I am a huge football (soccer) fun. I play football since I was 6 and I keep play at least once per week (and now I am 35). I watch pretty much football and I like almost everything about it like computer games (Pro Evolution Soccer, Manager Games, etc), watching in the tv or in the stadium and of course collecting Football player cards. The most popular collectible card's company (but not playable) was and is Panini. But, I always wanted to find a game with a playable mechanism. Some years ago, I discovered Football Champions, a game about the UK Premieur League (at first) and later about other leages such as Italian Campionato and French Ligue.
As a Football fun I start to collect as many cards as I could spending a huge amount of money. After some months (and some spared wages) I managed somehow to complete my collection. Unfortutely (or maybe fortunately) I had a very serious financial problem and so I put the cards in a ebay auction. I sell them at least at the 3rd of the price I spend to buy them.
Years passed, and I found them in ebay in a totaly humiliating price of $25. I bought the whole collection three times. It was a good investment, because for the less amount of money I have lot's of hours of fun and endless game posibilities.
Now, let's get to the game. The starter pack consist of two complete teams, two full decks of action cards, a playmat (like a football site - stadium), a Rules' booklet, a 'read me first' sheet, two dice and some other counter-likes stuff, like yellow and red cards, ball, etc. Also a booster is included. There is everything you need to start playing immediately.
The cards are seperated in two major categories. These are : The players and the Action Cards (or Tactics). It is very easy to say which is which. In the face of the cards if there is a player with his name that will be a player card. If the back of the card is colorful, then it is a player also. If it is only blue, it is an action card.
There are two ways to play the game : The basic and the advanced.
The basic is very easy to played. You don't have to read the rulebook. You don't have to use any action card also. The only thing you have to do is open the playmat, put your players in the way the 'read me first' say and follow the three simple rules that are written in the playmat.
The first rule is about attacking. It is how (and not) to pass the ball fro a player to another. The second rule is how the defending team try to take the ball (by Pace or by Tackle). The third and final rule is shooting in goal. These are all about the basic game. Now, let's get to the good stuff.
There is a 48 pages VERY EASY to EXTREME EASY Advanced Rulebook to read and understand the game. Everything is in there. From moving players, passing, defending, shooting, use action cards, players' abilities, substitutions, injury time and half time, golden goal, extra time, penalty shootout, team building, action card selection, yellow and red cards, faq etc.
Each player is unique. There are a lot of thing you can read on a player's card. First you can see his name, the team he plays to (he used to play - the game is seven years old (2001)) the position he plays (goalkeeper, defender, midfielded and forward) and the year he played to that team. There is also a number coresponding to the particular player (for card collecting purposes) usually in the manner of x/250. Also, there is written the cost of the player in points (this is for making teams). The players have some numbers written in the cards. These are Pace, Tackle, Shooting, Skill and Header. If the player is a goalkeeper you can see his Save number and Penalty Save number also. Some players have a special ability such as attack +1, defence +1, left side player, right side player, pass +1, and run arrows.
The action cards are seperated in 3 categories from theis color. Attacking cards (red color), Defending cards (blue) and Non specified (green). You can use the red cards only when attacking, the blue only when defending and the green everytime you want. Most cards have arrows in the up-right corner. These show where the player can be moved. Some player have their own arrows. Just discard any card and move that player. Usually the action cards add to the player's Pace, Tackle, etc. But there are some cards, that stop the coaches to play action cards, draw more action cards, long passing, long shooting, etc.
Each coach takes 11 players who have no more than 1,100 total points value. 1 goalkeeper, and 10 other players, but no more that 6 players of the same position and no more that 600 points to one group. Every action deck included 25 cards, but no more than 2 copies of the same card in the deck. Also, you can have up to five substitute players in your bench and up to 6 action cards (to change - if you want - some in the second half or extra time).
There are four steps to play the game. The first step is to move a player and pass the ball. The attacking team rolls the die and if the number thrown is 4 or 5 he moves a player that doesn't have the ball and pass it. If it is 6 he moves two players who don't have the ball and pass it OR move the player with the ball (but not pass). The second step is about the defending team to move. Roll the die and acording to the result he moves none, one or two players (4 or 5 : one player , 6 : two players). The next step (step 3) is the challenge for the ball. The defender chooses is he want to tackle or pace for the ball. Players uses their action cards to adjust their player's number and both roll the dice. The player with the highest result keeps the ball. If the defender won the challenge he becomes the attacker and the game goes back to the first step. If the attacker won it, he get's the chance to shoot on goal. The attacker desides if want to use his player's feet for a shot (Shooting number) or head for a headed (Header) and the goalkeeper uses his Save ability (Save). Both coaches throw the dice. If the attacker won he scores a goal. If the defender won, the goalkeeper save it. If there is a draw, the ball goes off the line for a corner kick.
After every turn both coaches draw 2 action cards. When the coaches drew the last from their action card decks, injury time begins. The defending roll the die. In a result of 1-3 the game isn't over yet and there is another turn. If the result is 4-6 it is halftime, fulltime, etc. After this turn roll again to see if the game ends or not.
The gameplay is very good and the reactions of the players are very football-like. But, as every collectable card game you have to spend some time to construct teams and for a person that like to open the box and play the game is not recommended. I recommend instead the 'Finale' card game for two from Kosmos, a game unfortutely for the english speaking people in german language (but with a very good translation here in BoardGameGeek).
Rating this game can get a 8 out of 10 for strategy, a 3/10 for complexity, a 6/10 for luck and a 7/10 for gameplay.
Is it possible for you to scan and upload the rules ?
It would be greatly appreciated !