On a whim I bought this game despite never having heard of it, let alone read anything about it. Sometimes life does that to you and it works out!
The game basically contains a hardwood playing board painted (nicely) to look like an American football field some cards and dice to control the action and some wooden pegs and bits to record the situation and score.
As a note of warning, one of the cards was cut wrong, but I was able to determine what it was from the description - This will not affect game play in my set as it is a Special Teams card and no 'countering' card is played. Also, one of the score wheels was broken, but I was able to glue it back together in seconds. I am going to have to re-create the cards in a larger font since I am getting too old to read the 'fine print' - this is the biggest problem I had with the game. A smaller problem with the game, and one I 'blame' the designers for, is printing the field 'upside down' (more on that later).
Each play is handled by the play of an 'offensive' card and a 'defensive' card (special teams and oddball plays are also handled with cards with one player playing a card from the appropriate set) and the roll of a d10 and a d12 each. Each 'offensive' card has a table used by the dice to determine the result of the play. The dice are modified by the 'defensive' card and determine other effects.
For example, the defensive player selects a Man to Man defense card and the offensive player plays a Sweep offensive card and the dice are rolled. First the D10's are added to determine if a penalty occurs (only on a '6' or '16' oddly enough). For this example, the d10 sum is '14' so no penalty. The 'Sweep' line of the Man to Man card has a +1 modifier, which is added to the offensive d10 (for a total of '7' in this example) and compared to the column corresponding to the sum of the d12's ('11' in this example) for a '1' yard result on the play.
On to the next play.
Each play card has 60 results with the occasional Fumble or Interception result and the rest being yards gained/lost if you do not recover the ball. Most of the game will be played with the Offense and Defense card sets with Special Teams and what I call 'Oddball Play' cards (Kickoff Returns, Fumbles, etc.) only being used as needed or called for by the situation.
One oddity that is really a playability mechanic is that there is a play clock counter that advances one tick per play with 16 plays per quarter. No more, no less. Not a lot of time, but it keeps the game moving and provides some tension. It seems easy enough to expand on that so that coaches have to worry about clock management a bit, but then again it is fun to just play a quick playing game as well!
A note on penalties: As mentioned previously, the sum of the D10's determines if their is a penalty, on a '6' or '16'. This means there is a 10% chance of a penalty on every play - which seems a little high to me. Easily adjusted by shifting the penalty values up or down. On the whole I do like the mechanic.
Notes on the playing board. It is big and heavy. Lots of wasted space here, and the durn thing is upside down! Maybe that is not the best way to describe it. The 'problem' is that the football marker (shaped like a football!) used to mark the position of the ball by moving up and down the field in a notched track is impossible to spot with any accuracy from one side of the board. You have to keep track in other ways, swap positions with your opponent or ask. This could have been alleviated by slightly adjusting position of the notched groove (by a quarter of an inch) so that the hash marls are visible on each side of the ball. I am baffled as to why that did not happen.
Another curiosity with the board is the 'chains' marker. It slides in a smooth groove closer to the side line. Why isn't it notched as well? Supposedly the game can be easily played at a tailgate party, but that chain marker slides too easily for that. Very easy to bump it in the heat of battle!
The board comes in two pieces with cut outs in the backs to store the game pieces when the game is put away. Pretty useful and clever. Note that the box is required as there is nothing holding the boards together when stored (there are strong magnets in the joined ends to hold the board together when playing). The rules and cards are just slipped in the box, with no clever storage compartment. Each clever bit is offset by an oversight. Very strange.
So, I like the game - it is fun to play as you have to get inside the head of the opposing coach, call the plays and hope your boys execute the play. Play calling is a tad limited with only nine offensive plays and nine defensive plays and no accounting for player stats. I THINK star players can be added by simple die roll modifiers for certain types of plays, I am not sure that is worth the hassle. It is a good looking game (that board is really nice to look at and mostly easy to play on!).
I would love to compare this to other games out there but it has been so long since I played another board football game that I cannot recall the mechanics well enough to comment with reliability or meaning. For what it is worth, I have played and greatly enjoyed Football Frenzy and Pizza Box Football.