While BB may have been a mostly original idea from GW, the races that inhabits it’s worlds are largely borrowed from popular fiction. Very little of ‘their’ IP is in fact orignal source material.

    Glad to see that Mantic are looking to expand their range, I’m juts not sure this was the right place to look. Regardless of what they do it will invite comparisons to BB and as far as games go, I think BB is by far and away GWs greatest work to date.

  • revoltgames

    Read the article and viewed the kickstarter. Im really sorry but this looks like to me, a poorer cousin version of Blood Bowl. This may not be the case. It also seems to be priced the same as blood bowl, which I hope I am wrong on. Because in that case I feel lacks value for money.

    I’m going to sit on the sidelines here. If the sculpts were as good as the sedition wars sculpts I may have pledged. But they don’t seem to be on par with the other kick starters by other companies out their.

    I will wait for the LGS release, which I hope will happen and get a demo of the game before I think about the purchase. Although I question and worry about what kind of support LGS will give when a large portion of those inclined will have already there dread ball and teams. Don’t know. Maybe it should not have been released on kick starter, maybe it is a good idea. Time will tell. Hope my worries are all wrong and that it is a great game.

  • StygianBeach

    It looks good… it is still comparable to Blood Bowl though by the looks.

    Its not a staright copy by the sounds, but close enough to be consiered an evolution.

  • Kings of War = WFB like
    Warpath = W40k like
    Dwarf King’s Hold and Project Pandora = Space Hulk like
    and now Dreadball = Bloodbowl like
    I’m pretty sure that next step will be a fantasy Bloodbowl like.

    This is the point : Mantic always copy Games Workshop, nothing really original in their productions. This is sad as I do think that Mantic Games could be a major actor of the miniatures world…

    • Osbad

      Have you played any of Mantic’s games? If so you would realise there is no resemblance at all in the gameplay to any of GW’s offerings.

      There may be some passing siliarities in various tropes used, but they were hardly GW’s original ideas (even “fantasy sports” and “Space Marines” weren’t GW’s original ideas) so who cares? You could say they ripped off Tolkien’s, Heinlann’s and the NFL’s ideas? Claiming GW somehow have some moral right to exclusivity just because they are the largest (although not the first) gaming company to use certain archetypes is clearly nonsense.

      Lack of originality is one side of the coin, following popular archetypes is another. Claiming that just because GW have done something it is a waste of time for another company to take a further riff on an given idea is something else entirely.

      Some find that “familiarity” comforting. The size of Mantic’s recent successes in Kickstarter would indicate there is a fair level of support for their products, so I guess they are doing something right!

      • One answer : Spartan Games. They follow popular archetypes without systematically copying Games Workshop…

        This not a question of rules, this is only a question of strategy. If Games Workshop disappears, Mantic Games will not survive. That’s the point.

        • Osbad

          …erm… So you don’t remember Battlefleet Gothic and Man O’ War then? Spartan, good though they are (and I own plenty of their stuff), are not exactly original either. Both could be said to have lent some impetous to Spartan’s first 2 games.

          It’s incredibly difficult to come up with a truly original idea that gains traction in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. There are some successful “original” ideas around (Privateer Press maybe?), but they are pretty few and far between. Many fall by the wayside because people (as a group) often prefer the familiar.

          • begisle

            Not really. There have been many, many large scale space combat and ship combat games. They have been around for decades, heck they’ve been around for centuries.

          • Just answer one question : if Games Workshop disappears, which firm will survive? Mantic Games or Spartan Games?

            This is the point : I don’t blame Mantic Games to have no original idea, I blame it to systematically copy Games Workshop and to “pirate” GW success.

          • Osbad

            I don’t see why if GW failed Mantic would follow? I don’t see that it is any more likely to fail than Spartan would be under the circumstances? The only thing Mantic’s models and GW’s have in common is certain tropes, all of which are common in the fantasy and sci-fi gaming genres. There are many companies making goblins, elves etc. WFB and 40k may be the largest games around at the minute, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of their respective genre gaming. Your point isn’t registering and it depends on an intangible. Where’s the logic?

          • vicg61

            Are you familiar w/ Mantics original inception as a company? From the start, with the release of Elf units, they promoted themselves as an alternative manufacturer for the popular, more expensive fantasy battle game. For cyin’ out loud, the Mantic elves even have a Sea Guard unit to represent GW’s Lothern Sea Guard Elves. If they weren’t copying what were they doing?
            Mantic may have changed tactics MARGINALLY w/ the release of their rules system but even that was written by a GW rules author.
            GW didn’t create wargaming, they only popularized it to a degree no one else has been able to touch. They didn’t create fantasy races, just used them in a creative and original way (OK, Chainmail preceded Warhammer, but they dropped the concept of fantasy wargaming to pursue the rules system as a role playing game instead) and in doing so created the hobby we all are passionate about. Mantic just makes cheaper minis to play the game with and continues to model their product line based on GW’s previous successes. Not saying they should be despised–making the hobby more affordable is a valuable contribution–I just don’t get how folks wanna pretend this isn’t a clone spin off.

          • Osbad

            Certainly I remember the launch. My objection is to those that bandy about terms like “copy” and “unoriginal” and “rip-off” like they were going out of fashion.

            Some elements of similarity do not a copy make. A greater of lesser degree of “inspiration” seems to be de-rigeur in the tabletop wargames world. However, I think it is very unfair every time some company releases a game or model that possesses some passing resemblance to a product another company has produced before (whether or not that company continues to support it) that there are strident cries of “copy” and “hang the witch” before it has even hit the shelves.

            As long as models and games respect IP law, then where’s the problem? The fact that some game concepts or models are less original than others is not a matter of morality than of taste. There are plenty of games and models out there for all of us to feel satisfied. Just look at the historicals world – in September for instance Warlord are producing a new set of WWII rules. Now there are a bazillion sets of WWII rules out there already, so should they not be “permitted” by the community to produce any more just because someone else has already done so? Of course not; that would be preposterous.

            So what’s different about fantasy? GW didn’t invent many (most?) of their tropes. And even if they did, what’s wrong about seeing a new slant on them? Nothing. There is as much virtue in refreshing an old idea as there is in creating a new one.

    • I read that line of argument a lot and I think its a fallacy.

      If Mantic had gone the “all new” aisle, it would be in a similar situation a lot of other small game producers, trying to find a niche on a market heavily dominated by GW and PP. So no, if they would have gone that way, they most likely could never “be a major actor of the miniature world”, at least not in the mass combat segment.

      It was always clear and obvious that Mantic wanted to cut fat meat out of GW’s ribs, by offering compatible miniatures at a lower price. A sound way to guarantee good revenue on a market that is otherwise getting more and more diversified without having to invest heavily into marketing or exposing yourself to big risks.
      Building on that initial success, they can finance the development of game systems which work as a real alternative (Which KoW seems to do, seeing that more and more WHFB players are getting into it).

      It will still always be “the other GW”. If you do not like that, well, that is your right. But Mantic’s success shows that a lot of people were waiting for them.

      Back to topic, I think there are sufficient differences between BB and DB, and the article pointed them out pretty well. This will not prevent the comparisons between BB and DB going on, because Mantic ARE the “other GW”.

      But I am actually looking forward to it.

  • Orca

    Blood Bowl+SpeedBall= Dreadball, nothing really original.

    +1 fbruntz

  • surprize

    If you boil anything down enough then it all looks the same. If we define games as mass combat or skirmish and then “in space”, “swords and axes”, “big robots”, “ships”, “spaceships” & “zombies”. What was the last “original” game released?

    Chess? Mah Jong?

    The point is there are virtually no (if any) truly original concepts in mini wargames at all any more, and even if they were they would probably bomb as everyone wants more space marines.

  • Orca

    New Blood Bowl boxed set now!!! and forget copies 😀

    • Games Workshop doesn’t do secondary games anymore. The best you can hope for is a two team limited edition boxed game. With watered down rules and without support. That’s what happened to Man O’ War.

  • vicg61

    DreadBall? So, I guess we can assume the next gamebox release will be BloodFleet?

    Please people, Mantic is what it is, a disgruntled ex-GW employee riding GW’s coat tails. ‘Nuff said.

    • (Moderators I made a mistake in my last post please delete it. )

      Mantic is what it is: A thorn in GW’s side. Poaching disgruntled ex-GW fans hanging on GW’s coat tails.

      Mantic is influenced by what it’s fans want. People were asking for chaos dwarfs, and squats, and sci fi blood bowl. If GW big and arrogant enough to afford to ignore pleas of fans, Mantic doesn’t have the same luxury.

      • Osbad

        And with a $300k+ Kickstarter under its belt… those are some choice tails! In this game, the only sin is unpopularity. If people like the models and want to buy them, then why the heck not?

      • Kolonel K

        I don’t think it’s hanging on GW’s coat-tails, as much as exploiting GW’s unwillingness to listen to their fans. Mantic have identified a way to capture sales that would otherwise go into the second hand market – it’s hardly poaching if a company refuses to sell you something that you want to buy.

    • AKE

      I’m waiting for their other new games Orcagorka and Dwarves In The Pantry.

      • vicg61

        If Ronnie is reading this you can expect it for the Holidays!

  • Kraan

    Are the rules different from Blood Bowl? Are they entertaining
    Yes – No – Maybe
    Are the minis the same value quality/price as Sedition Wars or Relic Knights ?
    Yes – No – Maybe

    Said that, do you care of the rip-off if it’s a fun game with nice pieces?

    If only originality matters, then more than half of the games we play would be off limits.

  • On a slightly off topic note: While I think the DreadBall miniatures look really fantastic, does anyone else think the bases look too small or incomplete? Why do the dwarfs feet hang off the edges? Do the bases possibly fit into other bases or rings that we haven’t seen yet? With such great miniatures, I just wish Mantic didn’t neglect the foundation of them…

    • cybogoblin

      That’s actually how Mantic make their bases. The model comes attached to a small round base which then slots into either a square or round base.

      I guess they’ve left the larger bases out of this game to save space on the board, or maybe they’re working on some hex bases that match the game board.

  • Jon F

    I have high hopes that this will be a game with the pace and feel of Speedball 2.

    Except for the part where you buy that moustachioed star midfielder, stamp on the opposition and just camp on one of those two-point scoring bubbles.

  • Nivanti

    Blood bowl as good as it is looks tired as Gw had neglected it like it has all its other specialist games. If another company is prepared to revamp and polish something that’s been left to decay why not support it and them.

    Maybe if they treated there staff better all these people wouldn’t have left and created the many games that are now available.

    You could say sedition wars is a space hulk, Dreadball is a blood bowl but who cares, if it’s improved and better then the original then so be it.

    Get over it fanboys

    • Nightbee

      Blood Bowl’s rules were constantly revised and balanced up until a few years ago. Also, there are any number of companies producing Fantasy Football miniatures. Just because GW decides to neglect a game, that doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.

  • shyvax

    I never played any Mantic games, and I havent try DreadBall, but I can say that it look like BB a bit too much. It does look like they are trying to fill a gap. And I think they are right doing so!
    Regardless if it isn’t completely original, those guys are trying to answer a large section of gamers.
    GW say no more Specialist Games, fair enough, that doesnt mean specialist games should die.
    I have always like GW, and there new W40K looks fantastic, but their politic toward ‘side’ games isnt filling my needs.
    Maybe when the thorn will be so big, that they can t ignore it, they’ll start listening to the ‘specialist gamers’. in waiting for that, we ll be playing DB, and maybe BloodFleet, who knows ^^

  • phoenixman

    who cares if it resembles another game on the market, people will or will not buy it based on price, minis, the game itself, not whether its better or worse than bloodbowl but is it a good enough game to spend cash on and do i like the models etc.

    as to GW, where did they get the idea for warhammer fantasy from???? was it from D&D by any chance, as even their mag white dwarf was pretty much totally focussed on D&D players, and they made minis for this which developed into WHF as far as i remember reading some years ago. then came 40k and so on and so on.

    so really no company has any reason to shout and scream about ideas when these genres have been around far longer than any company who cares to moan about copyright and such.

    you dont hear from the descendents of bram stoker moaning about vampire counts and copyright.

    i will certainly try and play a game of it and if i like it enough i’ll buy a copy and i have NEVER owned or even played bloodbowl, but i love american football which it’s based on.

    • Nightbee

      Why would you try this, if you’ve never found time to try Blood Bowl?

      • cybogoblin

        Because, unlike Blood Bowl, this game may end up actually being purchasable at my local gaming store.

        In the last decade or more, I’ve only seen Blood Bowl on sale once, for about a week or so before it sold out. Yes, you can download the rules for free from GW, but people are generally hesitant to get into a game if it isn’t fully supported by the manufacturer.

        Local people still play Mordheim and Necromunda, but they’re not getting any new players for this very reason. And those are games where you can easily proxy miniatures with existing products. That’s not as easy with Blood Bowl.

  • phoenixman

    i say good one Mantic for putting effort into a game another company has plenty of players for yet just like their historical side they have seemed to have ditched and disregard the following the game has had for many many years.

    best of luck guys, go for it.

  • revoltgames

    Is their a PDF on the DB rules? On originality I’m Along the lines of well not many things are. I just don’t like clone copies of games. Haven’t played bb in years. Maybe just me but I just see BB teams in different armor in a game called Dread Ball.

    I’m assuming dwarf are slow and better armoured, the rats are agile and fast. Humans good all rounders. Orcs, well the same as the bb Orc team right? I see two figs that look like black orcs… Am I missing something here? The Orc poses seem distantly similar to the bb black orks, is this deliberate?

    The soda pop stuff, reaper and sedition wars stuff I backed seem at least via the pics in my opinion to be of better quality. But it could be just poor quality pics taken by Mantic. The small bases I can deal with. The big thing for me is the rules set. If the rules in full are great I’m in and better pics of the models.

    I hope they release the rules via PDF might clear up allot misunderstandings. Otherwise it is blind purchase in terms of rules I will avoid, untill I get a demo.

  • vicg61

    Hey, to each their own. If you prefer the subtle differences, great.
    I just wish that people w/ original concepts were pulling $300K, like the kickstarter for Wreck-Age, for example. If Mantic fills a niche market, bully for Ronnie. Just sucks for the industry that “poaching disgruntled fans” w/ the same old armies is rewarded over spending a couple years developing new concepts, hybrid rules systems and new ideas.

    • Kolonel K

      That’s the benefit of Kickstarter, you immediately have a gauge for who wants to buy your product. Original concepts aren’t always going to be instantly great sellers (just look at Ex Illis). There have been a lot of potentially good and original games that have been released and very rapidly fallen by the wayside, maybe the Kickstarter model saves everyone the pain of buying into (or developing) a system that will flounder months after release?

      I’m considering backing this one. I used to love Blood Bowl, but found that successive revisions sucked more and more fun out of the game, as it moved from being a decent beer and pretzels game into a serious tournament system. I’m hoping Dreadball will have that level of sanity that 2nd and 3rd ed had (before the LRB days).

      I make no comment on the originality of Mantic’s works, everything is stolen from somewhere. All I care about is how good the finished product is, regardless of its source.

      • Man, I cannot agree more. I think Blood Bowl was at its best around 3rd ed, and gradually just got less fun as the versions progressed.

  • Nivanti

    Hit the nail on the head!

    If you watch the video you’ll see concepts for what look like 3 very different teams, I’ve backed but can easily unback if this game doesn’t take the path I want it too.

  • Agreed. The only thing we could “reproach” to Mantic is filling a gap, somthing that misses, in present GW’s offer. This may be : affordable minis, new stand alone games and boardgames that are not “limited edition” runs lacking ongoing support from GW etc…
    But if we accept to reproach this to Mantic we should also ask ourselves why these things are missing now from GW, why, and who should we place the blame on in the first place?
    Finally, if Mantic was doing rip offs from GW’s IP they would certainly already have received a cease and desist letter and much more!

    • Nightbee

      The difference between this and Space Hulk/Man’O’War/40k/Warhammer, is that Blood Bowl is a fairly popular game with models available at many price points from any number of manufacturers. Without the effort put forth by those companies, none of which have gotten rich through their ventures, the market for this sort of game would be almost nonexistent.

      • Right. But who blames Blood Bowl proxy manufacturers for giving us such nice minis when there is no resculpts from GW? Nobody’s accusing them of ripping off GW’s IP or lacking creativity ;o)
        On the other hand you have Mordheim which a (bit aging) good skirmish game with some good fan support an unofficial add ons. But would GW care for a game that can be played with any competitor’s Fantasy miniature lines and which does not imply to sell tons of minis (being a skirmish game)?

        • Nightbee

          Well, I’ve not blamed Mantic for that, either (though I realize many others have). I couldn’t possibly care less about someone ripping off GW. I care about Mantic destablizing a niche market that can’t take many knocks.

          I don’t know, maybe this will cause mainstream gamers to come into contact with Blood Bowlers, and the market will expand for everyone.