Sports Simulation Board Games

"Football Re-Imagined,"Revisited: What Might Spring Football Look Like In SECOND SEASON?

by Keith Avallone, PLAAY Games

In the March 2018 newsletter, inspired by Vince McMahon's announcement of a revival of the XFL springtime pro football league (and the subsequent announcement of the Alliance of American Football), we borrowed McMahon's buzzword and talked about what "Football Re-Imagined" might look like. Our "Football Re-Imagined" article presented some ideas of a faster-playing, more streamlined rules set for professional football, and how they might translate to the tabletop. You can read the whole article here, but the key points of our "re-imagination" were 1) using the Canadian style of play, with three downs instead of four; 2) 10-minute periods instead of 15, with a five-minute "bonus" period if the teams were within two scores of each other at the end of the fourth period; 3) incorporating a continuously-running clock, with stoppages only on changes of possession and penalties. In the article, I expressed the desire to try out a quick demo project with these rules, choosing four teams from the Football America series and playing a six game schedule.

A couple months ago, I got a follow-up e-mail about the article from Bob Hansen, Menomonee Falls, WI, asking if I'd gotten any feedback on the "football re-imagined" ideas. Coincidentally, I DID: exactly a day later, I got an e-mail from Mark Zigler, Corona, CA. Mark had actually formed a "re-imagined" football league and wanted to share some thoughts, having reached the half-way point of his 28-game season. Mark's league consisted of eight drafted teams, with a round-robin schedule. Here are his observations, which I shared with Bob and am now sharing with everyone. (Remember, these are Mark's words, not mine!)

UPDATE 11.26.18: Mark sent along an e-mail with final statistics and standings from this project, we've created a downloadable PDF with this information.

Sounds like Mark has had a pretty favorable experience with the new rules. It was incentive enough for me to get out my own copy of SECOND SEASON and the 2018 Football America teams and (finally) try "football re-imagined" for myself!

In my first game, San Diego beat Chicago 22-9. The second game, San Antonio came from behind to defeat Golden Bay 19-15. Both games went into "bonus time," (i.e., the games were within two scores at the end of the fourth period). Both games took just over an hour real-time to play. Both games featured around 90 offensive plays (that is, 40 scrimmage plays and five punts/kicks for each team) instead of the usual 120.

Now for a couple of my own observations, to add on to those expressed by Mark above...

Anyway, those are my thoughts. With the "reimagined" rules set, game time definitely moves along faster, and it's a more streamlined game. Before I undertake a full-blown league season, though, I think I would tinker with the defense settings a little. I played "normal" defense settings on first down, and usually a "passing down" defense die roll on third down. It was hard to know what defense setting to use for, say, second and four. I also think it might give some perspective to play a couple test games with real teams instead of fictional.

Overall, though, I thought the "reimagined" rules set holds a lot of promise! Comments? Questions? Contact us!