I was ten years old when I invented my first football game. It had a rudimentary game engine. It was played with a deck of ordinary playing cards and two notebook-pages of charts.
Page 1 was a set of charts for Offense results. You called either “pass” or “run” before each play. If you pulled a red card from the deck, you looked it up on one of the two offense charts for Passing plays or one of the two charts for Running plays, depending on what you called. The charts were just labeled “good teams” and “bad teams.”
Page 2 was the set of charts for Defense results, which was where your results came from if you pulled a black card from the deck. There was also a generic set of charts for special teams stuff, but all teams were the same when it came to special teams plays.
My game wasn’t great, certainly not worthy of being represented and sold as a finished product. But I had fun with it. Let’s not forget: I made it all up myself and I was ten.
About a week ago, I was approached via email by Chris Hemperley of Lynx Sports Group. He asked if I could review one of their two games: 1. Xtreme Football Strategy or 2. Xtreme Baseball Strategy.
It’s not often these days that I run across a game company that isn’t on my radar at all, but it’s always a welcome surprise when that does happen. So, sure, I said, I would be happy to review one of your games.
On their website, Lynx Sports Group touts “Xtreme Football Strategy” as a football simulation game with some degree of sophistication. From the site:
You call the plays in this exciting game of football strategy! Long Passes, Last minute Field Goal attempts, Overtime Games, Offense and Defense Play calling- even Challenge Reviews! Includes Color Game Field ready for print, game rules and score sheets. Game time averages 20-30 minutes.
I have to assume that Hemperley created Lynx Sports Group and Xtreme Football Strategy site with an earnest belief that his game actually delivers the kind of action and drama that the quote above indicates. I have to assume that in Hemperley’s mind, Xtreme Football Strategy is an “exciting game of football strategy.” But for the rest of us, I can unequivocally say, it’s not. Not at all.
I don’t bring up my game-designing history to show that I was some precocious game-designing prodigy when I was ten. My game was nothing spectacular. It was about as sophisticated as you’d expect a kinda-nerdy sports-obsessed ten-year-old to come up with.
However, the difference between the game I designed at age ten and Lynx Sports Group’s Xtreme Football Strategy is the difference between 3D Chess and tic-tac-toe.
It’s hard to summarize the game engine for Hemperley’s game without giving away the entire rule book. Here is all you need to know:
There are four possible outcomes of a pass play. Incomplete, complete for 20 yards, complete for 30 yards, complete for 50 yards. After each complete pass, draw from the deck. The pass catcher runs another 20 yards 50% of the time.
Is there anyone out there who would pay $9.95 for a game like that? Moreover, is there anyone out there who would enjoy a game like that after spending $9.95 for it?
Hemperley, no doubt, will get his share of orders. His website says “Lynx designs the best sports table-top simulation games in the industry. From desk sports games played by Coaches and Managers from our Lynx Group Division- to the new 9.95 printable Game sets!” Some will fall for that hook. I hope that after reading this review you don’t.
If you do have $9.95 to burn, I have better places for you to burn it. In fact, I have a great game that I designed a while back that I can sell you. Hang on, I just need to go out to the garage and dig out one of my old notebooks…
PS: Click here for a copy of the “Free Newsletter” that Lynx Group’s site promotes.