Since Avalon Hill’s original Statis Pro Football faded from existence, there have been numerous attempts to keep the franchise alive from complete overhauls like PT Games’ short lived Football Bones to basic updated cards that can be found on eBay. ABC Game Company falls in between. The original Statis Pro game is easily recognizable, but ABC adds some subtle changes to enhance game play.
This is a print and play game, and all the files you’ll need can be found at the company’s webpage (abcgame.com). The files are vibrant, and there’s a nice touch of double-sided cards that add stats and player details. Team cards contain plenty of game information on them. Print them in color on card stock, and you’ll have a nice looking game to play (assuming your cutting abilities are better than mine).
Passing, fatigue, blocking, rushing, and receiving values are all here just as they were on Avalon Hill’s version. You can’t help but note the changes, however. Running backs now have different values for inside and outside runs. Defensive lineman have pass deflection ratings. Quarterbacks have a clutch rating they can use in the red zone or on 3rd down, while receivers could have yard after catch values to gain extra ground. Exception blockers or tacklers can show up to make a pivotal play. Teams now even have kickoff specialists! The system always made it easy to identify your top players, but ABC has added stats that really help how your players can do in various situations.
Those familiar with Statis Pro will find the general game play mechanic familiar. Offense and defense pick formations and plays and resolve the action using a Fast Action Deck (FAC) of cards. From there, it’s up to your players on what happens. ABC has added more options for the offense. You can choose to run inside, outside, or power, each able to be run to the right or left. Draws and options can be called as well. Swing passes have been added to the aerial arsenal of screen, quick, short, and long options. That alone gives you plenty of versatility, but there’s even more tweaks you can do. You can have two blockers double team that one great defender to neutralize him, or you can keep a back in to pass protect. The defense isn’t left out either as they can double or triple team receivers, or play a cover two or three to prevent big gains. Defenses also have the option of stacking the line to put the quarterback under pressure (at the expense of possibly leaving someone open), or drop several in coverage and give the quarterback a passing bonus since they can sit in the pocket longer. ABC’s additions really add to the feel of the game while not making things overly complicated. The only drawback that hangs over from the original Statis Pro is the random nature of screen passes and breakaways, both of which are determined by a card draw rather than player ability. And, yes, there are charts you’ll need to refer to, and they aren’t all in one place, but it doesn’t slow the game down considerably.
In my example replay of playing a 2013 matchup of Broncos vs. Cowboys, the stats I got were reflective of the team’s strengths versus the opposing defense. Without much of a pass rush, the Cowboys struggled to slow down the Manning led passing attack, while Murray was able to find some running room behind the strong Dallas offensive line. FAC cards tend to limit your outlier stats since the numbers will normalized. I enjoying rolling dice to determine run and pass numbers. This isn’t a limitation of the game, more of a personal preference, so you’ll find the FAC system produces realistic results.
Like the original, ABC has included a solitaire defense to each FAC card which allows you to play the offense of both teams. If you want to control one team, there are solitaire charts out there. I would advise that as moving players around on defense to try to slow down the offense is a lot of fun. ABC’s additions have added a lot to solo play since you can really tinker with how your team calls and carries out each play.
Those same additions add a lot to head-to-head play too. Facing a long 3rd down conversion against Houston? You may want to double team J.J. Watt. Or maybe Tom Brady needs to sneak behind the left side of his line to get that key first down. With some many options at hand, you can really turn a game against a live opponent into a chess match. It’s still not as deep at as a game like 4th street, but ABC has eliminated some of the blandness of its predecessor.
As of right now, ABC has seasons from 2013 and up. Since they are available in pdf format, you can have every season they have for just $20. It would be great to see them go back and do some vintage seasons, but the data may not be there for some of the game’s enhancements. One cool feature is that as long as the data is on the original Avalon Hill cards, you can apply some of ABC’s rules to those old sets.
The switch to pdf format has made the game very affordable, with the current season and game parts running you under $30. This game doesn’t seem to have a big following online, but with four seasons under their built, I feel confident ABC will be around to build on their current library.
Final Grade (not an average)
9.5. I have long rated Statis Pro Football a 10. Admittedly, some of that is based on nostalgia. I generally ignore some of its setbacks because the system appealed to me so much. Seeing your formation and attacking the defenses weaknesses were what drew me to the game. Still, Statis Pro can be a 10 no more because ABC’s version is the better game. It is. The new features add to the strategy of the game without feeling too fiddly. You may have a few more charts to look up, but it’s not APBA level. Some of the original flaws of Statis Pro linger, but if you have any interest in Statis Pro Football at all, it’s worth it to pick up this game.