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Subject: A collection of thoughts (too disorganized to be a review) rss

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Timothy Sullivan
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Glen Carbon
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I haven't really played this enough to write a good review (especially not up to the standards that some BGGers are setting these days), but I have played it enough to have some thoughts that might be helpful to folks sitting on the fence.

1. The components are normal (post-1990) APBA standards. The cards are two-color and solid stock. The print is a little small for my middle-aged eyes, but certainly acceptable. Ditto with the charts (which are essentially an appendix in the rulebook). I scanned the charts, enlarged them and printed them out to make it easier on me.

2. The rulebook is quite bad. It's disorganized, ugly and sometimes incomplete. I'm not a sports-game novice. (I've been playing APBA games since 1981.) And I'm not afraid to work hard to understand a rulebook. (I was playing Avalon Hill wargames back in the 1970s.) But it's really bad.

3. As mentioned elsewhere in the forums, the goal scoring numbers (for me, so far) are low. I haven't made careful measurements or crunched the numbers. But here are some back-of-the-envelope calculations using 2009-2010 Chelsea:

The game lasts 180 time periods. Of these, I'd estimate that about 120 are actual rolls on a player's card (as opposed to a throw-in, loose ball check, etc.). Each player's card has 36 possible outcomes. The number of these outcomes that translate into shots depends upon the player's abilities, the location on the field and the formations used. For example, if both squads are playing a 4-4-2, the Drogba card would have 12 shot results in Area A (closest to the net). It falls to 10 in Area B (just outside the box) and then 8 in Area C (in the corners). Continuing, it would be 6 in D, 4 in E, and 2 in F. For Essien the chances (moving from A to F) would be 8-8-7-5-4-2). For Terry, the chances would be 3-3-3-3-3-2.

Estimating the "average" location of the ball and the "average" player (and noting that the charts are weighted so that forwards are more likely to have the ball when it's in Areas A, B and C; but there is an Area X from which no one can shoot), I'd estimate that there's an average of about 4 shot chances (out of 36) on any given player roll. That translates into about 13 (combined) shots per game. Let's make it 15 to reflect the chances coming from direct kicks following fouls and corners (that are taken from a table, not the player's card).

Each player has a rating indicating the probability that the shot is on goal, and this probability is affected by the area and the assist rating of the teammate who passed it. (What constites a "pass" is one of the holes in the rulebook.) For Drogba, for example, this is likely to be a little better than 50-50. For Essien and Terry, it would be closer to one-third. For a number of players, it would be closer to 10-15%. So, we're down to about 6 (combined) on goal shots per game (that actually test the keeper).

Now, moving on to the keeper card, most keepers will stop the vast majority of shots. Peter Cech, for example will stop about 70% of these tests. That takes us down to fewer than 2 (combined) goals per game.

Our highest scoring game so far has been 1-1. I admit that most of what I'm presenting are estimates (altough my sons gave similar guesses when I asked them). I also admit that we've mostly played the better teams. I'm not only open to the possibility that these numbers are wrong, but I hope that they're wrong.

4. I really like the clutch points mechanic. Each team has a number of "clutch points" (usually between 4 and 7) that can be cashed in at various points of the game. For example, 4 points can be used to change a red card into a yellow card. Five points can be used to make a shot (almost) automatically on goal.

5. There is a lot of dice rolling and a lot of charts in this game. Each time period requires at least one roll on a card and/or chart, and then perhaps a follow-up roll. A typical two-minute block goes as follows:

The keeper kicks it in (roll dice and consult chart) to Area C, where it's picked up by (roll dice and consult chart) Player-2, who is (consult scoresheet) Lampard. Lampard takes it and (roll dice, consult card for number, consult chart with number) heads it into Area B for a loose ball. The ball is taken by (double check teams' ratings, roll dice and consult chart) West Ham's (roll dice, consult chart) player-3 who is (consult scoresheet) Behrami. Behrami (roll dice, consult card for number, take number to chart) passes it into Area D, player-2 who is (consult scoresheet) Okirie.

And, unlike some APBA games where 80% of the tables' results can be easily memorized, the soccer tables have so many possibilities that I don't see how more than about 25% could be memorized.

6. I enjoy the game's feel. Many possessions end up as dead ends, but there is a nice tension as you roll on the cards and pass the ball, trying (if only with your dice rolling) to maitain possession and work the ball in closer to the net for an opportunity.

7. The lack of individual defense ratings is a weird design decision. As mentioned elsewhere in the forums, every player listed as a forward gets a defensive rating of 1; every middie is a 2; every defender is a 3. Thus, there is no obvious disincentive to starting the best offensive player at each position. In fact, if the team is down, there isn't much disincentive to putting in forwards to play defender.

My hope is that one of the following is going on:

1) There is more going on in the players' cards than I immediately can see. Maybe offensive-minded players give the ball up more often. Maybe (when they have the ball) they're more likely to start a defense check (which often turns into a counterattack) where a defensive-minded player is more likely to create a loose ball (which can't immediatly become a counterattack).

(2) Maybe this was a temporary decision, and the whole defensive rating system will be overhauled in future card sets. APBA gave individual defensive ratings in hockey, baseball and football. Why not soccer?

Overall, I'm glad I got it. But I can't give it a 100% endorsement for soccer fans.

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Robert Scott
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the 2009-10 cards do have low shot totals which give you lower scores. The new sets (2010-11 SPL and EPL) have improved on this somewhat. I am playing some SPL games and have noticed a increase in shots and goals but believe the overall totals are going to still be low.

The lack of defense ratings for the individual players is the biggest drawback for this game (once you figure the rule book out). A few house rules will handle the shots and goals being low.

Bob

 
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David Hailey
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t_s_sullivan wrote:

My hope is that one of the following is going on:

1) There is more going on in the players' cards than I immediately can see. Maybe offensive-minded players give the ball up more often. Maybe (when they have the ball) they're more likely to start a defense check (which often turns into a counterattack) where a defensive-minded player is more likely to create a loose ball (which can't immediatly become a counterattack).


I shared this hope, but after 40+ games I have given up on it. The playmakers have the smaller numbers that generate a good feel for controlled possession, but that's about it.

Most of my games have been part of an attempt to replay the World Cup, but I have screeched to a halt after Algeria became a front runner due to one lucky goal and an amazing GK card -- I am afraid the national team player cards were based on minimal statistics.

In 38 World Cup games a pathetic 16 goals scored total.

In 8 EPL games I have had 7 goals with one 'high scoring' game (the very first I played), Chelsea 2-1 Hull City.

I really, really want to like this game, but feel there are too many flaws.
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