Pete Belli
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Rose Bowl Computerized Football is a gridiron strategy game published in 1970 by E.S. Lowe. This is not an electronic game; the "analog computer" is a system of play selection gears which determine the outcome of the action at the line of scrimmage. Rose Bowl Computerized Football is designed for two players but the rules suggest that the option for a team of coaches is possible... what meaningful decision that team could possibly make during a session is a mystery to us.

This is a high quality product with little plastic goal posts and a nice "stadium" game board. The basic rules of the game follow the structure of American college football. There are four quarters. Each quarter essentially consists of 15 offensive plays. Elements like kick-offs, punts, interceptions, fumbles, and extra points are included. During our retro-cool 1970s session Head Coach Mrs. Belli led the Boilermakers from Purdue University while I coached USC, the representative of the Pacific Conference.






In many football strategy games the player on offense secretly chooses a play while the player on defense picks a hidden formation intended to stop the option selected by the team with possession of the ball. In most cases the offensive coach decides to run a play suited to the situation on the field. For example, if it is 3rd Down and long yardage a passing play might be selected. Keeping this in mind, the defending coach will attempt to guess what the other team is going to do, and choose a formation designed to disrupt a pass play.

Once the ball is snapped most football strategy board games compare the secret choice for an offensive play with the concealed formation picked by the defense, then determine a result with clear plastic grids, cards, a roll of the dice, or some other method. While no conventional board game can reproduce the tension of real gridiron action these systems frequently lead players in the direction of solid football tactics and a fundamentally sound play experience. If this occurs during a session of Rose Bowl Computerized Football it will probably be the result of random chance.






Rose Bowl Computerized Football is based on the plastic "analog computer" device. This system includes two INPUT dials, one for each player. The home team's dial is printed with the numbers 0 through 7 while the visiting team's wheel is printed with the numbers 1 through 8 so the total when the result is determined by the computer can be anything from 1 to 15 on the READ OUT dial. The number selected by each coach is hidden from the opposing player. The door on the concealed READ OUT dial is only lifted after both coaches have made a selection.

This game uses an odd turn sequence. The coach with possession of the ball announces a play. For example, in a short yardage situation the coach might indicate that the team will execute a Power Play Center in an attempt to gain a 1st Down. The selection of a suitable play can be important Rose Bowl Computerized Football but the random nature of the INPUT results makes a mockery of any coach's game plan. A carefully crafted football strategy challenge provides both players with cruel dilemmas and a constant pattern of bluff and double bluff as each coach tries to outthink the other. This is not likely when Rose Bowl Computerized Football is on the table.






As I mentioned earlier, the coach with possession of the ball announces a play. There is a large Play Chart with a grid possible results including yards gained, yards lost, fumbles, interceptions, etc. There is some logic to selecting the most advantageous play since a run will often gain fewer yards than a pass. This is where the relevance of the system ends because the rotating INPUT dials do not add any strategic elements to the game. For example, it is not possible for a defending coach to make a conscious decision to risk a long pass while attempting to jam things up at the line of scrimmage. Since both players are manipulating the rotating dials the random number generated is largely a wild guess or (at best) an awkward attempt to steer the result to the high or low end of the spectrum. We dubbed our session the "Random Bowl" because the play experience was dull and dreary.

Aside from that, the presentation was crisp. Bookkeeping is simple with helpful indicators for each category. Running the "time clock" was a simple matter of paying attention. Our epic Random Bowl session was marred by turnovers but Purdue tied the game 14-14 when the University of Socialist California defense collapsed as time expired. Head Coach Mrs. Belli was mildly perturbed because the rules do not permit a player to attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown.

I enjoy playing vintage titles and have a weakness for retro-cool games about football or baseball. Rose Bowl Computerized Football looked great in the box and seemed like it would provide an interesting play experience. However, the random nature of the game's narrative ruined whatever thematic feel the design contained. This game will be recycled at the local thrift store next week.
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Pete Belli
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Since the BGG image upload system has been fixed, here is a view of the game during play:

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