Football Strategy boils the sport down to play calling skill. The game's structure is simple: The defensive player selects one of 10 formation cards (ranging from an 8-man line "goal line stand" to a pass prevent defense with five safeties); the offensive player calls a play (a choice of 20, plus punting). Cross-indexing the choices on a matrix shows what happened. Except for "long gains", the outcome of each play against each defense is always the same. Dice are rolled only to determine the distance of long gains and the results of kickoffs and field goal attempts.
Each play consumes a prescribed number of seconds, from 15 to 45. The players mark off the time and play four quarters, following the standard football rules.
For variety, three types of offense ("pro style", "aerial game" and "ball control") are available, each with a different, though not radically different, results matrix.
Simple though it is, the game is engrossing (see the "More Information" screen), and play generally follows realistic patterns, though the handling of punts and on-side kicks (both more effective than in real life) is questionable. Also, because the design changed little after its debut in 1959, the plays and defenses don't reflect the state of the art in contemporary professional football. This is the era of Otto Graham, not Eli Manning.
For those who are so inclined, Football Strategy lends itself to mathematical analysis. Many years ago, an entrant into the tournament at Origins went to the trouble of using game theory to generate charts showing the optimal mix of plays in different situations. He reached the finals but, in a victory for human intuition over number crunching, lost the championship game by a touchdown and a field goal.
Football Strategy (1962) Revised 1965, 1972, 1980
Prior existing published design redesigned by Avalon Hill
Designed by Tom Shaw
The matrix game system has been imitated many times in dozens of games since, but none ever quite matched the brilliance of this simple design. The revisions have been mere fine tuning of a game which undergoes constant evolution in the AH R&D offices--the site of the AHFSL: a 28 member league which plays out the actual NFL schedule with yearly franchise fees of $31.
This is fan generated and to be used in Football Strategy to help Defensive Coordinators record offensive plays called by either down or quarter and keep track of play calling trends by the Offensive Coordinator. Could also be used in a league format as well.
TWO-MINUTE CLOCK: In the last two minutes of each half use the time system described in the attached document. The key improvement over game rules is that the exact length of a play is somewhat variable, using the roll of one die for a range of one to six seconds in addition to standard amounts associated with the type of play and play yardage. Board game users need only create a set of time cards numbered 0 to 15 (writing the numbers on index cards works great). The result is a very realistic and exciting period in which both offense and defense attempt to play each second to full advantage as in real games.