Drew Heath
United States
Galesburg
Illinois
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"Soccer? With Cards? That's stupid and couldn't possibly be fun."

So said my fiancee when The World Cup Game and Expansion 2 first arrived in the house 3 weeks ago. At the time I hadn't played it myself, and had to confess that I too was having doubts, but everyone - and I mean everyone - said it was awesome, so...

And last night - February 26th - it was finally put to the test. Liverpool Dave (BGG user wavydavie), myself, and a Chinese friend of his nicknamed Killer sat down at Dave's house for a night of World Cup glory. We're all soccer football fanatics to varying degrees, with Dave indisputably taking the top spot as a Liverpool native. I'm an American, so that's a handicapp, but I grew up playing and am about as fanatical about soccer as a non-hispanic American can be. Killer? Well, he follows the Premiership... we were set.

None of us had played before, and Killer had never played a boardgame before in his life. I read the rules several times beforehand and decided we'd be best off trying 1934 first.

A brief note about the different World Cups -- I own the base game and expansion 2, which means I can play 1930, 1934, 1938, 2002, & 2006. The most recent two tournaments are 32 team monsters that really require 6 people at a minimum. The 1930's era tournaments are all small affairs, but in my mind 1934 hits the sweet-spot. 1930, despite the low number of teams, uses groups which requires a pace-killing scoring session at the end of the first round of play. 1934 & 1938 are straight knock-out affairs from start to finish with 16 teams for 1934 and 15 for 1938 (Sweden gets a bye). Your path to victory is clear, the small team size is manageable, and one entire World Cup can be played in an hour or less.

So the 3 of us sat down to 1934. In the spirit of the game we did our best running commentary as we played (this is HIGHLY recommended and can be hilarious with clever players):

**********

Shad (owns USA, plays 1 goal card on them): Minnows USA kick the tournament off with a brilliant surge forwards, a cross to the back post, AND IT'S IN THE NET! USA 1, ITALY NIL! GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!

WavyDavie (neutral, wants powerhouse Italy out early, plays defensive card on Italy to waste one of their spots): Inexplicably, the Italians, despite being down 1-0, have decided to play an ironcurtain defense. Why aren't they attacking? IS THEIR COACH MAD?

Killer (owns Italy, plays offsides card on USA): Offsides! The Americans were offsides! The goal is withdrawn! It's still 0-0.

Shad (plays penalty card, raises arm and whistles): THE ITALIAN DEFENDER DRAGGED HIM DOWN IN THE BOX! THE REFEREE POINTS AT THE SPOT! IT'S A PENALTY! Damn do they every play dirty here in Italy! The American striker steps up to the ball. The goalie shifts his weight nervously. (Shad rolls the penalty die successfully) AND IT'S IN THE NET! THE AMERICANS REGAIN THE LEAD! IS AN UPSET IN THE MAKING? THE STANDS ARE ALIVE! IT'S MADNESS IN ROME!

**********

You get the idea... So while the designer says the '34 & '38 tournaments can be played in only 30 minutes and are filler, I disagree. While swilling beer and carrying on like that after just about every card it easily took us an hour to do one tournament -- that's not a bad thing though, we loved every minute of it.

The first game, as it turned out, went to penalties in the final with Argentina beating Germany 7-6 on kicks in the 9th round of penalties.

Our 3 results from last night:

1934 -- Argentina 2 : 2 Germany [Argentina wins 7-6 on kicks in the 9th round]
1934 -- Germany 2 : 1 Czechoslovakia [extra time - i.e. final 4 dice roll converted an attack]
1938 -- Czechoslovakia 2 : 2 Switzerland [Swiss win 5-4 on kicks]

Final Thoughts: I'm a wargamer through and through, but sometimes it's nice to kick back and relax with your buddies. This game revolves around luck, and you never know until (literally) the last roll who's going to prevail, but good god is it ever fun. We've only played it once, and I spent just over $100 all told for the base game, expansion 2, and shipping to China, but I absolutely already feel I've gotten my money's worth and more. This game will make you laugh, cry, and cheer wildly... it's just plain excellent.

One final note regarding the 1938 cup. We recommend NOT revealing your sides and NOT drawing colored globes to match your sides either. In our draw one player drew both red teams, another player drew 2 out of 3 blue teams. It makes it very easy to see who's who, and that takes away from the strategic options a bit. For the small tourneys it's best to just keep EVERYTHING secret.
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Shaun Derrick
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Coventry
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Andrew, I like your style!! However, there were a couple of things that you got wrong. 1934 and 1938 drawn games are not decided on penalties, they have to be replayed. OK, you might know that and decided to change the rules to suit yourself; which is fine.
I do disagree with keeping the teams secret. It becomes fairly obvious at an early stage who owns which teams by their placements. I did try this in playtesting the original game and most of the playtesters gave the hidden team system a thumbs down! Again, if it rocks for you, then that's fine - at least the flexibility is there.
Expansions 1 and 3 are in stock now
 
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Drew Heath
United States
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sderrick wrote:
Andrew, I like your style!! However, there were a couple of things that you got wrong. 1934 and 1938 drawn games are not decided on penalties, they have to be replayed. OK, you might know that and decided to change the rules to suit yourself; which is fine.


Hey Shaun!

We replayed all the drawn games in the initial round, quarters, and semis once and then if they were still tied we settled it with a coin flip. This worked well for everyone present - we got a 2nd chance to push our teams through AND it kept the game from dragging through endless replays.

We saved the PK Shoot-out for the finals only. This was a totally arbitrary decision of course, but it added some serious tension to the finals and ratcheted-up the "special-ness" of the PKs.

Quote:
I do disagree with keeping the teams secret. It becomes fairly obvious at an early stage who owns which teams by their placements. I did try this in playtesting the original game and most of the playtesters gave the hidden team system a thumbs down! Again, if it rocks for you, then that's fine - at least the flexibility is there.
Expansions 1 and 3 are in stock now


Well... we're vindictive assholes so the secrecy at the beginning allows us a little bit of free maneuvering before the daggers come out.
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