A Message from the President

In case you missed it (and I don’t blame you, I don’t always delve into comments either), the Owner and President of APBA, John Herson himself, responded to my first post about the APBA Soccer game.

His comment:

Good morning,

Thank you for reviewing APBA’s soccer game. I am not the developer of the game. I asked the developers about the statement that the game is a knockoff of another soccer game. They told me they had never heard of that other game. Since these are honorable men, I take their word for it.

The tag line the Classic Soccer board game is the same tag line that APBA has used for its other board games beginning with APBA’s baseball game first introduced in 1951. The tag line is a continuation of the packaging for APBA’s other four sports games. There is no hidden meaning or message in the choice of the tag line.

I appreciate you trying out APBA’s soccer game. I wish the introduction had gone better. It should have been done much better. We think we have a handle on the card situation.

Any comments pro , con or neutral, I would appreciate hearing. We need fans feedback to make the soccer game the best it can be.



I replied:

Thank you for taking the time to reply, John. I really appreciate your comments. To me it says volumes about your commitment to the soccer game and to APBA generally that you are willing to address your customers directly.

As for the comparison between APBA and Classic Soccer – personally, I think there are similarities in the game design (the way the pitch is divided into zones, most glaringly), but there is no way I would ever call the game a knockoff. I was just pointing out some of the criticisms I’ve seen.

I prefer APBA Soccer to Classic Soccer. I’ve been playing Classic Soccer for about a year and a half, but it is a different game and, though enjoyable, I never had the fun with it that I’m having with APBA. APBA Soccer is the game I was looking for, the game I hoped CS would be when I first bought it. Like I said, I think one would need a broad brush to try to paint APBA as a Classic Soccer lite. If there are others who’ve played Classic Soccer and who think the game gets bogged down with too many rules, too many charts, too many calculations, like I did – APBA Soccer might be the game for them, the way it is for me.

I’m bummed that the introduction of the game didn’t go better for APBA, too, because I really love this game and want it to succeed, if only for my own selfish reasons – I want to keep playing updated league sets each year. One of the reasons I started this blog was that I thought the game needed someone out there talking about how great it is. APBA Soccer is a great game. If I’m your biggest fan right now, that’s cool with me, but I hope I can eliminate some of the early misconceptions about the game and, consequently, convince others who are on the fence to go out and pick up a copy.

I’m going to shout it from the rooftops. I love APBA Soccer! Thanks again, John, for this game.

– Paul

I hope John continues to read my blog, and I hope I can be a worthy advocate and ambassador for the game.  I have said it before, that I don’t think the game is perfect, but I do think it’s fun and that it’s getting better every day.  The more people we have playing it, the better for all of us.  When I have some time I will give the entire game the thorough review it deserves, but in the meantime, I can assure you that it’s a fun and a worthwhile tabletop sports sim to spend some time with.


2010 MLS – Game 1



Game 1

LA Galaxy 0-2 New York Red Bulls


43′:  Relatively quiet first half is coming to a close when suddenly the game breaks open.  LA gets the ball in to Buddle in the penalty box, but his shot is blocked.  90 seconds later Landon Donovan has the ball in the penalty area when Tim Ream steals it away and New York gets a breakaway chance.  Juan Pablo Angel is unable to convert as time expires, and the half ends scoreless.

57′: Clint Mathis challenges Joel Lindpere in the penalty area and Lindpere draws the foul.  Juan Pablo Angel goes to the spot to take the 1st penalty kick of the 2010 MLS season.  IT CLANKS OFF THE WOODWORK!  The LA defense is able to clear the ball, but it goes over the line for a corner.  Thierry Henry draws the task and sends a perfect pass to Angel, who takes a one-timer and scores!  NYRB 1-0 LA.

90’+:  Desperately trying to procure the ball to score in extra time, Juninho commits a foul.  Juan Pablo Angel’s Direct Free Kick finds an open Joel Lindpere who passes to Dane Richards.  Richards’ 92nd minute goal seals the away victory for NYRB in the season opener.

Man of the Match:  JUAN PABLO ANGEL


In this first game, and, indeed in the first few games I played this season, I was still trying to get a handle on what rules I wanted to use, how I was going to handle timing, what stats to keep and how, what charts and all that stuff.  In this game, you can see there were only 13 total shots, which isn’t unreasonable, but is far below the actual MLS average of 22 per game.  There was also only 1 corner kick in this game.  The one biggest rule change that I’ve instituted since I started the season (besides now using a homebrew Defense chart) is that ALL rebounds on missed shots are automatically picked up by the offensive team.  This had led to more shots and more shots on goal.  How many, exactly, I can’t say, because if I were to play the game as it is out of the box, rebounds go to the loose ball chart so either side could end up with a rebound.  I prefer my way.

Notice, if you will, my scorecard.  This was the earliest version of a scorecard that I created.  I’m using a newer version based on this same design now.  You’ll see it soon.  I custom-make one for each game with the team logos.  It adds just a nice touch of professionalism that helps me get into the game a little more.

Baseball as Steam-valve

From Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide 1917

I came across this today on the Library of Congress’ digital library, and boy did it hit home.  Page 279 (271 of the text):

It is a fact that Base Ball follows war.  It followed war in the United States and it is one of the best and most efficacious peacemakers and civilizing influences devised to render soothing influences to the human mind.  It is possible to work off a tremendous amount of steam in Base Ball, whether a spectator or a player.  Steam thus distributed to the empty air prevents mischief that follows when it happens to be accumulated and there is no healthful vent for it.

The soothing, efficacious nature of baseball, noted in 1917



Does God Play Strat-o-Matic?

It’s the eleventh month of the year, and in our little recovery group, that means we spend the month talking about the eleventh step of our program which is:

Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for our knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out.


Today our daily reflections brought up the concept of “letting go and letting God.”  I often think of J. Henry Waugh’s Universal Baseball Association when I consider the impact of God on my everyday life.  If you aren’t familiar with the book I’m referencing, a brief plot summary can be found at its  Wikipedia entry.  My brother, a baseball fanatic and literature buff himself recently came across this book and asked me if I’d heard of it.  I responded:  “It’s only my SECOND FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!”  He then asked if this was a book that “Strat-o-Matic types” know all about.  Yes, I think it is, I responded.


A bit of an understatement, probably.


Anyway, the novel, in my opinion, is a discussion on the concepts of fate versus free will, and explores the idea, I think, that maybe God does play dice with the universe – in answer to Einstein’s famous quote.  The author, Robert Coover, does this through the metaphor of a lonely accountant, named J. Henry Waugh, who calls himself the Proprietor of The Universal Baseball Association.  The UBA is an invention of Waugh’s, a fictional universe of baseball players, with whom he’s played 56 seasons of a dice & chart baseball game of his own making.  Waugh keeps meticulous records of the league, well beyond baseball statistics; he goes so far as to create geneologies, myths and folk songs, political affiliations and a mythos unique to its universe.


He comes to love his creation, especially the ballplayers with whom his attachment is real, though they may be imaginary.  Above all others, he loves one rookie pitcher, Damon Rutherford.  The novel opens with Henry in the throes of glee as his beloved Damon Rutherford is in the midst of pitching a perfect game.


I’m not going to write a 2000 word essay about the book right now, though I would love to, and probably will someday.  I bring it up because it’s relevant to our topic this morning, “Let go, and Let God.”


Is God a Strat-o-Matic player?  Am I, His creation, a collection of possibilities within a defined card?  Like, am I a 1990 Kevin Maas, with outrageous splits and in the right circumstances – batting exclusively against righties, for instance – I could OPS 1.014, but in the wrong circumstances I fall short of the Mendoza Line?  Am I included with the regular set, or am I an uncarded extra player?


Is God rolling the dice with me?  Does He make the lineup decisions around here?  Am I a starter on this team, or am I destined to a life on the bench?


When I think of letting go and letting God, I assume that God has almighty power to change my life at any time, and, more importantly, that He intends to use that power in my best interest.  I prefer to believe that He is not J Henry Waugh, that He is not rolling the dice and that He can and wants to take over whatever I possibly give over to him.


I like to use this analogy when I’m trying to explain God to my own self:  when my 3 year-old has trouble doing something I find easy, like zipping up her jacket, sometimes she’ll fight and fight and fight with it, frustrating herself to no end.  And I’ll let her do that as long as she needs to.  If she gets it zipped up, I’m so happy for her and proud of her.  But if she can’t…if it’s just too much for her and her little fingers just aren’t capable of doing it yet…if she asks me for help nothing makes me happier than being able to help her when she needs me.  I like to think that’s how God is looking at me.  As if whatever I’m struggling with is as simple to Him as zipping up a jacket would be for me.  And, that if I just give over to Him whatever is troubling me, He would be happy to take over and fix it for me.  As long as I insist on doing it myself, however, I’m going to struggle.


So I say this prayer everyday:  God, I offer myself to you, to do with me as you will.  Please God relieve me of the burden of my self – of the burden of my ego and my arrogance, so that I may better do your will.  Please, God, take away my difficulties so that my victory over them may help me bear witness to others that I may help of your power, your love, and your way of life.  May I do your will always!  And, please God, I ask that you make your will known to me in a blatant and straightforward manner.  I’m not good with subtlety.



Does God play Strat-o-Matic with a Paul Dylan card?  I doubt it.  But I look forward to rolling a couple face-to-face games with Him in the great hereafter.  I’ll stack a 1966 Sandy Koufax card up against anything God could throw out there any day.

APBA Soccer – mini season numero uno

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.