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Timing Plays and the Games’ End State

I didn't like a lot of the ways other football games dealt with how to time the game, but I found one in the early 80s called Football Fever that I thought did it right. Every play had a time counter on it, and there was a time track to track the time in a quarter. It was just a linear track with a peg that would start at 15 and the offensive player would move the peg down the track according to how much time the play said to take off the clock. If you want short games you can play 2, 5, 10, etc... min quarters.

With this time tracker, passes would take less time off the clock than runs do, which maps to the strategy of football. You run the ball to chew up the clock, keep the ball longer than your opponent, and have a high probability of gaining short yardage when needed. You pass when you need a quick score, to mix things up, need a comeback, etc...

This felt great to me in that passes in my game seem over powered so this was a reason to give players more motivation to run the ball. I made passes take 2 ticks off the time clock and runs 3 ticks. On top of that, I created hurry up offense rules where you halved your playbook but passes only took 1 tick off and runs 2 ticks off.

I thought this was all genius and felt good about how smart I was, but there was a major problem when I tested it. People either forgot to tick off the time or didn't like the fiddliness of it when they did remember to do it. While I was a little upset about this at first and tried to convince people it was right for the game, because the timing mechanic gave more depth to motivation of picking plays plus provided a nice way to reach the end state of the game that mapped very well to real football. I had a friend convince me of a far more elegant and easy solution.

He reminded me that this is a futuristic football game and I can change the rules as I see fit. The solution to this problem was to play until a point total was reached and there would only be halves in the game like soccer. So the end state point value needed to be a multiple of 14 because when one player reaches half of the end state value, half time is triggered.

For example you play until someone reaches 28 points first. I win the coin toss at the beginning of the game and decide to kickoff to my opponent thereby giving them the ball. As soon as someone reaches 14 points or over, half time is called and I receive the ball.

Now I know that this solution somewhat diminishes the advantage of receiving the ball in the second half when your opponent scores to trigger half time since you would have received the ball anyways. I still think this is much better than tracking time because the core of the game is not about tracking time. It's about outwitting your opponent and occasionally getting lucky when you don't. (Or getting unlucky when you do outwit your opponent.) To solve this perceived issue, I may give them some extra gold to start with. Or I may do nothing as it might not really be a problem.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this or anything else I shared about my game to this point. Here is a link to the rules of Football Fever (not my game nor do I have any affiliation with it) I also attached some images of my cards with timer circled, and the timer track I made.

I'm the next post, I'll be discussing some more rules I changed from classic gridiron football and why I made them.



Likely you've at least seen BattleBall released by Milton Bradley maybe 10 years ago. They kept it super-simple: best 2 out of 3. In your game terms, it would likely translate to 1 score per half, plus 1 overtime when required.

In BattleBall the field was usually littered with debris and teams were hampered with injuries and/or someone had a definite Power Play state. This typically kept even the third "half" short in terms of game time.

Draw deck as a time

Could you use a draw decks as a timer?

Consider this set up: Each player starts each half with a hand of plays. Then there are two draw piles one for run plays and one for pass plays. The pass play deck would have more cards then the run play deck. (maybe like a 3 to 2 ratio). After players played a pass or run play they would draw a card from the appropriate deck. When the deck runs out the half is over.

You could also include a 2 minute warning variation of this idea. Same set up as above, but during setup divide each deck into three piles and shuffle a 2 minute warning card into one of the thirds of each deck. Then place the other two thirds on top of it. Once either of the two minute warnings appear players draw from the appropriate deck and a card is removed from the other deck. (I am not really sure what to do with this card the important thing is that it should prevent players from selectively using all of one type of play and then the all of the other )

Feel free to disregard, use or improve upon. Good luck.

I have seen Battle Ball but

I have seen Battle Ball but didn't research it much. Thanks for the suggestion! I'll research it more

Thanks for the idea! I know

Thanks for the idea! I know at least one football game does this and the name escapes me at the moment, but there are a few reasons it's not the right fit for my game - mostly.

The main reason is I feel that breaks the immersion of football for me. Coaches and players don't forget some of their playbook and then remember it later. I understand why designers did it this way, An ability to have many plays and using that as a timing mechanism is enticing and elegant, but not for what I am trying this game to be. In my game each player has all plays available to them at all times. There are 10 playbook cards per player. While that's not a lot of plays I feel it's definitely enough for what I am doing and its just at the limit of what someone can comfortably hold in their hand and understand all the options.

The other reason is this has been done, and I wouldn't know how to differentiate my game from that game enough to warrant making my game.

I do love the two minute warning idea though and didn't think about that. You did give me something to chew on for a Solo variant of my game that I haven't figured out yet. And I have some other ideas for games in the universe I am making like a deck building Rookie combine game where this idea may be more suited for.

Thanks again for the comment! It really got me thinking on some things.

Copies of a plays and timer icons

Glad I could help with the two minute warning idea, if only tangentially.

Could you track time progression of the game with a time icon on the cards?

Consider this set up: Each card has some timer icons on it, preferably in the corner. Each players has like 4-5 copies of each play of their 10 plays. There is something that has the same icon repeated in a line many times. When a play is run the player places the card overlapping the previous play card so that all of the time icons are visible and aligned. When the row of time icons on the stacked cards is longer than the row time icons the half is over. The set up would be something similar to this:



The 4-5 copies of the play represent a player becoming fatigued as the game goes on.

Also since your cards are so information dense you may consider using some Rummikub tile holders to hold the cards and have all the info visible.

Rummikub tile holder

Feel free to disregard, use or improve upon. Good luck.

Football strategy/Timer deck for result of play

I heard about an very old Avalon Hill game called Football Strategy. I thought you may like to know about it:

I thought some more about the draw deck as a timer. Instead of the draw deck containing the plays themselves, could they help decide the success or modify the successful of the play? There are bunch of ways you could do this.

My idea on how it would work is to have a catch, defender(s), catch yardage and run yardage on the cards. I am going to explain assume two decks as I described in an earlier post, but this could maybe be combined into one deck. For pass plays look at the top see if there is catch icon on it, if there then the ball was caught and advances by the catch yardage on the card. (There is probably an even better way to do this comparing the offense and defense and number of catch icons, but I am not able to come up with it) For run plays determine the number defenders needed to stop the play by comparing the offense and defense cards (I am assuming your game can produce these numbers). If it is 0 or negative (which shouldn't happen very often) flip over the top card and the offense looses that many yards. If it is positive go through the deck until that number of icons defender icons are used and gain the total yardage on those cards. You could also use the run mechanism to determine yardage after a catch.

Feel free to disregard, use or improve upon. Good luck.

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