Sports Simulation Board Games

Feature: PLAAY Gamer E-Mails

We're always happy to hear from you via e-mail! Here's a sampling of some of the questions we've tackled recently (hey, if one person has a question, chances are that others will have the same question!) as well as some of the teriffic ideas that PLAAY Gamers have come up with...

MIKE LYELL, Windermere, FL recently joined the community, spending time with SOCCER BLAST. Mike e-mailed, "I may have missed it somewhere, what are the G, NG, (NG) and S/OG sections on the scorecard for Soccer Blast?" The stat headings Mike's referring to are not really "official" soccer stats so much as they are tools to help you gauge how teams did each game. The "G" represents goals scored; "NG" represents shots taken from on-target attacks; "(NG)" represents shots generated from defended attacks, where you're not rolling for the shot, the defended simply tells you it was missed; "S/OG" represents all shots taken vs. shots on goal, in other words G+NG+(NG)/G+NG.(9/17)

BILL KOPPEN, Joliet, IL e-mailed a game question we had never gotten before (and we’ve gotten a LOT of them!): Bill was playing RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN' and got to the final turn of his race, where he rolled a black "5" (which for the final turn, incorporates drivers in BOTH the TOP and MIDDLE groups) and a metallic dice total of "2," which indicated a RARE result. Oh my! A RARE result on the last turn of the race—what a finish! Bill asked, "Should I consult the rare chart first and then the driver finder chart? Or do I use BOTH groups? Please explain!" OK, so in THIS case, we had to think about what should be done, as there are a couple ways that could make sense. After giving it some thought, we decided that there should be a roll for TWO rare results. First, roll for the MIDDLE group and resolve that. THEN roll for the TOP group, and resolve that. Then the race would be over. That could create quite a wild ending!

Bill got back to us a couple days later to let us know how his race ended. "Well, it got complicated," he said. "Among other things, I rolled 'The Big One' trouble result and it practically wiped out the whole top group except for the second place driver who won the race!"

BTW, we calculate the odds of having a RARE result on the last turn of a 40-turn race, assuming the RARE result is on "2" or "12" (it usually is) as about 1/1440—which is to say, assuming 36 races in a season, it would happen once every 40 years of racing! WOW! (9/17)

SCOTT HOWARD, Steilacoom, WA was one of many fans who downloaded the free '72-73 WHL hockey cards from last month's (11/2016) newsletter. "The 72-73 Seattle Totems were also an historic team in Hockey history, hosting the USSR National team on Christmas 1972 to become the FIRST North American professional club to ever play the Russians! Here's the link to the story. My Dad and I made the 60 mile drive into the city to see the game. I still have my stub. Great memories looking over the player cards all these years later." (12/16)

CHRIS BULLOCK, Carmel, CA had more to say about adding a "Morganna" result to the HMB rare results charts, an idea proposed last month by Michael Fish. "I saw her live at Dodger stadium. Wes Parker was her target! In the 1st inning, she came out from behind the Dodgers dugout and made a beeline for Parker, but he saw her and attempted to hide behind the home plate umpire and the Astros catcher. But she flushed him out, and the chase was on! Parker ran up the 1st Base line, and made a left turn at the outfield grass. She followed him like a Klingon ship on an overtake course. He ran around the edge of the outfield grass to the other side of the field and then turned back into the infield on the 3rd Base side. Finally, Astros third Baseman Doug Rader had had enough, and he jumped Parker and pinned his arms behind his back so Morganna could get her kiss."

Chris continues, "After Morganna was led off, Parker resumed his at bat. He fouled about 10 straight pitches directly back into the screen. Finally, he made an out, and the funny thing is, I don't really remember how! I think he flew out or popped up, but I'm not sure. Of course, the end was hardly the highlight of the at bat!" (12/16)

CHARLIE LORD, Surprise, AZ e-mailed about his "three amigos" HMB group (himself, David Neely and Ron Kalmoe) which gets together regularly in Arizona. "Today we had several great games including yours truly managing my beloved Yankees to two straight wins and then doing the same with the 10th place Kansas City A's! I have to admit that my humility left me many times during these 4 games!"

"We ended with one game that was something special, a back and forth tilt between Washington and Boston. David's Senators took a quick 2-0 lead. Buster Narum, of whom I must have had in every baseball card pack I purchased as a 10 year old in 1964, was pitching a beautiful ballgame for the Washington ball club. However, Felix Matilla's 2 run Homer tied it for Ron's Red Sox in the seventh. The game kind of exploded from there. Ron took a four run lead into the bottom of the ninth when David unbelievably rallied for three runs and trailed by only a run 8-7 with two outs and runners on first and third! Even Ron's Fenway Monster, Dick Radatz—the most awesome relief pitcher of those years in Major League Baseball—was rattled. But then Senators Shortstop Ed Brinkman, perhaps thinking that no one would expect him to attempt to steal second, which would put the winning run in scoring position, takes off for second and is gunned down to end the ballgame leaving the tying run 90 feet away, Holy Cow! It was a game to remember—even more than my four straight wins! (12/16)

GARY CHROSNIAK, Las Vegas, NV e-mailed to let me know that he's been experimenting with the "Simple d6 Basketball" idea from the Npvember (2016) newsletter, with improvised teams for the 1974-55 Pistons and Braves. "Each player has a scoring, rebound and foul pct, 1-100. Using "A" offense for Braves, "B" for pistons, each had a so-so defense (so I'm tinkering with) +1 defense, making the Braves "AA" and the Pistons "A." It’s Buffalo 54-43 at the half, McAdoo leads all scorers with 14, took 20 minutes for half..." To be continued! (12/16)

JOHN METTLER, Niagara Falls, NY wrote in with a SECOND SEASON football question, "What do you do after a safety? Should I use the long punt chart? Which Return chart do I use?" John, after a safety, you have a choice. You can either kickoff or punt, from the 20 yard line. Years ago, most teams elected to kick off, but in recent years they always punt. If you decide to punt, the way I do it is to use the PL chart, without the text--all punts are returnable from the distance indicated. Either way, punt or kickoff, use a KICK returner returner's RET grade. (9/16)

SHAWN LARSON, Holmen, WI also asked a SECOND SEASON question about rating players with usage asterisks. "Do you have any recommendations for rating players who fall near the middle of the general attempt designations? For example, a receiver who averages six receptions a game? One, or two asterisks? Or a running back who averages 15 rushes a game, does he get an asterisk, or no?" I do take it on a case-by-case basis when rating players on the aspects you mentioned. For running backs, I try to project whether a runner would be used beyond his limit and if so, will rate on the high side for IN and OU grades, with the assumption that some of those carries will be at the "C" or lower rate. Typically, that's how I'll rate a runner who averaged 15 carries per game. For receivers, I usually round up. So if a receiver averages 5 catches per game (or more), he gets two asterisks. In rare cases--for example with running backs, or on teams with a very high number of passes per game--I will give only one asterisk. Hope this helps! (9/16)

TODD BARRE, Elmhurst, IL: "In a short-track race (Martinsville, 28 turns) where the 27th turn was a pit turn, I experimented with the "skip-the-pit-stop-go-for-it-on-fuel" rule. In a solitaire mode, I elected to do a single d6 roll for everybody in the top group and if it came up "6," then that driver "went for it." (This proved to be an exciting finish as Logano went for it, kept the lead, but then failed the gas roll at the end). This leads to a question about what order these rolls should be in especially if the top group is the one checking for a FAST PIT. You have several things going on: a position switch based on the two metallic dice, a FAST PIT check, a decision as to who's going for it on fuel (which then produces another position switch) and a final end-of-pit roll to see who tries to replace the leader. What order would you do these? And if somebody goes for the win on fumes, do you then skip the final "take-the-lead" roll that is standard in a pit turn? I think I came up with a logical sequence, but just curious if you had previously play-tested this." Todd, you're right, lots of stuff happening in this scenario! I would do it in this order: A) roll for the pit turn to see if the top group is even involved. If it is, then B) decide who (if any) will skip the pit turn. (Sounds like you have a procedure for this, works great!) C) move driver(s) up as outlined on p xv of the rules. D) re-order the group, ignoring any switch for drivers who skipped the pit. E) The drivers who choose to pit CAN earn a performance chip, so you would roll for that. F) There is no challenge for the lead out of the pits in this case, the driver(s) who skipped the pit simply hold their positions. G) Make any notes, move to final turn.(9/16)

JON RILEY, Keyser, WV had a question about the DB FLASH pitching quality for HMB. "I rolled a 1-4-6 on the Main Chart where it reads: 'FLASH? Strikeout! (with the GOOD EYE symbol).' The pitcher had the DB FLASH quality. The batter did NOT have the Good Eye symbol, so he struck out. However, the SECOND batter after him DID have the GOOD EYE symbol. Would the second batter strikeout as well or would he avoid the strikeout and and ground out instead?" Great question, Jon! The sprit of the game would allow for either interpretation, and since it's an out either way, most of the time it'll be inconsequential except for stats. Personally, I'd use the decider die. But the "official" ruling would be a strikeout for the second batter.(5/16)

CLINTON PARIS, Post Falls, ID wrote to voice his enthusiasm for a basketball game. "I know you have been using the quality system for a while (Face to the Mat, etc.) but have you considered using the system to make a basketball game?...Foul calls are such an integral part of the game and each referee could be rated similarly to how HMB umps are rated. Strategy cards like, 'Feed the Post' or 'Small Ball' could influence how possession results are generated based upon team strengths. Seems like a lot of game space to explore there!" Yes, indeed! In 2015, I came up with a pretty promising model for a hoops game, but decided that the golf game had better-defined ideas and a faster track for development. So we're focusing on that right now, but we could see PLAAY hoops in a couple years! (5/16)

MIKE HALEY, Albany, NY posted on the Delphi Forum asking how to access old Delphi messages. This is a common question, so I thought I'd include it here. Older messages can be retrieved by first clicking on the specific game folder you want to browse. Then, scrolling to the bottom of the topic column, you'll see a link labeled "next 50." By continuing to click on that link, you can travel deeper into the forum post archives, all the way back to the beginning of the forum in 2000! (5/16)

CURTIS MILBOURN, San Angelo, TX asks, "When conducting pit stops and a '5' is rolled (check FAST PIT for both TOP and MIDDLE groups), did you ever consider treating the TOP and MIDDLE group as a single group for realignment purposes? In other words, everyone in BOTH groups with a blue performance chip would move up as far as possible. So it would be possible for cars to move up or be bumped down to a different group during this roll and a die roll of 6 as well. Doing it this way would put an extra emphasis on pit stops/crews." Curtis, that is a COOL concept—no, I had never thought about doing it that way, but I think it's worth looking into and experimenting with! (2/16)

RYAN KLOEPFER, Yakima WA asked about some "mystery symbols" on a few of the wrestler cards for FACE TO THE MAT Pro Wrestling Game. On the card for "Flawless Rick Lawless," for example, "a white shadowed box appears in the text for his SPECIALTY, 'Flurry of Punches, (box) points.' In addition, for the OBJECT quality, he has a question mark symbol instead of a square, star or circle. What do these symbols mean?" Ryan, the box symbol is a long-standing convention for PLAAY Games, representing a six-sided die roll. You roll the die, score that many points, gain that many yards, injured for that many games, etc. The question mark symbol on the wrestler cards means that you, as commissioner, can decide whether the wrestler has the quality or not, based on how you want the story line to unfold. Hope this helps! (1/16)

TOM REDMOND, Asheville, NC writes, "I just had one of the best games I've ever played and wanted to tell you about it. I'm replaying the 2013 Washington Redskins season, they were 3-13 that year and I want to see if I could do better. We're playing the Eagles and going into the fourth quarter, Washington is trailing 41- 21. To make this long story shorter, after Washington makes a 34 yard field goal, the 'Skins go crazy scoring two TD's on passes by RG-III, and THEN with less than 1:30 left, they recover an onside kick and score on a 34-yard pass play from RG-III to Garcon with only 26 seconds left! A 24 point comeback to win the game 45-41! So does this make me a better coach than Shanahan, or just luckier? Anyway, it was a great game, so much fun!" Thanks, Tom! I especially love it when bad football teams make great football! (1/16)

MARCO BELIZZI, Jenkintown, PA pointed out some confusion in the new HOCKEY BLAST 4.0 rule book. "On page 17 for 'pulling the goalie,' it says to use use the POWER MINUTES PLAY chart for the o1 or o2 for stack split. I am assuming you meant 'EMPTY NET MINUTES' not 'POWER MINUTES.' correct?" Marco is correct, everything is resolved on the EMPTY NET MINUTES pages. I've corrected the instructions, to also clarify that all shots are resolved on page 7 of the game book, either on the "Goal." "Empty Net Miss" or "Goalie SAVE" charts, depending on the situation and dice roll. (12/15)

MATT CRAWFORD, San Francisco, CA sent a note reminding me about the vintage college football teams he'd created awhile ago, for the '65 and '75 seasons. I think they've been included in past newsletters, but I've posted them on the "free stuff" page in case you missed them—they're awesome! (12/15)

PAUL KELLY, Los Angeles, CA sent a question about how Bo Jackson would be rated for durability for the '89 season, when he played full-time but only for half the season. I told Paul that when players play only part of a season, I take it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes I'll rate them for full durability with a "dagger rating" that will help restrict their usage, as was the case for Billy Sims with '84 Detroit. (He got the 20-carry asterisks, but a dagger rating that mandated any injury to be season-ending.) Sometimes, though, I'll rate them for their actual contribution, but as if it were spread out over a full season. A lot depends on the situation. For Bo, I would probably base his ratings on actual games played, and include a dagger rating that would outline his actual usage, and let the gamer decide whether they wanted to exceed that by using him for the full season. (12/15)

FRED ABBOUD, Ralston, NE asked a question about points allocation for RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN' wondering, "How do people treat DNF for points purposes? Do you put them in a place based on when the went out of the race and give them points for that place, or do they not get points because they did not finish the race?" Fred, you don't have to finish a race to get points. Points are assigned based on final race standing, whether you finished the race or not. So if there are 43 cars in a race and you drop out of the race after the first lap, you'll finish 43rd place, and will be given 1 point. (12/15)

KEVIN DICKSON, Show Low, AZ has developed a house rule for adding a few more triples to his HMB games. "Any double can be turned into a triple by rolling a six-sided die. A roll of "1" or "2," an ACTIVE runner triples. (ED NOTE: SEMI-ACTIVE runners need also to roll the decider die, of course!) Conversely, on any triple result a die roll of "1" or "2," a STOIC runner gets only a double. Using this rule, a player who is both a SLUGGER and an ACTIVE base runner will get a lot more triples, and this is the type of player that usually DOES hit a lot of triples." Kevin adds, "This is 'the lazy man' way of avoiding assigning delta ratings for extra base hits!" (10/15)

BOB O'HALLORAN, Portage, WI recently purchased the 1957 Pro Season for SECOND SEASON Football. Bob writes, "The AFL teams really intrigue me. After thinking it over, I decided to create an alternative to the alternative reality.

"Let's set the scene with a bit of history. In '57 the Packers had not reached the iconic status they would attain a few years hence. Vince Lombardi was an assistant coach with the Giants. Since 1945, their last championship season, the Pack had gone from a fading power to an also-ran. The darlings of the Wisconsin sports world were the Milwaukee Braves. In '57, two-and-a-quarter-million fans spun the turnstiles at County Stadium. The Braves rewarded them with Milwaukee's only World Series title. This was one of the great post-war teams, with a roster that only the New York Yankees (whom the Braves defeated in the Series) could match.

"Unfortunately, the love affair between Milwaukee and the Braves ended in divorce a few years later. It has been theorized that, had beer baron Fred Miller been alive, he would have bought the club and kept it in Milwaukee. Miller had been killed in a plane crash in 1954.

"In my world, Fred Miller lives, and is spurned in his attempts to buy the Braves. He sees the Packers drawing well in their two-to-three games a year in Milwaukee, despite the fact that a) they're not Milwaukee's team, and b) the Packers just aren't very good. He reasons that Milwaukee should have its own team. Miller watches in dismay as the new American Football League passes over the brew town as a charter member. Then, lo and behold, the Minneapolis franchise is suddenly without a venue! The U of Minnesota is reluctant to have pro ball in its college football stadium. That leaves only a few minor-league baseball parks and small-college facilities, all woefully inadequate for pro football. Miller seizes the opportunity, and quickly makes a deal with Milwaukee County to bring pro football to its stadium. He then negotiates with Max Winter, the Minnesota club's owner, who is eager to recoup his investment. Thus, Milwaukee enters the AFL.

"The grateful fans, in tribute to the beer baron who brought pro football to the city, vote in a contest to name the team the Barons, which is also a salute to Milwaukee's German and Bavarian heritage. In a great marketing and PR move, Miller names Gene Ronzani, a former Marquette standout and Packer head coach, as both head coach and GM of the new Milwaukee Barons. Though Ronzani's tenure with the Packers was less than successful, he always felt that it was because of the meddling of Green Bay's executive committee. Miller agrees, and assures his new coach and GM that he will only answer to Miller himself. Ronzani will be in total control of all football operations. As Miller puts it, 'Gene, you bring a winning team to County Stadium, and I'll bring the beer!'" (10/15)

BILL HILD, Aberdeen, SD wanted an "official ruling" on chip usage for SOCCER BLAST: "Can you use a chip on Pitch Action Chart dice roll '12' (counter attack) to get the two squares you need to generate a counter attack?" And the ruling is: YES! Same for Pitch Action Chart, dice roll '2' (Attack) to get a triangle that otherwise is not showing on the "up" players in the stack. (10/15)

CRAIG HELINSKY, Sweetwater, TX was in a conundrum about rating a specific kick returner for SECOND SEASON Football. This player returned 3 kicks for 149 yards, a 49.7 yard average. "I don't know what his longest return was, but I know it wasn't a touchdown. How would I handle this?" I told Craig that the key issue here is making sure the player only gets three (or thereabouts) returns. That would be accomplished either through finders, or putting the player's RET grade in (parentheses). As for how to rate him, I would assume one return was for around 80-90 yards, leaving two other returns for a total of 60-70 yards.  Thus I would rate him with a RET grade of 30, and a dagger rating that says any return longer than 25 yards is a touchdown. I know, he didn't SCORE a touchdown, but he must have come close. If you're uncomfortable with that, you can make the dagger rating say "any return over 30 yards, (player) returns kick to opponents' [dice + dice] yard line." (10/15)

GIORGIO SALVADEGO, Marghera, Italy is enthusiastic about the upcoming PLAAY Golf Game. He says, "It may be a good opportunity to resume also the 'Happy Gilmore Golf Association,' the only APBA Golf League that ever existed, in the late '80s, early '90s." Giorgio created this league as a challenge to APBA Journal staff writer Royce Sleighter, who was skeptic about the possibility of creating a golf league. "Each team had two golfers, and each match played on a three-part schedule. Amazingly the web page I did at the time is still online! And if you take a look at team managers, you'll find the cream of the crop in golf boardgaming!" (10/15)

MIKE ALDERISO, Brielle, NJ, wondered about the rule that gives relief pitchers an ACE rating against the first batter they face. “Wouldn't that rule make relief pitchers more effective than they actually were? Take for example 2014 San Francisco closer Sergio Romo (3.72 ERA). If you give him an ACE rating for the first batter and then play a ‘visit the mound’ manager card for the second batter (another ACE), he then becomes a very effective closer rather than the mediocre one he actually was.” As I told Mike, this is a difficult question to address, as every gamer is different.  And, actually, it’s a two-part question…

Part one, the ACE for the first batter is built-in to the design of the game.  It's intent is to make it beneficial to bring in a guy like Romo, which mirrors real-life.  Obviously, San Francisco used him heavily, despite his less-than stellar stats.  If the game has him perform based purely on stats, frankly there would be no real reason to bring him in to take the place of a superior starter.  You would do it just to be "realistic," knowing in your heart that it's actually a detriment.  But HMB was created to replicate the intangibles of baseball, and sometimes in real baseball a superior starter is replaced by a mediocre reliever. I felt there needed to be an incentive to do this on the tabletop.

Regarding the second part of the question.  We all have a built-in gauge for what's fair/unfair.  Part of the way the game is designed is that you, as manager, can have some impact in how the players perform.  So, yes, you *could* make Romo a better pitcher by visiting the mound for the second batter every time he pitches.  To me, that would smack of “favoritism,” but perhaps others would not think that way.  And it also has to be considered that every card played/move made for one player diminishes your effect on the other players--you only get six cards.

Mike got back to me a couple days later and said, “After much thought I think I will handle the reliever first batter rule by awarding the ACE bonus only to relievers that pitch from the same side as the hitter. (Doing it this way) adds another element of strategy by simulating the constant managerial quest for late inning lefty-righty advantages.” Excellent idea, Mike! (10/15)

CHRIS BULLOCK, Carmel, CA asked, "How come you gave 1962 Mickey Mantle an IRON rating for fielding? This is NOT a complaint or an argument... it's more like, "What do you know that I don't know?" I told Chris, the HMB fielding ratings are based on's Rtot/yr rating, which is an all-encompassing defensive rating. In Mantle's case, he had a -19, worst on the entire team! Chris replied, "Wow! I just saw the Gold Glove, but I guess those were/are handed out like Halloween candy, or, more likely, by reputation!" It certainly DOES seem to have been based mostly on reputation and popularity, rather than on actual performance in some cases, back in those days.  Remember, though, they didn't have the kind of access to video and stats that we have today, we're kind of spoiled! That said, if you want to make him (or anyone) GOLD, or at least take away the IRON, feel free. (9/15)

ROB MAYER, Flagstaff, AZ asked a question about RWBR, “Can a driver have more than one performance chip?  If so, how are challenges resolved with one driver having one chip and another having more than one chip?”   Yes, a driver can have more than one performance chip--and that often happens with the better drivers.  In challenge situations where drivers have unequal numbers of chips, the driver with the larger number of chips will win the challenge, with the appropriate number of chips removed.  For example, consider that the challenging driver "A" has two chips and the challenged driver "B" has one.  You roll for the challenge...

• If the dice roll indicates that "A" wins the challenge, "B" will spend his chip to defend, "A" will spend a chip to advance, so the end result will be "A" moving ahead and keeping one chip.

• If the dice roll indicates that "B" wins the challenge, "A" will spend a chip to advance, "B" will spend a chip to defend, "A" will then spend his second chip to advance.  So the end result will be "A" moving ahead, but with no chips remaining. (8/15)

BRAD WARREN, Manfield, TX is a long-time PLAAY Gamer who’s especially into the fictional players and teams. “Just wanted to touch base on a little project I have been working on. I saw in the last newsletter that someone had put together a file of all the Football America players that had played in both generations of FA. You mentioned that you would like to have a football reference for Football America. Well, I do have something similar as I have been working on a spreadsheet since the 2000 set. I have been keeping up with all of the seasons plus some of the teams that others have put together from the forum. I really like the fictional aspect of your games and get just as much enjoyment keeping up with the players and teams as I do playing the games. I not only have the FA sets, but have the IPFC, WHL, LAX and BA sets put together on a yearly basis. I have included a file with all that on it. I think it is fairly accurate and please feel free to use as you see fit. “

I wrote back to Brad and said, “a LITTLE project!?” Pretty impressive, linked here (in Excel format).

Brad adds that the file also contains the history of his USFL football league. “My USFL combines the most of the 2000 FA, 2010 FA and 2010 IPFC sets. I moved the teams around to different cities. I’m currently in week 3 of 13 in the 2010 season. It is a lot of fun to play the different eras and Canadian teams against each other. The 2010 Detroit (Michigan Panthers) is so far the best team. I have changed the names of some of the players that played in both FA sets. I have a collection of fictional names from various books, movies and other games that I choose from.

“My HOCKEY BLAST league is set in Texas and is called the Big State Hockey League. It uses the minor league teams that were around Texas. I’m still trying to decide on the teams. I also included the LAX players as extras. It’s a fun game and having followed the Fort Worth hockey teams pretty close I have a good sense of the rivalries between cities. I’m still working on the inaugural season.

“My HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL league will follow the same setup as the hockey league and will be called the, Big State Baseball League.
I really enjoy your games, and will continue to support your business and look forward to future sets of teams and players. I don’t rush to play out the games and seasons but I do piddle with the players and teams a lot. I’m always on the lookout for fictional players/teams to use with your games. If I ever do finish a season I will be sure to send you the results and hopefully get one of those PLAAYCOM Cups!” Thanks, Brad! Looking forward to putting your name on the “Page of Fame!” (8/15)

JERRY BERARDI, Kingston PA filled me in on his plans to re-start his face-to-face tabletop sports group of 20 years ago, this time using COLD SNAP. “Those old APBA and Strat-o-matic football and baseball leagues we had still bring back fond memories. Three of the former old league members are very interested, I'm bringing (COLD SNAP) with me to my hometown next weekend where I will be teaching it to those three.  There are two more of us who may also be interested.” Jerry added, “It’s a great way to pass the time and an inexpensive alternative to spending a ton of money on other hobbies (golf equipment and memberships, bowling, gambling)--and of course there will be a winner gets treated by the rest to wings, beer, etc at the end--it is my hope that the six of us can also enjoy a board sports game that defies age limits.  One of the "crew" sent a joint email on an article from still active and retired professional athletes and general managers who play and enjoy these realistic board games. Some people have Backgammon, chess, checkers, etc., we want ours to be realistic sports board games like COLD SNAP!” (8/15)

JOHN KIRK, Searcy, AR asked, “(In HOCKEY BLAST) can the PK team use the FORCED LULL strategy card since they have possession?” No, the strategy cards can only be used in even-strength situations—my bad, that’s not mentioned in the rules. (7/15)

KEN HIRSCHENBERGER, Lake Alfred, FL asks about the BOWL-O-RAMA spare ratings. “There are three different A ratings: AAA, AA and A. When you go to the spare attempts chart in the game book, though, there’s only the A column. What’s the purpose, then, of the AA and AAA spare ratings?” Ken, I intended for the AA and AAA spare ratings to be different, but unfortunately the game does not reflect it.  That's because the files from which the game book is printed have been lost, and I'm printing from earlier-generation hard copy masters which cannot be altered.  There are a couple other things in the game book that need changing, too, like the word "aggressive" is mis-spelled on the quick play results chart, page 10.  I just haven't had the time to re-do the entire game book from top to bottom.  However, here's an easy way you can implement the high-grade spare ratings with the current game: On any spare results from the game book (i.e., 6 pins or fewer knocked down), a bowler with an AAA spare rating, subtract 10 from his d20 roll.  A bowler with an AA spare rating has 5 subtracted from his d20 roll.  So, for example, on a d20 roll of “17,” an AAA bowler reads the “7” result, and an AA bowler uses the “12” result. This is ONLY for spare results from the game book, of course. No adjustment is appropriate for spare rolls from the bowlers’ own cards. (6/15)

PETER FONG, San Francisco, CA asks, “Do you need to make any adjustments to the HOCKEY BLAST player cards if you use them in the lacrosse game?” Glad you brought that up, Peter! No changes or adjustments are needed, you can use the hockey cards as-is for the lacrosse game.  However, I would use the "five on five" game rules, rather than the platoon rules. (6/15)

ALLEN SHOCK, Mt. Pleasant, MI: “Last night, I decided to play a game between American League stars from the Hall of Fame Kickstarter set, and the 2015 History Makers. The HOF line-up: Lajoie, Appling, Ruth (HOT), Gehrig, Williams, DiMaggio, Brett (COLD), Berra, Cobb. Starting pitcher: Walter Johnson. For the 2015 stars: Altuve, V-Mart, Trout (HOT), Bautista, A. Jones, Seager, J. Abreu, K. Suzuki, A. Ramirez. Starting pitcher: Corey Kluber.” Allen went on to describe how the game unfolded. “The Big Train had a no-hitter going through 8 until Jose Altuve broke it up in the ninth. Kluber didn’t have a no hitter, but both men had shutouts going—shutouts that outlasted both pitchers!  The HOF’ers finally broke through in the fifteenth inning when DiMaggio scored on a Brett double. But the 2015 team scored in the bottom half of the fifteenth! Lou Gehrig homered off of Koji Uehara with Ruth on base in the top of the sixteenth, and despite a lead-off homer, Gaylord Perry managed to nail down the save. Final score: HOF 3. 2015 2 in 16 innings!” (5/15)

SCOTT LANG, New Freedom, PA wrote to tell me about some house rules he uses for HOCKEY BLAST. “I’ve tried several innovations through the year, but have largely returned to the original rules. One change I do continue to use is that a LULL the final three minutes becomes an automatic PLAY shot if one team already has momentum.  If no one has momentum, I treated as a roll of 9, Momentum.  This reduces the number of re-rolls.” Scott also has found that using the strategy cards makes for some cool decision-making playing solo. “I use the strategy cards quite a bit. Playing solo my rule is that the team in possession may choose to use one strategy card, and this includes line changes. It’s easy to administer and adds a fair amount of decision-making.  For an underdog team, I am fairly aggressive in using the momentum and forced lull cards to blunt momentum, and the play and dump and chase cards to generate shots.  This seems to level the playing field a bit.“ Scott shared another idea that I think is quite interesting: “I’ve changed the submission rules to allow LULLS, rather than converting them to fights. By not changing the LULLS to FIGHTS, it forces a team to use the strategy card “instigate,” and if that fails they may spend much of the period in submission.” He adds that the way he plays, submission ends with either a FIGHT or a GOAL. Thanks for sharing these ideas, Scott! (4/15)

LAURENCE DAVIS, Indianapolis, IN: I've just got around to playing my first game of SECOND SEASON with the new components and I love them!  As stated they do speed the game up and the one and done game book is awesome! I do have one question, I just want to make sure I'm playing this right. Whenever you get a play result that puts you out of the end zone do you still count that as a touchdown?  If the team is on its opponent's 30 yard-line and get a result that’s 40+ yards, do you still count that as a touchdown?” Laurence, any gain that goes beyond the goal line is considered a touchdown.  The only time going beyond the end zone matters is with interceptions.  If, for example, you're on the five yard line, and you get a Y result that says the pass was intercepted 17 yards downfield, that would be ruled an incompletion.  For me, this adds some strategy to play-calling in close, as I will sometimes take the lower completion percentage of a medium pass in exchange for a somewhat lower risk of interception vs. calling a short pass into the end zone. This is especially true playing older teams where the quarterbacks have higher Y grades. Hope this helps! (5/15)

KEVIN BURGHARDT, Janesville, WI has been enjoying seeing one of his childhood heroes in action again: The “Tyler Rose, Earl Campbell! “SECOND SEASON is a statistically sound and incredibly fun game, but there's more to it than that. With SS I can travel in a time machine, back to the days when a twelve year-old boy watched in awe as Earl displayed his immense talent on the gridiron. My memories of Campbell bashing into defenders and piling up yards were on my mind so much at one point recently that I just had to bring him out of retirement. I recently played his ('79) Oilers against the ('83) Redskins. I gave the ball to Campbell early and often. When it was all said and done, Campbell had racked up 137 yards and three TD's on 39 carries. His Oilers squeaked out a 29-28 victory in large part to his efforts. For me, these trips back in time with SECOND SEASON football almost feel magical!” (4/15)

TODD BOUVEROT, Fanwood, NJ is planning on a St. Louis baseball project with HMB, and his own imaginary ball park. “I 'designed' my own stadium,” Todd writes. ”I do this with my model hobbies in creating phony places with real revolutionary war regiments, trains, etc. So I thought it'd be fun here. I essentially took Sportsman’s Park and made it just a little smaller and different to see how things pan out.” How did Todd become a Redbirds fan? “My grandfather, who I never did know became a fan in the ‘Gashouse Gang’ days. I took up his rooting interest, being an oddball, so I named the stadium for his family name, which hasn't carried on.” Pretty cool! Todd adds that he’d originally designed this ball park for a different baseball board game, but feels like HMB is best-suited to what he wants from this project. “Believe it or not, even though I played a ton of sports boardgames, especially baseball growing up, I never have been a numbers guy. The intangibles factor in HMB has me excited about this project.” (4/15)

PAUL KELLY, Los Angeles, CA asked about how to rate players for usage in HMB. Paul’s working on creating the 1988 season, and asked “How do I rate a player like Micky Hatcher who is super utility guy but not full time all season long, vs. Pedro Guerrero who played a quarter of a season until he got hurt?” I wrote Paul that, with regard to player usage ratings, I feel like “simple” is better. Each gamer is different when it comes to using players “realistically.” Some want the game to dictate everything, making it impossible to use a player in a way not consistent with his real-life usage. Others want exactly the opposite—for them, the appeal of sports sims is to be ABLE to use a player as they always wanted to. So, the usage stars are based on games played rather than at-bats or innings pitched, and are non-binding. Generally speaking, if a guy played two-thirds of his teams’ games or more, he gets a filled-in star basically “allowing” you to use him any/every game. Less than a third and he gets no star, restricting his usage to “sporadic” in nature—either a little at a time here or there over the course of the season, or one “burst” of activity. Both Guerrero and Hatcher would fall in the middle, and get outlined “part-time” stars—it would be up to you to determine how they’re used in that context, the game intentionally doesn’t distinguish. BTW, there’s an advanced option that ties over-use of restricted players to team dissonance, which is a cool thing. (4/15)

From the PLAAY GamesForum, Delphi user SimonJB posted this question: “A team punts to the five yard line. The punt is returnable. The punt returner has a low average and rolls a 13 to get -9 from average. This takes him into his own end zone. A safety? I played that it was a safety as I think the impetus in the play at that point comes from the returner.” My experience is that most gamers rule this on a case-by-case basis.  It's entirely acceptable to simply let the punt bounce into the end zone rather than return it.  If you choose to return it, though, and the return man loses yardage into the end zone, then in most cases that should be ruled a safety.  I can see certain situations, though--for example, a punt that's over 55 yards in length--where it could be reasonably ruled that the "impetus" was with the kick, and carried the return man into the end zone.  In that case, I'd probably roll a die odd/even for a ruling.  Note that if the ball is fielded on the 5 yard-line, a loss of five yards would not be a safety. (4/15)

JOHN BOWEN, Harlem, GA wrote to ask about the situational OFFENSE substitutions in SECOND SEASON. “I get how this works on defense, but think I may be missing something on offense, or reading too much into it. If I have a “run” player (extra tight end) at EB, do I simply use the “run” player’s rating on any run play calling for a EB rating? Wouldn't you know, this exact reading has come up 3x in the game I'm currently playing. As of now, I have been alternating but am wanting a definitive answer before I go further as I just rolled it for a fourth time here in the late third quarter.” Technically, John, you're supposed to decide which "package" is in the game before you call the play.  But, if you choose not to do that—which is fine—you should roll a die odd/even to decide which offensive player is in the game in the scenario you mention.  On defense, of course, the substitutions are automatic.

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