Sports Simulation Board Games

FEATURE: Mike Vacco's HOCKEY BLAST House Rule and Strategy Ideas

Mike Vacco is a recent addition to the HOCKEY BLAST family, and he and a friend have been giving the '79-80 season cards a good workout! "One thing I don't think everyone realizes is that HOCKEY BLAST is the most intense strategic experience you will ever have in any table top sports game. The decisions are endless! No other game would you ever (or could ever) go over so many meaningful decisions which can directly effect the outcome of a game. I could spend a night on line combos alone!"

Being a creative guy (and having played a lot of different hockey board games), Mike has sent along several great ideas for home-brew and house rules. Here are some of them...


This can be done once per game. Mike says, "You have to have an un-used 'Double Shift' Line Strategy for that period. Call time-out, and you may now re-arrange all lines, and it also cancels any momentum chip in play. This would be good for putting that big line together when behind late in the game, creating a couple of checking lines when ahead late in the game, replacing that injured player who is messing up your line combinations, and other uses!"


This idea came from Mike's desire to get a few more "ZOOM" match-ups. "Those are so exciting and really makes you feel like you made the right (wrong) choice when line matching. Don't get me wrong, "ICE BLASTS" are just as cool and important to the game. But there's nothing like gloating over a matchup where your speedy forward burned around your opponent's slow footed defender, etc."

Mike wanted to see putting a bad defender across from an opponents star player "burn" you a little more often! So he came up with this house rule...

"On ICE BLAST (8) results, when the dice roll is double fours, an Anticipated Match-Up happens on the ice. The team with the puck puts forward an attacker (it can be a forward or defenseman) and the defending team chooses a defender (also can be a forward or defenseman). Roll for your attribute check. If the attacker wins the check, that player gets a PLAY shot. If the defender wins the match-up he steals the puck. Conduct a line change and Time advance."

Mike and his friends play-tested this idea for a couple dozen games and really liked the results. "We found it to happen just enough to whet our appetites but not enough to become boring or gimmicky!"


In the playoffs, the HOME team begins the game with momentum. Simple, effective, realistic!


Here's a system which seems to mirror pro hockey's salary structure pretty closely. "You add up all of a player's symbols, stars and qualities. Momentum symbols count as half rounded down. Scissors and double scissors have the same effect as they do in the game. The final figure is the player's salary in millions.

"So, for example, take a player like '79-80 Gretzky: 5 qualities, 4 stars scoring, 3 assist stars, 4 symbols: you would get a salary of $16,000,000. Not that far off what a top player is paid today. It even works with double scissor guys: 2 qualities, 2 double scissors, he would draw a minor league salary of $125,000. Generic player: 1 quality, 2 scissors would make $250,000. A player with, say, 3 qualities, 1 shot star, 1 assist star would make $5,000,000.

"For goaltenders you could add up the stars on their card and give them 1 million per star."

Mike says, "this is an abstract idea that probably needs to be tweaked some to make it work, but you might be able to use it somewhere in the future." Agreed—it looks pretty solid!


The following ideas would be implemented as strategy cards (the first two ideas were presented in a previous newsletter). NOTE that these strategies can only be employed in even-strength situations...

PRESSURE OFFENSE, add ONE star to your total before rolling a PLAY shot but on defense you must subtract TWO stars from your goaltender's PLAY SAVE rating. This would stay in effect until you played another strategy card, or until the end of the period.

SMOTHERING DEFENSE, add ONE star to your goaltender's PLAY SAVE rating but you must subtract TWO stars from your total before rolling a PLAY shot. This would stay in effect until you played another strategy card, or until the end of the period.

WILD CLEARING ATTEMPT may be played by the defensive team if they have no "squares" on the ice. Play just before the offense is to roll for a rebound attempt. (Does not have to be the first rebound attempt.) Roll six-sided die, and use these results...

Mike is also tinkering around with other ideas outside the current game framework, including a SPECTACULAR ASSIST chart (similar to the SPEC SAVE chart for goalies), injury-related results from HIT checks, and color-coded qualities similar to what was offered the first few years with our fictional hockey cards. For now, though, these ideas remain on the drawing board. "The thing I have to keep in mind when giving you ideas is to try and keep them as elegant and simple as you have already presented them in the rules."

To close, here's an excerpt from one of Mike's playoff hockey series with HOCKEY BLAST...

"Here we are in the playoffs of our '79-80 North Star season with a twist, the playoffs are being played as a 'what-if' scenario for the Stars: 'What if Minnesota made it to the playoffs injury free?'

In real-life Minnesota lost to the Philadelphia in the semi-finals 4 games to 1.

First round against the Leafs (I coached all opposing teams and my buddy used his beloved North Stars) went as per the actual series with the Leafs bowing three straight, including the actual loss incurred at home in OT. I was proud, though—I put up a far greater threat than the actual Leafs taking advantage of momentum best I could. My friend was worried at this point.

The second round saw Minnesota actually dominate most of the series against Montreal with some truly horrific goaltending from Dennis Herron, and Minnesota went on to win 4 games to 2. Actual was 4 games to three, Minnesota.

The third round against Minnesota was dominated in real life by Philadelphia defeating an injury-plagued North Star lineup in 5 games. But with a healthy Minnesota team, well, here we are in game 7. A late goal by Gary Sargent (missing for the real-life series) puts the Stars in front 4 - 3 with 3 minutes to go—and it comes down to a face-off in the last minute of play in regulation. Flyers win the draw and—can you believe it?—I rolled a "2" Spectacular Save!" We sat and looked at each other for about 30 seconds. Talk about suspense!

On Meloche's SPEC SAVE rating, he stops it on a 2, 8 or 12...

...He rolled a 12!

Game 1 of the Isles/Stars Cup final up next!...