A card game about football that offers both quick-play mechanics and strategic depth verging on simulation. Sure to please fans, players, and fantasy league members, Masters of the Gridiron is a great homage to this beloved American pastime.
|Masters of the Gridiron||Sports Mogul Games||Card Game|
In The Box
Sports Mogul, the folks behind baseball and football simulation software, are bringing this new card game to market through a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign is off to a good start, and we were fortunate to have the chance to test out six teams prior to the full market release of Masters of the Gridiron (MotG).
Each team is made up of 54 cards with a mix of players on offense and defense, plus a set of cards used to run plays. These playbook cards are augmented by just a few special plays that can be mixed in for added depth. The decks we sampled included teams from the 2012 roster, hailing from San Francisco, Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Dallas, and New England.
Fans and followers of key stats will appreciate that each player card is loaded with everything from weight/height to jersey number. All individual records from the 2012 season are included, along with a series of abstracted individual stats related to offense and defense that come into use during a play session. The typical playbook card shows a diagram, along with text that helps you match up stats relative to how that card will affect players on offense and defense.
How It Plays
If you’re more in the card-game-fan camp than the football-fan camp, know that MotG is fundamentally a solid and fun two-player game that happens to be about football. The theme could just as easily be fishing or logging, because it’s obvious that the game’s creators have put plenty of time into figuring out what makes for good strategic depth in a deck-building game. Although each team plays just fine independently, there are obvious expansion opportunities, in addition to the possibility of remixing any collected decks to form a dream team, fantasy-league style.
Each round of MotG gives both players the chance to take a turn on offense and defense. The person on offense chooses a play to run, along with a single card from the offense deck. Matching stats from a playbook card and a selected offense card produces a number that the player on defense tries to match or beat. If the playbook card succeeds, it is set aside as a successful field goal or touchdown. On the surface this may sound a bit like War, but there’s a deck-building mechanic at work as you match your team’s players to their optimal plays.
Smart defense strategies can take into account the players and plays that have yet to make it on the field, or exploit the natural weaknesses of an opposing team. A smart offense tries to hold out for the very best players to run each play, while forcing the other side to commit players and burn through valuable cards on defense. There were still a few kinks and questions in the decks we tested that will no doubt be worked out before a final print run, but Masters of the Gridiron is shaping up to be way more than just football fan service.
The idea that MotG could expand with classic teams is great, and the ability to mix decks makes this a natural for fantasy league enthusiasts. It’s true that stats junkies will have a leg up on the rest of us in terms of being able to profile each team, but fans of deck-building games will quickly learn the relative value of certain card combinations.
I like that the game uses real football strategies, and how each player card shows plenty of stats. Take note of what each team does well, which can be especially important when choosing which plays to run.