Sports Simulation Board Games

FEATURE: 3-on-3 Hockey for HOCKEY BLAST Pro Hockey Game

I spent a couple hours on Skype recently with Michael Owens, Winnipeg, MB discussing some new ideas for HOCKEY BLAST. One of the things we talked about was the NHL's new 3-on-3 overtime rules, designed to speed up scoring in the extra period. A couple years ago, we made minor changes to the game rules to reflect 3-on-3 play, adding two SHOT stars to every player in the extra period. But Michael and I thought maybe we could do better. Specifically, what if we made a special page of the game book that was designed specifically FOR for 3-on-3 play?

Insert "Ah-HA moment" HERE!

We've put together a couple of concept pages (download after reading the rest of this article) that contain the necessary adaptations of the game charts for 3-on-3 play. Essentially, we're trying to capture the free-wheeling, wide-open spaces feel of 3-on-3 hockey, with plenty of breakaway shots, reduced penalty chances and fewer game mechanics. We've re-done all of the necessary charts, including the PLAY chart which for 3-on-3 play references only players o1, o2 and o3. The SECONDARY PLAY column makes for different combinations of two players, or even unassisted shots in some cases. The Face-Off chart accelerates play with more immediate PLAY results, and even some breakaway PLAY results. The "Unusual" face-off results are set up to capture the infrequent but still occasional overtime penalties, and the penalty minutes are resolved without any additional dice rolls—no need to re-set lines. You'll just need to roll a die to determine who the penalty was on, and, if applicable, who scored. Again, the idea is "fast" and "fun!"

For 3-on-3, each team chooses three lines of three players. Generally speaking, you'll choose two forwards and one defenseman for each line, but you could set the lines up any way you wanted. The players will occupy boxes 1, 2 and 3 on the game board; boxes 4 and 5 are un-occupied. This may look a little weird at first, with only box three presenting a "match-up." Again, think "wide open" hockey, without (much) defense.

ZOOM results (on dice roll "6") are changed to ICE BLAST results, although with just three players per side, these will often take the form of one-on-one match-ups anyway. Obvsiouly, there are no LULLs; the "7" result becomes a breakaway for the team with possession of the puck. There are some other minor changes which you can look at on your own.

We've been play-testing the concept and have found it to work pretty well! We invite you to try out this new 3-on-3 idea and let us know how it works for you. You could even set up a 3-on-3 "league," with fifteen minute games (three periods of five minutes) to test the concept thoroughly.

Michael and I also talked about penalty shots. Frankly, the game was created and play-tested with 1970s hockey, where penalty shots were pretty rare. In recent years, they have become more frequent, which has highlighted the fact 1) the HOCKEY BLAST penalty shot rules are rather hidden in the rules booklet, and 2) they are kind of klunky! For example, What happens if a scissors guy gets a penalty shot? Without a rules tweak, he has no chance to score. So we talked about how this might be made better. I immediately thought about the SOCCER BLAST penalty shot mechanism, which is smooth and seamless. We agreed, this was the way to go.

The proposed penalty shot table re-creates the actual NHL penalty shot success rate (about 33%), and it operates on the assumption that all shooters and goalies are more the same than different when it comes to stopping penalty shots. There ARE differences reflected in the new charts, but they're marginalized. This makes for smoother, faster game play without sacrificing much realism.

Download the first-draft three-on-three and penalty shot/shoot-out charts for HOCKEY BLAST. NOTE that these are merely working ideas at this point, they are not "official" game components!

Again, try it out and let us know what you think. If it gets the gamer "thumbs-up," we'll look to incorporate these ideas into future editions of the game.