Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why It's My Favorite: ElfBall


Game Overview
Elfball is a simulation of a fantasy football style game.  The game is played on a magic infused circular field.
The goal of the game is to score by running the ball into the opposing players scoring circle.  On a player's turn they can move one of their six players on the field. How many spaces a player can move is dependent upon their jog rating.  A player can do a number of actions on their turn.  They can shove opposing players out of the way, pick up the ball, tackle a player, or throw the ball.  All of these actions are resolved by rolling custom dice.  The dice have a success icon, a fail icon, blank sides, and a conditional success. Each type of player (defender, striker, midfielder, etc) have their own stats.  The various actions require rolling dice equal to the stat number.  And each action has a needed amount of successes. For example, if I wanted to pick up a ball then  I will need to pass a skill test.  Let's say my striker has a skill of four.  The base test result is 1. This means on the four dice I need to roll one success.  If I do this, then I pick up the ball.  If I have zero successes then I will not pick up the ball, and if I roll more fails than successes I will flop.  Flopping is always bad.  Once a player is given an order, they are marked with a little marker.  This means that this player can not be used on the next turn so that single piece can not be used twice in a row.  The game will go on until someone scores and wins.

Why I Love This Game
I played this game at Gen Con 2011 for the first time, and I really liked it.  I liked it a lot.  In fact, I was a little nervous about how much I might actually get to play it.  However, how much I liked the game was greater than my reservations.  By nature of being a game, all games have a level of abstraction.  There are some games, especially war games, that attempt to negate this abstraction by getting closer to a simulation.  Often simulation games have a lot of rules and complexity that are part of them and are needed to create a simulation.  What I love about ElfBall is that it feels more like a simulations.  However, the game is a fantasy sports game, so the game is designed in such a way that the rules are easy and intuitive   The game is accessible without becoming overly abstract feeling.  This is especially true when using miniatures:

The play of this game has a lot of back and forth which I like, and the game always has hiliarious moments, like when a ball just can not be picked up or the small little thrower manages to actually tackle the big lumbering oaf carrying the ball to score.

This game has a level of depth that I have not even began to scratch.  It is possible to create a team, give players special abilities and have them gain experience over time.  I would love (LOVE) to find some people to play this game regularly with, but my wife is not that wild about it.  I will still try to find any excuse I can to play this game.  I really enjoyed painting the miniatures for the game, and while it is not practical I would love to get another team of miniatures. Especially one of these two:


I do wonder if this game will stick around on my favorite games list year after year, because I am still concerned that I will not ever get to play it as much as I like.  It is very likely that in future years this game will get replaced by Federation Commander or Dystopian Wars .  For now though, I still consider ElfBall one of my absolute favorite games, and it is always one of the games I am most wanting to play.


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