Calvin Daniels
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The Canadian Football League season is still a couple of months from starting, but in Saskatchewan we always seem to be thinking football since the Roughriders are the only professional sports franchise in the province.

And, locally this week we are all thinking Roughriders since Yorkton is making its push to be the community officially named ‘Riderville’. As a side note make sure you take in the range of events around the local effort being held this week and help bring the designation to Yorkton.

So, with football in mind, why not look at a game which looks to mimic football, and specifically Canadian football, which we all know is better than that version south of the 49th parallel.

Cold Snap: The Canadian Pro Football Simulation Board Game is a newcomer to the rather diverse field of football-themed board games. It was released only last year from Plaay Games, a company with a growing list of sports-themed simulation games.

To start with, a nice aspect of Cold Snap is its solitaire feature. That is always a plus since it’s not always easy to find a football boardgame partner. Of course it also plays head-to-head as a two-player game as well.

The game does have player stats for CFL teams and players, although I don’t see a CFL logo on the box, so it may not be ‘officially authorized’.

Like most ‘sims’ this one relies on dice and a plethora of charts. Strat-o-Matic games are like that too, and while immediately a bit daunting, with an expectation they might be boring, you tend to learn the outcome of common dice rolls rather quickly, and knowing the natural ebb and flow of the real game helps too.

That said Cold Snap has a rather extensive game coil-bound ‘Game Book’. The coil binding is nice since you will be referring to the book extensively.

The Cold Snap results book is also very detailed. As the company website explains the book details whether an incompletion “was the result of great coverage by a defensive back, a hurried throw thanks to a missed block by an offensive lineman, a wrong pass route run by the receiver, or any of a multitude of other possible reasons.”

The PLAAY.COM website sums up the game this way: “You call the plays, you set the defensive alignments, you decide who to bring in when a star player goes down with an injury. Think you can do a better job with your favourite Canadian pro team than the real-life coach did? Well, now you can find out.”

The manufacturer notes that Cold Snap takes a slightly different view of a football sim, by giving every player on the field individuality.

“First this is a pro football game where every player on the field matters. In many other games, defenders and linemen are treated almost as an afterthought--some games don't even rate them at all! But in Cold Snap, the success or failure of a play most often hinges on the performance of these players! Yes, the star Canadian passers and runners will stand out on your table-top, but so will the star interior linemen, linebackers and defensive backs!” states the website.

In spite of the detail, the mechanics here are pretty easy. The offense chooses a ball carrier or intended receiver for one of six basic offense plays, while the defence coach secretly decides on one of four basic color-coded defence settings. From there you roll the dice, look up the result in the game book, record the gain or loss, and repeat.

The game is one football fans are going to enjoy. Check it out.

-- The review appeared originally in Yorkton This Week newspaper, in Saskatchewan, Canada, May 5/2010
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