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For a decade or more, I have been waging war with Terry Goodchild. This vendetta has had nothing to do with wives, money or good looks, but rather Terry's stubborn refusal to acknowledge my right to abuse the presentation of his games. He, rightly or wrongly, deems them of sufficient standard to make superfluous a stylish end product. I think he's a barmy old coot, whose 80s word processor should be consigned to the dump.
All Counter/Sumo readers are aware of our "differences". They have been aired regularly. But, you will delighted to read, the feud ends here. Terry wins. I no longer have the strength of will to castigate his efforts, even though he could be justifiably charged with "abuse of cardboard". In future, assume the game is at least excellent, but looks third world.
The final resurrection of this argument is prompted by the release of Full Time, Lambourne's third soccer incarnation following Final Score and Soccer Replay. In a surprising but not totally unexpected development, Full Time does not feel new as such, but is rather a subtle tweak of existing systems, in the way that Three And Three Quarter Laps succeeded Metric Mile, with, it may remembered, some calls for Terry's head. The only cries of anguish regarding Full Time will those who expected a complete re-vamp.
Full Time expands the "highlights" concept of Terry's previous football games, and involves all players utilising a clever identification track. A touch of DIY is required before kick-off, but this is simply to separate team cards and charts.
Set-up is as follows:
The field of play is represented by the Stadium Card, which is divided into midfield and attack/defence zones, the latter also incorporating Penalty Areas and "Cross" zones. Action is determined by a Dl0, which is cross-referenced with the matching Movement Plot Cards. These provide a summary of the action, and a final resting place for the ball marker. In addition to the Dl0, a D3 is rolled and the marker moved the correct distance on Player Identification Card. Tiresome examination is therefore eliminated, and the holding player is immediately revealed.
The cumbersomely titled Movement Plot Cards trigger all possible results, confirming a successful move but also raising the possibility of interceptions, tackles and the like. If possession is threatened, a fast action card (pre-cut and sorted--deep joy!) is turned, team ratings are compared and the clock advanced.
In order to take advantage of the usual re-order updates so familiar to sports game enthusiasts, the team cards available with Full Time comprise just a selection of European sides from 96/7 and "top" English outfits for the same year. This was more enough, however, for me to launch a mini-Euro competition which ran according to form, leaving Juventus and Barcelona as finalists.
Teams are rated from A-G for Attack, Midfield and Defence, assuming a 4-4-2 formation is in effect. Any changes to this configuration require a minor tweak, and common sense dictates that one less midfielder means a reduced rating in this domain (but an advantage elsewhere).
Full Time requires one team to have the initiative, and this, in the first instance, will be the home team. Initiative changes occur when prompted by a FAC, when a goal is scored, at the start of the second half (unless the home team is three or more goals ahead), and when tactical changes (player or formation) occur. Terry's own justification for initiative is described in the rule book as "ebb and flow", with one side dictating the pace of the game. I found that it didn't make a blind bit of difference to the gameplay, because a side can lose the ball but still have the initiative. I wonder if I missed something, because Terry does emphasize the importance of this "moral ascendancy".
After kick-off, and having rolled the two dice, the ball marker will end up where dictated by the Plot card. An "OK" result means that the team retains possession, but a disputed ball demands a check on the team ratings against a FAC. The top set of numbers is used when the team with the ball has the ubiquitous initiative, the bottom set if it hasn't. Compare numbers; the higher wins. If a change has occurred, check the number on the Identification Chart for the correct area of play to confirm the new player.
Goal attempts are cued by certain squares on the Stadium Card. If an attacker is in possession, the Plot card may indicate a shot, the option of a shot or a headed goal attempt. For example: a shot from square S7 gives 12 possible results, the Dl0 being adjusted by any + (1 or 2) shot ratings on the player card. If a possible save is indicated, then the next FAC is revealed and the centre section noted. If the goalie rating is exactly the same, the he's done the business.
It is paramount that a football game provides a decent visual representation, and whilst Full Time doesn't look like Subbuteo, you do get a sense of perspective and motion. Furthermore, you want the whole kit and caboodle, and with rules for penalties, subs, corners, squad rotation, free-kicks, etc.: Terry has done a thorough job in incorporating every facet of soccer.
I do not accept that sports games are on a different plane to traditional board games. They offer familiar systems, a sense of achievement, and, with Full Time being typical, a chance to play something half decent solitaire (although FT works well with two). Anyone reticent to test this market because of perceived bias--too complicated, repetitive, timewarp, etc.--is a mug. Full Time is an outstanding game, and might only disappoint those looking for wholesale changes from the Lambourne maestro.
SWD: I found the idea rhat Lambourne had a word processor that was as recent as the 1980s hard to credit, but reading Mike's comments again, I note that he didn't actually say NINETEEN eighties and neither did he say that they actually used the thing!
Alan sent Terry an advance copy of the review and offered him the chance to comment on what Mike had to say. So here is the man himself, complete with inky fingers from the printing outfit.
by Terry Goodchild
Many thanks for forwarding a copy of Mike's review. Beyond putting the record straight on a few points I have no comment to make on Mike's review.
- I have never objected to Mike's comments about presentation and/or graphics, merely disagreed with them. Certainly no 'war' has been raging these past years!
- A 'World Cup 1998' Extension Set should be available in about four weeks, and hopefully thereafter the game will be sold complete with this Set and the 1997/8 English Premier and 1st Divisions.
- Mike seems to have misunderstood the 'Ebb and Flow' concept. The idea is that even the recognised underdog is able to control the pace of a match from time to time, perhaps due to an inspired period of play by their midfielders, or by the opposition 'taking a breather', and the game simulates this by allowing the Initiative to switch from one team to the other, triggered either by a specific event as he describes, or by a random factor, and during their spell 'on top' that team has a distinct advantage when a Disputed Ball occurs. This doesn't mean that they automatically retain or regain possession, merely that they have an enhanced chance of doing so, so the game produces periods of play where first one team then the other appears to have the upper hand, despite their actual Team Ratings.
- The review gives the impression that 'Three-and-three-quarter Laps' and 'The Metric Mile' are based on the same design concept, and implies the 'The Metric Mile' is no longer available. Wrong on both counts. Although both games are based on the 1,500 Metres track event they are entirely different games as anyone who has played both will readily recognise. 'The Metric Mile' is still widely played and is included in our list of current products, price 10.50.