To show you how HOCKEY BLAST works, let's open up the box and play a few sample minutes of a game. We'll use the fictional World Hockey League to help us demonstrate the game. (The WHL card set is offered as an alternative card set for hockey fans who want to create their own hockey league history, not constrained by real-life results. Read more about the WHL here.)
We choose our teams--Winnipeg at New England, and arrange each teams lines on the HOCKEY BLAST game board. If you'd like to follow along visually, click here for a printable PDF of the game board set-up which will appear in a new browser window. For each team, we choose four lines of forwards and three pairs of defenders, stacking the player cards with the best forwards and defenders on top of the each stack. When line changes are called for, you simply move the top player on each stack to the bottom. Simple!
We roll the dice for the face-off, and add them--a "4." Reading result "4" on the face-off chart tells us that the player on the ice with the highest FO rating wins the face-off. (Almost always this is a center, but sometimes a face-off can get waved off and a forward will have to step in.) In this case, the player with the highest FO rating would be Winnipeg's Randy Coker. So Winnipeg gains possession of the puck and goes on offense. Since the game's just started, and both teams are even-strength, we'll use the NORMAL MINUTES game action chart on page 2 of the game book.
We again roll the dice and add them. This time we roll an "8," which results in an ICE BLAST action. (There are a half-dozen or so distinct game actions, each resolved in its own unique manner. After you've played the game a few times, you'll have these memorized and much of the game will be played without your even needing to reference the charts!) In TV terms, an ICE BLAST is a wide-angle shot of all the players on the ice executing their roles. The ICE BLAST will call one of the game's six player qualities into play--SPEED, POWER, SKILL, SMART, STAR and HIT--and the team with MORE of the specific quality will gain momentary advantage. If the offense wins the match-up, a scoring chance is created. If the defense wins, a scoring chance is prevented! In this case, the game book indicates that we're checking for SKILL. Winnipeg has two players with SKILL (Marcil and Saindon), New England has four (everyone except Hanigan). So, New England uses its SKILL advantage over the course of the first minute to PREVENT a scoring chance and gain possession of the puck--we leave it to your imagination to fill in the stick-handling details! We mark "WPG-no shot" (or similar) in the first minute-box on our stat sheet and switch lines. New England starts the second minute in control of the puck, on offense, with the second line players now in the game.
We roll again on the NORMAL MINUTES game action chart, a "10." That's the TURNOVER game action, and quickly see that Winnipeg has enough defensive strength (Tom Parson's SQUARE symbol) to create a turnover. No line change or time advance on dice rolls of "10"--the same players stay on the ice, but--suddenly--Winnipeg is back on offense! We roll again...
This time we roll a "4," the ODD MAN RUSH game action. In this particular instance, the game book says the TV camera is on New England's left defenseman, Zbynek Mesic. He's got the square symbol--defensive strength--so, New England's second line, thanks to a great play from Mesic, makes another defensive stop! We again write "WPG-no shot" in the second minute-box on our score sheet, and switch lines.
We move to the third minute of play, New England again on offense, this time with the third-liners on the ice. We roll again--a "7," a LULL game action. LULLS are just what you'd think the name indicates--routine, un-remarkable ice time, complete with line changes, low-quality shots that are easily stopped, and an occasional, infrequent penalty that is effectively killed by the offending team. When a LULL occurs, it's considered that all lines have cycled through, three minutes of game time has elapsed, and the same players are now back on the ice. It's like you had to walk away from the TV set for a couple minutes, and when you came back, you hadn't missed anything. ("Stat nuts" will be pleased to know that LULL shots and penalties ARE accounted for, and added into your final box score, so you can keep complete stats if you want to! It's all fully explained in the game rules.) We mark a "LULL" in the third, fourth and fifth minutes boxes, and resume play in the sixth minute with a face-off, again using the third-liners.
We roll a "6," the VISITOR wins the face-off. Winnipeg goes on the attack again. Another "4," ODD-MAN RUSH, except this time we're checking for play-making ability from o1--the triangle symbol--and he doesn't have it. (Few third-liners will!) So, we again write "WPG-no shot" in the sixth minute-box, and again New England takes over the puck. We switch lines, choosing to skip the fourth line of forwards--we can do that twice each period--and bring up the first-liners again for the seventh minute.
As you can see, the game moves quickly and smoothly. Shots are resolved with a distinct dice roll, the abilities of the shooter AND the assist men combined and compared against the strength of the goalie. Fights and penalties have their own game action dice rolls, and are resolved in a similar fast, easy-to-follow fashion. Once you get familiar with the game actions and begin to memorize the charts, you should easily be able to complete an entire hockey game in about 30-40 minutes.