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Subject: What is missing from American Football boardgames? rss

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Arthur Franz
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Hi! I grew up playing NFL Strategy, Strat-o-Matic Football, and tons of PC games like Front Page Sports Football Pro 98, Tom Landry Strategy Football, etc.

I just designed Breakaway Football in 2016, coming soon to POD via The Game Crafter. But as I look to expansions, I am hoping to get your advice on what draws you to football, what your favorite parts of the game are, and what you wish you could do that does not exist in other games.

Thanks!
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Aaron Clark
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Two things come to mind for me

1. The history, background, and culture of an individual team is huge in getting someone to fall in love with it. That can be hard to simulate in a board game where the history may not be established or the player doesn't have a connection to the team.

2. It's the individual players that get people excited. People want that exciting player on their team and want that player to do well. A lot of that excitement seems to come from the ESPN culture we live in today where every day we want to know who's the best X, Y, or Z. What stats did that person have this week or how does that person stack up against others.


These are certainly big picture things that might not be appropriate for your game. On a smaller scale people love the big play. People love the underdog story. So finding a way to create those feelings in a game might go a long way. I'm not sure how much help this is, but I think finding a way to capture these things in a game could go a long way.
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Gil Hova
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The tricky thing of turning football into a board game is that, if you remove the physical execution from the equation, all you have is guessing and double-guessing followed by a hit of output randomness.

In other words, if I'm on defense, I know you're calling a reverse, I could defend against it and still give up big yardage if I fail the random roll that determines the play outcome, regardless of how many modifiers there are in my favor.

That's the #1 issue I have with football games (and most sports games in general). I want to be rewarded for making good decisions. Unfortunately, coaches in real life do not get rewarded for making good decisions, as it's still up to the players to execute.

Most sports games opt to capture this verisimilitude, and I would love to see a game go against the grain and opt for a more deterministic outcome. Even if it's a little less realistic, it would be much more interesting and fun. Reward me for making good decisions!
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Dan B.
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No spreadsheets.

I'd like to be the player, not the coach.

Team affinity. I watch Michigan football because I love the team.

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Cyrus the Great
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My main complaint is that the best football games, like Strat-O-Matic Pro Football and Pro Football Fantasm, are long (3-4 hours) with pretty repetitive gameplay.

IngredientX wrote:

Most sports games opt to capture this verisimilitude, and I would love to see a game go against the grain and opt for a more deterministic outcome. Even if it's a little less realistic, it would be much more interesting and fun. Reward me for making good decisions!

Check out Football Strategy--it sounds like exactly what you're looking for.
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Daryl McLaurine
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Quote:
What is missing from American Football boardgames?


Crippling Head Concussions, debilitating joint destruction, and Beer Commercials.
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Andrew Cole
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Well what ever you do don't add any teams from Oakland, St Louis, or San Diego because they may move to another city, JK. What I would like see is the growth of a franchise. Maybe someway to add talent, develop a stronger team, give you as a player an identity just like a team. Do they run a lot? Do they always pass? Are they a defensive juggernaut? I love team development.
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Gary Heidenreich
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Realistic statistics. Strat-o, to me, captured that pretty well in regards to using specific players. Paydirt, which I played within the past 4 months, did a nice job on overall statistics. After the game we compared our game box score with one from the team (1994) and it was quite good.

The lack of realistic statistics is why I do not enjoy Pizza Box football and First and 10.

This is just me, tho.
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Joe Salamone
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I own many football boardgames (Strat-O-Matic Pro Football, APBA Pro Football, Inside Blitz Football, 4th Street Pro Football, Paydirt, 1st & Goal, Big Sunday Football, SPI Football, Pro Football Fantasm, Thinking Man's Football, Second Season Pro Football Game, Statis Pro Football, and probably 3 or 4 others I'm forgetting).

One thing I would like to see is a risk/reward system that takes into account how aggressive you want to be. For example: on a running play, you can accept the initial result of a 5-yard gain or you can opt to fight for extra yardage (which could result in a bigger gain . . . but you would also increase your risk of fumbling or getting injured).

You could have similar rules on defense. Do you have your corner play in "normal" mode . . . or do you make an aggressive play (could increase your chance of making an interception . . . but could also increase your chance of being called for pass interference . . . or possibly getting injured). I don't think any of the games I have played allow you to make in-game "push your luck" decisions like this.

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L S
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The same thing that's missing from American Football:

- Limited contact rules
- One of the eleven players needs to be designated as goalkeeper
- A properly shaped football
- Rules against handball
- Proper penalties (spot kick, offside, ...)
... and so on.
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Larry Nyquist
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You might check out Football Fever which came out in the 80s or 90s. It came in a brief case which folded out into a football field. It had a slew of dice, some in the shape of footballs. It also had penalty cards that helped mitigate the luck of the dice. I haven't played it in a while but it was fun at the time. Will have to bring it out and see if it is still fun for me. Maybe not enough strategy for many of you.
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Chris Ferejohn
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Quote:
That's the #1 issue I have with football games (and most sports games in general). I want to be rewarded for making good decisions. Unfortunately, coaches in real life do not get rewarded for making good decisions, as it's still up to the players to execute.


I don't think that's accurate. First of all, coaching is much more than designing and calling plays. Managing training and getting players in the right state of mind to play their best (execute) is a huge part of what the coaching staff does.

Also, even leaving that aside, just because sometimes you make the the right call and it fails doesn't mean it wasn't the right call. Like in many games with a random element (e.g. poker, magic: the gathering), you "win" by making the right decisions over and over again.
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Gil Hova
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cferejohn wrote:
I don't think that's accurate. First of all, coaching is much more than designing and calling plays. Managing training and getting players in the right state of mind to play their best (execute) is a huge part of what the coaching staff does.


Sure, but the original question that I was answering was about what I would like to see in American Football board games. My point was that limiting the impact of my decision so far and letting randomness take the rest was frustrating from the point of view of my playing a board game, regardless of how accurate the simulation is.

Quote:
Also, even leaving that aside, just because sometimes you make the the right call and it fails doesn't mean it wasn't the right call. Like in many games with a random element (e.g. poker, magic: the gathering), you "win" by making the right decisions over and over again.


I agree. A lot depends on the game, how much player agency it offers, and how many random events there are. As I'm sure you know, the more random events, the less a single random swing can decide the game.

But I think it's the more subjective feeling of, if something fails, I want to know that it was my decision that did it, not a factor outside my control. I'm sure not everyone shares this feeling, but the original question was polling for individual, subjective responses, so I feel like it's valid feedback.

Renaissance Man wrote:
Check out Football Strategy--it sounds like exactly what you're looking for.


Awesome suggestion. Hopefully someday I will cross paths with an old copy!
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patrick mullen
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First idea: One of the criticisms I've heard with american football is that the odds going into each matchup are pretty clear. While surprising things can happen (such as the end of our most recent super bowl), most games play out fairly close to how they were expected to. The decisions between games are the preparation, and the game itself is the actual die roll. Whether this is a fair criticism or not, I think it would be important to represent preparation and what happens in-between ball games somehow. You may go for a risky play, but if you end up with a hospitalized player it can hurt your next game. You can do a lot of training that will give your players some strong plays, but if you over train they might be worn out on game day.

It doesn't need to be overly complex or anything like one of those football manager games, but football is always about more than a single game.

Second idea: At the same time, it does come down to those insane plays. Another criticism of football (this time from me) is that so many strange situations emerge from play that need to be regulated, and the rules get overly complicated. These emergent situations are due to the simple goal of the game at its core, combined with the endless variations of physics the human body is capable of. You can play a perfectly interesting game of football without all of those regulations - it is just generally going to be more dangerous, and may also be less clear which team actually takes the advantage when new scenarios arise.

A good board game of football should allow for this flexibility of play. Turning those physics outcomes into something simple like a dice roll robs some of that flexibility and excitement from the game.

But it sounds like a hard task to allow this variable gameplay!
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Joe Salamone
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I also think it would be interesting to have a football card game where each team drafts a deck of cards before the game. If you want a great passing team, you draft a lot of passing cards. If you want a great running team, you draft a lot of running cards. Similar drafting for defensive cards.

For each play during the game, the player on offense would select several offense cards to play and the player on defense would select several defensive cards to play. It might work something like this (assume each player plays 5 cards):

Offense plays: COMPLETED PASS, COMPLETED PASS, COMPLETED PASS, +3 yard completion, +8 yard completion

Defense plays: INCOMPLETE PASS, INCOMPLETE PASS, -1 yard completion, -1 yard completion, -2 yard completion

Result: Offense played 3 COMPLETED PASS CARDS, defense played only 2 INCOMPLETE PASS cards. Therefore, the pass is complete. Then you add the + cards and subtract the - cards to get a +7 yard gain.

In the example above, the defense committed to a pass defense. The defense could have played some pass defense cards and some run defense cards in order to be more balanced. For example:

INCOMPLETE PASS, -2 yard completion, -1 yard run, -1 yard run, -1 yard run

This would end up being a +9 yard completed pass.

Certain card combinations would cause penalties, fumbles, interceptions, etc.

I never worked out all the details, but I think this would be an interesting way to have the offense and defense trying to out-think one another.

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Chris
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For me, there's a difference between 1st and Goal and a game like Second Season or Strat-O ... one, of course, is time; but the other is the level o detail.

I don't mind 1st and Goal being a little unrealistic, but, it is frustrating when you're on the 3 yard line and the defense chooses correctly and there is NO chance to get positive yardage -- that's not realistic.

In the case of the sim sports; they have to account for accuracy to the real stats (which is why you end up with the +2 yards guessed correctly / +37 yards guessed incorrectly.

Second Season, to me, does a good job of taking that level of extremes out of the equation; so the stats (on a play-by-play basis) resonate more. Of course, in Strat-O-Matic's case, they're less worried about the play-by-play narrative; and far MORE concerned with how the overall game (or, even more accurately, overall *season*) statistics compare to reality. So, by the end of a 16-game season, you've largely forgotten those extreme outliers; because the sum total of all stats is consistent with reality.
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Brian Shoemaker
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Hello from a die hard NFL fan. I watch football for the action and excitement of the game. I have played loads of football games and they are all boring. The only thing I could think that wouldn't be boring would be maybe a deck builder.
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