A while ago, I put up a post about ways to make your DreadBall experience a bit beefier. Pathfinder Rob T, who does a sterling job of running Mantic events in the Buckinghamshire area, was inspired to pick up a custom arena from FF Fields. He’s written about his experiences, and asked me to share it on the blog. Who was I to argue? Take it away, Rob!

For a while now I have been considering purchasing a custom pitch for DreadBall, even though I have lacked the creative know how and ability to design my own. Especially given that there are some really nice mat designs out there. 

This arena is available to download from the Files section of the DreadBall Fanatics Facebook group.

For example, the Neo-Tek Tesla Dome, by Shawn Grubaugh.

However, as mentioned, my graphic design skills are not that good and I just had not found the type of pitch that I wanted, so I put the idea to one side. Then something happened as we started the new year. rumours began to circulate of a new DreadBall expansion – something about outdoor pitches, weather, cheerleaders. This was followed by details of a new MVP:  A’teo “The Savage” Adysi, the first (and currently only) Yndij to play the game.

With my interest piqued, and an underlying desire to be a bit individual, my thoughts began to turn back towards the idea of a custom pitch. Around that time I made a visit to the Daventry Vaulters, a well-know bastion for players of another popular tabletop sports game, where I was able to see first-hand some custom pitches made by FF Fields (who conveniently hold a license to produce DreadBall pitches). Having seen the quality of their rubber pitches I decided that this was the way to go!

The next step was simple; I contacted FF Fields and gave them a simple brief, asking to incorporate two images: the Azure Forest logo and the painted trophy. I picked these as, to me, they encompass the core of the new series, and I wanted something special. I received a response within two working days, and after a brief conversation about pricing and copyright on the images, they started work on the pitch. It was a further seven days before I got to see the first draft, but it was worth the wait.

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As you can see, the pitch is beautiful. It’s very characterful, and included both of the images I had requested. With full control over the editorial process I responded with a list of changes that I wanted to be made, namely:

  • Adding shield logos to the score track as well as the turn track;
  • Adding a vine around the four hexes surrounding each entry hex;
  • Adding something to mark the ball launch hexes – something like a base from baseball;
  • Numbering around the ref hex for use when the ball scatters.

I sent this along with an edited version of the image that showed roughly what I meant. From this point on contact was constant and replies were quick, and in less than 12 hours I received a revised pitch.

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Again, I was very happy with the image. However I wanted a few amendments, such as the colour of the ball entry markers to match the chalk images on the pitch and the player entrances to be marked with a boot print instead of the current symbol. Within less than an hour I received the next version of the pitch – again, the work was outstanding, but the size of the boot print bothered me as it seemed out of proportion to the rest of the pitch and the models that would be playing on it (although I am sure it would be about the right size for a giant player). I asked for the boot to be shrunk and a second to be placed in the hex as if in a running motion, and the response put us onto version 4 of the pitch.

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The changes to the boot prints worked, but something still did not seem quite right. It took me a while to figure out, especially as it was such a small thing, but when I spotted it I wondered why I had not noticed it before. With the player entrance hex being the place where players entered the field, why was it still such a lush green? I sent an email requesting this small change, and the fifth and final version of the DreadBall pitch followed soon after.

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And there we have it! The pitch has been sent to Mantic HQ for final approval before printing and the whole process has taken less than two weeks from the initial enquiry. The whole experience has been most enjoyable, especially the anticipation of how the pitch would look with the latest changes. It will probably still be about two weeks before I have it in my hands, once you take into account printing and shipping from Italy, so now it is time to camp out by the door waiting for this beaut of a pitch to be delivered!

Thanks Rob! I’ll agree that it’s looking awesome. FF Fields provides an awesome service at a very reasonable price, so drop them a line if you’d like your own custom DreadBall arena!

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