This is not a detailed review. It's closer to a description of the mood and style of the game.
It is being written after an epic replayed 1930 World Cup Final between Yugoslavia and Argentina, finally won 3:2 by Yugoslavia after my wife and daughter rolled an extra goal up on the dice, my son having fallen to a bitterly disputed penalty in the Semi-Final.
I only bought the game because I felt that anyone brave enough to use the 1930 World Cup as the model for a game should be supported.
I was born and brought up football mad in London, spent half my youth at Highbury and Wembley, and most of the other half playing Subbuteo. I was going to be very unforgiving of a World Cup game if it produced unrealistic scores and results, or felt 'wrong'.
My family, all Australians (as I am now) have absolutely no interest in football at all, so they were going to be switched off by any game that was for the football purist and didn't work as a game. All in all it was unlikely to be a hit.
We all loved it. Other reviews have gone into the mechanics of the game, so I won't, but it is at core a very simple game. It took no more than 5 minutes to get on top of the rules. You have a stable of teams, and a hand of cards, and you play the cards to help your team(s) score goals, and to stop the opposition doing the same. You play the group games as they were played in 1930 (or in 2002. You get 2 World Cups in the box). The knockout phase match ups depend how you did in the group phase.
The cards you draw obviously matter, as they vary from 3 goal thunderbolts to 1/2 a goal Attacks, as well as assorted fouls, penalties, and defence cards, but you only have three in your hand at any one time, so you don't get too much 'analysis paralysis'.
There is another randomising factor at the end of the card play when you roll a dice that can add a goal or so to a few teams. there is also a nice mechanism for modelling team quality based on the number of possible tiles that they can use ( a better idea than the old "Wembley"' coloured dice and 'stars').
It plays very fast, with minimal down time, and the only hold up is at the end of the group games when you have to calculate who has gone through. By then everyone was so bound up in how their team had done that they didn't mind.
It appeared to be a fairly straightforward card game, that would entertain for twenty minutes or so and then pall, but it didn't. It kept all of us interested right through. I think the stroke of genius that brings it to life is that the games are played simultaneously and you don't have to play the cards on your own team, or even on your own game. You can suddenly swoop in and give Belgium a goal when everyone thinks that game is over and the players have moved on to other fixtures, or stop Argentina protecting their two goal lead in a game you should not even be interested in.
The 1930 version can be knocked off in well under an hour, the 2002 in just over.
The components for a micro company publication are high quality, with a heavy well made schenatic board, and good thick properly printed die cut counters and plastic pieces. The only let down is the quality of the deck of cards, which is a bit thin, and a bit generic ( I think but am not certain there is a bad drawing of Pele on the 2 goal card and Beckham on the Attack one. Alas no Cea, Stabile, Ronaldo or Hasan Sas)
It is a light game. It won't work for the 'Here I Stand'/'Pax Romana' crowd.
It has a fair amount of luck, although you have enough control to at least have the illusion that it is skill based.
It rattles along quickly, has heaps of interaction, and works as a game for non football fans.
The open nature of the card play means you don't get bored when it isn't your turn.
It doesn't offend real football fans sensibilities (It's got the teams right, the format right, the amount of goals per game right, and the relative comparative qualities of the competitors in each World Cup right).
It is a much better game than it appears at first glance to be.
I give it an 8.5, maybe a 9 with the right group of players.
Great review. Btw, Ronaldo is on the 3-goal card.
I was born and brought up football mad in London, spent half my youth at Highbury and Wembley, and most of the other half playing Subbuteo.
are you Nick Hornby in disguise?
The Black Country
Atomic batteries to power! Turbines to speed!
I saw three football games at UK Games Expo, my mate was looking for something football; this was the one he bought. The staff on the publishers stall were very helpful and informative. I've not played this game yet but I want to, and I hope to get my own copy of it too very soon.