Sports Simulation Board Games

"Phone Booth Football": Bringing the Indoor Game to SECOND SEASON

A couple weeks ago, Joe Pritchard, Waunakee, WI shared an intriguing idea about adapting the existing SECOND SEASON game materials for the arena game. We think the idea has some merit, and maybe reading about it will encourage you to jump into the discussion...

Joe says, "I'm not sure what exactly inspired this brainstorm, or why I poured two hours one random evening in creating this, but I toyed a bit with the SECOND SEASON engine using players that have washed out of my (fictional) Midwest Football League, and found a way to create a rough facsimile of indoor football! I'm still experimenting with all this, but so far, it's been more fun than it had any right to be, considering that SECOND SEASON's math wasn't designed for this."

"It's pretty simple, really," Joe continued. "I removed one player from each of the secondary, linebackers, and defensive line, the offensive tackles (the guards could go if one preferred, but it makes no difference), and the fullback. Position boxes C, F, J, TA, TB, and FB are left open. If a game book check asks for them, instead of going to the yes/no result, I instantly go to the "X" column. (NOTE: if the game book calls for TWO positions and one of them has a player assigned, you would use that player's rating as the basis for the check. For example, if it says "A•C," you'd use player A's rating.)

These additional "X" results, and not allowing the defense to use the BLITZ defense, are my ways of roughly approximating the arena league rules that cripple defenses and allow scoring left and right. Players are graded just like in normal SS (although I capped kickers at A for the highest grade to make up for the slimmer uprights), and by giving each player completely random grades, it makes for a lot of "2" and "0" checks, which really open up the game as well. Big play after big play makes for a very fast paced and exciting experience!"

"For the running game, the lone running back can only run inside (since there really is not much of an 'outside' in arena football), but any QB runs are still referenced on the outside charts. I'm also ignoring the Screen Pass play, and debating whether to allow defenses to use PASS and RUN defenses—the first game was played with all SAFE defensive calls." (EDITOR'S NOTE: From my perspective, as the designer of the game, I would probably allow all existing offense and defense calls, including BLITZ defense and Screen Pass play. But that's just me!)

"Kickoffs are from the goal line, and I left the end zones at 10 yards instead of the Arena 8 for easier math purposes. Kickoffs that go beyond the end line 'bounce off the net' and are fielded 5 yards deep in the end zone. Any kicks shorter are fielded where they land, of course. Returners get one return grade for both kickoffs and missed field goals (no punting allowed, of course). Missed field goals are handled like COLD SNAP misses, with the "net" coming in to play again if the ball was supposed to go beyond the goal posts.

And how has Joe's experiment played out on the table-top?

"So far so good. The first game was an 80 play affair (20 plays per quarter) and ended up 33-29, with a furious late comeback from 33-16 falling just short when the second onside kick was recovered by the winning team. I'm sure if there were more plays per quarter (a pro game with SS has 120 plays), there would be authentic arena ball scores in the 50s and 60s."

I think this is a cool idea, one which could be expanded upon by the community. I would suggest that as long as we're "thinking outside the box" here, why not really give free rein to our collective imagination? In other words, I wouldn't intentionally limit the ideation to that of trying to replicate real-life indoor football. Why not come up with some rules ideas that might make it even more interesting? For example, what about playing with three downs instead of four? Or, how about TWO downs, and no kicking allowed whatsoever? How about a 60 yard field instead of 50? Or, 40? Or, how about this idea, which I created for a football-like faux sport several years ago: make the game possession based (think "innings" in baseball), and if you score a touchdown, you get your choice of conversion options: 1, 3 or 6 points from the one, five and ten yard-lines, respectively. AND, if you convert the touchdown, you get another conversion opportunity! When you fail to convert (or, if you fail to score at all), your possession is over.

Or, not. The key thing is, making something that's fun to play!

Joe wraps up by saying, "I'll keep you posted if I come up with any further ideas down this road, but for a "quick and dirty" fast paced indoor football experience, this seems to be working out okay!"

Agreed! In fact, we decided to throw together a few indoor teams that can be used to build on the framework that Joe's built so far.  Nothing fancy here: fictional players (well, mostly) populating four test teams, FIRE, ICE, WIND and SURF. You can download our 2017 Arena Experiment Teams here.

If you do experiment with this concept, let us know YOUR thoughts and ideas!