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My second prototype, one step forward and two steps back


In my first prototype, I was testing to see if my Tecmo Super Bowl concept would work as a game. It did but was lacking motivation to pick one card over the other. The cards didn't have any sense of spatial mapping to the board either.

I attempted to fix these problems by breaking up the cards into zones that showed the players going to in the playbook cards. I also added positions to the plays, so individuals can be targeted.

I didn't have a sense of who the player was controlling however, so the early stages were more of a simulation that didn't give the player a lot of control of the outcome of the play. By this I mean, once you picked your play, you didn't have much of a choice in who to throw to. Here’s a snippet of rules from this prototype:

"The player on offense chooses 1 of 10 playing cards from his/her hand. The cards are divided into 4 play types. Passing, running, punting, and field goal. The offensive player plays a card from his hand and the defensive player tries to match the exact same card s/he feels the offensive player would play. If the defensive player plays the opposite type of play than the offensive player, i.e. offense picks pass and defense picks run, the offense gains an extra Player die to aid in the success of the play. If the defensive player picks the exact same play the offensive player chooses, than the defense gains an extra Player die and the offense loses a Player die. If the offense rolls more successes (rolls of 4,5, or 6) than the defense, the play is determined to be successful. If it’s successful, and the offense rolls one Yardage die times the amount of successful player dice were rolled. The Yardage dice are thrown and that determines the amount of yardage that is gained on the play. If the defense rolls equal to or greater than successful Player dice than the offense, there is no gain on the play. Defense can force turnovers and tackle for losses, and offense can make break out plays by rolling 6s, also known as Big Time Plays."

The plays had different colors for each player which mapped to the dice for Offense only. At the time, the Defense did not have any colored dice, and they were basically just used to determine success or failure of a play and couldn’t stop individual players. The main problem with this is that the Offense would always choose the deepest ball in the passes, because the Defense had no way of saying I covered Wide Receiver 1 for an example. And when the Offense was supposed to lose a die, they would always choose the shortest path run by a player, so this was just bad and not an actual choice. Runs were also super basic and there wasn’t much decision to be had once they were played. Depending on the run play you would roll more or less success dice spending if it was an inside or outside run respectively. The card dictated the yardage they gain. See the attached cards.

This prototype is when I started to think about making it a space theme, because I was finding that the rules of football don’t translate greatly to board games, so I wanted the ability to give myself free reign on changing the rules of the game. While I didn’t change any rules of football yet, and in fact was working on simulating more of the existing rules of the NFL, I began to think about what I could change to make the game flow better. But my thought was to start from simulating more things like the play clock, out of bounds, kicking, punting, etc… Then changing rules from that point to better fit a board game.

This prototype was in someways a few steps back. I liked that it had some more spatial mapping to the board and gave the player better incentive on which play to pick, but the rules were complicated and it felt like the defense had a lot less to do than the offense. Also looking back I am unsure what the d6 in the left hand margin of the pass plays was even doing. My rule book and cards at the time must have been in a weird state of flux. I think you would choose before hand which zone to throw to and grab those colored dice? Not sure. Either way not good. I made the game more complicated at this point, more fiddly, and less fun.

In the next post you will see I added even more complexity to try and solve the issues of giving the Defense more to do, while allowing the Offense to better choose who they are throwing to. I also added Items to the game to help mitigate die rolls. This is mainly where I first started bending the rules of football to fit my game. I was still unsure on what to do with Run plays at that time though. Runs stayed mostly static from this design with a few tweaks all the way up until one version ago from now.

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blog | by Dr. Radut