Mark van der Upwich
The 6th Episode of my new Game Review project called: The Final Judgement.
Episode 5 features The London Board Game Company's 'The Football Game'
Game: The Football Game
Year: 2017 (on Kickstarter NOW! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/357426702/the-football-...)
Genre: Football Management (no other words for it).
Players: 1-4 (up to six with expansion)
Playtime: 60 - 75 minutes
Publisher: London Board Game Company
Game Design: The Pearson Family
Graphic Design / Artwork: Robert Gauld-Galliers
If you’re an avid football fan like me, you’ll know that a football season is far more than 30 to 40-something matches a year. It can (and almost certainly will be) a drama series that the likes of the Bold and the Beautiful couldn’t even come close to! Mismanagement, Misbehaving players, Suspensions, Injuries and Fans Hopes and Dreams either being shattered or in some cases be exceeded beyond believe… Few football games capture that feel… Enter ‘The Football Game’.
(All Images are property of The London Boardgame Company)
To get the first and most important part of this game out of the way, your goal is not to become champions (though that wouldn’t do you any harm). The goal of ‘The Football Game’ is having the happiest fans. Where for instance fans of Manchester United or Barcelona expect their team to get close to or win the championship each and every year, fans of other clubs may be very happy if they just managed not to relegate. This is represented in the game also. 9
So at the beginning of the ‘season’ you start with some players and a manager. The manager decides how many tactics cards & money you get. You will use those tactics cards to influence matchday results and the money you can use on the transfer market, which you can of course use to improve your squad. Once you have your team together, the amount of skill points determines what kind of team you have. In the game i played against Mark from TLBGC (which abbreviated looks a lot like a certain equal rights movement, but I digress) I had a C-team, which is the second lowest team in the league (yet I still managed to disappoint my fans, but that’s neither here nor there for this review)
The active player then has several options available: resolving injuries (if there were any. How injuries occur I will tell later), Scout new players for the transfer market (if you don't like what’s available on the market), buy and sell players and / or your manager and us this manager’s ability (if applicable) and replace your tactics cards. He will also have the ability to set it’s first team. When done, all the other players can set there first squad and play Pre-match tactics cards as well.
The players all have one of four different colours, which is very important in the next stage of the game: MATCHDAY! Matchday is resolved by throwing 4 dice: 2 match / scoring dice and two so-called EIK dice. The match dice all have colours on them, corresponding with the colours of your players. If you match the colour of your players you are awarded the amount of points on that player card, creating a match score. This can still be modified by matchday tactics cards (for instance a Brave Block card will increase your score if either your black or blue player has scored points this match). Depending on your match-score you move either up or down the league table.
The EIK dice, which stands for Events / Injuries / Knocks dice are then resolved. These dice have symbols for each of these three categories and all of them have a number inside these symbols, representing the spot on your board where one of your ‘First Team’ players is. So for instance if you roll an Event 3. You draw an event card that applies to your active player in slot 3. These events can be anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that can happen off the pitch: from a forced sell of your player to him misbehaving in a terrible way, being suspended from higher-up.
Same goes for injuries: you draw an injury card and that’s how injured your player your player is. On each of these injury cards is a number, which you’ll have to tie or beat on the beginning of your next turn, if you want this player to be available for the next match, if not… you’ll have to find a solution for your problems.
After round 2, 4 and 6 there’s Victory Point Awarding. Depending on your place in the league combined with your Club ‘Class’ you score an amount of points and at the end of the season, the player with the most VP wins the game (which is not necessarily the highest ranking club, remember: it’s about the fans, not the club).
I tremendously enjoyed playing ‘The Football Game’! I might be a little biased because I do love football, but this game is also just a really solid game. It incorporates a lot of cool mechanics in a streamlined fun experience, even for non football fans. The way the Victory Point scoring is set up is fun and makes for a competitive game, even if you draw worthless players in the beginning of the game! I simply love the way how matchday is going, the roll of the dice make it feel a lot like opening the toto screen for the first time when you don’t know the scores yet: Did my team perform well? It’s all there in that one second once the dice are rolled. The game really captures the madhouse that can be a football season and I commend The London Board Game Company on achieving that! There’s still some time left to back it on Kickstarter and I suggest you do, football fan or not!
And that’s my final Judgement.