PLAAY Games

Sports Simulation Board Games

Spring 2020 Community Buzz: Questions/Ideas/Fun

As you can imagine, we get quite a bit of e-mail about game questions and ideas. A lot of it can be helpful/useful to the rest of the community, so we're happy to share! Here's a sample...

RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN' super-user Bruce Peckham writes, "approximately three years ago Mike Haley sent in a Pit Violations List he and I had gathered and formatted for use in our EZRA fictional stock car league. The Pit Violations Table is intended to add fun and color to the racing narrative generated by the game. This list appears on the RWBR Free Stuff page. I have updated this list to facilitate clarity and ease of use. Mike has contributed his extensive formatting skills this end. I submit the attached for consideration as a replacement of the present table."

Bruce adds that there are a few caveats to consider before digging into this updated chart. "A few of the stated infractions and penalties may not conform exactly to current NASCAR practice. But the entries are supported by current or prior online information on the subject. (Also), if a gamer wants to use the table on a purely out-of-the-box rendition of the game, all violations result in the offending car being relegated to the end of the Bottom Group. If Dennis Zimmerman's Laps Down/Wave Around house rule is in use, then the table will serve as presented. No other house rules are in effect."

You can download the updated Pit Violations List here...

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Pete Adams will be part of the braintrust at PLAAY-Dot-CON 2020 putting together some new options for enhanced head-to-head play with RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN'. We ran a feature article about this in the winter newsletter. Pete writes, "Since one of my favorite things about Fury Football is the coach cards, why not (do the same with RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN' and) make available historical and generic Crew Chief cards that allow the crew to attempt to adjust the car to meet track conditions at each pit stop? If you attempt to adjust the car, you would roll to see if you are successful, no change, or miss the setup. Successful would allow you to double a chosen quality (i.e. HEAT*) until the next pit stop. "No change" is just that. Miss the setup would mean removing a chosen quality from the drivers card. At the next pit stop you would try again to "hit the setup." Certain tracks may be more difficult/easier to hit the setup on and that would become one of the dice modifiers."

Pete continues, "Crew chiefs could also have different abilities to adjust race week results, change the trophy rating, letter grade for trouble/problem checks, fast pit and escape ratings. Each Crew Chief card would be about the size of the HISTORY MAKER GOLF course card, with the ability to put a chip marker on the quality you selected if successful or unsuccessful on the setup roll. Green chip for add to quality, red chip for remove a quality." These are good thoughts, and I look forward to hashing some of these rules out with Pete and others at the convention!

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One more RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN' thought, posted on the PLAAY Games Delphi Forum by user TINGER1970: "I assume the main reason for not allowing chips in the bottom was due to the 'stack' and the impossibility of it holding a chip. I play with a full 43 car board. For those of you who do, does it make sense to let them carry chips with them in cases where it's a small problem such as paper on the grill?" Good one! First thought, a driver with a chip who encounters even a minor problem that causes him to be sent to the back of the bottom group--in that case, it probably wouldn't make sense to carry the chip with him, as any momentum would logically be lost. Aside from that, I'd think it would be very rare that a bottom group driver would even get/hold a chip, as there are no fast pits or duels down there. Most drivers who have a chip would spend it to avoid going to the bottom group (i.e/, via being collected in TROUBLE). One instance that does come to mind would be a non-trophy driver who gets Race Week Placement "B" and a performance chip (i.e., TV Event X, dice roll 54). There's probably no reason why you couldn't allow him to keep his chip as the race begins.

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Larry Rice is currently conducting a full-season HISTORY MAKER GOLF project with the fictional Pro National Golf cards. "Like a good novel or captivating movie," Larry writes, "I have a hard time putting it down!" As is the practice of a number of HMG gamers, Larry has come up with his own tweaks to the Tournament Mode process of setting up the contending golfers for the final round. "I think its important to have some perspective," he says. "A main factor for my enjoyment of the fictional set/tournament play is that I can totally customize the parameters, include a couple of my own created courses, etc. Just because the Big Stars play ~55% of tournaments doesn't mean that's what it has to be in "my reality". This might be one area where letting it go a little is both helpful and appropriate and since there's no real-life replay component to be slaved to, it certainly doesn't affect my enjoyment."

"That said, choosing each weekly golfer participation from the 198 (an extra thank you for the additional 36 or so free Pro National Golf "fringe player" cards!) needs to be done. So I built a VERY simple spreadsheet in Excel and assigned standard participation percentages to each golfer and used a random number function to pick those sitting out/non-qualifying/nagging injury, etc. I made the extra 36's "non-participation rate" double of the others and use commissioner discretion to prevent any 1's or 2's from sitting out the Majors. I also have 1-2 tournaments for "prospects only" or 3A's and above. Plus, injuries are "tournament rating blind" and also need to be factored in. I might tweak this a little in the offseason, but it works for me. And in my alternate reality a participation rate of 80-85% vs. 52% is not something I personally will lose sleep over.

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Here's a SECOND SEASON football question from Al Ptak: "Is there anyway to attempt a punt block other than getting a roll on the routine punt charts? For example, a team is down one score, has its opponent pinned deep, and wants to attempt to block the fourth down punt." Al's home-brewed rule was to go straight to the blocked punts chart for a result. "I knowi that an 'A' punter is never blocked but, maybe the heat causes a shank. What’s your take or have you seen any house rules on the subject?"

Good one, Al! This is where subjectivity would have to come in. My sense is that just because a team WANTS to block a punt, it doesn't greatly increase the chances that a punt will actually BE blocked. The punting team is always playing to protect the punter. I think, generally speaking, return teams are ALWAYS trying for a blocked punt. It's the default mode. Sure, teams can "set up for the return," but I think the chaos of a punt return doesn't really allow for the X's and O's of a scrimmage play.

I do think that teams will sometimes "send in the dogs" and forego a return for an elevated chance of blocking the punt, but I think that's mostly true if they see something in the punting teams' blocking/alignment scheme. I don't think it has much to do with a game situation where a blocked punt would be more beneficial/attractive.

That said, I do think perhaps there's a place for a heavy punt block rush option--but there would have to be a trade-off. I don't think going to the punt block chart right off the bat is a workable option because then you'd ALWAYS do that, especially with a punter who had a tendency for blocked punts.

In my view, the risk/reward would have to favor the kicking team. In other words, a somewhat increased chance of a blocked punt would be exchanged for much poorer field position (i.e., less chance of a return, or extra roll on the punt) if the blocked punt doesn't happen. Maybe on a heavy rush you increase the punter's BLK grade by a level or two, and if the punt is not blocked, you add dice+dice to the punt yardage result if it's over a certain benchmark result--say 40 yards, with no return possible (the idea being you're removing blocking scheme for the return and increasing the chance that the return man--if there IS a return man, maybe he's the extra guy rushing the punt--won't be able to get to the ball for the return.)

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Reid Mariani came up with what I think is an exciting idea for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL. "I never would use it myself in a baseball board game," Reid says, "but I've always thought game players would go for an optional 'big at bat' feature, where a crucial at bat is decided pitch by pitch, rather than one roll. You could have one player as batter guessing what pitch the pitcher was going to throw. That would bring his chances up or down, depending." Agreed—this would be a super-cool option, and I bet a lot of gamers would choose to use it every once in awhile. The problem would getting it so that each pitcher has a realistic pitching arsenal, reflective of his actual pitching repertoire. THAT would be very time-consuming to research and rate, downright impossible to do for many vintage seasons. It would be made more workable, though, if some generalizations were assumed/applied. For example, rather than determining whether a pitcher has a strong slider, fastball or knuckleball, instead we just assume that he has a certain un-specified kind of pitch that is his key pitch. Furthermore, maybe we assume that an ACE pitcher is better with his key pitch than a STAR pitcher is, a STAR more than a WORKMAN, and so on. There could be an interactive chart similar to what we use for Fury Hardball, which would take into account both the pitcher's skill set and the batters'. We'll start working on this, but if you have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions—or if you come up with a Big At-Bat chart before we do--please reach out to us!

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On the subject of pitching tweaks for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL, Travis Jansen has added a counter-quality to the STRONG quality outlined in the Advanced Options section of the HMB rules booklet. This is reserved for starting pitchers who average less than four innings pitched or relief pitchers who average less than one inning pitched. Travis and I exchanged a series of e-mails about what the quality should be called. On Travis' game table, it's the WEAK quality. I suggested something a little broader with less negative connotation. After all, some of the pitchers are specialists who are only used for certain specific situations—it's not because they have weak arms. My suggestions were TERSE or CONCISE, Travis countered with SHORT or BRIEF. BUT—whatever you call it, it's a good concept for today's baseball!

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As we've amped up the presence of FURY FOOTBALL on our YouTube schedule, we stumbled upon a way to integrate the strategy cards into solitaire game play. The strategy cards, to a large extent, define the character of each Fury Football team, but many folks struggle with how to use them equitably in a solo gaming context. Here's what we do now in Big Fury Six league play: we roll a die to determine who gets first use of strategy cards, placing a colored pawn or chip on that teams array of cards. While that team controls the pawn, the other team cannot use its strategy cards. Once the team uses a card, though, the pawn goes over to the other team and THAT team now controls strategy card usage. Cooper Gilbert came up with an amendment to the rule that we like—where a team loses control of the pawn if they turn the ball over (interception or fumble). Here's another idea: for the pre-game coin toss, the team that wins the toss gets to make of one of two choices: whether they want to get the ball first/last, OR whether they want control of the strategy cards. The other team then gets to make the other choice.

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Questions? Comments? Let us know!