Which Football Game Should I get?

As far as baseball games go, Strat-o-Matic vs. APBA is an age old debate that isn’t going to end any time soon.  You might have better luck converting a Lutheran to a Protestant than a Strat-player to an APBA-baller when it comes to the respective baseball games.

Hal Richman, founder of Strat-o-Matic, compared tabletop gamers to political parties in a 2009 interview with USA Today: “Generally, you don’t switch parties,” says Richman. “Once a Democrat, always a Democrat. Once a Republican, always a Republican. It’s your choice.”

In baseball, I play Strat-o-Matic.  I love it.  I’ve never tried the APBA game, I’ve never tried Statis Pro, or Replay, or Gen1400’s DICE baseball, or 15 Minute Baseball, or Cardboard Baseball, or Extra Bases, or Out of the Park, or Diamond Mind, or Pursue the Pennant, or any of the other million bazillion baseball games.  I play Strat-o-Matic.  One day I might give APBA a whirl, most likely with one of their deadball sets that Strat doesn’t seem to have any interest in releasing, but in the meantime, I have more Strat cards than I can possibly get to for years to come.

1989 Joe Montana Strat-O-Matic QB card

1989 Joe Montana Strat-O-Matic QB card

But as for football games, I am unaffiliated.  I’ve never played ANY football games.  I had a football game as a kid that I made up myself that was really fun, but I lost the rules and charts years and years ago.  One day I may try to recreate it.  In the meantime, which football game should I get?

Here is what I’m looking for (card & dice only, please):

  1. easy solitaire play – I only plan to play solitaire, so I’d need a game with play calling that isn’t dependent on surprising or out-coaching your opponent
  2. realistic stats – I like stats, and I’d like complete game stats for offensive skill players, and hopefully defensive tackles, sacks and interceptions
  3. game play in 45 min – 1 hr max (1/2 hour would be even better)
  4. individual player cards for skill players at least – I prefer player cards over team roster cards or sheets, but this is not a deal breaker
  5. not too much decision making – I love football, but I’m no football coach.  Especially with defensive formations, I can get lost in the complexity of all the player movement and who covers whom
  6. preferably have college football teams available – I’d love to replay a couple USC seasons, but this isn’t a deal killer either
I think that’s it.  Right now I’m leaning toward APBA Football or the newly-released Fast Action Football from Downey Games.  I’ve heard great things about both of these games.
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  1. Going to chime in here. Have a played only a few football games out there. For me, SOM has been the best for face to face game. Can be played solitaire but shines as FtF. Good stats but can’t remember what playing time was but thinking it was over 2 hours. Solitaire wise, I have played a lot of SI Football/Paydirt/Red Zone. Can quickly take it out of the box and start playing. Play time is around 90 minutes and has a college FB version. Problem with it is no individual players. The football game I am messing with right now is Second Season from PLAAY.com. Not sure how the stats are going to be, does have individual players but on a overall team sheet, all plays are resolved based on matchups which is nice and results are discreptive. No college teams that I am aware of (rules for rating players are included tho). Only down side for me is this play time. It seems to takes me well over 2 hours to play a game because of chart flipping and not enough games played to get the system down. I think it is worth a look.

  2. Oh, I have a copy of APBA Football but have not played it yet. To busy playing the soccer game……………..

  3. Thanks for the suggestions, Bob. I’ve heard good things about Second Season, too. I think I’m still leaning toward APBA or Fast Action Football, though. But, like you, I have plenty of other games (APBA Soccer especially) to play in the meantime.

  4. Not sure if you found a game, but Inside Blitz from Inside Sports games has a really nice football game with a great solitaire system. In fact all their offerings are good.

    • Hey Russ – I hadn’t heard of Inside Blitz or Inside Sports before. I’ll have to take a look at their games. Thanks for the head’s up on these! I’m always interested in finding new games.

  5. Well your in for a treat then…. The football game has a wonderfull solitaire system for play calling. It’s a full fledged game though that usually clocks in at around 1.5 hours. Their baseball game is very unique it has an engine based on DIPS where it all starts on the pitchers card….


    • You guys are really opening up a new world for me with all these football games. Russ, I’ve been looking at Inside Blitz and that game may be the most impressive yet. The only thing I don’t like about what I see is the lack of available college seasons. If they come out with the 2011 college season before I make a purchase, this may end up being the game I get. I still might get it anyway.

  6. You might take a look at “Second Season”. I’m not sure how long it plays but it’s got some good reviews. See: http://www.plaay.com/

  7. how would actionpc ever be called bettter than strat yep young 13 tr olds play still play strat

  8. I recommend the current version of Paydirt, one called “Data Driven Football” and the other called “Mays Football.” Contrary to what’s been said, in my opinion the absence of individual player cards is a plus, not a minus. The game plays quicker without them. Nine offensive plays (Line Plunge, Off Tackle, End Run, Draw Play, Screen Pass, Short Pass, Medium Pass, Long Pass, Sideline Pass) and Six defensive formations (Standard, Short Yardage, Spread, Pass Prevent Short, Pass Prevent Long, Blitz).

    There is a solitaire system which permits you to play both offenses, with the defenses picked for you, or you can play offense and defense for one team and the system will play the opponent. There is both a board version and a computer version. Additionally, in Mays Football, you can pick up some old time teams.


  9. Hello,
    First let me say that I’m 66 years old and just retired. Obviously,I have some extra time on my hands.I’ve played Bowl Bound and Paydirt many times.However,I played the board game versions and really liked the games.I would like to play both again but I’m computer illiterate. Would I be able to learn to play these games on my computer. Are these games hard to master.Also I would be playing these games in solitaire fashion. I even have my own solitaire method to play these on the board game. To be honest if I could find the board game with sheets from the 90’s and 2000’s I’d prefer that but it doesn’t seem anyone prints those.Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • Hi Jim, I don’t know much about those two games, but if I were you I’d click on the two links in the comment above yours. Another source you might try is the Table Top Sports Forum at Delphi. Here is the link to the forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/tabletopsports/

      There are a lot of helpful guys over there (many around your age, too!). I’d ask them for their opinion on Paydirt’s computer versions and what might be right for you.

      Good luck!

  10. Hi: I’ve played board games for years, mostly baseball on APBA. I would like to play football on board games too. I play solitaire and I like working with individual player cards. I’ve been looking at strat-o-matic, but I’m not sure if I can play that solitaire or not. I’m not too interested in playing on computer. Or is there another game out there that would be better. Thanks, Jerry.

    • Hi Jerry,
      There are a ton of great football games, as you can tell by some of the responses to this article. I have been playing Strat Football (basic) solitaire and I find it to be a great game. Lately, my favorite game for solitaire football has been Diggin’ Deep Football. I also enjoy Second Season a lot, too.

      Good luck finding the one that’s right for you, I hope you enjoy the process while you’re looking for it.


  11. played strat-o-matic pro & college board/dice games. both very realistic also played SI bowl bound also have title bout boxing game. Game that I really enjoyed most was a Company out of New York called “Research Games” they had both a college & pro version very simple but to me realistic results game. made back in 60’s I played 67-68 seasons after that unable to locate. Anyone out here with info for me? how to find more seasons if available? thanks

  12. You share interesting things here.

  13. Well, I know I’m really late to the party here, but I own both SOM and APBA football, and thought I’d answer the question directly rather than suggest other games. If #3 —play time of one hour or less— is really important to you, then go with SOM. Individual results may vary, of course, but when I played APBA football the games took about 2 hours, sometimes slightly longer (when I was first learning the game it was taking 3 hours). With SOM, I came in right at one hour or slightly less. APBA’s version may be more statistically accurate, however, but I certainly understand the realism/playability quotient of these games. On the whole, I recommend SOM football above APBA football.

    The baseball game…you gotta go with APBA.

  14. Six Points college football is your answer, Paul, although the game was only made from ’75-’81. I have all the seasons except ’78 on sheets w/individual players. You can do ’80 USC on the computer if you type in Six Points football for a taste. Contact me with any questions.

  15. I was a Paydirt fan,too, but the college game blew- too few teams. I bought Strat for the ’86-’88 NCAA years and it was good/great, but Six Points was simpler/faster and the USC teams were better with Sir Charles and Marcus and, frustratingly, I could never go undefeated; hence, realistic. Marcus Allen gets you to the red-zone then fumbles. The game advanced markedly from ’75-’81.

  16. Ok. I’m new to the football board games. I understand the Pro Football Solitaire is a real good game. What I want to know is in SOM, when you play solitarily, does the game engine call both offense and defensive plays? How long does it take to play solitaire? Second Season looks good but I understand it takes a long time to play. As far as Inside Blitz, it’s not as easy as it looks or explained in the forums.

    Just need some help on this subject since I want to purchase a good solitaire game without a whole bunch of charts. I would like to play a game max 2 hrs. What about Red Zone? Thank you……..Brian

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