Dreadball vs Blood Bowl pt. 1

Dreadball vs Blood Bowl pt. 1

While there is a bit of a lull on my painting progress, I thought I would get started on this article that some people expressed interest in. Painting minis has resumed a tiny bit, but ever so slowly (even by my standards). I don’t think it makes much sense to attempt weekly mini painting posts right now, but I still planning on posting some progress as I go. Hopefully the future will be a bit more exciting than ‘here’s another base layer of hair….’.

Dreadball vs Blood Bowl

This post is way past ‘after the fact’, but some people on the talkfantasyfootball.org forums expressed interest anyways. A lot of this is (as usual) is just my personal opinion and experience as a whole. Games Workshop (GW) released the newest version of Blood Bowl in 2016 (BB16), without a whole lot of changes. Dreadball (DB) 2nd edition Kickstarter was funded and was slated for a July 2017 release. That was awhile ago, but I would guess that they would have something by early next year it is available: now.  I don’t know what the changes are between DB1 and DB2, but it’s possible some of this critique is still relevant between BB16 and DB.

Theme: Fantasy vs SciFi

This one’s pretty basic, but for me I have tended to prefer laser pistols and light sabers over Orcs and Elves. Maybe it was all those years of D&D that made me bored with Fantasy. It could have been all the books I read, especially the Elven songs in Tolkien’s books, ugh. At any rate, when I heard the news of a SciFi Football style game, I was pretty damn excited. Teams like “The Coporation” reminded me of stuff straight out of SciFi books. The other starting teams were all Fantasy races in space (ala Warhammer 40k). This might be a good time to mention, that I’ve never played Warhammer or 40k, so at first I didn’t even realize that Mantic was essentially starting their own WH40K line. Especially since I first learned of their games starting with Dreadball. Then Deadzone, which I thought was sort of a skirmish game, like Necromunda. Necromunda being one of the Games Workshop (GW) games that I’ve always been interested in playing. It was somewhere around the Dreadball Kickstarter that I think it dawned on me that they were copying what GW had done. I’ve seen games copied in the past, and sometimes they turn out a lot better. But if you look at Warpath and WH40K, the races are way too similar. Like I said, I haven’t played either, so there are probably way more differences that I’m unaware of.

[+1 for DB]


I have to say this is one area that really lured me into DB at the time. The miniatures looked amazing. Seeing new, fresh, SciFi football minis really had me drooling. Nothing was really coming out for Blood Bowl at the time of DB’s launch, so this was all new and exciting stuff to me.

My big introduction to gaming was through Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and this quickly led to fantasy miniatures. Actually, I discovered the minis first through a friend, which really made me want to play D&D. In the D&D miniature realm, I mainly found models by Grenadier and Ral Partha. Ral Partha had the best looking minis of the two and are kind of my benchmark for minis.

Due to my initial exposure to Ral Partha minis, I was never a huge fan of the chunky GW minis and the overly cartoonish looks of early GW minis. They looked ugly to me. The GW minis would eventually grow on me, but there is still a part of me that thinks minis should look less like caricatures and a little more realistic.

At this point, you’re probably going “Ok, +1 to DB for their minis.”.  Nope. While they looked amazing in the Kickstarter photos, upon receiving them I had a totally different opinion. I found them very small (having gotten used to painting GW Blood Bowl minis) and I couldn’t make them look anything like the pictures I was seeing online. This was my first experience in realizing that professional painters can make a piece of dog crap look good. And some of the minis were just about that. Due to the plastic/resin they were using, mold lines were hard to remove, often in really bad places. I think it was either DB or Deadzone that had a mini or two with a mold line down the face. Details were often too soft on the resin. I also ran into some troubles with priming and then trying to restrip the minis. Ran into more issues with the multipart pieces, where some parts had melted, warped, didn’t fit right into sockets. Parts were very tiny and hard to identify. Documentation was also pretty much non-existent. No paper diagrams on how to put the minis together (most were fairly easy), but worse yet was no labelling and often you had multiple mini pieces all in the same bag.

My experience with Blood Bowl miniatures on the whole has been good. Most were single piece minis in the older editions. The newest edition does have multipart models, but they include diagrams and each piece is numbered on the sprue. I haven’t liked most of the ForgeWorld models but the GW plastic minis have been good. I’d say the one exception is the new Troll, which has a hand covering his face. Poor pose and it was a pain putting that one together.

[+1 for BB]


Dreadball uses d6s. They come in three colors: red, white, and blue. Yawn.

Blood Bowl uses a small variety of dice, but has some d6s with different symbols on them called “blocking dice”.

They are so addictive (or dreaded, depending on what you roll). There have been promotional blocking dice released in a variety of colors, that people like to collect. The newest edition of BB has also started releasing dice that match the colors of a given team. So you have green w/red Gouged Eye Orc dice set or Blue with Gold Reikland Reavers, etc. The newer symbols on the dice take a little getting used to, but I love the colors.

A standard 6 sided die for all your rolls is a move towards streamlining in the DB game, and I appreciate that. I think a d8 might have been a bit better for variability. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or whatnot, but the Blood Bowl dice, mainly the notorious Block dice, are way more appealing to me. Maybe they make it feel a bit different than just rolling a bunch of ability checks like in more rpgs/boardgames.

[+1 for BB]


Blood Bowl has a fantasy pitch with a green grass field. Then there are separate dugout cards with turn keeping and scoring.

Dreadball has a scifi looking board with tracking and dugouts all on the same board. I have to say the size of the Dreadball board is great, as it is a bit compact and more easily portable. The dugout placement sometimes gets in the way a little, but that’s how they managed to make things more compact.

Both companies have made additional boards beyond what comes in the boxed set. Dreadball even has customizable boards that you can use with multiple players. I haven’t played multiplayer Dreadball, so I’m not sure how that affects the overall game. I’ve heard of people playing their own multiplayer Blood Bowl games, and that it is rather long.

Gameboard size and amount of clutter also directly relates to the number and size of miniatures on the board. DB can get away with smaller boards, because there are not as many players on a team and the minis are a bit smaller. Overall I do like the size of the Dreadball board for the number of minis they use and it is a very nice design.

Going with just the basic boards included in the games, I’m giving this one to DB.

[+1 for DB]


That wraps up part 1 of 2 3, for my Dreadball vs Blood Bowl post. Stay tuned for part 2 and find out who wins in the epic battle! Feel free to leave comments on your experiences with either games below.

Click here for: Dreadball vs. Blood Bowl part 2

9 thoughts on “Dreadball vs Blood Bowl pt. 1

  1. Considering how many ex GW employees either worked for or designed Mantic game sets I’m unsurprised a lot of the games are similar. I mainly know about the fantasy side (Alessio for KOW and Jake Thornton for their dungeon crawler) but not sure who designed DB. It would be interesting to know if it was someone worked closely with Jervis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I didn’t realize most of them were ex-GW. Jake Thornton is credited as designer for Dreadball and James Hewitt is also listed for various roles on DB. James, worked on BB2016 as well. So it sound like some of them split off to form Mantic Games and then came back? I guess there might be some interesting stories behind all that.

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      1. I don’t know if they all are. It could be just coincidence that the two games I tried had ex gw staff influence. I think Jake was an independent designer rather than working for them direct. It would be interesting to find out the history behind it all though

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