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SGD 11-16-1998

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Sports Gaming Digest (11-16-98)

Greetings Sports Gamers!

Last Saturday four of us held the first Greater San Francisco Bay
Area Sports Gaming Association Convention (a name I just made
up).  Despite our best efforts to get lost by taking the wrong
freeway exit and traveling the scenic route through the city of
Fremont, Bill and I reached Paul's house just as Todd drove up.
A few sub sandwiches later we were entrenched in Paydirt, SI
Basketball, Batter Up, Second Season, and Statis Pro Football.
We didn't finish much but the live interaction with other
sportsgamers was worth the trip.  Todd and Bill sampled a variety
of baseball and football games, and Paul was kind enough to
playtest my SI Basketball game.  He was ahead when we quit at the
half.  I have some ideas about what works in SI BK and what
doesn't.  I think it'll take some more compromising [I hear Bill
laughing in the background] to refine the level of playability
that I'm after.  I expect we get together again before too long,
and hopefully we can round up a few more players.  Paul probably
wants a chance for his Broncos to redeem themselves against my
'Niners.  (Sorry about that late pass to Rice on third and long
into double coverage, and the fourth down run by Young...) 

Speaking of Statis Pro Football, I pulled out the Solitaire SP
Football file and cleaned up several typos and errors based on
feedback from playtesters.  The corrected copy will be on the
website later this week.   Here are some of the more significant

     --Regarding Game Situation column shifts, when the score is
     tied, use the same shifts as when the solitaire team is
     behind.  That makes the solitaire team more aggressive.

     --Under the Solitaire offensive play determination, the
     parargraph referring to Situations E, F, G, H, I and J has
     been rewritten to read "In Situations E, F, G, H, I and J,
     the lowest Pass Number for each back which generates an
     Inside Run Left or Right is resolved as a Draw play on first
     or second down.  Any Inside Run on third down is resolved as
     a Draw."

     --And I corrected some problems with the Defensive
     Strategies.  I had been allowing double and triple coverage
     in violation of the rules and I backed off from bending the
     conventions so much. 

My thoughts about how best to approach Hasbro are still
perculating but am I still thinking in terms of what we can offer
Hasbro, not simply issuing a plea that they fill our desires.  If
they have any interest in pursuing the sports game market then
they will need someone to do the research and development, i.e.
doing the grunt work to calculate player card sets, playtest the
games, and incorporate revisions.  Hasbro is the business of
producing and marketing games.  Most of their big sellers were
acquired when they purchased other brand names (Milton Bradley,
Parker Bros., etc.).  Assuming that they intend to remain
internally focused on selling games then it follows that they
might consider using outside conractors to design games for them.
That's where we come in.  Collectively, we have the knowledge and
experience with a wide range of sports games to know what has
been popular, what makes a game work (or not work), what kind of
people play sports games, and where we would expect/hope to find
them.  Hasbro might assume that they can continue to grow their
business with their existing line, plus the cream of the AH
wargame line, plus the computer games acquired with Microprose
and others to be developed.  They are probably right.  But I am
not convinced (yet) that sports games cannot fit into the
equation in a position way.  Call me an eternal optimist--or just

Jim Gordon

Pawtucket or Bust!
From: Joseph Bruce Grogan

     I'm way ahead of you, for the past 9 months I've sent e-mail first to
AH, then here recently to Hasbro, complaining, encouraging, lobbying,
and yes begging for the return of SPB & SPF. I've dropped you aline
before confessing my passion for these 2 games. I'm 44 years old and
have been involved with these games since 1977 I believe. I will
continue to write Hasbro weekly and I strongly encourage others to do
the same about these games in particular but generally any of the old
sports board games or as they once use to be called, bookshelf games.
Thanks for Sports Gaming Digest its been a godsend for us oldtimers!

     [Have you had any response from Hasbro?  Any success in
     making contact with an individual beyond the Customer
     Service flak catcher?  I'm thinking that a handful of people
     asking them to revive some games won't do much.  (Why should
     Hasbro care if 20 people will buy a game, etc.)  A different
     approach might be a group of gamers with a hands on attitude
     who can put something on the table.  Hasbro holds the rights
     to these games but do they know what they have?  Do they
     know how to produce the game cards, maybe redevelop the
     system, and find the right market?  The "something" that we
     could have might be the depth of experience with sports
     games to lay some of the ground work and thus make the idea
     more attractive to Hasbro.  I know this is a pie in the sky
     thought, but that's what makes it interesting.--JCG]

From: Dave Arlington

>But do they know the hobby of sports gaming?  Do they know
>the base sportsgamers who still buy games?  Can we make them an
>offer that they can't refuse?  (Can I stop asking rhetorical

So, what do you suggest we do, Jim? Collect a petition? For which
games? All of them? Some of them?

>Fantastic work!!!!!  Please send me a review on all of your hockey games.

>     [Okay you hockey game fans, here's your chance to write a
>     game review.--JCG]

But Jim, review ALL the hockey games???  :)

     [Like you have anything better to do. :)  --JCG]

I'll try to stick to just the hockey board games (notably missing from the
otherwise excellent Total Hockey encyclopedia that DID cover hockey
video games and hockey table games, the rod and metal kind).

Depending on how you want to look at it, there are two, maybe three
hockey board games still being actively published.

The two actively published hockey board games that release new card
sets every year are Face-Off and Strat-O-Matic. Both games include
individual player cards and try to represent total hockey simulations
down to number of shots taken, faceoffs, intimidation, passing, skating,
and more.

I work for Face-Off this year, so take what I have to say with whatever
disclaimers you need if I compare Face-Off to Strat-O-Matic. Face-Off
offers many more players, much more detailed penalty situations but is
more complex and takes longer to play. Strat-O-Matic is quicker to play,
offers a very visual player card lay-out and gives more coaching strategies.

APBA makes a board hockey game, but it doesn't come with current
seasons any more and the board game version was basically a rip-off
of Face-Off I tend to call Face-Off Lite. :) (They even 'borrowed' terminology
from the Face-Off rulebook like "Time sequences".) Still, the components,
like all APBA games are gorgeous and the game sure LOOKs nice! :)

Mike Owens on this mailing list also has a homegrown hockey game in
development that is sort of a cross between a game with individual players
and the team approach ala Paydirt type games. I like what I've seen of it
so far so people might want to contact him if interested.

All the other board hockey games are discontinued and no longer published,
so current seasons are not available. However, I happen to know (since I
recently bought some) that some of these games are still available to buy
past seasons of.

I break hockey games down into two categories. One category is the kind
of game that is trying to reproduce accurate shots on goal and penalties
as well as just the goal scorers and assists. The other category is just
trying to get goal scorers and the scores correct without any attempt to
generate realistic shot totals or penalties.

In the first category, games you can still find that I would reccomend are:

National Pro Hockey (from 1984-85 to 87-88) from Sports Action Game Co.
PTG Hockey (from 68-69? to 78-79?) from Negamco Game co.

Both of these are excellent hockey games with accurate results and individual
player cards.

Other games that fall into the first category... TRK Hockey (a kind of homemade
effort that still had some charm to its crudity, early 1980s), Tudor's NHL Strategy
(An effort that I believe to this day Tudor purchased from APBA when APBA first
tried to develop a hockey game in the last 1970s since there was all these gorgeous
APBA style cards with lots of columns and ratings but the Tudor instructions didn't
use half of them!)

Most of the other hockey board games fall into the second category, they just
try to reproduce accurate scores with generating all the other stats (shots,
penalties, etc.).  In fact, some of these games don't even have defensive ratings!

These include Negamco (still available and probably has the
most number of available seasons), PSG Hockey (probably the most primitive
hockey game I've seen in terms of mechanics), Power Play Hockey, He Shoots -
He Scores, Rod Gilbert Hockey (one of the few that actually moved a puck
visually around the rink), and of course, the ever- famous Statis-Pro Hockey. :)

I'm not sure which category The World's Greatest Hockey Game fits in, but
I think one of the designers is on the list, so maybe he could fill us in. Same
thing with Center Ice from Vohl, Inc. another one I've never seen. I think I recall
not buying Center Ice because it had no defensive ratings for players. Is that
an accurate recollection from anyone who's played it?

>Would someone on the list with Statis Pro Hockey give a brief
>description on the play.  Does it use a dice, spinner, or FAC?

Statis-Pro uses FACs. Players are rated on goal scoring ability and defense.
Formulas are given so you can rate your own players. However, the
formulas used to generate the ratings don't always match what they're being
used for, so you should use that as a judge for how accurate the game is.
As an example, a player's ability to score from far outside is calculated from
the number of game winning goals he scored. (???)

Here on this list, I try my best to be "generic game-playing guy" and not
"Face-Off plugging guy" (especially since they aren't paying me! :)) but
those interested can check out:  or e-mail:

There's also a Face-Off e-mailing list where you can hear the good AND the
bad from all kinds of Face-Off owners/customers/players.

From: "R. Keenberg"

Hi Jim,

You mentioned last week that Hasbro may revive some of the Avalon Hill /
Sports Illustrated Games.  I agree that there is nothing to lose and
everything to gain by attempting to contact them.

What I'm not sure about is how many subscribers to the SGD are actually
willing to buy new sets of Hasbro produced Sports Games.  The old adage
"money talks, bullshit walks" would be the approach that Hasbro would
take with any proposal they received.

I would be willing to purchase any new Paydirt, Bowl Bound, Statis Pro
Baseball, or Statis Pro Football sets that were produced.  If Sports
Illustrated Baseball was reproduced, I would buy that too.

The question is how many subscribers will be willing to purchase these
games.  This would give them a starting client and mailing list, almost
like pre purchased season tickets.

I think that a proposal to Hasbro would have to include "guaranteed"
sales of $X dollars, for x games.  I think that if Hasbro had a definite
starting revenue base, then it could factor the profability or lack
thereof for each game it would be contemplating reviving.

There are other factors in this equation.  Does Hasbro have the
necessary resources, formulas, and know how to create accurate,
satisfying card sets.  As a group, we would not be satisfied with card
sets that are not realistic.  For instance, if Hasbro decided to produce
Paydirt team charts, they have to do it accuratley, not half hearted.
Perhaps Hasbro would be willing to sell all the formualas, copyrights,
client base etc. to one of us, or the group to produce our own and sell
them using computer graphics.

The other issue is whether any sports game can be produced profitably
because of player licensing.  They may have to create "old" Paydirt
charts such as 1973, 1974, and pre 1969.

I don't have the answers, but it would be interesting to send a proposal
of some sort to them.


Michael Owens

Hi Jim. I would like to offer the following to anyone on the Digest Mailing
list. I am looking to trade for a Face-Off Hockey Board game. Any season will
do. I am offering any one thing from my list in trade.

Here is what I have
APBA Football with these seasons 1973, 74, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88, 90,
APBA Baseball with these seasons 1919, 64, 67, 74R, 78, 82, 85, and 87.
Strat Hockey with 77-78, 84-85, 89-90, 91-92, 96-97, and 97-98.
Paydirt with  1970, 79 and 90 teams.
Statis Pro Football with 1980, 86 and 89 teams.
Statis Pro Baseball with 1978and 85 teams.
Bowl Bound
Statis Pro Basketball with 89-90 teams.
Strat Football with 74 teams, not complete. Missing Philadelphia.
APBA Hockey with 92-93, and 95-96.
APBA Basketball with 1968-89
Negamco Hockey with 64-65, 73-74, 81-82 teams.
Pro Table Games basketball with 1977-78 season
Superstar Baseball
Statis Pro Hockey (Photocopy)
Title Bout

John Mettler
From: (Jennifer Schmalz)
Subject: Six points college football

Another product that seems to be ever so hard to find.  I am searching
for the team sheets any teams, I was fortunate enough to recieve a great
start up package from Michelle.  Any info or if ya got some, let me
know.  The game is fun and quick playing and as I recall plenty of teams
to go around.  I have a few items to trade for compensation.

From: "Gary Brown"
Subject: Action PC Football

I just finished my first season with Action PC
Football (APCFB), and it was terrific!  I have managed a fictional career league (we
don't use real players) since 1992. We created it on Front Page Sports
Football Pro, and played the first five seasons using versions of that
software. But there were some disturbing trends. For example, we never had
a competitive championship game -- with an average score of 42-13, and there
were many, many other problems with player development, roster management,
coaching intelligence, and so-on.In short, I found Action PC Football to be good
enough that I could justify investing the time to convert 500 fictional players
from FPS Football Pro to APCFB. The result was a much more enjoyable
season and our first, great championship game. The winning team made a
clutch interception, that set-up the game-winning 42-yard field goal, with only
33 seconds remaining.It was a classic!  Now the only dilemma is the offseason. I must
create a system for determining which players retire, the quality and number of
prospects in the draft, effects of aging on durability, and etc...
Hopefully Dave Koch will be developing some utilities in the future to provide
such options for career leaguers like myself.
From: "D., K., P. Premo"


Latest issue of Sports Gaming Digest was great, as usual.  I would like
to thank Dave Arlington for his  comments about my  fast-action gaming
system.  Fast-action gaming is not for everybody, but that is what makes
the world go round!!  :)

For fans of my fast-action games, baseball in particular, I wanted to
let you know that the 1998 update is ready.  Cost is $1 postpaid.  The
complete game, including the 1998 supplement, is $15 postpaid.

Jim asked about contacting Hasbro from a united front -- I think  it
would not hurt.  We can't be any worse off.  I am probably in a
minority, but when I wrote for their sports journal, All-Star Replay,
those many years ago, I prepared "races" using real horses for their
Win, Place, & Show game; that game might have a little more appeal today
if horses like Cigar, Skip Away, Secretariat, Holy Bull, etc. were
included.  In any event, I am game  (pun intended) to try to sway Hasbro
to bring back at least some of their sports game line.

Subject: Subscription

Dear Jim,

I would like to start receiving Sports Gaming Digest.  My address is
alfred @

Thank you,
Alfred Moretz
Subject: subscribe

Please include me on your digest mailing list.
Thank you

Joe Sousa
Subject: your newsletter


Several people I am in touch with have referred to your sports gaming
newsletter including Tom Gerbasi, David Loporaco and Peter Ventura. I would be
very grateful if you would add me to the list for it. I'd be happy to contribute, as well.

Peter also mentioend to me your basketball game. If you want feedback on it,
let me know and I'll help if I can.

Also, do you know if there is any way to get in touch with Jim Barnes?

Looking forward to your reply --

Tony Giacobbe
From: Bob Maloney
Subject: Subscribe

        I would like to subscribe to your SPORTS GAMING NEWSLETTER.       
END DIGEST (11-16-98)


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