The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

First and Goal!

At the last (monstrous) SABG game session, I got to try 1st & Goal, Snoop’s latest that could turn into a nice cash cow for R&R games (Seriously, our FLGS had all the expansions for sale, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they sold a complete set or two). 1st & Goal is Backgammon to Football Strategy’s Chess. The defensive player and offensive player have a hand of 8 cards (each), and play one. These cards (effectively) form a matrix of results that tell you which dice to roll. The (6) offensive dice average 2 (red), 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 (green) yards, depending on color, and the (black) defensive die averages negative something. Each time you also roll the play die, which has a few different effects, including “No yardage” (I think of it as “Incomplete”), Possible Turnover, Possible Penalty and a Big gain (reroll yardage …).

So if you play a Bomb and the defender plays a prevent, I’m stuffend and probably roll “black & play”, which means I’m probably stuffed for a small sack (barring a penalty). But if the defender played Goal Line Defense, then it’s probably Red + Yellow + Blue + Black + Play, which is probably ~30 yards (barring penalties, etc) and if the play is a breakaway, it’s likely 60+ yards. When the offensive player runs out, it’s halftime. Running plays make you discard another card, so it eats up the clock. (With a passing plays, I believe after a completion you can voluntarily discard to eat up time). As in football Strategy, a few plays can’t be picked once you get inside the red zone.

So, a good strategy is useful, but rolling well counts for as much (or more).

This is a gateway game. Played non-seriously it’s fine. My first game opened up with me going down by 21 quickly (two turnovers) but marching back up to tie it (more turnovers) before losing in the final minutes. So, fine.

If you care about football:

  1. Interceptions, Penalties and incompletes happen too often. (The “No yardage” result also happens 1/6 times). More bothersome, I’m just as likely to intercept or incomplete a pass if I call a run defense. I think Breakaways happen too often, as well.
  2. Extra points miss 1 time out of 36. Too much.
  3. When you switch possessions, you hand across the unused deck and hands then reshuffle. Which means that if my opponent plays a bunch of Bomb cards, I can’t throw bombs. Huh? Also, just quickly glancing at the deck, it appears that the Cover 3 defense is universally good.

The last point is hard to fix (ok, not that hard. See below), but here’s an easy variant to reduce luck.

With each roll, through a regular d6. On a 1-3, the special die is ignored.

You could make a variant to add a modifier if the defense picked the right setup (run versus run, pass versus pass) and modify it so that turnovers and no gains were more likely and breakaways were less likely. Easy enough. I’d also make the PAT fail also ignored on a 1-3 (so they are down to 1.5% failure).

If you wanted to play a more strategic game, you could just use the cards as a reference and play with ‘pick whichever play you want!’ I’m not actually sure if I like that idea. Unlike Football Strategy, this keeps the AP down to a minimum.

There are expansion teams, each team adds a new set of dice so that one team may get better ‘running’ dice and worse ‘passing’ dice and defense.

I think they missed (or more likely, decided not to make) each die has numbers and icons so that one team can have a worse quarterback (more interception chances), another team has a steady solid running back where another has a usually stuffed but sometimes breaks open huge plays back, etc. The nice thing about sports games is you can tinker with them if you like, because everyone knows what you are trying to model. (Cricket Excepted).

My rating is Indifferent, but I could play in a league for some amusement.


Written by taogaming

December 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Reviews

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2 Responses

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  1. I agree that fumbles occurring just as often as interceptions is a failure in simulation. It’s also really hard to pull off an onside kick (about 9%); unexpected onside kicks work 30+% of the time in the NFL.

    The offensive plays in the middle — the short passes and deceptive run plays — can average 10 yards vs the cover defenses. Nothing gets a huge gain of course.

    Frederic Bush

    December 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm

  2. Nice little review, I’ve been looking at this game wondering what it’s like.

    One nit – 1 out of 36 extra points is really not that far off. It’s a little too much for the current NFL game, but it’s actually too little for today’s college game. (I know the, game is supposed to be about pros; I’m just bringing up college for reference.) In the 90’s, the pros missed almost 1 in 36 extra points.

    But the part about interceptions and fumbles happening too often (and penalties maybe? penalties are a drag in every football game if you’re playing for fun) is too bad.


    December 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm

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