Ender’s Game

I am increasingly beginning to feel like Leopold Mozart. After a spate of ASL games, Ender decided to design some game rules for his little football men. These are the NFL teams used the old electric vibrating football game; I used to break the flat bottoms off and play with them in the carpet when I was a kid. I didn’t do anything particularly fancy with them, I would just line them up and run little plays, then record the “results” in a notebook. Of course, I created a whole fantasy league with teams in places like Norfolk; both Minneapolis and St. Paul had their own teams.

Ender takes a much more systematic approach than I did. He doesn’t break off the stands nor invent his own franchises, but instead got his mother to make him a paperboard football field for which he makes paper logos that go in the middle of the field for the designated home team. Then he wrote up 10 double-sided pages of rules in which the offensive play call and the defensive call combine to create a modifier that is applied to dice roll on the play result table for the appropriate formation. It’s essentially Maddens meets ASL, or more to the point, a simplified version of Avalon Hills 1959 Football Strategy, but it’s surprisingly entertaining and produces pretty reasonable results despite the fact that absolutely no statistical analysis went into the formation result tables.

My one suggestion was to add a dynamic element via special rolls. “Heat of Battle”-style rolls triggered by net results below 2 or above 12 provide for fumbles and interceptions versus big gains and touchdowns, and blitzes against passes give either a -2 (1-2) for the defense or +3 (3-6) for the offense. Those elements backfired on me last night as I fumbled twice inside his 30-yard line.

It’s bad enough to have been surpassed on the literary side. But playing this last night, I suddenly had the alarming impression that it would make for a pretty good Facebook/Android game.

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