I’m glad I didn’t read the reviews when APBA Soccer was released last March, because they weren’t kind. The game engine was criticized as a knockoff of Anthony Apostolico’s Classic Soccer, and worse, the debut card sets were full of errors and seemingly un-playtested.
That’s water under the soccer bridge as far as I’m concerned, though. I ordered the game with birthday money (thanks mom-in-law!), and I’ve had it now a little over a month. In that time, APBA soccer has had about 90% of my tabletop gaming attention.
You’d need a broad brush to paint this game as a kind of Classic Soccer Lite, but I get the comparison. That the box calls APBA Soccer “The Classic Soccer Board Game” is brazen, I thought, since the two games are similar enough in basic design to elicit comparisons on their own. Ballsy move by APBA owner (and, reportedly, the designer of the soccer game) John Herson to call it out like that.
I’ll review the game itself later, in the meantime, here is a brief description of the tabletop updates you’ll be getting in the coming weeks:
My first APBA soccer project is a mini-season with two divisions: Division One will be comprised of the top 8 finishers in 2010 Major League Soccer competing in a 7 game short season where the top 6 teams make the playoffs (setup like the NFL: wild-card round, semi-finals, championship). The bottom 8 2010 MLS finishers will compete in a double-elimination tournament for right to be promoted to division one for the next MLS mini-season I undertake. The two finalists in that tournament will be promoted. Total games to finish the entire project will be 48. Since I play 4-5 games a week on average, it should take two to two-and-a-half months to finish. That seems to be about the length my attention span for most things, so I have a reasonable expectation that I’ll finish this. I’m 14 games into the season so far (roughly 30% complete).
I’ll try to post game-by-game results and update stats and standings with every week of play. I’ll let you know when I’m using homebrew rules and I’ll give you my opinion as to where the game succeeds and where it could use work. That’s the plan, anyway.
Now that I’ve said all that, I want to make a full disclosure: I’ve only played the game a month, but I love it. It’s not perfect, but it’s terrifically fun, and it’s my new favorite soccer sim. I hope the joy I’m experiencing with the game comes across in my posts, because I hope to convert the doubtful; I want the game to succeed. I have no dog in the fight between the old guard APBA guys and the new ownership, as I’ve never owned an APBA product before and I don’t have any opinion on the Lancaster to Alpharetta move or any of that. All I know is that this soccer game is great, and with the innovations from the community, it’s getting better every day.
I hope you enjoy the writeups of my first APBA soccer project! I’m having a blast playing it.