Great questions! Stephen did a good job of answering them, and I'll just add to what he said.
The 7-vs-7 modes definitely fall on the Blitz side of the spectrum. This is obviously the case in INFERNO mode where you can earn fire tokens by not running into the end zone with the ball, showboating, dog piling on other downed players after the play is over [or during the play] and then use those tokens to catch of fire, buy special abilities, improve skill check, improve movement rates, and more!
It has been fun to see the info from Gen Con (both the anatomy of a play and the recent video).Thanks! That video definitely could have been better. Demoing and talking about my games is sort of like 'my thing', and I got in front of the camera [first video interview] and rushed it. Still fun though!
As mentioned already, anytime that you are playing 8-vs-8 the field goal rules are in effect. The field goal rules add elements of both clock control and managing field position. This impacts play calling and on both sides of the ball.
2) The video mentions "the base game doesn't have field goals" but are there official variants that add more simulation?
4) I recall there being a Pro 8-vs-8 mode - besides the number of players, does that add anything else toward making it more "Madden-like"? How?
Interestingly, the 8-vs-8 Pro mode with no special abilities feels the most like a pure simulation. It's not about any rules that it adds, but instead on how it changes the dynamics of the game. It slows the pace down, and it's much harder to both move the ball and get into the opposing teams backfield. Gains from running the ball are much harder to come by unless you're pretty good and putting together really solid play calls. Play calling overall is much more deliberate, and putting together an effective play requires a better understanding of both how the game works and what the opposing coach is going to try to do. It's also more forgiving defensively when you blitz. In 7-vs-7, if you blitz and miss the tackle, most offensive coaches are going to be able to capitalize with a very large gain. In 8-vs-8, if you blitz early and miss the tackle, the offense will certainly have you at a disadvantage, but it's much easier to recover and force them work harder to turn it into a big gain. You still have a chance to run them down and tackle them in the backfield.
8-vs-8 Pro mode becomes more about details and subtleties. For example, I can tell with pretty high predicability if an offensive receiver is running a route in order to: be the primary receiving option, clear the area for a pass to another receiver underneath, clear to area for a running play/screen pass/delayed release, or as a QB read option [think wildcat/option/read offense]. None of this is about rules or special abilities, it's about watching the path taken, looking at the position of other players on the field, what order the play cards are being revealed in. Most of this is instinctive learning, but people who have been playing for a long time can have deep discussions and enjoy participating in in-depth analysis's when watching a game.
I like to think of 8-vs-8 All Pro mode [with all skills and abilities in play] is like Madden with the volume turned up. You have all of the depth that the standard 8-vs-8 brings with the skills and abilities to open the field up. What's really cool about playing with player skills in 8-vs-8 is that because they become so important [and dangerous!] for making things happen on both sides of the ball, keying on star players and dealing with their threat makes other options more effective. It gets pretty deep.
3) Is punting part of the game? Or more broadly how much of a "managing field position" element is there?No punting. But you can also manage field position based on where you get tackled or run out-of-bounds as this determines where the ball is spotted. Lots of coaches will do this so that they can set-up formations that will stretch the field or force the opposing team to leave gaps. Combined with the ability to motion, field positioning becomes very important depending on how you like to attack defenses.
If you were watching the progress of the 8-vs-8 All Pro challenge game on my TWITTER account that I played Thursday night, you saw that running the ball in the second half to run down the clock and then kicking a field goal left may opponent with only 1 minute to run a play. He was playing the LUMBERJACKS [who have a very explosive offense], and he scored a touchdown in a single down to make the final score 17 to 14. I won, but it was all clock control and use of field position at the end that did it. I did make an interception at the end of the first half that ended with me being tackled on the goal line and robbing me of an extra 7 points and a spot on the highlight reels, but that's a story for another day...
I like say that it simulates football without getting bogged down in simulation. Here's a quote from BGG user
who saw the game at Gen Con:
I was just shown a prototype of this at Gen Con 2016, and it's hard to overstate how clever and well done it is. There is almost zero downtime for players as the action goes quickly back and forth, and it's amazing how well it represents real football without overly burdensome fiddliness.
Talking about simulation level, do you think that people who are not "real" football experts can enjoy the game?Absolutely! You just described half the people that demoed the game at Gen Con. One player at Gen Con in particular kept telling me he didn't really like sports or know much about football, but he came back everyday and even helped me demo a few times.
I know I like watching NFL games but don't get all the subtleties of formations for instance, and football fans are not that easy to find here... I wouldn't want to end up with a game and no opponents :-/
I think much like Blitz or NBA Jam, the game is very accessible and allows you to start having fun almost immediately. You're creating plays and formations in just a couple of minutes. Good football tactics and strategy will occur organically as you play the game. You'll be doing 'real football things' without even knowing what they are. So, you don't have to be a die-hard football expert, but the game will grow with you and give you that fix if you want it too.
You just described me
. I think the game is great. One of my friends similarly has little interest in the sport but after playing at GenCon he's really excited in it as a game. I think the biggest barrier would be convincing them to try one game.
You can also checkout this comment by Rick in the main thread.