Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Pocket Sports Gridiron» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Pocket Sports Gridiron Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ian Murphy
Spain
flag msg tools
Presentation
Unlike their predecessors, the games in the latest batch of Pocket Sports releases (which also include Ice Hockey and Cycling) no longer come in the traditional drawstring bag. Instead, they’re packaged in a small, slim cardboard box, a plastic window clearly displaying their contents. In some ways, this is a shame, as the cloth pouch was a trademark of the whole Pocket Sports series. However, it does make practical sense, as the current generation of titles also sees the introduction of new, bulkier materials in the shape of attractive team and scoreboard cards (more on those later). In any case, one of the main premises on which the brand was founded, i.e. that the games themselves can be carried around in your pocket, is in no way undermined, as the new packaging remains eminently portable, and the boxes still bear the characteristic action logos depicting the sport in question. The dice themselves are worthy of merit, as they mark a return to the laser-engraved components of the early days, yet provide a combination of different colors on a single die. The latter feature was first introduced in last year’s crop of games, using printed dice that, while aesthetically pleasing, lacked the quality - and durability - of their etched-text counterparts. Those who like to sip refreshments and munch on greasy snacks while playing will particularly appreciate this return to type!

Gameplay
All of the above is superfluous, of course, if the game itself fails to make the grade, and let‘s face it, the competition is intense. Football is one of the most frequently-imitated sports in board gaming history, with a checkered legacy of successes and failures. Some will always prefer stat-based simulations involving seasons of real facts and figures, while others are seduced by attractively-printed playing fields and magnetic footballs. Pocket Gridiron has neither. Instead, it offers the chance to play a four-quarter match in twenty minutes (slightly longer in Pro mode) without the need to consult complicated charts and rulebooks or keep track of a myriad of markers.

The team in possession has four downs in which to get points (a TD or Field Goal) on the board before handing the ball over. Field position and yards to go are not simulated here - think of it as a highlights package in which both teams have two possessions per quarter rather than as a full match.

Seven dice alone dictate the outcome in the Basic game. Four of these represent the key players on the offense, namely the Quarterback, Running Back, Tight End and Wide Receiver, while the remaining three handle the Defense, Penalty Flags and Touchdown Decisions. A roll of the QB die (the dice are color coded; a few downs are sufficient to get to grips with which does what) will determine whether he hands off to the RB, throws to the TE or WR, or tries to make the necessary yards himself. The “Scramble” face will leave the QB open to a sack and even a safety!

Once the strategy has been determined, the Quarterback’s teammates will usually be called into action, their corresponding dice signaling plays such as “Hitch”, “Post” or “Sweep”, to name but a few, each of which carry an “Intensity” value ranging from the easily-combated “Counter” (4) to the almost-unstoppable “Stop and Go” (8) (the disappointment of an “Incomplete” pass and a recovered “Fumble“ are also here). The opponent must now match or better this value with a maximum of two throws of a Defense die featuring numbers between 1 and 5, otherwise the Offense will earn the chance to be rewarded with a “Touchdown“, denied by a video “Review”, or frustrated by an “Out of Bounds” call. The fact that each Offense die has different outcomes, with realistically-named plays for the position it simulates, turns each possession into a running commentary of the action, and the satisfaction of thwarting a big play (possibly even injuring an opponent in the process!) is immense. The simplicity of the game mechanics should ensure that players of all ages and levels of familiarity with the sport itself are quickly immersed in the action. What is more, the inclusion of an attractive scoreboard card means that points can be recorded by simply moving small wooden cubes, thus avoiding the need for pen and paper.

The purists, meanwhile, will be comforted by the fact that such intricacies as missed point after attempts, two-point conversions, face-masking penalties and false starts are all implemented with remarkable simplicity and logic. But there’s more.

Pro mode is a slightly longer version of the game that brings the team cards mentioned earlier into play. Four are included, all featuring fictional teams kitted out in varying colors with different offensive/defensive strengths and set plays. This adds greater scope to decision making and introduces further outcomes such as “Interceptions” and “Decoys” to the proceedings. Die-hard fans of the sport will probably jump straight in at the deep end anyway as I did, but it’s nice that beginners and younger players can be spared having to factor in these extra considerations if so desired - at least until they‘re ready to move up a gear…

Verdict
While Pocket Sports Gridiron probably won’t convince lovers of such classics as “Strat-o-Matic” and “1st and Goal” to abandon the delights of detailed simulation played out almost in real time, it may well provide them with a quick-fix alternative that is nevertheless immensely entertaining and becomes surprisingly competitive as the quarters advance. For those lacking the patience, time or budget for more complex incarnations, this inexpensive game provides an ingeniously accessible option that can be played just about anywhere. The relatively simple components prove to be a boon rather than a hindrance, as players ultimately make up for the missing visuals themselves with their increasingly frantic commentary. Previous “dice-only” attempts at portraying this great sport have tended to be woefully simplistic and almost entirely lacking in strategy. Pocket Sports Gridiron definitely bucks that trend.
12 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hamish Sterling
Australia
Cairns
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
Hey,thanks for the review Ian. It certainly makes me happy when people enjoy our indie games!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Murphy
Spain
flag msg tools
Just telling it like it is - this is a great little game that deserves a wider audience!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Rabinowitz
United States
Columbia
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Previous “dice-only” attempts at portraying this great sport have tended to be woefully simplistic and almost entirely lacking in strategy. Pocket Sports Gridiron definitely bucks that trend.

I read over the basic rules (not pro mode) and I'm confused. Where exactly is there any strategy? It looks like you roll dice and then roll more dice and then the other player rolls dice. You don't even get to choose which dice to roll. It doesn't look like you get to make any decisions at all, let alone strategic decisions.

Please explain how this game "bucks the trend" of "entirely lacking in strategy".
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hamish Sterling
Australia
Cairns
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
kc2dpt wrote:
Quote:
Previous “dice-only” attempts at portraying this great sport have tended to be woefully simplistic and almost entirely lacking in strategy. Pocket Sports Gridiron definitely bucks that trend.

I read over the basic rules (not pro mode) and I'm confused. Where exactly is there any strategy? It looks like you roll dice and then roll more dice and then the other player rolls dice. You don't even get to choose which dice to roll. It doesn't look like you get to make any decisions at all, let alone strategic decisions.

Please explain how this game "bucks the trend" of "entirely lacking in strategy".

Hi Peter, first, you are right about rolling dice. That's the common theme in our Pocket Sports series and most of the time it's like you are commentating on the game as the dice unfold the actions.

The standard game is exactly that. A fast, football fix that invokes a live call of the game by players, a theme that runs across all our titles.

In Pro Mode however, you do have the choice of selecting which dice to roll from the QB's 'Audible' set play roll result.

You can then consult your team card to see what are their favoured plays and select to roll either the RB, TE, WR or Kick for a field goal.

You can also decide whether to accept or decline penalties depending on the route being played.

Those familiar with our series know 'deep strategy' lies elsewhere in plenty of other games. I would like to suggest trying the game before passing judgement on it

I'm waiting on a few US based reviewers to receive copies of the game so hopefully soon there'll be a couple opinions more.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Murphy
Spain
flag msg tools
Well, Hamish seems to have beaten me to it, but I'd like to add a couple of comments to what he's already pointed out.

In Basic Mode, the decisions are:

a) Deciding whether to accept or decline a penalty. For example, on third down, the offense rolls "Wide receiver" then "Hitch (7)". The defense rolls a two, then "Flag". The flag turns up "Offside (def)". The offense may now choose to decline the flag and ask the defense to roll a second time, knowing that only a maximum 5 will thwart a touchdown opportunity. On the other hand, given that this is the penultimate down, he may opt instead to accept the penalty and reset to first down (this is just one of several such scenarios that can occur during the game).

b) Kicking field goals. On 4th down, the offense must decide whether to run a normal play and go for a TD, or try for a field goal by rolling a 5 or 6 (i.e. a one in three chance). They can also opt to kick a field goal BEFORE 4th down if the "Set Play +1" face is rolled (this is explained in the rules sheet).

c) Going for a 2-point conversion after a TD (this is also explained in the rules sheet).

To expand a little on what Hamish said, Pro Mode adds to this by distinguishing between the teams, granting them different offensive strengths that can be taken advantage of whenever "Audible" is rolled on the QB die, and weaknesses that can be exploited by the defense of certain opponents. All of this depends on which card you choose (though I actually prefer to deal them out randomly). For example, if you play as the Kodiaks, you have a highly-balanced offense, with special plays that can be activated for 3 different positions (RB, TE and WR). The WR has more chance of making a huge gain, but at the same time has a greater probability of an incomplete pass than the TE, while the RB obviously can't suffer an incompletion (or be intercepted like his two teammates). On the other hand, the Ospreys have a star running back, so all three offensive special plays are geared to him. However, if the RB gets injured during the game, you now have to decide whether to keep going to him or avoid him, as all of his plays will now be subject to a one-point deduction as a result of his injury.
Defensively speaking, Pro Mode also specifies one passing play that your guys are especially adept at covering, thus offering them a chance of an interception if a certain skill rating can be rolled.

Obviously, this is not veteran Head Coach stuff (as I think I made clear in the review). However, nor is it merely a case of rolling the die and seeing what happens next every single time, which has tended to be the way with previous dice-only games.

I hope this helps.
Cheers.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls