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Subject: Eam's Review #16, from when the game was new to the UK rss

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Eamon Bloomfield
Germany
23569 Lübeck
Schleswig Holstein
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First and Ten (or, in my case, First and Thirty-five)

The title of this piece refers an American Football expression related to the method of moviung up field. To retain possession, a team must advance at least ten yards in four plays, called downs. The 'first' relates to the first down and the 'ten' refers to the yardage to be made. The subtitle refers to my ability to concede üpenalties and, thus, moving in the wrong direction for a considerable part of the time.

Forgetting games based on statistics, the best American Football game is undoubtedly Avalon Hill's Football Strategy. This is almost pure skill, a die only being used to decide the outcome of kick-offs and field goals.

In the box you will find a board representing a football field with the yardage marked out clearly. A small marker is used for the position of the ball, and a 10 yard marker, which is used to denote the position of the first down and mark 10 yards upfield, which is where you must reach in your 4 (maximum) downs. The rule book is brief but to the point and AH even include a Football Widow's Handbook, which is very useful for explaining the game to new players. Finally, you get to the most important contents, the offense charts and the defence cards.

The Offense has a choice of three styles of play, Ball Control, Aerial Offense and Pro Style. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Having chosen your attack, you have a choice of 20 different maneouvres for passing or running with the ball. Before you announce the one you intend using, the defence must choose a defence tactic from 10 alternatives. The two choices are announced and cross referenced on a grid. The end result will tell you the yardage gained or lost, or there might be a special result such as a penalty or interception. The beauty of the system is that there are many pressures dictating your choices and that both sides have some idea of what to expect. There is a great deal of bluff and double-bluff involved.

You all know how much I like games related to sport so you will know I am telling the truth when I say that this is one of the FINEST two player games ever devised, even if you do not have an interest in American Football. Play it once and you will know what I mean.
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steve mizuno
United States
San Diego
California
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When Football Strategy was originally released, it did not include the Ball Control or Aerial game charts. Both players used the same chart printed on the board. I'm not sure when the game was released in the UK, but it was much later that these charts were included in the game. I suspect that there were at least some copies released there prior to the inclusion of these modified game charts.
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I got the flat box edition back in the mid '70's, which only had the original play chart which was the same for both players....printed on the game board itself. I believe the aerial and ground game charts came along when this was reissued in a bookshelf game box in the late '70s or early '80s.

It really is a game of outguessing what your opponent will play. As I recall, I played quite a number of games with a close friend with results all over the board.....from a 7-6 to a 64-41 score and everything in between. I tell ya we were all over the place in scoring. Sometimes we could successfully guess the next play....sometimes we had no clue as to what each of our next plays would be.

We probably had more fun with this than any other football board game, except Bowl Bound, which we found to be easy and fun to play too. Neither required the time consuming managing of player rosters, substitutions and setting individual player positions for each play as more sophisticated and complicated games do.

I think between Bowl Bound and Football Strategy, we both satisfied our cravings to be table top coaches.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
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It is an outstanding game, one I've kept in my collection for 40 years and am still ready and willing to play. However, I have to say that I'm an even bigger fan of NFL Strategy, which adds a larger playbook and a random element to a very similar playcalling foundation.
 
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