Playing the game:
All participating national teams are allocated randomly to each player. Each player is dealt three cards. You never have more or less than 3 (except for 9+ players in one game). The play is quite simple - play a card, take an action, then replace the card from the stack.
The cards include various numbers of goals, penalties, attack, defense, foul and offside. Each goal, attack, defense and penalty card has a corresponding Action tile . You play the card and place the corresponding tile onto the board against the team that you wish to score the goal or 1/2 goal (in the case of attack) or defense, etc. These are usually your own teams. However, it is not that simple. Each team has a number of 'playing squares' from two to four which are the squares used for placing the Action tiles. The number of squares determines how each team is ranked e.g. In the 1930 game Uruguay have 4 playing squares as they won the real 1930 World Cup. In the 2002 game England have 3 playing squares as they did reasonably well, getting to the quarter-finals. The rankings are based on how each team actually performed during that particular World Cup tournament.
In order to facilitate the ranking, a color code is applied to each team from Black through Red, Blue, Green, Yellow to Grey.
Players must always keep the points each of their teams have accrued in mind as this is crucial to getting into a position to progress to the next round. With a lot of teams in the 2002 World Cup, this can be quite taxing. You may ignore some of your weak teams in order to concentrate on your stronger teams but, other players may like to see some of the opponents weaker teams do well as they would prefer to meet low class opposition in future rounds. In this case you may find goals appearing on your weaker teams from some of your 'friendly' opponents!
The subtle strategies that can be adopted are as follows:
1. Filling in your opponents 'playing squares' with defense tiles to stop them scoring so many goals.
2. Keeping your best cards in hand to use when you really need them. (Using your '3 goal' card to trounce the opposition may be regretted in the next round with a hand full of defense cards)
3. Adding goals to weak opposition in groups where you have no team involved. "Well, do you really want to meet Brazil in the next round?"
4. Leaving your strong teams in drawn matches at the end of a round as the modifying dice give you an odds on chance of an extra goal.
I haven't mentioned the modifying dice before. Basically these are used at the end of each round to add 1/2 goals where applicable. Each dice have a different colored 'blob' face, but there are more Black than Red than Blue, etc. These are rolled for each group in the Group stages or for all matches in the knock-out stages. Each colored face adds 1/2 goal to any team that is that color. This could possibly add a goal to some teams (injury time winners or equalizers!)
The same format is played each round with a diminishing set of cards until two teams get through to the final. The winner of the Final is the winner of the game.
Drawn games in the 1930 tournament are replayed until a winner emerges. In the 2002 tournament, penalties divide the teams. This causes quite a lot of tension and excitement despite being decided on die rolls.
If you like playing grand sweeping tournaments in less than 3 hours, and love following the World Cup on your 'fill-in' wallchart, then this is the game for you!