Sports Simulation Board Games

Situational Substitutions in SECOND SEASON Pro Football Game

PLAAY Games Delphi Forum member Cholly Grimm posed this question for fellow SECOND SEASON gamers, "What do you guys do with players with [run] or [pass] after their names? I know these are guys used on passing or running downs, but do you ever, say, run out of a passing formation on first down, which would have your 'receiving' running back in the game though it's not really a passing down?"

The thread sparked a discussion about the use of offensive players marked [run] or [pass]—some folks felt that these players should be considered to automatically be in the game every time a run (or pass) play is called. Others were not sure when they SHOULD be in the game. The discussion also included questions about the use of reserve player ratings in the game. How should routine substitutions be handled? And what if a finder column directs the ball to a reserve player, but the game book has already checked the starter?

Happily, I'm here to tell you that it's not really very complicated! Let me help sort through all this...

First, the solitaire version of the game is designed to be played with the gamer calling plays for both offenses and rolling a die for the defense setting. If the game is played that way, most of the previous questions are answered in a very simple and straightforward fashion.

Situational substitution guidelines are explained in the PLAYS FROM SCRIMMAGE section, page xiv of the (new) rules booklet. Offensive situational substitutions ALWAYS take place BEFORE the defense selects its defensive setting, or, in the case of solitaire play, before rolling the die for the defense setting. Defensive situational substitutions are automatic, and are built-into the team sheets/cards. So, when a PASS defense is called, players listed as "[pass]" are considered to be in the game. For offense, players marked "[run]" or "[pass]" DON'T come into play "automatically," you have to make that call yourself.

What this means is that, when playing solitaire, you need to choose your offensive "package" before calling your play, and before rolling the die to for the defense setting. The offensive "run" players are not automatically in the game on every run play, nor are the "pass" players in the game for every pass play.

Having said that, there are ways to make the process more "automatic." Generally, I will assume that the offense "pass" or "run" players are in the game if the defense die roll is in the "probable pass" or "probable run" setting. Otherwise, I use the standard starters. However, there are times when I will bring in the specialty packages for every-down use: late in a game when a team is trailing, it makes sense to have the "pass" players in for every down, regardless of down and distance. Similarly, when trying to run out the clock or in certain run-oriented sequences, it makes sense to have the "run" players in every down.

The question is posed regarding calling a run play from a pass package, or vice-versa. You could do that—and, indeed, if you're using a solitaire offense play-calling chart, it will sometimes happen—but doing so manually makes more sense in a head-to-head context than solitaire.

Regarding giving game time to reserve players, the game was designed so that it's "assumed" that reserve players are coming into and out of the game in a nondescript fashion. Thus you don't need to do anything special to account for this. The game book generally zeroes in on one or a few "key" players, but does not preclude that subs have come in for a play or a series, executed their assignments satisfactorily, and quietly returned to the sidelines. I specifically designed the game to work this way to eliminate the book-keeping of having to account for a steady stream of players entering and exiting the game in limited roles, which, of course, happens routinely in today's pro game.

Finally, if you're using the finder columns, sometimes a reserve player is named the intended receiver—what then? Again, for the sake of simplicity, I would suggest using the starters for game book reference and assume that the targeted reserve played a secondary role in the execution of the play. In the infrequent instance where the targeted receiver and the key player play the same position, assume that both were in the game for this particular "package." Use the starter's pass rating to resolve the play (as a decoy or blocker or whatever), and the completed pass goes to the finder-targeted reserve.

Of course, there are exceptions to the above philosophy of simplicity. For example, if a reserve player enters the game because of an injury, you obviously should use the reserve player's ratings when called for in the game book. Similarly, in blow-out contests where you just want to get the game over without injuring a starter, you can assume that the reserve player is the "key" player for all outcomes (including injuries.)

Hope this helps! Any questions, I'm always happy to help. The e-mail address is