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The fascinating game of soccer with cards! Even if you don't know what offside is, this game will fascinate you!
You send eleven players onto the field. You decide which part of the team you particularly want to strengthen: The defense? Then begin with four defenders. Or instead do you want to play with four men in the center zone? And pray that your two forwards are enough.
The tactic cards bring action to the game! Select the cards which bring strength to your team. Take the offensive, but guard against being countered!
After six game periods you find out who goes home a winner. An extension is played if the scores are tied, and sometimes the game comes down to a single, dramatic shootout!
Firstly I'd like to agree with the reviewer below in that perhaps red/yellow card & injuries are too common (you have a 50/50 chance of a player prone to yellow cards getting one if he has to test) in this game; we played for 120 minutes (it was 3-3 after the full 90) and at the end of the game we were both down to 9 men, had at least three players each with a yellow card and only two subs left out of four!
However, I have to say that this is also one of the most fun, draining games I've ever played, and is a fine addition to the Kosmos two-player line. The components are excellent and the names and artwork on the cards are quite a spoof in their own right. We played on until way past when I had planned to leave as there was no way I was leaving until the match was over (this was one of several games we played, it's not excessively long).
Overall an excellent, fun game well worth anyone's time. By the way, I won 4-3 after extra time with the last counterattack of the game. Following this it would have gone to penalties!
Finale is a fine, if somewhat complex game of soccer for two. Each player chooses a team of fifteen footballers and two sets of tactics cards from within either of the two team decks. The tactics cards have different balances of defense, midfield and striker strengths that have direct bearing on how you set up your team (3-4-3,2-5-3 etc.)
The gameplay consists of several turns (in 15 min increments on the turn record) where each player chooses a tactics card from their current hand, the higher card becoming the attacker. Players pick different footballer cards based on their current strengths (after which cards are rotated /tapped as in Magic) as dictated by the tactics cards...Count up the total strength of cards plus die roll vs. opponent and goal is allowed or denied.
We found that yellow cards, red cards and injuries were way too common, so we play house rule of checking die roll twice for each possibility rather than once, fail twice in a row then effected. Much better soccer realism. It takes a couple of plays to get fast, but then very fun!
I was reading a magazine article about Franz Beckenbauer the other day and he commented that until 1970 Germany just could not beat England at football, but once they'd cracked how to do it, there was no looking back! It seems once you have solved a problem, you wonder why you didn't do so earlier. The problem solving also applies to football games. What scale should the game be? Is it a simulation of a league like Soccerama or a tournament like Wembley or ADG's World Cup? Other companies have tried to simulate a single football game -- World Soccer in the seventies or more recently, Soccer from Lambourne Games. The real answer seems to be that the computer games have stolen the march and there is nothing in the board game department to challenge them. Well, the Germans may be slightly closer to solving the problem of the single football game and it has come from Kosmos. Their attempt focuses on a single match and the tactical overview within each game.
Each player is given 30 players and 30 tactics cards, with the players being colour coded for goalkeepers, defenders, midfield players and forwards, and the inspiration appears to have been the Siedler card game, because the cards are rotated as they are used.
Before the start of the game, the two players secretly select a hand of 15 players, 4 of whom are the substitutes. Then they select 11 of the tactics cards and one card that is a kind of universal tactics card that you use if you run out of the rest. A hand of three of these is taken from a shuffled deck. Each tactics card tells you what players to match up on either side when making up a move in football. Usually there are two parts to a move and the top half shows the first match-up and the lower half the second. If you imagine that during the course of a game, a move can start anywhere on the pitch, and make progress or break down, then this seems to be what is simulated. As a player loses possession (through the breakdown of a move), the opponent can begin a new attack or the attacker may start probing the defender with another approach.
In Finale, tactics cards shape the moves. Sometimes the start of a move involves a build up from defence, and so the goalkeeper, a defender and a midfield player may be involved. At other times the move may start further up the field. The game simulates this by comparing the number of balls (like resources in the Siedler card game) on each player taking part in the move and a die roll is added. The die adds 0-3 points. In the first part of the move (the build up) the attacker only needs to match the defender's score. If he does, the second part of the move comes in. If the attacker beats the defender on the final part of the move a goal is scored. If the move breaks down, the defender may become the attacker and the roles are reversed. Every time a player takes part in a move their card is turned 90% in the direction of an arrow on each card. Sometimes the player gets stronger, sometimes they stay the same level and sometimes they fall. This represents their stamina or their form in a match. Lars Lassig, a midfield player, starts off with 4 balls. This is pretty good as the top value is five. However, his form/stamina fluctuates wildly. His form falls to a 1, remains at 1 and then rises to three, before it returns to the original four.
The names on the players' cards are Continental European, so for the Brits it is more difficult to feel familiar with them, (although the recent proliferation of foreign stars into the English game may help!). However, the pictures on the cards are caricature-like, so they do resemble some well-known British stars (probably by accident or do most footballers look a bit gormless?). You can imagine the commentary: Hechter knocks the ball out to Fense, who cuts inside and finds Lars Lassig. Meanwhile the opponent is attempting to break down this move with his forwards and a midfield player.
The tactics cards start by being played simultaneously. Each card has a number and the higher one becomes the attacker. The difference between the cards is the degree of possession that that team has over the other and the number of attacks that the team can have. This can be interrupted if an attack fails at either stage of the move. If not, the moves are resolved with either goals or misses. Once the number of attacks has been resolved, a time period is complete and there are six of these in a game. Tactics cards are replenished and the game continues.
Team selection allows a total of 50 points to be spent on players. This can result in a wide variety of formations, although each team must, of course, have a goalkeeper. The players themselves are valued at 1 to 8 points and this normally represents the number of balls they have on each side of the card, but also their consistency. Lars Lassig is only a 2-point player, because he is also injury prone and has a tendency to appear in the referee's notebook. Besides turning a player's card through 90 degrees, a player may have a symbol in the top right hand corner of that facing. The die is rolled and your player may be booked, injured or even sent off! In our first two games no team finished with the same team as they started and there were three sendings off!!! Maybe this is as a result of the new standards being introduced in the World Cup. Either way it gives the manager lots of thinking to do. When you have a move that involves a group of players such as your midfield players, you generally have a choice, and therefore their disciplinary position, form and the score in the game make you either play safe or take a risk. All of this is in the melting pot as you choose your tactics cards, which, because there are no duplicates, you cannot force to come in a better order through adding multiples into your selection. (This is a possible expansion possibility, for sure.)
So there is the game. A pretty good attempt as a simulation and an even better attempt as a playable game. It deserves to have a good deal of air time because the combinations are so unpredictable, which adds to the replayability. Each game should last about 45 minutes, once players are familiar with the processes. Like Beckenbauer, I can't see why this approach wasn't considered before. It's getting much closer to the play of a football game. Try it.