The long-requested squib kickoff option and a shrewder computer manager are among the highlights of Strat-O-Matic’s latest computer football upgrades coming this summer.
Version 11 of the Pro Football game and Version 7 of the College Football game offer the option of a squib kickoff to seriously reduce – but not entirely eliminate – the risk of a return touchdown.
“This is one of the most highly requested features,” SOM Director of Development Bob Winberry explained.
No surprise. Half of the 32 NFL teams rated for their 2010 seasons can return kickoffs for touchdowns. Almost every team will want to use squib kicks at some point in the season. Here’s how it works:
On the kickoff, add 20 yards to the stated yard line (e.g. the 25-yard line instead of the 5) and touchbacks are eliminated. Those kicks come down at the 10-yard line instead.
On the return, subtract 15 yards from the stated result (no return can be less than 0 yards or more than 30) – unless the result is Touchdown. While automatic TDs are eliminated, a Touchdown reading results in a Long Gain. That means squib kickoffs reduced Touchdown chances by almost 95 percent.
(Oh, by the way – since squib kickoffs are almost always handled by up-backs rather than the deep men, do not count the return yards on squib kickoffs as part of the deep men’s statistics, even though their cards are used to determine the return yardage.)
Though presented in the computer upgrades, this new rule is easily applied to the board game as well.
THE MORE TALENTED COMPUTER MANAGER
The computer coach always has been a capable opponent, recognizing your tendencies and manage his own roster. But gamers in leagues wanted more control and more options to customize how the CM would handle their teams on the road. Done:
- The new 1984 USFL, 1996, and 2010 teams have improved offensive CMs which will choose formations and plays which are more appropriate for the specific game situation.
- The Computer Manager has been improved regarding accepting and declining fouls when a personal foul occurs and it is added to the result of the play.
- The computer manager has been updated to make better field goal decisions during overtime.
- New Computer Manager settings for “Max,” “Generic,” and updated “Universal” computer managers.
The “Max” setting offers the ultimate for those who want to call plays against a more challenging computer manager. Think of “Max” as an aggressive defensive coordinator with an attacking style of play-calling. He’s also much more aware of your play calls and makes more adjustments to that.
The “Generic” setting benefits the human coach who doesn’t want to accept the computer’s defensive formations and run/pass calls very often. When “Generic” is selected, the computer leaves the defense in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense (a nickel when faced with 3 or 4 wide receivers) without linebacker and safety movement. And the default defensive call is Pass. Before the play, the human coach can change any of this, but this starting point ought to speed game play, since most defensive calls are pass. Previously, human coaches often wanted to override the computer’s recommended defensive player movement anyway. Now, when they want to leave their men in formation, the human coaches have no extra clicks to make. A side benefit, Winberry points out, encourages the human coach to think about each choice instead of mindlessly clicking through the computer recommendations.
The “Universal” settings are for offensive computer managers. They offer templates – especially useful to draft-league coaches – for those who like to create their own offensive CMs. When viewing the computer manager of a team after importing this CM, simply navigate to the lower portions of the screen, click on the plus sign next to a game situation (such as 1st and 10 near the bottom of the list of situations) to reveal the potential formations used, and then delete each of the formations you do not want to use by clicking on the formation and clicking on the Delete button near the top of the screen. You may repeat this process for each game situation or for only those game situations which occur frequently.
All of these options are additions to other CM choices. Each is easy to select. But Strat-O-Matic issues a caution: “Because the focus is purely competitive in nature, these are not as statistically accurate as our other computer managers (which strive to reach a balance between strategy, realism, and statistical accuracy).”
SOCIAL MEDIA – TWITTER AND FACEBOOK!
Twitter and Facebook support are included with the game, so you can share your Strat-O-Matic exploits with your Social Media world. You can post a Social Media message directly from the League Manager or during a game using the “Reports / Post to Twitter-Facebook” command. In addition, if you select the appropriate Social Media Settings on the League Manager Options dialog the game will automatically generate a message at the start and/or end of each manual game.
OTHER GAME PLAY IMPROVEMENTS
The Help files describe an array of other improvements for game play:
- Support for new NFL Playoff Overtime Rule: While this rule did not come into play during this year’s playoffs we have included it just in case your playoff game ends up in overtime.
- Autoplay up to a particular date: You can now autoplay up to a particular date on the schedule. Previously you would have had to keep hitting “Play next week” to do this.
- The “So Far Today” feature has been improved to include defensive stats. Now you will always know how many tackles, sacks, and interceptions the defensive player has registered!
- Individualized Fumble System: The system has been improved so that running backs who were also kickoff and/or punt returners will generate fewer fumbles on runs (because they will generate some of their fumbles while performing their return duties).
- More players: Gamer Fred Bobberts has created 66 extra players for the 1968, 1977, 1981, 1983 and 1996 seasons. The tireless Bobberts also has provided nearly 300 data corrections for players in 16 seasons (1957, 1958, 1959, 1962-65, 1967-69, 1977, 1981, 1983-86, 1996 and 2009). Most of these players were computer-only players, but board gamers can consult the list of corrections in the computer Help files and the computer card images to update their cards as well.
Other upgrades also involve support for the Encyclopedia function in Windows 7 and improvements to two reports – the Game Logs (board game details) and the League Injury Report (shows each player’s primary position).
STRAT-O-MATIC FOOTBALL LITE 2011
This year’s Lite game will be released sometime after the full game ships. As Strat-O-Matic did with baseball, the company is dropping support for Netplay and the Game Lobby from the Football Lite game. Most of the upgrade features mentioned above will make their way into the 2011 Lite game. Note that if you purchase the 2011 Lite game you will be eligible to upgrade to the full Version 11 Game – this is a great way to evaluate the Strat-O-Matic Football game if you’ve never tried it before.