Inside Blitz Review
Inside Blitz is a game from Inside Sports Games, a small online company that offers PC and board games in several different sports. For football, there’s a PC version, a college football version, and the version I’m reviewing here.
I try to look at the difference in the quality of components between a larger company and a small one such as Inside Sports Games, but there’s no need here. Inside Blitz has some very nice components. You get a sturdy box that’s filled with charts. The deck of Fast Action Cards are laminated and feel like actual playing cards. The chart for solo play, penalties, and the like is also laminated as is the score/time chart. This is a small, but much appreciated deal. The team charts are not laminated, probably to allow for your own notes. My only complaints are the lack of a couple of components. There is no football field, just a series of numbers from 1-50-1 that represent the ball placement. I overcome this by Frankensteining my games and using the Statis Pro field. There’s also not diagrams to set formations. Dice are included.
Teams have two charts. One chart has special teamers on one side and rushers and quarterbacks on the other. The other chart has pass catchers and defensive players. Every player is rated individually. Players stay in their team sheets. Rushers are rated for their inside and outside run ability. Passers have four different passing categories (quick, short, medium, long) with receivers sharing all but the long gains (that’s on a separate chart). Defenders are rated in many categories such as run defense and defense of the four passing depths. They also have interception and pass rush ratings. Offensive linemen get the simplest treatment as they only have run and pass block values. Defenders are easy to gauge. They can be rated from 0 (bad) to 6 (superstar) in all categories. It’s a little harder to glance at a skill player to see how strong they are. Runners have two different values on each die roll results. The better result is to the left. With some digging you can see that Jim Taylor of the Packers has a very good outside run (those Packer sweeps!) with several breakaway possibilities. Receivers and Quarterbacks have their strengths too once you learn the meaning of all the numbers. In the end, there’s a lot of individuality here, though it is number crunch heavy.
Game play is led by the Faction Action cards. The Fast Action cards contain the types of offensive plays and then the key players that are used to determine the result of the play. The key player is usually a defender. If the offense calls a running play, the defenders rating is used to determine the runners higher or lower value is used. For example, Jim Taylor is running a sweep right. Three dice are rolled. Two determine what row and column we look at on Taylor’s card. The result is a 4/4, so Taylor will either have a breakaway or gain 2 yards. The third dice is the player rating. In this case, it’s a 3.. The Fast Action Card tells us to use the LCB run defense rating. The player’s rating is a 2, which is not equal or greater to 3. The defender loses the match-up and the result of the play is a breakaway by Taylor. Passing is resolved in a similar matter. Defensive play call can add or subtract from the key players rating as well. It’s chart heavy, but the system does work. Again, it would have been nice to have individual cards so you aren’t always flipping the team sheets, but the game play does focus on the need to have good players and forces you to seek out the defenses weaknesses.
In my test game, I had a lot of trouble getting the run game established with the Packers (I played 1965 Packers vs. Browns). Cleveland was a very good team, but they weren’t the 85 Bears either. I think good stats are in there, but there may be a little getting used to the play call system to figure out how to best use your team. The 65 Packers, while a power team, did only average 3.4 ypc. I was barely over 2 in my game. I would need to play the game several more times to see how the stats balance out, but the system does seem solid.
There is a solo play chart that is included. It’s simple, but effective because it allows you to customize calls based on team tendencies. The 65 Packers, for example, have a -4 rating, which means you would subtract 4 from the play call index to determine which chart you use to call the offensive play. The defense then rolls on the same chart. In effect you could solo play and never call a play for either team. Kind of silly, but it does mean you can solo one team against another instead of playing offense for both sides. Again, the only thing that is missing is the ability to customize formations. The defense has standard formations to choose from. Once the flow of the game has been mastered, games can easily be completed in under 2 hours.
I feel like this is a game designed for solo play. For that, it succeeds very well. But I’m not sure how much mileage you would get out of it head to head. You lose the chess match of player movement and it ends up being a guessing game on whether you are going to run or pass. If you have a good defense, you are better off picking no strategy as their player ratings will more often than not win the match-ups. Lesser defenses will need to take more risks.
Many seasons are available. Every season from 2005 to the present is there as well as (as for 9/27/14) 11 different seasons from 1958-1991. I would assume more would keep coming. The game is between $40-50 depending on if you want black & white team charts or color. PDF versions of the game can be had for under $20.
It may not have the scope of some other games, but the simplicity of it lets you play games a little quicker. That means a replay is very feasible with this system, but it’s a true replay. Team charts make a fantasy draft impractical.
Final Grade (not an average)
8 This is a pretty solid game. There are some minor detractions that keep it from being a great game, but there’s a lot of fun here for the solo player. Games can be completed quickly and the depth is there to build a good narrative of a game. Head to head players may want to look at other titles.