The best thing about quick play games is that you can complete big projects, like a World Cup Group Stage with 24 teams, in a very short period of time.
The worst thing about quick play games is that you can complete big projects, like a World Cup Group Stage with 24 teams, in a very short period of time.
This paradox was readily apparent to me when it took me only 3 nights to bang out the 36 group stage matches necessary to determine the Group of 16 in my Mea Copa dice soccer replay of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
On the one hand, it was satisfying to complete an entire stage of a large tournament. I saw mostly accurate and predictable results, a couple of upsets and one or two head-scratching outliers. The game play was snappy and addicting. I kept finding myself saying “ok, just one more game” right before I found myself rolling 6 more games. As I head into the Knockout Phase of the tournament, I couldn’t be more pleased with the results so far.
On the other hand, with the quick play format I never got a feel for the makeup or the personality of any of the teams. Sure, I know now that Canada couldn’t score and Hungary couldn’t defend, that Morocco was surprisingly strong and that the famed England squad was lucky to get out of their group. However, what I don’t know is anything else.
Mea Copa has a couple little gimmicks that try to give some personality to the games. There is the formation chart which adds a little variety to 3% of all rolls, the Random X-chart, which also mixes things up in 1% of rolls, and then there is the 1% chance that you hit the Team X-chart, which attempts to replicate some of the rare plays that actually occurred in real World Cups, to add a slice of authenticity.
For example, in my 1986 Mea Copa replay match between Soviet Union and Hungary, the score was 2-0 USSR going into the final roll when Hungary rolled their Team X-Chart. The result read: “Offensive side appears to just be playing out the game. Opponents score 3 goals in 15 minutes.” That may sound like a pretty wild result, but when the game ended 5-0 in favor of USSR, it nearly matched the 6-0 drubbing USSR gave Hungary in real life in 1986. I’m a fan of the X-Charts. I hope Argentina hits their Team X-Chart at some point in this tournament.
Now, on to the results of the Group Stage:
The biggest surprise is that England didn’t make it out of this round. In this replay, they lost to Portugal 1-0 (which is the exact same result as in real life) and they beat Poland 1-0 (in real life the final was England 3, Poland 0). But the shocker was their match with Morocco. The real life 1986 result was a 0-0 tie, in the Mea Copa replay the result was Morocco 3, England 0.
This is the best story I found on the game, from the Glasgow Herald, June 7, 1986 (click on the photo below to read it). It seems that at the time, England did face the very real prospect of being eliminated before the Knockout Phase after going scoreless in their first two matches. Their 3-0 win versus Poland got them through on goal differential. It turns out that the loss to Morocco in the replay was surprising, but not as impossible as I would’ve guessed before doing this research.
The other result that is going to really change history is the final standing in Group A. In real life, Argentina came out on top and Italy finished 2nd. In the replay, Italy’s 2-0 victory in their head-to-head ended up giving the Italians the Group title and sending Argentina into the other half of the Round of 16 bracket. No big deal, right? It wouldn’t be, except that now Argentina is in the same side of the tournament bracket as West Germany. As we all know, the 1986 World Cup final was Argentina vs. West Germany. That is not a possibility in this replay. The bracket is below:
I am looking forward to the rest of the tournament. At this point, I almost feel like the quick play format won’t do the rest of the tournament justice. I would like to have a little more detail in the results. Time Travel Games does offer the fantastic game Classic Soccer as a full simulation game that many swear by as the ultimate in realism. I own the game, but don’t have the 1986 World Cup teams. Consequently, the plan for this replay is to play it all out using only Mea Copa.
My next Mea Copa replay will be the 2010 World Cup. Mea Copa game designer Anthony Apostolico just announced last week that he has updated the game through 2010 AND has added some new bells and whistles to the game. I expect to be receiving my copy of Mea Copa 2.0 next week. As an added bonus for me, I do already own the 2010 World Cup teams for Classic Soccer, so I think I’ll play the Group Stages and maybe the Round of 16 with Mea Copa and play the Quarterfinals on with Classic Soccer. We’ll see.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing if “the Hand of God” reaches out and touches my 1986 World Cup replay.