Thursday, June 4, 2009

What is a Possession Set?

A possession set consists of each team having the ball once. The team that scores the most points in that set wins the set (kind of like a baseball inning). There are four Possession Sets in a game.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What is a Tourney-Season?

I have a discovered a new way to play a season while still having a tournament. I am calling it a "Tourney-Season." You basically play a tournament format with 16 teams. All winners in the first round go to the Championship Tier, while all of the losers go to the Consolation Tier. Then, all of those teams play in their respective tiers so that you wind up with a tournament champion (4 rounds) as you always would, but the other teams still have something to play for. Follow the current Short Board season to see how this develops.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Practicing Multiple Team Disorder

Don't quite have enough money to buy all of those teams you want? These St. Louis Cardinals from my childhood have spent most of their time playing as my beloved South Carolina Gamecocks. The Steelers can be Iowa, Missouri, or any number of such teams with similar color schemes. See a list of how I am currently practicing this dis-order.

Tissue Box Football!

Tired of ordering foam footballs for no good reason at all? When I was a kid, I had a hard time sticking that magnetic football under my guy's arm. So, I just grabbed a tissue box, clipped a slot off of the opening, folded it in half, and boom, a football! It can also double as a playbook for your running back if he breaks free and has time to read.

Wall Art for your 620

Here, I stuck some of the logos on the wall of my 620, for a very cool feel. You can also see what I have done to spruce up the scoreboard a bit.

Logo Boards

All I did here was print off some logos from a place like The Logo Server and used some plasti-tac (you can find it at a place like Office Depot) to adhere them to a piece of cardstock. Then, I took some binder clips and bound them to the side of the board. On the 620, you can just slip them into the groove that runs along the perimeter of the field, so long as what you have is not too top heavy.

Standard Rules for All Games

Here are basic function rules I use for all games:

1. Each team must run at least one running play, typically on first down. All other plays can be passing plays.

2. Passing sticks are used for passing. Defense can use one player for the purposes of intercepting. Defensive players may pivot when the stick is placed on the board and after the receiver catches the ball. Only the receiver may pivot and does so after catching the ball.

3. A tackle takes place when a defensive player strikes the ball carrier's base. The defensive player must be moving towards the offensive player and must strike him with the front, or a front corner, of his base. When chasing an offensive player from behind, the defender must obviously alter the movement of the offensive ball carrier in order for it to count as a tackle.

4. The only penalities are defensive pass interference and defensive "hooking." Hooking is when a defensive player grabs the ball carrier by the harm in a hooking fashion, altering the ball carrier's route. The offense simply gets to repeat the previous down at the spot of the foul.

5. The kicking game from Pizza Box Football is used for all kicking procedures.

How I Play Short Board College Football

Soon, I will start something new. I am combining elements of Arena Football with college football. I am using the board pictured above. Here's the specifics:

1. I am using a 100 yard field instead of the standard 50 yard field of arena ball. The little guys don't know the difference. Plus it fits better with kicking game I am using from Pizza Box Football.

2. I am using 40 downs total; 10 per quarter.

3. Each team has 4 downs to score.

4. 7 players on each team.

5. Failed field goals turn into punting situations.

6. This will be a 4 round, Tourney-Season with 16 teams.

7. Teams must run on 1st and 2nd down, and may pass on 3rd and 4th down.

8. Fumbles are determined by using the fumble rules from Pizza Box Football.

How I Play Now on my 620 and 660

1. Both teams get four possessions.

2. Like Baseball, the visiting team goes first and the home team goes second. This gives a home field advantage similar to that of the college football overtime.

3. There is no kickoff to start the game. The visiting team gets the ball at their 30 yard line. After each score, the other team begins its next possession at its own 30.

4. Game play proceeds as usual. If there is a punt, it is measured 40 yards from the line of scrimmage. If it is inside the 50, it is measured half the distance to the goal, plus 10 yards. The other team begins their possession at that spot.

5. The games ends after each team has had four (alternating) possessions.

6. If there is a tie after 4 possessions, each team gets a 5th possession. Whoever scores the most points, or drives the further est, wins the game.

My Attitude about Electric Football

I don’t know what your attitude is about hobbies but this is mine; life is challenging and hard sometimes. Hobbies should give me a break from that. That’s my attitude about this, my college football polls, golf and other such things. With that in mind, this is how I try to approach the buzzing board.

First of all, I try to remember that what we have is a metal board moving, by vibration no less, plastic pieces shaped in the guise of football players, carried by little green bases, propelled by even smaller shreds of plastic lacing underneath them. None of these pieces of plastic, to my knowledge, has a heart, brain, soul, will or set of emotions. None of them get paid. By nature of the game, they can do just about anything at any time.

Another well taken point; it’s a child’s game. It’s just that most of the children who played it first are 30 years and older now.

Can you get my drift? This isn’t something to get too serious or worked up over. It is, at best, serious amusement. The beauty of the game, as documented by many, is that it is so simple and whimsical. It fosters the opportunity for good community; good clean fun. Most of those participating seem to practice this, and those who lose sight of it are typically brought back down to earth by those who understand this best.

Therefore, I don’t get too hung up on the rules. I’ll change the rules in the middle of a game. I realize I don’t have to consult the teams (remember, they are plastic) and I am the commissioner.

Also, a team can be anyone I want them to be. My set of St. Louis Cardinals can be my beloved South Carolina Gamecocks, Mississippi State, Harvard or anyone bearing resemblance to garnet jerseys, while pants and white helmets. All that keeps it from happening is my imagination. Sure saves a lot of bad paint jobs and money, anyway.

I don’t get hung up on ‘the right formations.’ Just line those suckers up, flip on the switch and see what happens. They way I figure, the vibrations make each play unique anyway; a player’s route, from play to play, is never the same. No real need to tweak bases, spin dials, glue BB’s, etc.

I like playing seasons, tournaments, etc. But you know what? It’s cool just coming home and whipping out a couple of teams and chilling out.

This isn’t to criticize anyone for all the detail they bring to the game. That’s great if you have all of that artistic ability, attention to detail, etc. I love going to the chat boards and reading what you do and the pictures you crank out. I’m just a simple person with little artistic skill, and not a lot of energy left after a work day to deal with the details of base tweaking. The beauty of the game is that even someone like me, can get a kick out of it.

I hope one day I get to go to an EF convention and see how the ‘real experts’ get it done. Til then, I’ll just keep buzzin’ along.

Buzzin’ Brine

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Own EF History

As with so many others my age, my history with electric football began as a small boy on a Christmas morning, in the early 1970’s. My Tutor made board was just a green field with white lines, and alternating triangles in the endzone. I think I had a green team and a yellow team. I think I made the mistake of trying to paint them. I have continued to make the mistake of trying to paint them even to this age! Some fools never know how to quit.

Like so many my age, I grew frustrated with the electric part; the erratic motion of the players, a vibrating clock that did not work, not enough room in the endzone to run plays from five yards in, etc. In dealing with my frustrations, I quickly uncovered one of my chief spiritual gifts; that of a re-inventor. Fewer games leave themselves open for so much re-invention.

So, I took matters into my own hands . . . literally. I never plugged the board in. I lined the fellers up, took both hands and crashed the two sets of linemen into each other. If there was a whole up the middle, I’d guide the Runningbacks up the middle and assist those remaining defensive players still standing in tackling the running back. I had real tackles; not just base touching. You had to knock the Runningbacks on their bums just like you do in real football. If there wasn’t a whole up the middle, the quarter back got to throw the ball to an open receiver. And I didn’t use that crazy lookin’ kicker/qb thing; I used one of the ‘real’ players for that.

This way, I had real fumbles. When your receivers are really getting crashed into, they really do drop the ball. Oh, and I re-invented the ball. My first set had these dumb magnet-shaped balls. How the heck do you throw a led ball? Lord knows you’ll fumble something that heavy all the time. Besides, you’d break the receiver’s arm trying to stuff under his armpit. I made my own balls. I cut out cardboard small strips from Kleenex boxes, folded them in half, and that was my football. That’s still how I make my balls! It looks like the guy has a King James Bible under his arm, but it works! At least it doesn’t look like I had a snow squall during the game from all of the lent shredding from all of those fumbles, incomplete passes, errant kicks, etc.

When I did not use my board for football, it became a grazing pasture for all of the little farm animals I had with my toy farmhouse. I had a white fence that went with the farmhouse. I’d build it around the sidelines and call that my de-fence; it kept the cows from wandering off during bedtime. Speaking of bedtime, one night my Father stepped on my board while coming in the bedroom to tuck me in for the evening. A few cows were tipped or killed but Dad still walks through my house a bit nervous, lest he run through another defense . . . he knows these days those fences might have voltage running through them . . . ow.

I always like to be the broadcaster for my games. I always thought the old Tutor plugs looked like a microphone. I’d run that cord up my shirt and I’d be the broadcaster for my games. Yep that’s right. I’d have two metal prongs just inches from my mouth, nose and eyes. And to think that my Dad was, and still is, an electrical engineer. Yeah, the whole town has lights but his own kid is about to light himself up in the imaginary booth, just two feet above the de-fense.

The cool thing about my games is that we’d have snow storms. I had a bag of shredded Kleenex (yep, Kleenex was an important element of my early EF experience. Shoulda gotten a sponsor from them, right? As far as I know, the Kleenex were unused), small bits of Styrofoam, and who knows what else. I’d drop that stuff from above before and during a game on my board, then I’d play tackle football in it with my guys. Boy, it sure was trouble when there was a fumble. We’d have to call in the Tonka dump truck and haul some snow off to find the darn thing, then we’d have another pile up of men trying to recover it. Try the snow thing some time and see how that works for ya.

Somewhere along the way that first board was sold. Then when I was about ten, I got another one. I think it’s about the same size as the current Miggle 620’s. I actually still have it at my parent’s house. It hasn’t made it to mine yet since we live a great distance from each other. The two teams that came with it were my beloved Dallas Cowboys and those hated Pittsburgh Steelers. I used to just marvel at all of the other NFL teams Tutor had pictures of in their sales book, dreaming of having all of them some day, but we were tight on cash at the time. I managed to order the Philadelphia Eagles, and the home and away St. Louis Cardinals. I got the Cardinals because they so greatly resembled my beloved, South Carolina Gamecocks. My first love has always been college football. So, I also got about three blank teams and painted them. Again, my painting skills were poor, but it got me some generic colors I could use for multiple college teams. My imaginations did the rest.

I even had my own way of doing logos back then. I never liked that my college games had “NFC” and “AFC” in the endzones and that the NFL logo was on the 50. So, I’d cover them up with my homemade field covers. All I needed was some construction paper and crayons. I draw them out freehand based on what was in a preseason football magazine on hand (yes, given my artistic ability, they were frightful looking). Then, I’d get some plastic-tacky and plop those suckers on the endzones and the 50 yard line. All was rectified in the Land of Imaginary Football.

Like so many of you, I “outgrew” electric football along about the 9th grade. Somehow sitting in the floor calling your own games seemed a bit childish back then. I didn’t even have the “Atari/video game” excuse back then because, once again, my family really didn’t have the money to buy something like that, and quite honestly, I wasn’t even all that good at video games. I did get caught up in computer based football games. At any rate, the game board then went into a constant state of storage for the next 20+ years. I never even had a clue Tutor had gone out of business.

My interest in computer based football games finally evolved (or, as some might say, de-volved) into mastery of EA Sports NCAA College Football series over the past five years. Then, about a year ago, I’d finally played all of that I wanted. I got tired at looking at screens all day; the computer screen at work and at home, the TV in the living room, and then the TV screen with the Playstation. “Something’s gotta give,” I concluded. It was time for the PS2 to leave the house. I pondered to myself, “What could I find to replace this interest with?” I thought of several things, then I meandered back to my childhood and thought, “Wonder whatever happened to electric football?” Heck, I never really played electric football. I played “cram your players into each other” football. Maybe I’d have more patience for it now. I do still have my game board and all of my players at my parents’ home. I wonder if it still works? I wonder if anyone still plays this game at all?! Does Tutor still exists?” Hmm.

Enter, Google. If God doesn’t know it, or can’t reach you, Google does know and can reach you. I entered “Electric Football” into the search bar. I was shocked. Among plenty of other sites, up pops a news article from the February 3, 2005 Washington Post by Jeff Turrentine (click here for article) which chronicled how these guys had gotten together for this Electric Football Super Bowl Convention. It filled me in on what had happened these last 20 years with the game (or dare I say, “sport”) that my board had been in the closet. Then I clicked on the Miggle link in the article, and there it all was; game boards, teams (and college teams at that!), field covers not made of construction paper or crayons, bases, everything! Then I went and visited some EFL solitaire pages and couldn’t believe how much these guys put into this thing, and the paint jobs! Amazing! And then I went to eBay and was even more stunned at how much I saw being sold there. I was laughing myself silly.

My problem was that I wanted back in the game but my game board was at my parents, and I did not know what kind of condition it was in. So, being still rather strapped for cash, I ordered cheap, not knowing totally how this re-introduction would go. I got the $50 Original Electric Football. I was so stoked when it showed up a few days later. I opened it up. I loved it. It was smaller than I thought it would be, but it was great. I had a blast with it for a few weeks. I made a trip back home to my parents, and to my amazement, my board was in outstanding shape. I drug out all of those old teams I had; the NFL ones I bought and the sad sack paint jobs I made. I brought them all home. I couldn’t get the big board home with me so I ordered a new 620.

So, that’s my story; my journey back to my childhood. It’s good to be back. Time to buzz off, Brian