I had seen this game around, but frankly, the cover kind of turned me off. It looks a bit too adolescent to be a serious football game. But after meeting the guys from R&R Games at a convention and hearing their spiel, I decided to take a shot. I’m glad I did. While the game is not stat heavy like I remember Strat-O-Matic, it still provides the thrill of trying to call a play that your opponent is not expecting and watching your defense shut down his play or see your running back break away for a big gain.
The mechanics are pretty simple. There is an offense deck and a defense deck that are shared by the players. You draw a random hand of possible plays and then “call” one of those plays, comparing it to the results on the card your opponent plays. The results indicate which dice are then rolled to gain or lose yards, cause a turnover, or possibly get a penalty. That’s pretty much it. It’s like football smarts, meets the card game War, meets dice chucking. Frankly, for an hour or so of game play, it feels like a solid, surface-deep simulation of a football game. A little strategy and some luck, just like actual football. One of the cool things R&R did is release packs of dice that represent different teams. The dice for those teams are tailored to different strengths and weaknesses, like bad defense with a good passing game, or some other combo. This gives players the ability to choose teams that might fit their coaching personality. In 1985 we would have had our own teams and played a whole season. I sure hope this is happening somewhere right now….
Is 1st & Goal a game that simulates every nuance of football? Not even close, but if you want to sit down and match coaching wits and chuck some dice with a real person (instead of chucking bombs in Madden) then this is a great way to do it. Check it out.