Masters of the Gridiron (Preview)
Let me tell you a little story…the year: 1990-ish. Gym class and I rarely got along, mainly due to the fact that I favored the academics as opposed to the athletics. I couldn’t catch a football to save my life, but that didn’t stop me from managing my very own football team in “Tecmo Bowl” for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was through video games that I learned how to “play” sports…by play I mean hike the ball, send my quarterback fifty yards in the wrong direction, and throw a hail mary for one hundred yards hoping that my receiver would catch the ball in the end zone. Why am I taking you on a trip down memory lane? Before I answer that, I’d like to thank Clay Dreslough from Sports Mogul Inc. for providing me with a press copy of “Masters of the Gridiron”, a game that is currently seeking your support on Kickstarter. It’s important to note that prototypes aren’t usually representative of the final product, making everything featured below subject to change.
The first thing to note about “Masters of the Gridiron” is that there is no football field or player pawns included in the box. Rather, the game as a whole comprises of a number of “decks” (thirty-two total), with each deck representing a particular football team. The number of decks a player may receive depends on their level of support in the Kickstarter campaign, though as mentioned earlier, this is subject to change. Each deck comes with fourteen offensive player cards, thirteen defensive player cards, twenty-four offensive playbook cards, and three defensive playbook cards (fifty-four cards total). While the game isn’t licensed by the NFL, real player names, teams, and stats were used from the 2013 season. The lack of a license prevents the use of logos and registered trademarks, though experienced football vets will easily recognize their favorite players as they glance through the cards.
Game setup is relatively easy in that players will pick a deck and separate them out into three face down piles, consisting of offense cards, defense cards, and playbook cards. Each pile is shuffled separately, with both players drawing three offense cards, three defense cards, and four playbook cards to form their ten-card hand. Players will need to decide who is playing as the visiting team, as the home team starts on defense. The player currently on offense will play an offense card and a playbook card, while the player currently on defense will play a defense card. Depending on the cards chosen, different things may happen.
To further detail a turn, the offense will first choose an offense card and a playbook card. The playbook card will list the results of the current play (touchdown, field goal, etc.), followed by offensive and defensive actions. The offense card will list offensive actions, each with their own numeric value (player rating). The offense will compare the two cards and announce the result shown on the playbook card and the player rating of the matching action. If the playbook card said “Touchdown” – “Passing” or “Red Zone”, then the player would need to choose an offense card that had “Passing” or “Red Zone” as their available action. The highest matching action’s value is read off.
The defense will now need to play a defense card that also matches the defensive actions shown on the playbook card. Whoever has the higher value, wins that turn…that is, offense will either score or turn over the ball. The game continues with players alternating between offense and defense until they run out of offensive and defensive cards to draw and only have two left in their hand. The person with the most points, wins the game! Of course, that doesn’t cover ALL of the rules found in my prototype manual, but that should give you the general feel of the gameplay.
I promised you folks that I’d explain my little flashback featured in the opening paragraph. In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m not a sports nut like most of my friends happen to be. I haven’t a clue as to what a “shotgun” play is….I assume it doesn’t actually involve a real firearm. Though, I find it funny to visualize what a “bootleg” would look like…I’m picturing the quarterback trying to stuff one leg into an oversized boot that goes up to his thigh. Why? Don’t ask. My point is that I am clearly not someone who is biased and in love with the sport, allowing me to make an honest recommendation.
In short, I found “Masters of the Gridiron” extremely appealing even though I’m not a diehard fan of the sport. There’s just something here for everyone, I feel. Team building and player names/stats will please the hardcore fans while simple gameplay mechanics exist to help keep the less initiated from getting buried in the complexities of the sport. I can see where the team building aspect would be especially appetizing to those who partake in fantasy football or other deck building games like “Magic: The Gathering”. In short, the game is flexible enough to accommodate gamers of all levels
Further, the more experienced are free to make use of the advanced rule set found in the manual. These advanced rules include two point conversions, overtime, and team cards…there’s no shortage of ways to spice up your game! If you’re just not in the mood for all that player swapping, you can pick a deck, duke it out with a friend, and be done within fifteen minutes. For that, “Masters of the Gridiron” is certainly worth its weight in gold, or at the very least, a touchdown or two.
You can learn more about and support “Masters of the Gridiron” by visiting its Kickstarter page, here: