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Card Football

Poker meets football in this game of strategy and bluffing


Card Football Box

Card Football - Game Box

Photo courtesy of CSE Games
More than 100 different football board games have been published since 1925, when Parker Brothers released All-American Football, a simulation of college football. Today, football board games face stiff competition from video games like the uber-popular Madden series, but new ones are still being made.

Two in particular, Card Football and Pizza Box Football, are worth your consideration.

Brothers Paolo and Fabio Del Rio started developing Card Football in late 2004; it was published in early 2006 and uses cards, not dice, to determine the outcome of plays. Paolo Del Rio answered some questions about the game.

Please tell us how Card Football originated and developed.

Fabio and I come from the sports collectibles industry, having both worked as editors of the trade magazine Canadian Sports Collector, and Fabio as vice-president of product development and production for In The Game, an NHL/NHLPA hockey-card licensee (at the time). We're both huge sports fans and collectors, and we never came across a sports game that really captured the sports fan's attention. And, if done properly, we knew that there could be a real demand for such a product.

CSE Games was formed and began developing Card Football in late 2004. The idea was to create a football card game that would appeal to football fans, card players and gamers alike -- not an easy task. However, the use of the standard 54-card deck as the backbone would provide an immediate sense of comfort in new players. As a result, the game is easy to learn, has a true football feel and, most importantly, is fun to play. We felt (and playtesting confirmed) that the game would not only appeal to gamers, but also to the average sports fan.

The game has come a long way from our initial versions, as we learned how to simplify elements of gameplay and design, especially limiting the amount of text on each card.

Poker and football don't seem like an intuitive match. Why did you decide that the two would work together?

The whole process kind of happened naturally. When we started developing Card Football, the intention was not to create a combination Poker / football game. The 54-card deck simply provided a great foundation for a game that's not reliant on dice play. Playing cards allow for a nice mix of chance (getting the best/right cards) and control (the ability to choose which of your cards to play in any given situation) -- something that isn't all that prevalent in the sports game market.

Initially, gameplay was based on "high card wins." The player who played the highest card would execute their play, as indicated on the card. However, that concept eventually developed into "high hand wins," as we found that increasing hand management made for a much deeper, more strategic game experience. No doubt that the Poker boom -- and increased interest in card games in general -- in recent years has really helped us.

Can you describe the basic mechanics of Card Football?

Using our specially designed deck, players start each down with five cards in hand. Opponents play a card or cards from their hand simultaneously and the player with the highest card or highest hand executes the play indicated on their card.

The offense's goal is to gain as many yards and points as possible, while the defense tries to stop the offense and create turnovers. Once each down has been played, both players replenish to five cards. This ability to constantly refill the hands allows players to build on what they have. For instance, on any given down, cards can be played in pairs, two pair, three-of-a-kind, or five-card Poker-style "Power Hands."

The key to successful play calling is effective hand management. Players must decide which cards to play and which to hang on to. Certainly, you need a little bit of luck, but the game is all about how you play your cards.

How has Card Football sold?

Sales of Card Football have increased steadily since the game's official launch in January 2006. Given that Card Football was our first release, it was difficult to place realistic expectations on numbers, but suffice to say that we have been pleasantly surprised. We expect to sell over 5,000 copies in our first year.

What other games has CSE published? Do you have more planned?

NHL Ice Breaker: The Card Hockey Game came out in May 2006. It's licensed by the National Hockey League and all 30 teams. Gameplay is similar in most respects to Card Football. However, we adjusted the style of play somewhat in order to capture the vastly different feel of the game of hockey -- free-flowing with constant action, versus the start-and-stop nature of football.

NHL Ice Breaker has been well received on both sides of the border and will be available this Christmas at Canadian retailers including Calendar Club / Go! The Game Store and Shoppers Drug Mart, and virtually all NHL team stores.

We have several other sports game projects in the works. We expect to have at least a couple of new products in 2007.

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