Sports Simulation Board Games

Home-Brewed Tactical Expansions from/for PLAAY Gamers

In playing sports games for over 40 years, I've always been a "tinkerer." So, I not only appreciate, but value the efforts of other gamers in putting PLAAY Games to the "tinker test." Here are some recent examples of user-created new ideas for various PLAAY Games. See what you think! And, if you have an idea of your own to share, let us know about it! The e-mail address is


Dan Van Antwerp, Northampton, PA has come up with a great idea for enhancing the Instant Results chart for SOCCER BLAST. Dave's been having fun with the '77 North American Pro League cards, focusing on the Cosmos, Aztecs, Strikers, Kicks, and other games that involve closely matched teams. He's been using the Instant Results chart to take care of some of the less exciting match-ups. Dave writes, "I've been experimenting with using an extra die to determine goals scored, for the purpose of the NASL bonus points. I use the extra die to determine goals scored by the winning team: on a roll of "1" or "2" it's one goal; "3" through "5" it's two goals; on a "6" it's three goals. I simply credit the losing team with one less goal than the winning team. It's a bit generic, but I think it works well enough, especially since all of the teams are having some of their games played out in full."


From the PLAAY Games Delphi Forum, comes this idea for solitaire use of the manager strategy cards for FACE TO THE MAT Pro Wrestling Game., courtesy of Delphi member ECWCAT...

1) Shuffle both sets of cards (red and blue) before each match.
2) Give each side one card.
3) Use the best strategy during the ideal situation during match.

Normally, the game allows for the use of three strategy cards for each side, but EWCAT chose to use only one i order to keep it simple for solitaire play. "I've played a dozen matches so far with this set up," writes 'Cat. "There's huge tension when a wrestler has the BERSERK card. The best strategy for that is to use it if the wrestler is trailing very far behind in points and his opponent is in the pin area, and is willing to risk it all. The reversals, double points, and gaining a quality are fun as heck. Rarely, both cards cancel each other out, but in cases like that it just becomes a normal match anyway, so no harm, no foul. Timing and board position are everything when thinking about when to use a card—should you save for the end or use when an ideal situation comes up? These are quick questions that run through my head! Fairness is not an issue, as I control both wrestlers in a just manner anyway"


Wanting to add some pizazz to the last play of close games, Delphi member BLUEDOCD inspired this "End Of Game Desperation Play" chart for SECOND SEASON. It can be used for kickoff returns (when the opponent has just taken the lead with a field goal with a couple seconds left to play), or as an exclamation point for the last play from scrimmage from a trailing team deep in its own half of the field...



At the Milwaukee event, Travis Jansen, Mukwanago, WI and Al Wilson, Oceanside, CA struck up a friendship that has traversed the miles between the west coast and the Badger State. One of the things they've collaborated on is a trio of experimental manager strategy cards for HMB. (I've included their cards along with the three experimental strategy cards issued with the 2015 "Trading Cards" set.) Travis says the thinking behind them is that more manager strategy cards gives the manager more of a chance to craft his unique identity. "With only six cards, you're going to choose the ones that suit you!"

Al and Travis concocted a revised stolen base card, a batter "brush back" card, and a card for umpire challenges. I suggested a couple of tweaks to the umpire card (like I said, I'm a chronic "tinkerer" myself!) incorporating the umpire qualities into the challenge card, based on the principle that a QUESTIONABLE umpire is more likely to make the wrong call than a RESPECTED umpire. I had a great e-mail exchange on this topic earlier this year with Michael Waldrip, Metairie, LA, and so had already thought through the basics of how to make it happen. These three "home-brewed" strategy cards are linked here.

Regarding the "Attempted Stolen Base" card, Travis classifies it as "more complicated than yours but less complicated than the various chart-style home-brewed stolen base systems." From my vantage point, this is good: I have always insisted that the stolen base methodology to be simple enough to be contained on a card. Travis heartily endorses the card, "I've play-tested it a lot and I really like it."

Travis concedes that the "Brush Back" card might need more work, though. "The original idea was more fun—benches could get warned, managers ejected—but it was more complicated and not really HMB style. It's funny, Al has a way of taking my over-complicated ideas and 'HMB-ing' them up, and I'm really starting to buy into HMB manager cards as a result (also because of the Milwaukee event)."


Ever since Jule Sigall, Redmond, WA got SOCCER BLAST last year, he's been tinkering with adding an option to allow for different tactical choices and playing styles that make more use of the player qualities. He recently posted his ideas on the PLAAY Games Delphi Forum. Jule begins, "I developed strategy cards but these are hard for solo gamers to implement. I also tried some 'mathematical' ideas about trading triangles for squares but these were also hard to keep track of during game play. So I'm trying again, this time with modifications to the pitch action charts, available here...

"There's a description of the play styles along with a board you can use to keep track of which is being used. Each team can choose to adopt one of four offensive styles: Balanced, Passing, Direct and Counter-attack. Each of these changes one or two results on the pitch action chart. (Balanced is just the standard Pitch Action chart) Teams can also choose to play a Pressing defensive style along with their offensive choice, although you cannot play Pressing along with Counter-attack. The main point of these options is to 'open the game up' a bit with risk/reward—e.g. increase your chance of scoring with more risk of giving up a goal, or improve your defensive position but allow more attacks.

"The Passing style is best used by quality teams with lots of talent in their attacking players. It slows the game down and probably reduces your total opportunities, but if it works you will have a great chance to score. You will give up some more attacks as well if the connection between your players breaks down.

"The Direct style is best used by weaker sides who have trouble breaking through a tough defense or those who need a quick goal. It creates a greater number of lower-percentage chances. There is not much downside risk, other than wasting time when the attacks fail.

"The Counter-attack style is good for all sorts of teams, as it is the conservative, defensive style that sits back and lets the opponent into your half but concentrates on stopping them there and quickly turning the play to the offensive end. Weaker teams can use it to try to improve a weak defense and keep the game in a manageable state, better teams can use it to make sure an already strong defense is nearly impenetrable (e.g. Chelsea in 2014-15).

"The Pressing defensive style is an aggressive strategy that tries to create good scoring chances by forcing turnovers in the defensive end, but it is very susceptible to counter-attack and increases fatigue on your forward players.

"Teams can choose to switch styles before kick-off, at half-time, after goals, during subs and even during the run of play if you have a side with strong tactical qualities.

Jule has played about 20 games with these various styles, with great results. "I've also built a few statistical models to see how they changes the percentages on attacks and on-target shots and am pleased that they are not too drastic: they increase the risk/rewards in a material way but not so much that there is one obvious strategy to use all the time."

Very cool, Jule! While it's true that some gamers look for ways to reduce tactical decisions, rather than increase them, often out of concern for the integrity of an as-played replay season project, there are other gamers who get more satisfaction by increasing the tactical aspect. For them, this home-brewed system appears to work extremely well. Thanks for sharing it!