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Football Strategy
Football Strategy
by The Avalon Hill Game Co, Strategy Game Company (1959)
Player Count
2 to 4

Player Ages

Playing Time
2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Bluffing
  • Sports
  • Designers
  • Thomas N. Shaw
  • Mechanisms
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors
  • Simultaneous Action Selection
  • Memory
  • Paper-and-Pencil
  • Simulation
  • Dice Rolling
  • Family
  • Sports: American Football / Gridiron
  • Tube Games
  • Rating: 0/10 from 0 users


    Football Strategy boils the sport down to play calling skill. The game's structure is simple: The defensive player selects one of 10 formation cards (ranging from an 8-man line "goal line stand" to a pass prevent defense with five safeties); the offensive player calls a play (a choice of 20, plus punting). Cross-indexing the choices on a matrix shows what happened. Except for "long gains", the outcome of each play against each defense is always the same. Dice are rolled only to determine the distance of long gains and the results of kickoffs and field goal attempts.

    Each play consumes a prescribed number of seconds, from 15 to 45. The players mark off the time and play four quarters, following the standard football rules.

    For variety, three types of offense ("pro style", "aerial game" and "ball control") are available, each with a different, though not radically different, results matrix.

    Simple though it is, the game is engrossing (see the "More Information" screen), and play generally follows realistic patterns, though the handling of punts and on-side kicks (both more effective than in real life) is questionable. Also, because the design changed little after its debut in 1959, the plays and defenses don't reflect the state of the art in contemporary professional football. This is the era of Otto Graham, not Eli Manning.

    For those who are so inclined, Football Strategy lends itself to mathematical analysis. Many years ago, an entrant into the tournament at Origins went to the trouble of using game theory to generate charts showing the optimal mix of plays in different situations. He reached the finals but, in a victory for human intuition over number crunching, lost the championship game by a touchdown and a field goal.

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