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Subject: 1st & Goal: My 38th ranked game rss

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Mike Amos
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I've only played two American Football boardgame, Pizza Box Football and 1st & Goal. Pizza Box Football did not do it for me at all. I got to play 1st & Goal and I think it saved football games for me.

1st & Goal comes with some pretty great components. The board and field pieces are magnetic, which include a ball to mark progress and down markers (ya' know, to mark downs). It also comes with a couple duds in the form of clear plastic markers to mark time outs and score. It also comes with colored dice and stickers to mark those dice. These seem like duds as well but I suspect that having the dice custom made to show the numbers would have been pretty expensive (kickstarter guys?) Finally, it comes with two decks of cards, offensive plays and defensive plays.

The game play is simple and if you understand how American Football works, should be intuitive shorty into the first game. Each player has a hand of cards. He or she selects the play they want to run. When a player is on defense, the card will show every possible offensive play and what dice the offensive player will roll as a result. When a player is on offense the cards shows all of the defensive plays and dice to be rolled. This seems like a nice concession to people who don't already know the names of plays and what it translates to on the field. Both players reveal the cards and the resolution of the down begins.

A down is resolved by collecting the correct colored dice based on the cards revealed. The dice are quietly ingenious in this game. Each colored die has specific values. The dice that tend to be used for short runs will have low numbers but they will be consistent. The dice that tend to be used for long pass plays will have a couple large numbers, a couple small numbers (the dump off) and some zeros or negative numbers to show a sac. The dice also determine the likelihood of a penalty or a break away play. The dice are also what the team expansions are all about, weighting different teams with different strengths and weaknesses.

The game plays out over two halves where each half is one time through the offense deck. Possession is handled exactly as one might expect, you get four downs to move ten yards. When you succeed you get four more downs, when you fail you can punt, go for a field goal or turn over on downs. Each team has timeouts that allow them to refresh their hand or pull a card from the discard. Also, the clock of a run play is simulated by the discarding of an extra offense card.

This game is nearly the perfect simulation of any Madden video game so to the extent that those simulate football, this is a good football simulator. I think the game is extremely cleverly designed and walks the line of simulation versus game very well, given the right parts of each.

I do have a couple minor gripes though, the first was already mentioned - why did they drop the ball (Do you see what I did there?) on the components. I'll accept the sticker dice (although I'd pay for better) but the score and time out markers are garbage and should be replaced with either magnetic markers or dials that can be turned. My two other gripes are a bit more significant, first, this game is too long for what it is. It's almost like they balanced the game to play out in exactly the time that it takes for me to watch a football game while I play it. I feel like this should be an hour at most. My biggest gripe though is that because of the randomness of the dice and the cards a player who is just drawing blindly and playing what they draw can pretty much keep pace with a player who is trying his or her hardest. This makes it more accessible to non-football fans but it makes it a bit too random to feel like it's worth putting in all that effort. I'm not sure how best to mitigate this problem but I do feel it should be addressed.

All in all, I really like 1st & Goal and wish that I could find people to commit to the 2 hours with me more often. It think it's clever and well built. It'd like to see the wild edges tamed just a bit but I don't think that people should avoid the game.
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Musashi Dynamo
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Hey,
Cool review Nice to see people giving it a go.

Regarding the components, just a comment. I'm not sure how many print runs there have been so far, but my copy i bought 1 and a half months ago has custom die - i still have die with stickers in the two expansions i have so far, but the ones in the box remind me of the kind of die you'd get in Quarriors, for example.
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Mike Amos
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That is an interesting note. My copy will soon be a year old, it sounds like they've made the upgrade.
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Dave Bullions
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Re: The dice: The sticker dice are only in the expansions. They probably sell in lower numbers than the base game, so not worthwhile to tool up for custom dies.
Re: Length of game: Simple answer, shorten the pack. I often play using half the pack for the first half, and the other half of the pack for the second half. You will get a lower score line of course, but does that really matter?
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Mike Amos
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Dave, the base game dice did used to be sticker dice. As Dixi pointed out above, that appears to have changed since my edition. I don't know if people can tell when they buy their copy but it's worth trying to make sure you get the newer edition.
I have considered the shortened deck but not tried it. Did you feel like it changed the balance at all? Did you randomly pick half or did you make sure the plays were equally distributed?
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