As you can imagine, we get quite a bit of e-mail about game questions and ideas. A lot of it can be helpful/usefull to the rest of the community, so we're happy to share! Here's a sample...
Rick Cantwell e-mailed some questions about creating teams for SECOND SEASON football. "Under the section discussing individual ratings, it mentions on how a particular unit may be graded up or down based on how that unit performed (e.g., the secondary may be bumped up if the opposition completion percentage was low). Does that unit adjustment change the team's aggregate number too? For example, if a team has an aggregate pass defense of 13, but the team's secondary deserves to be bumped up 2 points, is that bump in addition to the 13 (taking the total to 15), or does that adjustment mean that the linebacker and defensive line units will have two less points to keep the aggregate the same?" The second scenario is correct: if you bump up the defensive backfield, you would have to downgrade elsewhere to keep the overall point total in line. As an aside, I have depended less on this guideline in recent years. That is to say, if upgrading the DBs makes the rest of the defense ratings look wrong, don't do it.
Rick also asked what parameters are used to determine a team's Defense Y adjustment and overall +/- offensive and defensive tendencies. Defense Y grade is a simple comparison of a team's defensive interception percentage vs. the league average. If it's more than 0.75% one way or the other, I (usually) adjust. The overall +/- tendencies are a little trickier. Offense tendencies are based purely on the ratio of run plays to pass plays. Defense tendencies are based on the league averages. So a team that both throws 57% of the time and is thrown upon 57% of the time in a league that averages 50% pass would be given an offense tendency of -2 and a defense tendency of 0, or "no change."
Derek Jones is currently working on HOCKEY BLAST cards for the 1993-94 ECHL season and ran into a dilemma in assigning triangle and square symbols. "After adjusting for qualities, some of the results seemed really off." Charlotte, for example, was a winning team with a negative shot differential. Derek's calculations showed them to have +2.5 shot surplus from qualities, trying to match a real-life shot deficit of 4.2, that's a 6.5 shot swing. "Best case scenario under current calculations would be 0 triangles, 0.5 squares. But, I think more squares are in order, and perhaps at least one triangle."
Derek continued, "Here's my thought that I wanted to run by you to see if it makes sense. What if, after distributing triangles/squares based on GF/GA ranks, I adjust the number of qualities instead? On the higher-quality teams, I found myself giving some players qualities that I felt were stretches for them in order to reach their team's quality quota. This would help eliminate those 'fluff' qualities, while helping get these teams closer to their real-life shot and goal differentials."
I'll give a two-part answer to Derek's question. First, calculating average qualities is tricky when you're doing a season with "overtime losses" instead of ties. What this does is artificially inflates W/L records. For the '93-94 ECHL, the average record with OTL was 34-28-6, 74 points, vs. an expected (with ties) record of 30-30-8, 68 points. Thus, you'd need to compare Charlotte's 82 points with the league average of 74 rather than the expected break-even point total of 68. That will make the calculations somewhat more reasonable.
Second, in my view common sense over-rules formulae. As you know, shots are abstracted in HB so it's not a stretch to assume that the surplus/deficit shots could be absorbed by the LULL results. Adjusting qualities (as Derek suggested) is always my first solution, as long as it makes sense to do so--which it certainly does here! I have been thinking recently that I need to amend the how-to guide to communicate this idea better. Any time your calculations generate wonky distributions of symbols, it makes sense to adjust somewhere.
Frank Albidone had such a great time with his first All-Time Franchise Great Teams HOCKEY BLAST season, he's playing it out again! Frank e-mailed, "I'm always looking at minor tweaks to make the game(s) more interesting. I will be adding a hot/cold check for the starting goal-tenders in my second go at the ATG league." He'll roll two dice before the game: 2-4, the goalie is HOT and will have one PLAY SAVE star added. Dice rolls 10-12 will result in a COLD goalie, with one PLAY SAVE star taken away. Frank pointed out that his wrinkle could have repercussions in the standings, "especially if one goalie always rolls 'hot' or vice versa--which is unlikely. As odds go, things usually balance themselves out." Good stuff, Frank--I love introducing these kinds of variables! It often shows what a fine line there is between winning and losing.
Another HOCKEY BLAST question: on a dice roll of "4" (or any roll with the circle symbols) on the POWER minutes PLAY chart, what if the PLAY is generated by the short-handed team? Does the successful penalty kill take precedence over the scoring chance? The answer is, yes it can--IF the short-handed team chooses. In the infrequent instances where the short-handed team generates a PLAY result with circle symbols, it can either take the shot, OR the PK, whichever the PK team deems to be more beneficial in the moment!
Bobby Scott watched our LACROSSE BLAST "Great Teams" game on the PLAAY Games YouTube channel, Colorado vs. Toronto and noted that I was switching out players on every roll on the possession chart. "I may have missed that in the rules, but don't see that. Is that a optional rule?" Well, I hadn't played the game in awhile, as I mentioned in the broadcast. Before the broadcast, I scanned the rules and on page iii, second paragraph of the FACE OFF section, it mentions switching players out based on the black and white dice, which is done on the face-off only. But having just played the soccer game (and having not played LAX for awhile), I guess I morphed the two rule sets together. (Not the first time I goofed something up, LOL!) BUT I would say that the dice switch-out certainly won't hurt the game and in fact, I feel like it works pretty well. Real box lacrosse is a lot like hockey, where players are coming on and off the floor constantly and the subs get a lot of playing time. The existing [bracketed] player mechanic was designed to replicate that flow of players. Switching out the players with the dice accelerates that--it doesn't change the real-life dynamic of starter vs. sub. So, I will probably continue to play the game this way! For those who are averse to card-switching, though, the game's original method (of switching on bracketed results) will work just fine.
Scott Moore wrote to let us know that FACE TO THE MAT has brought him back to the tabletop. "After many years in my younger days playing and enjoying SOM baseball, I had gradually moved over to the computer sports sims and thought I was never going back to cards and dice again. I was playing a pro wrestling computer game and was looking for some ideas in how to generate storylines and the out of the ring stuff. After some digging I found a lot of reviews stating how well your game captures the craziness of pro wrestling, so I decided to give FTTM a try. I'm so glad I did! I've never had so much fun playing a sports tabletop or computer game before! Right now I'm running a fed (FWA) with wrestlers that are based on my family! Seeing my Dad get power bombed by my 6 year-old niece or seeing my sweet 16 year-old daughter who wouldn't hurt a fly become the most hated heel in the fed is just entertaining and hilarious!"
Scott says he would definitely recommend the "family fed" idea to fellow FTTM gamers. "The storyline aspect of the game makes for some really funny situations and drama (I have literally laughed out loud on several occasions). Most families have their share of drama, and this game plays into that, albeit in a more exaggerated way!"
Charles Meunier recently picked up the '99 Pro Season for RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN' and it prompted this memorable post on the PLAAY Games Community Facebook page: "Let's travel back in time, shall we? Back in the late '90s, while I was in grade school, Pocono Raceway would advertise on TV in New Jersey about being our area’s local NASCAR track and that two weekends of HEART-POUNDING stock car action was coming, every summer. I remember wanting to go to a race oh-so very much. Well, in '99, it happened. I remember my father and Uncle finally agreeing to take me to my first NASCAR race after being a TV fan for a few years (yes, I enjoyed NASCAR during my elementary school days!) Well, the event certainly lived up to the hype in my eyes. I loved everything about that first race. I still have my race day program, event die-cast, everything. Fast forward to today, I received my 1999 Pro-Series RWBR cards. Seeing the names, the card numbers, the colors—wow, the memories instantly came back. I remember hearing the names on these very cards for the Pocono 500 driver introductions. I remember seeing most of these cars zoom past me while I sat in my seats at the exit of turn 3, down the longest straightaway in NASCAR. I cannot wait to race them and relieve my childhood on my tabletop. Since I'm 29 years of age, finding older sets like this that sincerely 'take me back' is truly something else.
Questions? Comments? Let us know!