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Hand-To-Balls: Front Page Sports Football

American Football, invented by Colonel Pigskin Madden in the mid-nineteenth century, was originally a tabletop game played with miniature figures on a hex grid. Players would spend hours drawing up plans before each encounter, creating complex playbooks that contained all the secrets of the game. The Colonel once claimed that Football was not only “the best turn-based tactical game of the Reconstruction Era” but would continue to be the most important game of its type until “those Gollop boys get to work in the rootin’ tootin’ 1980s”. Front Page Sports Football is a veteran franchise that has been missing in the wilderness for some time. A new release is due this month and the sport most suited to PC will hopefully return in style.

It’s not all miniatures and cardboard fields anymore, of course. The game changed with the advent of television, when initial broadcasts proved what the organisers had feared – the cardboard and plastic miniatures were too indistinct for the tiny televisions of the time, so the decision was made to replace the miniatures with actual men. The turn-based element remains, though heavily tweaked, which makes the lack of American Football games on PC remarkably odd.

There’s Blood Bowl, of course, which shares developer/publisher Cyanide with Front Page Sports Football, and Gridiron Solitaire is a simple but elegant card-based take on the sport. What’s needed is something on the scale of Football Manager, except with the complication of tactical plays that make invasion plans seem like a doddle rather than contract negotiations that would put Bastard O’Lawyer to shame.

Not to be confused with the free-to-play browser effort that Cyanide dabbled with a few years ago, this new revival will have more than 2,300 plays.

It’s up to you to scout, draft, and sign the best players. Name your team and build its identity with your choice of uniform, stadiums, and even nickname. It’s up to you to train your team, to manage its morale and finances, and to lead your team to victory.

Every good coach needs to have a game plan for the field. With the Playbook, you’ll have access to thousands of plays with which to create your team’s strategy. Use 3D replays and statistics to analyze your team’s performance, find your opponent’s weakness, and dominate the league.

It’s out September 25th, which makes me wonder how this can possibly be the first I’ve heard of it.

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