Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Match Day action!

Last November I posted about the new tabletop soccer rules called Striker and my painting of a pair of soccer teams.

Well since then I have finished the two teams (Manchester United and Chelsea) and made a pitch with goal posts so it was time to actually play a game.

The complete set up. Eureka miniatures soccer players , goal posts, corner flags and game officials.
Homemade soccer pitch made from green felt and lots and lots of masking to paint the lines!

Since posting the pictures of my pitch and teams on our club page a few club members expressed an interest in giving the game a go, so last Friday we finally set up the game and got stuck in.

We had given the rules a quick read through and fully expected the game to run slowly at first, but speed up as we grew more familiar with the rules and so it proved. By the time we stopped play we were moving along quite nicely, only checking the rules when we had to handle a free kick or corner.

The game turn is broken into phases of attacker (the team with the ball) and defender. Each phase has a number of actions that can be performed. These include moving a player off the ball, passing the ball, dribbling the ball, kicking ball into space and running with the ball (a combination of kicking ball into space and moving off the ball). For defenders it normally means moving players off the ball and tackling with a couple of special "defensive moves" that we'll cover later.

The turn sequence consists of attacker (4 actions), defender (2 actions), attacker (4 actions) and lastly defender (3 actions).  On the completion of this 4-2, 4-3 sequence the time clock is advanced one phase with 30 such phases making one half of football. If at any time there is a change over in possession or play stops because the ball went out of play or there's a free kick the whole sequence is restarted (and the time clock advances).

As you can see the attacker gets more actions in the sequence and this really allows the game to flow quickly and lets the attacker set up some nice combinations of passes and player movement. The defender can only really react to the attacker.

Passing is fairly straight forward; measure the distance, and roll a d8 to see if a pass is successful. A pass can fail, in which case it can scatter from the target player or position where it is collected by the closest player. It can be successful but an imperfect pass. This means the player has the ball but could not control it enough to advance the ball in that sequence or the pass can be a perfect pass in which case the player with the ball can then carry out another action.

Ready for kick off!

When a player with the ball is tackled the two players roll a d6 each with the highest number winning the challenge. Defenders get +1 modifier for tackling and there are other modifiers depending on the direction of the tackle. If the defender wins they steal the ball. If the attacker wins the defender is beaten and moved past the striker potentially opening up the defense. If the rolls are tied then there is likely a foul which may result in a free kick, yellow cards etc.  Players can choose to make a professional foul but the outcomes are usually bad for the offending player.

Chelsea defence foils another United attack as the defender successfully tackles the United Striker and runs the ball out of danger!

Foul! No! The referee has missed it! United have the ball!

These sequence of actions, the passing mechanics, and tackling mechanics are quite easy to pick up and the play really starts to move along quite nicely. I found the game develops its own narrative as you play and you can almost imagine the commentators calling the game.

In addition to these basic rules there are a few good additional rules that add a bit of flavor to the game.

If an attacker strings five consecutive passes together they have "momentum" this forces the defender to automatically move a player out of position potentially opening up the defense. This rule is a way to simulate the "one touch, tiki taka" style of play.

Defenders have two special rules. They can spend two actions to execute a "defensive power move" which is essentially the offside trap where the whole defensive line moves forward to put opposing strikers in an offside position. This forces the attacker to spend actions putting players back onside before continuing with their other actions.


United pulls the offside trap catching two Chelsea strikers offside.

There is also the defensive press which can allow the defending team to put more pressure on attacking players but we never got around to trying this rule out in our game.

One thing I think this game would have benefitted from is a basic explanation of the offside rule. I think I know the rules of soccer okay but even I was stumped by one situation when I was unsure if the attacking player was offside. We allowed the play to continue and it turns out on review I was wrong. The player was offside.

Is he through? No the Linesman has spotted him. Offside!

We also didn't know how far away from the kicker a defensive wall could be set up for a free kick.

Not everyone who plays this game will know the rules of soccer so some basic explanation (maybe with some diagrams) would help a lot. Something to consider for the next edition?

One thing that is missing from the rules is any form of campaign or league system or a way for a team or players to gain experience. Teams can be grouped in Tiers for passing and tackling so a Tier 1 team is slightly better than a Tier 2 team. However it is not too difficult to run a campaign/league and experience could easily be incorporated using either a variation of the Tier system or just adding re-rolls e.g. An experienced striker can reroll when shooting on goal

In my final summary of these rules I would say they are really quite good and provide an exciting and fun simulation of soccer. Several onlookers at our club were suitably impressed and are already talking about getting some teams from Eureka miniatures (www.eurekamin.com.au) and painting up their favorite teams. Maybe we'll even get a league going!


The Striker is through the defence! (We later found out he was offside after all)


Just the keeper to beat!


What a save! Corner kick!